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    Now watching...

    Post  Admin on Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:15 am

    I intended to start a thread where we can post up what we are watching on any given evening and Friday is usually my big film night.

    However, I'm in a funny mood and can't decide. But it'll probably be: a rewatching of a classic Hitchcock film, one of the Zatoichi sequels or some screwball comedy. Knowing me though, it'll probably be something else entirely...
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:00 am

    I never have too much of a schedule of what I will watch next. I sometimes have an idea, but then sometimes change. I try never to watch the same director or genre two times in a row. I do like to mix it up, but I also like to work on important films I have not seen from either the TSPDT 1000 list, an important Asian movie or some other list I am working on.

    Here is what I have seen this year: http://www.listsofbests.com/list/87269-movies-seen-in-2011 As you have seen from some of my later watches I've done something I haven't in a while concentrate on some newer films like The Town, Social Network (I have a review here on this) and 127 Hours.

    Now what I'll watch this weekend (and what is everybody going to watch this weekend)?

    At least one of the following for my artistic pick: The Hole (Taiwan), Stalker (Russia), Die Nibelungen (I watched The Complete Metropolis over last weekend; this film is five hours so I keep putting it off) or The Face of Another (Criterion Japan)

    At least one more mainstream pick: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), hell could be tons from this category.

    Shorts: And probably at least one of Chaplin's Keystone films. I've been going over the Flicker Alley set (on the second disc now) and I've also been going over Buster Keaton's Educational shorts which range from stinker to great (the Keystone Chaplins are mostly stinker, but they are important).
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Admin on Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:18 am

    I ended up watching The Mist last night Smile

    Godzilla came today (the film, not the monster. To date, sightings of the beast are rare around Birmingham). Going to resist watching it right away.

    I'm home alone today so I think I'll have an afternoon treat with the Shaw Brothers' 1971 film Lady Hermit, which is one of the big pile of films I bought when I was in Toronto and have still not watched. May even do a small review later.

    Update: Damn, I've just found out my sparkly Sony BD player doesn't play VCDs Mad . Gutted. Had to "settle" for Late Spring.
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Cash on Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:54 pm

    I have a number of choices this evening but I don't know if I'll get to any of them.

    I've dedicated this spring to popular titles on The Criterion Collection I have yet to see. First up:

    BLACK ORPHEUS
    CHILDREN OF PARADISE
    THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE

    Later:

    THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE...
    FANNY AND ALEXANDER
    GREY GARDENS
    THE HONEYMOON KILLERS
    "I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING!"
    THE LADY EVE
    L'AVVENTURA
    MOMMA ROMA
    MURMUR OF THE HEART
    THE NAKED CITY
    THE NAKED KISS
    PLAYTIME
    SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE
    SLACKER
    THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE
    A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE

    I also discovered my local library carries a Korean bootleg of Orson Welles's "The Magnificent Ambersons" (which I believe is still unavailable legally).
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Admin on Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:00 pm

    Watched another of my Toronto haul tonight: Naked Comes the Huntress. Not a bad film, but you'd never believe it unless you see it yourself.

    That's three "nakeds" on this thread already Shocked . Is someone going to watch something highbrow and arty to even it out a bit?
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:47 am

    Cash wrote:I have a number of choices this evening but I don't know if I'll get to any of them.

    I've dedicated this spring to popular titles on The Criterion Collection I have yet to see. First up:

    BLACK ORPHEUS
    CHILDREN OF PARADISE
    THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE

    Later:

    ...I also discovered my local library carries a Korean bootleg of Orson Welles's "The Magnificent Ambersons" (which I believe is still unavailable legally).

    If you don't know I help run a forum on Criterion films (www.criterionforums.com). I've seen a lot of the above. Really SLACKER is the only one I did not like. But there are some great films there, feel free to discuss when you finish them.

    I wish there were an R1 of The Magnificent Ambersons. I've been wanting to watch that for years.
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:58 pm

    I recently watched much (though certainly not all) of Criterion's Alain Resnais' LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD on 2x speed with the subtitles on because it reeked of pretention from nearly the first frame. As with many a Criterion release, the supplements made a strong case for the film's status as an art-house classic, enough so that I'll probably grab the Blu-ray next time Barnes & Noble has a Criterion sale, although I still suspect I'll blow through portions of it on 2x speed. Laughing Oddly enough, one film that kept popping into my head while watching it was Herk Harvey's CARNIVAL OF SOULS. Nearly all the available writing on that film suggests its makers were influenced by Bergman and Cocteau, but I can't imagine Harvey wasn't also influenced by LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD. It's not something I can nail down to a particular scene or camera move, more of an overall feeling and visual appearance that pervades both films (maybe the voiceover aspect too).

    Been watching a lot of Criterions lately thanks to the local library system.

    Most recently:

    IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES
    THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (will definitely be buying this if it ever comes out on Blu-ray; I've rarely seen a movie that has almost never lost its topicality in nearly five decades since its release; perfect set of supplements on the Criterion as well).
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:42 am

    Brian T wrote:I recently watched much (though certainly not all) of Criterion's Alain Resnais' LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD on 2x speed with the subtitles on because it reeked of pretention from nearly the first frame. As with many a Criterion release, the supplements made a strong case for the film's status as an art-house classic, enough so that I'll probably grab the Blu-ray next time Barnes & Noble has a Criterion sale, although I still suspect I'll blow through portions of it on 2x speed. Laughing Oddly enough, one film that kept popping into my head while watching it was Herk Harvey's CARNIVAL OF SOULS. Nearly all the available writing on that film suggests its makers were influenced by Bergman and Cocteau, but I can't imagine Harvey wasn't also influenced by LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD. It's not something I can nail down to a particular scene or camera move, more of an overall feeling and visual appearance that pervades both films (maybe the voiceover aspect too).
    ...
    IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES
    THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (will definitely be buying this if it ever comes out on Blu-ray; I've rarely seen a movie that has almost never lost its topicality in nearly five decades since its release; perfect set of supplements on the Criterion as well).

    You will recognize a few scenes from THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS especially one bomb scene in PLATOON. Oliver Stone is a big fan of the film. I enjoyed the film and it certainly is one of the more important socially political films made (even if you do not agree with all the contexts of it).

    I understand what you are seeing with LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD in CARNIVAL OF SOULS. I get that feeling too and of course you know I tend to write about my feelings Very Happy. Sometimes I am wrong (like with one comparison with A TALE OF TWO SISTERS) and sometimes I am right.

    But LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD really should be watched on 1x Smile. Sound is quite important to the film along with dialogue (some DVD players should dialogue on 1.5x maybe 2x). But the film obviously is a conundrum. It was purposefully made to not have an answer. But with these puzzle films they are fun for a bit then feel tedious Very Happy. The cinemtography is excellent though.
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:43 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:But LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD really should be watched on 1x Smile.

    I just don't think I could bear it. I'd still rank the film very highly for what it is (a work of art), and as a designer I was stunned at the craft of it and was regularly thinking of works (mostly in films and advertising) that it influenced for decades afterward, but pretentious doesn't even begin to describe the overall work (and I think that's backed up in the supplements to a large degree). I find the theory that the film is about a rape (as explained by Ginette Vincendeau in the supplements) is fairly convincing. In an interview included in the set, Resnais says the idea of rape didn't interest him, but apparently it was very much in the mind of the writer, so whether Resnais elides it or not, it does haunt the disjointed narrative. Beyond that, the film is open to wild interpretation, which for me places it more squarely in the realm of artwork than cinema, which is probably why I feel compelled to one day own it on Blu-ray despite knowing that I'll revisit much of it with my finger hovering over the FF button. Smile


    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:(some DVD players should dialogue on 1.5x maybe 2x).


    My DVD player does this; it's choppy, but tolerable. My Blu-ray player does it beautifully, which often makes "difficult" movies a little easier to ingest without losing any context, dialogue, etc. No matter how put off I might be by a particular film, I've always watched it through to the end, just so my thoughts on the work would have a foundation, and this feature has been most helpful in that regard, most recently (late, late last night) with fellow Canuck Vincenzo Natali's SPLICE, an earnest but finally (and somewhat frustratingly) disappointing pseudo-Cronenbergian piece of mutation-horror that panders (like many others) to conservative preconceptions about genetics-based science.

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:13 am

    Brian T wrote:
    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:But LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD really should be watched on 1x Smile.

    I just don't think I could bear it. I'd still rank the film very highly for what it is (a work of art), and as a designer I was stunned at the craft of it and was regularly thinking of works (mostly in films and advertising) that it influenced for decades afterward, but pretentious doesn't even begin to describe the overall work (and I think that's backed up in the supplements to a large degree). I find the theory that the film is about a rape (as explained by Ginette Vincendeau in the supplements) is fairly convincing. In an interview included in the set, Resnais says the idea of rape didn't interest him, but apparently it was very much in the mind of the writer, so whether Resnais elides it or not, it does haunt the disjointed narrative. Beyond that, the film is open to wild interpretation, which for me places it more squarely in the realm of artwork than cinema, which is probably why I feel compelled to one day own it on Blu-ray despite knowing that I'll revisit much of it with my finger hovering over the FF button. Smile
    ...

    I didn't write much on it but here is what I have (and the first part really explains why I didn't go more over it):

    First I really think the film was made by Alain Resnais to eschew any specific theory (and he has stated this). You can always think of something that contradicts one theory over another etc... It is going to mean something different to each person. But that doesn't stop us from thinking from this Möbius strip influenced film . A dream influenced by reverie.

    Some ideas: I feel that the stranger is or partially Death. She was killed by her husband (we are never given the knowledge that the stranger could have been killed by the husband, though we are given the fact that the husband never loses at that card game -- potentially a Fate allegory that no matter what the stranger can do he can not stop the fact that she was killed, he possibly raped her) and was given a year reprieve by the stranger to be taken at a later date.
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Admin on Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:42 pm

    Not watching now, but will do tonight: Godzilla. With a bottle of wine. I'm off work tomorrow, so film night has moved to Thursday Smile .
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Admin on Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:48 pm

    Admin wrote:Not watching now, but will do tonight: Godzilla. With a bottle of wine. I'm off work tomorrow, so film night has moved to Thursday Smile .

    Everyone I've mentioned Godzilla to shakes their head and asks me why I'm going to be watching such crap. Also, this actually sparked a debate about "foreign" films in my office. Sadly, we still don't live in enlightened times, despite what anyone says. The general feeling is that anything from abroad is complete rubbish - after all, if it was any good it would be in English Shocked . I was astounded by the ignorance of my boss, who spat the word "foreign" out as if it was diseased.
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:49 am

    Admin wrote:
    Admin wrote:Not watching now, but will do tonight: Godzilla. With a bottle of wine. I'm off work tomorrow, so film night has moved to Thursday Smile .

    Everyone I've mentioned Godzilla to shakes their head and asks me why I'm going to be watching such crap. Also, this actually sparked a debate about "foreign" films in my office. Sadly, we still don't live in enlightened times, despite what anyone says. The general feeling is that anything from abroad is complete rubbish - after all, if it was any good it would be in English Shocked . I was astounded by the ignorance of my boss, who spat the word "foreign" out as if it was diseased.

    You should tell them you are watching Gojira Very Happy.

    The most issues I have with is usually when I tell people about silent films. These are also the films I have the most difficulty lending. Some I know (very few, but that's because I try to hang out with brighter people) have issues with B&W (makes no sense to me). I've known people who have issues with subtitles, but I tend to use them even for english films (I like to get every bit of dialogue, plus I'm a fast reader).

    What I do is try to change people's opinions about "foreign" movies. I did with my Dad and got him interested into Kurosawa, Ozu, Jean Pierre Melville, Jackie Chan and much more.

    But since I talk to a lot of people I know what you mean. I remember a checkout girl who was learning French (loved Amelie) didn't know Truffaut or Godard and thought 1970s films were old. But yes I have hundreds of examples like this where people refuse to watch subtitles, silent movies etc...
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:24 pm

    Admin wrote:Everyone I've mentioned Godzilla to shakes their head and asks me why I'm going to be watching such crap. Also, this actually sparked a debate about "foreign" films in my office. Sadly, we still don't live in enlightened times, despite what anyone says. The general feeling is that anything from abroad is complete rubbish - after all, if it was any good it would be in English Shocked . I was astounded by the ignorance of my boss, who spat the word "foreign" out as if it was diseased.


    Colonialism and Imperialism are alive and well there I see . . . Razz

    In my formative years as a Hong Kong film fan, it was somewhat dismaying to be asked "why do you watch that stuff" by both white people I knew or worked with and Chinese people who ran the stores! Laughing



    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:I remember a checkout girl who was learning French (loved Amelie) didn't know Truffaut or Godard and thought 1970s films were old.

    Surely she's now the MistressOfOneInchPunch? Cool


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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:23 pm

    Brian T wrote:...In my formative years as a Hong Kong film fan, it was somewhat dismaying to be asked "why do you watch that stuff" by both white people I knew or worked with and Chinese people who ran the stores! Laughing
    ...Surely she's now the MistressOfOneInchPunch? Cool


    Hee hee, no the women I am interested in have to be able to stand at least one of the following: silent, art, Asian films.

    I love when people state "how do you know so much about these films?". Or you are the only non-Asian person I know who knows who <<insert name here>> is? Or stop lending me films -- wait scratch that last one.
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:53 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Hee hee, no the women I am interested in have to be able to stand at least one of the following: silent, art, Asian films.

    Very Happy


    - - - - -

    Stopped by the library tonight and found a backlog of stuff waiting to be signed out. "Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in!"

    Now my viewing tonight will consist of at least one of the following Criterions: TWENTY-FOUR EYES, L'AVVENTURA, DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE, AMARCORD, SALESMAN

    and/or

    ... one of the following non-Criterions (still filling in some lifelong viewing gaps): DOGVILLE, BOOGIE NIGHTS, KING OF COMEDY (DeNiro), DREAMSCAPE, ROSEMARY'S BABY.


    I've got these for a week, so recommendations and links are welcome, to expand the experience! Smile



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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:03 pm

    You got me pretty good on that lot. I have seen L'AVVENTURA, DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE, AMARCORD but nothing else. I think you might appreciate DOUBLE LIFE though AMARCORD is my favorite of the three. It is very self referential to Federico Fellini and is one of the few Criterions to promptly include flatulence (GOOD MORNING is another). L'AVVENTURA is a little more difficult as it is about middle class malaise which is not one of my favorite topics with film. It is filmed quite well, but while directors with slower paces do not annoy me like Bela Tarr (well to a certain extent Very Happy) and Tsai Ming-liang, I'm not quite sure on how much I actually liked that film.

    Yes, I really should have seen KING OF COMEDY (DeNiro) by now and quite embarrased that I have not. It is a film I've wanted to see for decades. I suppose the same should be said for ROSEMARY'S BABY (which I do own), but really only October is the month where I get into horror Very Happy.

    The anti-american allegory rhetoric will probably drive me nuts in DOGVILLE.
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:30 pm

    I run hot and cold on Lars von Trier. I've yet to see anything from him that tops ZENTROPA for me on a personal/artistic level, but I can't deny his unique and provocative style, even when the films leave me cold and/or bored out of my skull. I think DOGVILLE came up in the commentary or supplements on ANTICHRIST (which I signed out a while ago and moderately enjoyed, even if at 2x speed on the rare occasion Embarassed ) and that prompted me to check to see if the library had it. I've heard it's quite anti-American (as are MANDARLAY and DEAR WENDY -- which he wrote -- neither of which the library keeps in stock), but were it anti-Canadian or anti-any-other-country I'd still be curious to see it, especially when the director has never set foot on American soil, if I recall correctly. I find "commentary" by such people (in cinema as on web forums, wink wink) to often be outright laughable. Now me, on the other hand, I've been in the U.S. hundreds of times in my life (quite literally), so I've earned the right to get all upside you f*****s, so fear the day I get a movie camera. Fear it!! Razz

    KING OF COMEDY and ROSEMARY'S BABY were among hundreds of titles on my Amazon wishlist (or in my cart) that never seemed to drop low enough to justify a blind buy. I've managed to delete many titles from the wishlist, and buy many others on it, thanks entirely to the library system here. Just for larfs, I searched the Modesto library's website on a hunch, and both titles are available there, in case you have a branch nearby. I'm betting you could find a lot of other stuff there as well. Wink
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Admin on Fri Mar 11, 2011 2:45 am

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:
    The most issues I have with is usually when I tell people about silent films. These are also the films I have the most difficulty lending. Some I know (very few, but that's because I try to hang out with brighter people) have issues with B&W (makes no sense to me). I've known people who have issues with subtitles, but I tend to use them even for english films (I like to get every bit of dialogue, plus I'm a fast reader).


    Funnily enough, my girlfriend has an issue with B&W films - she says she can't connect with them and finds the acting style unrealistic in older (say, pre-late sixties) films. Personally, and perhaps controversially, I find that all acting styles can be seen as stylistic and unrealistic, but I don't have a problem with that - I have always been quite good at seeing film in the context of the age it was created.

    However, I've been slowly introducing her to some older films and I think I might be changing her mind a little. She even watched and enjoyed Ikiru, which was a bit of a victory I think Cool . I still have hopes she'll sit with me and watch Casablanca, but maybe not just yet. I'm going the easy route through Some Like it Hot and maybe some earlier Hitchcock.

    What surprised me though was she said she was at an art exhibition recently and watched a Keaton short and said she liked it. This was completely unexpected, especially when I eventually tracked down which one it was and discovered it wasn't one of the "obvious" ones.

    I explained the Keaton/Chan link, but she was obviously sceptical - she only knows the name and associates Chan with performers like Segal et al. But I think I'm opening her up to new possibilities Smile .
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Fri Mar 11, 2011 9:47 am

    Cal where is the multi-quote button? Also expand the amount of entries per page to something like 20 (I hate small amounts because it breaks up conversations to easy).

    Admin wrote: ...What surprised me though was she said she was at an art exhibition recently and watched a Keaton short and said she liked it. This was completely unexpected, especially when I eventually tracked down which one it was and discovered it wasn't one of the "obvious" ones.

    I explained the Keaton/Chan link, but she was obviously sceptical - she only knows the name and associates Chan with performers like Segal et al. But I think I'm opening her up to new possibilities Smile .

    You do what I do (though I do this with lots and lots of people Very Happy). Keaton translates quite well for silent film (really for any film). I have had by far the most success with him (even over Chaplin) in lending to people. Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle and Harold Lloyd are pretty good to lend to people as well. Lloyd is by far (nowdays) the most underrated of the important early comediens. While like Chaplin with his earliest material at Keystone, Lloyd's Lonesome Luke do not date as well as his later works, but his later shorts and full length features are brilliant in so many ways.

    I've been going through the Chaplin Keystone features (one a day or one every two days). They are interesting especially when you see so many background characters (like Al St. John) or other main characters like Fatty Arbuckle and other ones popular at the time perform with Chaplin. The material is very Keystone like with multiple kicks to the front, behind, ladies getting hit and an overabundence of farce slapstick that those used to Chaplins later material will probably be dissapointed. But the material is very important as it is a link to everything afterwards: Fatty going solo, Chaplin going to Essanay then Mutual, Fatty hiring Buster, Charley Chase's very early days, the winding down of several careers and more.

    I posted the following elsewhere but you might be interested:

    Weird, in a week's time I saw four westerns and I wasn't even trying to focus on that genre.

    The Duel at Silver Creek (1952: Don Siegel)
    Rio Grande (1950: John Ford)
    Last Stand at Saber River (1997) TV
    Forty Guns (1957: Samuel Fuller)

    Two of these four are essential (guess which two ).

    I was actually hoping much more from the Don Siegel's film and is actually the worst of the four. The direction is not bad, the performances and some of the story is. Eastwood is a big fan of Siegel and I can see why but there comes a point when economical direction is too cheap. There are certainly a few scenes here that could have been reshot (like in some of the Boetticher films where you see a dead guy move), but B-movies don't always have that luxury. Audie Murphy is an interesting character in real life, but not always in the movies (his performance is really neither the lead, though he is top billed, nor the worst performance in the film. Lee Marvin fans will need to watch this as it is an earlier role (his first is You're in the Navy Now if you are a completist; I've seen it ), but you keep expected him to be more evil in this where he really is just a trouble maker.

    Last Stand at Saber River is a solid TV western written by Elmore Leonard (so it may be essential for a few here). It is one of the several Tom Selleck lead westerns. I was discussing earlier with my brother what would have possibly happened to his career if he took the Raiders of the Lost Ark part instead of keeping his Magnum P.I. contract. Nothing overly spectactular with film, but nothing bad either. I think Tom was doing a Sam Elliot voice imitation though. The Carradines are good in this with Keith Carradine using his excellent voice well in a non-good nor bad guy character. I found this much more interesting than 1982's The Shadow Riders (also TV). Harry Carey, Jr.'s last film.

    Forty Guns is vastly underrated (well not with a few here; I mean overall in critic land with a few exceptions like Jonathan Rosenbaum).

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:04 am

    Admin wrote:I explained the Keaton/Chan link, but she was obviously sceptical - she only knows the name and associates Chan with performers like Segal et al. But I think I'm opening her up to new possibilities Smile .


    Make her watch this:




    Then make her watch this from the 1:30 mark:




    Then show her the original:




    Finally, glare at here with a smug superiority, but quickly forgive her her ignorance. Problem solved. Razz


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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:54 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:The anti-american allegory rhetoric will probably drive me nuts in DOGVILLE.

    So DOGVILLE was interesting . . .

    Having seen no previews of it beforehand, nor read any of the reviews (which it turns out were polarized. Big surprise there), I had no idea the entire show -- all three hours of it -- was filmed on a black-floored soundstage with streets and other elements crucial to the plot literally drawn on it in chalk (or paint that looks like chalk, I guess) and sparsely decorated with props, a door here, a chair there, a store window hung without a store behind it. It's not surprising Lars von Trier would concoct an environment like that -- he's been exploding and deconstructing the technicalities of production design and location for so long now.

    On the commentary track, von Trier claims the Bertolt Brecht song "Pirate Jenny" from The Threepenny Opera was a major source of inspiration, and a little research by this unfamiliar soul verifies it, the knowledge in retrospect moving my opinion of the film up a couple of notches, if just a couple. (Alan Moore also wove elements of the song into the WATCHMEN comics). Most reviews acknowledge a Brechtian bent to DOGVILLE, which seems apt (if only because I'm not that well-honed on Brecht!).

    As for the Shawn's feared anti-Americanism, well, it's there, and not entirely undeserved (just as criticism of any country sometimes has merit and sometimes does not), but any American with a lick of sense who views this (and honestly, it's hardly likely to garner a rental from Joe Sixpack, the Missus and their spawn) should snicker at von Trier's sincere yet self-important and adolescent conviction that he's blessing the world with Important Social Commentary®️ about the evils of a country into which he's never set foot. One review I found claimed he was partly motivated to make DOGVILLE because of critics who mocked his apparently dreadful misrepresentation of the American legal system in DANCER IN THE DARK. Could be, but I haven't seen that one, so I'll reserve judgment. Besides, his issues with America seem to run much deeper than anything a few critics who ride him for his ignorance could provoke him out of him. He'd was bound to make this movie eventually. Clearly the concept of America and all its inherent contradictions and hypocrisies drives him a little batty -- and if the supplements on most of his DVDs are any indication, he's a major neurotic anyways -- but hypocrisy exists in all cultures, in all people, in all countries, but it differs from man to man, family to family, government to government and it can't very effectively be used to define and judge an entire nation and all of its people, which is what he seems to do in DOGVILLE and, I've heard with less success, in MANDERLAY. For all his efforts to provoke, only Lars von Trier could come away from a film like this thinking it scored a moral victory against a Big Bad Wolf. Yet for all those efforts just the same, the film is worth seeing (at 2x speed on occasion! Laughing ) and discussing.

    Several critics thought the film was a Christ allegory, which is specious analysis that simply doesn't float. Moments that seem like they could be read that way are firmly rooted in the "Pirate Jenny" song, not the bible.

    The closing credits -- a series of photos of impoverished Americans and crime victims (and Nixon!) from the 1930's to the 1980's under David Bowie's equally political but oh-so-snappy 1975 ditty "Young Americans" only cement my conviction that von Trier's "social commentary" is often puerile but has a teen beat you can dance to. The song's an acknowledged classic -- and a personal favourite -- but von Trier's appropriation of it here is so obvious it's actually amusing and exhilarating in equal measure.

    Curious to hear what others here might think of this one, should they ever feel the urge to see it. Smile


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    ewaffle

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  ewaffle on Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:07 pm

    I saw "Dogville" twice in the only theater showing it here in Motown--I was quite taken with it and was completely in the thrall of Nicole Kidman at the time, an affection that lingers. Van Trier's formal/aesthetic accomplishments overrode the anti-American pathos that he laid on so heavily that it was easy to ignore. Since his view of the U.S. was obvious throughout--a country run by mobsters with Tommy guns and populated by hypocritical harpies and lust-crazed petty bourgeois swine who live isolated from each other and the rest of the world--that the in your face final credits were a bit of a yawn.

    The plot and pacing were impeccable, particularly for a three hour movie with no car chases, explosions or gunfights. Or anything else other than a troupe of excellent actors delivering lines. Quite a cast, from the John Hurt narration (a deviously delightful touch) to James Caan's cameo a the end. I had no idea how von Trier could resolve the story as it developed. There was no way out for Grace--it was hinted at from the beginning but was really underlined when she was fooled into thinking she could escape. So he simply used what is one of the oldest tricks in the theatrical book--the deus ex machina of the mobsters rolling up in their car.

    I am not von Trier's biggest fan. His political views seem like warmed over 1960s Sartre translated for the collapsing non-oil exporting Nordic welfare state. Dogme 95 and the Vow of Chastity was a clever marketing tool although I enjoyed "Italian for Beginners".
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    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:52 am

    Interesting thoughts. I think I found the credits so refreshing because they perfectly validated what I felt was von Trier's black & white world view throughout the film, or perhaps I should call it his "America view". I guess that's why I smirked a bit as the photos flicked by. Laughing

    One thing that bothers me about "foreign" directors who try to analyze or deconstruct America (or the "concept of America") in films like this is that few of them seem to recall that Hollywood has a history of producing movies that cover the same territory, from A-list award-bait right on down to the B-list exploitationers and horror flicks. Directors like von Trier -- and for example Bruno Dumont, whose ludicrous TWENTYNINE PALMS I just finished watching a few minutes ago -- seem to think (in interviews at least) that they're making trenchant observations about the paradox of American culture (i.e. "The Land of Plenty" vs. "The Land of Plenty of Violence") that only outsiders like them could possibly make, which makes me wonder if they're aware that Hollywood has trod this territory time and again every time a stranger walks into a small town where the locals develop a fast intolerance (and where the hero/heroine often ends up having to rack up a yokel body count to set things right). In that context, DOGVILLE, stripped of its admittedly striking production design and strong actors, brings almost nothing new to the discourse aside from the expectations of the audience for a director with a reputation as a "provocateur".

    I loved Hurt's fairy-tale narration as well.

    A bit off topic, but for those so inclined, the Dogme 95 movement resulted in one of the better Hong Kong movies of 2001, Vincent Chui's LEAVING IN SORROW. Smile
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    Brian T

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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:08 am

    Just starting to watch Louis Malle's ATLANTIC CITY and those opening credits -- top heavy with Canadians nearly across the board -- has me seriously wondering where it was shot! IMDB sez Atlantic City, and since I've never been there I'll have to go on faith. I'll probably have to watch half tonight, half tomorrow night, but interesting so far, and Burt Lancaster's quite good.

    20 minutes in: definitely filmed in Atlantic City, for the most part, Smile

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