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bleary last won the day on October 28 2018

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  1. bleary

    To Kill A Mockingbird

    I'm sorry to break it to you, but if you can't hear the accent, it means you have the accent too. In all seriousness though, I was surprised by the prevalence of the southern accent when I moved to West Virginia (as far as urban vs. rural, there's really no such thing as urban West Virginia), although the farther north in the state you go, the more the accent sounds like a mix of the Pittsburgh/western PA accent and a southern accent, but the southernness definitely wins out (the "yinz" to "y'all" ratio is pretty minuscule). So there are plenty of variations of southern accents, not just in different states but in different regions of the same state, so I could buy the idea that the Georgia accents are milder in some way than those of other areas. As far as Gregory Peck's accent, I also found it believable that a well-educated, well-read, and well-spoken man in Alabama could sound like that, which is to say there is just the slightest hint of a southern accent. I'd love to hear what a linguist has to say about how what factors determine the gaining or losing of an accent though.
  2. bleary

    To Kill A Mockingbird

    Yes, and Paul's other example is even worse, as J.K. Rowling had an enormous amount of creative control over the Harry Potter films, and she has written the screenplay for each Fantastic Beasts film. But Paul's point still stands, in that Harper Lee did not have much of anything to do with the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird, nor do most authors of adapted novels. And that's what makes this adaptation feel so anomalous, because it manages to capture the spirit of the novel so well while still making the changes necessary to translate it to a new medium. I feel like screenwriters who adapt major works of literature don't get enough credit, because turning a 280-300 page novel into a 120-130 page screenplay while still respecting the plot, themes, and character arcs can be a major task. (Case in point: Although I still enjoy One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, we talked a lot that episode about how fans of Kesey's novel, and Kesey himself, were majorly disappointed by choices made in the film. And don't get me started again on Tom Bombadil.) Horton Foote's screenplay, as well as Robert Mulligan's direction and the many solid performances, including a career-defining performance by Gregory Peck, ensure that this film is more than just "the movie version" of a beloved piece of literature. It's a wonderful film in its own right, and deserves a place on the AFI list.
  3. bleary

    Upcoming Episodes

    I don't know if anyone cares (since I don't know if anyone is as obsessive about getting their movies for free as I am), but To Kill A Mockingbird is playing on TCM in the US this Sunday night, which means there's probably an 80% chance it will be available to stream for free through WatchTCM for a few days afterwards. Just an option in case your local library's copy is already checked out, and I thought I'd mention it since TCM doesn't show up on justwatch.com.
  4. bleary


    Oof, yeah, forgot about that. Point taken. It's interesting that I mostly glossed over that homophobia, but I was way less forgiving of the way Sandy was treated. I understand why Michael wouldn't want to tell her that he tried out for the same part as her as Dorothy, but if he's such a brilliant improvisational actor (as he proves time and time again as Dorothy), why can't he riff a better explanation for why his clothes are off other than that he wants to bang her? For one thing, why is stripping in your good friend's room while she's in the shower an acceptable way to handle romantic feelings? For another thing, if they're actually friends who have known each other for 6 years, is Sandy really going to fly off the handle if you tell her you were wondering if her clothes would fit you? It's neither logical nor funny that they present fucking her as the path of least resistance.
  5. bleary


    I'm not a fan of this movie, but I think you're pushing aside Paul's point in his comparison to Bosom Buddies: not that the plot points were vastly more refined, but that the laughs are directed in different places. While I'll concede that the baby scene is just a useless shitty scene, I'll pushback a bit on the Les plotline. I don't think it was at all played for a homophobic laugh. It's barely played for a laugh at all, as the overriding emotion is pity for Les for struggling to get over his wife only to misplace his affection with someone who can't return it. If there is any laugh at all, it's over the awkwardness of the situation formed by the love triangle, not the fact that it's two dudes. The only moment where I was fearful of some homophobia was when George Gaynes kissed Dorothy on set, but his reaction was not a grossed-out one, played for cheap laughs. He was indignant in a similar way as a woman would be in the same situation. And to Paul's larger point, the fact that Dorothy is a man in drag is never the punchline. I'm not saying this makes Tootsie a good movie, because I don't think it is, but I do think it elevates it over many (perhaps not all) drag comedies. As I alluded to in my Letterboxd review, the biggest compliment I can give it is that it is charming enough to make me overlook almost all the problematic aspects in the moment, but the treatment of the drag is never one of those problematic aspects in my opinion.
  6. bleary

    Upcoming Episodes

    I was hoping that abandoning the die would mean we'd get more upcoming films in advance! At any rate, they announced on Twitter that they're recording an episode in front of an audience at Overlook Fest, so one would presume they'll do a horror film (or as horror a film as there are left)? If that's the case, my guess would be Silence of the Lambs, which would be awesome. It's not exactly horror, but with Psycho and Sixth Sense gone, there's not really any left on the list. Maybe Jaws?
  7. bleary


    This is why I'm still mostly okay with Annie Hall, but why I can never watch Manhattan again.
  8. bleary

    The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

    I might not chime in too much on this film since I'm probably going to be more down on it than everyone else, but I'm halfway through the podcast and Amy and Paul's interpretation of parts of it baffles me. For one thing, they're talking about how the movie is about greed, and about how Dobbs not taking all of McCormick's money doesn't seem to make sense. Well, the answer is that the film isn't really about greed. Amy and Paul mentioned how Howard very heavy-handedly spells out the plot of the movie early on in the saloon, but they've missed when Howard very heavy-handedly spells out the theme of the movie later on: honesty vs trustworthiness. Dobbs is an honest man, and Howard is not (or so he says). But Howard is a trustworthy man, and Dobbs is not. Dobbs only takes the money he's owed because of his honesty, and he never schemes to screw the others out of their money. He does what he does because he's incapable of trusting the others, and therefore unable to be trusted himself. But he remains honest, telling Curtin exactly what was going to happen if he fell asleep. Finally, the bandits are neither honest nor trustworthy, and the film posits that Dobbs is closer in character to them than to Howard. I would argue that greed is only manifested in the idea of not wanting to lose what one has worked for, which is not greed so much as a lack of charity, or a warped sense of Ayn Randian justice. (Okay, okay, maybe "Ayn Randian justice" does count as greed, but hopefully you can see my point.) Again, part of why I don't like the film is that this is so heavy-handed and overly simplistic, so I was shocked that Amy and Paul seemed to read it differently.
  9. bleary

    All the President’s Men

    I agree that Amy and Paul seemed to have a strange view of this film. First, the claim that there's not enough to distinguish between Woodward and Bernstein is ludicrous. For starters, so much of their personalities are revealed with hair, makeup, and wardrobe, without a word of dialogue. Woodward is the perfectionist, with his hair immaculately in place, his shirt perfectly pressed, and his tie in a more perfect knot than I've ever been able to achieve in my life. Bernstein is the creative, whose extremely wrinkled dress shirt suggests he only wears one because he has to, and whose long hair suggests he feels some connection to 60s counter-culture even as he managed to work a desk job through it all. When they deal with people, either in person or on the phone, Woodward is a bit tense and wants to be precisely understood and to precisely understand the other party. Bernstein is loose and doesn't particularly care what the other party thinks of him as long as he gets what he wants. Woodward's manner of reasoning is much more deductive, where he'll reach a conclusion only if the facts lead there. Bernstein's reasoning is more inductive, where he's willing to make a leap of logic based on patterns and assume that as fact, which ends up fine in this situation because his instincts were always correct. And yeah, sure, Woodward is a bit WASPy, and Bernstein is clearly Jewish, but if that's the only thing you can point to in order to distinguish them, I don't understand what movie you were watching. I don't see how clearer they could make the differences between these guys without hitting us over the head with it (and some might argue that they do hit us over the head with it, like in the scene where Bernstein has his notes on napkins and tiny pieces of paper while Woodward disapprovingly chides him). This is an interesting question. I think at the time, and possible up to today, the fact that this actually happened makes it more interesting, and thus affects it in a positive way. I can see this changing over time for a couple of reasons, the first of which is a diminishing knowledge of the event. Now, as a product of a rural American public school, I know no history, and the only name from the administration mentioned in the film that I knew was Nixon himself. (This is the second time I've seen this film, and it's the second time I had to google whether Gordon Liddy is the same person as Scooter Libby. Answer: He's not.) But I still knew the broad strokes of the scandal: Nixon's men attempt to burgle the DNC, Nixon was aware of the cover-up, and he had to resign the presidency as a result. In 50 years, it's possible that viewers will know as much about the Watergate scandal as I do about the Teapot Dome scandal (which I assume had something to do with teapots...and domes). The term "Watergate" will no longer be synonymous with Nixon, but just with some type of scandal, or even more diluted, simply some type of controversy (I read that applications to journalism programs skyrocketed after this film, so I suppose it's those bozos we have to blame for idiotically using -gate as a suffix for everything). And the second reason I fear this might change over time is due to the declining civility in politics. I can imagine a 16-year-old who grew up indoctrinated in Trump country watching this film and thinking, "So Nixon sought to use any means necessary to bring down his political rivals, and then lied about it and covered it up. Isn't that what the President is supposed to do?" After all, Fox News would (and does) forgive Trump for far worse than what Nixon did. (Speaking of Fox News, I was figuratively yelling at the podcast when Amy and Paul were discussing 1976 films and neglected to mention the other film on the AFI list, Network.) Now, judging by the Letterboxd reviews I read, I'm probably not as high on this film as others on this board, although I have it in the top third of AFI films so far. I can see the argument that it's a vanilla in a freezer full of more novel flavors, but that's overlooking the fact that for a vanilla, the taste and texture are perfect, and who wouldn't want that perfect vanilla to have a place in their freezer? For those who say take it or leave it, I'd happily take it.
  10. bleary

    Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs

    I think it took me longer to read this thread than it did to listen to the podcast. I hope we can get this level of conversation next week about All The President's Men, too! This is a film that's really making me question how I'm voting, because I've been able to just vote for "best" and not "most influential" and still feel pretty good about that. This film falls short of my "best" border, but I couldn't bring myself to vote no without reading what everyone had to say here. After reading the thread and checking the poll, maybe I'm not alone, since only 8 people have voted? So indulge me in the following breakdown: Q: Does the list need to have a Disney animated film? A: Disney animated films are among the few pieces of cinema that one can say legitimately changed the world. Amy talked last week about the global knowledge and enthusiasm for Chaplin. Double or triple that for Disney. So let's say yes. Q: If yes, then what is the best Disney animated film? A: This is the sticking point. Is it the one that tells the best story? The one with the best songs? The one with the most groundbreaking animation? Should we give up on picking the best one and instead just pick the "Disneyest" Disney movie, which would be a slightly problematic princess movie (that's kind of their brand, it's in their logo after all), like Snow White, Cinderella, or Sleeping Beauty? For the early films (first decade), my favorite is Bambi, though I could understand having concerns because it doesn't have the best songs (although "Drip Drip Drop Little April Showers" is my fucking jam). My pick for the most complete film made during Walt's lifetime is The Jungle Book, which is notable as the last film Walt worked on, has a well-told story with memorable characters, has a couple bangers on the soundtrack, and inspired millions of children to read Rudyard Kipling only to be disappointed to discover that King Louie isn't a character in the Kipling version. My personal childhood favorite Disney film was Robin Hood, which, as Amy and Paul pointed out, made generations of children have strange sexual feelings for foxes, and today is the go-to reference for all my socialist and communist meme-master friends. But besides the "Oo-De-Lally" theme song, none of the musical numbers are particularly memorable. My childhood wheelhouse was the stretch with Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. I'd buy arguments for inclusion for any of those four, but they come so late that I don't know if they can be included in the world-changing-ness of Disney, since they already had a theme park in Tokyo before any of these films came out. So inclusion of these four would be on merit alone, and if we're going to just consider the films on merit rather than influence, it's worth returning to... Q: Does the list really need to have a Disney animated film? A: If none of the films are actually among the top 100 films ever made, then I guess I'm inclined to say no. Thus, I've convinced myself to vote no on Snow White. Wonderful animation (except for the pretty faces), but too much hand-washing and moralizing for me to find it enjoyable.
  11. bleary

    City Lights

    I also didn't understand Amy's line of thinking there. I'll add to the points others have made by saying that I don't think the final moment is about "falling in love" or "not falling in love." Was she in love with him when they were together before? I'm inclined to say yes, and that when she sees him at the end, she's not so much developing new feelings as she is rediscovering and recalibrating her old feelings. As Cam Bert says, maybe she does a little math and realizes that his generosity is exponentially more than she had thought, as his sacrifice was more than just a financial one. But as Cameron H. says, the important thing is that she accepts him for who he is. If she wasn't in love with him when she was blind, she's not going to be in love with him now, but she's still clearly happy to reconnect with this person who had such a huge impact on her life. And that happiness is regardless of his social status, but her appreciation of him is perhaps even augmented by it. That's how I read it, but ultimately it seems silly to break it down so much. However you read it, it's a beautiful scene.
  12. bleary

    City Lights

    Agreed 100% on all counts. City Lights is my favorite of his because the story holds together the best. Modern Times is my second favorite of his silents because he gives the other characters some development and room to shine. And I was disappointed by The Gold Rush because the story and the side-characters were severely lacking. It feels like three or four shorts that were just tacked together. (But we'll talk about that more when we cover those films.) I agree with Paul that City Lights has so much of the DNA of modern comedy, though I wonder if he'll say the same thing about The Gold Rush, which came first. So I'll add on that City Lights really has the DNA of the modern rom-com. The tramp and the blind girl have a meet-cute involving mistaken identity, he then courts her between adventures hanging with his more bro-ey best friend, learns of a problem that she has, and undergoes a ridiculous challenge to try to solve the problem. All these beats feel like rom-com tropes now, but they seem new when watching City Lights. It's no surprise why AFI named this their #1 romantic comedy of all time.
  13. bleary

    West Side Story

    I don't understand where this dichotomy came from. By my count, this is at least the fourth musical they've covered so far, including Wizard of Oz and Swing Time. Why is Singin' In the Rain getting singled out? To me, West Side Story is a different beast than those, because it was based on a pre-existing stage show rather than being written directly for the screen. The reason I've seen most of these film adaptations of stage musicals is because my younger sister went through a phase where it was all she would watch. 25 years later, she has an MFA and works at a theatre company, and I asked her to poll her workplace to see what they thought were the best film adaptations of stage musicals. West Side Story was one of their top choices, as well as Chicago and maybe Carousel. That's the debate I think we should (and will) have when we get to Sound of Music. I think there's plenty of room on this list to include Singin' in the Rain AND Wizard of Oz AND West Side Story. But I think the debate between Sound of Music and West Side Story will be much more contentious.
  14. bleary

    A Night At The Opera

    I'm another vote for Duck Soup over A Night at the Opera, though I understand people who prefer the clearer story of the latter. It strikes me that there's a bit of a parallel to the Canon debate for Monty Python and the Holy Grail vs Life of Brian. Life of Brian certainly has a more coherent plot, but Holy Grail is so loaded with jokes that I can't help but be more drawn to Holy Grail. For the Marx brothers debate, I wonder if Horse Feathers would have been a nice compromise between Duck Soup and A Night at the Opera. I find it much funnier than Opera, but it has more of a clear story than Soup, as well as some standard Marxian things that Soup lacks like a Chico piano scene and a Harpo harp scene. Also, Horse Feathers has its own version of the state room scene, and "Everyone Says I Love You" is way catchier than "Alone".
  15. bleary

    Saving Private Ryan

    Cameron mentioned it, but it's worth underlining: Old Man Ryan didn't just drag his family to Arlington Cemetary (a relatively normal spot for tourists visiting DC), but to the American Cemetary in Normandy. So the whole family flew to Paris, took a 2+ hour train to Bayeux, and then took a 30-minute cab ride to the cemetary, and no one in his family pressed him on why or who in particular he was interested in finding.