Thursday, November 24, 2011

2007 in 2011

I'm giving thanks today for the films of 2007. What a great year in film.

2007 Top Ten (The 4 Years Later Proper Edition)

1. There Will Be Blood
2. The Romance of Astrea and Celadon
3. La France
4. Munyurangabo
5. No Country For Old Men
6. Mister Lonely
7. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
8. Ratatouille
9. The Simpsons Movie
10. Stardust

(There are a bunch of honorable mentions, too, but that's good enough for now. Funny Games is #11. I still really need to see The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.)

Jeff and Chris, I'm hoping to take the girls to see Hugo either today or tomorrow. It better be worth the bumped-up 3D ticket prices!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Racing after spooks.

In which I continue in my Birth-of-a-Nation-lovin' racist ways.

The Ghost Breakers is an enjoyable light comedy romp starring Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard clearing ghosts out of an inherited castle. Willie Best, too, is in this one. From the evidence here and from what I've read elsewhere, he was probably one of the finest character actors of the 30s, notably so considering his being BLACK in a Honky's Hollywood. He's really great here even though he's not given all that much to do. What's great is how many explicit jokes there are based on his color. He's got a great line about his "albeeno" blood that worked well.

Ghost Breakers is also notable as the film directed by George Marshall after Destry Rides Again. Marshall is one of those guys who has directed 100+ pictures, but gets no respect from the auteurist crowd. While I know that I couldn't have looked at Ghost Breakers and said, "aha, that's by the distinctive visual genius behind Destry!," I also know that these are two really fine motion pictures in a row and what I can find out about the Marshall suggests that this is no fluke. I'm excited to see more Marshall pictures soon, especially A Message to Garcia, which is on the BCF 2012 schedule.

Oh yeah, whatever else you've heard, Paulette Goddard is really hard on the eyes in this one. That's the story you'll stick to when talking to Abby, alright? Luckily, Bob Hope's astounding physique is there to relieve us from the dreariness of having to look at Goddard.

Also, Anthony Quinn is great in this, too, just like he was in Conquest. He's a great smarmy villainish character in these early roles of his. It's probably his questionable ethnicity that makes him look so dastardly. :)

Answering questions:

I haven’t seen LANCELOT OF THE LAKE. Do you have it?

Nope. The Ithaca Public Library has a copy. I watched it a couple of years ago.

I’d really like to hear your opinion about CASINO ROYALE. I think you would love it.

Do you have it on DVD?

Am I the only person who likes A CHRISTMAS STORY in Film Club.

Maybe Jason?

We should have a GODFATHER II night soon.


What would be your second and third favorite Joe Dante films?

I just realized that I left Small Soldiers off of my “all seen by” list. I have seen Small Soldiers. All that time and work and it's still not perfect. Dang it. Second and Third places would go to Gremlins and Small Soldiers, in that order. It's been way too long since I've seen Matinee or Innerspace or The 'Burbs.

What are your thoughts on De Palma?

I don't think about him much. I haven't seen his early films that he's lauded for.

I kind of thought meh for a while in regards to Fellini but NIGHTS OF CABIRIA changed my mind for now.

Yeah, I need to give him a chance, if only because he worked with Rossellini on The Flowers of St. Francis.

Do you still have SHOCK CORRIDOR? How about THE NAKED KISS? You need to see RUN OF THE ARROW. I love that picture.

I've got Shock Corridor. I saw Naked Kiss on TCM way, way back when. Do you have Run of the Arrow?

Interesting Gilliam pick.

It's actually always been my favorite Gilliam film. I think it's his best. Definitely Robin Williams' best. Not Jeff Bridges' best, but only because he's so good in everything.

I need to see RAWHIDE.

I love Jack Elam in Rawhide.

You need to see DOWN BY LAW.

Yeah, it's funny that I haven't seen any of Jarmusch's “big” 80s movies. I fail miserably, but I get extra hipster cred for having seen Permanent Vacation and for having seen and loved Strangers in Paradise as just a wee lad.

I thought you hated ADAPTATION.

I do. I still respect it. And it's the best of what Jonze has done.

Do you have A FACE IN THE CROWD?

Yup. I'll start putting together a care package.

Get off your ass and sit down again to watch CERTIFIED COPY.

I know.


Nah, I don't really need to do anything except that I need to quit spending time responding and get work done around the house.

I need to see THRONE OF BLOOD again. It didn’t really do much for me but I was on a tight movie watching schedule.

I need to see it again, too. It's been a long while.

I agree about Landis, THREE AMIGOS is great.


I want you to see some of the Lean pictures that came before 57.

I want to see them.

I have been cold towards Ang Lee lately. Not only because you have been slowly talking me out of it but also because I have been bored on my second and third viewings. Something feels off.


I can’t wait for you to see more Lubitsch.


You a George Miller fan?

Nah. I wouldn't consider myself a fan, but I'm not hostile either. I grew up watching Max.

How is Polanski’s Macbeth?

I haven't seen it since I was a teenager. I liked it a lot back then.

HUGO is going to rule!


I would say meh to Stevens as well but have seen some great pictures as of late. Don’t give up yet dude. Go get VIVACIOUS LADY.

Alright, I won't give up, but he's not at all a priority either.

Truffaut pick…….. really?


Verhoeven makes good trash.

I hate Verhoeven. I was going to give him a big “MEH,” but I have fond memories of Total Recall.

Good list. Again sorry if it ruined your life.

Thanks. I'll begin repairing the ruins now.

Hey guys how about we have director’s months? Each month a different person in film club selects a director and we all do writings based on viewings and personal opinion. Jeff, you come up with December’s director.

So, Jeff, who's December's director?

Monday, November 21, 2011

I hope you're happy now.

Warning: Long Post.

Alright, here it is. The list that wrecked my family life for more than a day. I don't even have any commentary. Just the list. I didn't do the “worst” thing, but I did list my favorite movie by each director, followed by a list of all movies that I've seen by that director. Plus, I put the directors in alphabetical order because it was killing me to see no order, nothing, no chronological, no alphabetical, just a jumble, like this sentence.

Jeff and Chris, don't worry about not having seen much. I'm still doing lots and lots of "catch-up" myself and won't ever be satisfied with how much I've seen. Jeff's already way ahead of me in terms of 30s films. Anyhow, this whole list thing is a way for Brandon to puff himself up about how awesome he is and how he knows the work of so many directors and he knows all about Randolph Scott, but doesn't have the "hots" for him anymore because that was just a childish part of his life and he's beyond that now and really only interested in talking about adult things like depression in the work of Lars von Trier.

Key: F=favorite, OS=only seen, ASBTD=all seen by this director, NSA= not seen anything, meh=I don't really like this director, not even one of his/her films.

Aldrich, Robert: F= Kiss Me Deadly, ASBTD= Kiss Me Deadly, The Dirty Dozen

Allen, Woody: F= Cassandra's Dream, ASBTD= Sleeper, Manhattan, Mighty Aphrodite, Deconstructing Harry, Sweet and Lowdown, Small Time Crooks, Cassandra's Dream, Midnight in Paris

Almodovar, Pedro: NSA

Altman, Robert: F= Popeye, ASBTD= MASH, Popeye, Pret-a-Porter, The Gingerbread Man,

Anderson, Paul Thomas: F= There Will Be Blood, ASBTD= Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punk Drunk-Love, There Will Be Blood

Anderson, Wes: F= The Darjeeling Limited, ASBTD= Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited, Hotel Chevalier

Antonioni, Michelangelo: F= L'Avventura, OS= L'Avventura

Aronofsky, Darren: F= meh, ASBTD= Pi, The Wrestler, Black Swan

Ashby, Hal: F= Harold and Maude, OS= Harold and Maude

Assayas, Olivier: F= Summer Hours, ASBTD= Clean, Summer Hours

Bava, Mario: NSA

Bergman, Ingmar: F= The Seventh Seal, ASBTD= The Seventh Seal, Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence, Hour of the Wolf, Shame

Bigelow, Kathryn: F= The Hurt Locker, ASBTD= Point Break, Strange Days, The Hurt Locker

Bird, Brad: F= Ratatouille, ASBTD= The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille

Boorman, John: F= Excalibur, ASBTD= Excalibur, The General

Borzage, Frank: NSA

Boyle, Danny: F= Sunshine, ASBTD= Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours

Bresson, Robert: F= Lancelot of the Lake, ASBTD= A Man Escaped, Au Hasard Balthazar, Lancelot of the Lake

Browning, Tod: F= Freaks, OS= Freaks

Bunuel, Luis: F= Un Chien Andelou, OS= Un Chien Andelou

Burton, Tim: F= Mars Attacks!, ASBTD= Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks!, Sleepy Hollow, Planet of the Apes, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Alice in Wonderland

Cameron, James: F= The Terminator, ASBTD= The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, True Lies, Titanic

Campbell, Martin: F= The Mask of Zorro, ASBTD= The Mask of Zorro, Edge of Darkness, The Green Lantern

Capra, Frank: F= It Happened One Night, ASBTD= It Happened One Night, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Arsenic and Old Lace, It's a Wonderful Life

Carpenter, John: F= Big Trouble in Little China, ASBTD= Halloween, The Thing, Starman, Big Trouble in Little China, In the Mouth of Madness

Cassavetes, John: F= The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, ASBTD= Shadows, A Child is Waiting, Faces, Minnie and Moskowitz, A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

Chabrol, Claude: NSA

Chaplin, Charles: F= Modern Times, ASBTD= The Pawnshop, The Kid, The Circus, City Lights, Modern Times

Clark, Bob: F= meh, ASBTD= Black Christmas, Porky's, A Christmas Story, Baby Geniuses

Clouzot, Henri-Georges: NSA

Cocteau, Jean: F= Beauty and the Beast, OS: Beauty and the Beast

Coen, Joel and Ethan: F= A Serious Man, ASBTD= Everything they've ever done.

Coppola, Francis Ford: F= The Godfather, ASBTD= The Godfather, Dracula

Cronenberg, David: F= Videodrome, ASBTD= Scanners, Videodrome, The Fly, eXistenZ, Eastern Promises

Crowe, Cameron: F= Say Anything, ASBTD= Say Anything..., Singles, Jerry Maguire

Craven, Wes: F= Scream, ASBTD= Swamp Thing, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The People Under the Stairs, Scream, Scream 2,

Cukor, George: NSA

Dante, Joe: F= Gremlins 2: The New Batch, ASBTD= Piranha, The Howling, Twilight Zone Movie, Gremlins, Innerspace, The 'burbs, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Matinee, Trapped Ashes

De Palma, Brian: F= The Untouchables, ASBTD= Carrie, Scarface, Body Double, The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible, Snake Eyes,

Demme, Jonathan: F= meh, ASBTD= Silence of the Lambs, Storefront Hitchcock, Rachel Getting Married

Denis, Claire: NSA

Donen, Stanley: F= Singin' in the Rain, OS= Singin' in the Rain

Dreyer, Carl Theodor: F= The Passion of Joan of Arc, OS= The Passion of Joan of Arc, They Caught the Ferry

Eastwood, Clint: F= The Outlaw Josey Wales, ASBTD= The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven, A Perfect World, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Space Cowboys, Blood Work, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Changeling, Gran Torino, Invictus

Fellini, Federico: F= meh, OS= 8 1/2

Fincher, David: F= Fight Club, ASBTD= Se7en, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac, The Social Network

Fleming, Victor: F= The Wizard of Oz, ASBTD= Treasure Island, The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind

Ford, John: F= Steamboat Round the Bend, ASBTD= Just Pals, Judge Priest, Steamboat Round the Bend, Stagecoach, Young Mr. Lincoln, The Battle of Midway, My Darling Clementine, When Willie Comes Marching Home, Wagon Master, Rio Grande, What Price Glory, The Searchers, How the West Was Won

Friedkin, William: F= The Exorcist, OS= The Exorcist

Fuller, Sam: F= Shock Corridor, ASBTD= I Shot Jesse James, The Baron of Arizona, Pickup on South Street, The House of Bamboo, Shock Corridor, The Naked Kiss

Gilliam, Terry: F= The Fisher King, ASBTD= Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Jabberwocky, Time Bandits, Brazil, The Fisher King, Twelve Monkeys, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassas

Godard, Jean-Luc: F= Les Carabiniers, ASBTD= Breathless, A Woman is a Woman, Le Petit Soldat, Les Carabiniers, Band of Outsiders, Alphaville, Pierrot le Fou, Masculin Feminin, Meeting WA, Tribute to Eric Rohmer

Griffith, D. W.: F= The Birth of a Nation, ASBTD= The Birth of a Nation, Intolerance, Broken Blossoms

Haneke, Michael: F= Funny Games (U.S.) ASBTD= The Seventh Continent, Funny Games

Hanson, Curtis: F= Wonder Boys, ASBTD= The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, L. A. Confidential, Wonder Boys, 8 Mile

Hathaway, Henry: F= Rawhide, ASBTD= Rawhide, How the West Was Won, True Grit

Hawks, Howard: F= Only Angels Have Wings, ASBTD= Scarface, Only Angels Have Wings, His Girl Friday, Sergeant York, Red River, The Thing From Another World

Hitchcok, Alfred: F= Rope, ASBTD= Blackmail, The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, Foreign Correspondent, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Rope, Strangers on a Train, I Confess, Dial M for Murder, To Catch a Thief, The Trouble With Harry, North by Northwest, Pyscho,

Herzog, Werner: F= Aguirre: The Wrath of God, ASBTD= Even Dwarves Started Small, Fata Morgana, Aguirre: The Wrath of God, Nosferatu the Vampyre, Lessons of Darkness, Grizzly Man, Encounters at the End of the World, The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans

Hooper, Tobe: F= meh, ASBTD= Eaten Alive, Poltergeist

Huston, John: F= The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, ASBTD= The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Key Largo, The Asphalt Jungle, Wise Blood, Annie, The Dead

Jarmusch, Jim: F= Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, ASBTD= Permanent Vacation, Strangers in Paradise, Dead Man, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Broken Flowers, The Limits of Control

Jeunet, Jean-Pierre: F= The City of Lost Children, ASBTD= Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children,

Jonze, Spike: F= Adaptation, ASBTD= Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Where the Wild Things Are

Jordan, Neil: F= The Butcher Boy, ASBTD= We're No Angels, The Crying Game, Interview With the Vampire, The Butcher Boy, The End of the Affair

Kazan, Elia: F= A Face in the Crowd, ASBTD= Panic in the Streets, A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, East of Eden, A Face in the Crowd, America, America

Keaton, Buster: F= The General, ASBTD= The Scarecrow, The Paleface, Our Hospitality, Sherlock Jr., Go West, The General, Steamboat Bill, Jr., The Cameraman, Spite Marriage

Kiarostami, Abbas: F= Taste of Cherry, OS= Taste of Cherry

Korine, Harmony: F= Julien Donkey-Boy, ASBTD= Gummo, Julien Donkey-Boy, Mister Lonely, Act Da Fool

Kubrick, Stanley: F= 2001: A Space Odyssey, ASBTD= The Killing, Dr. Strangelove, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Eyes Wide Shut

Kurosawa, Akira: F= Throne of Blood, ASBTD= Rashomon, Ikiru, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, The Hidden Fortress

Landis, John: F= Three Amigos, ASBTD= The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London, Twilight Zone Movie, Thriller, Spies Like Us, Coming to America, Three Amigos, Oscar, Beverly Hills Cop III

Lang, Fritz: F= M., ASBTD= Metropolis, Woman in the Moon, M, Fury, You Only Live Once, The Big Heat

Lean, David: F= Lawrence of Arabia, ASBTD= Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago

Lee, Ang: F= meh, ASBTD= Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hulk, Brokeback Mountain

Lee, Spike: F= Do the Right Thing, ASBTD= School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, Summer of Sam, 25th Hour

Leigh, Mike: F= Happy-Go-Lucky, OS= Happy-Go-Lucky

Leone, Sergio: F= Once Upon a Time in the West, ASBTD= Once Upon a Time in the West, Once Upon a Time in America

Lewis, Jerry: F= The Nutty Professor, OS= The Nutty Professor

Lewis, Joseph H.: F= Terror in a Texas Town, ASBTD= The Man From Tumbleweeds, Gun Crazy, Terror in a Texas Town

Linklater, Richard: F= A Scanner Darkly, ASBTD= Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Waking Life, The School of Rock, A Scanner Darkly

Losey, Joseph: NSA

Lubitsch, Ernst: F= The Shop Around the Corner, OS= The Shop Around the Corner

Lumet, Sidney: F= Deathtrap, ASBTD= Long Day's Journey Into Night, The Pawnbroker, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, The Wiz, Deathtrap, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Lynch, David: F= The Straight Story, ASBTD= Six Figures Getting Sick, The Elephant Man, Dune, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Lost Highway, The Straight Story

Malick, Terrence: F= The New World, ASBTD= Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line, The New World, The Tree of Life

Mankiewicz, Joseph L.: NSA

Mann, Anthony: F= Bend of the River, ASBTD= T-men, Winchester '73, The Furies, Bend of the River, The Naked Spur

Mann, Michael: F= Collateral, ASBTD= The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, The Insider, Ali, Collateral, Public Enemies

McCarey, Leo: F= Duck Soup, OS= Duck Soup

Mellville, Jean-Pierre: NSA

Mendes, Sam: F= Road to Perdition, ASBTD= American Beauty, Road to Perdition

Miller, George: F= Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, ASBTD= Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Mad Max Beyond Thuderdome, Babe: Pig in the City

Minnelli, Vincent: F= Meet Me in St. Louis, ASBTD= Meet Me in St. Louis, The Long, Long Trailer

Miyazaki, Hayao: F= Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, ASBTD= Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Ponyo

Mizoguchi, Kenji: NSA

Nichols, Mike: F= meh, ASBTD= The Graduate, Biloxi Blues, The Birdcage

Nolan, Christopher: F= The Dark Knight, ASBTD= Memento, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Inception

Ophuls, Max: NSA

Ozu, Yasujiro: NSA

Peckinpah, Sam: F= The Wild Bunch, ASBTD= The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs

Penn, Arthur: F= Bonnie and Clyde, OS= Bonnie and Clyde

Polanski, Roman: F= Macbeth, ASBTD= Knife in the Water, Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby, Macbeth, Tess, The Pianist, The Ghost Writer

Pollack, Sydney: F= meh, ASBTD= Jeremiah Johnson, Tootsie, Out of Africa, The Firm, Sabrina, Random Hearts

Powell and Pressburger, Eric and Michael: NSA

Preminger, Otto: F= River of No Return, OS= River of No Return

Ray, Nicholas: F= In a Lonely Place, ASBTD= In a Lonely Place, Johnny Guitar

Reed, Carol: F= The Third Man, ASBTD= The Fallen Idol, The Third Man

Renoir, Jean:: F= Grand Illusion, ASBTD= The Lower Depths, Grand Illusion, The Rules of the Game, The River

Robson, Mark: F= Isle of the Dead, OS= Isle of the Dead

Rodriguez, Robert: F= Spy Kids, ASBTD= El mariachi, Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, Spy Kids

Roeg, Nicholas: F= Walkabout, ASBTD= Walkabout, The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Witches

Rohmer, Eric: F= The Romance of Astrea and Celadon, ASBTD= Charlotte and Her Steak, Suzanne's Career, The Bakery Girl of Monceau, Nadja a Paris, La Collectioneuse, My Night at Maud's, Claire's Knee, The Green Ray, The Romance of Astrea and Celadon

Romero, George: F= Dawn of the Dead, ASBTD= Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead

Rossellini, Roberto: F= The Flowers of St. Francis, ASBTD= Rome, Open City, The Flowers of St. Francis, The Taking of Power by Louis XIV

Scorsese, Martin: F= Bringing Out the Dead, ASBTD= Who's That Knocking at My Door, The Big Shave, Boxcar Bertha, Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, After Hours, The Color of Money, The Last Temptation of Christ, Goodfellas, Casino, Kundun, Bringing Out the Dead, Gangs of New York, The Departed, Shutter Island

Sirk, Douglas: NSA

Soderbergh, Stephen: F= Che: Part Two, ASBTD= Out of Sight, Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Solaris, Che: Part One, Che: Part Two, Contagion

Spielberg, Stephen: F= A.I., ASBTD= Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1941, Raiders of the Lost Ark, ET, Twilight Zone, Temple of Doom, Empire of the Sun, Last Crusade, Always, Hook, Jurassic Park, Amistad, Saving Private Ryan, A.I., Minority Report, Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal, War of the Worlds, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Sternberg, Josef von: F= The Blue Angel, OS= The Blue Angel

Stevens, George: F= meh, OS= Giant

Stone, Oliver: F= W., ASBTD= Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, The Doors, JFK, Natural Born Killers, W.

Sturges, Preston: F= Hail the Conquering Hero, ASBTD= The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels, Hail the Conquering Hero

Tarantion, Quentin: F= Pulp Fiction, ASBTD= Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill 1, Inglourious Basterds

Tarkovsky, Andrei: F= Stalker, ASBTD= The Killers, The Steamroller and the Violin, Ivan's Childhood, Andrei Rublev, Solaris, The Mirror, Stalker

Tati, Jacques: NSA

Tourneur, Jacques: F= Wichita, ASBTD= I Walked With a Zombie, Wichita

Trier, Lars von: F= The Five Obstructions, ASBTD= Epidemic, Dancer in the Dark, Dogville, The Five Obstructions, Melancholia

Truffaut, Francois: F= Fahrenheit 451, ASBTD= The 400 Blows, Shoot the Piano Player, Jules and Jim, Fahrenheit 451

Ulmer, Edgar G: NSA

Van Sant, Gus: F= Drugstore Cowboy, ASBTD= Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester, Milk

Verhoeven, Paul: F= Total Recall, ASBTD= Robocop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers, Hollow Man

Vigo, Jean: NSA

Walsh, Raoul: F= Colorado Territory, ASBTD= The Roaring Twenties, Manpower, Colorado Territory

Waters, John: F= meh, ASBTD= Pink Flamingos, Polyester, Cry-Baby

Weir, Peter: F= Fearless, ASBTD= Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Plumber, Witness, Dead Poets Society, Green Card, Fearless, The Truman Show, Master and Commander, The Way Back

Wellman, William: F= Battleground, ASBTD= Battleground, Buffalo Bill, Track of the Cat

Welles, Orson: F= F For Fake, ASBTD= Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, F For Fake

Wenders, Wim: F= Wings of Desire, ASBTD= The American Friend, Wings of Desire, Don't Come Knocking

Whale, James: F= Frankenstein, OS= Frankenstein

Wilder, Billy: F= Ace in the Hole, ASBTD= Ace in the Hole, Stalag 17, Some Like It Hot

Wise, Robert: F= The Set-Up, ASBTD= The Body Snatcher, The Set-Up, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Tribute to a Bad Man, The Sound of Music, Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Wong, Kar-Wai: F= Ashes of Time Redux, ASBTD= In the Mood for Love, 2046, My Blueberry Nights, Ashes of Time Redux

Wyler, William: F= Roman Holiday, ASBTD= The Good Fairy, The Westerner, Roman Holiday, Ben-Hur,

Zemeckis, Robert: F= Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, ASBTD= Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Back to the Future Part II, Back to the Future Part III, Forrest Gump, Cast Away, The Polar Express

Zhang, Yimou: NSA

ZhangKe, Jia: F= Still Life, OS= Still Life

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What a stupid waste of time.

I've spent the past couple of hours working on that directors list. I'm also listing every title I've ever seen by the director. It seems to me like just listing a favorite is meaningless unless you know the context of the other films by that director that I've seen.

Now, on to conversations...

Jason, I don't really have any problem with your reading of Meek. I'm just glad that you watched it. Now, you only need to POST MORE OFTEN.

Lisa, Pooh really is great. I wouldn't argue if you put it on the top of a 2011 list except that you're not keeping up with the competition. We're all discussing a way to rescue you from the depths of that evil PhD program so that you have more time for clubbing with us. When we're ready, it will look something like this:

Ben, yes, you need to watch more "classic" films. Start immediately with Only Angels Have Wings.

Jeff and Chris, first of all don't write off D. W. Griffith. Birth of a Nation has a deservedly bad reputation for its racism, but its good reputation as expert cinema is equally well deserved. This is one of the early high points of "movies as art." And it's worth seeing just to catch Raoul Walsh in an early acting role as John Wilkes Booth. I like Birth of a Nation more than Intolerance, which I guess makes me intolerant and racist.

Brandon's right about starting with the older directors and then maybe filling in newer holes.

One more modern exception is John Cassavetes, my favorite American director of the last 100 years. You need to watch everything he's ever made. Immediately. (To be fair, I still haven't seen EVERYTHING that he's directed). Brandon includes him on the "older directors" side of things, but he really straddles the line of classic Hollywood cinema and what we've come to think of as "independent" film (not that many of these films are independent in the same way that Cassavetes was or Jarmusch is).

Also, Harmony Korine. My boy.

I need to arrange a screening of Julien Donkey-Boy for the Howard Brothers. It's probably about time for Brandon to re-watch it as well. :)

Harmony Korine, strangely enough, is one of my favorite current directors. This is probably my most unpopular position in film club, but Brandon and I have hashed things out and come to an understanding of sorts. There's a few back and forth posts about JDB in our archives.

I haven't seen Trash Humpers yet and I have my doubts about it, but Humpers aside, Korine has matured with each picture he's made. I think that you guys should also love Mister Lonely, but maybe I'm wrong.

Let me state strongly right now that "nothing has impressed me thus far" in Brandon's responses to Korine's films. :)

Also, my oldest daughter, Mildred, is a huge Miyazaki fan. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is her favorite movie. Shame on both of you for your Miyazaki ignorance. Not to mention letting a 9-year-old (and her younger sisters) see more Chaplin films than you both. For shame.

Brandon, I'm hoping that you meant Mr. and Mrs. Smith as Hitch's worst film is still a precious gem to be loved and enjoyed.

This directors list thing sucks. I've just wasted a bunch of time on it and I'm hardly finished. Maybe I'll finish by the end of the week.


Majewski on Mill

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Colossians 1:17

I've long been a fan of Pieter Bruegel (the Elder)'s paintings. A print of Netherlandish Proverbs hangs on one of my walls. I don't know much about him.

The Mill and the Cross looks closely at one of Bruegel's paintings, The Way to Calvary. The film starts with various 16th century individuals going about their 16th century Flemish business. Cutting down trees. Taking care of the animals. Buying bread. Getting dressed for the day. Being tortured by the Spanish. Punching a brother in the arm. The grain mill turns.

This is all visually beautiful and about as far as can be from a traditional narrative. How do all of these disparate people and events hold together?

Luckily, Bruegel (played by Rutger "hobo" Hauer) shows up and explains it all to us neatly. The film never strays far from the structure of the painting and the painting is described and interpreted along the way. Honestly, the film works nearly perfectly as a silent film and didn't need any of the talking. All of the spoken word parts could have been intertitles. Or they could have been done away with completely.

What we learn is that everything is anchored in the Cross.

Besides the obvious spiritual aspects, the movie (following the painting) is heavily political, focusing on the Spanish occupation of the Netherlands and its heavy religious persecution of all "heretics." There are heavy-handed parallels here between these Spanish persecutors and the Sanhedrin and High Priests of the 1st century. We get a contemporaneous playing out of the Passion, complete with a token Judas character who shows up in the movie only to throw coins on a floor and then hang himself.

There is a lot of humor in the film. There's one lecherous man especially who can't stop ogling a woman though the whole earth is covered in darkness. God himself is represented by a stout miller who overlooks this localized creation. Even the crows pecking out an eye is a sort of dark humor.

I wish that y'all had been able to see it while it was playing on the big screen.

Top Five 2011 So Far
(No real surprises)

1) The Mill and the Cross
2) The Tree of Life
3) Melancholia
4) Drive
5) Winnie the Pooh

I'm getting really impatient to see Take Shelter!!!


(The title's there for the Howard bros. Don't worry, Brandon, there is no Simpsons content in the rest of this post.)

I haven't found any time yet to go through that director list and post my own, but I've read all of your lists posted so far. Maybe I'll comment on Tuesday. Don't count on it.

Ben was over this afternoon to hang out and play some games. None of this movie crap. None of this director list crap. Just some good old Cold Weather style Carcassonne. I wish I had some Swedish Fish left to share to make it even better, but Abby's pumpkin bread more than made up for the lack of Fish. Ben still wants to make it out to the Manlius cinema to see something sometime. I'm impatient to see Take Shelter. If he's available to drive on next Tuesday evening (and he's not sure that he is, but that's the time I could make it!), who's around to make the road trip to see Take Shelter?

I spent most of the day this past Tuesday cleaning and sorting while A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies played in the background. It's worth re-watching often. I could listen to Scorsese talk about movies all day long. I wish that it was a 40 hour set instead of a 4 hour one. If you guys are interested, I'll host a screening of Personal Journey some time. It's out of print and too precious for me to loan it out, but I'm more than willing to share the wealth with y'all.

Tuesday afternoon, I watched The Flying Deuces with the girls. It had its funny moments, but it paled in comparison to Way Out West. The gags are smarter in West. There's too much reliance on (un)romantic comedy in Deuces.

I never did get to that Scott western the other night. I watched Brandon's 13th favorite film from 1940 instead. The Westerner isn't as good as it should be. The cowboy vs. homesteader plot was oversimplified. Peck is a bit too much of a scoundrel to be altogether likeable (it might not be the character alone, though; in general, I just don't care that much for Cooper. So shoot me!). Walter Brennan, however, deserves every superlative in the book for his performance as Judge Roy Bean. SPOILER: I misted up a bit at the end when he's carried in to see Lily Langtree. What a ridiculous thing.

I did get out to Cornell yesterday and caught The Mill and the Cross. It might be my favorite film of 2011 so far. I think so. I'd like to go back out and see it tonight (tonight's the last night it's playing at Cornell and it absolutely deserves to be seen on the big screen), but I'm having an enjoyably peaceful day at home today and don't feel like going out to Ithaca or anywhere for anything. I'll try to have a Mill post up soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The other 10%

I wrote that Ben and I are about 90% in agreement. The other 10%, after all of the interpretation and reckoning is done, is me being hostile toward Melancholia at worst and ambivalent at best. I can't get excited about Melancholia. I can get excited about the Randolph Scott western I've got waiting for me in the other room.

Melancholia is ridiculous.

Sorry, Ben. I'm done talking about it. I'm glad you posted, though. I think that we're at least 90% or so on the same page.

Jeff, I totally sympathize with your "challenges of writing about old movies vs. new movies" thoughts.

In an attempt at solidarity, here's a lame couple of sentences on some classics, each one of them more deserving of many words than Melancholia.

Dumbo is fine. What it does, it does exceedingly well. I don't have any problem with you guys loving it, but I was slightly bored by it. I'm finding this with a lot of Disney movies from my childhood. It's probably just because I'm getting older and increasingly grumpier. An elephant with oversized ears for flying? Imagine what Hannibal could have done crossing the Alps with Dumbo. I want to see Spielberg make a film called The War Elephant. No, I don't.

Way Out West is brilliant. There is no way to do it justice without elaborately describing each gag. Even then, it's better to sit someone down for its short running time.

The Shop Around the Corner is high on my list of favorite romantic comedies. We should do lists some day, but I think I need to see a few more classics first.

Chris, I started on Season 4 of The Simpsons. "Kamp Krusty"'s opening "school's out" sequence had me smiling ear to ear. The camp stuff in the rest of the episode was okay, but those first two minutes or so are solid gold. What a way to start a season!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It was a joke.

You guys know that I was joking about throwing Lisa in the gorges, right?

We haven't heard from her in a long time so I'm naturally wondering if maybe Jeff and Chris kidnapped her and tossed her in the gorges for still not loving Tree of Life enough.

Or maybe she ran off with Ryan Gosling?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Catching up on reviews.

Brandon posted the Zacharack review.

I just read Emerson's review. I'm mostly on board with his reading.

One of my favorite Oldham songs.

Brandon will label it irrelevant. It's my final commentary on Melancholia for the day.

You missed my point.

"John, now that I'm out of the doghouse can we talk about the movie?"

Quit talking about doghouses when I'm trying to talk about Melancholia.

Seriously, my whole point was that I was talking about aspects of Melancholia by pointing out how it relates to those aspects in other movies.

"But honestly man THE GREEN LANTERN isn’t about the end of the world"

Green Lantern features a guy who pretends to have it all together who is really immature and childish, who sabatoges relationships and puts himself in situations close to death because he experiences bouts of crippling fear. It features an object in space heading toward earth, which, once it arrives, will destroy the whole earth. The film then explores this character's response to this threat.

Do you not see that Green Lantern and Melancholia are doing similar things (in obviously different ways) and coming to much different conclusions? If Melancholia is to be compared to any other movies, shouldn't it be compared to the "things hurtling through space about to kill the Earth" movies?

Symbolically, Hal Jordan's life (as it was) comes to an end so that the life of the world can be renewed.

vT is instead making a true antihero film.

Hal Jordan is a privileged rich kid who has always gotten things his way. His family and friends put up with his mental illness and even cover for him. Fair enough? Now imagine a scene of Hal Jordan embracing his fear and longing for the yellow cloud to swallow him up. Imagine a long shot of Ryan Reynolds laying naked on a rock in ecstasy as the yellow cloud approaches.

But, an antihero is usually still our hero. In Melancholia, Justine's strength is in her connection to Melancholia. She wins her personal struggle against the world and against herself only by Melancholia crashing into earth. This is the true strength of Melancholia. Justine's depression is vindicated. She's not cured. Everyone else is. Death to everyone. In context, and contrary to vT, the end of everything is the happiest ending one of vT's films has ever had. The film is subversive in a way that vT's previous juvenile pranks never have been. Jeff can go play in his little kiddie punk playground. I'm glad that vT's grown up.

Chris, I get the ambivalence. I was feeling it hard during and after the movie. It wasn't until thinking about it on my drive home and then the next morning that I started to really appreciate some of what vT is doing. It helped that I had Green Lantern to compare it to. :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Back Slapping Happy Club

"But as John pointed out in his incredible review (incredible until he starts comparing it to other non-relatable films),"

Yours is pretty great, too.

Instead of taking the compliment, though, I have to take issue with your "until he starts comparing it to other non-relatable films" jab.

My last paragraph was a bit of fun, but it wasn't just a piece of Armondian wankery. I'm having fun, but I'm not just being blindly antagonistic or making connections where none are warranted. Why not compare one film to other films, especially other films that I've seen recently? What, can Melancholia only be compared to Tarkovsky films? Screw that. I think that I WAS getting at a description of Melancholia precisely by relating it to so-called "non-relatable films."

I'll risk annoying you further by expanding the comparisons a bit.

Melancholia and Green Lantern are both about the end of the world. This is obvious. Melancholia is by far, by far, the better film. I was being flippant.

Drive is another lauded artsy-fartsy film. Drive was low on emotion (or at least low-key). Melancholia revs up the emotion, even if it's only to have the audience respond hostilely. Drive has slow buildup leading to sudden exaggerated moments. Melancholia has slow buildup leading to more slow moments.

Rachel Getting Married tries to make us love bourgeois weddings. Melancholia rightly gets us hating them.

Melancholia doesn't have half the wisdom of Pooh. Pooh celebrates small truths. Melancholia demolishes all truths regardless of size. If I had to choose one of these realities to live in, Pooh would win every time.

Tree of Life and Melancholia are the two Titans of this year so far. Of course they should be compared. Both may be prayers.

Finally, the attack on Midnight in Paris was just an attempt to stay in character. Someone has to stand up against that cinema tyrant and it seems like I'm the only one to do it.

I'm just having fun. Really, all I'm doing is externalizing the listmaking process, making it plain what sorts of comparisons and contrasts go into lining up movies in nice orderly numbered formation.

For what it's worth, right now I'd rank Melancholia second behind Tree of Life on a 2011 list, but I also, at the same time, don't really care about it. It's not a film that I ever care to see again. I'm discussing it now because it's fun and because I find that I can't just go back to 1940 and ignore 2011. I care about cinema past to present. I care about what's happening now. I was only half-joking in the car when I said, "Melanwhat?" I am really thinking about City for Conquest and The Shop Around the Corner. I'm forced to write about Melancholia because it's 2011 and not 1940 and it's what's worth arguing about. And I don't begrudge it that. I'm enjoying it. I'm still eagerly awaiting Chris' post and hoping that Ben will jump back into the fray now that four more of us have been initiated into the end of the world club.

My next post will be a long essay on the similarities and dissimilarities between Melancholia and Birth of a Nation. Just for Brandon.

Against my better judgment.

I've been checking obsessively today.

Brandon just put up a new post 3 minutes ago. I didn't get far before I reached a sentence that left me scratching my head:

"Before the newlyweds even step foot into the dining hall they are greeted by an angry Charlotte Gainsbourge (clitoris intact) and Keifer Sutherland."

So my question is, how do you know, Brandon? How do you know?

Because I couldn't tell.

It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

"There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide."

"The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world."

Camus and Chesterton. Two of the many strange bedfellows lounging about in my mind. I've re-read the two fairly often, though not recently. Perhaps it's time. I'd enjoy an Orthodoxy/Absurdity cage match.

I'm impressed by Melancholia even if I was bored by it at times and wished I had been sleeping.

I haven't seen Antichrist, but I know that von Trier has gone to some dark places. I'm not sure that he had anywhere left to go except through death into death or through death into resurrection. I suppose the question still hangs in the air.

Von Trier had to kill the whole world to get beyond himself, to be able to create anything new. Everything had to be shaken down "that those things which cannot be shaken may remain."

I don't think that Melancholia is ultimately defeatist any more than I thought so of Haneke's The Seventh Continent. Melancholia, whatever else it is, is an attack on Modernism. Neither Von Trier nor Haneke offer any way forward, but they clearly show that we can't stay where we're at without courting death.

Von Trier particularly picks on Romanticism, its brooding pagan nostalgia and its restlessly destructive instincts.

It is, of course, interesting how much Von Trier is influenced by the visual arts. Practically every scene references one painting or another, sometimes explicitly, sometimes less so. This is Von Trier paying homage, but he also can't quite help himself from ridiculing his inspirations. There is an abundance of humor in Melancholia. This world that takes itself so seriously is rendered laughable. There is subtle visual humor and there is the really overt comedy of manners that comprises most of the first half of the film.

Since writing the above, I've read Jeff's post. I agree that the shot of Dunst and Melancholia is THE shot of the film. I also interpret it as being an attempt at a joke. Dunst may be the vT figure, but I think that vT is trying to laugh at himself. Melancholia is stupid.

Jeff's Rachel Getting Married comparison made me laugh. I was ready to leave and go home during all of the party crap (as evidenced by my two previous "live" posts). I like it all a lot more thinking back on it than I liked sitting through it.

A couple of Nat Shermans helped pep me up and I cared enough to stick around to the end. I'm glad I did. Melancholia wasn't any worse than Green Lantern and it was definitely better than Rachel Getting Married. It's got more heart than Drive, but less dazzle. It doesn't have half the wisdom of Pooh. Its questioning falls flat before Malick's world altar. Finally, I'd rather watch the world end every night than endure another 5 months under the Midnight reign.

I'm done thinking for a while. I've been writing these scraps throughout the day. Hopefully, some of it hangs together.

I'll meet you all at the 19th hole.

Great green melanpoo.

I've now seen three 2011 films in three days.

Green Lantern
Winnie the Pooh

Surprisingly, I liked all three. I didn't love any of them.

Green Lantern is about the end of the world. The world is about to be gobbled up by a yellow cloud of fear. Fortunately, our man gets his green gunk on and wills away the evil, driving it into the sun. Catastrophe diverted. GL ends on a note of humano-centric triumphalism. We're saved, in the end, because we deserve to be. Things just can't be any other way.

Melancholia is about the end of the world. An impersonal planet crashes into Earth and destroys all life. There is no hero to save the day. We're lost, in the end, because we deserve to be. Melancholia also ends on a note of humano-centrism (there's got to be a better word than this. Why am I drawing a blank here?), only this time we're faced with resignation, not exaltation. Our heroes have fled and our prophets have failed us. And this is the way things are.

Winnie the Pooh is about the end of the world. No, it's not. It's about being hungry and having friends and being scared and making things up and enjoying small adventures. It's the only adequate antidote to both Green Lantern and Melancholia.

I am tempted to compare the emotional states of Hal Jordan, Justine/Clare, and Pooh/Eyore, but I'll let that slide for now. There are only so many moments I can steal during the day to write.

More later.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


The number of reasons that sleep is better than Melancholia.

Live from Planet Melancholia

If people want to linger in a bath, stay at home.

I wish I'd followed Keifer's advice.

Live post from Film Club HQ

(written earlier in the day)

Conquest of the City features Cagney at his best. And Cagney at his best is better than them all.

Conquest seeks to give us a symphony of the city. By any measure, it succeeds. It's melodramatic. It's contrived. Its reach exceeds its grasp. It's a proletariat fairy tale. Maybe even a bit of a joke. It's a heart-breaking tearjerker. It loves its characters yet spares them no suffering. Conquest is all the more charming in that it "reads" like a Penny Dreadful rather than The Great American Novel. There's no varnish here. There is no pretense. There is only the life of the city and the love that beats at its center.

Elia Kazan, one of my favorite American directors, has a great cameo in Conquest. His small sub-plot is almost completely irrelevant to the main plot, but it packs one startling punch for all of its loose-endedness.

The romance. The goil's story arc. The brother's story arc. The Philosopher Bum framing. It's real because it's not "realism." LitFic be damned.

Throughout, it's Cagney that holds it all together, who keeps the thing from shipwrecking. There's none of the "slumming" that Chesterton describes so well in Heretics and that the Coens parody perfectly in Barton Fink. Cagney screams authentic common man.

Monday, November 7, 2011

11.11.11 - No Shelter

So I guess we're seeing The Immortals, right?

(p.s. I am actually half interested in the movie, but I'll wait 'til it hits the Saver. It would be fun to see it together, though!)

The long night is over. A new day dawns.

The following is from this week's Cinemapolis newsletter:

IT HAD TO HAPPEN SOME DAY: Yes, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS plays for its final times this week at 7:25 Monday through Thursday November 10. In the five full months it has been playing at Cinemapolis, we have noticed that the MIDNIGHT audience tends to burst out of the theater in a great mood--including those anti-Woodyites who had to be dragged into the theater by their friends. Two more reasons to catch it at Cinemapolis: it's not coming out digitally until late December, and it's a film that should be seen with an audience.

That's the good news. The bad news is that Take Shelter is NOT listed on the Nov 11-17 schedule. What's up with that?

Take Shelter now starts December 2.

Thumbs down from me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Messing around

I've been messing around this afternoon.

Do you guys like this or do you like the side-by-side format better? I was getting sick of the side-by-side because the years never line up properly. They just never do. Anyhow, here's the new site I made. I've still got to add the '30s lists, but I'm done working on it for now.

Sorry, guys.

As Brandon mentioned, we'd already been over the veggie cult thing and I didn't have the energy to get involved this time.

I've only watched 2 movies since my last post. And I haven't watched any TV since we finished Breaking Bad and BSG.

I watched Isle of the Dead before Halloween. This might be my favorite Karloff performance. The story itself is just okay. All of these Lewton films are decent (or indecent as the case may be!), but I haven't really fallen in love with any of them. I did forget to mention how much I enjoyed watching Frances Dee in Zombie. I love that her and Joel McCrea were happily married until death did they part. Jeff, you should watch Four Faces West now while you're in a McCrea mood. It's easily on my Top Ten Favorite Westerns List. I need to get a copy on DVD eventually. I watched it last year (earlier this year?) on NWI. I just checked and it's still there so you have no excuse not to watch it INSTANTLY!

Redbox sent me a free rental code in honor of my 2 year anniversary of having rented something from a red box. So, I rented Attack the Block and watched it last night. I don't really have anything to add to what Brandon and Chris already wrote about this, except to say that the creature design is heads and tails (pun intended!) above anything else we've seen recently. Also, it was a happy coincidence that I heard this interview with David Kennedy on Fresh Air a few days before watching Block.

[p.s. I'm trying to get back to properly italicizing titles. I've written the last dozen or so posts on my netbook rather than my iPod, so I don't have any excuse. For those who didn't know, the large majority of my posts from the past two years have been written on and posted from my iPod Touch. It was difficult to format text on the default "notes" program so I pretty much abandoned all formatting.]