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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.17.2004 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HoRRoRFaN wrote:
A scene of symbolism late in the film is placed perfectly with the atmosphere and tone when two coyotes pass in front of Max's taxi cab.


I thought this moment was exceptional. It's especially interesting to see how both men react differently to the sight. Their interpretation of the coyotes, I think, represents the effect the night has had on them.

HoRRoRFaN wrote:
What came close to diminishing the realism of Mann's world were these coincidences that existed to make the story work. But then again, maybe I shouldn't pay attention to these implausible scenes ...


I think there are less coincedences in the story than there appears to be. Nearly everything is motivated by something that has happened earlier. Vincent is orchastrating events, using new and unexpected situations to his advantage. In other words, he is attempting to construct order out of random events.
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HoRRoRFaN
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PostPosted: 08.17.2004 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
I thought this moment was exceptional. It's especially interesting to see how both men react differently to the sight. Their interpretation of the coyotes, I think, represents the effect the night has had on them.


Very true. Another great thing about this moment was that Mann only needed this one moment to represent these emotions and that fate brought the two together.

Quote:
I think there are less coincedences in the story than there appears to be. Nearly everything is motivated by something that has happened earlier. Vincent is orchastrating events, using new and unexpected situations to his advantage. In other words, he is attempting to construct order out of random events.


When you say that almost everything is motivated, I definitely agree with the statement because it's amusing how Vincent has the process he works with (improvising, etc) and that after the first execution, his actions mirror his speech. And while there aren't a ridiculous amount of coincidences, a few things still stuck out for me while watching it. Okay, off the top of my head, the police officers are seconds away from opening up Max's trunk, then they get called in for a shootout or something like that (can't exactly remember what it was); Vincent knows exactly where every single one of his hits will be; he has a perfect chance to kill Annie but does not b/c all of a sudden, Max shows up; he dies after an incredible chase, which I could not believe. Wouldn't the car crash completely destroy the computer that Max sees the info on? Not only could they have been killed, but come on, Vincent runs away from the cab like he doesn't have a scratch on him and Max is also fine. Other things made sense to me thinking about them like when Annie gave Max her card at the beginning, but Max calls her from the library where she is working all night. It makes sense, though, since the calls would naturally be forwarded.
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matt header
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PostPosted: 08.18.2004 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I too loved the moment with the coyotes in the road (although the song Mann chooses to play in the background is pretty awful): it's a sublime summary of the clash of personalities the movie depicts, and how the Max and Vincent embody a decaying sense of honor and nobility among a sleek modern society. While I agree the climactic action sequences are excellently and stylishly done, I can't say I think Max and Vincent remain Max and Vincent -- that is, perhaps their character evolutions have become complete, but in my view they de-evolved into hero and villain, when nothing beforehand had been so black-and-white. The loose storyline basically dictates that we root for Max to prevail over the murderous Vincent, but through most of Collateral Vincent is not a villain: like Mann did with De Niro's character in Heat, he uncovers a great sense of honor and respect in the "criminal" character. Vincent is a man with demons and self-doubt (we can sense this from his first exchange with Max in the taxicab), and there is a sense of elegant rebellion in his character, reminiscent of the deadly samurai remaining on the fringes of society. A coyote, indeed: the cunning intensity of this animal mirrors itself profoundly in Vincent.

When he begins chasing Max and Annie through the office building and onto the subway, I could only be disappointed that this ambiguous, thought-provoking portrayal of Vincent turned into a somewhat narrower depiction of him as relentless killer. SPOILER!!! After Vincent is shot, he retains his ambiguous nature: he becomes the corpse on the MTA that no one notices, a remnant of an urban allure - mean, elegant, honorable, honest, and haunted - who is violent only through necessity, who only appears more villainous compared to the deceptive meek manner of modern society. Before he is shot, however, he's a lean killing machine, leaping onto subways and racing after his prey with a more conventional bombast that seems out of place.

That's not to say I didn't like the movie, though; I was disappointed during the climax, but there's great intelligence and style surrounding it in every direction.
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HoRRoRFaN
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PostPosted: 08.18.2004 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with a lot of your points, Matt. Like I said, Vincent is complex up to the ending when he is reduced to an ordinary movie character. Before, I loved how Mann's perspective realized an honest grey zone where these two people inhabited.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.19.2004 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:
I too loved the moment with the coyotes in the road (although the song Mann chooses to play in the background is pretty awful)


I thought the song was a great choice. It's off Audioslave's first record, and the lyrics, to me, nicely sum up the ambiguity between Vincent's self-perception and Max's perception of Vincent.

matt header wrote:
I can't say I think Max and Vincent remain Max and Vincent -- that is, perhaps their character evolutions have become complete, but in my view they de-evolved into hero and villain, when nothing beforehand had been so black-and-white.


It never became that simplistic for me. Even if the characters are obliged by the script to follow thriller conventions, they go about fulfilling their archetypal roles according to their established personalities, and the (unbalanced) relationship they've forged during the course of the film's first two thirds. Vincent takes a liking to Max, and believes Max has formed a similar sort of bond with him. He's wrong, of course, which, to me, is why Max gets the upper hand in the end. I also thought Vincent's sense of honor was self-delusional, which, again, is why he's ultimately betrayed by his own assumptions in the climax.

SPOILERS

HoRRFaN wrote:
And while there aren't a ridiculous amount of coincidences, a few things still stuck out for me while watching it. Okay, off the top of my head, the police officers are seconds away from opening up Max's trunk, then they get called in for a shootout or something like that (can't exactly remember what it was); Vincent knows exactly where every single one of his hits will be; he has a perfect chance to kill Annie but does not b/c all of a sudden, Max shows up; he dies after an incredible chase, which I could not believe. Wouldn't the car crash completely destroy the computer that Max sees the info on? Not only could they have been killed, but come on, Vincent runs away from the cab like he doesn't have a scratch on him and Max is also fine.


If I remember correctly, the cops are being called to the scene of Vincent's first hit. Since they pull over Max's cab only minutes after the incident, it seems reasonable that they would be dispatched as the closest unit. As far as Max knowing the exact location of his hits, well, it's not too much of a stretch for me to assume that the people who hired him would take great pains to be as precise as possible about each victim's location since Vincent will only be in town to the job for a limited amount of time. His flub with Annie and his eventual demise I explained above. The only real plot contrivances that stuck in my craw was, yes, the post-crash activity, i.e. the computer giving Max the precise info he needs to save Annie at the precise moment that will enable him to get a gun from cop. Still, small beans.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.19.2004 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One more thing: Both men see through the other's front. But whereas Max accepts and takes advantage of Vincent's truth, Vincent does not -- indeed, perhaps, cannot -- receive Max's truth. This is the key, I think, to why the climax plays out the way it does.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.19.2004 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
It never became that simplistic for me. Even if the characters are obliged by the script to follow thriller conventions, they go about fulfilling their archetypal roles according to their established personalities, and the (unbalanced) relationship they've forged during the course of the film's first two thirds. Vincent takes a liking to Max, and believes Max has formed a similar sort of bond with him. He's wrong, of course, which, to me, is why Max gets the upper hand in the end. I also thought Vincent's sense of honor was self-delusional, which, again, is why he's ultimately betrayed by his own assumptions in the climax.


I agree entirely, especially regarding Vincent's status as a delusional villain--he merely harbors fantasies that his "profession" has noble dynamics. Since we've witnessed Vincent's cold, mechanical efficiency throughout the picture, it shouldn't be a surprise that in the final act he shifts his sights onto Max--it's certainly not a betrayal of the character. More significantly, while this particular battle-of-wills builds towards a traditional genre face-off, it never delivers on that promise, opting instead for a much more graceful, elegant, and elegiac resolution. (Also consider how the so-called "heroism" of Max is consistently marked by fear, ignorance, and clumsiness, especially in the final action sequence.)

Eric
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matt header
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PostPosted: 08.20.2004 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I thought the song was a great choice. It's off Audioslave's first record, and the lyrics, to me, nicely sum up the ambiguity between Vincent's self-perception and Max's perception of Vincent.



You're right about the lyrics, and I suppose I shouldn't fault Mann too much: I'm not a fan of Audioslave at all, so that's just personal opinion speaking.

I can definitely see where you're coming from with your other points as well, and to an extent I agree; I'm at least very satisfied that Collateral and its characters are never content to simply be derivative stereotypes. I do think the climax pales in comparison, though, and I think that my problem may lie not so much in the characters and how they behave -- Cruise and Foxx are excellent throughout -- but in the style Mann chooses to portray them. He seems more eager to simply wrap up the setpiece than let it play out on its own terms, which he had beautifully done up to the last part. To use the movie's own metaphor, it is, I think, the least jazzy part of the movie; not bad, but not as good as the rest.
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PostPosted: 08.21.2004 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

August 8th - 14th

/Elephant/ (Gus Van Sant, 2003) 96

Stuck on You (Farrelly Brothers, 2003) 31

Radio (Michael Tollin, 2003) 36

Dorm Daze (David & Scott Hillenbrand, 2003) 23

Collateral (Michael Mann, 2004) 65

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (Danny Leiner, 2004) 57

Not since BAD SANTA have I laughed as hard; I had a blast during this stoner comedy that is essentially AFTER HOURS meets AMERICAN PIE with CHEECH AND CHONG rolled into it. The movie is about two intelligent roommates, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn), who have their share of problems. Harold works where he is mistreated by co-workers and is nervous around one of his neighbors, Maria, and he cannot utter a single word. Kumar is a medical student and doesn't want to go through with it, but then his father will stop paying his bills. On a Friday night, Harold and Kumar normally watch a bunch of movies and smoke a bunch of pot. When the two get an extreme case of the munchies, they decide that they need to get something that they don't usually get: White Castle. In a movie that has no plot whatsoever, the screenplay written by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg allows its characters to roam free, and the quest through New Jersey to find a White Castle gets more and more botched, and never is there a boring, dull moment through the satire. I appreciated the way that these two characters were developed and the director understands that not every person who enjoys smoking good weed is a loser that has nothing going for them at all. And trust me, I am not stoned when I say this: this is a movie that is not as stupid as it looks because there is subtletly beyond its humor, which ranges from gross, to observant, and just plain weird. While the world that these people occupy is surreal (the fantasy sequence was hilarious), it is a realistic movie that is thoughtful enough to comment on certain roles in society, prejudices surrounding the characters (one is Indian and one is Korean), and how they are able to overcome. There is not much more that I can say about this movie, but just go see the movie and enjoy yourself. You may be surprised by its ability to have us laugh so much, as I certainly was.

Seven Blood-Stained Orchids (Umberto Lenzi, 1972) 72

As the film opens to a dark room where an unseen figure is lurking, the action immediately begins and we are plunged into the story so fast that we aren't quite sure what is happening. A prostitute (Gabriella Giorgelli) is picked up and taken to a secluded rest stop and when she is killed by a mysterious caped figure, detectives are perplexed to find a silver moon-shaped pendant on the corpse. This object is seen on other corpses found over the course of two days and next, the killer is after Giulia (Uschi Glas), a woman engaged to a fashion designer Mario (Antonio Sabato). Riding on a train one night, the killer is interrupted by Mario, leaving Guilia for dead. But she is actually alive, and the police want to fake her funeral, in efforts to find who the killer is in time, before he strikes again. When the police are after the wrong people, Mario begins his own investigation, while him and Giulia figure out the connection between her and the killer's previous victims. Two years earlier, Giulia worked at a resort hotel where the other women stayed -- this is all I am going to say before I spoil the rest. It's a complex mystery complete with twists and turns as well as an emotional core that unexpectedly hits us. Plenty of red herrings manage to interest us instead of distracting us, and Lenzi's cinematography is masterful. With its spacious composition, the camera is handled with great care in capturing every possible character and detail into the frame, never once feeling absurd. Scene where Mario enters the house party comes to mind, where we are introduced in a way to many unusual images and people. Perhaps the most surprising thing about Lenzi is how mature he is with this film with stupendous focus intensely expressed in his camera movements and even the zoom, one of his trademarks, is felicitous and not overdone. I wanna watch this again soon to spend more time thinking about the murder sequences, which are all perfectly positioned, as great balance to the investigation. Notice the attention to detail (especially the camera lingering on the paint dripping) and how quietly tense these scenes manage to be without any excessive gore that we come to expect, which is always impressive. Not every giallo needs to break new ground, and Lenzi knows this by embracing the genre and having fun with the material.

Spasmo (Umberto Lenzi, 1974) 74

In a surreal Lynchian fashion, SPASMO is a film where virtually anything can happen at any likely moment, and the viewer has literally no idea what is going on even by the ending, which manages to connect the assortment of plot elements together, simultaneously perplexing us. It opens typically when we watch as a couple makes out on a secluded roadside, soon noticing a figure hanging from a tree nearby, but when they closely approach it, they realize that it merely is a lifelike mannequin and was apparently the doings of the person in the car that drives away quickly. Strange events depict Christian (Robert Hoffman) accompanied by a woman walking together on the beach finding Barbara (Suzy Kendall) laying down and they think she is dead, but she runs away from them before explaining what happened to her. I can elaborate on the plot or what happens when Christian meets Barbara at a party, but the ambiguity in this film brimming with unpredictable surprises around every turned corner needs to be experienced, not spoiled. From the start, Lenzi intended to make a giallo that eludes rules and standards that were introduced by Argento or Bava, set in stone by their works. Lenzi acquires a vision that is new and original for a giallo, excluding a black gloved killer seen in the shadows, setting his film during the day, and the genre's sex and violence is not necessary here. Lenzi is in control of a restrained aura that you will forget he is directing. The only thing that was territory for a Lenzi film and easy to notice was the fairly bad dialogue, but otherwise, I was in utter shock watching this film, amazed by how well he improved with a giallo. Maybe there are contrived elements in the mystery, but the acting of Hoffmann, Kendall, and Ivan Rassimov provide believability in the characters they play. I loved how tremendously tense scenes can be, and the surprising thing is that these are all scenes set in the day. I loved Lenzi's cinematography. I loved the Ennio Morricone score. If the plot fucks with your head, you need to specifically focus on the way that Lenzi approaches every scene with such assured, effective immediacy.

The Washing Machine (Ruggero Deodato, 1992) 62

One of Deadoto's least favorite pictures, THE WASHING MACHINE is imperfect but a thoroughly enjoyable and well made giallo, involving a man's dead body found in a washing machine. Detective Alexander Stracev (Philippe Caroit) is assigned to this peculiar case, sent to a Budapest apartment, where alcoholic Ludmilla (Barbara Ricci) swears that she saw her one sister Vida's (Katarzyna Figura) boyfriend Yuri (Yorgo Voyagis) in the washing machine, but the body has disappeared. On account of her heavy drinking, the detective believes that it is simply her imagination and nothing more. But when he is compelled to dig deeper into the case, he begins to fall for all three of the sisters, bewildered by their allure and mystery at the same time. Even if I didn't care much for the characters, they are interesting at least, and cannot be more different from each other. The way that Yuri died is sporadically shown through flashbacks as the sisters explain their version to the detective. You do not know what to believe because of how far-fetched and strange the stories are. It's a convoluted, multifarious plot that is stylishly taken care of by Deodato, who exercises original atmosphere for a giallo with many gothic shots. Gore and shock value is what Deodato is most famous for, but here he does not wish to shock us with violence (the sequence showing the cannibal theory sticks out, though) but eroticism is the theme that Deodato shocks us with. Characters are described through their sexual actions: the cop being handcuffed to the staircase, displaying the control that the sisters have over the cop, the authority. Also, there are shots that present to us how small the detective is compared to the sisters. From the rousing opening shot, the camerawork grabbed my attention, leading up to the awesome twist ending that you can only find in a giallo. I thought the first and second twist were great, but Deodato seemed to rush toward the resolution. There isn't one character that you can honestly care about here, and you can't dismiss the plot holes in Luigi Spagnol's screenplay. But despite problems that I had with the film, THE WASHING MACHINE makes for a compelling viewing.

The Toolbox Murders (Dennis Donnell, 1978) 24

Having finally seen the original TOOLBOX MURDERS in its entirety, I realized how infinitely superior that Tobe Hooper's remake is. With the remake, which I was lucky to see earlier this year at the 13th Philadelphia Film Festival, Hooper ultimately proves to his viewers that he has what it takes to specifically recapture inescapable terror that he hasn't been able to acquire since THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Even if his remake is not a great film that his 1974 debut was, it is so lively intense with the supernatural atmosphere that Hooper perfectly realizes, and we can't help but notice how improved and accomplished of a work it is. Except for the toolbox handy pyscho in the hotel, the rest of the story is different, so I shouldn't exactly compare the two together. Still, Donnell's original lacks any reasonable depth, especially in the random characters that I didn't care about. This makes the movie an utterly pointless waste of time, and with the structure of the screenplay, there is no balance because the first and last half of the film is too detached and inconsistent with one another. Starts off alright enough with the wordless opening stretch, it's too bad that it cannot introduce us to any characters that we can possibly care about when they are killed. Suspense that is built up in the beginning is apparently not important to Donnell enough to capitalize on, a missed opportunity; the only character for at least 50 minutes of the film is a killer wearing a ski-mask, preventing any entry point in random victims, as well as his future victims. I dunno what was worse topping off the senseless slasher flick for me: distraction in the preposterous plot twists (the killer's motive) or the awful acting all around. The infamous nail gun murder may be cool for a little while, but the movie is overrated overall. Skip this, and see Hooper's remake instead.

Jungle Holocaust (Ruggero Deodato, 1977) 73

Although I did dislike CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and was skeptical viewing another cannibal film by its director, I wanted to check this out since I was on some sort of Deodato kick having recently seen more of his films -- and much to my surprise, I dug this film quite a bit. Said to be based on a actual events, the film accounts when a plane lands deep in the Amazon; the passengers are in search for oil as well as their other party, but it soon becomes aware to them that they were slaughtered and eaten by cannibals. Robert (Massino Foschi) is captured by the cannibal tribe and is tortured by them, but before he is eaten, he escapes them with help from a beautiful Native woman (Me Me Lai). That is as simple the story is and I couldn't have had it any other way, as there is no there's no "Who is the real savage?" bullshit, just the gritty story of survival, straightforward but unsettling in the extreme. Even though there's no major profundity in Deodato's bleak vision, it does not mean that the thematic capacity isn't nonetheless fascinating. Deodato is commenting on how man is forced to acclimate to a treacherous terrene, in conflict with the actions he is impelled to do in order to persevere amidst unspeakable horror. Best sequence in the film: an impeccable stretch that inhibits mostly all dialogue lasting up to 30 minutes. Camerawork in this part conveys every essential detail; effects of the haunting visuals produce more than dialogue can. Composition and framing is great, notably when Robert is trapped in their lair, and because of the muted dread and hopelessness, there is a moment that possesses atypical drawing power where cannibals flap their arms thinking that he can fly. What annoyed me was the inexcusable, senseless cruelty against animals that is unendurable to sit through. I guess it comes with the territory in this genre, though there is no reason for actual violence to be so explicitly included in these films. Most of it seems random to me anyway... I also didn't like the use of stock footage, which distracted me partially from the film, but it's an extremely minor quibble. By the end, a gut-wrenching, visceral experience that I will not soon forget.

Alien vs. Predator (Paul W.S. Anderson, 2004) 32

Not terrible or anything like that, but hard to enjoy with not much to recommend. Set in present day, Charles Weyland (Lance Henriksen) is a wealthy industrialist who believes that there is an ancient temple in Antarctica, which is about 2,000 feet below its surface, and before he dies, he wants to explore and claim it. He searches around the world to assemble a special team of archaeologists, adventurers, and scientists. They are to be led by Alexa (Sanna Lathan), who is climbing a mountain when she is recruited. She is known to take care of her team and she almost doesn't go along with the plan because she wants to take the necessary time to train everyone but Weyland insists that there is no time. As they get deep into the temple, they are soon trapped and used as bait as the Aliens and Predators hunt each other. It's interesting to me how Anderson isn't faithful to the two 20th Century Fox franchises that are pitted against each other. He decides to shy away from them, and even if it's been awhile since the last time I saw ALIEN or ALIENS, I remember how long it took for the alien to erupt from the human body, which is different than how long it takes in Anderson's movie. Also, their blood dissolves weapons that the Predators use and doesn't harm others, and I happened to get a kick out of how big the Predators are in this movie with heads that are awfully humongous for them. I give Anderson credit for at least wanting an ALIEN set up where we don't see the creatures until later in the movie, the moment when we least expect the horror. Problem with this approach is that he fails to pose any development into characters that worked so effectively in Ridley Scott's film. Here, it's so obvious that Anderson doesn't care about any of them, as they are too quickly killed that we don't care. There's this scientist character played by Ewen Bremner that arbitrarily mentions that he has kids and it seems that this is the best Anderson can do. Alexa is forced and improbable like her dialogue, including the foolish "Hunter's Moon" comment that she makes before the crew arrives to the sight. Other characters are rarely even shown to us before they are killed, and their deaths are too brief (one of the main reasons why I couldn't enjoy the movie) and disguised. These quick cuts really suck, and Anderson cannot even make up for the appalling lack of gore with worthwhile suspense. The background story explaining why the creatures are fighting is cool, the fight scenes between the creatures (hard to see what is going on at times, though) are cool, and so is Henriksen's presence. Maybe if Anderson maintained an ominous atmosphere and delivered with the appropriate bloodshed, I could have had a fun time.

/The Big Lebowski/ (Joel Coen, 1998) 74

Wasn't much of a fan the first time around, but this film indeed improves with every additional viewing, as my rating has greatly increased. The film is now one of my favorites from the Coen's simply because of the many levels that it functions on and with each viewing, I can't help but get sucked more and more into its exuberance. We are deliberately meant to feel detached from the characters, but not to the point where we don't care for them because each of them have different perspectives on life that we are able to notice the compassion that they sometimes hide and their fragility. I'm definitely rambling on (in the process of getting really drunk), so don't expect anything that I say from this point on to make much sense, but what the hell, I'm gonna try anyway. We identify with The Dude because of how carefree he is, and even as he is living an undisturbed, peaceful life, he is screwed over in the first scene that we are introduced to him. In the course of the movie, everything happens to him, nothing is caused by him. His world doesn't entirely crumble, though. It's refreshing to see him express so much joy in between the stress that surrounds his day to day life, which is supposed to be serene, free of any worries. And he is not supposed to be a hero in a traditional sense, but he is the anti-Phillip Marlowe in the Chandler-esque mystery where everything is inverted and skewed, it's oddly dazzling and surreal. He doesn't have any street smarts, he is the opposite of a tough guy (a pacifist), and instead of figuring this mystery out, the mystery is what overwhelms him. Thought that the character was stagnant at first, but he precisely develops and has layers to him that amuse me: he articulates right and wrong (despite the trouble that he is unfortunately getting into, he wants to save Bunny); his intentions are always inherently good; not once does he roll a single bowling ball; most of his dialogue is taken from other characters. People that didn't like the movie should revisit and keep an eye out for its subtleties, as there are many. When I say that the characters are basically gentle people, I am even talking about Walter, who disguises his consideration and true feelings in his friendships, repeatedly telling Donny to shut up and mentioning Vietnam. Because Donny is so quiet, he has a certain innocence, and Walter cares about him but doesn't know how to express it. Donny always gets a strike when he bowls, except for when he has a heart attack. Borrowing music and other elements from different time periods, characters are stuck in the past and cannot move on. The Dude still lives in the '60s, even experiencing these occasional acid flashbacks (by the way, these sequences are significant because they mirror the current reality); Walter is haunted by Vietnam and loves his ex-wife; the wealthy Lebowski lives with his deceased wife's riches; and the rest of the characters make parallels to them. Little details are what make this film work, and you don't need to find any meaning into the work overall because well, there is none at the end. Which is one of the reasons why the film is so hilarious...
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.21.2004 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HoRRoRFaN wrote:


Alien vs. Predator (Paul W.S. Anderson, 2004) 32


I was fully expecting to be burning PWS Anderson in effigy after walking out of this movie, but I didn't, so I guess that means it surpassed my expectations. Or that I'm just lazy. I was actually quite impressed with the creature effects, especially the Aliens (even if I did roll my eyes at the tyrannosaur-sized Queen). Frankly, I don't think any Alien vs Predator movie could have worked, for the simple fact that we're dealing with three disparate species that have nothing in common with and no interest in one another beyond doling out ass-whuppins. That doesn't excuse Anderson for blithely disregarding continuity, ignoring characterization and narrative logic, and indulging in his penchant for cinematic thievery. This guy really, really needs to be delegated to home video, where he won't be allowed to waste million-dollar budgets or good franchises.

Your commentary on Spasmo got my interest. Is it available on video?
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HoRRoRFaN
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PostPosted: 08.22.2004 1:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
Your commentary on Spasmo got my interest. Is it available on video?


Yeah, Media Blasters put out a DVD with a great transfer (awful cover, though). Lemme know what you think if you see it...
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.22.2004 4:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool. I certainly will.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.22.2004 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

8/16 ? 8/22/04

New this week, alphabetically:

Bus 174 (Lacerda, Brazil 2002)

The Celebration (Vinterberg, Denmark 1998)

Charlotte and Her Jules (Godard, France 1960)

Earth (Dovzhenko, Soviet Union 1930)

Fat Girl (A Ma soeur!) (Breillat, France 2001)

Fool?s Mate (Le Coup du Berger) (Rivette, France 1956)

Garden State (Braff, USA 2004)

Girl With the Hat Box (Barnet, Soviet Union 1927)

Hearts in Atlantis (Hicks, USA 2001)

The Hit (Frears, UK 1984)

The Kingdom (Riget) (Von Trier, Denmark 1994)

Le Laboratoire de l'Angoisse (Leconte, France 1971)

Les Surmenes (Doniol-Valcroze, France 1958)

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (Blamire, USA 2004)

Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism (Greenwald, USA 2004)

Outskirts (Barnet, Soviet Union 1933)

Pretty Baby (Malle, USA 1978)

The Second Arrival (Tenney, USA 1998)

Story of Water, A (Historie D'Eau) (Truffaut and Godard, France 1961)

Taking Lives (Caruso, USA 2004)

24 Hours In the Life of a Clown (Melville, France 1945)

Of those, I most enjoyed Lacerda?s Bus 174, Dovzhenko?s Earth, Braff?s Garden State, Barnet?s Outskirts, and Frears? The Hit. (That last one is a genre thriller with an ironic wit that predates, and matches, Tarantino by a decade. It also boasts the best performance by Terence Stamp that I?ve seen.) I also enjoyed the two Danish pictures for similar reasons: While Vinterberg?s The Celebration is a domestic drama punctuated by subtle veins of farce and deadpan comedy, Von Trier?s The Kingdom is a satire of medical corruption sprinkled with lunacy, horror, and surreal pranks. I should also add that I giggled like a moron all the way through The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.

Greenwald's grassroots documentary Outfoxed aims to expose Murdoch's Fox News Channel?that bastion of "fair and balanced" journalism?as a right-wing propaganda machine. Top-heavy with talking heads and pirated footage from Fox broadcasts, the movie is crudely formatted, yet I'd argue that at least one-third makes a compelling, unassailable case against Fox. It suffers from regrettable tunnel vision, though: While Greenwald?s most damning gripe has nothing to do with bias?that Fox has bastardized ?journalism? by peddling hysterical, screaming, fear-mongering mutations of the news, which effectively shuts down intelligent discourse?he errs by dogmatically singling out Fox as the sole offender. At this point, aren?t CNN, MSNBC, etc. equally guilty of dumbing-down American TV journalism? They all feel like Inside Edition to me, obsessed with violence, Hollywood, sex, celebrities, scandals. (For example, while in the hospital a couple of weeks ago, I turned on CNN seeking information about Sharon?s Gaza pullout plan. That major international development wasn?t mentioned at all, but I was bombarded with ?breaking news? about Martha Stewart every 10 minutes. Eventually I flipped over to C-SPAN and watched re-runs of all the DNC speeches.) Watching commercial networks, I?m always reminded of Orwell or Huxley?s anesthetizing soma?doesn?t their daily elevation of non-news function as our national distraction??or at least Thoreau, who said, ?I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper.?

That said, perhaps I should confess that I sometimes hide an Entertainment Weekly inside a copy of The New Yorker. Stephen King?s column blows chunks, but man, Dalton Ross is funny. And I skip the fashion pages, I swear!

Eric
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smarty
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PostPosted: 08.22.2004 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This Is Spinal Tap (Reiner, 1984)

Young Frankenstein (Brooks, 1974)

History of the World: Part I (Brooks, 1981)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Gillaim/Jones 1975)

Fight Club (Fincher, 1999)
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HoRRoRFaN
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PostPosted: 08.22.2004 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Fat Girl (A Ma soeur!) (Breillat, France 2001)


Very ashamed that I haven't seen this yet, but on October 19th when the Criterion DVD comes out, I'll be picking it up.
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