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Screening Log 2006 - What did you watch this week?
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beltmann
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 10.16.2006 12:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

10/9 ? 10/15/06



No time for any theatrical screenings, but I did manage to squeeze in some late-night DVDs:



Features in preferential order:

The Puffy Chair / Duplass / USA / 2006

The Ground Truth / Foulkrod / USA / 2006

Scary Movie 4 / Zucker / USA / 2006



Even though it features the same kind of airless slapstick, Scary Movie 4 never generates the kind of goofy goodwill that Scary Movie 3 did. I lost track, but I?m willing to wager that at least 75% of the jokes in this movie are founded on the faulty assumption that getting hit in the head is the height of comedy. I grew weary.



The Ground Truth offers a documentary portrait of Iraq War veterans and their struggles re-integrating back into civilian society. Some suffer from physical ailments, most suffer from mental ailments, and all share a common belief that they have been mistreated by the military, either during or after their term of service. (Some tell stories about how the military contrived to deny them health benefits after their discharge.) What emerges isn't a broad condemnation of the US military or of the war in Iraq?after all, this is merely a tiny sample of individual anecdotes?but these particular stories still inspire particular outrage.



Having finally seen The Puffy Chair, let me say right now that the Duplass brothers are on the cusp of becoming major filmmakers. They have a great film in their very near future.



Short films in preferential order:

Scrapple / Duplass / USA / 2004

The Big Shave / Scorsese / USA / 1968

It?s Not Just You, Murray! / Scorsese / USA / 1964

What?s a Nice Girl Like You Doing In a Place Like This? / Scorsese / USA / 1963

This Is John / Duplass / USA / 2003



The Duplass brothers? Scrapple is included on The Puffy Chair DVD, and it?s a revelation. Over a game of Scrabble, an affable married couple begins bickering and the resulting scrap finally exposes raw nerves, the deep-seated feelings towards each other that are the root of certain tensions in their relationship. What's astonishing is how director Jay Duplass and the actors navigate the scene with dexterity?it never explodes into melodrama. Instead, what emerges is an entirely convincing portrait of how marriage contains complex veins of commitment and misgivings.



I also re-watched the Duplass brothers? The Intervention, which I first saw at a film festival last year. It concerns a group confronting a friend about a small lie, in hopes of prodding him to reveal a larger truth. At the time I made note of their facility with naturalistic dialogue?which remains a major strength of their artistry?but still didn?t care for the film. I was wrong. With several other Duplass works providing context, a second viewing helped reveal how I had initially overlooked an essential part of their method: Start with a simple set-up, and carefully use that as a prism that refracts the situation into larger, more incisive, more surprising observations. These guys are the real deal.



The Big Shave was my favorite Scorsese short, primarily because its depiction of a clean-shaven man walking into a bathroom and shaving until his face is mutilated pulp has a timeless metaphorical application. Originally intended as a comment on Vietnam?after all, here is a man not needing to shave who keeps shaving and shaving until blood is everywhere?the movie still resonates today.
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Tooky Cat
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Joined: 15 Mar 2004
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Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: 10.18.2006 4:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
...I?m willing to wager that at least 75% of the jokes in this movie are founded on the faulty assumption that getting hit in the head is the height of comedy.




Along these lines, I remember feeling slightly insulted when, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka walked into the glass wall of the Glass Elevator a second time at the end of the movie, and then made such a juvenile remark as "I've got to remember where I parked this thing," or something to that effect. I mean, it was sorta funny the first time, but talk about stooping to lows to please those with no taste for the true, quirky humor of the film.
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xAndyx
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Location: Platteville, WI

PostPosted: 10.18.2006 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Weapons of Mass Deception (2004)

My professor showed us this movie in my Intro to Mass Media class, and I would recommend it to every American citizen whether they question the War in Iraq or not. It is a great documentary on how the media skewed the run up to the war and gives a lot of other shocking incites I was never aware of.



Since I viewed this documentary a week or so ago I have basically stopped watching American news in favor of BBC online and other international sources. The state of our media is in shambles, and to be honest it is discouraging me from even entering the field. If I am going to be told by some big honcho that I have to follow his political scheme every day to get paid, then that isn't something I want to be a part of.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 10.18.2006 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xAndyx wrote:
Weapons of Mass Deception (2004)


I've been meaning to check that one out. Thanks for the reminder!
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 10.20.2006 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This week:



Hard Candy (Slade, 2006)

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (Almodovar, 1990)



Hard Candy certainly got a reaction out of me, and because of that, I suppose it's effective. Effectual?--I dunno. Despite its command of the situation through dialogue and imagery throughout, I think I preferred the typical-but-nuanced first twenty-minutes to the rest.



Almodovar's somethin' else entirely. As much as I love the strangeness of Talk to Her and All About My Mother, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! takes his typical off-the-wall emotionalism to a new level. What that says about my opinion of the movie--I'm not sure.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 10.22.2006 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yesterday I was at the Milwaukee International Film Festival, and between screenings I was hanging out in the lobby of the Oriental Theater with another festival hopper. Suddenly she said, "Hey, it's the Maestro!"



Sure enough, Mark Metcalf, who played the Maestro on Seinfeld, was ambling through the lobby. I turned to my acquaintance and said, "And he's with Harold Ramis."



Ramis was in town to introduce a screening of Groundhog Day, part of this festival's tribute to his career. As he neared, I said hello, and as luck would have it, his festival guide asked him to wait right there while the upstairs conference readied for him. This meant that my acquaintance and I had ten minutes alone with Ramis in the lobby of the Oriental.



We talked briefly about books and what it takes to be a filmmaker, and he seemed genuinely friendly and responsive to what I had to say. He was particularly interested in which books I teach in American Literature, perhaps because his own son is 16 and is currently reading similar titles.



Eventually he was asked to head upstairs, and as we shook hands I said, like a lame-o, "Thanks for Ghostbusters!"
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Last edited by beltmann on 10.22.2006 6:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: 10.22.2006 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

10/16 ? 10/22/06



Since Friday I?ve seen six features and six shorts at the Milwaukee International Film Festival, but I?ll save listing them for next week (or my festival summary). Besides those, I had time for only one other film:



The World / Jia Zhang-Ke / China / 2005. Is it the best film of the last two years, as Jonathan Rosenbaum claimed? Not to my eyes?it?s not even my favorite Jia picture.



Eric
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Michael Scrutchin
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: 10.22.2006 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:


The World / Jia Zhang-Ke / China / 2005. Is it the best film of the last two years, as Jonathan Rosenbaum claimed? Not to my eyes?it?s not even my favorite Jia picture.




I liked it a lot. It'd be in my top 10 for 2005, but it's the only Jia film I've seen.
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xAndyx
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PostPosted: 10.23.2006 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man of the Year (2006)



While in college, I really do not have the money to go see many movies, but I was able to catch a couple this week. I liked a lot of this film, but overal was bored by it. There were definatly some of the greatest one liners, and a nice plot line that dealt with a lot of issues, but I thought they were going to take it in a different direction, and I wish they had.



Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)



I thought this was one of the coolest movies I have seen in quite some time. I usually detest Robert Downey Jr., but I thought he played the his role very well, and this is one of the best performances Val Kilmer has put together since...wow...id say Top Gun, but that's not saying much. Overal the movie is a ton of fun, and is presented in a way I have never seen before.
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xAndyx
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PostPosted: 10.23.2006 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PS: Boondock Saints II is coming Smile hooray for me...and I hope you all hate it.
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Michael Scrutchin
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PostPosted: 10.23.2006 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xAndyx wrote:
I usually detest Robert Downey Jr.




How on earth can one detest Robert Downey Jr. (at least as an actor)?
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Michael Scrutchin
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PostPosted: 10.24.2006 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since Friday the 13th, I've been on a horror-movie kick that I'll keep going until Halloween, watching at least one new-to-me horror movie per day. Here are some brief comments on the ones I've seen so far.



From October 13, 2006 to October 22, 2006:



Calvaire (The Ordeal) (Fabrice Du Welz, 2004) B-

This French-Belgian shocker plays like Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a dose of Bunuelian surrealism and a sick sense of humor. Its descent into "what the fuck?" territory has frustrated many horror fans (just check the movie's IMDb board), but the cruel absurdity of the second half is what set it apart from all the other recent Chainsaw-inspired torture shows for me. Of course, it doesn't add up to much.



The Curse of Frankenstein (Terence Fisher, 1957) B-

My long-overdue introduction to Hammer horror. Pretty good, if kinda dry.



Angus Valley Farms (Jeremy Isbell, 2006) F

Forget Ed Wood, Uwe Boll, Al Adamson, Jess Franco, or the Polonia Brothers. Jeremy Isbell is the worst "filmmaker" ever, and Angus Valley Farms is at least a hundred times worse than the worst movie you've ever seen, provided you haven't seen Isbell's previous effort, Don't Turn Around. Hyperbole? Dear God, if only.



The New York Ripper (Lucio Fulci, 1982) C-

A couple of good set pieces can't save Fulci's exceptionally sleazy yet surprisingly dull giallo/slasher.



The Lonely Ones (David Michael Quiroz Jr., 2006) B

Low-budget direct-to-DVD outing begins with a standard horror-movie setup involving young adults on a weekend getaway at a cabin in the woods where some sorority girls went missing years earlier. The setup is typical, but the plot developments are consistently surprising and clever, subverting expectations and delivering one of the most enjoyable low-budget horror films in recent memory. Yes, the video quality is murky, some of the acting isn't so hot, and it has more than its share of common shoestring-horror shortcomings. And yet it works because it's well-written, with characters who are more than cardboard slaves to a predictable plot, the cast is appealing, and it's directed by someone who's obviously a gifted storyteller and filmmaker. Lots of fun.



Deathdream (Bob Clark, 1974) B+

Deeply sad and terribly haunting Vietnam-era take on "The Monkey's Paw."



Freaks (Tod Browning, 1932) B+

Another one I should have seen years ago. Probably my favorite from Tod Browning.



Feast (John Gulager, 2005) B-

I had fun with Feast -- particularly its sly obliteration of a few typical genre expectations -- but it's not much more than a slightly above-average take on the strangers-trapped-in-a-small-place-fighting-monsters premise. Some of the comedy is a bit too goofy, and the action scenes are nothing but darkness, incomprehensible close-ups, and motion blur, but I was damn well entertained for 90 minutes. Plus, the girls kick ass.



Headspace (Andrew van den Houten, 2005) C

What do chess, migraines, and hell-spawned demons have in common? Beats me. But there's a cool scene with Udo Kier as a priest getting his face ripped apart. Yeah, there's that. Co-starring Olivia Hussey, Sean Young, Larry Fessenden, and Dee Wallace, you're sure to see this well-photographed, competently made, and completely forgettable horror film on the Sci-Fi Channel soon.



The Tenant (Roman Polanski, 1976) A-

Polanski's horror films hit all the right notes for me. I almost slept with the lights on.
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xAndyx
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PostPosted: 10.26.2006 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Scrutchin wrote:
How on earth can one detest Robert Downey Jr. (at least as an actor)?




I think its more about his actual person, but this was one of the 1st films where I could look past it.
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Jim Harper
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Joined: 29 Feb 2004
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Location: Totnes, Devon, UK

PostPosted: 10.27.2006 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

26/09/06 - 24/10/06



The Warriors (dir. Walter Hill, 1979)

The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (dir. Roy Ward Baker, 1973)

The Dark (dir. John Fawcett, 2005)*

V For Vendetta (dir. James McTeigue, 2006)*

Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith (dir. George Lucas, 2005)*

Sin City (dir. Robert Rodriguez/Frank Miller, 2005)*

Picnic at Hanging Rock (dir. Peter Weir, 1975)

Burnt Offerings (dir. Dan Curtis, 1976)*

The Night Flier (dir. Mark Pavia, 1997)

Wizard of Darkness (dir. Shimiko Sato, 1992)

The Earth Dies Screaming (dir. Terence Fisher, 1965)*

Candyman (dir. Bernard Rose, 1992)

Fantastic Four (dir. Tim Story, 2005)*

Gorky Park (dir. Michael Apted, 1983)

The Entity (dir. Sidney J Furie, 1981)

The Abominable Dr Phibes (dir. Robert Fuest, 1971)

Dr Phibes Rises Again (dir. Robert Fuest, 1972)

Dellamorte dellamore (dir. Michele Soavi, 1994)

The Fourth Man (dir. Paul Verhoeven, 1983)*

Alligator (dir. Lewis Teague, 1980)*

Birth of the Wizard (dir. Shimako Sato, 1996)

The Island (dir. Michael Bay, 2005)*

Pride & Prejudice (dir. Joe Wright, 2005)*

Evil of Frankenstein (dir. Freddie Francis, 1964)*

The Changeling (dir. Peter Medak, 1980)

Jack the Ripper (dir. David Wickes, 1988)

X-Men III: The Last Stand (dir. Brett Ratner, 2006)*

Westworld (dir. Michael Crichton, 1973)

The Hand (dir. Oliver Stone, 1981)*

The Duellists (dir. Ridley Scott, 1977)

The Grudge 2 (dir. Takashi Shimizu, 2006)*

The Hearse (dir. George Bowers, 1980)*

Poltergeist II: The Other Side (dir. Brian Gibson, 1986)



Most of the new films I've seen recently have been moderately entertaining and little else, so I won't spend too much time on them.



Revenge of the Sith is toss. I mean, it's real crap. The acting is bad (not just shaky, really baaad), with most of the significant cast members turning in performances worthy of a local school play. Everything looks fake and fails to convince on almost every level. Lucas should be ashamed.



Sin City was good, but not as fantastic as it's been claimed. It's fun, but it's also repetitive and predictable.



Burnt Offerings, The Hand and The Hearse are all pretty crap.



Alligator was fun. I don't know what Ebert's problem with the film is- it's pretty clever and very entertaining.



The Fourth Man was hilarious. Lots of fun, and highly recommended. Best film I've seen recently.[/i]
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: 10.30.2006 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

10/23 ? 10/29/06



The Milwaukee International Film Festival concluded today. In previous years I have emphasized documentaries and short films, but this year I made a point to shift focus onto world fiction features. Over 8 days?I skipped three due to time constraints?I managed to see 25 features and only 6 shorts.



I'll reserve commentary for my piece, which is hopefully forthcoming.



I also managed to see Eddie Murphy's Raw. Recorded at the height of Murphy's celebrity, this 1987 concert film captures the Murphy ego at its most brazen, but that cockiness matches his brand of comedy, which mixes brash observations about love and race with obscene descriptions that only the most confident performer could hope to pull off. But the raunch finally feels utterly harmless--perhaps because Murphy's routine too often mines juvenile territory about gender battles, with little real insight.
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