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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 01:28 pm:   

I took a snow day and watched Hans Peter Moland's The Beautiful Country. Moland, whose films include the wonderful Aberdeen, with Stellan Skaarsgaard,takes a story by Terence Malick and runs with it. We've seen this immigrant stiry before, but perhaps never more painstakingly rendered. A young Vietnamese man, one of the dust children, blamed for a household tragedy, flee Vietnam with his brother; in a Malaysian refugee camp, they hook up with a prostitute (Bai Ling) and escape during a riot--it takes them a full 90 minutes to reach America, and it's a hell of a trip. Tim Roth does a great job as a tanker captain with a human cargo. Nick Nolte is remarkable as the young man's father, and, as Binh, Damien Nguyen ought to have won something, he's that good. As is always the case with a fine film, a great script lies at the heart of it. It may be a bit long and there are a couple of missteps, but all in all it's outstanding.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 02:51 pm:   

Rich, I got Oliver Twist today. Thanks. Can't wait to get into these films, esp the Zhang Ke Jia.
Don't know what two of them are, but I'll find out I guess. Thanks again.
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 03:02 pm:   

Mmmmmm. Bai Ling.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 03:12 pm:   

Yeah, and she's great in this.
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Rich Patterson
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 05:02 pm:   

No problem. I'm glad everything arrived intact.

To tell the truth, I haven't seen all of them yet myself... My regular guy features a different bunch of Korean flicks each week and then you never see 'em again, so I just grabbed what looked good at the time. 'Puzzle' is a gangster/action flick and 'Forbidden Floor' - horror (1 tale - not 4 like the artwork says).
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 06:23 pm:   

Wonder why it says four? To rhyme with floor? ANyway, thanks again. Much appreciated.
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Rich Patterson
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 06:54 pm:   

One of a series of four full length films maybe? It's about stuff that happens on the fourth floor? English translations can get kinda messy... at least it doesn't claim to star Bruce Willis :-).

Did you find all the artwork?
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 06:59 pm:   

Yup. Found it. Thanks. Gonna watch a couple of 'em this weekend. I'll give you a report.
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Rich Patterson
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 07:02 pm:   

Cool.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 06:23 am:   

Anybody see THREE EXTREMES speaking of Bai Ling? She was terrific in the "Dumplings" segment...
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 06:42 am:   

No, haven't seen it.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 06:51 am:   

She plays a woman who has found the secret of eternal youth making dumplings with a "secret ingredient."

The papers write about her like she's some airheaded party chick, but she's such a good actress!
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Huw
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 06:51 am:   

Yep, Bai Ling and her dumplings were terrific in Three Extremes.

Anyone here remember Red Corner? Ugh!
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 07:00 am:   

One random observation: Helen Mirren is the oldest legitimately hot actress in movies. Will her Oscar win force the media world to re-evaluate its youth obsession?
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 07:05 am:   

Yeah, Red Corner and another ugh for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

Dave, Judi Dench is going to be a threat, I think.
And, in answer to yr quesstion, No.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 07:23 am:   

No, the media won't re-evaluate it's youth obsession.

I saw Firewall last night. By the numbers "thriller" without any thrills. Not a good waste of 2 hours.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 07:57 am:   

If Helen looks hot on the red carpet, and wins...

Well, at least she'll get hit on by Colin Farrell...
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 08:12 am:   

That'a a good thing?

She's married to Taylor Hackford, the director. Doubt she's hittable on.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 08:20 am:   

My post should have had a smiley after it.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 08:29 am:   

All posts should. :-)
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Sean Melican
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 09:20 am:   

Yeah, Dame Judi's got it going on.

Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis... :-)
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 09:28 am:   

Michelle Yeoh...Yeah...
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 10:23 am:   

Rene Russo...
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 12:12 pm:   

Going to see INLAND EMPIRE tonight...I fully expect to experience the range from enrapt to bored.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 12:18 pm:   

Can't wait to see it; right now, it's only at the AFI theater in Silver Spring, MD, which is a nice theater but a pain to get to.

BTW, I would strongly recommend that you seek out On Demand this week's Masters of Horror, starring William Forsythe as a zombie, retarded psycho killer clown ice cream man. Watch to the very end.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 12:21 pm:   

Y'all take an extra cushion, or maye a book by Jacques Derrida to read, because IE, for me, was three solid of numbing pain.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 12:55 pm:   

Three hours of numbing pain...sounds like a party to me!
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 01:09 pm:   

Well, enjoy the show. Filmmakers should not be allowed to make films about making films. That should be a rule. Especially indulgent ones like Lynch.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 10:23 pm:   

Watched the Host. Too late to write much about it, but it's very cool, cross between a 50's monster flick, a Terry Gilliam black comedy, and a dysfunctional family film Korean-style. Tne monster is terrific.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 12:18 am:   

INLAND EMPIRE was truly a test of my gluteal endurance, but I'm glad I stuck it out. It was about what I expected, some cool stuff, some tedious stuff, some moments with the quality of nightmare, lots of confusion, dovetailing time/personality, like Mulholland Drive in sloooooow motion, or a Greatest Hits compilation of moving down dark hallways. Some of the film only got clearer when I read the list of character names in the final credits...but it's going to be a long time before I feel like watching it again. Way more Arbus-ian than the Diane Arbus movie. Lots of haunting bits. Lynch answered questions for 20 minutes afterwards.
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Huw
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 04:13 am:   

Glad you liked The Host, Lucius! I just watched it again after receiving the 4-disc limited edition.

I just ordered a bunch of films, including A Touch of Zen and The Beautiful Country. I'm wondering whether the latter is named after the Chinese name for America: "mei-guo" ("beautiful country").
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 05:35 am:   

Yeah, the title Beautiful Country is taken from mei-guo.

I did enjoy the Host. It was refreshing to see what Boon Jo Park did with the genre, adding dimension to what could have been stock characters, etc. ANd the monster was great. It had just enough personality so as not to be cute yet be distinctive.


I don't know, Marc. When you have to watch the end credits of a movie in order to make a film clear, is it really worth it? I guess it was for you, but not for me. I regret the majority of the moments I've spent with Lynch, and never more so than with IE.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 08:37 am:   

You're in fine company. A bunch of people I know went and walked out halfway through. I don't know why they thought they'd like it in the first place...you could easily see this coming. "Three hour experimental film" is not something that would get most people to buy a ticket.

How did they get four discs worth of stuff out of THE HOST? I mean, it was a good movie but jeez. The DVD bonuses have become a separate industry, really churning out product.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 08:52 am:   

Yeah, I went because I thought I had to, but partway through I decided I'd had it with Lynch, and the only reason I stuck around is that I was with a Lynchophile and his girl.

They're charging 43 bucks for the four disc edition. There's a list of the extras at Xploited Films.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 09:04 am:   

I'm not sure what your friends were thinking Marc. I already have an idea what to expect from Lynch, and avoid him because of it. I gave up on him after Mulholland Drive, although I should have given up earlier.

And how often are DVD bonuses really worth watching? I can't remember the last commentary track I heard that was interesting, and most cut scenes are pretty bad. At this point, I'd rather get a DVD with just the film.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 09:14 am:   

I've only watched one extra in all the discs I own--the additional Trobriand Island music that acconpanies The Thin Red Line.

And yeah, I should have given up on Lynch a while ago.
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 10:24 am:   

The bonus features in DUST DEVIL are really good.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 10:26 am:   

Yeah, I should get that special edition, I guess.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 11:34 am:   

Yeah, the Dust Devil stuff is interesting, but it's the exception. Since the documentaries aren't related to the film, they are just interesting on their own.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 11:48 am:   

I might give up on Lynch if he made another Dune-like work for hire. I'm not going to give up on him for experimenting.

I really don't see much wrong with a movie requiring you to see it more than once. With a puzzling book, at some point, if you want to riddle out clues, you can easily start flipping back and forth to figure out if point A is supposed to connect to point B. The first time through a movie like this, there are scenes that seem like unrelated fragments; but by the time related pieces crop up later, you can't rewind (at least not in the theater) to figure out the connection. I don't want this in every movie I see, but I don't mind it occasionally.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 12:15 pm:   

I'm not sure it all hangs together, IE, but I'm no expert on the subject and I don't feel that way about art, any kind of art--I feel that even if you don't understand a film, it should at least make a coherent impact, it should affect you in a strong way, not merely be this clever bullshit puzzle that if you play with it long enough it'll sort of make sense. The only coherent impact IE had on me was to make me yearn to go outside and smoke lots of cigarettes. I liked the work of Robbe-Grillet, some of it, because it gave me this creepy feeling that made me want to know more. Lynch doesn't give me anything like that. His creepiness is so florid as to seem artficial. His nightmares are so desperately, stage-ily meaningful, they make me laugh when they're not boring me shitless. He's indulgent to a fault and I think a good bit of his recent films are sheer indulgence. It's not Lynch's experimentalism that puts me off, it's rather that he's boring...and that says to me, there is no there there. It's not worth unraveling the strands when all that's revealed is a picture of Whistler's mother dressed in a moo-moo. Tee-hee, he's saying. Wasn't that c-yool?

That's just my opinion, but for me, IE was the last straw.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 12:23 pm:   

Fortunately, there's no shortage of movies for all tastes. I wouldn't say that IE is a successful experiment; I didn't think Mulholland Drive was completely successful either, marking a step back from Lost Highway. MD was a step back from that, and IE is a step in a different direction. I'm more interested in where he'll go next, having been through the process that led to IE. But as a longtime fan, so far he hasn't lost me.

I've got a couple documentaries to watch next: THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON and one called S21, which is about the Khmer Rouge and their torture camps (possibly Tuol Sleng). A brief break from fiction.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 12:32 pm:   

Next up for me, Time by Ki Duk Kim and another look at Chris Marker's Sans Soleil.
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 02:30 pm:   

I liked MULHOLLAND DRIVE better than LOST HIGHWAY.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 02:51 pm:   

I thought they both sucked ass. :-) But if I had to choose, I'd go LH.
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PM
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 03:34 pm:   

I enjoyed them both but probably prefer MD due to the ladies. That would be intellectual enjoyment as his films wallow in dark moods. If you don't get it then you don't get it and consequently there's no enjoyment.

But he like Woody Allen tends to work with the same theme over and over again and that can become overbearing...
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 04:09 pm:   

That's a good point. He is a lot like Woody Allen in that regard. He's doing philosophical riffs off schtick
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Huw
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 06:53 pm:   

About The Host DVD set I bought: the first disc is the movie, with commentaries by the director, cast, and others. The second and third disc are full of extra stuff, such as outtakes, deleted scenes, interviews, artwork, monster design, making-of stuff, and more. The fourth disc is the soundtrack. I haven't actually watched anything aside from the film itself yet. I'm kind of addicted to DVDs, I have to admit. I suppose it's better than online gambling... ;-)

I just heard that The Host has fallen into the evil clutches of Hollywood. If that wasn't bad enough, I believe the remake of A Tale of Two Sisters is due out this year. Time to head over to the hating thread...
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 07:11 pm:   

Yeah, I heard about the Host. Just don't rent it, Huw! :-)
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Rich Patterson
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 07:23 pm:   

Danger! Avoid ¡°The Puzzle¡±. It¡¯s an unintentionally funny remake of ¡®Reservoir Dogs¡¯ that isn¡¯t saved by the star from ¡®Bad Guy¡¯. Unless you have way too much time on your hands, fire this one directly into the bin.

Saw Godard¡¯s ¡®Pierrot Le Fou¡¯ for the first time last night. Brilliant. I don¡¯t often run across the classic Godard stuff here but of the ones I¡¯ve seen (BoO, Alphaville, Contempt, Sympathy) this is my favourite. Any Godard you might recommend?
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 07:33 pm:   

Into the bin goes.

Pierrot le Fou is my favorite Goddard. You might try 2 or 3 things I know about Her and Breathless. Weekend is a weaker entry, but I have a fondness for it.
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jk
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 07:59 pm:   

Lucius, have you seen a recent Japanese movie called Oh Lord Why Have You Forsaken Me?(or something like that, not sure), about Japan in the near-future, where people have "lemming" disease and are killing themselves, and the only way to stop it is by listening to "noise" music?
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Rich Patterson
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 08:01 pm:   

Thanks, I'll keep an eye out for those.

Agree with you on 'The Host' The monster is cool. Not sure how I feel about the slapstick comedy though - at least there isn't too much of it and they're a funnier family than the Katakuris :-)
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 08:20 pm:   

JK, I've not seen it, but the buzz is great visuals and lame script, a lot of it looking like a music video, and some really "noise-y" music.

Rich, I liked the comedy. I had trouble with it at first, and I know what you're talking about--but I got used to it, and I sort of think it worked with the stuff about the virus and the Terry Gilliamesque scenes...

I'm goinng to watch it again Saturday.
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Huw
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 08:52 pm:   

I liked the part we're they all fell in a heap during the mass funeral, and the part where the father is trying to get the other two siblings to be more sympathetic toward Gang-du (the older, sleepy brother, and father of Hyun-seo). The interaction between the various family members was nicely done. I also liked the ending, which would've been completely different in a Hollywood movie (imagine this being directed by Spielberg or Ron Howard!). The more overtly comedic parts threw me the first time I saw it, as I was expecting a straight horror film with a monster. It fell into place nicely the second time I watched it, however.

I heard it's the highest-grossing movie of all time in Korea. I thought it was an exciting, funny movie with some genuinely thrilling scenes (especially the barnstorming first 20 minutes) that were nicely complemented by some quieter moments dealing with family relationships. I also liked the way the political, anti-US undercurrent was present but never too intrusive or overbearing. The monster was brilliant. I loved its design and the way its movements changed with the terrain. The movement in its familiar territory - fluid and relaxed in the water, acrobatically swinging from girder to girder on the bridges - really contrasted with the unwieldy loping gait it adopted when on dry land.

Rich, I actually preferred The Quiet Family (the film Katakuris was based on) to Happiness of the Katakuris. I did like both films though. Incidentally, the actor who plays the main charcter from The Host (Song Kang-ho) is in The Quiet Family also. He seems to have been in every other Korean film I've seen - Antarctic Journal, Shiri, Memories of Murder, Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, The Foul King (by Kim Ji-woon, also the director of Quiet Family and A Tale of Two Sisters) and others that escape me at the moment.

Heh, I'll do my best to not rent the remake when it comes out, Lucius! I should ("should" being the operative word) have learned my lesson with Pulse...
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Huw
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 08:53 pm:   

Uh, the fifth word in that last post should be "where", and not "we're", obviously, Please forgive typos - need sleep...
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 09:27 pm:   

Huw, I prefer Quiet Family to Kakaturis too.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 10:13 pm:   

How is Antarctic Journal?

I loved the humor in The Host, but I think after Memories of Murder I was prepared for some discordance of that sort. Some of my friends thought the grieving scene was over the top silly, but it worked for me. I loved how the heros of the film were the whole family, passing the baton from one to the other, instead of it falling all on one guy's shoulders. And the ending was an affirmation of that communal spirit...survival of the larger group, even with the loss of individuals. I just loved the characters and was rooting for them all the way. I did find the so-called political satire heavy-handed but no more so than in most American movies.
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Huw
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 02:08 am:   

Overall, I liked Antarctic Journal, Marc. It's atmospheric and leaves you guessing as to whether there is a supernatural element as events unfold. It was a little muddled in places, and I think it fell apart somewhat toward the end, but for me the location and creepy atmosphere made up for that. The haunting score by Kenji Kawai (he did the Ring/Ring 2 and Dark Water soundtracks also) was another plus.

Just returned from the DVD rental store with - wait for it - Seagal's latest opus, Attack Force. God help me...
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Huw
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 02:17 am:   

I really shouldn't have admitted to renting Attack Force, should I? Ah well, at least I didn't rent House of the Dead 2, which was on the shelf next to Attack Force.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 04:24 am:   

I think AJ is underrated--like Huw says, very atmospheric.

Have you heard about Dlynch's Oscar campaign for Laura Dern? He's sitting on a Hollywood streetcorner along with a cow. Now that I'll give him props for.
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Dave G.
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 06:42 am:   

Huw, prepare for the most Seagaldelic experience of your life!!!
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Huw
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 07:18 am:   

I can't wait, Dave. I don't know if my eyes will be able to keep up with the squinty one's faster-than-the-speed-of-light ass-kickin' moves, though...
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Dave G.
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 07:36 am:   

Best Russian hoochie-ass-whuppin' on celluloid, by far.
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Jeffrey Ford
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 08:28 am:   

I love the seen in Lost Highway where Robert Loggia, as Mr. Eddy, kicks the crap out of that guy for tailgating him.
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 08:37 am:   

Loggia is awesome. Also the conversation he and Robert Blake have on the phone with the kid: "Just wanted to jump on and tell ya I hope you're doing good." Also the scene with Blake at the party. The whole movie has a premonitory quality...it could easily represent the inside of Blake's skull at the moment it was made.

The cow campaign is on YouTube...search for David Lynch and cow and you'll find it. I gather he was horrified at the money wasted on movie advertising, so he put together this little thing on the cheap.

I'm looking for Antarctic Journal.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 08:41 am:   

I like his early stuff and, with the notable exceptions of Wild at Heart and Dune, all his films up through Lost Highway. But I have never been a devoted fan. I never thought of him as a "great" filmmaker. Interesting, yes. But with a complicated surface that obscures work of little depth and substance.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 09:13 am:   

That's supposed to read: "of Lynch as an artist..."
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 09:43 am:   

What makes Blue Velvet great for you, Kelly? I'm not saying it can't be seen as great, I'm just curious.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 10:41 am:   

What stands out about BLUE VELVET for me is the way Lynch takes familiar small-town imagery and stereotypes and instills them with menace. There's nothing comfortable about that movie. A friendly greeting, an old man watering his lawn, etc. – it all feels so odd and dangerous. The American dream subverted, so to speak, or revealed for what it really is.

Also, in general, the way Lynch has created a surreal world unlike any other I've ever seen on film. Call it an Andy Griffith Show nightmare, or something like that. I love BLUE VELVET for many other reasons, too (i.e. the gorgeous cinematography, Lynch's use of sound, Hopper's insane performance, etc.). But I think this answers your question, Lucius.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 10:50 am:   

Yeah, that's all true. For me, it didn't rise to the level of great quite, for precisely the one reason you state--it was like a take on the Andy Griffith show or on some TV show that played in Lynch's head. I couldn't help thinking it was a pop cultural event and this limited its impact for me. But I still think it's his best film.
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Dave G.
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 01:43 pm:   

I saw BV on a first (and last) date in a crowded cineplex full of college couples in Chestnut Hill, MA. The utter stone silence as the credits rolled was something I've never again experienced in a movie theater. Any guy capable of fucking with preppies' heads like that was, to my mind, worthy of praise.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 01:55 pm:   

Oh, yeah. Praise him with great praise. Just when I think surreal, nightmarish, great etc, I go to another place than Lynch, to people like Bunuel and Fellini and Godard and etc. Lynch's movie was very good, maybe it was great (even though I don't think it qualifies), but it didn't have that sort of impact for me.
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david h
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 03:04 pm:   

Hi all. I've been lurking for a little while, but this is my first post.

Lucius, I recently read some of your work for the first time: I thought it was very enjoyable, especially Trujillo and The Jaguar Hunter. Thanks for doing what you do.

Also, I had a few thoughts regarding Lynch:

For me, Lynch’s best work, especially Blue Velvet, hinges on psychoanalytically tinged examinations of aspects of modern culture in interaction with human nature. For the most part I agree with both Lucius and Kelly, but I believe there's something to be gained by extending both their lines of thought. I’d say that BV seems to indicate that pop culture (i.e. stuff like Andy Griffith) is interpretable as a symptom of the culture that produces it and that the “Andy Griffith nightmare” quality of the film uses pop culture as a stepping stone to take a better look at the potentialities of the human condition that gave rise to them in the first place. It is true that Lynch’s films have very complicated surfaces, but I’m not sure that BV, when properly puzzled out, necessarily reveals a lack of depth. For instance, I love the multitude of ways that the in-your-face fakeness of the singing robin can be interpreted at the end of BV…

Once you get past the pop culture context of BV, I think you could apply Lynch's method of analysis in any cultural context, but that it's only in our current cultural context that such a depraved underbelly is revealed. Or maybe not... It seems to me that the cornerstone of the psychodynamic paradigm is the assumption that humanity (and hence Lynch's films) has a very complicated, impenetrable surface that, when puzzled out, is dark, usually depraved in one way or another, and lacking in depth or coherency.

I don't think that's the end of the story though...and I doubt Lynch does either. The above is true but it's also true that Lynch is a big proponent of transcendental meditation and that he’s previously made some rather direct and hopeful remarks about redemption and humanity not being so grim and so forth. More than likely, he'd say that you have to have a good honest look at the ways that humanity subverts itself before you can get to the good transcendental stuff.

Anyway, this is probably nothing new, but I did need a philosophical detour in my Friday… In any case, puzzling movies out isn’t to everyone's taste and not everyone agrees that Lynch is overtly psychodynamic in his film making. But treating the depraved elements of his films as cultural pathologies is fun in its own extremely nerdy way.

Lastly, Lucius, a question for you: is it fair to say that your work is in some ways the opposite of how you describe Lynch? What I've read could be described as having an uncomplicated surface that is peppered with ideas that the reader can use to open the text to depths that could easily be passed by if close attention isn't being paid.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 04:09 pm:   

david,

good point re popular culture and its use in Lynch's work. I think it has merit.

In BV he hit a nice median between pop cultural concerns and a modernist depth, but since then he has leaned ever more increasingly on muddying his surface, rendering his thematic material less accessible. I suppose this can be seen as a high naturalism rather than surrealism, as his work as is often labeled. But I think in doing so, whatever his intent, he risks a certain preciousness and causes people of my disposition to question whether he's evolving as an artist or merely playing games with his surface. More and more I hear people talking about Lynch in terms of puzzles and unraveling the threads et al. That, I think, subverts the essential function of art, ie, to impact the audience's consciousness in a forceful and meaningful way. When I watch a film by, say, Zhang Ke Jia or Ray Lawrence, I'm affected on an emotional and intellectual level. When watching a film by post-BV Lynch, I've been compelled increasingly to an intellectual appreciation of the film. Now perhaps this is the fault of the viewer, perhaps I'm behind the times. Perhaps we're becoming a culture more attuned to work that is fragmentary, to delighting in piecemeal cleverness, but if so it hasn't translated into a heightened acceptance for Lynch. People, I believe, respond less to architectural tricks and so forth than they do to an unobfuscated narrative. Even post-modernists like Barthelme and etc were first and foremost writers with stories to tell. It's interesting to think about and I will think about it--thanks for bringing it up.

As to my work, glad you enjoyed Trujillo and the Jaguar Hunter. I'm the last person to ask about it, really, but I wouldn't quarrel overmuch with your characterization, except to say that i feel my subtext is more accessible than is Lynch's...
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Dave G.
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 04:59 pm:   

Just off the top of my head, it strikes me that BV generated all the excitement it did by scratching the surface of middle-American life and daring to find characters and situations that were so unyieldingly weird. Nobody had done that in quite the same way. There was a sense of two parallel planes of existence that freakishly intersect (like Dorothy showing up at Hope Lange's house naked). These kinds of concerns are definitely explored further in LOST HIGHWAY, which Lynch described as a "mobius strip" and MULHOLLAND DRIVE, where Naomi Watts and Laura Herring's characters move in an out of different identities and life experiences.

At his best, he can sketch out strange, alien characters and events that operate on their own perverse "nightmare" logic, and create fascinating wormholes through which "ordinary" folk slide between realities.

Or else maybe he's just a weird guy who likes pie.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 05:23 pm:   

Yup. Agreed...about the pie. :-)
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PM
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 05:31 pm:   

Can't we all just like pie? :-)

One Lynch is usually enough for my taste. If his style were frequently aped it would be overbearing.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 05:52 pm:   

Lucius: What's interesting to me about films like LOST HIGHWAY and MULHOLLAND DRIVE is how much more personal and subjective they feel than BV. While I agree that they, at least at first glance, contain more surface flourish and narrative "puzzles" than BV, at their cores they've always seemed much more simplistic than BV. HIGHWAY is singlemindedly obsessed with telling a story through the viewpoint of the jealous-crazed cuckold (Bill Pullman), and DRIVE with telling the story through the eyes (or subconscious) of the broken-hearted starlette (Naomi Watts). In these films, it seems that Lynch's imagery, however strange and nightmarish, is in complete service to forwarding/reinforcing an almost severely simplistic story thread. So, for me, watching the tragic stories of HIGHWAY and DRIVE amounts to much more than decipering puzzles; they become (dare I sound sentimental) deeply moving experiences.

On the other hand, while I agree that Bunuel and Fellini have made films comparable if not greater in quality than Lynch's (DISCREET CHARM, BELLE DE JOUR, and 8 1/2 come to mind), Godard has always seemed too consumed with his own cinematic voice -- his cinematic "essays" -- to tell a story that strikes me on the personal level. He may be a cinematic genius, and most respectable critics seem to agree on this, but I've always found his brand of storytelling too much about the brain than the gut.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 06:23 pm:   

Well, I was just throwing names out there, but I like Godard--have you seen Pierrot le Fou?

"Godard has always seemed too consumed wiith his own cinnematic voice?" And yet you say good things about Lynch, who is quintessentially that sort of director? You're saying the same things about Godard I say about Lynch. One difference is, Godard was committed leftist. Most of his later films served that end. Lynch has an almost Warholian attitude toward politics and, it strikes me, seems to want to paint himself a committed Pop Artist. The thing you say about simplistic story lines--yeah, and I think the imagery is an attempt to "profound" them up, to hide that simplicity behind a smoke screen. Since BV, I find the "nightmarish" stuff silly, dorky, geeky. I don't find anything disturbing about his films anymore. They're just the same old stuff recycled and reworked, dwarves and tough guys and victimized women. Some of his films are simply bad. I found Wild at Heart unwatchable. I'm willing to admit to a blind spot, but I can't think of him as a great filmmaker. But I'll watch MH again, give it another chance. You check out Pierrot le Fou.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 08:37 pm:   

Yeah, I totally agree that WILD AT HEART's a misfire. The fact that Lynch won best director at Cannes that year reveals what a joke that festival's awards can be.

I've actually seen PIERROT LE FOU and remember liking it quite a lot. Other Godards that stand out, on further thought, are CONTEMPT and MY LIFE TO LIVE. The repeating score in CONTEMPT is heartbreaking and unforgettable (one of the reasons I forgive Scorsese's CASINO is because it borrowed this theme song.) So maybe I spoke too harshly about Godard (the last of his films I saw was IN PRAISE OF LOVE, which I thought was rambling and unfocused; I shouldn't let that overshadow his other pictures).
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 09:05 pm:   

Well, I'm still gonna look at MH again.

One of Godard's major influences, a fact that goes unnoticed by most critics, is Sayajit Ray, especially the film Devi, which I think is Rays greatest film. Godard and many New Wavers learned a lot from that movie. Ray and Kobyashi, both acknowledged as great filmmakers, are nonetheless two of the most underappreciated directors going. One could say that the main branch of modern Japanese cinema springs from Kobyashi...

I don't know where that came from... ;)

anyway...
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 10:10 pm:   

I've only seen Ray's APU TRILOGY, but will look for DEVI. Neer seen any Kobyashi -- where do you suggest starting?
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 10:32 pm:   

Hara Kiri and the Human Condition. Kobayashi. The Human Condition is three movies, each three hours long, made when Kobyashi was mentoring Kurosawa. Every frame of the movies is frame-able. It concerns the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, and Hara Kiri debunks the samurai myth. Kobayashi was essentially blacklisted for making these pictures...
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Huw
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 10:57 pm:   

I've been wanting to see Harakiri for ages, and just got the DVD recently. Did you like Kwaidan, Lucius?
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 11:00 pm:   

I like it, and I think a couple of episodes are classics, but I prefer Hara Kiri and the Human Condition.
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Huw
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 11:09 pm:   

I especially loved the Yukionna (Woman of the Snow) and Hoichi the Earless episodes. The Human Condition seems to be very hard to find on DVD. I remember some talk about Criterion releasing the three films as a box set. I hope they do, as I've never seen it.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 11:18 pm:   

Netflix has it over here. It's an awesome epic.

Hoichi the Earless...Yeah.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 05:18 am:   

I actually like Sayajit Ray's film "The Middleman" more than any of his others.

I saw a Palestinian film last night called "Paradise Now" that was pretty good.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 06:04 am:   

I saw Pan's Labyrinth. I wasn't sure how the two narrative threads fit together (resistance to the fascist captain, girl's fantasy world), but it came together in the end. There were times I felt Del Toro spent too much time enjoying his own effects when they weren't so necessary to the film. Because of that, I enjoyed Devil's Backbone a bit more.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 06:44 am:   

I haven't seen Pan's Labyrinth yet, but am looking forward to it--not good news that you liked it less than Backbone, however.

Liked the Middleman, but for me it's Devi by a nostril hair.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 07:35 am:   

Yeah, they are all good. I just sort of have an attraction to anything that has to do with obscure ways of making a living, so The Middleman has a special place in my heart.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 07:38 am:   

And I have a special place for wonen who may be reincarnations. :-)
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Huw
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 07:55 am:   

I thought Pan's Labyrinth was better than The Devil's Backbone, which I thought was pretty good (but not great).

... recovering from watching Attack Force ...
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 08:05 am:   

Yeah, I didn't think Backbone was all that.

Attack Force...Oh, man, Im not going there.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 09:06 am:   

Ya know, I have seen a number of Indian films, but aside from Ray none of them have really done a lot for me...The Bollywood things I don't really ken to. Any recommendations for cool Indian flics aside from Ray?
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 09:39 am:   

The only three that come immediately to mind are Bandit Queen, The Terrorist, and Maya, all films that strike me as interesting though not great. But they are, at least, interesting because of their subject matter. I've heard good things about the trilogy, Fire, Earth, Water, but haven't seen it.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 09:51 am:   

Thanks Lucius.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 10:24 am:   

I thought both Pan's Labyrinth and Devil's Backbone were solid movies. However, I found DB moved me more, at least in a positive way. There were several scenes in PL which had a negative effect (they were intentionally uncomfortable moments, so it did what it set out to do). I think PL also brought up bad memories of Mirror Mask, and that negatively impacted my view of the film.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 10:31 am:   

The Gaiman thing? Never seen it. Wasn't it good?
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 11:12 am:   

Mirror Mask was pretty, but the plot wasn't very good. Both Mirror Mask and Pan's Labyrinth had young girls with problems at home retreating into a fantasy world. However, the fantasy world in Pan had an effect on the real world, unlike MM. At the end of MM, I felt like nothing that happened really mattered, since it had one of those terrible "was it only a dream" endings. It all took place in one night, so the negative consequences that were shown didn't really happen. Pan succeeded with it's story and didn't give me a bad vibe like MM, but I was struck by some similarities.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 11:47 am:   

Huh! Wouldn't think NG would do that's it's all a dream route.
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jk
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 11:58 am:   

Lucius, have you seen The Reflecting Skin? It's described as "Lynchian". That could be good or bad.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 12:10 pm:   

No, I haven't. I saw a couple of Greg whatshisname's early movies, and regetted every moment. I've heard Skin is a lot better, but was so badly burned that I haven't bothered to catch it.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 01:33 pm:   

MirrorMask was very forgettable; one of those films that feels more like a video game than an organic piece of storytelling, complete with whimsical visuals for their own sake.
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ben peek
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 06:15 pm:   

MIRRORMASK doesn't really do the whole 'it was a dream thing', but it skirts that concept real close. it's quite pretty to look at, and i'm a big fan of dave mckean, so that kept me going there. but the film was working the whole ALICE IN WONDERLAND/WIZARD OF OZ angle, so if you enjoy those, you'll probably enjoy MIRRORMASK. if not... well, no.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 06:27 pm:   

Sounds like I'm gonna give it a pass...
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 06:44 pm:   

I definitely got a dream vibe from MM. While they didn't explicitly say it, it followed the conventions of the dream cliche perfectly...actually not perfectly, it seemed more like a lamer version of the cliche. I recently saw "5000 Fingers of Doctor T" (sadly, Doctor T and the Women wasn't a sequel). It followed the dream convention, but when he woke up, both the kid and the plumber had cuts on their thumbs that occurred in the dream. That end where something that happened in the dream affected the real world is typical. Mirror Mask attempted it, but it was simply meeting somebody from the dream. It seemed like a half-assed attempt to follow the convention, but without wanting to make anything in the fantasy actually affect the real world.

I was really disappointed with the story, and especially the ending. Changing about 10 minutes at the end and making the evil twin's escape have consequences could have made it work better.

Of course, comparing Pan to Mirror Mask is making me appreciate Pan a lot more. I thought MM was a beautiful film, but a failure. Pan wasn't as beautiful and had intentional ugliness, but it succeeded.
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ben peek
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 07:26 pm:   

yeah, i don't disagree that it follows the conventions. it subverts it a litte when the narrator looks out and sees what her double is doing in her place, but there is a whole reset at the end. but in that way, it's playing to a lot of other texts--which doesn't make it good, but i got it.

i dunno, for me the attraction was dave mckean. i like some of gaiman's fiction, but film has never been a writer's medium, you ask me. a writer is just the blueprint maker. so i went to see a film in which dave mckean could show his visuals off--and i got that, so i was happy enough. my work wasn't rocked, but it was crushed, so all good.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 07:30 pm:   

McKean was the big attraction. I really like his artwork, I just wish it could have been used for a more interesting film.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Sunday, January 21, 2007 - 09:51 am:   

Also saw PAN'S LABRYNTH and couldn't agree more with Robert's comment: "Del Toro spent too much time enjoying his own effects when they weren't so necessary to the film." Not only that, for all the harping Del Toro's been doing in interviews about believing in monsters, I was disappointed that his film doesn't believe in them.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, January 21, 2007 - 10:14 am:   

I'm going sometime this week. Will chime in, then.
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david h
Posted on Sunday, January 21, 2007 - 10:45 pm:   

Man, I’m not going to be able to keep up with the speed at which you guys post…

A couple points on the Lynch discussion though:

I haven’t seen all his films, but I do like MD almost as much as BV…even if it is a bit muddier. I think the muddiness may be due to the narrative scale of his latter films: MD operates on the scale of an individual character as opposed to being geared toward statements with culture-wide applicability. I love it for that. The way the Watts character has just let her desires and fantasies capsize her life is depicted in such a uniquely affecting way for me…I don’t know. I just really dig it. It’s tough to make a viewer genuinely feel for a repugnant character who is not meant to be identified with, but ND really does so. In this aspect, it reminds me of M. John Harrison’s novel The Course of the Heart (which I rate highly).

And the structural elements of the narrative are impressive as well in MD. I think of the plot as two interwoven, circular elements: one being the observable “real” events of Betty/Rita’s life, the other being the psychotic stuff that’s happening in tandem with the real. I think you could start watching the film at any point and still “get it” as long as you watched the whole way round…

>>the essential function of art, ie, to impact the audience's consciousness in a forceful and meaningful way

Lucius, this one’s up for grabs where Lynch is concerned. I can definitely see your point. However, I think his work does make itself felt. I’ve watched his movies with friends who, while not predisposed to dissect a film, have been quite moved by them in one way or another…revolted and made uncomfortable in most cases and unable to articulate why. The themes of the film leech off of these feelings and don’t go away until the content is worked out. Again, I think this gets back to the psychodynamic qualities of his work. On the other hand, if you “get” the themes he’s working with, the reaction produced seems to be cooler and more intellectual – I’d say this means the film *is* working as intended. People can too easily defend themselves from the sorts of narrative structures they’re familiar with…

That said, damn Inland Empire sounds boring. ;) Hopefully I’m wrong. Either way, I like pie.

On another note, I saw Pan’s Labyrinth last weekend. Not to be flippant, but I thought it was pretty bad…almost as bad as Mirror Mask. The take home message is apparently that fascists are bad and don’t like fairy tales, but that little girls are good and do like fairy tales. Like, wow! But that toad under the tree sure looked nifty, eh? Del Toro might do better to stick to Hell Boy – political savvy just isn’t in him by the looks of it: “We gotta fight them here so we don’t have to fight them in the land of make-believe where the Ent stunt doubles dwell.”

There is one possible interpretation of Pan’s Labyrinth that is interesting, but I’m not sure the film really supports it. It’s tough to discuss without spoilers but, if what was shown from the captain’s point of view when he walked into the labyrinth after the little girl was what was really going on the whole time, that might be something to consider.

Until we get that sorted out, maybe someone should remind Del Toro that simply having Pan in your film doesn’t mean you were inspired by Machen. Or am I wrong on this?

Also, if political savvy really is your thing, I recommend buying Theodore Roszak’s new book, World Beware! in lieu of wasting money on a Pan’s Labyrinth ticket. I saw you guys talking about Flicker a ways back…thought I’d mention it.
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MarcL
Posted on Sunday, January 21, 2007 - 10:59 pm:   

I agree Pan's Labyrinth feels thinner after time has passed, and it evaporated from my mind by the next day. I got a bigger kick, and a much longer lingering unease, from The Descent.

I fear INLAND EMPIRE's biggest sin is that it is boring, at least for long stretches. It did stay with me for a few days, but what I remember now is a general impression of muddiness that does not exactly invite me to jump back in. One weakness is, I think, Lynch's script. There are some scenes where Dern is working hard to turn in a strong performance...this is literally what it feels like...but the story she tells is just not up to whatever strengths she might be able to bring to the performance. I think Lynch is better in Ronnie Rocket mode, as a writer, than in, say, a confession of an abused and vengeful woman. When he's in the purely visual realm, telling the same story, it works; but this is a weirdly talky movie for Lynch.

The weakness of Mulholland Drive, the thing I can't get over, is that the main piece is a TV pilot that ends in midair. He put an elaborate framework around that, but Watts' dream, the Owl Creek Bridge nature of the thing, is not inherently embedded in the main story. So, it's got clever frame; I like all the pieces individually; but it feels like a fix-up. Lost Highway is all of a piece, and for that reason holds together far better at every level.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, January 21, 2007 - 11:19 pm:   

I can't comment on PL, because I haven't seen it yet; but I must for purpose of review.

I have to aree with Marc on MD (except for liking the individual pieces). But I should see it again and will...just not now.

The main point I want to make will have to wait til manana, because I've been up since 4 and don't feel capable of making it at this juncture.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 06:44 am:   

David, the message of a film doesn't concern me. Whether it is simplistic or profound means little as regards the impact and quality of film. Victor Erice's Spirit of the Beehive has essentially the same message as Pan's Labyrinth (so I take it) and is undoubtedly a great film. If a film doesn't linger in the mind, that's another story--but dissing any film on the basis of its message doesn't seem valid, particularly when its a fairy tale like PL, since fairy tales are by definition tales with simplistic messages.

What's the take-home message of Mulholland Drive? Naomi Watts is a whack job? You like it because it doesn't have a culturally applicable theme and operates on the level of character? I thought the character was completely uninteresting. Crazy people...Wow! They're crazy! I don't know, man. Discussing Lynch's pyschodynamics in MD strikes me as being as intellectually relevant as analyzing the shit of pig. To me, this guy is absolutely the Emperor's New Clothes. He manages some disturbing images, I grant you (though most of his imagery no longer has any effect on me, because it's become predictable), but in the service of very little. Lynch's stylistic excess is incredibly intellectually seductive and we are tempted to dissect and analyze them--I have fallen into that trap myself and--after lengthy study--have concluded that Lynch is a cinematic bullshit artist. That there is some textural coherence is evidence alone of the fact that the imagery sprngs from the same brain, but I dispute the notion that there is anything more substantial to analyze than might be found in the Factured Fairy Tales segments of the old Rocky and Bullwinkle show on Saturday morning TV as narrated by Wilfred Hyde White.

But I'm going to put myself through MH again, so maybe I'll have an ilumination.

I might add that IMO judging a movie by gauging its effect on other people, especially one's friends, is a very bad way to judge a movie. If one does that, one might come away with the thought that Cannibal Holocaust is among the most powerful films ever made. But since we're going that way, I find the fact that they can't articulate why this or that disturbed them telling. I assume your friends aren't idiots, as well as not being prone to analyzing films--sometimes the least jaded among us have most to say.
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 06:56 am:   

You mean CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is not among the most powerful films ever made? Even when the cannibal ate that guy's nards??? :-)
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 07:09 am:   

Most visceral, yes. Most powerful, no. There is a slight distinction. But yes, who can forget the nard-eating scene. :-)
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 08:46 am:   

MD struck me as a poor film because the origins as a TV show were obvious. It seemed like he thought it out as a TV show, and introduced a lot of ideas that would pan out after several episodes. When it was killed as a show, he didn't think out the transition into film. Many of those threads were still there and didn't do anything for the story (except pad the length). Then he stuck in gratuitous lesbian sex. It felt like a pilot with some tacked on scenes and a lack of decent editing.

I agree with Marc, Lost Highway felt like a complete film. I didn't care for it, but it did work better than MD.
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 10:17 am:   

"Then he stuck in gratuitous lesbian sex." What an awful thing to say! There is no such thing as "gratuitous lesbian sex"! :-)

Any word on BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE, with Alice Brucker (who was so good in the unfairly-ignored BLUE CAR) as a werewolf?
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jk
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 10:57 am:   

Saw Altered, the new one by one of the Blair Witch guys. I guess Universal didn't think much of it, they dumped it direct to DVD. It's about some rednecks who were kidnapped by aliens when they were younger, then they capture one years later and exact revenge. It's not as bad as I thought it would be, considering who directed it. The alien looks pretty cheesy though, the fx would have been good about 15 years ago, not nowadays. In one shot you can see the shadow of the boom moving along the wall.
Not quite as bad as that dumb Favreau, Vince Vaughn movie Made, were you can see the actual boom lowering down into the scene, in a mirror, at the end, where Favreau kneels down to talk to the kid. Sheesh. I can't believe the studio let them leave that in.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 11:28 am:   

Wilfred Hyde White = Edward Everett Horton (from Fractured Fables)

Horton's voice is one of my heroes. Also, Hans Conreid's voice (from Fractured Flickers)
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 11:38 am:   

Yep. Sorry. It was EEH.

Dave, Blood and Chocolate is supposed to be way lame.

Altered sounds missable...
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 12:05 pm:   

Check out this concentrated dose of awesomeness from VIY:

http://www.poetv.com/video.php?vid=11798
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 12:10 pm:   

This is a Russian movie site. The two quicktime links on this page are trailers for Danny Boyle's and Alex Garland's sf flick, SUNSHINE.

http://www.filmz.ru/pub/9/9962_1.htm
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 12:19 pm:   

The second trailer is the good one.

I'm hoping they do lots and lots of heroin on the trip to the sun.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 12:41 pm:   

Good stuff.

I hear Sunshine is Event Horizonish which is not good...
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 01:36 pm:   

Well, Paul Anderson made Mortal Kombat, various Resident Evils, Alien v. Predator, Soldier, etc., etc.

Boyle made Millions.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 02:06 pm:   

Never saw Millions. Heard it bit, though.
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Jeffrey Ford
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 03:22 pm:   

Marc: Have you ever read that story that the Gogol film is made from -- Viy? It's very fucking weird. Great crazy story.
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Nathan Ballingrud
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 05:01 pm:   

I have to weigh in here on Pan's Labyrinth. I thought it was a beautiful film -- del Toro's best yet, by a long shot. The girl's retreat into a fantasy world, while not a new concept by any means, was very effectively realized. I don't think del Toro is guilty of being too in love with his effects -- on the contrary, I thought he showed admirable restraint when many other filmmakers would have decided to turn over the better portion of the movie to them.

And I thought the girl's fantasy life, and how it was affected by ongoing events in her real life, was very nicely done: the horrific insect mistaken for a fairy, the creaking of the faun and the creaking of the captain's leather gloves, the peril to the unborn baby and the nightmarish child-eating monster ... oh man, I dug it all. The movie was sad, scary, and beautiful all at once: just what I want a fairy tale to be. It's one of the best fantasy films I've seen in a while.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 05:09 pm:   

Long time, Nathan. Won't see it till either tomorrow or Friday, so I have no opinion yet; but it gives me hope that someone liked it.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 05:26 pm:   

I wasn't sure about the indulgent comment after I made it. Compared to a Hollywood director, or even Hellboy, the effects were restrained. However, I still think some effects scenes could have been more restrained.

I'll agree on it being sad and beautiful, but I found nothing scary about it. From the first shot we know how the movie will end, and that removes a lot of suspense. The question was never what would happen, but how certain things would happen.

I enjoyed it, but I didn't think it was as great as critics make it out to be. And isn't calling it "one of the best fantasy films I've seen a while" damning with faint praise? Most fantasy films are pure shit. Simply not being stupid makes and telling the story competently, it better than most. However, I hoped for a bit more out of it...basically good but not great. I figure it won't stick with me after a few more days.
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Nathan Ballingrud
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 05:29 pm:   

Yeah, it's been a while ... I had major computer problems; I finally bought a laptop. I thought it was great, but maybe I'm just a sucker. :-)
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Nathan Ballingrud
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 05:34 pm:   

"It" being the movie, not the laptop ...
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 06:19 pm:   

Millions was good. It was sorta like an upbeat version of The Butcher's Boy. For kids.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 06:21 pm:   

I haven't read Viy, Jeff. I'll check for Gogol online...you know, do a Gogol search... I guess the reason it's in the air is that it's getting a remake.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 06:30 pm:   

I've got Viy, but have never watched it.


Yeah, Nathan, I went to a laptop myself. I don't know what to think about Pan's Lab. That there are so many variant opinions is usually a good sign.
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Rich Patterson
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 06:36 pm:   

Saw what I thought was a great film on the weekend ¨C Antonionni's¡®The Passenger¡¯. One of the few discs with a commentary track worth listening to... Nicholson reminiscing about the location shoot and the crazy stuff "The Maestro" would get up to on the set.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 06:40 pm:   

Ah, time for a laptop thread. I need something small/light enough that I'll actually carry it around and use it, but not so small my fingers get cramped up. What did you guys go for?
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 06:49 pm:   

Yeah,, I saw that way back when. Great movie.
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Huw
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 09:23 pm:   

I thought Viy was a great little film. It's funny that the original novella inspired both the (more faithful) Russian film and Mario Bava's Black Sunday. I'd like to see someone having a stab at adapting something by Hoffmann.

I thought Pan's Labyrinth was very good - Del Toro's best movie so far.

I tried watching Mirrormask, but kept falling asleep.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 09:44 pm:   

I got a MacBook Pro, Marc. At home I run it with another keyboard, regulation size, because my hands are pretty wide. It's a beaut.

Huw, I liked Viy, too. Read the novella a while back.

My favorite Russian story is the Seven Who Were Hanged, but I don't think we'll be seeing anyone do a film adaptation of that soon.
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Jay Todd Steneker
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 09:51 pm:   

I just found out Michael Haneke is remaking his film Funny Games for Hollywood. I have a horrible feeling about this.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 10:07 pm:   

Yeah, you're right to have that feeling, Jay. I can see it now. A couple of refugees from the OC playing the boys, maybe carving up cougars from the Marina district. The only upside is that it might give Haneke the bucks to make a good movie.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 05:17 am:   

I watched Devil's Backbone again last night. I remembered enjoying it more than I actually enjoyed it. Pan does seem to be Del Toro's best film (faint praise again...we are comparing it to Mimic, I felt ripped off just paying $1 to see it).

Viy was interesting. I'm not interested in a remake.
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Huw
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 05:50 am:   

I enjoyed Mimic. Well, someone had to!
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 06:02 am:   

The only part in Mimic that I liked was when the giant flying roach carried off Mia Sorvino....trouble is, she survived.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 06:38 am:   

Robert: I agree with you about PAN'S – it is sad and occasionally beautiful, but not scary, and entirely predictable from first to last frame.

Not to mention, the typical girl-escapes-harsh-reality-in-fantasy is an overused trope and, IMO, a genre cop-out that Del Toro employed to make good with mainstream critics. Furthermore, the lead monster, the fawn, was not really creepy or charismatic (in fact, he reminded me a bit of a monster from a bad 90s movie called BRAINSCAN). The albino, eyeless monster was the only really cool monster in the film, but it only had a few minutes of screen time. And the one-dimensional fascist coloniel character has been done to death (think Ralph Fiennes in SCHINDLER'S LIST).
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 06:49 am:   

Millions was ok. I never feel entirely comfortable with this sort of Christian themed film though.
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Huw
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 06:57 am:   

The fact that some of the basic themes and characters have been done before (and which themes and characters haven't, really?) doesn't mean it can't be a successful and/or worthwhile film. And no, the faun character wasn't really creepy, but then, I wasn't expecting him to be. I always took him to be a sort of otherworldly guide rather than a monstrous, frightening creature.

I still think Pan's Labyrinth was a good little film - the director's best so far, in my opinion, along with Cronos.
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Huw
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 07:05 am:   

Also, I don't understand the idea of this being a "cop-out" to make good with mainstream critics. He could easily have just churned out another superhero blockbuster if that was his intention. Surely the likes of Blade 2 and Hellboy were mainstream enough for anybody?
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Jeffrey Ford
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 07:06 am:   

Here's a sort of spoiler for Pan's Labyrinth, so if you haven't seen it, beware:


The scene where the girl meets that white, eyeless monster, she does something that really does not ring true to her character since she is presented up to that point as a very conscientious person, especially where her brother is concerned. I liked the movie a lot, but that was a problem for me.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 07:11 am:   

Huw: I completely agree that it's a good film, but no more than that. Since it's being praised to high heavens in both genre and mainstream critic circles (it has a 100% cream of the crop rating at rottentomatoes), the contrarian in me wants to tear it down. Maybe that's unfair.

I do think that familiarity breeds mediocrity, so some of the overused elements in PAN'S keep it from being great. If there was more complexity to the colonel, it may have been a better film. If Del Toro's mythology (a book to guide a girl on three quests) didn't feel so unoriginal, it may have been a great film. Etc., etc.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 07:14 am:   

Jeffrey: I couldn't agree more with you about that scene. The movie needed a stimulus to get Mr. Eyeless moving, so it broke from its own, until then, well-written characterization.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 07:37 am:   

Mimic had a strong original visual sense. I enjoyed that aspect of it. The script was awful and the acting lame except for the parts involving Giancarlo Gianinni and the boy. The scenes with the insects had a Lovecraftian quality, where biology blurred with psychological horror, that got me past the film's other problems.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 07:44 am:   

Huw: To address your second point about PAN'S not being a cop-out...

Except mainstream critics did not lavish BLADE 2 and HELLBOY with accolades like they are with PAN'S LABYRINTH. And why do they dig PAN'S? Because it resorts to the "monsters aren't real" approach, and allows those who are uncomfortable with genre films to accept the monsters on the screen. For me, I would be much more impressed and surprised by PAN'S if Del Toro found a way to tell his story, to delineate his mythology, without resorting to the psychological approach. It just comes down to personal preference. I would be perfectly happy to never see another movie that says "hey, it's all in their head."
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 07:49 am:   

"I would be perfectly happy to never see another movie that says 'hey, it's all in their head.'"

OK, that's not true. Recently I dug the horror movie HEAD TRAUMA, and that played out as such.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 07:56 am:   

What fun, Oscar nominations are out. Anything interesting this year?

Best actor: I've heard positive things about one nominee, Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland" while most others I've heard little or seen the film and been unimpressed.

Directing: I've heard negatives about all of them except Stephen Frears, "The Queen"

Borat is an adapted screenplay?

Cars should win for animated simply because it's not about penguins. Sadly the penguins will win.

Visual effects are a string of crap. But then isn't the whole thing?
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Huw
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 08:01 am:   

Kelly: to be honest, I would've preferred a more ambiguous (or full-on fantasy/supernatural) conclusion, too. And I agree that it's a good film rather than a great one. I've only read one or two reviews; I was unaware it had garnered such widespread praise. Did it win anything at the Golden Globes? I'm out of touch with these things - I don't even know if it was nominated!
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 08:13 am:   

The Last King of Scotland is a pretty fair movie snd Whittaker's impressive, no doubt. I haven't eard the noms yet. I assume Helen Mirren and Judi Dench were nominated.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 08:24 am:   

Oscar Nominations: http://www.nbc6.net/oscars/10821906/detail.html

Mirren and Dench were both nominated.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 08:33 am:   

Huw: A lot has been made in mainstream critical circles about the "3 amigos'" films this year: Cuaron's Children of Men, Inirritu's Babel, and Del Toro's film. Pan's was nominated but didn't win the Golden Globe. Clint Eastwoods IWO JIMA beat it for foreign film.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 08:33 am:   

I plugged Glen Ford into IMDB and found something called "Fukkatsu no hi" (US title: Virus) where he plays "President Richardson." It was apparently about a virus wiping out mankind. It was 1980, but it could be the film.


I've got my own unidentified film that I watched in the early 90s. During the first half, a man keeps talking about some incredible invention he has. He eventually reveals it to be a TV that sees Heaven, except everyone else just sees static. He decides to hijack a bus of elderly tourists to gain publicity for it. It ends with a police chase, they shoot the bus and it blows up.

It was a really terrible movie, but I want to remember the name. Does it sound familiar to anyone?
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 08:38 am:   

DiCaprio was nominated for Blood Diamond? That's got to be the worst nomination...
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 08:40 am:   

Robert, it actualy does sound familiar, but I don't recall the name....
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Huw
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 08:50 am:   

Tonight I tried watching the latest by the Pang brothers, called Diary. It's pretty terrible: insipid dialogue, wooden acting, overblown score... all that the Brothers Pang are known to specialize in. As bad as Attack Force, in its way.

I just received a bunch of movies that I found out about here on the message board, including The Beautiful Country, A Touch of Zen, and Lantana - looking forward to watching them soon.
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 12:57 pm:   

Robert, it was STATIC with Amanda Plummer and Charlie Martin Smith(?), directed by Mark Romanek, who later made a name for himself directing rock videos for Nine Inch Nails.
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 12:59 pm:   

BORAT is adapted from "Da Ali G Show." I guess that counts as "adapted."
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 01:55 pm:   

On second thought, maybe it wasn't Smith, just someone I remember as being Smith-like (Keith Carradine, maybe?) but STATIC is definitely the film.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 02:04 pm:   

Kieth Gordon.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 02:35 pm:   

Thanks Dave.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 02:49 pm:   

That movie's got a 7 rating on IMDB and is called a hidden gem....
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 03:39 pm:   

I mostly remember it being really tedious, and wishing it would end. I also remember thinking a shootout at the bus was the only thing that could save the film, and even that didn't help when it happened. I was in high school when I saw it, so perhaps my opinion would change...but maybe not.

I wouldn't put faith in the rating - there are only 125 votes. To give a bit of perspective, Santa With Muscles has 448 10/10 votes, and it's a far worse film (although the 3198 1/10 votes put the rating where it belongs).
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 03:41 pm:   

Just watched THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON, a very fine documentary. I'd never heard of the guy, but a few people told me the film was a must-see. I recommend it.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 03:47 pm:   

DJ is sort of Rokey Ericson lite. My kid collects his original artwork.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 07:30 pm:   

It strikes me that why I'm so unimpressed by Dark Water and films of that sort is not because they're bad, but because I've seen films like the Changeling made almost thirty years ago. Directed by Peter Medak, who also directed the wonderful "The Ruling Class," with Peter O'Toole as Jesus/Jack the Ripper, "The Changeling." made without much in the way of FX, with a low budget, is a masterpiece of atmosphere and a very chilling film, especially if one sees it alone, which I did on two occasions some 27 years apart. The story concerns John Russell, a pianist whose wife and young daughter are killed in an accident. He moves to Seattle after the accident and takes up residence in an old house rented him by the historical society. He becomes convinced that the house is haunted by the ghost of a boy murdered there at the turn of the century, and he begins to investigate the circunstances surrounding the murder...

It occurs to me that why American film geeks latched onto the whole J-horror thing is because it reminded them of the values with which American films were once imbued, not because of the girls with faces hidden behind black hair and other such tropes.

Just a thought.

Anyway, the Changeling is a good movie, scary and disturbing and thoroughly well made. There are flaws, but they pale beside the bulk of the film. The performances, particularly those of Scott and Melvyn Douglas, are excellent--all in all, a reminder of what Hollywood used to be capable of.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 08:09 pm:   

Yes, the Changeling is one of the great ones. It stood out, at the time, as something apart from the unutterably awful deluge of endless Exorcist ripoffs that Hollywood was mostly busy with for years and years after the E's big success.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 08:17 pm:   

I'd also say that The Changeling and Dark Water share a lot more than either of those movies shares with, say, Ju-On or Ringu or other of those films that really indulge the visual flourishes of J-Horror. Dark Water mostly gets by with water stains, dripping atmospherics, and a sense of quiet despair, and is really restrained in regard to visual effects. One of the cleverest moments in the movie is when we see the girl apparently being abducted; worst fears realized, then subverted, as a new character is introduced who was always there in the background. This evocation of modern urban terror is a far cry from haunted wells and watery demons and contorted ladies crawling from monitors...all of which I found really cool the first time, but which quickly lost their charge. So I personally rank Dark Water right up there with The Changeling, and it's the one J-Horror movie I went and bought, while the others I probably won't ever need to watch again.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 09:07 pm:   

The ending of the Changeling is weak, but otherwise...

My favorite Japanese horror movie remains Uzumaki.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 09:38 pm:   

Have you heard about the big film at Sundance so far? It's Teeth, a story about a woman with vagina dentata, byy Michael Lichtenstein, son of the Pop Artist, Roy Lichtenstein...A comedy/horror flick.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 10:56 pm:   

S21-The Khmer Rouge Death Machine is all about Tuol Sleng, the lycee-cum-deathcamp in Phnom Penh. So far, it's a very stripped down, intimate, and powerful doc...not much in the way of context or interpretation. It follows several surviving prisoners and their surviving guards/torturers. Wish I'd had this when I was working on the Tuol Sleng section of 37th Mandala...at least I got the tile floors right.
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Huw
Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - 02:55 am:   

I loved The Changeling too.

Lucius, have you read any of the Uzumaki books by Junji Ito? There's a lot of realy weird stuff in them that didn't make it to the movie. Higuchinsky's follow-up Long Dream was interesting as well.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - 04:38 am:   

No, I never have. Are they buyable in English translation? I'll look for long dream.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - 04:55 am:   

I see they're available. How is Tomie?
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - 05:29 am:   

The Uzumaki manga was very interesting. It did suffer a bit from the format - very episodic, while the film had much of the weirdness occurring at the same time.

I loved how the film even had the camera move around in a spiral.
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Nathan Ballingrud
Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - 05:57 am:   

Marc, I bought a Gateway for about 800 bucks. I only use it for writing and going online, and so far it's been a great investment.

Glad to hear the good word on The Changeling. Coincidentally, I just bought a copy of it about a week ago, and have yet to sit down to watch it. I'll have to remedy that tonight.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - 06:50 am:   

After years of skating by on used computers, I finally splurged on the MacBook Pro-it was pricey, though I got a good deal. But I've also got a G-4 notebook that I paid 600 for--that's the one I carry around and it's been really dependable.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - 07:04 am:   

One film that everybody ran out and saw when it came out but that nobody talks about anymore is Peter Medak's THE KRAYS. I recall that as being really artful and effective, with good performances by the Kemp bros from Spandau Ballet.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - 07:13 am:   

I thought the Krays was good, but not Medak's best. It's rather amazing to look at his resume and see how much TV he did--I think he's done less than ten features, but multiple episodes of Homicide and etc. Weird.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - 08:07 pm:   

I just watched a double feature of The Host and Zhang ke Jia's Still Life. The second viewing of the Host was much more enjoyable -- what had seemed disparate elements of the movie seemed much more integrated. The person who watched with me was seeing it for the first time and enjoyed it immensely, so maybe my mind wasn't right the first time I watched it.

Zhang Ke Jia's Still Life blew me away. Social realism on an epic scale told through the lens of two marriages broken by the great upheavals taking place in China, focusing on the Three Gorges section of the Yangste (sp?) River where towns are bing demolished before they can be submerged by an immense dam, all juxtaposed with apocalyptic images that conjure an unknown yet fearful future.
There are so many powerful, beautiful, awful moments in this movie...Chinese couples dancing stiffly on the patio of a seedy club, while behind them the lights of a vast modern bridge are switched on, a great arc of light dimming all other light; the whiney amplified voice of a woman blends an ancient poem by Li Bai seamlessly into a promo; a man balanced on a tightrope between two crumbling,soon-to-be-demolished building, superimposed against the evening sky...This is a fantastic movie. Zhang Ke Jia. I love this guy.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - 09:43 pm:   

S21 is a good documentary if you're interested in recent Cambodian history... The director had escaped from a deathcamp as a teenager, fled to France, and come back to make this film. Out of the 17,000 prisoners who passed through Tuol Sleng, only seven survived. Two of them are in this film, and one carries the whole thing, as he meets with his former torturers, interrogators, and a former "doctor" at the facility; he questions them mercilessly, with great sadness but no anger, as they act out their routines at the camp, when they were between 13 and 23 years old. The director comments that the guards could remember and vividly describe everything about the camp except their own actions. There is no attempt to give context...it's just presented as what it is. Imagine Jewish survivors of Auschwitz sitting down to calmly talk to the officers who led their families into the showers.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - 09:49 pm:   

I threw Still Life and Platform onto my Netflix queue (Still Life isn't available just yet).

There's a movie about Welles's South American project, IT'S ALL TRUE. I watched it years ago and didn't particularly enjoy it, but there was some interesting stuff in there if you're a Welles completist.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 04:02 am:   

I've been to Cambodia twice, the last time in 2000, so I'm fairly familiar with the materials, but S21 sounds like a wonderful reference.

I got a letter from Rich Patterson in China last night in which he says Jia is basically uunknown in mainland China and doubts that Still Life will be shown on a big screen in his home country. He's almost unknown in China.

I've seen the docu about Welles' SA project and that's where I saw the footage.
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Nathan Ballingrud
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 05:17 am:   

What do folks here think about YI YI? I keep reading what a masterpiece it is, and I'm thinking of picking up a copy.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 06:16 am:   

Nathan: I loved YI YI . Very human and touching without being melodramatic. I'm hoping more of Edward Yang's films will be released on DVD.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 07:46 am:   

I;ve seen 4 films by Yang, and Yi Yi is my least favorite but one, which is not to say it's a bad film--it's a good film. A very good film. But three hours of people being gentle with each other is a bit much for my tastes. I preferred Mah Jong and A Brighter, Summer Day, which qualifies as an epic at four hours. I didn't much care for the Terrorizer. ANyway, you can easily buy Yi Yi, but Yang's other films are hard to find. Yi Yi's been called, by some reviewer, an honest version of It's a Wonderful Life, and I find that apt. It's amazing that a film which is essentially a mild soap opera three hours long can hold one's attention, but my attention wandered only a few times. With that in mind, I concur with Kelly, but it's not among my favorite movies because it's not really my cup of tea. I wish they'd bring out Mah Jong on DVD...

Oh, yeah. ANd Yang is another guy who's almost unknown in his own county.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 10:23 am:   

Bizarrely, I've read that Yang's next film is going to be an animated Jackie Chan movie. That can't possibly be a good thing.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 10:48 am:   

The Wind. Yeah, I don't know about that either. Unless Yan is the main influence, not Jackie.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 06:22 pm:   

Saw a strange little movie called Cargo. A Spanish/German/Brit production. Fimed mostly aboard a decrepit freighter, it tells the story of a kid named Chris who stows away in South Africa and discovers he's caught a ride on the wrong ship. Every crew member is a moral dwarf, the captain is cracked, the cargo is contraband. The script, by a guy who's been a scenarist for Ken Loach, is good and leaves a lot of questions unanswered (rightfully so), but the movie was spoiled for me by the plethora of obvious symbolism. Still, a very atmospheric film, creepy, and worth a watch, I think. Then I love decrepit old freighter movies, so this predisposes me to be kind. The guy who plays the captain, Peter Mullan, is pretty cool.
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Dave G.
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 07:42 am:   

I saw a description of Cargo on Diabolik. It looked worthwhile.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 08:20 am:   

That's where I bought it.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 04:58 pm:   

Saw Pan's Labyrinth. I thought it was a pretty enough fairy tale, but as with every foreign language Del Toro, I have a sense of missed opportunities, that if he had exerted himsellf a little more in the direction of script or concept, we might have had something special. But I'm not going to expect that anymore. I've accepted the fact that del Toro is a decent filmmaker with a good visual sense, not a cinematic great, and will never be any better than is in The Devil's Backbone and PL. That's nothing to sneeze at. We have don't have many decent filmmakers doing decent work in this country. As for PL, like I said, a pretty, grim fairytale without tension or many surprises. And why the hell did the king of the underworld have to look like Santa Claus? That last scene, I felt I was back in the great Pia Zadora flick, Santa Claus v the Martians.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 04:59 pm:   

I may watch a couple more movies tonight -- if so I'll report...
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 05:46 pm:   

Ben, if you're out there, you ever heard of an Aussie film called Sensitive New Age Killer, about six or seven years old, directed by Mark Savage?
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 07:15 pm:   

Wisit Sasanatieng's fable-like musical romance Citizen Dog has been compared frequently to Amelie. But compared to Citizen Dog, Amelie comes off as cutesy crud. Dog captures an inspired, beguiling magic that, for me, beats the heck out of Tears of the Black Tiger. Transforming Bangkok with the same neon color scheme and imaginative flourishes, this film involves a country bot who moves to Bangkok and loses his finger then finds it again; his obsessive-compulsive would-be girlfriend whio reads a book she can't understand; a chain-smoking 22-year-old who looks to be about seven, and her chain-smoking, talking stuffed bear, a zombie motorcycle taxi driver; a pair of lovers who fetish-ize bus rides in crowded buses;
a mountain of plastic bottles taller than the cities' skyscrapers, and people with tails. This is a hoot pure and simple. Not an homage like Tears of the Black Tiger, but entirely an original film. I liked this a lot. I don't know if I'll ever watch it again, but it beats Tears by a mile (watched it two nights ago). Check it out.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 08:59 pm:   

Once were warriors...?

prostitution charges against former James Bond director Lee Tamahori have been dropped after the movie-maker pleaded no contest to criminal trespass charges. The Die Another Day director was arrested in Hollywood last month after he approached an undercover vice cop and offered to perform a sex act for money. Tamahori was dressed in drag at the time. In court Thursday morning, Tamahori, who was not in attendance, was placed on three years probation and ordered to attend an AIDS education course. He must also perform 15 days community service.
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 09:28 pm:   

Amelie isn't cutsie crud?
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 09:43 pm:   

Well, I think it is.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 09:47 pm:   

What I'm saying, I think this movie does successfully what Amelie attempted -- make a whimsical romantic comedy with, in this instance, a surreal edge.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 09:52 pm:   

That clear it up for ya?
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MarcL
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 12:43 am:   

Yeah, it sounds awesome. I didn't care for Amelie.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 05:22 am:   

Amelie more than sucked...
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Jeffrey Ford
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 05:44 am:   

I liked the movie that the woman from amilie was in. It may have been from the same director -- A Very Long Engagement. I think that was the best movie I saw in the year I saw it, not that I see too many.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 05:59 am:   

THat was considerably better, and it was from Jeunet. I liked Jeunet's first movie, Delicatessan, and I appreciated A Vary Long Engagement, but have to admit I wasn't crazy about it. Last few years my tastes have been tilting away from western European films toward films made by Asian and Middle eastern directors, so perhaps I'm not the best judge.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 06:41 am:   

Amelie was definitely cutesy, but I enjoyed it (which is more than I can say for any other whimsical romantic comedy...most make me want to wretch). I've enjoyed most of Jeunet's films, Alien Resurrection being the exception.

I had forgotten about Tamahori's prostitution charges. He hasn't seemed interesting in years.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 08:04 am:   

Actually I didnt care much for Delicatessan but liked Amelie...

Speaking of Middle Eastern, I just saw a film called West Beirut that was pretty good. I have another, Iranian film called the Lizard that I hope to see sometime this week when I am in the right mood.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 08:14 am:   

I didn't have anything to do a few nights back so I went through the upcoming movies for this year -- it seemed that Tamahori had one of the few interesting sounding ones. The only movie that really interested me was Cronenberg's new one. Eastern Promises, with Naomi Watts and Viggo Mortensen.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 08:27 am:   

Cronenberg's last with Viggo didn't do much for me. A History of Violence. It was sort of entertaining, but pretty hollywoody too. Maybe this next one'll be better.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 08:34 am:   

No, it do it for me either, but with Watts, I have hopes. Here's the plot:

Eastern Promises follows the mysterious and ruthless Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), who is tied to one of London's most notorious organized crime families. His carefully maintained existence is jarred when he crosses paths with Anna (Naomi Watts), an innocent midwife trying to right a wrong, who accidentally uncovers potential evidence again the family. Now Nikolai must put into motion a harrowing chain of murder, deceit, and retribution.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 08:41 am:   

Hmmm. If he would only replace Viggo with someone with a slightly smaller jaw. Or maybe he should have vigo wear a beard or something. I am sure I will check it out though :-)
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 08:49 am:   

Yeah, but I'm an idiot--I have hopes. But I'll go see Watts in a beach party movie.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 08:51 am:   

I put this on another thread,but it bears repeating--can you believe they're remaking Pet Sematary.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 08:55 am:   

That film doesnt even seem to be very old though....

It is really incredible how unimaginative Hollywood is these days.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 08:58 am:   

It's not old enough, and on no basis does it deserve a remake. It's stupid how unimaginative they are.
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PM
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 01:40 pm:   

Pet Cemetery? Missed it the first time, will not miss it the second...
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 02:28 pm:   

Pet Sematary.
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Nathan Ballingrud
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 04:10 pm:   

Apparently they came pretty close to remaking Oldboy, too (with the director of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, no less). I know it's foreign, so they think that no one has seen it, but -- wasn't it made, like, yesterday? Come on.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 04:20 pm:   

They do foreign remakes all the time, sometimes within a couple or three years. I expect the Host to be one that gets made quickly. That ought to be a treat, stripped of all it anti-American content and thus its humor.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 05:11 pm:   

I believe they've already remade OLDBOY in India, whose film industry, when it comes to remakes, makes Hollywood look like a bastion of originality.

I'm really looking forward to P.T. Anderson's THERE WILL BE BLOOD in '07. It's an adaptation of Upton Sinclair's OIL and stars Daniel Day Lewis. Anderson is probably my favorite living Hollywood filmmaker. Lucius, I know you're not big on Anderson, but I'm prepared for the blows. :-)
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 05:19 pm:   

No, I hate him. But he may be my favorite living Hollywood filmmaker too...

:-)
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jk
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 09:24 pm:   

Lucius, have you seen Puritan, directed by Hadi Hajaig? A British thriller that's supposed to have elements of psychogeography like in Sinclair and Alan Moore's stuff. Also has an actor playing Aleister Crowley (misspelled in the credits of the movie). Sounds interesting, but I can't find a dvd release, and it supposedly came out in 2005.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 10:41 pm:   

Apparently it recived a limited release in England last november. 2006, so it's too early for a DVD. Reviews call it "addled," "Cheesy," and "Flawed and forgettable." nevertheless, a lot of viewers seem to have liked it. It's supposed to be very stylish and David Soul (of Starsky and Hutch) play a sinister financier. I haven't seen it myself, but would be interested.

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