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Everything posted by pomattovich

  1. pomattovich

    Episode 126 - The Brood (w/ Kier-La Janisse)

    I wasn't sure how I was going to vote before listening to this episode but Amy and Kier-La's conversation sold me on a YES vote. I truly do adore most of David Cronenberg's career. At the very least, I find him fascinating even on the rare occasions when his films leave something lacking. THE BROOD came at a point of his career when he was full of incredible and original ideas, but sometimes struggled a bit in translating them to the screen. THE BROOD, VIDEODROME, and SCANNERS all have unforgettable moments and sequences, but sometimes feel a little clunky and overstuffed as whole cohesive films. THE BROOD in particular, while tonally haunting and ominous, I feel succeeds better when we have no idea what is going on and are just trying to piece the fantastic individual scenes together ourselves. Whenever the dialogue begins to explicitly explain the meaning behind the cryptic metaphors, things suddenly seem less creepy and upsetting. Watching it again, I was reminded so much of Nicholas Roeg's DON'T LOOK NOW, (also featuring little people wearing red), which never fully explains in detail what everything means and the film succeeds all the more for it. I will concede though that the finale of THE BROOD still delivered horrifying chills for me and was instrumental in turning me around on some of the aspects of the film that didn't age as well for me. I wish that the film focused a bit more on Oliver Reed and Samantha Eggar, because I think they do the best work in the film. I never quite care enough about Art Hindle and too often his character comes across as rather ignorant. But learning more about the backstory of this film and the connections to Cronenberg's own personal life made me see so much of it in a whole new way, and it makes me appreciate how Cronenberg approaches his work in general all the more. I still lament that (maybe) my favorite Cronenberg film, THE FLY, missed getting into The Canon, and while I don't necessarily think THE BROOD would be my 2nd choice, I still think he deserves some representation here and this is certainly a unique film, true to his soul, and I would give it something of a soft YES.
  2. pomattovich

    Episode 125 - The Host (w/ Owen Shiflett)

    I don't believe that outdated CGI effects should necessarily fault a great film from consideration, and that's a good thing because we're going to be faced with that quandary more and more as years go on. However I still can't quite vote to allow THE HOST into The Canon. Upon its initial release, I was really into the film. I had only seen it once before watching again this week, but I remember recommending the film to all my friends. It was a fun and unique take on the Kaiju genre. But watching it again made me see it as a thinner, more melodramatic experience than I remembered, which I think is not uncommon with Bong Joon-Ho's films. I also really liked SNOWPIERCER the first time I saw it, but when I tried to watch it again I couldn't imagine what had initially attracted me to it. (i did quite enjoy OKJA though, and hope that sticks) I appreciate what this film attempts to do, and parts of it, (particularly the opening sequence), are great fun. But I felt rather empty at the end of my recent viewing. I also think that since this is a riff on Kaiju films, then perhaps we need to induct a true Kaiju film into The Canon before we allow knock-offs. GODZILLA or GAMORA would get easy YES votes from me. I think that THE HOST is a film that's waffling between so many genres that it never settles into one. It's not quite a Kaiju movie, it's not scary enough to be a horror movie, it's never quite a comedy, and the social messages don't quite play as either sincere or satiric. This is a fun flick to watch once, but I can't see myself calling it an essential film that everyone must see. A disappointed NO vote for me.
  3. pomattovich

    Episode 124 - Suspiria (w/ Roxanne Benjamin)

    I'm so sad I was out of the country last week and missed casting a "No" vote for MARTYRS. I enjoyed the conversation it provided but I could never endorse that film as an essential Canon entry. This, on the other hand, was an easier week to pry a yes out of me. For as many times as I've seen SUSPIRIA, I still consider Argento to be a bit in my blind spot. I've only seen maybe 3 more of his films, and while SUSPIRIA is undeniably his most known film, I'd be curious if a devoted fan would call it his best. I was initially drawn to it simply based on the numerous noteworthy directors who called it an influence, and while I don't get as much pure fun and joy from watching this film as I do others in the horror genre, I can definitively say it's one of the films that does consistently scare me, even on repeated viewings. Attending a screening of the new 4K transfer last month, I was astonished by how it felt like I was watching it again for the first time. Argento, perhaps more than any other horror director, may deserve credit for introducing the use of sound as horror, at least in the modern sense that we know it as now. While the method has been cheapened in recent years to deliver jolty jump scares, the sound in SUSPIRIA is so effectively frightening that wimps in the audience can't ever escape the terrors, merely by closing their eyes. I like what Amy and Roxanne had to say about the dreamlike nature of the film, because I get the same sensation watching the film that I do when in an inescapable nightmare. The impossible corridors and claustrophobic architecture of the school really gives one the sense that they are trapped inside it. Even a sensible horror victim who avoids investigating suspicious noises or splitting up from the group may go mad with dread. I have trouble calling this the definitive Argento film, but with nobody out there to tell me otherwise, I would say this is an essential horror entry into The Canon so I'll give it my YES vote.
  4. pomattovich

    Episode 122 - The Tingler (w/ Witney Seibold)

    I adore William Castle and am so glad one of his films has been given Canon consideration. I think too many people lump him in with Roger Corman, (who I also have a degree of affection for), just because his production values were often low and the premises of his films relied on chiller gimmickry. But that's also where a lot of his charm lies, and his films would usually have very deep and mature subtext hidden behind the skeletons, ghosts, and rubber monsters. I lament that the titular star of THE TINGLER is ever seen at all, because I think that's the one aspect that separates this film from subtler horror classics. The reveal of the Tingler always gets a laugh. Vincent Price gave some of his best sinister performances is Castle films, but I love his ambiguity here as a man trying to both cure and control The Tingler. His obsession and corruptive downfall reminds me a bit of Jimmy Stewart in VERTIGO, though that preceded The Tingler by a year so I wouldn't necessarily claim ones influence over another, while PSYCHO and its marketing seems to clearly be imitating Castle's style. I had the privilege of seeing THE TINGLER theatrically with "PERCEPTO" at The Film Forum a few years back and it was a truly magical experience that left the whole audience giddy. Sadly, I did not luck into a vibrating seat, and my efforts to try to pre-examine the altered seats before the start of the feature were ultimately fruitless. But an experience like that can turn a non-believer into a Castle fan. Perhaps an argument against allowing him into The Canon is that for those bored and unimpressed by horror titles of this era, they might not be as easily sold or even be open to the idea of enjoying the film. But I do think that Castle deserves to be represented in The Canon for his body of work, and I think that THE TINGLER is the perfect film to do it with, over other fun entries like HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, 13 GHOSTS, MACABRE, I SAW WHAT YOU DID, and THE STRAIGHT JACKET. It's also worth noting that Castle produced ROSEMARY'S BABY, in a last ditch effort to be taken seriously. I highly recommend the documentary SPINE-TINGLER! THE WILLIAM CASTLE STORY to learn more about the man, and YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS did a particularly fine episode about him as well. Clearly I've outed myself as a particularly devoted fan, so I won't deny my bias. I flirted with the notion of voting NO just because I think he can be a hard sell for some and a film shouldn't necessarily be granted Canon access just as a means to twist the arms of viewers reluctant to give him a try. But hearing how enthusiastic Amy got for him gives me hope that the film could find new audiences. At the very least, Castle films are so unique that they're almost a genre to their own, so I'm going to vote YES.
  5. pomattovich

    Episode 121 - The Matrix (w/ Cameron Esposito)

    I was primed and ready to fully embrace an action sci-fi epic like THE MATRIX when it came out while I was in high school. Yet I found myself being one of the only people I knew at the time not wowed by it. Part of the reason for that was that I was a big fan of DARK CITY at the time, which covers many of the same themes. I don't believe that the Wachowski's stole their ideas from Alex Proyas' film, but I do think it's an example one can point to and suggest that THE MATRIX isn't as groundbreaking or revolutionary a plot as many claim it to be. To me, it's another standard story about a rebellion against evil, aided by the help of a chosen one, who never particularly demonstrates why he is so special. For me, the computer-created special effects just didn't look all that unique or interesting, and most of them really don't hold up when viewed today. In addition to the style and look of this film being imitated countless times in films far worse than this one, I also think that this was a moment when a major shift happened in action movies when they suddenly became incredibly joyless. All at once it was more important for films to look cool than to be fun. None of the characters in THE MATRIX seemed all that amazed or amused by the incredible, practically magical feats they're suddenly able to perform. Keanu's much imitated and mocked "Whoa," is the closest anyone ever comes to expressing much wonder in this strange new world, and the declaration of "I know kung fu," is presented in such a matter of fact way that I lament the days of training montages that lead to a satisfying discovery or accomplishment. For the record, I'm not picking on Keanu or his line readings, as I feel he's actually (often but not always) quite underrated as a performer. But I do prefer the kind of action hero that is less concerned with how cool he looks while being a hero, than he is excited and amazed by the fantastical situations he finds himself in. Amy's boy Tom Cruise in some of the Mission Impossible movies is a fine example of the latter. This might not be entirely fair, but I'm also going to deduct a few points from THE MATRIX because of how inferior the sequels were and how the franchise ultimately left the audience feeling at the end of it.. I can appreciate the first film as a competent yet familiar action movie. But I believe the Wachowski's, ambitious as they might be, became too obsessed with fleshing out the mythology of this world into such an epic that it became a disastrous mess. I loved the Wachowski's debut film BOUND, and was so excited to see where their careers would go. Since then, however, I have never not found myself disappointed in their subsequent films. I continue to go see them though, just because I'm always curious to see how far they'll go, and while I often appreciate their ambition, I can't say that I've fully enjoyed any of their films since BOUND. I really loved this episode and loved the points that Cameron Esposito brought up. I think it's fascinating to unearth some of the hidden queer and trans themes that may be hidden within this film. But I think that in the cultural landscape, when people remember and discuss this film, it's not the deep seeded metaphors that really make people love this film. It's the bullet time, the famous quotes, and the Alice in Wonderland allegories that they latch on to. I'm sure this is a slam dunk for The Canon, as it's an iconic milestone for so many people. I can respect that. I don't mind being in the minority of dissent. I would definitely have voted for BOUND were this a versus episode, but while I'm sure my vote will be made obsolete, I'm going to have to personally vote NO.
  6. pomattovich

    Episode 120 - Last Tango in Paris (w/ Alison Willmore)

    I only had seen LAST TANGO once before as a teenager, when I was trying my best to see every possible film that had been called a masterpiece. The film bored me to tears and I couldn't understand why it was so acclaimed. Watching it again last night, I was far less bored, but I still don't much care for the film. I have no problem canonizing morally questionable films and filmmakers, and can separate art from artists pretty well, but even removing the infamous butter scene from the equation, I find this to be a pretty ugly film. The opening sequence is a grabber, with Brando instigating tragically, ugly sex with a stranger as a coping mechanism for his grief, but his struggle seems to diminish too quickly after this, and he seems to be enjoying his sexual congress far too much in subsequent scenes, to the point that he comes across as creepily goofy. Did anyone else notice his almost Ferris Bueller-esque eyebrow raising when he's standing in the elevator with most of his face obscured? All you can really see is how brow line, which seems to raise repeatedly. This moment doesn't affect my vote, but just wanted to call attention to it. I find Brando's character in this to be rather disgusting, and I agree that it would be hard to imagine Schneider being attracted to him at all if he wasn't still carrying faint traces of his former iconic looks. But as a character, he's a one dimensional depiction of misogyny, which I even have trouble believing wasn't observed at the time of its release. However, I'm conflicted because I do think this is one of Brando's most fascinating performances, and I dare say his last great one. Cue cards or not, he's bizarre and unpredictable. The scene when he's speaking to his wife's corpse is truly a triumph, and I also like the scene when he confronts her lover. But although I'm fascinated by some of his choices, I don't think he is a generous scene partner for Schneider, and both he and Bertolucci seem to limit what they're willing to let her play, at least clothed. I think she's as good in this as she could possibly be, (and I also really enjoy her in THE PASSENGER which I watched again a few weeks ago) but I think there's a much better film to be made that treats her character better and allows her to tell her own story. I could imagine Goddard or Truffaut making infinitely more interesting versions of this story. Speaking of Goddard and Truffaut, I do really like Jean-Pierre Léaud in the film, and somewhat prefer the dynamic shown between he and Schneider. All of the sex and passion for cinema instantly make me think of Bertolucci's THE DREAMERS, which I also don't know to necessarily be Canon-worthy, but I strongly prefer it, and think it offers a much better balance between the characters and the sexes than this film ever does. I wish I could better put myself in the mindset of those witnessing this film upon its initial release. I just read Pauline Kael's review and reread Roger Ebert's Great Movie essay on the film, and they both left me scratching my head. I do think that there's something to the notion that even films that we don't all like can be important enough to be Canonized. After all, the discussion on the podcast was outstanding and almost justifies its inclusion based on that alone. (for the record, i would love for more guests to take the opportunity to argue against a film) But I think I have to vote NO, just because of my own personal distaste for the film. I can't say I have a desire to ever revisit it. There are better Bertolucci and Brando films I would sooner consider.
  7. pomattovich

    Episode 119 - Friday (w/ Ben Westhoff)

    The only other previous time I had ever seen FRIDAY, was when I was 15 years old, when stoner comedies were more in my wheelhouse... and I still didn't much care for it then. I'll admit that watching it closer now I found some things I appreciated about it. I think Ice Cube's home life is refreshingly grounded even while being broadly comic, as is his interactions with Nia Long and Felicia. But I find Chris Tucker incredibly obnoxious in this film. Yes, he's a ball of energy and it's undeniably a star-making performance, but a little of him goes a long way for me. The perfect amount of Chris Tucker is his sole scene in JACKIE BROWN. Once he enters the film, the world becomes a cartoon and never returns to reality. I actually find this to be (to the best of my recollection) even broader than DON'T BE A MENACE..., which is designed to be purely comedic. And I actually find the lighter moments of a more dramatic film like BABY BOY to be funnier than most of this film. For an 89 minute movie, it's painfully slow at times. When Ice Cube finally smokes weed, the movie just stops for 10 minutes as he literally looks at cereal boxes and wood carvings. I felt stone watching this, but far more sleepy than giddy. When the film tries to turn serious at the end, it feels unearned and without the realistic stakes of a true violent threat. When Tiny Listers is ultimately knocked out, I half expected to see cartoon birds start to circle his head. I did get a few laughs from John Witherspoon, though he instantly made me think of Robin Harris in HOUSE PARTY, (i agree, Amy. Definitely Canon-worthy). And what does it say that my favorite thing about this film featuring young 20-somethings getting stoned and having adventures, is the parents? Sigh. I must be getting old. I can appreciate that this film holds a special cultural relevance for some, but it doesn't do much as a comedy for me, and I'm going to have to vote NO for its Canon entry.
  8. pomattovich

    Episode 118 - Real Life (w/ Jason Zinoman)

    If Albert Brooks were ever to be granted Canon consideration, I was hoping that it would be a versus episode, as to guarantee at least one of his classic films a spot. But Amy doesn't seem to be as passionate a fan as I am, so I find myself having to plead for Albert's case. Albert Brooks is on my personal Mount Rushmore of comedy. I think that while the subject matter he tackles is sometimes conventional, his voice is so unique that it finds new angles to explore of the simplest of stories. My personal favorite of his work is LOST IN AMERICA, which is essentially a neurotic Baby Boomer version of The Long Long Trailer. Again, the premise not all that unique, but his personality skews the tone into something wholly original. He does this treatment to the romantic comedy genre with MODERN ROMANCE and DEFENDING YOUR LIFE, two other favorites of mine. Personally, I don't think that REAL LIFE is Brooks' best film, nor is it all that representative of the subsequent films that would follow. It wouldn't necessarily be my top choice for Canon inclusion, but I do think it's an important comedic entry nonetheless. While it's a much stranger and specific comedy than some of Brooks' later films, it is very representative of the surreal and experimental films he was making at that point of his career in the first few seasons of Saturday Night Live. Some of those, while not all successful, are some of the most original comedy premises to be introduced at that time. People didn't always quite know what to make of him, which I think continued with REAL LIFE. The fact that it's not universally beloved isn't all that much of an issue for me. It was tackling a subject that was still very new and doing it in such a strange, inside way that it probably turned some people off. REAL LIFE is Albert Brooks at his purest form. I feel like this wasn't given enough credit in the episode as being such a sharp satire of Hollywood itself. This may be the first film ever to point out the ridiculous notion of being forced to hire union members that aren't required for the film itself. Brooks' conversations with the head of the studio through the speaker phone is a perfect depiction of squabbling between old and new voices in the film industry, both of them cluelessly idiotic. The pride with which Brooks films a slow motion montage in an effort to appear to be as an artistic a filmmaker as the French. And watching him praise the people of the Arizona town (location of which chosen only because it's warmer than Wisconsin) because their ordinary lives are far more interesting than a Hollywood movie, only to then immediately condescend to the local rubes by doing a hammy lounge act. Even the brilliant trailer for the film makes fun of Hollywood's obsession with pandering gimmicks and presents its advertisement in 3-D. These are all things that no other comedic voices were really going after at the time, because perhaps the audience who would appreciate such pointed satire consisted of the very people he was trying to make fun of. Many of Amy's criticisms are not entirely incorrect. The biggest laughs are front-loaded. After the visit to the gynecologist and the horse surgery, the film does slow down a bit. Almost all of Albert Brooks' films suffer a bit in their third acts. But perhaps it's also necessary for the film to slow down a bit to make its gloriously over the top ending even more ridiculous. I do think the film should get some points for tackling such a new topic of reality television. I've watched all of An American Family, and there are many direct references to it found in this film, which may also work against it somewhat. I don't think that REAL LIFE is a perfect film, or even one that is so iconic in and of itself that it should be let into The Canon on those terms alone. But it is the birth of Albert Brooks' film career, and a hilarious comedy at that. I love Jason's observation of Brooks not alway having actual jokes in his films, but how he can make an ordinary statement hilarious just in the tone of its telling. No matter how many times I hear the line "Only 6 of these cameras were ever made. Only 5 of them ever worked. We have 4 of those," I always break out into hysterics. It's not really a joke, is it? But the wording is so precisely crafted that I couldn't imagine such a line ever being written by another comedian. Not everything works in REAL LIFE, but 4 out of 6 ain't bad. I say we must make room for Albert Brooks in The Canon, in whatever way Jason Zinomen is willing to present to us.
  9. Even if this were just a competition between MINORITY REPORT and the TOP GUN poster, the winner would be clear. Both of these are far from perfect films, but TOP GUN's iconography alone should get it into The Canon. Love him or hate him, this was the film that made turned Tom Cruise into "Tom Cruise." Every time I've seen it (my last viewing actually just a few weeks ago after a late night cable showing of "Hot Shots" put me in the mood), I'm reminded of how surprisingly deep it is. If you just focus on the volley ball scene and the other moments that have been parodied to death, it makes you think it's just 80's fluff. But the film makes me care a surprise amount for the characters, who on the surface seem like mere types. I think the cast is uniformly excellent, especially Edwards and McGillis, one of the best and most mature romantic pairings of Cruise's career. I also have a nostalgic spot for Rick Rossovich. My mother was friends with him in high school and I'd be lying if I hadn't fantasized a few times about the idea that he could have been my father. Naturally that would have included the occasional set visit to "Top Gun" and "The Terminator." TOP GUN should be commended for the fact that it made such a lasting impact on the culture, that I felt like I had seen it even before I ever watched it. It was everywhere, and in many ways still is. When MINORITY REPORT was released in 2002 I really loved it. I wasn't always the world's biggest Phillip K. Dick fan, and I felt that this was a refreshingly deep and complex example of his work. I watched it fondly over the years, and to this day there are sequences in it that I really love. The last time I watched it I was attempting to show it to my wife. I prepared her, telling her that it was a really great sci-fi movie with an unfortunate third act that really nose dives. But throughout the screening, I found myself apologizing for more than just the ending. I do feel though that this was the moment in Spielberg's career when his style and storytelling changed. Notably, this is where he began to routinely insert unnecessary, sentimental, and apologetic endings. His desperate need to reassure the audience something that they didn't need to know (that the Pre-Cogs got to live peacefully in a cabin upstate) is infuriating. It's as if he was terrified that the audience would desperately be wondering what happened to them while driving home from the theater. From here on out, I found that many if not most Spielberg films typically go on 5 minutes longer than they should, often undoing good will that may have come before it. This is true for films that I otherwise really like including "War of the Worlds," "Catch Me If You Can," "Lincoln," "Bridge of Spies," and others. (the cemetery bookends in "Saving Private Ryan" preceded this, but that's a whole other debate worthy of having another time.) To conclude, there is much to love about MINORITY REPORT. Upon first discovery, I was enamored with it, but time hasn't been as kind to it. While a film that I used to hate, "Blade Runner," finally won me over years later as I learned to appreciate its rough edges and imperfections as qualities that actually enhanced the experience, MINORITY REPORT now feels too polished and clean to have enough of a real edge to it. Unlike Amy, I do think that a lot of Tom's charm is still on display in this film, for at least the first half, and I enjoy the casting of Samantha Morton, but at the end of the day, this is just another Phillip K. Dick movie. Another Spielberg movie. Another Tom Cruise movie. Even if it is a better example of those than some others. That is why we should immediately vote TOP GUN into The Canon before this supposed sequel comes out and ruins it forever.
  10. pomattovich

    Episode 116 - Seconds (w/ Matt Zoller Seitz)

    This is another tough decision for me. I've always been very fond of SECONDS. Long before I saw the film, I had nightmares just from a still image of Hudson strapped to the gurney, gagged with the rubber tubing, which I saw at too young an age in an old Century of Cinema book. When I finally saw the film, I had built up the horror so much in my mind that I don't think it could have ever completely satisfied. And it doesn't, but it's still close. I think the setup of the film is outstanding, with John Randolph doing some wonderful and too often under-appreciated work, ultimately getting overshadowed by his alter-ego Rock Hudson. But the way that they coldly set up the details and process of faking his death and preparing the surgery, (over a chicken lunch no less), has always been particularly haunting and disturbing to me. Once Rock Hudson enters the film, I do feel that the premise isn't ever fully realized. Clearly part of the point is that most people who undergo the procedure are instantly faced with the discovery that this hasn't solved their problems and they're unhappy, but the individual scenes that play out aren't fully what we want to see. I'm able to forgive them film its lulls and missteps because Frankenheimer's direction and Howe's cinematography are so stunning and bewitching that they make even the weaker scenes immensely compelling. Although I do love this film, I think I'll have to vote NO for Canon inclusion. Declaring a film "Canon-Worthy" is to suggest that it is required viewing, and I'm not sure that it is. Frankenheimer made so many films that demonstrate an equally powerful flare that I don't know if I can say that this is superior enough to something like The Manchurian Candidate, The Train, Seven Days in May, or the wildly underrated French Connection II. I subjected my wife to a viewing of SECONDS this week to prepare, and while she did enjoy it, once the naked bodies were dancing amongst the grapes and I saw her glancing down at her phone, I considered that perhaps I oversold it a bit. I'm glad the film was introduced into discussion, because it really should be seen and discovered by more people, but I wouldn't necessarily force it upon them. One has to be a willing participant to truly be swept away by this film. Now I'll try to enjoy the rest of my week as I wrestle with my vote on REAL LIFE. So many thoughts...
  11. pomattovich

    Episode 115 - The Stepford Wives (w/ Carina Chocano)

    I feel really conflicted about this, because like with last week's 9 TO 5, I appreciate more what this film represents than I do the actual execution. I had seen this many years ago and remembered being very affected and frightened by it at a young age, but my more recent memories of the story were tainted by the atrocious remake. I really appreciate how Amy and Carina speculated the conflicted reluctance that the husbands seem to feel in this film, because I always thought that you could make an entire different film from their point of view. There seems to be so much unexplored on their end, just in envisioning the logic and means surrounding their plot. But even though this film is virtually entirely from the point of view of Ross' character, I feel like too much of this film's message and meaning is muddled by the male gaze. Specifically, I feel like Ira Levin's source, William Goldman's screenplay, and Bryan Forbes' direction are sometimes at odds with one another. I think there are individual scenes and moments in the film's first two thirds that are really exceptional and provide a growing sense of dread and paranoia, but too much of that gets undercut by a rather silly conclusion that feels content with sacrificing the film's early subtle nuance in favor of a Twilight Zone twist. By contrast, I think both Rosemary's Baby and Get Out commit to their ideas and metaphors better, and lead to more satisfying conclusions. For that reason, I think I'm going to have to vote a reluctant No to allowing The Stepford Wives into The Canon. I don't feel great about it, and Amy and Carina's arguments were nearly able to sway me to their side, but ultimately the film didn't age as well for me as much as I had hoped it would.
  12. When Amy announced this versus my first thought was "the audacity!" Pretty brave move to put a much beloved, iconic feminist film against a middling 80's musical with what now has a cult following at best. But after watching 9 TO 5 again and listening to the episode, I realized it's a tougher fight than I initially thought. Right off the bat I'll say that I greatly prefer THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS. As a fan of both Burt and Dolly, I've always had a fondness for the film, though I never considered it to be a great movie. But that's also how I more or less feel about 9 TO 5. While I love all three women in the cast, (as well as Dabney Coleman, whose masterful mustache is second only to Burt's), and I enjoy the spirit and premise of the film, I too have never been all that wild about the overall execution. It goes on forever and part of me wonders if the film might have fared a little better if it had been taken more seriously, as originally planned. As a kid, I loved Lily Tomlin (I discovered her through her Edith Ann appearances on Sesame Street), and I loved the song and Dolly's non-sex boobs. I didn't appreciate Fonda's attempt at a comedic performance until years later after I discovered her dramatic roots. But I don't know if this film is the best representation of any of the three lead women, and while I think the premise is fun, it never fully takes off for me. It also, as a child, really bothered me that Dabney was eaten by cannibals, and still to this day try to imagine him in the climax of Cannibal Holocaust. THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS on the other hand, is so much fun. As a fan of classic musicals, I was endlessly amused by the notion of a raunchy story about literal sex, as opposed to it hidden in the subtext like usual. I have fond memories of my dad dancing around the house singing Durning's "Dance a Little Sidestep." "I Will Always Love You" is perfectly at home. And I appreciate Burt playing stoically straight and noble amidst the madness. But I have trouble voting it into The Canon for a few reasons. One is that there are much better musicals that haven't gotten consideration yet, and to have this in there first would somehow feel wrong. Another is that only a couple months ago I tried showing my wife TBLWHIT and she absolutely hated it. I tried to relay its goofy charm but she'd have none of it and I had trouble arguing against her points, despite my own affection for the film. So I can't quite imagine calling this film "essential" when I feel it requires a specific taste to appreciate it in the first place. I also think that this shouldn't be the first Burt Reynolds film to be admitted into The Canon, and I promise you, Amy, that we can find a worthy Burt film that isn't necessarily car-centric that could be put up for consideration, (Deliverance, The Longest Yard, Nickelodeon, or The End, to name a few). I also just remembered that I think Boogie Nights won in a battle against Magnolia to get into The Canon so I guess this isn't the first Burt film, but it also needn't be the last. So while I could make arguments for both of these films to be entered or excluded from The Canon, I think I have to pick 9 TO 5. I may not personally enjoy it as much as its counterpart, but I do think it's more socially relevant, is a stronger showcase for actresses in general, and has had a greater cultural relevance. It's a tough choice, and I may regret my decision later, but I say that future generations should probably watch 9 TO 5, even if I'll be taking that time to watch THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS by myself.
  13. pomattovich

    Episode 113 - Putney Swope (w/ Seth Stevenson)

    I had never seen PUTNEY SWOPE before. I was only aware of it and Downey Sr.'s reputation. For the first 15 minutes of watching PUTNEY SWOPE, I was truly blown away. Its satyrical elements felt incredibly ahead of its time. I questioned why more people didn't still talk about this film as a prescient predictor of commercial media. But as the film continued, it wore me down a bit. It often seemed to go in circles, and scenes and character behavior would be hilarious one minute and then unintelligible the next. Mercifully short at 84 minutes, it somehow felt much longer than that, and I have to imagine that it would indeed be a stronger and more focused film at a tight 45 minutes or so. I feel that satires that were made around this era sometimes had difficulty keeping their target in focus for too long. I thought that PUTNEY SWOPE was very similar in tone to films like Brian De Palma's GREETINGS, HI MOM!, and Robert Townsend's HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE. All films I enjoy, but all plagued with similar issues of meandering direction and lack of focus. Amy seemed determined to let in a film about advertising into The Canon, and PUTNEY SWOPE may be the best example of the genre, which hasn't always been represented often on film, but I don't know if this is consistent enough to get Canon access. So while I'm going to have to vote NO for The Canon, I will absolutely recommend this film to like-minded friends who will appreciate its spirit. It's certainly going to inspire me to broaden my Robert Downey Sr. horizons a bit.
  14. pomattovich

    Episode 112 - Footlight Parade (w/ Bryan Cogman)

    I do my best not to vote No on films just because they're not another film I like more. I love FOOTLIGHT PARADE. I really do. But for sheer Busby Berkeley joy, I generally prefer GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 and 42ND STREET. And when wanting my James Cagney dance man fix, I will usually watch YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, even without Berkeley and as cheesy as it is, I feel like that film gives Cagney more chances to get his feet dirty. So I was all prepared to vote no on FOOTLIGHT PARADE but with the certainty of any of those films I mentioned getting Canon consideration in the future, I may just have to vote YES. I love just about any film that features a glorious Berkeley number, with the impossible sets, sudden costume changes, and masses of dancers marching and swaying in formation. But yes, like Amy and Bryan, I too am guilty of sometimes getting impatient and considering fast forwarding to the music and dancing. This was probably my 4th time seeing FOOTLIGHT PARADE and I did watch it in its entirety. There are some golden moments to be had in the first hour or so, though I don't need to subject myself to this entire movie again anytime soon. By contrast, I find myself much less antsy and fidgety during the backstage exposition in the other aforementioned Berkeley films I mentioned. So even with my uncertainty of my vote, once I got to the musical numbers there was little doubt in my mind which direction I would go. Busby Berkeley needs some representation in The Canon, even if it's not in my favorite film. The Waterfall number still makes my jaw drop all these years later and had me thumbing through my Esther Williams library as soon as the film ended. (At the very least, we have to get some real Berkeley theatrics into The Canon before a pale imitation like that found in HAIL CEASAR gets in, which is a film I enjoyed much of, as I do most Coen films, but agree, like Bryan, that the musical homages came across a bit winky and insincere, at least compared to what they were trying to emulate.) I will admit to having some qualms about FOOTLIGHT PARADE as well because of this being one of the more (most?) racist of films for Berkeley to be associated with. I'm generally able to look past that and put such things in a historical context, but I wonder what the outcome might have been if this had been a versus episode with one of his less problematic films. Still, perhaps it's important to have examples of such behavior represented in The Canon, so has to not only fill it with films that represent our ideals but also accurately cover some of the unfortunate history found in great films. I'm still mildly conflicted, but while FOOTLIGHT PARADE wouldn't have been my first choice, I do still love it, and if Amy and Bryan can look past their own critiques and quibbles with the film, then so can I. FOOTLIGHT PARADE gets a YES vote from me. p.s. Yes, Ruby Keeler is awful, but I'm an unapologetic Dick Powell lover.
  15. I was so happy to hear Stephanie Zacharek on the show. I've been a fan of her writing for a long time and was one of my favorite critics to read with when I disagreed with what she was saying. But I certainly didn't disagree with her today. I too really love Coppola as a director, and find myself staunchly defending films like The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette, and The Bling Ring to those who find themselves a bit down on them. For the record, I didn't much care for Somewhere, but there were lots of things about it that I appreciated. Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette are my two favorite Coppola films so this was a difficult choice. I lament that Coppola hasn't been able to return to the scale and budgets she was afforded on Marie Antoinette. It's always exciting to see what a small filmmaker can do when given considerably higher budgets and resources, and I feel like she didn't lose a bit of her voice in telling the grand story of "Queen Kristen." (for the record, Amy, I do really look forward to a Queen Christina episode sometime in the future.) I really love Marie Antoinette but I think I have to vote LOST IN TRANSLATION into the Canon just because I have a stronger personal connection to it. My love affair with Bill Murray has been fading in these recent years, but for a time he was one of the my favorite comedic performers and this is a wonderful performance. The kind of role he seems to be chasing ever since. And Johansson was often accused of giving "blank" performances at this point of her career, in this and films like Ghost World and Man Who Wasn't There, but I think she tells so much about her character and emotions even when presented with minimal dialogue. This is one of the great relationship movies ever made. Last year my wife got to go to Japan on business and she must have watched this film (which she had never seen initially) about 5 times to prepare, so I got to see this film with her through her eyes, with her attempts to fall in love with Tokyo before she even left. So because of that personal connection, and just because this is a great film, I'm voting LOST IN TRANSLATION into The Canon, but this was something of a tough choice because I love them both.
  16. pomattovich

    Episode 110 - Z (w/ Richard Lawson)

    I had been aware of this film for years but had never seen it. It always sounded like homework. But I was determined to give it a chance. Last night I couldn't have been in less of a mood to see the film. Anything political these days exhausts and depresses me. It took me a little while to get in the rhythm of the film. During the opening scene's discussion of mildew, I honestly wondered if the film was supposed to seem absurd and satyrical. That opening seemed rather reminiscent of Buñuel, (there really should be more Buñuel films in The Canon), but soon after that I started to acclimate to the tone of the film more. Once I did, it truly sucked me in. I'm not someone who is automatically able to imprint our current political climate on every past tale of social upheaval, factual or otherwise, but this film did seem far too relevant to today's general mood. The film did inspire me to do a bit more research about the events that inspired it, as they were almost completely unfamiliar with me. I questioned whether or not it mattered that this film is so specific to a time and place to be essential for The Canon. And I was rather surprised by Amy's direct comparison to 3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR, which I didn't think of at all while watching this. To me, Condor is far more of an escapist thriller than this, which felt far too real. But as long as the inclusion of Z doesn't displace the chances of other European political films like THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISE, I say it should absolutely be voted into The Canon, if for no other reason that we need some Greek representation in there. At least until we do a versus episode between THE LOBSTER and DOGTOOTH.
  17. pomattovich

    Episode 109 - Raising Arizona (w/ Ira Madison III)

    This one was too easy. I mean, who hates RAISING ARIZONA? (well, now we know.) This probably is in my Top 10 favorite comedies, and my second favorite Coen Brothers movie. This should be entered into The Canon based on the opening ten minutes alone. In only those ten minutes they were able to condense an entire first act worth of set up and exposition into a wonderful little short. Just based on some of the modern comedies this summer, (Rough Night, Snatched, Baywatch), it typically takes a minimum of 45 minutes of picking around before the introduction of the actual "plot." Raising Arizona is so gloriously brisk and richly detailed. There are so many Coen movies that belong in the Canon, (i'm actually not sure if O' Brother Where Art Thou is one of them, but it's already there), but this is close to the top of my list of essentials. For the record, I too think Burn After Reading (and parts of Intolerable Cruelty) are very underrated as well. Probably not Canon worthy, but this certainly is.
  18. pomattovich

    Episode 108 - The Driver (w/ Edgar Wright)

    I've always been a really big fan of THE DRIVER. To me, it's my go to film when I think of 70's heist films. Is it Canon worthy? I'm not sure. I really love it, but Devin really loved Re-Animator, but I'm not sure if that meant it should have been welcomed into The Canon. To me, The Driver is a blast, but I wouldn't necessarily consider foisting it on the public and list it as an essential film. But should I vote my passion? I certainly appreciate Edgar Wright's enthusiasm for it, and I just came from a screening of Baby Driver and was very appreciative of its influences. But if we let THE DRIVER in, does that mean that we can't let in Le Samurai because cool silent protagonists are covered? And can we then not let in The Blues Brothers because we already have a film about destruction of cars? And Two-Lane Blacktop is already in The Canon, right? I like The Driver more, but I enjoy them both and I'm not sure if we need both. Hmmmm. Tough choice. It is probably my favorite Walter Hill film so... sure. Let's vote it in. If for no other reason, as a noteworthy film that influenced so many others.
  19. pomattovich

    Episode 107 - Black Orpheus vs. City of God (w/ Justin Chang)

    As a 22 year old in 2002, I was pretty mesmerized by CITY OF GOD when it was released, but I haven't revisited it since then because I've got a sneaking suspicion that my older self will start to see the cracks and influences within it. BLACK ORPHEUS, on the other hand, I saw at too young an age and didn't understand what the big deal was, and I hadn't revisited it until it played at Metrograph last year and I was able to see it on the big screen. During that viewing I was transfixed and stunned by its use of color and sound. It's a wonderful film that should get immediate entry into The Canon, though I fear it won't. I lament that it was entered in a head to head competition, especially against a film that neither co-host seemed to like all that much. I think that CITY OF GOD was a rather important and exciting visual film at the time of its release, but I wouldn't call it a classic or Canon-worthy.
  20. pomattovich

    Episode 106 - Fatal Attraction (w/ Heather Matarazzo)

    I hadn't seen this film since I was a teenager and didn't have particularly good memories of it. Watching it again and seeing it more of a depiction of the status and place of women in the particular time of the late 1980's, I found a lot more in there that I could enjoy and respect... at least for the first hour or so. Remembering mostly where the film was heading, I found Glenn Close's early "pre-affair" scenes to oddly seductive and bewitching. The moment when she kisses Douglas to get him to stay and then reveals to have slit her wrists, I found genuinely terrifying. While undeniably unhinged, it's hard to not see Alex as a victim of mental abuse and someone who needs help, which she sadly can't ever receive when she's perceived as a psychopath by everyone else in the film, and ultimately by the film itself. Later in the film, it becomes very difficult to not sympathize with Douglas, because the skew of the film presents very little alternatives. As a straight male, I suppose I've always identified with his character more and felt sympathy for him, even when being fairly put off by his behavior and not finding him at all appealing. I don't know if this is a particularly great film, but it's undeniably one of cultural importance. I decided though that I wouldn't make my Canon decision until I heard Amy and Heather (who was outstanding on this episode and I really hope she returns soon), make their cases. They both brought up such interesting things I had never considered. I too had always imagined that there was no actual baby. That a doctor or someone posing as one lied to Douglas, with Alex merely using the possibility of a child to keep him in her life. Watching the film now, I'm convinced more than ever that the baby exists, making the ending all the more horrifying. I remembered seeing the original ending and preferring it, though couldn't remember the details of what it was. Watching it again I'm now angrier than ever that it wasn't included. It doesn't fix everything, but having Alex kill herself adds a certain resignation and knowledge that she knows all of her extreme efforts can't ever be successful in bringing him back to her, but only makes her madness even more one of unfair frustration. I had quite forgotten that De Palma was ever going to direct this and that the finale included Close in a kabuki mask with a blade. Kinda makes me want to watch De Palma's PASSION again, which seems to have recycled some of those elements. So how will I vote? I think that this film sparks too much discussion and debate to not be let into The Canon, so I'm going to vote YES, even though I think it's an example of a Canon-worthy film that isn't necessarily good, but an important time capsule to be preserved simply for the what it does NOT show and what the film's compromises and treatment of its female characters says about the era in which it was made. I still don't love this movie. Much of it I don't even like. But I would absolutely encourage anyone who has never seen it to form their own opinion before just dismissing it as the "boiling rabbit movie," which I am guilty of considering it of being for many years now.
  21. pomattovich

    Episode 105 - Eraserhead vs. Blue Velvet (w/ Michael Nordine)

    I appreciate the artistry of all David Lynch films, even the ones I don't entirely enjoy. Blue Velvet is one of the films that I've never loved as much as I'm told that I should. Frankly, I think the Twin Peaks pilot captures the tone better, and Mulholland Drive perfected it by mixing in surreal nightmares first generated in Eraserhead. Even if Mulholland Drive (quietly my favorite) were under consideration for the Canon, I think I would still vote for ERASERHEAD, because it is Lynch in his purest form. It was made without any real expectations that it would ever be seen, and therefor I find that most of Lynch's subsequent films can be traced back to it in one way or another. So I'm going to vote ERASERHEAD into The Canon, though I lament to see that I am in the minority.
  22. pomattovich

    Episode 104 - Female Trouble (w/ Jake Fogelnest)

    I whole heartily endorse FEMALE TROUBLE to be let into The Canon. I've always had a soft spot for John Waters, but I must admit that aside from a recent viewing of Scream Factory's Serial Mom and a theatrical outing to Polyester last year, it had been many years since I had visited much of Waters' work. I saw Female Trouble around the same time I discovered Pink Flamingos and Hairspray, many many years ago. I gave it another watch last night and I was blown away. I was laughing so loud that I woke my wife up in the other room. I didn't know any of the Manson family connections when I saw the film in my youth, so I never truly got what the film was about. I had always thought it was just another fun, exploitive "woman's picture." When this episode was first introduced, I questioned whether or not this was the right candidate of Waters to be considered for The Canon. I thought the iconography of Pink Flamingos or the popularity of Hairspray would make for an easier get. But after watching this again, I dare say it might be my favorite Waters film I've seen. Tonight I'm going to unwrap my Criterion copy of Multiple Maniacs that has been sitting on my shelf unwatched since its released. I'm now suddenly in a Waters mood and I can't get enough.
  23. pomattovich

    Episode 103 - Where the Sidewalk Ends (w/ Pat Healy)

    I do really love this movie, but I don't think it's Canon worthy. I always thought that the love story element was out of place. I try not to work this way when it comes to voting, but I think there are half a dozen other Otto Preminger films that I would consider first. I love the genre of a guilty man covering his tracks, but I wonder if this film would be one of the stronger ones of the genre if Preminger hadn't brought such extraordinary direction to it. But I love that Pat Healy is such a fan. It's definitely an underrated and often forgotten film. And I love that Twilight Time has done such a beautiful restoration of the film. If you're reading this, Pat, I really enjoyed TAKE ME. I like your style, sir.
  24. I absolutely loved this trilogy upon its release, but was worried that I would have soured myself on it after hating at least 70% of The Hobbit movies. Upon revisiting the original LOTR trilogy a few months ago, I was astonished how fresh and magnificent these films still feel. Even the CGI effects are still glorious to behold (with only a few notable exceptions), and they actually look superior to a lot of the effects we're subjected to today. I do think that there is something to the point that Return of the King was more lauded because it concluded the tale, and I do love that film and would almost vote it in just because it has the more prominent use of Gollum, which is still a spectacular effect and performance. But I'm voting FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, because while Return of the King concluded the story well, Fellowship gives the series a perfect introduction, managing to introduce a world of characters while still telling its own compelling story arc.
  25. pomattovich

    Episode 101 - Shakespeare in Love (w/ David Ehrlich)

    I'm going to vote a tepid YES for Shakespeare in Love to be let into The Canon. I am not someone who believes that it inappropriately robbed Saving Private Ryan of the Best Picture oscar. Frankly, SPR justly won Spielberg a directing oscar for the stunning D-Day sequence, but I've always found the rest of the film to be rather clunky and bland. We may think of a film like Shakespeare in Love as typical oscar bait now, but at the time it was a genuine shock to see it win simply because it was a comedy. A comedy hadn't won the top honor since Annie Hall in 1977, and one hasn't won since (unless you find yourself busting your gut over The Artist). I don't think comedies get enough love and attention and I think Shakespeare in Love is a very enjoyable one. Credit that to the screenplay by Mark Norman and the masterful Tom Stoppard, who deftly makes this script feather-light for audiences looking for a fluffy love story, while layering it with obscure facts about Shakespeare, his contemporaries, and the history of theater. And that's the other reason I'm allowing this into The Canon, because it's one of the better films I've seen that is about theater that actually feels like its participants know what they're lovingly lampooning and celebrating. This is a great film about theater. It also has a tremendous cast. I wouldn't have given Gwyneth an oscar over Blanchett for Elizabeth that year, but I do find her to be perfectly nice in the role. Geoffrey Rush is also very funny in the film, and bit roles from Tom Wilkinson, Simon Callow, and Imelda Staunton are most welcomed. I like Amy's point that this celebrating a film like this takes nothing away from its supposed rivals, like Saving Private Ryan. There are better comedies than Shakespeare in Love that should be in The Canon, but I've always had a lot of affection for it and think there's room for it.