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What did you watch this week?
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Danny Baldwin
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 12.24.2003 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

12/16 - 12/23:

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Jackson, 2003) - Truly brilliant, and all I could've hoped for out of Jackson. The trilogy as a whole is a wondrous landmark.

The Battle of Shaker Heights (Potelle & Rankin, 2003) - Average fare with a likeable lead, but ultimately suffers from being too uneventful to match up to what it tries to be.

2nd Viewing of: Whale Rider (Caro, 2003) - Still as magical, mystical, and uplifiting. Caro's blend of tradition and modern ways seemed more apparent to me this time, in a pleasing way.

3rd Viewing of: Requiem for a Dream (Aronofsky, 2000) - Just gets more powerful each and everytime. The editing makes it the marvelous picture that it is, and Aronofsky's vision comes to life in a perfectly blurrily clear manner.

Cheaper By The Dozen (Levy, 2003) - First of all, if you expect me to buy into this at all, you've got to be kidding. But, the true problem with it lies in the fact that it portrays our "heroic" kids as bratty little demons. I enjoyed it most of the time, though. I wouldn't say it's all that bad.

Boat Trip (Nathan, 2003) - It's occassionally sweet, but never funny. Roselyn Sanchez does a nice job, but everything else doesn't even come close to being redeeming.
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Kikuchiyo
Grip


Joined: 08 Oct 2003
Posts: 2

PostPosted: 12.25.2003 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Underground by Emir Kusturica

There is so much going on in this film that it's practically

impossible to digest it all in the first viewing. Absurdly hilarious

at times and sublime and sad at others , this is one hell of a

political satire. I dont know shit about what Yugoslavia went through

in those 50 years but I knew exactly what the film was hinting at

(unlike Greenaway's allegorical take on the Thatcher administration).

It is full of idiocryncracies and situations totally over the top ,

all intentional and to very good effect. A good example of this would

be the part early in the film where we see this most wanted war hero

sneak past the directors console to the stage to shoot a German

officer who's been eyeing the actress he loves and fails to recognize

the one man they're all after. It's amazing how a film this surreal

and hyperbolic manages to do so much within a span of a few minutes

without ever being grating. The above mentioned scene at once becomes

a satire on the ridiculous nature of German theater and a show partly

of blind patriotism and partly of love and stupid negligence on part

of the authorities. This would just be reading the surface which

itself is full of such abundant details that one is likely to miss

initially. The film is filled with such outrageous delights and there

are layers upon layers of symbolism when looked beyond the surface.

I'm not going to delve into plot details because it's virtually

impossible to do so without giving away many of the surprises in

store. Suffice to say it's about Marko and his war hero friend Blakey

who're fighting against the german aggressors. Marko makes Blakey and

the legion of agitators go under a cellar and wait for the right

moment to attack. They keep waiting and manufacturing weapons

underground even though the world has moved on from the world war into

the cold war losing count of time as they have been assured by Marko

that Tito has been keeping them for the last battle. It moves with a

relentless energy alternating effortlessly between being laugh out

loud hilarious and disturbing and harrowing and at times doing both at

the same time. I'm looking forward to seeing this many more times.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 12.29.2003 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

12/22 ? 12/28/03

Something?s Gotta Give (Meyers, 2003). I was willing to go along, but the movie's big romantic gestures disintegrate into grand cliches, ladled on with sham sincerity, left to pool around the edges of the frame. Much too long, too.

The Return of the King (Jackson, 2003). Impressive, but I can?t work up much enthusiasm.

Velvet Goldmine (Haynes, 1998). The first 30 minutes and last 30 minutes are terrific, but the midsection?s backstage-drama material is familiar, and flat, too. Rhys Davies is wonderful, though.

Kira?s Reason: A Love Story (Christian, 2001). I admit a certain affinity for Dogma 95, and this ranks among the finest pictures carrying the label. Quite moving.

Morvern Callar (Ramsay, 2002). I?m a huge fan of Ramsay?s Ratcatcher, but this new, stark mood piece left me cold. Side question: Why are so many indie films infatuated with blubberbrains?

Eric
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mfritschel
Cinematographer


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

PostPosted: 12.30.2003 2:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bubba Ho-Tep (Coscarelli 2003) - great homage or B movie itself depending on your point of view. Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis work great together and make quite the comedic team.

Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick 1999) - I've been waiting to see this and finally got time and was quite impressed. Definitely one of my favorite Kubrick movies.

Pistol Opera (Suzuki 2003) - Although I never truly understood what was going on, much like 8 1/2, I really enjoyed the cinematography and the creative workings of the movie.

Pather Panchali and Aparajito (Ray 1954-55) - Simply put wow! These are easily some of my favorite movies of all time and can't wait till I have scrapped together enough money for the final of the trilogy. I don't know really even were to begin, so I will simply say nothing, besides the fact that I loved these movies.
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Danny Baldwin
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 12.31.2003 7:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

12/24 - 12/30:

The Santa Clause 2 (Lembeck, 2002) - Not half bad, actually. Disposable fun, and, amazingly, quite comical at times.

2nd Viewing of: Nowhere in Africa (Link, 2003) - My admiration for Caroline Link has only increased with this repeat. Tuly, truly brilliant.

In America (Sheridan, 2003) - Works because it's told in the eyes of this kids. This makes for a splendid and pleasant look at the "immigrant experience."

2nd Viewing of: Freaky Friday (Walters, 2003) - It's just so goddam fun I almost can't even stand it. Guilty pleasures 101.

House of Sand and Fog (Perelman, 2003) - Made for one of the best debates I've had with my Dad on movies since, well, forever. I admire much of it, and it'll probably end up on my best of the year list.

Peter Pan (Hogan, 2003) - One of the best kids' movies I've seen in a long time. I was enthralled and mystified.

I also just got home from the play Chicago, and I must say, the movie's much, much more imaginative. The version on Broadway must be loads better.
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Michael Scrutchin
Studio President


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

PostPosted: 12.31.2003 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From December 19 to December 31:



  • Pieces of April (Hedges, 2003) D

  • Hulk (Lee, 2003) B-

  • Three Stories (Mattimore, 2002) C

  • The Good Thief (Jordan, 2003) B+

  • Millennium Actress (Kon, 2003) B+

  • Bend It Like Beckham (Chadha, 2003) B

  • In America (Sheridan, 2003) A-

  • Swimming Pool (Ozon, 2003) B-

  • 21 Grams (Gonz?lez I??rritu, 2003) B



I'm trying to catch up on 2003 releases, and I've only got about ten more to see before I can begin compiling my 10-best list. Anyone else here hate Pieces of April? Ugh. I think Ed Gonzalez's review was pretty much right on the money. Of the above, I'd highly recommend Jim Sheridan's poignant and wonderful In America; I don't think there was a dry eye in the theater when the lights went up after that one.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 12.31.2003 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Michael,

I didn't see Pieces of April because it looked so awful, and I'm hoping to see In America tomorrow, perhaps on a double bill with 21 Grams or The Cooler. I'm a big Sheridan fan, and I've been eagerly anticipating this one ever since previews started showing, oh, about two years ago. I'm less excited about 21 Grams, even though I think Inarritu is going to be a huge talent--Amores Perros and his short film Powder Keg are two of the most exhilarating pieces of cinema of recent memory. As for The Hulk, I thought I liked it when I saw it last spring, but now I have absolutely zero desire to see it again--my DVD is collecting dust.

How did you think Good Thief ranked compared to the original?

Eric
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Danny Baldwin
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 12.31.2003 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
As for The Hulk, I thought I liked it when I saw it last spring, but now I have absolutely zero desire to see it again--my DVD is collecting dust.


I've watched my DVD three times already. Great stuff.
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matt header
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 01.02.2004 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Pieces of April" is completely unconvincing and dull - I couldn't have cared less for any of the characters onscreen, despite the fact that I like. "Ugh" is a good way to put it. "21 Grams" is really great - I was hesitant before I watched it, but I was completely sucked in. Penn's performance is the best I've seen so far this year, although no one in the movie is bad (despite the script's tendency to overarticulate things).

While I'm at it, has anyone here seen "Super Troopers"? All of my friends told me for about a year that I had to see it, it was great, awesome, and hilarious - but it always looked terrible to me. Saw it last night (in a somewhat altered state) and it was hilarious. Maybe I should see it again when I have full capacity of my comprehensive abilties.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 01.02.2004 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:
While I'm at it, has anyone here seen "Super Troopers"? All of my friends told me for about a year that I had to see it, it was great, awesome, and hilarious - but it always looked terrible to me. Saw it last night (in a somewhat altered state) and it was hilarious. Maybe I should see it again when I have full capacity of my comprehensive abilties.


I liked it up until that awful finale. Totally blew the whole movie with completely crude humor.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 01.02.2004 2:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I loathed Super Troopers. My wife and I watched it on video, and 20 minutes in she threw up her hands, gave up, and left the room. I hung around for the rest, but her decision was the right one. When I watch these obnoxious teen comedies I try to bear in mind that I'm not a member of the target audience, but my goodness, sometimes there's simply no defending the inanity. And the rare examples with something there--A Guy Thing, American Pie, Undercover Brother, Austin Powers--only underscore how bad the rest really are.

(Of course, I had full control of my faculties when viewing...)

Eric
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the night watchman
Studio Exec


Joined: 27 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: 01.03.2004 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:


While I'm at it, has anyone here seen "Super Troopers"? All of my friends told me for about a year that I had to see it, it was great, awesome, and hilarious - but it always looked terrible to me. Saw it last night (in a somewhat altered state) and it was hilarious. Maybe I should see it again when I have full capacity of my comprehensive abilties.


Super Troopers is one of the funniest movies I've seen in the last few years. I've seen it twice, both in unaltered states, and I laughed my ass off. Like you, Matt, I thought it looked awful, but one night I caught it on one of the movie channels, decided to watch a few minutes just to ascertain how much I'd dislike it, and stuck around for the whole thing.

Eric, I'm a little bewildered at how crude and obnoxious you found it. There is certainly low-brow humor to be found, but I thought the bulk of it was pretty tame compared to American Pie (which I loathe) and Austin Powers. In fact, most of it -- the "meow" scene and the syrup-drinking contest -- is pretty harmless. More, it seemed to me that true obnoxiousness was villainized; e.g. Farva and Chief Grady.
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the night watchman
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Joined: 27 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: 01.03.2004 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:


While I'm at it, has anyone here seen "Super Troopers"? All of my friends told me for about a year that I had to see it, it was great, awesome, and hilarious - but it always looked terrible to me. Saw it last night (in a somewhat altered state) and it was hilarious. Maybe I should see it again when I have full capacity of my comprehensive abilties.


Super Troopers is one of the funniest movies I've seen in the last few years. I've seen it twice, both in unaltered states, and I laughed my ass off. Like you, Matt, I thought it looked awful, but one night I caught it on one of the movie channels, decided to watch a few minutes just to ascertain how much I'd dislike it, and stuck around for the whole thing.

Eric, I'm a little bewildered at how crude and obnoxious you found it. There is certainly low-brow humor to be found, but I thought the bulk of it was pretty tame compared to American Pie (which I loathe) and Austin Powers. In fact, most of it -- the "meow" scene and the syrup-drinking contest -- is pretty harmless. More, it seemed to me that true obnoxiousness was villainized; e.g. Farva and Chief Grady.

On an unrelated note, I just received the complete Cowboy Bebop series today. I am so cool. Very Happy
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 01.05.2004 4:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

12/29 ? 1/4/04

Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (Miller, 2003). At least what?s-his-name does a fairly interesting, almost inspired Jim Carrey impersonation.

The Cuckoo (Rogozhkin, 2002). Lapland, September 1944: A reluctant Finnish sniper (wearing a German uniform) is chained but frees himself, while a Soviet officer is charged with treason and is freed by an errant bomb. Both men end up in the care of a Lapland widow. Since all three speak different languages, the movie becomes a rather amusing, and engrossing, comedy-drama about communicating, misunderstanding, and talking merely to talk. Well-paced, well-acted, nicely shot, with insightful ruminations about friendship, allegiances, and the folly of war. I liked it a lot.

XX/XY (Chick, 2003). It's the acting, stupid. The story here is awfully familiar--three college buds, once a wild and crazy menage a trois, re-connect ten years later, bringing a whole new set of baggage (and partners) into the mix--but the leads are all so natural, real, vulnerable, and human that it's tough to look away. (They might be naked sometimes, but never more so than when their raw emotions are exposed.) In particular, Mark Ruffalo's internalized performance is extraordinary; watch him as the character merely THINKS about what's happening--he simultaneously runs the gamut from cockiness, confusion, fear, and arousal. Well-structured, brilliantly performed.

Perfect Blue (Kon, 1997). I can?t believe I waited six years to finally watch it. A young pop idol abandons music to become a TV actress, and becomes convinced a crazed fan is trying to kill her. There is a nutso fan, but he's only one of three stories of mental illness competing for our attention. The brilliance of this piece is that it's like three jigsaw puzzles being pieced together simultaneously, and we're never totally sure which puzzle we're working on--the table keeps spinning around on us. Tough, psychologically complex, visually imaginative, and astonishingly expressive, this ranks among anime's finest.

Cold Mountain (Minghella, 2003). Seems most people are now pretending they didn?t like English Patient (or maybe they were pretending before), but I continue to find Minghella?s work intelligent and engrossing. This one offers a canvassing view of the Civil War South, separate from plantations and battlefields. It expresses the far-reaching devastation of war--widows, workers, citizens--and does so with a reasonable amount of dirty, nasty truth. I also bought the central love conceit, mostly thanks to Jude Law?s performance. The resolution of this romance, though, is awfully anticlimactic, and overall the Homeric vignettes are too patterned, too programmatic.

Window Water Baby Moving and Moth Light (Brakhage, 1959, 1963). Two experimental shorts by Stan Brakhage. In the first, Brakhage's wife gives natural child birth in a tub. It is told mostly chronologically, with a few inserts--such as the couple romantically kissing, to suggest how she came to this condition--but the main emphasis here isn?t on procedure, or love. This is gynecological fascination, with many, many closeups of the birthing region, and lingering shots of the prodding, prying, and massaging required before the head appears. It ends with Brakhage beaming into the lens, astonished at his miracle and astonished by what he's seen, and learned. My two viewings, I admit, have been extremely difficult for me, but as a piece challenging the idea that there are images we shouldn't see, it's invaluable. For the second, Brakhage collected dead moth wings and pasted them onto a strip of tape that was then printed onto projectible film. The wings appear, by turns still, fragmented, torn, or, with ingenious framing and composition, fluttering. There are also frames of grass. It flickers by quickly, offering purely abstract visuals, and while I responded to the composition, I found the color less exciting--perhaps, though, this is merely the world, presented for us to gaze at from a new, different view.

In America (Sheridan, 2003). I?ve always responded to Sheridan?s work (especially My Left Foot), and this is no exception. Here he aims for street level grit, but also the moon: I appreciated the attempt to merge kitchen-sink realism with a kind of magic, transcendent realism. The acting is also impeccable, especially when conveying how little reminders of grief can splinter a scene apart?just like in life?and how such reminders spring on us with no warning. Perhaps I?m just a sucker, but my eyes were wet throughout the entire darn thing.

The Legend of Suriyothai (Yukol, 2003). Originally a 5-hour epic sponsored by the Thailand government to teach audiences about Suriyothai, a historical queen that sacrificed a great deal for her country. This 2 ? hour version was edited by Francis Ford Coppola, and it?s pretty awful: There?s not much here except costumes, elephants, and lengthy battle scenes. Ostensibly this is a tale of political intrigue, but none of the subplots are developed?most of the characters are announced with a subtitle and then promptly dispatched. I found it exhausting, in the worst way.

House of Sand and Fog (Perelman, 2003). The first half is terrific, especially in the way it makes both of these characters deeply sympathetic. The second half succumbs to some familiar thriller genre conventions (albeit rather restrained), yet still finds room for nice touches, including the stern Kingsley making a decision, unhesitatingly, to help Connelly after a suicide attempt. Well-acted, but the last section is so melodramatic, grim, and overwrought, I left utterly unmoved. Plus, the Ron Eldard character made zero dramatic sense to me.

Basic (McTiernan, 2003). Ripping a page from Courage Under Fire, this military drama investigates what really happened out there in the rainy jungle of Panama, when a bunch of soldiers on a training exercise wound up dead. The movie is designed as a series of contradictory interviews, always pulling the rug out from underneath us--yet in the way it utterly avoids making politics, or the relativity of truth, its subject, this is much more Usual Suspects than Rashomon. Ultimately, the narrative web doesn't make much sense, but at least McTiernan and the actors do a reasonable job of keeping us interested as the layers continue to pile up. Passable hokum.

Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 01.05.2004 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:


Cold Mountain (Minghella, 2003). Seems most people are now pretending they didn?t like English Patient (or maybe they were pretending before), but I continue to find Minghella?s work intelligent and engrossing. This one offers a canvassing view of the Civil War South, separate from plantations and battlefields. It expresses the far-reaching devastation of war--widows, workers, citizens--and does so with a reasonable amount of dirty, nasty truth. I also bought the central love conceit, mostly thanks to Jude Law?s performance. The resolution of this romance, though, is awfully anticlimactic, and overall the Homeric vignettes are too patterned, too programmatic.



I thought if we had just been given the middle part, Cold Mountain would have been a great movie. As it is, we get around 110 minutes of good movie out of a 150 minute running time. I loved Zellweger's character and performance, and pretty much totally agreed with her colorful comment about what she'd rather do than hear sweathearts talk about love.
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