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FictionIsntReal

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  1. FictionIsntReal

    High Noon

    Foreman wasn't someone who was merely called a communist by Jack Warner for union organizing. He had been an actual member of the CPUSA. A few years ago, I watched both of them back-to-back, and that was also my view. In both cases the female lead intervenes during the firefight, and while it's more directly lethal in the case of High Noon, that has thematic importance because she's a Quaker. Howard Hawks denounced High Noon for having the sheriff seeking help and had Chance turn down offers of help, but they all wind up helping in the end anyway, and in High Noon sheriff Kane turns down the offers of people he doesn't think are up to it (the difference being they stay out as asked). Considering its political origin, it's surprising that John Carpenter is such a fan of Rio Bravo (Assault on Precinct 13 & Vampires are both said to be his takes on it) I've read "The Tin Star", the short story High Noon is credited as being based on, and it's a superficially similar plot (although with even fewer women, since the Marhsall is a widower) with a radically different theme (the ending with the badge even seems like an intentional subversion of the short story). I had wondered why they changed the name of the protagonist from "Doane" to "Kane" when they kept the names of some minor characters. It's available online, and if you click to my earlier review of the two films you'll find the links there. I get the impression that mid-century America was more enamored of Latin American culture than would be the case later. La Bamba was a big hit, and the most popular show on tv (which codified the multicamera comedy) featured Desi Arnez as Ricky Ricardo. In the same year that Gary Cooper won Best Actor for High Noon, Mexican-American actor Anthony Quinn won best Best Supporting for "Viva Zapata!". Later in the decade Disney would have a Zorro tv series. All of John Wayne's wives were Mexicans. Some sociologists wrote "Generations of Exclusion" about trends over time for US hispanics. and one thing they noted was that the older generations often identified as just "Spanish" and not that distinct from the white majority (there was even a legal argument that they should be able to attend whites-only schools for that reason). I'd cite Fox & Guglielmo on that, but that doesn't seem to be available ungated on the web anymore.
  2. FictionIsntReal

    Taxi Driver

    I'll see and raise you a cover of "Runnin' Riot" by a Spanish band named Travis Bickle. Poor recording quality, but punk is more about enthusiasm anyway.
  3. FictionIsntReal

    Taxi Driver

    De Niro hung out with some soldiers from the Midwest because he thought Travis should sound like them, in keeping with Amy's thoughts that he wasn't from New York. Your theory that he wasn't a veteran at all made me think of De Palma's "Hi, Mom!" (which I've seen and don't recommend), which ends with the deranged Jon Rubin (De Niro) arriving at the aftermath of one of his own actions and complaining that he fought in Vietnam and then has to come home to this, even though the character's previous film (which I admittedly haven't seen) was all about avoiding the draft. This was the first Scorsese film I ever saw, after I'd watched the Godfather and heard Scorsese compared to Coppola. I was disappointed at the time, but came to respect the film more when I took it for what it was rather than what I'd come in expecting. Speaking of which, I think if one Scorsese film should be removed, it's Goodfellas. I think that's a good movie, but the Godfather can represent all the mafia movies, while Taxi Driver is something else and distinctively Schrader.
  4. FictionIsntReal

    Episode 163 - Zodiac vs. Shaun of the Dead vs. Magnolia

    All these years later, even after enjoying PTA's recent films, I still hate Magnolia's frogs. There are too many PTA movies in the Canon anyway. And since I agree with others that Hot Fuzz is better than Shaun of the Dead, my vote is for Zodiac. A master-craftsman fixated on getting the exact right takes tackles an obsessive pursuit without a Hollywood ending. We complain a lot about CGI in movies today, but Fincher does it right here (at a large scale), where the proof of its effectiveness is how unnoticeable it is.
  5. FictionIsntReal

    Episode 162 - Scream (w/ Benjamin Lee)

    Horror (or perhaps more specifically) Slasher films can be divided into pre & post Scream. Some have blamed it for killing horror with irony and (in the short term) creating a crop of lamer teen movie imitators, but that kind of impact is the result of canonical movies. New Nightmare may be more "meta" (and closer to Cabin in the Woods), but it didn't have the same impact. Speaking of Cabin in the Woods, I don't hate it, but I also think it leans too far into comedy to be horrific (the perfect blend is found in "You're Next"). We start out from the perspective of the technicians, so we're mostly laughing at the predicaments of the kids, but it's not so much that we're afraid when things start going wrong for them. Instead it's funny when a bunch of faceless grunts get killed by a grab bag of every goofy creature they could think of. That grab-bag approach (which can work in an Airplane style comedy, but gone overboard can result in a Friedberg & Seltzer "X Movie") makes it a commentary on horror generally rather than focusing on a specific sub-genre, so it can't be a member of a sub-genre either. An example of a movie which examines the slasher specifically while also loving slasher movies enough to be one is "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon". It's not as polished as Scream, but I think people who enjoy one will likely enjoy the other, particularly if they want something to more explicitly grapple with the implicit ideas behind the tropes discussed in "Men, Women & Chainsaws". It is sort of like a more lighthearted version of the pitch-black Belgian comedy "Man Bites Dog", but you probably won't feel good after watching that. It seems incorrect to me to refer to Billy as an "incel"*: he's got a pretty cool girlfriend in Sidney, and it's actually a deliberate point (on the part of both the filmmakers and the character) that he deflowers her so she doesn't fit into the virginal "final girl" mold. These two actually don't fit the mold of many previous horror villains who are twisted outsiders. They're reasonably well off and popular (Randy might be popular), but morally defective and enjoying the havoc they wreak. There is a little bit of a sense in which they're returning the slasher to its roots in giallo. Those films were Hitchcockian murder-mysteries in which the mystery took a backseat to the gruesome murders and eventually was discarded to create the simple slasher. Slasher villains were often unkillable and practically inhuman, which is admittedly scarier (and part of the reason The Terminator is sometimes lumped in with them). Craven himself had made a gruesomely disfigured child-murderer back from the dead to haunt dreams in his Nightmare series. Here we begin with the Michael or Jason style mask but end with these suburban Leopold & Loebs. The reveal that it was two killers acting as a team is a good one, as each can be used to prove the other must be innocent under the assumption there's just one. It was admittedly already done in the seminal giallo "Blood & Black Lace", but slashers had reigned long enough for that to work as a surprise again. *Admittedly not as ludicrous as the Not a Cast guys using the term to refer to a character who is literally a pimp and derives much of his power from seducing a married woman away from her husband, particularly when Chett embodies the trope so much better in contrast. One possible complaint about the film is that it gave people a stereotype about the slashers which preceded it which isn't entirely accurate. The final girl being a virgin (which is part of the plot of Cabin in the Woods and the more recent The Final Girls) is an example. In Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis' character might be relatively demure, but there's no indication that teens are being punished for breaking any of the rules laid out by Scream. Michael Myers is just an indecipherable malevolence who kills anyone in his path. Friday the 13th (which I admittedly haven't seen and only heard about) DOES explicitly have a killer punishing camp counselors for screwing around rather than doing their job to save a mentally challenged kid from drowning, but the final girl isn't a virgin and still triumphs in the end. I suppose the different movies got conflated together.
  6. FictionIsntReal

    Submit your pick for The Canon's Ultimate Listener's Choice!

    I'll second Night of the Hunter. I think 2001 is a more canonical Kubrick film than Clockwork Orange. Hitchcock was the one pointed out as neglected, and I think for him we can nominate Vertigo. Psycho is another possibility, but I don't want that to run against it because they both belong in the canon. I don't think Kurosawa has been nominated yet, and while there are many samurai films of his that could get in, I would nominate Ikiru. I hesitate to nominate a Tarkovsky film, because my favorite of his is Andrei Rublev and I don't think that would get in. I'm surprised Bicycle Thieves hasn't been nominated, as that's an obvious one. I would also go with 8 1/2 over La Dolce Vita even if the self-reflexive filmmaker thing is done to death by now. Going more modern, I think Charlie Kauffman belongs in, and Synecdoche NY is probably the most Kauffman movie but might have a harder time getting in. Paddy Chayefsky also belongs in, with Network the most obvious nominee.
  7. FictionIsntReal

    Episode 160 - Tommy (w/ David Fear)

    Perhaps Tommy the album deserves a spot in the musical canon for pioneering the rock opera (definitely not the power chord, as Townshend will always give credit to Link Wray), but I don't think the film does. It's more of a curio, serving as a precursor to music videos rather than something that really works as a feature film. Ken Russell is really more excessive than most, but he's got other excessive films which are more his vision rather than a mixture with Townshend's. I am curious what happened between Amy and MTV. I didn't grow up with cable, so I don't have the same associations with it (and other music video channels).
  8. FictionIsntReal

    Episode 159 - Caddyshack (w/ Alex Schmidt)

    You guys talk about improvised movie comedies, but with no mention of the oeuvre of Christopher Guest, who has made it foundational in a number of classic films. Although the most important of those was not directed by him: Spinal Tap. Spinal Tap hasn't been nominated for the Canon yet, but it should be. I liked Caddyshack more than Amy appears to, and I was expecting to vote yes. But others already mentioned how Animal House* & Ghostbusters are in the canon already and Blues Brothers might be more deserving, and I just noted that Spinal Tap is more important when it comes to improvisation. *Which might have got in partly because the alternative was letting in Revenge of the Nerds. Country clubs (which were formed before golf became popular in America) were intended to function partly as social clubs, where people mingle with others whose children would be acceptable marriage partners for their own. So the later to arrive eastern european Jews (which I think Al Czervik is supposed to be representative of) would form their own separate clubs from the older ones formed by German Jews (which the eastern europeans weren't allowed into until the midcentury or so). In 1925 Jews were estimated to make up a disproportionate share of all golfers, which would have also been around the times Jewish clubs last hosted the U.S Open or PGA Championship. But given Ramis' stated disinterest in golf, he probably wasn't actually thinking about all those Al Czerviks and where they would play over the decades when he made the film.
  9. FictionIsntReal

    Upcoming Episodes

    I've just been going by the previews they announce at the end of each episode, so where does this info containing multiple episodes come from?
  10. FictionIsntReal

    The French Connection

    I was surprised how negative they were on this film, but then it has been years since I watched the film. I did read the book recently and discussed it here. The book does not make them out to be racist antiheroes, instead they're straight up good guys and there's no notion that the war on drugs might have any downsides. The stuff about Popeye shooting any cops (or really anyone at all) is entirely made up, although there is a bit where he gets in a fight with an FBI agent. I think the 70s was more the era of gritty crime stories, antiheroes and skepticism of the police. The events of the book took place in 1961, which is practically the 50s. Your quote of Pauline Kael's review reminded me of this from Andrew Sarris on the critical reaction to movies like Dirty Harry & The Cowboys vs Straw Dogs & A Clockwork Orange (she's singled out for preferring violence meted out by criminals than cops). I only heard about The Cowboys due to that dust-up, and later read that the book had been controversial for its homoeroticism, which was not apparent in the film.
  11. FictionIsntReal

    Episode 158 - The Talented Mr. Ripley (w/ Tom Bissell)

    I voted no. It's not the best adaptation of a Ripley book, and I haven't even seen Purple Noon. I found Ripley unpleasant to spend time with (usually not an issue with the less hapless antiheroes on The Americans), which might be one reason why The American Friend works better. Maybe since I was never an ex-pat bumming around some other country I can't relate to any of these people. I found Tom's overture to Meredith completely implausible, but I suppose he could be so addled in the head that he's not fully aware of how phony he's being.
  12. FictionIsntReal

    Episode 157 - Grease vs. Hairspray (w/ Adam Egypt Mortimer)

    Since I had never seen "The Help", I didn't have the right words to describe how sidelined the actual black characters are in a story supposedly about integration. The choice here is between a movie which tackles a real issue with a shallow and at times (like the Rachel Dolezal moment) embarrassing way, and one which is entirely superficial to its core. This would be easier if the songs from Grease were good, but for the most part they're nothing special and just well known, while the title track sounded horribly out of place to me. At the same time, it seems somewhat unfair to give Hairspray credit for just sampling from a bunch of existing songs rather than coming up with original ones for the story. There are plenty of period pieces which have done that (including for that era). Liking neither movie, I'll go with cultural impact and vote Grease. John Waters can take consolation in already having a film in the Canon. One more thing: for all Adam's talk about class, we don't actually hear anything about the socioeconomic background of the characters. The only one with any interest in a career is Frenchie, who seems to be dropping out of school more because she sees little point in it than because she actually needs a job.
  13. FictionIsntReal

    Episode 156 - Legends of the Fall (w/ Kendra James)

    Melodrama may deserve to be in the Canon, but that doesn't mean this specific one qualifies. Go with Stella Dallas, something from Douglas Sirk (or John M. Stahl before him), or even something more recent from Todd Haynes. This movie was mediocre at best, and while kids may have been named Tristan at the time it seems more like one of Nathan Rabin's "Forgotbusters" which has little detectable impact today. Anthony Hopkins' character is more than simply a "wise Vietnam vet" type character. He's a thoroughgoing cynic about the government. He dismisses the claim that "this war" is different by saying they said the same thing about the Civil War & Indian wars, so they are all the same to him. He doesn't care about what crimes Decker is wanted for, hates when his son is planning to run for Congress (without actually knowing what his son will do, it's still government), and in the end kills a police officer who comes to his property (in response to the criminal he's harboring murdering a different police officer). Edward Banfield in "The Moral Basis of a Backward Society" described southern Italy as being beset by "amoral familism" over any loyalty to the broader society, and here Colonel Ludow's held up as an example for that ideal. This movie may appeal to girls, but I agree that this is really a movie about men (which ends with its lead knife-fighting a bear!). I just don't think it's an especially good example of one. I didn't find Julia Ormond's character that interesting, it was just "Which one of these three brothers is she going to be with". Maybe I wasn't watching right, but I found her suicide undermotivated. You say that you don't care when the characters are all doomed to die, and that was my take on Samuel. It was so obvious that she was going to pair up with Tristan, that you're just ticking off the minutes until Samuel is removed. As it happened, I watched a WW1 movie last week as part of a King Vidor triple-feature ("The Big Parade"). It's definitely a less popular war since it didn't "make the world safe for democracy", but instead was miserable at the time and made things worse. The most famous Geneva convention was the fourth (after WW2), but there were three prior to that. There have been some movies railing about the stupidity of the war (I think "J'accuse!" did this in a very muddled way), but I'd be interested in seeing someone adapt Ernst Junger's insane embrace of it in "Storm of Steel".
  14. FictionIsntReal

    Episode 155 - The Fountainhead (w/ Larry Karaszewski)

    I vote no, because the film is merely a curiosity. The book is famous (for better or worse), but the film is a footnote to it which few remember today. I have some complaints with how coherent the message of the film is and how well it fits with other parts of Rand's avowed beliefs, but I suppose those would really be complaints about the book rather than the film specifically. Some other notes I thought of in response to your discussion: HUAC was founded in 1938, over a decade before this film was released. But nobody remembers them going after Trostkyites, Bundists and other opponents of our alliance with Stalin during those years (people also tend to misremember Joseph McCarthy as being part of it, though he was never a member of the House of Representatives). Also, I find it strange Amy compares the Hays code (or at least Joseph Breen's administration of it) with Roark. Aside from Rand's atheism being contrary to Breen's Catholicism, Roark is actually creating something himself (setting aside sycasey's argument below) whereas Breen was just placing constraints on the work of others. Even stranger is when they said there aren't many movies about creators. There are LOTS of them, even if we restricted the subject to just moviemakers! I wouldn't say that Roark is portrayed as being able to build things by himself. He requires a client (analogous to a producer) willing to go along with his vision, and when he goes for too long without one he goes to work in a quarry. And while his excavation of building materials there isn't directly tied to the buildings he makes as an architect, we get the picture that a lot of grunt-work from guys like him, the "Danny Devito" guy and even that guard Dominique distracts went into it. In order to create that housing project, Keating had to act as his front and the clients had to agree to those conditions (which they later reneged on). I think Roark goes too far in assigning the idea as the fundamental ingredient whose originator deserves total control (and a rather destructive/wasteful form of veto power), but I don't think the film is trying to say he accomplished everything by himself without anybody else's cooperation (maybe a movie about a hermit mathematician could take that stance). As for whether one could take that stance in Hollywood, Rand herself did that for this movie. I don't think she could afford to in her earlier career in Hollywood, and Larry remarked that it's atypical if you're not Neil Simon, but it's not impossible. Rand is aiming at an ideal rather than everyday realism, so I'll allow the path of Roark's career. Despite having just read about how much more common "jury nullification" was for sympathetic defendants from the Gilded Era to mid 20th century in "The Collapse of American Criminal Justice", I won't grant the same leniency to her depiction of the trial, because the negative view she & Roark have held for the masses throughout the film is inconsistent with its outcome.
  15. FictionIsntReal

    Citizen Kane

    I also didn't care for Citizen Kane when I saw it as a child (because it was on the AFI list). I didn't care for Gone With the Wind or Lawrence of Arabia either. I was surprised neither Amy nor Paul had seen How Green Was My Valley or even knew it was in black & white (there were separate cinematography awards when color became more common but b&w hadn't died out). I couldn't find that quote on Hearst's wikipedia/wikiquotes page, and none of the searching I've done has come up with a primary source. I did find Stephen Gottlieb's "Unfit for Democracy" citing Jonathan Alter's "The Defining Moment" (which notes that Hearst lumped his opponents in with Mussolini & Hitler after turning against FDR). Hearst did seem to endorse dictatorship in "Gabriel Over the White House" (prior to his shift* against FDR), but I'm skeptical he ever avowed himself to be a fascist. Part of my skepticism is due to Hearst already being known for apocryphally saying "You supply the pictures and I'll supply the war", which makes no sense in the actual context of the Spanish-American war (I suppose the Kane-derived idea that his mistress was an untalented actress is another bit). *Rodney Carlisle denied that there was any significant change in Hearst's fundamental views, while acknowledging that like a number of turn-of-the-century Progressives he became something of a crank in old age.
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