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Cronopio

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About Cronopio

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  1. Cronopio

    Pulp Fiction

    It's revolutionary in that it managed to be deemed groundbreaking without actually doing anything new. That's a pretty neat trick.
  2. Cronopio

    Vertigo

    I knew I truly was in film school when I realized that if I asked anybody there if they'd seen any one of the films we were all supposed to have seen in order to be considered serious film students, like say "have you seen Nashville?" , they'd give one of three answers: yes, "yes but only once", or "yes, but only on video"
  3. Cronopio

    Vertigo

    I've watched 2001 in 70 mm, and I've watched it on my computer, and while yes, the film does "work" on a computer screen, there is definitely a difference in the way you experience it. It's similar to the difference between hearing a live orchestra and hearing a recording on your ipod. And if we're talking technicolor, when I finally saw a technicolor print of The Wizard of Oz (of which I had already seen a regular film print) I learned that sadly, every technicolor film loses a lot when you don't see a proper print of it, which most of us never will. That is like the difference between seeing a painting and seeing a print of the painting.
  4. Cronopio

    Chinatown

    The thing about Film Noir is that studios and filmmakers in the 40s weren't aware that they were working within this genre, it was a term applied by French film critics and not embraced by American filmmakers of the 40s and 50s. As far as they were concerned, they were making dramas. Chinatown is a self-aware, revisionist noir, consciously using the conventions of the genre, so it really cannot be placed in the same category as 40s and 50s films. Also, the films considered to be the first noirs are "The Maltese Falcon" (1941) and "Stranger on the Third Floor" (1940) - which means that Chinatown, set in 1937, takes place in a pre-noir era. The height of noir happened in the aftermath of World War II, and those films expose the dark side of the post-war prosperity. Chinatown, by contrast, is made in the aftermath of the Vietnam war, and it looks back four decades to create a narrative of corrupt institutions, and about the futility of good intentions that is more of a response to Vietnam, in the way that the classic noirs are deeply tied to World War II. So, I think it's a different dish.
  5. Cronopio

    Chinatown

    John Alonzo, the cinematographer of Chinatown says that as they prepared to shoot the final scene, Polanski approached him and said that he had decided to go handheld after Evelyn gets shot, to do it documentary style, panning quickly, and then craning up, still handheld. This shot posed a lot of technical difficulties for lighting, following focus, and finally, the issue of the camera shadow being visible on the actors. According to John Alonzo, Polanski told him "Put a hat on the camera. You’ll see a shadow if you look at the picture closely, but it will look like a hat shadow." So they put a hat on the camera. I tell this story because lost in the discussion of this movie on the podcast is the fact that Roman Polanski was a very shrewd and inventive director, but to hear this podcast you'd think he was a goon who did it for the cash, lucked into a good screenplay (despite the fact that the ending is all his), the actress directed herself, and the only good thing he did for the film was to let them call him a midget in the scene that he acted in. Roman Polanski the human may be indefensible, but Roman Polanski the filmmaker deserves a lot more credit than is given to him on the podcast, for this film. It was he who composed all the shots, it was he who decided to light everything without difussion, it was he who decided that every time Jake Gittes arrives at a house, he should have to walk up a hill, or up a set of stairs, to emphasize the uphill battle he faces. He may have done it for the money, but he exercised a lot of control over the film. It's perfectly fine to say, fuck this guy, I'm not watching his movies, but if you're going to watch Chinatown and engage with it, you have to acknowledge all of Polanski's contributions to its greatness as a film. All you have to do is look at his filmography and see the consistency of style, and the precision of his camerawork and lens choices, independent of who his cinematographer is. He trained as an actor himself, and he got great performances out of Mia Farrow, Catherine Deneuve, and Nastassja Kinsky - unless we are going to make the case that they also directed themselves. I'll quote John Alonzo: "Roman is a stickler for details. He wanted everything just right — Faye Dunaway’s fingernails, Jack Nicholson’s ties and coat, the color balance of the clothing against the wall, the perspective of the cyclorama, the backings outside the windows...So he led the way. He did this by staging the action in a particular way, by making certain words within a scene more important than others, by requesting that I light — and something not put light on — actors. There were times when he felt that he wanted the audience to listen to the words, as opposed to seeing the actors speak them. I hope I don’t sound like I’m overdoing it, but I really mean it when I say that he is a very thorough and investigative type of director who gives credit where credit is due. He figures that if he has hired certain technicians, they must be good at what they do. That’s one of the things that made working with him on Chinatown a pleasure." Finally, the podcast says that this was Robert Towne's first produced screenplay. That isn't accurate. He had already made The Last Detail.
  6. Even though my 9-year-old self loved Grease when it came out, and it marked the first time I went to the movies with a member of the opposite sex on what we thought was a date, I can't even muster up enough nostalgia to find it watchable, while Hairspray makes me wanna dance, even though I'd normally rather have my eyes poked out than dance.
  7. 'Ordinary People' is an underrated movie that has become unfairly maligned because of its Oscar win over 'Raging Bull'. I love them both, they are incomparable.
  8. In his documentary "My Journey Through American Movies" Scorsese makes a strong case for the importance of genre movies, especially as a vehicle for filmmakers to explore social themes by smuggling them as subtext under the thrills of the plot, and I think it's interesting that his own excursions into full blown genre film-making like "The Departed" and "Cape Fear" don't seem to have all that much under the surface. Can't he take his own advice? (I also read him quoted as saying that after he made the caper film "Boxcar Bertha" John Cassavetes told him "you just spent a year of your life making a piece of shit" so maybe making genre movies makes him feel like he's slumming it.) In any case, I don't see much of what makes Scorsese interesting in this movie, not even stylistically, except for a few flourishes in the editing, and the movie is fun but feels bloated and pointless. "Infernal Affairs" on the other hand embraces its low-budget genre origins, runs with its premise, and finds more subtext and meaning despite not having the trappings of a big film. I get that the premise is ludicrous, as Andrew Ti points out, but aren't most genre movies predicated on some big silly "what if" idea? Like, what if a scientist became a fly? What if the bus explodes if it goes under 55 miles an hour? etc. I've watched The Departed three times, and the last two times I've been wishing it had been directed by Michael Mann or Kathryn Bigelow instead. I think they would have gotten more juice out of it, and there probably wouldn't have been so much "Gimme Shelter" on the soundtrack.
  9. Cronopio

    Episode 153 - Cry Uncle! (w/ Lloyd Kaufman)

    You can make a case for a lot of exploitation movies in all their varieties, from the already much mentioned "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" or blaxploitations flicks like "Coffy" or "Across 110th Street", a women in prison film like Jonathan Demme's "Caged Heat, to the nunsploitation Mexican horror of "Alucarda" - but any of those movies have a spark of inspiration, or at least some panache in the filmmaking, which "Cry Uncle" just doesn't have. Fun, but no.
  10. Cronopio

    Episode 148 - Point Break (w/ Andrew Barker)

    I had a different read on the end of Zero Dark Thirty, where the woman who has been essentially the representative of "America" is alone, and with no sense of direction. She boards a military plane , representative of American military might, that is an empty vessel with no flight-plan or a clear destination...this is triumphalist propaganda? In any case, even if my interpretation is completely wrong, calling her a Leni Riefenstahl seems hyperbolic to me.
  11. Cronopio

    Episode 148 - Point Break (w/ Andrew Barker)

    First of all, I had to smile when Amy brought up Von Stroheim's Greed, which reminded me why I listen to this podcast. I thought I was going to be all in YES on this movie. I was in film school in the early nineties and this was a much beloved film among my peers - I watched the laserdisc over and over, poring over Katrhyn Bigelow's technique and I agree with much of what Andrew Barker points out: it's the first great nineties action film, it gives us "action Keanu", it is wonderfully devoid of clever "you're dead" quips (although I wish somebody had once said "pop goes the weasel" after blowing up a bad guy), and there is a lot of subtext here - but masterpiece? I don't know. I think it falls short of that. There is nothing I can point to specifically, other that I think the whole isn't greater than the sum of its very good parts. As far as early Kathryn Bigelow movies go, I prefer Blue Steel, and I think Strange Days is the more interesting film she did in the nineties. Also, while listening to the discussion about directing actresses I was reminded of The Weight of Water, a movie that doesn't come together at all but which features one of the greatest unsung performances I've seen, by Sarah Polley, which speaks to Kathryn Bigelow's ability with actors even though she is known for being good with a camera.
  12. Cronopio

    Episode 147 - The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (w/ Jen Yamato)

    When I was a young punk I was the kind of person that would state "I hate musicals!" Gun to my head, I would admit 'All That Jazz', 'NewYork, New York' and 'Singing in the Rain' are great, "at least they're unsentimental" I'd say, pretentiously smoking a cigarette. My girlffiend (now my wife) declared "you're an idiot" and took me to "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" at the cinema when it was re-released in 1996 and I saw the enormity of my idiocy. Watched it in astonishment and loved it from the first frame to the last. The color palette, the camerawork, Legrand's music, Demy's directorial touch, the audacity of the entire thing brought me to my knees and I spent the next few months catching up on all the musicals I'd dismissed and preaching the gospel of Jacques Demy (I have the box-set of his movies, which I am forcing my children to watch). All this is to say that I voted yes. And if you love La La Land and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, I have a movie recommendation for you: Jacque Rivette's "Up Down Fragile"
  13. Cronopio

    Homework - Fat Girl (2001)

    So excited for this episode!
  14. Cronopio

    Future of the Show?

    That seems to be the very definition of twitter.
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