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nakedbrunch

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  1. I really enjoy both of these movies, but The Philadelphia Story is arguably more canon-worthy. What fascinated me this watch was seeing the many ways each major character performs for the others. This is most obvious in the early part of the film (the reporters performing as family friends for the Lord family, the Lord family performing as eccentric upper class snobs for the reporters), but it seems to me to be a constant throughout. George Kittredge spends the whole film performing as what he believes to be a rich man, awkwardly wearing riding clothes and informing Tracy of his idea of the wealthy patriarch (taking care of her, placing her in an ivy tower, etc). Macaulay, particularly after being revealed as a writer and reporter, spends the remainder of the film acting out the 'cynical writer of the upper class' trope, almost like a parody of the Great Gatsby's Nick Carroway. And Katherine Hepburn is of course performing as "Katherine Hepburn." This might be a subtler critique of the class divisions and prejudices more obvious elsewhere in the film. Wealth is performative: the privileges afforded by cash need to be played out between family members, other members of the class and members of the lower classes. As the attitude towards Kittredge shows, just having money doesn't mean much. Living in their ludicrously massive mansion, the Lord family must pretend to be something they don't really seem to be. It is in the rare moments towards the beginning of the film, when only Tracy, Dinah, Mrs. Lord and Uncle Willie are together, that we see the humans underneath the class trappings. This nuanced critique of class, couched in a rather funny film starring some of the most charismatic actors of the 1940s, is definitely worthy of a spot in the canon.
  2. nakedbrunch

    Episode 121 - The Matrix (w/ Cameron Esposito)

    It's unfortunate that in the past few years this film has become a standard-bearer for a pretty reprehensible segment of the American public, but in a way, that interpretation actually represents a strength. The Matrix engages with complex ideas of identity, power and hyperreality and packages it in an entertaining (if perhaps overly stylized) movie experience. Coming into this episode, I saw the film as more an allegory of the Buddhist path of enlightenment, in which humans recognize the true nature of their suffering and achieve, by the end of the movie, a type of Zen that recognizes the construction of existence and the power that arises from knowledge. Cameron's emphasis on the queer aspects of the film provide another (perhaps even stronger) interpretation of the film that builds many of the same ideas, and connects to the identities of the directors themselves. There are Christian, post-structural and Marxist interpretations floating out there as well. The point is, the Matrix encourages its viewers to think and to engage with the reality it builds. The diversity of interpretations (brilliant, complicated, or pathetic) arises out of this engagement. Yes, the film shouts its themes at times, but one does not have to solely consider those specific ones alone. Unlike so many blockbusters, the Wachowskis trust their audience to more or less build or interpret meaning for themselves. The fact that some reactionaries see in it misogynistic/homophobic liberation from "P.C. culture" is a reflection of their own mode of thinking, not the film's. It's not a perfect film, but its influence and complexity can't really be ignored. Yes.
  3. nakedbrunch

    Episode 116 - Seconds (w/ Matt Zoller Seitz)

    I enjoyed the first hour of the film in that it felt like a solid episode of the Twilight Zone. The disconcerting camera movements, haunting music, mysterious plot and slightly hammy acting of the various company functionaries all set me up for some kind of symbolic twist, followed by Rod Serling waxing poetic on the 'Emptiness of Man's Existence'. Then a bunch of hippies show up and I'm transported to a second tier Fellini film. Even with the bleak ending (and Hudson's rather terrifying acting when he realizes he is about to die), the film never really recovers from that shift. Matt Zoller Seitz mentioned Frankenheimer's love of the European/Japanese new wave, and this film feels in a lot of ways a lesser version of what Fellini, Bergman and Kurosawa were trying to do in the same period. In that case, we should maybe consider those films for the canon instead. Soft no, but I'm happy I saw it.
  4. nakedbrunch

    Episode 109 - Raising Arizona (w/ Ira Madison III)

    I appreciated the counterarguments, but Raising Arizona is definitely a yes for the Canon. While Burn After Reading might be the purest distillation of the Coens' comedic sensibility (dumb people believe they are smart///in the end nothing matters and everything is pointless), Raising Arizona is both funnier and better constructed. While Burn After Reading's nihilism is hilarious, Raising Arizona is supported by H.I.'s earnestness (even if that is paired with his delusional worldview) which makes the absurdity of the plot go down easier. As for the Coens and diversity, I can't speak on their work as a whole, but in regards to Raising Arizona, I view it as a "Sun Belt working class white people" film. The film lampoons a specific Eisenhower/Reagan conception of (white) family and fatherhood (especially in H.I.'s fantasies) that is constantly being undermined by the poverty, idiocy and criminality of real life. I have met a lot of people like Glen in my life (moronic bigots who are absolutely certain in their own importance and privilege and who don't know when to stop talking, but aren't waving the Confederate flag around or attending alt-right rallies) and his characterization is a lot truer to reality than the over-the-top racists or sentimental, lovable yokels one usually finds in representations of working class white folk. I think Raising Arizona does a far better job of criticizing the white middle class American dream than most other 'Keeping up with the Joneses'-type films. Of course, that's only one reading, and I can definitely understand the criticism of setting a film in the southwest and somehow not including a single black or Latino character (a point which isn't helped by No Country For Old Men using all its Latino characters as unnamed cannon fodder for Javier Bardem). But as a whole, I think this is all subtext and what really matters is that Raising Arizona is a funny film whose structure and technical bravado is far above most American comedies, especially of the era.
  5. nakedbrunch

    Episode 106 - Fatal Attraction (w/ Heather Matarazzo)

    For a movie which caused (and continues to cause) such an uproar, Fatal Attraction sure is a boring watch. The pacing is slow, the characters unlikable and shallowly developed, and the acting is only so-so. If we were voting in the conversation surrounding infidelity, misogyny and class, then sure, it's canon-worthy. But since we are voting on the film itself, I have to say no. On a side note, I agree with some of the earlier posters that this week's episode (as well as the last couple actually) have been a bit difficult to get through. This isn't because of the "feminist propaganda" the MRA dude who made a new account just for this episode was complaining about previously, but because the conversations have been so torpid and shallow. I don't think you need an antagonistic guest in the spirit of Devin to push the conversation forward, just a guest who seems genuinely excited by the film they are defending. Jake Fogelnest and Amy agreed on pretty much everything about John Waters, but their genuine love for his films drove the conversation along and made it a really fun episode to listen to. Apologies for the complaint, but it did seem like I'm not the only one who noticed these things.
  6. nakedbrunch

    Episode 105 - Eraserhead vs. Blue Velvet (w/ Michael Nordine)

    I agree with what Amy said at the beginning of the episode, I'm not exactly sure I actually like David Lynch's films. I can appreciate their intent, but whether his films are actually good or just a joke on pretentious audiences has never been exactly clear to me. However, since 'neither' is a cop out, I'm going with Eraserhead. Blue Velvet has its moments (the opening Rockwell montage, every time Hopper opens his mouth) but beyond those, it's mostly just a middle-of-the-road suburban noir about the dark side of small town USA. Eraserhead makes little to no sense, but it is filled with endless surrealistic imagery and no-wave noise that would make Sonic Youth proud. Every location is strange, even the ones (like the distressingly empty apartment lobby) which don't feature piles of dirt or nursing dogs. Eraserhead, despite all its cinematic and artistic influences, looks and sounds unique, and therefore deserves a spot in the Canon.
  7. nakedbrunch

    Episode 101 - Shakespeare in Love (w/ David Ehrlich)

    Passionate avowals of true love, turning your loved one into a muse (and not treating them as a person) and falling in love at first sight work in Romeo & Juliet, because the protagonists are dumb children who don't know anything about mature relationships. When it's Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow acting that way, it just comes across as annoying, even if it's supposed to be a comment on that falseness. On a whole, this movie was like eating a peanut butter sandwich. It's not terrible, but there are so many better sandwiches out there. No.
  8. nakedbrunch

    Homework: Juno (2007) vs Whiplash (2014)

    A few weeks late, but I am very happy the Canon is back. I'm happy the forum is still going strong and I definitely look forward to reading your thoughts on some canon-worthy films! This will be my first time watching Whiplash (the whole J.K. Simmons yelling a lot wasn't exactly appealing). It will have quite the competition in a film where Ellen Page and Michael Cera sing an adorable Moldy Peaches song together. Seriously, that song's great.
  9. nakedbrunch

    Episode #92: STAND BY ME

    I quite enjoy watching Stand By Me but I don't think it's particularly canon-worthy. The sentimentality, the wonky voice-over and the 'one special weekend' plot thread all seem a bit cloying and sticky sweet. As a movie, it's a bit bland outside the nostalgia, as an example of Reiner's films it's not as great as The Princess Bride and as a coming of age story, it doesn't seem to have anything exceptionally poignant or unique to say (or a unique way to say it, which I give Labyrinth credit for). It seems to me Stand By Me isn't so much an 'authentic' portrayal of 12 year old boyhood as much as it is a certain adult male vision of what 12 year old boys should be like. We're watching a romantic interpretation of a long-passed childhood. I can't see it as being anything more authentic or representative than that. So no, but still worth a watch every now and then.
  10. nakedbrunch

    Episode #91: LABYRINTH

    I had never seen this movie before so it was a pleasant surprise, both for its practical effects and for Bowie's acting (I like his music but never really got around to seeing his movies). The message of "life's not fair, but you'll learn to deal with it" and the surrealism of the plot are also strong, especially since that randomness of narrative reflects quite a bit of what it actually means to become an adult. However, there are just too many flaws to make this movie canon-worthy. The pacing is awkward, the characters not terribly memorable and the whole movie is about 20 minutes too long. And while some of the scenes were clever (I particularly enjoyed Hoggle's introduction being him peeing into a pool and then gassing little faeries), most seem stuck somewhere between nonsense and obvious metaphor (which Lewis Carroll was able to handle far better). Moralistic fantasy is tough to pull off, especially when that moral of "Grow Up" is being offered by a studio and producer whose whole business model is built around their viewers/customers not growing up. I can appreciate the place this film holds for some people, and I wouldn't mind watching it again, but it seems to me the flaws outweigh the strengths to a significant point. Soft no.
  11. nakedbrunch

    Episode #90: PENNIES FROM HEAVEN

    Amy made a lot of good points advocating for Pennies From Heaven, but I just couldn't get into it. The juxtaposition of '30s depression realism and musical optimism is too on the nose, Bernadette Peter's character shift too abrupt and the pacing was a bit clunky. I just don't think Steve Martin's character is as complex and nuanced as Amy suggests. I did enjoy the music and the dance numbers, but I don't think these make it absolutely canon-worthy. Still, it is an interesting watch (like a nihilistic Secret Life of Walter Mitty) and I'm always up for some Walken dancing. A somewhat soft no. What I find interesting are the responses both here and in the homework thread where people seem to be actually angry at the film. What pushes it from "Not my cup of tea" to "GAHHH!!"?
  12. nakedbrunch

    Episode #89: BLAZING SADDLES

    I think growing up, all of our dads made us watch Blazing Saddles, Holy Grail and Airplane!, which is why we now comment on Earwolf message boards...
  13. nakedbrunch

    Episode #89: BLAZING SADDLES

    It seems like a pattern for a lot of us, but I grew up watching Blazing Saddles with my dad. It's the beauty of the comedy/horribleness of modern America that it still holds up so well. To answer Devin's question, I'm in my 20s and I love the humor in this movie. The internet, like the old west, is filled with the salt of the earth, you know, morons. It's best not to pay too much attention to them. Brooks is able to cut through the bull and hit the awfulness straight on, which I can appreciate far more than comedies/dramas that dance around it (which is also why I love 'Do The Right Thing' so much). What I've come to appreciate (and what I didn't get as a kid) is its satire on the Hollywood studio system. The fourth wall stuff (which is always hilarious) actually has a specific point here: to show the thin cardboard on which movies (and movie culture) are built. It also bridges the Old Hollywood with the New, the old staid stereotypes breaking against the new vibrant talent. It's hilariously depressing. An absolute yes, and I look forward to seeing more comedies in the Canon.
  14. nakedbrunch

    Episode #88: A HARD DAY'S NIGHT

    A definite yes. Not only is this movie incredibly fun to watch, it also breathes with the effortless cool of the French New Wave. That a vehicle for a pop group could be so experimental and energetic is a nice counterargument to the cookie-cutter approach to modern pop film making. Plus, it still amazes me that such top notch musicians could also be good actors. That doesn't happen often.
  15. nakedbrunch

    Episode #87: THE GENERAL

    I quite enjoyed the General, especially the parts that take place on the train (unlike Devin). There's just something about the near casual nature of his stunts that is breathtaking. On top of that, I really enjoy the understated humor. What's better than a hero so focused on chopping wood he misses a whole Confederate retreat and Union advance going on behind him? Having also recently seen Go West, I think Keaton's place in the Canon is pretty solid. His subtlety, even indifference, is so markedly different from the rest of silent cinema that it works surprisingly well today. I voted yes.
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