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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: 09.01.2003 3:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I strongly agree with all of your comments, especially this part:

the night watchman wrote:
But I think many people, far too many people, equate society and culture -- specifically their society and culture, or the one they choose to accept -- with objective Truth. Such a perception is the root of social conflict, and encourages one group -- one tribe -- tries to demonize, suppress, or eradicate another group. I feel we are a lot better off when we recognize that society is just a flexible and tenuous construx, based specifically on our abstract and symbolic perception of the world.


However, I personally feel that realism, when injected with artistic interpretation, is best equipped for showing us that society is a "tenuous construct." To me, true realism must incorporate the psychological, emotional, and abstract perceptions of the human experience--the best realism does more than merely replicate physical realities. While abstract styles may be superior at illuminating certain specific, single aspects of the human experience, I would argue that realism is better at simultaneously including the many complexities of that experience, and better at depicting it as a whole. Still, is the disparity between them wide? I really don't think so, and my slight preference is obviously founded on a deeply personal view of what matters most in art (as listed in my prior post).

I would argue that the closer a film comes to the many facets of reality, the stronger is its ability to "tear down the facade of society and reveal humans at their purest state." Again, I recognize this as highly subjective, and I also don't want to overstate my case: I consider abstract cinema deeply, deeply valuable as well (especially as a means of expressing/representing psychological complexities), and I certainly recognize that some stories and artistic intentions require forms that transcend realistic boundaries. By no means do I want to dismiss or devalue those artistic virtues.

Eric
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matt header
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PostPosted: 09.01.2003 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was a topic posted about the movie "Irreversible" recently, and reading your (Beltmann and Night Watchman) very articulate discussion of the merits of realism vs. abstract, I was reminded of something I noticed in that movie. It's obvious, I think, that Gaspar Noe is trying to achieve the opposite of realism: exaggerated, oblique representations of violence and inhumanity (the reverse structure and the swooping camera throughout much of the movie supports this). But for "the two scenes" - I think you know which ones I mean - it seemed odd to me that the camera was very static, very lingering, very objective, portraying the violence as ultrarealistic, not manipulating it in any way. Yes, this was probably Noe's point - and I could certainly see Noe using "realistic" (despite the filtered lenses and digital effects) techniques during these scenes to suggest the eternality of the violence compared to the blurred life around them - but I can't help but interpret it another way. "Irreversible" seems either an unflinchingly realistic look at violence that uses unsubtle gimmicks to maintain our attention, or an extremely abstract movie whose attempts at realistic violence border on voyeuristic.

Sorry if this interpretation of mine doesn't really fit into the realism vs. abstraction debate; it just reminded me of that.
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Mark Dujsik
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PostPosted: 09.01.2003 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice discussion going on it seems. Give me some time (a couple of days--party tomorrow Smile) to read up on all of it and chime in.

Anyway, the week:

Animal House (Landis, 1978)

The Fugitive (Davis, 1993) (repeat)

[url=http://mark-reviews-movies.tripod.com/reviews/L/

lordoftherings2.htm]The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers[/url]
(Jackson, 2002) (repeat)

My Boss's Daughter (Zucker, 2003)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (Craven, 1984)

Spellbound (Blitz, 2003)

Wag the Dog (Levinson, 1997) (repeat)

Whale Rider (Caro, 2003)

I'm actually sitting down to watch Animal House now, so I'll try to write out some thoughts on the unreviewed stuff soon. Whale Rider is the best of the year so far, by the way. I saw two great films of the year this week (that and Spellbound) and what I hope will be the worst (My Boss's Daughter).

EDIT: Added link to review of Whale Rider
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10 Best Films of 2006



Mark Reviews Movies


Last edited by Mark Dujsik on 09.03.2003 7:40 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Danny Baldwin
Studio Exec


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Location: San Diego, CA

PostPosted: 09.01.2003 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This week:

Head of State

My Boss's Daughter

Le Divorce

The Magdalene Sisters

From Justin to Kelly

Uptown Girls


Raising Victor Vargas

American Splendor


Head of State is okay, and kind of funny. My Boss's Daughter is the worst of the year. Le Divorce will make a good rental. The Magdalene Sisters is the years best (and Mark, I agreed with you that Whale Rider was the best, until seeing this). From Justin To Kelly is horrific, but is so high-spirited and good intentions-wise, it's hard to say it's one of the worst of all-time. Uptown Girls is great when Murphy and Fanning are interacting, but dreadful the rest of the time. Raising Victor Vargas is one of the year's best, and so is American Splendor, but they both aren't anywhere near as good as many have made them out to be. And, I did buy The Two Towers, but haven't had time to watch it yet.

Yeah, as you'll see below I edited this a ton of times, heh.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.01.2003 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I might have been reacting to your comment that "cinema?s noblest function is to approximate reality." Too often deliberately nonrealistic films and fictions get sniffed at by critics and scholars (I was surprised by what a poor reception "Fellini's 8 1/2" got on its release, and still sometimes gets), and I guess I bristled. I understand what you're saying and where you're coming from about realistic narratives. A movie like "Schindler's List" or "Xi Xi" wouldn't have had the same impact if they were surreal movies. (On that point, it's interesting to compare the book "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" with the movie.)

In response to Matt, you brought up some good points about "Irreversible." Briefly, I think Noe was attempting to (successfully, in my opinion) present the memory of an specific night, with the "important" parts clear and precise. The sweeping camera is meant to, I think, represent the unfocused and tenuous aspects of memory. Also, the movie is edited to appear as though it is one unbroken shot. Again, without the narrative being obviously divided into scenes with filmmaking techniques like cuts and fades, etc. (and of course, there are scenes, but the way they are exited and entered makes the viewer feel they are slipping through time, experiencing a moment, and makes the scenes seem to overlap) the movie seems to occupy the viewer's attention "all at once."
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beltmann
Studio Exec


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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 09.01.2003 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
I might have been reacting to your comment that "cinema?s noblest function is to approximate reality." Too often deliberately nonrealistic films and fictions get sniffed at by critics and scholars (I was surprised by what a poor reception "Fellini's 8 1/2" got on its release, and still sometimes gets), and I guess I bristled.


Yeah, I agree that sometimes intentionally unreal films are unfairly dismissed. I admit, though, that my phrasing ("cinema's noblest function is to approximate reality") was deliberately intended to jostle--especially since its stand is so clearly arguable.

While my personal ideas support my contention that mimesis is the most noble of cinema's functions, I also believe that there are many other functions that qualify as noble, including even simple escapism. I just think it's important to grasp and understand the many, many functions of art, and I also think it is personally rewarding to place them into a hierarchy that reflects your own individual beliefs, theories, and biases. There's no right or wrong in such an endeavor, but the sifting can help us better understand our own relationship to art, and better understand our responses to artworks. No one looks at art in a vacuum--our values, experiences, politics, biases, tastes, etc. are inescapable variables--and so the hierarchy task provides a means of coming to terms with those variables, allowing us to comprehend them in a useful manner.

(As a side note, 8 1/2 is one of my very favorite Fellinis.)

Eric
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beltmann
Studio Exec


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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 09.02.2003 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

8/25 - 9/1

Final Destination 2 (Ellis, 2003)

Raising Victor Vargas (Sollett, 2003)

He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not (Colombani, 2002)

Old School (Phillips, 2003)

Dirty Pretty Things (Frears, 2002)

The Trials of Henry Kissinger (Jarecki, 2002)

The Medallion (Gordon Chan, 2003)

Read My Lips (Audiard, 2001)

Gloria (Cassavetes, 1980)

"The Order," a 30m excerpt from Cremaster 3 (Barney, 2002)

Good week. I'd highly recommend Raising Victor Vargas, He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not, Dirty Pretty Things, "The Order," and perhaps Trials of Kissinger. That doc is essentially an essay film, arguing that the former Secretary of State ought to be charged with war crimes, and while it relies on selective memory, it also makes a fairly compelling case. I was most fascinated by Barney's experimental "The Order," but the best of this bunch is probably Raising Victor Vargas.

I kinda enjoyed Final Destination 2, primarily for the first 30 minutes, and the clever, Rube Goldberg death scenes. The inert Old School doesn't have an ounce of wit, but at least the three leads--Ferrell, Wilson, Vaughn--are fully, seriously committed to their roles. The Medallion is rather awful. (And I like Jackie Chan, I really do.) Finally, I found the well-received Read My Lips too reliant on familiar conventions--the more it began to resemble a genre thriller, the less I was interested in it. Here's an observation about my personal preferences: Although there are many exceptions, I'm usually bored to tears with stories about guns, criminals, ex-cons, mobsters, drugs, junkies, corrupt cops, etc. Usually filmmakers are too enamored with the "exoticism" of the underworld, which undercuts their dramatic possibilities. Read My Lips nearly avoids that pitfall, but eventually tumbles in.

Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.02.2003 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

8/25 - 9/1

Jeepers Creepers 2 (Salva, 2003) Dumb, if very enthusiastic horror movie. Can't say I didn't enjoy myself, but I have to question the preponderance of naked male torsos.

Happiness of the Katakuris (Miike, 2001) I think I'm quickly becoming a big Takashi Miike fan. This isn't his best, and as many moments work as don't, but the constant off-the-wall weirdness kept me engaged.

Casablanca (Curtiz, 1942) I'm not as big a fan of this movie as it seems most people are, but I still like it a lot. I'm about halfway through the Ebert commentary, which very helpfully explained why Laszlo is able to simply walk around without getting arrested by the Nazis -- he just is; it's a plot contrivance.

The Petrified Forest (Mayo, 1936) Stagy, but engaging. I had to chuckle a bit when Mantee (Bogart) rebukes Squier (Howard) for "Talkin' to an old man like dat!" It sounds like he's scolding a housecat. Also, I tried, but I just couldn't wrap my mind around Betty Davis as a cute 19-year-old.

EDIT: Also, I agree with Eric; Old School was awful. I think Will Farrell is a really funny guy and I hope he gets a good gig soon, and doesn't go the way of David Spade.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 09.02.2003 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
EDIT: Also, I agree with Eric; Old School was awful. I think Will Farrell is a really funny guy and I hope he gets a good gig soon, and doesn't go the way of David Spade.


I though Ferrell was hilarious in that movie, and I liked it--it's one of my favorite guilty pleasures of the year. I've seen it twice (which, yes, is enough--I'm not a psychopath, well maybe psychopath, but not that psycho?)

Movie viewing is going to slow down to 2-4 movies a week for me this week, high school starts in exactly 45 minutes.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.02.2003 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Old School is just not my kind of movie. I 've never liked the "campus comedy," like Porky's or the American Pie movies, and I'm not even all that fond of Animal House (gasp! sacrilege, I know). It's just a matter of personal taste.
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Mark Dujsik
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PostPosted: 09.02.2003 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Am I alone in thinking that Will Ferrell has constantly shown himself to be misguided, unfocused comic actor? He and Molly Shannon are two recent SNL alums whose (albeit limited) success outside of the show escapes my comprehension.
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10 Best Films of 2006



Mark Reviews Movies
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Mark Dujsik
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PostPosted: 09.02.2003 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My views on dramatic art are highly influenced by my education in theatre, so you'd expect that verisimilitude would be a high point on my list of art's purposes as well. The thing is, I have--what I like to consider--fairly eclectic tastes, so I have no real set-in-stone sets of criteria as a measure of value (I'm not saying any of you do either). When we start talking realism, my brain starts on that old Realism vs. Naturalism argument. Miss Julie--that ever-so-natural of Naturalistic plays--is one of my personal favorites. I mean, a group of partyers come in and do bits so that the main characters can go have sex offstage and keep the play in real time. You've got to love it.

Anyway, I have no real argument to convey. I think great art takes lies and makes them true, while bad art takes the truth and turns it into a lie. (Ever since that statement came into my head, I've been wondering if I ripped it off. Why paraphrase when you can quote the real deal?)

I hope you've enjoyed my latest ramblings. If you can make something more of it than the author intended, please let him know so he can take credit.
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Mark Reviews Movies
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.02.2003 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark Dujsik wrote:
I think great art takes lies and makes them true, while bad art takes the truth and turns it into a lie. (Ever since that statement came into my head, I've been wondering if I ripped it off. Why paraphrase when you can quote the real deal?)


Ooh, I likey. Very pithy.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 09.02.2003 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
Old School is just not my kind of movie. I 've never liked the "campus comedy," like Porky's or the American Pie movies, and I'm not even all that fond of Animal House (gasp! sacrilege, I know). It's just a matter of personal taste.


I'm with you. Why can't they make campus comedies that celebrate knowledge, intellectual pursuits, and academic glories rather than ones that celebrate infantile, obnoxious, drunken debauchery? (Tongue only partially in cheek.)

Yeah, I've never been a big fan of Animal House, either--not even when I was in junior high, and that was when I still believed Kentucky Fried Movie was the greatest comedy ever made.

Eric
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Mark Dujsik
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PostPosted: 09.02.2003 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Why can't they make campus comedies that celebrate knowledge, intellectual pursuits, and academic glories rather than ones that celebrate infantile, obnoxious, drunken debauchery? (Tongue only partially in cheek.)


Well, there's Wonder Boys--sort of--and... I think my drunken debauchery is interfering with my memory, 'cause I can't think of any more.
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