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What did you watch this week?
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matt header
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 05.08.2004 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

4/17 - 5/7:



The Milky Way (McCarey, 1936) C

Unsere Afrikareise
(Kebulka, 1966) C+

Rat Life and Diet in North America
(Weiland, 1968) C+

Marsa Abu Galawa
(Holthuis, 2003) A-

Hellboy
(del Toro, 2004) C+

The Big Animal
(Stuhr, 2004) B+

Peking Opera Blues
(Hark, 1986) B

News From Home
(Akerman, 1976) B+

Intermission
(Crowley, 2003) B-

I'm Not Scared
(Salvatores, 2004) B+

The Circle
(Panahi, 2001) A



The Circle was phenomenal, fascinating, and nearly perfect - one of the best movies I've seen in a while. Marsa Abu Galawa is an insane, energetic short film set to a song from a Bollywood musical, composed entirely of shots of fishes in the ocean. It's one of the most colorful, invigorating shots of adrenaline I've seen.



Hellboy had some great moments - so many, in fact, that I desperately craved the little bit more that would have made it a great movie. As such, it's never mean-spirited, which is commendable. The Milky Way is the first Harold Lloyd talkie I've seen, and he seems to be in a funk the whole time.



News From Home is a sometimes tedious film in which Chantal Akerman reads letters from her mother aloud over shots of New York City. I enjoyed it a lot, which surprised me a bit: I was especially intrigued by Akerman's analysis of the word "home," and if we can ever really find it. The shots of NYC are a bit hazy and not beautiful: the kinds of images tourists never see, but fond to anyone who actually lives there. The final shot is ten minutes long from the back of a barge as it departs from the shore into the Atlantic Ocean. About two minutes in, the twin towers can be seen towering ahead in the fog. Rarely has the full impact of the World Trade Center attacks really overwhelmed me. Of course it's a tragedy, but initially I just felt a surreal shock, and then all of the news coverage and anxiety gave it a mythical, distant status, so that the very real sadness was often diluted. With that simple shot of the towers in the fog, a great sense of pain and devastation floored me. It took a while to recover from that.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 05.08.2004 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:
The Milky Way is the first Harold Lloyd talkie I've seen, and he seems to be in a funk the whole time.


That's how I felt watching Lloyd's first talkie, Welcome Danger. The sound Harold is a bit different, takes some getting used to, and dates worse than the silent Harold. Still, I'd recommend Feet First and Movie Crazy, and perhaps even The Cat's-Paw, if only to witness Lloyd exchange his usual elaborate set-ups, slapstick, and thrill humor for political satire that borders on fascism.



matt header wrote:
The Circle was phenomenal, fascinating, and nearly perfect - one of the best movies I've seen in a while.


I completely agree. It was my favorite movie of 2001. This is what I wrote then: "Nationality matters less than the convictions I share with a filmmaker, and Panahi's sharp-eyed realism represents what most interests me about cinema and its constructive possibilities. Openly defiant about the way women are marginalized in Iran, The Circle follows several female protagonists, some newly released from prison, as they dodge police and abuse in contemporary Tehran. These characters are coded as hunted animals, as offenders able to stay free only because they belong to a gender that is, by policy, overlooked. Of course I admire how Panahi fearlessly gives voice to a group denied a voice of its own -- this film was banned in its native country -- but what crafts The Circle into such a lip-biting kick is the way it geometrically unfolds its secrets. By supplying artistic brawn to his political agenda, Panahi's formalism exposes similar curveballs like Memento as mere chicanery. If cinema's noblest purpose is to record what actually exists, then this lifelike brainteaser, containing Tehran's horrors but also its mysteries and profound beauty, is the most vital film of the year. "



Panahi is one of the globe's most vital, important filmmakers; I anticipate his works with a rare enthusiasm. I'd also highly recommend The White Balloon and Crimson Gold, both co-scripted by Kiarostami.



Peking Opera Blues is my favorite Tsui picture, just above Green Snake and Once Upon a Time in China.



Eric
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beltmann
Studio Exec


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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 05.09.2004 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

5/3 ? 5/9/04



Time only for one new film:



Remembrance of Things to Come (Marker and Bellon, France 2001). Photographs taken by Denise Bellon in between the two world wars show a continent in transition, but this is really a personal essay only masquerading as a documentary about a European photojournalist. What's fascinating is how Marker and Bellon make room for their own allusive connections, poetic images, and political ruminations. With elliptical and overlapping information, they suggest the way photographs capture the soul of a subject, a time, an idea?the movie becomes an eerie tribute to the power of recorded images. This was shown with Marker?s La J?tee (1962), which I have seen?and taught?countless times but never tire of studying. It?s clearly one of the masterpieces of the sci-fi genre, and one of my all-time favorite pictures.



Eric
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mfritschel
Cinematographer


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

PostPosted: 05.10.2004 1:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aliens (Cameron, 1986) - Not quite as enjoyable as the first, it seemed to lack some of the intial fear and shock. But to its defense it did seem to represent the same kind of genre, certainly much more of an action/adventure than the first one which took on a definite horror/suspense pretex.



The Circle (Panahi, 2001) - Okay add me to the list of people who admire him think he is such a shocking and important director. Just a great and shocking story that winds together and unveils itself layer by layer with great expertise.



Dawn of the Dead (Romero, 1978) - I have to admit it that I saw the remake before the original. The original defintely contains much more social satire and commentary, and is definetly more expertly crafted, even though I have to admit that I was a fan of the first. Also, the uber-zombies of the remake are a bit more fierce and terrifying then the original, but then I don't think the same kind of commentary could have existed its a catch-22.



Masked and Anonymous (Charles, 2003) - Nothing more than an homage to Bob Dylan and his music. The movie played on like an extended music video of Dylan's. Sure it made comments on society and humanity, but really presented nothing new and really proved no point. When the movie finished I was left thinking, and the point was . . .
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Hawkwing74
Camera Operator


Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 51
Location: Schaumburg, IL

PostPosted: 05.10.2004 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

12 Monkeys Watched it for the second time. I enjoyed it a lot more this time and was shocked that I had forgotten many scenes from when it first came out. I thought it was amazing and I wish there were more movies like it. One of Bruce Willis' best roles, and of course Brad Pitt was really good.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 05.10.2004 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

12 Monkeys is actually a feature adaptation of Chris Marker's La Jetee, mentioned just a few posts back. It's less poetic, but it still expresses the same sci-fi premise, which is the psychological effects of time travel--is our sense of identity distorted when cut loose from a specific location in time? Although I prefer Marker's version, I like both immensely.



Eric
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Michael Scrutchin
Studio President


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

PostPosted: 05.10.2004 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The last 20 days:



  • The Lady Vanishes (Hitchcock, 1938) B+

  • Saboteur (Hitchcock, 1942) B

  • Faust (Murnau, 1926) B

  • Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (Tarantino, 2004) A-

  • Shadow of a Doubt (Hitchcock, 1943) B

  • To Catch a Thief (Hitchcock, 1955) C+

  • The Trouble with Harry (Hitchcock, 1955) B

  • I Walked with a Zombie (Tourneur, 1943) B+

  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (Hitchcock, 1956) B+

  • The Birds (Hitchcock, 1963) B+



I finally got around to catching up on a few Hitchcock titles I've been meaning to see for years. Just finished The Birds, and the cawing of a few birds in the tree outside my window suddenly doesn't sound so friendly.



I look forward to seeing more of producer Val Lewton's '40s horror films (which I've been meaning to see for ages). I caught I Walked with a Zombie on Turner Classic Movies and liked it a lot -- stylish, atmospheric, and haunting. Unfortunately, they're not available on DVD, the videos are out of print, and TCM isn't showing any of them in the near future.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 05.10.2004 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael, of all the Hitchcock's you listed, for me the best is probably The Birds--it uses its horror premise to metaphorically illustrate the psychological misgivings of its characters--but I most enjoy Shadow of a Doubt. Perhaps I'm just a sucker for Joseph Cotten and especially Teresa Wright, but I love it.



Eric
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Danny Baldwin
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 05.11.2004 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

5/4 - 5/10:



Laurel Canyon (Cholodenko, 2003)

May (McKee, 2003)

Interview with the Vampire (Jordan, 1994)

New York Minute (Gordon, 2004)

The Triplets of Belleville (Chomet, 2003)

The Man Without A Past (Kaurismaki, 2003)

Van Helsing (Sommers, 2004)

Elephant (Van Sant, 2003)

Osama (Barmak, 2004)

Gothika (Kassovitz, 2003)



Laurel Canyon and Van Helsing were pleasant surprises, while Osama was thoroughly disappointing. I still do not understand what kind of an ending Barmak was going for; it plays as if an entire reel is missing from the movie. May was slightly freaky, but I thought McKee's motives were quite murky in making several of the scenes. I enjoyed all of the others; Gothika worked from a silly aspect for me. However, I would've liked it more had I not known the ending; my mom, who watched it with me, predicted and blabbered fifteen minutes in. I also tried to watch the new TV version of A Wrinkle in Time for the last fifteen minutes, but I couldn't dare to watch one of my favorite books in grammar school be butchered for another two hours and fifteen minutes.



EDIT: Forgot to mention I watched Elephant.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 05.17.2004 12:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

5/10 ? 5/16/04



The Statement (Jewison 2003)

Sherman?s March (McElwee 1986)

The Marquise of O (Rohmer, France 1976)

Osama (Barmak, Afghanistan 2003)

Water Drops on Burning Rocks (Ozon, France 2000)

Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! (Luketic 2004)

Tuck Everlasting (Russell 2002)

Bongoland (Kibira 2003)

Plus the UWM Student Film & Video Festival Spring 2004



Of those, I admired The Marquise of O, Water Drops on Burning Rocks, and Osama. The first is Rohmer doing an ultra-literary, static, stylized costume epic, the second is a blackly comic spider?s web based on an unproduced Fassbinder play, and the third is a haunting but strangely beautiful drama about a young Afghan girl who must masquerade as a boy to survive under the rule of the Taliban. The movie is shot in a spare, economical visual style that reminded me of the power of silent pictures--I doubt an untranslated print would lose any impact at all. The use of color is quite stunning, especially in terms of blue, gold, and brown. (The blue seems to me a bright, perfect color for the melancholy on display.) The movie is unrelentingly bleak, but it takes us deep inside Taliban practices--which often amount to state-sanctioned gender enslavement--and is composed with flawless visual dexterity.



Sherman?s March starts from an interesting place: Granted funding for a documentary about Sherman's burn through the South, McElwee instead used the money to make a documentary about all the girls he meets as he charts the path. He justifies this by saying he can't focus on anything other than resolving his personal obsessions and romantic psyche, but that says more about his self-inflated ego than about the movie--this is about as self-indulgent a film as I've seen. At 155 minutes, it's an epic of one man's romantic fumbling, interrupted by mind-numbingly inane "confessionals" and endless, endless, endless shots of the people he meets, all far less interesting than McElwee presumes.



Bongoland tells the story of a Tanzanian immigrant in Minnesota. As drama the movie is severely limited; its main point of interest is that most of it is in Swahili, a language spoken by 100 million people yet is heard as the primary language in less than 10 films.



Thoughts on the UWM Student Film & Video Festival are forthcoming.



Eric
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Tooky Cat
Cinematographer


Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Posts: 106
Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: 05.17.2004 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hath returned!



I'm a bit out of the loop so I'm just gonna say that last week I saw the movie Camp. It had good themes and I thought it was pretty funny, especially the way in which it seemed to play off of stereotypes but not in a demeaning way. At first I thought that acting was sub-par, but I think it was actually the way the script was written. But, overall, a good film.
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Danny Baldwin
Studio Exec


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Location: San Diego, CA

PostPosted: 05.18.2004 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

5/11 - 5/17:



The Cat In The Hat (Welch, 2003)

Anatomy of a Murder (Preminger, 1959)

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter?and Spring (Ki Duk, 2004)

Gerry (Van Sant, 2003)

The Hudsucker Proxy (Coen, 1994)

Troy (Petersen, 2004)



Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter?and Spring was the weeks champ, a simplistic and beautiful gem of perfect subtlety, mixed with themes of Buddhism. I was most disappointed by Gerry and Anatomy of a Murder, feeling that both had entirely unnessecary scenes, that could've been easily omitted (in Gerry's case, almost the whole movie). The Cat In The Hat was what I expected, occasionally entertaining and entirely disposable. I've seen all the Coen Bros.' movies now after Hudsucker Proxy, and I enjoyed it quite a lot, even though it's probably my least favorite of the duos'. Troy is a visual spectacle and features a solid performance from newcomer Diane Kruger, but I felt entirely ditached from the characters. Oh well; I suppose it's just another early-summer disappointment, like last "summer"'s X2.
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matt header
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 05.18.2004 6:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

5/8 to 5/17, not much with exams:



I Vitelloni (Fellini, 1953) B+

One Week
(Keaton & Cline, 1920) A+

The Living Room
(Snow, 2000) D-

And Then There Were None
(Clair, 1945) B

Spring Summer Autumn Winter...and Spring
(Kim, 2004) A

UWM Student Film & Video Festival:

[b]A Fossil from a Satellite
(Chris Delisle) B

Trial by Error
(Chris Bierden) B

Valentine's Day
(Michael T Vollman) C+

Polkadiddles
(Lilly Czarnecki) B+

Scene Missing
(Chris Bierden) B+

Porcelain Dreams (Collaborative) [b]C

Circumstantial
(Christopher Staats) C+

Louis & Me
(Mariko Ujihisa) C-

Pangaea
(Diego Costa) C-

Bloom
(Anne Barber) A-

What Remains
(Eric Gerber) B

Mind Plasma
(Drew Rosas) B-



I agree about Spring Summer Autumn Winter...and Spring: a quiet, simple, beautiful gem. When he's carrying the statue up the hill with the rock around him, I admit it: I cried. A great film. I Vitelloni isn't my favorite Fellini film, but moments are captivating. One Week is among the best, and funniest, Buster Keaton films I've seen. I usually like Michael Snow - really, I don't mind watching Wavelength - but The Living Room bored the hell out of me. It seems ludicrously amateurish, which is odd since Snow's been making movies for about thirty-five years now.



The UWM Student Film & Video Festival was a blast. I've made brief comments elsewhere, but I'll just say Bloom, Polkadiddles, and Scene Missing all gave me a real kick. The first was a gorgeous study in color and flesh, the second an equally gorgeuous and jazzy riff on the camera's ability to capture abstract beauty, the third a humorous, tricky, sardonic found-footage film that's mixed together extremely well.



Porcelain Dreams is annoying and amusing at equal turns; Circumstantial and Louis & Me are both intermittently interesting, but the acting seems stiff in both and the editing can be awkward, so I never really bought into either one. Pangaea was my least favorite movie of the evening. So he seems to be trying to say that America is a place where sex and love become cold and sterile, surrounded and inflicted by material objects, a melting pot that's more like a sudden clash, an infusion of different peoples with astonishingly no togetherness. (That's what I got, anyway.) That's fine, but it seems to be a movie so in love with its ideas that it presents them without doing anything with them, allowing them to linger onscreen until...well, until the end of the movie. I don't think he says anything new or adds anything to his argument or even serves to explain his perception in between the beginning and the end of the movie. But it has moments of disturbing, quiet beauty.



I will repeat, however, that the best film of the night was the preceding advertisement for the UWM Union. A mind-boggling satire of commercialism! Genius!
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 05.18.2004 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:
I agree about Spring Summer Autumn Winter...and Spring: a quiet, simple, beautiful gem.


I was lucky to catch it; there was only one showtime left for the weekend, and I'm glad I did. I was the only one in the theatre, too. Three weeks of play and no audience. Sad
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beltmann
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 05.18.2004 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:
Gerry and Anatomy of a Murder, feeling that both had entirely unnessecary scenes, that could've been easily omitted (in Gerry's case, almost the whole movie).


In terms of plot, you are entirely correct about Gerry, but the thing is, I don't believe thinking about Gerry in terms of plot is particularly useful. Narrative plays virtually zero role in the picture; Van Sant emphasizes other aspects of cinema, which I consider perfectly valid. (Why must an entire art form be held hostage to the rigors of standard fiction?)



Two guys, both nicknamed Gerry, embark on a strangely unfulfilling hike, searching for "the thing" and wander off the beaten path. They get lost, and spend the rest of the film walking and walking and never getting anywhere?in fact, the landscapes keep changing so incongruously, that we wonder whether they have wandered into the land of Existential?a psychological rendering of Beckett, Kiarostami, Hou, and Reggio. There's hardly any dialogue, but there's minute after minute of silent travel, and the movie has an oddly hypnotic, beautiful effect. Perhaps most memorable is how Van Sant produces Death Valley images unlike any others I?ve seen.



That said, I was more interested in what Van Sant was attempting than the movie itself. I couldn't wait for each endless shot to end, but strangely, when each shot finally did, I was disappointed--as if Van Sant had somehow, knowingly held the shot just long enough for a hypnotic bond to form between screen and viewer. I was consistently surprised to find myself still wanting more of each shot. (And when the movie was over, I wanted to watch it again, immediately. Still haven't, though.)



Eric
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