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What did you watch this week?
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Rob Vaux
Grip


Joined: 23 Jan 2004
Posts: 20
Location: Los Angeles, CA

PostPosted: 02.10.2004 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:


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

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 mind the new one, though I wouldn't go to the mat for it.

Buck Rogers has Erin Grey in shiny spandex, which pretty much trumps EVERYTHING (except perhaps Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman for the sole reason that she wore even less shiny spandex). Quality programming? Who cares! There's slinky disco babes! How could Loren Greene and Dirk Benedict compare to that?

Still have yet to see Wendigo, though I've heard interesting things about it. Kind Hearts and Coronets is an all-time favorite. And Danny, I'm glad to find somebody else who was less than overwhelmed with Cabin Fever.

My viewings, 2/2-2/8:

? Miracle.

? Crimson Gold. Thanks for pointing this one out, Eric. My first dip into Iranian cinema, and well worth it.

? City of God. A repeat viewing for the inevitable Oscar arguments.

? Daredevil. Dammit I LOVE this movie!

And I'm off to see 50 First Dates tonight. Pray for me.

Rob
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mfritschel
Cinematographer


Joined: 27 Jun 2003
Posts: 143
Location: Port Washington, WI

PostPosted: 02.10.2004 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Northfolk (2003) B+ : laden with religous and american inconography I thorougly enjoyed this movie. Especially the part where they are trying to sell the wings. I haven't laughed that hard in a while. The best part and most memorable is when James Woods looks dead pan at his son and goes "Whatch you talking about Willis?"

Something's Gotta Give (2003) C- : Speaking of how you react to movies at different stages in your life, maybe when I am fifty or so I will find this movie enjoyable, as for now it just appears to me to be another standard date movie with a superb cast, and really all not that funny.

Nine Queens (2000) B+ : Simply put a well done caper movie. After watching recently such failures as Confidence and Matchstick Men it was refreshing to see a well done con movie. I can honestly say that I felt no pity for one character at the end. Where as in Matchstick Men you feel sorry for Nicholas Cage, because maybe he's not that bad of guy, this movie doesn't seem to hide the truth as much.

The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002) B : A bit of a one sided account, but still entertaining. It would have been nice to have heard other people's points of view, but then I guess it really wouldn't have been an autobiography.
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beltmann
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 02.10.2004 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rob Vaux wrote:
Crimson Gold. Thanks for pointing this one out, Eric. My first dip into Iranian cinema, and well worth it.


I'm a huge Panahi fan--The White Balloon is a favorite, while The Circle was the best film of 2001--but there are other Iranians worth seeking out: Kiarostami, Ghobadi, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Samira Makhmalbaf, Payami, Majadi. If we're willing to divide movies into "regional" cinemas (and I'm a little skeptical), then I should admit particular interest in Middle Eastern output, primarily because they represent a resurrection of neo-realism that speaks to the Bazin in me.

Eric
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.10.2004 3:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mfritschel wrote:
Nine Queens (2000) B+ : Simply put a well done caper movie. After watching recently such failures as Confidence and Matchstick Men it was refreshing to see a well done con movie.


I thought Nine Queens was one of the best pictures of 2002. Have you seen Mamet's The Spanish Prisoner, House of Games, or Heist? The first two are highwater marks for the shell game genre, while the third is merely fun.

Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 02.11.2004 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
As Roger Ebert is fond of saying, "content is neutral."


Funnily enough, he just quoted his own cardinal rule in the last Answer Man column: "That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die."

Oops. That's the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. Ebert's rule is this: "A movie is not about what it is about, but how it is about it." A good rule.
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matt header
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: Milwaukee, WI

PostPosted: 02.11.2004 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Funnily enough, he just quoted his own cardinal rule in the last Answer Man column: "That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die."

Oops. That's the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. Ebert's rule is this: "A movie is not about what it is about, but how it is about it." A good rule.


LOL. Yeah, I always mix up Ebert and wacky old Abdul Alhazred myself. Both fine critics, those chaps.
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beltmann
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: 02.13.2004 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:
Yeah, I always mix up Ebert and wacky old Abdul Alhazred myself. Both fine critics, those chaps.


Fine indeed. But I prefer the Pope. Or anybody over at Focus on the Family.

Eric
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beltmann
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 02.16.2004 2:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

2/9 ? 2/15/04

Three terrific pictures, one major disappointment:

Imitation of Life (Sirk 1959). Melodrama is somewhere at the root of all arts, and I believe in Sirk as one of its great practitioners. Let?s do away with Taza Son of Cochise, Thunder on the Hill, No Room for the Groom, and Sign of the Pagan. We?re still left with Imitation of Life, All That Heaven Allows, All I Desire, and Written on the Wind. That?s four terrific pictures, which is more than even many of the best auteurs can claim. Life is about two women, two mothers, and two daughters, and these interlocking, pinball relationships are examined within the racist and sexist context of 1950s America?or, more specifically, the 50s that existed in Sirk?s candy-colored psyche. He set-designs the heck out of the movie, devising vibrant color codes and also an elaborate system for representing emotional distance: Many conversations use doorways, frames, mirrors, and bedposts to divide the characters. Sure, it?s overwrought, but in the best, most engrossing way. If we can accept action and horror movies that go way over the top, and find artistic glory in their excesses, why can?t we extend the same courtesy to emotional melodramas? Surely we can find the same art in tears as we can in blood?

Miracle (O?Connor 2004). Kurt Russell gives a great, intense, controlled performance as coach Herb Brooks, which helps the movie achieve terrific verisimilitude. I may know that real history is tougher, and more complex than this Disneyfied version, but while watching, the movie has the appearance of being real and true. It feels like 1980, and while the ice scenes are bone-crunchingly tense, they aren?t embellished by CGI or false, strained suspense. This is hockey as I know it. Best of all, the movie manages to be the story of an entire team?in other words, by eschewing sappy subplots about individual players, it expertly recreates and dramatizes the tension of being a spectator. This is one of the best sports movies in recent memory.

Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (Blier, France 1978). Attempting to make his forlorn wife happy, an open-minded man (Gerard Depardieu) enlists the help of a sports instructor, but even together they can't seem to help her feel better. Halfway through the film, though, all three are running a summer camp and only there, in the arms of a 13-year-old wunderkind, does the wife find the satisfaction she seeks--sexual, yes, but only as an extension of intellectual and emotional bonding. A friend compared it to Rushmore, and I assume he was referring to the plot. Yet for me, the clearer connection to Anderson?s picture is in terms of tone. Both films achieve a dry, subtle, witty rhythm, and derive great comic mileage out of composition, strong characters, and emotional poignancy. I can?t say it deserved that Best Foreign Film Oscar, but it definitely deserved to be in the running.

City of God (Meirelles and Lund, Brazil 2002). Bodies stack up at an alarming, detached rate in this spiffy action drama about a Rio de Janeiro slum peopled by youngsters armed to the teeth. When the desire of one young hood to become a ?mob boss? leads to all-out gang warfare, an aspiring photojournalist attempts to document the brutality. Of the two characters, the second is easily the more compelling. Unfortunately, the co-directors make the same mistake so many young American directors make: Infatuated with the ?exotic underworld,? they focus on the gangsters and their drugs, firepower, and general nastiness. Despite nearly wall-to-wall massacres, there?s not a single tense or credible moment?there?s more flinching intensity in just one of Miracle?s body checks?and not a single fresh idea regarding such social violence. I was also annoyed by the reliance on narration, which might account for the movie?s dramatic transparency: While we?re watching endless shots of guns discharging, the voice-over alone gives them their proper context. Strip away the lurid visual stylings (which, to my eye, inadvertently glorify these cardboard thugs), and we?re left with just another assembly-line actioner that might as well have featured Jet Li or Steven Seagal. Comparisons to Scorsese are very, very generous. Side question: Why has Meirelles been nominated for Best Director while his credited co-director has not?

Who would have guessed that I?d much prefer a live-action flag-waver from Disney over a tough, highly acclaimed film in Portuguese?

Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 02.17.2004 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just came back from Monster. I'm awestruck. There's nothing in this movie that doesn't work. I was worried that all the superlatives used in most reviews would set me up for disappointment, but, really, there's nothing that prepared me for the experience. It's like the greatest exploitation movie ever made.
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Last edited by the night watchman on 02.17.2004 5:19 am; edited 1 time in total
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 02.17.2004 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't understand my choices this week...but that's the way it goes.

Joe's Apartment (Payson, 1996) C

Manic (Melamed, 2003) B-

Touching The Void (Macdonald, 2004) A-

The Perfect Score (Robbins, 2004) C+

50 First Dates (Segal, 2004) C+
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Rob Vaux
Grip


Joined: 23 Jan 2004
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Location: Los Angeles, CA

PostPosted: 02.17.2004 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fairly busy for me this week. From 2/9-2/16:

? 50 First Dates

? Dark City

? The Limey (working on a noir project at work and these two made a nice double bill)

? Dead Man Walking (interested in the common links between this film and Monster)

? Stevie (powerful film, though a trifle intrusive; I think Capturing the Friedmans was more delicate and effective)

?The Philadelphia Story (It was on TCM, and I was inspired by the comedy thread; first time I'd seen it since college)

?Welcome to Mooseport (Aggressive medicority reigns supreme)

?Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (review pending)
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.17.2004 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rob Vaux wrote:
Fairly busy for me this week. From 2/9-2/16:

? 50 First Dates

? Dark City

? The Limey (working on a noir project at work and these two made a nice double bill)

? Dead Man Walking (interested in the common links between this film and Monster)

? Stevie (powerful film, though a trifle intrusive; I think Capturing the Friedmans was more delicate and effective)

?The Philadelphia Story (It was on TCM, and I was inspired by the comedy thread; first time I'd seen it since college)

?Welcome to Mooseport (Aggressive medicority reigns supreme)

?Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (review pending)


I saw Dark City in a budget theater, having skipped its first run because it looked rather medicore. I was blown away. It made my Top Ten list that year. I also love The Limey, and repeated viewings only improve it, and of course Philadelphia Story is magnificent. I completely agree about Stevie and Capturing the Friedmans and the difference between them. I also admit that I'm dying to see Welcome to Mooseport!

Eric
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.17.2004 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rob Vaux wrote:
? Dead Man Walking (interested in the common links between this film and Monster)


Rob, your mention of Dead Man Walking flooded my mind with its memory, and I concur that it contains thematic links to Monster. Brief thoughts on Robbins' superbly accomplished polemic:

I expected a wimpy, biased, facile condemnation of the death penalty, but Dead Man Walking refuses to exist on those shallow terms. It frankly explores capital punishment by asking the vital, complex questions about the subject. Does a man forfeit his rights when he violates the rights of others? Should society maintain the life of a murderer? How can a government assume the right to kill? Does God grant man the right to take life? Is capital punishment justice, violent revenge, or both? The film embarks on a Socratic, spiritual tour, becoming a clear-sighted examination of what it means to deprive a human--any human--of life.

Sister Helen takes it upon herself to prove that Poncelet is a human being despite his sons, but when she finally confronts the parents of his victims at his review hearing, she sees the deep, wrenching sorrow Poncelet has caused innocent, law-abiding people. It is in this scene that the film?s uncertainty, its frightful doubts about Poncelet?s own rights, emerge. Its probing atmosphere imposes itself upon the viewer, allowing the tangle of love, pain, compassion, and dread to surface from within the characters. As I see it, Robbins is willing to view capital punishment as three distinct things: as a form of legalized slaughter, as a form of justice, and as a form of absolution.

On the first level, Robbins takes a humanist position. He doesn't make it easy on himself (as the film progresses Poncelet becomes increasingly abhorrent), but he wants to say that even monsters have feelings, and the right to life. What he addresses is the seeming paradox between so-called Christian compassion and state-sanctioned murder. Sister Helen, while clearly opposed to capital punishment, struggles with the passages in Scripture that condone the act. She?s torn between Genesis 9:6 and the example of forgiveness Christ set for her.

As for justice, Robbins hints that while prisoners can respect incarceration as punishment, they cannot respect the state?s right to kill them. On the other hand, he implies that vengeance is perhaps a legitimate reaction to suffering. Robbins never denies the victims? parents the right to demand retribution. He understands why their loss churns into lust for Poncelet?s death. Surprisingly, the film actually suggests that his execution is the only way to give the families satisfaction?that perhaps they deserve his death more than he deserves to live.

The third, and most intriguing tier of Dead Man Walking concerns Poncelet?s inevitable death by lethal injection. Robbins dispenses with any B-movie suspense tactics; the legal pleas are mere formalities. As Sister Helen?s visits become more regular, the looming execution lends an immediacy to her attempts to give the killer a chance at redemption. It is here that the film goes beyond whether Poncelet ?deserves? to die. As Helen, who has never shared closeness with a man, and Poncelet, who has never experienced love, click on this intimate level of spiritual soul-searching, the film transcends its politics and claims that through execution Poncelet can find God and perhaps exoneration for his transgressions.

Robbins builds the movie out of a series of emotionally-charged scenes and a tenderness for his characters, but he?s aided immensely by the excellent work by Penn and Sarandon. Neither of them have ever been so compelling, Penn in particular (and I?m including Mystic River). As Poncelet awaits the midnight hour, Penn disrobes him layer by layer, displaying a little-boy vulnerability underneath that nasty goatee and tough-guy smirk. Stretched out on the lethal-injection gurney (alluding to Christ on the cross), the trembling Poncelet becomes an unwilling but touching martyr for compassion. Virtually flawless, Dead Man Walking lifted Robbins past the glibness of his previous work, Bob Roberts, and into a perceptive director of the first rank. All these years later, I still think it was the best movie of 1995.

Oh, and I love the music in the picture, especially the use of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (and especially his duet with Eddie Vedder, "Face of Love," which, if memory serves, plays over the opening credits). I've been listening to it ever since.

Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 02.17.2004 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice analyzation of Dead Man Walking, Eric. Ironically, your break down seems to point up why that movie flashed through my head once or twice, for obvious reasons, while watching Monster, but never really locked in. The movie I constantly thought about was, in fact, Taxi Driver.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 02.17.2004 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just re-read Rob's review of Monster. Capital, old man, I think you hit the nail on the head. I do, however, slightly disagree with your assessment that "Theron brings a predatory intensity to Aileen, letting her seethe with [...] barely concealed contempt for even the fundaments of morality." Or perhaps I misunderstand. It seemed to me she was striving to convince herself (and Selby) of the morality of her actions. She tries to make her victims as monstrous as she can (fixing in her mind that one of her johns is a child molester because he asks to call him "daddy"), and at one point claims that she's "right with the Lord." Did you mean that Aileen was contemptous of the hypocritical expressions of morality she saw in the society around her?
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