HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
  • LibraryThing
  • Book discussions
  • Your LibraryThing
  • Join to start using.

Snobs without a Cause -- The Film Discussion Thread

This is a continuation of the topic Film Snobs 2012 (1) - the End of Mayan Cinema.

This topic was continued by Film Snobs: Threat Level Midnight.

Literary Snobs

Join LibraryThing to post.

This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.

1kswolff
Mar 29, 2012, 7:44pm Top

Hey, they made a sequel to Clash of the Titans:

http://www.avclub.com/articles/wrath-of-the-titans,71640/

The thread can only improve from here. Also, Liam Neeson needs a new agent, or else he'll end up like Nicholas Cage.

2wookiebender
Mar 29, 2012, 8:55pm Top

I like the new thread title, I'm reading a biography of Natalie Wood and, of course, she had the main female role in "Rebel Without a Cause". Not that I noticed her at the time, I was far too distracted by James Dean when I saw it as a teenager myself.

3iansales
Mar 30, 2012, 3:00am Top

I saw the trailer to Wrath of the Titans when I saw John Carter at the cinema. It looks... like they put everything and everyone in it.

4Jargoneer
Edited: Mar 30, 2012, 4:49am Top

>1 kswolff: - never mind that, what the hell is this?

Allegedly it's based on the Battleship game but I don't see much evidence of A1, C6, etc. Plus I don't remember any aliens intent of invading Earth in the game. And thirdly, Rihanna plays a tough marine.

It is hard to believe that humans produce this stuff. Actually it's hard to believe that monkeys produce this stuff. Perhaps gerbils now run Hollywood.

5nymith
Mar 30, 2012, 10:30am Top

Well, the new thread's off to a terrific start....

4: I used to watch my brother and his best friend play Battleship. I'd usually last five minutes and be out of there. Amazed me anyone would spend their time on that. To me it made about as much sense as a first-person shooter with a blacked-out screen.

That said, what the hell did they do to it? Some kind of Transformers boatbot, a cliched "my daughter ain't good enough for YOU, cadet" subplot (for the human-interest element, you know, because nobody wants a film with no chicks in the background) and lots of guns and explosions. Next!

6CliffBurns
Mar 30, 2012, 10:34am Top

A new western to keep an eye out for, "Blackthorn", starring Sam Shepard as a very old and hirsute Butch Cassidy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FMZDtpMFqk

7nymith
Mar 30, 2012, 10:46am Top

6: That looks promising. Is there another Sam Shepard? The one I know wrote plays.

8CliffBurns
Mar 30, 2012, 11:01am Top

Same guy. Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, actor, director...and the one man my wife claims she'd dump me for. Or was that Sam Elliot?

9kswolff
Mar 30, 2012, 12:50pm Top

3: Did anyone else catch the actor playing John Carter had the last name Kitsch? Which will probably be the category the movie will be listed under in the upcoming years.

10beardo
Edited: Mar 30, 2012, 1:00pm Top

1:

Looks like Neeson is branching out to include comedy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKTh7zBIcrM

11kswolff
Mar 30, 2012, 2:28pm Top

10: At this point, I'm seeing Liam Neeson as the Thinking Man's Nicolas Cage. Neeson, Cage, and Cuba Gooding, Jr. should all make a movie together, like some Bizarro World Gosford Park

12CliffBurns
Edited: Mar 30, 2012, 8:12pm Top

Watched some more Harold Lloyd--"The Freshman" and a couple of shorter efforts. Wonderful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHNQ9X-drdE

13nymith
Apr 1, 2012, 9:55am Top

12: Safety Last is one of the best silent films I've ever seen. Bar-none. I rewatch it periodically. Lloyd's tremendously underrated. Have also seen his film Girl Shy, which took a while to get going but soon picked up (very literal) speed.

Of the great silent comedians, Lloyd actually beats out Chaplin, based on what little I've seen, anyway. The Gold Rush had some great set pieces, but had a strongly sentimental air that made it feel more of a drama with some comedic elements. Not quite what I was expecting that day.

Buster Keaton's The General, on the other hand, was a work of deadpan art that captured two things perfectly - a feel for the genuine dust and grime of the Civil War, and the split-second disbelief of a trainwreck. It was also very funny.

Great stuff, all of it. They beat most all of the screwball comedies I've seen, and certainly all of the more recent romantic comedies - even a classic like Sabrina tends to just depress me, because I can see divorce down the line, oh my, yes....

14CliffBurns
Edited: Apr 1, 2012, 10:10am Top

Lloyd made more films that Keaton and Chaplin put together and, yeah, "Safety Last" is a marvel. Love Keaton too.

Last night no one was around so I indulged in another western, John Sturges' "The Law & Jake Wade". Quite good (Sturges is a veteran director) with another typically wonderful performance from Richard Widmark. The problem is the leading man, Robert Taylor, who was nobody's Randolph Scott, I tell ya. NO charisma...

15mejix
Edited: Apr 1, 2012, 12:36pm Top

A couple of months ago I actually stopped and read the plaque on a building that I pass by every once in a while:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essanay_Studios

16CliffBurns
Apr 1, 2012, 12:12pm Top

Sounds like a place for movie mavens to make a pilgrimage, pay their respects.

17mejix
Apr 1, 2012, 9:53pm Top

Apparently there is a Silent Film Society here in Chicago. I did not know, I did not know.

18CliffBurns
Apr 1, 2012, 10:50pm Top

Join! Great films bring together great people.

19justifiedsinner
Apr 2, 2012, 2:55pm Top

Are they keeping quiet about it?

20kswolff
Apr 2, 2012, 7:00pm Top

Saw "Moonshot" about the Apollo 11 mission. Very well done. Even though it was produced by the History Channel, there was no mention of Freemasons, the Founding Fathers, or UFOs Restrained and gorgeously photographed like a Mad Men episode, albeit with a few cheapo special effects.

21CliffBurns
Edited: Apr 4, 2012, 9:42am Top

Watched "The Trip" last night, with Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden. Slower than I thought it was going to be and more affecting. I was led to believe there would be a lot more laughs and hilarious, awkward moments...but it's actually a restrained effort, a two-hander with brains and heart.

22kswolff
Apr 4, 2012, 12:05pm Top

21: Yeah, but "The Trip" has sound and color! What heresy and witchcraft is this?

On a similar note, Criterion has a new box set of the films David Lean directed for Noel Coward:

http://www.avclub.com/articles/david-lean-directs-noel-coward,71884/

Granted, many of these films have those new-fangled gimmicks of color and sound, but, hey, nothing's perfect.

23justifiedsinner
Apr 4, 2012, 2:47pm Top

#21 Wow man! Did they off Peter and Dennis and Bruce?

24CliffBurns
Apr 4, 2012, 3:21pm Top

Like, totally different movie, man.

Jeez, I haven't seen the original "Trip" in over 20 years. If I ever spot it in a bargain bin...

25justifiedsinner
Apr 4, 2012, 7:54pm Top

Thank God! I thought the drugs wore off and it was like 2012 or something man.

26CliffBurns
Edited: Apr 5, 2012, 11:38am Top

Coming up this week: "Melancholia".

27iansales
Apr 5, 2012, 1:33pm Top

I didn't like that at all. Couldn't see why everyone praised it so much.

28mejix
Apr 5, 2012, 6:21pm Top

>26 CliffBurns:

If you suffer from motion sickness you might want to see it in installments.

29CliffBurns
Apr 12, 2012, 2:27pm Top

"The Creature From the Black Lagoon" last night. LOVE those old boogeymen.

Directed by Jack Arnold, who also brought us "Tarantula" & "The Incredible Shrinking Man", superior "B" efforts.

30CliffBurns
Apr 13, 2012, 10:10am Top

Last night the original 1930 version of "All Quiet on the Western Front". Whatta war picture! The acting melodramatic (hell, this was only three years after the birth of the Talkies) but director Lewis Milestone and his crew do a magnificent job of presenting the horrors of war, getting even the small details right and refusing, right up to the end, to make a feel good, nicey-nicey movie. Second time I've seen it and it still impresses.

31CliffBurns
Apr 17, 2012, 11:13am Top

The latest short film by my son Sam and his pal, Sean. Dang, these boys are getting GOOD:

http://newurns.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/trufax/

32kswolff
Apr 17, 2012, 2:06pm Top

Saw "Super 8," which would have been cooler if I was 14. Came across like a Mad Libs version of a Spielberg film. A little bit of ET, a little bit of Close Encounters, add some Stand by Me characterization. It seemed a little too spot-on, almost like the cinematic equivalent of fanfiction. The special effects were spectacular. The storyline ... less so.

"The alien is just misunderstood and wants to go home!"

That explains his eating people and widespread destruction. On the other hand, "The Case," the film the kids made, that was really cool.

33wookiebender
Apr 17, 2012, 8:39pm Top

#29> One of my favourite movie-going experiences was "Creature from the Black Lagoon" in 3D. Great fun.

34iansales
Apr 18, 2012, 3:55am Top

Watched "The Third Part of the Night" by Andrzej Żuławski, a Polish classic from 1971. It's set during WWII and the Nazi occupation and features the main character supplementing his rations as a feeder of lice- which apparently happened, and is what saved a number of Polish intellectuals. The soundtrack to film is also excellent, but I don't think it's ever been released.

35kswolff
Apr 18, 2012, 10:56am Top

36CliffBurns
Apr 19, 2012, 9:01am Top

37CliffBurns
Apr 22, 2012, 1:08pm Top

Watched Duncan Jones' "Source Code" last night. Kind of a cool thriller, marred by an unsatisfying ending (how often have we heard that before). More likeable and inoffensive than most of the pop movie fare out there. The director is David Bowie's son and his debut film was "Moon", a better than average sci fi flick.

38nymith
Apr 22, 2012, 5:29pm Top

37: I've wanted to see Moon since I heard about its release. Never come across a copy yet...

----

Spent a nice Sunday afternoon watching Howards End. Merchant Ivory, so no need to say how beautiful it looked or how superbly it was acted. A bit rushed at the beginning, but the second half of the film evened out marvelously and the interplay between the characters was excellently well-done.

39CliffBurns
Apr 23, 2012, 10:56am Top

A fascinating short piece about the use of light. By acclaimed experimental film-maker Hollis Frampton:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-nBjFze-J4

40kswolff
Apr 29, 2012, 11:42am Top

Saw "Cabin in the Woods" last night, Directed by Drew Goddard, written by Joss Whedon. A great horror/sci fi satire/parody of the slasher/torture porn flicks. Does a great job in implicating the audience of voyeurism and being morally accountable for the underlying genre premises (promiscuous teens must die, etc.), turns everything on its head, and throwing it into a blender. Equal parts comedy and horror. As other reviewers have said, a "game-changer" for the genre. Like the "Scream" movies minus the winking smartassery.

Saw a preview for upcoming "Avengers" flick. OK, so Joss Whedon is directing, making me immediately biased. (Unapologetic fanboy.) It'll either be: "Holy balls, that was awesome!" or "Great, another Aliens 4" fiasco. Then again, even Whedon duds are fascinating trainwrecks, but never boring ... as opposed to the "Expendables" sequel, which looks stupid and ridiculously self-important.

41CliffBurns
Edited: Apr 29, 2012, 11:53am Top

Actually, I liked his take on the "Alien" franchise--it was far superior to #3, directed by David Fincher. And, needless to say, his "Firefly' series is a big fave around Casa Burns.

Whedon has real talent but I fear he's going to end up like Kevin Smith, elevated to God status by the comic book crowd, completely losing his focus, aesthetic, talent and selling his fat ass down the river. I mean, he's directing the next comic book piece of shit ("The Avengers") fer Chrissakes. I've heard about "Cabin in the Woods"--hope it's a return to form for the dude. But I got a bad feeling he's heading down the wrong road, riding the fast lane to Crapville.

42kswolff
Apr 29, 2012, 12:55pm Top

41: I wouldn't generalize about movies based on comic books, although good ones are extremely rare (The Dark Knight and the first Iron Man movie was "above average.") Although your fandom assessment is dead-on. It is easy to lose focus, especially when your fans think you're a god who can't make mistakes. Whatever the critical disaster, it's never Whedon's fault. (He must have a PR firm working for him as good as the one the Vatican has.) I think the key will be how much input Whedon has in the writing process, versus being a "hired gun" for a major studio, used to get "geek cred." Plus, unlike Kevin Smith, Whedon actually knows how to direct, on top of writing good dialogue. I just hope his experience as a showrunner helped him in wrangling the egos at work. Well, I won't know until I see it. Expect a full report.

Although on inspection from IMDB, Whedon is credited with the story and the screenplay. Good sings. And the story had 2 writers, not the usual committee of hacks used in such things. On the other hand, something like this is critically bulletproof. It will make money regardless of how bad it could be. But with Whedon doing the screenplay, that will keep me optimistic. If he was directing and someone else did the writing, then I'd be worried. Cautiously optimistic. Yes, because of the genre conventions, it will be a CGI yankfest, but CGI becomes tawdry and ridiculous with bad writing (see Avatar), with good writing, it can be quite awesome (see Lord of the Rings). Suffice to say, "Cabin in the Woods" had a spectacular combination of CGI, visual effects, costuming, etc., all blended seamlessly together.

The challenge is making the effects subservient to the narrative, not vice versa. Sure, "Avengers" is a summer blockbuster, but I'm betting it will be a couple steps above a Michael Bay cinematic excretion.

... or it could also suck balls. The constant battle of fanboy vs. critic. I'm not going to let one usurp the other. I'm not going to love it just to love it as a Whedonite, nor am I going to hate just to hate as some jaded cineaste. Whedon is no Kubrick, because I'd never expect him to be one to begin with. His background is deeply enmeshed with comic books. There are tons of references in his TV work, so it can't be dismissed out of hand. Hopefully Whedon will approach it as a professional, not as a Marvel fanboy. Then again, Whedon's work has always been a delicate balance between comic book fandom and satirical eviscerations of genres. Heck, he's written morally complex musicals, plumbing gray areas of tortured characters.

I remember Aliens 3 being dark and everyone being bald. And it was only at the end, for me, that Aliens 4 fell apart into some interspecies "families are important" drivel you'd expect from a Spielberg movie. On the other hand, Aliens 4 was directed by the French duo who did City of Lost Children and it had Ron Perlman being a badass.

43CliffBurns
Edited: Apr 29, 2012, 2:02pm Top

Karl, I'm 48. Too old for comic books, CGI fests, the Lingerie Football League (yes, there's really such a thing), gaming, malling, clubbing, eye candy...or time-wasters.

I've heard idjits proclaim that not only was the "Dark Knight" the best comic book movie ever, it was also one of the best MOVIES ever. Greeted by howls of derision on my part. "Dark Knight" was overblown, could've been cut by half an hour (at least) and was a ponderous as a brontosaurus wallowing in a tarpit. Memorable lines and dialogue? Surprises? Epiphanies? Insights into the human condition? Nope, instead we get comic book panels blown up to thirty feet high and sixty feet across. Christian Bale growling, Heath Ledger "emoting", Gary Oldman wasted, Michael Caine wringing his hands...and about four thousand explosions in the space of 2 1/2 hours. And let's not forget that ugly, fascistic underbelly we've discussed previously.

Seen my last comic book movie, I'm afraid. In the years I got left, wanna raise my aesthetic sights a tad higher and leave contemporary cinema with its robots, action figures and casualty ward demographic behind me...

44CliffBurns
Edited: Apr 29, 2012, 7:01pm Top

P.S. Sorry if I sounded crotchety. It's my belief that studios are deliberately playing down to their audience's lowest expectations...and film-goers are only too happy to supply them.

But the numbers ARE down, box office figures dipping and everyone in Tinseltown is crossing his/her fingers, hoping "The Avengers" will spark a resurgence that will bode well for the summer blockbusters. Otherwise there will be regime changes, heads rolling down Sunset and Vine.

So...are audiences (perhaps) tiring of the spectacle and looking for something a little more personal, relevant and closer to home? The gamers growing up and having kids; developing personalities and quasi-human traits. Maybe we're seeing the start of something. A sea change, of sorts. Just throwing that out there...

45jldarden
Edited: Apr 30, 2012, 8:21am Top

Cliff; I understand what you mean about raising the aesthetic. I am now 51 (What?!) and am more drawn to dramas, character studies, etc. Though with a college age daughter and a 10 yr old grandson I still enjoy dipping into pure entertainment with them occasionally!

46kswolff
Apr 29, 2012, 11:25pm Top

Cliff, it just seems like you're critiquing a genre based on its own conventions. "Pish posh, this spectacle is too spectacular!" Superhero films aren't about realism or nuanced personal interaction. They are an inherently juvenile genre aimed at juveniles. Batman is all about adolescent wish-fulfillment. It's a fine balance between fantasy and realism. Too realistic and it seems ridiculous; too fantastical and it descends into self-aware camp. A tricky balance and rarely done well.

Disparaging summer blockbusters for lack of humanity and relevance just seems silly. Didn't you chide Sir Ian Sales about his tut-tutting the latest Transformers "movie" for its lack of realism and historical authenticity about the Space Race? What next? "When will people see that porn is more than just the sex?"

Different genres, different genre expectations, and different genres should be judged on whether or not they meet those expectations.

"Pah! The latest Pride and Prejudice was entirely lacking in steampunk T-72s and ninja robot assassins! Do you know how few explosions there were in Austen's text? All this f___ing whist and marriage proposals!"

But I also think Wall-E and Idiocracy were documentaries. Blockbusters or no, the Western industrial powers have basically devolved into the rule of sanctimonious Bible-thumping non-sentient fatasses. I'd hardly accuse Michael Bay and Uwe Boll of creating the problem. And with our terrible math scores, I don't even know that "the lowest common denominator" would be a concept understood by Mr. Bay's key demographic.

47CliffBurns
Edited: Apr 30, 2012, 1:56pm Top

Did I chide Ian? Don't recall the comment in question--I hate the "Transformers" movies worse than turnips and can't imagine defending any aspect of them, even in jest.

The summer blockbuster mentality has been there since "Jaws" (at least); but now that attitude dominates everything, fluff proliferates and serious film-goers have to go further and further afield to find something that isn't designed to appeal to a 12 year old. An art form that brought us Abel Gance's "Napoleon" and Murnau's "Faust" and Welles' "Chimes at Midnight", etc. now reduced to product placements and MacDonald toy tie-ins.

I agree we have only ourselves to blame--but the state of film is a depressing commentary of the maturity of our aesthetic and the thoughtfulness and reasoning ability of North Americans.

Judging from the last lineup I saw at the 7-11, the size of the people and their children, I'd say that "Wall-E" is indeed factual. Perhaps even understating matters...

48kswolff
Apr 30, 2012, 12:45pm Top

47: Don't forget that the music industry that brought us the Beatles is now reduced to Ke$ha and that the visual arts that brought us Michelangelo has been reduced to Thomas Kinkade. If anything's to blame, it's probably democracy and the free flow of information:

"You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly."

49beardo
Apr 30, 2012, 1:07pm Top

I doubt everyone will agree with this article - still, an interesting read.

How Highbrows Killed Culture

Sontag was saying it was all right for serious people to enjoy the kitsch of popular culture as long as they did it with the correct—superior and ironic—attitude.

Today, if there were a T.S. Eliot, Time Magazine would no more put him on the cover than it would sing the praises of George W. Bush. Time’s literary critic writes children’s fantasy novels and chose a science-fiction book about elves as one of the crowning cultural achievements of 2011. Since the highbrow have been given permission to view the “frivolous as the serious,” why shouldn’t everybody else?

50justifiedsinner
Apr 30, 2012, 2:54pm Top

What book is he referring to?

52bertilak
Edited: May 1, 2012, 6:36pm Top

>48 kswolff: kswolff

(unnecessary post removed)

53anna_in_pdx
Apr 30, 2012, 3:55pm Top

49: What's interesting about it? The tone is so overbearingly sure of itself and judgmental (using adjectives like "shameful" with such a liberal hand...) that it is incredibly difficult to read (maybe if I self-identified as conservative it might be easier, but it is like reading a straight up attack since I self-identify as liberal), and its conclusions are like the ones in Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism with a slightly better vocabulary and more name-dropping per paragraph.

Conflating the countercultural movement with "liberals" generally is also just plain old bad writing. The counterculture was very much of its own time and responding to things that were happening then. I've read many intelligent articles about the counterculture, that point out where it was blinkered, factors that led to it, or where it was influential or not so much, etc. This is not one of them.

54kswolff
Apr 30, 2012, 4:16pm Top

49: We don't have TS Eliot as a literary critic, but we do have 4 conservative Catholics on the Supreme Court who are just as smug and out of touch as the late Anglo-Catholic conservative Nobel Laureate.

It is ironic that Sontag is targeted, since she called for an "erotics of criticism," a rebirth of personal enthusiasm for the arts, as opposed to "interpretation." I remember seeing a quote by Jack Smith that after Sontag championed "Flaming Creatures" during its obscenity trial that everyone watching the film were silent and serious, even though the film was supposed to be enjoyed as a comedy.

I think a lot of this hand-wringing and conservative apocalyptics is just the aftermath of things like Youtube, Amazon, Wikipedia, etc., where information is freely available and there's a ton of it. Along with the resurgence of specific groups who disagree that the Ne Plus Ultra of Western Culture involved 99% Dead White Males.

55anna_in_pdx
Apr 30, 2012, 4:28pm Top

We have lots of conservative literary critics that get nothing but genuflection and praise from the press. E.g., Harold Bloom / Alan Bloom / Clive James.... the list goes on. These guys aren't hiding out in obscurity because of liberal persecution.

As long as a literary critic has something intelligent to say it is not a problem for liberals that he may be conservative. I got all the way through Cultural Amnesia thinking it was very well written and thought provoking though I also felt free to disagree with a lot of his assumptions when it came to "leftism". But this writer is no Clive James, sad to say.

56beardo
Apr 30, 2012, 4:36pm Top

Anna,

With publications in both City Journal and Commentary, it's not surprising the author's tone grates on those who identify as left-of-center. I too found it insufferable. Yet it wasn't his ideological biases that intrigued me. Instead, I found his alternate view to the commonly-held belief that the 1950s were a cultural wasteland, as well as his overview of how conceptions of taste changed, to be of interest.

The entire Sontag section makes no claims that the 1960s were a particularly liberal response, so I'm left to assume the passage you find so objectionable for conflating (and only by inference) the counterculture movement with liberals is the following:

"Whatever the excesses of the 1960s might have been, so the argument goes, that decade represented the necessary struggle to free America’s mind-damaged automatons from their captivity at the hands of the Lords of Conformity and Kitsch." (italics added)

I read this passage, not as an expression of the author's views, but rather the second half to the mythology of the 1950s and 1960s that he spends much of the article rebutting. That is, the K-Tel/Time-Life view of history that sees the 1950s as a cultural nadir, also sees the 1960s as a liberal reaction. Both, as you rightly point out, are gross simplifications.

Ultimately I didn't see the article as a discussion of the counter-culture, but rather one concerned with how ideas of taste and culture developed and changed in the twentieth century.

Best,

57beardo
Edited: Apr 30, 2012, 4:51pm Top

I provided the link to this article in response to Cliff and Karl's earlier discussion bemoaning the falling of standards in movies and music. The article provides a possible response to the question of why this is the case - but it makes no claims that conservative critics are persecuted nor does it contain "hand-wringing" that information is now freely available.

What is so easily dismissed as conservative ranting is nearly identical to Cliff and Karl's earlier posts - with only a different cause proposed. The problem, both the article and this group seem to agree is poor quality.

58anna_in_pdx
Apr 30, 2012, 5:24pm Top

Really, Jonathon, do you seriously share this "belief" that the 50s were a cultural wasteland? Because I think it is a straw man because I don't think it IS a commonly held belief, but maybe I lack sufficient academic background. (Personally, I introduced my kids to classical music with "Fantasia," having no idea of this Foundation of Liberalism.) But let's take a closer look.

The first paragraph merely sets up a straw man to tilt at. What "American culture in the 50s"? What "foundational myth" of "liberalism" or of anything? By making up the "argument" himself, he's creating a straw man to tilt at. The second paragraph is no better. Again, what wildly successful attack? Without any examples, both paragraphs just make a bunch of grandiose statements that are confusing.

Suddenly we are talking about the 1920s and there are two actual examples, lit critic Cowley who is paraphrased past the point where I could even glean his original argument, and H. L. Mencken, who is not a "liberal" except by modern "not a conservative" standards, and who would probably not self-identify as one in any case. Next he states that Brave New World is a liberal foundational text. Again, huh? It's a dystopia that a lot of people have to read in high school because it goes with other dystopias such as 1984. Is it "liberal" per se? What does that even mean? And how is being against advertising being against "culture"? I could play this rather stupid game by seizing on some of Heinlein's more commonly taught novels and claiming that they are foundational myths for the libertarian disease that has taken over our culture and attacks whatever they attack - and actually my argument would be stronger than his because the actual political slant is EASIER TO SEE with Heinlein than it with Huxley.

He spends a long time on Ortega y Gasset's book, and he may have a really strong argument for all I know because I have not read it so I will give him that point, even though it's a little bit logically.. not ok? to say that "Aha, this book was popular in Nazi germany, then.... well.... (leaving it to the audience to fill in the obvious blank)" I think this logical fallacy even has a name... let's see... I know it can come to me... Well, never mind. Moving on.

Oh boy, no conservative attack on "liberalism" is complete without pointing out that early 20th century intellectuals believed in eugenics. Did he mention Margaret Sanger? Oh darn, he missed that one. Oh gosh, more and more stuff on Brave new World. Then, to confuse his audience even more he calls views that are generally non-conformist and uncomfortable with advertising and stuff, "reactionary." In that they are a throwback to .... when? If they are aristocratic, why is he equating this with "liberalism"? (Don't answer that. I know there is a sort of right-wing dog whistle about "liberal" equating to "elitist".)

He ridicules a passage from a book he is mocking on Donald Duck, which actually does not seem all that bad to me. Donald Duck does indeed act like that. That is why he is funny. There is no hint as to why we should find this passage egregious. I guess because we are supposed to think that Donald Duck should not be discussed in a literary criticism article? Because....?

Then he does what Clive James often does and uses the litmus test of "how did X behave during WWII? Was he/she sufficiently anti-Fascist? Did he/she dare to criticize anyone else or stick to just the Nazis?" Unfortunately again Clive James at least can present this argument with intelligent writing and not just sound like a tool. This time the victim is Dwight MacDonald, a critic of the 50s. There are several paragraphs on this guy. Who obviously I as a liberal consider one of my founders. Umm, no actually I have no idea who he is. He sounds like a jerk, but of course he is quoted selectively. The article ends with this same guy, who of course represents Liberalism somehow, reacting sympathetically to the student movements of the time. Juxtaposed with a particularly incendiary example (even though they probably weren't connected at all) the final quote from this guy sounds sufficiently damning. (What a cheap trick.)

So...."First, there were some young writers in the 20s and 30s who looked down on the middle class. Then, there were a bunch of critics in the mid-century who were not only pro-Nazi, they didn't understand that middle class people were actually reading and going to concerts. Then the 60s students burned things down and these same cultural critics supported them. All these guys represent Liberalism's foundational myth, and they attacked the middle class directly by criticizing consumerism which are obviously one and the same thing, and I am done. Hope you are suitably impressed with my name-dropping article."

A logic class could use this article as an exercise that contains at least half a dozen of the most commonly used fallacies.

59kswolff
Apr 30, 2012, 8:08pm Top

58: Conservatives mythologize the Fifties; liberals mythologies the Sixties. To mangle some Santayana: those who mythologize the past and destined to never get out of it. I'm also disgusted with the "X generation has less taste than my generation." Last time I checked, nostalgia didn't count as critical thinking.

Harold Bloom is a cantankerous old fellow, but I wouldn't be too quick to label him "conservative." The two terms -- liberal and conservative -- have been so drained of meaning and co-opted, they become empty referents. Meaningless totems to bash in the skull of the opposition. Bloom is more of an old school aesthete and his critiques of America's slow lurch towards a populist theocracy are ferociously vicious. Yet he is an admirable defender of both Mohammad and Joseph Smith as "creative geniuses." He's definitely against the modern plethora of academic -isms, but he's too wily to put in any ideological box.

60beardo
May 1, 2012, 4:22pm Top

Kubrick's first film - Day of the Fight 16 min, 1951.

61anna_in_pdx
May 1, 2012, 7:12pm Top

Having thought about this article and the idea that the 50s were somehow lacking in culture there is another thing I don't like about this whole discussion, which is that we are all supposed to infer that "American culture" is the dominant group's culture and it is not even defined, just inferred/assumed.

This bothers me. Americans are a diverse group. They were diverse in the 50s too. They were not just white people going to the symphony orchestra concerts and reading Saul Bellow. They were also recent immigrants, participating in their own sort of cultural enrichment activities, and non-recent immigrants that were people of color, whose cultures arguably intersected with and participated in the dominant one but were also different in a variety of ways. They were poor people participating in bluegrass or blues or whatever. They were artists participating in the mass culture, while also critiquing it. They were all those people, no one was more American than the next person. If Leonard Bernstein is representative of the 50s so are the Beats, so are jazz musicians, so is Walt Disney, so is Chuck Berry, and so is Jackson Pollack.

Culture is so complex. A lot of the conservative critique bothers me because it has this "let's go back to the old way of doing things - of course it goes without saying that i mean the way my own personal grandfather's life was, not any of you other people" kind of vibe.

62kswolff
Edited: May 2, 2012, 10:50am Top

61: The two greatest books of the 1950s were Lolita and Naked Lunch And lest we forget Streetcar Named Desire, play and film.

Conservatism has devolved from a pro-business, pro-religion stance to a kind of paleo-nostalgia for Southern White apartheid and rule by goodly straight Protestant technocrats. It's a total caricature that they are passing off as "normal." The same goes for the Sixties. It wasn't all daisy chains, LSD trips, and good music. There was Vietnam, race riots, assassinations a go-go, and a nation convulsing from extreme socioeconomic change. Leftist nostalgia is just more day-glo, but just as simplistic and condescending. The entire debate is stupid.

What if they held The Culture Wars and no one showed up?

63varielle
May 2, 2012, 10:46am Top

Did you mean Latter Day Saints or lysergic acid diethylamide? ;)

64kswolff
May 2, 2012, 10:50am Top

Oops, corrected. Too my LDS.

65justifiedsinner
May 2, 2012, 10:52am Top

Obviously he meant visits to the planet Kobol with the original crew of the Battlestar Galactica.

66kswolff
May 2, 2012, 5:06pm Top

65: Depends if you enjoy 80s era Dirk Benedict or 00s era Katee Sackhoff.

Could Lorne Greene's role as Adama on BSG be construed as an interplanetary version of Highway to Heaven? (Wow, what I'll do for an overly laborious pop culture reference!)

67justifiedsinner
May 2, 2012, 10:55pm Top

From Orson Scott Card's dictionary of Mormonism:

Battlestar Galactica the original 1978 series, that is — In an effort to embarrass the Church, the devil caused Mormon terms like “eternal marriage” and “the Council of the Twelve” and “Kobol” (Kolob) to be presented in an uninspired, untalented, badly written television show. Thus, when missionaries tell investigators about the Council of the Twelve, the investigators are quite likely to giggle and say, “I’m sorry to laugh, but that just reminds me of the silliest sort of science fiction.”

(And they wouldn't have giggled if there hadn't been the TV series?)

68kswolff
May 3, 2012, 12:58pm Top

Card, Orson Scott: One-trick pony and homophobic hatemonger who is still riding on the coat-tails of that one book he wrote in the 80s.

69TJH1966
May 4, 2012, 1:16am Top

#68: Nail; head.

70anna_in_pdx
May 4, 2012, 11:36am Top

I thought Pastwatch was a really good book, and Enders Game was an entertaining YA. He is certainly politically quite the rightwing crank.

71CliffBurns
May 6, 2012, 12:13am Top

Watched "A Stir of Echoes" with my sons tonight. Accomplished little thriller, adapted from the Richard Matheson novel by David Koepp.

Better film than "A Sixth Sense", some genuine chills...

72kswolff
May 6, 2012, 10:54am Top

71: "What a tweest!" -- M. Night Shyamalan shilling some poorly conceived piece of cinematic tripe for the masses.

73CliffBurns
May 7, 2012, 12:38am Top

Watched Alex Cox's 1987 film, "Walker".

American imperialism in Central America, from the 1850's to the present day--lots of blood and oppression, no happy endings.

74wookiebender
May 7, 2012, 1:48am Top

Got out to see "Avengers". Wasn't particularly interested in going, but then found out the Joss Whedon connection (truth be told, I'd been told previously, but said fact fell out of my head). And friends raved.

I think it was overhyped for me. Sure, there are a few great Joss Whedon moments, but the plot was a mess, with nothing explained very well.

And my beef as with "Thor": why give Loki motivation? Why not just embrace him as a chaotic being, and have fun with that? But, oh no, it all has to be about him trying to achieve something (that isn't just chaos). Waste of a perfectly good baddie.

On the plus side, the aforementioned Joss moments; some excellent fight choreography for both Black Widow and Hawkeye (who I'd never heard of before); and a fairly good ensemble with no one Avenger getting more than their fair share of plot/screentime/one-liners. (Okay, apart from Tony Stark, who of course gets all the best lines, but he's the best character by far; I'm really rather sad I couldn't say the same thing about Loki.)

In summary: not as good as Batman or Iron Man; but better than Thor.

And I'm a little bit over the superhero genre.

Don got out "MI:4" on DVD over the weekend. I have to say I gasped in amazement at some of the stunts (and watched through my fingers at times). Impressively done action flick on that level. On another level, I paid no attention to the plot (was reading The Thin Man mostly), and went to bed early without watching the ending. (I assume it all ended well.)

Damn, I want to find a copy of "The Thin Man" movie...

75kswolff
May 7, 2012, 11:21am Top

74: I don't remember any Mission Impossible movie having a coherent plot.

Saw "The People vs. George Lucas," which was really well done. A great exploration of fan culture, authorship, creative control, and the love-hate relationship of Star Wars fans to George Lucas.

76TJH1966
May 8, 2012, 9:28pm Top

@ 73: With Ed Harris, right? I'd forgotten about it. It would be worth watching again.

77CliffBurns
May 8, 2012, 9:41pm Top

I enjoyed "Walker". Not a subtle film but effective and, at times, downright odd.

79CliffBurns
May 9, 2012, 5:19pm Top

Looks fascinating!

80CliffBurns
May 12, 2012, 12:29am Top

Watched "Rocky Horror Picture Show" tonight with my family--first time for me in about twenty years. What a hoot and Tim Curry's entrance is still one of the greatest in cinema history.

81nymith
May 12, 2012, 9:32am Top

Tried to watch The Fountain. Much as I like Hugh Jackman (or at least The Prestige), I couldn't stand that one. What do people see in it? Three interlinking plots and they're ALL bad. 1. A lame Love Story clone. 2. A godforsaken Saturday Matinee recycled sci-fi plot with a conquistador forsaking his fight against the Inquisition to go questing for the fountain of youth in Mexico. 3. A futurist space quest that simply reeks of New Agey-ness. No. No. And no again. Out it goes. I bailed on it.

82CliffBurns
May 12, 2012, 9:41am Top

Terrific soundtrack for "The Fountain"--I sometimes use it for atmospheric music as I'm writing. Mogwai and Kronos Quartet. Never saw the film, don't think it would be of much interest to me. Sounded like a third-rate David Mitchell novel.

83nymith
May 12, 2012, 9:45am Top

82: Ha! I heard the soundtrack first, on YouTube, and it is really good stuff. You've got the soundtrack, then you've got the best of it. Just keep right on not seeing the film....

84CliffBurns
Edited: May 12, 2012, 10:19am Top

It's too bad because Aronofsky's "Pi" is a fine movie. But since then...

(Full disclosure: still haven't seen his adaptation of "Requiem of a Dream".)

A good piece on Aronofsky's flawed body of work here:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/01/before-black-swan-darre...

85marq
May 12, 2012, 10:10am Top

3>I saw the trailer to Wrath of the Titans when I saw John Carter at the cinema. It looks... like they put everything and everyone in it.

Yes, including another quick appearance of that gold mechanical owl that was so annoying in the 1981 version of Clash of the Titans. "Bubo" is also in the 2010 Clash remake and I spotted him in Hephaestus' cave in Wrath.

86nymith
May 12, 2012, 10:57am Top

84: Good article. Nice to see someone back up my case against The Fountain. The public seems to have liked it - all the reviews I could find were glowing assertions of how "deep" it was. If you say so....

I didn't know Aronofsky was the guy who directed Black Swan, a film I have only heard of in passing. That one I don't really want to see, mainly because its distillation into an Einsturzende Neubauten video is so perfect (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TDokyQF8Yw) I don't see how the film itself could improve on it. I'm not sure how good a reason that is to avoid Black Swan, but there are plenty of other films to see in the meantime and I don't feel I'm missing out.

87DugsBooks
May 12, 2012, 8:31pm Top

I liked The Fountain. Most of the complaints I saw were about being confused by the storyline. I thought the special effects were great. A lot of chiaroscuro to set the tone and the Dyson tree/space bubble. A very tricky film to watch with a wife or significant other I would presume. I suggest preparing beforehand how to explain "yes you would dedicate your life and search for a thousand years and cross space and time" to keep you both together in the event even the slightest illness were to compromise the relationship. ;-)

88iansales
May 13, 2012, 4:57am Top

I've not seen Pi, but I have watched Requiem of a Dream, The Fountain and Black Swan. Aronofsky's films are intense, perhaps too intense - he seems to take one emotion from the story and hammer it into the viewer's brain through their eyes. It doesn't make for especially pleasant viewing experiences. I can recognise his skill as a film-maker but I can't say I'm a fan.

89CliffBurns
May 13, 2012, 12:03pm Top

"Pi" is by far the best of his films, from what I've seen. Don't miss it.

90varielle
May 15, 2012, 2:23pm Top

The Fountain had been languishing in my Netflix queue for a while and I finally got around to it last night. Best beloved made it to the halfway point, because he's a devoted Hugh Jackman fan, before he bailed. I decided to stick it out. The best thing I could say about it was that it was beautifully shot. I couldn't see enough chemistry between the conquistador/scientist/guru and the queen/ailing novelist wife to indicate any love that could transcend time. The lab staff and Ellen Burstyn were all particularly annoying. Jackman's character was clearly out of control and needed to be suspended. Really, who throws a temper tantrum at their wife's funeral? So, if he just had a few more minutes he could have saved her by sticking monkey juice in her head? If he loved her so much couldn't he be bothered to go walk with his dying wife in the snow? Give me a freaking break! I got the philosophical/theological/metaphysical point but it was really stupidly arrived at.

91nymith
May 16, 2012, 9:49am Top

90: Thank you for the mini-review. I don't find the notion of turning one's wife into a scientific guinea pig very romantic, myself. I think the point was about man's hubristic search for immortality but for that message to work it needed a better messenger than The Fountain. You're making me feel justified for having bailed.

92CliffBurns
May 16, 2012, 9:50am Top

I repeat, gang: put "Pi" on your list, it's quite stunning.

93Jargoneer
May 16, 2012, 11:02am Top

Watched a couple of films at the weekend -

Rabbit Hole about a couple trying to come to terms with the death of their young son. I wasn't fully engaged by this but it was one of those films that improved as it went on.

The Proposal - a romcom starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. I know it sounds dreadful but it was OK, especially the first half. It was interesting to see a film where the female lead was noticeably older than the male lead, something that happens rarely in any cinema, never mind just Hollywood.

94DugsBooks
Edited: May 16, 2012, 9:36pm Top

#92, I liked "Pi" also but the last time I watched it was years ago on video tape. As I remember some the "high tech" sets looked like those from the movie "Brazil" by director Terry Gilliam. The repeated sequences of the pill addiction habit with the accompanying sound effects are a great hook. Edgy flick.

95kswolff
May 16, 2012, 9:45pm Top

Saw Thor, it sucks. No surprise there. Saw Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, forget how fun it was. Like Reservoir Dogs with the cast of Red Dwarf, with a ridiculously farcical plot. Guy Ritchie needs to start making Guy Ritchie movies again. Less Holmes, more Cockney dingbat gangster capers.

96CliffBurns
May 17, 2012, 9:39am Top

Amen, re: Guy Ritchie. Once he dumped Madonna, I thought there were renewed signs of hope.

97Jargoneer
May 17, 2012, 11:21am Top

Considering the first Sherlock Holmes film is Ritchie's best we can only hope that he gets sucked into the Hollywood whirlpool of development and is never heard of again. What we don't want is more Mockney gangster films. Of course, in the colonies these films may be the height of sophistication, mistaken for Wodehouse with weapons.

98anna_in_pdx
May 17, 2012, 12:04pm Top

It's not that they are sophisticated - they are not, they are just funny (I am a big fan of Snatch and LS&2SB). I like crime films with humor in them and lots of slapstick. I liked the Irish "The Guard" from last year too (although I really, really needed subtitles).

And I really didn't like the first SH film but that is because I just don't like Robert Downy Jr and because it was just too different from the book and too steampunk. It just didn't work for me. Funny how subjective film is for people...

99kswolff
May 17, 2012, 9:46pm Top

97/98: As much as I love Robert Downey, Jr. -- still a fan of his take on Tony Stark -- I'd only count SH as an "entertainment." Will probably see the sequel via Netflix. But Lock, Stock, and Snatch are brilliant in their own ways. And comparing them to Wodehouse misses the obvious classist charm (seriously, you're from the UK and you didn't pick that up?). Wodehouse is upper class toffs being charming. The Gangster flicks were like lower class East End Rube Goldberg machines that ran on incomprehensible rhyming slang and self-consciously over-complicated plots. "Wodehouse with weapons" is simply the Bush Administration, since Dubya was like Bertie Wooster with his finger on the button and Cheney's thumb up G. Dubs's ass.

I'd put Lock, Stock in the same category as something like Sexy Beast, except the latter was a lot darker, but still funny. "I think I'll order the calamari."

100mejix
May 18, 2012, 11:33pm Top

Halfway through The Tree of Life. Like my other Malick experience it has been climactic since it started. Somehow it feels unearned. At moments I was wondering if relying so much on this magnificent footage isn't also kind of lack of imagination. Everything has gravitas. No space for humor or absurdity. The dinosaur moment and the woman floating, those things were bold moments. I wish there was more of that in the movie. Must've been great to see this film at the theater.

101CliffBurns
May 19, 2012, 12:00pm Top

The dinosaur segment was my least favorite aspect of the film, which I regard with equal amounts of affection and exasperation. Bold, certainly, but also pretentious and downright silly at times. Jessica Chastain is a wonder as an actress, the kids are great but Pitt will never be the kind of "everyman" his role required. It was a casting choice made with the box office in mind (just as Kubrick liked to boost his films with star power, especially in the latter part of his career) and just doesn't work.

102CliffBurns
Edited: May 19, 2012, 12:04pm Top

Last night and this morning I watched Olivier Assayas' biopic on "Carlos", the infamous terrorist.

Normally I shy away from biopics but this one (the 5-hour cut) was gripping, intelligent and uncompromising. As I told my wife, it's just such a pleasure to find a recent movie that treats viewers with respect. A smart film made BY smart people FOR smart people.

103mejix
Edited: May 19, 2012, 1:26pm Top

>101 CliffBurns:
It seemed to me that the dinosaur moment was about the only place when he abandoned this heavy handed lyrical mannerism. Alas, it was only a brief sequence. Affection and exasperation describes pretty much how I feel about Malick too. I love criticizing him, but it's for his own good.

104CliffBurns
May 19, 2012, 1:42pm Top

**Spoiler alert**

Re: "Tree of Life"--didn't it seem heavy-handed to you when the predator dinosaur pins the smaller one under its foot, stares at it, and then seemingly has pity on it? That was a real groaner to me. My least favorite moment in the movie, a vignette that detracted from whatever Malick was trying to establish.

105mejix
May 19, 2012, 2:04pm Top

It is heavy handed but not lyrical. It kind of breaks that whole mood. Although I have to admit I had not realized that one dinosaur forgave the other. That is so kitschy.

Some parts of the movie reminded me of over the top painters, like John Martin:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2011/sep/20/john-martin-apocalyps...

106CliffBurns
May 19, 2012, 2:56pm Top

I can see that--it is a gorgeous movie to look at but, like many of Malick's films, there's something lacking, a real human core. After awhile, there's a sense that what you're seeing seems contrived, consciously created for effect. The puppet-master's hands are visible and as a result some of the power is lost.

107kswolff
May 19, 2012, 6:50pm Top

106: That's my opinion on the movie "The Cell," the one with Jennifer Lopez where she goes through a serial killer's brain. Gorgeous cinematography and visceral surrealist images, but still ... it came off as a half-baked variant of Silence of the Lambs

108CliffBurns
May 19, 2012, 8:03pm Top

I remember that one, it was fatuous nonsense but, you're right, stylishly filmed. I especially recollect a scene where a guy is slowly having his intestines reeled out through a hole in his stomach. Pretty tacky.

109mejix
May 19, 2012, 9:08pm Top

106
I think we agree on Malick. We don't agree on the dinosaur sequence but that's really not central to the movie.

I was reminded of the paintings because this is a grandiose sensibility that lacks proportion. It is both beautiful and unintentionally silly.

110CliffBurns
May 20, 2012, 9:47am Top

Watched "Darwin's Nightmare" last night, a depressing documentary about fishing in Lake Victoria and, meanwhile, the deplorable effects the industry is having on the people of Tanzania and the surrounding region. My God, it was hard to watch at times, the overall effect almost demoralizing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJhHLUbdUjg

112CliffBurns
May 20, 2012, 1:11pm Top

#111 Great soundtrack for that movie.

113kswolff
May 20, 2012, 5:55pm Top

Saw Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. My two word review: "Wholly unnecessary." I'm sure there is a movie that captures the Zeitgeist of the 2009 Global Financial Holocaust -- perhaps Margin Call? -- WS: MNS is not that movie. As a fan of the 80s flick, I'll just pretend this cinematic turd never existed.

"Run Ronnie Run" -- the movie based on the Mr. Show character Ronnie Dobbs -- was silly and vulgar in the best possible way. A bit padded and scattershot, it still provided loads of laughs, including a couple musical numbers.

114CliffBurns
Edited: May 20, 2012, 6:35pm Top

Another needless sequel? Surprise, surprise.

And somehow Oliver Stone has carved out a place for himself on the left as a credible spokeperson-slash-bad film maker. Remarkable. The right doesn't have a monopoly on weirdness. Or loonies.

115kswolff
May 20, 2012, 11:24pm Top

To paraphrase Nathan Rabin, "One sign of growing up is realizing that Robin Williams is not funny. The other is that Oliver Stone is full of shit."

116madpoet
May 21, 2012, 4:28am Top

Now I feel old. I can remember when Robin Williams was actually funny.

117guido47
Edited: May 21, 2012, 5:23am Top

Bought "tintin" the movie, a week ago. Still haven't looked at it. I like (but am not mad about) the cartoon. I think I am a bit scared I wouldn't like it. The animation/graphics look a bit "strange" (in the trailers I have seen).

I need reasurrance or a boo.

Guido.

PS. Watched all 12 episodes of the "Dresden Files" season 1 and only, in one sitting. Have rewatched them at a more leisurely pace.

They are based on Jim Butcher's series.
I recon the episodes/actors evolved and am sorry the series wasn't renewed.

118kswolff
May 21, 2012, 8:36pm Top

Saw The Avengers, a Joss Whedon joint. How superhero movies should be done. Hopefully with its box office success, Whedon can get some financial firepower and traction to run another TV show, except have more creative control. Come on, Joss, do something on HBO or Cinemax. He needs an intervention so he won't work with FOX Network again.

119DugsBooks
May 21, 2012, 9:38pm Top

What version #118 KS.....3D , regular, or 3D supermax or whatever? I saw the "regular version " and liked it but thought I should have waited for the CD if was going to view that version because it was pretty plain jane - seemingly purposely so.

120kswolff
May 21, 2012, 10:25pm Top

119: Regular version. If I saw it in 3D, I probably would have heaved. It was visually sumptuous enough as it is.

121CliffBurns
May 22, 2012, 10:53am Top

Sherron and I watched an odd Hungarian film called "Kontroll". The secret life of the Budapest underground, the strange things that go on in the midst of commuter rushes and high tech trains. We both quite liked it, Sherron a bit more than me (the romantic subplot didn't work for cynical ol' Cliff, as per usual).

A worthy, original film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJQnWCPMrII

122nymith
May 22, 2012, 11:11am Top

121: Sounds good and the trailer is excellent. Shall have to check it out.

123Jargoneer
May 22, 2012, 11:23am Top

Watched The Awakening (BBC Films ghost story) - worked quite well in the beginning despite the overly familiar set up of boarding school and the sceptical ghost-hunter but fell apart somewhat near the end.

124mejix
Edited: May 24, 2012, 2:13am Top

Luhrman directs The Great Gatsby in 3D.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgzhtUeER7o

After this is The Great Gatsby on Ice!

125Jargoneer
Edited: May 24, 2012, 8:51am Top

Why The Great Gatsby is doomed to failure - Attempting the Impossible.

And there is also a musical to come - The Great Gatsby Musical opens at the Kings Head Theatre, London, on August 7th 2012. I look forward to Gatsby singing Love Will Tear Us Apart and Drive My Car.

126CliffBurns
May 24, 2012, 9:47am Top

I didn't like the 1974 version of "Gatsby", though it boasted some superstar actors, and I WON'T be seeing anything with DeCaprio's fat, rubbery face in it. I didn't see Luhrman's version of "Romeo & Juliet" either. The "ick" quotient was in the red on that one.

127kswolff
May 24, 2012, 8:41pm Top

It's still a crappy book, Western Canon or not. It would only work if a Kardashian or a Trump had the role of Gatsby. Sorry, spoilers! If more whiny entitled rich dross ended their lives like Gatsby, this planet might be somewhat more tolerable. The rich shouldn't Go Galt, they should Go Gatsby. Bring on the swimming pools and handguns! Huzzah!

129nymith
May 24, 2012, 10:52pm Top

125: Unfortunately the lives of the shallow rich do not enchant me enough to use my imagination - therefore Gatsby and co. seemed like empty and meaningless characters and the book failed. The best part of it was Fitzgerald's gorgeous prose, which could never translate to screen. Therefore I probably won't be seeing this film.

127: "The rich shouldn't Go Galt, they should Go Gatsby. Bring on the swimming pools and handguns! Huzzah!" Funniest thing I've read all day. Thanks!

130anna_in_pdx
May 25, 2012, 12:05am Top

I do like the fact that most who bring up Gatsby around here agree with me that it was a boring book about obnoxious entitled jerk rich people. It did have some prettily written passages though, I must say.

131nymith
May 25, 2012, 9:48am Top

130: The problem wasn't that it was about rich people, it's that those rich people were dull. When you think about the amount of stuff that was going on - the parties, the adultery, the lost chances, the hinted-at criminality and the high death toll - this is really rather amazing. It should have been better.

132anna_in_pdx
May 25, 2012, 11:41am Top

There is an Egyptian novel by Naguib Mahfouz called "Gossip on the Nile" that is a better-written version of what Gatsby could have been.

133nymith
May 25, 2012, 11:46am Top

I've got a stack of Mahfouz novels - one is called Adrift on the Nile. Is that it?

134anna_in_pdx
Edited: May 25, 2012, 12:35pm Top

Probably. I never know what the translation of "tharthara foq el nil" is. Also, it was a great movie. Mahfouz probably was involved in the screenplay.

135CliffBurns
May 27, 2012, 1:30am Top

Watched the original Swedish version of "Let the Right One In".

Very good movie, creepy without being gross-out or nauseating. A vampire movie with heart AND brains.

And blood, of course...

136kswolff
May 28, 2012, 10:10pm Top

130: Rich people don't have to be dull, if the writer has something to say. Compare and contrast The Great Gatsby with Vile Bodies by Waugh. Both had an opinion about the degradations of modernity and the emptiness of wealth, but Waugh is funny, Fitzgerald is dour and solemn. Then again, the US has been infected by the poison of Puritans, whereas the UK was dealing with WW 1 survivor guilt. Granted, Waugh craved a Catholic medieval England every bit as outdated and fiction as JRR Tolkien, but Waugh was also part of the comedic tradition in England. Americans are just so damn serious -- and goddamn boring! -- when they are hammering the reader over the head with a two-by-four, see Grapes of Wrath, Atlas Shrugged, Oil!, Wall Street, etc.

137CliffBurns
Jun 1, 2012, 3:45pm Top

Ridley Scott's prequel to "Alien"--will it be worth a hoot?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-17701436

138kswolff
Jun 1, 2012, 4:36pm Top

137: Only if Russell Crowe is killed in a hilariously agonizing fashion during the first five minutes.

139CliffBurns
Jun 4, 2012, 2:35pm Top

140CliffBurns
Jun 6, 2012, 12:05am Top

Watched "Remo Williams"--only mildly entertaining and an absolutely godawful score.

141kswolff
Jun 6, 2012, 6:41pm Top

140: I'll probably have the same reaction once I get around to watching The King's Speech, aka A Fish Called Wanda minus the jokes.

142CliffBurns
Jun 7, 2012, 12:51am Top

Barry Purves' 12-minute animated adaptation of "Achilles":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jpax3l19zw

Wonderful stop motion effects.

143iansales
Jun 10, 2012, 7:24am Top

144CliffBurns
Jun 10, 2012, 10:13am Top

Shoot, I had hopes that would be the one movie worth seeing this summer.

Er...how about "Iron Sky"? Dare I ask?

145iansales
Jun 10, 2012, 10:29am Top

Not seen that, though I plan to get the DVD. However, having seen all the Star Wreck films, my expectations for Iron Sky are not high...

What else is scheduled for release this summer? I don't know of anything else that might encourage to pay out for IMAX 3D...

146louisvuittonusd
Jun 10, 2012, 10:30am Top

This user has been removed as spam.

147louisvuittonusd
Jun 10, 2012, 10:31am Top

This user has been removed as spam.

148CliffBurns
Jun 10, 2012, 10:40am Top

We been Spammed...

149CliffBurns
Jun 10, 2012, 3:06pm Top

Gord's been busy again.

This time it's a link to BoingBoing, noted geeks picking their favorite mind-blowing movies:

http://boingboing.net/tag/mind-blowing-movies

150varielle
Edited: Jun 11, 2012, 10:12am Top

Just finished watching The Good German. They got the look and the sound right, but what an utter waste of time. The plot was nonsensical and good actors wasted. Tobey McGuire was the best thing it had to offer and his character got killed off early. George Clooney was supposed to be a journalist, but he never writes a word, has no deadlines, and apparently isn't being held accountable by anybody because he spends all his time chasing around after his old married girlfriend. The final scene was a total rip off of Casa Blanca right down to Cate Blanchett wearing Ingrid Bergman's hat. What a disappointment.

151CliffBurns
Jun 10, 2012, 9:07pm Top

Dreadful movie, I agree. Waste of the talents involved.

152kswolff
Jun 10, 2012, 10:16pm Top

Mrs. Doubtfire re-cut as a psychological thriller.

http://www.blameitonthevoices.com/2012/06/mr-doubtfire-re-cut.html

153mejix
Edited: Jun 12, 2012, 12:24am Top

Just saw the first hour of "Mysteries of Lisbon" by Raul Ruiz. The film is based on a 19th century Portuguese romantic novel. Convoluted, melodramatic plot but told with such restraint and austerity. Feels very intelligent. Beautiful photography too. It's an interesting combination.

154CliffBurns
Jun 11, 2012, 11:05pm Top

I have "Mysteries of Lisbon" and have been dying to see it. Maybe this weekend...

155iansales
Jun 12, 2012, 3:46am Top

Watched "Bridesmaids" on the weekend. I'd heard good things about it, but it proved to be not very funny. The third act was little more than ham-fisted moralising. When I spotted Judd Apatow's name in the credits I understood why.

I think watched Andrzej Żuławski's "Na Srebrnym Globie" ("On the Silver Globe"), which makes Tarkovsky looks like Hollywood. It's based on a Polish sf novel from 1911, and it's one of those East European art house films where the characters run around, gurn a lot, and pontificate at length. It's also unfinished. The Polish Ministry of Culture closed down the production when it was only 80% complete. Ten years later, Żuławski completed the film using stock footage and voice-over. It makes for a weirdly-compelling, if slow, movie. The religious allegory is a bit heavy-handed - the crucifixion on the beach has to be seen to be believed - and some of the special effects and costumes are bit Dr Who-ish, but it's definitely a film worth watching. The soundtrack is great too.

Also watched the Coen Brothers "True Grit". Not a big fan of theirs, I have to admit. This was mostly entertaining, though way everyone spoke was distracting and the story didn't really go anywhere or do anything. Mind you, it's not as if a Coen Bros western is ever going to push any of my buttons anyway...

156marq
Jun 12, 2012, 11:34am Top

I saw Prometheus tonight. Some extremely beautiful scenes and I loved Noomi Rapace, the (original) Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. There were a few counter "bumper sticker" atheist jabs in the film. Interesting to see those perspectives seeping into (more) popular culture. They seem to have upset a few reviewers.

157DugsBooks
Jun 12, 2012, 12:40pm Top

#156 The SF group is having a go at Prometheus.

I saw The House of Yes the other day on Neflix and was a little taken aback by the movie. I guess some because of content but mainly startled because of the excellent job Parker Posey did in the film. It was adopted from a play and retained excellent dialogue from that source. Anyone else seen this? I found it interesting and suspenseful.

158iansales
Jun 12, 2012, 12:42pm Top

To be fair, "Prometheus" is pretty bad. Not quite as bad as "Star Trek XI", but nowhere near as good as "John Carter".

159CliffBurns
Edited: Jun 12, 2012, 3:41pm Top

I really resent the impression given in some quarters that "Prometheus" is a "thinking person's SF movie". What a bunch of hooey. Pseudo-archaeology, pseudo-theology and a buncha purty pitchers equals bullshit and ballyhoo.

Not buying into it. And I note that "Prometheus" did not debut at Number 1 in America, it came in behind "Madagascar 3". Not exactly encouraging...

160mejix
Jun 12, 2012, 3:33pm Top

After posting last night I went back and finished the first disk of "Mysteries of Lisbon." It left me with a big smile on my face...

161kswolff
Edited: Jun 12, 2012, 7:16pm Top

159: Pseudo-archaeology, pseudo-theology and a buncha purty pitchers equals bullshit and ballyhoo.

For a second there, I thought you were talking about that Terrence Malick movie with Brad Pitt in it.

Why does SF movie need to have that qualifier ("thinking person's")? Oh right, the genre is basically just CGI self-abuse and Angelina Jolie's abs. I guess one has to make the necessary discernment, at least to avoid the sticky seats, at least until Fifty Shades of Grey becomes a movie ... probably starring Nicolas Cage, cuz you know he needs the money.

162DugsBooks
Jun 12, 2012, 8:20pm Top

163anna_in_pdx
Jun 12, 2012, 8:28pm Top

Hello everyone, I saw this Prometheus movie last weekend and was very underwhelmed, it was like Avatar, with nice special effects and all, but a dumb story - and the homage scenes to Alien were more campy to me than they were scary, because they were just too much like Alien. However all my family members who saw it with me thought it was fine as entertainment and that I am being needlessly critical. I think these types of movies are just not my thing. Can't remember a space opera type film that I actually really liked, actually.

164mejix
Edited: Jun 13, 2012, 3:56pm Top

Finished "Mysteries of Lisbon" last night. I thought it was longer but it is only 4hrs. I have a very limited Random Access Memory for complicated plots and was left completely confused. I hope disk three has a plot summary.

There's stuff I could criticize but I do have to say that I am very impressed with Raul Ruiz. I think he is a heavyweight director. Will definitely look for more of his stuff.

165CliffBurns
Jun 13, 2012, 5:03pm Top

The National Film Board makes available one of the funniest animated flicks ever, the Oscar-winning "The Big Snit":

http://www.nfb.ca/film/big_snit/?ec=en20120613&utm_campaign=112412_NFB_Films...

166DugsBooks
Edited: Jun 13, 2012, 8:52pm Top

"OK, now that everyone has eaten the mushrooms a while ago and dropped their 2 spear points into my turtle shell , you can all go into the rear of the cave and wave your torches back & forth making trails as you look at the walls. "...."Except for you Ook Maaacy, you feral nymph, you can stay behind and help me find those night time berries".

The very first, stone age!, movies just discovered

167CliffBurns
Jun 13, 2012, 9:06pm Top

I really enjoyed that. Thanks.

168DugsBooks
Jun 14, 2012, 11:26am Top

Thanks Cliff. Once the idea is broached it makes you wonder why no one thought of the wall drawings being like "flip card" movies before.

I finally got a chance to see the Snit, my new ISP provider is slow & erratic,the short was cute & well above the norm.

169CliffBurns
Jun 14, 2012, 11:48am Top

I'm crazy about cave paintings--would love to visit Lascaux or somewhere similar. But, increasingly, they're closing these sites off to tourists so I may have to settle for pictures...and movies like Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams".

170CliffBurns
Jun 14, 2012, 11:50am Top

172CliffBurns
Edited: Jun 15, 2012, 10:50pm Top

Okay, now this is fucking hilarious.

The producers of the film version of "Barney's Version" just collected a cash prize for being #1 at the box office in terms of English Canada productions.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/story/2012/06/14/barneys-version-golden-box-office-a...

Then they list the figures and something's...odd.

The movie grossed $22 million worldwide and $3 million in Canada...for a total of $25 million. But what the news story (typical self-congratulatory cultural bullshit from CBC) doesn't tell you is that the budget for "Barney's Version' was $30 million. In other words, the movie fucking tanked and these assholes still collected a lovely check for producing yet another Canadian made turkey.

Wonderful.

Man, the Canadian cultural scene is fucked.

P.S. Read the book BARNEY'S VERSION. It's wonderful.

173guido47
Jun 16, 2012, 2:31am Top

Err. Clifff,

Does this mean, you are NOT that impressed with CANADA? per se.

174CliffBurns
Jun 16, 2012, 9:25am Top

Not impressed with the CULTURAL scene in this country. Lots of circle-jerking and self-congratulations for a group of people with regional minds and minimal talent who have never demonstrated their relevance to a wide cross-section of their fellow citizens.

However, other aspects of my home and native land are simply magnificent.

175guido47
Jun 16, 2012, 10:39am Top

Do you know I once could have been/become a Canadian!

When my parents left a war-torn europe (and they came from Latvia, and knew they could never return to Stalins's occipied nation) I remember my parents once saying:

The USA was a 3 year wait.
Canada was 2 years.

But Australia took us almost immediately.

Life is indeed strange.

176CliffBurns
Jun 16, 2012, 11:26am Top

The Aussies are fine folk. Your parents chose well.

178DugsBooks
Jun 18, 2012, 5:25pm Top

I snitched one of your posters to use in a SF group film discussion. Heh heh

http://www.librarything.com/topic/134961#3447340

179CliffBurns
Jun 18, 2012, 5:38pm Top

My son Sam found those posters--he's a film buff too. Man, they're funny.

181DugsBooks
Jun 26, 2012, 9:59pm Top

I have started watching The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo extended version trilogy "over 2 extra hours" on Netflix and it seems to flow better than my first viewing of the movie. This is the subtitled European version. I have yet to read the books.

Parenthetically why do they make movies with voice overdubs? Other than Woody Allen's "What's up Tiger Lily" I don't think I have seen a dubbed movie that would not have been made better with subtitles.

Sprint , my new isp, gives me plenty of breaks by shutting down periodically during streaming. The service never even makes it to half the download speed it advertised in the contract!

182mejix
Edited: Jun 26, 2012, 10:55pm Top

Princess Mononoke. Slower than I remembered it but still absolutely brilliant.

183chamberk
Jun 26, 2012, 11:42pm Top

161: Bret Easton Ellis has already gleefully asked for the film rights to 50 Shades, so you'll have what you want...

Just watched Ray over the weekend. It was a standard biopic, but Jamie Foxx was surprisingly good. Pretty hyped about the Tarantino movie with him and DiCaprio...

184chamberk
Jun 26, 2012, 11:43pm Top

oh and I just read the message about The Good German - talk about a pretty solid book ruined by a weak movie...

185iansales
Jun 27, 2012, 3:44am Top

Watched "Iron Sky" last night. The biggest complaint about it seems to be its lack of wit... which seems to ignore the fact that 99.9% of films suffer from the same problem. True, it could have done with a better script - the jokes raised the odd chuckle, but not much else - and it dodged some of the difficult issues, but... Nazis on the Moon!

186kswolff
Jun 27, 2012, 7:20pm Top

Saw Mame starring Lucille Ball and Bea Arthur. What a crazy and odd musical from the 70s.

187DugsBooks
Jun 28, 2012, 5:41pm Top

#182 I have never heard of "Princess Mononoke". It really has great reviews however - folks seem to love it.

188justifiedsinner
Jun 28, 2012, 6:27pm Top

Miyazaki is brilliant. My favorites are Spirited Away and My Friend Totoro.

189mejix
Jun 28, 2012, 7:52pm Top

>187 DugsBooks:, 188
Spirited Away and My Friend Totoro are excellent too, yes. Howl's Moving Castle is very good. I find that even Miyazaki's other less successful films have something intriguing.

191CliffBurns
Jul 3, 2012, 1:54am Top

Tonight, one of Sidney Lumet's last films, "The Devil Knows You're Dead". Lots of cool twists and turns and performances befitting star power like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei. Sherron and I liked it very much.

192kswolff
Jul 3, 2012, 7:59pm Top

Saw the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie. It was okay. Not enough Penelope Cruz, then again, I've had a thing for her since Jamon Jamon

193TJH1966
Jul 3, 2012, 8:23pm Top

Since Andy Griffith died, people will most likely be talking about the TV series, maybe No Time for Sergeants. But this was a great movie, and very prescient, and a incredible performance from Griffith.

http://youtu.be/XaLQMs_VDLw

194wookiebender
Jul 5, 2012, 9:59am Top

Just got home from seeing "The Cabin in the Woods". Had a great time, even if I watched huge swathes from between my fingers. I'm no fan of the slasher genre, but this was well worth seeing as it's just so much fun. Argh, trying to avoid spoilers here!

Don caught it the other night and described it as "the Citizen Kane of slasher flicks". :)

195CliffBurns
Jul 5, 2012, 10:18am Top

Last night watched Bruce Robinson's adaptation of "The Rum Diary". Surprisingly good movie, although the ending didn't quite work for me.

Hunter Thompson would've been pleased.

196CliffBurns
Jul 5, 2012, 1:31pm Top

Another great short animated effort by Richard Condie, the man who brought us "The Big Snit". Watch it for free here:

http://www.nfb.ca/film/apprentice/?ec=en20120704&utm_campaign=112509_NFB_Fil...

197DugsBooks
Jul 7, 2012, 5:08pm Top

I finished watching the 2 extra hours extended trilogy version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on Netflix and it was great! IMOHO. I did not notice any lame "add ons" or editing flaws. I found the experience once again mesmerizing and even better than my first viewings. Great to be able to watch it in segments at your convenience.

198nymith
Jul 7, 2012, 5:10pm Top

Just saw Dirty Harry for the first time. Great, quick little film. Nothing like a cop bypassing the law to see justice done. It looked like a B movie, but apparently everything from the 70s did. Does anyone know if the sequels were any good?

199TJH1966
Jul 7, 2012, 10:32pm Top

# 198: Nowhere near as good.

200kswolff
Jul 9, 2012, 7:16pm Top

Saw "Suckerpunch" at CONvergence. (I didn't pay money for it.) Visually gorgeous, wallowing in the Rule of Cool, and pretty thin on a narrative level. But I refuse to dismiss it out of hand nor have it become an object of fanboy wankdom. I want to parse out my reaction in a blog post and get past the usual reactionary posturing from both sides (Lit Geeks vs. Fanboys).

201nymith
Jul 9, 2012, 8:28pm Top

I saw The Mystery of Charles Dickens, Peter Ackroyd's one-man play/lecture on Dickens' life, starring the great Simon Callow, who I already knew from his stellar turn as Count Fosco in The Woman in White (unfortunately, he prefers the stage to cinema, so I don't have many options to view him). One man on one set kept me entertained the whole time it played, marred by only a few moments of overacting. A trifle, but a worthy one.

202kswolff
Jul 17, 2012, 11:30pm Top

Saw Factory Girl, starring Sienna Miller and Guy Pearce. Sienna Miller shows that she can act, but damn, what a horribly misconceived film.

And also saw the Rifftrax version of Plan 9 from Outer Space, also horribly misconceived, but in a deliciously atrocious way. And the aliens ... well, let's just say they are as subtle as Quentin Crisp

203CliffBurns
Jul 21, 2012, 10:23am Top

Last night I watched Alex Gibney's Oscar-winning documentary, "Taxi to the Dark Side".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WX0MPcN08Zc

Very powerful and extremely depressing. The voraciousness of the wolves in charge, the cowardice of the sheeple. A study in human nature, psychology, sociology. I loved Gibney's Enron doc, and this one is nearly as good.

204iansales
Jul 21, 2012, 2:18pm Top

Last night, I watched Szegénylegények by Miklós Jancsó on DVD. When it finished, I turned over to the telly, and Highlander was showing. And Hollywood exists because...?

205pennwriter
Jul 21, 2012, 2:22pm Top

Agreed about Miyazaki. I have a soft spot of My Friend Totoro especially. Something I read about him: he can't stand watching any of his movies because all he sees are the mistakes. The mistakes?

206nymith
Jul 21, 2012, 2:54pm Top

Saw Dead Again with the now Sir Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson. Really good, with twists that worked and lots of style. Smart script, very well-paced, with sympathetic characters and Robin Williams in a serious role. Pity about the very end, which turned into a slow-motion melodramatic mess, as everything up to that point was quite excellent.

207kswolff
Jul 21, 2012, 4:48pm Top

I want to see "The Dark Knight Rises," but am a little hesitant to enter a movie theater right now. At least I'm not in Colorado ... first Littleton, and then this. Sheesh, that community has some really bad mojo.

208iansales
Jul 21, 2012, 4:54pm Top

It's good to know the US authorities have leapt into action in the aftermath of these incidents... and banned the wearing of costumes in movie theatres.

209mejix
Edited: Jul 22, 2012, 11:23am Top

Nostalgia for the Light- "In Chile's Atacama Desert, astronomers peer deep into the cosmos in search for answers concerning the origins of life. Nearby, a group of women sift through the sand searching for body parts of loved ones, dumped unceremoniously by Pinochet's regime."

Mixed feelings about this one. The type of documentary that is more of a personal essay than a narrative or an investigation. Beautiful photography. Some very moving stories and some very interesting people. It makes its point very elegantly and poetically. Maybe too poetically for my taste. And too slowly. I wish the director spent more time with some of the interviews. What they say is more interesting than his narration. The premise and some sections are brilliant though.

211tros
Edited: Jul 23, 2012, 1:47am Top

Malena by Giuseppe Tornatore with Monica Bellucci; Fellini on a good day.

Into the Abyss by Werner Herzog.

212iansales
Jul 25, 2012, 5:48am Top

Been watching the BBC adaptation of Othello from 1981. They did an entire series, The Complete Works of Shakespeare, back in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Iago was a really nasty piece of work, wasn't he? Anthony Hopkins plays Othello with a Welsh lilt, which is weird. And while I can understand the appeal of actors to the role of Othello, it is somewhat over the top. And entirely predicated on the fact that Othello would sooner believe one man than all the women he knows. Though, to be fair, it's not as sexist as The Taming of the Shrew...

213mejix
Edited: Jul 26, 2012, 10:49pm Top

This could be awesome or this could be a huge mess. Cloud Atlas, the movie:

http://www.joblo.com/video/player.php?video=cloud-atlas-long-trailer

214kswolff
Jul 26, 2012, 10:54pm Top

213: Just don't let that Chabon character near a screenwriting program. It could end up as bad as "Jimmy Carter, Prince of Mars" or whatever the hell that movie was.

215DugsBooks
Edited: Jul 27, 2012, 12:49pm Top

# 213 Reminds me of the movie, which I think I am the only person who claims to have liked it, "The Fountain".

216Jargoneer
Jul 27, 2012, 1:30pm Top

I watched John Carter and it's a decent film. Makes you wonder if Disney really did want to bury it.

217CliffBurns
Jul 28, 2012, 11:31am Top

Watched Guy Ritchie's "Rock 'n Rolla" and it was a hoot.

Loved his usual chaotic mix of thugs and gangsters and laughed out loud at various points. Tom Wilkinson and Mark Strong give really, really solid performances. Some of the plot has been lifted from (or is an homage to) one of the greatest gangster films ever, "The Long Good Friday". Fun movie. Had a blast.

218kswolff
Jul 28, 2012, 3:49pm Top

Watched the first part of Fargo today. It was really nice, yeah, you betcha.

219kswolff
Jul 30, 2012, 6:57pm Top

Saw "The Dark Knight Rises" yesterday and enjoyed it, although why anyone still lives in Gotham surprises me. Yet another "madman taking control of the city / ticking time bomb" scenario. Joseph-Gordon Levitt shines and the Bruce Wayne arsenal borders on the ridiculous. Although between this and "The Avengers," it's been a damn fine year for superhero movies. Almost makes up for the glorified marketing scheme with a script that was the Green Lantern. Almost.

220mejix
Edited: Jul 30, 2012, 11:59pm Top

I can't believe I watched "War Horse" by Spielberg. The whole thing. So much syrup. Cascades of syrup covering cinematic pancake.

If only we could use all that talent for something good.

221kswolff
Jul 31, 2012, 10:45pm Top

220: Or at least something where the theme "family-friendly, goddammit!!!" isn't implemented via 2 x 4 to the moviegoer's cranium.

Then again, with his clone-middlebrow spawn J.J. Abrams, we may have endure more syrup.

222Jargoneer
Aug 2, 2012, 8:52am Top

A new best of from Sight and Sound, with a new number 1 - Greatest film of all time.

Doesn't say much about the last 40 years.

223DugsBooks
Aug 2, 2012, 12:35pm Top

I used to love watching Hitchcock on TV as a kid. I think I saw vertigo as a 12 year old perhaps.


224bertilak
Aug 2, 2012, 3:29pm Top

Vertigo as the best film ever? That is absurd. Name a striking image (other than special effects) or good dialog that sticks in the mind from the film.

What is memorable about Vertigo is the plot about how Scotty's illness leaves him vulnerable to being exploited and how his fetishes control his perceptions. There is nothing particularly cinematic about these elements.

Hitchcock cornered the market in the paranoia of the unjustly accused and in the blonde ice-queen fetish, but those are pretty narrow specialties.

Welles and Kurosawa run rings around Hitchcock when judged by cinematic standards.

225DugsBooks
Edited: Aug 2, 2012, 5:26pm Top

"Welles and Kurosawa run rings around Hitchcock when judged by cinematic standards."

I did take the one film class years ago where Citizen Kane was dissected in great detail over many viewings. A lot of the innovative camera work, etc. in the film was invented/developed by the people Orson Welles hired. A real ground breaking movie however, huge number of "firsts" that were immediately adopted by any films that followed and he of course put it all together so immaculately.

I like Seven Samurai as much as anyone - makes the "western" copies that followed look silly when I finally saw it. Remember the "bad guy" invading the village, on horse back with the rest of the villains, who had the spear held with both hands with a blade on each end swinging to both sides? I thought of that when I saw Darth Maul {best fight scene of any Star Wars movie} have his last encounter with the Jedi.

I think that categorizing Hitchcock as having "narrow specialties" is like saying Edgar Allen Poe wrote "only horror stories" - it trivializes the depth of art done by both men. But none the less I don't know if I would classify Vertigo as the best movie ever, I would have to watch it again.

226justifiedsinner
Aug 2, 2012, 6:32pm Top

Dethroning Citizen Kane is bizarre especially for Vertigo when both Psycho and North by Northwest are better Hitchcock films. The Director's choices are also pretty strange Andrei Rubalev is a better Tarkovsky than Mirror and putting 2001 ahead of 8 1/2 would make Woody Allen spin in his grave if he was dead. Not to mention Murch's re-cut of Apocalypse Now is the better film.

227Gayle_C._Bull
Aug 2, 2012, 7:03pm Top

224: While I agree that Hitchcock wasn't the most visually inventive director, I have to admit I am really tired of films that have complex stories being sneered at simply because they didn't use "enough" special effects.

Films without strong stories aren't films. They are video exhibits which should be displayed in art galleries. Or, if they aren't visually innovative for that, then music videos.

Hitchcock was a master storyteller. The only director in recent years who can even be mentioned in the same sentence with Hitchcock as a storyteller is Christopher Nolan.

And if we are talking about the "best film" in recent years for both visuals and storytelling, look no further the Nolan's Inception.

228bertilak
Aug 2, 2012, 7:52pm Top

>227 Gayle_C._Bull:

Yes, Hitch was a master storyteller and I am a major Hitchcock fan. But his stories would work about as well in print as on the screen, with the exception of Psycho and NxNW as noted by justifiedsinner above.

What I look for in a film is a Gesamtkunstwerk: story, images, performances, sound.

BTW I am pleased to see substantive discussion of this point instead of flamage.

Re 225, Poe did not just write horror stories. He also wrote detective stories, poems, critical essays, metaphysical speculation (Eureka), investigative reportage (Maelzel's Chess Player), journalism, and some amusing hoaxes: not a specialist.

229DugsBooks
Aug 2, 2012, 8:11pm Top

#228, That was my point, both Hitchcock and Poe rose above whatever genre they were working in. IMOHO

230bertilak
Aug 2, 2012, 9:03pm Top

> 229

Well, I beg to disagree. My point was exactly the opposite of yours. What I am claiming is that Hitchcock's films are all about his personal fears, frustrations, and fetishes. He never rose above that level.

Whereas first class artists, such as Welles and Kurosawa, achieved a transpersonal universality in their works.

231Jargoneer
Aug 3, 2012, 7:06am Top

I'm surprised to see Psycho mentioned as a superior film to Vertigo. I rank it as one of Hitchcock's lesser films, one that lacks the sophistication of the earlier films. I do find it strange that Vertigo is ranked one - Hitchcock strikes me as a great director more than a director of great films: his work seems more impressive as a whole than having individual stand-out films.
I agree with #230 that Hitchcock reworks his obsessions in film after film but never quite achieves the universality of others, partly, I think, because his characters are subservient to the progression of the plot. I am baffled by the absence of the Seven Samurai on the list, not only is that a visually great film but created memorable characters that the audience could relate to.

It is interesting that the list isn't more modern - usually as critics age and are replaced by younger ones older films (or books or albums) drop off the list to be replaced with more recent ones. The only evidence of that is 2001.

232justifiedsinner
Aug 3, 2012, 11:10am Top

2001: A Space Odyssey is from 1968, Apocalypse Now is from 1979 and is the "youngest" film on either list.

233Gayle_C._Bull
Edited: Aug 3, 2012, 11:32am Top

>230 bertilak: Quote: "What I am claiming is that Hitchcock's films are all about his personal fears, frustrations, and fetishes. He never rose above that level."

Does any artist? I think that you may be confusing content with complexity of thought. Every creative person, whether they are a film maker, painter, writer, or sculptor, draws on their personal world view and ideas (including their fears, frustrations, and fetishes) to create their work. Content is always dictated by that. Don't assume that because you don't know much about an artist's personal life, or that you can't immediately see the connection between an art work and the artist's personal life, that it isn't there.

Complexity of thought is another matter. What separates the truly great works from the good ones is how the artist interprets that idea. Simply looking at idea from a perspective that no one has thought about it before can bring a complexity to a film that makes it one of the greats. Psycho was revolutionary in 1968 because criminal psychology was a new field, and the idea that a man might have a split personality (one personality is a murderer, the other is as gentle and compassionate as any man living) introduced an entirely new perspective on why a person might kill.

234kswolff
Aug 3, 2012, 10:06pm Top

I just want to admit that I've never seen Vertigo, but I've seen Citizen Kane a whole mess of times.

235justifiedsinner
Aug 4, 2012, 9:41am Top

I guess in answer to the Sight and Sound List Scorcese, Coppola, Woody Allen, Tarrentino and Michael Mann released their own lists:

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/read-new-all-time-top-10s-from-martin-sco...

236mejix
Aug 4, 2012, 10:34am Top

>235 justifiedsinner:
Bad News Bears made it to Tarantino's list. hehehe.

237DugsBooks
Aug 4, 2012, 1:37pm Top

I finally broke and watched Iron Sky online. Great movie! I wish I had found a better quality source for the flick but it was a really neat statement.

238kswolff
Aug 4, 2012, 5:08pm Top

236: I would expect nothing less from a master vulgarian like Tarantino.

239DugsBooks
Aug 5, 2012, 12:40am Top

This is a clip of Tarantino at his most vulgariest as an actor in Dusk Till Dawn. He has a drink with Selma Hayek. Just under 5 minutes, one of my favorite clips. Has a cuss word in it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8RVmJtKBAo

240CliffBurns
Aug 5, 2012, 11:25am Top

Count me out as far as Hitch goes. I'm with Raymond Chandler, whose views on the "fat bastard" are best summed up here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/10/raymond-chandler-alfred-hitchcock_n_119...

In some ways, Hitch was like another Brit, P.G. Wodehouse, both of them locked into their own fantasy worlds, their efforts reflecting very little realism, self-contained universes, peopled by caricatures, light and (to me) easily dismissed once consumed.

When I think "suspense", I turn to people like Henri-Georges Clouzot or Jean-Pierre Melville.

Those dudes know how to get you gnawing your nails 'til you taste blood...

241augustusgump
Edited: Aug 5, 2012, 12:39pm Top

Ah, now Cliff. That must be one of the most contrived comparisons ever. P.G. Wodehouse wasn't locked into a fantasy world. He chose to work there because he was so good at it. He was fully aware of his limitations, as his well-known statements about there being two kind of author make very clear. His books are indeed feather-light, but his use of the English language is up there amongst the greats.

242CliffBurns
Aug 5, 2012, 12:53pm Top

I love Wodehouse, he's a fun diversion, but his plots are interchangeable and his characters are painted with the broadest possible strokes. It is charm and affability that carries the day, as far as Wodehouse's canon goes...not sure the same could be said about Hitch but, that said, I've always found his work unsurprising and often ridiculously predictable (was ANYONE surprised by the "shock" ending of "Psycho"?). The same can't be said for Clouzot or Melville. There's more suspense in the first fifteen minutes of "Army of Shadows" than in Hitchcock's entire body of work...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=on38oTESbHU

243kswolff
Aug 5, 2012, 12:54pm Top

241: PG Wodehouse broadcast for the Nazis and Hitchens was a cheerleader for Dubya's Rape of Iraq, er, Operation Iraqi Freedom. Both great writers, but both considerably lacking in political aptitude and foresight.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/8727277/P-G-Wodehouse-filthy-traitor-or...

Although "Filthy traitor of frightful ass" should be the title of a historical biography of the George W. Bush.

244DugsBooks
Edited: Aug 5, 2012, 1:27pm Top

I liked The Big Sleep based on a novel by Raymond Chandler, probably my favorite film of that era.

The dialogue of the movie was fantastic and unique to me. I always attributed that to the screenwriter, William Faulkner, however. Of course the cinematography work was great also, everything so well framed, great black & white noir stuff. I never really saw much attributed to Chandler in association to the movie. Maybe I wasn't paying attention in the media class.

245augustusgump
Aug 5, 2012, 1:44pm Top

241: Interesting article, which actually lends support to Cliff's suggestion that Wodehouse was "locked into" his world. I may have been too quick to jump on it.
242: No, I for one certainly wasn't shocked or even surprised by anything in Psycho.

246kswolff
Aug 5, 2012, 2:01pm Top

The best rational explanation of the Twilight series and Kristen Stewart:

http://www.cracked.com/blog/i-created-kristen-stewart-apology/

247PatrickMurtha
Nov 18, 2012, 6:42pm Top

I thought that the parts of "Super 8" that kept the focus on the kids and their film-making, such as the Altmanesque conversation around the restaurant table, were terrific, and of course the completed project at the end was itself worth the price of admission. The rest of the movie was mediocre. Did anyone else notice how the monster kept changing size?

This topic was continued by Film Snobs: Threat Level Midnight.

Group: Literary Snobs

795 members

40,412 messages

About

This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.

Touchstones

Works

Authors

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 91,601,839 books! | Top bar: Always visible