December 12, 2005

Notes from the Trenches

With the end of the year about three weeks away, time is tighter than my top pants button and I’ve been getting a few emails from studio reps wanting to know when the drop-dead date would be for me to screen a film for end-of-the-year list consideration. Which tells me, if nothing else, that folks are paying attention and so let’s spend the next couple of weeks here on the worldwide blogosphere, working our way to the New Year’s Eve unveiling of FFC’s annual top ten list. Haven’t seen Spielberg’s Munich yet, the last film that I’m genuinely curious about – and I also haven’t seen Transamerica which represents the last, best hope for a solid Best Actress prospect not only because I really like Felicity Huffman, but because she plays a man. Should be a shoo-in. This time of year, there almost aren’t any small movies that screen for us anymore: screens are suddenly in short supply, see, so a lot of the arthouse hopefuls might as well be mud in the middle of the country for all the attention they’ll be getting. Squeezed out, as they say. Still, managed to watch screeners of the excellent Touch the Sound and the, let’s say not so excellent Loggerheads - the latter a film I’ll probably write with The Family Stone which I also have not seen but get a little gastric just thinking about.

Thanks to Alex for mentioning Ebert’s “thumbs down” for Memoirs of a Geisha on his show. Didn’t stop it from doing gangbusters in limited release this weekend, however – and the article in this week’s Entertainment Weekly interviewing all three of the main actresses, successfully glosses over any hint of a controversy with one, dismissive, sentence. Chronicles of Narnia also did excellent business (close to 70 million, I think). Anyone see it? Save your money for King Kong.

Let’s start with the top ten moments of the year which occur irrespective of whether or not the films that they belong in make the Top Films cut – also without me having seen everything of course and with me having the habit of forgetting shit. Brain like a sieve, swear to god. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for some time now – thinking, in particular, of a scene of Samantha Morton dancing in Code 46 that has stood out in my head as something I wish I’d had a place to go on about independent from the review. Wish there was room for Stephen Chow dipping the little mute candy girl in front of a Top Hat poster in Kung Fu Hustle.

10. The Steamer crash and T-Rex and Bronto and Snake Pit and Kong capture and Empire State sequences from King Kong
9. A walk through a picnic ground by Dina Korzun in Forty Shades of Blue
8. The train on fire from War of the Worlds
7. The montage detailing the hero’s life of humiliation in Save the Green Planet!
6. When Choi Min-Suk eats a live octopus in Oldboy
5. Wes Studi touching a piece of topiary in The New World
4. Amy Adams masturbating and about 9 months pregnant in Junebug
3. When our heroes finally make love in 3-Iron
2. Steve Coogan putting a hot chestnut in his pants in Tristram Shandy
1. When Damian Lewis takes Abigail Breslin to the bus station in Keane

While we’re at it, let’s do the bottom ten, too:

10. When Obi-Wan Kenobi turns his back on his “best friend” Anakin as Anakin lies, dismembered, burning, and very much alive in Episode III. So much for the grace and forgiveness of the light side – the weak sisters earned everything they got – and Lucas finishes shitting all over his legacy.
9. When Terence Howard’s lovable pimp soul-kisses one of his bitches in Hustle & Flow
8. When the kid lives and when the cop sees the wife in the car in Crash
7. When Heath Ledger closes a closet door containing the fetish object of his secret love in Brokeback Mountain
6. When Bambis attack. Ring Two.
5. When Susan Sarandon launches into her soft shoe, post-boner joke, at her husband’s wake in Elizabethtown
4. Mimi’s resurrection from Rent
3. When Anton Yelchin pulls Tea Leoni’s plug in House of D in the easiest, most suspect and consequence-less euthanasia since Million Dollar Baby’s
2. The can’t rape the willing scene from Derailed.
1. When gramps and granny and, honey and sonny boy show up on the steps of that goddamned Boston brownstone. War of the Worlds.

Not much time to read this week, but been listening to a lot of John Lennon to commemorate the old boy’s passing. Lots of Leonard Cohen, too – especially the song “A Thousand Kisses Deep”.

Here’s capture six of seven – we got a tie here between Jack S. (2), Chad E. (2), and Tim R. (1). Not too late, but it’s getting there.

On the muthasite, check out Bill’s DVD addendum of Joss Whedon’s Serenity while Travis assaults the soon-to-be-remade Fun with Dick and Jane and, in case you missed it, finds something to like in Jerry Lewis’ The Ladies Man.

Hot off the Presses (12.12.05)

Alex struggles with Shirley Temple - marking him as human - and her Curly Top, Bill adds a DVD addendum to Valiant (to what? precisely) and here's the review for Peter Jackson's awesome King Kong.


Jack_Sommersby said...

Well, being that the only 2 screenshots I've guessed were from horror films with Margot Kidder, that this latest screenshot that I don't immediately recognize is, uh, well, um, not from a horror film with Margot Kidder, damnit!

Oh well, while waiting for this blog to get posted, being that I have no family or spouse or anything of the like, I did my usual Xmas thing and splurged for $100 worth of movies at

Videodrome (Criterion)
Hopscotch (Criterion)
The Stuff
Silent Night, Deadly Night 1 & 2
Used Cars

Eat your hearts out, people!


Vikram said...

Is there a better lyricist than Leonard Cohen. Has there ever been? Maybe Tom Waits is in that class. For about a month I kept listening to "A Thousand Kisses Deep" after I saw The Good Thief

Vikram said...

Yeah, I saw the Narnia flick A major disappointment - badly written and directed in my opinion - but what can you say when the film did as well as it did?

Jefferson said...

Funny, I just spun my Best of John Lennon vinyl yesterday, as part of an ongoing project to listen my way through all my old LPs. I had pretty much forgotten he had a death anniversary coming up. Oh well, on to Little Feat.

Narnia -- indeed, something bloodless there, and I don't just mean the gore-free medieval battlefield. Some nice human moments are overridden by the effing pixels, which is what happens when you give a warm fantasy story to the guy who made Shrek. It was everything Lord of the Rings was not, which is to say "forgettable."

cory m said...

Heh, that's not Point Break, is it?

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna guess Eternal Sunshine, although now that I think about it that's probably not likely.

tim r said...


cory m said...

I think you've got it, Tim.

Chad Evan said...

I think Dylan's in that class, vikram:
My love, she speaks like silence
Without ideals or violence
She doesn't have to say she's faithful,
Yet she's true like ice like fire...

Or this one:
Advertising men, they con you into thinking you're the one
That can do what's never been done, that can win what's never been won, meanwhile life outside goes on all around you
While human gods aim for their mark make everything from toy guns that spark to flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark it's easy to see without looking too far that not much is really sacred... (this song also contains the immortal line "money doesn't talk, it swears..." Glib, but funny.)

I could go on--To Ramona, My Back Pages, the awesome A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall ("I saw a white man who walked a black dog-"priceless), Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again(which I saw him perform in Memphis, since which I can die a happy man.) Much of it meaningless dada, sure, but what dada!

Nate said...

Yeah, it's Fireworks. Dammit, I knew this one.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

FUCK ! The only one I knew and I'm late. It is fuckin' Hana-Bi.

Vikram said...


My bad - of course Dylan's there too.

Chad Evan said...

Speaking of Lennon and great lyricists, does anyone else think that the great man is not nearly as consistent a wordsmith as his reputation suggests? This is coming from someone who's favorite band has been the Beatles ever since I was three years old and my Dad, doubtless stoned, rented a copy of Yellow Submarine for me to watch. I Am the Walrus and Strawberry Fields certainly insure him a place in the pantheon, but so much of his work--including, unfortunately, the pious, boring and over-esteemed "Imagine" (great album, terrible song--devolves into simplistic platitudes (ditto the also inexplicably revered All You Need is Love.) I always thought that Lennon was at his best when at his most oblique*--it's too bad that his puritan side, which regarded sincerity as the criterion for aesthetic value, ascended in his post-Beatle years. Perhaps he should have heeded Oscar Wilde's warning:"All bad poetry is sincere."

*I realize the massive refutation of this argument is the Plastic Ono Band album, a powerful work of staggering sincerity, but that was a one-shot deal, and even Lennon realized it was a dead end. It also loses much of its' resonance when heard apart from his ouvre--it's a very auterist album, much like Hitchcock's Rear Window is an auterist film that somewhat needs its' context. But anyway, all bad poetry being sincere obviously doesn't mean that all sincere poetry is bad.

Walter_Chaw said...

Hey all - will check back in a little later on, but wanted to give kudos to Tim R. It's Beat Takeshi's great Hana Bi - again, you ain't seen it, you bes' get busy.

Three way tie.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I thought the fact that the Jedi deserved everything they got was a GOOD thing about the trilogy.

Jefferson said...

*I realize the massive refutation of this argument is the Plastic Ono Band album, a powerful work of staggering sincerity, but that was a one-shot deal, and even Lennon realized it was a dead end.

Wasn't Allen Ginsberg in the Plastic Ono Band? That could speak to its lyrical complexity. I never found Lennon solo all that profound.

Dylan had a tendency to slouch in his lyrics too. When he wasn't being obscurist, he could very easily slide into "moon-June-spoon" rhymes. Try "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright," where he spools out "that light I never knowed," just to get to a rhyme with "road." Bobby, please.

(Is it strange that I reflexively speak of Dylan in the past tense?)

Keith Uhlich said...

A report from New York for the awards-interested: Both New York Film Critics Online and the New York Film Critics Circle have announced their year-end awards. Thought this might spark some interesting discourse (and perhaps disdain ;-) ) among the Film Freak crowd. NYFCO first:

The 2005 NYFCO (New York Film Critics Online) Awards

The Squid and the Whale

Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote)

Keira Knightley (Pride and Prejudice)

Fernando Meirelles (Constant Gardener)

Supporting Actor
Oliver Platt (Casanova)

Supporting Actress
Amy Adams (Junebug)

Breakthrough Performer
Terrence Howard (Hustle and Flow, Crash, Get
Rich or Die Tryin', Four Brothers)

Debut Director
Paul Haggis (Crash)

Paul Haggis (Crash)

Grizzly Man

Foreign Language

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

March of the Penguins

Top 9 (In Alphabetical Order)
The Best of Youth
Brokeback Mountain
The Constant Gardener
Good Night, and Good Luck.
The Squid and the Whale


New York Film Critics Circle 2005 Awards

Best Picture: Brokeback Mountain

Best Foreign Film: 2046

Best Animated Film: Howl's Moving Castle

Best Non-Fiction Film: Grizzly Man

Best Non-Fiction Film: The White Diamond

Best First Film: Capote

Best Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain

Best Screenplay: Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale

Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

Best Actor: Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain

Best Supporting Actor: William Hurt, A History of Violence

Best Supporting Actress: Maria Bello, A History of Violence

Best Cinematographer: Christopher Doyle, 2046

Best Cinematographer: Lai Yiu Fai, 2046

Best Cinematographer: Kwan Pun Leung, 2046

Myself, I'm happy with the Bello love. Have gladly avoided "Crash" like the plague. (Cronenberg already did that title definitively.) "Brokeback" - to my mind - sets gay cinema back about forty decades (further proved for me by a recent first view of John Huston's superb "Reflections in a Golden Eye") and Heath, as a good friend pointed out, is basically doing a subpar "Hud" impersonation. (Guess I'm stepping on your toes there, Walter. No hard feelings, ay?)

Happiest to see Werner get recognized. "The White Diamond" is something special, second only to "Forty Shades of Blue", which - no surprise - was completely locked out. I hope everyone on this board will seek it out when a DVD or screening comes your way.


Seattle Jeff said...

The wife took the boy to see Narnia. The kid absolutely loved it.

Have to confess, I'm more pleased with him being excited about than Shrek 2 or the like.

Bill C said...

Let's hope this marks the first of many year-end honours for Maria Bello. The rest of NYFCO's line-up just gives me a headache, though. Any idea why Capote is considered the first film of The Cruise director Bennett Miller?

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Paul Haggis (Crash)

I've got a gun. Who wants to go after me ?

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Happy about 2046 by the way. A lot of people are under-estimating it. To me it was a lucid dream and a contender for best of the year. Haven't seen "The New World" though.

Scott said...

With regards to Obi-Wan walking away from Anakin at the end of REVENGE OF THE SITH, I found it a powerful moment, another example of EPSIODE III's condemnation of what the Jedis had become. Both Mace Windu and Obi-Wan do less-than-noble acts of omission and agression in this film; I choose to read it as Lucas's implicit acknowledgement that the entire Jedi system had been fundamentally corrupted, to the point where even enlightened beings do unenlightened actions -- even the Jedis have (perhaps unwillingly) let the darkness in with open arms. The only salvation was to start again with Luke (and Leia) free from the confines an Jedi hierarchy.

But that's, um, just my take on it. I'm also the guy that loved HOOK, so...

James Allen said...

Wasn't Allen Ginsberg in the Plastic Ono Band? That could speak to its lyrical complexity. I never found Lennon solo all that profound.

There was no real Plastic Ono Band per se. It was a sort of catch all name that was used by John and Yoko for a few years. For the album "Plastic Ono Band" the players were John, Ringo, Klaus Voormann, and Billy Preston.

I guess technically Ginsberg was a "member" as "Give Peace a Chance" was credited to The Plastic Ono Band and Ginsberg (along with Tim Leary, Tom Smothers and many others) were in the hotel room where it was recorded. I don't think they ever colaborated beyond that.

As to Chad's point about the song "Imagine" I couldn't agree more. It's as dated as any number of simplistic songs of the day. "Give Peace a Chance" is superior, if only because it's direct and doesn't take itself all that seriously (with the semi-nonsense lyrics and the rough way it was recorded.)

cory m said...

Speaking of Lennon and great lyricists, does anyone else think that the great man is not nearly as consistent a wordsmith as his reputation suggests?

I wasn't aware that his reputation ever suggested that Lennon was consistent. He was a "throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks" kind of guy (while McCartney polished his songs until he was consistently average). People who work this way can produce some absolutely amazing stuff, but they're often wildly inconsistent. South Park is an excellent example.

While we're on the subject, I wouldn't mind hearing what everyone's favorite albums for 2005 were.

Chad Evan said...

That "Knowed" in "Don't Think Twice" has never bothered me; the song, like many of Dylans, is a self-conscious pastiche of Southern folk forms, and the grammar strikes me as in the same vein as the Redneck accent Bob affected.

cory m.:
Obviously, Lennon wasn't consistent, and plenty of folks realize this, but since his death and subsequent ressurection as St. John of the Sixties, there are an awful lot of people who think everything the guy did was brilliant. As Lennon himself put it in "Nobody Loves You When You're Down and Out," "Everybody loves you when you're six foot in the ground."

Don't think you're being fare to McCartney either. Yeah, lyrically he often was average, but as a musical arranger and instrumentalist he was light-years ahead of John, and many of the latter's greatest accomplishments--and therefore the Beatles'--wouldn't be nearly as remarkable without Macca's genius as a musical director (i.e. Tommorrow Never Knows, Strawberry Fields, A Day in the Life.) It's obvious that they needed each other, as neither did anything approaching those songs after the split.

Walter_Chaw said...

Regarding the Jedi:
Yeah, I've heard that defense a lot and I'm not ever certain that it's off-base - it's the only explanation that makes sense, after all - but you know, it still makes no sense to me in the grander mythopoetic sense. I'm not talking about all the discontinuities that Lucas has built in there - nor the Bush-bashing which, I think it's pretty obvious, I'm all for - but rather this sort of C-SPAN-ization of the Star Wars universe. Politics, and elected queens with term limits, and greedy Asian superpowers, and disgusting Arab merchants, and servile Stepin Fetchits - then this almost total ineffectualness of the light side of the Force including institutional corruption?

Yeah - but from whence this corruption? Obi-Wan? Windu? Yoda? Or just Anakin? It seems unjustified: just motivated by a need to make the tragedy lesser on one side while not leavening the atrocity on the other? And what about Padme's innocence? It all seems condescending to me - misogynistic at least (and much has been made already of the way the girl jedi gets killed beneath a canopy of discrete greenery) - and childish, too. The victim of it is us, the generation that grew up believing that Star Wars was more than a schlocky knock-off shoot-em-up. The films always meant something to me more than what Lucas has made them - not just the acting and the dialogue and the editing - but even the philosophy is now mundane. It's sophisticated for Star Wars, right, but it's Monday on Hardball for we terrestrials. What a let down - a yawner, too.

Agree that Lennon was sort of a hit-or-miss'er and that Plastic Ono is pretty amazing stuff. I think Waits is our defacto Poet Laureate - particularly in any time of war:

Well he came home from the war
with a party in his head
and modified Brougham DeVille
and a pair of legs that opened up
like butterfly wings
and a mad dog that wouldn't
sit still
he went and took up with a Salvation Army
Band girl
who played dirty water
on a swordfishtrombone
he went to sleep at the bottom of
Tenkiller lake
and he said "gee, but it's
great to be home.

Well he packed up all his
expectations he lit out for California
with a flyswatter banjo on his knee
with a lucky tiger in his angel hair
and benzedrine for getting there
they found him in a eucalyptus tree
lieutenant got him a canary bird
and shaked her head with every word
and Chesterfielded moonbeams in a song
and he got 20 years for lovin' her
from some Oklahoma governor
said everything this Doughboy
does is wrong

I'd also offer that some of the stuff that David Byrne did in his time with Talking Heads is pretty amazing; ditto Jimi Hendrix - especially "Little Wing" which always makes me a little misty. I like Van Morrison's Astral Weeks lyric set a lot - and not to act like a cliche from 1992 or so, I still think that Ani Difranco turns a nice phrase now and again:

they can call me crazy if i fail
all the chance that i need
is one-in-a-million
and they can call me brilliant
if i succeed
gravity is nothing to me
moving at the speed of sound
i'm just gonna get my feet wet
until i drown...

and pretty much all of "Untouchable Face" is astounding. Enough for Dylan to have her be his hand-picked opening act a few years ago.

About Ledger doing a "subpar" Hud impersonation - if you take that as so - I don't know how subpar it is. I also don't think it sets the gay movement back 40 years because all the other popular culture around gays has done that already ("Will & Grace" "Queer Eye") - besides, 40 years seems a little hysterical. Brokeback Mountain's not the answer, in fact it may in fact do more harm than good for making people believe that they've tested their preconceptions rather than indulged in them - but at least it's not shrill like Rent.

Nothing really to add to the NYC awards. Pretty predictable, right?

Alex Jackson said...

The Star Wars prequels make more sense to me as allegories where the Empire represents Saddam Hussein's secular government and the Rebels are the fundamentalist insurgents. I mean the Republic is essentially a theocracy, non?

That might be why the film feels a little hollow as an attack against Bush. If the Empire is Bush's America, where does that put the devoutly religious Jedi Council?

By the by, the library chat room scene in Me and You and Everyone we Know would probably top my list of the ten worst moments of the year.


Jefferson said...

Chad: Hey, I'll forgive ten "Don't Think Twices" for one "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts." When Dylan's on, he's on. Nobody needs me to say that.

Cory M.: I only liked a few albums enough to buy/download/steal them in 2005, so I guess I only have a top four. Based on iPod playlist rotation, it's 1) The Hold Steady, Separation Sunday, 2) The Go! Team, Thunder Lightning Strike, 3) Sufjan Stevens, Illinois, 4) The Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall. Oh, and Los Abandoned's Self Titled EP would make a nice five if we're counting the shorter works.

Walter/Scott/Anony: Walking out of the theater, my friend muttered, "Obi-wan wouldn't even piss on a brother to put 'im out." We decided through talking about it that the duel/maiming/abandonment scene was the only thing that redeemed the inhumanity we'd seen in the Jedi throughout the first two prequels. How do you relate to superbeings who either appear to feel nothing (Obi-wan/Mace/Yoda) or experience only covetous lust and snitty tantrums that result in the deaths of a few dozen sandpeople (Anakin, duh)? Obi-wan's human rage at his pupil/friend's betrayal, at the destruction of everything he's known, made him relatable. In his shoes, sad to say, I'd probably do the same thing. Or, actually, maybe I'd have the good grace to just shuffle two steps down the incline and poke my lightsaber through the kid's head to put him out of his misery. Save everybody some trouble in the Original Trilogy.

The Captain said...

Putting the low back in lowbrow, my "favourite" moment of the year is a toss-up: either when Yoda falls down from the high platform in the SNES boss battle against Wrinkles and decides to give in, pack up and go home, or the ending to Alone in the Dark. I haven't laughed as hard the entire year at anything "8:45AM - City Evacuated" What?!

rachel said...

Ditto the Go! Team and Sufjan love (of course, as a college student, I believe I'm required by law to dig Sufjan. Him and the Postal Service, natch.) I'm also quite in love from what I've heard of Of Montreal, Devendra Banhart, Wolf Parade, Seu Jorge, the Fiery Furnaces, Goldspot, and Yerba Buena. Oh, and Architecture in Helsinki. My friend was playing it in his car, it was pretty nifty.

What I *really* want though, is this. It has to be heard. The cover of "Too Drunk to Funk" is especially wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Me and You and Everyone We Know also has my least favorite moment of the year, the scene where July hangs socks off her ears and then screams at the ex-wife; it's a horrible indie translation of bad romantic comedy.

Anonymous said...

Favorite moment: "I'm Shelly's new boyfriend, and I'm out of my mind."

Keith Uhlich said...


Yeah, the New York awards were pretty predictable. Ed G., who's a member of NYFCO, said it was pretty depressing going through the voting and good ol' Armond White wasn't there to bitch with about "Crash" or others of the like.

I realize I'm being pretty hysterical about "Brokeback" - if I were to do a measured takedown of it I think I'd approach it less as a gay film than as a cathartic chick flick for wives whose husbands don't touch them anymore. Personally, I think Gyllenhaal gives the better performance (*sigh* the bottom's always neglected :-) ), though neither he nor Ledger can do middle-aged regret convincingly.

And as to gay popular culture, well, I'm a queer who likes "Will & Grace" and "Queer Eye" (viewed as a camaraderie-laden extension from my formative "Golden Girls" years.) But then I also think every lead character in "The Silence of the Lambs" is gay and that "Philadelphia" is the real homophobic Jonathan Demme movie, so guess I'm just a mass of contradictions.

When I get around to "Cruising", watch me love it. :-)


Bill C said...

Must admit, I still don't get the Hud crack. Hud is a demonic sumbitch capitalistic womanizer; and Heath gives the opposite of Paul Newman's cock-twirling performance besides.

Maybe your friend meant C.H.U.D.?

Keith Uhlich said...


I think he was talking less about the character in toto than about the Southern Drawl Newman adopts. My fault for explaining it poorly.

Your CHUD reference makes me think how great the film would have been if Heath had modeled his performance on Gerrit Graham in "Bud the Chud" - an even more stiff-n-spastic rump fuck scene, methinks.

Ah Gerrit. Hope he pops up in another De Palma. Nice to see that William Finley is in "Black Dahlia." :-)


Jack_Sommersby said...

I'm really pleased at William Hurt having received 2 supporting-actor critic's-awards thus far, especially since i don't recall his performance in Violence being particularly singled out. For someone who fell in love with movies in the '80s, it was a real treat to see Hurt at the top of his game, netting Best Actor Oscar nominations 3 years in a row (Kiss of the Spider Woman, Children of a Lesser God, Broadcast News). Unfotunately, excpeting standout performances since in The Doctor and Smoke, his resume has remained quite checkered -- until now. Of course, we all know that actors rarely get Oscar wins because of critic's-groups awards -- Denzel Washington didn't get a one before undeservedly winning one for Training Day (ditto the substandard Halle Berry for the crock-of-shit Monster's Ball that same year). I'll puke, I swear, if the mediocre Jake Gyllenhaal gets an Oscar nod over Hurt -- not that, mind you, I take the Oscars even remotely seriously.

Jefferson said...

The Onion's year-end besto-of-music is up here. Some good stuff on their charts.

Seattle Jeff said...


I've been grooving to that Ivy disc mentioned in the first Honorable Mentions.

Jefferson said...

I need to listen more closely to new stuff. The last two CDs I bought were by the MC5 and Big Star. I went on a bender in 2004 (Arcade Fire, Franz Ferdinand), but I haven't even tried to listen to the new Bright Eyes, Ivy, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. I like to think I'm selecting only the quality, but in truth I feel I'm letting down my inner music geek. It's hell gettin' old.

Oh, and Los Abandoned? Number 5 on my list for the year? Actually came out in '04 too. The curve is outrunning me.

Seattle Jeff said...

I'm balancing classic stuff and new stuff.

I'm exploring everything now with my cable broadband.

The last Onion guy turned me on to Latterman. How can you not like a group who has a song "Video Games and Fantasy Novels are Fucking Awesome"!

Walter_Chaw said...

I loved Hurt's Bumstead in Dark City - and, too, remember with fondness when he sat on the catbird seat.

Speaking of Wayne Wang - didn't he do the new Queen Latifah flick? Christ. Relieved by the way that there seems to be no great love here for Miranda July's You Me Everyone We Know. It's like an incomplete art installation. I was interested at first and then it falls to self-satisfied pieces.

Rachel said...

I think my favorite review of Miranda July's film is fourfour's: You and Me and Everyone: We Blow.

As it happened, I had my last film class the other day. As much as I'll miss the screenings and discussions, I know I won't miss the greasy, pompous jerk who had the nerve the bash Peter Jackson while-- through the wonders of our fiction workshop-- proving himself to be almost singulaly talentless. (I've always wondered if there's a special award for those sleezebots who manage to squeeze some tossed-off reference to rape into every story they ever write. And rip off Camus, besides.)

Jefferson said...

Rachel, thanks for that link. I hadn't read fourfour beforefore, and I think that take on Brokeback Mountain (you have to scroll about 1/5th of the way down) is one of the best I've read. Very incisive. America's Next Top Model I could live without, but life is a tradeoff.

Walter_Chaw said...

Ditto on fourfour - great stuff.

That greasy jerk wasn't your prof was he?

Outta curiosity, was that the first film class you'd taken? And what was the title/syllabus?

rachel said...


Nyope, just a classmate. Although I've got lots of funny stories about him too. The problem is, you'd think I were ripping off shit from "The Squid and the Whale". Velvet Goldmine is minor Hanyes. The Passenger is minor Antonioni. Et fucking c. Of course I'm not saying those are the best- just, what an approach to art, what a way to end the debate.

This was my first film class. "History + Aesthetics of Film", it was called. I've thrown away the syllabus, but it started with Griffith, went through Keaton and Chaplin, the Soviets, the surrealists, Deren, the realists, the Italian neo-realists, Dreyer, Bresson, Brakhage, Ozu, Godard. It'a funny how often my first response was so deathly negative- I mean, I think I get "Pickpocket" now, but, funny how my immediate reaction after seeing it was to launch my head through a wall. I guess that's just the stink of freshman on me.

Alex Jackson said...

Pickpocket wasn't life changing for me either. You want ignorant, would you believe that I liked American Gigolo better? No apologies though, I'm not someone who believes that you should never rewatch movies or that your mood at the time can cloud your perception of the picture in question, but still life is a little too short to contantly rewatch movies that you didn't much like in the first place. Probably more than ninety percent of the time your initial reaction is going to be pretty spot-on. I liked McCabe and Mrs. Miller a bit more the second time, not so for Grease, Cabaret, 42nd Street, South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut, or American History X.

Never saw another Bresson, but when I get around to it the donkey movie's gonna be my next. That actually has a much better rep than Pickpocket among those who share my taste in movies, and if that works out I can imagine a re-examining in Pickpocket's future.

Walter_Chaw said...

I don't remember that from Alone in the Dark (I barely remember Alone in the Dark at all), gimme some context because I really want to hate on that film some more. Did you ever see A Sound of Thunder? I've got this real strong desire to see that again, too.

Bresson is a toughie, man. Interesting you mention Pickpocket because that's my next big project. What'd you think of Dreyer, though? I love Dreyer. (Did the prof show Passion of Joan of Arc?) Was it sort of an introductory course? It sounds intermediate, but the scope of it is pretty huge.

Rachel said...


I guess my concern is how close dislike and love often stand on the spectrum, how all the shit that can turn us off the first time turns us off for being so new, i.e exactly what we needed. I'm also, admittedly, confused by critical taste. So hard, sometimes, to stand up for what you love, even to yourself. Conversely, sometimes it's hard *not* to love a movie, as it seems everything you've been waiting for. Heartbreaking to be bored by Nemo, to hate Kill Bill, Tenenbaums. Confusing to love Life Aquatic. It goes on. I guess I mean, sometimes a second viewing just affords you a little more breathing space.


Nah, just Ordet. (Shame, too- I'd been itching to see Joan fer awhile.) It was an introductory course; as a rule he tended to show films that were self-critical in terms of the medium. We also had to read a good deal of the filmmakers' writing-- regarding someone like Bresson, I felt Notes on a Cinematographer was something I needed to read before the film made much sense to me. (Like going to a service of an unknown religion- people stand, sit, bow, mumble. The intent remains, maddeningly, obscure. All you can say: what orchestration.)

I guess, ultimately I question his intent, if parts of his philosophy aren't simultaneously naive and cynical. He goes on about how 9/10s of our actions are mechanical, as if that last tenth didn't matter, as if there's nothing to distinguish us from the robots (and us lacking even eye lasers). Also, I feel that to deny theater- to deny actors- in film is to, on some level, deny ourselves as social and thus theatrical creatures. I might be on autopilot in private, but Lord knows I'm going to put on some kind of act once you put me in front of the police chief. I'm also concerned about what kind of reduction goes on in his quest for models, etc. Of course, for every note with which I disagree, there's something so fucking spot on, like the profundity of sounds compared to images, or the prosaic nature of most panning shots. So yeah: I'm torn.

rachel said...

*hopes anyone's still reading this thread*