Bottom 5 Post

I couldn't make this post as a comment so here it is.

Bottom 5

1. Boondock Saints - Obvi. It's one of those films that is universally panned for good reasons, but idiot college and high school kids keep it's legacy alive somehow. I will never, never understand how anyone over the age of 23 can list something as insipid as this as their favorite. A few people at work continue to espouse it's virtues to me, and I can only shake my head and wonder. And these are not people I dislike by any stretch. However, I have actually, finally turned my back on people over this film (a longer story than just that). It's a movie that, by it's own merits and the merits of the people who champion it, drives me bananas. I see it only as a further extension of the macho, good old boy mentality that the Godfather films fostered for a new generation of would be tough guys. Beyond that, it is absolutely unfathomable to me how any woman could enjoy this film, but then I'm totally clueless in that arena anyway. The worst problem is that I've yet to hear anyone mount anything resembling a good defense of the film. One person went so far as to basically admit the film was racist and said it didn't bother him. This film is also the flag bearer for another problem that seems to plague my generation, and that is the outright worship of Quentin Tarantino. I personally think that Tarantino is a gifted filmmaker and definitely has a very strong personal style (or the style of a myriad of persons anyway). The problem is the imitations of him 99% of the time are the most misguided, myopic copycats of the least interesting parts of his films. That's basically all Boondock Saints is. It's the Westboro Baptist Church of Tarantino.

2. The Godfather - Am I piling all my gripes with gangster movies in general on this one film? And how. It's the progenitor of the worst parts of the genre today. It's the reason that the macho, good old boy bullshit can still claw it's way to the top of every 100 best list (and if not this then see below). I'm tired of hearing "film buffs" gush over this film. I'm tired of arguments about whether this or Part II is better. It's not a film I ever want to think about again. I'm sick of it. Is it poorly made? Not really. It's more offensive to me as a symbol of everything that I find dull about film criticism and middle brow awards films. I think it was Howard Hawks who said "A good movie is three of four great scenes and no bad ones". Fuck that. That's a bland movie. I can marvel at badness. It's blandness I can't stand. I want some fucking color. I don't want this drab, old guard malaise.

3. The Shawshank Redemption - See above.
To be continued...

4. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles - I'm always happy to see when a director has the sense to trust his/her audience to get something. I hate it when a director treats me like I'm five. This film accomplishes nothing short of insulting it's audience by making sure they consume every last repetitive moment of the main character's life, just to get across the point that "yeah, her life is dull". It can be accomplished in an hour and a half. If you think that I need more than twice that to get the point then you must not think very highly of me at all. More over, if you're going to go down the route of having me watch the minutiae of common life, why the ham-fisted ending? See what all that boredom and oppression made her do? LOOK AT IT! If you end the movie with yet another quiet moment, that communicates the message with half the volume, then at least you've succeeded in keeping the tone consistent throughout. Thank you very much for the worst film viewing experience of my life.

5. Le Samourai - I'm still not really sure why people regard this film so highly. Boring was the only adjective that I could think of to describe it. Sure, everyone looks good, but what good is that when they're all such lifeless characters. I didn't care about any of them. My reaction to the ending was as follows "that certainly happened". I mean I'm not against movies where shit just happens for no good reason (Luis Bunuel), but this film was obviously trying to be dramatic. It's not surrealist, it's not filled to the brim with style, it's not any of the things that could make what happens more interesting. It's like that room Alain Delon lives in. In fact, looking at the IMDb description for this film I find the description as follows, "Things suddenly go badly for a French assassin". Indeed they do. That's it, that sums up the whole movie. Why did I need to see this? Why is this supposed to impress me? It's a complete waste of resources. Why not at least have the killings themselves look somewhat interesting? He basically just walks into a room and shoots the guy and my reaction was as before "that certainly happened". That's basically my reaction to everything that happens in this movie. No clever editing, no camera angles that are even worth remembering, composition so dull that it made gorgeous French actors look like wallpaper. I feel like Melville looked at the way they had shot the actual killings in the film and said, "Is there a way we can make that less interesting?" The ending doesn't even make sense. Why does it end that way? What was the point? Somebody please tell me!

Anti-Canon Survey

Here is the idea. Everyone post your 5 Least Favorite Films.
You may talk about them in whatever capacity you feel necessary. Any and all factors leading to your branding of them as your least favorite are fair game. Since we've been focusing so much on the best, I figured there is just as interesting a conversation to be had about the worst.

I'm also intrigued to see if any of the canon films show up on the least favorite lists. I'm hoping this leads to a larger discussion about personal tastes.
How 'Bout A Cold One?

recent watchings of whatever

it's saturday night and i am home alone drinking!

a perfect time to update.

the dark knight rises -- more of goyer's tin-eared dialogue and nolan's fondness for fascist apologia, both ramped up to often unbearable extremes. especially the latter's weirdo fox news digs at the occupy movement. after watching this movie i feel like nolan probably has a bunch of glenn beck books somewhere in his house. and the narrative cues, oh god, the narrative cues. nolan and goyer write like they're following the worst kind of "how to write a screenplay" template. though despite all this, i actually didn't completely hate it. after the mind-numbing dullness of inception i actually felt like the pacing breezed this one by me in a pretty pleasant way. also probably my favorite looking nolan movie by a long shot. not sure what the deal was with bane's voice though. scenes with batman and bane felt like a silly voice parody sketch.

the runaways -- pretty straightforward biopic by the end (rise and fall, drugs, etc.), but a pretty one! and the beginning, a sort of raucous coming of age story, made me feel like i cared about rock n roll for maybe the first time in 5 years. the love for the era feels interesting and palpable in an unexpected way. also dug the music choices/cues, for the most part. a few were a bit too on the nose, but as far as music video as content goes, i thought they handled it pretty well. some parts even felt pretty outlandish for a studio movie starring girl from twilight and girl who was recently a child in a bunch of movies. the beginning introduces a bit of feminist ideas, about the difficulty of trying to navigate being a lady in a field dominated by men, but most of them get rolled up in the bundle of biopic formula and lost by the end in favor of more obvious emotional cues.

speaking of weird movies starring kristen stewart, snow white and the huntsman had all the makings of a pretty incredible entry into the (to be frank, mostly dull) fantasy movie genre. while gearing itself as an edgy, dark rendition of the classic tale usually means a lot of boring trying-too-hard goth trappings, this one actually managed quite a bit of nasty, imaginative and genuinely creepy imagery. especially considering it's only pg-13. the script and acting, however, do it no favors. even charlize theron, whom i am beginning to grow quite fond of, phones it in with an extra hammed up performance, rather than the kind of chilly iced over feeling i was hoping for. and while i can occasionally ignore things like acting and writing when the images are arresting enough, the pacing is too haphazard to ever really bring things together in spite of these pitfalls.

seeking a friend for the end of the world was pretty much abysmal. carrell and knightley (especially knightley) give it about as much as they can, but there's just no helping a movie so awfully in love with the worst kind of manic pixie dream girl stereotypes. with just a bit more tweaking knightley's character could function as a parody of that stereotype. there's a few nice moments, including the very ending, but most of it has to do with the acting more than anything else going on in the movie. and the condescension w/r/t the rest of the people out trying to figure how they wanted to spend their last days is pretty damn jerky. better than that canadian movie last night, but only by default.

about halfway through revisiting wes anderson's ouevre and at this point i can kinda see why i gave up on him 8 years ago. moonrise kingdom was surprisingly good and beautiful and sad and affecting. rushmore was good, too, which was a relief. though a bit clumsier than i remembered. but as far as sophomore efforts go, it still retains a lot of its wit and power and a surprising level of self-evaluation that feels missing from many of his other films. films like bottle rocket, which was basically unbearable. had to shut it off as soon as luke wilson started trying to romance the maid who didn't speak english. barf. the royal tenenbaums was like if they sucked all the genuine pathos out of rushmore and replaced it with terrible music cues. only about halfway through the life aquatic so far, but it mostly feels like tenenbaums 2: this time with fucking cate blanchett.
Sam Cooke

Canon Update

Hello all, from now on you can post a canon post any day of the week. Just announce what day and what film.

Also I'm adding something to the canon stuff that is like assignments. Basically, if you want an assignment, you ask for one, and I will give you something to do.

I.e. choose someone for a pro/con
watch and review someone else's favorite
lead a group discussion (book club style)
something else

They Live (John Carpenter, 1988)

Paranoid or Prescient?

I was watching this with a friend recently and I hadn't seen it in a while. It struck me just how much it felt like it could have been made in 2012. All of the serious issues seemed the same. The over-reactive police force, the disparity between rich and poor, political leaders so blatantly wrong and so firmly supported, their presence speaks to either just how forward thinking John Carpenter and his source material were, or just how timeless and rampant these tropes are to modern government.

I also find that this film plays on most of the timeless paranoid delusions most common in American society. The scene above is a perfect example of the conspiracy theorist rhetoric that goes on throughout. The thing is, even that kind of "what if" mentality still makes for good cinema IMO.

Also, it's hard to dismiss it all as paranoia with this kind of thing going on IRL.
now that wasn't civilized

Filtering through Sarris

Since hearing of Andrew Sarris's death last week, I'd been wondering about the community's thoughts on his work. Do his opinions on auteurism jive with how you perceive film?

I thumbed through my copy of The American Cinema this past week to look back at his opinions on Samuel Fuller and found that, if nothing else, he seemed to widen the field of criticism to be more inclusive of genre.
Joel Grey

two things

One is a post to reserve days for next week.
Tues June 26
Thurs June 28
Fri June 29
Sat June 30
Sun July 1

The second is to ask how things are going so far, what people like, don't like? I would like to see more discussion, more communal effort. I was thinking about choosing a person each week to lead a discussion on a film that the whole group had watched?

Post whatever you think.