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  1. gloriacassidy1999

    The Graduate

    Amy's hostility to the character of Benjamin seems odd, especially in the way she bends over backwards justifying Mrs. Robinson. To me it's a lot less creepy for a twenty-year old to sleep with an older married woman and pursue that woman's daughter than it is for the middle aged woman to bed down her husband's best friend's son, in order to train him be her sex idiot, with no interest or concern for his well being. Almost all the emotional drama which unfolds is pretty much due to Mrs. Robinson's weird behavior. That said I agree with Amy's ambivalence about this movie; agree with her that Hoffmann was miscast in the role, but not because he isn't sexy enough to interest a woman such as Mrs Robinson--Amy's generalizations about the tastes of women will strike just about every listener as wrong because their life experience, the girls and women they've known tell them she's wrong--but for aesthetic reasons. In casting Hoffmann director Mike Nichols deliberately sentimentalizes the character and the situations. If the part had been played by the Robert Redford of The Candidate and especially Downhill Racer, he'd be a masculinely assured type on an equal footing with Mrs. Robinson. Under Redford's handsome toothy charm we'd sense an arrogance and self-serving entitlement which would give us an objective ironic view of his malaise and rebellion--we'd see that there was something destructive and blundering, as well as attractive, in Benjamin's behavior, and the effect would be bracing and, well, dramatic. Nichols, in casting Hoffmann, uses his comedy expertise to manipulate the audience, knowing that if the character is made a cuddly, lovable underdog an audience will root for him in these situations no matter how crazy they are: Nichols understands everybody identifies with a schmuck. Further the film sentimentalizes the Elaine character. Has anyone ever really known a girl so offended and put off by stripping, porn or graphic expressions of male lust that she cried over them?--used to signal to the audience and Benjamin what a poetic girlishly pure love object she is. Seen this trick a lot in movies but off screen I've never come across such a girl--a little grossed out, ironically amused, curious, raunchily fascinated, yes, but crying, no way. Plus the film falls back on some pretty hoary melodramatic rhetoric, such as having Elaine's husband be a jerk so we won't care that she leaves him at the alter after marrying him! A hardly artistic touch. All the stuff Nichols did to the material, which is what made it so very successful with audiences, plays very oddly against what I expect was Buck Henry's and maybe novelist Charles Webb's attempt to mate racy subject matter with a kicky satire on suburbia and mass culture in the manner of Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's masterpiece Lolita. Benjamin could almost be a weird combination of outsider Humbert Humbert and Dolores Haze. And there is a distinct family resemblance between Anne Bancroft's marvelous Mrs. Robinson and Shelly Winters' terrific Charlotte Haze. In Lolita, after an evening out, Charlotte brings Humbert home, pours some pink champagne, puts on campy cha-cha music and plays at being sophisticated as a means of fascinating a decidedly awkward and off-put Humbert. In The Graduate, Mrs Robinson brings Benjamin home, puts on some cheesy cocktail music, pours herself a drink and vamps world weariness to tempt the non-plussed young man into bed. Shelley Winters, underscoring what a predator Charlotte is, wears an aggressive, clingy leopard print dress, looking forward to all the animal print clothing Mrs. Robinson sports throughout The Graduate, yelling at the audience: "Careful, she's a man eater!"--something neither Paul nor Amy brought up by the way. I think it mostly succeeds because of Anne Bancroft's wit and the sudden veneer of Rom-Comness being shorn off right at the end, though it doesn't really go with the way Nichols has done the rest of the movie, setting us up for all the great ironic post genre films of the 1970s that Amy doesn't like all that much,
  2. gloriacassidy1999


    I don't about that stuff.
  3. gloriacassidy1999


    This movie is mostly well done, but I wasn't entirely sure how to take it. At first "Unforgiven" seemed as if it were meant to be an anti-hero post-western flick, then it just wound up supporting Eastwood's murder of the men for the sake of those prostitutes. But is the death penalty really appropriate in this case? Oddly, the idea that it might not be is never full-throatedly stated even by sheriff Hackman, who refuses to kill the men responsible for mutilating the pathetic prostitute. This seems especially important as one of the guys didn't even do anything, yet the whores want him dead too. Plus, the actual victim herself never says what exactly she'd like to have happen. She passively lets her comrades in whoredom get revenge for her. I think the biggest problems derive from a couple weird script holes. For instance, it's insane that when Clint meets the woman whose face was cut he doesn't mention that she isn't actually blind and still has her breasts, acts of violence noted over and over that were supposed to be part of his self-justification for the killing. Secondly, amidst the incoherent weather, Eastwood, as director, has Morgan Freeman's character kidnapped by the sheriff's men off-screen, and then actually killed off-screen! Why does he do this? Both incidents are lynch pins of the plot; the effect is clumsily anti-climactic. It's almost as if Eastwood had got cold feet at the last second about doing a real anti-hero western, so then went back and added in Freeman's death to make sure the audience would feel satisfied that Eastwood's killing was basically just. Yet this ultimately scrambles the themes and confuses one about how one is supposed to evaluate the characters, turning us against Hackman's sheriff who genuinely seems to be trying to keep the peace in his town, whether or not one agrees with the way he punished the men involved in the prostitute's maiming. Morally and rhetorically this represents something of a head scratcher since it undoes all the hand wringing about murderousness the film pretends to worry over. It's a dramatic cheat. The effect is to make Eastwood even more mythically heroic somehow, which is truly nuts.
  4. gloriacassidy1999

    Episode 162 - Scream (w/ Benjamin Lee)

    I've never been particularly impressed by Wes Craven. He always struck me as derivative and inept. Did a crappy version of Bergman with Last House on the Left,a silly version of Texas Chain Saw Massacre with The Hills Have Eyes; Nightmare on Elm Street was a low grade patchwork of themes out of Brian De Palma, from Carrie through Dressed to Kill. Scream is Craven's bland synthesis of Tarantino; the Mathew Lillard character may even be a dig at Tarantino. And I never found this film scary; the mystery seemed obvious, the style Dawson's Creek--the only thing that really surprised me about it was Courtney Cox's survival. I do think Nev Campbell isgood, but she's good in the wrong way. By giving a conventionally serious performance she reassures the audience that they are watching a normal movie, can relax and have the usual pop reactions to it. Only Rose MGowan's character starts to reveal the kinky, creepy satirical potential underlying the material. There's no resonance to the killers' publicity-oriented motivelessness, not even a queasy homoerotic subtext to bother us; they appear to be nothing more than empty abstract plot functions clowning around about the fact. Like Jurassic Park the movie makes fun of the very thing it's selling the audience, that viewers of horror movies ultimately have become de-sensitized to death, view even real murder and mayhem as movie-like entertainment; are prone to becoming copy cats just to get attention. But this idea is weightless and winkingly hypocritical, written with the glib contempt of a sharp advertising man using Tarantino's self-consciousness for op-ed zinginess. It has none of the idiosyncratic love-hate-love you sense working through Tarantino, whose Pulp Fiction was not only pastiche parody but a satirical rhapsody on the weird Quixotic essence of Pulp itself; how shockingly seductive cheap tawdriness could be even as it revealed a total moral vacuum. The movie deepened our understanding of how we interact with the fantasy of films and the way movies get at our secret desire to have our ids liberated and to transcend ourselves. Scream is merely a slick byproduct of this, and though it spawned several ripoffs it didn't really take horror in a new direction the way that Psycho or Chainsaw or Carrie or Halloween did. I am therefore a no on this one.
  5. gloriacassidy1999

    Episode 161 - Grey Gardens (w/ Alissa Wilkinson)

    I'm voting yes on this movie, because it is such a foundational documentary and Little Edie has transcended the film to become a cultural myth in her own right. But the truth is I hate "Grey Gardens". While I'm never offended by films and don't respond to them with moral outrage--this thing I do find morally and ethically repugnant. I'm definitely of the belief that the filmmakers exploited Little Edie's need for attention and admiration. She thinks she's fabulous, but what the audience sees is an emotionally crippled failure trapped by a mother who makes a practice of hacking away at her daughter's ego, because she doesn't want to be left alone and needs someone to take care of her whom she can control. This is why the woman only compliments Little Edie behind her back. I really don't think the Maysles should have allowed Little Edie to lure them in and give her this disastrous starring role, despite her self-exposure's having an admittedly morbid fascination. I see now that the movie is a forerunner to Reality TV, wherein desperate people with personality disorders subject themselves to various humiliations because they want to become famous and loved, while viewers eat up their self-abnegation so as to feel superior to them. You sense "Grey Gardens" working you over at this voyeuristic level even as it it partially slips beyond that sort of crude appeal into something approaching genuine human truth. I'll admit that much. Maybe it feels deeper to some than it really is, because it's the documentary equivalent of fiction films like "Sunset Boulevard," or Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie (Little Edie is like a fearsome combination of Amanda and Laura Wingfield); especially it recalls the B-movie tawdriness of "Whatever happened to Baby Jane". Those works, unlike the blurry unformulated "Grey Gardens, were melodramas made enjoyable by implausible murders and revelations, giving them a fun kitschy undertone. While their themes of ingrown narcissism and Gothic co-dependence were sickly and grotesque, you didn't have to worry all the time that you were watching real people and could relax and allow yourself to identify with the desperation and claustrophobic decay hiding right underneath the characters' delusions about themselves; you could laugh off the characters' silly Quixotic self images and fantasies. Not so with "Grey Gardens". When you watch actual women aging among the broken bric a brac of their lost dreams it's ghastly. Seeing the way they lie not only to the filmmakers, and us, but to themselves, the transparently festering hopelessness of their lives makes one's skin crawl. This movie's sensibility isn't tragic, but pathetic. Little Edie would need to have a moment where she recognized how empty and frustrated her life had been; how lost she presently was for us to sense tragedy in her soul--as we did with Robert Crumb's brother in the documentary "Crumb". This has nothing to do with her faded looks or whether or not she's simply an eccentric misfit fighting against the normals. It's about the fact that a human being's potential has been utterly wasted over the course of her life. That she was able to find glamor in this failure and wanted to display it to the whole world is profoundly depressing. It would pain me to no end if someone I loved were to have let themselves be shown as totally deluded, living in squalor, and that people then went on to make such self-deception over into camp heroics, as if Little Edie were a Screw Ball Grande Dame, Auntie Mame. That she herself would have enjoyed her macabre immortality makes the whole sordid production that much more unsettling an experience.
  6. gloriacassidy1999

    Submit your pick for The Canon's Ultimate Listener's Choice!

    there are so many I could pick, but I will go with three: Soapdish, Dressed to Kill (De Palma version), and Jean Luc Godard's Week-End.
  7. gloriacassidy1999


    Just a couple things to say. I can respect that the hosts liked this movie but I wish they, and critics in general, would refrain from using the word "backlash", which sounds as if you were trying to de-legitimize those who genuinely found the film to be ugly, dull, throat clogging smarm. As with the movie Contact, which came out the same year, Titanic teaches us to have faith, trust our instincts, work off intuition, believe in love--even though there's not an intuitive bone in the film's body. It's entirely mechanical in structure, rhetorical in effect; we're never meant to doubt Rose's self-serving account, despite the myriad details she could not possibly have known about. All this is made worse by the dialog, which appears to be a mix of earnest cutesy modern anachronisms and ersatz BBC Masterpiece Theater, any episode of which is better than Titanic. Cameron provides us with wisdom such as: "A woman's heart is an ocean of deep secrets." as fake explanation for why Rose never ever talked about any of this over the last century. We've seen a garden of these cloying Roses blooming in movies, rich princessi, delicate beauties who turn out to be tough and practical once they come down off their gilded thrones, accept an earthy man's charms and learn to dance with peasants. She's also briliiantly smart, forward thinking. She loves Picasso. At a meal this remarkable seventeen year old makes reference to Freud as is if she were dropping pensees before swine. I'd like to make a pedantic point here, though. Rose tells Jack that the wealthy men on the boat like to congratulate themselves for "being masters of the universe," but this phrase was coined by the late Tom Wolfe in his novel The Bonfire of the Vanities in the 1980s, so could hardly have been a worldly girl's bon mot in 1912. Thankfully the Titanic didn't sink four years later, saving us from Roses's snippy explanation of General Relativity! Everything in Titanic is so on-the-nose you would have thought Cameron would have made the boat hit the iceberg at the same moment Jack and Rose were making love. Cameron's waiting until just after shows great restraint on his part. But what of the beauteous Billy Zane? His character, which our hosts talked nothing about, is the great embarrassment of this film. Lit and made up like an evil homosexual from a 1940s movie, he gives characters who function as mere devices-for-conflict a bad name. We are meant to see right off he's an irredeemable philistine because he doesn't appreciate Picasso the way our heroine does, Eventually he's callously exploiting children to save his own selfish skin, which made me rather like the cad. Outrageously villainous characters can transcend being simple lumps of pulp to become expressions of pure movie pleasure, if they're wittily played and playfully written, but Cameron piles on the wickedness without so much as a wink. Deliberately drawing a character in such crude terms, so that the audience actively roots for him to die and is actually glad when he loses all his money and commits suicide is aesthetically corrupt, artistically immoral; an appeal to the Trump voter in us all. No real artist would write a character like this; even Dickens at his most melodramatically polemical wasn't this idiotically partisan. Titanic not only should not be on the top 100 list of movies, but it ought to be a cautionary example illustrating the questionable taste of mass audiences, as was the case with Forest Gump. Both movies are situated in the same region of Hollywood.
  8. gloriacassidy1999

    Episode 152 - The Breakfast Club (w/ Christy Lemire)

    I think Amy and the marvelous co-host Ms. Lemire said just about everything that crossed my mind watching it. I considered voting yes on this as it's a good deal better than some of the films that have been discussed and really is culturally relevant, and even though I ultimately went "no" I'll be good when it wins since there are some decent performances and a number of entertaining passages. I think I've decided that The Canon should be about cinematic excellence with the occasional Yea for something truly foundational. While The Breakfast Club is a big deal, still it didn't spawn a whole genre or anything. Maybe because it's a teen take on a moldy stage genre--it's like a group therapy version of Eugene O'Neill's The Ice Man Cometh. Judd Nelson has been given the unplayable role of a device, a character whose purpose is to strip everyone down to who they really are, only John Hughes isn't as original and perverse as O'Neill was. O"Neill turned the device inside out so you laughed in horror at what this creature turned out to really be, while Hughes just works it so that Nelson's phony antagonism actually gives the kids a kind of spiritual colonic. Because what Nelson is made to do is empty his performance seems busy, affected, almost effete. Though I'm not sure any actor could pull this guy off, perhaps a gutsier actor like Sean Penn or a hotter one such as Matt Dillion might have made the dynamics between this character and Molly Ringwald's sexier. I'd find it sexier anyway. The movie doesn't really hang together and I think it's because Hughes didn't know what he was trying to get at. The proof is in the epigraph from Bowie's "Changes": "And these children that you spit on as they try to change their world. They're immune to your consultations. They're quite aware of what they're going through..." This suggests that some sort of counter cultural awakening among the characters is in the offing, but really all the kids in this movie want is acceptance from their peers, popularity. They're not going to opt out of the system. It's a shallow film about breaking out of shallowness. Another thing that mars everything is that the movie begins in a basically realistic mode but Hughes almost immediately begins to heighten and stylize the comic effects. There's an odd electric resonance added to Nelson's screaming "Fuck You!" at the teacher through the library's door, which he magically doesn't hear. Emilio Estevez breaks a window by shouting. No one acts the way they would if they were really high. The various music montages are staged like passages from Scooby Doo, Nelson's falling through the ceiling has no consequences physical or otherwise, etc.,etc.. I wondered if this was meant to keep us from taking a lot of what happens too seriously, but it kept throwing me out of the movie. At the end I was thinking these kids are going to be in a lot of trouble when the teacher discovers all the mess and damage, broken glass, torn up books, screwed card catalogue, food and garbage everywhere; not to mention only one paper got written, and it wasn't even long enough! I feel certain that these dorky teens' triumph is not going to last to the end of the day. BTW, I find the characterization of the teacher played by Paul Gleason to be far more disturbing in its relentless humiliating nastiness than Nelson's harassment of Ringwald. After all lots women have gotten into messes with one or two boys they let go too far. The thing with the teacher isn't based on anything. It's just vile.
  9. gloriacassidy1999

    Episode 151 - The Exorcist vs. The Exorcist III (w/ Thomas Lennon)

    I think Amy and the co-host said most everything to be said about the themes of the two films, though I had hoped to hear Amy rant about the jump-scares, but then she turned out to like them. I forgive her, however, everything. Anyway, the only thing I'd like to add is that what I like so much about the original The Exorcist is the hysterical seventies editing and Ellen Burstyn's gutsy performance. She's so pushy and prickly and foul-mouthed that she seems modern in a way that puts most mother characters to shame, even in recent films. She brings such a sharp furious desperation to the role of the divorced liberated mother that her sense of guilt at having somehow ruined her kid in spite of love and determination throbs through every inch of Burstyn's being; her ambivalence is unsettling and universal. What mother hasn't felt guilty, hostile and protective simultaneously; and wasn't sure which emotion she felt most strongly. As long as Burstyn's on screen the film is electrically alive and genuinely frightening. Which is why it always annoys me the way she's sidelined in the final act by the exorcist of the title, relegated to serving drinks and sitting around sowing! And to what end? Sydow dies between scenes having hardly got to take in the fact he's dealing with the exact same entity he came across in Iraq, and then Jason Miller doing his window thing. Still, I'd say it's two thirds great and clearly a work for The Canon. The Exorcist III on the other hand seems to me neither scary nor creepy. Writer director William Peter Blatty doesn't have the same dynamic visual sense that Friedkin has. He should have been far more explicit with his imagery and far less so with his dialog, which is so overly elaborate the effect is nearly abstract in its absurdity. His self-conscious mixture of quasi literary atmospherics, most of which don't pay off, and a strange grotesque humor hampered by uncontrolled performances, causes his busy visuals to congeal on the screen, rather like Fellini pulped over by a Giallo director. Friedkin has a real low down gift for the ghastly and the tawdry; giving his horror scenes a lurid vitality and tastelessness that gets under your skin. Blatty lacks the bad manners required for horror to be more than theatrical glop. Aiming for Poe-like metaphysics he sinks his story in a hopeless morass of logical problems even more encompassing than those in the first film. At least that's what I think.
  10. gloriacassidy1999

    Episode 149 - Boomerang (w/ Marc Bernardin)

    I agree pretty much with everything that Amy said. I thought of Pauline Kael's reviews of films like Mahogany and Lady Sings the blues in the seventies: she noted that black audiences seemed to want their experiences filtered through the old Hollywood models of glamour and melodrama. Boomerang seems like a throwback to the Doris Day and Rock Hudson movies, where high style decor and fashion were lightly sprinkled over with the diamond glitter of one liners and sex that wasn't too sexy and which wound up with the usual nuptial bells ringing in the background or at least the strong possibility of them. The problem is that Murphy has been miscast, rather the way Ewan McGregor didn't quite work in Down with Love. You either need the sort of edgy actor who comes alive in a macho douche role like this, the way Clark Gable, Murphy's model, was able to do with such ease or Jason Statham did in Spy, or else you need a stone cold fox like Rock Hudson or dreamy John Gavin. Murphy is in his heart a bohemian scrambler; he's not a man who defines himself by his suits, and wants us to know that putting his disdain for the character on the surface, which neuters the role. And though he's certainly cute you never find yourself waiting for him to pop those shirts off, as you would a young Billy D. Williams or Denzel, or hell, even a young Carl Weathers--who probably would have been just right here by the way. Lacking these credentials you don't really buy that every woman in the world would be falling all over herself to sleep with him. This makes the women seem ultimately crazier even than they would anyway. Also, I don't like the way the film ultimately winds up saying that in the end a man like Murphy needs a giving earth mother type while cutting down the career woman Robin Givens, who really is the only sort of woman he could make out with. But then Givens is so stiff and cold a performer--like Grace Kelly without the wicked European wit--that I only felt bad for her on principal, because the writing was so casually sexist. All that would be okay by me if the Murphy character had the masculine force to bring a woman's ambivalent feelings about men to the surface, but he just seems like a weenie, and I couldn't even be bothered to be annoyed.