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bleary

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bleary last won the day on October 28 2018

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  1. bleary

    Unforgiven

    So you're suggesting that when Munny sees Delilah for the first time, he should say that he thought she was supposed to be more disfigured? I think this is partially handled by Munny complimenting her and telling her she looks better than he does. But if you're saying that Munny would see this girl with major permanent facial scars and feel manipulated into helping a not-that-badly-disfigured person, I don't quite understand that. I never got the feeling that the exact extent of the injuries were a crucial selling point in getting Munny involved. To the question of why are Ned's kidnapping and death both done off-screen, I see different reasons for each. My guess is that the kidnapping didn't seem like it needed to be shown, since Ned was unarmed, having given his rifle to Munny and the Kid, so it doesn't seem absurd that he could be captured by a half-dozen armed men. And secondly, it gives the audience a small shock to see that Little Bill has him. But again, my overall feeling is that it's not a hugely necessary scene. However, the reason they don't show the death is to put the audience in the same state of disbelief as Munny when he's told about it. Particularly after the extent of the injuries to Delilah got exaggerated, both Munny and the audience have to think that maybe this is an exaggeration too, and that Ned may be just very badly injured. Secondly, both Munny and the audience are drawing on their history: Munny has gotten into and out of scrapes with Ned for decades, so he has a hard time believing Ned could be dead. Meanwhile, the audience has seen Westerns for decades and has the instinct that the narrative should be that Munny has to have someone to save, so Ned must be alive for Munny to save. In telling and not showing, both the audience and Munny are made to think that this is not the way that this is supposed to go, and it must be a lie. As far as everything else in your post, you're mostly hitting on the reasons why I really like this film. As to what the film is saying about the death penalty, I would say it's pretty definitively against it, but that's just another question about this film that's in the eye of the beholder. Sure, the "protagonists" do successfully murder the two perpetrators, but there's no glory in it whatsoever, as one guy slowly bleeds to death so awfully that even Munny asks for mercy on his behalf, and the other guy is killed while taking a crap. While it is technically what they set out to do, there's absolutely no victory in it. So does it wind up supporting the murder of those men? I would say no. To your point about whether the bounty was justified and Delilah's feelings about it, I think the film comes down pretty harshly on Strawberry Alice. She and brothel owner Skinny are shown as two sides of the same coin. While convention would prime us to think that Strawberry Alice is being a better advocate on Delilah's behalf than Skinny, the reality is that they both disregard Delilah's feelings the same amount. I don't know if this is meant to be seen as political commentary, but certainly one could see Skinny as the pro-corporation point of view, with Alice representing the type of union leader who fights for personal victories instead of for the actual members. (So then is Unforgiven anti-union? Again, eye of the beholder!) I think this is what makes the film so great! How are we supposed to feel about these characters? Is there a single character that is all good? How many are all bad? The fact that it so thoroughly eschews the white hats and black hats of classic Westerns is what makes it such a prime example of the Revisionist Western.
  2. bleary

    Unforgiven

    Adding to what grudlian said, I also think there's a fair amount of subjectivity in the distinction between classical Western and revisionist Western. Eastwood might not consider Unforgiven revisionist because he saw his character as the good guy and he saw Little Bill as the bad guy. I am more inclined to agree with Amy, that Little Bill is a mostly good guy who made a poor judgment decision in pursuit of his goal to minimize violence in his town. I think the same could also be said for The Searchers, since many audiences of the time likely saw Ethan as a traditional hero, while others consider him as an antihero because of his bigotry and brutality. Amy made the point that it seems like there aren't any truly traditional Westerns on the AFI list, but I wonder where they'll come down on Shane. I certainly see it as traditional, since there are clear black hats and white hats, but there is also some added emphasis on the brutality of gun violence, so I can see how some people would see that as revisionist as well.
  3. bleary

    Unforgiven

    And in fact, the film comments on the aggrandizement of Will (and Little Bill and English Bob) through Beauchamp, who is perfectly willing to hero-worship and mythologize any gunslinger up until the moment when he's bested by another gunslinger. I love the satirical way the film uses Beauchamp to criticize the very notion of aggrandizement of Western violence.
  4. bleary

    Unforgiven

    To Amy's quibble that Munny shot terribly with his pistol initially, but was perfect in the final shootout, I think that tied into what Little Bill was saying to Beauchamp. Little Bill was saying that it didn't matter how quick someone was on the draw or how well they could shoot with nothing on the line, it mattered whether they were able to keep their cool and make the shot they needed to make with their life in the balance. The conversation was directly about that poor schmuck English Bob killed who shot himself in the foot trying to draw and still almost outdueled the drunk Bob. The implication during that conversation is that English Bob was the kind of sharpshooter who was worthless with his life on the line, as we saw when he didn't trust himself to outshoot Little Bill in the jail but had no problem picking off birds from the train. Little Bill sees himself as the perfect gunfighter (a Tim Duncan, if you will), whose ability to stay calm and focused and execute the fundamentals have served him to that point. But Munny transcends this, being better than usual under pressure (like Michael Jordan, perhaps). The threat and thrill of violence and the danger of being killed is something that fueled him for so much of his life, so after fighting against it so long, he not only succumbs to it, but embraces it, if only for the moment. At any rate, I like this film quite a bit, and was much more in agreement with Paul in this episode. Unforgiven will almost definitely be higher on my personal rankings of these films, and probably in the top 40. (I've got it slotted in at #11 so far.)
  5. bleary

    Upcoming Episodes

    Apparently Unforgiven is playing on the History Channel on January 19, and Last Picture Show is playing on TCM on March 3. Neither of my libraries had Unforgiven, so for the first time in 34 episodes, I actually had to pay for a movie for the podcast.
  6. bleary

    The Searchers

    I guess I'm mostly in the camp of "it's lame and racist," to use Amy's words. I'm on the fence about putting it on the list, because I do credit it for changing the way that landscapes are shot, but ultimately I vote no. Even though Lawrence of Arabia is inspired by The Searchers cinematographically, it combines the camerawork with a better story (though also super problematic, but we'll get to that when the die rolls that lucky #7), so I'm mostly content without it on the list at all. I'm glad to hear Paul is rethinking High Noon though! I like it, Shane, and Unforgiven considerably more than The Searchers.
  7. bleary

    Upcoming Episodes

    1/3 - The Searchers 1/10 - Unforgiven 1/17 - The Last Picture Show 1/24 - Sunset Boulevard Sunset Blvd can be streamed with Kanopy, I can find no other streaming info on the others at the moment.
  8. bleary

    In The Heat Of The Night

    I'm 100% in agreement with Paul and Amy on this one. I think while it was an important film in 1967, it doesn't play to me today as a great film. I think it's on the borderline of top 100 and ultimately doesn't deserve to be on it, and I agree that at the very least, Beverly Hills Cop worked better as a police procedural. (Also, Foley has a reasonable explanation for why he didn't reveal he was a cop until later, since he's in LA to do police work. If Tibbs actually wanted to make that train, he could have flashed his badge a bit sooner and likely made it on time. But that might be a Titanic "the door was big enough for two" type of complaint, in that the badge was flashed at the right time for the plot to advance.) And the race stuff plays completely different to me today, too. Like Green Book, In the Heat of the Night is a film directed by a white male, off a screenplay written by a white male based on a story told by a white male. And like Green Book, I really felt like In the Heat of the Night seems today like it was made for white people to watch and congratulate themselves on not being racist. Now, Green Book is a bad movie (I think we can mostly agree on that), and In the Heat of the Night is nowhere near as toothless in its commentary, nor does it self-congratulate on its progressiveness as much as Green Book does, but I really resent it for pulling its punch a bit by having Tibbs momentarily obsessed with finding the most racist guy guilty, giving racist white dudes some "both sides" ammo. Anyway, all would be forgivable if this was a great movie, but I just don't think it is. Like Paul and Amy said, it feels like it's trying to figure out how to a great movie, but it's just not quite there. Paul and Amy were spot-on with their analysis of the music fills as feeling like 70s TV, and of Delores' monologue as being super absurd. But the best I can say about it is that it's not unenjoyable, and that Sidney Poitier is fucking awesome in it.
  9. I decided to make a separate thread for this, since it's rare that we get an episode on a film that coincides with the time that it plays on TCM, but a large number of the AFI Top 100 films play on TCM (and are usually subsequently available for 7 or 8 days on WatchTCM online, found here: http://www.tcm.com/watchtcm/films/?ecid=subnavmoviesondemand ). As we approach TCM's Oscar celebration in February, there should be more available than usual. Not every single film that plays on TCM goes up online for the next week, but it seems to be the case often enough that it's always worth checking. I know these still are unlikely to coincide with the episodes, but in case people are interested in watching them earlier/later, or if you have a DVR and want to record them and save them for later, here's the schedule of AFI films that I could find: Currently on WatchTCM: #55 North By Northwest - expires January 2nd #38 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre - expires January 5th #88 Bringing Up Baby - expires January 8th Playing on TCM soon: #29 Double Indemnity - December 30 #19 On The Waterfront - January 2 #47 A Streetcar Named Desire - January 2 #100 Ben-Hur - January 3 #81 Spartacus - January 4 #78 Modern Times - January 6 #44 The Philadelphia Story - January 15 & 18 #15 2001: A Space Odyssey - January 28 #5 Singin' In the Rain - January 31 #82 Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans - February 1 #93 The French Connection - February 2 #52 Taxi Driver - February 2 #55 North By Northwest - February 2 #26 Mr. Smith Goes To Washington - February 4 #28 All About Eve - February 7 #42 Bonnie and Clyde - February 9 #98 Yankee Doodle Dandy - February 9 #75 In the Heat of the Night - February 9 #37 The Best Years of Our Lives - February 11 #5 Singin' In the Rain - February 12 #3 Casablanca - February 12 #19 On The Waterfront - February 13 #7 Lawrence of Arabia - February 13 #36 The Bridge On the River Kwai - February 14 #44 The Philadelphia Story - February 14 #47 A Streetcar Named Desire - February 18 #64 Network - February 18 #100 Ben-Hur - February 18 #27 High Noon - February 18 #25 To Kill a Mockingbird - February 20 #87 12 Angry Men - February 20 #67 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - February 23 #38 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre - February 24 #46 It Happened One Night - February 25 #1 Citizen Kane - February 25 #73 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - February 27 #31 The Maltese Falcon - February 27 #15 2001: A Space Odyssey - March 2 #69 Tootsie - March 2 #17 The Graduate - March 3 #95 The Last Picture Show - March 3
  10. bleary

    It's A Wonderful Life

    It's nice to have a film like this that we can all just appreciate its brilliance. We'll be able to get back to problematizing next episode.
  11. bleary

    Upcoming Episodes

    Yeah, just went up on Prime last week apparently. It's nice when the streaming services accommodate Unspooled's schedule like this, unlike Unforgiven which was on Netflix until very recently. For now, I can't find either The Searchers or Unforgiven on any major subscription streaming service.
  12. bleary

    Schindler's List

    That answers one question I had.
  13. bleary

    Schindler's List

    Yeah, this is interesting to me as well, both from an education point of view and from a more pop culture and filmmaking point of view. I was shocked when they told the story on the podcast of a U.S. History class that didn't cover the Holocaust because the teacher determined it wasn't relevant enough to the U.S. But, having also been too young to see it in theaters, all of my education about the Holocaust came in a post-Schindler's List world, so I have a lot of questions about how people were taught in the 70s and 80s. Though I can't exactly recall all the details, my feeling is that I learned the broad strokes of the story of the Holocaust at the same time as I first learned about Hitler, because the idea of wanting to kill people for being different is the kind of simplistic villainy that any child can understand as being wrong. But in addition to exposure through early middle school history lessons, we also read the play version of The Diary of Anne Frank in 8th grade English and we read Elie Wiesel's Night in 10th grade. Those texts were available in the 70s and 80s, so were they taught? And if not, why not? From a film history point of view, it's probably been more heavily studied. That is, despite the fact that nearly every single major Hollywood film studio in the 1900s and 1910s was founded by Jewish immigrants or first-generation American offspring of Jewish immigrants, there were and have been relatively few popular films that were about being Jewish, and I imagine that there are articles I could read that would explain why. (Sure, comedians like Mel Brooks or Woody Allen used their Jewish heritage as punchlines at times, and Bible-era stories just as Ben-Hur or The Ten Commandments focused heavily on the Judaism of that time. Later, Fiddler on the Roof and Yentl were fairly popular films about the early 1900s in Russia and Poland respectively.) But without reading those articles, I would think there's probably some systemic reason why this didn't happen, and why prominent Jewish directors such as Billy Wilder, William Wyler, MiloŇ° Forman, or George Cukor never made any films about the Holocaust. Of the films with big name directors about the Holocaust that were made before Schindler's List, the only one completely about life in concentration camps that I can see is Geroge Stevens' version of The Diary of Anne Frank, which seems to have been mostly a box-office flop. Then, like Sophie's Choice, there are films mostly about the aftermath of the Holocaust that only include camps in flashbacks or memories, such as Fred Zinnemann's The Search (1948), Otto Preminger's Exodus (1960), and Sidney Lumet's The Pawnbroker (1964). So it really was a big deal that a director like Spielberg, who had four previous films nominated for Oscars and who had released the highest grossing film of all-time just months prior, made this film that was entirely about the Holocaust.
  14. bleary

    Schindler's List

    I'm interested in whether the lack of discussion on this movie is due to people choosing not to/not getting a chance to watch/rewatch it, or due to a general lack of differing opinion or lack of desire to engage in the usual banter over such a serious movie. (Or maybe everyone is out shopping or otherwise enjoying the holidays, or just taking care of end of year business. I put it on while I was grading finals, so I might have missed a chyron or two.)
  15. bleary

    Schindler's List

    It's like the aphorism (usually credited to Stalin, but it precedes him) that "One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." Humans experience empathy in a lot of different ways, and for many people the sight of bodies in mass graves is an abstract horror; something that is recognizably despicable yet somehow distant. Those people may understand the event more intimately if they are shown the personalities/souls/living essences that were extinguished. This is why the Diary of Anne Frank is still so moving for so many people, and why even slightly factually incorrect depictions can contextualize the horrors for people in a different way. As sycasey said, it's not more or less valuable, but it's different.
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