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What did you watch this week?
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the night watchman
Studio Exec


Joined: 27 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: 11.07.2004 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim Harper wrote:


Mark of the Vampire (dir. Browning, 1935) D



Mark of the Vampire was incredibly disappointing. Even before we got to that atrocious ending, I was bored to tears. Lionel Atwill was wasted and even Lugosi failed to entertain. Shame.




This is an awful movie. There is one single moment--when the vampiress swoops in on a pair of bat wings for arms--that is actually worthwhile. But even this is ruined, because it makes absolutely no sense in the face of the ending.
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Jim Harper
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PostPosted: 11.07.2004 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
This is an awful movie. There is one single moment--when the vampiress swoops in on a pair of bat wings for arms--that is actually worthwhile. But even this is ruined, because it makes absolutely no sense in the face of the ending.




It's unsurprising Browning removed his name from it. There isn't a director listed at all, oddly enough...
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 11.08.2004 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

10/18 ? 11/07/04



After 36 features and 45 short films at the Milwaukee International Film Festival last week, I had precious little time this week for additional movies. On Sundance I managed to catch Dig!, a revealing documentary about a seven-year span in the lives of Anton Newcombe and Courtney Taylor, the frontmen for The Brian Jamestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, respectively?neighbors, friends, admirers, rivals. My wife and I also found time for The Incredibles, which doesn?t represent an advance for Pixar but I suppose holding steady isn?t a bad thing in their case. As a superhero movie it conflates ideas previously explored in works such as Spiderman 2, Spy Kids, Mystery Men, Unbreakable, and others, but is probably the most accomplished of the bunch.



Eric
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matt header
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PostPosted: 11.08.2004 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've seen gaggles of movies in the last coupla weeks that I haven't posted yet, so I'll try to remember all of them and run through them briefly.



Jean Renoir's Rules of the Game was by far the best of the bunch, and must be one of my favorite films; there is an indescribable touch of humanism, of perfection, of beauty, that turns this tragicomic screwball/satire/romance into a masterful evocation of human interaction, love, life. I could gush in adoration for pages and it still wouldn't do it justice; I haven't felt this way about a movie in a long time (Mon Oncle was probably the last one, and that's my favorite movie).



Sunrise is close, a creative and hypnotic bridge between silent and sound cinema by F.W. Murnau (the score and sound effects were synchronized and released along with the film). I could do without the lengthy middle portion in which husband and wife cavort through the big city, but the beginning and ending may be flawless.



At the Milwaukee International Film Festival, I saw one disappointment and one wonderful film. Ousmane Sembene's Moolade passionately, sympathetically, and beautifully spoke out against female circumcision in Africa, and a gorgeous utilization of visual symbolism. Screaming Men, meanwhile, has an affable subject - a Finnish male choir that screams at the top of their lungs - but is poorly directed and edited, awkwardly emphasizing the subject's wackiness when it doesn't need any gimmicks: it's already fascinating enough. Mika Ronkainen's blatant directorial presence becomes annoying.



New stuff I saw: Polar Express is mostly tacky and obnoxious, although it works at moments. The Grudge, though disposable entertainment that makes it virtually impossible for us to care about these characters, is a shiver-inducing exercise in horror form. Takashi Shimizu's playing around with horror cliche is often inspired and almost always effective. The sequence where a woman makes it from her high-rise office in Tokyo into a taxi and finally into her high-rise apartment with creepy presences all around her is awesomely dread-inducing.



Fellini's La Dolce Vita is my second favorite by him, after the brilliant 8 1/2. I am now utterly convinced that Marcello Mastroianni was the coolest cat ever to have lived.



Finally, I think Jackie Brown is the only Tarantino film you can call totally outstanding; a bit of humanism finally ekes its way into his hip formalism. (Don't get me wrong, I was exhilarated by Kill Bill as well.)



I'm glad I had such a great movie-watching week, what with FOUR MORE YEARS!!! looming dreadfully in the future.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 11.15.2004 1:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

11/08 ? 11/14/04



Bush?s Brain (Mealey and Shoob, USA 2004)

Van Helsing (Sommers, USA 2004)

Ray (Hackford, USA 2004)

10 on Ten (Kiarostami, Iran 2004)

The Deserted Station (Raisian, Iran 2002)



It?s astonishing and depressing to witness how a single invention?digital video?has single-handedly sabotaged the career of a once-great filmmaker. The Kiarostami documentary is simultaneously the most fascinating and worst movie I saw this week. Recycling the same minimalist method from his previous Ten, Kiarostami bolts a digital camera to his dashboard and simply captures the driver?s confessions. This time, though, he?s the driver and he spins an apologia for his own cinematic philosophy that is by turns cogent, maddening, and shockingly simple-minded. While I agree with his general view that presenting reality is cinema?s most noble function, I disagree that his methodology truly catches reality in all of its complexity. Kiarostami naively believes that his camera is objective?as if a bolted camera is capable of recording the full view of life, individuals, or cities?when he ought to instead embrace the inescapable subjectivity of cinema, and harness its interpretative powers, which are considerable. Merely recording slices of reality is the task of the journalist; the artist?s job is to make sense of the pieces and synthesize them into new, useful ideas.



An example of Kiarostami?s folly: To answer one critic who said Ten was nothing except dialogue, he actually plays for us a segment of Ten with the sound turned off, and asks if the silent visuals still impart useful information. Of course they do, and so Kiarostami confidently concludes that Ten?s methodology has manifold layers?but couldn?t that exact same point have been made from eliminating sound from any random clip, even, say, a slice from Family Matters, or a coffee commercial?



Matt, have you solidified your thoughts about Deserted Station yet?



Eric
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Mark Dujsik
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PostPosted: 11.15.2004 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

11/8 - 11/14



Apt Pupil (Singer, 1998): I haven't seen this since it first came out. It's a good look at evil and its all-encompassing power.



Cabaret (Fosse, 1972): Now this is the kind of musical I like. In fact, I really liked this one. The musical numbers fit into the story, and the story is surprisingly esoteric, at least in terms of its social themes. Fosse sure can film/choreograph a dance number.



The Spanish Prisoner (Mamet, 1997): Let me say something: I love David Mamet. I mean, uh... the guy... you know--games. Games? Yeah, games. He does 'em. He does 'em good, like the man once said.



21 Grams (I??rritu, 2003): It took me a while to see this one, but I'm glad I did. The timeline structure is annoying at first, but once the narrative gets going, it becomes secondary to the effectiveness of the story. Penn should have been nominated for this instead of his overwrought turn in Mystic River, and Watts, who I'm slowly warming to, is really good here. Del Toro is great as usual.



I think I may have seen more, but I didn't know I'd be back doing this.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 11.15.2004 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark Dujsik wrote:
The Spanish Prisoner (Mamet, 1997): Let me say something: I love David Mamet. I mean, uh... the guy... you know--games. Games? Yeah, games. He does 'em. He does 'em good, like the man once said.


I've been cooling towards Mamet over the last few years, but Spanish Prisoner remains my favorite of his many shell games. I love it, too.



Eric
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matt header
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PostPosted: 11.15.2004 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Matt, have you solidified your thoughts about Deserted Station yet?





I have - I'm extremely impressed, especially by the way that the deserted, barren surroundings correlate to the female character's inner turmoil. And the final shot, in which the perspective intimately becomes the kids' - excellent. After Trouble in Paradise, it was my favorite film of the week.



And you?
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 11.17.2004 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

11/2 - 11/15



The Forgotten (Ruben, 2004)

The Polar Express (Zemeckis, 2004)

The Incredibles (Bird, 2004)

The Cat's Meow (Bogdanovich, 2002)

Sideways (Payne, 2004)

Envy (Levinson, 2004)

Super Size Me (Spurlock, 2004)



The Polar Express left me awe-struck, after attending the sneak preview almost two weeks back. The innocence of the movie is what's most enchanting; all of the impurities that come with growing older are eliminated, and the movie functions through the eyes of a child. Not once did I question anything; I was immersed in the fantasy and did not once fixate on the simplicity of it all. Its animated counterpart, The Incredibles is not the same kind of spectacle, but it has some amazing animation (even though I still think Pixar's depiction of movement is a tad destracting) and I found the satire to be incredibly sharp. However, I didn't really care about what happened to the characters; the sympathy I had for Nemo was long gone.



I found Sideways to be very enjoyable, but I think it's overrated. I didn't think I'd say this after so many full-on punches from Alexander Payne, but: I think the guy lacks confidence in himself. What he does here is remarkable, but he and his co-writer second-guess themselves, and plug in some very gawky, obvious metaphors which totally ruin the nature of the characters, at certain moments. The scene in which Giamatti and Madsen sit on Oh's character's porch, which everyone is raving about, came off as very artificial to me, to be honest. However, the performances are amazing and the themes about addiction and comfort-zones being constructed are of extreme maturity and observation. I can deal with some strenuous dialogue.



Super Size Me, too, is vastly overrated. Not only do I think that Spurlock's argument about "drawing the line between corporate and personal responsibility" is rather weak, but I think he really has made it to appeal to the lowest common denominator. It is essentially a two-parter. The first part is a rather boring, simple look at health and corporations, which never really develops, even if it is somewhat informative. The second part is Spurlock's"McDonalds Diet", which is often entertaining, but bears hardly any real resonance to the point he is trying to make. I can't help but think it's all far to elementary to consider; I think I could've made the exact same movie rather easily if I had any interest in doing so. However, he makes his point, albeit half-assed.



Also, as a side note, I'd like to say that, after Envy, I am fully convinced that Christopher Walken is officially the master of making terrible movies interesting.
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mfritschel
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PostPosted: 11.19.2004 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amityville Horror (Rosenberg,1979) - Not a very good movie, it builds to a rather spooky and suspenful climax and fizzles. The scenes appeared to be choppy at times, and overall just not a very good edited or put together movie. The character of the father was more laughable at times then frightening.



I'm Not Scared (Salvatores, 2004) - A movie about the loss of innocence in childhood, the scenery was absolutely beatiful and provided a great back drop for the movie and its events. The children playing in the movie did an excellenct job and really were the highlight of the feature.



The Incredibles (Bird, 2004) - I guess Pixar cannot make a great movie everytime, I found it far more violent and disturbing at times then there previous adventures and I am not quite sure how I feel about that. Especially, when they show the skeleton of the dead super hero and the whole aspect of mass killing of super heroes, was this really necessary? Was is appropriate for the audience? The movie seemed to take it rather light heartdly and not really touch upon more it, more that mentioning it. The movie almost seem to mock death, albeit in true superhero fashion, but I feel it really shouldn't have overlooked this, especially as it made feeble attempts to humanize its characters. I have to admit the best part was the preview of Epsidod Three.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 11.22.2004 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

11/15 ? 11/21/04



Festival Express (Smeaton, UK 2004)

Control Room (Noujaim, USA 2004)

Sideways (Payne, USA 2004)

Lost Boys of Sudan (Mylan and Shenk, USA 2004)

The Last Train (Arsuaga, Uruguay 2002)



Of the three documentaries I found Lost Boys of Sudan the most entertaining and instructive, especially as a portrait of culture clash. Although it features a red hot facemelter by Janis Joplin, the concert doc Festival Express finally doesn?t amount to much. Control Room might be unfocused and obvious, but it still has a compelling subject: If US reporters had difficulty remaining unbiased during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, how could Al-Jazeera separate itself when it was their people?fellow Arabs, fellow Muslims?suffering? The most fascinating thing is how the film exposes the limited tunnel vision of US journalism while simultaneously showing Al-Jazeera guilty of the same.



Sideways is certainly one of the wittiest pictures of 2004, partially because the jokes are constructed out of characterization rather than prefabricated punchlines. I only wish I had liked these people more.



Danny, what was your reaction to The Cat's Meow?



Eric
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 11.22.2004 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Danny, what was your reaction to The Cat's Meow?


Not really knowing anything about the tale of William Randolph Hearst's pulling off murder on his yacht, I found it endlessely fascinating. Perhaps this is because I was familiar with all of those involved in the event and was able to enjoy it merely by identifying them, but I wouldn't doubt the strength of Peter Bogdanovich's narrative, either. Also, there's something to be said for the fact that the movie is told like one out of Old Hollywood, allowing the material to function on a kind of illusive ground, stylistically. Not to mention, it serves as proof that Kirsten Dunst was actually a good actress before Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind came around.
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Fred C. Dobbs
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PostPosted: 11.22.2004 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can hardly watch ANYTHING anymore because of work and school, but here's what I watched this month. Of course, I could really keep you guys busy with all the films I've seen since by absence. Laughing



November 2004:

11/1 - Saw (2004) *1/2 - Absolutley ridiculous, zero logic.

11/2 - Dawn of the Dead (2004) ***

11/4 - Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939) ***

11/4 - Citizen Kane (1941) *****

11/6 - The Incredibles (2004) ***1/2

11/8 - Eyes Without a Face (1962) ****

11/10 - Sideways (2004) ****1/2

11/11 - The Bank Dick (1940) ****

11/13 - Seed of Chucky (2004) ***1/2

11/13 - The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944) ****

11/16 - Double Indemnity (1944) ****

11/16 - Slacker (1990) ***

10/17 - Bottle Rocket (1996) ***1/2

10/20 - L'Atalante (1934) ****
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Mark Dujsik
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PostPosted: 11.22.2004 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

11/15 - 11/21



Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (Kidron, 2004): Pretty pointless sequel that really struggles to find the success of the first. It doesn't, and the entire plot seems forced upon the characters to justify its existence. Some nice moments, nothing worth the effort.



Polar Express (Zemeckis, 2004): Review



Ray (Hackford, 2004): Review
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Last edited by Mark Dujsik on 11.23.2004 7:45 am; edited 1 time in total
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juhsstin
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PostPosted: 11.22.2004 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fred C. Dobbs wrote:
November 2004:

11/1 - Saw (2004) *1/2 - Absolutley ridiculous, zero logic.

11/13 - Seed of Chucky (2004) ***1/2





hwo could that be??? well i havent seen either, but i woulda thought chucky woulda been worse.
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