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What did you watch this week?
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 02.05.2004 5:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
UHF


I say it everytime you mention it, so I'll continue the ritual. GHAST. It's moving rapidly up on my bottom 10 of all time.
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matt header
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PostPosted: 02.05.2004 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just returned from a showing of "Girl with a Pearl Earring," and I'm duly impressed. Visually and thematically it's something close to shocking: the way that feminism, class structure, and the empowerment of the artistic process blend together into a single, sheltered, almost-speechless character is amazing. Well done.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 02.05.2004 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We've got another guy on our side, Eric. It's an easy match now. Laughing
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Rob Vaux
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PostPosted: 02.07.2004 2:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PEARL EARRING was technically polished, but I found the story dull and inert. Too much of an ass-acher for my tastes. :)

As for the fond memories department, I try to stay away from cherished childhood films after an adult viewing of the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA pilot crushed my little soul. I was also surprised at how negatively I responded to INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM. I loved that film, but seeing the recent DVD left me feeling dirty and used. I've since vowed to let happy teenage movies remain in the past, rather than tarnish them with the cold light of adulthood.

Rob
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.07.2004 4:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rob Vaux wrote:
PEARL EARRING was technically polished, but I found the story dull and inert. Too much of an ass-acher for my tastes. :)

As for the fond memories department, I try to stay away from cherished childhood films after an adult viewing of the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA pilot crushed my little soul. I was also surprised at how negatively I responded to INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM. I loved that film, but seeing the recent DVD left me feeling dirty and used. I've since vowed to let happy teenage movies remain in the past, rather than tarnish them with the cold light of adulthood.

Rob


Oooooh, I was a huge "Battlestar Galactica" fan as a kid. Of course, I also loved "Buck Rogers," not to mention "Sledge Hammer," "AutoMan," "Great American Hero," and "V: The Series." (I actually like Temple of Doom more now than when I was a kid, although I much prefer the other two installments.) I don't particularly mind exposing/ruining old favorites, perhaps because nostalgia functions sometimes as delusion.

Night Watchman, you're about the same age as Rob and me--were you into "Battlestar Galactica"? Man, I loved those Cylons (sp?). They reminded me of KITT. Or vice versa. I don't remember which came first.

Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 02.07.2004 5:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:


Night Watchman, you're about the same age as Rob and me--were you into "Battlestar Galactica"? Man, I loved those Cylons (sp?). They reminded me of KITT. Or vice versa. I don't remember which came first.


I think the Cylons came first. But, yes, I watched Battlestar Galactica regularly, although I recall it used to bore me a bit -- Starbuck annoyed me -- and I'd usually draw while the show was on -- or, at least in the parts that fell between the space battles and the Cylons. (I thought the Cylons were cool, too; I had a poster of one in my bedroom, right next to one of Boba Fett.) I was really more into Buck Rogers for some reason, Embarassed at least until the season where they left earth and took off in that vessel to explore the universe. I also liked The Greatest American Hero a lot. But I absolutely lived for Johnny Quest and Star Blazers (aka Starcruiser Yamato).

Incidentally, did anybody catch that "new" Battlestar Galactica on Sci-Fi Channel? I didn't, but a friend of mine who was a drooling Galactica fan absolutely hated it. He's not normally the type of person who easily articulates his personal opinion regarding movies or shows, but, damn, he launched into a nuanced dissertation of the flaws of this one. Practically broke out charts and graphs to prove his point.

EDIT: Speaking of nostalgia, I just watched Miracle today, and the movie captures 1979/80 so well I was having flashbacks in the theater.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.07.2004 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
Incidentally, did anybody catch that "new" Battlestar Galactica on Sci-Fi Channel? I didn't, but a friend of mine who was a drooling Galactica fan absolutely hated it. He's not normally the type of person who easily articulates his personal opinion regarding movies or shows, but, damn, he launched into a nuanced dissertation of the flaws of this one. Practically broke out charts and graphs to prove his point.


I didn't. I was mildly interested, only because of my adoration as a young kid. That wasn't enough to make me want to actually sit down and watch it. I think I was more interested in reading about the "new" version than in spending time with the thing itself.

the night watchman wrote:
EDIT: Speaking of nostalgia, I just watched Miracle today, and the movie captures 1979/80 so well I was having flashbacks in the theater.


I was only 6 in 1980, so I have only vague recollections of the game, but it's always been one of my favorite sports stories. (Isn't it on everybody's list?) I was afraid the film might be too sentimental or corny to be likable, but the reviews have been kind. I'm looking forward to it. I deeply enjoyed Disney's The Rookie; how do they compare?

Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 02.07.2004 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
I was afraid the film might be too sentimental or corny to be likable, but the reviews have been kind. I'm looking forward to it. I deeply enjoyed Disney's The Rookie; how do they compare?



I haven't seen The Rookie and I generally avoid sports movies because, well, for me sports in general is a fast track to Apathy Junction; I went to see Miracle because I'm a big Kurt Russell fan, and he does a superior job here. The movie isn't sentimental at all -- at least in the sense that it earns all of the enthusiasm and excitement it shows -- and it pretty much avoids the typical cliches you'll find in sports flicks. I think it worked for me because it places Russell's character, Herb Brooks, in the center of the story instead of hockey, or love of sports. It's about Herb trying to figure out how to beat the Russians at their own game, using not just tactics and the skills of the players, but the Soviet group-mentality. In a strange way, it sort of reminded me of Apollo 13, a movie about American ingenuity.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.07.2004 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
I generally avoid sports movies because, well, for me sports in general is a fast track to Apathy Junction


But aren't most sports movies really about something else, such as friendship, competition, hard work, America, etc. etc.? Isn't the playing field merely the backdrop for a human story? For example, I know virtually zero about soccer, but I loved Fever Pitch because I could identify deeply with what it has to say about indulging our passions. As Roger Ebert is fond of saying, "content is neutral." What matters is the storytelling. Still, I can relate to you to some degree--I confess I often feel apathy towards movies involving drugs and guns.

On the flipside, though, I think we might be more inclined to like a sports movie if we like the sport at hand. I think of Summer Catch or Hardball, two mediocre-to-poor films I enjoyed watching simply because I love baseball.

Eric
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 02.07.2004 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="beltmann"]
the night watchman wrote:
On the flipside, though, I think we might be more inclined to like a sports movie if we like the sport at hand. I think of Summer Catch or Hardball, two mediocre-to-poor films I enjoyed watching simply because I love baseball.


I agree with you on the former, but I think that Hardball would've been fun, without baseball, even.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 02.07.2004 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:


But aren't most sports movies really about something else, such as friendship, competition, hard work, America, etc. etc.? Isn't the playing field merely the backdrop for a human story?


So long as they're enough about something else, so long as the playing field is enough of a backdrop for a human story, like Miracle or Ali, I can get into them. It's a personal thing; even the iconography of sports -- the equipment, the jerseys, the technical jargon, the voices of the moderators or the cheering of the crowd ... the very "ambience" of sport in general -- can send my mind diving for the refuge of daydream in a matter of seconds.

I understand what you're saying: Must there be that great a difference between a movie about, say, a guy struggling to become a writer and a guy struggling to make it onto a particular football team? No, there doesn't have to be. But when it comes to sports, the content ususally acts as an impenetrable block for me. For example, I'm a big Stephen King fan. His collection Dreamscapes and Nightmares includes two nonfiction pieces about baseball. I couldn't get through either one of them, not even when I rented them on audiotape. I have, if it's possible, a very active disinterest.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.09.2004 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

2/2 ? 2/8

Wendigo (Fessenden, US 2001). I enjoyed it, but mostly it made me want to see other Fessenden pictures?especially the ones he has yet to make.

Frozen Alive (Der Fall X701) (Knowles, UK 1964). At least the cheese factor is toned down. Of course, that also means the entertainment factor is toned down.

Diary of a Country Priest (Bresson, France 1951). Unable to ingratiate himself into the good graces of his new rural parish, a young, afflicted priest writes his daily thoughts into a journal, which becomes a record of his internal and external torment. Faith is the engine of the story, yet it provides little solace to this reserved, bottled-up man--one wonders why the character, and even Bresson, place so much emphasis on its virtue; where's the joy that accompanies the austere torment of faith? The priest's body is equally ravaged, by what he first believes is tuberculosis; this external manifestation of his inner torment serves as a terrific, engulfing metaphor. My favorite Bresson to date, alongside Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne, although I must admit I still have a lot of catching up to do.

Le Boucher (The Butcher) (Chabrol, France 1970). In the countryside town of Perigord, a middle-aged headmistress meets the local butcher, but as their relationship intensifies she begins to suspect that he's responsible for a recent string of killings. Chabrol's great idea is to dial down the thriller elements--all the violence is off-screen, mostly learned about via rumor and conversation--and focus instead on the psychological skepticism of the teacher, who feels compelled to think the worst but desires to think the best. The climactic schoolroom confrontation is expert suspense, and the dripped-blood sandwich gag (watch for it) is mean, icky, effective, hilarious. (Matt Header, this is the one I mentioned Saturday night; I liked it much more than his Flower of Evil.)

The Stars are Beautiful (Brakhage, US 1974) / Kindering (Brakhage, US 1987). Two failures. If you have seen them: I disagree with the either-or mentality Brakhage espouses regarding aesthetics in Stars. Kindering opens with an obscured image of a boy and a girl trying to pet a dog, and then those same two kids swinging in the backyard, lazing around. Finally he starts gently hitting her with a piece of rope. Brakhage uses an anamorphic lens to distort and twist the images, and the effect seems dated--especially since Brakhage had been using the same technique for more than 20 years. He described the distortion of his own grandkids as "unsentimental," but I'd call his rather disgusted, alien view of children profoundly cynical--hasn't he merely exchanged one glib extreme for another? And the critique of "suburbia" pales in comparison to, say, Blue Velvet, made a year earlier.

The Triplets of Belleville (Monfery, France 2003). I had a blast. The surreal surprises zoom at you from every direction and the gags only grow in wit and sophistication; part of the pleasure is in merely waiting for the next creative invention. Visually the film establishes a singular vision, but it?s worth mentioning that the pacing is clearly inspired by Tati. (In fact, a poster from M. Hulot?s Holiday can be spotted in the Triplets? apartment, and we catch a glimpse of Jour de Fete on their TV. My wife and I both giggled in recognition.) I also enjoyed Destino, the surreal short preceding the feature, a 1946 collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali only recently completed by Disney animators stationed in Paris.

Welcome to Sarajevo (Winterbottom, UK 1997). Winterbottom is one of the most important directors working today, and I found certain passages of this story?about journalists in Bosnia helping an orphanage transport children to safety?utterly gripping. Still, while the intelligence is often bracing, the movie never quite fits together into a compelling polemic, or pulsing drama. A near-miss.

Kind Hearts and Coronets (Hamer, UK 1949). I have an interest in the Ealing studio, and this witty, straight-faced comedy about the art of murder ranks right up there with Lavender Hill Mob. The black sheep of a prominent British family plots to knock off everyone standing between him and the title of duke, which means designing elaborate methods of making death appear accidental. The dry, acerbic, procedural voice-over earns many of the best laughs--we're privy to the mind of a remorseless killer, who keeps sighing about the ironies of his plans--but all of the actors are clearly having a blast, especially Alec Guinness, who plays all eight of the relatives scheduled to die. The literate script has some very nifty, clever turns, and the last act is particularly satisfying.

Jeremiah Johnson (Pollack, US 1972). I Am Mountain Man!

My Life (Rubin, US 1993). Mostly, it got me thinking about why I enjoy melodramas and tearjerkers, even ones that are somewhat dishonest. It?s easy to justify horror movies on roller coaster grounds?the ?safe? sense of fear can be entertaining, and it can also teach us how to confront and understand that emotion. Why can?t the same logic be applied to movies that provide ?safe? versions of sadness?

Eric
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 02.09.2004 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pathetic week.

Cabin Fever (Roth, 2003) C-

Barbershop 2 (Sullivan, 2004) B-

And I revisited Lost in Translation (Coppola, 2003) A. It only gets better the second time.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 02.09.2004 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:


Wendigo (Fessenden, US 2001). I enjoyed it, but mostly it made me want to see other Fessenden pictures?especially the ones he has yet to make.



I was quite enjoying this movie until (SPOILER)the guy in the reindeer costume shows up. Ugh. Did Fessenden not realize just how goofy that suit looked?(END SPOILER) Pity, too. I've been waiting for a really killer movie about the wendigo.
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matt header
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PostPosted: 02.09.2004 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was pleasantly surprised and tickled by Wendigo, especially by Fessenden's use of building up atmosphere, which comprises more than an hour of the movie. But I agree with night watchman: when we can actually see the reindeer monster my disbelief and disappointment were too great. But I also agree with beltmann: I can't wait to see his next work.
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