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What did you watch this week?
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Jim Harper
Director


Joined: 29 Feb 2004
Posts: 226
Location: Totnes, Devon, UK

PostPosted: 06.29.2004 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This week I have watched:

Bubba Ho-Tep (Don Coscarelli, 2001) - Very enjoyable film. Campbell's best role since the Evil Dead films.

Tattoo (Robert Schwentke, 2002) - Grim German serial killer thriller that falls down in the climax after an interesting first hour.

Dead End (Jean-Baptiste Andrea, Fabrice Canepa, 2003) - Tense and blackly humourous film that descends to annoying climax. Loved the rest of it though.

King of the Ants - (Stuart Gordon, 2003) Violent and downbeat independent film with some great performances from a surprising cast. Don't watch if you're after something like Reanimator.
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the night watchman
Studio Exec


Joined: 27 Jun 2003
Posts: 1373
Location: Dark, run-down shack by the graveyard.

PostPosted: 06.29.2004 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim Harper wrote:


King of the Ants - (Stuart Gordon, 2003) Violent and downbeat independent film with some great performances from a surprising cast. Don't watch if you're after something like Reanimator.


I'm a big Stuart Gordon fan, and have been waiting for this movie since I downloaded the trailer about a year ago. I think it finally hits video in the US this week, so I'm going to be looking out for it. It lives up to expectations, does it?
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Jim Harper
Director


Joined: 29 Feb 2004
Posts: 226
Location: Totnes, Devon, UK

PostPosted: 06.29.2004 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
I'm a big Stuart Gordon fan, and have been waiting for this movie since I downloaded the trailer about a year ago. I think it finally hits video in the US this week, so I'm going to be looking out for it. It lives up to expectations, does it?


I enjoyed it. Very different for Gordon, but his talent as a director is still clear. It drags a little in the middle, but definitely worth seeing. I'll be sending a longer review to Michael soon, as well as a Q&A with Chris McKenna.
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Michael Scrutchin
Studio President


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 832
Location: Pearland, TX

PostPosted: 06.29.2004 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The last 10 days or so:



  • Opera (Argento, 1987) B+

  • The Son (Dardenne, 2002) A-

  • The Rules of the Game (Renoir, 1939) A

  • Suburban Nightmare (Keeyes, 2004) B-



Just a few brief, worthless comments: Opera, Argento's most expensive production, is frequently stunning and contains a few wonderful set pieces (and that peephole shot!), but it doesn't have the narrative strength of Tenebre or the sweeping nightmarish vision of Suspiria. Mostly due to Eric Beltmann's praise, I finally checked out The Son, which completely blew me away; need to seek out more from the Dardenne brothers. Also finally saw Renoir's The Rules of the Game (fun, brilliant, and masterfully crafted) and Suburban Nightmare, a pretty good but flawed direct-to-video horror movie released today.

I'll try to catch Fahrenheit 9/11, Spider-Man 2, or The Twilight Samurai this week. Haven't been to the movies in awhile.
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the night watchman
Studio Exec


Joined: 27 Jun 2003
Posts: 1373
Location: Dark, run-down shack by the graveyard.

PostPosted: 06.29.2004 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim Harper wrote:
I'll be sending a longer review to Michael soon, as well as a Q&A with Chris McKenna.


Cool beans. Cool
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smarty
Camera Operator


Joined: 29 Jun 2004
Posts: 79

PostPosted: 06.30.2004 3:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Evil Dead

Desparado

Donnie Darko

I really am way too lazy to rate them.
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the night watchman
Studio Exec


Joined: 27 Jun 2003
Posts: 1373
Location: Dark, run-down shack by the graveyard.

PostPosted: 06.30.2004 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael B. Scrutchin wrote:
Spider-Man 2


I'm hyped for this one, but won't get to see it until next week. I can't believe the degree of positive feedback it has garnered so far: ****/**** stars from Ebert, and an amazing (appropriate for Spidey) 97% fresh rating at rottentomatoes.com, missing mostly with female critics and receiving the expected curmudgeonly sniff from J. Hoberman.
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the night watchman
Studio Exec


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PostPosted: 06.30.2004 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Incidently, a question to those who have seen Fahrenheit 9/11: How does the school room video play in the movie? We had a thread, which has since been lost to the ravages of the Internet, discussing Bush's dawdling after being informed of the World Trade Center attacks, and we all (me, Eric, Matt, and Danny -- sorry if I forgot anyone else who contributed) agreed that the video didn't seem to damn him as much as some of his detractors would allege. Does Moore try to make (successfully or not) anything sinister from Bush's apparent procrastination?
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 06.30.2004 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
Does Moore try to make (successfully or not) anything sinister from Bush's apparent procrastination?


Moore doesn't provide the entire video segment, choosing to instead time-lapse through it. The sequence is clearly designed to assign "sinister" meaning to the clip, interpreting Bush's lack of impulsivity as a conspicuous sign of his indecision and incompetence. I might have been willing to grant Moore that possible interpretation, but he refuses to allow the clip to speak for itself: In voiceover, he conjectures about what's going on inside Bush's brain as he sits in that classroom, and I, for one, found the speculation worthy of Oliver Stone--primed to interpret this scenario in a worst-case context, Moore spins for Bush a malicious inner monologue so paranoid and conspiracy-ridden, it might redden even Stone's cheeks.

Eric
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the night watchman
Studio Exec


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Posts: 1373
Location: Dark, run-down shack by the graveyard.

PostPosted: 06.30.2004 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's unfortunate. I think that video, if treated as part of a whole, could have worked more effectively to provide genuine grist for criticism without having to sex-it-up.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 07.05.2004 12:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

6/28 ? 7/4/04

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (Thurber, USA 2004)

The Story of O (Jaeckin, France 1975)

The Perfect Score (Robbins, USA 2004)

Spider-Man 2 (Raimi, USA 2004)

Glaze of Cathexis (Brakhage, USA 1990)

Delicacies of Molten Horror Synapse (Brakhage, USA 1990)

Untitled (For Marilyn) (Brakhage, USA 1992)

Of the three Brakhage pictures, my favorite is Delicacies of Molten Horror Synapse. Inspired by how the act of watching TV often creates a deadening effect on our nerve centers?all stimuli, no content?Brakhage channeled that aura, in all its ugliness and delicacies, as a conceptual experience. The images sometimes resemble the jittery waves of TV resolution lines, but mostly the colors and shapes abstractly represent the negative vibes experienced when submitting to the shrill, superficial white noise of most television programming. I could relate.

I don?t usually list repeat viewings here, but I?d like to add that this week I revisited De Palma?s Scarface for the first time in 10 years, and I like it even less now?it?s a turgid, distended mess that adds nothing to the familiar criminal-on-the-rise formula except a more menacing version of how exotic the f-word sounds to little men--especially actors and directors--who are gangsters in their dreams.

Finally, I?m a little embarrassed by how much I loved Spider-Man 2.

Eric
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Danny Baldwin
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 1354
Location: San Diego, CA

PostPosted: 07.06.2004 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I admit it. I neglected posting. But you all missed mine? Right? Right. Actually, I just decided that after two of my posts were deleted, I'd hold off until a month had passed. Here's the last four weeks' worth, including those that were erased...

6/8 - 7/5

Calendar Girls (Cole, 2004) - An entirely pleasant diversion, but the major problem is that it isn't funny. The script is dry and stale, overpowering the quite witty performances delivered. C+

Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer (Broomfield/Churchill, 2004) - Courageous documentarian captures greatness here, albeit less intense of the fictionalized version of the story in Monster. I'm not sure, politically, it's a very sound argument, but is a wonderful study of insanity. B

Soul Plane (Terrero, 2004) - I'm embarrassed that I actually laughed at some of the gags, primarily to be found in Tom Arnold's performance and the differences between the treatment of first-class and coach flying. The rest, though, is mostly crap. C+

Eurotrip (Schaffer, 2004) - Most of it is completely offensive, but the director disguises how distasteful the material is, with a swift, upbeat style. The crazy Matt Damon cameo is something else, too. C-

The Stepford Wives (Oz, 2004) - So dimwitted and tongue-in-cheek that all of the humor of the original film, which was dark and a tad scary, is thrown away. Some good performances save the overly moronic script. C

City of God (Mierelles/Lund, 2002) - It's like a Tarantino movie in the wrong place, as Walter Chaw said in his review. Many scenes are hokey, whereas successful ones are biting and intense. I admired a lot of it, and absolutely detested the rest. In the end, though, mastery wins out. B

Baadasssss! (Van Peebles, 2004) - A passionate, stirring tribute to Melvin Van Peebles from his son, Mario. Aside from the fact that the theatre wouldn't turn up the bulb, because my dad and I were the only people in the theatre, this one is fully absorbing, thematically. A-

House of 1000 Corpses (Zombie, 2003) - There are a few clips of homage to old horror that are interesting, and the movie is never painful. Aside from these two facts, plus some cool visuals, the core of Rob Zombie's debut is completely hollow. C

The Last Temptation of Christ (Scorsese, 1988) - It's not really all that effective, and certainly doesn't match The Passion in storytelling, but Scorsese and his cast are able to create an engaging piece of historical fiction. B-

Saved! (Dannelly, 2004) - Succeeds in its first two acts, bringing both humor and social commentary into an irresistable mix. The third act is desperate though, occassionally offensive, and anti-climatic. B

Repeat Viewing | Monty Python's The Life of Brian (Jones, 1979) - Still very funny the second time; brilliance is abundant, in terms of satire and its delivery. A-

Around the World in 80 Days (Coraci, 2004) - Chan is terrific, but the story is executed too sillily to be satisfying. I was amazed how well the kung-fu was combined with the classic premise, and adapted into something that's usually enjoyable. C+

The Son (Dardennes, 2003) - Ravishing story, and I'm almost entirely in agreement with Beltmann. I think the greatest scene takes place in the coffee shop, in which the main character, Oliver, does not pay for his apprentice's snack. Ironic that in the preceeding scene that the kid has asked to be adopted, the real turning point of the movie. Shocking and effective. A-

The Terminal (Spielberg, 2004) - A funny, bubbly showcase for the lighter sides of Spielberg and Hanks, resulting in a small downgrade in quality, but not a huge one. I enjoyed it thorouhly, for its entire two-hour and eight-minute running length. B

And Now?Ladies and Gentlemen (Lelouch, 2003) - It's creative, but the performances aren't particularly striking, and the style is reather bland. Chemistry does ensue amongth the leads, though, and I was occassionally enthralled. C+

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (Thurber, 2004) - It relies entirely on slapstick most of the time, and has bad taste in such. The only times I enjoyed it was during the sequences featuring actual dodgeball and when the performances spurred into a land of creativity. We all know Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn deserves better than this. C

The Times of Harvey Milk (Epstein, 1984) - You didn't have to agree with Harvey Milk's politics to be affected by his life in this movie. Dan White, his assasin, would make for a great fictionalized film. Further analysis is on the thread dedicated to this one. B+

The Notebook (Cassavetes, 2004) - One of the more engrossing romances of the last few years. Especially great is Rachel McAdams, who was terrible in her last two movies, in my opinion.I was amazed at how sensuous Nick Cassavetes let it be, as a director. But, this is definitely for the better. B

Repeat Viewing | Mulholland Drive (Lynch, 2000) - Several things struck me here, the second time, even though I didn't like it as much in this viewing. The two greatest assets it has are Lynch's ability to conclude it, as well as an amazing performance by Naomi Watts. A-

Fahrenheit 9/11 (Moore, 2004) - A short little capsule on it does not express my opinion, fully enough. And although I don't normally like to refer you to my reviews, for some reason, mine's here. D-

Spider-Man 2 (Raimi, 2004) - A stronger story and action scenes occupy this second installment in the series, but ironically, I didn't sympathize for Peter Parker here as much as I did in the first one. I think that there, I felt as though he had no choice but to be Spider-Man, but in this one, I came to the realization of his desires. I could certainly identify more with him, but I'm just not sure I was as entertained, which is the highest priority in a comic-book movie. B

Don't Ask Don't Tell (Miles, 2002) - A stupid, one-joke microbudget production by Refried Flicks, a production company who dubs over old movies with new stories. Here, they take a B&W alien invasion film and change the story to make the aliens morph the general population into homosexuals, instead of just generally demonizing them. I laughed for maybe a few minutes. D+

Bad Santa (Zwigoff, 2003) - I actually liked the note it ended on, but the problem with the script is that I sympathized with the main characters too much for them to be inhibiting a dark comedy. It's overly crude, as well, even though Billy Bob Thorton can deliver the better amount of 130 F-bombs with the maximum amount of taste possible. C+

The Bear (Annaud, 1988) - Beautiful landscapes and wonderful emotion, considering these are animals gaining our sympathy. Director Annaud places beautiful messages and themes in context, and undeniably won me over. B

Pitch Black (Twohy, 2000) - As I watched it, I had no clue Twohy also directed Below, but that picture instantly sprung to mind, as I looked at the visuals. I'm not sure I like his style, but it enables viewers to vividly remember his films. Vin Diesel also isn't too bad, either. Now, if this one was actually suspenseful, it'd be worthy of merit. C+
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mfritschel
Cinematographer


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

PostPosted: 07.08.2004 1:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spider-Man 2 (Raimi, 2004) - great summer movie, just as good as the first one and just as enjoyable. I love the way one relates to the characters and how Raimi is able to weave our emotions attached with the characters into the actual story line and the action sequences. Instead of mindless action sequences, one find themselves gasping and hoping along with them. Whether this is do to the comic book being a classic, just great movie making, or a little combination of both can be agrued either way. Finally a sequel that builds and continues, instead of destroying and trying to improve. The movie worked within its peramaters and doesn't try to exceed them, or become something more than it is suppose to be.

Magdalene Sisters (Mullan, 2003) - tragic story telling of women oppression, very emothionally moving and depressing

Dirty Pretty Things (Frears, 2003) - another not exactly feel good movie.

Farenheit 9/11 (Moore, 2004) - What can I say, the movie set out with a definite agenda and tried to make its point. Effectiveness can really be agrued either way depending on point of view, but even some liberals have to be left wondering and questioning factuality and effectiveness of some of Moore's points. The part with the women who had recently lost her son carried absolutely no emothional impact for me, and left me wondering the point of it. I found the parts of a peaceful Iraq and images of chared people far more effective and powerful, but yet a little hard to grasp at times. Common life could not have been that great in Iraq before we got there, although one can debate how much better the US has made it. I guess one really can't decide if this movie can be considered powerful till November rolls around. If this movie can add more fuel to the fire and sway the course of the election, even in a small way, then everyone must acknowledge this movie as quite ground breaking and really one of a kind.

House of Sand and Fog (Perelman, 2003)

Last Tango in Paris (Bertolucci, 1973)

The Termainal (Speilberg, 2004) - What happened to the Spielberg of past, after "AI" and "Minority Report" we are left with this.

The Rundown (Berg, 2003)
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matt header
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 623
Location: Milwaukee, WI

PostPosted: 07.08.2004 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of the last couple weeks:

Around the World in 80 Days (Coraci, 2004) B I really believe Chan is one of the finest slapstick comedians working today: he has the athleticism to perform physical insanity (if he can't still quite muster the mammoth death-defying stunts) and the goofball sense of humor to make practically every punch a joke in itself. The movie shuttles between action, romance, comedy, and (maudlin) drama with an old-fashioned aw-shucks energy; it recaptures the original's boyish enthusiasm for scientific development and world travel, only it doesn't suck as much. (Seriously - Shirley Maclaine as an Indian?!)

Spider-Man 2 (Raimi, 2004) B+ Raimi references monster movies, B-grade horror, Butch Cassidy and, of course, how cool superheroes are: this is a sequel so passionate in its delivery of age-old cliches that we can't help but grin along. Performances may seem stilted at first, as does the dialogue at times; but really, it goes along with Raimi's tongue-in-cheek style.

Love Me If You Dare (Samuell, 2004) C- French romantic comedy has the same obnoxious restlessness of Guy Ritchie, only at the service of a story about mad love instead of guys with big guns. It's charming at times, but mostly it's annoying - and, more importantly, I'm amazed that with all of these flights of fancy and visual tricks, I was bored through much of it. The fact that it's ludicrous isn't much of a criticism, since it's supposed to be; the fact that our hero and heroine are more bullheaded than any movie couple I've seen in a long time is disconcerting, though.

Secret Window (Koepp, 2004) C+ Outstanding guilty fun for a while, with Depp's performance (filled with pointless banter) and its old-school scare tactics making me grin boyishly. By its climax, though, it becomes mean-spirited and incomprehensible, confusing pointless shifts of character as twist endings.

Shallow Grave (Boyle, 1992) C Stylish, yes, and for a while it has a dark sense of humor without seeming overly snide, which is a difficult thing to do. But these characters become distant and shrill, and everything they do becomes simply cogs in the story's uninteresting machinery. A newspaper reads "triple corpse", and it is supposed to reflect our trio of heroes as much as the three people they've butchered and disposed of - a "who is the villains" contradiction that presages Boyle's 28 Days Later. But 28 Days Later had pathos and chills to drive its noble ideas, while Shallow Grave is noble yet mostly runs itself into the ground long before it ends.
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Michael Scrutchin
Studio President


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 832
Location: Pearland, TX

PostPosted: 07.09.2004 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Recently:



  • China White Serpentine (Stanze/Garrels, 2004) D+

  • House of Wax (De Toth, 1953) C+

  • Replay (Bonner, 2003) B-

  • Gaslight (Cukor, 1944) B

  • Magnificent Obsession (Sirk, 1954) B



House of Wax is a rather pedestrian affair. It probably would have vanished into obscurity by now if not for Vincent Price's presence, which almost single-handedly makes it watchable and kinda fun. Even a midnight chase through the foggy New York streets isn't as suspenseful or atmospheric as it could have been due to the perfunctory direction. I haven't seen the original film based on the same story, Mystery of the Wax Museum, which I hear is better. Oh, and there's a remake in the works starring (God help us) Paris Hilton. I quite liked George Cukor's Gaslight, a psychological thriller on par with second-tier Hitchcock; it features a strong performance by Ingrid Bergman and wonderful mise-en-scene. And while not up to par with some of Sirk's latter melodramas, Magnificent Obsession is either a highly emotional tearjerker or hilarious over-the-top camp; for me, it was a little of both. That Sirk. Reviews for China White Serpentine and Replay coming soon.
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