Thursday, December 29, 2011

Without a doubt.

Best moment of the year.

LE HAVRE rules!

Monday, December 26, 2011

I love film club.

Can you guys believe that Brandon and I used to have regular spats like this when no one was reading what we wrote except for the two of us?

That's the spirit of film club past, present, and future.

Write what you like regardless of whatever anyone thinks of you. Regardless of the fact that no one but one (and now six!) other person(s) cares about what you're writing. We're writing for ourselves and for each other, not for personal gain or any kind of success.

It's been such a great year. Film club has continued to be enriched by the presence of all of you. I certainly never dreamed that we'd have the beginnings of a mini-community established like this.

Brandon and I had a crazy whim. Then Jason, then Ben, then Jeff, then Lisa, then Chris. Thanks to all of you.

All of your posts give me great joy.

Except for Brandon's last post. That one pissed me off.


I'm done for the day. I'll let Brandon have the last word if he chooses to.


My tongue it doth chatter, it goes pitter-patter Here's good beer and strong beer, for I will not flatter.

"I get a totally different vibe from your comparisons. I get the vibe that you like to knock films off their pedestal and use lesser appreciated films that you love to do it. I get the vibe that you get annoyed by these films because of the love they are getting while other films get largely ignored (indiewire poll anyone?)."

Seriously? Now I am getting pissed at you. You're attributing petty motivations to me that I don't think are at all evidenced by my posts or any of my comparisons/contrasts. I don't doubt that you "get this vibe," but I don't think that you read my posts carefully at all. I think that you assume my motives and ignore what I actually write.

If you're referencing my 69th vs. 45th poll positions post, then surely you knew that I was being sarcastic and joking, right?

If you're referencing anything else, then I just don't get it. I'm trying to "knock" Dragon Tattoo off its "pedestal" because I've tried to make sense of what I don't like about the story by invoking Breaking Bad? Again, do I need to repeat that I haven't even seen Fincher's version? I'm interacting with the story as manifest in the Sweded version.

I'm trying to knock Drive off its "pedestal" by comparing it to Cold Weather? ?? In that instance, I was answering a question raised by Chris and exploring why I liked one film more than another, not trying to "de-throne" anything.

Green Lantern vs. Melancholia? I saw similar themes (apparently where no else did, so what?) and raised the idea that these films were doing similar things in very different ways. Was I trying to dethrone Melancholia and raise up Green Lantern? Hardly.

"To say “well a guy with a turtle bomb attached to his head is far better than a golf club to the face” pretty much ends the conversation for me."

Did I say this? I mentioned the turtle bomb as an example of a "pulpy" image that I loved. The point was that I can dig trash, not that I like one image over another. If you reread what I wrote, I think that it's clear that what I was contrasting was the "tone and setting" and the way in which the stories interact with an external morality. I was most definitely not saying that a turtle bomb is cooler than a golf club to the face (though it is; but maybe I shouldn't joke. I'm not sure that you understand me when I'm serious let alone when I'm joking).

"Do you get what I’m saying here? I’m not saying that you don’t have the right to see connections in your head but rather that when you make them I could just as easily "state “well I wasn’t aware that GWTDT was aspiring to be Breaking Bad.”"

Brandon, I'm honestly not sure if it's worth conversing anymore. I don't even think you read what I wrote. I think that you saw words and constructed some argument apart from what I wrote. The point of the comparison wasn't to say that GWTDT should be anything other than it is or that people who like it are dumb. I was trying to explain why I *personally* am not on board with the Tattoo story. I was not saying that GWTDT should be Breaking Bad. I was exploring why the story of one works for me while the story of the other fails beyond its basic thrills. I suggested that it was due to the type of moral universe that the characters inhabit in each. You might disagree with my distinction and insist that Tattoo is more than just bleakness. But, you don't do that. You construct some false argument to respond to rather than interact with the bare sketch of an idea that I laid out.

"Nothing is taboo here. You aren’t being attacked."

Again, seriously? I'm not being attacked? You've just told me that you think that my entire purpose of comparing films is to take pot shots at films whose success I'm annoyed by. WTF? This is after I just told you my purposes in comparing films. Your last post is basically you just barely veiling calling me a liar, like you're calling out what you think is my bluff. I can't help that you get that vibe. I just don't see it.

"Read the paragraph again and you’ll see that I’m just pointing a fact out."

Sure, but you also said that you don't get why I do it, which prompted my post. You said that you don't see how these films relate or what my point is, implying that I'm just being provocative with no substance. Now, you're telling me that you have a good idea (based on a "vibe") of the reason why I compare films and the reason is that I have grudges that I need to settle. How can I interpret this as anything but an attack? Even if it's friendly, it's still an attack.

"Nothing wrong with it per say just not sure that I buy it all the time. But please continue to utilize this as maybe I’ll learn to connect the dots eventually."

Um, let's kiss and make up?

Your next paragraph isn't quite directed at me, I don't think. I need to stress again that I've only been working with knowledge of the Sweded version and haven't made any claims about Fincher being above material. I haven't even claimed that those rape scenes serve no narrative purpose. So, I'll skip out on this section.

I don't dispute any of the claims you make about Fincher. He is a great director. The projects he picks, though, most often don't appeal to me.

I think that you're just lashing out at me because I think that Benjamin Button and Forrest Gump are the same movie.

I'm gonna have another drink and celebrate St. Stephen, whose martyrdom must have been a foreshadowing of this sustained film club persecution.

"And now for remembrance of blessed Saint Stephen
Let's joy at morning, at noon, and at even
Then leave off your mincing and fall to mince pies
I pray take my counsel, be ruled by the wise."


Man, it felt good to get all of that steam out of my ears.

It's gonna feel even better when I finally get Brandon in a closed room in order to "Swede" a certain scene from Dragon Tattoo.

:) <----Smiley to indicate continued good will; to make plain that I am only joking.

Bleakness is all.

I'm expecting company soon, but I'll scribble out a response quickly now.

"After seeing the TERRIBLE Swedish film that John can't seem to make up his mind about"

I think that I've been clear (of course I do) and I really think that we've had this argument before. I think that Sweded Tattoo does a more than competent job of telling its trashy story. Like Jeff, it's the story itself that I didn't care for. At the same time, I readily admit that the story is compelling in an "I can't stop looking at that anal rape" kind of way. Sweded Tattoo keeps a crisp and lively pace suited to its material. I really don't care what Glen Kenny thinks about this. For the record, I still haven't seen Fincher's version and never called it a copy of anything, so I'm not sure how Kenny's criticism applies. I believe you that Fincher's frames are Oh So Gorgeous. I'm merely stating that Sweded Tattoo tells its story just fine. And this is a fact. Evidenced by lots and lots of people having sat through a really long foreign film with itty little bitty words to read onscreen.

"John is the king of stating he prefers one thing to another. We’ve already had this out several times but he likes to take one work of art (in this case a television show which is far different from a movie) and hold it over another to prove his point (Cold Weather vs Drive, The Green Lantern vs Melancholia, etc.). What can I say? I don’t know how they relate or where that point is coming from"

It's the little Armond demon on my shoulder.

Seriously, though, it's called making a point by using an illustration. In this case, I tried to pinpoint what it is that I find lacking in Dragon Tattoo. The best way that I found to express that was by giving a contrasting example of what it is that I do enjoy and where I have found that sort of thing precisely in a work of "pulpy trash."

This obviously annoys you, but I don't think that my point is unclear or somehow invalid. Do you really not "know how they relate?" I already stated that they are both "pulp" entertainments. I explained above where that point is coming from and I (maybe mistakenly) thought that it was also clear in my original post.

"You have to admit that this is one of your indulgences and it often perks its little head up when you want to rub someone’s face in shit, specifically when they profess love for something"

I don't have to admit anything. Okay, I admit it. But, I deny that I'm rubbing anyone's face in shit (that's Fincher's happy job). I may be taking fun little jabs at times, but my intent is serious in making comparisons as a way of coming to terms (for myself primarily, but also definitely through wrestling with you guys) with why I will fall head over heels with one thing and not with another.

Haven't you ever written a comparison/contrast essay? Do you know that these things exist? How can you pretend that one film you watch doesn't interact in your head with every other film (and book and conversation and drink and song, etc.) you've ever encountered, especially the ones that you've also seen recently.

I'm not (nor have I ever been) strictly writing reviews here. In fact, I rarely do that. I'm just not interested in doing so. Instead, I'm having an open conversation with friends. Often, I'm just throwing out fragments and impressions and yes, it's absolutely true, I like to compare things that I've seen recently that do at least some things in the same way. If you can't see the similarities and dissimilarities between Drive and Cold Weather or Green Lantern and Melancholia, then maybe I didn't do a good enough job in comparing and contrasting them. For that, I'm sorry. I'm not sorry for comparing them. You seem to think it's some sort of wicked crime for me to do so and suggest strongly that this form of thinking and conversing is unhelpful. Well, I don't know. It's one of the ways that I work out how I feel about various things that I'm watching. I'm not attacking anyone. I'm trying to clarify my own position by making connections and relating things to each other. I see connections and relationships everywhere. I'm not sure why you don't. Sorting and ranking comes natural to most of us geeks. Why is it suddenly taboo when I vocalize this natural internal process?

Finally, for the record, I never doubted for an instant that your response to Fincher's Tattoo is totally honest. That's what we're all committed to here. I was just (in a strong teasing way; I know you can take it) pointing out that you were predisposed to like it. I believe you that you were nervous, but I also think that it was nervous excitement and that you went in to the film wanting to love it. Nothing wrong with that.

Me and Chris Hitch agree.

There is much sex but absolutely no love, a great deal of violence but zero heroism. Reciprocal gestures are generally indicated by cliché: if a Larsson character wants to show assent he or she will “nod”; if he or she wants to manifest distress, then it will usually be by biting the lower lip. The passionate world of the sagas and the myths is a very long way away. Bleakness is all. That could even be the secret—the emotionless efficiency of Swedish technology, paradoxically combined with the wicked allure of the pitiless elfin avenger, plus a dash of paranoia surrounding the author’s demise. If Larsson had died as a brave martyr to a cause, it would have been strangely out of keeping; it’s actually more satisfying that he succumbed to the natural causes that are symptoms of modern life.

Brandon is a total finching whore.

Nothing he says about the dude or his movies can be trusted. For lots of reasons, Brandon was primed to love Tattoo long before he ever stepped into the theatre. Brandon's Fincher meter always burns hot.

I'm only half-teasing.

I do think that Brandon has been wearing his pre-approved Fincher glasses that see everything all Finchery special all the time.

I suspect that Jeff is probably right that both Se7en and Zodiac explore similar material in much more interesting ways, but I don't think that Brandon would argue with that.

Anyhow, we all know that we go in to movies with expectations and demands and sometimes unalloyed affection. I know, for instance, that I can't approach a new Coens film with anything remotely approaching "objectivity." I know right now that I'm going to love the next ten films they make, even if the next one announced is an adaptation of Stieg Larson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Finally, I'm not sure why you guys are bashing the Swedish version so much. I thought that it was really well crafted (and I thought that I posted on this in the past, but again, I think blogger ate some of my old posts). I hardly felt the long running time pass as the film zipped along and kept me engaged in the mystery and developing relationship. I just don't understand why it's suddenly cool to hate on the Swedes just because Fincher supposedly made a "better" maybe flashier version.

Happy Wren Day.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo an underdog? Yeah right. Released in late December, it still managed to rank 45th on the Indiewire poll and everyone is talking about it.

My favorite dog in the 2011 race? Released earlier this year, it got the same amount of respect as Crazy Stupid Love and no one was ever talking about it or is talking about it now.

I'm the champion of the true underdog, you dragon-rape-loving-tattooed-pervert.

Lisa probably wins this game of one-downs-manship since Pooh came in at dead last on that stupid, worthless poll.

As far as Dragon Tattoo goes, I remember disliking the Swedish version, but finding it (in)decently compelling for all of its lengthy running time. I was also seeing it for free at Cornell. All I can go by is the Swedish film. I thought that the story was schlocky trash with too few redemptive qualities. And I love pulp trash. Two of my favorite moving images of the past few years are a head strapped to an exploding turtle and an ATM falling on a dude's head. Those are from Breaking Bad, the current king of lowbrow art masterpieces. There are lots of differences between Dragon Tattoo and Breaking Bad, but I think that the major difference is tone and setting. Breaking Bad has characters doing bad shit to one another in a structured, moral universe. The choice to break bad means something. Dragon Tattoo features characters doing bad shit to one another in a bad shit universe. There's no bad to break because it's all already bad. I don't think that this is necessarily what Jeff was getting at, but I'm throwing it out there. Also, I'm just going on memory and kinda BSing a bit. Maybe I'm wrong. I think that Blogger may have eaten some of my old posts. I can't find any mention of seeing Dragon Tattoo except for a brief mention in my Farewell post (which is another great movie that everyone ignored, including you film club no-gooders). I don't have much interest in seeing Fincher's tattoo besides Brandon's praise and wanting to check out what he loves. But that might not be enough. I did, after all, already sit through Benjamin Button. What more do you want from me?

Have a merry non-fincherite Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I need to re-watch:
Pinocchio (lots of people)
Pinocchio was one of my favorite films as a youngster. I don't think I've seen it in 15+ years.

I still haven't seen:
The Mark of Zorro (Rouben Mamoulian), When the Daltons Rode (George Marshall), Dark Command (Raoul Walsh), The Return of Frank James (Fritz Lang), Virginia City (Michael Curtiz), Another Thin Man (W.S. Van Dyke), Go West (Edward Buzzell), The Doctor Takes a Wife (Alexander Hall), The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor), The Grapes of Wrath (John Ford), Rebecca (Alred Hitchcock), Fantasia (Lots of People), My Little Chickadee (Edward F. Cline), Waterloo Bridge (Mervyn LeRoy), They Drive by Night (Raoul Walsh), The Long Voyage Home (John Ford), Stranger on the Third Floor (Boris Ingster), You're Missing the Point (Juan Bustillo Oro), The Mortal Storm (Frank Borzage), Strange Cargo (Frank Borzage), Edison, the Man (Clarence Brown), Remember the Night (Mitchell Leisen), The Stars Look Down (Carol Reed), Murder Over New York (Harry Lachman), Contraband (Michael Powell), Pride and Prejudice (Robert Z. Leonard), Abe Lincoln in Illinois (John Cromwell), Santa Fe Trail (Michael Curtiz), Northwest Passage (King Vidor), Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (Ford Beebe and Ray Taylor), Escape (Mervyn LeRoy), Primrose Path (Gregory La Cava), From Mayerling to Sarajevo (Max Ophüls)

I'm sure that there are plenty of others worth hunting down.

My problem doing these lists is that I'm obsessive. I really think that my list is inadequate at best because I haven't seen any of the above films. Damned negligent at worst to be saying anything about a year's films when I've only seen a tiny fraction of them pre-selected for me as "the best." So many films get forgotten. It's the nature of these things. It's not going to stop me making lists, but it gives me pause whenever I'm tempted to think of myself as even half knowledgeable about films past or present.

My favorite recent example is Ed Harris' Appaloosa. After several repeat viewings, I'm convinced that it's a masterpiece and easily one of the five best Westerns of the past forty years. Hardly anyone has seen it. Those who have gave it no critical attention. I submit as evidence the 2008 Indiewire critics poll. Appaloosa doesn't even rank 69th. It doesn't get a single mention.

So, how many unknown Appaloosas were there in 1940 that are completely forgotten now? I know that most films achieve canonical status for very good reasons. I'm not concerned about those. I get all worked up about those gems that no one has bothered to polish or maybe not even bothered to pick up and look at in decades.

So, with more waffling and disclaiming than my 2011 list will receive, I present my very imperfect list of favorite films from 1940:


1. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch)
2. Christmas in July (Preston Sturges)
3. I Love You Again (W. S. Van Dyke)
4. Foreign Correspondent (Alfred Hitchcock)
5. The Great Dictator
6. City for Conquest (Anatole Litvak)
7. The Man From Tumbleweeds (Joseph H. Lewis)
8. The Westerner (William Wyler)
9. The Ghost Breakers (George Marshall)
10. The Great McGinty (Preston Sturges)

HM: The Bank Dick (Edward F. Cline), A Chump at Oxford (Alfred J. Goulding), His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks), The Torrid Zone (William Keighley), The Thief of Baghdad (Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell and Tim Whelan), The Sea Hawk (Michael Curtiz)

The Shop Around the Corner is perfect. We're all agreed, it seems, that Christmas in July is delightful. I Love You Again is one of those gems that I'm glad I found. Foreign Correspondent is Hitchcock doing everything right as usual. If nations and peoples had been more mature (mature enough to laugh at themselves) at the time, the Great Dictator alone would have brought an end to WWII in 1940 (I just daydreamed of Ol' Adolf seeing this movie, laughing uproariously, then breaking down in tears of repentance). City for Conquest has already been raved about sufficiently here. The Man From Tumbleweeds is a bit of a guilty pleasure. The Westerner is so morally ambiguous that it should have been remade in the 70s (and probably was). The Ghost Breakers is good fun. The Great McGinty is carried by Donlevy despite the film's weak framing device.

There's my quick attempt to deal with 1940. I'm not done with this year at all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Coming soon: Film Club, Year in Review

In the meantime, a couple of quick responses.

Brandon, don't worry. I'm not losing any sleep over any critics end of year lists. I remain puzzled by the exclusion of Mill. I don't think that it even registered on the critical radar. Why should it, really, when there's Kevin to talk about? Those three mentions on the Indiewire poll were probably from the only three critics who participated that watched the blasted thing.

As far as my frown goes, I remain frowningly optimistic about the current state of cinema. I'm just not all that excited about seeing many of the films currently being lauded.

Lisa, I also enjoyed The Adjustment Bureau. It's ridiculous, but it gets a pass because the romance worked for me. I've wanted to see The Conspirator. Maybe I'll finally check it out now that I've heard someone say something nice about it.

Jason, you better follow through on your outing to see Christmas in July at the Dryden. I hope you're bringing your family.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I just don't have the energy for anything more.

Critics are stupid. I just checked out the Film Comment poll. My favorite movie of the year, The Mill and the Cross, doesn't even get a mention. My guess why? Everyone was tripping over each other trying to talk about the next big thing being hyped, like We Need to Talk About Anything But the Cross. There's no time to stop and reflect on a beautiful work of art criticism as feature film.

Anyhow, I took the Film Comment poll and stripped it of its non-2011 titles (I'll do the same to the Indiewire poll eventually, but this one's shorter so it gets stripped first)! From 50 down to 28. Here are the results:

1. Tree of Life
2. Melancholia
3. A Separation
4. A Dangerous Method
5. Hugo
6. Le Havre
7. The Descendants
8. Midnight in Paris
9. Take Shelter
10. Margaret
11. Shame
12. Drive
13. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
14. The Interrupters
15. The Artist
16. Weekend
17. The Skin I Live In
18. Contagion
19. Martha Marcy May Marlene
20. Bridesmaids
21. Moneyball
22. The Future
23. Super 8
24. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
25. Terri
26. J. Edgar
27. Jane Eyre
28. Pina

I've only seen 9 (roughly 1/3) of those and I can't say that I'm all that excited about most of the rest.

Of course, there's also the "unreleased" list. A stupid joke. Most of the films on their "unreleased" list will get big mentions on 2012 lists. "Unreleased" here means that it played in one location (maybe Cannes or Venice) instead of three (Cannes or Venice PLUS Newd York and Lost Angeles). Many of the "released" films remain "unreleased" in the Binghamton area (unless you know some piratical tricks or unless you believe everything those big shots in NY and LA want you to believe).

It's my favorite time of year for being a movie nerd.


I haven't watched many movies lately. Only two.

Christmas in July is my new favorite Sturges film. At a tight 68 minutes, it doesn't waste any time. One of the best things about Sturges is his use of the same group of actors. This seems to be an essential element of the successful writer-director. Surround yourself with actors you trust and there will a whole lot less problems realizing your script.

I have a lot of respect for The Great Dictator. I'm having a hard time placing it on my '40 list. It's a ballsy movie. 71 years after its release, I respect it more than I love it. This film may be a victim of its own success. Hitler is now a joke. Chaplin has won. The subversive element here is undermined because we all now think that Hitler was a ridiculous little man.

Earlier this year, I read an Antoine de Saint-Exupéry memoir given to me by Ben. I think that Antoine would have really liked Chaplin's rousing final speech. I like to think that he got a chance to see this film.

Hugo. What can I say about Hugo that you guys haven't already discussed? It's a beautiful love letter to cinema (and literature and adventure and technology, etc). The 3D was fine, but it's still distracting to me. I can't appreciate it. I know that this was shot as 3D, but I'd like to see it again in 2D.

What do you guys think of the argument that Hugo is guilty of "The Parent Trap problem?" It's one of the more interesting (mild) criticisms that I've seen and I certainly thought about this while watching the film.

Other than that, I've been watching a lot of TV. 8 episodes of Smallville. 5 episodes of Justified. 2 episodes of Bored to Death. Season 4 of Smallville is the best yet. I love that Clark has really blossomed as a stupid jerk. The way that he indignantly gives everyone around him a "second chance" while he continues to self-righteously lie through his teeth (is there any better way to lie?) is always there in all of his interactions with all of his friends. Justified is a nice piece of police procedural meets modern Western. It's not as mind-numblingly-tingly-compelling as the soapish Smallville (or BSG), but it's a good "slow burn" character drama. Bored to Death annoyed me, but I'll give it a few more chances. The characters are uninteresting and I'm not sure how far the gimmick can be stretched.


I lament the fact that it doesn't look like there will another CR5FC event before the year is out. Just wait. I'm planning on throwing a film club members-only party in January or February. I'll prove to the Howard Bros once and for all that Benjamin Lainhart is something other than a fractured personality of my highly fragmented schizophrenic condition.

In the meantime, my advice is for everyone to enjoy a Trapped in Paradise/Blast of Silence double feature before or after Christmas (I'll also be happy to hear anyone's alternate suggestions for a Christmas movie double feature). Have a merry one.

I hope to squeak in at least one more post before the civil calendar ends.

Peace on earth.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thanks, Jeff. That is cool.

Chris, I hope that you watched the interview clip that Jeff posted.

In it, Shannon compares Take Shelter to...

Birth of a Nation

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Real Steel is the Real Deal.

That movie I was thinking of is called The Wizard, not Savage Fred and the Glove of Power.

I had a great time watching Real Steel.

The best $2 I've spent in a long time.

I'll defend it if someone sees it and challenges me on this. Otherwise, the Howard Bros got to hear me rave about it and I've pretty much gotten all of my initial enthusiasm out of my system. Henceforth, all questions related to Real Steel can be answered by either Jeff or Chris. Yes, Fred Savage played Hugh Jackman's son. And yes, Roman Polanski has deserved every bad thing that has ever happened to him in his life. Finally, yes, Georges Melies was most definitely a very bad racist.

Here's a clip of Woody Allen talking to Billy Graham.

[EDIT: Make sure that you watch Part 2, too.]


The BCF screening was a great time as usual and it was of course great to hang out briefly with Chris and Jeff. Boy Meets Girl, though, was a bit of a disappointment. A bit too zany. The dialogue was fast and furious in that stage play comedy sort of way. I couldn't keep up. The fake baby trailer was tops and there were enough funny gags to entertain throughout.


Some quick responses to recent posts:

I'm still waiting for Chris to write on Take Shelter before I jump back into the fray, but I've been loving the posts from Brandon and Jeff. I've made peace with the ending, as I somewhat explained to Jeff and Chris tonight. I'm still a little bit pissed that there's a question mark where a period should be, but I think that "the look" between husband and wife suffices as an appropriate ending.

Thanks, Chris, for reminding me of those great scenes in Sullivan's Travels. I like the movie even more than I remembered.

Chris wrote: "And I know John doesn't care too much about performances."

This is probably true. At least, that I pay attention to a lot of other things first. And that I can't give a movie a pass just for having great performances if I hate it in all sorts of other areas.

It's time to go upstairs and watch some Smallville. The introduction of Lois Lane this season has been handled skillfully. It's a tough challenge to introduce a character that the entire world knows will inevitably end up becoming the "one true love" of our hero. It's nice that there's no obvious chemistry, but that there is a smidgen of screwball spark to the new relationship.



Friday, December 9, 2011

who's got an attitude?

"minus the genre statements only because that brings us back to the previous posts which almost made me not want to watch the movie in the first place."

Right. So, what exactly do you object to? Let's hash this out.

My guess is that you're only responding negatively to the way that I framed things as Katz and Truffaut vs. Refn and Godard. If that's the case, then fine. But, what specifically do you object to in the way that I've discussed Cold Weather and genre?

Maybe "object to" isn't the right way to phrase things.

What different angle are you coming at this from? And why does it seem at least mildly antagonistic toward the way that I've framed the discussion so far?

You wrote, "I guess it doesn’t matter," so maybe you're not interested in discussing this, but I'm interested. From my perspective, it feels like you're taking little pot shots with your pellet gun, but you forgot to load the pellets. I'm concerned that you're aiming your gun at me, but I'm amused that you forgot the ammunition.

So, what exactly is your beef, boy? Bring it.

[p.s. I'm really looking forward to your Take Shelter post.]

I Flunked Film Club.

I'm going to be grounded once my parents talk to Brandon about my grades.


Since Thanksgiving week, I've watched a handful of classic films. Here's a quick look at what I've been watching. As usual, I don't begin to do justice to any of these films.


The Texas Rangers. King Vidor kills the competition right into the sound era. The "throwing rocks" scene beats just about any action set piece I've seen in any other movie from any other time. My jaw dropped. I felt like a little kid meeting Santa Claus and finding out for sure that magic is really really real. The world became a bigger and more exciting place at that moment.

Hangmen Also Die. This is tough subject matter at a tough time. Directed by one of our toughest.

Road to Zanzibar. Ranging from mildly pleasant to boisterously funny (I'm thinking of you, monkey wrestling scene), this was a nice movie to throw on the Thanksgiving dessert menu.

Suspicion. I love how this film works as a screwball/suspense mashup. There are definitely a lot of uncomfortable moments.

The Asphalt Jungle. Don't believe a word I say when I'm talking to Brandon about John Huston. I mean, how can I talk with someone who doesn't appreciate the music choices in Wise Blood? I get all flustered and say things like, "I hate The Asphalt Jungle," which is, of course, a bald-faced lie. I love The Asphalt Jungle.

The Torrid Zone. A Cagney film that I won't rave about. Maybe it was the moustache.

Go West. The Keaton version about a man and his cow. There were lots of funny moments, but the two shorts on the disc that we've already watched multiple times both beat this feature.

The Great McGinty. I was underwhelmed. I think that it comes down to the "bartender telling a story" framework failed for me.

I Love You Again. This is such a wonderful movie. Powell and Loy are always excellent together. Love You Again is no exception. It made me want to be a better person and cherish my wife more. Maybe more importantly for film club's context, it made me laugh a lot and is one of the best films of 1940.


That's it. That's what I've been watching. It's getting cold in the house again, so that means it's time for Smallville. We just started Season 4 and are only 2 episodes in. I'll be sure to keep you all updated with long, detailed analysis of each episode. Long live Superhero Soap Opera Club! Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


In a nice moment of coincidinky-diddley-doo, I had just watched The Great McGinty before Jeff picked Sturges for the month. And I've got a Christmas in July disc in the mail. Now, this had nothing to do with wanting to be in on the December director thing. I've been plugging away at 1940 and McGinty and Christmas both fit that date.

I don't have much to write.

I like Preston Sturges. I respect him tons, but I'm not a huge fan. I love Hail the Conquering Hero. I really like Sullivan's Travels. I like The Great McGinty. I could take or leave The Lady Eve.

I submit the above paragraph as my attempt at historical film criticism for the year.

So, there goes director of the month.

Sorry for being all fizzle and no pop.

Soft Boiled

"I also wonder if we are coming at this for the same reasons."

Alright, Brandon, I'll bite.

I love Cold Weather because:
- The characters and relationships and situations are developed skillfully in a way worthy of Rohmer (the Master as far as I'm concerned).
- The tone is playful, but never silly or stupid (Like Chesterton's angels, the film soars because it always takes itself lightly).
- The cinematography is gorgeous, pointing toward a glorious future of possibilities for low-budget digital filmmaking.
- The genre mash-up happenings are ten times more exciting than any straight-up genre film I've seen in years.
- As I've already written, the "genre conventions are filtered through personal and relational sensibilities" (in other words, this is a high-falutin' auteur picture in the best possible way).
- I relate to working in an ice factory.
- I'm inclined to love it simply because of the abundant inclusion of things I love: Carcasonne, detective stories, Swedish Fish, cheap pipes, plenty of slack.
- It features my favorite movie score since Moon.
- Like you, I was astonished by the way that the last 15 minutes or so plays out.

So, those are a few reasons why I love Cold Weather. Not at all an exhaustive list. Go back and read what I said about altars and gutters or whatever in the past.

Whenever I redo my 2010 list, Cold Weather will be there right at the top.

I'm really looking forward to Katz' western project.

Now, are YOUR reasons really all that different? Are you going to tell me that you loved Cold Weather because of the 3D severed penis floating in the water?

Now, I really want to watch Cold Weather again!

Saturday, December 3, 2011


In which I continue to ignore all of the Hugo talk and do my own selfish thing.

I saw Take Shelter without you guys.

At the Art Mission. Ugh.

The first 5:15 screening. This has been my most anticipated film for months now. I couldn't wait.

To say that I was disappointed is an understatement.

The problem is that I can't discuss my problems with the film without discussing the ending. And I don't want to spoil the ending. I can't even discuss my favorite moments because I want you to experience them directly instead of experiencing them while thinking, "That's the shot that John loves," or, "There's the moment that John said perfectly encapsulates the inner turmoil of a man struggling to provide for others while he can hardly care for himself." Bleh.

Therefore, this post remains a short and frustrated one.

Here's the thing. Y'all should see Take Shelter. It's worth seeing. Nichols remains one of the few American directors that I get really excited about.

There are images/moments of beauty in Take Shelter that rival anything else this year or any other year. It is often a beautiful film [though not in the same way that Melancholia or Tree of Life are often beautiful. Nichols' style is more efficiently economical and narrative-driven]. There are images/moments in Take Shelter that are so terrifying that they rival any horror film of this or any other year.

I repeat myself. Take Shelter is absolutely worth watching. Go see it.

We'll talk about it later.