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Screening Log 2007
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Mark Dujsik
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: Chicago, IL

PostPosted: 01.08.2007 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xAndyx wrote:
I justed watched all 5 Rocky movcies for 9 hours straight. My brain is mush...but im pumped to see the new one, however bad it may be.




You might be surprised by the sixth one; it certainly washes away the montage-fest that is Rocky IV.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 01.13.2007 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1/7 - 1/13



In preferential order:



The Pursuit of Happyness (Muccino, 2006)

The Painted Veil (Curran, 2006)

Letters from Iwo Jima (Eastwood, 2006)

Office Space (Judge, 1999)



The Pursuit of Happyness is truly stirring in the way that it portrays the often-ignored working-class of Americans who actually have the ability to land white-collar jobs. Politically, the movie offers quite a cautionary warning in regards to the future of the American economy: while Ronald Reagan (who took the presidency as thousands of Americans like the film's real-life protagonist, Chris Gardner, were suffering from hopeless unemployment situations) may have been able to revitalize employment and wealth from the Carter administration's failings, will any presidential candidate in 2008 be able to overcome the huge fiscal detriment suffered under the Bush administration's blunderous policies? Nevertheless, political-messages aside, the human aspect of The Pursuit of Happyness is its best quality. The syrupy, schmalzy trailers don't do the film's many touching dimensions justice.



A Clint Eastwood project of noble intentions, Letters from Iwo Jima is ultimately an ambitious failure in showing the battle of Iwo Jima from the perspective of Japanese soldiers. The central problem lies within the movie's presentation of its thesis: that human soldiers are often victimized ploys of corrupt, zelous governments. Eastwood is willing to do anything and everything necessary to provide evidence to support this idea, often manipulating historical fact (I'm mainly referring to a scene in which Japanese soldiers administer morphine to an American captive, something that they would've never done and is not included in the film's source-material.) As far as I'm concerned, the deeply intimate flashbacks of and conversations between the characters (especially that of protagonist Saigo and the General late in the third-act) were powerful enough in the first place to get the filmmakers' point across. As it stands, Letters from Iwo Jima's command of theme seems deeply diluted by the aforementioned, troubling extraneous material.
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Mark Dujsik
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Location: Chicago, IL

PostPosted: 01.15.2007 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1/8 - 1/14



Alpha Dog (Cassavetes, 2007)

The Brain That Wouldn't Die (Green, 1962)

Casino Royale (Campbell, 2006)

Children of Men (Cuar?n, 2006)

Snakes on a Plane (Ellis, 2006)

Venus (Michell, 2006)



Couple of rewatches. Still love Children of Men. Still not a fan of the thuggish Bond of Casino Royale. Still think a plane full of snakes is fun trash.



Second watching of Venus reminds me how good the scenes with O'Toole's character and his friends and ex-wife are, and how forced the scenes with the young girl are. Alpha Dog is problematic--Cassavetes is too focused on the details of the real case and buries the characters and themes under them.



Damn TCM Underground for showing The Brain That Wouldn't Die late Friday night. I saw this on "MST3k," and yeah, it's that bad.
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Michael Scrutchin
Studio President


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PostPosted: 01.16.2007 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

01.08.2007 - 01.14.2007

  • A Scanner Darkly (Linklater, 2006) B

  • Rampo Noir (Takeuchi/Jissoji/Sato/Kaneko, 2005) C-
I was eager to see Rampo Noir, an art-horror anthology based on the writings of Japanese mystery/horror writer Edogawa Rampo. The buzz from several genre sites and forums suggested that it was an interesting alternative to all the run-of-the-mill J-horror imports, but I was barely able to make it all the way through. The only thing saving it from being a complete waste of time is the gruesomely imaginative and mind-fucking final segment, "Crawling Bugs," the directorial debut of manga artist Atsushi Kaneko. It's a playfully surreal, disgusting little gem about a chauffeur (Tadanobu Asano) with a strange attraction to a beautiful actress (Tamaki Ogawa) that leads to... well, I can't give it away. In any case, the colorful art direction and immersive sound design are pretty cool. But to get to that one, we have to sit through a pointless avant-garde intro ("Mars's Canal"), a dull Sherlock Holmes mystery ("Mirror Hell"), and a sick freak show about a horny chick and her limbless war-hero hubby ("Caterpillar"). Eek.



I liked A Scanner Darkly. I think I'll watch it again soon.
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mfritschel
Cinematographer


Joined: 27 Jun 2003
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Location: Port Washington, WI

PostPosted: 01.22.2007 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's my recap for the past two weeks:



Children of Men (Cuaron, 2006)

Pan's Labyrinth (del Toro, 2006)

The Matador (Shepard, 2005)

All the King's Men (Zallian, 2006)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (Liebesman, 2006)

Snakes on a Plane (Ellis, 2006)



Out of the six, I wold have to say that only the top two warrant any kind of comment, with the remaining four being overall rather flat and dull. For whatever reason I just could not find myself getting into Snakes of a Plane, it was just to much over the top for me. Maybe I am starting to get older after all.

However, as far as the first two go you can add me the the bandwagon for Mexican directors this year. Cuaron's overall vision and technique in Children of Men just amazed me from the beginning and got me immediately involved in the movie. From the bitting social commentary, to his use of extended shot sequences and lack of music, the gorilla style filmaking he instituted fit the subject matter and movie perfect. Much in the same way that Cuaron was able to incapsulate his vision of the furture, del Toro use of fanatasy to make his point was just as effective. What strikes me the most and gets me the most excited about the direction of these two (plus Inarritu) is not the fact that they are making solid movies, its the fact that they are taking chances and making films that have something to say. As an audience were not just being spoonfed mush, but are being allowed to really gain something from the veiwing experience.
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Danny Baldwin
Studio Exec


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PostPosted: 01.22.2007 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1/14-1/20



In preferential order:



Notes on a Scandal (Eyre, 2006)

Pan's Labyrinth (del Toro, 2006)

Alpha Dog (Cassavetes, 2007)

The Curse of the Golden Flower (Zhang, 2006)

Employee of the Month (Coolidge, 2006)



After I saw 2004's Closer, I thought I disliked the very-sensory dialogue of playwright-turned-screenwriter Patrick Marber, but director Richard Eyre's cinematic approach in bringing Notes on a Scandal to life shows me that the cold theatrics of its Mike Nichols-directed predecessor were what initially turned me off to Marber. This is an insightful, resonant commentary on socially-forbidden relationships that brilliantly takes on a cat-and-mouse-style plot.



With Pan's Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro beautifully and imaginatively reinvents a style similar to that of Victor Fleming and even Fritz Lang. Unfortunately, its sensory command of classical fantasy struggles to overpower its lack of narrative-density.



Alpha Dog's treatment of troubled youth is one of the wonderfully (and horrifyingly) accurate. Unfortunately, its glamorization of sex and drugs coupled with Cassavetes' inept sense of pacing destroy what could've been a masterpiece. (Yes, a masterpiece that Justin Timberlake would've been a part of.)



The Curse of the Golden Flower is every bit as visually sweeping as Hero and House of Flying Daggers but nowhere near as emotionally affecting or narratively interesting. Thus far in his career, Zhang had avoided making any movie that officially counted as indulging in "style over substance." The aforementioned two projects may have been totally focused on art-direction and visual-effects, but their beauty was met by insightful commentary on governments in turmoil and the human condition's reaction to this form of flailing order. The Curse of the Golden Flower, on the other hand, offers none of this. It's a schmorgasboard of pretty colors and swift action, but comes off as downright boring for the simple fact that I didn't care about any of the characters. Zhang's films have always felt like borderline-soap-operas, but they've always taken to such form quite poignantly. The Curse of the Golden Flower, I'm afraid, only has its multi-million-dollar visuals to seperate it from what is routinely aired on daytime-ABC.



And--wow--I never knew that anyone could "act" as poorly as Jessica Simpson does in Employee of the Month. Daisy Duke might not have been demanding, but at least she gave the impression that she knew her lines in that movie.
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Mark Dujsik
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PostPosted: 01.22.2007 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1/15 - 1/21



Curse of the Golden Flower (Zhang, 2006)

The Hitcher (Meyers, 2007)

Primeval (Katleman, 2007)

Red Dragon (Ratner, 2002)

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (McKay, 2006)



The Hitcher and Primeval were part of a double feature. Here's my review of the first. Primeval is a weird one--part attempted serious look at atrocities in Africa, part goofy creature feature. You know, when I think of all the horrible things happening in Africa, the first thing I think of is a giant crocodile.



I've got to disagree with Danny on Golden Flower. I'm also a fan of Zhang's martial arts epics, and I thought Golden Flower played out like one of Shakespeare's lost tragedies. Sure, it'd be a weaker one, but it's nice to see a movie take a chance like that. I quite enjoyed it.



Talladega Nights was funny--too long, but funny (I had to see the unrated, extended edition, so that might be part of it). That's what happens when actors improv, though, some hits, some misses. The hits outweighed the misses for me, though.



I'm going to sit down and watch Red Dragon again in about half an hour or so, so might as well put it up now.



I also tore through the first season of "Prison Break" this week. That show is addictive.
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Michael Scrutchin
Studio President


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Location: Pearland, TX

PostPosted: 01.23.2007 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

01.15.2007 - 01.21.2007



The shorts from disc 2 of Kino's Avant-Garde: Experimental Cinema of the 1920s and '30s:

  • Polizeibericht ?berfall (Metzner, 1928)

  • La Glace ? trois faces (Epstein, 1927)

  • Le Tempestaire (Epstein, 1947)

  • Romance sentimentale (Eisenstein/Alexandrov, 1930)

  • Autumn Fire (Weinberg, 1931)

  • Manhatta (Strand/Sheeler, 1921)

  • La Coquille et le clergyman (Dulac, 1928)

  • Regen (Ivens, 1929)

  • H2O (Steiner, 1929)

  • Even: As You and I (Barlow/Hay/Robbins, 1937)
And a few features:

  • The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Puiu, 2005) A-

  • The Descent (Marshall, 2005) B+

  • World Trade Center (Stone, 2006) C+

  • I Am a Sex Addict (Zahedi, 2005) B-
My favorites of the Avant-Garde shorts were Autumn Fire, a lovely tone poem about two lovers apart and their climactic New York reunion; Manhatta, the prototypical city-symphony film; and Le Coquille et le clergyman, a creepy bit of surrealism about a clergyman tormented by his lust for a general's wife.



While I didn't agree with the fanboy hype surrounding Dog Soldiers (a decent Sci-Fi Channel time-waster), I'm with the consensus on Neil Marshall's The Descent -- it's a well-crafted, kick-ass horror movie. And, hey, are we sure it's Oliver Stone's World Trade Center and not Ron Howard's? (It made me cry, sure, but I was cringing at its Hollywood-sap corniness the whole time.)
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 01.28.2007 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1/21 - 1/27



As this semester of school nears its end and I have two final college applications to complete, films have become sparse.



Nothing new this week, but I did re-watch Brokeback Mountain and Mystic River for required Film Studies essays. I still maintain the same opinions of both: near masterpieces which barely miss greatness due to unessecary excess (true of Mystic more so than Brokeback).



I'm currently trying to narrow my mind enough to pick a "most influential film" to re-watch and write about. Maybe I'll pick Pee Wee's Big Adventure to show goddamn Chapman University how irrelevant the question is.



The local theatre that I've worked for for nearly two-years closes tomorrow for good. Hopefully, after my shift, I'll be able to catch one last movie there; probably Freedom Writers. And then it's time to transfer next week to a real powerhouse multiplex with sixty employees (as compared to our fourteen). I'm beginning to become thankful I turned down the management position at a bigger one downtown...



But, all this gets me to remembering: one week and I'm going to be watching movies like crazy. Hopefully The Good Shepherd and Happy Feet can stick in there for another week.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 01.29.2007 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The month of January 2007, in preferential order:



Children of Men / Cuaron / UK / 2006

Pan?s Labyrinth / del Toro / Mexico-Spain

Old Joy / Reichardt / USA / 2006

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days / Rothemund / Germany / 2005

The Last King of Scotland / Macdonald / UK / 2006

Letters from Iwo Jima / Eastwood / USA / 2006

Dreamgirls / Condon / USA / 2006

Curse of the Golden Flower / Zhang / China / 2006

Lady Vengeance / Park / South Korea / 2005

Battle In Heaven / Reygadas / Mexico / 2005

Employee of the Month / Coolidge / USA / 2006



plus a few shorts:

An Exercise In Discipline / Campion / Australia / 1982

Passionless Moments / Campion / Australia / 1983



Despite a concerted effort to catch notable releases, this month?s viewing was relatively sparse. With my graduate thesis heating up, I just don?t have the time to keep up?in fact, I don?t even have the time to finish this senten
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Mark Dujsik
Director


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PostPosted: 01.29.2007 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1/22 - 1/28



Blood and Chocolate (von Garnier, 2007)

Child's Play (Holland, 1988)

The Ice Harvest (Ramis, 2005)

The Notebook (Cassavetes, 2004)

Smokin' Aces (Carnahan, 2007)

This Film Is Not Yet Rated (Dick, 2006)



From the two new releases I caught, it's a pretty weak week: the unintentional comedy that is Blood and Chocolate (review), and the depressing lack of humanity that is Smokin' Aces.



I admired the balls it took for Dick to submit This Film Is Not Yet Rated to the MPAA, but the rest of the movie is hit and miss. The interviews with directors and actors are intriguing, because they are the ones who have to suffer the moralizing of the MPAA ratings board. It's never really clear what putting a face to that faceless board will accomplish, and he spends so much time bashing the MPAA, he ignores the theater chains responsible for holding NC-17 rated films from the public eye. And the concept of a new rating entity is thrown out but never discussed. How could this work? Who would do it? It's a problematic doc with a loaded argument, but still worth checking out.



As for the older ones, The Ice Harvest is mildly entertaining--a bit too cheery to properly play with the noir formula.



Child's Play is incredibly silly, but at least it has a sense of humor (unlike, say, Blood and Chocolate).



The real gem for me this week was The Notebook, Nick Cassavetes lovely, wise tear-jerker. I was so caught up in the story, I didn't cry as much as I noticed my eyes were leaking.
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Michael Scrutchin
Studio President


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PostPosted: 01.30.2007 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

01.22.2007 - 01.28.2007
  • Cars (Lasseter, 2006) B

  • Mater and the Ghostlight (Lasseter, 2006) B-

  • One Man Band (Andrews/Jimenez, 2005) B+

  • Little Miss Sunshine (Dayton/Faris, 2006) B-

  • An Inconvenient Truth (Guggenheim, 2006) B

  • This Film Is Not Yet Rated (Dick, 2006) B-

  • Pan's Labyrinth (del Toro, 2006) A-
While I enjoyed This Film Is Not Yet Rated, I agree with Mark's comments on it: What will outing the board members accomplish, and why ignore the other entities that make the NC-17 such a nightmare for filmmakers (namely the theater chains that refuse to play films rated as such and the newspapers and TV stations that refuse to advertise them)? There's a lot more to explore on the topic and while watching Kirby Dick and his PI's play "Let's Stalk the MPAA Ratings Board Members!" is fun, I wanted more substance.



Little Miss Sunshine is charming but slight.



Pan's Labyrinth is beautiful; I'm gonna try to catch it again soon.
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xAndyx
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PostPosted: 02.01.2007 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Preferential Order:

Run Lola Run (2nd viewing) (Tykwer, 1999)

Smokin' Aces (Carnahan, 2007)

Jet Li's Fearless ( Yu, 2006)

The Protector (Pinkaew, 2006)

Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle (Leiner, 2004)



I still do not get to see enough movies with my work load at college. I really enjoyed the top three, from there down it gets...well...worse.[/list]
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Mark Dujsik
Director


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PostPosted: 02.06.2007 2:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1/29 - 2/4



The Astronaut Farmer (Polish, 2007)

The Messengers (Pang and Pang, 2007)

Music and Lyrics (Lawrence, 2007)

Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004)

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (Rothemund, 2006)



As for what's coming out later this month, both Astronaut and Music are surprising. The first is quirky but genuinely inspiring, and the second is as sweet and likeable as its title is bland.



The Messengers (review) is a joke--a frustrating, lazily scripted joke.



Sophie Scholl contains some great verbal battles, and it's another German introspection on the darkest chapter of their recent history.



I loved Shaun of the Dead. It took me a long time to finally catch it, but it's hilarious, character-driven, and probably the most accurate portrayal of what a zombie infestation would really be like. Ok, that last one's a bit odd but true.
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Michael Scrutchin
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PostPosted: 02.06.2007 4:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

01.29.2007 - 02.04.2007
  • Cannibal Campout (McBride/Fisher, 1988) F

  • Woodchipper Massacre (McBride, 1988) D-

  • Quincea?era (Glatzer/Westmoreland, 2006) B

  • Thank You for Smoking (Reitman, 2005) C
In 1985, the Betacam slasher Blood Cult became the first direct-to-video horror movie (the first DTV movie period?), opening the home-video floodgates for even shoddier cinematic atrocities like Cannibal Campout and Woodchipper Massacre. These two weren't even shot on a professional format like Betacam: they're backyard camcorder epics all the way. Does anyone else remember seeing the box covers for both of these in every mom-and-pop video store in the late '80s and early '90s? Director Jon McBride is proud that they have the distinction of being among the first completely amateur productions to garner widespread distribution on home video. I don't blame him, but man are they awful. There's a goofball enthusiasm to both his teens-in-the-woods splatter pic (Cannibal Campout) and his macabre riff on '50s sitcoms (Woodchipper Massacre) that keep them from being as painful as other below-the-bottom-of-the-barrel horror movies (Sandy Hook Lingerie Party Massacre or Don't Turn Around anyone?), but they're still a chore. Why do I do this to myself? Why?
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