Here’s just a random, general response to a bunch of shit:
Match Point: Very right to consider his lack of punishment and initial lack of remorse as scary. He lives in world governed by pure chance. The terrific first shot establishes this and the motif of luck ends the film. He is framed within a world without any higher governing authority. This is the type of world that terrified Dostoevsky. I think Chris Wilton is more relieved than happy at the end. Just stunned that he got away with something so vile. But something is obviously eating away at him. Perhaps it will disappear over time, but at the end of the fill it is with him. Woody is terrific at exploring moral themes and this film doesn’t offer an easy answers. It’s a frightening scenario that he presents, and sadly one that happens all too often in our actual world.
The Beat that My Heart Skipped: I realized re-reading my post that Shoot the Piano Player was something I meant to mention about why I liked this. Shoot the Piano Player is a wonderful masterpiece (probably my favorite Truffaut). It influences TBTMHK. It’s like Truffaut’s film meets a 70s crime drama. It is also like the gritty version of High School Musical or even Footloose. Sometimes you just gotta break out and dance dude.
A History of Violence: Excellent call on the relation to Straw Dogs and Out of the Past. Very astute.
The New World is a beautiful example of the myth of progress. I agree. It isn’t so much an attempt to valorize Native American culture as it is to question our belief in Western culture as a progression along a fixed historical line. Western culture has a tradition of seeing itself as a agent of history and knowledge and universalizing its own values. In doing this, it has often treated other cultures as outside of history and/or unable to progress. But what the fuck does it mean to progress? Western standards of progress are not universal standards. The New world knows this in its bones.
I was a little bullish towards Zacharek. I can be too defensive about Malick. I don't have anything against her in general. She is definitely feisty. But she needed to be called on her bullshit.
Thanks for stirring shit up about this, John. Obviously I like this film, but I’m not going to jump down your throat for not liking it. I do agree with Brandon that you are letting your aversion to homosexuality influence you on it. I believe you entirely when you say you are not homophobic, but if you feel that men having sex with one another is wrong then that is obviously going to influence your perception of the film.
Here’s my defense of one of your criticisms: I know you don’t buy that Ennis and Jack hook up, but honestly I don’t think it was just a whimsical choice they made one night. They are gay. Jack is a bit more experienced then Ennis, but that doesn’t mean that Ennis is just trying this out for fun. The film is setting up a meeting between two gay characters on lonely mountain together. Would you buy it more if one were an attractive girl?
Also, if you can’t buy that they hook up so quickly, I would use the defense that it is a popular film contrivance for people to either fall in love or hook up instantly. You love classic films. How often do people fall in love in them at the blink of an eye? Making the two characters gay doesn’t change this.
I can understand you not buying this aspect of the film, but that is how I would defend it in my eyes.
As to your comments Brandon, if the film has an anti-marriage angle it is because it is reacting against marriage as a heterosexual union that is forced on the two men. It’s reacting more towards the society that prevents them from being together and says that it is “normal” for a man to be with a woman. In doing this, it is unfair to the wives of the two men, but they have the unfortunate position of being caught up in the much larger socio-political statement the film is trying to make. I actually agree with you that the film is unfair to the wives and families, but for the sake of argument, I’m going to play devil’s advocate. The film is reacting to a tradition that says that marriage between a man and women is correct and that a man needs to marry a woman, have a family, and settle down somewhere. Certainly during the time the film is set that was the expectation, and it is still ongoing today. Heterosexual unions and the conventional nuclear family image is constantly being represented and championed through copious mediums. How often is a so-called “deviant” lifestyle of homosexuality championed other than through stereotypes and parody? The film obviously overcompensates in its preference for homosexuality by completely overlooking the issue of adultery and family neglect. But it is trying to provide a counter-image towards homosexuality that runs against the conventional representations of marriage and family life.
All I’ll say about Caché is that one man’s boredom is another man’s entertainment.
I agree with you about Broken Flowers and Sin City. Great comments. I don’t have anything to add to ‘em.
Batman Begins: I can’t argue against the flaws in this film. But I don’t care about them. I’m like a little kid when it comes to Batman. Especially something Batman that at least tries to get it right.
As to your list, it’s pretty great dude.
Grizzly Man is a great pick. A hell of an experience because it is entertaining but you know the whole time what it builds towards so it just feels haunting as well. Herzog knows how to put together a doc as if it were a narrative. I liked this when I saw it, but it has been so long.
Mysterious Skin is a great pick too. I don’t even remember it too well, so I need to see it again before I comment on it further.
I was disappointed by Corpse Bride when I saw it because I went with my friend and we both love A Nightmare Before Christmas and we were expecting something instantly iconic and beautiful just like that. At the time, I didn’t think the songs were up to par nor the story that great. BUT having seen it since, I really like it now and think it is lovely and fun to watch. It’s actually pretty great. Solid pick dude.
I need to see Junebug.
I don’t remember Munich and I need to see 2046.
We don’t need to get into a debate about it, but I see that King Kong is on your honorable mentions list. I straight up did not like that. I love the original. Why did Jackson feel the need to stretch out the film to 3 hours? There are so many ridiculous subplots that go nowhere in that movie. I’m looking at you story between Jimmy and Hayes. If the film had been much shorter it probably would have been fantastic. It just gets unecessarily stretched out and bogged down.
I also still gotta see Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. If you and Lisa like it so much, it’s probably worth checking out.
Ben, if you do ever get the chance, I’d love to see some of your lists for top films of the 2000s. That goes for everyone else too. Feel free to at any point. I’d enjoy them immensely.
Lisa, if Bridesmaids is like something Tina Fey would write then I'm interested.