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Everything posted by BenjaminCornelius-Bates

  1. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Episode 159 - Caddyshack (w/ Alex Schmidt)

    Lots of good things have been said, so I'll just add two thoughts that I had while watching it. First, after the opening credits, there is no music for another half hour. Whether it's a song or incidental music, that can really help set a tone for comedy (think of Blazing Saddles, which has brilliant music queues in it). The incidental music is really bizarre and usually pulled me out of the film as a total distraction and out of place despite the great Kenny Loggins songs. Second, the pacing of the movie is really off. Even if it was totally improvised, films can be put together in a coherent way through a good editor, like Scorsese's Raging Bull. This movie, despite some great talent and even some good moments, suffers the most in the editing room. It's a total mess. Okay, three things: it's not bad as a middle of the road comedy. Even if it's behind the scenes are stuff of lore (cocaine!), the movie itself is not that great. It is too long, the comedy is too inconsistent, and the music is really off. I argued for Friday's infinite quotability, which is something this movie does not have at all. It can be funny, but I do not find it quotable. I'm always happy for comedy films to be presented they have (obviously) been under-represented in the film history. But this particular one, is just not as good as its reputation.
  2. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Swing Time

    ABSOLUTELY. Whole heartedly second this.
  3. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

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

    I haven't seen this since it came out in the theatre and I remember one of my college friends totally hated it. He showed me The American Friend shortly after that and I could understand why, it's a far superior film. Upon revisiting it, the movie is fine. Definitely well acted, but that's about it. I probably won't watch it again for 20 years when I get curious about it because I have forgotten it. Soft no.
  4. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Homework - The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

    Hm. I haven't seen this since it came out.
  5. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Episode 157 - Grease vs. Hairspray (w/ Adam Egypt Mortimer)

    I feel like the songs in Grease are way bigger than the movie itself. Throughout the whole episode, I was thinking about The Sound of Music, where the movie just at best okay but the songs are absolutely fantastic - I also utterly disagree with Amy that the songs are bad. The movie (not the original) plays like a nostalgia trip for me, kids trying to find themselves and whatever. I've never been a huge fan of Grease, but I find it very well acted with great music and watchable enough. I wonder if I would enjoy it more if I had an experience like Adam in a theatre with an enthusiastic audience. I do love Hairspray's over the top look. The music, the quirkiness, the look, and the acting here too is really fun. But Hairspray is problematic for reasons Adam points out, though maybe not articulated the best. If the thesis of the film is that we are all not so different and can come together by celebrating in music together, it glosses over the cultural appropriation of black American music by white Americans. I'm also pretty certain it has a white savior complex, maybe, wrapped in "Hey, we're all social rejects here! Let's unite!" Hrm. It's frustrating because the black experience is very, very clearly through a white lens, but it is kept light and quirky that is fun, well intentioned and all, but, but... I dunno. I'm just going to quote syncasy 2.0: I thought coming into this that I would be voting for Hairspray but I tried to be open to change my mind. And though those Grease songs are total ear worms, wonderfully so, I have to go with Hairspray. It's just a better movie.
  6. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Episode 156 - Legends of the Fall (w/ Kendra James)

    I definitely skipped this one in 1994. As a (stupid) teenager boy, this really didn't appeal to me at all, especially with my vague memories of how it was advertised. So I am happy that I did get to watch this with adult eyes and not (stupid) teenager boy eyes. And now that I've seen it, here a just a few thoughts. It's well acted, nicely shot, and the score is nice enough. The biggest problem to me is simply the script. It's kind of a mess: there are a lot of good elements there, but it could have maybe used another draft. Or perhaps it should have been some sort of miniseries like Lonesome Dove where the various storylines might be better fleshed out. The movie seems to start with a "previously on.." with all the narration, the introduction of Sam and Susannah returning from some unseen adventure, and then the story resumes. That's a part of the melodrama I suppose, but it doesn't quite click for me, the drama is unearned. I had hoped at some point that the voice overs would stop, but they kept coming back and giving exposition that told me what to feel rather than the actors and visuals tell the story. For example, during the beginning of the WWI, Sam says that his two brothers aren't getting along and he didn't know why. That information had already been given to us in a previous scene through, well, acting and visuals. I really, REALLY did not like the voice overs. I'm a soft no. I am glad that I have finally watched it, but I will probably never return to it. I'll go watch The Man from Snowy River now.
  7. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Episode 152 - The Breakfast Club (w/ Christy Lemire)

    PS: It's good to be back. I had to take a hiatus to focus on my comps. I've missed listening to the podcast and reading the smart comments you all post.
  8. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Episode 152 - The Breakfast Club (w/ Christy Lemire)

    The best thing in this movie are the actors. They are so freakin' good. Everyone knocks a home-run. Even the critique that the women are underdeveloped is valid, but the actors give 110%. On top of that, it is a movie, as was discussed in the podcast, from the vantage of the teenagers, but also the teachers, if briefly. Another point strongly going for this movie. That is such a strong asset, kids hating adults, adults realizing that they've become adults, is really powerful. And the soundtrack! Eat my shorts! Paul Gleason! But at the end of the day, it's a movie for white suburban people. While it might be called a cultural moment: it is a cultural moment for white suburban folks. I think saying that is important and should be kept in mind when discussing the movie. Still, I voted yes.
  9. BenjaminCornelius-Bates


    I've noticed that Hitchcock has not appeared yet on The Canon. I'm particularly fond of Vertigo, but that feels too easy. So does The 39 Steps, though I don't know how well modern audiences know Hitchcock's early British films. So many good choices! Any thoughts?
  10. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Episode 134 - Love Actually (w/ Michael H. Weber)

    One more thought: I wonder if this would have worked better on television as a miniseries. Curtis' work there is far greater than his silver screen output. Maybe the longer format of a BBC series over several seasons, or even a single one, would have made this better (plus a writer's room). That would have also included Howard Goodall composing the music, which would be a godsend compared to the schlocky musical dump that the movie has.
  11. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Episode 134 - Love Actually (w/ Michael H. Weber)

    I find comedy difficult as it is really subjective as to what makes a good comedy. In general, romantic comedies mix sentimentality with the comedic elements; not my cup of tea generally speaking. That is compared to, say, horror comedy, or pure silly comedies like much of Mel Brooks' output or Monte Python. I like much of Richard Curtis' television programs: Vicar of Dibley and Blackadder are really great! But this movie? I think the premise is kind intriguing and watching the movie, I guess I get it, but whatever lofty goals on the movie sets out to achieve fall flatly. The acting is fine, the look and feel of the film works well enough (Christmas!), but I put it on the script. It all starts with the script. All problems mentioned eloquently by others, this this is an ugly, problematic monster gussied up.
  12. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Episode 132 - Carnal Knowledge (w/ Molly Lambert)

    RE: The Graduate After having some time to think about the podcast, I had not realized what a piece of shit Dustin Hoffman's character was (or what a piece of shit Dustin Hoffman is). I have not watched that film since college (late 90s/early 00s) and am unsurprised by this, but I think it should be added that The Graduate's greatest influence comes from its soundtrack. It was the biggest film to ever use an entirely pop soundtrack and that did not change much until Star Wars, which brought back symphonic scores as a viable accompaniment to a film. Sure there are always films before that may have paved the way, like Jaws, but it takes a cultural moment from a film in order for that to happen. Like the Matrix and martial arts as a part of action movie language acceptable to American audiences. (*Almost every sentence here could have the clause "in the US" added to it. European films were so often ahead of the curve in terms of their sound design and scores. At least until John Williams and Star Wars.) On that note, the soundtrack to Carnal Knowledge is relatively sidelined. An interesting choice, but one that fits well with everything else going on. The Graduate feels important because the music is unique and can distract from the cynical message of that movie. Here, the soundtrack is just background noise and could be replaced with just about anything that fits its time period.
  13. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Episode 132 - Carnal Knowledge (w/ Molly Lambert)

    I had a hard time deciding whether I liked this movie or not. This was something I had not seen, but I find watching horrible people doing horrible things generally an unpleasant experience. After listening to the episode, I really liked Molly's arguments that the film is a lesson to be learned. Basically, do not be an ass hole, do not treat people (men treating women) like sexual objects. It's is an educational film! The film is beautifully shot and acted. Those long shots held on the various characters while things happened around them are just fantastic. It forced me to be empathetic, understand their (horrible) motivations and thoughts, which made the viewing experience difficult but in a way where I could not stop watching. I loved the final shot looking down on Jonathan, the camera seeming to despise him. After all that, soft yes. (Also, this is not the first Mike Nichols in the Canon: we have Working Girl!)
  14. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Episode 130 - The Room (w/ Paul Scheer)

    This was the first time I watched this movie. I have no idea how idea how I did not catch this in college, but it is right in that hole where I graduated and where I moved on in life to a different phase. I want to start with a thing I did with my college buddies where we wrote a top 25 list of our favorite movies but we were all allowed a "guilty pleasure;" a film that was not actually good, but fit that weird area of so-bad-it's-good genre. Mine, in my collegiate top 25, was the PWSA' Mortal Kombat from 1995, the first time I saw a film on its opening, which included people yelling and chanting and throwing things at the screen. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had in a theatre. That is a winding way to ask what matters most: is the film good/important, the experience of the film, or its impact on culture important? Many have already addressed that in the forums already. I think bleary's point about it still being discussed compared to other films like War Horse is a really great point; I would throw Plan 9 From Outer Space in that same category. As The Room is an indulgence pick, does it meet any criteria to be in the Canon? The only point I want to throw into the mix, something that was touched on in the podcast, is one of sincerity. Or maybe earnestness. I voted for The Tingler because it hit all the right marks for me as a piece of excellent schlock, with sincere performances making the schlock so much better. But where the Tingler is not particularly discussed today (maybe the gimmick is), The Room, I feel is still a part of the conversation in the so-bad-it-is-good category.I feel torn, but I just landed on the side of yes. That line, that Thin Blue Canon Line (pun from last week!), can be a dubious thing, but if my experience of a film is something that I enjoy, makes me think (often WTF), and leaves me questioning the very art form itself (oh god those football scenes), how can I deny its entry into the Canon? I cannot wait to see The Disaster Artist now that I have seen the disaster.
  15. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Variety vs Redundancy [VOTERS PLEASE READ AND COMMENT]

    Cool discussion. I try to take each film on its own merits, within a certain context. For me, it can be hard to even compare two films from the same film maker, as is pointed out above. I perused the Canon list of episodes on Wikipedia and there seems to be a heavier emphasis on more recent films (maybe late 70s/early 80s and after?). Covering English speaking North American films made in the past 30 years or so is what makes the Canon feel a little redundant and without variety. But time, much like in the music industry, has weeded out almost all but the best. I have always hoped that the podcast would focus on the things that are not necessarily "slam dunks." Even the most recent episode, Starship Troopers (vs. Robocop; boo) is a solid genre work that is worth discussion but I wonder if there are better choices in late 90s science fiction to discuss. What would a discussion of Dark City look like? Or City of Lost Children? Or in a versus episode of late 90s sci-fi works? I don't know. I personally want more early films. We are almost 130 episodes in and we still have not discussed Hitchcock, who is controversial no doubt, but deserves an audience. Can we view his movies positively knowing that Tippi Hendren has accused Hitchcock of sexual assault? Does the artist deserve separation from his art? There are plenty of other directors/writers/actors-actresses that deserve discussion. Maybe it is time to look to more early films. I do not know. Thanks for the topic discussion.
  16. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Episode 128 - Starship Troopers (w/ Jordan Hoffman)

    I've been spending the whole week pondering this episode, trying to figure out what I want to say. I think many others have touched on excellent points about Robocop and seeing the tie in the votes currently shows the absolute problem with arbitrarily turning this into a versus episode. I do not think the two movies, Robocop and Starship Troopers, are truly comparable. I think Robocop was called an 80s sci-fi film and I think that label is absolutely wrong. Robocop is a superhero movie. The arc of the film, focused on Alex Murphy, follows the arc of the origin story of a superhero (movie). The story elements treat the science more like grounded fantasy as would be found in superhero origin stories like, say, Darkman or Batman (1989) from the era. The tropes of Robocop are superhero tropes. Verhoeven's science fiction films, Total Recall, Hollow Man, or Starship Troopers have more in common with each other as they are clear allegorical tales, to varying successes. Robocop, yes, has allegorical elements, but again, contains leans more on superhero tropes, not science fiction tropes which includes allegory in a very different way than superhero's use allegory. Starship Troopers is so clearly a satirical fascist propaganda film where the story is perfunctory whereas Robocop is a superhero origin story with light satirical Reagan/80s Corporate world as backdrop. Finally, I was going to abstain from voting, but I decided to come down on the side of Starship Troopers. I thought about which film is the better Verhoeven and Starship Troopers is tighter, clearer in vision, and makes a stronger point with its satire. I feel Robocop, while brilliant, is a little sloppier in its presentation. Please give us a better heads up next time there is an arbitrary versus episode. I do not think anyone was happy with that decision. With a tie, I hope Starship Troopers gets in and Robocop will someday show up on another episode. (Robocop vs. Darkman!)
  17. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

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

    Such a brutal episode, but I had to go for The Thing too.
  18. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Homework - Back to the Future Trilogy (1985, 1989, 1990)

    This should be fun! This series has one of the best scores of any great series. It should be a fun rewatch as I have not done so in some time.
  19. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

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

    Some really interesting comments! I am surprised how much people are not voting for this movie. I feel like Cronenberg's oeuvre is one of the best amongst our very best film makers. Not that Cronenberg's filmography is perfect, but he is a rare director that I will always watch. Even set next to other contemporary horror film makers of the time, I believe his films have aged far better and still lead to interesting discussions. I think The Brood stands quite well on its own. Great performances and an interesting subtext are what I always hope from a Cronenberg film and this one delivers quite nicely. I think a few comments have mentioned it being historically minor, but that isn't necessarily a case against what is a very good movie. Influence can be a marker of an important film, like the Matrix, but does not necessarily help a case against it. I think Spielberg or Hitchcock or (fill in with great director) have lesser films that should be considered compared to their obvious masterpieces. Perhaps this is a good moment to reflect on what is this elusive thing we call "The Canon." I freely admit that Videodrome and History of Violence are far superior films, but I do not think that would make for as interesting of an episode. The show has done some "slam dunk" episodes, but the episodes I enjoy the most are the ones that call out the films that teeter between good and great. Or better yet, a film I missed that I had never considered. Not that I should make an assumption, but Videodrome clearly gets in, whereas The Brood is a very good movie that may or may not deserve to be in the Canon.
  20. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Episode 125 - The Host (w/ Owen Shiflett)

    This was the first Korean film I ever saw when it was first released and I really didn't like it. All the weird tonal shifts, the inappropriate music, the bad CGI (and I thought it was bad then), all led me to not understand why the movie seemed to be well liked. Having seen many Korean films since then and then revisiting the Host for the first time since its release, I have come to a slightly different conclusion. To be transparent, I voted yes. Not a resounding yes, but a solid in-the-camp-for-this-movie-yes. I think the movie is too long: as an arm chair editor, maybe 20 minutes less would really help. The music stinks. Definitely. The monster is not that interesting in its design and oh boy that CGI is bad. But I think the movie is not about strange writing or directing choices, but rather the movie is not so self-serious. Every serious moment is undercut by comedy in some way. The over acting when the family thought Hyun-seo had died was a way to defuse the seriousness. Which, in the next scene, gets to what I think the message of the movie is. In that scene, those who came into contact with the monster are isolated and have to deal with the government. The government pretends it knows what it is doing but it has no idea. The guy in the yellow hazmat suit tries to turn on the news to give the people information. To me, this scene and others, say that this movie is about government incompetence. Frankly, I think the monster has little to do with what I see in the movie. The monster is merely a device to make this message in an entertaining way. Everything the government does, Korean or US, does not help anyone but makes it look like they are doing something. Sure the environmental message is there, but I feel like it is really a backdrop to the larger theme of incompetence. Snowpiercer is a direct successor to this critique of government (though the scale of that critique is much larger). Which leads to The Host's other primary message: it is all about family. Government, bad and will not be there for any real assistance; family, difficult but reliable in the end. Also, do not take any of this too seriously. That is my two cents. And thanks kapryor42 for posting the Every Frame a Painting video - it is an excellent essay on Bong Joon-ho's directorial abilities. I really like that youtube channel.
  21. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Homework - The Host (2006)

    I can't wait to revisit this: I did not care for it on my first viewing, but subsequent viewings have always been positive.
  22. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Recommendation Thread: French New Extremity

    Holy cow - what a great list. Thanks Adam! Everyone should see INSIDE. It's a blast.
  23. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Episode 123 - Martyrs (w/ Adam Egypt Mortimer)

    Thanks for replying! I had such a hard time getting the Quebec accent out of my ear since I know its sound. And I would also point out that the multi-national production of the Star Wars movies lend themselves to being beyond their filming locations, having a strongly American and British cast. The smaller and fewer actors of Martyrs, the accent and mostly singular location jumped out at me. Although, now I'm thinking of the Star Wars prequels and their hugely problematic accents... Whatever. Upon reflection, I think you, Adam, are spot on. It got me thinking of Armando Iannucci's The Death of Stalin, which does not concern itself with anything but the thematic material, obvious from the trailers. I watched the film before listening to the podcast and the discussion was strictly about France and French culture, which surprised me. The location and accent was strongly apparent to me. Perhaps there is another reading of the movie that lends itself to Quebec and French-Canadian culture which has at many times tried to divorce itself from the English speaking portion of the country while never succeeding. As if, French-Canadians, have martyred their French identity for their Canadian identity. I will leave that at: I need to think about that some more. This speaks to the film's flexible interpretations. I am a believer that the artist and their intentions can often and should be separate from their interpretations. I love that simply by filming Martyrs in Canada, it can to certain audience members such as myself, see something else in the film that may not have been intentionally there. Thank again Adam for replying - I am really glad you brought this to the Canon.
  24. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Homework - Suspiria (1977)

    This should be fun.
  25. BenjaminCornelius-Bates

    Episode 123 - Martyrs (w/ Adam Egypt Mortimer)

    Great episode, I loved the discussion, and now my thoughts. I first need to poke a large hole in Adam's dissection of the film. The film is not French, but French-Canadian. Just a quick look at the Wikipedia page shows that the production companies are both in France and Canada. It was clearly filmed in Quebec, the trees are a dead give away being in North America. You can also hear it in their accents. For example, oi (yes) is pronounced "why" and not "we," as you would find in France. Which then deflates much of the analysis about French cultural implications from WWII. Toronto, Montreal, and much of Canada is a very diverse and finding half-Asians or half-Moroccans, speaking French, is common, particularly in that part of Canada. Yes, the director is French, it first played in France, had a French distributor, but I would argue that its setting cannot be denied. What I think it does play to, is the religiosity. My reading of the film, particularly with a title like Martyrs, is it that this would somehow be about religion. It being French Canadian (or French for that matter), I assumed it would be about the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church asks its followers to strip themselves of everything they have for the greater good of the church. Mademoiselle represents the bureaucracy and hierarchy of the Church, the family are the ordained priests, brothers, and sisters, and Lucy and Anna are the lay people. Lucy fights the system, Anna is slightly compliant until learning the horrible disturbing truth of religion. The ending then was a comment that the eternal belongs not the Church, but its people. I do love Adam's analysis of Anna being Mother. I also love Mademoiselle's explanation of horror films. Those are some really cool, keen insights that had not occurred to me at all. The movie does ask for second viewings, third, maybe fourth. Though, I do not foresee myself wanting to watch this too often. I do think that brutal violence only really works when there is a point. Tarantino is often picked on for the amount of violence depicted in his films, but that is because we care. We develop empathy for the situation. Sheesh, Superman destroys half a city, murders thousands and I did not care. Anna's journey in this film is tough to watch because, well, I cared. Lastly, I want to add that I am really happy to have seen this. I do not know how I missed seeing this when it came out as it is the kind of thing I like watching; foreign horror is often a very fascinating watch. I found the film, despite some of the more cliched elements, to move along at just the right pace. When one section seemed to be finished, a new compelling element was introduced. Once that played out, introduce another element. I also think the sound design and score are really effective. When there is so little dialogue, the sound and score need to fill that void, which it did competently. I found myself on the fence on this one. I really liked it, felt it was a bit exploitive, but it had a point to make, made the point competently and strongly, which is why I ultimately went yes.