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bleary last won the day on October 28 2018

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  1. bleary

    Tokyo Story

    Like others, I'm someone who enjoyed the movie a lot on my first watch, for what that's worth. But I did appreciate a lot more of the artistry after watching it with Criterion's commentary track by David Desser (it's a very dry, often intrusive commentary, but there's a ton of interesting information in it). The sense I got is that Ozu set up his shots to have utility, both narratively and thematically, and thus perhaps aren't as jaw-droppingly showy as the "one perfect shot" aesthetic. I think that there are some fantastic compositions in Tokyo Story, but they are used purposefully. But while I did appreciate that aspect more on this commentary-supplemented rewatch, the thing that makes me love this movie is the universality, which paradoxically works with its specificity. The period of history between 1945 and 1956 in Japan is unlike anything I have ever lived through, and I think that point in time is crucial to Tokyo Story, but as Paul and Amy talked about, the characters and their relationships feel completely universal. But that's just why it worked for me, and I think it's reasonable for someone to see all that and just not have it connect with them. I agree with you that it feels snobby to posit that everyone is supposed to love this or any other film once they unlock it correctly, but I do happen to really like this particular film. I wouldn't put it at #1 in history though.
  2. bleary

    #Kinspooled miniseries #3

    Ditto on Tokyo Story. I think they just need a better title for the mini-series. This was a bit tougher to come up with obvious choices than the first two series. I'd put Incendies out there as fitting the theme. Yorgos Lanthimos' Dogtooth? Those families are more seriously fucked up. If we're just going with films that study family dynamics, it's almost too broad.
  3. bleary

    Upcoming Episodes

    Assuming they stick to the schedule mentioned at the end of the episode: October 8 - Frankenstein (1932) October 15 - The Babadook October 22 - Night of the Living Dead (1968) October 29 - Ganja & Hess November 5 - Listener Choice
  4. bleary

    Coming of Age #BackToUnspooled

    I'm inclined to say that an 80s John Hughes film is a must to at least consider here, particularly with how often his films have come up during other discussions on the podcast. Although I enjoy Ferris Bueller's Day Off more, I think The Breakfast Club is the better choice (and perhaps more relevant to this theme since the entire movie takes place at a school).
  5. bleary

    End of Season Wrap-up Thread

    I'm definitely feeling similar. I decided not to fiddle with my rankings and just place each movie after I watched it and leave it there...which gave me some films in the middle that I'm a bit unsure about. However, I feel pretty good about my top 10 and bottom 10, though my bottom 10 ended up being films I dislike more for personal or political reasons than craft. Top 10: 1. Casablanca 2. 2001: A Space Odyssey 3. Raiders of the Lost Ark 4. Citizen Kane 5. The Godfather 6. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 7. Sunset Boulevard 8. City Lights 9. It's a Wonderful Life 10. To Kill a Mockingbird Bottom 10: 91. The Searchers 92. A Clockwork Orange 93. The Shawshank Redemption 94. American Graffiti 95. The African Queen 96. Intolerance 97. Forrest Gump 98. Ben-Hur 99. Swing Time 100. Yankee Doodle Dandy Overall, I'd say there's about 60 that I think are definitely deserving of the list, 20 more that are good but I could take or leave, and 20 that I just don't think should be listed. This would be fun, but I'd have to give it a lot of thought to it. Can directors, actors, and actresses be given one award for the sum of their films on the list? (That might narrow the director race down to Spielberg versus Kubrick though.)
  6. bleary


    So after finally hitting all five Spielberg films on the list, what are everyone's thoughts? How many Spielbergs does the list need, and which ones? Personally, I could live with only keeping Jaws, Schindler's List, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. If I had to add another, it would probably be Close Encounters of the Third Kind rather than E.T., Saving Private Ryan, or Jurassic Park.
  7. bleary

    Bridge On The River Kwai

    I also prefer Bridge on the River Kwai to Lawrence of Arabia. You see, I basically felt the opposite, and I thought Paul and Amy expressed it the way I saw it, which is that the complexity of the characters leaves you a lot to think about, in such a way that perhaps thinking about it is more interesting than actually watching the movie. I thought Paul and Amy nailed how the different characters represented different types of morality and skewed heroism. Nicholson is so rigidly by the book that it morphs him into the antithesis of what he's fighting for. Shears is just doing whatever it takes to survive, almost cowardly, but shows a different type of heroism at the end. Saito is also just trying to survive, and it's interesting that Shears and Saito were so diametrically opposed to each other when their characters were more similar than it would appear on first glance. And then the psychology behind the Saito and Nicholson relationship is a lot of fun for me to think about too. How much did Saito know that ceding as much power as he did to Nicholson would ultimately help Saito more to achieve his goal? Did Saito play Nicholson, or was their partnership an unexpected accidental clash of egos? But perhaps, as I said, it's to the film's detriment that for me, thinking about these characters is a little more interesting than the film itself. But I still voted yes, because I think it all works well enough, and I do find it incredibly watchable. I really did not think this particular David Lean film felt too long, and I'm very sensitive about films feeling too long. And I guess I didn't feel particularly let down by the relative blah-ness of the final explosion, because I was far more invested in the emotions of the characters than in the spectacle by that point. And to that end, Guinness plays that final scene so wonderfully. Also, I'm SO glad that Amy talked about "Hitler Has Only Got One Ball." I probably learned about it for the first time a decade or so ago when I did a Wikipedia dive on the Colonel Bogey March the first time I saw this film, and have associated the tune with those lyrics ever since. I'm such a fan of it, even as I resent the fact that "Goebbels" and "no balls" don't quite rhyme exactly as the song would demand them to.
  8. bleary


    I'm mostly in agreement with Amy on this one. For one thing, I would definitely choose Taxi Driver and Raging Bull over this, and I'm okay with that amount of representation from Scorsese/De Niro on the list. (I'd be willing to consider a Scorsese/DiCaprio if people could agree on one, since DiCaprio is really Scorsese's better version of Ray Liotta. Just not Wolf of Wall Street, please.) I think Amy is spot-on about the age thing. I don't remember her mentioning this in the episode of the Canon about Goodfellas, but it's something that I didn't pinpoint as a cause of my frustration until she mentioned it. The real life Billy Batts was 29 years older than the real life Tommy, who was 19 or 20 when he murdered Batts. Frank Vincent, who played Batts in the film, is less than 6 years older than Joe Pesci. That discrepancy completely changes the tone of the scene. From the point of view of Batts, it would seem more like more like a harmless joke for him to tease a teenager. Instead, it looks like they are generational peers, so Batts's teasing comes off as making fun solely of Tommy's social position in the gang, which makes Batts seem more like an asshole, which makes Tommy's response seem, while still excessive, more justified. The other side of this coin is when Tommy terrorizes Spider. In reality, Tommy wouldn't be much older than Spider, so the only difference between them is the social power. Instead, Tommy maybe seems a bit more justified in expecting respect from Spider because of their on-screen age generation difference. In all, it lessens who Tommy is as a character, because we don't get to see how psychopathic he is at such a young age. I love Joe Pesci's performance, and he crafts an incredible character for this, but the character doesn't fit the script as tightly as it could, and that's because he's playing someone 25 years younger. I'd love to say, imagine if Michael Imperioli (who played Spider) were playing Tommy and gave that same performance, how much different the character would seem. But then if Michael Imperioli (or any other 20-25 year old) could give a Joe Pesci performance, I'm sure they would. On the "final day as a gangster" sequence: I'm mostly with Amy, but the pasta sauce argument is not a hill I'm willing to die on. However, she's right that we don't get any indication from the rest of the film that bringing his brother to his house and painstakingly cooking him his favorite meal is in character for Henry Hill. Now, there are two counters to Amy's argument: the "drugs defense", which is that Henry was high out of his mind and we can't expect him to act logically in character under those circumstances; and the "ordinary day defense", which is that these are unremarkable things that tended to happen offscreen and wouldn't need to be noted on except that they happen to be the things that were happening on the day he got busted. (Note that I don't believe that you can argue both of these simultaneously with logical consistency, because either these actions are in Henry's nature, or they aren't.) I have some problems with both of these defenses though. The obvious hole in the "ordinary day defense" is that I think the film goes out of its way to point out how extraordinary the day is, when Henry listed off how busy he was. As far as I can tell, the film is telling us that running all over town to coordinate different things is not something that Henry tended to do on a semi-regular basis. So, the "drugs defense": as far as I can tell, this was Scorsese's intention, as it seems in line with the film's verdict that doing drugs is worse than violence or theft, and it makes the most sense within the story. However, I think this puts a harsh spotlight on the narration. Who is narrating the film? Is it supposed to be Henry's inner monologue at the time depicted on screen? Not likely, because he's using the past tense. Is it supposed to be Henry on the witness stand, which fits with the awkward fourth wall break scene at the end? For one thing, as mentioned in the podcast, that doesn't explain the bits of Karen's narration, since the scene with the FBI guy makes it pretty clear that he doesn't need her to testify. And for another thing, I think that works against the "drugs defense", since if he's stone cold sober on the witness stand making the narration commenting on things he did while high, would he really act as if they all made sense in hindsight? To me, the "drugs defense" only works if you assume the Henry making the narration is also on drugs. So to me, this is far less an indictment of the "drugs defense" than it is of the narration. What I'm trying to say is that the narration in this film sucks, in so many ways. In general, I do find it rare when a film has narration that I actually think is done well, but this is not one of those rare cases. And to be clear, I don't think that Scorsese fell short of his aim in some way. As alluded to on the podcast, Scorsese knows that this film is chock full of shitty, lazy, hack screenwriting and stylistic choices, but included them anyway as a "punk-rock" fuck-you sort of spirit. He is enough of a technical master and a student of cinema that he knows full well how incoherent so much of this is, which he did to make the film intentionally jarring to audiences. He executed that vision exceptionally. I'm just far less impressed by that vision as I am of so much of his other work. I'm still glad this film exists! It's fun to watch, and like Amy, I'm happy that so many people love it more than me. I just think it's a bit overrated among Scorsese's filmography, and I wouldn't vote for it on the AFI list. And finally, I just want to say that I used to think the "Layla" sequence was one of the best melds of music and film. On this rewatch, it's really not. "Layla" just happens to be one of the greatest songs ever written, so of course it heightens anything it's used for. I could make a montage of myself taking out the garbage and it would be more captivating and memorable if I put "Layla" overtop of it. In general, I had a particularly negative reaction to all of the music drops on this rewatch. Also, lots of people making their first posts on the forum for this film. Which is great! I'm always curious which films/episodes of the podcast will cause people to create an account, but it's not too surprising that this is one of them. I hope everyone comes back in a couple weeks to talk about The Bridge on the River Kwai as we all get the Colonel Bogey March stuck in our heads.
  9. bleary

    Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout The Ages

    I voted no, but I'm on the fence. I see it a lot like the argument over Gone With the Wind, in which terrible messaging is wrapped up in a very well-made movie. Now, the messaging in Intolerance isn't as offensive as in Gone With the Wind or Birth of a Nation, but I think the politics are murky, and it's all tied together with such pretension. So many of the title cards just made me cringe, like an author who claims he's in the middle of writing the Great American Novel. There's labor there to make it capital-I Important, and that left a bad taste in my mouth. But I also get how absurdly groundbreaking this film is from an artistic standpoint, so I get why people would want it on the list. My perception was that its inclusion on the 2007 list was just to check a box to make sure D.W. Griffith had a film on there after the inclusion of Birth of a Nation possibly drew criticism in 1998. But I think Amy did a good job in the podcast making the argument that the mistake was missing Intolerance in 1998 in the first place. But while I see the merits, I really did not care about anything in the film except the modern story and Mountain Girl.
  10. bleary

    Yankee Doodle Dandy

    You are definitely not the only one who thought this. Although they made it sound on the podcast as if that's actually how Cohan sounded, so it could be that Shatner took his inspiration from the original!
  11. bleary

    Easy Rider

    I'm with @AlmostAGhost. I like this film quite a bit (though perhaps not as much), but I'm voting no. While I agree with @sycasey 2.0 and @grudlian. overall about the defects in storytelling, I actually think this is beautifully shot, particularly considering the budget. And the way it used its score was extremely influential, and I think still great today. Although the points it tries to make don't really work for me, I guess I admire it more than I decry it for trying to process that era. And the theme/vibe of "what the fuck is wrong with this country and is it even possible to fix it" is certainly something that resonates with me at this time. But in trying to make points about the clashing of vastly different subcultures in that era, this film fails, I think, mostly from oversimplification. There is little nuance in the way that the film presents extremely nuanced things. As I mentioned in my Letterboxd review, you learn more about this late 60s clash of cultures in something like the show Mad Men, because there's plenty of room to breathe with these complicated ideas. But even in a more condensed timeframe, I found Gimme Shelter much more compelling as well, as grudlian also mentioned. So I'm a pretty soft no on this. I could take it or leave it, but I suppose I'd rather see something else, something greater, on this list.
  12. bleary

    Upcoming Episodes

    Indeed. As per website, schedule is now 4/16 - Cabaret 4/23 - Yankee Doodle Dandy 4/30 - Intolerance
  13. bleary

    Upcoming Episodes

    Today's episode said they're doing Cabaret next week instead of Intolerance. Nothing yet mentioned on their Twitter, and the website still says Intolerance first, so
  14. bleary

    12 Angry Men

    I really enjoyed this episode, and I especially loved the conversation with Marissa Beyers. The only time I was on a jury, I certainly had this film in the back of my mind, because after watching four days of testimony without being able to discuss the case with anyone else, I had no idea what the rest of the jury felt. I thought maybe I'd have to Henry Fonda everyone over to my way of thinking. (As it turned out, everyone basically agreed without requiring any persuasion, and it was a civil case anyway so we didn't need to be fully unanimous, although I recall that we ended up being so regardless.) At any rate, my only major misgiving about the film on this watch was that the racism of the racist characters felt a little too blatant, whereas I think it would have been more effective if they were called out for showing their bias in subtler ways. But then they played that racist dude's speech in the 1997 version, and I realized how toned down the original one is by comparison. But besides that, I'm all for putting this one on the list.
  15. bleary

    Rear Window

    1. Rear Window 2. Vertigo 3. North by Northwest 4. Psycho