stealing from basil:

you should all add me on letterboxd. and if you're not on letterboxd, you should join. i also stole that line from basil.

and what you really need to do is find all those folks who used to be in here who quit lj, or just aren't around, and get them to join letterboxd.

and to come back here.

much love.
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didier (pur sang)

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Can I say that after years of seeing comments in most any community or board devolve into ad hominem attacks and participants who have no ability to see the other side of an argument and work with it, this place really seemed to be the exception?

Anyways, if any one is still out there, what films have you dug on the past year and four months?
How 'Bout A Cold One?

25th Hour -- Discussion Time!

i was originally supposed to post this last wednesday, but i decided to wait a week after two of the people i spoke to had not watched it yet. while i haven't asked them, i am hoping the extra 6 days were enough time for them to do so.

25th hour (spike lee, 2002)

the first time i saw 25th hour, i liked a lot of parts of it very much. i even thought i loved the movie, based on the strength of those parts. but i didn't quite get it. i didn't know how psh's crush on his student fit with 9/11 fit with ed norton possibly going to prison fit with barry pepper as a douchey wall street guy. it didn't matter to me too much, though i did feel that the psh subplot was a bit extraneous and perhaps the movie would be better without it.

i no longer feel that way (regardless of how much i hate looking at psh's face). the way things are connected feels so palpable, i'm amazed i missed it before. the movie, despite its surface level commentary about the injustices of the prison system, seems to me to be even more about the struggle of moving on, of looking at who you are and where you are and accepting that. the interactions between the three main characters have a kind of beautiful cadence, at once familiar and yet also awkward. the dialogues that happen between friends who were once so close, yet hardly see each other anymore. growing apart but refusing to let nature take its course, to actually drive them away. i can see the sadness in this problem, even if, to be honest, i seem to have the opposite one -- i let people go too easily, am broken away and they disappear into the catacombs of memory. sometimes i wonder what they're up to, and briefly think of trying to contact them, but i never do.

i think some of that is what the 25th hour is also about, the feeling that prison disonnects you completely from the world, and the fear that everyone you care about will have abandoned you by the time you get back.

a movie about time, then. the past, and how we cling to it, how we wallow in it even when it would be better to leave, and a movie about the future. the melancholy of fantasies that can never happen. the difficulty of accepting right now, of being here and looking yourself in the face.

watching this movie sped along a depression that had been creeping around for days, or maybe weeks or years or centuries. but it sticks in my memory, even as it hurts me to think about it. like noriko's dinner table, this is a movie i couldn't stop thinking about even when i wanted to.
How 'Bout A Cold One?

25th Hour Book Club Discussion

Wednesday, August 22nd I am going to be posting my thoughts and feelings on Spike Lee's The 25th Hour.

Anyone who is interested in participating in the discussion please watch it by then. If you have already seen it, re-watching is not required, though it is always nice to refresh your memory and also to see if you still feel the same way about it that you once did.

If two weeks doesn't seem like enough time for some of you, please let me know in the comments and I can maybe push it back a week. I am going to watch it today and likely write up my feelings this weekend, but things have been hectic with my schedule lately so I wasn't sure when I would be able to watch it. Did not want to post this before I knew when I would be able to.

Have at it, AOV-ers!

Mini-Genre Study

I want to do a mini-genre study and these are the four choices that I've come up with based on what I want to add to my own film knowledge:

Found Footage Horror (Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, Apollo 18, etc.)

Torture Porn/Splat Pack (Hostel, Human Centipede, House of 1000 Corpses, etc)

Romanian New Wave (Death of Mr. Lazarescu, 12:08 East of Bucharest, 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days, etc.)

Dogme 95

The films I have listed are in no way the films I'm absolutely going to watch for the genre, I just have them there as a reference. I simply want the community to vote on which genre I should go for. One or two suggestions for films in the genre you choose is fine.

"Okay, show me your tits"

Showgirls (Paul Verhoven, 1995)

Off the top let me confess that Showgirls is stored on my computer in the porn file. It's easy to get lost in all of the naked bodies on display in the film, especially for me because it adheres to softcore nudity, which I find more pleasing than anything too

Where do I begin with the film itself? There is so much more at work here. I had to keep notes. There are very obvious earmarks lent to the film by Joe Eszterhas in the script. Characters spit out lines like "You want, you pay for it" or "Don't get sucked into it" speaking at once to the character and also to the audience. Making the themes very clear. There is an upper class machine at work. It's America. If you have the money, you can seemingly get whatever you want. It's telling that whenever characters in this movie have something happen to them, they are always buying things in response.

"I got a job" "let's go buy a dress then eat fajitas"
or "I'm sad someone stole my stuff" "I'll buy you some french fries to cheer you up"
or "I'm contemplating something. I think I'll go buy me a hamburger".
(all not actual quotes, just examples).

The base consumer instincts of this film actually ring pretty true for my taste. It's surprising watching this with a critical eye, just how spot on it is so much of the time themeatically, structurally, and even emotionally. It's also great to see that Verhoven has clearly perverted (no pun intended) what could have been more conventional story or character
beats. I feel like in certain places the writing wants to take the film in a different direction, but Verhoven is savvy enough to steer it back down his path. I'm also impressed how in such a glittery mess of a world the relationships between the main female characters end up being so tender. All of the love in this movie is shared solely by the females, by the way. Every guy (and I do mean every) is a complete douchebag. Even James, the modern dancer with a heart of gold, is a complete tool. He in particular purports to be interested in some sort of higher artistic expression, but in the end, all he really wants is to fuck.

The third act provides one of the more horrific climaxes that I have seen. Having Molly raped by her favorite singer, whom earlier in the film she is fantasizing about is goddamn cold hearted. The actual mechanics of the rape scene make it even worse. The character of Andrew is so beyond the pale horrible that he might as well be wearing a Michael Myers mask instead of looking like a shirtless Fabio type. But then again, the smooth veneer of wealth is a mask wielded by all of the characters in power (almost all of them men). We do see the one woman with any sort of influence purposely destroyed by Nomi herself. Then Nomi is finally sucked into the world. She of course realizes later that Cristal was just like her once and that the power that she held was as tenuous as her own. It's really satisfying in more ways than one that their interaction ends in a moment where they finally kiss when they no longer have anything to lose or gain from one another. It's real love at that point (or at least real lust).

The dancing scenes themselves give Verhoven a good outlet to work out character emotions in the same way a musical does with songs. Only this time there are more bare boobs and butts (which is generally preferable IMO). It's both a shame and probably a good thing that the mostly nude dance scenes thing didn't catch on in big budget films.

The most striking thing about Nomi in this film is that she is always hitting or throwing or screaming something. Even the way she fucks is violent. I doubt you could find a more American protagonist in a more American movie.

I'm so glad that Verhoven knows exactly how to be ridiculous. It seems like sometimes in this script Eszterhas is trying to be sexy or cool, but the way Verhoven has instructed the actors it comes out hilarious, and it is my firm belief that is intentional, because that's how Verhoven rolls. "I'm erect, why aren't you erect?" and the "I liked you better topless" scenes come to mind. There is also one of the most grossly hilarious moments that I've ever seen in an almost sex scene, when Nomi tells James she's on her period and he doesn't believe her. I have never seen anything like that and I kind of hope I never see anything like it again, but I appreciate that it's there. I'm not sure if that was part of the script, but it's pretty hilarious.

And finally, yes this movie has some of the best gratuitous nudity I've seen in a big budget Hollywood film. Gratuitous nudity is another thing at which Verhoven excels. I appreciate it when it isn't done in any type of gaze either, it's just a matter of fact thing that happens to be there in the scene. It also plays a hilarious role in the fight scene between Julie and Annie when Julie has her children with her in a room full of mostly naked people and the word "fuck" is what's bothering them.

I will say that if there is a scene to cut it's the scene where Cristal and Nomi are talking about Nomi's "tits". It felt very awkward for some reason and it didn't crackle like the rest of the film.

This was definitely a film worth reconsidering. It has a shocking amount to offer from a critical standpoint. This actually has me interested in some critical revision of some softcore titles. Anyone have any recommendations?