Friday, April 29, 2011

Best theater experiences

Brandon, your lists have been really fun to read. Mine don't even compare.

I'll get that 2006 list up soon for you to pick on.

I don't remember the first movie I ever saw in theaters. I have a bad memory for things when I was a kid. Here's some things I do remember:

Star Wars Special Edition trilogy: Exactly what you said, Brandon.

Little Giants: When my brothers and I were little, a family friend wanted to take us to the theater to see Lion King, but we had already seen it, so she took us to this instead. I just remember laughing so hard, having a blast, and quoting it incessantly in the car ride on the way home. So much fun.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy: I hadn’t read the books (at 13 I wasn’t as big into reading as I am now) and vaguely knew what they were even about. My dad took my brother Chris and me to see this. Being huge Star Wars fans, we were for some reason initially skeptical about seeing it. But we were instantly blown away, and raved about it to my eldest brother, who soon became a converted fan as well. Seeing the next installments right before Christmas the following two years are probably my most cherished theater going experiences.

28 Days Later: My 7th grade English teacher (a man I will always be indebted to because he is the first person to get me seriously interested in film) took me to see this. We had the greatest conversation on the way to the theater and then loved the movie and talked about it for hours afterward. This meant a great deal to me and still does.

Minority Report: My dad and I went to see this. We don’t have the greatest relationship, so anytime we can actually share a nice moment is pretty special. We loved the film and had a long talk about it afterward. This also meant a great deal to me.

Big Fish: I saw this with an extremely cute girl (way out of my league) and couldn’t believe she was sitting next to me the whole time. Also, the movie was great.

Grindhouse: Just a great experience.

Spacejam: Need I explain why this was so incredible? Michael Jordan, Bill Murray, and the Looney Tunes. Off the hook combination.

The Dark Knight: Midnight showing with a bunch of my friends for maybe my most anticipated movie ever. I was ecstatic. Saw it four times more.

Sin City: This was just an incredible movie to see in a theater and one that I went back and saw repeatedly as well.

Also, this is how much of a Batman dork I am. I payed nearly 20 bucks to see I am Legend in IMAX at the AMC theater on 34th street in Manhattan, just so I could see the 5 minute Dark Knight preview. Yeah, that was an awesome experience until I am Legend started.

Wish I had been alive to see in theaters: Original Star Wars trilogy, 2001: A Space Odyssey, All the David Lean epics, The Godfather, all my favorite movies haha. I realized just after I started that this list could go forever.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Brandon, I love going to the theater as well and will continue to do so no matter how unreasonably priced the tickets become. I pray that they never become obsolete in our increasingly “everything on demand” culture. Let’s definitely do a best theater experiences next. I was going to recommend that too.

Great picks. Fun to read. I’m sorry about the way I treated you during Scream 2. I didn’t know it was you behind me!

I was going to put Kazaam on my best theater going experiences haha. What an awful/awesome movie.

I don’t have really any great stories about bad experiences. Mostly, I just remember watching bad movies. I don't know how to rank these, so here they are in random order.

Year One - Caveat emptor. I should have known better. A Miserable experience that made me question whether life is really worth living.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones - Episode I was horrible enough, but this was a different beast entirely. I was young enough to still be excited for this. Thirty seconds in, all excitement was vanquished. Episode III was another bad movie and bad experience. I had just gotten dumped by a girl several hours before I saw it...the movie compounded my misery.

Lady in the Water: I saw this with my friend (and your friend, Brandon) Todd. He’s a great guy to watch movies with, but this was such a piece of shit.

Transformers: I stopped watching the movie after a while and just started staring off into space blankly. It was exponentially more interesting.

Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions - Don’t need to even go into why these were both such awful experiences.

X2: X-Men United - I liked the movie, but had a severe cold and struggled to prevent myself from coughing every thirty seconds. A drag for me and probably for everyone else in the theater. A similar coughing fit happened to my brother during Black Swan, and he almost had to leave the theater but was finally able to contain it. Colds and movie theaters do not mix well.

George of the Jungle - Even as a young kid, I could still identify this as garbage when I saw it. What made it worse was being in a really small, crappy theater with people talking and being obnoxious the whole time.

Kill Bill Vol. 2 - I liked the movie quite a lot, but the sound in the theater (saw it in Myrtle Beach) was INSANELY loud. I can handle loud pretty well...but this was beyond my capacity, especially for a movie.

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius - Don’t remember the movie at all. I was 13 and spent the entirety of it making out with my then girlfriend. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, one of my best friends was with his entire family only a few rows back. We had a nice horribly awkward exchange when the lights in the house came on at the end.

Not in a theater but...Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest - Saw it with my best friends and their kids at a drive-in. I couldn’t hear anything and had no idea what has happening in a movie that is already hard to follow as it is. Oh well, I slept through the ending.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Top 10 worst movie theater experiences

My brother suggested this as a possible top 10 list we could do if anyone is interested. You could do worst experiences as in something happened during the movie (like a cell phone talker) or just terrible movies you saw at the theater. You don't even have to have 10, just the few worst you can think of.

For instance, one of my brother's worst movie theater experiences was while watching Pineapple Express, two cops walked up and down the aisle for a bit before picking out a guy and taking him away.

Another rainy day #12 & 35

I haven’t watched too many movies despite my break because I’ve been too interested in reading Madame Bovary and watching the whole series of The Twilight Zone on NWI with my brother. And I thought I’d see so many movies! Oh's two I did watch recently

Watched The King’s Speech. I’d say a pretty good movie for the most part, but obviously it will be hated for winning the oscars it did. I didn’t think Tom Hooper deserved his awards for the film without seeing it. Having seen it, he definitely did not deserve any award for this. A lot of the framing didn’t work for me, and the scene set-ups were pretty much perfunctory. The guy brought nothing unique or inspired to the film. How did he beat out Fincher? Because most voters for awards are suckers for anything British and feel good. Oh well, the performances are all fine in the film. Colin Firth still should have won everything for A Single Man instead, but the guy is a class act anyway. The movie is fine too, but considering the acclaim it got, it seems incredibly mediocre. But, it’s probably real cool to hate this because it won Best Picture, so I’ll stop seeming so hip and move on.

Also watched All That Jazz (1979). It’s Bob Fosse’s semi-autobiographical look at his difficult time editing his film Lenny and working on his stage production of Chicago. Many would call this self-indulgent and egomanical, but I think it’s great. I love self-awareness and self-criticism in art. This is a bizarre but energetic film featuring an incredible performance by Roy Schneider.
It’s a lot like 8 1/2 and even Synecdoche, NY, in terms of its cynical look at showbiz and art and its use of fantasy and preoccupation with death.

Ben - Good list of movies that work based on their source material. I like the old Alice in Wonderland too. I love Nabokov’s Lolita, but would add Kubrick’s Lolita in place of Lyne’s film which I haven’t seen. I love the Kubrick film (surprise, surprise).

I haven’t read No Country for Old Men, but I’m sure the film is a great adaptation. I liked the film version of The Road that came out the other year.

I usually dislike the movie of a book that I have read first. The few exceptions (off the top of my head) are: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Remains of the Day, Great Expectations (the David Lean version), The Motorcycle Diaries...

I didn’t read The Lord of the Rings books before I saw the movies, which may be why I love the movies so much. I generally dislike all the Harry Potter movies because I read the books first.

I read it after seeing the movie, but Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange is as good as the book, even if the more auspicious ending from the book is discarded in the film.

Oddly enough, I always liked Gone With the Wind the film, then I read the book for a class, loved the book, and started to dislike the movie.

As to underrated films, Brandon...

Synecdoche, NY and The Fountain are criminally underrated. But, I’ve already sung SNY’s praises and will do so for The Fountain in my top 10 of 2006. Also, I could add Eyes Wide Shut, but it seems kind of easy considering all of Kubrick’s movies are initially underrated and then grow in stature. Eyes Wide Shut is another masterpiece by Kubrick and should be regarded as so.

We'd probably all agree that The New World was underrated by critics.

Brandon, If I go by your criteria for an underrated films list, I can’t really think of any great ones. I can only think of comedies because they are usually underrated by critics. I also think of movies I grew up with in the 90s, but those probably aren’t very good movies and the only defense I could make of them is that they have nostalgic value. Most of the other movies I thought of as underrated actually received pretty good reviews, they are just underrated by the public (but that could be so many!)

So, anyway, I could only think of a few movies that critics or institutes didn't really get behind that I like...this half list sucks. I'll try to improve upon it later.

Wet Hot American Summer: Hilarious flick about summer camp from the brilliant/insane minds behind The State. So incredibly underrated. Absurdity at its finest.

Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood: I could quote it all day. I can’t watch Boyz n’ the Hood seriously anymore because of it. Absolutely hilarious. One of the best genre spoof movies. Fantastic jokes that actually land.

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion: No one has to agree with me on this, but I just have to admit that I’m a sucker for any movie that Woody actually acts in (I even liked Scoop because he was in it). This is actually a delightful movie with some great jokes and old school Woody style banter. Certainly one of his better films of the decade.

The Life Aquatic: Generally regarded as Wes Anderson’s least successful effort; it’s actually my favorite of his. I just love Bill Murray. Another fun one to quote.

The Game: It isn't Fincher's best film by a long shot, but it's a solid nightmare thriller and mystery. It's beautiful shot and constructed by Fincher (as expected). Obviously, it has gaping plot holes and you really have to suspend your disbelief to go with it. But I think it works when viewed as a nightmare. Not something that is ever possible, but something that could happen in a dream. The ending is surprising, in that if you know Fincher's films, they rarely end this way.

Sleepy Hollow: This is a pretty great slasher film, and one incredibly beautiful gothic horror film to look at. To me, it's like Bram Stoker's Dracula, in that there are things wrong with it, but it's visual style is so lush for a horror film that I totally adore it.

Perhaps this isn't underrated by critics but: 12 Monkeys. A movie I love and one of the best sci-fi films of the past few decades. I think it's underrated because I don't know enough people who have seen it and love it as much as I do (maybe I don't know enough people).

Sorry, I can't think of any good ones or ballsy ones. I suck. All the underrated lists people have created online that I saw were of movies that I don't like or movies that are actually rated pretty highly. For instance, Is The Sweet Hereafter underrated? Maybe by the general public, but critics pretty much worship that film.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I’m with you, Brandon. Abortion is a tough issue, but one that we should be able to discuss.
Openness and sincerity is the most important part of communication. We don’t need to check ourselves. Cheers to being open to discuss everything and to hating the religious right and any other dogmatic shitheads with all our blogging might! Like I said, I’m with you, brother.

Late term abortions are extremely problematic and not something I am for. I care about protecting potential humans just as I care about the women that give birth to them. We need safe options available for women up until a certain point in the pregnancy, agreed. And we don’t need hypocrites denying women the right to their bodies in the name of “life” when they don’t give a shit about any of the life that is actually around them. I know we can agree on that too.

I agree Art does reflect reality and it’s cool that we can discuss all kinds of issues in life through the vessel of art. I didn’t think you were trying to reproach me; I just didn’t want to seem disingenuous.

Talking politics is an awful task, but brother you can talk to me about them any time. I’m always interested in what you have to say.

Dude, beautiful underrated films list. I’m glad you specified your picks as post 1980. I had something similar in mind when I was thinking of the potential for a list myself. I’m going to get on my own list immediately.

Great picks. Tombstone. Hell yes. I really solid movie.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is awesome. It’s crazy how gritty that one is in comparison to the next two. They lightened the franchise up a bit. But, I still have love for Secret of the Ooze because I loved everything TMNT as a kid. Like most of us.

“It’s Raph. Yeah, a little too Raph.”

Catch Me if You Can is a blast. I dig that one too. It’s hard to turn away from Spielberg. He’s responsible for my and most of our childhoods.

Dumb and Dumber is actually straight up brilliant. Yeah, like many of us, a film I can quote almost entirely from memory, yet will still watch it every weekend that it is on TBS. Something else that made my childhood.

I need to see some of the movies on your list though. Like The Mask of Zorro (I think my dad is big fan of this too), Next Day Air, Ginger Snaps, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (I hear good things).

Hard to argue with any of your picks, my man. I’ll get thinking about mine.

I’m with you too, Jason. I pretty much like or enjoy most of the movies I see too. I find it hard to make lists but do it anyway because....I don’t know why. I never really feel that strongly against most movies that I see (the really bad ones are exceptions). I was telling this to Brandon a while ago. He has these great, emphatic reactions against certain films, and I usually do not. The kid in me still wants to enjoy or be impressed by almost everything.

I need to see The Orphanage. I realized that while making my list. I bet it's great.

Nice selection of Coraline. Imaginative pick, indeed. And Cube. Not a haunted house flick necessarily but haunted in its own way. Wow, I haven’t seen that in forever. Loved it when I saw it as a young lad.

Let me just say, you know a lot more about horror flicks than I do. I dig that. I’m too scared to watch Hellraiser. The VHS box gave me nightmares as a kid.

Ben, Candy is a pretty solid book, but if you love the movie then stick with the movie. I do that with certain movies I love based on books. Keep ‘em separate. If you read The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, you might not like the movie. I pretty much always dislike the movie if I have read the book first; are you the same way? I can never view the movie on its own terms, for better or worse.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Oh seven

Lisa, welcome back! Hope you had a nice vacation.

Glad you have a lot of love for Laura Linney too. I still need to see her show dealing with cancer (though, I agree, a tough issue to deal with). She’s awesome in everything. You Can Count on Me is one of my favorite movies, and she is astonishing in it. It’s amazing how realistic she is in everything. So impressive.

Thanks for supplying your own haunted house list. I haven’t seen House on Haunted Hill in a long time and don’t really remember it. I should see it again. I saw 1408 and had similar reaction to you and Brandon, though was disappointed that it wasn’t scarier. You should definitely see The Changeling for this upcoming Halloween. Great picks though.

Sorry about writing the wrong title and swindling you, Brandon. I realized that I previously had 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days at number 5 on my top 10 list. That’s how I got confused. Shameful.

There Will Be Blood is extremely risky. I agree. It just goes wild and is completely unfettered. It all builds towards that operatic ending that is just certifiably weird and ballsy and ends being brilliant. I did know that the shooting the fire sequence was in real time. Amazing, right? Sooo much risk involved, but so much talent involved to make sure it happened perfectly. It’s funny that the smoke from that fire traveled into the shooting location of No Country for Old Men. Two brilliant films connected by fire and smoke.

I completely agree with everything you said about No Country for Old Men. Perfection indeed.

Yes, my favorite killing scene in Zodiac is the one in broad daylight as well. It’s very disturbing for all the reasons you gave. It’s so natural...scary natural. There’s nothing cinematic about it to remove you from it. It’s just there, plain as day, and absolutely frightening.

I can understand wanting something creepier for the ending of Sunshine. I was hoping for something a bit more mysterious and frightening myself. But I wasn’t that disappointed because everything else was so impressive that I didn’t care.

Haunted spaceship film. Hell yes. Shit would be awesome.

Sorry about my glib response about pro-lifers. My Bill Hicks anti-pro-lifer side kicked in. I agree with you that it’s important for each side to imagine what the other is thinking. That is how you can come together. I’ll reserve all my hatred for the religious right for a different blog.
I don’t think you are arguing this, but I just want to make this clear. Just because you are pro-choice doesn’t mean you are somehow anti-life. I think that is where 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days falls. It cares about life, but obviously expresses the need to have a safe option for abortion available. I haven’t seen Lake of Fire, but have seen some of the clips with Chomsky discussing the issue and I’m with him all the way. Surprising, right?

I looked up Offside (I’m ashamed that I hadn’t even heard of it) after seeing it on your list. I’m very interested in seeing it now. I’m enormous soccer fan, and the whole idea behind it sounds very powerful indeed. I’ll check it out for sure.

Superbad is consistently hilarious. I agree. And I agree about what you said about Death Proof. It is bat-shit and does go all out. I liked it for those reasons but disliked it for dragging a bit. I should see it again though. Maybe I’d like it more now.

I haven’t seen Hold That Ghost...thanks for spoiling the ending haha. Kidding. I need to catch more Abbott and Costello pictures.

We will probably disagree more about 2006. Oh well, the honeymoon can’t last forever...

Oh, and I agree John. Cagney is awesome. Can’t imagine anyone not digging him.
I saw The Bank Dick a while back and thought it was fun. That’s my only Fields exposure.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

4 months not 5

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days

I was writing 5 months, 3 weeks, 2 days. Sorry. Don't know why I was doing that. I just changed it in my posts.

2007 part two

Shit, My Number four film of 2007 is Sunshine. I just went back and added it. Don’t know how I forgot it.

There Will Be Blood: The greatest film of the decade. No doubt about it. It will be looked back upon as an American classic in years to come. A brilliant, colossal film featuring perhaps the finest performance I’ve ever seen by an actor from Mr. Day-Lewis. I love this movie and re-watch it often. The first time I saw it, I didn’t really say anything about it for like a week. Then one day I just went up to my brother (who saw it with me and also hadn’t spoken much of it) and told him that the film as a masterpiece. He agreed. We both hadn’t stopped thinking of it.
The finale is so bizarre and wild that you are kind of stunned after you first see it. I love the finale. I don’t know if we’ll ever get another movie like this one.

No Country for Old Men: I agree; this is the Coen’s finest achievement indeed. Instantly I knew it after I saw it. I was stunned by it. It still stuns me. Perfectly executed. I don’t have a single gripe with it only intense admiration and earnest devotion. This might be my third or fourth best of the decade behind TWBB and Synecdoche (The New World is in that mix too).

Zodiac: A meticulous film, absolutely. It’s what draws you in and makes you as interested as the characters. What an exciting movie. Thoroughly fascinating. I love it more every time I see it too. I think it’s Fincher’s best. The murder scenes with the actual Zodiac are some of the most unsettling ever committed to film. I think it will grow more in stature too. It should stand along side All the President’s Men as among the most exciting investigation films ever made.

Sunshine: An awesome movie. One of my favorite Sci-Fi films of the decade. I love the build up and even don’t mind the ending. I was with it the whole time and dug the hell out of it. Brandon, my enjoyment of it was probably aided by Todd, Graham and Jesse also loving it to death too. We had a blast watching it.

Ratatouille: Pixar’s finest. Agreed. Beautiful movie.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: Beautiful to look at, but it’s emotional grip got a hold of me and I thought it was beautiful all around. I thought it would be shallow when I first heard about it, but then I was absolutely in love with it after I saw it for the first time. I’ve seen it a few times since and it always gets to me. I can understand not being caught up in it though. We all have different reactions to things.

Eastern Promises: Yeah man. Cronenberg has silently gone about his business this last decade and established himself as a force to be reckoned with. What an incredible film with lots of grit and awesome performances. I haven’t watched it in a while, but I would love to see it again.

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days: Another gritty one. It is a thriller film, and it’s expertly handed. Mysterious without being exploitative and beautifully shot with some excruciating long takes. You’re right, Brandon, though I won’t even try to imagine what pro-lifers think of anything.

Knocked Up: Apatow put it best when he said that if she had gotten an abortion there would have been no movie. So there’s that. Nothing else behind it. This is one of my favorite comedies of the decade. Hilarious and very well done. I connected with it a little more than Superbad (though I think that is also great and it could have easily made the list). I think because I love Paul Rudd and find everything he says to be hysterical.

The Savages: I LOVE Laura Linney. Know that about me before judging this pick. I think she’s the best actress around. She’s amazing as always in this film. Then add Phil Hoffman and you’ve got two wonderful actors going at it. It’s on the list because of them alone. I didn’t find it smug though. I was too busy being in awe of two of my favorite actors being together on screen.

Brandon, thanks for your responses my man. We actually agreed quite a bit about the great 2007. I haven’t seen Offside, but if you have it higher then TWBB, I need to see it. Great picks though.

I did not like Death Proof that much. Actually I loved the opening and then found the second half to drag, but thought the ending was great and inspired. I remember thinking that the dialogue wasn’t up to Tarantino’s usual standards and being kind of annoyed. But I saw it in theaters during the awesome Grindhouse double feature with Planet Terror, and maybe my patience was running thin by the time the second half of the movie kicked in. I think Death Proof would have benefited from opening that double feature because it requires more patience than Planet Terror, which is just hilarious and energized. But, still, watching both of those movies in a theater with the fake trailers is one of my favorite movie going experiences. A lot of fun.

The Assassination of Jesse James was close to making my list. It would be first honorable mention with Superbad. I only saw it once though and fell asleep at the tail end because I watched it really late with a friend. Then I had to watch the rest the next day and breaking up a film always steals from its power. A beautiful film though.

I didn’t see Hot Fuzz. Probably should have.

I fucking HATE I’m Not There. I’m an enormous Dylan fan. I’ve read all about him and have seen most of the films about him. This one just annoyed the hell out of me. I stopped watching it after 45 minutes. I couldn’t stand it. I re-watched No Direction Home instead and listened to Blonde on Blonde on vinyl. I’d rather have the real Dylan then some ridiculously stupid bastardization of his life. This and Across the Universe are two films about my favorite musicians that I wish didn’t exist and actively hate. Glad you hate this one too, Brandon. It’s garbage.

I didn’t see Southland Tales because I heard it was shit. It looked awful. It sounded awful. By all accounts, it was god awful. Not interested.


And, for those not interested in haunted house's my top 10 films of 2007. An incredible year for movies. One I will always look back on and yearn for. I'll do a longer post where I say something about each in a little bit, but I just wanted to get this out there for now.

1. There Will Be Blood
2. No Country for Old Men
3. Zodiac
4. Sunshine
5. Ratatouille
6. The Diving Bell and The Butterfly
7. Eastern Promises
8. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
9. Knocked Up
10. The Savages

This post is haunted

The haunted house film is one of my favorite cinematic sub-genres. I love the atmosphere they create. It’s one of tremendous fright and unease, but also of great mystery. And the idea that you might be imagining everything–the conflict between wanting and not wanting to accept what you experience as real. It fucks with your psyche, and that is scary in itself. And I love the idea of it all happening where you live. The place where you are supposed to be safe. Horrifying.

I personally don’t believe in ghosts because I’ve never had an experience with anything like one. But I’ve heard a plethora of stories from friends and I love to hear them. One of my best friend’s house is supposedly haunted, and he can tell some mean ghost stories. I’ve slept there numerous times and have never experienced anything, but many other people have. I really want to have an experience just so I could believe...but I’d probably shit myself with terror if anything ever really happened to me. Ghosts are scary.

So, here’s my list of my favorite haunted house movies. For the sake of this list, a house may include anything a person lives in that is haunted haha. I’m only going off of the movies I have seen...If there are any great ones I haven’t seen or included, let me know! Brandon and Jason, since you are horror fans you guys probably know better than I do. This list would have been better timed around Halloween, but oh well. Instead it's a nice Easter haunted house list.

1. The Shining (Kubrick, 1980) - I wrote a little about this recently in response to Lisa. But I will reiterate. Still the scariest thing I ever saw as a kid. And the greatest horror film of all time. I’m a little biased with my unconditional love for Kubrick, so there is a only slim chance that a film of his woudn’t top any genre list I am making. Regardless, the reason this is the best haunted house (more haunted hotel but whatever) film is because of its menace and peerless sense of atmosphere. Kubrick was a genius at manipulating space. Every shot feels evil. It’s terribly unsettling to watch. And I’ve always loved the idea of a house/hotel being able to possess and inflict real harm (à la Amityville Horror and Burnt Offerings). Ghost stories are awesome, but once they become physically endagering they are terrifying. And Jack Nicholson is already crazy as it is...possessing him is just a recipe for disaster.

2. The Haunting (Wise, 1963) - Probably thee definitive haunted house movie. One the great horror films too. For the time this came out, it’s incredible how scary and effective it is. It creeped the hell out of me when I saw it only a few years ago. Brilliant camera work and terrifying use of sound. How absolutely creepy is that stairwell? Yikes...

3. The Changeling (Medak, 1980) - Totally fucking scary. The seance scene gets a lot of attention and rightfully so. But the scariest moment in the entire movie comes when John listens to the seance recording. When Joseph’s voice starts kicking in frantically and the camera starts moving through the halls of the house....I shudder just thinking about it. Perfectly executed haunted house movie, relying heavily on atmosphere and the imagination. Wonderful steadycam work. Just don’t watch it alone unless you want to be up all night.

4. The Innocents (Clayton, 1961) - A great adaptation of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. Gorgeous and eery cinematography. A very unsettling and great picture. Kids are always creepy, am I right?

5. Poltergeist (Hooper, 1982) - Maybe I thought less of E.T. when I saw it because I identified more with this other Spielberg production from the same year. This a really fun movie with some awesome horror scenes and genuine scares. The clown scene used to get to me. Love the decomposing face in the mirror and the single take movement of the table set from floor to ceiling. The VHS box of this used to terrify me when I’d see it in the video store as a kid.

6. Beetlejuice (Burton, 1988) - Not really scary, but awesome and fun. I remember liking this as a kid even if I thought it was scary at parts (I was scared of everything as a kid). It’s still pretty great. Our first full length treat to Burton’s now iconic gothic style.

7. The Devil’s Backbone (Del Toro, 2001) - One of the better horror films of the last decade. Works because it is creepy, actually scary, and interested in other stories and historical themes along with the ghost story. Del Toro, as with Pan’s Labyrinth, does a great job balancing genres to make a beautiful film.

8. The Others (Amenabar, 2001) - One of the better horror films of the last decade too. A really well executed ghost story, and an interesting take on the haunted house concept. Why do we rarely get a film like this and have a new Saw film shit out every year instead?

9. The Amityville Horror (Rosenberg, 1979 - Probably doesn’t live up to the real stories behind the house, but still a solid depiction of one of the most iconic haunted houses in America. This one’s pretty well known, so what more is there really to say. Didn’t see the remake.

10. The Legend of Hell House (Hough, 1973) - Basically the same premise as The Haunting, but a great companion piece to go along with it. Weird, atmospheric and filled with wonderful sets. It’s a fun movie despite it’s kind of lame ending.

Oh, no! I forgot to make room for The Haunted Mansion with Eddie Murphy!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Source Code Redux

Brandon, please by all means come after me. You are allowed to break my balls and give me a hard time. I may be anxious when I post but that’s because I’m insecure. Challenging me will bring me out of my shell and get some solid debate going. I wasn’t complaining about you coming after me. Keep it up. I’ll try to do the same against you as well. We are friends enough that I’m pretty sure we can handle it.

You’re a sucker for liking Benjamin Button as much as you do though. haha kidding. I want to like it a lot too. I need to see it again.

I can’t disagree too much with you arguments against Revolutionary Road. I still like it. I might have to re-watch it to get a better sense of it though.

I didn’t think you were advocating for poverty porn as a title. I was criticizing the term in general. I’m definitely not a fan of buzzword descriptive bullshit like that either.

John, interesting take on Source Code. I'm glad you posted on it because it got me thinking about it more. Of course it is a silly premise. I think you have to suspend your disbelief instantly, not just for the ending. You either buy into it from the beginning or reject it entirely. The jump from the source code scenario to alternative timelines/realities makes no sense, but at that point, I think you are already with the film or you are not.

I think you are right, the ending is wish fulfillment. It’s cheesy as hell too. I didn’t necessarily like the ending, but I was surprised by how kindhearted it was. Yes, it could have been more kindhearted if Sean Fentress had been saved by Colter sacrificing himself in some way. But Fentress was dead from the beginning. Would you rather have had Colter not save anyone on the train because he didn’t want to take over another man’s body? In that scenario, everyone is dead just as they already were. Fentress has no chance for survival from the beginning. He’s not even sacrificed for the sake of Colter and everyone else’s survival because he is already dead. Colter uses Fentress’ memory as a vessel to save other people’s lives. If he can’t save Fentress, it doesn’t matter because Fentress is dead. Everyone can either remain dead or everyone but one can come back to life. There’s nothing at stake in this decision except life. No one is being killed.

The film affirms life because it cares about bringing back all these people. The alternative reality ending makes no sense, but that just shows what risk Jones was willing to go to to save as many lives as he could in his fictional world. He cared so much about all his characters that he was willing to go to ridiculous heights. I’m not saying that this is a great decision on his part. I’m only saying that it is surprisingly compassionate.

The scene where the comedian tells joke to his fellow passengers falls flat, but it is indicative of the film’s compassion. Even right when the plug is pulled on Colter and the train freezes, the camera does a pan of everyone’s face in the compartment. Why do this? Because the film cares about human life, and it is trying to communicate that to you.

John, I understand and appreciate your criticism entirely. But I’m going to stick by my original feeling that the film is indeed compassionate.

Brandon, weren’t we saying that the sequel to Source Code should be a straight up romantic comedy about Colter as Fentress in his new life with Christina? haha That would be so terribly awesome. I can see the trailer for it now. So stupid, so cheesy, and with Jeffrey Wright reprising his role but this time as a best friend character.

top 10 haunted house films first?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Synecdoche, New York

John and Ben, thanks for your comments on the list. Looking at your top 10 John, I realize I haven't seen most of them. I saw Mister Lonely but don't remember it too well. I probably watched it too late at night. I forgot about In Bruges. That was awesome. I should have edited my list better and accounted for things I have watched since I made it.
Ben, I saw Wendy and Lucy and really liked it. My old girlfriend loved it and I hate her now, so I still have lingering resentments towards anything she likes. Petty, I know...but what can you do. Love is cruel like that. Also, I haven’t seen the film Candy, but I read the book. Pretty intense.

Because you asked for it:

Synecdoche, New York is seemingly indescribable at first. It’s daunting to watch as it is, let alone to write about. It defies simple categorization, brief synopsis, and unifying analysis. It isn’t meant to be placed in a box and wrapped up neatly without anything missing or left over. It’s supposed to be baffling and undecipherable, at least to some degree. It’s like all truly great works of art in that it cannot be summed up in one description but needs to be analyzed and argued over for centuries. And even then it won’t be fully realized. There in lies it’s majesty. It’s a great puzzle that can be put together numerous ways and yet it always eludes completion. But I think it is worth trying to put together even if it never produces a whole.

I got an A on the paper I wrote on the film a few years back. My professor himself was so bewildered by the film that he said he would at least give me a B+ for trying to write about it. I don’t know why I was so ambitious to write about it. Maybe because I wanted to try and make sense of it so that I could express why it was such a masterpiece. Maybe because I wanted to watch it five or six times and the paper gave me a good excuse to do so. Reading this paper again, I think it kind of sucks. It’s amazing how much you develop as a writer even in just two years. Oh well, there are some decent ideas in there, but I would probably do a better job writing it today. Please, go easy on me. Oh and the thing is 11 pages but it still only scratches the surface. Enjoy or cringe (I think this is the unedited version so there are probably mistakes):

Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008) explores the cinematic space of subjective reality by entering Caden Cotard’s mind. Kaufman progresses the film from an objective world of the everyday into a subjective world of the surreal. He does this to portray reality realistically as a manifestation of the subject’s consciousness but also to engage the viewer on a fantastical level. The transformation of an objective world into a subjective one is done to juxtapose the two differing representations of reality and also to produce the Freudian concept of “the uncanny” in the us, the audience. It is this sense of the uncanny that gives the film its haunting and horrifying resonance.

The subjective, for the sake of the film, will be defined as reality that is “perceived” by the subject. It takes into account the fantasias, exaggerations, dreams, and nightmares of the subject. Conversely, the objective will be defined as reality that is independent of the mind. It presents the world of the everyday and distances us from the inner workings of the subject(s). Film is generally an objective medium. What one character experiences can be experienced by any other character, and typically there is no consideration for changing perspectives or subjectivity. This lack of subjectivity is ultimately unrealistic. Film often presents an objective, privileged position or space that can never be attained by any subject outside of it. We, as subjects, only experience reality as our consciousness dictates. We cannot experience the objective but can only imagine it as something outside ourselves, yet film is largely concerned with presenting this imagined objectivity. In an interview, Charlie Kaufman discusses objectivity in film: “The whole idea of literal realism [in film]’s all a contrivance and a convention that we accept...but, when you break them down, they don’t look like real life, even those that are pretending to” (Kaufman). The importance of subjective reality is overlooked in films that rely on the objective as a dominating perspective or experience. However, subjectivity is essential to understanding reality. “Subjectivity is a real property of experience; it is sui generis and irreducible to other kinds of properties; it is essentially and exclusively a first-person phenomenon, and it is the key to understanding consciousness” (Biro, 115). Indeed, in an interview about the film, Kaufman hints at the importance of subjectivity in film. When discussing Synecdoche, New York, he states: “It’s an exploration of the inner world through trying to understand what’s happening outside of yourself, which is what I think we do. We constantly put the exterior world into stories that come from inside us. That’s how we organize things. That’s what we try to do to make sense of this very confusing existence we have. Again, we think this is reality: the projection of ourselves onto the outside world, all of it in fact, down to what we see. I think it’s really interesting that visually the world doesn’t exist. It only exists as our brain’s interpretation” (Kaufman). This notion of the existence of the world as “our brain’s interpretation” is key to understanding the space represented by Synecdoche, New York.

In Synecdoche, New York, Kaufman progresses the narrative and cinematic space from an objective world in which the subject is a part into a world that is entirely subjective. Kaufman does this by shifting the film’s perspective from outside Caden’s mind to entirely within Caden’s mind and imagination. The juxtaposition of the objective in the beginning of the film with the subjective in the latter portion of the film is partly utilized by Kaufman to highlight the difference between the two. Ultimately, he wants the viewer to judge which is more realistic. However, the distinctions between the objective and the subjective are not obvious. Kaufman deliberately blends the objective and subjective so that the viewer is unsure of which is which. Even in the beginning of the film, Kaufman deliberately mixes subjective scenes with objective ones to give a sense of unease and also to foreshadow the film’s eventual abandonment of all objective reality. The objective reality in the beginning of the film is established by several initial scenes in the film. These scenes, for the most part, exist outside the world of Caden’s mind. We can essentially characterize these scenes as the commonplace or everyday; they are not influenced by Caden’s perspective. For instance, in the opening of the film Caden wakes up, gets the mail, and eats breakfast; all of this is objectively possible and seemingly prosaic. Kaufman emphasizes the banality of these chores by making days pass by impossibly quick. Caden looks at his paper the first time and sees that the date is October 17th. He then looks at milk carton with the date October 20th and exclaims that the milk has expired. Following this, a man on the radio shouts, “Happy Halloween Schnectedy,” and Caden looks at his paper again only to reveal the date as November 2nd. Kaufman does this to show Caden’s mornings as routine; Caden does the same thing everyday, and changing the dates is a way to exaggerate this routine. Kaufman also does this to give the viewer Caden’s perspective of this routine. Kaufman introduces this subjective reality subtly to show the viewer that Caden’s perspective is essential to the film and that it will often manifest itself as the surreal. The viewer knows that it is Caden’s perspective because this date change is objectively impossible. However, the film does not yet fully enter Caden’s mind; instead, it remains grounded in the objective, at least initially. The objective is further shown when Caden goes to work and the viewer is introduced to Hazel. When Caden is rehearsing his play something goes wrong, but it seems like a common problem when working on a set; it’s objectively possible that the set might malfunction; reality has not become distorted yet. Likewise, when Caden first talks to Hazel in the film, their conversation is flirtatious but not out of the ordinary; it seems like an objectively realistic conversation. These scenes, in which the ordinary occurs, are the objective in the film. They introduce the world outside of Caden’s mind so that when we do enter Caden’s mind, it is all the more glaring and surreal.

The subjective is melded into the beginning of the film in several scenes, but these subjective scenes merely give Caden’s perceptions and are grounded in objectivity. Examples of these subjective scenes are those when Caden visits doctors. Every scene in which Caden visits a doctor is subjective; we see Caden’s perceptions of the doctors and the events. The first visit Caden makes to a doctor, after the faucet hits his head, displays Caden’s perception of the doctor. Caden’s fear of death and hypochondria influence his perception of the doctor. Caden imagines that the doctor can give him no answers but only issue him another examination. The remainder of his visits to doctors are similar. Caden visits an opthemologist who inaccurately tells him that “the eyes are part of the brain, afterall” and who also issues another examination. These scenes where doctors give no answers but only offer more questions are products of Caden’s fear of illness and death. The doctors are excessively callous and ambiguous because Caden perceives them as such. However, after this visits to the doctor, we are returned to the objective, such as with Caden’s car ride with Adele and Olive or his work on Death of a Salesmen.

Eventually, the film becomes completely subjective. The film is no longer grounded in objectivity but exists solely within the mind of Caden Cotard. When this occurs, Kaufman essentially ceases to direct the film as an objective narrative but lets Caden’s mind dictate the rest of the film as a subjective narrative. Thus, we are exposed to whims of Caden’s mind; we see his dreams, nightmares, fantasies, and distorted perceptions. When this transformation occurs is difficult to decipher because Kaufman never tells the viewer when the perspectives change. It is up to the viewer to distinguish between the two. However, one way of deciphering between the objective and the subjective is through Caden’s art. In the beginning of the film, there is an audience for his play, but there is no audience for his theatre piece in the warehouse. We know that Caden’s Death of a Salesman production exists objectively because there is an audience, and we know the theatre piece in the warehouse exists within Caden’s mind because no audience can possibly see it. Thus, once Caden begins the production in the warehouse, we have entered Caden’s mind. Possibly, the last objective event occurs when Caden receives the MacArthur Grant. After this, the film enters into Caden’s mind and we see the world solely through his perspective without any objective grounding or framing. Because the subsequent film takes place within Caden’s mind, it is impossible to differentiate between what is real and what is fantasy. If we view the Grant as the last objective event in the film, then we can say that Caden does use the money to try and make a theatre piece that is true to life. Beyond that, we cannot say what Caden actually does or what actually happens. We can only say that the rest of the film is subject to his perceptions of reality.

One way Kaufman shows that the remainder of the film exists within Caden’s mind is through the impossible. Kaufman allows events to occur that are objectively impossible but subjectively possible. The warehouse Caden rents to make his theatre piece is impossibly large. Caden builds a life-size replica of New York City inside a warehouse in New York City. This replica has its own warehouse with another life-size replica of the first replica and this goes on ad infinitum. This is obviously impossible. The only way it is possible is if it exists in Caden’s mind. Thus, the warehouse and the entire theatre piece Caden creates in it, including the actors, are figments of Caden’s imagination, but that does not make them unreal. Kaufman deliberately makes the scenes within the warehouse realistic. He does this by making the sets realistic and by having many of the actors be real people from the objective scenes in the beginning of the film. By treating the world in Caden’s mind as if it were the objective world and creating a cinematic space out of it, Kaufman argues that the subjective is just as real as the objective.

Furthermore, Kaufman uses the impossible in Caden’s perception of his daughter, Olive. After Adele and Olive leave Caden for Berlin, he never sees either of them again. We know this because Caden’s association with them after this becomes increasingly impossible. Firstly, Caden reads Olive’s diary and receives constant updates on her life through this. Olive left the diary behind when she went to Berlin; thus, everything Caden reads in it is imagined. When Caden reads it, he imagines horrible things are happening to Olive. The imagination has the power to torment because it is limitless in possibility. So, first Caden imagines Olive is covered in tattoos and is an erotic dancer. In his imagination, he fantasizes about visiting her as she dances. We know this is imagined because Caden sees an advertisement for Olive’s dancing while still in New York City. However, this is the New York City of Caden’s mind, so it is subjectively possible that Berlin is merely a part of this perceived city. Because the City contains Caden’s entire perceived reality, he can visit Olive without actually visiting her. When he sees her dancing, he screams to her and pounds on the glass that separates them, but she does not respond. This scene has the symbolism and horror of a nightmare. Symbolically, the glass represents the fact that he can not see her again; her tattooed body and indifference to his cries represent her imagined self in Caden’s mind; Caden’s cries to her represent his horror at not being able to reach her. Ultimately, the nightmare is that Caden sees Olive but cannot reach her. Similarly, when Caden visits Olive’s death bed, the scene has the same nightmare qualities. Symbolically, the language barrier that exists between them again represents Caden’s inability to reach Olive; he can talk to her but only through translation. Likewise, Olive’s misperception about Caden abandoning her to become a homosexual represents the imagined perception Caden thinks Olive has of him. Because he has been able to reach her, his horror is that she thinks he has abandoned her and will not forgive him. The fact that the tattoos kill Olive only strengthens the idea that it is a nightmare. Since the tattoos represent Caden’s terror over what he imagines has been done to Olive, his terror ultimately kills her in his mind. Thus, Caden’s entire relationship with Olive after she leaves Berlin is imagined; his scenes with her are merely nightmares. Kaufman does not tell us that they are nightmares because we are solely within Caden’s mind; therefore, Kaufman cannot use the objective to navigate us. We are simply observers to Caden’s reality.

Because Caden never sees Olive or Adele again, Caden’s fantasies about cleaning Adele’s apartment also never occur objectively. Subsequently, the character Ellen does not exist objectively. Kaufman himself suggests this in an interview when he says, “Ellen doesn’t exist except as a figment of Caden’s imagination” (Kaufman). Indeed, Ellen is an adopted role imagined by Caden so that he can fantasize a relationship between he and Adele. In Caden’s mind he knows he cannot see Adele again, so he creates the alternate persona of Ellen as a means to be closer to Adele, even if just fantastically. We know Caden’s visit to Adele’s apartment is fantasy because we never see her in the apartment. When Caden initially enters her apartment, the shower is still running and the coffee is still hot. Adele should still be there, but she is not because Caden can’t even imagine meeting her again; he can only imagine cleaning up after her. The idea that Caden cleans up after Adele recalls the scene from earlier in the film when Caden is scrubbing his house after Adele leaves him. In that scene Caden cleans so he can remove Adele from the objective world (i.e. the house), and when he cleans her apartment, he is trying to remove her from his subjective world (i.e. his memory).

Along with the impossible, Kaufman also portrays subjectivity through memory. Some subjective scenes use the memory of objective ones to show that Caden’s memory is creating a fantasy. For instance, Olive’s voice as an older German woman is the same voice Caden hears on the radio at the beginning of the film. Caden uses the memory of the voice to imagine what Olive’s voice would sound like as an adult. Likewise, some characters in Caden’s warehouse, such as Hazel and Claire, are based on Caden’s memories. For instance, Hazel becomes a part of Caden’s theatre piece but only as her remembered self. Throughout the film, Caden calls Hazel’s house and she has the same message on her answering machine because Caden remembers it. As a character in his fantasy world, Caden tries to make her realistic by imagining her aging appearance. However, since he only has the memory of her being young, he overcompensates and she ages too quickly. Still, she only exists within his memory. Caden tells her, “you’ve been part of me forever.” In fact, the memory of her has been part of him forever; Caden just uses the memory of her to construct her in his present reality. Similarly, in the last scene of the film, Caden uses his memory to construct his own death. When Caden emerges from Adele’s apartment and walks through deserted, smoke-filled streets, this directly recalls a vision Caden had of his death in the beginning of the film. When Caden watches television in Adele’s art room, a commercial about cancer forces him to confront his death. He does so by seeing a vision of himself on television as an old man walking through deserted, smoke-filled streets. Thus, when Caden’s death does come, his perception of it recalls the memory of his vision. Correspondingly, the woman that sits with Caden as he dies is the woman from the cancer commercial he sees in the aforementioned scene. The memory of the woman remains with Caden, and he imagines her being with him so he doesn’t have to die alone.

Ultimately, Kaufman lets the film enter Caden’s mind to create a realistic depiction of the subjective. In Caden’s mind, we receive a comprehensive view of subjective reality. In this reality dreams, nightmares, visions, and memories all coalesce into one narrative. The subjective view may seem disjointed, confusing, and unexplained, but that is the way it exists within the mind. In the mind, there are no objective answers but merely perceptions; Kaufman lets the perceptions unfold on screen without giving any objective explanation. We cannot escape our subjective realities no matter how hard we try to imagine a world outside our minds. By keeping us in Caden’s mind and never returning to the objective, Kaufman reinforces this idea.

Kaufman juxtaposes the objective and the subjective to show that they are both real and also to produce an “uncanny” feeling within us. The beginning of the film is grounded in objectivity partly because Kaufman knows the subsequent transition into the the subjective will frighten us. For Freud “the uncanny” is something that is “familiar” but unfamiliar; this ambivalence produces fright in us (Freud, 217). Freud states that “an uncanny effect is often and easily produced when the distinction between imagination and reality is effaced...” (221). Kaufman “effaces” “the distinction between imagination and reality” by leaving the objective world for a subjective one and by not lucidly communicating this transition. In the beginning of the film, Kaufman keeps the film grounded in the objective despite entering the subjective occasionally emerging. However, as soon the film is no longer grounded in the objective, we are faced with a world that is familiar, because it looks like the objective world, but is also unfamiliar, because it is objectively impossible. This frightening feeling we experience from our ambivalence is the uncanny. Freud also described the uncanny as a touching upon the unconscious; the uncanny can communicate repressed desires. Lacan similarly discussed the uncanny as a feeling of anxiety that communicates “the Real,” or the impossible realm of lack that is without signification (Lacan). Whether the uncanny produces fear or anxiety in us or suggests what is repressed or what cannot be signified within us, Kaufman wants us to feel all of this so that we confront our own subjectivity. This “uncanny” feeling reminds us that we too cannot escape our distinct subjectivity and that Caden’s problem of trying to understand the world objectively despite being stuck in his own mind is our problem too.

Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York embraces the subjective in a way that is entirely realistic. Through entering Caden’s mind, we are subjected to all of his dreams, fantasies, and perceptions. They may not all exist objectively, but they do exist within his mind. Since reality is a subjective experience, what happens in our minds is entirely real. What happens objectively and subjectively are equally real; primacy should not be given to either one. Indeed, when Kaufman shifts the narrative from an objective reality to Caden’s distinct subjective reality, he does this to emphasize the similarities and differences between the objective and subjective but also to force us to challenge our own perceptions of reality. Our reality is entirely defined by us. We can never know the world outside ourselves. Can we come to terms with this or will we destroy ourselves in pursuit of the outside like Caden?

So there it is. My attempt to make sense of the movie, with a lot of things left out (including how beautiful acted, directed, shot, and written it is). You don’t have to buy the Freudian/Lacanian bullshit. That was merely added to make the paper seem more academic. I do think SNY is best viewed as film that embraces the subjective human experience just like Fellini’s 8 1/2. It may not always make sense, but neither does the mind. My advice is to just go with the film and let it take you were it does. When I first saw the film, I was devastated by it. I remember sitting in the theater feeling like an anvil had just come down upon me. But after numerous subsequent viewings, I still feel melancholic watching it, but now I’m too busy being in awe of its beauty and intelligence. It really is one of the most beautiful and brilliant films I have ever seen. It definitely is the horror film that Kaufman intended it to be. But it is so much more than that. There hasn’t been a film that has articulated the crisis of our existence this brilliantly since The Seventh Seal.

It’s also important to remember that Kaufman is a fan of Samuel Beckett. I think this film is meant to be surreal, absurd, bizarre, and sometimes incomprehensible in the tradition of Beckett’s theater. It doesn’t always have to be lucid, but it can still be beautiful.

Ultimately, SNY rewards multiple viewings. I’ve seen it nearly ten times, and I still catch something new each time I see it. After so many viewings, I still feel as if I’m nowhere near touching upon its meaning or greatness. I probably never will. The word "masterpiece" is an understatement.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

'08 response response

I get extremely anxious whenever I post a top 10 anything on here. I’m always afraid of being exposed for the true charlatan that I am and being cast out. I don’t have a shred of self-confidence.

Sorry John for suggesting you didn’t like Synecdoche, NY. If you did, that’s awesome. I just remember seeing you say that you didn’t like Kaufman on the basis of Adaptation from the debate you were having with Brandon on Funny Games/Let the Right One In. That was all my comment was a reference to.

Brandon, thanks for responding. I still need to see some of the films from your list. I wanted to see A Christmas Tale. It’s on NWI. I should watch it. From what I’ve heard, it would probably make my list. I should watch Benjamin Button again. I can’t comment on it fully until I do. It’s been too long. All your other picks are great. No problems with any of them, from what I have seen. Shit, I forgot about Happy-Go-Lucky. That probably could have made my list. I took my list that I made in 2009 and wrote about it. I haven’t edited it since. I probably forgot other films as well.

In response to your comments about some of my picks:

WALL-E could have been higher on my list. Oh well.

The Dark Knight. I agree about the third act. That was my problem with the film, as well. Ledger absolutely carries the film, and to have him sidelined is a mistake. Yet, I do forgive this completely. I love this movie. Like I said, a miracle. Coming off of the Joel Schumacher franchise destruction, I never thought I’d see a Batman film with this much ambition.

You’re right about the overuse of white teachers with multi-cultural students. Maybe I look past it being white...because I can relate haha. But the idea of having a non-white teacher dealing with suburban white kids is pretty damn interesting.

Why am I a sucker for liking Revolutionary Road? I admit upfront that it is a pure acting spectacle. That’s how I enjoyed it and that’s how it made my list. I wouldn’t defend this film with my life, but I do appreciate the hell out of its performances. Sometimes the performances alone can carry a film. I would easily concede to your arguments against the story of the film, but still dig it for its acting. Though, I do think it’s different than American Beauty or other films about suburban secrets because of its time period. In the 50s, marriage and suburban homelife was much more idealized than it is today. It was the culture of conformity and homogenization, and the Cold War politics of presenting an idealized America. I think this is a film that is interested with setting itself in that milieu of Cold War culture. It probably is self-important, but it is still better than American Beauty because it relies less on pretense. I think you’re letting your hatred of American Beauty influence you too much here (though I can sort of understand that).

I was being sarcastic about mixing Ballast with Winter’s Bone on the basis of poverty. Sorry that doesn’t come across well through typing. I don’t appreciate either one of those films as spectacles on poverty. I like them for what else they have to say. Ballast is really solid because it is moving and tender. It’s sad not because of its setting but because of the relationships between the characters. Poverty porn? No way. When did empathizing with fellow human beings become pornography?

I’m going to get working on that Synecdoche, NY post. I wrote a 10 page paper on it for a class a couple years back. I have a lot to say on it.

Brandon, let’s definitely do those lists if you are interested. I’ll get thinking about them right away.

Also, interesting thoughts on 127 Hours. I really liked it, but can understand your points of criticism. I think I like Danny Boyle much more than you do, and generally dig his style. The film really worked for me, but I think it helped being in a theater watching it because it made it seem more intimate. I only truly cringed in the arm cutting scene when he cut the tendon. Yikes. Also, I agree: what’s the point of wondering what Herzog’s version of the film would have been? Focus on the film at hand and take it for what it is.

Good Ol' 2008

Welcome back, Jason. I love seeing new posts from everyone. Film club is always an exciting spark in my otherwise uneventful day.

The title is the absolute hardest part of film club. And for anything else either. I can never think of good song titles, or good story titles, or good poem titles, and so on.

I wish I owned Twin Peaks on DVD. S
uch a great show. Ben and Lisa, what do you think of the prequel film? I remember not liking it at all when I saw it and was disappointed (like a lot of people). A friend of mine recently watched the series and then the movie for the first time and she said she loved the movie. But she’s also a bigger hipster than I am and considers David Lynch above reproach.

Ben, I study English at BU, though you probably wouldn’t know it by the slapdash way I write my posts.

I can’t think of any good top 10 lists. But off the top of my head, you could always do top 10 films you really like but feel like you shouldn’t like (guilty pleasures). Or top 10 underrated films (maybe you’ve already done this). Or top 10 movies set in space. Or top 10 haunted house movies.

For me, I thought I should really try to finish posting my top 10 lists for the 2000s. Now, I am up to 2008, which was a pretty great year for movies. I think ‘07-’08 was a terrific two-year span for cinema in general. It’s hard to believe some of these flicks came out three years ago now. It’s almost nauseating. Soon enough three will turn into thirty.

1. Synecdoche, NY (Charlie Kaufman)- One of my favorites of the last decade at the very least. I rank it just behind There Will Be Blood as the best of the decade. I think Roger Ebert and I are the only people who regard it as highly as we do (though my brother Chris is also an enormous fan). I’ll do a longer write up post on this because I have a lot to say on it. It truly is a masterpiece, and a culmination of Charlie Kaufman’s career. And it’s his directorial debut! John, I know from your debate with Brandon that you are not a fan of Kaufman. I can understand your dislike, but I earnestly think he is brilliant and deserves all the accolades and interest he receives.

2. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan) - I think it’s a miracle that this movie even exists. As a Batman fan, I always dreamed of someone making a movie that had a Long Halloween feel to it. And I always dreamed that someone would put a truly definitive Joker on screen. With The Dark Knight, I got both and it’s still seems like a miracle to me. As a Batman tale, I think this thing is awesome. But it also works as a great crime film. It’s extremely ambitious. Sometimes it falters under its own weight, but mostly it soars. I can look past some of the problems I have with it and just appreciate the fact that it exists. Bring on part three!

3. Tell No One (Guillaume Canet)- I know this came out in 2006 elsewhere, but we didn’t get it in America until 2008, so I’m going by that (I will never have consistency with my release years). This is an awesome thriller. It just works so well and is tremendously exciting. I watched it with an ex-girlfriend and her roommate and we were all floored by it. Brilliantly executed movie that absorbs you completely.

4. The Class (Laurent Cantet) - A must for any teachers out there. When I lived in Brooklyn for a brief time, I was initially going to school to become a high school English teacher. I observed in tons of schools around Brooklyn, and most of my teaching was centered around working with inner city children with incredibly diverse backgrounds. You always have that sort of Stand and Deliver or Freedom Writers idealistic attitude about teaching in inner city schools. You really think you can make a difference. But sometimes your dreams hit cold, hard reality and you realize that that isn’t always the case. This film is a brilliant look at the difficulty of teaching in an inner city school (Half Nelson is another great example). It is incredibly realistic and without a shred of schmaltz or idealization. It’s fascinating, exciting, and absolutely frustrating. The teacher isn’t a hero changing lives; at times he is downright idiotic. You watch him and can almost visualize how you would try to do differently. It’s a great lesson in teaching. And an engrossing film.

5. WALL-E (Andrew Stanton) - What a beautiful, little movie. It makes me so happy to watch. The slap-sticky montage when WALL-E is trying to get EVE to notice him is one of my favorite things in recent film history. This film has a big heart, and it’s incredibly intelligent and creative. Can't wait to show this to my kids some day.

6. The Fall (Tarsem)- Absolutely astonishing to look at. Just straight up dazzling and almost bewildering. Ebert said you should see it just for the simple fact that it exists. I agree (2008 must have been the year of love between me and Roger). I personally like the story itself. I think the film is magical, whimsical, and sad at times, but it is consistently beautiful to watch. The visuals carry the film on their own. The mapping of Father Augustine’s face onto the landscape is one of the most beautiful and amazing jump cuts I’ve ever seen.

7. Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson) - haha Sorry John. No need to mine the debate between you and Brandon. I pretty much agree with everything Brandon said. It’s a awesome movie. I haven’t seen the remake and have no desire to.

8. Milk (Gus van Sant)- A really good movie featuring Sean Penn at the peak of his powers. He’s so committed to being Harvey Milk it’s almost uncanny. Insanely charming and charismatic. And the movie is well done. Everything works in it. It’s still an important film considering the pervasive homophobic sentiment plaguing this country. It should be seen.

Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes)- As an acting spectacle, this is about as good as it gets. Leo and Kate are tremendous, almost exhaustively good. And Michael Shannon kills it every scene he’s in. This would make a great and depressing double date feature with Blue Valentine.

10. Ballast (Lance Hammer) - A quiet, meditative film with a latent power that sort of creeps up on you. Double feature this with Winter’s Bone for a nice, bleak look into South Mid-Western poverty.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Nothing in particular

I haven’t watched a lot of movies lately...been focusing on school work. I have another break coming soon, so I’ll probably watch more flicks then.

I watched The Fighter a few days ago. It was all right. Solid performances all around. David O. Russell’s direction seemed kind of generic. I kept waiting for the film to exude some sense of style, but it seemed stuck within its own world of formula and convention. Not that I can’t appreciate convention from time to time, I just thought with someone like Russell at the helm that more would have been done. The ESPN style boxing scenes were a decent touch, but is that enough to warrant a unique vision? I don’t know. Whatever, I’m probably being too picky. My friend really liked it. But she was expected a straight up boxing flick, and instead got a movie about a crackhead. She said she was pleasantly surprised.

I also watched Muppets Take Manhattan last night. Delightful, even if I prefer some of the other Muppet flicks instead. I hadn’t seen it in years, so it was great to see again. Love the Muppet baby intro sequence. I grew up watching Muppet Babies on Nick Jr. It was my favorite thing in the world (along with Winnie the Pooh). I would get tremendously excited to watch it after pre-school.
Anything Muppets makes me happy. I’m curious about this new Muppet movie that Jason Segel is creating. I hope it’s awesome. Fingers crossed.

Cynicism probably does win people over easily. But so does anything overly positive. I can be a sucker for either one at times like a lot of people. I think it’s healthy to revel in both without becoming too ensconced in either position. John, I like your metaphor on shitting. Cynicism is for the constipated, but then optimism is diarrhea. Let us find a balance between the two and not delude ourselves.

Kubrick’s cynicism probably was influenced by his relationship to his family. He loved them and was protective of them. He was also selective when it came to people, so he spent a lot of time in isolation. He was an interesting and peculiar fellow who put a lot of himself into his movies. I think you can appreciate his films without having to subscribe to his views on life or people.

Bunuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire was just added to NWI. It’s a pretty great film. I recommend it. I’ll probably re-watch it myself soon; it’s been too long.

Also, the complete series of Twin Peaks was just added too. Awesomeness. I need Dale Cooper back in my life again.

Friday, April 8, 2011


haha Thanks for the link to that article, Ben.

Melancholia looks awesome. I'm really excited for it. I was going to post the trailer myself, but you beat me to it.

In response to your question on Kubrick:

I wouldn’t argue that Kubrick is anti-life. I’m just willing to concede that in an argument against him. I can accept Kubrick as anti-life and still think he’s one of (if not thee) greatest filmmakers of all time. I don’t read his films as anti-life, so maybe John would do a better job describing what he means by that. What I think he means is the argument you hear a lot against Kubrick. Kubrick’s films are notoriously cynical towards humanity. Some find them to be cold and detached in their portrayal of human life. Kubrick’s films rarely seem emotional or empathatic, just intellectual. I get this argument. As I said, I’m willing to accept it without detriment to Kubrick. Kubrick was an intellectual person. He loved photography and he loved ideas. He used his films to convey intellectual ideas that fascinated him. Even if his films don’t force you to empathize with humanity, they do force you to reflect on humanity. I, for one, love ideas too. I love the ideas in Kubrick’s films. I also love the way they are staged, shot, lit (and everything else about them). Kubrick was incredibly cinematic. I think he had the best eye of any filmmaker in history (this is easily debatable). I would argue that he is pro-cinema (a stupid word but whatever), in that his films are devoted to film as an art form and to advancing film as an art form. Cinema is a relatively young art form, but I think Kubrick is as crucial to the development of cinema as Dostoevsky was to the development of the novel. He took it to new heights. He was a masterful and genius director. I don’t mind his cynicism (I’m rather cynical too) because I’m too busy being in awe of his incredible eye for things.

Brandon said it perfectly, can you blame Kubrick for being so cynical towards humanity?
To me, cynicism is just another word for realism. But, that just reflects who I am. I can understand someone not taking that viewpoint.

I usually say that Bergman is my favorite director all time. Some days he is, and some days Kubrick is. My cinematic love is a perpetual pirouette between those two colossal figures.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hi, my name is Jeff and I am a hipster

What’s that old joke?
How do you tell if someone’s a hipster?
If he or she denies being a hipster.

Confession time. I don’t like the word hipster either (at least in a pejorative sense), but Brandon, I am a hipster too. Definitely. I wear skinny straights. I have dark horn-rimmed glasses. I always wear a winter hat. I listen to shit like Beach House, Wavves, and Odd Future. I collect vinyls. I also play nintendo. I am a HUGE hipster. Sorry, I should have admitted that in my last post. I was just saying that I don’t feel that I’m a hipster when it comes to movies. I don’t think you are either. I think we both genuinely love the films we do independent of their popularity in any subculture. I was only defending myself against pretense in terms of movies. I am a hipster though haha. Don’t let me deny it.

Now I see what you mean by the hipster comment for La Dolce Vita and Blow-up. I misread your intention. They themselves do seem hipsterish, but they come across as cool to me (what does that say about me?). They a very chic stylistically, but I like the narratives involved with them too and their intellectual depth. I think they are rich and strange films that are fun to dig into. But you are free to not like them as much as you want, my man.

You can re-watch LDV, and I’ll re-watch E.T. and Finding Nemo. Maybe we both will have a change of heart and can come to accord.

I think that WALL-E, Up, and Toy Story 3 are search and rescue stories. I would not argue against that. But my argument is that WALL-E and Up have original and strange environments and set-ups. Finding Nemo just seems like an extension of Toy Story or A Bug’s Life. To me it seems like they were like, “we made a movie about toys and insects, now let’s make one about fish.” And nothing beyond that. Don’t get me wrong, I like the story of the father and son and their relationship. I think it’s sweet. I just wish there were more creativity to Finding Nemo instead of just a search and rescue story with fish, you know? Obviously there is more to the movie than that, but that is the way it came across to me when I saw it. I haven’t seen it since it came out, which was quite a while ago. Perhaps my feelings have changed on it. I hope they have.

Again, my problem isn’t so much with the recycling of the search and rescue story (I am a fan of it), but with the lack of creativity surrounding that story. I wanted more from Finding Nemo. That’s why I was disappointed.

Ratatouille is about talking rats, but also so much more! It has a wonderfully creative setting and concept to it. It’s very unique. I love Ratatouille.

WALL-E is a search and rescue story, but it is set in a unique world that is insanely creative and magical. It’s also one of the most beautiful and endearing animated films of all time.

I didn’t watch Cars because I thought it seemed so uncreative. Anthropomorphic cars...that’s it? That’s the set-up?

Damn. I’ve been shitting on E.T. and Finding Nemo? Apparently, I’m an enormous scumbag in addition to being a hipster.

Full Metal Jacket is my least favorite Kubrick, as I said. But I still love it. The second half isn’t as great as the first, but I think that there is great stuff in the second half. I worship the craft involved in the second half unconditionally. There is a weirdness to it that I like too. Maybe because it’s shot in England and not Vietnam. I don’t know though. I’m not a huge war film fan, perhaps that is why it’s my least favorite of his. Still, I love every single film of Kubrick’s. I’m with Jesse.

Speaking of Kubrick. I'm glad you watched The Shining, Lisa. It's an incredible horror film. It terrified me the first time I saw it. I still get the creeps whenever I see Danny riding his trike through the Overlook. The film is so well composed. The cinematography, lighting, framing–all immaculate (as you'd expect from a Kubrick film). But it's also truly frightening and absolutely bizarre. It's one of my favorites. On the dvd there is this great behind-the-scenes footage shot by Kubrick's daughter. It's wonderful to see the master Kubrick at work. Apparently, he was completely vicious to Shelley Duvall on set. You get a sense of that in the footage. People wonder whether he did this on purpose to her in order to help her get into character or just because he was an asshole and didn't like her. I think he did it to help her, just in his own weird, surly way. Kubrick was really, really smart. He knew what he wanted and knew how to get it. Also, the film is radically different from the book. At the end, Dick isn't killed by Jack, and the Hotel blows up with Jack in it. No picture with Jack in it either. Kubrick liked to do his own thing.

Also, a final note. It was fun to do that list, but I realized I don’t really hate any of the movies on my list. I don’t feel THAT strongly about any of them. I think the movies that I hate are ones that I feel like I should hate for a reason. I hate the movies that are obviously worthy of hatred. I wouldn’t put Crash on my list because it is awful and I don’t feel like I should like it. The same with shit like Transformers or Year One. Terrible movies, but obviously terrible movies. I don’t feel bad about hating them (and there is nothing original about hating them). Most of the movies I feel that I should love, I do at least respect them and appreciate them for trying to be something other than the 90% of garbage you can see in a movie theater any day. I always give points for trying.

This was fun. Let’s do more lists and talk about them.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Now, Brandon - I agree with most of your picks, though haven’t seen several of them. I didn’t like The Deer Hunter. Thought about adding it to my list.

Full Metal Jacket is easily Kubrick’s weakest film. I agree (for the most part) about the second half. It’s the one Kubrick film that I very infrequently re-watch.

Contempt is beautiful to look at, I agree. Beyond that...nothing.

Now, I do have an issue with La Dolce Vita and Blow-up. I can understand not liking them, but to invoke the word hipster? haha.

Because I have named La Dolce Vita and Blow-up among my favorites and because you invoked the word ‘hipster,’ I feel I have to defend myself against pretension. You don’t have to be a hipster to love these films.

I went to a tiny high school were was no such thing as a hipster. I wasn’t cool to like art films amongst any one I knew. I wasn’t even cool to like older films or anything not-current or mainstream. I discovered things like La Dolce Vita and Blowup on my own, not knowing whether it was remotely cool to like them. To me, when I saw these I felt genuine love and admiration independent of any cool factor involved. I didn’t know it was deemed “cool” to like shit like Fellini or Antonioni. The same thing with David Lynch. Discovered him in HS. Loved him. Got to college. Found out every “hip” person HAD to love him....Realized “fuck, now I’m considered a pretentious asshole for liking him.” Not fair I tells ya!

Anyway, I think La Dolce Vita is filled with wonderful energy and life and is a blast to watch. Considering its length, I think it goes by rather quickly. To me it’s like reading a great novel because it explores so much and communicates so much. There is a lot to read and interpret in it. And it’s fucking cool. I think it’s the work of an amazing director at the top of his game.

Blow-up. I can understand not liking it. Antonioni comes across as boring and pretentious to some. He can seem like both to me at times. But, Blow-up is a really fascinating movie in that it really isn’t that fascinating haha. It’s an anti-mystery. It completely goes against what you would expect to happen. The ending is insane and weird because it seems so banal. You are almost like, “really? that’s the movie?” I remember not getting it the first time and feeling like an idiot. But then I watched it again and couldn’t stop thinking about it. It went from mundane to kind of brilliant in my eyes. I really love Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, and this movie felt like that to me. If you have read that and seen the movie, maybe you’ll know what I mean. I love a mystery that is not a mystery and leaves you completely unsatisfied (hence, the Mulholland Drive love). My brother knows this about me and can always predict whether I’ll like something based on this fact. I guess I’m predictable...

For your picks John-

I’m with Brandon about most. I love Raging Bull, The Fellowship of the Ring, Jaws, and Butch Cassidy. Everyone should know by now how much I worship Kubrick, so it goes with out saying that I adore Dr. Strangelove unconditionally. Kubrick is anti-life, but he is pro-cinema. I think that is a great combo haha...but I can see why you might not think so.

My brother loves The Graduate, so I have a soft spot for it and like it too.

The Sixth Sense is shit. I don’t really like MASH. I agree with Brandon about the visual blandness of One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest, though Jack deserves all the credit he gets for the film.

I think your picks are solid. You are free to dislike whatever you want and to feel like you should love whatever you want.

Ben- I look forward to your list. I will cry when I see the Seventh Seal on there, but I’ll get over it. Please, not too much Bergman bashing. I love him unconditionally and hurt easily haha.

Brandon will hate me for dissing Finding Nemo

I don’t know why I’m defending my picks. I don’t feel that strongly about any of them, but I just want to get the ball rolling.

(First off, I just have to say that I love Monty Python and think their films are hilarious. I can watch Holy Grail and Life of Brian repeatedly and laugh every single time. Also, Flying Circus is absolutely brilliant and insane. I complete joy to watch. Also, Mulholland Drive is brilliant film. One of my absolute favorites. I could debate that forever.)

Nashville- I like Robert Altman’s films for the most part. McCabe and Mrs. Miller is probably my favorite. Not just because it uses music by Leonard Cohen but also because it’s got a great feeling to it. I’m sure Nashville is fantastic and many people rate it very highly. I watched it once on TCM. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood to watch it. I just remember not digging it like I felt I should and almost falling asleep (probably due to its length). I’m probably dead wrong and this is a great film. I feel like I should love it because I enjoy Altman and some consider this to be his greatest film. I need to give it another shot at some point.

E.T. - haha sorry Brandon. I only put this on my list because you love it. Kidding. No, I absolutely recognize that this is a great movie. No doubt about it. I watched it with a close friend and his kids and my friend LOVES E.T. just like you Brandon. I remember thinking that it was good but not what everyone said it was or what I thought it would be. I agree that you don’t have to have nostalgia for it in order to enjoy it–I was only using that as a possible explanation for why I don’t love it like I feel I should. People I love (like you Brandon) love this movie, that’s why I feel I should love it too. I need to watch it again though. I watched it when I was 17ish and probably too angry/jaded to appreciate it. I might absolutely love it now. We should watch it together Brandon. I’m sure I’d feel differently about it.

Also, I guess I kind of cheated with this pick anyway. I don’t dislike E.T., not at all. I like it; I just don’t love it the way I feel I should. I feel like my heart should swoon each time I think of it. If I see it again maybe it will.

l’Avventura - I love Blow-up (more on that later). I need to see La Notte. I think L’eclisse is all right. Antonioni is one of those directors that I feel compelled to love because of his style and intellect. l’Avventura is consider a masterpiece by many. I remember being bored as fuck watching it. I remember thinking I’m not going to even pretend to be cool enough to like this. I’m sure it’s great if I actually had the patience to sit through it.

Amarcord - I adore Fellini and not in some phony hipster way, but genuinely I think he’s a blast. He was one of the director’s who got me into foreign films and foreign directors. I usually love his movies but I didn’t love Amarcord. I agree with all that you said Brandon. I feel I should love it because I love Fellini and this is a highly rated flick of his. Oh well.

Network- Yeah, well-written and enjoyable and interesting politically. I just heard sooo much about how awesome this was and then watched it and thought it was good but not as great as everyone said it was. Growing up, it seems like whenever I watched a really acclaimed 70s film, for the most part I could instantly see why it was acclaimed so highly. Didn’t get that feeling after watching this, but should watch it again.

Blade Runner - I do seem to force myself to re-watch this also. But every time I can’t get into it. It’s got lots of cool stuff, but considering how many director’s cite this as a major influence, I’m shocked at how little I actually like this. I feel like I should love it because I do enjoy sci-fi films from its era and neo-noirs like it. It just doesn’t grab me the way I think it should considering its legacy and style.

The Pianist - I really dig Polanski. When The Pianist came out it got tons of attention. Most people I knew told me to see it because it was so fantastic. I saw it and thought it was okay. Being a Polanski fan (and considering the acclaim it got), I felt like I should have liked it more. One of my pet peeves is when films are set in foreign countries, yet are spoken in English and with the accent of that country. It’s annoying as hell. But sooo many movies do it. Even movies that I like (Schindler’s List). This isn’t the reason why I didn’t like this, but it didn’t help. Just had to vent on that for a second.

Finding Nemo - Honestly I felt like a bully for putting a few kids films on here. But I love kids films and still feel like a kid, so I think it’s somewhat justified. I said that his was my least favorite pixar film. I haven’t seen Cars though, and by most accounts that is the worst (I’m sure it is). I’m glad you love this Brandon. Most people I know love this too. I just don’t think it’s that original. To me, I’ve come to expect beautiful, original stories from Pixar. Then this came out and I started to think that Pixar was just recycling the same story but in different settings (a search and rescue story...but with fish!). Cars reeked of this too, which is why I didn’t see it. I know that most animated films follow this sort of set-up (and I love this set-up, it can make for a wonderful adventure). But with Finding Nemo I didn’t think the adventure was that magical or enjoyable like it was with Toy Story. It didn’t have the originality that can seem magical and new to me. Sorry...

The emergence of Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up–three wonderful, magical, original stories–has only lessened Finding Nemo in my eyes. You can throw stones at me for saying this Brandon. I’ll understand haha. I’m sorry....I know I should love this and I apologize for being such a curmudgeon about it. I really don’t hate it. I think it’s enjoyable. It just doesn’t have the magic of other disney or pixar films to me. But what the hell do I know? Let the aspersions ensure...

The Princess Bride - Yeah, most people are right about this. I’m sure it is a blast. I feel annoyed every time I watch it though. Maybe because it has been quoted at me so much. I never liked it growing up. I still don’t like it, and you’d have to force me to watch it now because I’ve seen it so many times. I remember I started dating a girl in high school. I went over to her house for the first time. She said, “let’s watch my favorite movie of all time–The Princess Bride!” The girl was beautiful, and at that moment I’ve never felt like I had to love something more in my entire life. I pretended to like it, but really found it annoying...especially with her reciting the lines to me as we watched it. Ah, the things one will do for a pretty girl.

Slumdog Millionaire - I really dig Danny Boyle. When he makes a movie, I go out of my way to see it. I feel like I should love all his movies because of the way I feel about some of his movies. I LOVE Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, and Sunshine. So with all the acclaim this was getting, and with people I respect telling me it was great, I saw this and did not like it one bit. I was shocked at how much I didn’t like it, considering my admiration for Boyle. It’s a shame that this is the film that he got all the awards for.