Thursday, October 31, 2013

Top Thirty Horror Films: Amateur Edition

UPDATED: I should've looked at Jeff's list before posting, as it reminded me of a few films I had forgotten about. And now I'm at thirty.


As those who know me know, I have no business making a list like this since I'm not much of a fan of the genre...but here goes...

30. The Amityville Horror (Rosenberg, 1979)
29. I Walked With a Zombie (Tourneur, 1943
28. The Blair Witch Project (Myrick, Sanchez, 1999)
27. Trick 'r Treat (Dougherty, 2007)
26. Night of the Living Dead (Romero, 1968)
25. An American Werewolf in London (Landis, 1981)
24. The Curse of the Cat People (von Fritsch, Wise, 1944)
23. Hour of the Wolf (Bergman, 1966)
22. Dawn of the Dead (Romero, 1978)
21. The Omen (Donner, 1976)
20. Scream (Craven, 1996)
19. Cabin In the Woods (Goddard, 2012)
18. Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004)
17. Let the Right One In (Alfredson, 2008)
16. The Others (Amenabar, 2001)
15. The Leopard Man (Tourneur, 1943)
14. Jaws (Spielberg, 1975)
13. Sleepy Hollow (Burton, 1999)
12. Freaks (Browning, 1932)
11. Peeping Tom (Powell, 1960)
10. 28 Days Later (Boyle, 2003)
9. The Exorcist (Friedkin, 1973)
8. Rosemary's Baby (Polanski, 1968)
7. The Spiral Staircase (Siodmak, 1946)
6. Don't Look Now (Roeg, 1971)
5. Eyes Without a Face (Franju, 1960)
4. Cat People (Tourneur, 1942)
3. Les Diaboliques (Clouzot, 1955)
2. The Shining (Kubrick, 1980)
1. Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

June & July


Talk of the Town ***
This Is The End ****
Before Midnight ****1/2
Contagion ***
High Society (1956) ****
Larceny Inc. ***1/2
The Lemon Drop Kid ***1/2
To Be Or Not To Be ****1/2
I Married a Witch ***


The Dark Knight Rises ****


The Colbert Report
Comedy Bang! Bang! season 2
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Family Tree season 1
Game of Thrones season 3
Mad Men season 6
Portlandia seasons 1 & 2
The Simpsons (various episodes)
The Soparanos seasons 1 & 2

It's been a slow summer, movie-wise. I cancelled my Netflix DVD-plan last month so I've been streaming and watching movies off of the TV. But not having the DVDs has really lowered my totals. Also, I haven't really been to the theater at all. With good reason no doubt, but still. Anyway, on to what I did see.

I wasn't crazy about TALK OF THE TOWN. The film attempts to have a interesting discussion about crime/law between Cary Grant and Ronald Coleman, but it never really caught my attention. I also didn't like Jean Arthur in this one; I prefer her in MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON and other films where she comes across as tough and competent.

We've talked about THIS IS THE END a bit already. Comedies are written make us laugh; this one made me laugh from beginning to end, so it's successful in my mind. I respect where Brandon's coming from, though.

A little bit of time has passed, so I'll just say that I still love BEFORE MIDNIGHT a lot, or at least four and half stars' worth.

CONTAGION is well done in terms of scaring the hell out of people. If you see me and I don't hug you or shake your hand, you can get ahead and blame CONTAGION. Honest, it's not just me being an asshole. Anyway, yeah, it's strange because I do feel like this movie was well-done, but I agree with Jeff that the scenes move a little too quickly.

HIGH SOCIETY is PHILADELPHIA STORY with Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra....oh, and Louis Armstrong. I hadn't really seen any footage of Armstrong before so that was pretty cool. Anyway, despite knowing the story already, the great cast makes it worth watching. I put the year up top so that Jeff would be reminded that I didn't watch some stoner comedy.

LARCENY INC. was a nice sort of "deep-cut" (1942; Dir: Lloyd Bacon). I enjoyed it quite a bit; it's a very solid comedy and Edward G. Robinson is great, as always. I'd definitely recommend it to those who haven't seen it.

THE LEMON DROP KID was on TCM one day so I decided to watch it. There's a point in the second act where the movie really starts to sag, but it's Bob Hope so there's some leeway with that. There were a couple of jokes that had me laughing out loud, so for that reason, it was worth the time.

Brandon, I loved TO BE OR NOT TO BE. Not just a great comedy, but a great film as well. Jack Benny gives such a great comedic performance and I'd love to see more of his work now. I think the first five minutes of the film does a perfect job of establishing the tone of the film. It's playful, smart, and very well done.

This also reminds me of John's AudioBoo question about when was the last time a movie picked one of America's enemies. I believe that would be 1993's HOT SHOTS! PART DEUX, in which Saddam Hussein is the villain. If you were looking for a good apologies.

And now it's time for the rare, but ongoing segment called: "Sorry, Jeff" This week it's....Sorry, Jeff, I wasn't crazy about I MARRIED A WITCH. Is it bad? Of course not. But yeah, I mostly feel indifferent about it. Veronica Lake is cute and all, but I've yet to fall for her charms. I kinda feel like the movie moves too quickly. I do think it does a good job of setting up all of the pieces. It's a silly, supernatural story that knows what is and what it wants to accomplish, and's still missing something for me. I don't think I came away with any scenes that I loved. Maybe it's something to revisit in a year or two.

I love Christopher Nolan and all, but sure, each time I re-watch one of his films, I begin to see more cracks than I did the first time. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is no different. I re-watched with friends who were also re-watching it and they decided to be as critical as possible. Honestly, I have a few defenses for a few of the plot holes and contrivances, but after a certain point, I don't really care about defending it. If you don't like it, you don't like it and that's fine. I saw MAN OF STEEL last week and it was terrible. I will continue to compare the DARK KNIGHT trilogy to other comic book movies and so far, Nolan's remain the best by a pretty significant margin.

COMEDY BANG! BANG! is the best show on television right now. It's brilliant, hilarious, and I love every second of it. Luckily for me and other CBB fans, the second season features 20 episodes. I'm happy John's been watching the first season and I hope you're enjoying it.

HBO's FAMILY TREE is a fine show. Fans of Christopher Guest will enjoy it. My only beef with the show is that the main character and his friends/family are all Tottenham Hotspur supporters (talking English soccer right now, so my apologies if I've lost you and you have no plans to return). I hold nothing but contempt for that team. So yeah, beyond silly sports fandom, I have nothing against the show. It's funny and engaging. I've seen about three episodes so far. At some point I'll finish the first season.

MAD MEN season six started off fairly slow for me. I wasn't too excited about the show after the first episode. But midway through the season, I was reminded of how great it is. It's still one of the best dramas on TV. The final season airs next Spring (I assume) so there's plenty of time to get caught up if you aren't. It's well worth the time.

PORTLANDIA is funny and enjoyable. Fred Armisen is someone I wasn't crazy about while he was on SNL, but within the past year or so I've definitely come around and now consider myself a fan. PORTLANDIA is smart, funny, relatable and I wish I could write for it. Seasons 1 and 2 are on Netflix Instant Watch; I highly recommend it.

Favorite PORTLANDIA character??

Ugh, cars, man. Whyy???

THE SOPRANOS has been great so far; it's one of the best dramas I've seen. Obviously I didn't watch the show when it aired, so I'm experiencing its impact on the shows that followed it after the fact. I'm in the middle of season 3 at the moment and I'm really enjoying it. It's very addictive and I felt that with the very first episode. There's something strangely compelling about Tony Soprano, his families, and of, course, his shrink Dr. Melfi. Great stuff.

My Quiz

It's a little embarrassing to post this so late, but I know nobody really cares about I shouldn't either. When I posted the questions, I was in a writing/blogging mood and then pretty much the next day that feeling left me. Thanks to Brandon, Cheddar, Jeff, and John for your answers; I enjoyed them a lot.

1. Is there a TV show that you'd love to see a movie version of? If yes, what? If no, think a little harder. If still no, sorry for wasting your time.

Yeah, J-bird, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT fans have been calling for a movie for years now. Unlike you, I still feel like that it could be done well, despite the lackluster feel to the show's latest season. In fact, I'd rather have a movie instead of the unconventional fourth season.

I do agree with Brandon; forcing a drama such as BREAKING BAD or other hour-long dramas suck in their beautiful bellies wouldn't be wise.

I was excited when the STRANGERS WITH CANDY movie was being developed, but really, nothing could top the show. Turns out that was definitely the case, as the movie wasn't very good.

I'm going with a long "No" as well. But I'd take an ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT movie.

2. What's your favorite place/setting to watch a movie (out of the choices listed below)? Why? ALSO, least favorite and why?

a) Small theater

b) Big theater

c) Drive-in theater

d) In a house, alone

e) In a house, with a group

f) Other

E, D, and B are all pretty close (but I ordered them that way intentionally). I love going to movie theater; it's one of my favorite things to do and if I'm away from the theater too long, I start to feel a pull that I need to return. I also enjoy watching movies with friends. If it's a movie I really care about, I want silence; if it's a shitty movie, I don't mind talking over it at all. Watching a movie alone is nice, too.

The Drive-in is the worst. I haven't been there since the second PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movie came out. I hate the atmosphere of it and the lack of sound quality. Small theaters are fine, but the Art Mission needs to add some more space inbetween the aisles.

3. If you could be an extra in any film, what would it be AND what scene would you like to be in?

I feel like I'm forgetting something, but I'll go with being an extra in the court room during Chico's trial in DUCK SOUP.

4. Name a movie you loved as a kid that still feels special even when you watch it now.

I should've worded this question a little differently; well, all I really needed to do was write "name a bad movie..." because I wanted sillier answers. For example, D2: THE MIGHTY DUCKS is a movie I still love even though it's not exactly good. Nonetheless, good answers from everyone.

5. Best film decade (out of the choices listed below)? And tell us why, if you're so inclined:

a) 80s

b) 90s

c) 00s (aughts)

C. Even though Cheddar gave a non-answer for this one, I'm glad someone rejected the aughts. I'm kinda sorry I can't agree with you. It has to be the aughts for the rise of P. T. Anderson and the exceptional work by the Coens on NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Also there's SYNECDOCHE, NY. THERE WILL BE BLOOD, NO COUNTRY, and SYNECDOCHE would probably be my top three movies of the past thirty years.

You can find great foreign films in any of those decades; the great American films in the aughts tip the scales.

Bonus: Hypothetically, your friends have rented out a theater for your birthday. You get to choose the movie that's screened; what are you going with?

I'm sort of stealing Alex's answer to question 4. I think screening DUMB and DUMBER would be lot of fun. I'd also consider showing DR. STRANGELOVE because it's one of my all-time favorites. Hopefully no one would have a problem with black and white film. THE BIG LEBOWSKI is another possibility.

Anyway, again, thanks to everyone who answered the questions; you all get As for participating and for being handsome.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pop Quiz, Hot Shots

I realize only Jeff, Brandon, Adrienne, and I answered the questions to Jeff's last quiz and this one will probably see the same number of participants (or less).

But the good news is that there's still time to answer Jeff's quiz; it can be found here:

I came up with my own set of questions pretty quickly, so if you want to put the same level of thought into answering them, that's fine by me. And yes, John, I will grading on a curve.

Here it is...

1. Is there a TV show that you'd love to see a movie version of? If yes, what? If no, think a little harder. If still no, sorry for wasting your time.

2. What's your favorite place/setting to watch a movie (out of the choices listed below)? Why? ALSO, least favorite and why?

a) Small theater

b) Big theater

c) Drive-in theater

d) In a house, alone

e) In a house, with a group

f) Other

3. If you could be an extra in any film, what would it be AND what scene would you like to be in?

4. Name a movie you loved as a kid that still feels special even when you watch it now.

5. Best film decade (out of the choices listed below)? And tell us why, if you're so inclined:

a) 80s

b) 90s

c) 00s (aughts)

Bonus: Hypothetically, your friends have rented out a theater for your birthday. You get to choose the movie that's screened; what are you going with?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Morning Musings

On Brandon's response post to me...

Thank you for that; appreciate it. I do think, for the most part, and Jesse and Celine do a decent job of listening to each other. Because of the strong bond shared between the two, I think they often know what the other person is trying to say before he/she says it. It's why Celine knew that Jesse wanted to implement a big change in their lives very early on. They seem to be a very honest couple, but they both dance around the truth until they feel comfortable revealing it - in the way that many of us tend to do.

Agreed, the role playing and make-up sex won't mean much in the long run. I envision the fourth movie opening with Celine flying to the US to visit Jesse and his son. One of the things I was going to explore in my write-up for BEFORE MIDNIGHT was the worry that Jesse would view the probably make-up sex as a victory. I don't mean that to say that he's shallow or simple-minded, but the worry was him thinking that it would do more than just paper over the cracks. I doubt it, though, because I do think Jesse is smarter and more sensitive than that. But we do know that, for Celine, sex is an essential part of life (like eating or breathing). So for her, sex wouldn't necessarily do as much for her as it might do for Jesse.

Good point on Hank being the catalyst; like you, I love the way the script is framed. Also, it would be stupid for Jesse to go back to Hank without bringing Celine and the twins; otherwise, he'd lament the fact that he wasn't present while his daughters grew up. But in the one scene where Hank and Jesse are together, we see how insistent Jesse is that his son sticks with soccer. Based on that scene, I might assume that he enjoys having a son more than having a daughter. There's a little bit of the "living vicariously through you" thing happening there.

On the other movies I watched...

Yeah, I really enjoyed watching the transition Rock Hudson makes in MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION. He plays both the insensitive drunk and the sensitive romantic very well. ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS has been on my watch list for a while now; hopefully I'll see it soon. It's strange how a film like MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION would make the attention stuffed youth uncomfortable. Or even a James Dean flick. I'm sure if you were to screen REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE to a bunch of college students, they'd probably laugh through most of it.

I agree with your criticism of LIFE OF PI. Absolutely, the framing doesn't really serve a purpose and often deflates the story. It's also a weird moment when Pi explains to the novelist that he has to lie to the insurance agents. Ultimately, the get the point that's being made, but point itself seems a little sloppy.

There's also something about LIFE OF PI that makes me think of BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. I guess both are popular pieces of Oscar bait. And while I'm not necessarily crazy about either, I do like the core emotional stories in both. The Pi/Richard Parker relationship and the Hushpuppy/Dad relationship. And really, that's all that I take away from those two films. The rest I could do without.

Yeah, it's amazing how shocking THE BIG HEAT is even today. I can't help but admire Fritz Lang for being that bold.

On THIS IS THE END's ending...

(Spoilers) Do you only hate the Backstreet Boys number or does your hatred for the ending begin earlier? I can't understand hating the Backstreet Boys joke, because it's one that plays out for 3-4 minutes and it isn't funny. Like Jeff, though, I have to say that in no way does this ending cheapen/ruin the entire film for me. It is a weird ending, though. There's the seemingly throw-away line about Channing Tatum that gets its callback. The Backstreet Boys' song gets the same treatment, so it isn't completely random or anything like that, but sure, it does suggest to me a bit that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg weren't exactly sure how to end the film. Ending on a dance number seems to be a bit of a throwback to 80s comedies like CADDYSHACK, though. I also think that Rogen and Goldberg get a kick at the idea that they're forcing the bros who attend their movie to sit through a Backstreet Boys music video.

But yeah, I'm not a huge fan of the ending by any means, but the rest of the movie is so enjoyable/hilarious that I can't even consider hurling complaints at it. Agree to disagree, I guess. I like the fact that THIS IS THE END is a strong contender for my 2013 list. And I was crazy to suggest that my love for the cast in this one was waning. I know everyone says it, but Seth Rogen really does seem like a cool guy to hang with. Same with the rest of the crew - I love you guys. My apologies and I look forward to the next film.

It's funny how Rogen and Goldberg have surpassed Judd Apatow now; they're making the better films/comedies.

"Failure" is too outrageous a word for THIS IS THE needs to be said.

On Jeff's quiz...

DON'T LOOK NOW's ending is a great horror film moment. I wanted to avoid stealing other people's answers, but really, that is one of my favorites. Such a great film. The ending of SEVEN is a great answer too, Adrienne.

I wish I had seen THE SEVENTH SEAL earlier in life. It definitely had a big impact on me, and it remains one of my all-time favorite movies, but because I didn't see it until my 20s, the impact feels a bit dulled, somehow.

I will watch TO BE OR NOT TO BE sometime this month. That is my personal film club homework assignment.

I see that Adrienne had some trouble picking movie recommendations for some of us. I had similar trouble, so in some cases I just went with slightly random choices.

I'm an idiot. When listing my favorite movies that take place during the summertime, I should've listed CHRISTMAS IN JULY. Guess I subconsciously didn't want to use the same answer for two different questions. REAR WINDOW is a great answer as well.

I swear this isn't bragging or anything, but Jeff told me to watch DARK CITY back in the day, citing that he really loved it. I remember not being impressed. I think the moral here is that I'm a better film critic than you, dude ;)

I like ANCHORMAN and all, but I have a strong feeling that ANCHORMAN 2 is actually going to be worthy of the hate Brandon gives the first film.

Other stuff...

I've been watching more TV than movies lately. I do hope to find more balance soon. And because I've watched a lot of the classic films that I wanted to see, the deeper cuts aren't as appealing and I've been in more of a place of wanting to re-watch the stuff that I haven't seen in a long time.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

May Activity


Dark Passage ****1/2
Magnificent Obsession ****
This Is 40 ***
Life of Pi ***1/2
The Big Heat ****
Treasure of the Sierra Madre *****


Punch-Drunk Love ****1/2


Arrested Development seasons 1-4
The Ben Stiller Show season 1
The Colbert Report
Comedy Bang! Bang! season 1
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Game of Thrones season 3
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia (various episodes)
The League (1 episode)
Mad Men season 6
Mr. Show season 3 (the first half)
Parks and Recreation seasons 4 and 5
Real Time with Bill Maher
The Simpsons (various episodes)
The Twilight Zone (1 episode)

Notes: The POV shots in DARK PASSAGE are really well done; I enjoyed that one quite a bit.

MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION might be seen as a little too cornball and cheesy, but I honestly didn't have a problem with it. This was also my first Rock Hudson movie.

THIS IS 40 wasn't funny and it wasn't enjoyable; what else is left? In a way, I appreciate the fact that Judd Apatow is trying to write stuff that is much more personal, but when you're not doing a great job of writing that kind of thing, it can only be seen as a failure. One of the big critiques of FUNNY PEOPLE was that Adam Sandler's character was too wealthy for audiences to identify with and feel sympathy for. And now Judd centers his next film on a family who might have to sell their mansion and move into a smaller mansion (as Brandon pointed out in his review). And in using the word "centers," I'm actually giving the film more credit than it probably deserves. I fail to find a center for this movie; it was all over the place. I know Jeff likes the piano scene with the youngest daughter; for me, the best moments of the film were the scenes dealing with the relationship between Judd's daughters. It was far more interesting than anything else.

LIFE OF PI was pretty good. Great visuals from Ang Lee, Suraj Sharma gives a great performance, and it's pretty easy to feel invested in the story. The Pi/Richard Parker dynamic plays out in an interesting way.

I really dug THE BIG HEAT but I don't know that I have too much to add. My LIFE OF PI comments were pretty inane so I must be losing some steam here. SPOILERS: It was a little shocking that Glenn Ford's wife was killed off so quickly, but obviously makes the story that much more intense. Between this film and THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, Lee Marvin is a great bad guy.

TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE had been on my list of "Movies I Must See" for a looonnnngg time. I finally watched it back in May and it didn't disappoint. Bogie, Walter Huston, and Tim Holt were a great trio, as each of them offered something different and enjoyable to watch. The ending is pretty brilliant/poignant as well.

A day or two after seeing John's post on PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE, I was sitting around kinda bored one night and decided that the only thing I wanted to do was watch that film. And I actually agree with everything John wrote about it back in May. I, too, wasn't really feeling it the first time I saw it, but this time I was completely blown away. Agreed, it is one of the best romantic comedies of the past thirty years. I love the performance Paul Thomas Anderson gets out Adam Sandler here. I love the score as well - it builds some great tension and adds to the torture that Sandler goes through.

Waiting almost a year until new GAME OF THRONES episodes is gonna suck.

Also, Jason, I only watched one of the three episodes you wanted me to watch. Sorry. And I guess this will just have to be one of those things that you like that doesn't get a ton of support from the rest of Film Club. I just have strong doubts that the other two episodes would change my mind about the show. It just ain't my cup of tea.

Overall, I really enjoyed this past season of MAD MEN. It was slow-going at first, but after the third episode or so, I really got into it again. Looking forward to the final season.

I had planned on mentioning this earlier, but I did decide to buy all of the PARKS AND RECREATION on DVD so that I could re-watch them. It's only the most enjoyable shows I've ever seen and much of that is due its phenomenal cast/characters.

And hey, Twilight Zone Club, I watched one episode of the show over these past few months. I had mentioned that the one episode I really wanted to see was An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and I finally watched it. It's brutal and really well done. I recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it yet.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Before Midnight

The most refreshing aspect of Richard Linklater's BEFORE trilogy is the level of intimacy shared between Jesse, Celine, and the audience. In watching the first two films, it's easy to feel like Cupid or a fly on the wall that isn't buzzing around, annoying the shit out of everyone. Jesse and Celine's relationship wasn't ideal, but there's an obvious sense of romanticism involved ("TRUE LOVE, all else be damed," as John says).

This romanticism and intimacy is built up through communication. There's a hypnotic rhythm to their dialogue, usually quiet beautiful and poetic. They seem to belong together, and we want them to remain that way because of how naturally and seamlessly they connect.

So with the third film, BEFORE MIDNIGHT, it was necessary to test the limits of the relationship between Jesse, Celine, and the audience. And I know that Julie Delpy issued a warning about being able to handle a pair of boobs for this one, but I think it was the moment when Ethan Hawke started to undress her that I suddenly felt as if things we were getting too intimate, and especially after the clothes went back on and they began to fight. But maybe I was also reacting to the fact that the Art Mission Theater was packed with old couples and I didn't really want to watch a sex scene with them around me. I'm sorry, old people.

Anyway, we've watched these characters in two other films but this is the first time I felt uncomfortable watching them. So for that reason, I really have to tip my hat to Linklater, Delpy, and Hawke. Thinking back on Delpy's performance, it's really quite brilliant and is my favorite performance that I've seen from her.

The fight is brutal, though not spontaneous. There are plenty of little moments where Jesse and Celine take swipes at each other, and it seems to naturally build toward the moment in the hotel. But going back to the way they communicate with each other, I couldn't help but think that overall...this was a good fight. Well, I'm actually kinda torn on that one. But let me explain a bit. Reading Brandon's first post, I get the sense that he might agree with me here?? Couples fight; it's what they do. When you care about someone deeply and your relationship is "entangled in the lives of others" (another really nice line from John), negative emotions and feelings arise. Stress arises. When Jesse and Celine fight, it isn't much different from when they have a normal conversation. They both speak their minds freely and clearly, even though the more we say, the more likely we are to contradict ourselves. I don't me, the fight, as uncomfortable as it seemed, was healthy.

But while speaking your mind is good and all, if you can't "hear" what the other person is saying, then you're doomed as a couple. I said I was torn because I'm not exactly sure if Jesse and Celine have heard each other here. And this really is new territory for the audience. We've been left out of the last nine years of their relationship. Because they are still together, I can maybe assume that they do a decent job of listening to each other. I know John is focusing on Jesse's ex and notes that we only get a bastardized, word-of-mouth version of her, but I can't help but think the same can be said for the last nine years of this story in general.

Celine talks about what it was like raising their twin daughters by herself. Jesse seems to resent that interpretation of the story (or maybe it was about something else, I forget). Sure Jesse and Celine are in the film and can/do defend themselves, but that doesn't make any of what they say true. I understand where John's coming from, though, and it is a legitimate critique of the film. And I know you (John) understand that this has been the style of these films. We only get to see and hear Jesse and Celine in the moment.

Back to the fight being healthy...

Now I know Celine says that she doesn't think she loves Jesse anymore. It's tough to know how sincere she was. Was this something said through anger and annoyance? When people in relationships are hurt they tend to try and wound the other person in some way. We won't really know what Celine had in mind until the fourth film comes out...and I really hope there is a fourth film.

I also somewhat question Celine's decision to go into "Bimbo mode" just before the credits rolled. It was my fear that she was shutting down a bit. And probably I know that's bullshit and that I'm reading too much into it. She's too strong a person to just give up. I'm not trying to suggest that I think that Celine is now going to be more servile and docile...that she'll just say yes to Chicago and let Jesse win out. I guess I'm just saying that you can still voice your concerns and have a meaningful discussion without wanting to tear at the other person's throat. But right, after such an intense fight, it's probably best to end on a lighter note. I want Jesse and Celine to work this out and stay together, but I don't know, there's something about those final moments that make me feel a little pessimistic. I hope I'm wrong.

 Our audience seemed to chuckle and smile as Jesse's time traveler stunt seemed to work some magic. I couldn't bring myself to do the same. But I also recognize the realism of ending a fight in this way. You say hurtful things and get upset, you calm down, have some sex, go about your day and come back to the fight at a later time.

Other thoughts:

I also like Brandon's response to John's "ex-wife" criticism and felt the same way. It definitely comes across as adolescent to me. Hearing them call her "a drunk" and "abusive" didn't seem to register with me. It makes sense that they would both hate Jesse's ex, so of course they're going to revert to name calling. I understand, too, that those are some pretty serious accusations, but nonetheless, it comes off as exaggerated to me. Again, though, not everyone thinks what Brandon and I think, so you do have a point, John. But I also agree with Brandon's first paragraph in his "agreeing" post. Jesse and Celine are meant to be together, and at the very least, Jesse isn't meant to be with his ex.

I think John is right in suggesting that while it's never really called into question that they belong together, MIDNIGHT does a great job of broadening the scope of their relationship. But also, we can feel like they belong together, but that doesn't mean we'll always get what we want. In the end, Jesse and Celine have important decisions to make that we won't get to see or be a part of. Hopefully we'll get to see the aftermath of those decisions, though, nine years or so down the road.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I Did the Quizzy

1. Name your five favorite actors and actresses of all time.

Actors: Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant; with honorable mentions to Bogart and Cagney.

Actresses: Ingrid Bergman, Claudette Colbert, Barbara Stanwyck, Grace Kelly, Rosalind Russell. As far as modern actresses are concerned, I really like Marion Cotillard, Cate Blanchett, and Jessica Chastain.

2. Can you remember the first foreign-language film you saw that made an impact on you? If so, what was it?

RUN LOLA RUN is my answer as well, though TALK TO HER is another foreign film that I vividly remember watching for the first time. RUN LOLA RUN was something inventive and cool. It sort of opened my eyes to the idea that foreign-language films were playing with a different set of rules. Hopefully that makes sense.

3. Favorite moment in a horror film? Least favorite?

Sorry gang, while this is a great question, it ain't exactly my forte. There are so many great scenes in THE SHINING, but I'll go with the reveal at the end of THE OTHERS. I think it's a cool idea and I didn't see the twist coming.

Least favorite...hmm...I'll go with the scenes of Rachel's sister from PET CEMETERY. I also recall a moment from the 2002 remake of CARRIE that didn't sit well with me; one dude Carrie kills at the prom is wearing glasses and she shatters them, stabbing out his eyes. While it isn't actually possible to shatter the glass in someone's eyeglasses, I still feel uneasy about that scene, being someone who needs to wear glasses/contacts.

4. Pick a film for each member of film club that you'd really like for her/him to see.

John - Love and Death
Brandon - A Single Man
Ben - Duck Soup
Jeff - MVP II: Most Vertical Primate
Jason - Rio Bravo
Adrienne - Being There
Squarehead - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Cheddar - Angel Face
Arthur - Cleo From 5 to 7

5. Is there a film(s) that you once loved (and maybe even purchased) that now makes you question what you ever saw in it?

I've made quite a few questionable DVD purchases in my lifetime. I remember buying DVDs a lot in college and I spent a good amount of time re-watching movies. Now I re-watch things much less and I'm not buying as many DVDs anymore.

But while I'm thinking of it, I bought the two-disc copy of Judd Apatow's FUNNY PEOPLE. I haven't seen it in years and don't feel the desire to re-watch it. I don't know that I ever "loved" it but clearly I liked it enough to buy it. I think I just wanted to get my special features on in the hopes that it would make the film a little better. While it does have some funny jokes/moments, overall the movie blows.

6. IFC has started releasing films on demand the same day they hit theaters. Would you like more studios to do this or are you afraid it may strike the death knell for movie theaters?

Going to the movies seems to be one of America's most popular pastimes. For that reason, I don't think we will see the death of them in our lifetime. But this question does raise an interesting point, and with the rise of instant streaming and On-Demand downloads, we now spend more time watching movies in our living rooms.

But I would like more independent studios to do this because, as we all know, if can be pretty hard to track down certain foreign and independent films. I'd happily pay five bucks to see a movie on-demand that I wouldn't really to get see anywhere else. It's a great deal.

7. Favorite movie(s) set during the summertime?

Would we call CLAIRE'S KNEE a summertime film? I forget when that one is set. Anyway, that and DO THE RIGHT THING.

8. Which director working today do you think would make a great western if given the chance (assuming he/she hasn't already made one)? Or if you don't like westerns, which director working today do you think would make a great sci-fi flick (also assuming he/she hasn't made one yet)?

Fincher and Refn are great answers for the western. Maybe a Coen brothers sci-fi flick? A Malick western would be pretty cool and boring.

9. Describe a perfect moment in a movie (courtesy of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule).

One of my favorite movie moments is the ending of CHRISTMAS IN JULY. Even though it's obvious that Dick Powell's slogan is going to be chosen in the end, it's still a great moment, especially given the roller coaster ride of the previous 60 minutes. It's a special moment because it made me feel overcome with joy. When a movie gets you to care about the story and the characters in that way, where their happiness mirrors your own, it's perfect.

10. Top-five films of 1990:

1. Goodfellas
2. Close-Up
3. Miller's Crossing
4. Metropolitan
5. Edward Scissorhands

It has to be GOODFELLAS but CLOSE-UP is also pretty worthy of the top spot. I'll give MILLER'S CROSSING the nod over METROPOLITAN; MC is the better film, but I'd rather re-watch METROPOLITAN if I had to choose between the two. EDWARD SCISSORHANDS is one of Burton's best and it beats out TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES for the fifth spot. I do love that film as well, Brandon. For a film based on a video game/cartoon, it's pretty dark. There's also great make-up/costume design on the Turtles and Splinter. Casey Jones rules as well.

I hope to write about BEFORE MIDNIGHT soon.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bran Quiz

1. What film hit you at the right place and right time, pertaining to and illuminating things that were happening in your life the moment you saw it?

Like Cheddar, I'm not one for allowing movies to illuminate things that are happening in my life (it's the same with music/lyrics). But if I have to choose something, I think I'll go with 2002's ORANGE COUNTY. My senior year of high school, I wanted to be a writer but was afraid I wouldn't be able to pursue that, and I would be stuck in my awful hometown for life. But thankfully, as you all know, I've moved away from Oxford and I've been dubbed the next Jonathan Franzen by various literary magazines. Good things come to those with no talent.

2. What would be your top 5 ranked Pixar films?

2. Toy Story
3. Ratatouille
4. Up
5. Brave

This is probably a boring list, so I'll just add that there are some Pixar movies I've staunchly avoided. MONSTER'S INC. was one I avoided for a while. But when I did end up seeing it, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm sure I'd have a similar reaction to THE INCREDIBLES and possibly FINDING NEMO--both I still have yet to see. I'm going to continue to avoid CARS, though...based on what I've heard and so that I can continue my long-standing Larry the Cable Guy boycott.

3. To reiterate Cheddar's question... what movie/movies had the biggest negative effect on you?

REQUIEM FOR A DREAM is a good answer. ANTICHRIST too, but I haven't felt the desire to see it because I know that it would destroy my mind. As you all know, I love, love, love SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK but I couldn't speak for about twenty minutes after I saw it. Had I opened my mouth to talk about it, I would've broken down completely.

4. What seasons seem to inspire you to see and write about films the most and least?

The winter is pretty rough. Post-December, there's not much to see. By the time spring rolls around, I really miss going to the theater. Summer has some hits, but mostly misses; something interesting stuff, though. The fall is really the best time, in my opinion, for seeing movies. As far as writing is concerned, I think this blog is evidence for the fact that I'm not often inspired to write about them. But when I am, it's a great feeling.

5. What are five movies that you love that you feel comfortable never seeing again?

"Love" and "never" are strong words. I really liked BLUE VALENTINE but maybe I won't ever watch it again; hell, I probably will at some point. I don't love any of the following movies, but I liked them at one time or another and I'll probably never watch them again: SIGNS, JUNO, AN EDUCATION, THE FIGHTER, THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES.

6. What anticipated 2013 film/films are you feeling the most uneasy about expectation wise?

MUD is one, only because I've gotten the impression from Jeff and others that it doesn't exactly build off of the great work Jeff Nichols has already done. I think we're all mostly fans of his and we want to see a nice progression with each film. I really hope ONLY GOD FORGIVES is a great time at the theater and obviously critics have been tearing into it. So that should be interesting. TO THE WONDER, definitely.

7. Likewise, what former favorite actors are trudging down dangerous territory for you, also what actors have already strayed down the path to the point in which their name now means nothing?

Man,'re a jerk. Jeff and I were talking to someone recently (probably Brandon or Cheddar) and I think Jeff made the point that Ryan Gosling was sort of wearing out his welcome a bit. I don't know that I'd settle on him for my answer, but I thought that was an interesting point.

I think THIS IS THE END could be a turning point for me. I still like Danny McBride, Seth Rogen, Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, and the rest of that crew...but maybe I won't like the movie and I'll grow out of liking them a bit.

And hey, Vince Vaughn used to be a legit actor...clearly I'm just fucking around now.

8. What is your take on a screenwriter's impact on a film's success, in other words, how much of an auteurist are you?

As Cheddar mentioned, I have a massive amount of respect for the directors who write their own scripts. We were talking about this a bit at Graham's. Gentile is an auteurist...Brandon is not anymore. Mostly, I don't buy into the auteur theory. But as I said on Sunday, I recognize that David Fincher and other directors, despite not writing the scripts, review and approve every word of them.

But I definitely agree with Brandon in that filmmaking is a collaborative effort; simply slapping an "author" label on a film isn't fair to the handful or hundreds of people who worked on it. Not to mention the fact that without producers/backers, these projects wouldn't even get off the ground.

The coach/manager of a professional soccer team sets up tactics and picks the guys who will play in games. Like that of a director, it's a position of power, control, and oversight. But the guys on the team still need to perform and play well in order for that team to be successful.

As far as screenwriters are concerned, they definitely play a big part. But it's really a matter of how respected a screenwriter is that determines his or her influence on a film. A guy like Tony Kushner deserves a ton of credit for LINCOLN. But those who are getting their first scripts greenlit are always pushed to the sideline, have no input whatsoever, and their script will be altered by the director, the producers, and/or an actual successful, seasoned screenwriter.

9. What types of "provocative" cinematic trends/ideas still feel fresh, which seem to be losing their oomph in the modern age of self-awareness?

I know we're all gonna give subjective answers here, but are there any provocative trends that are sort of universally seen as losing some oomph? I don't feel like there are. I think trends only exaggerate with time. People keep pushing that envelope and even if something grows stale, it's stuffed in a closet for a few years and then it's brought back. I realize I'm being vague here, but I just wanted to make that general point. The torture porn stuff still has an audience even though that shit got old the moment HOSTEL's closing credits rolled.

David Cronenberg is probably better off being provocative (though EASTERN PROMISES and A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE are exceptions to that).

10. What's your favorite horror film of the 1990s?

SLEEPY HOLLOW. It's pretty great.

Friday, May 17, 2013

March and April in May


Laura ****
Le Corbeau ***1/2
Les Diaboliques *****
Midnight ****
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers ****
Spring Breakers ***
Captain Blood ****
Unforgiven ***1/2
The Magnificent Ambersons ***1/2
A Face In the Crowd ****
Down By Law ****
Swing Time ****
Close-Up ****1/2
The Place Beyond the Pines ***
The Spiral Staircase ****


Burning Love seasons 2 & 3
Comedy Bang! Bang! season 1
Deadwood (one episode)
Extras Christmas Special
Game of Thrones seasons 2 and 3
Human Giant season 1
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (various episodes)
Mr. Show season 2
Parks and Recreation seasons 2, 3, 4 5
Seinfeld seasons 6 and 7
The Simpsons (various episodes)
The League (one episode)
Trailer Park Boys season 1

Notes: Since I watched a lot of this stuff two months ago, I'm finding it difficult to do write-ups. Being lazy doesn't pay off...unless you continue to be lazy forever, I guess. Then it works quite well.

Out of those films, I enjoyed LES DIABOLIQUES, CLOSE-UP, and THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE the most. Slightly below those three would be LAURA, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, SWING TIME, and MIDNIGHT.

LES DIABOLIQUES was the best of the bunch, though, and I'm only disappointed that I didn't see it sooner. It moves from the plotting of murder to something of a haunted school/ghost story. And as I wrote on Letterboxd (a site I've sadly neglected as of late), the ending was everything I wanted it to be. Love the bathtub shot. Brilliant stuff.

THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE has a nice, creepy feel to it. I saw the ending coming, but it still works great. SPOILERS: I'm glad that the old lady shoots the killer; and I like the moment when she apologizes to her son for assuming he was the serial murderer. Like ROPE, it does a nice job of condemning those who take social Darwinism into their own hands.

Maybe someone noticed that I only gave UNFORGIVEN three and a half stars. I'm not looking to pick a fight here, but it wasn't as good as I thought it would be. The film starts off strong and there are some great scenes with Gene Hackman, but aside from that I can't really single any moments out as being favorites. And I don't really pin it on Clint Eastwood--I think it's beautifully shot--but rather screenwriter David Webb Peoples. Maybe I'm missing something, but the guy has yet to really connect with me; I had a similar reaction to BLADE RUNNER (which I have still haven't finished watching). Not trying to be a snob in any way, just stating that it wasn't necessarily my thing. Now stop accusing me, willya??!!

I've thought about SPRING BREAKERS on and off since we all saw it together but I've never actually sat down to write much about it. I'm sticking with my mixed review and the idea that, while I do respect it, I probably won't give it a second viewing. To be clear, that doesn't mean I'd refuse a second viewing though, just that I won't really seek it out when it hits retail. I loved the discussion held on these blogs about it, though, and was happy that Jason got to get in on the proceedings. Just like old times.

THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS is boring, Jeff. I wish I liked Joseph Cotten as much as you do; I'm just not there yet. I wish I could see Welles' original cut; I'm sure the extended version is better. Everything felt a bit underdeveloped because at no point did I care about either family. Maybe I'm just an asshole. That's it...isn't it?

A FACE IN THE CROWD has great performances from Andy Griffith and Patricia Neal - really impressive stuff. I had a very short attention span when I watched both this and AMBERSONS, so maybe I didn't give either a fair shake. I know I was definitely feeling distracted for parts of AFITC and so I don't really remember most of it. I did enjoy the theme and the ending. It reminded me of Gabbo's downfall in the Krusty Gets Kancelled episode of The Simpsons, which obviously came after this movie. I'm trying to remember if the producers/writers reference the film in the commentary...but actually I think they based it on a real-life event in which an actual TV clown called his audience "SOBs." What were we talking about again? Oh, right, The Simpsons...

CLOSE-UP is a fascinating documentary that I'd recommend to anyone. SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS has great facial hair and cool fight & dance sequences. It's not a musical, it's a mansical. Oh, wait, no..."mansical" isn't a word; it is actually a musical.

SWING TIME is damn enjoyable but why did it have to have a blackface musical number? Sonofabitch!

I'm with Jeff on THE PLACE BEHIND THE PINES. I think I enjoyed the second act more than he did, but by the time the third act rolled around, it just got to be too contrived. And hell, only the first half of the second act was something I enjoyed...the Serpico stuff dragged out far too long as well. I do admire Derek Cianfrance for sticking with the story and allowing it to play out a bit more, but eventually it does collapse under its own weight. I still like the guy and await his next film; he does some things really well, as you guys talked about. I think he does a great job of capturing real-life awkwardness.

Because of my short attention span toward the end of March, I decided to watch more TV than I usually do.

I decided to check out COMEDY BANG BANG due to its grand assemblage of guest stars: Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, Jon Hamm, Zach Galifanakis, Paul Rudd, etc. I love this show (which was first a podcast...something I've also cozied up to these past few weeks) and it's on NWI if anyone else is interested in irreverent humor. Consider me a big fan of Scott Aukerman now, and he Reggie Watts are a great duo on the show. Season two (20 episodes) is being filmed now...can't wait.

I watched the first episode of DEADWOOD and eventually I'll complete the series. I liked it but I'm looking forward to it being even better as I get more invested.

I was happy to hear that Brandon is an EXTRAS fan. See it if you haven't; I've got the DVDs for anyone to borrow. And as much as I like Ricky, I will agree with you, Brandon, that he needs to get back to making more stuff like EXTRAS. I wonder if his new show DEREK is that project. It was supposed to come to NWI this spring, but I haven't heard any updates lately.

GAME OF THRONES is still the most entertaining show on TV but these past few weeks have been "punctuated" only with more pot boiling. I have a feeling that all of that will change this Sunday with some major shit going down, but we're just gonna have to wait and see.

At one point I told John that MR. SHOW was one of the best/funniest sketch comedy shows I'd ever seen. I still stick by that statement, but in watching the complete second season, I feel that the second half was slightly weaker than the first. All of it was pretty brilliant/hilarious, though. I wish HBO would put the entire series up on HBOgo. Until then I'll continue to get the DVDs on Netflix. Worth it so far; I love it. And speaking of Scott Aukerman, I look forward to seeing him in season 4 (I think) of MR. SHOW.

I watched one episode of THE LEAGUE weeks ago because of Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukas (PARKS and REC alums and HOW DID THIS GET MADE? podcast hosts). I hated the one episode I watched. It was lazy and stupid and it had undone the work of SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, which kinda endeared me to Mark Duplass. Our Jason likes the show...which is fine. It's always a nice feeling to discover a new show that brings us joy. But again, I hate the "guys being guys" shows. It's been done to death and it ain't funny. I agree with John on this one, but I still have two more episodes to watch (eps. 4 & 5) before I possibly change my mind (not looking good, though, sorry Jason).

One night when we were at Brandon's, he was watching TRAILER PARK BOYS with Tara and Dean. I wasn't too aware of the show up until that point, but after seeing some of it at the Musa household, I enjoyed it enough to check the first season out on NWI. I've been watching episodes here and there. It's funny; I like it.

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT returns May 26th. 15 episodes all streaming at once. I can't wait to watch. The teaser was promising.

I saw about 10 minutes of THE OFFICE finale before I changed the channel. I'm a snob and I just want to stick to watching seasons 2-4 on DVD. I'm a much happier person that way. But having said all that, cheers to The Office for entertaining me and making me laugh over the years.

I stole...and I robbed...and I kidnapped the President's son...and held him for ransom.
And I never got caught neither!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Looking Forward To...

Ben, like you, I'm eagerly anticipating BEFORE MIDNIGHT and ONLY GOD FORGIVES. To a much lesser extent, I also want to see STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS.

I check out daily (which is one of the reasons why I've been thinking more and  more about expanding TV club), and they had a preview for this summer's non-blockblusters. Here's the link to that article:,97506/

That article also has a link for their blockbuster preview as well; both are pretty helpful/informative and I'd recommend giving them a glance.

In the non-blockbuster write-up, I did see the trailer for Joss Whedon's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. It looked interesting, but I don't think I'd ever pay money to see it. If I can see it for free and I'm feeling a little bored, I might check it out. And sure, the film is perhaps worthy of a better endorsement than that, but still...that's how I feel right now.

I don't know what to think of BLING RING; actually, I think I can muster up, "it looks vomit-inducing." There's a chance it has something interesting to say, but I can't say that I care too much about what that would be. I do like Sophia Coppola, though, and even gave SOMEWHERE a chance. It was all right, but agreed, she can do much better than she has been lately.

Even though I didn't really like DISTRICT 9, I'm pulling for Neil Blomkamp. Hopefully I can someday enjoy one of his movies as much as people seemed to enjoy DISTRICT 9. But I'm very skeptical that ELYSIUM will do the trick.

BEFORE MIDNIGHT and ONLY GOD FORGIVES seem to be the cream of the crop this summer. Like Jeff, I've avoided all teasers and trailers for BM. Although I'm quite sure I accidentally read a spoiler in a Julie Delpy interview the other week. Damn you, Delpy! I'd like to re-watch BEFORE SUNRISE and SUNSET before seeing the third installment, so hopefully I can find the time.

In my mind, it's going to be tough for Nicolas Refn and the Gos to top DRIVE; I'm still expecting ONLY GOD FORGIVES to be very damn good, though. Slick looking trailer, indeed; it's a fun one to look at.

I've never been a Star Trek fan but I did enjoy J.J. Abram's 2009 film. Yeah, it was good enough, but there was plenty of room for improvement; so I do hope the sequel surpasses it. I'm a big fan of the Benedict Cumberbatch, and I'm looking forward to what he can do as a villain. I'll probably see this one with Jeff and our Dad (who is a legit trekkie).

Also on my radar:
  • FRANCES HA. It could easily be a non-experience, but I've got somewhat high hopes for it. I like Noah Baumbach and all, but admittedly, he really needs to step up his game.
  • Alfonso Cuaron's GRAVITY looks pretty rad. It definitely has my attention. I'd make a joke about Sandra Bullock being lost in space, but who has the energy for that kind of thing anymore?
  • MAN OF STEEL. Excited for a Zack Synder/Russell Crowe film? You bet I...ah, wait...what? No, I am excited for this one despite the casting for both paternal figures to Kal-El/Clark Kent. But come on, Michael Shannon is General Zod...that's must-see stuff. I'm also intrigued by the way Superman is going to be portrayed in this one. It's a Hollywood film, so he'll ultimately be mankind's hero. But he does appear to come off as a little indifferent in the trailers. There's a complexity to Superman that hasn't been explored in any of the previous films (minus SUPERMAN 3 with Richard Pryor).
  • BLUE JASMINE (dir. Woody Allen). TO ROME WITH LOVE was better than I thought it would be; Woody is still making fine work. BLUE JASMINE has Cate Blanchett, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Louis C.K. so there are plenty of reasons to see it, in my opinion.
  • I'M SO EXCITED (dir. Pedro Almodovar). Should be funny and enjoyable.
  • I'm really like these bullets.
  • And hey, maybe PRINCE AVALANCHE (dir. David Gordon Green) will be's possible, right? What do you think, JohnO?
  • I still need/want to see MUD and TO THE WONDER.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Quiz On The Block (sorry)

Holy hell, it's been a month since my last post. Hopefully Brandon's latest quiz will wake me up from hibernation. I'll echo John in saying, thanks for doing this.

1. What are your top five Spielberg films (ranked)?

1. Catch Me If You Can
2. Jurrasic Park
3. Schindler's List
4. Lincoln
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark

2. Have you ever been convinced by a member of Film Club to change your mind about a movie (tell us about it)?

Sort of. Before I joined Film Club, I never would've considered seeing BIRTH OF A NATION. Thanks to John, I will give Griffith's white supremacist, propaganda film a shot.

3. What is your favorite sub-genre and why?

I'm lame and don't necessarily have a favorite sub-genre. But the two that stand out the most are detective noirs and slapstick comedies (classic slapsticks).

4. Do you enjoy violence in film and if so do you feel bad and if so why?

When it's justified and good and evil are clearly defined. Although some films do a great job of blurring the lines of good and evil when it comes to violence. But I only enjoy/prefer to see it up on the screen when some sort of vengeance/justice is being carried out. DRIVE and SIN CITY are pretty violent films, but they're both movies that I've walked out of feeling tougher or grittier...or something.

And what would a 'violence in films' discussion be without mentioning Quentin Tarantino- KILL BILL and INGLORIOUS BASTERDS have some great, violent scenes. I really like the battle between Uma Thurman and the Crazy 88s in Vol. 1.

And while I'm not a big horror fan, I can understand why people love certain films for their excellence in make-up and effects. While I'll never be a big EVIL DEAD guy, I can understand the coolness of having Ash's arm replaced with a chain saw so he can maim demons.

I don't feel bad about this, and I also feel the need to say that I don't look down on or feel superior to those who absolutely love violence in film. At the same time, this country has a real problem with violence that other civilized, modern countries don't seem to have. I'm not looking to get a gun debate going again or anything, but any negative feelings I have about violence in film is directed more toward the viewer. Most Americans are very stupid and cannot differentiate between film and reality. It's pretty sad, really. We have way too many assholes walking around who think they're movie stars. Sorry to take on this tone and to start a mini-rant.

5. Tell us about a few of your strangest theater going experiences.

1) I saw PINEAPPLE EXPRESS in a theater in Basalt, Colorado when it came out. I went with my older brother, Brent, and our friend Evan. They both smoked up beforehand, but I did not. Anyway, 10 minutes into the movie (the actual movie, not the trailers) the lights turn on...and two cops stroll down the middle aisle of the theater. Everyone goes still, and despite the fact that the movie is continuing to play, it suddenly feels silent. The room is filled with a palpable mix of fear and anger. The cops make it to the middle of the theater, stop, and ask this guy to get up and follow them. The three walk out, but all the while, the tension is still very real; it was almost as if I expected someone to get up and challenge the cops for dragging this dude out. After they exit, the lights go back off and there are no other interruptions. Very strange, and thankfully I wasn't high, otherwise I probably would've shit my pants...haha.

2) The only other interesting movie theater story I have is when I was at school in New Paltz. I forget what movie I was seeing but this was another theater with two long rows of seats separated by a middle aisle. Anyway, so I'm toward the back of the theater on the the right side and to my immediate left on the other side of the room are a small pack of douchey bro-types. During the movie one of the douchey bros gets a call on his cell. Is it on vibrate? No. Is it on silent? No. Is the ringtone on? Yah, brah. So instead of turning his phone off or ignoring the call, this asshole answers his phone and engages in a conversation with whomever called him. Naturally/understandably another guy, who is sitting in the row in front of Asshole and his friends, turns around and says, "Are you serious?"

Asshole tells the person on the other line that they'll talk later and he hangs up. Then, for the rest of the movie, Asshole and his douchey bros decide to fuck with the guy who told him to hang up his phone. They flick him, poke him, and put shit in the hood of his sweatshirt. I witnessed all of this and was so pissed. Instead of concentrating on the movie, I kept thinking of different ways that I could fuck with the bros. I wanted to go buy a soda or something and dump it on them. In the end, I did nothing and I do regret not acting. The guy they were fucking with was like Gandhi, though. Did not react to anything they were doing him. He was there with one other friend, though, and was outnumbered. It was really unfortunate and bummed me out.

6. Name 5 films that you have been eager to re-watch, perhaps even despite your tepid response to some of them.

ON THE WATERFRONT - no tepid response here; it's just been too long since my last viewing.
CITIZEN KANE - same as above.
Scorcese 4-pack: THE AVIATOR, GOODFELLAS, TAXI DRIVER, RAGING BULL - only b/c it's been too long.
GRAND ILLUSION - I would never deny its brilliance, but it isn't one of favorites so I'd like to re-watch it in the hope of taking more away from it.

7. Name 5 films that you absolutely love or respect that you have no desire to see ever again.

Hmmm...I don't love SPRING BREAKERS (respect is more accurate), but that's a movie I probably wouldn't watch again. THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS...again, more respect than love, but that one bored the hell out of me. I hate to say it, but it really did.

Damn, this is a tough one. I'd probably give most films a second chance...of course, there will be plenty that I only see once. Singling certain films out right now is proving to be difficult, though. SPRING BREAKERS seems like the perfect kind of pick for this one. I wonder how many other movies I saw that had the same affect on me.

8. What are five films that you really want to see for the first time?


I'm probably forgetting a handful of good ones.

9. Name 5 surprising "classic" popular films that you have not seen.

KING KONG (the original) - would definitely see it.
EVIL DEAD - mild interest, I guess.
ALIEN - more than mild interest.
DIE HARD - I'd see it, sure.
THE HUSTLER - would definitely see it.
the ONLY Bond film I've seen is GOLDENEYE

10. Who are your top five directors of all time?

Derrr....Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, John Ford, Preston Sturges, Francois Trauffaut, Woody Allen for a sixth.

Friday, March 22, 2013

J.T. Quizman

1. Best use of Technicolor on film?

Sure it's popular and obvious but THE WIZARD OF OZ has a pretty damn good use of Technicolor. THE SEARCHERS and MEET ME IN ST.LOUIS are also great uses (and better films).

2. What's your favorite film score? Favorite composer?

John Williams' STAR WARS score rules. I'll also go with Williams for favorite composer; I could think more on it, though, but I'm already taking way too much time to do this quizz.

3. What's your favorite film from the year you were born?

HANNAH AND HER SISTERS. It's one Woody's best and now I have another reason to be thankful for it--without it, 1986 is an awful year in film.

4. Robert Mitchum or Dana Andrews?

Robert Mitchum, but Dana Andrews is definitely worthy of praise. I'd go with Mitchum for NIGHT OF THE HUNTER alone, though. Also wish I could do a decent Mitchum impression.

5. (In terms of acting) Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby? David Bowie or Tom Waits?

Sinatra probably is the better actor, but I'm going to go with Bing. I will say that ON THE TOWN made me like Sinatra quite a bit; I need to see more of his films, though. Bing I love for this work with Bob Hope and for HOLIDAY INN.

Bowie v. Waits? Both are committed and great in everything I've seen them in. I'll pick Waits if I must...for MYSTERY MEN.

6. What's your favorite film with a woman's name in the title?


7. Who is your favorite foreign-language film director working today? Who is your favorite foreign-language film director of all time?

Abbas Kiarostami is doing the best stuff, although admittedly, I haven't seen enough of his films. The Dardenne brothers are pretty great as basically I have nothing new to add. Jeff and Brandon summed it up pretty well anyway.

8. If you could have written any screenplay, what would it be and why?

Tough DUCK SOUP because then I would much funnier and smarter than I actually am.

I really wish I could've been on the respective sets of DUCK SOUP and DR. STRANGELOVE, to answer a question no one asked.

9. Name the character from a film that scared you the most as a child. Name the film character, if any, that scares you the most now.

Oh, boy... there's too many to list from when I was a kid. The Wicked Witch of the West's voice used to creep me out when I was younger. My Dad does a decent impression of her so he would to do it every now and then to get me going. But to really embarrass myself, I'll add the troll from ERNEST SCARED STUPID...scared the hell out of me!

Not a lot has changed since I was a kid...still pretty much scared by most "scary" things, and I do what I can to avoid horror films. Shit makes me paranoid.

10. What is the first R rated film you remember seeing?

SUDDEN DEATH in which Jean-Claude Van Damme must save the Vice President from a terrorist attack at a Pittsburgh Penguins game.

11. Name your favorite moment of vengeance in a film. And which film has portrayed the complexity of vengeance most accurately to you?

KILL BILL, OLD BOY, IN THE BEDROOM are all great examples of vengeance. KILL BILL Vol. 2 is a wonderful compliment (and improvement) to Vol 1. The Bride's relationship with Bill gets fleshed out more, and Bill is finally killed in a wonderful scene. Jeff covers OLD BOY and IN THE BEDROOM very well. I see that Brandon has a revenge post up now, so perhaps I'll save my thoughts for that. I'd like to come up with other examples as well.

12. It is okay to depict a positive story out of something as horrific and destructive as the Holocaust (e.g. SCHINDLER'S LIST). Agree or disagree with this statement.

Agree, because there are some horrific/destructive moments in SCHINDLER'S LIST also. It's not as if Spielberg sugarcoated the Holocaust. And those who make films about the Holocaust aren't necessarily looking to sugarcoat it either. So I don't mind someone trying to depict a positive story about it as long as they also show how horrific and destructive it actually was. Stories of hope always exist in the darkest of places/situations. But I can see where those on the other side of this debate are coming from, though.

13. Which war film, if any, has had the greatest emotional impact on you?

FULL METAL JACKET, THE DEER HUNTER, APOCALYPSE NOW, THE THIN RED LINE. All four do a great job of depicting the senselessness and evils of war. I threw all four out there because I'm not exactly sure which one has had more of an impact on me.

14. Name the top five *best looking* films you've ever seen.


15. Which film title would you use to describe yourself? Which film title would you use to describe each member of film club?

Adrienne - TRUE GRIT
Ben - For a while there it was THE INVISIBLE MAN, but now it's more like BRIEF ENCOUNTER.
Brandon - THE FACE ON THE BAR-ROOM FLOOR.... no, I'll go with A BEAUTIFUL MIND since I like the way your mind works, duder.
Lisa - THE LADY VANISHES, but soon to be THE GRADUATE.

16. David Lynch or David Cronenberg?

Lynch. I love the Cronenberg that I have seen, though, and with the exception of A DANGEROUS METHOD, it's been been really great stuff. I'll see more. Lynch I love for TWIN PEAKS and MULHOLLAND DR., and BLUE VELVET.

17. Is there a book you would like to see currently made into a film? If so, by which director?

The Coen Brothers' As I Lay Dying. I'd also like to see an anthology film of Italo Calvino's If On a Winter's Night a Traveler.

18. What's the most overrated film of the 90s?


19. You are a guest programmer on Turner Classic Movies. You get to choose any four movies to play. What are they?


20. It's Ark time. You are only allowed to save films from one country (excluding the US). Which country and why?

France because I am more familiar with them than the films of any other country. That also gives me the work of Truffaut, Clouzot, Carne, Vigo, Renoir, Rohmer, Bresson, some Bunuel. I'd have a grand old time on my Ark.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Das Quiz

1. What is the most overrated film of the past 5 years and briefly explain why?

 Ha, I think I have no choice but to go with AVATAR. But since I've been really hard on that one lately, I'll also throw in THE AVENGERS. I love you, though, Ruffalo. You were a great Hulk. And I like Robert Downey Jr. and all, but his Iron Man character is a bit of a douche. Joss Whedon tries his best but finally fails at something. I'm sorry to have to be the first person to criticize him. I mean that sincerely; I do like him.

2. What are your favorite 3 television shows currently running?

1) Game of Thrones
2) Breaking Bad
3) Parks and Recreation

I considered listing Mad Men as my number 3, but I didn't like season 5 as much as the others. Parks is a lot of fun and I love the cast/characters; I'm happy to hear that John is watching the entire series. Obviously we're all high on Breaking Bad. At times, I view it as interchangeable with Game of Thrones. But admittedly, if I had two DVDs in my possession - one containing the next season of GoT and one containing the last season of BB, I'd probably watch the Game of Thrones disc first.

3. Name one film and television show you are ashamed to admit to liking?

There's no shame here...Gilmore Girls; suck it, nerds! For film...there's a little more shame. Not that I am a huge fan of these films but here we go: JUNO, THE VILLAGE, GARDEN STATE. Again, with that last one, I haven't seen it since the year it was released, so there's still a chance that only teenage Chris liked it.

Also, I really like THE FALL, but because Tarsem has been such a huge embarrassment lately, I wouldn't exactly go around telling people I'm a big fan of that film...but I am, actually. I like it a lot.

4. What do you look for in a film writer?

Like John, I took this to mean "screenwriter." And for that, I'd have to go with Charlie Kaufman, Luis Bunuel, and Preston Sturges. All three write/wrote intelligent, emotional scripts that can also be completely absurd.

In terms of critical writing, honesty is very important. I also like people who don't take themselves too seriously...that's a good general rule, too.

5. Name a great director (in your opinion) who also has enough problems to make you wonder why you hold him/her in such high regard.

Like Jeff, I'll preface this by saying that none of these guys are great directors...Terry Gilliam started off strong and has been sucking lately.

Definitely Sam Mendes; I don't care about his body of work one bit.

Mike Nichols only has VIRGINIA WOOLF and THE GRADUATE to hang his hat on....his coat is hanging from a large pile of shit. 

I love BACK TO THE FUTURE and all, but Zemeckis annoys the hell out of me (his other films, not necessarily the man himself).

6. What is your favorite film era and why do you think this era speaks so much to you?

Like John, I really enjoy this era because I'm most familiar with it. Also, there have been a handful of great films recently and I still see plenty of room for growth and potential. The possibilities for stories are also endless since no one has to deal with the code anymore. But obviously I love a lot of the Code-era films and they accomplished a hell of a lot while being restricted.

But I also really enjoy the have great comedies in CHRISTMAS IN JULY, BALL OF FIRE, MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE, MY FAVORITE WIFE, ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN and great films like CITIZEN KANE, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, CASABLANCA, THE MALTESE FALCON and ROPE. Many of the favorites. One hell of a decade.

7. Name your favorite five working film critics.

I can't name five, but I like Ebert. You guys also introduced me to Glenn Kenny, and although I don't read much of his stuff, the little that I have read was pleasing to me.

8. Name your five least favorite.

Again, I don't have five but Armond White and Richard Brody seem like big turds to me. Oh, and yeah, Jeff...good call on Rex Reed. F that guy.

9. Name a few directors whom you have liked in the past that you are worried about and briefly explain why.
Darren Aronofksy...a bit. I love THE FOUNTAIN but nothing he's made since has been as strong. Apatow for sure. Aronofsky needs something more personal to him. Apatow probably needs to be a little less personal. I still love both guys, though, and look forward to what they'll come out with next.

10. What actor and actress would make you watch an otherwise uninteresting film?

Yeah, for older films...definitely Jimmy Stewart and Bob Hope. Modern films - Daniel Day-Lewis...not that any of the films he's done lately have been uninteresting. I'd see most, if not all of Leo DiCaprio's stuff. Ten years ago or so, I probably would've put Audrey Tautou in this due to having a crush on her. But yeah, I don't think there is a modern actress I'd apply this to, though Jessica Chastain is pretty damn awesome.

11. What director would make you watch a film with an otherwise uninteresting plot and why?

Woody Allen...and he's gotten me to do that plenty of times. The Coen Brothers most definitely. Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Terrence Malik, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Charlie Kaufman, John name a few.

12. What film did you feel the most intimidated to like despite some heavy reservations?

UNCLE BOONME...slightly. There are things about it that I really like, but I don't really love it at all. I can't really see myself watching it again. And since Jeff and I see eye to eye on most everything, watching Bresson is slightly intimidating, if I'm honest. I just like his stuff, I don't love it in the way that Jeff does. But that's cool...guess we'll have to settle on agreeing about every other thing.

13. What is your favorite documentary?

If I see a documentary I like, which is rare in the first place, I usually forget about it a week later. I'll go with OUTFOXED due to my hatred for all things insane, stupid, and right-wing...whoops, sorry to be redundant. NO DIRECTION HOME is great, but I'd need to see it again.

14. Billy Wilder or Preston Sturges?

Stur-ges! Stur-ges! Bought the seven-film collection of his on Amazon recently. Money well spent. Wilder is great, too, needs to be said.

15. Jean Gabin or Humphrey Bogart?

Very tough call. I'll go with Bogie, but goddamn...Gabin was one cool dude.

16. Director you want to like more than you honestly do.

Lars von Trier, maybe. I do like some of his films, obviously (Dogville). But yeah, I'm not a big fan or anything. I don't necessarily feel that I need to be either, though.

17. 5 most anticipated films of 2013?

(Jeff's list) Before Midnight, Like Someone In Love, Spring Breakers, Inside Llewyn Davis, To the Wonder, The Place Beyond the Pines. I'll even throw in This Is the End, to switch things up.

18. What is your least favorite current sub-genre or film scene?

Oh, god...modern biopics do suck. Torture porn. Bro comedies like Ted, 21 and Over, The Hangover, and Project X. Shitty action/war movies like the Red Dawn remake or Act of Valor. Emotionally manipulative films like Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. 

19. Name your 5 favorite unheralded modern day directors in a critical sense.

Yeah, due to the wording of this, I'm not sure that I have an answer. You'll find no Zach Snyder love here.

20. What top 5 or 10 list would you most likely do in the near future if offered by a handsome member of Film Club? 

Top Ten Collaborations...Top Ten Screwball comedies...Top Ten Noir...Top Ten Animated Films...Top Ten Superhunks...I'll keep thinking on this.

Yankee Doodle Breakfastbrandy

All right, Brandon, I'll try my best to keep this going...

"On the Oscars again.... I think that McFarlane elicited chuckles at best from me. I've made it no secret that the Family Guy shtick was nearly DOA, though I have to admit that I dug it for a year back when it first surfaced, mostly because I was younger and found some of the jokes just shocking enough to milk me for cheap laughs." Note: I'm a fan of cheap laughs from time to time but when that's your thing you immediately become a one trick pony, which I suppose is better than a no trick pony."

Yeah, as much as I seem to enjoy shitting on Seth McFarlane's work, I won't hide the from the fact that, at one point in my life, I enjoyed watching Family Guy. This was after the show had already been cancelled (and not yet revived) and re-runs were airing on Adult Swim and the Vol. 1 DVDs were making the rounds. I remember hating a few episodes from the first season, but many of them had me cracking up. But like you, I was younger and found some of the jokes "just shocking enough to milk me for cheap laughs." Then I grew up and started revisiting The Simpsons, and goddamn am I much wiser and happier now.

As I've stated before, my beef with Family Guy is summed up perfectly by Eric Cartman in the "Cartoon Wars" episode (ironically, though, I no longer consider myself a fan of South Park fan either). The parodies in that episode are also pretty spot-on as well. Family Guy has a lazy formula, and as Jeff and I have discussed before, much of it is anti-comedy. I can't even muster up a meager compliment for shit like that, especially since that well appears endless to McFarlane and his writers. Agreed, though, I don't have a problem with cheap laughs or low-brow humor from time to time. I'm no foil for a Rodney Dangerfield character.

And some people love Family Guy, and/or the two other shows/copies Seth McFarlane has on Fox, and that's fine. It's not as if that South Park episode sunk Family Guy or helped people to see how poorly it's written. McFarlane writes what he wants without giving a shit about people like me. You definitely need thick-skin to be in the public eye and I'm sure he has some. And believe it or not, but I don't hate Seth McFarlane. My frustration boils down to him not being what I look for in a comedy writer/comedian.

"I guess I found his hosting gig about as good or bad as anyone else's, though I did enjoy Fey and Poehler as well as Ellen a few years back. Basically he was as good as Gervais if not a little better, which is sad considering the fact that I kinda liked that guy for a while. I didn't really find the roasting all that funny, nor do I generally find it funny."

It has to be a hard juggling act to host, lampoon, entertain, and sprinkle actual jokes within a short time slot. Oh well, fuck em all.

Agreed, Seth was in no way the worst Oscars host...not even close. The ceremony did bore me a bit and I didn't find myself laughing at all, but I can say the same of many Oscar nights of the past. To pay Seth McFarlane a compliment, he has great presence and charisma. He looks and sounds like he belongs on television. For those reasons, he was a good host. And luckily for all future hosts, James Franco officially set the bar very low. I did enjoy Ricky Gervais more, but that's because I am a fan of his. He's the kind of comedy writer I like and his stand-up amuses me. But you're no longer a Gervais fan? I really love the show Extras, which I just finished re-watching. Great stuff that I'd recommend, if you haven't seen it.

But a few days before the Oscars this year, Jeff and I talked about what kind of jokes Seth McFarlane would do. I expected him to be very similar to Gervais, and aside from the singing, he was. Getting Tina Fey and/or Amy Poehler would've been something new...although Tina has apparently ruled out hosting the Oscars, apparently. And maybe it's going to be harder and harder to recruit comedians to host the show now; most of them realize what a thankless chore it seems to be. To put it mildly, people are way too hard on the host (I have been, too, at times) but some people are blatantly dumb and vicious. And one last thing on Fey and Poehler - I loved the fake nominee joke they ran with. Again, something new and hilarious. I wonder who will host next year. Many people probably think they could do better, but if they were handed the keys to the thing, they'd probably shit their pants.

"Interesting point about the "bro humor," though I have to say that part of me is feeling kind of bad about how much I hate that general demographic. I've certainly met some good dudes trapped in bro bodies. My problem isn't necessarily with the individuals who declare themselves bros, but rather the culture itself. While it's completely unfair to go the route of bro=misogynist, homophobe, racist, douche... it's kind of hard to disregard connecting dots."

Yeah, you'd think that with all of the bro-bashing I do that maybe there was a point in my life where I was habitually picked on or pranked by a pack of bros...not the case. I, too, have met some good dudes trapped in bro bodies, but exactly...and the end of the day, it's too hard to disregard connecting the dots of bros equating to misogynist, homophobic, racist, douchebags. A bro on his own might have good odds of being a decent human being, but as we know, when they travel in packs, as they almost always's pretty ugly. The bro culture is obviously more of what we speak out against anyway. When I think of bros and the culture, it's everything I think a man should NOT be. I'm all for parties - drinking, smoking - have at it. But bro culture preaches that life is a party. It's not. So many of these people go through life lacking maturity and feels as if  they don't need any. For me, being a man is knowing when to be mature. And that's also part of not being a douchebag. And like you said, the rampant misogyny, homophobia, and racism is sickening and disgraceful; bro culture also preaches zero empathy, something I think all people (not just men) should have.

"I have NO problem blaming Tosh however, simply because his brand of comedy begs for such declarations. The funny thing is, he's probably not a fan of the culture himself but has no problem cashing in on it. It's despicable for sure, but there's no denying it's driven by profit, and the host himself (as well as his hack writers) only goes this route because he's too stupid or lazy to do otherwise. It's affected our culture, I'd be in denial to suggest that our icons aren't molding our youth. They always have, they always will."

Yeah, again, I'm slightly curious about what goes on inside Tosh's head. How much of this persona is him and how much of it is just an act to keep people interested in him. You're right, though, there is no denying it's driven by profit...and kudos for calling out his writers as well. McFarlane's writers are also to blame, concerning his body of work.

I read an interview with Anthony Jeselnik on the AV Club website recently, and did so with the feeling that Jeselnik was similar to really, for me, this was an attempt to gain more insight on something/someone that I probably don't like. While I'm not a Jeselnik fan, I did find some of what he said to be interesting.

When I wrote recently about Comedy Central handing out shows left and right to stand-ups, I almost wrote that they were handing them out to nobodies. Luckily I cut that part out, because I realized shortly after that that the reason why I've never heard of these people because I don't spend time at comedy clubs. It's really not fair for me refer to nobodies, because hell, at one point, Jerry Seinfeld was a nobody. Anyway, just wanted to mention that.

 Back to Jeselnik...who was recently given his own show on Comedy Central. Again, I didn't know much about the guy, but sort of knew that he was a bit of an insult comic with a dark sense of humor. Turns out, yes, his raise began with the Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump. I'm sure if I watched it, I would laugh because of my hatred for Trump. Everyone should take shots at that guy, in my mind; he's a real piece of shit. Anyway, I mostly avoid those Roasts, and again, I'm starting to see Comedy Central as a bro-friendly channel. You, Jeff, John, and I are pretty old school guys, so I've seen a few of the Dean Martin Roasts. The tone is noticeably different from what is done today. And back then, they would roast someone with dignity and a respectable career - Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, etc. Today they roast people like Trump, Larry the Cable Guy, and David Hasselhoff. And the goal in all of it is to be as mean as possible.

I watched David Steinberg interview Don Rickles recently for Showtime's Inside Comedy, and in the interview, Rickles admits that while his act consists of insulting anyone and everyone, he's never mean-spirited. And I get it, comedians today don't want to be Don Rickles, they want to have their own identity...but you do get the sense that many  young comedians today are popular because of how offensive and mean they are. I find that interesting, and while I do bring it up, I also recognize that I am guilty of liking some of these meaner comics. As noted, I like Gervais, though there's a hell of a difference between him and someone like Jeff Ross. I mean, really, Robert Downey Jr. has some pretty thin-skin.

Anyway, I'm also a big fan of the Onion and by a country mile, they had the most offensive joke out all of the ones said/written on Oscar night. We haven't really discussed that joke, but I'll go on record and say that I don't approve. I wasn't outraged, though, because I did understand what they were trying to do. If you missed the "joke," you can probably find it easily by googling "Onion Oscars." They have their moments displaying the shock humor we both hate, but there are a handful of other Onion headlines and articles that brilliantly done and make me laugh. There's a great one about a death row inmate reading the entire Harry Potter series. They absolutely needed to apologize for the Oscar joke that got them in hot water, though, and  they we can all move on, right??

"That being said, I find Ansari almost worse, if only because he deserves to perform to crickets. He's painfully unfunny to me."


No...if you don't like Aziz, that's fine. I like him on Parks and Recreation, and I like his sense of humor. The guy has a joke about having an ex-roommate who thought he was possessed by Scar from the LION KING. He later references the Iceland team from D2: THE MIGHTY DUCKS in that joke (to give some of it away). He also has jokes on the TNT shows no one watches or knows like Leverage and Las Vegas. That's how easy it is to win me over, apparently. Haha. I also like Human Giant (which maybe you hate) and I like the other two guys in that sketch comedy trio - Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel. Huebel does a good job of portraying douchey bro-esque characters in things, I LOVE YOU MAN, for example. Anyway, this all probably sounds like a sales pitch you could give a shit less about. Ha, my bad. And so we don't like all of the same things. That's cool.

"I don't necessarily hold Affleck's current output in such high regard ... but I'm far from considering him a hack."

Yeah, I understand being influenced by the groupthink. Again, I mostly stay away from that within the world of critics. I'm going to have a hell of a time answering the critic questions in your quiz. But in certain ways, reading critics has beneficial results. I don't ignore it because I think I'm above that shit or anything. You, Jeff, and John are aware of so much more than I am when it comes to film. I have plenty of admiration for the three of you. And yeah, I don't mean to kiss Ben Affleck's ass too much. His movies are good and everything, but I haven't seen anything that I truly love. Given who he is and what he's done in the past, the work he's done is a bit surprising (in a good way). Agreed, he's nowhere near the most talented directors in the business (he's too safe/conventional for that kind of thing) but he can/should definitely be labeled as a good director.

"I promise that your Curtiz experiences will leave you with a smile on your face. I'd recommend you go the MILDRED PIERCE, ROBIN HOOD, ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES... aka the familiar route first."

I have gone the familiar route a bit already. I've seen ROBIN HOOD and ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES, though I should revisit ROBIN HOOD again soon; haven't watched the whole thing since I was a kid. One of the only cool things about my dad is that that's one of his favorite films and he watched it with us a ton when we were younger. I have not seen MILDRED PIERCE yet but I will see it soon. I also added CAPTAIN BLOOD, THE SEA HAWK, and DODGE CITY to my Netflix queue. I think Jeff owns the Curtiz film I referenced in the title of this post, so I'll watch that as well. But I definitely plan on becoming more familiar with his work. Thanks.

"I feel weird saying this but Scorsese can be sloppy; or rather he can work with  some sloppy scripts. I know a lot of people really fall off once the rat appears in THE DEPARTED..."

Right, it's weird to say, but fair. When Jeff and I came over to visit last weekend, you started talking to us about the bullshit behind "auteur theory" and you were starting to realize that no director is/was flawless. Again, this is more than fair and I'm sure many of these auteurs wouldn't consider themselves infallible. It goes back to that quote Jeff paraphrased for us on his blog about the existence of the perfect film. We can use the words "essential" and "masterpiece," and because most of this is subjective, we aren't wrong in saying such things. Marty has had one hell of a career and we're obviously both very much interested in what he'll do next, but he absolutely has worked with some sloppy scripts over the past decade. And more than likely, he approved every word in those scripts. Do I plan to hold that against him? Nope.

On AVATAR: "In the end I think it's one of the hardest films to defend if you are a fan because the ammo is so endless on the other end, but I can't really deny my great first experience, it would be unfair."

This might close the book on our AVATAR discussion...unless we both watch it again and delve into the specifics. Agreed, it is a hard film to defend. I think as soon as the movie ended, the nice experience I had watching it left me as soon as I discarded my 3D glasses. It wasn't a film that sat with me at all afterwards.

"Let me be clear, I think AMOUR might just be my favorite Haneke film, a compliment that probably seems flippant. I guess I don't mind his cruelty as much, as I've said too many times before, I'm not a fan of his this is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you daddy moments. AMOUR is essentially devoid of these, though the message seems to be "we will all be humiliated in death." It's a really good film though, undeniably powerful from moment to moment."

Audience participation is pretty important with regard to Haneke's work. Whether you like him or not, his films will elicit emotion in you. It's one of the traits of a good film/director. Dissimilar to Ben Affleck, here is a guy who'll take plenty of risks in his films. Some of those risks are shitty - I refer to BENNY'S VIDEO, though I have not seen it. I'm basing that on what you've brought to my attention about it. So yeah, fuck that.

But the Haneke films I have seen - FUNNY GAMES, CACHE, THE WHITE RIBBON, and now AMOUR were written and shot with plenty of intelligence and skill, in my opinion. I completely understand not being fan of his "this is gonna hurt me more than hurts you" moments. From the little I know about him, I wouldn't make the argument that his intentions are always honest or clear.

But John has a nice write-up on AMOUR stating that Haneke is too clear at the end of the film. My memory sucks, because I don't even remember what happens after Georges kills his wife. I do remember feeling a bit distracted toward the end of the film, though. And that's probably why the pillow scene didn't really get a big rise out of me. And again, if you're at all familiar with Haneke, you can't say it's much of a surprise. He's gonna have this poor old woman smothered and he'll have her fight back and resist it. I noted Emmanuelle Riva's body movement during that scene and there's nothing peaceful or lovely about her passing. And that's why I'm not sure that I'd argue that Haneke calls suffocating your sickly significant other "love." It is more of a homicide than an assisted suicide...and the scene is as violent as it should be (I don't mean to say that in an "I'm a twisted person" kind of way, I hope that's clear).

But I'll also be honest in admitting that I don't know too much about Haneke either. I know you're not calling me this at all, but in no way am I a loyalist. I'm a coward - I only see the films of his that won't piss me off. FUNNY GAMES could've pissed me off easily, and it did a little, but I feel the shock tactics in it are transparent. Not to the point of ruining the film, though, or to the point of saying anyone who hates this film is an idiot. I'm definitely not a Haneke snob...and I probably wouldn't want to meet one. This also isn't to suggest Jeff is one of those. Although, I could call him one right here...there's no chance he'll read all of this....that damn snob. Now that I think of it, there's a chance no one reads this entire thing. Sorry for making it so long. "Is anyone even listening to me?".....