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bleary

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Posts posted by bleary


  1. 2 hours ago, AlmostAGhost said:

    nd I never felt it was particularly artistic to look it either, so even with such detailed set-ups, what was the point?

    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.

    • Like 2

  2. 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. 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. 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. On 7/17/2020 at 5:34 PM, Cameron H. said:

    I’ve been looking at my Ranked Unspooled AFI list on Letterboxd and I kind of hate it. I think that’s because I ranked it more subjectively (How much I enjoyed watching a movie above its cultural, artistic, or historic merits.) Consequently, I have a few movies ranked highly that I think could honestly let go, and a few at the bottom that, while I didn’t personally enjoy them, recognize their technical greatness. 

    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.

    4 hours ago, AlmostAGhost said:

    Oh also, if anyone wants... I thought it would be interesting to hear your picks from these 100 movies for

    Best Picture
    Best Director
    Best Actor
    Best Actress
    Best Supporting Actor
    Best Supporting Actress
    Best Screenplay

    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.)

    • Like 1

  6. 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. I also prefer Bridge on the River Kwai to Lawrence of Arabia.

    3 hours ago, AlmostAGhost said:

    I mentioned on my Letterboxd that the film didn't leave me much to think about, and I think Paul & Amy expressed it similarly.

    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. 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.

    • Like 2

  9. 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.

    • Like 2

  10. 5 hours ago, MiamiJohn said:

    Am I the only one that thought that James Cagney's "talk-sing" style may have been the inspiration for the musical powerhouse William Shatner?  This movie seems to be an early example of the "talk-sing" style which may have lead to far superior Shatner results!  

    508468050_YankeeDoodleWilliam.jpg.7697dc0bae10233665c26d944ecf96e4.jpg

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ainyK6fXku0&t=132s

    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. 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. 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¬†ūü§∑‚Äć‚ôāÔłŹ


  13. 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.


  14. 25 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

    I did this watch before Unspooled started a few years ago, and watching it again sort of surrounded by all the "great" films made me like it more. I could see the cinematic language and what Murnau was developing and pioneering.  

    I am curious - I did consider some of the scenes in the city to be almost filling space. Like why was the dress strap guy there? Even the drunk pig: is there a symbolism there I missed? But I feel like Murnau knew what he was doing and maybe had a reason for these things. Any theories?

    My primary theory would be that they were there for comedic effect.  But if there is something deeper with the dress strap guy, I think it's somewhat notable that this was occurring during the peasant dance, as it served to give a bit of juxtaposition between country folks and city folks.  While the couple from the country is having carefree fun dancing, this city dude is completely concerned with appearance, what should be worn, and how.  Like the Man and the Wife, the pig is also out of its natural habitat in the city.  As a farmer, it makes sense that the Man would be able to catch the pig when no one else can.  So again, I think both these things are used to show that they are outsiders in the city, so although they can have some fun in the city, they belong on the farm together.

    • Like 1

  15. Still in the middle of the episode, but I will say that the only times when subtitles have hindered my enjoyment of a film is when there's a lot of dialogue AND interesting visuals, and it's tough to see both.  A prime example that comes to mind to me is something like 8 1/2, which has such rapid-fire dialogue that I felt like I spent the whole movie reading the first time I saw it, and had no time to appreciate the rest of the screen.  When I watched it again relatively soon after, I realized how much on the screen I had missed the first time.


  16. I thought the podcast discussion was great for this one, as they really hit the nail on the head on how this is so lovable despite also being so insipid and nonsensical at times.  I'm abstaining from voting, because my head knows this isn't a good movie, but my heart wants to watch it again and then go sing "Edelweiss" at karaoke.  But I agree with Paul and Amy that Mary Poppins would absolutely be a better film to put on the list, if it counts as being American enough for the AFI.  I think it would have been cool to do this back to back with Cabaret, which is another musical set against the backdrop of the rise of Nazi Germany, but with objectively more interesting characters.  

    I liked that Paul and Amy talked a bit about the absurdity of the geography concerning the ending, because Salzburg is VERY far from Switzerland, but as pointed out, it's only about an hour train-ride from Munich, which is where the Nazi party began and grew in the 20s.  And I'm super glad they mentioned the weirdness of the "tea with jam and bread" remix, though I'd have also loved a conversation about the weirdness of the awkward soprano dubbings of the word "Goodbye" during each version of "So Long, Farewell".


  17. Just for fun, I thought I'd post my predictions for tonight's winners.

    Best Picture: 1917
    Best Directing: Sam Mendes
    Best Lead Actress: Renee Zellweger
    Best Lead Actor: Joaquin Phoenix
    Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt
    Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern
    Best Original Screenplay: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
    Best Adapted Screenplay: Jojo Rabbit
    Best Cinematography: 1917
    Best Film Editing: Parasite
    Best Sound Mixing: 1917
    Best Sound Editing: 1917
    Best Production Design: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
    Best Visual Effects: The Lion King
    Best Makeup/Hairstyling: Bombshell
    Best Costume Design: Little Women
    Best Original Score: Joker
    Best Original Song: "I'm Gonna Love Me Again" from Rocketman
    Best International Feature: Parasite
    Best Animated Feature: Klaus
    Best Documentary Feature: American Factory
    Best Documentary Short: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl)
    Best Animated Short: Hair Love
    Best Live Action Short: A Sister


  18. I don't recall this "one film per director" line of thinking being bandied around as heavily during any of the Spielberg episodes.  And in my mind, asking which belongs between Jaws, Schindler's List, and E.T. is just as silly as considering only one Kubrick film.  For my money, I'd also put The Shining on the list.  I'm in agreement with Amy that I could leave off Clockwork Orange and Spartacus (particularly since I had Clockwork ranked much lower on my list than Amy did on her's), but Dr. Strangelove, 2001, and The Shining are all vastly different types of films, and all are among the best examples of their respective genres, so I'd go with those three Kubricks on the list.

    • Like 1

  19. Vacation has put me behind on my podcasts, but I finished this one today.  What Paul and Amy seem to grapple with in this episode is what I grapple with for the entire decade more or less, in that I have a lot of trouble properly contextualizing the impact of these films without the benefit of more hindsight.  And maybe that's why this decade seems to me to lack more pantheon films than the previous one.  For the set of years focused on in this episode, I much prefer 2016 and 2017 over 2018 and 2019, but like Amy, there are few that I truly adore.

    My favorite films of 2016 were Moonlight, Paterson, and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.  I think Wilderpeople gets ruled out as not an American production (though who knows how the rules actually work), and while Paterson might be my top pick of the year, I'm not sure it's the Jarmusch film that others would vote to put on this list.  So I'm going with Moonlight.  Honorable mentions go to 20th Century Women and Arrival.

    As discussed on the podcast, 2017 has a glut of very good films, such as Call Me By Your Name, Phantom Thread, Lady Bird, Get Out, and even Three Billboards, though I find each of McDonagh's films have been worse than the previous one (which reminds me that I should have talked more about Seven Psychopaths in the 2012 thread).  My favorite of those was Lady Bird, but my favorite film of the year was Columbus, which just spoke to me for some reason.  I love the performances of Haley Lu Richardson and John Cho in it, and Kogonada's camerawork in it is brilliant.  So if it were up to me, I'd nominate Columbus because I love it, and Get Out because it did feel like the film that most represented 2017 as a point in history.

    I'll punt on 2018 and 2019 like Paul and Amy did.


  20. I'm a bit surprised that Empire was so quickly pushed aside on the podcast and hasn't been discussed here.  Particularly since the argument seemed much more based on influence and impact than quality, I think it's important to point out that The Empire Strikes Back contains perhaps as many things that live on in public consciousness as Star Wars does.  (When people think of iconic Star Wars moments or information, my guess is what they think of is 40% from Episode IV, 40% from Episode V,  10% from Episode VI, and 10% from all other movies together.)  Paul mentioned that Star Wars information is so ubiquitous that most people know that Darth Vader is Luke's father without seeing any of the movies.  But again, that information isn't presented in Star Wars, but rather it's given in The Empire Strikes Back.  And while Star Wars had John Williams give us the main title theme, the force theme, and Leia's theme, it wasn't until Empire that we got the Imperial Death March, which may actually be more well-known than the others.  Episode IV lacks Yoda and Lando, and the only lightsaber battle in Episode IV kind of blows compared to what the series would later give us.

    And to be honest, the principle of this original vs sequel argument isn't one I've been very consistent on, as I lobbied hard for Toy Story despite accepting that Toy Story 3 is a better film and I decry The Godfather Part II for retreading over much of the same territory as The Godfather, yet I also voted against The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring because I think it's the weakest of the three films.  So if this were asking whether I'd pick Episode IV or Episode V for inclusion (as Amy once did on an early episode of The Canon), I'd be more torn.  But if we're using Star Wars as a stand-in for the whole series, then clearly it belongs on the list.  However, I'm just judging it on its merits as a film, so though it still makes my list, it won't be as high as The Empire Strikes Back would be.  (I'll probably have Star Wars in the 50-60 range when it's all said and done.)

    • Like 2

  21. 1 minute ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

    It's fairly common for artists coming off their peak years to produce lesser work as they get older. You don't think there are new filmmakers coming along who are also making exciting work, though? We just might not recognize who the great ones are yet, because we need to see more work from them.

    Sure, I definitely do, but not particularly from 2010-2012.  We'll talk about Ryan Coogler and Steve McQueen in 2013, Ava DuVernay and Damien Chazelle in 2014, Sean Baker and Marielle Heller in 2015, Barry Jenkins in 2016, Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele and Chloe Zhao in 2017, etc.  And I'll definitely be throwing support behind some of those films in later episodes.  But at the same time, in the context of 2000s vs 2010s, there are some people on this list that I love, but from whom I still think their best work is yet to come.  For example, I think Ava DuVernay is an incredible director, but I don't think she's made her masterpiece yet.  Ditto for Ryan Coogler and, to a lesser extent, Sean Baker (I don't think we'll be disappointed in the long run if we find out that Tangerine and The Florida Project were his masterpieces, but I'm still hoping for more on the horizon).

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