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Screening Log 2005 - 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: 01.08.2005 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim Harper wrote:


Day of the Triffids (dir. Steve Sekely, 1962)



Day of the Triffids was an important film to my childhood. My father is quite the connoisseur of monster/creature/horror/sci-fi flicks from that time period, and so passed on to me a similar enthusiasm.



About 15 years ago, when I was still in high school, I remember making a silly home video with some friends that involved a talk show and an interview with a "plant actor"--you know, the kind of actor that always plays plants in movies.



Eric
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Jim Harper
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PostPosted: 01.08.2005 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Day of the Triffids was an important film to my childhood. My father is quite the connoisseur of monster/creature/horror/sci-fi flicks from that time period, and so passed on to me a similar enthusiasm.




Did you ever see the BBC TV series from '81? Gave me nightmares for weeks. Still waiting for a DVD release of that.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 01.08.2005 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim Harper wrote:
Did you ever see the BBC TV series from '81? Gave me nightmares for weeks. Still waiting for a DVD release of that.


Unfortunately, no. But I'd leap at the chance.



Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 01.08.2005 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like Day of the Triffids a lot too. Like Eric, I also owe at least some of my affection for the science fiction genre to my dad. I got him The Day the Earth Stood Still for Christmas, his favorite movie -- he was over-joyed. My love of horror is my own, however, since he does tend to be somewhat of a chicken when it comes to that genre; along with Day I also got him The Thing from Another World, and when I asked if he'd watched it a week ago he said, "No, not yet. [quieter] You know, that movie kinda scares me."



Jim Harper wrote:


The Abominable Snowman




I watched this just a few months ago, and was impressed by just how well it holds up, even if you have to ignore the blatantly fake-looking Himalayan sets. One of my favorites from Hammer and that decade.



Jim Harper wrote:
Haven't watched anything earth-shattering this week, although I did give The Nameless another go, and found an interesting though deeply flawed thriller lurking there. It's still got a handful of serious problems, but it bodes well for the director's future at least. I'll do a review for Flipside at some point.




Cool
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Jim Harper
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PostPosted: 01.08.2005 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
I like Day of the Triffids a lot too. Like Eric, I also owe at least some of my affection for the science fiction genre to my dad. I got him The Day the Earth Stood Still for Christmas, his favorite movie -- he was over-joyed. My love of horror is my own, however, since he does tend to be somewhat of a chicken when it comes to that genre; along with Day I also got him The Thing from Another World, and when I asked if he'd watched it a week ago he said, "No, not yet. [quieter] You know, that movie kinda scares me."




Early sci-fi has always entertained me. I'm currently putting together some notes for a possible work on British sci-fi movies from the fifties and sixties (the period when our films was as good as anything produced over the Atlantic, in my humble opinion). The Thing From Another World has always been a favourite too, although I have to agree with James Arness: the monster suit isn't terribly impressive ;)



the night watchman wrote:
Jim Harper wrote:


The Abominable Snowman




I watched this just a few months ago, and was impressed by just how well it holds up, even if you have to ignore the blatantly fake-looking Himalayan sets. One of my favorites from Hammer and that decade.




Hammer did exceptionally well with their more sci-fi inclined material. There's a UK company releasing excellent sets of the those films with commentaries and interviews as well as thorough viewing booklets. Along with excellent, they're a great way to see some great films.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 01.08.2005 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim Harper wrote:
The Thing From Another World has always been a favourite too, although I have to agree with James Arness: the monster suit isn't terribly impressive Wink




No, it isn't. Still, I remember going to see Carpenter's The Thing when I was 13, essentially expecting the same movie with a better monster suit. Imagine my surprise during the kennel scene! Shocked



:lol:
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Michael Scrutchin
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PostPosted: 01.09.2005 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jan. 1 to Jan. 7, 2005:



  • The Five Obstructions (Leth/Von Trier, 2003) B+

  • The Perfect Human (Leth, 1967) A-

  • Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (Kim, 2003) C+

  • Choking Hazard (Dobes, 2004) D+

  • Festival Express (Smeaton, 2004) B+

  • I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (Hodges, 2003) B

  • Document of the Dead (Frumkes, 1989) B-

  • Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (Leiner, 2004) B+



I can't adequately explain my "blah" reaction to Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring -- a film almost universally praised. It's beautiful, sure, and I kinda dug the serene pacing and atmosphere (even if it never entranced me). But I never connected with it on any level, and I found the young monk character actively annoying (in all stages of his life), and that probably tainted my view of the overall picture. Then again, I wasn't in the best mood when I watched it, and that may have affected my response to it. Maybe I'll give it another shot.



Harold & Kumar is great fun. The sing-along to Wilson Phillips' "Hold On" is transcendent.
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Jim Harper
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PostPosted: 01.09.2005 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael B. Scrutchin wrote:


[*] Document of the Dead (Frumkes, 1989) B-




Which version did you see, just out of interest? The original release with just Dawn of the Dead material or the one with stuff from Two Evil Eyes?
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Michael Scrutchin
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PostPosted: 01.09.2005 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim Harper wrote:
Which version did you see, just out of interest? The original release with just Dawn of the Dead material or the one with stuff from Two Evil Eyes?




The one with stuff from Two Evil Eyes -- it's on Anchor Bay's Dawn of the Dead: Ultimate Edition DVD set. The last part, with behind-the-scenes footage from Two Evil Eyes, dragged on and on without adding much.
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Last edited by Michael Scrutchin on 01.10.2005 1:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 01.10.2005 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1/3 ? 1/9/05



Two Brothers (Annaud, France 2004)

The Phantom of the Opera (Julian, USA 1925)

Code 46 (Winterbottom, UK 2003)

The Greatest Story Ever Told (Stevens, USA 1965)



I enjoyed Code 46 immensely, especially for the way it uses its futuristic society?so clever in its we?re-on-the-way inevitability?to comment directly on contemporary issues related to globalization and identity.



Although The Greatest Story Ever Told does pay some attention to the political circumstances that expedited the troublesome Nazarene's martyrdom, it is far too reverent for its own good: There?s no sense of how Jesus captured the imagination of the masses, and so his threat to established authority remains an abstraction. Still, that reverent approach does yield a ceaseless parade of voluptuous, perfectly composed images. Watching this movie is like watching a series of paintings.



Lon Chaney?s Phantom of the Opera rocks. It?s a mesmerizing, touching movie about extremes, about a scarred man who can?t reconcile his boundless love with his raging bitterness. I especially liked the use of shadows and cavernous spaces.



Space also plays a pivotal role in Twentynine Palms, which I saw last week and after another seven days of thought still believe is Dumont?s Showgirls?the Death Valley landscapes may have a vast, echoing appeal, but the rocks have more in common with actual humanity than Dumont?s characters. I could live with these characters as mere constructs?certainly I was never bored?except in the end they are at the service of a rigid philosophical argument about animal instinct, which I won?t spoil, that I simply do not agree with. Worse, after all of his somber, humorless everyday banality?no road trip was ever so anti-human?and after all of his gratuitous, exploitative violence, I don?t think he adds an ounce of insight into the concepts of Naturalism; what do we learn about Naturalism from Twentynine Palms that we didn?t already know from Crane, Steinbeck, Wharton, Maupassant, Hardy, etc., except for Dumont?s own bestial capacity for mistreating his audience?



Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 01.10.2005 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
[W]hat do we learn about Naturalism from Twentynine Palms that we didn?t already know from Crane, Steinbeck, Wharton, Maupassant, Hardy, etc.




What did we learn about Naturalism from Crane, Steinbeck, Wharton, Maupassant, and Hardy that we already knew in Twentynine Palms? What is Dumont's "rigid philosophical argument about animal instinct?"
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 01.10.2005 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Naturalist writers applied the scientific principles of objectivity to the study of human beings, and "discovered" that humans are "beasts" that can be studied through their relationship to their surroundings. When I watched Twentynine Palms, it seemed to me Dumont was doing the exact same thing, especially since he shows the same interest in commonplace and unheroic events. Like the Naturalists, he shows how acts of violence and passion are part of our regular, daily existence.



Also like the Naturalists, Dumont promotes a specific philosophical point-of-view regarding the loss of individuality: Fate will be harsh; our lives are controlled by the environment; free will is an illusion; nature is an indifferent force; chance rules our lives; human beings are powerless within a huge, apathetic universe.



To a large extent I agree with this philosophy--in fact, in college I spent a great deal of extra time with Naturalism, especially Hardy, because I found it fascinating--but where Dumont differs from the great writers of the movement is in his rigid belief that humans are nothing but animal instinct. (That's a valid artistic point, I suppose, but it's one that I profoundly disagree with.) I think the great writers recognized that humanity contains multitudes, and their work always seems to exist within a recognizable human landscape. In my previous post I wasn't thinking about any specific works that Twentynine Palms directly correlates to, but here's one example: In my opinion, Crane's Red Badge of Courage has infinitely more psychological complexity in its illustration of Naturalist concepts, and has infinitely more relevant human beings at its center.



I will say that Dumont's visual decisions are worthy of recognition; his reliance on long shots is appropriate on two counts: One, it allows us to observe these characters in context of their surroundings, and two, it allows viewers to decide what in the frame is worth looking at--the value judgments are left up to us.



Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 01.10.2005 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BIG SPOILERS for Twentynine Palms



Thanks for clarifying, Eric. I pretty much agree with your assessment, especially about how the movie is shot, although I'm not as familiar with the schools of literature as you are, and although "Naturalism" didn't go through my head once while I was watching Twentynine Palms. Your mention of Maupassant made something click in my head, however, especially when I recalled his short story "Two Friends."



I do disagree with your claim that "Dumont differs from the great writers of the movement is in his rigid belief that humans are nothing but animal instinct. I think the great writers recognized that humanity contains multitudes, and their work always seems to exist within a recognizable human landscape," which is your main contention with the movie. You certainly have grounds for this conclusion, since every contact David and Katia have with other humans is at least aloof or passively aggressive, if not outright hostile, and since the two central characters are anything but complex. But what I saw in the movie was more of an exploration of a kind of male/female relationship that the road trip, the natural surroundings, the solitude and the isolation renders down to the most basic element, which Dumont seems to regard as a play of dominance and pliancy. The sex in which the couple engages is nearly always an awkward and un-erotic display of aggression and submission (except when Katia takes control in the hotel room, which produces in David an orgasm so intense he cries afterward, a moment that is mirrored near the film?s end by David?s aggressor). Their constant bickering becomes arbitrary and meaningless only up to the point that it enables David to draw Katia back from her resistance, so that disputes become a ritual, a means to an end.



I get the impression that the first outside act of violence at the movie's final twenty minutes is more than random or meaningless within the larger context of the movie -- although it may remain arbitrary for David and Katia -- because the men who instigate David?s rape go out of their way to make sure Katia watches it. Indeed, since Katia?s witnessing of David?s rape seems to be as purposeful as the assault itself, and since the act is so coordinated and ritualized, I understood it as an attempt to illustrate in an objective manner to Katia her part in the couple?s relationship (this is when the movie becomes less than realistic and moves toward the surreal), and, as brutal as it is, it serves as a potential trigger for positive transformation, i.e., bringing about equality in the relationship. It doesn?t work out that way, of course (how could it?); David attempts to win back his status as the dominant party by trying to transform himself into his aggressor (by shaving his head), and destroying Katia, who, by witnesses the stripping away of his stature and masculinity, has been made his ?equal,? which he resents. Utterly abject, he dies in the desert by his own attempts (though this is vague) to complete his transformation.



The point is that David wholly identifies himself with the dominant male role, and stripping him of that role leaves him with nothing. Since he and Katia?s relationship had been reduced to sex and the parts the two play in the sex act, only his rape at the hand of another male, i.e., being forced to ?trade roles,? is the only thing, at that point, that would make any kind of impact on him.



If it sounds like I am being casually objective about the act of rape, I don?t mean to. I think the movie effectively drives its point home about the shocking and debasing nature of this type of male sexuality on an emotional level as well as an intellectual level, even if the two can?t be adequately explained in the same breath.



I might be overlaying meaning and structure the movie itself does not offer, but when you consider that David and Katia?s aggressive/submissive sexual acts are often out in the open (where they are never as alone as they think they are), that their fisticuffs takes place in the middle of a road, that the only time David and Katia relate of even ground (in the hotel with Katia ?on top,? and as they lay naked on the rocks) really is in private, and the highly structured way the men orchestrate David?s rape, I think that the movie does offer more psychological insight -- if a grim one to a specific personality -- than it seems to on the surface.

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Last edited by the night watchman on 01.10.2005 10:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jim Harper
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PostPosted: 01.10.2005 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good God, my eyes...
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 01.10.2005 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing Sorry, Jim, you can read the text more easily if you highlight it.
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