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bleary

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Everything posted by bleary

  1. bleary

    Duck Soup

    I think this just gets to the heart of why it's tough to judge comedies. Airplane! is an all-time classic, as are the top 3 or 4 Mel Brooks movies. But just speaking personally, none of them makes me laugh as much as Duck Soup and Horse Feathers. (If you're interested, Airplane! was on the AFI ballot, as well as Young Frankenstein, The Producers, and Blazing Saddles, the last of which I can't believe didn't make the list.)
  2. bleary

    Duck Soup

    I'll always permit as many metaphor switches as necessary! Who would you call the Beatles in this metaphor? If the Marx brothers are the major influencers rather than the major stars (which I can buy, though I might put them more at Buddy Holly status than Carl Perkins), then I could see the argument for Woody Allen as the major star, in that his films regularly received praise as being higher art. It is notable that the only two Marx brothers films on the ballot both made the list, while Woody Allen had three films on the ballot (with Manhattan and Sleeper not making the list).
  3. bleary

    Duck Soup

    I would argue that the Marx brothers were Babe Ruth. (Maybe Charlie Chaplin is Ty Cobb and Buster Keaton is Honus Wagner?) But the move from silent comedy to talkies is not dissimilar to the move from small ball to home run hitting.
  4. bleary

    Duck Soup

    When I made a list a couple years ago of my favorite 25 films over 25 years old, Groundhog Day was the only comedy on the list above Duck Soup. It really really should get more praise than it does. I'd also say What's Up, Doc? should get consideration, although it's largely a tribute to the type of humor the Marx brothers utilized. And of course, I also very much think Duck Soup belongs on the list. Duck Soup was definitely one of them. The Paramount Marx brothers films were on TV some weekend, and my dad made sure to record them with the VCR so we could watch over and over. His favorites were Horse Feathers and Animal Crackers. I was never into Animal Crackers as much, and Horse Feathers was my favorite as a kid, but when I revisited them in college or so, I realized that Duck Soup is the one that keeps me laughing the most from beginning to end.
  5. bleary

    The African Queen

    There's a decent amount on the AFI's ballot: http://www.afi.com/Docs/100Years/Movies_ballot_06.pdf Just looking at the As and the Bs, I'm seeing: Writers: - Ruth Gordon for Adam's Rib - Vina Delmar for The Awful Truth - Linda Woolverton for Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King - June Mathis for the original Ben-Hur Directors: - Penny Marshall for Big - John Singleton for Boyz in the Hood I don't feel like going through the whole ballot now, but that would be a starting point.
  6. bleary

    The African Queen

    Sure, it's like magic tricks. Some people will never be impressed by seeing magic tricks because they know that actual magic isn't real, and magic tricks are actually a combination of deception, distraction, and some well-practiced physical or mental skills. But there's also a big difference between David Blaine (or former guest Rob Zabrecky) and the magic trick that Bruce Willis does in The Sixth Sense. And I'm not fully saying that the effects in The African Queen are Bruce Willis coin-trick level, but they're definitely on that side of the spectrum in my opinion.
  7. bleary

    The African Queen

    Well, this makes me think of something else to ask everyone: Do you judge a film more favorably if it's a first-time director? Are you more forgiving of its flaws if you know it was made on a shoe-string budget? I'm thinking about this right now because I just watched Christopher Nolan's first film, Following, which was made on a budget of $6000. If I had seen it in 1998, I'm sure I would be impressed by it for both reasons. Seeing it now, it's not super great, but I still feel a respect for any film that can be shot for that much money. (Even Tangerine cost $100,000 and that was shot with an iPhone.) Another example off the top of my head is Bong Joon-Ho's film The Host, which was a monster movie made on an $11 million budget. The CGI appearances of the monster look terrible, very SyFy-channel in nature. If he'd have gotten Peter Jackson money, I'm sure the CGI monster would have looked super great. Does the terrible CGI hurt your appreciation of the film, or do you overlook it because it was the best they could do for the money?
  8. bleary

    Upcoming Episodes

    Oops, forgot: 41. King Kong is also on FilmStruck now.
  9. bleary

    The African Queen

    I completely agree with you, but movie awards and movie lists are voted on by movie people, and I think many of them often value the narrative of the movie-making procedure more than they value the narrative in a film.
  10. bleary

    The African Queen

    It definitely doesn't matter to me, but part of me does think it might matter to AFI voters. It certainly seems to matter to the Academy, as they honor ambition over quality over and over again. But I hope that acknowledging that as a possibility doesn't feel like it's demeaning your love of the film. I think Titanic is great, and I think it deserves its place on the list, while also acknowledging the possibility that it got on the list based on its perceived ambition. (I'm tempted to say that it didn't deserve 11 Oscars, but at the same time, that was a not a particularly stellar year for movies. The Full Monty was nominated for BEST PICTURE!)
  11. bleary

    Upcoming Episodes

    This is the worst news I've heard in quite a while. While it lasts, you can catch the following AFI Top 100 Films on FilmStruck/Criterion Channel: 1. Citizen Kane 5. Singin' in the Rain 11. City Lights 31. Maltese Falcon (expires Nov 15) 36. Bridge on the River Kwai (expires Nov 2) 37. The Best Years of Our Lives 38. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (expires Nov 15) 44. The Philadelphia Story 55. North By Northwest 58. The Gold Rush 63. Cabaret 78. Modern Times 88. Bringing Up Baby 98. Yankee Doodle Dandy Additionally, it seems the following titles are expiring today (if you want to spend your Friday night binging AFI Films): 7. Lawrence of Arabia 16. Sunset Boulevard 22. Some Like It Hot 47. A Streetcar Named Desire
  12. bleary

    The African Queen

    It's interesting that you point out the effects as a positive. For me, it completely took me out of it, in that you can see exactly how the sausage was made. As you said, in that scene over the rapids, Huston cuts between three different setups: a shot of Bogart and Hepburn in front of a rear projection of the jungle scenery, a shot of a boat captained by two dummies going over the rapids, and a shot of Bogart and Hepburn in the boat in an in-studio pool. When I see things as relatively basic as that and I think about what King Kong was able to accomplish almost 20 years prior, I just feel disappointed. This is ostensibly an adventure movie, and having those camera effects be so shoddily done takes me out of the adventure of it all. And then I'm 100% with Paul in regards to the romance. It seems like it comes out of nowhere and doesn't work for me at all. Amy thought the romance in Raiders was childish, but I think that's opening-montage-of-Up-level maturity compared to this. I feel like when my little sister played with dolls, her storylines were similarly along the lines of "We don't like each other. We kissed! We should get married." I still like Bogart and Hepburn in this, but I'm pretty solid in my opinion that this doesn't belong on the list. There's so much better Hepburn out there, so much better Bogart, and some better Huston. (I definitely prefer Maltese Falcon and Key Largo over Sierra Madre, but I look forward to giving the latter a rewatch later on in the list.) So to answer AlmostAGhost's original question: I had never seen this before (1 of 6 films on the list I hadn't seen before the start of the podcast), I did not think it was good, and I currently have it at 22 out of 24 on the list.
  13. bleary

    Raiders of the Lost Ark

    Well for starters, So then to Cameron H.'s point that the deficiencies in the prequels are present in the original trilogy: this is absolutely true and not talked about enough in my opinion. The scripts for the prequels are bad, but the dialogue is poorly written in episode IV as well. There are some lackluster acting performances in the prequels, but we all forget that Mark Hamill was a kinda sorta shitty actor 40 years ago. As I alluded to before, I think Empire Strikes Back is the best script out of the first 6 films by far, and it's the only one that Lucas didn't have a screenplay credit on. Like Cameron H. said, Lucas's fantastic world-building skills are still very much utilized in the prequels, as they introduced lots of new aspects of the universe that are generally accepted. And frankly, I LOVE the idea of the prequels. If I got the elevator pitch on those films, I'd be completely in, what with the pod-racing, the Jedi council in Coruscant, the clone army detective mystery that Obi-Wan goes on, through the final battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin. All of that sounds awesome in theory (and much of it is awesome in practice). But the lows in the prequels are quite low. Cameron H.'s post sort of preemptively shut down any criticism I can make but suffice it to say it's the normal stuff: unnatural dialogue choices, tough casting choices for Anakin, and the super weird "romantic" scenes. For me, the disappointment about the prequels is not that they're bad, but it's that they could have been even better than the original trilogy with better execution. As it is, I don't think ANY of the Star Wars films are anywhere near as good as, say, Raiders. When we do Star Wars, it'll probably end up in the back half of my list.
  14. bleary

    Raiders of the Lost Ark

    But I wouldn't trust a magnetic refrigerator to protect me from a nuclear bomb! When I'm getting nuked, nothing suits me like my roomy, lead-lined latch refrigerator.
  15. bleary

    Raiders of the Lost Ark

    I was too scared to say this before, but I feel exactly the same way.
  16. bleary

    Raiders of the Lost Ark

    I hadn't heard about this. It seems pretty well-known that Spielberg has had interest in making a musical for much of his career, but I was unaware of the story that he had wanted to do it after 1941 and that Lucas was involved in talking him out of it. Where can I read about this? As far as Lucas's contributions, I think you're absolutely right that because he is so terrible at writing dialogue, he doesn't get enough credit for his creative abilities with regards to world-building and story-telling. And of course you're right that Raiders would not have happened without him: in addition to his firm-hand as producer and occasional second-unit director that helped the project stay on budget and on time, Lucas had the largest hand in the concept of the character and story as well. It's enough to make us all wish there were more collaborations between Spielberg, Lucas, and Lawrence Kasdan (whose screenwriting can't be discounted either, and whose absence in the following three Indiana Jones films is keenly felt, in my opinion.) I'm of the mind that the Star Wars prequels could have been great with Lucas's stories for them, had they been directed and written by someone else, as Empire Strikes Back was. And it's to his great credit that the universe he built in the Star Wars franchise is rich enough that it will continue for decades without him actively involved. But as you said, I'm sure we'll be talking about this a lot more when we get to the Star Wars episode.
  17. bleary

    Raiders of the Lost Ark

    I completely support your right to be a downer, being that I was the one who kind of shit on E.T. for that episode. As far as the Indy and Marion backstory, I generally agree with sycasey: I always had the same thought, that Indy was late-grad-school/early-post-doc aged, and Marion was college-aged. That certainly doesn't mean it isn't a bit inappropriate (having gone through grad school and seen fellow grad students and occasionally post-docs date undergrads, I have pretty firm feelings on the skeeviness of it. I was once a teaching assistant for a class in which the instructor was a post-doc, and I noticed a year afterwards that the instructor was now married to one of the students in that class, which certainly made me rethink some things that I had witnessed between the two of them back then.) According to a cited fact on Wikipedia (I'm too lazy to check out the citation), it was actually Karen Allen herself who came up with much of the backstory between Marion and Indy, including the romance during her teenage years. Does that make it better? I think the time period does have something to do with it, but at the same time, it ultimately doesn't matter if Marion was 15 or 20 or 25: when Marion says "I was a child" and Indy responds "You knew what you were doing," there's no way to read it except that Indy is an asshole. As far as the white dress goes, it does seem male gaze-y, but I think it functions to make Belloq look like a misogynist asshole, and I think it portrays Marion in a strong light too. She is never timid or scared in that scene, she rolls with a punches in such a way that the viewer believes SHE is the one in complete control instead of being the hostage. As sycasey pointed out, she uses the dress as part of her escape plan. I've always felt that I wished her escape plan had actually worked, even if just for a minute, but at the same time, I like that she's not a victim. And I don't ever see her as a damsel in distress. When she gets stuck in the plane's cockpit, it's when she's being proactive and going after the pilot, and that's the only time when Indy really has to rescue her. At all other points, Indy is in the same situation she's in. While I think they could have talked about directing or cinematography choices a little more, I think Paul and Amy basically nailed what makes this film the best action film in history: the breathless pace, the iconic setpieces, the brilliant score, the strong performances, and the story that makes enough sense to tie it all together. I've heard people nitpick the fact that Indy knew to close his eyes at the end as coming out of nowhere (there was a scene in the script that wasn't shot where Indy read about this aspect of the ark mythos), but I always took it for granted that Indy knew his shit. His academic proficiency is part of what makes the character so interesting and easy to root for, that he's a nerd who had to learn to be a pseudo-badass to fuel his nerd-dom. To Paul and Amy's points, he's not a fighter. It's always questionable whether he has the physical abilities to get out of these messes, but it's never in question whether he has the knowledge to get out of them. Anyway, I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that this joins 2001 as my only 5-star films of the AFI list so far. And I really don't think it's nostalgia either, since as a child I enjoyed Raiders and Last Crusade roughly the same. It wasn't until my early 20s that I rewatched Raiders again with a fresh eye and saw what a masterpiece it really is. I still think Last Crusade is a great, fun movie, but it's nowhere near the artistic level of Raiders.
  18. bleary

    Raiders of the Lost Ark

    I haven't listened yet, but I want to start off this thread where the Psycho thread ended, in which DannytheWall asked about the effectiveness of Hitchcock's black-and-white films vs his color films. I think that his B&W films ARE more impressive in a way, because Hitchcock was a master of light and shadow, and I never felt like his color films were able to show that off in the same virtuosic way. I was thinking, reading DannytheWall's points, that maybe it's just not possible to master light and shadow in a color film. That was until I rewatched Raiders of course, in which Spielberg's use of light and shadow is every bit as masterful as Hitchcock's. (To see this more clearly, check out Soderbergh's B&W edit of Raiders, and really marvel at how well it works.)
  19. bleary

    Psycho

    I think what it comes down to for me is that I'm still invested in the story in Sixth Sense even after knowing the twist, while I'm left mostly frustrated by the story in Psycho after knowing the twist. You mentioned earlier how masterfully Hitchcock builds the tension in the scene when Lila is in the house. I certainly agree, and would posit that Hitchcock is the best ever at building tension. Unfortunately, that plays like parody in the first half of the movie, in which so much tension is built over Marion and the money in scenes with the cop and at the car dealership, which end up being complete red herrings. So while Amy found the second half of the movie largely uninspiring, I feel the same way about the first half, and I think the reason that we could feel those two ways is because there's an emotional disconnect between the two halves. The first part focuses on Marion's psychological and emotional state and essentially ignores the characters of Sam and Lila, while the second part tries to convince you that you should care about Sam and Lila after all because Marion's gone now. It's a film that seems to actively dismiss the importance of character arcs, since the only character who has anything resembling an arc gets murdered right as her arc is reaching a natural resolution. Norman's circumstances change in the film, but his character does not. Where I ultimately come down on Psycho is that it absolutely deserves to be on this AFI list, and I voted as such in the poll. Hitchcock's filmmaking gifts will always make this an interesting film to watch, if not necessarily a compelling film in my opinion. But is this better than Rear Window? North By Northwest? Vertigo? Even something like Rope? Personally, I put Psycho more on the level of Strangers on a Train or Dial M for Murder, which shouldn't be an insult because those are fantastic films too.
  20. bleary

    Psycho

    I was so glad when Amy referred to Psycho as a masterpiece scene surrounded by packing peanuts. Great analogy, and I couldn't agree more. Psycho will most likely be the lowest Hitchcock on my personal list, as it's probably not in my top 5 favorite Hitchcocks.
  21. bleary

    The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring

    Absolutely, I certainly think that, at the very least, the fact that Lord of the Rings was so universally loved in the mainstream encouraged tabletop gamers to be less ashamed about it, which encouraged new people to join. Also, speaking of fantasy video games, I'm not sure about causation, but I do think you can draw some connections between the rise of Blizzard Entertainment and the popularity of Lord of the Rings. Although the first Warcraft game was released in 1995 and was a moderate success, the popularity of the Warcraft games seemed to spike in the early 2000s, culminating in the 2004 release of World of Warcraft. (Other connections include the fact that Blizzard was founded with a focus of creating ports for other games, beginning with the 1990 Lord of the Rings video game, among others. Also, the soundtrack for StarCraft II was mixed by one of the recording engineers in the music department for the Lord of the Rings movies.) Could video games have primed the culture for Lord of the Rings to be a big success? I remember in 1997 and 1998 that Final Fantasy VII and Zelda: Ocarina of Time were truly enormous games, where almost everyone I knew had played one or both of them. But it's more likely that Lord of the Rings was always going to be a juggernaut.
  22. bleary

    Upcoming Episodes

    Psycho is still on Shudder Raiders Of The Lost Ark is still on Amazon Prime The African Queen is still on Netflix Duck Soup will be harder to find on subscription streaming services. Occasionally it pops up on TCM's On Demand movies, but it doesn't appear to be in TCM's upcoming TV schedule, so it's doubtful it will make it to their streaming site, but I'll keep looking over the next few weeks. My guess is that unless you're like me and already own the DVD, you'll have to pay to rent from the usual vendors. As usual, check your local public library. Edit: Duck Soup is apparently included in the subscription service IndieFlix. I had never heard of this, but they have a 7 day free trial. Any IndieFlix subscribers out there?
  23. bleary

    The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring

    I absolutely think that the success of Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter films were incredibly influential on inspiring more fantasy to get greenlit. I think you've given the most successful example, which is "Game of Thrones," which I certainly do not think would have existed, or gotten the financing it needed to be good, without the successes of LotR and HP. How to Train Your Dragon and the first Chronicles of Narnia film are also successes that owe their existence to LotR and HP. There are also quite a few examples that weren't successful, like The Golden Compass, Eragon, or Beowulf, that also may not have been made. But just because LotR and HP gave a sort of peak in fantasy film doesn't mean that there weren't plenty of fantasy movies beforehand, such as the various King Arthur films, NeverEnding Story, Willow, Labyrinth, and many others, but they tended to be aimed only at kids (except Dune) and were rarely financial successes (like Dune).
  24. bleary

    Upcoming Episodes

    Psycho - Shudder Raiders - Amazon Prime African Queen - Netflix
  25. bleary

    The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring

    As long as we're dropping LotR references, this is my favorite:
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