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What did you watch this week?
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 09.26.2004 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Perhaps what was needed was a porn star that moved next door to Bernie Mac? Or perhaps Hilary Duff? Maybe then you wouldn't so readily dismiss Stone's achievements.Wink


Now that was good!



beltmann wrote:


Seriously, Danny, pay more attention to Stone's directing choices. His style (used to good effect in Drumline as well) is like a riposte to all the supercharged, overstylized hackwork that now passes for mainstream storytelling.


This didn't act as a valid excuse that it wasn't funny to me. Yes, I noticed it, but cliched plots are cliched plots and bad acting is bad acting. Any type of inspired or new effort only works, for me, when everyone involved is into it. This is precisely why Drumline worked for me; Mr. 3000 can't boast such an involving story.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 09.27.2004 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
Admitting to the harshness of the human condition is just as important as recognizing the beauty in it. It's rare to see art contemplate the abject without attempting to give the audience a lollypop at some point. On that level, I think The Isle is edifying. If it?s not exactly uplifting or encouraging, then it can work as a balance..


I didn't mean to imply that "edification" only comes in uplifting forms; as you know, I completely agree that artists can--must--confront all corners of the human experience. What I meant is that, despite my affection for the film's mood and characters, I'm not intellectually confident The Isle says anything about life's harshness in a meaningful way. It wasn't the presence of shock tactics that bothered me, but their thematic application. (For example, the two fish-hook scenes jolted me--they are surely effective--but at the same time, I felt my eyes rolling at their allegorical functions.) I'm not willing to declare it "banal" at first glance, but that was my immediate reaction, probably intensified via comparison to Spring, Summer... Despite my hesitations, I should add that The Isle is clearly made by a gifted, important filmmaker.



Eric
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 09.27.2004 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:
This didn't act as a valid excuse that it wasn't funny to me. Yes, I noticed it, but cliched plots are cliched plots and bad acting is bad acting. Any type of inspired or new effort only works, for me, when everyone involved is into it. This is precisely why Drumline worked for me; Mr. 3000 can't boast such an involving story.


Of course individual taste dictates what's funny to one and not another... what's that old adage about never trying to explain a joke? Still, what I liked best about Mr. 3000 is that it de-emphasized situational "gags" in favor of a more general comic tone. It willfully sacrifices frat-boy pranks and hijinks in order to create something a little more grown-up. Is it laugh-out-loud funny? Not often. But is it regularly witty? You bet.



And I disagree about the bad acting--Mac does his best work ever, especially in his velvety, nuanced scenes with Angela Bassett; I suspect those are the same scenes that are boring Mac's teen fans to tears--and would argue that while the movie employs mainstream cliches, it always offers a welcome variation on them. Besides, there's nothing wrong with skillfully applying formulas--nearly every Hollywood movie worth watching achieves exactly that. Don't we all have that old, comfortable shirt that feels great no matter how many times we wear it? It doesn't matter that the shirt is old; what matters is that it's a good shirt. Mr. 3000 is a good baseball movie. (And it's worth mentioning that it's a rare baseball flick that seems to understand the game, its feel, and its logistics. Take a look at The Fan sometime and tell me that's a movie about baseball...)



Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.27.2004 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
I'm not intellectually confident The Isle says anything about life's harshness in a meaningful way. It wasn't the presence of shock tactics that bothered me, but their thematic application. (For example, the two fish-hook scenes jolted me--they are surely effective--but at the same time, I felt my eyes rolling at their allegorical functions.)




The allegories didn't seem that pat to me, and it seemed that the movie's purpose was to convey a sense of, what might be called, apathetic desperation. The characters wanted to escape, wanted to connect, and though they tried, they seemed to never doubt for a second they were doomed. Their struggle, in other words, is almost mechanical. I've never quite experienced an emotional state like that before.



beltmann wrote:
[...] Stone's directing choices. His style (used to good effect in Drumline as well) is like a riposte to all the supercharged, overstylized hackwork that now passes for mainstream storytelling... he understands how restraint can ramp up intensity, and understands that some scenes require a respectful, introspective distance.




I haven't seen Mr. 3000, but I know exactly what you mean about restraint generating intensity, as opposed to the "gotta-make-a-cut-every-three-seconds" mentality that is so prevalent these days. I watched Man on Fire two weeks ago, and although I didn't like the story much in the first place (revenge melodramas tend to make me uncomfortable), I thought the movie might have been vastly improved if Scott had allowed scenes to simply play out by their own accord instead of whiplashing the audience from this facial expression to that bead of sweat to this cool camera angle. You can't manufacture intensity, but you can certainly destroy it by forcing the issue. It's almost as if directors like this want to show they worked for their paycheck.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 09.27.2004 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
You can't manufacture intensity, but you can certainly destroy it by forcing the issue. It's almost as if directors like this want to show they worked for their paycheck.


Often I smell desperation in their methods--as if they are trying to conceal their lack of material (or ability) by distracting us with a hyper, hammering style. The Man on Fire example is a good one--and not just because I share your discomfort with revenge fantasies--because Scott's grandiloquent style exists for its own sake. When compared to something like Requiem for a Dream, which ties its ferocious flash to a thematic purpose, Man on Fire feels like a charlatan only masquerading as intense.



Okay, will you guys stop distracting me? I have a monster stack of student recommendations to write. It's that time of year, after all.



Eric
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 09.27.2004 2:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Okay, will you guys stop distracting me? I have a monster stack of student recommendations to write. It's that time of year, after all.


I haven't begun homework, mostly because I haven't found inspiration; motivation is not my problem. Oh, well...a few more minutes on here.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.27.2004 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
When compared to something like Requiem for a Dream, which ties its ferocious flash to a thematic purpose, Man on Fire feels like a charlatan only masquerading as intense.




Yes, this style can be validated by the subject matter, without a doubt, like Requiem, or even Tony Scott's older (and more talented) brother Ridley's Blackhawk Down. But, yes, you're right, in lesser hands, it's almost as though the director is hiding the fact that he's not sure what to do.
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matt header
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PostPosted: 09.27.2004 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Yann Samuell's Love Me If You Dare is another example of obnoxious, hyperkinetic overediting -- it's just like Guy Ritchie, only it's about men in love with women instead of in love with guns.



By the way, you guys should still check out Zatoichi is you get the chance; I certainly didn't like it, but I don't want to put you guys off, either. It's been getting mostly positive reviews and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't unique. (That, however, doesn't always mean good.)



I had absolutely no desire to see Mr. 3000 until now.



I totally agree about Silver City, which addresses prescient issues with a refreshingly free-spirited mood. Huston's performance took some getting used to, but after a while I totally dug it; I found myself incredibly symapthetic towards him by the end.



Is the scene between Chris Cooper and Kris Kristofferson on horseback the funniest scene of the year or what? Smile



Going to see A Dirty Shame tonight, which hopefully will be a blast.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 09.27.2004 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War (Greenwald, USA 2004)



Is there a difference between the version on Sundance and the one in theatrical release? Sundance's website has it at 56 minutes and the Landmark Theatres Chain's site has 1 hour and 23 minutes. Are they entirely different or is one just condensed? Anyone know?
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matt header
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PostPosted: 09.28.2004 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Going to see A Dirty Shame tonight, which hopefully will be a blast.




It was. It's my favorite Waters film I've seen (which isn't saying much, but still).
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PostPosted: 09.28.2004 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking of blasts, I saw Shaun of the Dead last night. Miraculously, it functions simultaneously as genre parody and genre entry, operating on a sly level of wit that smooths over even the corniest jokes. Simon Pegg gives a real, commanding performance--he nails the emotional scenes as well as the winking humor. Best of all, it effectively expands upon Romero's idea that too many of us--mall shoppers, disaffected youth--are already zombies, victims of wallet society.



I'm planning to catch The Corporation tonight at UWM; I missed it over the summer and am thrilled to have a second chance to see it. I expect it to be an equal blast, especially since it reportedly offers a cogent explanation for how we all turned into consumer zombies.



Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.28.2004 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was going to see Shaun of the Dead Monday, but didn't get a chance to (which actually worked out well in other areas). Hopefully I'll get a chance this weekend. Glad to hear you liked it, Eric.



And glad to hear you liked A Dirty Shame, Matt. It's been getting pretty poor reviews, but, then again, with Waters in full tasteless mode, opinion on it (both negative and positive) is hard to judge. The movie's not playing anywhere around me at the moment, and with its NC-17 rating, it may not be until video.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 09.29.2004 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

9/21 - 9/27



Ach, forgot to post on the routine Monday again. Well, I didn't watch anything today, so I guess it doesn't matter.



Spun (?kerlund, 2003) - I didn't find it visually interesting, which is one of the only things that one could possibly appreciate here. I suppose I enjoyed the performances, but every other area truly leaves something to be desired. Glamorizing the grittiness of drugs never works, even with a bottomless budget.



Cellular (Ellis, 2004) - A ton of fun for the first hour, but then it just becomes tedious. I, for one, liked all of the performances; they're so straightforward they allow one to become deeper immersed in the hookum of the plot. Contrivance aside, I was involved to the umpteenth degree. For awhile, that is.



Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004) - I agree entirely with Eric on this one. While it isn't laugh-out-loud funny, I think its sweethness is what allows it to work the way it wants to, for the most part. The way that Wright preserves the themes of the movies he's making a parody of is rather amazing. We can sympathize for the characters, even if they are just a part of one big, tongue-in-cheek joke.



Film festival kicks out tomorrow, so my viewings will increase. Even though I'm sick right now (what timing!), I don't intend to cut any viewings from my planned list of what has declined and finalized to eight movies. I'm not going on Thursday because of my tennis lessons and the presidential debate, but tomorrow I'm scheduled for Dear Frankie. Two more on Friday, two Saturday, and three Sunday. I hope.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.29.2004 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:


Spun Glamorizing the grittiness of drugs never works, even with a bottomless budget.




Yup, first thing I wanted to do after watching this movie was run out and score some crank. Wink
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 09.29.2004 10:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glamorizing doesn't necessarily translate into endorsing. I took the movie as some kind of warped fantasy; take everyone's names ("The Cook," etc.) and their addictions. Yes, we wouldn't want to be anyone like the characters, but does this mean that they aren't, in a sense, thought of highly by the director? In the quick cuts and rapid splices, equipped with S&M and neglect, I found only an unmasked perversion. One that those involved happen to like.
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