Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Blow Out & Randomness

Ben, I haven’t read the pacifism article in Harper’s but I’ll try to check it out at BU. Thanks for the suggestion.

I try to be a non-violent just because I don’t want to be a violent person, but I obviously have my points of rage and it’s hard to maintain that ideal (just spend some time with me on a soccer field in a competitive situation and the rational, pacifist Jeff will disappear). I wish that everyone would practice non-violence in an ideal fantasy world, but I can still understand the imperative arguments for violence. I love Dr. King, but I love Malcolm X too, and I can’t say that some of his arguments for defending yourself against abuse, violence, and hatred are wrong. I wasn’t in that situation and I don’t know what it is like to be in a situation like that. I don’t have a great argument against violence as defense from violence other than that I wish that the original violence didn’t exist in the first place. I wish people weren’t violent to each other or to other animals (and I wish this for myself), but I can’t will this as if it were a universal truth because there are no universal truths. I guess all I’m trying to say is that I am for non-violence myself, but I’ve also never been in a position where I’ve needed to use it. Many others aren’t so fortunate.

If you live in a country where your family members and friends are being massacred, and you decide to join a rebellion and kill your oppressors to prevent more massacres, then who the fuck am I to tell you that you can’t be violent?

Let me clarify- I don’t necessarily care that violence was used against someone like OBL (though if we truly were committed to helping other people against violent dirtbags we would have helped folks in Africa long ago), but I do care about celebrating someone else's death like you aren’t going to die yourself. I just can’t do it.

Anyway, back to movies. I didn’t see A Scanner Darkly or Joyeux Noel, but interesting to hear two opposing sides from you guys. A friend of mine also loves Joyeux Noel and I was going to watch it with him and his kids around last Christmas, but we couldn’t stop watching Simpsons episodes. I’ll try to see it in the future.

Brandon, I can get down with a big dumb hollywood blockbuster. I was raised on them. I hope I don’t come across as being too snobby. I can dig artists and artisans, and I can dig your odd taste. I enjoy a lot of different genres of movies, though there are some exceptions. I think I might like Miami Vice, just because I usually like Michael Mann’s movies. If Miami Vice has more depth to it than the surface belies, then I believe it because Mann is pretty adept at mixing Blockbuster spectacle with actual substance. I’d love to watch that with you or any of your other picks, my friend. Let’s do it!

I hear you about Inland Empire, and can sympathize. A three hour David Lynch journey is probably not one to be taken on a couch where sleep is an option.

You can bash the suburb genre all you’d like. As you said, it's not your thing and that’s cool. I’m sure there are cinematic genres I can’t get into that you might be fascinated with. With Little Children, I guess I saw something more than just caricature and conventional genre technique. It’s probably something I can’t explain.

I totally get the idea that Scorsese is a 40s director trapped in a modern movie director’s body. It’s a great point and one that I should take into account more often. I love Scorsese. The dude knows more about film than I could ever dream of, and he worships it like nobody’s business. I respect and admire him incessantly for that.

I’m sure I would love A Prairie Home Companion if I were involved in all of that goodness, too. Sounds awesome. I love hearing about movies connecting to personal stories. It’s something, as film lovers, that I think we can all can relate to.

I did know that the Blood Brothers bassist is now in Fleet Foxes. Wild, isn’t it? I was surprised to see that, but also impressed. The dude has interesting taste. I like that.

Lisa, I can understand not liking Brick. It is a gimmick to take a Hammett/Chandler hard-boiled detective narrative and apply it to high school kids. Maybe it is a boys movie. I thought it was really fun, but maybe that’s because I wish I were in a hard-boiled detective narrative myself. Who doesn’t want to be Sam Spade?

Also, It’s cool that you like All That Jazz. I was the one who just wrote about it. Crazy movie. Bob Fosse seems like an interesting character to say the least.

I just watched Brian De Palma’s Blow Out (1981). I don’t know De Palma’s work that well. I really like Sisters and Carrie, but have only seen his more commercial shit other than that (like Scarface, The Untouchables, etc.). I first heard about Blow Out through Tarantino. He lists it as one of his favorite movies of all time. After watching the film, it’s easy to see why that is. It’s replete with homages to other films, and seems to be in love with film in general (two features that Taratino, obviously, will trademark for his own). The film was just released on Criterion, so I finally decided to get it, and I really loved it. I’d be curious to hear what others have thought if they have seen it or if they do see it.

This is a great old-fashioned thriller. You can find influences of Hitchcock, Antonioni, Coppola, Schlesinger, Carpenter, and many others I’m probably not even sharp enough to recognize. The film opens with this awesome Halloween-esque POV shot that becomes really fun in it’s awfulness. You’ll know what I mean if you see the film. The rest of the film plays out like the mystery/thriller Antonioni’s Blow-up never was (If you were frustrated by that picture, then you might like this instead). It’s interesting, exciting, tense, and has a really dark pay-off. Seriously, the ending is like a sick joke, but an inspired one. I’m surprised I didn’t see it coming at all. Thinking it over, the film is pretty much building towards it but I still was oblivious to it. Anyway, when it came, I thought, “damn, that’s bleak...but awesome!” It’s a great ending.

What I also really like about the movie is how much the line between cinema and reality becomes distorted in it. There is so much interaction between film and real life in this that even Travolta’s character’s back story is cinematic. Cinema functions on so many levels in this. If anyone has seen this or does see it, then maybe we can discuss this more. I don’t want to give anything away. But since this film is essentially about filmmaking, this might be a fun one to discuss.


  1. Thriller not horror right? :) Just making sure it's not NSFL. It sounds good!

  2. haha Just a non-scary thriller. It's definitely SFL and worth checking out.