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sycasey 2.0

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Everything posted by sycasey 2.0

  1. sycasey 2.0

    Homework: The Fellowship of the Ring vs. The Return of the King

    I lean towards Fellowship, but I also tend to have a bias in favor of the first entry in a series (that sense of discovery that you can't get back). Will be interesting to hear the arguments.
  2. sycasey 2.0

    Episode 101 - Shakespeare in Love (w/ David Ehrlich)

    I'm leaning this way too, but might give the movie another watch this week to see how it plays (it's on Netflix!). The movie doesn't deserve the slagging it gets, but I'm not sure it's great or important enough to be Canon.
  3. sycasey 2.0

    Episode 101 - Shakespeare in Love (w/ David Ehrlich)

    SPR has the advantage of Spielberg, meaning that as many issues as the script may have, they are covered up by bravura filmmaking left and right.
  4. That's interesting. Fantastic Mr. Fox tends to be one of the Wes Anderson movies that even Wes Anderson haters find tolerable, in my experience.
  5. sycasey 2.0

    Homework: Shakespeare in Love (1998)

    Maybe he was just referencing Amy continuing to bash it?
  6. Napoleon Dynamite was a goonish version of a Wes Anderson movie.
  7. I would also say "Neither" in this case, though I like both movies. If forced to choose, I pick Whiplash, in that I think it's the more exciting, challenging, better-made movie. But I am not sure about its Canon-worthiness, in large part because Chazelle's career is still so young. Will this age into being a great breakout on par with later great works (a la Mean Streets)? Or will it look like a promising first entry by someone who later did his TRUE Canon efforts? Or will Chazelle flame out and make us look back on when he used to be interesting? I don't know for sure. Juno is a good, solid, accessible movie. I like that it has empathy across the board for its characters, and I like that it tackles a difficult subject (teen pregnancy) without a lot of moralizing and bluster. Cody's writing style and Reitman's directorial style are indeed good complements for each other. But has it really held up as a cultural touchstone? I also remember when everyone was doing Napoleon Dynamite quotes left and right. Do them now and people will just stare at you blankly. Why? Because it was a flashy empty gesture of a movie that tried to cash in on the "quirky indie comedy" boom of its time. Juno is better than that, but I'm not sure I see that its influence has extended beyond that temporary boom. And if you REALLY want to investigate where the influence for this filmmaking style came from and Canonize that, then I think you have to go to Wes Anderson (Rushmore or The Royal Tenenbaums) before this. So I vote Whiplash because I think there is at least a chance that with Chazelle's imprint it holds up over time. I think Juno's time has passed, and it hasn't gotten there. Not because it's bad, but because it doesn't have anything outstanding to break it out of the pack of perfectly good movies that aren't Canon.
  8. sycasey 2.0

    Episode 99 - Sign o' the Times vs. Stop Making Sense

    Please don't make me watch all of that.
  9. sycasey 2.0

    Episode 99 - Sign o' the Times vs. Stop Making Sense

    Ugh, seriously. What did he say? That Tarantino doesn't get that crime movies are supposed to be about moral choices and questions? That's literally the whole point of Pulp Fiction.
  10. sycasey 2.0

    Episode 99 - Sign o' the Times vs. Stop Making Sense

    Mansplaining, as I understand it, refers to the phenomenon of men pontificating at length about subjects to women who almost certainly know more about it than they do. It's meant to call attention to the assumed superiority of male competence over female. In that sense it's a useful term. It's also a neologism whose power has lately become diluted by overuse. This column, I think, gets at the problem: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/23/allow-me-to-womansplain-the-problem-with-gendered-language Personally, I don't think Armond qualifies as a "mansplainer" here. First of all, he was invited by Amy to the podcast, so I'm going to assume she thinks he is qualified to speak on the subject. Secondly, I don't get the sense that he is "railroading" Amy out of giving her own impressions on the films. People also used to accuse Devin of mansplaining, and most of the time I also didn't think that was a good description for his behavior. Just being kind of an asshole is not the same thing as mansplaining.
  11. sycasey 2.0

    Episode 99 - Sign o' the Times vs. Stop Making Sense

    Yes, bingo. Chazelle's visual presentation isn't just surface-level "pretty" (though it is also that), it's also purposeful and tells a story all on its own. Armond White also slagged Tarantino in this podcast, but I think he's the same way. If you look beyond the surface flash and the references, you find a very precise visual storyteller.
  12. sycasey 2.0

    Episode 99 - Sign o' the Times vs. Stop Making Sense

    This is a much better criticism of La La Land than anything offered up by Armond White, so I thank you for that. I also think much of is fair: the script is a little undercooked in terms of giving us concrete reasons to fully invest in the lead characters. Or rather, it's probably assuming empathy from people who are naturally inclined to empathize with ambitious artistic types (guilty as charged, here). I did say that I could see an argument against the film along these lines, so yes . . . fair enough. I don't object to this line of criticism, only a blanket statement that there is nothing there textually. There are clearly ideas they are attempting to get across, not just a string of references to other works. For me a lot of these problems are pretty well papered over by the strength of the visual presentation and the actors' performances. The writing is a little weak here, but in terms of how the romance and "meet cute" are presented visually? Holy cow, yes. That is something I'd be sad to lose. I also think what makes it "work" is that the film ultimately does not try to tell us that this was a great love for the ages, rather that it was one of those "stepping stone" relationships on the way to another phase of life.
  13. sycasey 2.0

    Homework: Juno (2007) vs Whiplash (2014)

    This. It's not like this Canon is actually "official" in any meaningful capacity. Heck, Devin and Amy used to sometimes forget about what was in the Canon and what wasn't! It's just a fun framework for two knowledgeable critics to talk about a lot of different kinds of movies.
  14. sycasey 2.0

    Episode 99 - Sign o' the Times vs. Stop Making Sense

    I think La La Land does have textual meaning. It's not necessarily easy to suss out, though, because as in Chazelle's previous film Whiplash, it is about an unresolvable dichotomy. He likes to leave his movies in that space, so people wind up thinking they aren't about anything, when really they are about the contradiction. Whiplash is about the struggle between one kid's personal happiness and his professional obsession. At the end of the movie he makes a choice: he is going to pursue that obsession, all else be damned. Chazelle is careful to end the film before we see what the results of that decision might be. He literally cuts to black as soon as the music stops. He's not going to tell you if his protagonist was successful or not. La La Land also opens with clear contradictions. It opens with a bright sunny day and a title card reading "Winter." We then watch people stuck in awful freeway traffic do a cheery dance about what a lovely day it is. The movie is called La La Land. It's named after the city it takes place in, but uses the cutesy, sometimes mocking nickname for that city. So what does that city represent? One song seems to say so: City of Stars. "Stars" are both the actors who appear on screen (something that, presumably, people come to L.A. to be) and also unreachable points of light in the sky. A whole bunch of dichotomies and double meanings here. These are your clues as to what Chazelle wants to say about human relationships, the nature of chasing dreams, etc. The movie is about achieving one dream while giving up on another, about how it's sad but also sometimes necessary. Now, I can see arguments that Chazelle takes on too much and gets his points confused, or that his perspective on this is too limited, white-privileged, or lacking in life experience. I might not agree with all of that, but I can see that line of argument. Lacking textual meaning, though? No.
  15. sycasey 2.0

    Episode 99 - Sign o' the Times vs. Stop Making Sense

    And people were thinking the Prince movie would get the sympathy vote.
  16. sycasey 2.0

    Episode 99 - Sign o' the Times vs. Stop Making Sense

    Agreed. In general, I thought that when Armond stuck to what he liked about Sign o the Times and Stop Making Sense, the discussion was enjoyable and his comments often insightful. But some critics can deliver negative criticism in a way that isn't mean or dismissive, and therein lies the problem with Armond White. We're probably lucky that this was a "vs." episode where both critics were positive on both movies.
  17. sycasey 2.0

    Episode 99 - Sign o' the Times vs. Stop Making Sense

    I will admit to using certain "extra-legal" means to obtain it. Generally I do not condone this practice (I paid to rent Stop Making Sense on Amazon), but when the film in question is not commercially available where I live then I have no qualms.
  18. sycasey 2.0

    Episode 99 - Sign o' the Times vs. Stop Making Sense

    The musical performances definitely are what works about the movie.
  19. sycasey 2.0

    Episode 99 - Sign o' the Times vs. Stop Making Sense

    This is also a good point. If there is one movie to canonize as representative of Prince's cinematic output, it's Purple Rain. Personally, I might not canonize any of them, just because I find that Prince as a filmmaker has some key limitations (indulgence, overconfidence in his own abilities as an actor) that prevent his movies from 100% "clicking" with me. But Purple Rain is clearly the big dog among them.
  20. sycasey 2.0

    Homework: Juno (2007) vs Whiplash (2014)

    I will probably vote Whiplash, but I will be interested in hearing the argument for Juno. That movie gets a lot of flack from people who seem to think that the style of dialogue offered up in the first 10 minutes (the scene with Rainn Wilson) is representative of the entire film, which it is not. It's much more naturalistic and grounded than the hot-take criticism would let you believe. (Just as La La Land has much more going on than a guy pontificating about jazz, which is exactly one scene of the movie.)
  21. sycasey 2.0

    Episode 98 - Ghostbusters

    I could see the argument for Neverending Story. Depending on how it was supported on the podcast, I might vote for it. There's not a great argument for it over Ghostbusters, though.
  22. sycasey 2.0

    Homework: Juno (2007) vs Whiplash (2014)

    I am exceedingly tired of this reductive description of La La Land. That's not what the movie is about.
  23. sycasey 2.0

    Episode 99 - Sign o' the Times vs. Stop Making Sense

    Anyway, I'll also say that I did enjoy Armond's comments on both of these two films (he can be insightful when expressing his appreciation for films, moreso than when tearing them down). I voted Stop Making Sense. All respect to Prince as a musical artist, but SMS is just better-made as a film, a more coherent and focused piece of cinematic art. This is where it probably helped to have Demme as the guiding hand, as opposed to the cobbled-together footage of Sign o the Times.
  24. sycasey 2.0

    Episode 99 - Sign o' the Times vs. Stop Making Sense

    It's been my opinion for a long time that White is mostly a contrarian for contrarianism's sake. That's not to say there is never anything useful in contrarian criticism, but when reading him it's helpful to have that understanding. It's why almost everything he writes has to contain some kind of dismissive swipe at SOMEBODY or SOMETHING. EDIT: And of course, I got to the section about La La Land in this podcast, where White says "It can only be enjoyed by people who know nothing about the tradition of movie musicals." Fuck him. That's not just a swipe at the movie, it's a swipe at everyone who liked it. Screw that.
  25. sycasey 2.0

    Homework: Sign o' the Times (1987) vs Stop Making Sense (1984)

    It's definitely more well-known and made by a more renowned filmmaker. Not a slam-dunk for Prince here.
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