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Episode 157 - Grease vs. Hairspray (w/ Adam Egypt Mortimer)
iamymai replied to DaltonMaltz's topic in The CanonWhat an incredibly frustrating episode. Amy was so determined to be obtuse that she came across as mean-spirited. She cut off her guest way too much. That dig about hot dogs at 7 Eleven was totally uncalled for. I probably haven't been this frustrated with her since a throw down episode from the Devin days. Of course Hairspray is infused with John Waters' camp sensibilities. Of course comparing these two films is like choosing between an apple and a carrot. One is a musical and one isn't. At first I thought the versus would be between Grease and the 2007 Hairspray because they would at least be the same type of film. That whole bit about Hairspray's songs being better because they're diegetic and therefore reflect the choices of the characters drove me nuts. It's a completely irrelevant point to focus on because the criteria informing the music in each movie is totally different. One's making a selection from songs that exist, and the other's presenting original songs. Probably the only goal they have in common is "capture this time period." I would be at a loss for words too if I was in Adam's shoes. As for what I would actually choose... I love both of these movies for very different reasons. Grease is a kinetic and fun romp through baby boomer teen Americana from the decade that arguably invented capitalizing on nostalgia in the modern sense. The songs are great, and everyone involved (while obviously not of teen age) is clearly having a blast. Hairspray takes all the specifics from a time, place, and perspective (1962, Baltimore, white teen fat girl) and filters them through the warped sensibilities of John Waters. The result is often hilarious and just the right amount twisted. I therefore feel compelled to resort to cultural impact as the deciding factor, and in this case Grease wins hands down. Despite its faults it's one of the biggest musicals in the history of the medium.
Episode 106 - Fatal Attraction (w/ Heather Matarazzo)
iamymai replied to DaltonMaltz's topic in The CanonIf anything you've proved your assertion wrong multiple times because all you've done so far is demonstrate your personal politics. There is no such thing as an objective review, and I think it's fair to say that part of the appeal of of reading / listening to professional film critics is to get their personal spin on a movie. It's fun to look up old Roger Ebert reviews because he's Roger Ebert. His worldview is as much a part of it as his knowledge. You're welcome to disagree with Amy and Heather on identity politics, but to ask for them to remove or limit discussion of how their feminism informs their opinions and analysis is a losing proposition.
Episode 102 - The Fellowship of the Ring vs. The Return of the King (w/ Joanna Robinson & David Chen)
iamymai replied to DaltonMaltz's topic in The CanonI was so jazzed when I saw this episode but pretty disappointed with the caliber of discussion, particularly from David. Entirely too much time was devoted to shouting out particular scenes without getting into the meat of what makes them tick. This felt like a very amateur episode despite Amy's best efforts to redirect the conversation into more analytical territory. As an individual film I definitely prefer Fellowship. It has the most resonant character work, the special effects weren't out of hand, and it wasn't one gigantic battle scene after another. There are numerous beats that happen very naturally in Fellowship that then get supercharged and overdone in both the latter films. Someone's already pointed out the escalation of Legolas from being plain awesome, to shield surfing, to slaying an oliphant and all its passengers. Off the top of my head I'd add in Gimli's characterization and poignant death scenes. The first film sees Gimli at his most well rounded. He's funny, sure, but he also gets real pathos, particularly in the mines of Moria. He bawls in grief at the tomb, and then he gets fired up with vengeful rage. In Two Towers and Return of the King, barring a friendship moment with Legolas, he's reduced to never ending dwarf jokes. He gets pegged exclusively as a comic relief character, and he becomes much flatter as a result. Fellowship earns its sorrow. Gandalf and Boromir get tragic, resonant deaths, particularly the latter. The most glaring example I can recall of the following movies trying and failing to recapture this magic comes inthe middle of the battle for Helm's Deep. The elves bring reinforcements, led by that one random dude who has an excellent, imperious one-liner in Lothlorien and nothing else. Then the entire battle slams to a halt so he can die a beautiful death, and it's so cheap and superficial. No amount of slow-motion and Howard Shore music can cover up how shallow an attempt at emotional manipulation it is.
Sense and Sensibility
iamymai posted a topic in Movie SuggestionsJust discovered The Canon is back, and I'm soooo psyched! Perusing the old episode list it looks like there's never been much discussion devoted to period films, and Jane Austen hasn't come up once. In the interest of both expanding the genres considered and the number of female led stories, I submit Sense and Sensibility. I've been watching this movie for ages, and I just rewatched it a few weeks ago. I endeavored to watch it with an analytical lens, but I struggled to find much to fault it on. For what it is I think it's nearly a perfect movie. Some points that I love: Most obvious is the phenomenal cast. Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet shine as the two leads, and I could easily write an essay on how they completely inhabit their characters. Suffice it to say, the sisters feel fully realized as women grappling with two very different ways of navigating the world. They're backed up by supporting roles large and small played by the likes of Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Gemma Jones, Tom Wilkinson, and Hugh Laurie. The quality of acting all around is superb. The cinematography does a wonderful job of filling out the storytelling. Class and power dynamics are of course paramount, and this is illustrated by the camera to great effect. A favorite shot that comes to mind is early in the film. Elinor and Edward are just making a connection, and we watch as they walk out of the room engaged in delightful conversation. Then Mrs. Dashwood, the mother, walks in frame having just descended the stairs and walks toward us, a knowing smile on her face. Last, we pan up to the second floor balcony where Fanny, Edward's horribly classist sister, looks on in disgust from her dominant position. Everything we need to know about how these two women perceive Elinor and Edward's blossoming relationship as well as their relative power over the matter is communicated in a matter of seconds. The music is lovely. It runs the gamut from quiet to sweeping, romantic to unnerving, and everything in between. It's also used to great effect when diegetic. One of the funniest moments in the movie results from Mary Anne being asked to play something else to lighten the mood. The film has an excellent sense of humor throughout, subtle and dry though it is. Hugh Laurie pre-House, though he probably only has about five minutes of screen time, steals every scene he's in. The screenplay, adapted by Emma Thompson herself, deservedly won an Oscar. The economy of storytelling overall is impressive. All the points above, guided by the direction of Ang Lee, form a whole in which every line serves a purpose and no shot is wasted. Tl;dr, I would be willing to say this is my favorite Austen adaptation ever as well as one of my all-time favorite films. It's masterfully crafted all around, and it would make my year for this to be debated on an episode of The Canon. (Avalailable to rent on iTunes, YouTube, and Amazon)
iamymai posted a topic in Movie SuggestionsIt seems like The Canon could always use more comedies and musicals for consideration, and in light of the recent Sound of Music episode I submit Victor Victoria. It's an utterly hilarious Blake Edwards film and a fantastic showcase for Julie Andrews. Glee's got nothing on "Le Jazz Hot". All the supporting players are delightful, particularly Lesley Anne Warren as Norma Cassidy and the waiter who steals every scene he's in. The social politics as explored via gender-bending and homosexuality bear mentioning given that this was made in 1982. Here's hoping this pops up in a future episode, but even if it doesn't than anyone reading this who has never seen Victor Victoria should definitely check it out. It's a real treat!