Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Madame de...

I FINALLY watched The Earrings of Madame de....It’s my first Max Ophuls flick. I’ve been meaning to watch this one for many years. I first heard about Ophuls through Kubrick back in high school. Kubrick loved Ophuls. It’s pretty evident why that is. Madame de has wonderful cinematography. The camera is so fluid and vibrant, and the tracking shots are impeccable. Brandon, you had this at number two on your list for 1953 and called it a masterpiece. You’re absolutely right. It is a masterpiece. As a story, it is fantastic. A tragic look at marriage and infidelity (but it’s also entertaining and even humorous at parts). But the craft involved is what makes this perfect. The movement of the camera is glorious to behold. An absolute pleasure to watch it glide about. I’m going to check out Lola Montes next before they take it off NWI. I need to see more Ophuls immediately.

Also, Vittorio De Sica is in it! It’s awesome to watch him; he’s very charming and he does a very fine job. It’s fun to see great directors acting in other director’s movies, like Fritz Lang in Contempt, Cassavetes in Rosemary’s Baby, or Truffaut in Close Encounters. That would be an interesting list to make–top 10 director appearances in other director’s movies.


Giving objects in films their due is a nice idea. The table set in Poltergeist is my favorite part of the movie (all in one shot–awesomeness). A friend of mine is eerily adept at pointing out interesting objects in films. He lived in Brazil for a year and would watch movies in Portuguese without knowing much of what was spoken. So he’d focus on little details like random objects instead of the movie itself and the habit stuck. Pretty neat. I wish I had that kind of attention for detail.


Skipping movies is always justified; I agree. Life is too miserably short as it is; why waste your time on viewing experiences you know you will regret? To me, film is a hobby, a love, and a pleasure. I never want it to be a chore in my life. If I don’t want to watch something, I don’t watch it. I agree with you, John. Skippin’ a movie because it looks boring is a great reason to do so. I do it all the time.

A friend of mine hated Paul, as well. The trailer looks awful, despite some of the talent involved. From what you said, it’s definitely worthy of a skip.

Another friend saw Jane Eyre and loved it. She’s a fan of the book like me. I really would like to see it, but will probably wait until netflix because I'm a cheapskate.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Re: PS

Lisa - Don't worry. I definitely understood what you meant by your list. I didn't take it to be an indictment against the films themselves, just your opinions/reactions to them. I can't criticize your reactions to films. You either feel a certain way about a film or you don't. You are entitled to your reaction and to your opinion. I may feel differently from it, but I will always respect your opinion. Don't ever be afraid to give it.

Also, to clarify with my list, I wasn't calling those films bad or overrated either. They are films that I recognize the merits of and want to like but find myself resistant to. I don't pretend to know enough to call something overrated; it assumes that my opinion is somehow objectively valid and it is definitely not. I don't know anything.


I want this on my wall:

Movies I don’t really like but feel like I should ( I have no idea how I’m ranking these...). This list isn’t very good...I’ll probably have to revise it later. I’m sorry if I blaspheme with any of these picks...remember I don’t know what I’m talking about.

1. Nashville - Like Altman, but didn’t dig this. Need to give it another shot.
2. E.T. - Probably because I was born in the late 80s and didn’t watch it until I was older.
3. l’Avventura -Didn’t have the patience for this.
4. Amarcord - Love Fellini but was underwhelmed.
5. Network - Need to watch it again.
6. Blade Runner - I really feel like I should love this...what’s wrong with me?
7. The Pianist - Same
8. Finding Nemo - my least favorite pixar flick.
9. The Princess Bride - most people love this, but I do not.
10. Slumdog Millionaire - Danny Boyle is the man, but this seemed like a City of God rip-off. Unfair? Probably...

Lisa - I completely appreciate your honesty and would never begrudge you for it. I haven’t seen Easter Parade. I’m not a fan of Rocky Horror either. I’m a fan of every other movie you mentioned though. I love Monty Python but completely understand your not digging them. You never have to apologize for your opinions.

Also, funnily enough, I watched Priceless a while back with an ex-girlfriend. Not very good at all, you’re right, but Audrey Tautou is worth sitting through almost any movie. My dream woman.

Ben - Glad you reacted so deeply to Antichrist, even though I know it is not fun at times. Good luck with school. You’re getting your masters and Lisa’s going for her ph.d....damn, I’m the young one of the group. Still an undergrad.

Brandon - you are not the scum of film club (if anyone is amongst us, it’s clearly me). I also want the horror genre to succeed. I’m always on the look-out for good horror films. Speaking of which, I think this is going to be awesome (NSFL):

Eyes Without a Face is a great movie. It’s really, really creepy. One the best horror films I’ve ever seen; definitely in my top 10. I like Cat People too. And Freaks. Also, a big fan of Robert Wise’s the Haunting. I love a good ghost story or haunted house movie. Good call on 28 Days Later. That would probably make my top 10 too. Awesome flick.

I agree about Tarkovsky. Wonderful film artist, but the shit in Andrei Rublev appalls me and is unforgivable (killing an animal for art is inexcusable and evil, agreed). I hate watching animals get hurt, whether real or fake (peta videos make me cry; I have to look away at fake scenes). I haven’t eaten meat in seven years and I don’t plan on doing so for the rest of my life. I hate even the thought of animals getting hurt. It makes my heart hurt and insides turn. I have a conscience about animals dying/getting hurt in movies, but I seem to have no problem with people dying in movies (fake dying of course). Perhaps I’m just hypocritical. But, I don’t know. To me, people choose to be in films (for the most part) and I know it’s fake when they get hurt or die (I can separate myself from it)...but animals don’t choose to be in films and even if they aren’t actually being hurt, I have a hard time separating myself and accepting it as fake.

I use laughter to cope with horror. It’s a defense mechanism. If I think that Funny Games or Dogville are funny (I would like to do one post where I don’t mention Funny Games...shit keeps coming up), it’s because I need to remove myself from them and laughter is the easiest way to do it. In real life, I can’t face horror. People dying, people getting hurt, people sad, evil being all horrifies me. I can’t handle it. But I think horror in art allows me to have a sort of cathartic experience where I can laugh at horror and overcome it. In real life, I’m the biggest chicken you will ever meet. I love haunted house movies, but whenever I sleep at my friend’s house that is supposedly haunted, I can’t sleep in a room by myself. Horror in art allows me to be bigger than my wimpiness.

I only bring this up because I realized that by saying I found Dogville and Funny Games funny, I probably came across as this coldhearted bastard. I’m really not. I’m actually a notorious softy and enormous wimp. Art is the only place where I can be something more than that.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Not so funny games

Lisa - I know I previously recommended watching it, but do NOT watch Funny Games. I think it’s funny, but that’s because I can usually distance myself from the films I watch. If you are easily frightened, then you will probably be scared and repulsed by it. Also, it’s good that you stopped Antichrist. Don’t watch that either. It’s definitely not worth getting terrified over. Don't worry about getting scared easily; I don't blame you.

I like the Our Town-esque set design for Dogville too. I found the ending funny (when Dogville gets wiped out) because it’s excessive but also triumphant. It suddenly turns into this crazy revenge film. Then the credits with Bowie's Young Americans playing and pictures of poverty in America. It’s so clearly intended to provoke/offend Americans that to me it’s funny. But, perhaps I have a weird sense of humor.

Europa isn’t scary at all. Just visually very impressive, artistic, and fun to watch. I think it’s worth checking out.

Like I said, I can typically remove myself from films. I know when I’m watching a film. That doesn’t mean I don’t get repulsed by things in films. Antichrist is repulsive, but in a way that I appreciated. It’s a solid, fucked up horror film. It’s not enjoyable to watch though. Sorry you had to sit through it, Ben...I feel your pain.

Are there any straight up horror fans in our group? I like a lot of films from the horror genre, but wouldn’t say that I just like horror films in general. Most horror films are god awful. But when I see a really great one, I am very pleased. Favorite horror films anyone? I’d probably go cliche and say The Shining, The Exorcist, and Rosemary’s Baby. I'm not very original.

I haven’t seen Dogtooth, but I think others of you have seen it, right? Someone told me it wasn’t worth watching, but if it is I’ll check it out. Not a fan of animals getting killed in movies though (also why I don't want to watch Benny’s Video).

I think watching movies by director is a really great way to go. If you read books by certain authors, then watching by director is kind of the same thing. I started getting into directors probably in 10th grade. I had this film book with a massive list of acclaimed directors from around the world, and I just started watching films by them. It’s awesome when you find a director that you really admire; it gets you excited to see more of his/her films.

By the way, Meek’s Cutoff does look awesome. Also excited to see that.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


haha Brandon, you are a funny man. Glad you are coming home. We definitely need to chill soon. Birthday party for Gentile sounds sweet. I’ll have to get in touch with you or Craver soon; when will you folks be back in town?

I get the Preminger comparison for Aronofsky, and don’t consider it blasphemy. It’s legit.
I guess Aronofsky is divisive; I’ve got to stop being so sheltered. I like the Preminger films I have seen. I’d say I have been less than enamored with Aronofsky’s last two fims. The Wrestler is an okay film (apart from an outstanding Mickey Rourke). I don’t love it. I really like Black Swan, but also don’t love it. Black Swan is a lot better than the Wrestler (much better written), but I don’t feel the same way about it that I do Pi, Requiem, and The Fountain. I love those films with The Fountain being the stand-out of the bunch. Give it another shot. I found it beautiful to look at and incredibly moving (I’m with you, Ben).

Sorry to hear about your dad’s finger. My dad almost did the same a few weeks ago with his snowblower. Those things are mad dangerous.

I try to separate the director’s intention from the film as much as I can, or at least look at his/her intention as just another interpretation and not something definitive. This can be hard though. I think reading interviews can sometimes ruin the experience of a film or augment it. It depends on what is being said. If the director’s intention is admirable or something you agree with then it helps...but if not then it destroys, as with Hanake.

I’m glad you see von Trier as having a better sense of humor. I get that too. He is a ridiculous character, but a fun one. I really like Dogville because I think it’s funny. Funny in the way that Funny Games is funny (when both are read as giant fuck you statements). Has anyone seen von Trier’s Europa? It’s on NWI, and I think it’s really awesome. It came before his dogme minimalist phase, and it has an incredible visual style. It’s one of my favorites.

Taste of Cherry (1997)

I’m late to the Kiarostami game; I have to admit it. This is the first film of his that I have seen. I have been meaning to see one of his films for a while now, and finally succeeded in watching this one this morning. Ebert apparently called it incredibly boring. I wasn’t ever bored by it. I found it kind of hypnotic. Most of the film you are entirely glued inside the car with Badii, but I never found this tedious. It was almost soothing to watch–so very calm, patient, and meditative. I’m a sucker for long takes. When they are done well, I find them to be impressive and effective. The long takes in this are done very well. They give the film a gentle rhythm and simplicity that just lulls you into tranquility. At least, they did for me. I enjoyed watching the takes unfold. And I loved all the shots. They are all so simple and beautiful; you start to appreciate them more as the film continues. The dialogue is simple and sparse, but also beautiful and interesting. Obviously, there is no real plot to the film and no strong sense of character, but I didn’t find this to be detrimental. I like the sense of mystery the film has. I like that we don’t really know anything about Badii or why he wants to die. It leaves him open to interpretation, just like the film itself, which doesn’t reveal much. I like films like this that are comfortable with their simplicity and ambiguity. I like films like this that are far more willing to suggest or hint at then ever to tell. They can be refreshing.

I appreciate this film for its simplicity, beauty, and intellect. I was surprised and intrigued by the final sequence where we see Kiarostami and his crew filming. I found this to be generous–an act of kindness for the audience. If you’ve seen the film or see it, perhaps you(‘ll) know what I mean.

After this, I’m eager to see Certified Copy. Brandon, you brought it up recently. Are you a fan of Kiarostami or just interested to see that particular film?

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Face

Bergman's The Magician (or The Face, a more accurately translated title) is a strange film. It’s also a brilliant one. It’s beautiful and enigmatic. A mix between supernatural horror, ribald comedy, and philosophical meditation. It came in the middle of a fantastic run of films for Bergman, right after Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal and just before The Virgin Spring and his Trilogy of Faith. The Magician doesn’t get nearly as much attention as these other films, but that is probably because it was previously unavailable in the U.S. for quite some time. But, in its own right, it is a great film and deserves attention. It fits nicely in with those other films, as all are true testaments to Bergman’s greatness as a filmmaker. As a narrative, The Magician fits closest to The Seventh Seal. Both feature wandering performers, bawdy comedic scenes with the lower classes, and drama centered around large philosophical questions. I’d say both are also critiques of rationalism, as they both suggest the failures of reason to generate certain knowledge in the presence of overwhelming uncertainty. While The Seventh Seal mostly focuses on questions of god and death, The Magician is largely centered on questions of truth and illusion.

There are many interpretations you can take of the film, but I think when it is viewed as a debate between scientific rationalism and art, it works quite well. Dr. Vergerus, in his determined pursuit to make everything explainable, takes on the magician Vogler and demands that all his tricks be revealed (or made rational). For Vergerus, all illusion must be exposed as a lie and made into truth. There is a wonderful scene in the beginning of the film where Vogler and his team come before Vergerus and the other officials, and Vogler is basically put on trial before them. Vergerus becomes set on exposing Vogler as a phony; he is determined to explain his “tricks” on a purely scientific basis. With this scene, there is a greater sense that science is placing art on trial. Vergerus, the scientist, wants to expose Vogler, the artist, as a fabrication. He wants to remove the mystery of his art and affirm it as a lie. The interesting thing, in this scene, is that Vogler is entirely mute; he cannot speak about his own art or defend himself. I read this as the silence the artist is forced to take when his/her art is made public. When art is made public, the artist loses his/her authority over that art; it then belongs to everyone else to be interpreted and criticized. This may not be the right interpretation, but what do I know...

There is an awesome reading of the film that places Bergman as Vogler (this very well could be Bergman’s intention). This makes for an interesting interpretation . Self-conscious Bergman sees himself as a sort of ambiguous illusionist. Is he a phony, using cheap props and tricks to manipulate his audience? Or is he an artist, able to affect his audience by making unreality a reality? The film doesn’t seem to decide on either one. It seems to suggest both, which is one of the reasons why it is so great. It is quite ambiguous, and it opens itself up to numerous meanings. If the film is meant to be a self-aware examination of Bergman himself though, then it fits nicely with 8 1/2 as a brilliant example of self-criticism.

This is a film, apart from it’s big ideas, that is also beautifully photographed and filled with enjoyable and impressive scenes. I love the opening scene with the drunken actor and Vogler’s fascination with his death. I also love the comedic scenes between the lower classes that lighten the mood (these are similar to some scenes in The Seventh Seal and, well, Shakespeare).

Of course, the film also features an awesome and famous sequence in which Vogler torments Vergerus. The cinematography in this sequence is fantastic. Very well done.

I love Max von Sydow as Vogler. He is mysterious and strange, and he never reveals too much. You have no idea whether he’s a charlatan or a genuine talent or whether he believes in what he’s doing or if he’s disillusioned by it. The photo above of him says it all. What a face, indeed.

Watching The Magician is like watching a great play or reading a great novel. Bergman films usually make me feel that way. They are so rich in content that I feel I could never stop musing over them. This one is certainly not his greatest film, but it is a great film on its own and one that only makes me appreciate the master Bergman even more.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"And you were there, and you and you..."

I think Funny Games is funny. I laughed throughout it (perhaps I'm sick too). It works as trash; I agree. As pure nihilism without the moral preaching on violence, it is a great joke. If you watch it as a joke (without any seriousness), it is a blast.

The Piano Teacher is not a blast...

I liked (500) Days of Summer enough to put it in my top 10. I don't know if it's one of the top 10 greatest films of 2009, but I found it charming so I added it. I am fan of JGL and Zooey. Zooey is adorable and very talented (as an actress and singer). She makes me appreciate the things she is in more than I probably should (except for The one could save that disaster).

Agreed, Black Swan should be debated and should be divisive. It’s a film that just goes for it, and anytime that happens there will be people that are not willing to go along. Aronofsky is a great filmmaker (Ben, The Fountain is also my favorite of his and one of my favorites of the last decade). The next Preminger in terms of controversy or in terms of talent? I think Aronofsky has loads of talent, and I don’t find him to be that divisive (at least I thought I didn’t until Film Club).

I hope The Tree of Life comes to Regal, though I’m willing to travel to either Albany or Syracuse to see it. I wish it would play Cannes in competition and win the Palme d’Or for Malick.

Will Cannes also bring von Trier’s Melancholia? I hope so. Lars is another figure, like Hanake, that we should debate about.

Lisa - Thank you for defending The Social Network. You said everything better than I possibly could, and I could not agree more. I think it’s a great film, and I don't care how accurate it is. And The Tallest Man on Earth is awesome. I worship his songs. Glad you are also a fan.

Joanna Newsom is the best. If we can all agree on her and The New World, I will be a happy man.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

2010: The Year We Made Contact

First, RIP Liz Taylor. I can remember seeing A Place in the Sun when I was 15 and thinking she was one of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen. I still have a picture of her on my wall in that white dress from the film.

Second, Lisa - For Hanake, I would suggest starting with Funny Games and seeing what you think. Then you can try Cache or The White Ribbon and see how different they are from Funny Games. At least, that is my opinion. I’m not a Hanake expert by any means.

Third, Ben - Glad you enjoyed The Discreet Charm. It always brings a smile to my face. If you liked that, I recommend some of Bunuel’s other films, which are also hilarious and absurd. My favorite is The Phantom of Liberty, but I also love The Milky Way and The Exterminating Angel. He’s really one of my favorite directors. Also, thanks for posting that analysis of Kubrick and Nietzsche. Very interesting.

Fourth, John - I really loved reading the back and forth between you and Brandon. Great Stuff. Also, since I know you are a lover of westerns, have you seen Hud? I watched it recently, and I liked it. It has some nice cinematography, good dialogue, and interesting themes about changing times. Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal are great in it, but Paul Newman owns the film. He just oozes charisma. He is always electrifying; I have no better way to describe him.

Last, here’s my top 10 (actually eleven thanks to a tie) of 2010. I realized I don’t know how to rank them yet, so I have just ordered them alphabetically for the time being. I know most of you will disagree with some of the picks, and that’s fine. You can pick on me all you want. I can take it. And, I am also breaking your rule, John, by adding foreign films based on their U.S. release. Sorry.

127 Hours

A great experience watching this in a theater. You can’t help but get wrapped up in it because it is so intimate. It’s just you and Franco (and some wonderful creativity by Danny Boyle). Franco is fantastic in the role and the film is so vibrant it’s almost palpable. I didn’t realize how much it had actually moved me until the end when Sigur Ros was pumping and I got chills. This is a really wonderful film that is filled with creativity and bustling with energy. Ben, maybe this one is Nietzschean in that it is life-affirming.


I totally see why this is your number one film, Brandon. It’s just so beautiful. It was an absolute pleasure to watch in the midst of a seemingly interminable winter. Every shot and scene is gorgeous in this, but I especially love the scene where Jorge and Natan play with the bird (Blanquita). Very sweet. I think this is the type of cinematic poem about nature that Malick would enjoy. The sea is a beautiful place.

Another Year

Check out my post on it. Great movie.

Black Swan

Wild, strange, and kind of ridiculous (in a good way). But very stylish and exciting. It has a definite Polanski feel, which is maybe why I enjoyed it as much as I did. I am a certified fan of Aronofsky. I think he makes really interesting choices as an artist. And he is very intelligent.

Blue Valentine

I also totally see why this is your number one film of the year, Ben. It’s astonishingly well acted. Gosling and Williams are two of the best in the business, and this film is a salient example of why that is. They are devastatingly realistic in their roles. It’s almost too difficult to watch them at times because their emotion is so real. At some points I stopped feeling bad for the characters they were playing and started feeling bad for the actors themselves. You can tell that they had to go to some dark, dark places for their roles. They are simply amazing though.
Cianfrance does a great job, too. His scenes communicate the reality of this relationship with remarkable honesty and intimacy. They are well constructed and extremely natural.

Coming off a difficult break-up myself and having seen the dissolution of a marriage between two close friends, this one really hit close to home. But, that is why it is so fantastic. It depicts the rise and fall of a relationship in a relatable, realistic, and brutal fashion.

Inception & Shutter Island

I’m using Leonardo Dicaprio’s presence in both of these films as an excuse to link them both together and fit eleven films on my list instead of ten. Lame, I know. But, actually these films also relate to one another in that I really like them despite some of the problems I have with them.

First, Inception. Overhyped? Definitely. But, that’s because it was overhyped in the wrong way (Kubrickian? Seriously?). It was being hyped as this total ‘mindfuck,’ when it really its just a fairly straightforward heist film. It’s more Ocean’s Eleven than it is Last Year at Marienbad, which is one of the things I liked about it. I enjoy a good heist movie where everything falls neatly into place and the scam succeeds (except when it is real like in Inside Job, then I just want to kill myself). I like that this is a creative variation on that standard set-up. And I like that it is set in the world of dreams. There is something infinitely exciting about the possibilities of dreams for me. I like the little bits about how volatile or unpredictable they can be even when you’ve got them down to a science (i.e. it raining because the dreamer didn’t go to the bathroom, the spinning van causing the hallway to spin, etc.). That stuff just seems cool to me (all the stuff in the hotel with Joseph Gordon-Levitt is damn cool).

Obviously, the film has it’s problems (sometimes, it’s absolutely ridiculous and not in a good way). There are things about it that I flat-out do not like. I hate Ellen Paige’s surrogate for the audience character. She is completely annoying and unnecessary. I agree with you guys that the snow fort scenes are lame. And sometimes Nolan’s penchant for repeating dialogue can be tacky.

But with that all being said, I really enjoyed this. I found it entertaining, and I rarely find current non-Batman related blockbusters entertaining. I know most of you didn’t like this (and I probably missed all the good discussion about it), so you all can pick on me if you like. I won’t mind.

(I should note: I’m a huge Batman fan, so I am eternally indebted to Chris Nolan. Call me biased if you’d like)

Now, Shutter Island. I rewatched it. It’s really great. I pretty much dig it for all the reasons you gave, Brandon. Still annoyed by the revelation scene, but that’s not enough to push it off this list. And let me tell you, when I got to meet Mark Ruffalo, my friend started asking him about this movie and Scorsese. It was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had.

The Social Network

I find this entertaining as hell. It’s just so exciting to watch for me, and there is no reason it should be exciting. All credit to Sorkin for making the script so interesting to listen to, and Fincher for making the film pulsate with energy and excitement. It reminded me a bit of Fincher’s Zodiac and All the President’s Men (two films I love), in that all three mostly consist of people just talking, yet they are enthralling to watch.

I know this got extreme adoration from critics, but I would love it even if it got a lukewarm response from them. It’s just really, really well done. I’ve seen it a few times now, and every time I see it I am just as interested watching it as I was the first time. It’s very absorbing to me. It’s really well acted, the cinematography and look of the film is impeccable, the score is awesome, the script is intelligent, and the direction by Fincher is meticulous and flawless. Fincher has a really wonderful eye for things, and he has such a great style and appreciation for craft. I am a big fan. He makes great movies.

As a side note, I know some critics called this ‘the film that defines our generation’ or described it as this incisive portrait of the digital age and social networking. I didn’t get that at all. I don’t think the film is trying to be that. I think it is much more interested in the relationships between its characters and questions about truth and lying. I think you could replace Facebook with any other profitable company name and the film would work just as well. I don’t think it’s really about Facebook. If it were trying to be about Facebook, I don’t think it would have bothered with the deposition scenes. The deposition framing device is used to show that the film is presenting versions of the truth or different perspectives on what happened between all the characters. In this way, the film is not presenting an objective, clear portrait of Mark Zuckerberg and his founding of Facebook, but interpretations or perceptions of him. The film makes this explicit at the end when Rashida Jones says that “every creation myth needs a devil.” The film is Eduardo and the Winklevoss’ versions of Mark Zuckerberg. How come we aren’t getting Mark’s side of things, you ask? Because It probably doesn’t make for nearly as exciting a movie.

True Grit

I love everything you guys have already said about this, and don’t have much more to add. It’s a great movie. The Coens are among the very best at writing scenes, dialogue, and characters. This is a solid example of that. Hailee Steinfeld should have gotten all the best actress awards for this.

Winter’s Bone

I love the scenes between Ree and her siblings. I don’t have much more to add because I know everyone else is a fan of this.

Also liked:
The American A Prophet Fish Tank Toy Story 3

Still need to see: The Fighter, The King’s Speech, Somewhere, Animal Kingdom, The Ghost Writer

And, just for fun, my Favorite albums of 2010:

Beach House - Teen Dream
Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me
The National - High Violet
The Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Funny Games

Ben- I love Funny Games (I've only seen the original, but the remake is apparently a shot-for-shot duplicate, so whichever you saw, we are talking about the same movie). You are definitely not a philistine for not liking it. I can understand your disappointment at it not being a scary thriller; it is not one at all (or it is if you are incredibly sheltered and naive, like the person I saw it with was). Apparently, Hanake intended it to be a comment on violence in films and other mediums. I found this out after I saw it and thought that this was a cop out–a lame attempt at moralizing. If you read the film as a comment on violence, then it can come across as pretentious. I, however, read it as a sort of punk rock, nihilistic "fuck you" to audience expectations, the thriller genre, and people who claim that art needs to have a point or be moralistic. I hate when people say that art needs to express something or needs to have value, which is why I have an affinity for anti-art movements like Dadaism. Not that I am nihilistic myself (I'm probably more Nietzschean than anything), but I do appreciate the rebellious act of negation. I think it's great when art attacks what is established or given. Anyway, I see Funny Games as subversive in this way, so that is why I like it. I love the breaking of the fourth wall in it. Some people find that heavy-handed, but that is what sold the film for me.

As I said, I watched it with a friend who is very sheltered and naive. She hated the movie, but only because she expected it to be a traditional thriller with a positive outcome. During the scene where Peter is shot, she cheered triumphantly. Then when Paul rewound the film to cancel out Peter's death, I cheered and laughed. I thought it was great that the film was an outright attack on everything people like her wanted it to be. You can call the film pretentious for doing this; I can understand that. But I think it is amusing. And you can call me pretentious for liking it, but I swear there is no pretense involved. I don't care if it's cool to like or not, I genuinely like it either way.

Also, Ben, if you didn't like Funny Games, you probably will hate/be disgusted by The Piano Teacher. But, you may like The White Ribbon, Caché, or Code Unknown. Or you will find them incredibly boring.

Lisa - Again, welcome. Don't worry about posting on random indie movies. You can post on anything you'd like. I haven't seen The Vicious Kind, but I'm not as masochistic as you and don't sit through a lot of indies. I'll use your blog as advice on which indies are worth seeing though. So, thanks!

All right, I'm going to have my top films of 2010 posted either today or tomorrow. Just need to watch one or two more movies.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Inside Job

I watched Inside Job yesterday with my brother. It was a great way to spend the night feeling indignant and hopeless for humanity. Several reviewers called it the horror film of the decade. They probably aren’t too far off. This film is a nightmare, except its real, which makes it more devastating. I’d say it’s the ultimate nihilistic heist film. The bad guys hoodwinked and devastated a bunch of people. They were caught, but left entirely unpunished. Then they were given carte blanche to do it again. There were no heroes to come and save the day. Those responsible for defending against the bad guys were in bed with the bad guys and still are. Even noirs are rarely this bleak.

But, there may be some hope, and that is the film itself. The film presents the details of financial collapse clearly and informatively, and gives a solid scoop on the sleazy dirtbags involved. It’s enough to make you extremely angry and desperate for some sort of change. The hope is then that enough people can see the film and become angry enough to do something about it. It’s a hope that may be impossible given the widespread levels of corruption, deception, and misinformation that are still ongoing. But it is a hope nonetheless.

If you are familiar with a bit of the information behind the financial collapse (like I am), then the film probably won’t present too much new information for you. However, it does do a great job of making the information about it concise (and can serve as a great reminder). If you aren’t familiar with the information, then the film must be seen. It will make you furious, but I guess that’s the point. I don’t know if any of you guys have seen this, but maybe you have. I liked it, but it really pissed me off as I expected it to. It especially made me even angrier at Obama. I love how right-wingers have the overwhelming stupidity to call him a socialist when he’s got hardcore deregulation capitalists right there in his cabinet. I wish he would step up to the plate and follow through on some of his pre-election rhetoric against deregulation and corruption on Wall St. And, honestly, I wish Spitzer were still in office. I don’t care about his personal troubles; I care about his willingness to go after Wall St. Which is more important?

Anyway, this one is worth seeing and worth getting angry about. Now I’ve got to watch a few more movies from 2010, and I should have my top 10 coming very soon.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Another Year

Ben- I re-watched A Single Man the other night. It definitely deserves to be seen again. I hope we can get a discussion going on it, because I really love it and will defend it with my life.

Also, I appreciate your thoughts on Catfish. I love that we all can have completely different reactions to films. It’s what makes a dialogue, such as ours, interesting. I feel similarly to you on Catfish though. I didn’t love it, but I found it interesting (perhaps it's my documentary naivety). I agree that the guys aren’t particularly likable, but then again lot of people are not likable in real life. I think you’re right that the really interesting focus of the film is not in the guys but in Angela. Angela is a great representation of loneliness, disconnection, and desire in our digital age. I also agree that the film holds up a mirror to our digital world, and that it asks a lot of questions of social networking and Facebook in particular.

Speaking of Facebook, I am a fan of The Social Network. I’m assuming I’m the only one among us who likes it (Brandon, you liked it though, right?). It will be in my top films of 2010, so I’ll post some thoughts on it then.

For now though, on to a really great film that will also be in my top 10 of 2010...

Another Year (Mike Leigh)

I watched this the other day and really liked it. It’s worth seeing. I watched it online through a movie hosting website. It was really good quality. I don’t know when it’s coming out on dvd though...

First, I must admit that I’m not overly familiar with Mike Leigh’s work. I have only seen his last two films (Happy-Go-Lucky and Vera Drake) and would really like to see his Palm d’or-winning Secrets and Lies, but it is currently not on dvd. I probably won’t be a great judge of assessing how Another Year fits in with his other work, so I’ll just judge it on its own (probably as it should be judged).

Flat-out, this movie is really wondeful. It’s well-written, well-acted, and enjoyable to watch. It can be quite sad at times, but it really is a pleasure to watch. It’s just so filled with life.

Leigh gets ample praise for his well-drawn, rounded characters, and this film is no exception. This film is made on wonderful character work. It’s how the story moves along and how we become attached to it. The characters are never flat in this; they are always interesting, subtle, and alert. There is always so much going on in their vocal tones and facial reactions. It’s a real pleasure to be able to read each character and try to decifer what their expressions are really conveying or what they are really trying to say or are not saying when they speak. Indeed, so much of this film is about reading what is never said. The characters speak a lot (with great naturalistic dialogue), but they leave so much uncommunicated. It’s like it is in real life. Rarely do we express ourselves fully. Oftentimes we lie or exaggerate or obviate in order to protect our true feelings.

The best example of this lack of true expression comes from Mary (played by Lesley Manville, who is just incredible in the role; simultaneously amusing and devastating). Mary obviously never gets the chance to truly express herself, but she is crying out with the desire to do so. It’s written all over her face. She is a disaster, and as much as she tries to hide it, she cannot. The other characters (Tom and Gerri) are seemingly aware of her problems, but they never really do anything about it. They try to give her some attention by inviting her over every few months, but they mostly leave her to slowly implode. I’ve met people like Mary, and maybe you guys have too. At times, it is not a pretty sight.

I’ve read some debate online over Tom and Gerri’s role with Mary. Some find them to be happy, good-natured people who are trying to be as nice as possible to Mary without getting too involved. Others found them to be smug, self-satisfied people who use Mary to amplify their own sense of happiness while completely ignoring her copiuous problems. I don’t know exactly where I come down on that spectrum, but I suspect that the truth about Tom and Gerri is that they are a little bit of both. I like Tom and Gerri though. I found them to be mostly warm people. Watching the film, I wanted to visit their house too. I felt like I knew them. I don’t know how much of a responsibility they have to Mary. We usually only ever see Tom and Gerri when Mary is involved. For all we know, they could have their own problems and struggles that we don’t know about. They could only seem truly happy when Mary’s around because Mary is so truly unhappy. I don’t think we can judge Tom and Gerri too harshly because we only see them in the context of unhappy people. Perhaps we are only signifying their happiness from the unhappiness around them. They could just be really great actors who are trying to seem happy and strong for everyone else around them. Who knows?

That’s what I love about this film though. It presents such a realistic and interesting look at life that allows you to interpret it in numerous ways. Leigh doesn’t seem to settle on one interpretation. He presents things as realistic as possible and leaves them ambiguous the way life truly can be at times.

Another great thing about Leigh with this film is that he is incredibly patient. He lets his scenes unfold with tremendous care. Nothing is rushed. The characters are given ample room and time to expess themselves, and we are given ample to spend with them and get to know them.

One of my favorite sequences is at the end of the film when Mary comes to Tom and Gerri’s and meets Ronnie. They have a long, awkward exhange that is truly great to watch. It’s wondeful how patient Leigh is with this sequence.

Ultimately, no matter what interpretation one takes of the relationships between the characters, one would have to admit that this is a very tender film. It can be sweet, charming, and very sad, but it is always compassionate. One of the best of last year.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


John, you are the greatest for making that site. I'm going to use it as a guide for things to see that I haven't seen. Maybe it'll inspire me to make my own lists from those years. Thanks, man!

Nice to see The Seventh Seal topping 1957. Cheers.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I really wanna see Uncle Boonme

You guys should definitely see A Single Man. You know how I feel about it, so I don’t need to elaborate again. But, it’s worth seeing. I don’t know if you’ll have the sort of emotional experience I had watching it, but I still hope you find it moving and beautiful because it really is both.

John- Thanks for your feedback. I really appreciated your thoughts (especially on the White Ribbon–that’s completely hilarious). I didn’t know that about TWBB and Tarantino, but it makes total sense. TWBB was a cinematic gauntlet if there ever was one. Glad you liked A Serious Man so much. It probably could be higher on my list but I only saw it once.
I didn’t see a lot of the movies on your list (which only speaks of my own inadequacy). I didn’t see The Limits of Control. I will definitely, now that I see it is on your list and Brandon’s. I wanted to see it and then completely forgot about it. How I forgot about it...I don't know. Probably because I didn't have this awesome film club to remind me.

Ben - Soo glad you loved A Single Man. Great to hear. I haven’t really talked to anyone who has seen it other than the two friends I watched it with when I first saw it. I really liked reading your thoughts on some of those 2010 flicks. I plan on watching Alamar and Fish Tank next week during my break. The more I think about Never Let Me Go, the more I like it (I agree with everything you said about it). I still just want it to be longer; that’s my only gripe with it. I also liked Howl. Franco is great and it is always great to hear the poem recited–it’s a wonderful auditory experience. Really liked the courtroom scenes too. By the way, I really liked 127 Hours. It is worth seeing. I need to do a run down like you did of the films I have seen from 2010, because I have seen a bunch, but just not enough for my list. As for your list, I still need to see a lot of them on there. I have seen Winter’s Bone, Black Swan, True Grit, and Exit Through the Gift Shop, and quite liked them all.

Brandon - First I just have to say that I really love “Teamwork.” I’ve been listening to it a lot and think it is an incredible thing. I’m so proud to know you guys. I hope the tour is still going well. We need to hang sometime after you get back. I still want to go out in the country with you and Lou. That would be the greatest. Anyway, back to film stuff. I agree that The White Ribbon and Antichrist are successful genre films without too much pretension. That’s also why I liked them. To be honest, I probably could have left Antichrist off my list and been fine with it. I just wanted to add it because it really is a good horror film. Everything a horror film should be, or at least everything a film called “Antichrist” should be.

Ben and Brandon, I’m probably somewhere in between you both on Shutter Island, though leaning more towards you Brandon. I agree with every reason you gave for loving it. It definitely spoke to my love for all those things as well (the flashback scenes to WWII are simply amazing to behold). My only minor problem with it was the revelation scene where they explain everything to Leo’s character. It just seemed heavy-handed to me. The chalkboard was excessive. But, overall I really liked it. I need to watch it again though. I only saw it once in the theater and that was over a year ago now (damn, time really flies). Maybe my perception of it will have changed since then.

I really need to see Boonme (what an awesome trailer). And Jane Eyre. And, of course, The Tree of Life. The trailer for that alone could be my top movie of last year.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Top 10 of 2009

Here’s the first of my top 10s of the 2000s. Starting in reverse from 2009.

I didn’t see a lot of movies from 2009 (I missed many, so forgive me), but I saw enough that I actually feel somewhat comfortable with this list. At least with the first several picks. I’ll be honest though–I kind of hate making lists. While it is an interesting and challenging activity to evaluate and rank things, it is also rather stressful and arbitrary. I think we all could agree on the level of difficulty it requires. When it comes to ranking movies in particular, I usually feel confident with my top 3 or so. Beyond that, its pretty goddamn arbitrary. As in this list here...

1. A Single Man

One of the most beautiful and moving film experiences I’ve had in my life. I saw the trailer for this and thought the cinematography looked absolutely lush (it is), and wanted to see it because of that. I definitely wasn’t anticipating the kind of profound emotional experience it provided. The first time I saw it I was with friends, so I held back my tears, but I still remaind utterly speechless at the end. I remember sitting there totally transfixed–unable to move or speak–and I was almost shaking. The movie had rocked me to my core. I was stunned. I watched it alone by myself the following day and just wept like a child. I couldn’t help it; it just spoke to me as deeply as few films ever have.

I know that the reason it did speak to me so profoundly was because at the time I saw it I had just gotten out of a very serious long-term relationship with a girl and was still feeling the loss of that relationship very intensely. I really, really loved this girl and losing her broke my heart; I was simply devastated. That’s why this film spoke to me so immeasurably. A Single Man is about the devastation of losing someone you love. It’s about the heartbreaking, earth-shattering reality that comes with Loss. It’s about unimaginable sadness. But, that doesn’t mean that it is simply a despairing experience. It’s also about the beauty that is life. It’s about those little profound moments that illuminate and sparkle before us and make our hearts enflamed with gratitude and amazement at life itself. It’s about being human and all the infinite beauty and sadness that comes with it.

It’s about so much, yet it is so compact and seamless. It flows so beautifully. The shots are stunningly gorgeous, the design is impeccable, the score is haunting and heart-rendering, and the script is poetic and perfect. And then there is the acting. Colin Firth gives simply one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from an actor. He makes the movie. He is the reason you feel it so deeply. This is the role he should have won an Oscar for. This is the role he should have gotten every conceivable acting award for. He is THAT good in this. If you need any proof of that, just look at the scene where he hears of his lover’s death over the telephone. His acting in that scene is heartbreaking, raw, and almost too real. You can’t look away from him. You could write a book about how much his face says in that scene alone. It’s astonishing really.

Anyway, I could rave forever about how much I love this movie, but I’ll simply leave it at that. And I really don’t care what anyone says about it. My experience with it is very personal. I will never be shaken from my absolute unwavering adoration for it. The best film of 2009, for me, by a landslide.

2. Inglourious Basterds

The first scene alone would put this at number two on my list. What a masterpiece from Tarantino. In my opinion, his best film. It probably would have been number one too if I had not seen A Single Man. But, not to take anything away from this movie. It’s amazing. Christoph Waltz deserved every bit of acclaim he got for this. What a masterful performance.

3. The White Ribbon

A great film from Hanake. I know he has his many fervant devotees, but I would just consider myself a casual fan. I like his movies; I think they are interesting, but I wouldn’t defend them the way I would others. I would definitely defend this film though (honestly it probably doesn’t need to be defended). I think it’s his best since the original Funny Games. With this and Cache, he seems to be maturing from his love of shock to something much more interesting and mysterious. I prefer films that are less in your face and more opaque like this one. Though sometimes I do go for in you face (like Funny Games) when I think it is executed very well. But seriously give me mystery over revelations any day.

4. Sin Nombre

I was enraptured by this. A wonderfully told movie that I couldn’t recommend enough. One of two really great immigrant films from 2009. Fukanaga is one to watch. I’m really eager to see his verison of one of my favorite books Jane Eyre.

5. Sugar

The other really great immigrant film from 2009. I love that it isn’t really about baseball, but the experience of being brought up in its system, and being alone in a very strange land. It’s a beautifully told film.

6. A Serious Man

The Coens are on one hell of a roll since No Country for Old Men. I hope they continue to put a a movie a year like they have been doing. Their films are alway something to look forward to. This one is fantastic. Funny, enigmatic, and very intelligent. But, I guess that’s what you’d expect from the Coens. Last years True Grit has only expanded their greatness.

7. Moon

A really awesome sci-fi movie–my kind of sci-fi movie with beautiful models and big ideas. Great work from Sam Rockwell.

8. Up

When your film has me with tears in my eyes within the first few minutes, you know you’re doing something right. A very touching and imaginative film. The past several Pixar films have really made me feel like a kid again.

9. Bronson/500 Days of Summer

I want to add both of these because I thought they were really enjoyable. Bronson is absolutely nuts. Tom Hardy is just a blast to watch. I’m stoked to see him as Bane in the next Batman flick.
And, 500 Days I really enjoyed, especially coming off a break-up. I don’t really care how great these two movies are or not; I thought they were fun.

10. Antichrist

Oh, Lars...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

what to watch, what to watch...

I have a break from school in two weeks and want to catch up on some of the copious films from last year that I haven’t seen. I see there are plenty to watch instantly on Netflix. Does anyone have any recommendations for things I definitely should see? I want to watch Fish Tank, Mother, Alamar (because you had it as your top film of the year Brandon and I trust you completely) and possibly Mesrine Part 1. Does anyone recommend Carlos if they have seen it? It got great reviews, but its quite long, and I don’t want to sit through it if it isn’t worth it. Or I am Love, has anyone seen that or does anyone recommend it?

All I know is that the next thing I am definitely watching on Netflix is Paul Newman in Hud. I have not seen it (for shame, I know), but am really looking forward to it. I love Paul Newman. He was one in a million, I tell ya.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Drinkin' the blood of lamb from Bandy's tract

Joel McCrea is dope in Sullivan’s Travels. I don’t know him very well otherwise, but can illegitimately agree that he deserves more recognition. You guys would know better than I would and I trust your judgment. I seriously envy your projects to excavate films from the 30s, 40s, 50s and so on. If I’m ever done with school, I should try to do something similar. If you couldn’t already tell, my classics knowledge is pretty much limited to popular or acclaimed titles. I’ve got to branch out and see more movies. I know I’m missing out.

Joseph Cotten DOES hold the fort down in the Magnificent Ambersons. Damn straight Brandon. Glad to hear that touring is going all right. I just saw a facebook status from you that said you were sick. I hope you feel better! Love you man.

Also, I’ve really got to watch Deadwood. It’s on my list of shows to watch. I’m currently involved in Breaking Bad season 3 and somewhere in Six Feet Under. Eventually I’ll get to Deadwood though. I’ve heard nothing but great things, especially about Timothy Olyphant, as you suggest.

I don’t know who else I would consider underrated as an actor. I’ll have to think about this more.

Ben - I’m excited to hear your thoughts on Never Let Me Go. I’m also surprised it has received such little attention.

This may be the dumbest thing can call me out on it too if you’d like...but I’d like to live up to my blog’s title and embrace my stupidity.

All right, I’ve been trying to ready my top 10 films of the 2000s to post, so I’ve been thinking about my favorite movies of the last decade. Of course, what I think is my favorite and what I think is the best movie of the last decade is There Will Be Blood. I’ve also been thinking about classics that I should add to my favorites list, so I thought of The Night of the Hunter. Anyway, combine these two threads of thought and we have a synthesis: I’ve been thinking about There Will Be Blood in relation to The Night of the Hunter.

Both films deal with the issue of religious hypocrisy or the false prophet. Compare Eli Sunday to Harry Powell. Obviously, Eli is not a serial killer, but he is a false prophet, a wolf in sheep's clothing just like Harry Powell. In TNOTH, Harry Powell is undone by the powerful force that is Rachel Cooper. She’s basically a benevolent force–a shepherd defending her flock from the sheep-clothed Powell. She sees what he really is though–a wolf–and holds her ground against him. In TWBB, Eli Sunday is also undone by a powerful force–Daniel Plainview. He, a wolf himself, sees through Eli’s sheep veneer to discover another wolf. And he makes it his life’s work to destroy him.

We see what happens to Eli Sunday when he meets the wolf that is Daniel Plainview. So, what do you think would happen if Daniel Plainview met Harry Powell? Certainly he’d see a fellow wolf, but would he try to destroy him? I don’t know. All I know is we have got a great movie on our hands. Move over Freddy vs Jason and Alien vs Predator because there’s a new battle in town. I’m thinking There Will Be Blood 2: Lean on This, Harry! And the sequel to that can be called PVP: Fuck it Harry, Let’s Go Bowling.

I’ll contact Paul Thomas Anderson immediately.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Joseph Cotten is cool

The more I think about it, Shadow of a Doubt may be my favorite Hitchcock film. Not only is it flawlessly directed by Mr. Hitchcock, but I think it is also one of his best written films. So many great scenes and characters from the awkward, crime novel enthusiast Herb to the precocious bookworm Anne–it’s really enjoyable to watch. AND Joseph Cotten as Uncle Charlie...just awesome. So equally charming and creepy.
I forgot to add this as one of my favorites, but I’ll just say now that it is. I don’t know why, but I do tend to forgot about how much I love this when thinking of Hitchcock. Maybe it’s because Vertigo, Notorious, Rear Window, or North by Northwest come to mind faster due to their stature (and bigger stars). But Shadow of a Doubt deserves just as much love too. I’ve got to remember that.

The reason I’ve got Shadow of a Doubt on my mind is because I recently re-watched The Third Man and remembered how much I love Joseph Cotten. He's damn cool and underrated. A terrific actor. Speaking of The Third Man though, I hadn’t seen it in many years, but boy is it worth seeing again. I won’t divulge into its merits (I’m sure you are all well aware of them), but I’ll just say that it gets better with subsequent viewings. I found it to be especially great having read some novels by the wonderful Graham Greene. There are many parallels between this and some of his other works, in particular The Quiet American. Both share similar moral dilemmas and concern a writer/journalist getting caught up in some dirty business. Anyway, I love Graham Greene and this movie. The last shot is one of the best in film history.

Friday, March 4, 2011

More Favorites

I wanted to add to my favorites list because looking back on it, it is woefully inadequate. I basically took an Amazon list of my favorite movies that I did a few years back and copied a few of them down. I didn’t put any doubles of directors down because I wanted a well-rounded mix. If I had allowed doubles I probably would have put every Kubrick film down, every Malick, every Kiewslowski, etc. So here’s my attempt to make my list more adequate. It still will be missing many, but I will slowly try to add to it. Again, I’m going to add the directors and years, even though I know you guys know, just to make it official and respectful.

-Casablanca (Curtiz, 1942) - Don’t know how this didn’t get added on the first one. Still one of the most romantic and magical films of all time. I remember watching this with an ex-girlfriend, who I really cared about, and it being a sublime experience. One of the great moments of my life, straight up.
-2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968) - There was a time when if you asked me my favorite film of all time, I would have named this. But then my heart unthawed and Wild Strawberries became my favorite. This is still one of my absolute favorites, top 10 of all time at the very least, even though I rank Barry Lyndon just slightly above it. I don’t even need to go into its merits. Also, it goes without saying, I would put every Kubrick film on here. Treasures, all of them.
-The Three Colors Trilogy: Blue, White, Red (Kieslowski, 1993, 1994, 1994) - The Decalogue slightly edged in over this on my first list, but this is still one of my favorite collections of films of all time. Kieslowski was a genius, a master, and one of the greatest film artists of all time. I also love The Double Life of Veronique. It’s a shame that he passed away before we could get his Heaven/Hell/Purgatory trilogy (sorry Tom Tywker, your version of Heaven is just not the same).
-The Seventh Seal (Bergman, 1957 - Bergman was the greatest, nothing more needs to be said.
-The Virgin Spring (Bergman, 1960) - Same.
-Seven Samurai (Kurosawa, 1954) - Don’t care if it’s cliche to love this. This and 8 1/2 were the first foreign classics I ever saw. They changed my life.
-8 1/2 (Fellini, 1963) - Same as above.
-The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Huston, 1948) - LOVE John Huston.
-The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Bunuel, 1972) - Hilarious. Huge Bunuel fan. Just watched The Exterminating Angel last summer and loved it. I’ve loved every film I’ve seen of his.
-Dont Look Back (Pennebaker, 1967) - I'm obsessed with Bob Dylan.
-Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)
-Annie Hall (Allen, 1977)
-Horse Feathers (McLeod, 1932)
-Stalag 17 (Wilder, 1953) - Apparently, Bill Murray is a big fan of this, which makes me overjoyed because I love this and Bill Murray.
-Midnight Cowboy - (Schlesinger, 1969) - This one is all about Dustin Hoffman as Ratso Rizzo. One of my favorite actors along with Paul Newman.
-Solaris (Tarkovsky, 1972) - One of my favorite film endings.
-The Exorcist (Friedkin, 1973) - I’m entirely serious with this pick. Forget all the bullshit hype about this being the scariest thing ever or its plethora of stigmas, and just watch it for what it is. I love it. I miss 70s horror.
-My Left Foot (Sheridan, 1989)
-Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Gilliam/Jones, 1975)
-Do the Right Thing (Lee, 1989)
-Goodfellas (Scorsese, 1990)
-Groundhog Day (Ramis, 1993) - I watch this at least twice a year.
-Europa (von Trier, 1991)
-The City of Lost Children (Jeunet/Caro, 1995)
-Trainspotting (Boyle, 1996)
-Fargo (Coens, 1996)
-Boogie Nights (Anderson, 1997)
-The Thin Red Line (Malick, 1998) - Add Badlands and The New World too.
-You Can Count on Me (Lonergan, 2000)
-Mulholland Drive (Lynch, 2001)
-The Fountain (Aronofsky, 2006)
-There Will Be Blood (Anderson, 2007)
-No Country for Old Men (Coens, 2007)
-Synecdoche, New York (Kaufman, 2008)

I tried to add a few modern favorites this time. There are a lot missing. Forgive me.

Also, I'm an enormous fan of the original Star Wars trilogy and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But that almost doesn't need to be said. They're awesome, we all know.

To be continued....

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Have fun Brandon!

Brandon - Best of luck on the tour! I'm sure it will be a blast. Give my love to the rest of the band, especially Alex. Tell him he's the greatest, from me. Having listened to your new album (which is AWESOME) and watched you guys perform, you are definitely not wasting your time. It's a gift to be able to hear your music and see you guys play. No lie. Keep it up! Also, I love all the Hitchcock films you listed. I might go with Vertigo (I gave up on trying to avoid being cliche a long time ago) too, though I love Notorious. Also, I saw somewhere that you weren't a big fan of Spellbound. I actually love that, but it might be due to my love of Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman and not my love of Freud. Also, the Dali sequence.

John - I added your email. Thanks for the easy to follow directions. SERIOUSLY. I'm an idiot when it comes to navigating things. Also, so glad to hear your love for The Hustler. One of the best around. It deserves unanimous love. And, I've really got to re-watch Touch of Evil. I saw it a few years back on TCM late at night and really dug it.

Ben - I watched Catfish without having seen the trailer. I just read something that said watch it, but don't read anything about it. So I did. I subsequently have seen the trailer and do think it is odd that it is played up almost like a thriller (it's nothing like that). I know there is some debate on whether its real or fake, but I watched it as a real documentary, so I will treat it as such. My thoughts on it were pretty much similar to yours. The only problem, and I'll make this clear to everyone, is that I am a horrible judge of documentaries. I pretty much find most documentaries interesting, and can't judge them too harshly. So if any debates are made on Catfish or other documentaries, I probably won't be able to provide interesting commentary.

I think next up I'll start posting some of my top 10s from the 2000s. Then, at some point, I'd like to post some stuff about my love for the Marx Brothers. Seriously, I love them endlessly and do not care what anyone says. They make me elated. Especially Harpo, hence the picture of him on here. One of my heroes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Brandon/Ben/Never Let Me Go

Brandon - Glad to hear that you are a Bergman fan, as well. I think he's the greatest film artist of all time (but that's just me, who really knows?). The Virgin Spring is probably my third favorite film of his (behind Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal). I love it; and love the ending. The shot where Marx von Sydow turns away from the camera on his knees is just brilliant.

Glad you like The Hustler (I LOVE Paul Newman, straight up) and Wages of Fear. I have not seen Quai Des Orfevres, but I will definitely check it out now. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve only seen a few Clouzot films, but have loved the ones I have seen. He’s fantastic.

The Hidden Fortress is awesome. I have not seen a Kurosawa film I didn’t like. The dude just made flat-out great movies.

The thing about Blow-Up is that I didn’t expect to like it. I had seen L’avventura and L’eclisse, and definitely could not get into them at all. I wouldn’t say that I am an Antonioni fan, but I really like Blow-Up. It has a lot of the detachment of his other films, but also this tremendous oddness. I find it to be unusual in a very interesting way. It intrigues me. But, I can totally understand not digging it or Antonioni for that matter. He’s hard to get into; I would agree.

Also, what do you think your favorite Hitchcock film is? I’ve thought about this for ages and have never decided.

Ben- Thank you very much for welcoming me! Very kind of you. I’m sure I’ll get a lot out of this. I don’t get to discuss movies with people very often, so I’m excited to finally be able to do so.

I don’t know why I only put classics down for my favorite movies. I have many modern movies that are also among my favorites. I guess the classics are the first to pop in my head. I’m going to post my top 10s for the 2000s soon; that’ll give a decent view of recent movies I like.

I saw Catfish and liked it. I thought it was really fascinating. I’m really eager to read your thoughts on it; I haven’t discussed it with anyone, even though I saw it a while back.
Hopefully some good debate initiates about it.

I see that you saw Blue Valentine. I’m dying to see that myself...probably more than any other movie I haven’t seen from last year. Glad to hear you really liked it. I’m sure it’s great.

Also, I saw a mention of your love for The New World. I absolutely love it too. One of my favorites of the last decade, no doubt about it. Just a beautiful, beautiful movie.

Can’t wait to see your top 10 for 2010!

Never Let Me Go

Just watched it this morning with my brother. I was curious to see this because I read some positive things about it, and knew it was based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro (he also wrote The Remains of the Day, which is easily one of the best novels of the last 25 years). Also, I knew that Alex Garland wrote the script. A novelist in his own right, he was responsible for the scripts for 28 Days Later and Sunshine, two movies I absolutely love. So, I really wanted to see this.

Initial response: I liked it. I didn’t love it; it definitely has its problems, but there was enough there for me to appreciate it.

Let’s start with the positives. This movie is gorgeous to look at. The cinematography is impeccable. Great use of lighting. It’s great to look at and it feels great. The exterior shots of the school are especially beautiful, and the shots on the beach are just stunning. The music goes well with some of the shots too. There were times when a plaintive violin was played over some exceptional images, and I felt like I could watch and listen all day.

The acting is pretty much solid. Andrew Garfield is probably the stand out one of the bunch. He’s the only actor that seems to be trying to really make his role into a character. He adds some nice nuance. This, plus his work in The Social Network, makes me excited to see him in more films.

The negatives. It moves too quickly. This is probably from trying to fit too much in from the novel, something that commonly happens with adaptations from books. You never get too much time to spend with the characters, or to let scenes unfold slowly. I wouldn’t have minded if the film were longer so that we could have spent more time getting to know the characters and letting them interact more. *SPOILER WARNING: How much greater would our re-introduction to Keira Knightley’s character post-operations be if we had spent more time around her? I think we would have felt her degredation and death much more had she been developed more. SPOILER WARNING OVER.*

The film is working with a very tragic concept (I won’t spoil it for anyone if they don’t know what it’s about). It’s almost achingly sad when you really think about it. I think if the film had moved a little slower we could have felt this tragedy and this sadness more deeply. I felt like I should have been in tears by the end of it, but I wasn’t. I was moved by the final images of it, but not crestfallen. I’m going to mark that down to pacing and character development.

Not to say that it does a horrible job of pacing or character development, but it just doesn’t do enough to thoroughly soak us in its tragic consequences. Some have criticized the film for being too bleak. Give me a break. It’s supposed to be bleak; its dealing with a horrifying premise. It could only have a tragic outcome. I liked the film’s tragedy; I just wanted to spend more time getting there.

With all of this being said, I did like it. I have no idea where it stands in terms of other films from last year though. I’ll have to decide that later. But, for now, I appreciated its beauty, its tragedy, and its interest in love and time. The last lines and shots of the movie are lovely and harrowing. They make me want to read the novel–I’m sure it contains the tragic depth I’m looking for.

I don’t know if anyone else has seen this or even cares about it. If there is one thing you guys will learn about me though, it is that I am at heart a romantic and a HUGE sap. Don’t ever let me convince you otherwise. I’m always looking for a good cry.


All right! We've finally got a synopsis for the new Charlie Kaufman & Spike Jonze collaboration. Deadline says it's a satire about world leaders getting together to decide events that will happen in the world. If they are right, then I'm intrigued. It could be something akin to Dr. Strangelove, but who really knows. These two are so creative that I think it might be impossible to fully anticipate what they have prepared for us. I'm fucking EXCITED! I'd watch anything by this brilliant pair. Let the waiting begin...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Some Favorites

I was initially really anxious/nervous about starting this blog because I didn't know if I could write about movies in any meaningful way. I haven't done a lot of writing on movies. I've loved them and have been interested in them dearly since I first got seriously into them at 13, but I haven't written many reviews or opinions down about them. I've been thinking more about the prospect of writing on movies though, and in the process have become very excited about it. I think it will be fun. I'm eager to try to form my rambling thoughts on movies into somewhat coherent opinions that can be communicated to others. Hopefully I can do so!

Anyway, I just want to briefly mention some of my favorite directors and films. I have my top 10 lists for each year of the 2000s, and I'll try to post those soon.

First of, my favorite director has to be Ingmar Bergman. Wild Strawberries is my absolute favorite movie of all time. It is a beautiful, profound, moving, and poetic masterpiece. Just completely perfect in every way.

As for other directors, I love Fellini, Kubrick, Luis Bunuel, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Terrence Malick, Kurosawa, Woody Allen, Charlie Chaplin, Visconti, Scorsese, Tarkovsky, Hitchcock, Polanski, Billy Wilder...
For more modern fellas, I'm really into David Lynch, Paul Thomas Anderson, Aronofsky, the Coens, Charlie Kaufman, David Fincher, Hanake, von Trier (I know Brandon is not a fan of these last two, but I dig 'em). There's probably a bunch that I'm forgetting, but oh well. That's a decent run down of some filmmakers I respect and admire.

Here are some of my favorite movies:

-The Decalogue (Kieslowski, 1988)
-La Dolce Vita (Fellini, 1960)
-Barry Lyndon (Kubrick, 1975)
-The Phantom of Liberty (Bunuel, 1974)
-Days of Heaven (Malick,1978)
-The Godfather (Coppola, 1972)
-Hannah and Her Sisters (Allen, 1986)
-Ikiru (Kurosawa, 1952)
-The Wages of Fear (Clouzot, 1953)
-Blow-Up (Antonioni, 1966)
-Duck Soup (McCarey, 1933)
-Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)
-It's a Wonderful Life (Capra, 1946)
-The Gold Rush (Chaplin, 1925)
-All About Eve (Mankiewicz, 1950)
-The Big Sleep (Hawks, 1946)
-Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1976)
-All the President's Men (Pakula, 1976)
-The Hustler (Rossen, 1961)

I don't know why I put all the directors' names and years for these, but it just seemed respectful to do. Haha As if there were another Citizen Kane or Godfather to which I were referring....

Anyway, those are some movies I really like (at least the ones I can think off the top of my head).

I have Never Let Me Go coming on Netflix tomorrow. Maybe that will be my first review. Harry Knowles seems to love it, but we will see. I haven't read the book, but I've read other books by Ishiguro and think he is a tremendous writer. I'm sure the film has absolutely nothing on the book though.