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DannytheWall

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DannytheWall last won the day on May 16

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  1. DannytheWall

    Episode 243 - The Peanut Butter Solution

    Aren't all these brothers quite suspect? The art dealer clearly works with the criminal Signor. Who else would have fronted the forged paintings? Isn't the Rabbit (a street name if I've ever heard one) admiting that he's still receiving paintings from him? How do we even know if the Doctor ALSO hasn't changed his name and identity at least four times as well? I'm not convinced of his medical knowledge by any means. In the podcast, Jason says something about a sequel, but I say, PREQUEL! You could go all the way back to when these four brothers were kids. Obviously, the junior Signor has a juvenile criminal history, dragging the others along. And how does Mary even get a recipe for magical hair-growth as one of her "prized possessions" in the first place? I'm seeing things like the kids stumbling onto a quest to create magical paintbrushes, probably each brush with a separate power. There's hair monsters like Looney Tunes' Gossamer or maybe Tribbles. And the day must be saved through the power of-- oh, let's say, love.
  2. DannytheWall

    Episode 243 - The Peanut Butter Solution

    Ooh I like this. THANK YOU I was really struggling to figure out what this movie was trying to say thematically. It's easy enough to hand-wave it away and say "Oh, it's a kids' movie. Power of imagination, sure." But that's a *topic,* not a theme. On one hand, maybe it was saying "Imagination is good"-- it's tied to Art and expression and individuality/freedom early in the movie. But then again, maybe it's bad, because it's appropriated by the villain to create magical paintings, the very villain who is against imagination/expression/freedom/etc. But then again, it's good, because Art is what saves the children, maybe? Worse of all, the "Fright" -- the thing that started all the shenanigans and is undeniably a Bad Thing-- is mentioned by Michael (in yet another horrible ADR line): "Hey, do you know what I really discovered in that old spooky house? Was that the biggest part of the Fright was in your imagination." Wait. So if you *didn't* have imagination, you wouldn't have had the central conceit of the movie?! Are you saying "Signor was right"?! Ultimately, I just hand-waved it away and said "Oh, it's just a HDTGM movie, sure." But to find that there's a theme that says "be careful, imagination is powerful and dangerous" is a bit more thriling and, even if it's unintentional, rewards the movie a few more points.
  3. DannytheWall

    Episode 243 - The Peanut Butter Solution

    I noticed the director is the grandson to an artist/art teacher named Antonio Dattilo Rubbo… and what a character the elder Rubbo must have been. Wikipedia notes that he "encouraged his students to experiment with styles" and "was a flamboyant character." Often going above and beyond the confines of the classroom, such as "challenging a committee member of the Royal Art Society to a duel because he had refused to hang a Post-Impressionist landscape by his pupil." I'm not saying that Grandpa Rubbo was a true-life villain in any way, but if "Write What You Know" has any truth, it's clear where the inspiration for the Signor comes from. Since Michael Rubbo went on to be an artist as well as a filmmaker, and his sister an artist and gallery owner, it's clear Grandpa Rubbo was quite an influence.
  4. DannytheWall

    Episode 243 - The Peanut Butter Solution

    I. Love. Connie! Let’s put aside for the moment the deadpan acting and terrible scripting, and focus on how great this character is. I was peeking through my fingers, waiting for the inevitable tropes that called on some mystical connection, or martial arts prowess, or science-y tech-head stuff, but no! Here is an Asian character who is never presented as defined by his ethnicity, but is allowed to have agency and impact on the story simply by being an active character! In fact, as Paul & Company notice, he’s probably more of a main character than Michael! This was in the same year (1985) that gave us Data in The Goonies, and a year after Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles. I notice the actor, Siluck Saysanasy, went on to be a popular character in the teen drama series of Degrassi High. Good for him! I really didn’t know what to think when I first saw the character— since another Chinese sidekick named Connie immediately sprang to mind. This one from a famous comic strip called “Terry and the Pirates,” and can it be a coincidence for such a specific name and specific character role to line up like that? But Terry’s Connie is a very, VERY flagrant racial stereotype. His nickname is shortened from “George Webster Confucius” and is complete with yellow skin, buck teeth, and somewhat minstrel-like behaviour. The film writer/director Michael Rubbo is of the age and has an arts background that would certainly bring him into contact with Terry and the Pirates, but there's no indication there should be a direct connection except in my own mind. I’m *so* happy we get the Peanut Butter version of Connie instead, even if it does prompt disturbing thoughts about the nature of pubic hair.
  5. DannytheWall

    Jaws

    The Jaws ride at Universal is an extremely fun attraction and highly recommended. It's a boat ride along the lines of Disney's Jungle Cruise, in which an actor performs as your guide to Amity Harbor until, of course, "something goes horribly wrong" and you get thrilled by animatronic sharks, explosions, gunfire, and sudden stops, etc. One of my previous jobs was working with Universal Studios Creative, which took me to Japan during its construction of its theme park in Osaka. So I'm happy to say that "I wrote the book" for the Jaws attraction, or at least was heavily involved in the attraction manual. It is, in fact, still in operation in Osaka, in the middle of a nicely themed area straight out of New England, complete with shops, a fish & chips place, and a huge photo op of a hanging shark, like the movie. (I mean, it was over 10 years ago since I visited, so I'm not the most up to date on what it actually looks like.) Excuse me while I fall down a YouTube rabbit hole for a while... The Florida attraction is, sadly, no longer there, as it not only had to make room for a more contemporary (and profitable) Harry Potter world, but it was also aging past its prime. It became a seasonal ride, only operating during peak months/attendance, as the effects were also quite elaborate. The Jurassic Park ride has similar issues, in that it takes a lot to maintain effects and show elements that are constantly submerged in water at the same time constantly exposed to the elements. Go figure, right?
  6. DannytheWall

    It Happened One Night

    Yeah, the AFI list kind of thrives on this ambiguity doesn't it? LOL Whatever the reason for it, it certainly leads to discussions (and podcast streams!) as we parse what the list means and how what it means says things about the films, etc. This film was a blindspot for me even tho I knew so many things about it. (The trivia of its Oscar wins shows up in many a pub quiz night.) I'm happy that the list and the podcast gave me an excuse to watch it. It gave me a Capra film that I actually like! But also a lot of things to think about and appreciate. I might think about incorporating it or its selections in some of my film classes that I teach. It's strange to think that this film is nearly 90 years old.
  7. DannytheWall

    It Happened One Night

    The more I think about it, the more I like looking at the movie through this lens. It's all quite monomyth/hero's journey for Ellie. Crossing the threshold, mentor, trials, the "false death" of marrying King, the new status quo, etc. There's still some problems from a modern-day persepctive, tying Ellie's hero's journey into one that is precisely about marriage, not to mention the presumed abusive nature of relationships, but aside from those constraints, factors of its cultural moment, it's acutally a film that's quite celebratory for Ellie making her own way through the world and it rewards her for her stepping out. (Contrast to the weakest element of The Wizard of Oz, which is the reward for Dorothy for deciding to never go traveling again in the bright and magical world "over there.") Not only that, but Ellie's reward is to reject the upper/join the lower class, where 'real' life and people are.
  8. DannytheWall

    It Happened One Night

    There's no Corrections & Ommissions, but I still want to clarify the Bugs Bunny thing. Yes, Bugs Bunny's carrots was definitely inspired by Gable, but the name of Bugs is taken from the animator Ben "Bugs" Hardaway, whose design pages were labeled "Bugs' Bunny" (note the apostrophe) and the name stuck. Having names like "Bugsy" and "Doc" in the movie is coincidence and shows the names' commonality rather than a correlation. And as much as the discussion is getting caught up in the genre trappings of the film, which many say makes it worthy of the list, I think there's a lot going on with a psychological context that's more deep when you place it in history. Is Colbert's character representing the upper class and Gable's the lower? If so, is Peter then admired for "punching up", or is Ellie admired for "leaving" her station? Is there a celebration of community (like the bus scenes, getting a hitchhike, "we're all in this together" kind of thing) or a celebration of using community to your advantage (your individual needs manipulate the situation)? And although the age differences of the characters aren't so pronounced, it's still a bit weird. Tho that line of thinking makes me wonder how much is it a coming of age kind of story for Ellie.
  9. DannytheWall

    Episode 241.5 — Prequel to Episode 242

    The doctor beat me to The Sandlot suggestion. The Kings of Summer, maybe? Stand by Me? Comedies seem more likely, like The Great Outdoors, Vacation, Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead. For animated choices, A Goofy Movie, Lilo & Stitch, or Spongebob The Movie Oh, and no one said Endless Summer?
  10. DannytheWall

    Shane

    I have always heard Shane analyzed as the quintessential example of American ethos, and of American masculinity in particular. I don't think it deconstructs or analyzes the genre to the extent that Paul and Amy talk about, but it was a really good discussion and helped me think of the movie differently than I had before. This rewatch was a struggle. I couldn't do it in one sitting, which I usually force myself to do. It's more of a feature of the editing style and aesthetic of the time, as the shots felt longer or unneeded. Also, my criticism from the first time I watched it-- the CONSTANT repetition of his name, "Shane." Sometimes literally every sentence in a row. LIke, "Hi, Shane?" "What do you want for breakfast, Shane?" "Shane, sure is fine weather, eh Shane?" That being said, after a deep dive into Queer Theory a while back, any time I see a film that features outsiders and "found families," I think of this lens. I'm not saying that Shane (nor any other character) is queer, it's just that this lens gives a framework to see what resonates. Here is a man struggling with what he feels is his nature, trying to distance himself from others while also trying to fit into a traditional family unit, and the tragedy but also redemptive realization that he cannot deny it, that "a man has to be what he is." In fact, all the homesteaders are meant to be "outsiders" in some way-- which is how I think Terry the Confederate was supposed to also exemplfiy. The other homesteaders are immigrants, women, etc. Shane is the Ultimate Outsider and has to sacrifice his found family in order to let the family survive overall. "Isn't that right, Shane? Your name is Shane, isn't it? Shane?"
  11. DannytheWall

    Episode 241: Ninja III: The Domination

    Good shout outs to character actor James Hong. Like bumping into an old friend, it’s always a pleasure. “Hey! It’s you! Wow, it’s been a while!” Of course, we greet each other with a rueful smile, as once again Hollywood casts a Chinese-American actor to play a Japanese man. But then again, maybe that fits in a movie where a Chinese medical shop performs Japanese exorcism, or the fact there’s a Japanese temple in Arizona where Chinese kung-fu is being practiced. But do Japanese ghosts possess people? There are a ton of Japanese ghost stories and their urban legends are notorious, but the kind of ghostly possession featured in Ninja III falls more into the Western ideas, like in the tradition of Regan in The Exorcist or Emily Rose. In these stories, it’s demons going into the body of another, with the horror being a loss of control and individuality, the helplessness and victimizing. Japanese spirits are yūrei (“faded souls”) more distinct from demons. They’re more like “haunting” kinds of ghosts, even violent ones, similiar to a poltergeist. These are called onryō (vengeful spirit) and will feature in movies like The Ring and Ju-On (The Grudge). Possession in the way we might think of does occur in a couple of ways, but it’s not easy to do a one-to-one translation for these kinds of ideas. You can think of one way as similar to channneling, like how mediums invite spirits into them. Another way is to use haunted items and risk being influenced by an accompaning spirit. Still not an exact Emily Rose scenario, and the horror is more existential, a kind of warning— against attachment that Buddhism says is the root of suffering. The closest we get to Regan & Emily is a unique Japanese possession featuring a ikiryō, or a “living spirit.” Here, it’s not a dead person at all, but a consuming spirit that detaches from someone living to afflict others. The most famous story comes from the Tales of Genji, the classic ancient hero of Japan. Here, a mistress of our hero Genji grew so jealous over his wife that the jealousy became a ghost and possessed the wife, afflicting her with mental distress and leading to her death in childbirth. The horror here? I dunno, probably patriarchy. (Standard disclaimers that the world of Japanese ghosts is prolific and tied intrinsicly to culture/religion, and I am only a hobbyist looking to learn if others can correct or expand on anything.)
  12. DannytheWall

    Episode 241: Ninja III: The Domination

    This movie. Let me say at the top, I enjoyed all its campy goodness. What a crazy ride. But also, woof. What a product of its time-- The music, the sets, the hair/body hair, the misogyny, the casual racism... Ninja III posits a world in which there is *an Asiatic division on the police force* and where a preoccupation with Japanese culture is part of a medical diagnosis. And by Japanese culture, the doctor doesn't mean a rich tapestry of art, literature, and history stretching back thousands of years-- it means mystical stuff of demons and ghosts. The "Black Ninja" of the movie, and like many movies of its time, is presented as a supernatural being more like a vampire or (based on all the shenanigans in the apartment) a poltergeist. It's all very Yellow Peril 101-- afraid of the "other," who is uncivilized by Western standards with mystical connections, something unnatural and inherently evil. Something to be distrusted and belittled while at the same time feared because it is exotic. Paul rightly goes into the more traditional and historically accurate understanding of "ninja," although the movie was never really concerned about that, and preferred the standard pop culture definition. 80s' America was consumed with Japan in fear and wonder-- you might say a "preoccupation with Japanese culture." The US was in a recession and dominated by the juggernaut of Japan's rising economy. It's no wonder that the ninja became more symbolic-- it was something so powerful it could travel unseen and cut you down instantly, so inscrutible, so relentless. It was also something very cinematic. It made for a great villain, and was also great for appropriation. Take down your enemy by assimilating it, infantilizing it until you get such classics as Surf Ninjas and 3 Ninjas. And also Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which tried to be parody and turned into something beloved in its own right. Culture is weird.
  13. DannytheWall

    Episode 241: Ninja III: The Domination

    Maybe you answered your own question, and the scientist was researching on demon ninja! Suddenly, we're sharing a universe with that other movie that featured university research professors studying paranormal-- Ghostbusters! And now we can finally have that cinematic crossover with Ghostbusters vs. demon ninja and assorted Japanese ghosts and monsters!
  14. DannytheWall

    Episode 241: Ninja III: The Domination

    Also, the licenses plates for all the cars are clearly from Arizona. It was suprising to me when I noticed it, though. There's something about the movie that makes you just assume "southern California." Hmm.
  15. DannytheWall

    What's your rankings in this "home stretch?"

    LOL Your comments made me wonder and I double-checked myself. And I found that Gone With The Wind and Swing Time are side-by-side in my bottom ten. Oh jeez. Philadelphia Story ends up at 73 for me, and Bringing Up Baby at 60. In retrospect those might be a bit high, especially the latter, but that's the kind of surprises I've found for myself in the way I've made my list. The "delight" factor may be contributing more greatly, as I add the film to my list right after I rewatch or watch for the first time and before I listen to the podcast. Bringing Up Baby was a first for me, and I was delighted enough to place it above, say, Rocky and On the Waterfront, but below African Queen and, weirdly, Ben Hur for some reason. I don't know. At some point it's just trying to fill square holes and all you got is varyingly roundish pegs.
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