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What did you watch this week?
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Hawkwing74
Camera Operator


Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 51
Location: Schaumburg, IL

PostPosted: 04.11.2004 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Samurai Fiction ** 3/4 out of 5

Some of the parts of the movie seemed poor. Other parts were better. I was disappointed by the action scenes. It seemed like a bunch of people pretending to be sword fighters. While I realize that most actors may not know how to use a sword, I like it to be less obvious than it was.
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Danny Baldwin
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: 04.12.2004 2:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This Week:



Repeat Viewing | The Magdalene Sisters (Mullan, 2003) A

Crumb (Zwigoff, 1994) A-

Walking Tall (Bray, 2004) C

Monty Python's The Life of Brian (Jones, 1979) A-

The Girl Next Door (Greenfield, 2004) A

Good Boy (Hoffman, 2003) C -- Netflix made a mistake. I needed something short to watch. This was the only option. I swear! It's not my fault, I tell ya'.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 04.12.2004 2:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:
Good Boy (Hoffman, 2003) C -- Netflix made a mistake. I needed something short to watch. This was the only option. I swear! It's not my fault, I tell ya'.


Sure. Next you'll tell me you were forced to watch Bringing Down the House fullscreen.



Good call on Crumb. I haven't seen it since the 1995 release, but I've never forgotten its depiction of how the creative process helped rescue one man from his personal, social, and sexual hang-ups.



Eric
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beltmann
Studio Exec


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PostPosted: 04.12.2004 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

4/5 ? 4/11



Ridicule (Leconte, France 1996). Not my favorite Leconte?that would be The Widow of Saint-Pierre?but this one is loaded with sophisticated vipers that help distinguish it from most of the other costume dramas that were so trendy, and so squeezed off by their corsets, during the mid-Nineties.



In This World (Winterbottom, UK 2002). Although he hasn?t yet made a masterpiece, I still feel that Michael Winterbottom is one of our most vital filmmakers, and this documentary-style film, about two Afghan cousins trying to slink across Europe towards London, ranks as his most powerful, riveting work to date.



The World According to Garp (Hill 1982). Adaptation of Irving casts Robin Williams as a novelist who experiences life through strangeness, tragedy, and violence. This is a crude, episodic work that subverts structure in favor of more immediate experience, but lacking greater context--which real life always provides--the various vignettes never achieve resonance or even much meaning. Anyone else notice how mutilation seems to be a motif?



Arsenal (Dovzhenko, Soviet Union 1928). Dovzhenko revisits history--specifically, he follows Ukrainian workers as they return from WWI to fight in the Communist revolution--only to experiment with cinematic form. This isn?t particularly informative as historical drama, but as an exploration of the power of montage and image metaphor, it ranks among the more sophisticated of early Soviet efforts. Equally interesting is Dovzhenko's surreal indulgences. Featured are a talking horse, and a soldier shielded only by political faith: His bare chest, armored by Communism itself, easily deflects bullets.



Hellboy (Del Toro 2004). As played by Ron Perlman, Hellboy is a real character?as opposed to yet another CGI monstrosity?with reservoirs of emotion, soul, and intellect. The action is frustratingly derivative (even casual viewers will easily name-check its referents), but in between all the hoo-hah that real character has real scenes. I especially liked those between Hellboy and Liz, his not-so-figurative torch.



Scenes From a Marriage (Bergman, Sweden 1973). I opted for the American theatrical release version, which, at three hours, is still two hours shorter than the original miniseries that aired on Swedish television. I may have chosen wrong. Afterwards I was completely prepared to spend more time with this expose of how so many couples allow ritual, fondness, and complacency to function as soma, helping them bury secrets and disappointments. Although it is composed almost entirely of conversations in basic interior set-ups, the three hours zoomed by. I found watching it far less of a chore than, say, any of the Lord of the Rings installments. Despite its flaws, the truncated theatrical version still ranks among Bergman?s finest, most incisive achievements: With the expert assistance of Liv Ullman and Erland Josephson, he scrapes at the red nerve endings of this particular marriage.



Eric
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Fred C. Dobbs
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Joined: 11 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: 04.12.2004 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I watched lots of films this week, mainly because of my Spring Break, which I enjoyed (and still enjoying!) and my ratings for them are below, on a five-star scale.



4/4/04-4/11/04:



4/4 - Wonderland (2003) ***1/2

4/4 - Straw Dogs (1971) ****1/2

4/5 - Martin (1977) ***1/2

4/5 - Dirty Pretty Things (2002) ****

4/6 - Scarface (1932) ***1/2

4/6 - Diary of a Country Priest (1951) ****

4/7 - Walkabout (1971) ***1/2

4/7 - House of Sand and Fog (2003) ****1/2

4/8 - Ran (1985) ****

4/8 - Thirteen (2003) ***1/2

4/9 - Kundun (1997) ****

4/11 - Salvatore Giuliano (1961) ***1/2

4/11 - Jackie Brown (1997) *****

4/11 - Dirty Harry (1971) ****

4/11 - Bamboozled (2000) ***1/2



Some thoughts: Wonderland is an entertaining film, with a good preformance from Val Kilmer, who is quite underrated, imo. Straw Dogs is excellent, but I have to go against the grain and say I liked the build-up more than the payoff. Martin is a good horror film, with a very sad ending, but I would have liked it more if I cared more about the character. Dirty Pretty Things is a pretty slick indie thriller, with an amazing preformance by Chiwetel Ejiofor. I loved it. Scarface (1932) is way better than the overrated remake, which I can't stand. However, it can't touch Little Caesar and Public Enemy. Diary of a Country Priest is a beautiful film, very interesting, but like Martin, if I could connect more with the charcter I would have liked it more. Walkabout is slightly overrated, but I thought it was good nevertheless. House of Sand and Fog is captivating and engrossing, very sad as well. Ben Kingsley should have won best actor, with a brilliant preformance. Ran needs to be seen on the big screen, but a terrific late Kurosawa film nevertheless. Thirteen was entertaining, but I could care less about the characters. Holly Hunter was terrific, however. Kundun isn't a typical Scorsese film, but it's still very interesting and mellow. Salvatore Giuliano is a good sicilian film about the rise and fall of one of Italy's most notorious gangsters. Jackie Brown is still my favorite Tarantino film, it's brilliant. Dirty Harry boasts a great preformance from Clint Eastwood, and captures the essence of the 1970's. A lot of fun, but I still have no desire to see the sequels. Bamboozled is hilarious, but falls apart towards the end, it's underrated. Lee's masterpeice is still Do The Right Thing. The montage at the end made up for the melodramatic ending.
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beltmann
Studio Exec


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PostPosted: 04.12.2004 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fred C. Dobbs wrote:
Lee's masterpeice is still Do The Right Thing.


I'd vote for Malcolm X or Clockers.



Eric
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 04.12.2004 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's 25th Hour, in my mind.
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mfritschel
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Joined: 27 Jun 2003
Posts: 143
Location: Port Washington, WI

PostPosted: 04.13.2004 1:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chungking Express (Wong Kar-Wai) - A good movie about the lonliness of life and love. I found it very interesting how both the characters found a connection with the type of people they were trying to avoid. The first cop, who spent the night with a drug smuggling murder and the other cop who found himself falling in love w/ a stewardess - after just breaking up with one. Also, how from these two people, neither of them wind up with them, but yet still find a type of happiness.



Pieces of April (Peter Hedges) - Nothing really special going on here, I don't really know what all the hype was about. The movie is just really a shell, when it was over I immediately forgot about it and have no real reaction. The characters were enduring at moments, but not enough to the point were I ever really related to them or felt any type of emotion towards them. Even the mother, who offered the best performance of the movie was nothing special. Just another average, over hyped independent.



Cabin Fever (Eli Roth) - I wanted to hate this movie so bad but just couldn't. It was so outlandish, weird, and full of typical cliches and yet it still wasn't horrible. Would it really have been the same movie without these typical cliches and such, probably not. This movie really faces a Catch-22, its crap the way it is and yet cannot possibly be any better.



Super Troopers (Jay Charasekhar) - License and Registration Chicken Fuckers!!! Minus the few funny moments, the gross out humor of this movie just wasn't on par with others. I much perfer a Caddyshack or Dumb and Dumber to this movie. I can't believe they got Brian Cox to be in it



Matrix Revlotions (Wachowski Brothers) - Now that I wasn't as anxiously awaiting this movie, it wasn't nearly as horrible the second time, but still is by far the weakest of the three.



Y Tu Mama Tambien (Alfonso Curano) - A very intelligent, well done sex comedy that set out to do more that just be about sex and totatlly accomplished it. I loved the way the subtle social commentary was interwoven within the coming of age story. I don't know if it was meant to act as well as a coming of age story for the both the boys and the country or if just to provide commentary on both, but I think it accomplished both. [
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mfritschel
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PostPosted: 04.13.2004 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chungking Express (Wong Kar-Wai) - A good movie about the lonliness of life and love. I found it very interesting how both the characters found a connection with the type of people they were trying to avoid. The first cop, who spent the night with a drug smuggling murder and the other cop who found himself falling in love w/ a stewardess - after just breaking up with one. Also, how from these two people, neither of them wind up with them, but yet still find a type of happiness.



Pieces of April (Peter Hedges) - Nothing really special going on here, I don't really know what all the hype was about. The movie is just really a shell, when it was over I immediately forgot about it and have no real reaction. The characters were enduring at moments, but not enough to the point were I ever really related to them or felt any type of emotion towards them. Even the mother, who offered the best performance of the movie was nothing special. Just another average, over hyped independent.



Cabin Fever (Eli Roth) - I wanted to hate this movie so bad but just couldn't. It was so outlandish, weird, and full of typical cliches and yet it still wasn't horrible. Would it really have been the same movie without these typical cliches and such, probably not. This movie really faces a Catch-22, its crap the way it is and yet cannot possibly be any better.



Super Troopers (Jay Charasekhar) - License and Registration Chicken Fuckers!!! Minus the few funny moments, the gross out humor of this movie just wasn't on par with others. I much perfer a Caddyshack or Dumb and Dumber to this movie. I can't believe they got Brian Cox to be in it



Matrix Revlotions (Wachowski Brothers) - Now that I wasn't as anxiously awaiting this movie, it wasn't nearly as horrible the second time, but still is by far the weakest of the three.



Y Tu Mama Tambien (Alfonso Curano) - A very intelligent, well done sex comedy that set out to do more that just be about sex and totatlly accomplished it. I loved the way the subtle social commentary was interwoven within the coming of age story. I don't know if it was meant to act as well as a coming of age story for the both the boys and the country or if just to provide commentary on both, but I think it accomplished both. [
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beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 04.17.2004 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

4/12 ? 4/16/04



Lots to report this week. First, the recommended ones, in preferential order:



The Dante Quartet (Brakhage 1987). As pure and beautiful and evocative a vision of Hell as I?ve seen. I wish I could have it on perpetual loop in my living room?as if it were installation art. Ethereal, scary, breathtaking. (I watched it five consecutive times.)



Tokyo Godfathers (Kon, Japan 2003. A moving, rhyming meditation on family dynamics, parental obligations, loss, and love. If he isn?t already, Kon will be a major voice in contemporary animation.



Fox and His Friends (Fassbinder, Germany 1975). Tragic inevitability. Watch Fassbinder?s own performance as Fox, a sexual bully who slowly cedes power?and his dignity?to his partner, believing himself incapable of making proper decision regarding finances, culture, even love.



Songs from the Second Floor (Andersson, Sweden 2003). In turn-of-the-millennium Stockholm, the urban denizens are facing impending apocalypse, setting off a series of surreal, absurdist, satirical tableaux that I found mesmerizing. The compositional skills are remarkable--each scene is one shot, with the camera perfectly placed to capture all necessary detail and action, and still capture the odds and ends--often hilarious--occurring in the background. Even more fun, though, is trying to locate a thematic thread between these jigsaw pieces. See it, then we?ll talk.



Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (Tarantino 2004). If the first one glossed on Asian chopsocky, this one namechecks Leone and the spaghetti Westerns. What I loved about Vol. 1?the way the movie buzzed along as an abstract experiment in form and color?is largely missing here. By focusing on his characters and narrative, Tarantino paradoxically reduces his overall effect: what we gain in character depth we lose in theoretical depth. The real problem, though, is that more ?depth? doesn?t actually equal deep. Here, the genre trappings are often languorous and as the story fleshed out, I became less interested in the characters and their mysteries. To my ears, most of the dialogue sounds like Tarantino leftovers, and he displays zero facility for real drama, real tenderness, or the real consequences of violence?notice the way he completely sidesteps how daughter B.B. doesn't mind that her dad, the man who has lovingly cared for her for 4 years, has been slaughtered. That said, I had a blast. It?s not in the same artistic realm as Vol. 1, but as far as frivolous genre stuff goes, it delivers.



Underground (Kusturica, Yugoslavia 1995). Instantly reminded me of Fellini, but then transcended that cabaret label. It is perhaps too outsized, but there are plenty of ingenious conceits here?enough to make me forgive the boisterous, obnoxious, frequently misanthropic tone.



Dawn of the Dead (Snyder 2004). The lovely long shots suggest we might be watching the apocalypse. Rather routine overall, but definitely solid. And the queasy subplot involving Phifer and his wife reminded me of V: The Final Battle. If you've seen it, you know what I mean.



The Animatrix (Various 2003). A mixed bag, but I really liked Watanabe?s Kid?s Story and Koike?s World Record.





Now, the lousy ones, from least crappy to most crappy:



I?Dreaming (Brakhage 1988). Music video, Brakhage-style. Composer Joel Haertling captured the saddest fragments from Stephen Foster opera songs, and compiled them into a compendium that serves as Brakhage's musical backdrop. The visuals are fragmented, too--nearly all seem shot inside of Stan's real home, offering glimpses of children, often playing in eerie, dreamlike stop motion, and himself, aging and picking at his toenails. I'm not sure what the contrast is all about?is it how aging weighs upon us, asking us to be less free, less imaginative, less casual??and I found the images, and the music, rather unlikable. Personal preference, I suppose.



Marathon Man (Schlesinger 1976). By-the-numbers thriller fare, somewhat redeemed by Hoffman and Olivier, and Schlesinger?s no-frills, gritty staging.



Madadayo (Kurosawa, Japan 1993). Kurosawa's final film feels like a self-elegy, a warm farewell to a career, and perhaps to a life: He chronicles the retirement years of a popular teacher (based on a real-life Japanese essayist), which are marked by regular visits by his former pupils, who have apparently devoted their entire existence to becoming his groupies. We aren't given any kind of evidence that Uchido is a great man or teacher?he seems like a rather sentimental, childish, self-satisfied, smug man to me?but those students sure do love laughing at his jokes! (As they inexplicably slipped into whooping guffaws, I thought of Letterman?s ?George W. Bush?s Joke That Isn?t Really a Joke.") Not a single character resembles a human being and long passages play more like cheap indulgences than ?magical? odes to a life worth venerating. I found most of the film?s ?wisdom? to be manipulative glop. I?m a big fan of some of Kurosawa?s late work?especially Dreams?but this might be his worst film.



Duel to the Death (Ching, Hong Kong 1982). Not good by typical standards, but as far as quickie chopsocky goes, this is pretty entertaining stuff. Plus, it shows the beginnings of Ching Siu-Tung, who eventually delivered Swordsman II and A Chinese Ghost Story, two of the genre?s greatest entries, to my eyes at least.



Demonlover (Assayas, France 2003). For an hour, this thriller about two rival corporations trying to co-opt a profitable?and perhaps deeply perverse?porn outfit scores points against the corporate world and its powerbrokers. (The old S&M game of dominance vs. submission is played out here, in the arena of office politics, and corporate warfare.) Eventually we learn that nearly everyone is an undercover "agent," and the story shatters into some post-modern gibberish that becomes increasingly tedious. By the end I was bored stiff, and I think the reason is that neither the characters nor Assayas are willing to engage with this premise on moral, ethical, or even realistic grounds.



Aria (Various, UK 1987). Omnibus film with ten shorts set to famous arias, directed by international filmmakers. Most are tripe, but I responded to the contributions by Godard, Roddam, and Beresford.



The Serpent?s Egg (Bergman, Sweden 1977). More David Carradine! With Ingmar Bergman! Sucks, though.



The Girl Next Door (Greenfield 2004). Terrific, funny performances by Hirsch and Olyphant, but Cuthbert is a blank canvas onto which teen boys can project their fantasies?even the movie seems to look past her in the final third. (Once she stops functioning as a sultry object, the screenplay loses interest in her.) The jokes are exasperatingly juvenile, especially those voiced by Hirsch?s two dorky buds. Yet the worst offense is the blatant hypocrisy at its core. Even though Hirsch tells Cuthbert that she?s ?better? than a life in porn, the movie gets nearly all of its comic mileage out of how cool, daring, and enterprising the porn industry appears to teenage boys. (Greenfield is like DeMille, utterly reveling in debauchery while simultaneously wagging a finger at it, except with DeMille you sensed that just maybe he believed it.) The seemingly ?sweet? tone only deepens the hypocrisy. This is a movie that sells execrable lies?about what?s cool and not cool, about the mainstreaming of porn, about the sordid hazards of the skin trade, about what qualifies as ?moral fiber??to an audience of unsuspecting kids who think recognizing the name "Ron Jeremy" makes them studlier.



Child?s Play (Holland 1988). The disc reached an impasse with a scratch with 10 minutes to go. I was grateful.



Eric
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 04.17.2004 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:


Child?s Play (Holland 1988). The disc reached an impasse with a scratch with 10 minutes to go. I was grateful.


Maybe your opinion will change on Halloween with The Stem of Chucky. Ironic that I like your two most hated movies of the week.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 04.17.2004 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:
beltmann wrote:


Child?s Play (Holland 1988). The disc reached an impasse with a scratch with 10 minutes to go. I was grateful.


Maybe your opinion will change on Halloween with The Stem of Chucky. Ironic that I like your two most hated movies of the week.


I like Bride of Chucky--that one has the wit the original aimed for and missed.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 04.17.2004 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw the trailer for Stem in KB2 and literally roared.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 04.17.2004 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Damn it's actually called The Seed of Chucky, Crying or Very sad
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 04.19.2004 3:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

4/17 ? 4/18/04



Addendum:



Play Misty for Me (Eastwood 1971). Jessica Walter is terrific while stalking Eastwood?s late-night DJ?she credibly vacillates between adoring, volatile, treacherous, repentant?but the movie eventually succumbs to the many breaches in verisimilitude.



Days of Wine and Roses (Edwards 1962). Jack Lemmon has about 4-5 killer scenes as a publicist battling alcoholism alongside his wife. The first half lets Lemmon and Lee Remick chisel convincing, full characters but the second half reduces them to mere pawns?repositories for sermons about the dangers of the drink. Still, Lemmon pulls through the somber morass, and those tour-de-force moments rank among his finest.



Cure (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan 1997). Oblique horror film about the supernatural, mystical implications of hypnosis. The most distinctive aspect is Kurosawa?s sense of pacing, which is at once languid and economical. That contradiction helps explain why I was intrigued by the mounting dread and inexplicable rumblings inside of the characters, but simultaneously unimpressed.



Pumping Iron (Butler and Fiore 1977). Engrossing documentary about the art of body building follows Schwarzenegger as he seeks to defend his title as 5-time Mr. Olympia. His challengers?including Lou Ferrigno, Mike Katz, and Franco Columbo?cut compelling figures (both physical and dramatic!), which calls attention to how Butler and Fiore have done some sculpting themselves: Here is a documentary conspicuously edited as if it were fiction. I wasn?t surprised to learn that much of the footage was staged in order to amplify the theatrics, and I admit that I don?t know whether to call it good showmanship or lousy journalism. (Thanks again, Danny!)



Eric
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