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Newlin

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  1. Newlin

    Episode 85: BOOGIE NIGHTS vs TWBB

    Oh man. I thought this one would be hard, and it is brutal to toss a really great movie (at least temporarily) out of the canon in this vs. episode, but after re-watching, I think it was just really obvious that it has to be There Will Be Blood. The main thing I thought coming out of watching them was that Boogie Nights is an incredible film that is so deft and able to create such a heartwarming story of family out of a scene that most people would initially think was gross, seedy, etc. It's practically an impossible task, but he doesn't just pull it off, he turns it into a near-perfect film. But that's just the thing -- It's near perfect. I think there are couple flaws that make TWBB cross the finish line just a bit earlier. They're so minor, but still there. For instance, I think Rollergirl's arc isn't quite handled as well as everyone else's. I think Amber Waves' mom role is hit on just a bit too forcefully, like Amy pointed out. And I think that the overall feeling I walked away with was that you could tell this was a brilliant director making an early film, like a childhood piano virtuoso -- It's incredible but you can still see the slightest lack of control (compared to what they are capable of, not compared to other virtuosos/filmmakers). Whereas There Will Be Blood is just perfect. I can't honestly think of even really minor flaws. It's just the best film that it could possibly be. Day-Lewis is amazing, Dano's performance is even more strikingly good given that it's in Day-Lewis' shadow. I'll also say that one thing that swayed me was precisely how different TWBB is from other PTA films. It's the first one that really got away from heartwarming-in-a-fucked-up-way films he stuck to before. And it finally proved that he could make whatever film he wanted. That he's not just good, he's one of the all-time greats. Also, I'm one of those weirdos who would have voted for Magnolia over Boogie Nights. I just love that movie. In certain ways I even think Boogie Nights feels like a warm-up try at Magnolia. Which is saying a lot because Boogie NIghts is so damn good.
  2. Newlin

    Episode 84: RE-ANIMATOR

    I totally agree, but that's not exactly what I'm getting at. It's more about choosing the good street tacos and refusing to eat the bad (or even mediocre) ones because why would you: there's nothing limiting you.
  3. Newlin

    Episode 84: RE-ANIMATOR

    But what specifically? It's not a bad movie, but what does it actually add to the canon? What about this film is exceptional, something that no (or few) other films have done? What can we learn from Re-Animator about cinema, or life, or really anything? Does it teach us that lesson in some special way that's really awesome? Why does it deserve to be remembered? Just because you can't have too much fun doesn't mean that anything that's fun is a great movie. Fun does not imply or mean anything other than fun. It's just not the same thing as being truly great, and there are plenty of truly great films that are also fun. So let's add them, not this. It's like someone told us they'd pay for every meal we ate for the rest of our lives regardless of price, and instead of going for truly great cuisine from all around the world, we just keep eating gas station hot dogs because they're familiar. It makes no sense given that we can and should eat anything we want. Fine, eat a hot dog every once in a while cause they're tasty, but at least make it the best hot dog you can find. We don't have to settle for anything!
  4. Newlin

    Episode 84: RE-ANIMATOR

    I do. Yeah, I came in a little hot there. Sorry. I gotta remember to wait a little while before posting.
  5. Newlin

    Episode 84: RE-ANIMATOR

    I feel a bit bad about making two negative comments about Devin the the last two weeks (and I fear that like Trump, criticizing D. only makes him stronger) but I was just so blown away and annoyed by the way the conversation went this week. Devin is seemingly incapable of making or understanding an argument. I mean this as a criticism, and I mean it in a very specific way. He's knowledgable and passionate, but at the end of the day he mostly just talks like an articulate fanboy who nevertheless can't quite understand that movies he likes aren't the best just because he likes them. It's an attitude that's literally the opposite of being a film critic. And that makes it so frustrating and really off-putting to hear him take an undeserved shit on well-thought-out arguments that Amy provides when he both refuses to make an argument himself or acknowledge that he even understands what Amy is saying. It's childish to constantly interrupt, make fun of, hyperbolize and outright misrepresent what your conversational partner is saying. But that was fun and entertaining for like 50 episodes so whatever, it's part of the format I guess, but by this episode it got really old and annoying. You'll always notice when Devin realizes he's wrong because he'll be silent and then just say something about another movie he doesn't like. Amy drew an analogy about the cannon and explaining movies to aliens and what the implications are for whether Re-Animator makes it in. Rather than simply answering the question of whether you'd show the alien Evil Dead II or Re-Animator, or even acknowledging that a good point was made about niches and the overall quality of movies, he just said "I wouldn't show them Working Girl," and said Amy, a working film critic, doesn't understand genre. WTF. Actually, I'm glad I mentioned Trump earlier, because really, Devin is the Donald Trump of film critics — except that Devin he can put together a grammatical sentence. But his approach to conversation is basically identical. Change the subject, adopt your opponent's point as your own when you think they're not paying attention, then insult them. Pretty simple to figure out. Anyway. Re-Animator is fine. It's the the exact same argument we already had about They Live, ironically re-animated for no good reason in a second episode. Except this time there's no relevant political message that still resonates to push Re-Animator over the line undeservedly. Otherwise they're in exactly the same category of decent, competent, slightly above average movies that don't deserve to be remembered except by film historians.
  6. Newlin

    Episode 83: KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE

    Also, just wanted to say Amy's a genius for pointing out that the limited kinds of "world" movies that we end up getting in the U.S. say much more about our culture than the culture they came from. By by extending that logic, though, every time Devin thinks it's weird that adults often watch and draw cartoons with sex and breasts, it says more about Devin than about the people who make anime.
  7. Newlin

    Episode 83: KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE

    I was planning to vote no after watching this movie (for the first time), but Film Crit Hulk convinced me. It really is the most quintessentially Miyazaki of Miyazaki movies. In a lot of ways, it has every element that individually goes into all his other films, and I think that status warrants its inclusion. And I don't think we have to be worried about the fact that several of his other movies are better on a lot of levels and more obviously canon. I don't think that should be a factor at all. The show has now addressed I think 4 Spielberg movies, and there's never been a concern that putting one of them in would preclude putting in another (at least I can't remember such a concern) or that too many were being discussed. I think Miyazaki should be approached the same way. Spirited Away and Totoro are definitely canon movies so 1) they'll probably get to them at some point and 2) they probably deserve to be talked about and debated less precisely because they're such obvious cases. In addition to the fact that it is the most Miyazaki film ever, Kiki's Delivery Service is an incredibly delicately-balanced film, and one that I think very few other directors could have made, if any. There's magic in this world, but a very limited kind that other filmmakers would have wanted to ramp up. There's some history to witches, but we only get the bare minimum necessary to move the (emotional) plot forward; Again, another director would have started to get into world-building and origin explaining. And there's the fact that this is a young girl in a potentially scary, dangerous world. Another director might have taken that in a creepy direction, but here we get much more everyday battles and struggles that bring home what it's probably like for most 13-year-old girls. The stakes are raised by making them lower, something I think he does really well and that a lot of other directors are scared of doing. There are just so many really narrow little holes that he threads the directorial needle through, narratively and in terms of setting — I think it's easy to focus on the simple, overly-charming feel-good aspects of this movie and forget the smart choices that make all that work, and make him a one-of-a-kind filmmaker.
  8. Newlin

    Episode 82: THEY LIVE

    I'm totally in favor of having a big canon with lot's of films that are exceptional in some way. But that's exactly the thing for me: this film, while good, is totally unexceptional. It's not the first or best film to call into question the sheep-like consumerism of our society, to address the idea that we are a nation run by a secret cabal of monsters (literally or figuratively), or to point out the banality and silliness of evil. It's not even in the top 50 best or most important movies of it's decade, it's barely top 10 most important movies of 1988. It didn't change the culture, it's not a universal touchstone. It didn't have a heavy influence on later films. It's not the director's best film, though maybe somewhere in the top 5. It's not a particularly good example of the cinematic craft. It's not particularly clever or original. It's not an exceptionally good movie adaptation. I think you get the point. It's got some things going for it: It has a few solid images and themes. It's got some good one-liners. It's entertaining and interesting, has a solid premise and provokes a few thoughts. And the film works overall. But all that only means it meets the baseline of what any competent film should have. Meeting the minimum standards for a good film is nowhere near canon-worthy, even for a big cannon that includes films that are exceptional in a narrow or broad sense. We all seem to like this movie. But is that good enough? I don't think so.
  9. Newlin

    Episode 82: THEY LIVE

    It's definitely one of those movies for people who love movies — precisely because it exists in that area right between art film and bad film, like Devin pointed out. But existing in that space doesn't automatically mean it's a canon film, that just means it's easy to talk about and there are many possible interpretations of what are actually really dumb things. Just because you can write a term paper about it doesn't mean it's good. That just means it's intellectually interesting on some level. And believe me, I am saying all this as a fan of this movie. And frankly if you can't write an A+ term paper about literally any movie ever, then you never learned how to bullshit your way through college.
  10. Newlin

    Episode 82: THEY LIVE

    I think it's crazy that everyone is just voting yes. Clearly the people voting here are all ghouls and I'm the only one able to see through the bullshit. JK. But seriously this movie does not at all deserve to belong in the canon, and I think the standards of what are and are not canon-worthy movies are steadily declining. It's like a "meh" is good enough. This is a fine movie. I love it. It's really entertaining. But it isn't canon material. It's also incredibly ham-fisted. The message slaps you in the face. It's not particularly deep or interesting or original. There is a complete and total lack of subtlety. I think that's absolutely purposeful, but the purpose was to make things easier for John Carpenter, who is a totally pragmatic filmmaker who just doesn't have the skills to make something with more nuance. He knows that about himself, and knowing that limitation makes him a good director. But it doesn't make the film any better and isn't an argument for it's goodness. Frankly the movie is sophomorically simple on every level. The acting, the cinematography, the creatures and the makeup, the message, the humor, etc. I just don't think there's room in the canon for every entertaining movie that makes a good point, but does so without any of the deftness and virtuosity that makes the difference between a "meh" movie and a great one. Not only that, you can't even make the history argument for this movie. Precisely one other movie pays homage to it, and it is just as sophomoric and overly direct — The Matrix. Other than that, it hasn't had virtually any real impact on later films. It's had a long-lasting but minimal effect on the culture as well, with no one even able to quote a line from the movie, only able to recall and reproduce the starkest of images from the film, like "Obey" and the ghouls face. The things that are, again, driven home really, really hard. Please, people! Come to your senses! Put on the glasses and see this film for the entertaining mediocrity that it is! Just 'cause it's a cult classic and speaks to our times doesn't make it a movie worthy of the canon!
  11. Newlin

    Episode 75: BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

    So, I think people are selling the impact of this movie and it's historical significance re depictions of gay men for a bit more than they're worth. To be clear, I voted yes for this to be in the canon, but I think the impact of this movie is overstated. I don't think it changed much of anything in the culture. It was actually coming right around the time that lots of states were passing the first constitutional bans on gay marriage (at the state level) and anti-LGBT laws that were as bad or worse than what's happened in NC. It's impact on the culture was, I think pretty subtle and amounted to folks being able to quote the line "I wish I knew how to quit you." Although Ill admit I could be wrong just because of where I'm from: Utah, where the biggest theater owner in the state refused to show the film because it showed gay men in a positive light. Maybe it didn't affect us here. However, I think what it did do is have an impact on the much more insular culture of the the studios and movie industry itself. I think it made people in the industry realize that movies with gay characters could tell relatable stories that mainstream movie-goers would pay money to see. It took forever to get this movie made and it went through several directors and leads before it did. Then it proved this kind of story can be a financial success, which opened the door for a lot of other projects. Though, even that lesson doesn't seem to have sunk in that deep. Movies an TV shows amazingly still pigeonhole gay characters, stereotype them and don't often let gay characters carry films. I think what makes this movie worthy of the canon is a few different things. 1. The fact that it was the first mainstream movie to show deal with LGBT issues in a subtle, human, emotionally relatable way and that also made a bunch of money. 2. That it was the film that largely launched the more serious careers of 4 important actors, 3 of which are still doing great work today. 3. It's the best film of a great director, Ang Lee. 4. The performances are just so god damn good.
  12. The Canon hasn't yet dealt with anything from Paul Thomas Anderson, one of the most important auteurs of the late 20th and 21st Centuries. I think there are a couple films like Magnolia and There Will Be Blood that are practically a shoe-in for The Cannon, and while they'll be interesting episodes, I like the hard ones. I think Punch-Drunk love is an great film where PTA managed to get a truly incredible performance out of a mediocre actor like Adam Sandler. It's also is the only PTA movie that really focuses deeply on the romantic side of the bizarre, just-on-the-wrong-side-of-crazy characters that he puts in all his films. It's also the most weirdly sweet in a fucked-up way, which is something you only really see in a few short moments in Magnolia. I just think there's a lot to talk about. What do ya'll think?
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