Thursday, December 30, 2010

Truer Grits

I've now watched True Grit a second time. You guys have two more days to see the film (Brandon, I know you already have)... After that, I'm writing about it. Spoilers be damned.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Nothing is free but the grace of God.

True Grit is my favorite film of the year.

I'm leaving my comments at that until everyone else here has seen the film.

I'll give y'all 'til New Year's.

Then, we can either argue or give hugs.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mr. Brainwash

I was going to tear Brandon apart for hating on John Huston's lovely off-beat adaptation of Wise Blood, but I'm having a hard time focusing any ill will toward him because... he let me borrow The Court Jester.

Wow, what a fun film!

The girls are huge Curtiz/Flynn Robin Hood fans and were quick to pick up on allusions and jokes. They recognized and especially enjoyed seeing an older Rathbone in a similar Guy of Guisborne type role. Of course, they also just loved the silliness of it all. The snapping in and out. The munchkins. The romance and swordplay. The musical numbers.

The girls and I also watched the newest Wallace and Gromit short. A Matter of Loaf and Death. It remains family-friendly while poking fun at various adult films and film genres (like serial killer crime movies and bad romance movies).

I have also watched Exit Through the Gift Shop and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. Gift Shop is one of the best reflections on art and commerce since Welles' masterpiece F For Fake. Gift Shop is nowhere near as ambitious or quite as good, but it is very enjoyable. Piece of Work is an almost desperate last ditch attempt at making the world love Joan Rivers. It almost works. The film fails by being too tame and too nice. The emotion I was left with was pity.

I went to see The Fighter after briefly talking with Brandon and hearing his kind words toward Christian Bale, an actor that we had both started making fun of. The performance is great. All of the performances are great. Except for the junkies and the sisters. I didn't really get that whole comic relief aspect. There's so much to like here that I feel bad saying that I was pretty disappointed. You know why? The crappy soundtrack selection. Russell falls into the trap of using pop music as a bridge over montage scenes to speed up the action and make it more poignant. I got pissed off a few times. It's funny, too, because two of the best moments in the film involve Bale singing. In the end, The Fighter follows a pretty standard sports film formula. I mostly liked it. I'm glad to see Russell back directing and hope that he makes another film soon.

True Grit is coming tomorrow. Brandon, I'm not sure if you were planning on making it or not, but I'll give you a call. I might have to cancel due to other crap coming up at work.

The IndieWire poll results are up. Brandon, I know you are familiar with the poll (I think you even introduced it to me in Jan 2008). Jason and Ben, check it out:

Ben, you didn't like The Seventh Seal? Now I know why Bill Murray won't even call me back. You shame us all.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bill Murray is coming to game night.

Nah, he's probably not coming.

I have to pass on the remakes list. I just haven't seen enough good ones.

Worst Criterion titles?

In my experience, I haven't come across any bad ones. I can always appreciate at least some aspect of any of the films they choose.

I suppose that I'm least on board with some of their more recent American picks like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Royal Tanenbaums, but even so... I still respect these films even if I don't like them.

The only Criterion release that I really hate is Z, but even that film can be excused for its political importance in the context of the time and place in which it was made and released. It's easy for me to dismiss it decades later, but maybe a little unfair.

Have you really come across any true stinkers? If so, I either haven't seen them or we must really disagree about something.

I haven't been watching much lately. I watched the first half an hour of 6 Guns, a Western from this year, then gave up on it. It is that bad. Much worse than Jonah Hex. At least Jonah Hex had a great cast doing interesting things and a story and visual style that tried doing something new.

Neil Marshall's Centurion is interesting and a lot better than I thought it would be. I might write something soon about 2010 as the year of the 'B' movie aesthetic.

That's all I've watched recently. 1929 is still waiting.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cassavetes - The Greatest

I just now noticed that there are several Cassavetes films available via streaming. That means that 1)that NWI Criterion list was not totally accurate and following that, 2)my top ten list isn't quite accurate. Any of these Cassavetes films would have made it onto my list:

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
A Woman Under the Influence
Opening Night

These have all been released via Criterion and are available via NWI. I love all of these films and highly recommend them, especially Chinese Bookie and Woman Under the Influence.

Also available via NWI, but not Criterion releases, are Minnie and Moskowitz (which is one of my favorite RomComs of all time and has been out of print on DVD for several years) and A Child is Waiting, which I've been meaning to see for a long time, but I'm almost afraid to watch because of Kramer's interference. Cassavetes said, "The difference in the two versions is that Stanley's picture said that retarded children belong in institutions and the picture I shot said retarded children are better in their own way than supposedly healthy adults. The philosophy of his film was that retarded children are separate and alone and therefore should be in institutions with others of their kind. My film said that retarded children could be anywhere, any time, and that the problem is that we're a bunch of dopes, that it's our problem more than the kids'. The point of the original picture that we made was that there was no fault, that there was nothing wrong with these children except that their mentality was lower."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A bit more

Making it more personal

Samurai Rebellion is one of the most romantic films I've ever seen. Full of grace. The cinematography is gorgeous.

The Seventh Seal so perfectly captures the Modernist struggle with faith. The knight becomes the perfect displaced warrior for our times. I believe. Help thou mine unbelief. Or maybe I'm aging myself here. I always identify with Bergman's struggles. I think that we may be living in a post-Bergman landscape, but I'm still firmly a Bergmanite. I don't know how to be anything else.

La Jetée is one of the greatest science fiction films to date. It's also a stirring romance, a prophetic warning, and barely a motion picture at all. It is its own thing and it is marvelous. I confess to being a Twelve Monkeys fan long before I ever heard of this film.

Solaris is another romance. It is also another of the greatest science fiction films of all time. The science fiction premise and mood is much stronger here than in Soderbergh's weaker but still respectable (and maybe more faithful to the source) attempt at the same material. Tarkovsky painted with light and sculpted in time. This may be one of the clearest examples of his film theory in practice.

Slacker is a film manifesto for drop-out culture. Anti-work does not mean pro-laziness.

The Passion of Joan of Arc is so intense that I haven't been able to watch it again in almost ten years now. I'm a bit of a Joan groupie. I've written essays. Ive read all of the court transcripts and several biographies. I was obsessed with this painting when I was younger:

Cleo From 5 to 7 is a sensitive examination of not death, but the threat of death. Death to all.

Wings of Desire is one of the first independent "art film" type movies that I was exposed to. Alongside Jarmusch's Strangers in Paradise, this film opened me up to a wider world of cinema at a young age. Peter Falk is one of my favorite actors.

In the Mood For Love is a film that I was only exposed to recently, but I love it. Wong knows how to capture a fleeting feeling better than anyone. This is perhaps the greatest film dealing with adultery that I know of. Hollywood tends to celebrate this evil. Wong brings all of this false romanticism to a dead stop and highlights hurting people.

I was lucky enough to see Stagecoach at the cinema while I was living in London. Seeing Stagecoach on the big screen is one of my favorite theatrical experiences of my life. For a Western fan, it doesn't get much better.

So, the above isn't all that educational or informative, but hopefully it gives a quick sketch outline of why I chose these films over others.

More than anything else, the films that I chose reflect my tastes and prejudices. Watching these specific films may or may not provide you with any more knowledge of film history or of the time and culture which produced these films. I do guarantee, however, that watching these films will give you a glimpse into how I view this crazy beautiful blessed world that we live in because the way I look at life has been shaped and enriched at least in part by each one of these films. I highly recommend all ten. And they're all available via streaming. Go figure.

Yeah, we like making lists.

Ben, thanks for that link compiling all of the Criterion titles available via Netflix Watch Instantly (from this point on always referred to as: NWI)

Here is my personal top ten favorite Criterion titles available via NWI. Ranking these was ridiculous. It could have been painful. Instead, I just did it quickly - this is a quick from the gut ranking, but each of these are 5-star perfect titles in my book. In other words, they're all tied for #1.

1) Samurai Rebellion (Kobayashi)
2) The Seventh Seal (Bergman)
3) La Jetée (Marker)
4) Solaris (Tarkovsky)
5) Slacker (Linklater)
6) The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer)
7) Cleo From 5 to 7 (Varda)
8) Wings of Desire (Wenders)
9) In the Mood For Love (Wong)
10) Stagecoach (Ford)

Brandon, I hope you make a similar list. I know you've seen twice more on that Criterion NWI list than I have.

Jason, that's a mighty long drum roll you've got going on there.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dewdrop Inn


It's funny that, out of all the Maynard/Tool related stuff out there, you posted that specific YouTube clip. I was at that Tori Amos concert (back in '96 or '97) when Maynard made his surprise appearance.

It brought back a lot of stupid memories.

I actually tried to watch Blood Into Wine last week and the sound wasn't working properly. I sent Netflix an error report. I like to think that my notification of the problem paved the way for your enjoyment of the film.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rebel Cinema

I've had good intentions of checking out Binghamton Classic Films for a long while. First, I always seemed to miss the screenings. Then, I was working Saturday nights. Then, I was working at Cornell Cinema and couldn't justify another night out at the movies. Then, well, time just slipped by.

This past Saturday, I made it out to see You Were Never Lovelier.

You already know what I think of the movie. What about the film club?

Admission is a $3 donation (or $2 for members).

Everyone was super friendly and happy to see us there.

The film is screened in a small lecture hall. The seats are comfortable. Honestly, the seats being comfortable may have been the biggest surprise.

Before the film, one of the members went up front below the screen and introduced the film, focusing on Adolphe Menjou's career and his role in You Were Never Lovelier. The focus on Menjou was admittedly because he couldn't find his old notes on Hayworth!

The film started. The print was clean and looked good, but I was initially disappointed with the sound. I don't have the best ears and thought this would be a problem, but I adjusted quickly and had no problem after the first five or so minutes.

Maybe half an hour into the screening, the screen went dark. The projector bulb blew out! Instead of being a pain, this was a fun communal experience. The problem was fixed within five minutes.

The best part of the screening was the crowd. It felt good to be a part of a crowd that was gathered together in common cause.

After the screening, I talked briefly to the man who had introduced the film. I didn't have much time, but I got an address to send money to.

I'm becoming a member. $20. I'm not even sure what being a member means. I think there's a newsletter. There was talk of a member's party coming up next week. If this is a cult, it's too late for me. I'm in.

The group was handing out complete schedules for 2011. I've made a simple site listing the dates and titles, mostly because I know how easy it is to lose a piece of paper. It's harder to lose a website. I want to make sure I remember all of these dates. I also wanted to share the films and dates with you guys. Check out the schedule here:

Never Lovelier

What is so special about You Were Never Lovelier?

It's a pretty standard romantic comedy. Two unlikely individuals meet one another, develop an instant and strong distaste for one another, then spend the rest of the film falling in love. There are a few unique twists here, but that's the basic formula.

This formula can be repetitive and dreadful to watch (see 99.9% of all RomComs from the past few decades). Done right, though, as it often was in the 30s-40s, there might not be a genre of film that delights me more.

The specific pleasures of this film rely on the two lead performances; Astaire's irresistible charm and nervous joy and Hayworth's volatile synthesis of gentle domesticity and "predatory" femininity. Both of these wonderful actors perfectly capture, encapsulate in an abstracted genre microcosm, the dizzying process of courtship.

What about the music?

What is remarkable about the music is that it is all entirely organic to the story. For the first half of the film, we get orchestras and singing and dancing because Hayworth's father (played with a perfect balance of seriousness and farce by Adolphe Menjou) owns a nightclub. The first time that the use of music strains the boundaries of the credibly real is when Astaire and Hayworth begin to fall in love. As the courtship continues, this happens more and more, with the couple's communication occurring primarily through song.

This is glorified speech, reflecting the glory of two souls coming together. Not only does the singing reflect this union aurally, but there is also a strong visual metaphor of hearts uniting when the two can dance together without practicing or talking things through first. What I had once dismissed as ridiculously unreal actually becomes the chief means of portraying truths in the most gracious and economical way possible.

I'm still not a fan of the big musicals that hold a primary place in pop culture (Mary Poppins, Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, etc.), but You Were Never Lovelier totally surprised me, knocked down my defenses, and allowed me to see clearly for the first time what at least one aspect and expression of The Musical can be at its best.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I am ashamed...

...that I ever thought that I hated musicals.

You Were Never Lovelier is a joy from start to finish.

I'll post more specifically about Binghamton Classic Films soon.

2010: I Reckon

Nah, I'm nowhere near having a top ten list for the year done. This might be the first year that I wait until sometime late next year before I post any sort of list.

The "year in review" critical reckoning has begun, though, as Brandon pointed out to me. The House Next Door and MUBI Notebook are both beginning to link to major critic lists.

Now is a good time to clarify my stubborn adoption of a very specific approach to what falls in and out of a given year. Basically, I follow Ed Gonzalez' approach to older films. If IMDB lists it as a certain year, then that's the year it belongs to. IMDB is generally very accurate about film premiere information.

Gonzalez himself has changed his criteria for dating a film for all of his post-2000 lists. He adopts the prevalent custom of reckoning a film's date by its American theatrical release. The popular practice usually requires a film to have played in at least NY or LA for a week in order to qualify. This is the Academy's practice and the popular critical one.

Now, to someone living in the Binghamton area, this is as arbitrary and stupid as anything else. Whether a film played in LA or NY or Cannes or Toronto, they are all completely inaccessible to me until they are released on DVD (or increasingly via streaming) or if they show up at Cornell or at one of our local "arthouses." Should I date a film's release year based on when the film shows up in Binghamton? Then, I'd have to treat most films as if they didn't exist at all.

I saw a beautiful print of Pandora and the Flying Dutchman projected theatrically at Cornell Cinema last year. It may be my favorite film that I saw theatrically in 2009. Should I have placed it as #1 on my 2009 list? Why does a film like Limits of Control, which I had to watch on DVD, rank high on my list while an actual cinematic experience gets kicked off to the side? Well, because we make rules about this sort of thing. Nothing used to irritate me in this regard more than Rosenbaum doing something like listing M as one of his favorite films of the 90s (I can't find this now, but I know he's guilty of it).

I've used the common popular system the past couple of years, but I'm done with it now. I prefer not to be Americentric in my dating. I prefer to date a film as belonging to the actual year that it first showed up somewhere, anywhere in the world.

Of course, no matter how one dates a film, it's still completely ridiculous to do something like arbitrarily separate a film released in December 09 from a film released in January 10 as if it belonged to an entirely different realm and category. Still, we're geeks and this is what we do. There is an undeniable pleasure to it all.

I haven't watched a movie (or anything else for that matter) in a week now. Is there something wrong with me? Should I check with my physician? Actually, I'm half-watching Labyrinth with the girls right now. And tonight I'm going to see You Were Never Lovelier with some guys from work.

I'm hoping to get another 1929 post up soon. Woman in the Moon remains unwatched. I'm starting to wonder if it will stay on the shelf indefinitely. There are so many great films waiting, but I've got to get through this one first. Again, what's wrong with me? When did watching a Fritz Lang film become a chore? I'll get it watched soon and post our updated 1929 Top 6 lists.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Disney Daze

This list is the best I could do. I've seen and like all of the films that you mention. Here's my top 10 non-animated feature length Disney films. A lot of these are co-productions between Disney and some other studio, but I'm going there because you went there first by including The Straight Story. If these co-productions weren't options for this list, then there would be a lot more "classic" Disney films on my list

Here goes...

10) The Absent-Minded Professor/Son of Flubber
I thought that these were really funny when I was a kid. These are probably among the earliest black and white films that I've ever seen.

9) Inspector Gadget
This is a bit of a contrarian pick. I haven't seen it since its theatrical release, but I remember being blown away by how much fun this picture is. Seriously underrated (though I'm afraid to see it again and maybe be proven wrong).

8) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
I like this adaptation more than most other Lewis fans. There are a few really magical moments that perfectly capture the feel of the book.

7) The Rookie
This is up there with the best baseball films of all time.

6) The Shaggy Dog/The Shaggy D.A.
These pleased me to no end when I was a child.

5) Pirates of the Caribbean (all three of them)
Listen to the following interview, at about the 16 minute mark...
I'm really looking forward to On Stranger Tides: The Movie even if Disney/Bruckheimer screw everything up.

4) Popeye
I thought this movie was magic when I was a kid. I haven't seen it since, but I have become a huge fan of the original Segar comic strips.

3) The Parent Trap
As noted earlier, this is one of those films that I can't shake at this point even if I wanted to.

2) The Straight Story
Probably the best film that Disney has ever been involved with. Definitely Lynch's best. The score, by Angelo Badalamenti, is among the best movie music of all time. Seriously.

1) Return to Oz
I first saw this when I was six years old and many, many times since. I don't know if that's too young or not. I haven't let my girls watch it yet. I don't know. Walter Murch is a master; the man behind the sounds and shape of images of some of the significant films of the past few decades. I wish he had directed more than this one gem.


The Parent Trap is one of my mother's favorite movies. Two close seconds would be Pollyanna and The Time Machine. I've seen all three of these innumerable times, but Parent Trap is the one drilled into somewhere near the core of my identity.

I'm pretty sure we've talked about The Wonderful World of Disney Sunday nights on ABC. I had VHS dubs of lots of these. I've seen plenty of live-action Disney films, but not many of them stick with me.

Eh, I'm sure I'll have a list up within an hour or at least by the end of the day.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Abby informed me that Weismann's insult did not actually contain a "comma splice" since there are not two separate independent clauses in his sentence.

"Your ignorance, is exceeded only by your arrogance!"

What is the name of this comma error? I've stopped caring about Weismann. I need to know what this error is called. Anybody know? Is it possible that this could be a correct usage? I don't believe it.

I do confess my ignorance in innumerable areas. This is obviously one of them.

Arrogant? Not so much. I'm humbled all the time.

Misc. Responses

Ben, I've seen scattered parts of episodes of Community. I watched the full episode that you posted. Sorry, it doesn't really do anything for me.

I liked the short Uncle Jack. Have you seen The Fall? Or any of Gilliam's films from the '80s?

Is Science Fiction this era's Western? Nah. The Western is this era's Western.

Brandon, the Jonze/Arcade Fire short was okay, but I didn't fall for it hard like you did. I'm lukewarm toward it, kinda like that M.I.A. video that everyone raved about earlier this year. We should do a top ten list of all-time favorite music videos!

Brandon's Tens. Almost Finished?


I updated the simple site that I made for your lists:

It looks like 1948 is the only year missing and I just came across this comment of yours from a couple of weeks ago:

"I have finished 1948 and I’m having a hard time ranking those films."

Come on, let's have it already!!!

Max Weismann is a jerk.

My post On... received an obvious spambot comment from a Max Weismann. In fact, it received two identical comments separated by about twenty minutes. I only published one of them.

I sent the following email to Mr. Weismann:

Max, you recently left a spam comment on my blog advertising your Adler/Van Doren "how to read a book" videos. Honestly, the videos sound great, but I wouldn't buy a thing from you at this point. I'd be more interested if you didn't sound like a spam-bot. I don't claim to have any "Great Ideas" on my blog, but I can claim to have a few friends that interact with what I actually write instead of sending me junk advertisement. Why don't you interact with anything in my post besides my brief mention of How to Read a Book? Then, maybe I'll check out and respect what you're doing. From what I've seen of what you're doing, it doesn't look like you're trying to further any great conversation at all. It looks like you're trying to make a quick buck.

John Owen

Weismann wrote back:

"From what I've seen of what you're doing, it doesn't look like you're trying to further any great conversation at all."

It seems you haven't visited our website.

Justice and freedom; discussion and criticism;
intelligence and character--these are the indispensable
ingredients of the democratic state.
We can be rich and powerful without them.
But not for long. --Robert M. Hutchins
Center for the Study of The Great Ideas
Founded in 1990 by Mortimer J. Adler and Max Weismann
Home Page:
A not-for-profit 501(c)3 educational organization
Donations are tax deductible as the law allows

I wrote back:

I did visit your website. In my email, I was speaking specifically about your spambot comment. You are not interested in conversing with me about anything in my blog post besides my brief aside about How to Read a Book. I don't like your shady advertisement tactics. They are rude and disrespectful attempts at furthering your own agenda, not beginning a conversation with others. Please be honest and admit that you have no interest in me or my film club blog except that I exist as a potential customer to you.

To which Weismann very kindly responded within 4 minutes of my having sent the above email:

Your ignorance, is exceeded only by your arrogance!

My grammar here on the blog is often loose and often disregards basic rules of English language usage, but I couldn't resist writing back with the following:

Your comma splice, is exceeded only by your rudeness!

He hasn't written back yet.

Ignorant and arrogant,

Saturday, December 4, 2010

West of the Stream

Yesterday morning, I was up really early and watched Broken Arrow, which I already wrote about. After cooking breakfast for the girls, I went back upstairs and watched Henry King's The Gunfighter, starring Gregory Peck. It's a really good little film that doesn't seem to get the attention it deserves. If any of your friends are considering the gunfighter lifestyle, have them check out this film first. Yes, that was a joke, but this examination of celebrity and power and the younger generation gunning down the older one is applicable to more than the not-so-often-chosen career of gunfighter.

Last night, I worked an afternoon into overnight into this morning shift sitting with a guy at Wilson Hispital. Wilson has wireless. I have an iPod with a Netflix app. I understand that my criticisms of Watch Instantly are seeming weaker every day.

I watched The Searchers and The River of No Return. I can't say anything about The Searchers that hasn't already been said better. The Searchers is one of those few films that everyone has seen whether or not they've actually seen it. Like Casablanca or Gone With the Wind or a select few dozen other films, The Searchers is part of American identity at this point.

So let's talk about The River of No Return.

The film stars Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe and is directed by Otto Preminger. If that's not enough to get you excited about a picture, then I don't know what is.

The narrative situation is pretty straightforward. A father picks up his young son that he hasn't seen since the boy was a baby. The mother is dead now. The father, played by Mitchum, has just been released from prison. They try to make an honest life as farmers. Monroe plays a barroom singer trying to make good with a no-good card shark by filing a gold claim that the gambler has won in a shady card game. They all end up on the river of no return! I won't go into any further detail except to say that everything plays out just as you'd expect it to; except that it always does so in a way smarter than average.

Love is a traveller on the river of no return!

After getting out of work this morning, I made it to a 10:15am matinee showing of The Warrior's Way.
Ever since I saw the trailer for this film a couple of weeks ago, I've been excited about it like I've been for no other film since Jonah Hex. And we all know how that one worked out for me. [Related: check out Dennis Cozallio's defense of Jonah Hex]

The Warrior's Way was everything I was hoping it would be and more. I was immediately reminded of the America of Lars Von Trier's Dogville and Dear Wendy (he wrote the script). Imagine those films as re-written and directed by the Terry Gilliam of Time Bandits and Baron Von Munchausen. Then filter that mix through a Sergio Leone matrix of operatic violence and shake it all together with some Wachowski Brothers sensibilities. I'm sure there are Asian influences that I'm totally missing, but I'm mostly ignorant of the martial arts genre and Korean and Hong Kong cinema as a whole.

There is a lot of violence in the film. The violence seems necessary to the over-the-top nature of this cartoonish abstraction of a story. Which is of course to say that the violence is completely unnecessary. Warrior's Way shares in some of the same explorations of lives consumed by violence that The Gunfighter does. If Warrior's Way lacks The Gunfighter's maturity and understanding, it makes up for it with ridiculous ninja vs. cowboy shoot 'em ups, slice 'em ups.

When I got home, I watched Son of Paleface with the girls. Son of Paleface is twice as silly as Paleface. I really like it and a few moments are much better than Paleface, but on the whole I think I prefer Paleface to Son of Paleface. The dentist jokes beat the Harvard jokes. Still, Son of Paleface delivers lots of fun.

Broken Arrow. The Gunfighter. The Searchers. The River of No Return. The Warrior's Way. Son of Paleface.

Wow, I love Westerns.

Less than 3 weeks now until True Grit!

Friday, December 3, 2010


On Aranofsky...
I'm not a fan. Then again, I've only seen Pi and The Wrestler. It's been about 12 years since I've seen Pi. I wrote about some of my problems with The Wrestler last year. Black Swan does not interest me at all except that it's currently one of the critical darlings of the moment.

On giving up on Jason...
I obviously haven't really given up on him. It's all part of our dysfunctional blogging relationship. I write something vaguely insulting or disapproving. Jason is shamed into putting up a post.

On Netflix Watch Instantly...
Since my post, I've been watching some movies this way.

I already wrote about Holy Rollers.

I watched the first episode of Beavis and Butt-head thanks to Jason's post. That's the first time I've seen them in at least 15 years. Unfortunately, the best part of B&B was always watching them watch music videos and that's been cut out of these versions. I discovered Ween and Superchunk this way (and probably others I can't specifically remember) back in the early '90s.

I watched two early Starewicz animated shorts, both fun but mostly interesting for their historical value. The Cameraman's Revenge (1912) features adulterous bugs. The Insects' Christmas (1913) has Santa and frogs. This dude Starewicz must have been crazy to be around.

Broken Arrow is great. Like Chain Gang a month or so ago, it didn't take me long at all into watching this to realize that I had seen it already. Probably in college, but I can't remember. What is surprising to me is how well the love story works. It's a distracting little side plot that gradually becomes the heart of the narrative.

I have to concede to Brandon that, yes, Netflix Watch Instantly does have a great classics and foreign selection. A guy could get a decent film education just watching available streaming titles. My concerns of limited access still stand. Just look at my 1929 list. I'm sure that the number of available films by year is proportionally the same. For every 3 films you can find streaming, 20 more films are available via DVD. The difference between 1929 and 1950 and 2010 is that there is a steady increase of content by year. Only a tiny fraction of the whole is there streaming. I'm fine with streaming (especially since I haven't had any buffering problems since writing my last post!). Personally, though, the thing I value most about Netflix is the scope of access that I currently have with DVDs. Streaming is a nice perk and makes me feel less bad about when I keep out a movie for too long, like...

Fritz Lang's Woman in the Moon. It came in the mail the day before Thanksgiving and we've been busy since. It's three hours long, which makes it hard to pop in at 9:30pm, the usual time we can get settled in to watch something. We've watched about 30 minutes and I hope to have it finished by this weekend.

On further confirmation that anything by Truffaut is essential viewing...
Last weekend, we watched Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451. It's fine. I liked it. Especially the title-less title sequence. The spoken word there, mixed with the visuals of the TV antennas is quite striking. The film is astounding in the way it visually conveys the importance of words by the fleeting way that they appear and disappear. Every book title becomes precious. Every string of letters on screen needs to be absorbed fast. Then, for all of that, the conclusion in book village isn't really a happy ending.

On the Tree of Life trailer preceding Black Swan...
You found the one thing to say to get me excited about Black Swan. I can't wait for that movie to come out around here now! I'm going!

On DVDs as physical objects...
It's true that one can't really make a DVD one's own in the same manner as a book. BUT DVDs are more conducive to studying a film. Being able to pause and check out an almost frame by frame account of a movie is not possible via streaming. Being able to easily rewind or set a section on a loop to be watched over and over again. Taking screenshots. Ripping a copy and manipulating the images into video essays. These are things that I've done with DVDs that I don't see as possibilities via streaming at this time.

On How to Read a Book...
I'm reading Adler's How to Read a Book right now. A lot of it is information that I've already internalized from other sources/teachers. Some is very useful. If anything, it has convicted me of too often falling into lazy reading practices when I should know better. Related to movies, it's reminded me that I've been doing a lot of "superficial" movie watching lately. Watching a good movie once is never enough. I've been watching so many 2010 films, weeding out my DVD collection, and trying to catch up on all that I haven't seen from the past. The year is almost over and I haven't re-viewed Stalker or Andrei Rublev or any other Tarkovsky. It's been too long since I've seen The New World. Why haven't I seen Terror in a Texas Town lately?

I guess it has to do with trying to increase the breadth of my film knowledge. I'm starting to suspect that I'm going too broad at the moment and probably need to slow down and dig in deep near a few of my favorite films. I had a lot of fun segmenting Blast of Silence earlier this year. Maybe I'll dig into Blast of Silence further or maybe segment another film. Maybe I'll just start by re-watching Curtiz' Robin Hood with the girls. There is no end to the pleasures of that film.

On Jason using Flixster...
Jason, if your so-called friends on Facebook can't take the time to read your movie blog, then you are probably mistaken about how much they care about your Flixster capsules on Facebook. Forget about them. We are your real movie geek friends.

On ending this post...