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Screening Log 2006 - What did you watch this week?
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Jim Harper
Director


Joined: 29 Feb 2004
Posts: 226
Location: Totnes, Devon, UK

PostPosted: 02.19.2006 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
Agreed. The ending is a stunner, and it actually improves upon the ending of Campbell's novel (although, overall, I far prefer the novel).




I really, really didn't like the ending at first. I'm still not sure whether it works or not, but I understand what Campbell (and Balaguero) was aiming for.



the night watchman wrote:
Haven't heard of that one. What's the lowdown on it?




Studio page.



I'm willing to put up with Calista Flockhart in a horror movie, since it's Balaguero. He's brought along Xavi Gimenez, the cinematographer he used on The Nameless and Darkness (not to mention The Machinist and Intacto). Gimenez is for my money one of the best young cinematographers around, so I'm happy.



Mind you, I'll give anything Filmax (and the associated Fantastic Factory) release a once over: The Nameless, Darkness, Romasanta, Dagon, The Machinist...



They've released a few duds (Arachnid, for example), but they're also releasing some of the best genre products around at the moment.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 02.19.2006 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim Harper wrote:


I really, really didn't like the ending at first, but I understand what Campbell (and Balaguero) was aiming for.




Actually, the movie's ending is Balaguero's own invention. The ending Campbell provides for his novel is a bit more pat (and unsatisfying), but Balaguero follows the mentality of the Nameless cult to its logical conclusion. It worked for me--I was gob-smacked by it.



Fragile looks good. The synopsis alone gives me the willies.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 02.20.2006 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

2/13 ? 2/19/05



In preferential order:



Match Point / Woody Allen / USA / 2005

Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room / Alex Gibney / USA / 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe / Andrew Adamson / USA / 2005

Roll Bounce / Malcolm D. Lee / USA / 2005

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill / Judy Irving / USA / 2003

Greendale / Neil Young (as Bernard Shakey) / USA / 2004



To my eyes, Match Point is Woody Allen's best movie since Husbands and Wives, maybe even further back. At this late stage, it's remarkable to see Allen shift locale to London, even more remarkable to see him turn up some erotic heat between femme fatale Scarlett Johannson and Irishman Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, a man who escaped poverty first through tennis, then through marriage to a perfectly sweet yet perfectly dull member of the British uppercrust. The drama eventually reddens into a suspense thriller, but what's truly gripping is how thoroughly Allen--with terrific help from Rhys-Meyers--works through his themes of lust, adultery, ambition, desperation, guilt, and self-loathing.



Enron is an angry, intelligent film that turns a complex tale of numbers into an absorbing crime narrative. Like The Corporation and The Yes Men, it?s a brilliant expose of corporate malfeasance that, unfortunately, will have little impact: As long as our collective wallets keep benefiting, Americans will keep turning a blind eye to how deregulation directly leads to unchecked corruption. But hey, as long as I can save a few bucks on my Nikes, who really cares how many throats get stepped on in the free marketplace?



The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is a soft, amiable documentary about Mark Bittner, an unemployed homeless man who spends his days caring for a flock of wild parrots that happen to live in a San Francisco neighborhood. It resorts a little too easily to anthropomorphism, but Bittner is a likable, well-spoken central figure, and the movie is brimming with superb nature shots taken in the middle of a major city.



I?m a big Neil Young fan, but I still found Greendale a chore. The concept album ?Greendale? is Young and his band Crazy Horse telling the story of a small town family; as the two youngest members become a cop killer and an ecoterrorist, the story becomes a critique of post-9/11 politics and environmental pillaging. The movie, then, are those songs on the soundtrack and accompanied by silent, literal images of actors lip-synching to the lyrics. It?s a fascinating experiment, but it?s also far more interesting to talk about than to watch. Everything looks muddy and feels distant?it?s like watching ten music videos in a row, all done in the same grainy, cheesy style?and the politics are astonishingly na?ve. Nevertheless, I can?t wait for Neil Young: Heart of Gold to open here in a few weeks. It?s one of my most eagerly anticipated movies of early 2006.



Eric
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 02.20.2006 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

2/13 - 2/19



Another uninspired week of my own doing, I suppose, but oh well. In chronological order:



Glory Road (Gartner, 2006)

When A Stranger Calls (West, 2006)

3-iron (Kim, 2005)

Rebound (Carr, 2005)



Glory Road gives Josh Lucas a good oppurtunity to show that he's a good actor, and for the most part, he takes it. However, the basketball scenes are so poorly choreographed and shot that they drag the rather conventionally appealling story into the land of mediocrity it tries so desperately to avoid.



When A Stranger Calls is crap, for sure, but I found myself significantly more absorbed and entertained by it than most other movies like it. Perhaps it had something to do with the screaming pre-teen crowd in the audience.



3-iron achieves none of the spiritual heft of Kim's previous Spring Summer Fall Winter?and Spring. Although it shares the same beautiful cinematography, albeit on a smaller scale, its final thirty minutes seem like symbolism for symbolism's sake, rather than functioning as a device to tell us more about the characters.
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beltmann
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 02.20.2006 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:
final thirty minutes seem like symbolism for symbolism's sake, rather than functioning as a device to tell us more about the characters.


I didn't like 3-Iron either, but what's wrong with symbolism for symbolism's sake? Why is that automatically a negative? Must symbolism always and only be used to extend characterization? I'd argue that some artworks choose to function on a narrative/character plane, and others opt for other, more abstract planes--is one plane inherently more valuable than others?



I guess I'm asking why an artist shouldn't choose to work on a strictly symbolic level. The only answer I can think of is that symbolism for symbolism's sake will alienate the masses. But surely that doesn't automatically invalidate pure symbolism, or preclude an artist and his limited audience from finding meaning in that artistic choice.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 02.21.2006 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Danny Baldwin wrote:
final thirty minutes seem like symbolism for symbolism's sake, rather than functioning as a device to tell us more about the characters.


I didn't like 3-Iron either, but what's wrong with symbolism for symbolism's sake? Why is that automatically a negative? Must symbolism always and only be used to extend characterization? I'd argue that some artworks choose to function on a narrative/character plane, and others opt for other, more abstract planes--is one plane inherently more valuable than others?


You make a valid point, but I think in most cases--at least that of 3-iron--it detracts from characterization, rather than does nothing to it. Depending on your take of the ending, the idea of the protagonist becoming a ghost or spiritually enlightened or what have you kind of stopped the flow of the movie for me. In other words, the symbolism seemed more a gimmick than a spark of interest.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.21.2006 4:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:
In other words, the symbolism seemed more a gimmick than a spark of interest.


That's fair, I think, and I more or less agree about that specific case. To shift gears slightly... For me that reaction always raises a question: Does my resistance say less about the movie and more about my own biases and preferences? Am I striving to meet the artist on his own terms, or am I trying to demand the artist work on my terms?
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Mark Dujsik
Director


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: 02.22.2006 4:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

2/13 - 2/19



Final Destination (Wong, 2000)

Final Destination 2 (Ellis, 2003)

Freedomland (Roth, 2006)

King Kong Lives (Guillermin, 1986)

Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994)

Sideways (Payne, 2004)

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (Winterbottom, 2006)



Had to check up on Final Destination movies for the sequel (which I saw tonight, but that must wait till next week's log). First one's smart and creepy and that opening sequence still scares the shit out of me. I hate flying. Second one's silly. "Death's plan is working in reverse." WTF?



I remember watching King Kong Lives as a kid, but man is it stupid. A giant artificial Kong heart? WTF?



And WTF is up with Tristram Shandy? I mean, it's good but definitely odd. Here's my review.



Pulp Fiction is 12? WTF?



Sideways was my Valentine's Day movie. You know, that day that everyone else is happy with somone they love. WTF?



Here's my review of Freedomland.



W.T.F.?
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10 Best Films of 2006



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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.22.2006 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark Dujsik wrote:
W.T.F.?


Very Happy
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Jim Harper
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PostPosted: 02.23.2006 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Very Happy




WTF?
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Jim Harper
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PostPosted: 02.26.2006 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

19/02/06 - 26/02/06

La Haine (dir. Mathieu Kassovitz, 1995)

Psycho III (dir. Anthony Perkins, 1986)

The Skeleton Key (dir. Iain Softley, 2005)*

Le Bossu (dir. Phillipe de Broca, 1997)*

Possessed (dir. Anders Ronnow-Klarlund, 1999)

Cronos (dir. Guillermo del Toro, 1993)

Brotherhood of the Wolf (dir. Christophe Gans, 2001)

Mr Vampire (dir. Ricky Lau, 1985)*

Das Experiment (dir. Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2001)



Relatively little in the way of new viewing this week. Mostly because I've watched all 26 episodes of Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex 1st Gig. It's not as thought-provoking as the two feature films, and there are a couple of alterations I disagreed with, but on the whole it's an entertaining and intelligent series.



I wasn't terribly impressed by any of this week's first time viewings. The Skeleton Key was well-acted and well-constructed, but ultimately predictable and pointless. Le Bossu possessed solid performances and an interesting storyline but was hampered by pedestrian direction that failed to give the film the appropriate degree of swashbuckling flair. Mr Vampire was a little disappointing, primarily because I'd been lead to believe it was on a par with A Chinese Ghost Story. It's basically a slightly better-than-average slapstick horror-comedy; not bad, but not brilliant either.



Some interesting repeats however. La Haine is great; Kassovitz manages to make serious points about controversial issues whilst painting an even-handed portrait of both sides of the argument using shades of grey rather than simple black and white.



I doubt many people have seen Anders Ronnow-Klarlund's Possessed, which is a shame, because it's a solid, well-constructed horror-thriller featuring grave-robbing, pyromaniacs, Udo Kier and the Antichrist. Beats the shit out of any of the US 'satanic millenium' films.



If you haven't seen Brotherhood of the Wolf yet, you're really missing out. It's easily the best martial arts-period drama-horror thriller of recent years. It's an overblown mish-mash of genres, but it's sumptuously shot and tremendously entertaining. And it has Monica Bellucci. What more do you need?



For some reason, I didn't enjoy Cronos as much as I did when I first saw it years ago. I always remembered it as being very good indeed, but this time I didn't connect with it. Very much looking forward to del Toro's next Spanish language film, however.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.27.2006 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

2/20 ? 2/26/06



Red Eye / Wes Craven / USA / 2005

Transamerica / Duncan Tucker / USA / 2005



Felicity Huffman disappears into her Transamerica role, but the movie is never much more than an agreeably dogged variation on a familiar formula: A road trip whereby an out-of-touch parent connects with an out-of-line child.



Despite the ordinary final 20 minutes, I thought Red Eye was a terrific, lean, no-frills thriller, with a nicely assertive gender theme. Well-cast, well-acted, well-paced.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 03.01.2006 2:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

2/20-2/26



Nuthin' again. Argh.
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Monkeypox
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Joined: 17 Jul 2003
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Location: TX

PostPosted: 03.01.2006 4:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Closer - Remarkable storytelling. Jude Law and Natalie Portman maintain a superhuman status quo, Clive Owen reminds me of what he's capable of, and Julia Roberts momentarily awakens from her thespian slumber only to see her shadow, go back into her hole, and make Ocean's Twelve.



As a filmmaker (of sorts), there are a number of movies I see that make me feel far too stupid to ever succeed. This was one of them. Now I'm gonna have to go watch Alone in the Dark or something to make myself feel capable.
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Mark Dujsik
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PostPosted: 03.01.2006 5:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

2/20 - 2/26



Final Destination 3 (Wong, 2006)

Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (Lang, 1924)

Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild's Revenge (Lang, 1924)

Running Scared (Kramer, 2006)

The Wizard of Oz (Fleming, 1939)



Review of Final Desination 3.



I'm working on Running Scared, but I certainly see where Rob (Vaux) was coming from. It's certainly a bad movie, although I wouldn't say it's a despicable one.



The Wizard of Oz makes me feel all nice inside, and that's a noteworthy accomplishment.



These sort of brief statements cannot do anywhere near the justice that Die Nibelungen deserves. Absolutely amazing. The second part is perhaps the ultimate revenge film. This got in my top 20 films off the bat.
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