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Everything posted by rfmempin

  1. rfmempin

    Episode 163 - Zodiac vs. Shaun of the Dead vs. Magnolia

    I went in thinking that I would vote for Magnolia, remembering it was the most audacious of the three. However I finished this viewing a little disappointed, finding the easily tied up melodramas lacking in emotional nuance. Also, (and someone please feel free to clarify), but I felt that the frogs aren't really a "coincidence" in the way that the three stories in the beginning were. In those stories, there was some kind of unexpected connection between the character and what happened to them (e.g., Greenberry Hill, the son put the bullets into his parents gun). Unless I'm missing something, the frogs aren't so much a coincidence, as just a random occurrence. That dissonance between the intro stories and the story itself has always seemed like a glaring script issue to me. Similarly, this second viewing of Zodiac felt less emotionally impactful than on my first viewing. Devin Faraci summed up how I remembered Zodiac all these years: a well made, detailed procedural that subverts the genre by never giving an answer, thereby underscoring its theme of a fruitless obsession. But letting Graysmith see Leigh, and having the final scene be of Mageau identifying Leigh, the movie basically does give an answer. Thus I felt that Fincher maybe got too precious about his research, and chose to show it to the detriment of the obsession theme. Issues with those two movies aside, I was thoroughly impressed with Shaun of the Dead. I'm not well-versed with Edgar Wright's movies, but this is a rare modern comedy that definitely has lasting power.
  2. rfmempin

    Episode 158 - The Talented Mr. Ripley (w/ Tom Bissell)

    I was a yes UNTIL Amy and Tom brought up American Psycho, which I realized is a better movie about class ennui and anxiety from the same time period. That being said I very much enjoyed the chance to rewatch this movie, and I would love to have another movie about the solitude of queer life up for canonship. (Also, more queer representation in general!)
  3. rfmempin

    Episode 147 - The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (w/ Jen Yamato)

    During the first half of the movie, I was leaning towards no. I felt like Amy: the singing of mundane lines felt forced, and I felt like the two new leads knew Guy would have to serve, so their bad timing was kind of their fault. But throughout I kept thinking why the umbrellas? Umbrellas being a seasonal product (and one that is not disposable), there's no way even during the 60s, that umbrella stores could be economically feasible (which we eventually learn to be the case). It was only in Part 2, while Genevieve is faced with a marriage decision, did Demy's pushing of the symbol make sense to me: similar to what Jen said, it's a symbol for shelter in a crisis beyond your control. What's so heartbreaking about this movie is how these characters stray from their plans because of larger forces, and how they cling (and eventually grow to love) these safety nets (or to go with the metaphor, how they never leave from under their umbrellas). I found it interesting how two of the biggest gut punches this movie gave me were the marriage decisions. In another movie these Genevieve and Madeleine would be more terrified of becoming a single mother or staying single; but what hurt them the most were their decisions to allow men to "save" them under imperfect circumstances. Demy knows that sometimes what's more terrifying than conventional failure is the knowledge that your decisions have been made for you. Also side note: Nino Castelnuovo is stupid hot in this movie, and it needed to be mentioned
  4. My vote goes to Driving Miss Daisy, (i) because it's the better movie, and (ii) because the canon should be used for vindication purposes. As Amy mentioned, this movie is more interesting and complex than people like to remember. Yes, it tried to tackle race in America in the same year as Do the Right Thing and yes it pales in comparison, but as a result people misremember it. This movie's not a "warm embrace" that makes people feel comfortable with the state of race relations, like The Help - it doesn't provide any resolutions, it doesn't let the audience look back and say "well good thing we're not like that anymore." In fact, it acts as a criticism of those who refuse to reflect on their relation to race relations (like fans of The Help). It's a subtle portrait of racial hierarchies at play in everyday life, both ones that the characters are aware of and not. On the other hand, my dislike for Field of Dreams possibly comes from being outside of the culture it tries to create nostalgia for; my parents only immigrated to America in the late 80s, so a love for baseball wasn't passed down to me. I had no problems with the magical realism, but what I couldn't get over was how quickly Amy Madigan conceded to her husbands insane and expensive whims. To people who are voting for Field of Dreams based on its cultural impact: I think this is a poor use and understanding of what this podcast is/can be. If the point of this podcast is to re-assess older movies, shouldn't we be trying to evaluate movies without the weight of opinions/baggage an older movie carries? Otherwise, if we're just restating popular opinion, what's the point? I think voting in Driving Miss Daisy would be a great example of what this podcast should be: a re-evaluation of a movie that has developed an unfair reputation overtime.
  5. I'd say about half of Butch Cassidy consists of montages.
  6. Just noting my issue with the fact that Amy and Russ agreed on their statement that Mary Poppins "has no point." In fact watching it this time around as an adult, it was particularly interesting to see how Mary pulls off her "scheme" to bring this family together: bringing spontaneity into this strict home, convincing their father to bring them to the bank (and also "incepting" Michael about how to spend his tuppence), all the while underplaying her role in it all - both to put the parents at the forefront of the children's minds ("as it should be"), and to keep a professional boundary, for her own sake.
  7. rfmempin

    Episode 138 - Harold and Maude vs. Being There

    My vote goes to Being There, both because I think it's canon worthy satire (not just of politics, but on the tremendous topic of human perspective itself), and because I will lose it if Harold and Maude gets in the canon. I dislike it for reasons pretty much entirely covered in posts made before mine, so I'll just add one more comment: STEALING CARS IS NOT TWEE OR CUTE. Yes Maude we all want to live life and chase new experiences, but that doesn't mean we commit felonies!
  8. rfmempin

    Episode 136 - The Best of 2017

    The Florida Project is clearly a very good movie, but I think it'd be interesting to open the discussion on "poverty porn." I remember the episode on City of God - both Amy and the guest knocked it as poverty porn. I'm wondering what people have to say about this label? So what's the difference between The Florida Project and City of God? When you discuss The Florida Project, is its main feature not the poverty? Is your main thought something along the lines of "Wow, people live like this?" I just find it odd that I haven't seen much criticism on the topic, and I'm wondering if ten years from now people will say as much. I'd welcome any comments. Oh and while it has nothing to do with my post, I feel like Mother! is so groundbreaking it can't not win.
  9. rfmempin

    Best of 2017

    While I haven't seen a fair amount of the top contenders for best movie of the year yet, right now Mother! tops my list and it'll be hard to beat. Whether or not you like all of the pretentiousness surrounding it (I'm personally using that word to reference the biblical references, while I'm sure many others would use it to describe the surrealism -- this variety of opinions it opens itself to is another reason why I think it is worth discussion), I think it would lead to an interesting discussion on how audiences value different interpretations of a movie (i.e., the director/writer's interpretation vs. the popular critical interpretations vs. their own).
  10. I have to state my disagreement with Amy's claim that His Girl Friday is not romantic. Watching it this time around, one of the funniest moments for me was when Russell breaks down near the end, after realizing that Ralph Bellamy had finally been arrested again. Grant and Russell's characters have their own personal and twisted romantic language: their disregard for consequences in working to get what they want, whether it's a story or each other. It's definitely not healthy, but it works for them, and isn't there a hint of that in every relationship? On the other hand, in comparison the ending wedding of The Philadelphia Story felt much more wedged in to me. I also couldn't help feeling that the script breaks the rule that you should show rather than tell: yes everyone around Hepburn goes on about how she considers herself a goddess, but do we ever actually see her acting as such? We're supposed to accept that she was so unfair to Grant, but I don't see any evidence (other than hearsay) that Hepburn is really as cold as everyone says. I do enjoy The Phildelphia Story, but I can't help wishing that it was about Ruth Hussey.
  11. rfmempin

    Episode 130 - The Room (w/ Paul Scheer)

    I agree that The Room is totally hilarious and bizarre, but I also 100% think that if the director of Kangaroo Jack toured with it, people would definitely go and make an ironic night out of it. People are willing to poke fun at anything. Which lends to my point that so much (admittedly, not all) of the spectacle of The Room is created more so by everything surrounding it. As for your point about 14 years being a long time for a cult movie, I don't know that it is. Evil Dead, Clerks, and Eraserhead are all cult movies that (i) are much older, (ii) are still very popular, and (iii) have had widespread influence. on other movies. As far as I know at least, I don't think any directors are seeking to emulate Wiseau.
  12. rfmempin

    Episode 130 - The Room (w/ Paul Scheer)

    To the people claiming that a larger cultural significance: this movie is only 14 YEARS OLD. Popular screenings may die out in the near future. There's no indication that this movie's inspired any other filmmakers stylistically. An impending movie on the topic isn't enough. If you're voting in a movie (primarily based on its cultural impact) when it's so young, then more deference should be given to much older movies that we're still watching. It's not fair to discredit The Tingler for its current lack of shocking seats (despite it's footprint on so many B horror movies), yet give so much credit to a movie because the director tours around with it. While I do enjoy The Room, and love Amy's point that it shows you all of the rules/boundaries of filmmaking you typically don't think about otherwise, I do think we've gotten too wrapped in Paul's passion. There's no symbolic meaning to anything, and Kubrick had reasons for making off-kilter scenes, Wiseau did not (Barry Lyndon has an eerie vibe to indicate these characters transgress the genre they've been placed in). And yes I agree that a director's intent generally doesn't matter, but it does matter when there's no other possible interpretation. I think people should think about how much of the value of this movie exists outside of it: the screenings, the mystery surrounding Wiseau, Wiseau's intense earnestness, etc. If intent doesn't matter, than why are we lending so much importance to these things?
  13. Great movie Iā€™d never seen and Iā€™m glad this episode introduced me to it, but was Brett Morgen confused? He must have thought that Jane was the discussion topic...
  14. rfmempin

    Episode 128 - Starship Troopers (w/ Jordan Hoffman)

    I started the episode thinking I'd be a no for the same reason that a lot of people here are citing to: that there's no turn, that the movie never explicitly says that it's against fascism. But during the great discussion I realized that it's exactly what makes the movie so brilliant. In never making that turn, Verhoeven shows us what actually makes fascism so terrifying: that in some respects, it works. At least this far in the war, blind jingoism is making headway against the aliens. Starship Troopers challenges us to feel uncomfortable with the fact that fascist propaganda, while it can warp the minds of young people, it can also and serve to kill a seemingly unstoppable enemy like the bug aliens. It makes viewers feel the joy that comes with a victory, then feel uncomfortable with feeling that joy in knowing that it forces clueless teens like Rico to their deaths. The only other movie that I can think of that challenges its viewers in this daring way is Blue Velvet. Here Lynch makes us sit through a disgustingly saccharine penultimate scene, wherein a robin previously discussed in a cheesy monologue by Laura Dern earlier in the movie appears and everyone laughs. While some viewers leave the movie thinking it ends in a very corny way, Lynch is juxtaposing it with the omnipresent darkness, highlighting the latter. We should have movies like Starship Troopers and Blue Velvet in The Canon because they play with our understanding of how a movie viewer's expectations/perceptions work, in order to challenge us both intellectually and emotionally. Also I've never seen Robocop, but I find it hard to believe that it works at as high a level as this.
  15. rfmempin

    Episode 125 - The Host (w/ Owen Shiflett)

    While I've always liked this movie, I voted no. While it's certainly entertaining, I just don't know that there's anything particularly special about it that warrants it being in the canon. For the most part, whenever I hear people's opinions on this movie, people always say it's good for a monster movie, or it's a good take on a monster movie, or something similar. If you think about this movie without comparing it to the genre it plays with, I don't know that it's anything particularly special. And interestingly, what makes it good for a monster movie? That it's primarily about this family, and NOT the monster. Which then begs the question, do we need to represent monster movies in the canon, if one of the main contenders we can think of is not representative of the genre itself? To be fair, I don't really know too much about the genre, so they answer could be "yes," but I can't help feeling that even if it is yes, it shouldn't be The Host, a movie that barely fits in the genre. Also, Shiflett made much of the political aspects of the film. I don't doubt that Bong Joon Ho has insightful opinions on Korea-U.S. relations, but I don't think this movie goes enough into this to warrant calling this a "political movie." For me all of the plot points about the governments' handling of the virus feels kind of wedged in, because it doesn't really go anywhere. Also, Amy was right, the music was distractingly bad, and I don't think it goes far enough in being dissonant to feel like it was on purpose, as Shiflett was saying. One more thing: when hyun-seo hides from the monster in a sewer, she goes into a hole that the monster can't get into. BUT, in other scenes, the monster uses it's long tongue to grab people/things. So why didn't it just do that to reach Hyun-Seo?
  16. rfmempin

    Episode 120 - Last Tango in Paris (w/ Alison Willmore)

    I have to say that I'm surprised that the majority of votes are currently against Last Tango in Paris as it's a clear yes for me. I'd never seen this before, and going in my opinion wasn't skewed by public opinion of it being a "masterpiece"; if anything, I heard of it as being pretentious. I was blown away by how boldly personal and complex this movie was. I think any movie that manages to study the inner lives of its characters so thoroughly deserves to be in the Canon. Much was made in the discussion of how it was transgressive when it first was came out, and how that's no longer the case. But I think that's more a positive rather than a con -- while as a modern viewer I wasn't shocked by most of the sex, I instead felt that it was much more in tune with how many people use sex today. Some of this may be personal to my situation as a gay man who's taken part in the app culture, but I felt that it really spoke to the different roles sex plays in our lives. Amy and Alison also took issue with Jeanne's characterization. While it's true that Jeanne isn't as fleshed out as Paul, I definitely wouldn't fault the movie for having her be inconsistent or the more less solid of the two. She actually reminded me of Scarlett Johansson's character in Lost in Translation; an ingenue who is less solid and consistent because she doesn't know what she wants. But unlike Johansson's character, she has allowed her curiosity to allow a stronger personality to take over. Yes, her decisions are dumb, but they're not without reason: she feels trapped in her engagement to a man who wants to hear all the details of her life except for those that matter. She runs to another man who wants to trap her, but in different ways that she can't see. She actively wrestles with questions of intimacy, and what we gain or lose from sharing it (e.g. how her story about her cousin and the two trees, and how it changed between telling Thomas and Paul). While Paul uses sex to escape into a fantasy, Jeanne is using it to find something real. People seem to dislike how the two had no "chemistry" upon first meeting, but I also don't think that's a fair assessment. While that's an issue in romance movies, this is clearly not a romance -- both are using sex on a transactional level, and they saw potential uses in each other. So while Bertolucci is clearly more interested in Paul, I don't think it's a fair judgment to say that he doesn't care about Jeanne's inner life at all. Amy also discussed the title and its meaning. My interpretation comes from a line Paul says at the tango competition: he calls tango a "rite." Traditionally sex is considered a "rite" that is meant to lead to love and romance, but this movie is an exploration of sex's many uses. Much like the tango dancers who look cold and robotic performing what should be a sensual act, Jeanne and Paul perform sex without the emotions we typically attach to that rite (even if at times they think they are in love). This movie was Paul's last attempt at this rite, but clearly he got confused about his intentions. I don't think this movie is perfect by any means (the ending feels a little contrived to me), but I do think it's probably one of the most genuine, personal, and emotional movies I can think of, and for that reason I think it should go in the Canon.
  17. rfmempin

    Episode 116 - Seconds (w/ Matt Zoller Seitz)

    Clear yes for me. This was my second time watching Seconds, and I think it's pairing with the stepford wives was helpful. Although Amy and Matt didn't really discuss it (kind of odd considering how much Mad Men was brought up), what got me this time around was how strongly it presents the link between modern ennui and commercialism - in a much bleaker way than the stepford Wives did (while the latter ties commercialism so closely to feminine ideals, here it's SO bleakly presented as a trap that feeds on modern aimlessness). While I think I understand the complaint that it feels incomplete, that may just come with the territory of making a movie about ennui, a topic that couldn't be more vague and quiet. It's true that i'm not too familiar with Frankenheimer's other work (I've only seen the Manchurian candidate and too long ago), I'm certain there should be room for this one.
  18. rfmempin

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

    Although Amy and David's discussion did convince me that Shakespeare in Love probably doesn't get the recognition of deserves, I don't think being underrated alone warrants acceptance into the canon. Upon rewatching it I realized that i had forgotten that the dialogue is sharp and Paltrow is great, but the movie's reliance on easy Shakespeare references are exactly why this shouldn't be included. I think that the genre they named "middlebrow" prevents audiences from challenging themselves, so such movie should have no place in the canon.