February 06, 2006

Notes from the Trenches

Broke my self-imposed fast this last week by attending a late-Thursday screening of the just dreadfully inept and pathetic When a Stranger Calls; the kind of lint trap that is so listless and dreary that it begs a lot of existential questions – most of them during the screening. It’s not bad enough to be instructive, even (like A Sound of Thunder and Bloodrayne (which I caught in the dollars and which, I have to say, is the best Uwe Boll film hands down: just like staph is the best –locaccus), but rather just bad enough to make you feel tired and dispirited. The audience was extraordinarily well-behaved – testament to how effective a narcotic is When a Stranger Calls, perhaps – and I noted with interest that not a one of them was the least bit engaged, nor startled, by the mindless cymbal-clashes of this calculated formula twitcher. The original Carol Kane flick was terrible, of course, but at least it had the eternally underestimated and misused Carol Kane.

Tuesday found me at the Denver Public Library introducing and discussing Michael Curtiz’s proto-melodrama Mildred Pierce. Lost in most discussions of Joan Crawford’s career is this essential truth that she was a top box-office draw for decades, not for being a bitch, but for being magnetic, beautiful, and a gifted actor. Her turn in Mildred Pierce, for instance, is indicated by a great deal of subtlety and quiet; a scene where she witnesses her monstrous daughter objectified by a bunch of sailors in a night club is devastating and mostly because Crawford has allowed us insight into how her character has been wounded (and perhaps Crawford herself) by the same kind of destructive male gaze. When best pal Ida (Eve Arden) comments on a lascivious glance with “Sheesh, leave me something, I’ll catch cold!” – some of the cultural brutality of the picture floats clean into focus. With over 160 films under his belt, I find myself admiring Curtiz’s work on this one more than other, more revered, pictures on which he functioned mainly as a kind of place-marker. What I’m saying is that it’s better than Casablanca.

Because the film is longish, there wasn’t much time for discussion afterwards, limited as we are by the library’s closing time. A shame, and something to think about when programming series. This week saw, too, the launch of the library’s “Cinema Club” with a screening of Edward Scissorhands.

This coming week: Dark Victory at the DPL, Run Lola Run at Lone Tree, and Leon: The Professional at Douglas County, plus the second film in the “Cinema Club” three-film-then-discussion series, P.T. Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love.

Watched a fabbo giallo on DVD for review called Strip Nude for your Killer: an exploitation flick that combines elements of Peeping Tom with Blow-Up with some weird Italian soft-porn flick, reminding that the fringe is often where you find the strongest statements about the things that matter. Taken with Mildred Pierce and, to an extent, the mendacity of When a Stranger Calls 2006, the theme of the day seems to be social awareness. In a year where Crash and Brokeback Mountain are in a neck-to-neck (man-on-man?) race to win the industry’s most-coveted self-congratulation – my question is what are the best films about social issues?

Let me start the debate with Romero’s landmark Civil Rights piece: Night of the Living Dead.

The last screen capture of this cycle presents Jack S. with the chance to win if none of the other four previous winners can tie it at the finish line. They've all been easy as I wrestle with a good capture program and no time lately - tougher next time, I promise:


Meanwhile, tons of new material at the mothersite with Alex's excellent Sundance coverage continuing, side-by-side with a nice Top Ten Internet Flicks piece while the crew works on Iviews Issue 7. Also, Travis takes on Alex Cox's Repo Man.

For Lee and Jack S. to decide the winner of capture-contest #3:


Hot off the Presses (2.7)

Here's the new Harrison Ford, Firewall, with whether or not I'll make the Final Destination 3 screening before this weekend still up in the air. Alex's Sundance coverage continues with Into Great Silence plus I do the honors on Burton's Big Fish on DVD again.

Hot off the Presses (2.8)

Scheduling conflict is going to shut me out of a screening of Steve Martin's long-awaited (by someone, I'm sure) Pink Panther update, I'm afraid, (and still don't know if I can juggle/rush to get a screening of Final Destination 3 under my belt this week) but here's Alex reporting on Tanuj Chopra's Punching at the Sun from Sundance, and me going on about Heidi Klum's "Project Runway Season One". Want to mention that Alex's review of A Darkness Swallowed is an example of why a lot of us are fans of his in the first place: humane and humble, and a reminder of how to do it right.

46 comments:

Lee said...

"Happiness"?

Lee said...

Didn't mean to make that a question. I am quite certain it is "Happiness."

Anonymous said...

Is that the original aspect ratio of Happiness?

Rachel said...

Re: Top Ten Internet Flicks


Surely Alex's seen this?

Lee said...

Good question. I think "Happiness" was in 1:85.1, but that image looks a little too boxy.

Anonymous said...

Ebaumsworld is an intriguing beast - it's certainly useful for collecting some of the best that the internet has to offer, some videos/flash content/etc that we probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. However, no one would have a problem with it if it weren't for the jackass running it putting his own watermark on everything and using it to collect advertising revenue based on other people's work without getting any kind of permission.

Then again, without his contribution we wouldn't get gems like the banned G.I.Joe PSAs...

Jefferson said...

Is that IHeartNJ shirt on backwards? Or is the image flipped?

my question is what are the best films about social issues?

I recently saw a different Romero flick, The Crazies. It's topical anytime, but watching it last fall, just after Hurricane Katrina and the botched, lackadaisical government response, it held a whole new kind of horror.

Bemis said...

I re-watched Do the Right Thing again this weekend, and needless to say, it just mops the floor with Crash. It's one of the best screenplays of all time - nearly every character is nuanced and complex, and the story moves towards its devastating conclusion with a subtle air of inevitability. It's a great discussion starter, and even at seventeen years old it's still incredibly prescient.

Alex Jackson said...

Well, I only credited Ebaumsworld for being my gateway drug and for providing one of the videos on my list. Like I said in my introduction, I wanted to show the breadth of what was out there. It doesn't surprise me that they're being cut to pieces for stealing other peoples work.

I do have to say though, that at least that site is well-run. I'm mad as a chimpanzee that the Gore Compilation was removed from Ownage Video and can't be seen anywhere else. Don't know what happened to Shootings in Iraq though. For some reason, I can't watch Up in Flames but that might just be a problem with my computer; one of my message board regulars said he could see it.

Jack_Sommersby said...

Walter,

I've been wanting to see Strip Nude For Your Killer quite badly, but no local video stores carry it for rental, and I refuse to do the "Netflix thing". And I happened upon a screenshot program that I downloaded that's worked quite nicely:

http://www.pixelmetrics.com/Tips/VidBlank/VideoLanPlayer.php

There's a demerit in that there isn't a frame-by-frame function, so capturing that exact moment you want can be frustrating -- you have to turn back the knob on the bottom just a fraction to replay that moment (progessing through the movie with the knob is necessary because the player doesn't respond to chapter-search commands) -- but with patience it can indeed be done. Regarding social-issue films, I've always thought William Friedkin's underrated Rampage tackled both sides of the insanity-plea/death penalty issue quite admirably.

Oh, and I would have been clueless on the screenshot before Lee's correct guess anyway. Hell, at first glance, I swear, it looked like something from one of Alex Cox's grunge flicks.

Walter_Chaw said...

And Lee knots it up with two!

I'll throw up a second screen capture as a tiebreak just for Jack S. and Lee this evening, about 9:00pm EST. Let me know, fellas' if that time's not advantageous.

Jack - if you can get a copy of Strip Nude..., you gotta do it - it's way cool.

And yeah, I do believe the image is inverted.

I'll go check out that screen capture site, Jack. Fond of Rampage m'self, though I only hazily remember it from years ago.

Jefferson said...

Jack_Sommersby said...
... I refuse to do the "Netflix thing".

Why, if I may ask? Is it the expense, their offerings, the service? Or do you have God's own wonderful video store in your neighborhood?

Petra B said...

I agree with Jack_Sommersby the "Netflix thing" comes with its own baggage. It seems to work very well for some who have a long list of director's body-of-work they want to work through (example my brother is doing Hitchcock and "Beat" Kitano) or working their way through new releases (for the more mainstream viewers), but I also need to be able to find the "obscure" titles from Japan, Italy, UK and France (example: "Ignorant Fairies" **released in America as "His Secret Life** which did not get a DVD until 3 years after I saw it at Seattle International Film Festival) some of which do not seem to be available on their database (as of yet). But honestly the reason I don't use Netflix is because I have probably one of the best video stores ever just a 10 minute drive away.

Scarecrow Video: www.scarecrowvideo.com

From which spawned The Scarecrow Video Movie Guide

It is the best place to find different region's DVDs (also where I bought my region free player) and hard to find gems like Kurosawa's Sanshiro Sugata on VHS with the good translation, the impossible to find Turkish version of Star Wars (original - laughable by the way) and Criterion Collection Laserdiscs of hard to find transfers (Japanese releases, European Cuts etc).

cory m said...

Alex

How about Spike Jonze's Gap commercial?

Video

Alex Jackson said...

Nice.

Still like the waterballoon commercial more, Peer Gant is overused to the point of which it becomes glib. But yeah, that's very much up my alley.

Alex Jackson said...

Actually found a functioning link for the Gore Compilation video. Requires Quicktime. Click at your own risk, you sick bastards.

Alex Jackson said...

And hey, infamous website Now That's Fucked Up has Shootings in Iraq for download.

Jefferson said...

Petra B said...
Scarecrow Video: www.scarecrowvideo.com

I'm two hours from Scarecrow, but I totally agree ... world's greatest video store. They're a Northwest treasure. In the meantime, Netflix so far (three months of membership) hasn't failed to satisfy most of my urges.

Jack_Sommersby said...

Ahhhhhh, yes -- 'ol Scarecrow Video. Had heard about the legend for a while, and when visiting a friend in Seattle this summer I had the pleasure of finally making my way through its doors. Quite a place, with films I haven't seen in video stores in over 10 years, along with a good many I hadn't seen period. Used LaserDiscs for sale, too.

As for Netflix, well, I did a trial membership and another month with them, and found that the discs got returned swiftly in the beginning and middle of the month-term but not near the end, which, of course, meant that I was obligated to pay for another month. Maybe they've cleaned up their act since then, for I read of a lawsuit against the company with this very same complaint. Plus, the price breakdown is more expensive than what I can rent DVDs for where I am. Also, I found it detestable that the special-feature disc of a 2-disc set was counted as a separate rental and sometimes wasn't even available to rent the same time as the disc of the feature presentation.

Jack_Sommersby said...

Screenshot: Death Race 2000.

Walter_Chaw said...

HA - Jack takes the pizza pie. Email me at walter@filmfreakcentral.net and I'll send you a small parcel of puzzling swag.

Congrats, man, that was lightning fast.

Next week - hopefully with the help of my new capture program - the start of a brave new world.

Wanted to second, too, that Romero's Crazies is just awesome. Saw Firewall today, incidentally, and it's just terrible.

Alex Jackson said...

Also, I found it detestable that the special-feature disc of a 2-disc set was counted as a separate rental and sometimes wasn't even available to rent the same time as the disc of the feature presentation.

Meh, Netflix has gotten me in the habit of only watching the extras if I'm reviewing the movie or if I particularly like it. And if I particularly like it, I'll make a mental note to buy it and then I'll get to see the second platter anyway. Most DVD extras aren't really that interesting anyway, the last time that I got the second disc was with The Manson Family, I think. (It was worth it then).

Jack_Sommersby said...

Agreed, Alex -- with so many movies available on DVD to watch, I, too, don't find myself delving into the special features all that much. But it's the mere principle of not being to watch what's part of a package in one rental. At the time, the second disc I couldn't get was for Big Trouble in Little China, a movie I don't particularly like but was looking forward to seeing the extras just because it was a John Carpetner film, and the extras on a Carpenter film are always interesting. The Alien Quadrilogy is the only package I've watched all the second discs to, for the record -- and I can't brag enough that I found the 9-disc package at a pawn shop for only $20!. Heh, heh, heh, I scored on that one!

Anonymous said...

Walter, any chance you'll be checking out Final Destination 3?

Lee said...

Nice job, Jack. I didn't even see where the screenshot was located, but you would have had that one-I've never seen "Death Race 2000." Congrats, man!

Jack_Sommersby said...

Thanks much, Lee. Because of your graciousness, if I ever hit the Lotto, rest assured, that Whopper and Coke are on me, pal.

And see Death Race 2000 if you can. Good gore and nudity, with nurses being plowed over by cars because they're worth invaluable points per hit. Haven't seen it since I was 11 and it was on cable, but it's the sort of sicko black comedy that forever stays in your mind. With the exception of the exceptionally entertaining Forbidden World (a blatant Alien knockoff), it's my favorite Corman-produced flick.

Bill C said...

Much as I'm loath to link to AICN, I believe this is the first lengthy-ish interview James Cameron has granted in quite some time and I'm curious to know what people think - http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=22405

I find his stumping for 3-D a tad alarming; ditto his comments on Alien Vs. Predator. What happened? Or was he always like this? Who let the dogs out?

Jack_Sommersby said...

Sheesh, Bill. He thinks A vs. P is the 3rd-best of the series. Well, I think it's safe to assume that the first 2 take up slots 1 and 2, so Fincher's and Jeunet's take a backseat to that mindless, witless, plasticity-laden video game masquerading as a feature-length motion picture? Egad.

Alex Jackson said...

Sheesh, Bill. He thinks A vs. P is the 3rd-best of the series.

He said that? ROFLMAO!

Jack_Sommersby said...

Yeah, him merely liking A vs. P isn't enough to get my goat -- hell, I recently watched Skeleton Key and The Island, and enjoyed them both -- but prefering it over the other 2 Alien films made me involuntarily cringe. Then again, some people cringe when I say I prefer Jeunet's film to Cameron's, or Temple of Doom to Raiders. So to each their own, I guess.

Rachel said...

Not movie-related, but sort of fascinating (in a vile, horrid way) nonetheless:

Woman Forgos Sexbottism for Sanity; Psychiatrist Pissed

I don't know whether to be more offended as a woman or as a writer. Shit, does that prose suck.

Nate said...

Oh my god, I can't believe Fox bypassed Cameron's development of a 5th Alien film to make AVP. I mean, I can believe it, but it's stunning nonetheless. Sad, really. I also can't believe that he himself would rate AVP 3rd of the five! What the hell is he thinking? He's probably pissed at Fincher for killing his characters, but still. But still!

Actually, the "unrated" cut of AVP is markedly better than the incoherent theatrical version; the editing seems cleaner and the visual effects come across better on DVD. I was expecting harder violence, but it's pretty clear that even the blood was added digitally, which tells me they intended to make a PG-13 film all along. It's stupid fun, I guess, but that's something an Alien film should never be. Fortunately, it's not a real Alien film.

As for the rest of the interview, I found it kind of boring. I just don't care about 3-D. I can't imagine the technology being used to tell a story more effectively and not distracting from it with technical gadgetry. Or maybe I'm just being stodgy.

Bill C said...

I don't think you're being stodgy, Nate. Considering Cameron's scope of influence within the industry, his blind love of all things 3-D (sorry, "stereoscopicy" [sic]) casts a black cloud over the future of film art. Much as I preferred The Polar Express in 3-D, it didn't make a bad movie better, it mutated The Polar Express into something that wasn't a movie at all. It engaged me as a tactile experience, but its effectiveness as a piece of cinema was literally impossible to evaluate, and my memory of it faded more quickly than usual.

Nate said...

I feel the same way about that black cloud, although didn't people say the same thing when movies started to talk?

Bill C said...

Movies? Talk? They'll never go for it, buster. Warner's gonna lose his shirt.

But in all seriousness, the difference here is that they tried 3-D once and failed. With so many bigwigs jockeying for its return, it's like we're returning car keys to a drunk.

Jack_Sommersby said...

For you thirtysomethings out there, remember the '80s 3-D flicks: Spacehunter, Comin' at Ya, Parasite, Friday the 13th Part 3? All of 'em sucked, with -- and this is quite telling -- the latter the most tolerable of the lot. 3-D will not better a film, anymore than best-you-can-buy CGI can, as was the case with T2. The original's budget was $6.4 mil sans CGI, and it's far, far better a film than the $100-mil, CGI-soaked T2. When I brag about the original, I can cite excellence in characterization, acting, dialogue, action-staging, with special effects -- while acceptable -- near the bottom of the list. Because the f/x is unimpressive? No; but because it's not overdone and is integrated into the story with a sense of discipline. With T2, all its fans can brag about is the CGI, which seems to have been the springboard for the entire film's basis -- that the story was woven around the CGI goals Cameron had in mind (though I will concede that Robert Patrick's superb physical performance has never gotten enough love).

Cameron's obviously no longer interested in character or story. He's more concerned with a "technical achievement" than an organically sound motion picture, and that's just sad.

Carl Walker said...

Walter, I just read your Project Runaway review, and are you really sure that getting to vote on American Idol is the same as being promoted to "arbiter of our culture"? I'm just a little confused, you say that such a show "democratize[s] the conversation about art," which you find to be inherently reprehensible, and while I confess my bleeding-heart liberal self winces at such unabashed contempt for the unwashed masses, I have to admit I agree with the principle.

Yet how is American Idol a conversation? (and perhaps I'm beig too literal here) Some "singers" are paraded through the show, some may have "talent" in the strictest sense but none, I figure, are "artists," and the "winner" is only going to be deposited into a popular music arena that makes contemporary mainstream look like, oh I dunno, the 70s, Korean cinema, or whatever we hold up as an idea lately. Most are forgotten immediately after.

It seems like most of what we complain about here is the dumbing down of published film criticism, as either more foolish people are hired to praise more pathetic films, or people that should and perhaps do know better lower their expecations and even show veiled contempt for their audience by recommending crap that they know is crap (Ebert, and then everyone else). Yet as much as the masses are being told that what they like is in fact good, they are still in some way being programmed, and the conversation ultimately is not theirs, as far as I can tell.

Jefferson said...

I know a woman, a classically trained soprano who's sung with major choral and orchestra lcompanies, who ADORES "American Idol." Just cannot get enough. I asked her if she didn't think, as a musician herself, that the show amounts to the karaokefication of musical art. She agrees that the performers are usually shit; she just loves the conflict, the drama of the judging, and competitors she can relate to as "real" people.

I guess once you step aside and stop viewing entertainment shows as art -- reality shows specifically, which are seldom more than popularity contests or physical challenges -- you can enjoy them. (For the record, I regularly watch precisely three TV shows, "Daily Show," "Battlestar Galactica" and "Lost," and despise "Idol.") I think the danger is in progressing to where you think of all film or television as simply "entertainment" and not "art." As a critic, you start asking yourself whether it entertains rather than asking whether it inspires ... inspires ANYTHING. And then you're asking the wrong question.

Carl Walker said...

Maybe the real trouble is that "art" and "entertainment" are more mutually exclusive than they have been in a while (if that's true, I haven't really been alive for all that long, all considered). Attempts to achieve both, such as King Kong, seem now to fail (why not just get your CGI in small bite-sized doses?). So I guess I can see why the average critic is afraid to stare down pop culture and say, "almost all of it sucks right now," as Walter, because saying that does upset people who really just want their "entertainment."

I suppose what really concerns me is when my fellow grad students in the English department tell me that when they see a movie they just want good dumb fun, as some kinda "break" from literature. If even lit-minded intellectuals think that film (to say nothing of televsion!) is a special dumping-ground for "enterainment only," then it seems like we're really in trouble. Although there are film studies people in my dept. who are perhaps more discerning, there is also this "cultural studies" vein that seems to suggest, to some degree, that there's no such thing as crap, which might be part of the problem.

Nate said...

Don't feel bad, Carl - I have people like that in my graduate FILM program, so the virus is spreading. Of course, there's plenty of people to enjoy less "easy" films, but that audience will be (and probably always has been) relatively small.

I enjoy escapist entertainment less and less the older I get; just watched a double DVD bill of "Serenity" and "Flightplan" and found myself getting drunk just to keep from getting too bored (though I rather liked "Serenity"). I just want to be entertained like the next guy, but lately I find directors like Haneke and Ozu and Resnais every bit as "entertaining" as someone like Ridley Scott (and infinitely moreso than his incoherent brother). But I can't just sit down and watch those films any time I want; there are times when I prefer something more viscerally engaging, so maybe that's what your peers are actually trying to say.

Alex Jackson said...

If you ask me, any film that makes you go up in the mountains of Nepal and recieve rigirous training on how to appreciate it has failed on some level. At the same time, I can understand some of us wanting something with depth and meaning to it.

Great art, I say time after time, has both weight and velocity: momentum. Great art is also both universal and exclusionary. And it's great entertainment in addition to being great art.

Most perfect movie of all time is Apocalypse Now, because it's not one or the other but both. Something for scholars, something for laymen, it's fast moving, heavy, intrinsically valuable to those not looking for anything deep, brimming with subtext, and enormously pleasurable to watch.

You want to drive a film studies grad insane? Ask them to distinguish between a good movie and a bad movie. The whole of media studies is never about values and never about ethics, it's never about what filmmakers should or should not do or what we should or should not watch.

Dave Gibson said...

“Entertainment” has always been a slippery concept. The most significant purpose of films, theatre and music has always been to entertain. Given that the “entertainment” moniker is typically used as a synonym for inherently shallow or trivial material, the word has become almost as loaded as fine words like: “discriminate” or “elitist”. Film is the most accessible and popular art form of the last century, so it’s difficult to have a serious discussion about film without seeming “discriminating” or “elitist”--especially if your notions of what constitutes “entertainment” might be more expansive (Just like if I knew F-ALL about Hockey, I might be able to talk about players other than Gretzky) Recently, I had a discussion about “Cache” with a friend who enjoys all sorts of films and one who felt betrayed and angered by a film which amounted to a “dirty trick” (their words) After offering my pleasant rebuttal and wordy explanation of why I enjoyed and revered the film (the best of 2005) I also reminded myself that I’m probably going to watch “The Beyond” and “Billy Madison”(?) many times over before I willingly revisit “Cache”. I enjoy these films the same why I enjoy a Big Mac every now and then, problem is—the theatres are usually stuffed with “Big Mac” movies, inevitably resulting in a culture full of people (both literate and sub-literate) who view movies as nothing more as a way to fill a vacant urge to be full. On the other hand, I’m also a member of my gorgeously uncouth culture and, if I attempted to make a cohesive case for “Billy Madison” as a great (or even passable) work of art—I don’t think anyone should take me seriously (I will assert, however, that in the estimable words of George Plimpton: “Billy Madison is fuckin’ Hee-Larry-Us”) Film Studies courses, much like any worthy course of study—should act as templates for conversation and further investigation, not arbiters of “good” or “bad”. (I’m reminded of a favourite Philosophy professor who said: “If you get to fourth year in Philosophy and conclude that you don’t know what the fuck’s going on, you’re doing exceptionally well.”) So, AJ I’d have to disagree and suggest that if these jittery film studies folk can’t distinguish between a “good” or “bad” film—that’s, as Martha says: a good thing. Education in the arts need only provide the tools for the more delicate surgery. ”Good” or “bad”? Build your OWN freakin’ throne say I. Which is to say, the most perfect movie is actually “The Wizard of Oz”, everybody knows that.

Chad Evan said...

I've just never bought the whole "there's no such thing as good or bad art" argument. Maya Angelou ain't Yeats, the Backstreet Boys ain't the Beatles(and the Beatles ain't Beethoven, for that matter,) and Michael Bay ain't Orson Welles.

Rich said...

I dunno, Alex, some people would require that trip to the mountains of Nepal to appreciate a movie made in black and white, in a foreign language (with subtitles), or even one released before they were born. I like the idea that not all movies should be easily digestable to all people all the time, and I'm not sure that you can say someone like Tarkovsky has failed on any kind of level simply because his films are pretty much inaccessable to 99.9 percent of the Earth's population. (Hrm, I'm not sure if that's fair to Tarkovsky - he'd probably resent that, but in essence, it's true)

Nate said...

If anyone's curious, I just saw Manderlay - it's fine, worth watching, but Howard is miscast (she's good, but too naive and young to play this character), and none of the supporting characters are particularly interesting. Several plot holes. I love von Trier, but this time I think the axe he needed to grind got in the way of telling a truly compelling story. I'd give it **1/2.

Alex Jackson said...

Well, distinguishing between good and bad should still be our focal goal. It's ultimately the main thing that matters to me. I would have more respect for film studies programs if they revolved around trying to distinquish between the good and the bad. I wouldn't expect them to all come out having the same system of judgment, but I would expect them to have one that they could both use and articulate.

You ain't wrong if you think The Island is a masterpiece and Andrei Rublev is shit; but you have to put the elbow grease into explaining why the former comes closer to your personal Gold standard of the cinema and the latter does not. And you should be able to consider the opinion of the pro-Rublev anti-Island crowd and rebuttal it sucessfully.

I mean it's perfectly OK to say no to subtitles and black and white, if you can successfully rebuttal the ramnifications of how it limits the scope of your cinematic intake.

If I taught a film class, I'd show a film a week, say Badlands, Plan 9 From Outer Space, The 400 Blows, Peeping Tom, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Annie Hall, and Citizen Kane and simply demand an opinion toward the storyline, cinematography, tone, acting, et cetera. What's the movie about, how is it about it, and is this the appropriate choice? I guess that I might argue that all these films are about, on some level, childhood and arrested development but they are all about it in seperate ways and so I want to find out how they are about it.

I'm not sure any training is involved, it's really just work and the ability to ask the right questions. Too often, I'm feeling that the Film Studies crowd sees themselves as being able to speak and interpret a foreign language and I just don't see that as being a useful way to watch films.