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About NickLaureano

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  1. I know this conversation is moot given recent events, but I'm just seeing your reply and I find it rather dismissive and that bothers me so I'll bite: Just because spectacular genres like war-era technicolor musicals or the CinemaScope stuff of the 50s/60s, like westerns and historical epics, fell out of favor doesn't mean they weren't integral, or even dominant, parts of film culture in their respective eras. To imply their historical significance can be distilled to "aw heck eventually people learned better" seems, to me, antithetical to fully appreciating how cinema and culture meet. I think your focus on the scope of musicals and Marvel movies illustrates my point. Sure, Anchors Aweighand On the Town have paper thin plots and predictable character arcs that are supplemented by technicolor photography and spectacular third act Gene Kelly dance numbers, but that doesn't mean we should chalk them up to nothing more than crappy stories with bright exteriors that studios tricked naive audiences into seeing. They're also symptomatic of/offer a corrective to American wartime culture, and dismissing them as "fads" discounts how, say, women of the era might have found/were given an outlet in the cinema (to paint in very broad strokes, but hey, this is a forum for a defunct podcast, so I hope you'll forgive me). Dismissing these films as "fads" also suggests an unwillingness to get at the heart of why the fad came to be; you allude to some interesting economic points, but I'm disappointed in how you take those points at face value -- what can the market saturation, indulgent productions, and skyrocketing budgets tell us about the era beyond "it ended, good riddance"? Or even if the Freed Unit stuff really was just a fad that ran its course, isn't it super interesting that 20 years later a guy like Jacques Demy would re-purpose their generic elements for Young Girls of Rochefort? Even something that's "just a dead fad" can come back in a really fascinating way! My point is this: just because you hate something (and I'm with you on this, Spider-Man 2 is really the only comic book movie I care for, and is certainly the only one I have watched on multiple occasions) or just because something is a trend that is doomed to end doesn't mean it's not important. To the other commenters: yes, I've adopted a very rudimentary system for "ascribing 'import.'" Thanks for pointing that out, and allow me to rephrase: superhero movies are certainly the most widely seen movies right now, and it is my opinion that what is widely seen — and, perhaps more important, what is designed to be widely seen — will in some way shed light on the culture in which it is seen. Another rubric for importance might be much more subjective: artistic excellence, a la the recent BBC poll, Sight & Sound, etc. By this measure, my picks for "most important films of the century" include The Master, 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Ratatouille, Ida, Lost in Translation, Spirited Away, Punch-Drunk Love, In the Mood for Love, and Inherent Vice. (I'm not ashamed of being a total PTA fanboy.) I adopted the first rubric for "most important" because the BBC poll just came out, and taking the "widely seen" approach seemed like a fun corrective to the typical "best of the century" poll. Apologies for getting a little "film student" on you. I get a little defensive any time people cite older stuff when i suggest Marvel movies are an important part of our culture. You clearly know your stuff, and I'm a little insecure and feel like I need to say "just because I dig Spider-Man 2doesn't mean I don't also know my stuff." Maybe I'll grow out of it. peace, nick
  2. I was recently asked what I thought the most important movie of the century was. After some thought, I came up with two responses: Spider-Man 2 and The Dark Knight. These are not my favorites of the century, but in 30 years when the film historians look back at the beginning of the century, they will have to concede that comic book fare dominated the culture. Spider-Man 2 is, for my money, the best comic book movie ever made, and no movie hit the zeitgeist harder than The Dark Knight. I know Devin is quite fond of Spider-Man 2, and it seems like TDK is everyone's favorite comic book movie, so this could be one hell of a versus episode. Best vs. Most Important -- if ever a matchup defined the conundrum of The Canon...
  3. NickLaureano

    Episode 85: BOOGIE NIGHTS vs TWBB

    Oh, forgot to add my personal ranking: 7) Sydney 6) Magnolia (how crazy is it that this can be so low?) 5) Inherent Vice 4) There Will Be Blood 3) The Master 2) Punch-Drunk Love (one of the most criminally overlooked of the century? I think so.) 1) Boogie Nights
  4. NickLaureano

    Episode 85: BOOGIE NIGHTS vs TWBB

    Have not listened to the episode yet, but I've seen both movies a dozen times and considering one of them is my all time favorite I doubt I'll be swayed by Devin and Amy's arguments so I'll go ahead and chime in before I listen. There Will Be Blood is why I got into movies. Saw it for the first time when AMC broadcast it with story notes. I'm a lifelong movie fan, but that broadcast was the first time it ever occurred to me that movies aren't just things that exist, but rather are things that are crafted by artists. TWBB was also my first PTA. For these reasons, it holds a special place in my heart. But... Boogie Nights is a perfect movie. To me, the key to realizing its greatness is to consider the validity of the claim that BN is Anderson doing Scorsese (or Altman). Yes, the opener and all the frenetic push ins are clearly lifted right from GoodFellas. Many people, in tracing Anderson's evolution as a filmmaker, like to discuss the difference between his highly kinetic earlier work and his slowed-down (even static) later work. The slant of much of this analysis is that Anderson "grew up." I disagree with this generalized narrative because in Boogie Nights there is already ample evidence of Anderson's restraint and maturity. My favorite scene — Scotty showing Dirk his new Datsun — is, IMO, a perfect example of this restraint. I can't remember off the top of my head, but the scene only takes 5 or 6 shots, and is largely made of a 55 second long take. Although people often discuss Anderson's long takes, this shot is rarely mentioned. In this handheld shot, Anderson takes us from Dirk bent over looking at the car, to over Dirk's shoulder after he reject's Scotty's advances, to a two shot. In total, that's about 6 feet of movement — a far cry from the opener. Yet, in those 6 feet, Anderson tells a story. We're low with Dirk as he looks at the car, we can feel his enthusiasm. The camera rises slightly after he pushes Scotty away. Now we're over Dirk's shoulder, Scotty is small in the background. The power dynamic is clear. Scotty scrambles for anything to say, and Dirk cools down ever so slightly — now we're in two shot. This is where I think the comparison to Scorsese falls apart. I've always thought the raw emotion of this scene is similar to the "why did you do that, Karen?" scene in GF. In that scene, Scorsese is an observer, his camera is not very expressive. He cuts between singles, uses a couple of two shots and pans with the action, and that's about it. I fucking love that scene, but I think if you muted the dialogue and blurred out the character's faces you wouldn't have much idea of what is going on. In the Boogie Nights scene, I think Anderson's camera does a little bit more to tell the story than Scorsese's camera. You might pick up the gist of it, even if you blurred out the kiss. Okay, I'm done now.