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?".....

Saturday, March 9, 2013


I decided to go with the quote and response format in addressing your last post to me, Brando. Sorry for the delay.

"I'm not going to defend McFarlane outside of saying that perhaps it's more of a sign to look inward as a society if his jokes seemed distasteful and out of line."

Yeah, that's probably true...more people should look inward. Taking offense to Seth McFarlane's jokes is kinda silly, not laughing at them is the more appropriate response. It's not as if McFarlane is all that controversial (he's polarizing for different reasons). He did have that Lincoln assassination joke that people oooo'd at...that was pretty dumb to act as if it was "too soon." Another notable joke that night was about Chris Brown; any jokes about him are deserved, in my opinion.

"I have to say that this "rape joke" fad is infuriating. I hesitate to say that certain subject matter should be off limits for a comedian, but the fact remains that some things aren't funny and that when handed to the public can be extremely dangerous. Desensitization to something as serious and as rampant as this can a: hurt people and b: cause the lowest common denominator to feel a sense of approval when speaking about it. Whereas I don't think it's wise to blame it on one person, I tend to think that I've seen a change in shock value humor since Tosh and his fratboy army rolled into town. I'm sure there were plenty of racist, misogynist, and homophobic jokes bouncing around comedy clubs but all he seems to do is take stereotypes and sensitive subjects and make the most obviously unsuitable statement and then wait for closeted bigots to breathe a breath of relief that their ignorant/hateful feelings were suddenly substantiated by a popular public figure."

I had to copy that entire paragraph because every sentence was spot on. Well said; I couldn't agree more, my dude. Ever since the success of Chappelle's show, Comedy Central has been handing out TV shows to stand-up comics left and right (like Tosh and others like him). Jeff and I were talking about this earlier in the week, but if you look at Comedy Central's programming (aside from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report), it's a pretty "bro-friendly" network. Apparently Spike, G4, and MTV aren't enough for them.

But all this talk made me think of something Aziz Ansari says at the beginning of his stand-up special DANGEROUSLY DELICIOUS. He talks about how, even though they're asked not to, people will take pictures of him while they're filming his specials and it can be distracting. He acknowledges that some of the people in the audience are shitty people and even says, "If we met in any other context besides you paying me money to see me tell jokes, I'm sure there's some of you I would hate with a passion. No question about it, I really hate some of you a lot." He obviously says it a bit jocularly—the audience laughs it up instead of taking offense—but you can definitely sense some sincerity and truth in his words. There's probably plenty of overlap between Tosh fans and those who loved Aziz's character RAAAANDY in Judd Apatow's FUNNY PEOPLE. I would like to hear Tosh speak earnestly about his fans; is he proud of the fact that he makes creepy middle schoolers so happy? I mean, in no way is that a tall order—many of his fans could entertain themselves for hours equipped only with a pack of pornographic playing cards. I guess as long as he's getting paid, Tosh probably doesn't give a shit about who he connects with and reaches out to. Or even worse, there's no difference between him and the very worst of his fanbase.

Speaking of Tosh, here's a link to one of my favorite Onion articles:,28769/?ref=auto

"I can honestly say that I may have been an Affleck fan in high school, I remember liking REINDEER GAMES specifically..."

I wasn't a huge Ben Affleck fan in high school, but I did like him in MALLRATS and CHASING AMY. I haven't seen any of the movies you listed. I hear he was good in PHANTOMS. Yeah, J-Lo definitely hurt his career. I guess it was also movies like ARMAGEDDON and PEARL HARBOR; no one took his action hero status seriously because he was also dealing with this sort of heartthrob persona as well. It's always nice to see someone turn his or her career around. Channeling Mann and Eastwood has been very good for him. He's been making some of the better "standard Hollywood" films of the past few years. I hope he can keep it up and/or continue to improve as a filmmaker.

The indescribable movie magic you see in CASABLANCA is probably due to some key elements."

Werd, everything in CASABLANCA is in perfect sync isn't it? Curtiz was one hell of a talented guy; I need to see more of his work so I've added a lot of his stuff to my Netflix queue recently. I'm looking forward to seeing more of his films.

"He's [Scorsese] incapable of making an uninteresting film, because he's such a personal director with such a love for cinema."

Absolutely, we may feel let down by Scorcese from time to time; we might feel like THE DEPARTED or GANGS OF NEW YORK could've been a bit more precise...but I absolutely agree, every film he makes is interesting. I need to watch BRINGING OUT THE DEAD now that it's on instant watch; I still haven't seen it yet.

I don't know, was there anything specific that made you hate the film [AVATAR]? Honestly, did the hype contribute to your reaction? I'm just asking because I'll freely admit that certain films had zero chance of winning me over and I can see that this film seemed to have the same effect on many.

Good question. I don't know that the hype contributed to my reaction because I would argue that I am on board with the hype. Wasn't most of the positive talk surrounding AVATAR due to the 3-D? I admire that part about it, to an extent, and definitely admire James Cameron a bit for his work on creating the technology needed to make the film. Hats off to the guy for dedicating fifteen years of his life toward making it. When I went to the theater to see AVATAR, I don't recall going in with any sort of negative expectations. I think I expected to the story to be okay and for the 3-D to amazing. What I found after, as the closing credits rolled, was that the 3-D was amazing and the story was crap. It was recycled, yes, but as you pointed out, the dialogue was as annoying as ATTACK OF THE CLONES AND REVENGE OF THE SITH. I think I was going to concede a bit, as well, that the world Cameron created won me over or deserved points, but again, as I am reminded of those two George Lucas flops, it isn't enough for me for someone to just create a foreign planet and language. I need more.

I think that Haneke is mostly unsuccessful in his dealings with guilt, but only because he's always staring down with his white beard and robe. He's the angry god of his films, unfair, and cruel. 

Haha, I love your imagery with Haneke there. Yeah, AMOUR, as we know, is a bit of departure for him, but obviously there are moments when the story does seem unfair and cruel. Of course, it's grounded in the idea that life is unfair and cruel. Old age is a bitch. Part of the reason why AMOUR didn't make it higher on my top ten list is because the message of the film was something I was already fully aware of. Granted, I have never had to take care of someone in the way that Jean-Louis Trintignant has to take care of Emmanuelle Riva, but I think back to McCarey's MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW or even more recently, A SEPARATION, and those movies just offer so much more than Haneke's film.

Good talk buddy.

Yeah, boss, see you later today. I left work yesterday as the cleaning guy came in. When he told me to have a nice weekened, he called me boss. Does anyone else hate it when somebody you don't know calls you "boss"? Haha.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

As Time Goes By

No worries, Brandon, I'm pretty sure we both had a feeling you'd have an Oscars response for us eventually.

Great points about the nominees; definitely, the poor selection is not a new phenomenon. The difference now, I would argue, is that the ratings are becoming more and more influential. And obviously that's not just on the Academy...the network that the ceremony airs on is guilty as well. And is it just me or are Box Office results more ubiquitous now? They bear some weight on the winners and losers as well.

My "perhaps I'm getting old" moment came when I was soundly asleep in my bed when ARGO won Best Picture. Sure the whole ordeal was pretty dull, but I probably would've stayed up had I not been so gosh darn sleepy. I completely agree on your Affleck thoughts, too, Brandon. The man has had one hell of an interesting career. He goes from winning an Oscar that no one thinks he deserves, to starring in movies like DAREDEVIL/JERSEY GIRL/GIGLI, to directing some commendable films in THE TOWN and now ARGO. That's one hell of a revival. But yeah, it's probably time for him to stay behind the camera for his next project, not because of his acting abilities, but because of the vanity charge, as you rightly point out.

I probably would've been a bigger fan of the evening as a whole had the Oscars been hosted by someone I actually like. The opening bit with William Shatner felt awkward to me and went on far too long; I can understand that those angered by the words "Jedi Mind-meld" would love it, but I've never been much of a Trekie. The "Boob song" complaints are fairly overblown, but I did see a few people noting that a handful of the women McFarlane referenced were nude during rape scenes. That would be my only complaint about the song, especially since, and I know you'd agree, a large majority of our culture either doesn't take the issue of rape seriously enough or flat-out ignores it. 

CASABLANCA is one those classics that everyone ends up seeing at one point or another. I'm sure for a lot of people who "hate old movies," they at least like or respect CASABLANCA. For those interested in film or who want to be more intimate with it and its history, CASABLANCA is a film you see very early on and then potentially forget about as other favorites are discovered. I know the latter scenario is definitely true for me. Curtiz's film still holds a special place in my heart for me, though. As love stories and WWII stories respectively go, it's one of the more interesting ones in the history of cinema. It's a film with that somewhat indescribable "movie magic" quality, where the shots and dialogue feel larger than life. Anyway, I have blu ray in my wish list on Amazon, so at some point I'll buy and re-watch it.

Out of all of Marty's Aught films, I probably like THE DEPARTED best, but admittedly, I still need to re-watch THE AVIATOR...can't recall too much from it, as I stated back when we did our 2004 lists.

Ha, I'm sure there was a time when you told me that you liked AVATAR. I honestly hate that movie and I haven't re-watched it since seeing it in the theater. While I would never fault anyone who did see it in the theater, and was a cool experience, I see no reason to revisit it. The 3-D effects are all it has, in my opinion.

Yeah, if I were in Brent's shoes watching SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS with his in-laws, I'd be pretty damn uncomfortable, even though they're very nice/cool people. There should be a disclaimer on movies advising you on whether to watch it with your parents or in-laws. I now think back to Ben watching KILLER JOE with his family. Oh dear...

The throat scene in CACHE is very shocking, very reaction-worthy, and very Haneke. Great point about Haneke and guilt. Guilt plays out pretty beautifully (in an awful way, of course) in CACHE.

Happy to hear that you're hooked on Breaking Bad now; can't wait to read your thoughts on the show. Wish Vince Gilligan would take a page out of Peter Jackson's book and drag the show out even longer. Give us more, Vince! Oh, and good god, the second half of season 5 starts in July?? Completely forgot and assumed it would come back sometime this spring. GAH! At least that gives you plenty of time to get caught-up, Brandon.

I am looking forward to the second and third Hobbit films, but I'm really hoping neither film exceeds the two-hour mark. How wrong I'll be...

Monday, March 4, 2013



Seven Psychopaths ***1/2
I Love You Again ***1/2
Rebecca *****
Cache ****
Bernie ***1/2
For Me and My Gal ***1/2
Argo ****
3:10 to Yuma ****1/2


The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers ****
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ****
Moonrise Kingdom ****


Burning Love season 2
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Game of Thrones season 2
Hou$e of Lie$ (one episode)
Parks and Recreation season 5
Real Time with Bill Maher
Seinfeld seasons 5 & 6
Sherlock season 2
The Simpsons (various episodes)


How Did This Get Made?

Notes: I enjoyed SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS quite a bit. Martin McDonough is a smart, creative writer and the film is an excellent showcase of his skills and brilliance; I particularly enjoyed the Quaker's story and Tom Waits' story. Also, I would argue that the film offers more than just killing and cursing; while dognapping to get the reward money is pretty scuzzy, Christopher Walken's character does it so that he can pay for his wife's medical bills. And in general, I would say that Walken's character gets us to feel. His death is also one of the more emotional scenes in the film. A week or so after I watched this one, my older brother, Brent,  texted me and said that he was getting ready to sit down and watch SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS with his in-laws; he wanted to know if it was appropriate. I texted back saying that it was pretty violent, had a ton of swearing, and had one brief sex scene. Brent then replied saying that his father-in-law hated the F word. I wonder if he got through the whole thing.

I LOVE YOU AGAIN was enjoyable. William Powell is obviously a very talented actor and he's very capable of playing both a respectable man and a beguiling crook. Without giving too much of the ending away, I will say that it's well done. You really feel for Myrna Loy in that moment, even though she's standing over her husband, about to bash his head in.

REBECCA, again, was brilliant and perfect. It's a great mood film, completely aware of what it is and what it needs to accomplish. Hitchcock is in deft control, as usual, and it doesn't hurt to have Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine to direct. I loved Fontaine's performance; she's very meek and sweet.

CACHE is one of Haneke's best, if not, the best (in my opinion, from what I've seen so far). He's an intelligent filmmaker and storyteller and I like him for that reason. I don't know that I'd necessarily call myself a big fan of his or anything, though. His films are, at the very least, absolutely worth the time to see. There's a beautiful shift over the course CACHE; at a certain point toward the end of the film, the mystery no longer we are left with is a man who cannot face reality or own up to the slightest bit of responsibility. Also, before I watched, Jeff had mentioned something to me about paying attention to  last shot of the film but of course I missed it. When the last shot was revealed to me, I thought it was pretty interesting, to say the least.

BERNIE started off kinda slow for me, but once it picks up, it doesn't disappoint and is quite the interesting story. Of course most of it is based on actual events, and for whatever reason, that fact didn't fully register with me until around the time Bernie was given his life-sentence. From the little that I've read about the Bernie Tiede case, it would seem that Linklater altered some things to keep the audience on Bernie's side. At least, there's where I stood as the closing credits rolled. #freeBernie

FOR ME AND MY GAL pits Gene Kelly and Judy Garland together. While I watched it, I had the idea of chemistry on my mind, for whatever reason. Obviously Kelley and Garland were two of Hollywood's most talented singers, but I like the fact that the two are never really on the same page with regard to how they feel about it each least not until we're pretty far into the second act.

ARGO is well done and full of tension. Like ZERO DARK THIRTY, I was aware of the final outcome of the story, but was never really briefed on the finer details. Granted, Ben Affleck and Chris Terrio take some liberties, but those liberties go a long way toward improving the film...simply because of the tension that it adds. You really feel for those hostages; how dangerous and terrifying that situation must have been. Of course, in my mind, it would've made more sense to give the Best Picture Oscar to something like ZERO DARK THIRTY, which is the better film. But as we talked about last weekend, who really cares what the Academy decides to call Best anything.

I know I wrote that 3:10 TO YUMA was a great western on Letterboxd, but really, what I should have written was that it's everything a western should be. It hits on its themes without beating you over the head or boring you. The performances from Glenn Ford and Van Heflin are subtle yet powerful. As John stated in his post, Heflin is given opportunities to get out of the dangerous mess he finds himself in, but turns them down to finish what he complete something that he does have some control over. But it's also interesting to note that without Ford's help, Heflin would not have made it on the 3:10 train.

After re-watching LOTR: The Return of the King, I have say, it's beautifully done and I feel very comfortable making it my number one movie of 2003. The emotion is still there for me, even ten years later.

My mom loves to watch THE BACHELOR; on certain evenings I'll make my way past the living room and hear/see some of it as she watches...and I'll want to stab out my eyes and ears. Thankfully, someone decided to make a webseries, BURNING LOVE, that mocks the shit out of The BACHELOR and other reality shows. Even better, the people behind BURNING LOVE are Ben Stiller and Ken Marino. I have a feeling our Ben would enjoy this, considering his love for PARTY DOWN. Anyway, the second season started recently is up on yahoo. Hopefully the first season is up there somewhere as well, because I actually enjoyed that one more...though there's still time for season 2 to change all that. Anyway, it's still very funny stuff.

I can't wait for the 31st of this month when the third season of GAME OF THRONES premiers. Jeff and I have been re-watching the second season in preparation. Although I have a feeling that when the third season does arrive, it'll pass by far too quickly.

I only watched one episode of Showtime's HOUSE OF LIES; I honestly couldn't bear to watch another. I hated it; nothing about the show interested me. Consulting firms aren't compelling. And what's worse, Don Cheadle is asked to go out there in the first episode and completely dumb down the language so that the viewer can get caught up to speed in the shitty, awful world that consulting companies inhabit. For me, Cheadle was a reason to check the show out, but I hate his character. I was also interested in seeing Ben Schwartz but his character wasn't given much to do. I know if I stick with it I'll eventually see more development with his character, but I guess I just don't care enough. The sex in the show is a bit much as well, and seems forced into the script for the purposes of keeping morons and creeps alert. Hell, Don Cheadle has sex with three different women in one episode. I know he's a good-looking guy and all, but goddamn. One of those women is his ex-wife, by the way, and I believe the first line of the series is, "Never fuck your ex." For me, that tells you everything you need to know about this show. Stay away from the things that eat your bad tv shows. And honestly, it sucks to write all of this because Cheadle, Schwartz, and even Kristen Bell (who I didn't mention, but is pretty good in the one episode I did see) are all great and they deserve better too...not just the audience. I'm sure there's a chance that the show improves as it goes along, but honestly, the first episode is terrible.

It's okay, though...SEINFELD also cures my television blues. As with THE SIMPSONS, I could watch the same episodes every day and still laugh.

It took me a while to start watching SHERLOCK, but I'm all caught up now and I realize what I had been missing out on. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman make a great team. But honestly, I was mostly impressed by Andrew Scott playing the role of James Moriarty. Brilliant stuff. Really looking forward to season 3.

Jeff recently brought the podcast HOW DID THIS GET MADE? to my attention. Despite it being a discussion about awful movies, I still find it fun and intriguing. I like the way Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas handle each film. It's more than just a small group of people shitting on a shitty film. And as I tweeted to John and Ben a few weeks ago, listening to HDTGM has me thinking more and more about a CR5FC podcast; I'd love to do it even though I probably wouldn't say much on it...given how little I say in conversation. Oh well, I think it would be a hell of a lot of fun though. Perhaps someday.