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HoldenMartinson

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Everything posted by HoldenMartinson

  1. Good evening! Filling in for Nick Perkins, who is welcome to get his shit together and come back at any time. Next week, Joanna Robinson and David Chen are pitting the bookends of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy against one another: The Fellowship of the Ring versus The Return of the King. You can find the entire trilogy for rental on Amazon Video, or even $5 bins in Walmarts all over the U.S. Also... Go team!!!
  2. Joanna almost won me over with her Arrested Development shoutout, when discussing the one quote from TheReturn of the King, but alas, I have to go with Tangerine. In all seriousness, I'm going The Return of the King. The Fellowship of the Ring may have better moments, but the film is so goddamned uneven. It takes forever for the film to get going, the film stalls between the time they leave the Shire and when they get to Rivendell, and they don't even form the actual fellowship until halfway in, right after we've barely met our characters, and after one of the worst scenes in the series--with the council at Rivendell. Most of what Amy describes comes near the beginning, or in the back half of the film. As a whole, this is barely watchable. The Return of the King, on the other hand, is consistently thrilling from top to bottom, and opens with might be the best scene in the series. Jackson's ability to turn a warm, joyous outing into something so chilling and disturbing. That's why Jackson won a Best Director Oscar for The Return of the King. I would also argue that Aragorn showing up with the ghosts is not a deus ex machina, but the logical conclusion to his arc. Aragorn's whole journey is that he doesn't want to accept his kingship. He doesn't really want this legacy that he, much like Frodo, didn't choose. Those ghosts are personification of that forsaken inheritance. Once he stops running away from his past, and stops running away from who he is--and what he's destined to be, given these ghosts--he proves himself as the leader everyone needs. And yeah, maybe that's big and on the nose, but The Lord of the Rings is, by no means, a subtle story. It's a sweeping epic with broad ideas, and Aragorn's works all the way to the end. Anyway, the Raising of the Shire is a bummer of an omission, but it works for the film, so who cares? Also, re-watching the end of The Return of the King--yeah, there are many conclusions, but they're all terrific, and they all work together. It's not ideal filmmaking, but it's at least functional. Even the ensemble is better in The Return of the King. They understand their characters better, and have lived with them for so long--Sean Astin, in particular--that the hit those emotional beats and character moments with greater effect that only works because it pays off here. Really, we should be inducting the series as a whole. The books were written as one. The films were made together. And, frankly, the one that deserves to be in the canon the most, The Two Towers, isn't even in the discussion. If forced, to me, The Return of the King is the picture where Peter Jackson irons out the directional/storytelling kinks of The Fellowship of the Ring, and really arrives with his most fully-formed iteration of Tolkien's story. The Return of the King.
  3. HoldenMartinson

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

    I wouldn't put a "Neither" option. For one, it's super disappointing that one was implemented in the first place. More than that, The Lord of the Rings is canon. In terms of production, visual effects, music, quotability, casting, etc., it's simply far too important, even if they're not particularly enjoyable the way they used to be. One of them has to be in, and the one that has to be in is The Two Towers. But whatever, GUESTS.
  4. HoldenMartinson

    Episode 100 - Juno vs. Whiplash (w/ Franklin Leonard and Kate Hagen)

    It didn't. He professed that The Canon is just an excuse to talk about what makes for great film. Sometimes that included episodes for films that were perceived, though undeserving classics, like Pretty in Pink, or The Shawshank Redemption, or The Lost Weekend. It's just about exploring the reputation of art, really.
  5. HoldenMartinson

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

    The Player is great, though. it's smart, funny, and WELL-PACED. Also, I like that the references and cameos play in a way that lets you know just how empty and dumb this entire world is, and I love how far the film goes with that idea. 100% down for an episode for The Player.
  6. HoldenMartinson

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

    Rewatched the extended editions of the first two last night--which, in and of themselves, are huge mistakes, but they're all I have. It's so crazy how much better The Two Towers is compared to The Fellowship of the Ring on every level, making me even more upset that it's not in the conversation.
  7. HoldenMartinson

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

    That's how I felt. The Two Towers is so much stronger, in my mind. The Rohan/Helm's Deep sections might be the best stuff in the trilogy. Also, at least there aren't seven different endings, like The Return of the King.
  8. HoldenMartinson

    Homework: Shakespeare in Love (1998)

    Good morning! I'm not Nick Perkins, and next week, it looks like David Ehrlich is bringing 1998 Academy Award for Best Picture-winner Shakespeare in Love for consideration of canonization. You can find Shakespeare in Love streaming on Netflix, streaming on Amazon Prime, and for rental to non-Prime members. Go team!!
  9. HoldenMartinson

    Unofficial Best of 2016

    I'm a sucker for traditions, and this one is one of my favorites. What are the most canon-worthy films of 2016? Which would you posit for the pantheon of great films to live on forever? I know my own shortlist includes some terrific films, but ultimately, I'd go with Ava DuVernay's 13th, one of the most shocking and stomach-churning documentaries of the century. Otherwise, I'm thoroughly impressed by Moonlight and The Witch. Your own picks?
  10. HoldenMartinson

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

    I have no idea how this Easter egg hunt isn't every bit as flagrant as La La Land. Shakespeare in Love plays like really lazy medieval fan fiction. The production design is outstanding, and the performances are strong, but the direction is so flat and lazy, and the writing is so bad. By no means is there anything wrong with accessible, middlebrow filmmaking. Shakespeare in Love just isn't good. Easy NO.
  11. HoldenMartinson

    Episode 100 - Juno vs. Whiplash (w/ Franklin Leonard and Kate Hagen)

    Right? He has four near-great pictures, and two that aren't particularly good, but hardly terrible. Also, Casual is terrific.
  12. HoldenMartinson

    Episode 100 - Juno vs. Whiplash (w/ Franklin Leonard and Kate Hagen)

    I don't know how familiar you are with that part of the country, but having visited there, and lived really close to Preston, ID, it's one of those rural towns where culture just doesn't catch up for a while, which the film captures pretty well. Also, did online dating exist in the 80's? Honest question. Napoleon Dynamite still feels like its own thing. There's a quirkiness and heart that, to me, still work, because the film doesn't lean into them the way that even something like Juno does. It just lets this weird, lived-in world exist without much presumption or irony. I really like that about Napoleon Dynamite. It doesn't try to be anything other than itself. Unlike Garden State, which... ugh. Great soundtrack, though.
  13. HoldenMartinson

    Episode 100 - Juno vs. Whiplash (w/ Franklin Leonard and Kate Hagen)

    Was going in with Juno, and this episode clinched it. I love Whiplash. It's one of my all-time favorites, and it's a far more engaging film experience. That said, Juno could win on cultural impact alone. But I think Juno, in terms of its craft, is incredibly underrated. For as mean and lean as Whiplash is, Juno is a film about the crossroads of adulthood, whether it's keeping a baby, or being there for your pregnant daughter, or being honest about why you're with who you're with, and it would be so easy to slip into something melodramatic and overwrought. Juno is nimbler in its execution, because it deals with far tricker, more nuanced themes, without taking them too seriously, but without making too much light of them. In terms of screenwriting--honestly?--Whiplash is trash. Damien Chazelle's talents live and die on his direction. He's a visual storyteller like no one else, but his scripts are embarrassing. Juno is a film that, for one, actually has a soul. It has an identity and voice that is all its own, and that no one can capture with the same seamless authenticity. I love Whiplash. It's a solid picture with no shortage of memorable moments, and it has a lot to say about talent, and male relationships, and ambition, and suffering for one's passion. But honestly, I think the characterization and dialogue alone leave so much to unpack in a way with which Whiplash can't compete. I think we need to adopt Juno into the canon, father or no father.
  14. HoldenMartinson

    Homework: Juno (2007) vs Whiplash (2014)

    Just re-watched both. I'm leaning towards Juno, honestly. Don't get me wrong: Whiplash is a fine-tuned exercise in filmcraft. While being about music, the film could be muted and still feel thrilling and alive as every viewing of Whiplash does. Miles Teller is amazing. J.K. Simmons earns his Oscar wholesale. I love Whiplash, and totally get why it'll have a huge chunk of the vote. But I really hope we all revisit Juno. I hadn't seen it in nearly a decade. These are both films I've watched several times, and as undeniably electrifying as Whiplash, I believe Juno has so much to offer. Juno is known for its colorful, borderline-garish dialogue, but the core of the film comes from two characters who don't know how to speak to each other--something that a Juno-descendent, Obvious Child, would do with similar aplomb. Juno has a heart and grace to it that is easy to miss over its louder elements. What Juno immediately has over Whiplash is an unstoppable ensemble of well-drawn characters--with MIchael Cera as the lone weak link. What is so beautiful about Juno is that, for all of the stylized conversation, the film is built on subtle beats that inform us on who these characters really are. As precocious as Juno MacGuff is, the film is also aware that she's naive, and that, for all of her self-awareness, she's still kind of a dummy, and she's also super reckless. Jason Reitman is really generous to Diablo Cody's script this way. This leads to some of the bigger problems of the film, where characters need to talk about a problem exactly when there is a problem as soon as a conversation begin--first screenplay problem, one among a few. Reitman paints a world that is funny, poignant, and vibrant, but also really lived-in--though it has been years, I do remember listening to the commentary with Reitman and Cody, where they described having to call every band that Juno has a cutout of in her bedroom, among other tidbits. A quick rundown of details I love. -Any number of quotes -Numerous instances of parallel construction, the best one being an early shot of Juno pushing her way through the halls of her high school; two acts later, she's parting the seas of people as the "cautionary whale." -Mark's wardrobe gets less adult every time we see him, starting with a v-neck sweater/button-up combo to a wrinkly Superunknown t-shirt by the end. -J.K. Simmons telling Juno that she'll be back on the hospital on her own terms, and Juno looking at him with this blank look that suggests that she might not even want to do that, but that she recognizes he's trying to be comforting and supportive in his own way -The abuse of Bren's urn -Leah being into teachers and Woody Allen--which is on-the-nose, but still pretty funny -Sort of already mentioned this, but the fact that the most satisfying moments between Juno and Paulie are whenever they have little-to-nothing to say. -Juno's crush on Mark -Jason Bateman and Michael Cera in a love triangle, several years before the UNDERRATED FOURTH SEASON of Arrested Development--and, honestly, as needlessly shat upon as that season is, it can really only be underrated at this point. Maybe the thing that really won me over with Juno was the film's ending. I'm positive that I'm in a minority in this way. Whiplash has a conclusion that is one for the ages. Whatever the film's flaws, Andrew's final performance never gets old. But I prefer the far more meaningful, graceful, messy climax of Juno. This is a film I've seen so many times, but it wasn't until this viewing that I found myself crying. I don't know if it was because Paulie was finally there for Juno, or if it was because Jennifer Garner--who should have gotten an Oscar nomination for this film--nervously, cautiously allowing herself to be a mother, or because of Cat Power and The Moldy Peaches. I prefer a moving ending, and Juno has a final stretch that just works. So, I don't know. I have a feeling Whiplash is going to be the winner, because it's the flashier, more immediate experience, and that's fine, I guess. Please revisit Juno, if you haven't done so yet. I was pretty sure it would fall apart--and maybe a pro orange Tic-Tac film isn't the most welcome in this day and age--and while there are definite flaws, it's the film's pathos that makes it work.
  15. HoldenMartinson

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

    Exactly. It'd be really cool to see him direct someone else's writing. Give him a talented scribe, Chazelle will elevate the material to great heights. Yeah. I didn't quite agree with his assessment of Tarantino. Literally everything White described as missing from Pulp Fiction is exactly what Pulp Fiction is about.
  16. HoldenMartinson

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

    You know what? I think I can concede to a lot of this. La La Land isn't just visually strong because of the lavish pieces and references. Most of the themes that Chazelle can't write, he articulates with tiny cues here and there, and even gentler sequences. Here's my favorite stretch of the film: Mia and Sebastian semi-agree to seeing Rebel Without a Cause. Mia goes on a date with her perfectly nice, but unrelatable boyfriend. This is intercut with Sebastian fidgeting in his seat, waiting for her. Mia, unable to relate to a world that is just pleasantries and noise, gets up and leaves. She chases what she wants, and we know exactly why. Sebastian can relate to her in a way this other guy can't. What Mia does is selfish and impulsive, which works. She gets to the theater, and stands in front of the screen--begging us to hate her, by the way--and makes this big gesture for the one guy she likes, and who motivates her. The two are about to kiss, because they're aware that they're living in a movie. And then the projector breaks, which interrupts their kiss. Rather than just consummating their attraction, they know they can do better. They can have their own Rebel moment. They go to the planetarium from the movie, and then La La Land makes its own movie moment. Mia and Sebastian slow dance in silhouette among the stars. Maybe there's no light coming from them yet, but they still eclipse millions and millions of distant, celestial bodies. This sequence is almost entirely dialogue-free. We see the proverbial and literal dance of courtship. It's frustrating and strange, but it's also magical. These people belong with each other, if only in this moment. And even if they are kind of awful, I'm glad they're with each other, rather than trying to pollute other good people. Anyway, even though there's a lot that bothers me about La La Land, I do admire the hell out of it.
  17. HoldenMartinson

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

    See, I think pretty much all of that is there. In fact, I would even argue that the white-washing argument is a little overblown, but they are privileged as fuck. It's that part that bothers me. Why do I care about these people achieving their dreams? Who are they, anyway? Ryan Gosling gets a really good job playing music that isn't even that bad, and then he turns into a grumpy asshole who can afford to feed himself while still playing music--also, when their argument gets too heated, their food in the oven burns, because subtle filmmaking. I liked it better when his mini-keytar made him look impotent because he wasn't having a good time playing for an 80's cover band--who, again, are not that bad. Sebastian is an undisciplined schmuck who can't spend a couple hours just playing Christmas songs, but who has enough income to waste on antique stools that held the asses of dead people he happens to like. Same with Mia. She's a nice enough woman with talent, but then does the super irritating thing of constantly asking her manager if she can leave work early. Um, no? You have a job in a city of millions of people, and it wouldn't have been that hard to call in, or trade your shift. But if that doesn't work out, you have an education, and you can live with your parents for a while. Oh no! You might have to live a pretty good, comfortable life--which is sort of what happens anyway. Mia even has a big old poster of Casablanca on her bedroom wall--also, how does she work in a coffee shop, and live in that nice of an apartment, even with roommates?--which is so broad. Obviously, we worship the greats for a reason, but Mia can't do better than one of the most revered films in all history? Again, I do think this is on purpose, because Chazelle could clearly reference something more meaningful, but chooses something as big as he does. Also, why do we never see these characters hungry? Money is barely an issue, except when it suddenly is. They care about their aspirations, but to what degree? They don't have any actual problems or conflict, other than their lives just aren't going their way right when they want them to. So, emotionally, I'm not invested in the story, even though I can appreciate the spectacle--because this is directed like it's no one's business. I like your point about duality, because I think the film is aware of it, but it's also aware that nothing really changes. Yeah, it's sunny in winter, which is a sharp contrast with normal seasonal changes, but in L.A., it's always bright and sunny like that. I even like that number in their apartment, where they have this entire dance number that travels throughout their home, and they even use their lamps and so forth to make themselves look even more glamorous. That goes all the way to the end, where Sebastian never actually does anything to make jazz special, despite his claims that he loves and understands it so much, and where Mia ends up with a nice enough business type like her boyfriend from the beginning of the film. Which actually makes that ending set piece so strange to me, because what does it mean? The most popular theory is that it's a "what if?" scenario, but I don't think that's the case. I think it's that they see each other, and re-remember how great their relationship was, even though all the moments that are shown are all the low points of their knowing each other. What is the film saying if it's a "what-if"? What is it saying if it's a reinterpretation of events? Again, with La La Land, there are clearly ideas and motifs littered throughout the picture, but how many of them actually mean anything? To refer back to the American Beauty episode--there are truths, but where's the insight? Why am I supposed to feel for these overgrown children? What does their story mean? What are they actually giving up? Yeah, sometimes you have to compromise. So what? Their relationship is based off of supporting each other, because the only real thing they have in common is that they're ambitious as artists. They're not even in the same medium.
  18. HoldenMartinson

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

    I think it's because stuff like La La Land and Stranger Things--both things I happen to like, though I definitely prefer the latter--are mostly nostalgia porn. The people who made this have seen a few John Carpenter films? So have I!!! That's so cool!!! What's the artistic bent at play, though? That progress comes from paying attention to the past, or something? For La La Land, that's definitely true, because that's a film all about romanticizing and fetishizing artifacts of a bygone era, and that the moving into the future is scary. That's why Ryan Gosling is uncomfortable playing in John Legend's band--which I don't think the film is making fun of, but rather, the movie is so rooted in Gosling's and Stone's POV that we're supposed to feel sad that he's not making the jazz music he likes, I suppose--and it's also why Emma Stone's breakthrough comes from a story that isn't even about her, but her aunt. The movie rewards them for leaning into others' stories and work for their success, and then rewards them for it, except that they don't get to be together, which would feel justified, but the film wants us to feel sad for them, that they got to have their dreams, but not each other. They're not even real characters, which the film recognizes, by putting a million doppelgangers in the margins at any given moment. Stranger Things just seems like it wants to preserve all this stuff from a couple decades ago--though, it's all stuff I love, even though I'm not of that era--and it just happens to be a lot of fun, and to have a great cast. Stranger Things does have one of my favorite jokes, which is when Papa Byers is telling Jonathan to take down his poster for The Evil Dead, because it's inappropriate, and that's supposed to be the tip-off for how much of a dick that character is, because we know The Evil Dead will go on to be a cult favorite, and that the dad is disconnected from pop culture in that way, but that's because the show knows that it's for people who enjoy films like The Evil Dead. It's a show that says, "Hey! The fact that you play D&D, and like The Thing--even though it was a flop at this point in time--means you know how to solve this mystery that is specific to your life." It's a show that rewards nerdy exceptionalism in a way that is serendipitous for serendipity's sake. The best that one could say to the benefit of Stranger Things is that it's about using pop culture, and also science, to get young, alienated kids through adolescence and into adulthood. Mike, Will, Dustin, and Lucas are all unpopular, but have fun playing games and watching movies. When Will is swapped out for Eleven, they're able to use their interests to save everyone. Other than being Easter egg hunts, what are Stranger Things and La La Land aren't really about much. And I don't think anyone is saying you shouldn't like them, but that they're more concerned with references and callbacks than actual, textual meaning.
  19. HoldenMartinson

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

    It's an either/or situation. Otherwise, you can simply abstain.
  20. HoldenMartinson

    Homework: Juno (2007) vs Whiplash (2014)

    I love Whiplash, but part of me really, really, really wants to fight for Juno. Maybe it's because I'm so sick of Chazelle and La La Land, but I'd rather fight for the scrappier film with the better soundtrack. Weirdly, Whiplash works for me for all the reasons that La La Land doesn't: Whiplash is tactile and polished, with actual stakes, and with an understanding of these two awful people at the center. La La Land is about two hyper-delusional people whose stories we're seeing because the camera isn't five feet to the left, focusing on any number of other Hollywood-stardom hopefuls. Either Chazelle isn't willing to lean enough into his own cynicism, or he just doesn't understand his own film. As for Juno, plenty of films have spawned their fair share of poor imitations. Juno still holds up really well--the ending, in particular, is as poignant and tender as ever, and the film totally earns it. By no means is the film as well-crafted as Whiplash, but I'd much rather hang out with Juno and Paulie over Andrew and Fletcher any day. So, we'll see what happens.
  21. HoldenMartinson

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

    Armond White is one of my favorite critics. The way he consumes movies is just as important as anyone else's, and the best kind of idiosyncratic. Sometimes his critiques are difficult to comprehend, but I like that he really is his own thing. Also, any discussion trashing La La Land--an empty film about the emptiness empty people fill themselves with that misses its own point--is fine by me. Anyway, I went with Sign o' the Times. I prefer Talking Heads, but as a film, it's Prince all the way.
  22. HoldenMartinson

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

    Not if they can't find his movie. Also, Stop Making Sense is way more popular.
  23. HoldenMartinson

    Episode 98 - Ghostbusters

    This, exactly. For me, the film kinda falls apart after the hotel scene. Also, yeah. Too much Bill Murray, Bill Murray-ing for way too long.
  24. HoldenMartinson

    Episode 98 - Ghostbusters

    Love that the show is back. Loved Paul Scheer. Do not buy its canonization. CANOOOOOOON!!!!!!
  25. HoldenMartinson

    THE CANON IS COMING BACK!!!

    Whoa. Way to break a chunk of their lung, Jackie.
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