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Posts posted by HoldenMartinson

  1. I love Shaun of the Dead, but I'd put Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World way ahead of it.


    I love Zodiac, and is probably my actual favorite of this trio--among my thirty or so favorite films of all time.


    But if I'm picking what I want to represent the all-time greatest that film has to offer, I'm gonna go with my least favorite. I'm gonna go with the brash, bold, overstuffed, positively ridiculous force of nature that is Magnolia. This is a film that shouldn't work. It's overly sentimental, it's too long, and often makes very little sense. But I apply the same argument to Magnolia that I do for something like The Room. It is, if nothing else, wholly itself. It's an honest vision that might not be as disciplined as Fincher, or as snappy as Wright, but this is what I want from a film. I want something that has a clear point of view. I want something that is as courageous and brash as this. I want something so weird and dynamic to exist in the world. In the end, Magnolia works. What Anderson has to say about parents and children, about denial, about loneliness, about selfishness, and about forgiveness is big and gaudy, and I love it. It's the textbook definition of an imperfect masterpiece. Would cut about 30 or 40 minutes, though. Probably the Julianne Moore stuff, to be honest.

  2. Echoing Cabin in the Woods sentiments, even though I don't really love that particular film.


    Scream is neat for a lot of reasons. I mean, who better to comment on the state of horror over the last few decades than one of its architects? Certainly, there's an argument for a few different Wes Craven films--particularly Last House on the Left and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Here, though, Craven is firing on all cylinders, bringing all of his tricks and economy in storytelling to one of the great scripts of the 90s--'96 alone boasts Fargo, Trainspotting, Secrets & Lies, Mission: Impossible, Jerry Maguire, and a slew of other terrifically written films. Scream manages to feel tense, funny, and fresh, over two decades later.


    As an aside--one of my earlier movie-going memories is my mom taking me to a drive-in double of feature of the '98 Godzilla and Scream 2. And maybe it wasn't The Hills Have Eyes, but I didn't grow up to be a serial killer. I mean, who knows, though.

  3. There's a common discussion in film--though, not necessarily exclusive to it--on how well comedy ages. As a younger millennial, there are plenty of older comedies that I adore, but I cannot, for the life of me, understand the appeal of Caddyshack. Without being hyperbolic, I've spent years revisiting Caddyshack over and over. I've lost count of how many times I've tried to watch and force myself to enjoy this film, and it's painfully unfunny. For me, only a handful of comedic beats hold up at all.


    Maybe if the film around the comedy worked, that could salvage it, but the film is a mess. Structurally, Caddyshack feels so scattershot and uneven that there's barely any coherence or thrust. Someone like Danny is ostensibly the lead, but the film has no sense of him as a character, not to mention that Michael O'Keefe is a veritable mannequin for his entire time on screen. And though I don't necessarily disagree with the discussion on privilege or class dynamics, none of it matters if the movie around it doesn't work.


    So, this is a hard no.

  4. What is so striking about The Departed is how addictive it is. This is something that almost all of Scorsese's crime films have in common. Like Goodfellas and The Wolf of Wall Street on either side of The Departed, these movies are insanely sleek and watchable. I love how tense this film is, I love characters like Mark Wahlberg, and I love the sense of place we get with Boston that we don't really get with Infernal Affairs. So, I'm a little torn, because I do prefer the moral ambiguity and soulfulness of Infernal Affairs, which is a little jagged, but taut and thrilling, even if the hands at work aren't as graceful as Scorsese's.


    I come back to an idea posed in the episode for the first two The Decline of Western Civilization films: Better films versus better stories. Does one prefer a stronger demonstration of the medium's technical powers, or what works really well within that medium?


    I suppose I prefer The Departed as a movie, but not much as a work of storytelling. What is this film even about? Crime catches up with a person? Rats are everywhere, including nice apartments? Is Leonardo a Christ figure? The film's a neat trick--a great one, even--but not particularly insightful. For as gripping and realized as The Departed is as an effortless exercise in craft, Infernal Affairs is much clearer and more accomplished in their goals, because what good is a well-made movie like The Departed if it never arrives anywhere? Though The Departed has been a favorite for years--and will remain so, despite its shortcomings--I have to give this to Internal Affairs.

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  5. 100% yes. This is a film whose loveliness and whimsy totally work on me, probably because these pieces are interwoven with a ton of adoration and messy emotional honesty. That Paul Thomas Anderson can do this and then follow it up with something as severe and mannered as There Will Be Blood demonstrates a lot of what I love about this film, and what I love about PTA.



    The element that speaks most to me, however, is the one that Amy jives with the least: Barry as a character. I mean, maybe it's just really personal, but I definitely recognize much of myself in Barry. Like Barry, I don't always know how to express myself very well. I've definitely had moments like that great, great oner of him on the phone with Georgia, where he can't even feel comfortable pretending he's literally anyone else. There's this sense of smallness to Barry--even though he's played by Adam Sandler, who is tall and broad--that feels achingly honest. Certainly, I understand, and maybe even agree with the preference of Ben Stiller's conventional asshole in sheep's clothing over the misunderstood teddy bear of Adam Sandler, but as far as Punch-Drunk Love is concerned, Sandler works. Because it's a film about wanting to be loved, and knowing you have something to offer that no one else sees, until you find someone that finally just gets you. Barry is essentially good, and even enough for Lena, even if he's not perfect or all that well-adjusted.

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  6. Some forgotten gems were Logan and Atomic Blonde, my favorite film of the year being the latter. If I had to create a time capsul for 2017 I'd include Get Out, Lady Bird, and Three Bilboards.

    The Big Sick is the most overrated film of the year and is unremarkable in its writing, acting, structure, and continued focus on the Apatow man-child as the rom com hero. I was told my critics that it was a modern Annie Hall when in fact it took none of the risks and yielded none of the laughs or insight. While I appreciated Kumail getting his due and telling his story and in fact enjoyed the film for what it was, the attempt by many to claim it is the best comedy of the year is the only thing I find laughable.

    You know, I like The Big Sick, but yeah. And I should be in the bag for this, too. I love literally everyone involved with this project. But maybe it was the three or four consecutive montages set to somber music, or the few jagged stabs at endings, or the fact that this movie feels the need to hit me over the head with its sense of urgency over and over, rather than trusting the audience to understand the weight of those more serious moments, but golly, I could not love The Big Sick, as much as I tried. I watched it over and over, but I'm split on it.

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  7. Third. Forgot to include it in my list somehow but it absolutely belongs in the conversation somewhere.

    Fourth. It's up their with Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back. It's an all-timer.

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  8. Also, I'm just gonna get this out of the way right now--it's almost definitely going to be Get Out, even if it's not a personal favorite of mine. That would go to The Florida Project. But it's not about favorites. That said, I'd love to see a good match for Get Out.

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  9. So, Amy proposed that the "Best Of" episode this year be done as a call-in style episode, and we sort of hash out our picks here.


    What films do we think are worthy of consideration?

  10. And then a common thing in Canon discussions on iffy movies is this "larger impact" topic. HoldenMartinson compared the impact of The Room to that of Frost/Nixon, War Horse, Up In the Air, and Birdman. Although it might not feel this way, all of those films were more widely seen than The Room, with the IMDb pages of those four movies having two times, three times, seven times, and ten times as many votes as The Room, respectively. The Disaster Artist will probably play in more theatres in its limited release week than The Room will ever play in, period. I had never heard of The Room until I moved to LA in 2009, and I have to assume that had I never lived in LA or NY, I wouldn't have heard of it until The Disaster Artist surfaced. So I have to say that I don't buy the "larger impact" argument. And certainly, no one is out there trying to make movies like this, for good reason. It can only happen by accident.

    I mean, I've never even been to L.A., nor did I have anyone introduce it to me by anyone, nor did it arise in my life because of Franco's film. It's been a cult hit for a long time. If you're a pop culture nerd--not even a film person, even--chances are, you've at least heard of The Room.


    Moreover, a film isn't significant because of IMDB or when you moved to whatever part of the U.S. My point wasn't that The Room had been seen more widely than those other films; it was that The Room is still growing, despite being 14 years old, while movies released in the last ten years that were mainstream have been somewhat forgotten. No one is hosting Frost/Nixon parties with their friends on a regular basis. No one is saying, "Have you seen War Horse? It's going to BLOW YOUR MIND." If anything, the fact that The Disaster Artist is getting made kinda proves my point towards the impact of The Room. The Room isn't as widely seen, yet it's significant enough to a passionate pocket of people that a major motion picture, based on an already very successful book, is being released and is a legitimate awards contender.

  11. I've loved The Room for many years. It's the film that led me to other kitsch masterpieces--like Miami Connection, or Silent Night, Deadly Night Pt. II, or Killer Klowns from Outer Space. It's what led me to Paul's show, even. So, as one can imagine, The Room is responsible for a lot of joy in my life. Yet, pretty much nothing that The Room begat in my life that has ever matched Wiseau's wonderful, weird, semi-autobiographical passion project.


    There's something that Amy touched on, something I reference a lot when trying to explain the joy of The Room--lots of bad movies get forgotten while The Room endures; lots of GOOD movies are forgotten while The Room endures. Remember Frost/Nixon, or War Horse, or Up in the Air? Probably not as well as The Room. Whether you support the idea of movies being so-bad-they're-good, you can't ignore the kind of cultural impact The Room has had. As a cult hit. As the subject of one of the best nonfiction books of the decade. As the inspiration for one of 2017's most anticipated releases, with every mildly likable actor from Hollywood among its cast. Do you think fucking Birdman will ever get this kind of treatment? Does anyone remember Edward Norton's character's name in that movie? Nope. But we all know Mark. We even know about the woman who ended up in a hospital on Guerrero Street. It's just a great story.


    Lastly, I'll just reiterate what I said in the homework thread: The Room is the work of a legitimate artist. The Room is often described as "outsider art," but there's more honesty in The Room than almost any other film, of any kind. Tommy Wiseau threw every cent into crafting an uncompromising portrait into his childlike soul, and all that entails. The word that comes to mind is "un-sanitized." When most films are re-written, subject to studio notes, and edited and re-edited, filtered through a committee of comparatively more competent professionals, The Room is such a clear vision. Do I like that vision? Do I agree with Wiseau's politics? Maybe not. But it has a commitment that even Andy Kaufman would admire.


    Maybe Wiseau would have made a film that looked and felt like everything else if he had any inkling of how to really make a film, but he didn't, and now we have a work of austerity that functions as much of a sandbox for interpretation as it is a cautionary tale for inept filmmaking. Moreover, when so many films and television series are so self-reflexive and self-effacing, The Room has a level of commitment that would give Andy Kaufman pause. It believes in itself. How many films are this unashamed of themselves? How many films are so stupidly confident? The best case scenario for a film to be this indulgent is Magnolia, which is a mess. Even PTA agrees the film needs an editor. Not The Room, though. There's nothing I would change about The Room. It's terrible and perfect, just like God intended.


    110% yes. This is canon.

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  12. Yes. Don't even need to listen to the episode. It's 100% in. Not necessarily because this is "so bad that it's good." The Room is the legitimate work of an auteur. It's incompetent, it's nonsensical, and its politics are deeply troubling, but few works of popular art get to be so unapologetically honest. As Tommy Wiseau said at the premiere of The Room, this is his movie. It's entertaining and endlessly fascinating, which is more than I can say for hundreds of serious, adequately made art films that are forgotten every year. As a mainstream product with as much intrigue in the mythology of the project as this central film, The Room is absolutely canon.

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  13. I find the idea of one film's contingency of canonocity on another film to be really overrated.


    I think of the Z episode, where Amy said that, should Z be entered into the canon, Three Days of the Condor couldn't. I really don't like that. If the canon is mean to represent all the films a person should see in their lifetime, maybe Z could say certain things, but Three Days of the Condor has value beyond another, similar film. I don't think redundancy and variety are necessarily mutually exclusive. You can have multiple films about the same thing, but that color the spectrum of that subject matter. If anything, I think it's important to have a few different kinds of one film to see what different artists do with identical material. Exploring the breadth of cinema is as important as understanding the texts that shape it.


    So, I don't know. Those are my two cents.

  14. I hadn't seen The Brood, and I was pleasantly surprised by it. I did a write-up of it--one that was not as well-researched as this episode, as I did not listen to The Canon beforehand, so I feel silly--and I found myself writing so much about Nola, because her character, and Samantha Eggar's all-timer performance are amazing. We talk about someone like Anthony Hopkins making the most of his time on screen, but Eggar gives him a run for his money. Her performance is so dynamic and exciting, whereas Art Hindle--the ostensible lead of the film--is sedate by contrast. Hindle is as dull as Eggar is electrifying.


    The one thing I love about The Brood is how Cronenberg uses performance and narrative as therapy within the world of the film. It's a lot like Adaptation., if it wasn't so self-reflexive. Cronenberg is making a movie about his divorce, which involves characters play-acting with their therapist to reach some kind of emotional catharsis by finishing their own stories according to their personal understanding of their trauma. But in real life, these problems don't exist in a vacuum. Cronenberg channels this through family, which, by its nature, is a protracted story that can never live in a vacuum. Life itself doesn't exist on its own, and directly affects those around us. Just like Nola is ruined by her parents, her problems extend to her marriage and her own daughter. Candace will likely follow in her mother's footsteps, and mess up her kids, too. So, we'll always have conflict for stories and art, but we'll also keep hurting each other forever. Does this suggest that Cronenberg's marriage crumbled because of his filmmaking career? No idea, but I appreciate that, for whatever reasons, Cronenberg would be willing to put so much of himself into his work.


    Still, I'm holding out hope for another, better entry from Cronenberg. I like The Brood, but I don't think it's an essential.

  15. This is only the second Bong Joon-ho film I've seen, the first being Okja. Not really interested in seeing any others at this point. The bad CGI takes me out of it. The pace and tone is wildly uneven. And yes, I'm talking about both films. I'm a hard no.

    You'd be robbing yourself of Snowpiercer, and, more importantly, Memories of Murder, which is among the greatest mystery films ever made.