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What did you watch this week?
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stefanieduckwitz
Director


Joined: 07 Mar 2004
Posts: 295
Location: West Bend

PostPosted: 03.08.2004 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



Reminds me of you Mr. Beltmann, and your baseball fanatics. Laughing

I finally found Buster!
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 03.08.2004 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stefanieduckwitz wrote:
I finally found Buster!


Ah, but where's Waldo?
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beltmann
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 03.08.2004 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome pic. Keaton was a genius director, but many say he could have just as easily been a professional third baseman. He loved the game so much he often halted movie productions in the middle of the day, instructing his crew to organize a pick-up game that would last for hours.

You know, Stephen Crane loved baseball, too.

Eric
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stefanieduckwitz
Director


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PostPosted: 03.09.2004 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, Waldo is in his kiddie books. And I did know that Stephen Crane loved baseball. But did you know that he was the best of 9 players on the team, and one of the best catchers in Syracuse University history? Wink
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beltmann
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: 03.09.2004 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did. I read your notes. Very Happy

Eric
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wxwax
Grip


Joined: 08 Mar 2004
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Location: Atlanta

PostPosted: 03.09.2004 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Howdy kids, new to the forum. Happened upon this site last night, would like to join in the fun. Forgive me in advance for my ramblings and lack of depth. :P

A few movies I've seen in the last two or three weeks.

Fog of War.

Fascinating despite itself. The director uses an artifice to give his film a structure. Not satisfied with a chronology of his subject's life, he also extracts life lessons from his conversations with Robert McNamara, even to the extent of numbering them. No matter. McNamara's life is so fascinating, and he himself is so intelligent, sharp tongued and combative, that he overcomes the film's artificiality. Letting him ramble and covering him with archival footage would have been quite sufficient, and in the end that's what this film is. And it's just fine.

McNamara's public life encompasses three major events: the firebombing of Japan in WWII, when he was an advisor to General Curtis LeMay; an ironic counterpoint at the Ford Motor Company, where he has no problem taking credit for America's first economy car, seatbelts, padded dashes and collapsible steering wheels; and of course, his term as loyal Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam war.

I learned a lot about the man. For example, he proposed ending the American presence in Vietnam, and the pullout was underway when Kennedy was assassinated. So why is he so tightly associated in the American mind with troop buildups and the escalation of the war? His coy responses ultimately leave no doubt about his sense of his role, of his obligation, and also who he thinks showed poor judgment. I would only add that we should also make room at the table for his vanity - he could have resigned.

Of course, there are echoes of Iraq in his lessons learned from Vietnam. Foremost, the need to truly understand the country we're invading. Overarching all of his involvement with the horrors of war is the rationalization he's made to stay sane: he talks about the need for a certain kind of amorality in public policy -- using evil is fine if it's to combat an even greater evil. And we are left with the sense that this sensitive man is still, on some level, trying to come to terms with that contradiction. Highly recommended.

(Sorry, that was a long ramble. I got more than I realized out of this movie, and as I'm a somewhat familiar with the genre, I feel comfortable talking about it.)



Made Up.

Tony Shalhoub's directorial debut, I believe. He was still in the theater shortly before our screening began - he had addressed the audience of the earlier show. He seemed like a decent, kind man. And those qualities come through in this gentle comedy that touches on aging, being true to oneself, and seeing beauty in all people.

Frankly, it took me half the movie to care about the characters. But in one unexpected and hilarious moment, it all came together: who these people were, what the movie was about, and why it mattered. In that instant it was no longer a bunch of whiney people complaining about their lives. It was about human frailty, and having the guts to overcome our fears and prejudices.

The humor's a little hit or miss. But the acting is wonderful. Even a cliche ending couldn't dispel the warm feelings this small movie had generated. Recommended.

Passion of Christ.

What to say? Ploddingly earnest. At times, moving. Literal in its interpretation of the New Testament. Utterly unquestioning.

Not a great film. But really, does it need to be? It has a mission, and that mission has been accomplished.

I'd say the most complicated and interesting character is Pontius Pilate. The man struggles with his dilemma. Everyone else is given a one note score. That's especially true of Jesus, whose job is to suffer and to forgive. The movie is long on agonized looks and short on depth.

As I understand it, the intent was to hammer home how much Jesus suffered for our sins, not to question why. And hammer it does, with many a squirt of accompanying blood. Neutral recommendation.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 03.09.2004 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome wxwax! Hope you stick around and post often.

Regarding The Fog of War, I agree with all of your comments, although I'm not sure the artificial structure is inherently superficial; in fact, I preferred the thematic organization over straight chronology--Morris lets us know that this life represents more than the sum of its parts. It certainly functions as character study--I'm skeptical, though, about whether we can always accept McNamara's cagey, confident imperatives as honest history--but for me what's lingered are the social and political questions Morris raises near the fringes. And there's no question that Morris intentionally organizes the film's "lessons" into allegories for our current situation in Iraq. (For example, I was struck by McNamara's comment regarding the dangers of unilateralism... pardon the dubious quote: "If we cannot convince nations of similar values of the rightness of our cause, then we ought to revisit our reasoning.")

I assume you've seen other Morris pictures?

Eric
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Rob Vaux
Grip


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

PostPosted: 03.09.2004 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Awesome pic. Keaton was a genius director, but many say he could have just as easily been a professional third baseman. He loved the game so much he often halted movie productions in the middle of the day, instructing his crew to organize a pick-up game that would last for hours.

You know, Stephen Crane loved baseball, too.

Eric


It's a big step down, but Tom Selleck was supposed to be contemplating baseball when the acting bug got him. He was apparently good enough to play in the majors.

On the other end of the spectrum, did you ever see Tony Perkins in Fear Strikes Out? Tony did NOT know how to play baseball.
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Fred C. Dobbs
Director


Joined: 11 Mar 2004
Posts: 201
Location: New York

PostPosted: 03.14.2004 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ratings are on a five-star scale...

March 7th, 2004 - March 13th, 2004:

3/7 - The Circus (1928) ****1/2

3/7 - Blowup (1966) ***1/2

3/7 - Monsieur Verdoux (1947) ****

3/8 - Dark Passage (1947) ****

3/9 - The Third Man (1949) ***1/2

3/10 - Gangs of New York (Commentary) (2002) ****1/2

3/12 - Phone Booth (2002) ***1/2

Slow week, this was... Shocked
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The Third M?n
Studio Exec


Joined: 09 Sep 2003
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Location: Chasing Stef around post-war Vienna

PostPosted: 03.14.2004 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw John Ford's Stagecoach just yesterday.

I was very plesantly surprised; a glorious, magnificent film indeed.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 03.15.2004 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

3/8 ? 3/14/04

Very slow week.

Golden Queen Commando (Crime Force) (Chu, Hong Kong 1984). The first third explains how several tough women are individually arrested and sent to prison; the balance details how they collaborate, escape, and wreak havoc on every action clich? imaginable. Jackie Chan briefly appears, and the entire thing resembles one of his lamest Seventies adventures, such as Fantasy Mission Force. If there?s a point of interest, it?s in spotting which Western blockbuster is being pilfered in each scene. Here Indiana Jones, there James Bond, etc.?making each scene tonally incongruous with the last. At least it features the great Brigitte Lin, long before The Bride With White Hair, Swordsman II and Chungking Express.

Sleuth (Mankiewicz, UK, 1972). Posted elsewhere: ?I half hoped the dialogue wouldn't actually mention Olivier's impotence--to me, that metaphor was made very clear throughout the entire picture--but otherwise the dialogue is the movie's best quality. I absolutely adored listening to these smart, clever, sophisticated lines coming from these two great actors. I was particularly interested in the class warfare theme, and both actors brilliantly convey the mutual contempt the classes have for each other.? A terrific picture that I?d like to revisit soon, merely for pleasure?s sake. Thanks for the rec, Mr. Lime and NW.

The Freshman (Newmeyer and Taylor 1925). I had seen all of Harold Lloyd?s major works, save for this highly regarded campus comedy, so I made a point of catching a theatrical showing this weekend. (Oddly, I have a VHS taped from TCM on my shelf, still unwatched.) It was preceded by two hours of Twenties-style entertainment, including a 30min concert by Chicago?s West End Jazz Band, a live cheerleading routine, door prizes, and the Chaplin short The Pawnshop. Both films were accompanied by live organ music. I had seen the Charlie before, but it was wonderful seeing the Tramp looming large on the silver screen, and it was equally wonderful hearing hordes of children howling at both Charlie and Harold. Clearly these clowns still possess the power to hold audiences rapt. Bonus: I?d guess there were 400-500 people in attendance, and I still won a door prize: Two ?Silents Please? T-shirts. Saved me $25, since I would have purchased them anyway.

Blind Swordsman 26: Zatoichi (Katsu, Japan 1989). Americans keep returning to Superman and Batman; the Japanese keep returning to Zatoichi, the blind masseur who wields the most deadly blade in the country. The Zatoichi series reached its zenith in the ?60s, and Katsu Shintaro starred in 25 of them in just a few short years. (I?ve seen over 15 of them.) In 1989, Katsu returned to the role and directed the new tale himself, adding goops of spraying blood and even a nude hot tub scene. Nevertheless, this is still an old-school Zatoichi flick, incorporating all of the familiar formulas?including a gambling scene, an uneasy friendship, a checkered woman, etc.?and even reprising some of the more celebrated bits from the series. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if it remains a rather middling entry in the series. Shockingly, I found it at my local Blockbuster, which I must assume is an advance ploy to take advantage of Takeshi ?Beat? Kitano?s new Zatoichi, set for North American distribution later this year.

Since I'm in the process of moving, next week will probably be extremely slow as well.

Mr. Lime, I enjoy Stagecoach, but I'm not totally sold. Surely it stands as a landmark in the genre--it single-handedly revived the form--but that doesn't mean it stands among the all-time great Westerns. I don't even think it ranks that highly in the Ford canon--and I'm saying that as someone who isn't nuts for Ford in the first place. I'll take The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and maybe Young Mr. Lincoln, My Darling Clementine and The Grapes of Wrath, but after that things get murky.

Eric
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Erickson
Camera Operator


Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Posts: 81

PostPosted: 03.15.2004 3:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw SecondHand Lion last night. I liked it.
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matt header
Studio Exec


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PostPosted: 03.15.2004 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find Monsieur Verdoux to be one of Chaplin's weakest films, one in which the comedy is quite outdated (although some proclaim it as one of the influences for black comedy). I laughed maybe twice, but I know many love that movie.

Hey Beltmann - nice seeing you for one and a half seconds at the theater on Saturday! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it; the sight of dozens of small children enjoying silent comedies also overjoys me (although working during the four-hour, insanely busy Silents Please program is always strenuous).

Here are mine:



The Fog of War (Morris, 2003) A- A riveting movie, and a surprisingly effective character study: more than an exploration of historical events, I was moved by Robert McNamara's persona, his mixture of defensiveness and regret. Morris and his editors compose their found footage and reenactments with great visceral ease, and Morris' insistence on comparing the Vietnam War and the firebombing of Tokyo with modern-day turmoil in the Middle East works extremely well.

Touching the Void (Macdonald, 2003) A All I could think while watching this is, they could not have done it better. One of my favorite movies from 2003, this is a wonderful mixture of fact and fiction: if 2003 really was the year of the documentary then Touching the Void is a revealing progression, one in which interview footage and dramatic reenactments blend together perfectly. Questions of mortality and the relation between man and nature are developed with great realism and intensity - although the subjects obviously live through this experience, I was in great suspense the whole time. As nearly perfect as movies come, I think.

Monsieur Ibrahim (Dupeyron 2003) B- Religious wishful thinking, in which a young Jew and an elderly Muslim form an inseparable bond in 1960's-Paris, which may be too naive for its own good: its simplistic drama can rely too heavily on routine. But it's a hard film to dislike. Omar Sharif and Pierre Boulanger are so likeable in their roles that they make the central relationship seem a lot more complex and revealing than it really is.

In My Skin (de Van 2002) C Taking after Irreversible, this is another confrontation from France that delights in treating the audience to sophisticated gore and mutilation. The main character finds an addiction in cutting herself, the reason for which is that it empowers her, making her feel superior to the modernistic, shallow lovelessness around her. As she basically flays off her own flesh, she reveals layers of inner strength, a determination that allows her to strive forward financially. All this is well and good for the first half hour or so, but the film degenerates into a laughable excursion into provocative taboo. The cutting we see moves beyond reality to the realm of absurd sadism (she resorts to gobbling her own flesh and filming her self-inflicted gouges), which wouldn't be problematic except that it doesn't allow the film to say anything fresh or worthwhile about the cutting addiction, something worthy of much analysis. There are moments I love, and much of the movie is exquisite formally, but Marina de Van's emphasis on how she cuts herself instead of why she cuts herself becomes off-putting. And the nearly ten-minute scene in the hotel room where she rips off the skin of her arm and nibbles at it in medium-close up is simply inexcusable, a ridiculous exercise in classy gore that's more annoying than anything in Irreversible.

I usually try to balance out new releases with classics I haven't yet seen, which I didn't do this week (although I got my hands on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which I plan to watch tomorrow).
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Tooky Cat
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Joined: 15 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: 03.15.2004 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw LOTR3 on Saturday...again...let's not go there. I'm sure all that could have been said about that movie has already been said on here somewhere.

I also watched Sleepy Hollow on Friday. I don't have much to say about the movie, but I wanted to comment on Tim Burton's impeccable filmmaking abilities. The colors in that movie, and all of his movies, are just remarkable. For the most part they're drab and blah, but they really help to convey the emotional aspects of the films as well as the general mood you should be feeling as you watch.

Considering the man's past films, I'm a little curious to see how he's gonna pull off something like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I believe he can do it, but it should be quite interesting, and I have good faith in Depp.
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The Third M?n
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PostPosted: 03.15.2004 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tooky Cat wrote:
I also watched Sleepy Hollow on Friday. I don't have much to say about the movie, but I wanted to comment on Tim Burton's impeccable filmmaking abilities. The colors in that movie, and all of his movies, are just remarkable. For the most part they're drab and blah, but they really help to convey the emotional aspects of the films as well as the general mood you should be feeling as you watch.


A great film. One of the most striking elements is, undoubtedly, its masterful contrast of colours. The film is sordid, ambiguous and, well, just grey; but when the colour of blood appears, it stands out so much.

I love that film.
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