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What did you watch this week?
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beltmann
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 09.23.2004 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
If we plumbed our personal histories and mapped our personal genetic codes we might figure out why one's experience was a hit while the other's was a miss.


Precisely. One of the reasons I'm fascinated by art is because it contains that subjective dynamic. Exploring our own personal responses--metacognition--often can help us discover a great deal about ourselves.



Hang on while I grab the map of my genetic code... I'm pretty sure I left it around here someplace...



Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.23.2004 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:


Hang on while I grab the map of my genetic code... I'm pretty sure I left it around here someplace...





I could never re-fold mine the right way, so I just threw it out.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.24.2004 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just watched the DVD release of Star Wars. I will never again gripe about Lucas's dicking around with the trilogy. The sound and color is better than it ever has been. Lords of Cinema be praised! It's like watching the movie for the first time again. I can live with Greedo shooting first. Can't wait to see Empire.
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juhsstin
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Joined: 07 Jul 2003
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PostPosted: 09.24.2004 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mmmm... i'm tempted to rent this tonight... i hope my local rental lets me keep it for more than 2 days (ie 1night) Confused
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matt header
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: 09.25.2004 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was massively disappointed this week.



A Trip to the Moon (Melies, 1902) A+

Mean Creek
(Estes, 2004) A-

How it Feels to Be Run Over
(Hepworth, 1900) B+

The Great Train Robbery
(Porter, 1903) B

Birth of a Nation
(Griffith, 1915) B

Silver City
(Sayles, 2004) B

We Don't Live Here Anymore
(Curran, 2004) B-

Rescued by Rover
(Hepworth, 1905) B-

Vanity Fair
(Nair, 2004) B-

Nude Restaurant
(Warhol, 1967) C

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
(Conran, 2004) C

The Mother
(Michell, 2004) C-

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi
(Kitano, 2004) C-



I'm currently taking a class on the transition from Silent to Sound Cinema, which is exceptionally interesting. The only one we've seen so far that I love is Melies' A Trip to the Moon: I've seen it a few times before, and every time it seems like a discovery. How it Feels to be Run Over is also a hilarious gag that must have one of the first comid edits.



Damn, Birth of a Nation is tricky. Aesthetically and technologically it's brilliant, but ideologically (and, as an extension, emotionally) how can anyone defend it? It's nearly impossible to be emotionally moved by a climax in which the KKK save a cabin of whites from the dastardly black army. This is the second time I've seen it. Yes, it's important, but I'd rather not see it again.



Mean Creek is gorgeuous, compelling, and beautifully acted by young performers; one of the best debuts I've seen in a long time. Nude Restaurant was my first Warhol foray, and it seemed to be a film that intentionally derives itself of its potentially cinematic aspects; that is, its collection of brief discussions cut off immediately when some sort of relatable story is emerging, and the aesthetics are so fly-on-the-wall that the camera often wanders off like a drunkard reeling for the bathroom, leaving both speaker and listener out of the frame. This seems intentional, as though Warhol wanted to make a movie in which everything that makes movies interesting was absent. Interesting, then, but as could be expected from a movie that's intentionally uninteresting, it's hard to sit through.



I was extremely disappointed by We Don't Live Here Anymore, The Mother, and The Blind Swordsman, all of which are worse than I thought they would be. We Don't Live has some awesome experimentation with continuity and sound - flashbacks and haunting memories pop up out of nowhere - but in the aspect that the film should have excelled it falls short: its passionate confrontations between immoral husbands and wives can seem strained, if not desperate. I never totally overcame the feeling that these are just gifted actors screaming dialogue, some of which is poorly written. Definitely worth a look (and Dern is excellent), but 2001's Dubus adaptation In the Bedroom is better in nearly every way.



The Mother starts off well but degenerates into a ludicrous character study in which characters scream at each other and demand sex simply because they can. (Am I becoming an elitist snob? God, I hope not.) By the time Daniel Craig's character snorts coke and immediately turns into a frenzied idiot who demands a blowjob from Anne Reid's character, only to angrily shove her away for...well, for not giving him a blowjob, I had to struggle to keep from chuckling. Fully rounded human characters with overwhelming flaws are one thing; characters with no accessibility or pathos whatsoever are another.



The most astonishing disappointment of the week goes to Zatoichi, a remake that Takeshi Kitano was commissioned to direct. He practically told the Onion in an interview that he thinks the character is ridiculous and was reluctant to make the movie at all. His lack of motivation seems apparent: the entirely CGI swordplay and violence seem more lazy than abstractly beautiful, which is the only way they could have worked; the pacing is terrible, offering a climax forty minutes before the end of the movie, so that we're left with several absolutely pointless revelations and a climactic dance number that doesn't work; the comic relief falls completely flat, especially the village idiot, who runs around with a spear trying to be a samurai; and Kitano's supposedly quirky inserts (the aforementioned dance number, sudden and abrupt switching between plotlines, an epic backstory to a brother and sister disguised as geishas) seem like jarring, albeit bizarrely entertaining, filler. Brief scenes involving rhythmic editing emphasizes Zatoichi's sense of sound and work exceptionally well, but there are only two such instances.



Sky Captain was more exhausting than fun, in my opinion (and is Paltrow the most annoying movie character of the year so far?), but it has a commendably nostalgic savoir faire. More than anything, it makes me want to watch the rerelease of the Star Wars trilogy.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.25.2004 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:


The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (Kitano, 2004) C-



The most astonishing disappointment of the week goes to Zatoichi, a remake that Takeshi Kitano was commissioned to direct. He practically told the Onion in an interview that he thinks the character is ridiculous and was reluctant to make the movie at all.




That's disappointing to hear. I've only seen three of the original Zatoichi movies but I enjoyed them quite a bit, so I was looking forward to this remake. Ah, well.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 09.26.2004 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zatoichi is one of the five or six movies this year I'm most eagerly anticipating, partially because I like Beat Takeshi but mostly because I really enjoy the Katsu originals. (I've seen close to 20 of them.) Matt's comments, though, reflect my worst fears about Kitano's approach...



Due to an unforeseen scheduling hiccup, I wasn't able to see Zatoichi this week as intended--I meant to go Tuesday night for that and for Mean Creek--and it now seems to have left the city. I'm hoping it will still turn up somewhere prior to DVD release.



* * *

I would have been happy to feel exhausted by Sky Captain; instead, it felt more like an endurance test.



Eric
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frostiang
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Joined: 25 Aug 2004
Posts: 11
Location: Salem, OR

PostPosted: 09.26.2004 4:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello, dear friends. After nearly a month since my first post, I have decided to come back and try this forum thing once again. This board gave me the idea of writing down all the movies I see. Here we go.



Since many seem to be listing these preferentially I will do the same:



The Brown Bunny (Gallo 2004)

Todo Sobre Mi Madre (Amoldovar 1999)

Ghost in the Shell (Oshii 1995)

Angels in America (Nichols 2003)

Chicago (Marshall 2003)

The Sugarland Express (Spielberg 1974)

Hero (Yimou 2004)

Charlie's Angels (McG 2000)

Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse (Witt 2004)

The Clearing (Brugge 2004)

Ghost in the Shell 2 (Oshii 2004)

A Dirty Shame (Waters 2004)

Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick 1999)

Silver City (Sayles 2004)

Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (Clark 2004)

Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie (Nawrocki and Vischer 2002)

Pootie Tang (C.K. 2001)
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.26.2004 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good to hear from you frostiang. I'd like to hear your take on some of these moves, especially:



The Brown Bunny (Gallo 2004)

Ghost in the Shell 2 (Oshii 2004)

A Dirty Shame (Waters 2004)

Pootie Tang (C.K. 2001)



Alhough many people seem to dislike -- or even loathe -- Pootie Tang, the movie made me laugh my ass off. In all honesty, this is probably one of the funniest flicks I've seen in the last five years. Is that so wrong?
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frostiang
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PostPosted: 09.26.2004 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought that The Brown Bunny was a masterpiece of the human mind and the corruption that is entailed in it. Vincent Gallo is a genius at depicting male sexuality and even though the movie is perverted, he speaks the truth often. I even liked the long cut that Ebert hated but this one is better undeniably. I am a fan of real, long takes and was interested in every minute.



Ghost in the Shell 2 was kind of fun for me but I think that the original is far better. It has a look on the future that is very interesting but does not translate into any kind of entertainment or thought. In other words the surface value makes it seem terrific but the product is less than to be desired.



A Dirty Shame is honestly the first John Waters movie I have seen. It is so crude I couldn't even stand it. There are some side-splitting gags and all but I couldn't help but think that I was buried in filth throughout the movie. Selma Blair is really something else though.



Pootie Tang was just not funny to me. I do not like Chris Rock. The concept is stupid. I don't know. It was just not my kind of movie. I actually felt like burning the rental copy.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


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

PostPosted: 09.26.2004 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

9/20 ? 9/26/04



In preferential order:



Mr. 3000 (Stone, USA 2004)

Silver City (Sayles, USA 2004)

The Agronomist (Demme, USA 2004)

The Isle (Kim, South Korea 2000)

Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War (Greenwald, USA 2004)

Soul Plane (Terrero, USA 2004)



Mr. 3000 is a surprisingly grown-up comedy. Charles Stone III directs with a subtle, satin touch rather than a sledgehammer, allowing the characters and story to warmly round out naturally. When was the last mainstream comedy not pitched at 14-year-olds or snarky grad students? For Milwaukeeans, there?s the added bonus of the movie serving as a love letter to Miller Park and its idiosyncrasies.



Although it?s been five years since Limbo, his last great film, I?m willing to follow John Sayles wherever he wants to go. Silver City contains some of his most surreal ideas, and yet it?s still not quite a return to form, perhaps because he never satirizes fresh territory. I?d just like to add that, unlike most, I found Danny Huston?s peculiar, resigned performance completely agreeable ? his unwillingness to truly confront power and hostility helps elucidate Sayles? cynical, overall contempt for how the American public has turned a blind eye to official corruption.



In a similar vein, Jonathan Demme allows his documentary about Haitian radio legend Jean Dominique to morph into the story of a nation. The Agronomist takes us through an entire generation of cultural and political upheaval. Less incisive is Greenwald?s Uncovered, a rote point-by-point rebuttal to the Bush administration?s rationale for invading Iraq. Rarely offering new material, it is no more sharp than a typical episode of ?Dateline,? and far less compelling than Greenwald?s earlier Outfoxed.



I was most interested in The Isle?s setting, a tranquil lake getaway where a single woman rents out floating huts to fishermen and supplies their needs, including food, lures, and sometimes even sex. The picture?s details about this low-rent, floating resort are always absorbing, and the cinematography is consistently beautiful. Still, the overall meditative tone harshly collides with the way Kim uses queasy shock tactics to illustrate the volatile emotional extremes of the love/hate relationship between the genders. I?m unconvinced the picture has any edifying qualities?I definitely prefer Spring, Summer?, Kim?s more refined version of similar ideas?but I was engrossed throughout.



Eric
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 09.26.2004 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
Alhough many people seem to dislike -- or even loathe -- Pootie Tang, the movie made me laugh my ass off. In all honesty, this is probably one of the funniest flicks I've seen in the last five years. Is that so wrong?


I can't exactly defend Pootie Tang, but man, it's one of a kind. Plus, It has a strange, enigmatic charm and a genuinely positive undertow. Not that I plan to ever watch it again.



Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.26.2004 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
The Isle

Still, the overall meditative tone harshly collides with the way Kim uses queasy shock tactics to illustrate the volatile emotional extremes of the love/hate relationship between the genders. I?m unconvinced the picture has any edifying qualities.




The movie is nihilistic, but it's nihilistic in an absolutely honest way, without artifice or posture. That's what impressed me so much about it. Nihilism is an easy position to affect, as easy as a position of inspiration or hope, as Lifetime demonstrates time and again. But sometimes situations and people have no hope at all. Admitting to the harshness of the human condition is just as important as recognizing the beauty in it. It's rare to see art contemplate the abject without attempting to give the audience a lollypop at some point. On that level, I think The Isle is edifying. If it?s not exactly uplifting or encouraging, then it can work as a balance.



frostiang wrote:
A Dirty Shame is honestly the first John Waters movie I have seen. It is so crude I couldn't even stand it. There are some side-splitting gags and all but I couldn't help but think that I was buried in filth throughout the movie. Selma Blair is really something else though.




I like Waters's early films like Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble, but kind of lost interest when he went "mainstream" (with the exception of Hairspray). Maybe Waters needs to be shocking to be engaging.



I was looking forward to Ghost in the Shell 2, since the original is not only one of my favorite animes, but one of my favorite science fiction films. But, so far, it's gotten mostly disappointing feed back.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 09.26.2004 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:


Mr. 3000 is a surprisingly grown-up comedy. Charles Stone III directs with a subtle, satin touch rather than a sledgehammer, allowing the characters and story to warmly round out naturally.


Erk. Warm? Natural? I honestly thought that Mr. 3000 was one of the most forced movies of recent years, and one of the most childish, too. Sure, there's some worthy satire, but I found it to be entirely uninteresting and the bearer of some putrid supporting performances. Beltmann, I think Milwaukee and baseball have clouded your judgement.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 09.26.2004 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:
Erk. Warm? Natural? I honestly thought that Mr. 3000 was one of the most forced movies of recent years, and one of the most childish, too. Sure, there's some worthy satire, but I found it to be entirely uninteresting and the bearer of some putrid supporting performances. Beltmann, I think Milwaukee and baseball have clouded your judgement.


Perhaps what was needed was a porn star that moved next door to Bernie Mac? Or perhaps Hilary Duff? Maybe then you wouldn't so readily dismiss Stone's achievements.Wink



Seriously, Danny, pay more attention to Stone's directing choices. His style (used to good effect in Drumline as well) is like a riposte to all the supercharged, overstylized hackwork that now passes for mainstream storytelling. Consider, for example, the scene where Angela Bassett leaves Mac at the door, standing in his towel. It's the story's emotional turning point, and yet Stone stand backs and shoots nearly the entire scene in long shot--he understands how restraint can ramp up intensity, and understands that some scenes require a respectful, introspective distance. It's a classy scene that wouldn't belong in a crude sitcom like, say, The Girl Next Door. Consider also the friendly "marriage proposal" scene between Mac and Boca. Rather than conclude the scene with the standard sitcom-issue punchline, Stone lets the scene drift off on a note of quiet, surprising regret. The entire picture is brimming with similarly unshowy moments that actively subvert our expectations of slapstick silliness. Mr. 3000 is a crowdpleasing comedy, yes, but it's commercial without ever resorting to stupidity. It may not be a great film, but it's still a rare beast indeed.



And what I finally admired about Mr. 3000 had nothing to do with Milwaukee--this is a story I would have enjoyed had it been set in Fenway, Camden Yards, or even Yankee Stadium. The local flavor is merely bonus.
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