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bleary

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About bleary

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  1. bleary

    Upcoming Episodes

    The 1933 King Kong can be seen online through TCM right now: http://www.tcm.com/watchtcm/titles/2690. I'm looking forward to rewatching it today with Amy's commentary track that she made with Devin Faraci for The Canon Commentaries.
  2. Also, when a caller suggested that Magnolia was hard to find streaming, I may or may not have screamed aloud, "IT'S ON FILMSTRUCK!"
  3. I may have missed the cutoff for the end of voting, but I thought I'd throw my two cents in anyway. As it seems with a few people here, I'm not going to be voting for my favorite of these three films, which would be Magnolia. Magnolia seemed to have a sort of mythos around it in my eyes during the many years between its release and when I finally was able to see it for the first time. I knew it in the early 2000s as that three-hour film with so many actors I liked, and that many people seemed to think was the best film of 1999, an all-time great film year. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, after seeing There Will Be Blood and Boogie Nights and Punch-Drunk Love and The Master, I had ridiculously high expectations for Magnolia, which now seemed to me to be an epic movie in the early career of an all-time great filmmaker. However, I still didn't see it until I had moved to Los Angeles, and American Cinematheque was doing a Philip Seymour Hoffman retrospective in March 2014 at the Aero Theatre. Even though my expectations were impossibly high, Magnolia completely surprised me and blew me away. Boogie Nights is probably the PTA film I rewatch the most, and Blood is the PTA film I most admire for its merits, but Magnolia is probably my favorite PTA film. A caller in the episode (maybe Johnny Pomatto? I can't remember) pointed out that Magnolia is PTA's tribute/homage to Robert Altman, one of his directing heroes. However, I can't help but prefer Magnolia over all of Altman's work that I've seen, as Anderson masters the intricate plot work and emotional character work of Altman's films and adds in dazzling visual storytelling and camera work, which I've always found lacking a bit in Altman's films. So emotionally, I'm with Magnolia. However, I don't think we need three different Paul Thomas Anderson films in the Canon. Although the films that are in there now are not the first ones I would choose, I still think they offer enough encapsulation of PTA's strengths that putting Magnolia in would be mostly redundant, despite how much I love it. Next, I quite frankly don't think David Fincher is a director that the Canon needs to include at all, so the fact that Se7en is already in also makes me less interested in supporting Zodiac. Don't get me wrong, I find Zodiac to be a great film, and I agree with many people here that Zodiac is Fincher's best film, but I don't find it Canon-worthy. Maybe I'm just bitter about Se7en getting in, but despite its appeal and merits, Zodiac runs a distant third for me in this matchup. Finally, we have a director in Edgar Wright who has not yet been put into the Canon. In many ways, I see Edgar Wright as a comedic parallel to Paul Thomas Anderson, as both were excellent at both writing and directing at extremely early ages. And honestly, the best argument against putting him in the Canon now is that it is all too possible that his best film is still yet to come, even after how impressive Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim, The World's End, and Baby Driver are. (Can anyone name a primarily-comedy director who had a better stretch of five consecutive films? Maybe early Woody Allen, though his films tend to leave a bad taste in my mouth these days.) Like with PTA, anyone can make a solid case for any of Wright's films being their favorite. My personal favorite of his is Scott Pilgrim, though I absolutely feel that the film that best shows his gifts is Shaun of the Dead, which I see as his There Will Be Blood: you may be into it or you may not be, but you can't deny the prowess on display. (Stupid aside: if Shaun is his Blood, then I suppose Scott Pilgrim is his Boogie Nights, Baby Driver is his Magnolia, Hot Fuzz is his Punch-Drunk Love, and The World's End is his Master.) So I'm throwing my vote at Shaun of the Dead. But I'll say what others have already said, that all three of the these movies are fantastic, and I'd probably vote yes on any of the three of them in solo episodes.
  4. bleary

    Episode 162 - Scream (w/ Benjamin Lee)

    I'm not drawn to most horror films, but I especially don't like slasher films. And the first half of Scream played to me like a standard slasher film, and therefore was as disturbing/uninteresting to me as a standard slasher film. The second half of the film was much more enjoyable to me. I liked the Scooby-Doo mystery aspects, and I thought the meta-commentary worked extremely well, particularly given how tricky meta-humor can be to pull off. I also enjoyed the slapstick aspects of it, as Ghostface's many pratfalls satirizing the unstoppable killer trope so effectively that Scary Movie could only copy it rather than parody it. I was mostly won over by how fun the second half of the film was, but I'd probably be a soft no just on the film itself. However, the influence this film had in resuscitating a fading genre and inspiring movies for decades to come is substantial enough for me to give it a yes vote.
  5. With tomorrow's contenders being announced as Shaun of the Dead vs Magnolia vs Zodiac, it is worth mentioning that Zodiac is available to watch on Amazon Prime and Magnolia is available on FilmStruck. All three are also rentable through the usual means.
  6. bleary

    Episode 161 - Grey Gardens (w/ Alissa Wilkinson)

    I'm glad this episode finally prompted me to watch Grey Gardens, which had been on my watchlist for some time. And it's an easy yes from me, based on the influence this film has had on other documentarians, and the reasonable influence on pop culture as a whole. Beyond that, the questions it raises about objectivity in documentary filmmaking and exploitation of subjects is really interesting. Can you exploit someone who wants all the attention that such an exploitation would entail? If Little Edie knew the joke was on her and didn't care, is the joke really on her? And then of course, there's the levels of emotional abuse between these two women that makes this such a sad, and yet fascinating story. If the shot of the mirror does represent the camera turning away from discomfort, I can certainly understand that impulse. Canon-worthy all around for a number of reasons.
  7. I guess the general sense I'm getting is to leave nothing for later and treat this as a series finale (who knows how long this hiatus could last). That also motivates me to nominate only films that won't eventually be discussed by Amy and Paul on Unspooled (sorry, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?). We already have a Fellini in the Canon with Nights of Cabiria, so I don't know if I absolutely need 8 1/2 to be nominated, even though I love it. Ditto with Lynch and Mulholland Drive. My favorite Bergmans are Wild Strawberries and Persona, with the latter being more of a gut favorite, while I believe the former to be the better-made film. I'd love to have either one of those nominated. I think the Kurosawa to nominate has to be Rashomon, though certainly many of his films are excellent. Similarly, I think the Godard to nominate has to be Breathless. My favorite Tarkovsky is Stalker, though others have nominated Andrei Rublev and The Mirror, and Solaris probably deserves some thought too. My Sergio Leone pick would be The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. For more recent picks, I'd love to see Charlie Kaufman considered. I really couldn't quibble with almost any of his scripts, but I think his best film is Adaptation. I love Villeneuve, and would nominate Incendies from him. That's all I can think of right now.
  8. bleary

    2001: A Space Odyssey

    As my photo broadcasts, I agree completely. It's hard to say that I have just one favorite film, but it's one of a handful of films I consider perfect, and it's been fun reading everyone's thoughts about it.
  9. I don't understand what this call-in show is. When Amy mentioned it on the podcast, it was in the context of clearly Canon-worthy work that hasn't been discussed on the show. So then is the point to put up five slam dunk movies, give them 10 minutes of conversation rather than a whole episode, and then send all five into the Canon? Or is this going to be a battle royale in which only one film makes the Canon? If that's the case, then I don't see the incentive to nominate clearly Canon-worthy work. So then are we going to put forward a few different big-name directors and give them each a nominee, sort of like FictionIsntReal is alluding to? If so, should we then be looking at their most traditionally lauded films, or should we look at more borderline films in their repertoire, as sycasey 2.0 suggests? Or is this the fan version of the indulgence picks Devin and Amy made, where we put forth out-of-the-box films that we find interesting but that wouldn't be found on an AFI or IMDb top films list? Any of those options are interesting to me, but I don't know which one is going to be used.
  10. bleary

    Episode 160 - Tommy (w/ David Fear)

    Agreed, but in the film and opera, Tommy's message always came off as living a more stripped down life, but that could just be me. Also, I think the film/opera are very critical of Frank and Mrs. Walker (her name is Nora according to imdb?) for their exploitation of the crowd, but the crowd doesn't seem to turn on that aspect. They are willing to part with their money easily enough, and their rejection comes when Tommy suggests that they make a more substantial change in their lives than that. That's why I suggested the mob had a pro-capitalist tint, but I suppose that might be a stretch. At any rate, I definitely see the mob at the end as the "bad guys," and in that context, the song bums me out by giving them the perceived empowerment.
  11. bleary

    Episode 160 - Tommy (w/ David Fear)

    I got really into The Who sometime around middle school or early high school, and the album Tommy was probably the album that I listened to the most in high school. For that reason, I can't judge the film Tommy in any sort of way that separates it from my feelings about the original album. For that reason, I found it really ironic in the episode that David lamented music videos ruining personal visualization of a piece of music, and then saying that Tommy avoids this problem, which he of course feels largely because he saw the film before hearing the album. As someone who listened to the album a lot before seeing the film, I will say definitively that Tommy does not avoid this problem at all. Although this was the first time I've seen the film, I saw a performance of the rock opera sometime in late high school or college, and the differences between the plot of the film/opera and the plot of the album as I visualized it really bummed me out. For one thing, I always liked the ambiguity in the beginning of the album, where it's unspecified what Tommy actually witnesses that triggers his psychosomatic symptoms. Having Mrs. Walker meet someone else, leading to a conflict with the surviving Captain Walker is a fine answer to that ambiguity, although the idea of Bernie's Holiday Camp and the appropriation of the album's song "Tommy's Holiday Camp" retconned for this purpose seemed unnecessary to me. And moreover, even if it is a fine solution, I felt a little robbed by losing that mystery. In my opinion, the high points of the film coincide with the high points of the album, being "Pinball Wizard" and "Go to the Mirror." Elton John's performance of "Pinball Wizard" is great, and Nicholson's performance of "Go to the Mirror" worked for me, unconventional as it was. In the album, "Go to the Mirror" is the lynchpin that makes the whole thing work, in that it functions as connective tissue that advances the story, introduces key themes both narratively and musically, and also is just a really good song. It features the diagnosis and concerns of the doctor and the mother contrasting with the desperate pleas of Tommy's subconscious to be seen and heard, and then crescendos towards a resolution in the form of the "Listening to You" theme that is later reprised in "We're Not Gonna Take It." This lead into and introduction of the "Listening to You" is one of my favorite pieces of rock music ever. So of course, I was very disappointed that the film completely drops this from the end of "Go to the Mirror," and instead crescendos without resolution. And lastly, the film/opera have the critique of capitalism as a central message, while that isn't present at all in the album. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against a solid rock and roll criticism of capitalism (including The Who Sell Out), but that was never what I thought Tommy was. The added songs that reinforce this do nothing to me, though I have admiration for Ann-Margret for doing everything she could to sell them. The biggest casualty of this change of point of view was the final song, "We're Not Gonna Take It," which I always interpreted the way that Townshend originally intended, as a song of rebellion against authority in general and fascism in particular. However, the film/opera pulls a 180, and seemingly makes it a song of rebellion against... anti-capitalism? Guruism and hero worship? Religion in general? At any rate, because Tommy is the hero of the story, it means the audience is predisposed to be against the crowd singing "We're Not Gonna Take It" instead of for them. More than anything else, that fundamental change left me so disappointed when I first saw the opera. So like I said at the onset, I can't judge the film on things like acting and design and direction, because everything about the adaptation from album to opera leaves me with bad feelings, and I have to vote no based on that. At the same time, I understand that someone who either saw the movie first or had a visualization of the album that aligned with the film's interpretation could adore this film. I happen to love the film version of Pink Floyd's The Wall, but I could see someone easily having the same problems with it that I have with the film Tommy.
  12. bleary

    Homework - Grey Gardens (1975)

    And it's on FilmStruck.
  13. bleary

    Film Struck

    I've had FilmStruck/Criterion Channel a little over a year, and I love it. The only real negative is that the website's flash-based system is a bit inelegant, and it makes browsing the collections more time-consuming than it needs to be. But the big plus is its library. While films rotate in and out, they tend to stay for a much longer time than on something like Mubi. They're well-curated into smaller collections, such as weekly groups dedicated to a certain actor or director. I've also recently been diving into their short film collection, which has allowed me to discover a few gems I'd never heard of. So I'd recommend that you look at the library and see if it has enough of what you'd want. I'd guess that over half the AFI 100 list have been on FilmStruck (or the Criterion Channel part of FilmStruck) at some point over the last year.
  14. bleary

    Episode 159 - Caddyshack (w/ Alex Schmidt)

    As always, comedies are tough because different people laugh at different things. Personally, I find Caddyshack generally hilarious, as Dangerfield, Chase, Murray, and Knight all work well comedically for me. However, story purists will rightfully point out that the film is a structureless, arcless mess. As becomes clear after watching A Futile and Stupid Gesture, the writers likely didn't intend any of their films to have any structure or arcs and instead threw in whatever made them laugh. As a result, the comedy is all there is to judge it on. (That and the Kenny Loggins use, of course.) As far as the connection to the use of ad-libbing in 2000s comedies, I don't put the blame on this film specifically as much as I put the blame on Bill Murray, who ad-libbed the majority of his lines not just in Caddyshack, but also in Stripes, Tootsie, and the Ghostbusters films. And in all, with Animal House and Ghostbusters already in the Canon, I don't think we need anything more from this era. Personally, I prefer Animal House over Caddyshack and I prefer Stripes over Ghostbusters, but my strongest vote would be for another nice long moratorium on episodes covering 80s comedies.
  15. bleary

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

    I'll echo Tom's feelings about how captivating the first half of the film is. However, I'll also echo his feelings that the second half is a bit of a letdown, and ultimately I'll echo the votes of Johnny Pomatto and sycasey 2.0 and say I'm also a respectful no.
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