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Screening Log 2005 - What did you watch this week?
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 07.11.2005 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

7/4 ? 7/10/05



Features in preferential order:

Europa ?51 (Rossellini, Italy 1952)

Primer (Carruth, USA 2004)

Stromboli (Rossellini, Italy 1950)

Birth (Glazer, USA 2004)

Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (Leiner, USA 2004)

Ocean?s Twelve (Soderbergh, USA 2004)

Seed of Chucky (Mancini, USA 2004)

National Treasure (Turteltaub, USA 2004)

Exorcist: The Beginning (Harlin, USA 2004)



Short films in chronological order:

Concert of Wishes (Kieslowski, Poland 1967)

Filming Greed in Death Valley (None credited, USA 1923)

A Few Moments With Eddie Cantor (De Forest, USA 1923)

President Coolidge, on White House Ground (De Forest, USA 1924)

Inklings, Issue 12 (D. Fleischer, USA 1925)

Cockeyed: Gems From the Memory of a Nutty Cameraman (Knechtel, USA 1925)

Passaic Textile Strike [fragment, "The Prologue"] (Russak, et al., USA 1926)

Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (Boys are Marching) (D. Fleischer, USA 1926)

Trolley / The Tram (Kieslowski, Poland 1966)

The Face (Kieslowski, Poland 1966)

The Office (Kieslowski, Poland 1966)



Spent the week catching up on a few American commercial features that I missed last year. After their dismissive notices, I was pleasantly entertained by Ocean?s Twelve and Seed of Chucky, two lightweight but tasty Pop-Tarts. I?m glad I skipped their theatrical run?but I wish I hadn?t skipped Glazer?s Birth. The elegant camerawork is always impressive (especially during the opening credit sequence and also an extended closeup at an orchestral concert) but even more interesting is how the triple themes of delayed grief, the emotional impact of intimate relationships, and the desire to believe quietly emerge. Too bad I didn?t quite buy all of the film?s contrivances.



Harold & Kumar is certainly a step above its cousins in the stoner comedy genre, mostly because the jokes are rooted in character. Plus, it manages to subvert stereotypes of Asian- and Indian-Americans at the same time it subverts stereotypes of stoners themselves. I also admired the willingness to embrace surrealism??hey, that?s a corpse??even if about half the gags clunk. (I could have lived without Neil Patrick Harris, and also the incessant homophobia.)



The logic-defying National Treasure is best viewed as an adventure for kiddies?I?m sure I would have loved its na?ve boyish codebreaking and restless pace when I was 12. Plus, as a kids? movie it at least has a junior-high version of reverence for American history. Harlin?s cheesy Exorcist: The Beginning, on the other hand, completely fakes reverence--for faith, for God, for a beloved horror franchise--and is easily one of the worst movies I?ve seen in the last few years, despite Storaro?s lush cinematography and Skarsgard?s soulful, gravelly performance.



Finally, I loved Shane Carruth?s Primer, which deals with typical time-machine topics (paradoxes, identity, obligations, profiteering) but infuses them all with a surprising credibility and jerry-rigged poetry. (That storage locker, which becomes some kind of witty birthing chamber, is one of the great places in recent movies.) The spare, drab locations certainly work to the film?s advantage, and the actors are all smart, convincing talkers. I want to see it again, if only for the sequence where one character carefully walks another through the process, intelligently anticipating every possible reason to be skeptical.



Eric
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Sippiecup
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PostPosted: 07.11.2005 8:11 pm    Post subject: The Weekend of 7/8 -7/10 Reply with quote

Friday (8th)

The Jacket





Employee of the Month





Saturday (9th)

Spartan





The Big Bounce





Collateral





Sunday (10th)

The Aviator





"Sunday night as always is reserved for The Simpsons"
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kaestner
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PostPosted: 07.13.2005 12:10 am    Post subject: Re: The Weekend of 7/8 -7/10 Reply with quote

Sippiecup wrote:


Employee of the Month







"Sunday night as always is reserved for The Simpsons"




What did you think of it? My brother enjoyed it, and I want to watch it. And everyone knows Family Guy is better than the Simpsons Razz



Anyways... saw War of the Worlds today. Awesome movie. Not much else to add since its been discussed already. Can't wait to see "The Island."
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 07.13.2005 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Um... back to War of the Worlds...



This is one of the most interesting pieces I've read so far about the movie:

Roger Ebert's Online Editor Writes a Sophisticated Piece That Namechecks Ebert For Getting It Wrong





Pretty good article. The parallels between the Martian/alien invasion and 9/11 are blatantly obvious and, because of it, I think it shows some real chutzpa on Spielberg's part. The events are inexplicable and beyond immediate intellectualization. The only thing left for the characters (and the audience) is gut reaction. I kept thinking of it in the same way I think of Van Sant's Elephant; both movies are intentionally narrow in scope, and attempt to explore the immediacy of catastrophe and the emotions and reaction that are produced in its wake.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 07.13.2005 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
I kept thinking of it in the same way I think of Van Sant's Elephant; both movies are intentionally narrow in scope, and attempt to explore the immediacy of catastrophe and the emotions and reaction that are produced in its wake.


Some people might think you nuts for comparing those two, but I can definitely go along with it.



Eric
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 07.14.2005 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

7/4 - 7/13



Forgot to post the week on Monday. This list is updated through last night. First viewings in preferential order:



Risky Business (Brickman, 1983)

Unforgiven (Eastwood, 1992)

Dark Water (Salles, 2005)

Cinema Paradiso: The Director's Cut (Tornatore, 1988)

Go (Liman, 1999)

Shall We Dance? (Yakusho, 1996)

Stevie (James, 2002)

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Nichols, 1966)

Hide and Seek (Polson, 2005)

Cruel Intentions (Kumble, 1999)



Repeats (in chronological order): Team America: World Police, Million Dollar Baby.



I almost regret diving into the director's cut of Cinemo Paradiso first, as I found the fifty-two extra minutes somewhat tedious, although their power is undeniable. Skimming through the end of the shorter version of the film, which was basically made specially for the United States' markets, I think I might have been able to like it a little more (although, since I did not watch it in full, I can't guarantee this). Still, as long as the director's cut may be, it's quite an amazing film, playing with the concept of time and its effect on people in fascinating ways. Not to mention, the subject, by itself, is pretty much heaven on earth for film-buffs.



Risky Business is flowing, zesty, feeling entertainment with a delicious, identifiable breakthrough performance by Tom Cruise (but perhaps starring in films of this sort can screw you up later in life?). The timing is genius and there are plenty of memorable moments. Now that I've seen it, my main interest is seeing The Girl Next Door a fifth time and being able to further view it in the context of cinematic history. Because, Beltmann, we sure know it's good enough to do so with, don't we?



As for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, I'll say that I admire Mike Michol's movies--I really do--and the performances in them. Still, there just isn't anything in them that interests me, although I see exactly what fascinates other people about them. Every time I watch a Nichols movie, I find my hatred for the characters turns into more of an "I don't care" than an immersion in the psychology of situational happenings.



Dark Water was perhaps the biggest surprise of the week, and quite a haunting film. It's so immersively atmospheric that I forgot entirely about the sunny day outside for I was entirely consumed in the bleakness at its heart. Jennifer Connelly is astonishingly real in the role, truly developing the personality of her divorced and battling character (perhaps she based it off her own experiences with her first child?). I realized Walter Salles' abilities as a director in The Motorcycle Diaries, but not until now have I been able to fully embrace them. The actual "plot," if you'd call it that--the movie is more concerned about the situation than the narrative arc--is just about as captivating as every other Japanese-Horror-based film's, but there's so much else to admire. In addition to Connelly, John C. Reily is excellent as the apartment-complex manager and Ariel Gade is marvelous as the protagonist's daughter. And the shots of the dimly haunting archictecture of the setting--stunning. It may seem ridiculus at times, but experiencing the film is worth giving into the old-fashioned cinematic manipulation.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 07.14.2005 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:


As for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, I'll say that I admire Mike Michol's movies--I really do--and the performances in them. Still, there just isn't anything in them that interests me, although I see exactly what fascinates other people about them. Every time I watch a Nichols movie, I find my hatred for the characters turns into more of an "I don't care" than an immersion in the psychology of situational happenings.




I'm a big Edward Albee fan, and I thought this was an inspired cinematic adaptation of his play. Albee's characters are difficult, but I to me that's what makes them engaging. Albee reminds me of Lynch in many ways (though Lynch is usually compared to Beckett, I see Albee more ... then again, I don't much care for Beckett), especially in the ways the characters are often dominated by their subconscious. It's true that George and Martha are yucky people, (and Nick and Honey are on the road to yuckdom) but they're not bad, just lost, and I appreciate that Albee recognizes their suffering.



Danny Baldwin wrote:
Dark Water was perhaps the biggest surprise of the week, and quite a haunting film. Jennifer Connelly is astonishingly real in the role, truly developing the personality of her divorced and battling character. And the shots of the dimly haunting archictecture of the setting--stunning.




I think you're right on target, Danny. I was surprised by how genuinely good this movie was, especially keeping in mind its generally lukewarm reception from audiences and critics. Dark Water is easily one of the best of the American remakes of a J-horror movie, thanks specifically to the performances and the direction, its languid pace and (literal) atmosphere, and its avoidance of overt scares and jump scenes in favor of psychological depth. Yes, we get another spooky ghost girl with long black hair, among other now-familiar tropes, but the movie uses this stuff well.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 07.14.2005 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, and I love Risky Business too. Very Happy
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matt header
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PostPosted: 07.15.2005 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Me and You and Everyone We Know (July, 2005) B+

Code 46
(Winterbottom, 2004) A-

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
(Hodges, 2004) B-

My Summer Of Love
(Pawlikowski, 2005) C-

Masculine Feminine
(Godard, 1966) B

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
(Hawks, 1953) C





Me and You... has its problems, but I really like Miranda July's short work and I think it translates particularly well to feature-length narrative, especially for her first foray into it. Some parts threaten to succumb to today's American Indie cliches -- reliance on trendy music, cute kids, pastel-colored, geometric Wes Anderson-style compositions, deadpan delivery of sarcastic dialogue -- but I really loved how the film is about happiness and art in the digital age, and how technology is both distancing people and drawing them together. The last scene is worth the price of admission alone, although I saw it for free anyway.



Code 46 is a haunting, appropriately somber cautionary tale that brings to mind (of course) 1984, but really few other movies or novels. Visually it's amazingly original, with really impressive use of color. Is Michael Winterbottom one of the best directors today or what?



My Summer of Love falls into the annoying cliche that so many modern dramatic films succumb to: the grainy, handheld cinematography apparently means that something intense or intimate is going on, but the film (especially in its plotting) doesn't have an original bone in its body.



Finally, I'm sure Masculine Feminine would mean a lot more to me if I were living in Paris in 1966. It is certainly a film of its time, and Godard is (or was, at least) one of the cinema's true philosophizers, despite Masculine Feminine's absurd sense of humor. I don't think it dates well, but we need a movie like this now.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 07.15.2005 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
I was surprised by how genuinely good this movie was, especially keeping in mind its generally lukewarm reception from audiences and critics. Dark Water is easily one of the best of the American remakes of a J-horror movie, thanks specifically to the performances and the direction, its languid pace and (literal) atmosphere, and its avoidance of overt scares and jump scenes in favor of psychological depth. Yes, we get another spooky ghost girl with long black hair, among other now-familiar tropes, but the movie uses this stuff well.


I caught Dark Water this afternoon, and agree on all counts; I'd say it's by light years the best American remake of a Japanese horror movie. Salles emphasizes the spaces, colors, and mood with painterly detail, but mostly I admire how he chose to tell a real story--ultimately, it isn't the mild scares that rattle you, it's the tidal wave of emotions that work you over. In the way it makes parental obligations, motherly anxieties and female vulnerabilities (both psychological and physical) its primary subjects, I was reminded of Rosemary's Baby. Even cooler, though, are the links to another Polanski: Like The Tenant, this movie has a great, big, organic building with a life and history of its own. (All those dark overhead shots are simultaneously ominous and beautiful. I kept wanting them to last longer.) I also love the idea that pipes somehow contain the secrets and lifeblood of our homes, as if they are the pulsating veins of our buildings. (I also kept thinking about The Money Pit and how the home buyers awake to the reality that they've made a huge mistake.)



Speaking of Salles, has anyone else seen his Behind the Sun, another picture that uses color and space to great emotional and symbolic advantage?



Oh, and I saw a preview for the new Cronenberg. Can't wait.



Eric
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 07.15.2005 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Oh, and I saw a preview for the new Cronenberg. Can't wait.


I saw it in Dark Water, too, and I'm just as psyched for it.
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Michael Scrutchin
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PostPosted: 07.16.2005 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So who's seen the original Dark Water? I just received the DVD from Netflix, so I'll pop it in tonight, and check out the remake next week.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 07.16.2005 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael B. Scrutchin wrote:
So who's seen the original Dark Water? I just received the DVD from Netflix, so I'll pop it in tonight, and check out the remake next week.


I've been put off by it because I've only heard terrible things about it.
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Michael Scrutchin
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PostPosted: 07.16.2005 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:
I've been put off by it because I've only heard terrible things about it.




Really? Response seemed to be good overall, and many of those who've seen both have been saying they're pretty much equals in terms of quality. I'll report back with my thoughts on it soon.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 07.16.2005 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't seen the original Dark Water yet, but I am in the middle of Koji Suzuki's short story "Floating Water," which is the basis for it. I caught the trailer for A History of Violence about a month and a half ago online, and I'm chomping at the bit. Subject-wise, it doesn't seem like a Cronenberg movie at all, but then, it certainly looks like one.



Also, just saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. There's been some contention about Johnny Depp's performance, but I thought it was one of the best parts of the movie. The movie itself was enjoyable, if overlong. It's failures in characterization, pacing, and scene construction, however, confirm for me once again that, more often than not, Emperor Burton has no clothes.
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