Responding to recent posts.
Great list. I still haven't seen half of the films you love (Tinker, Skin, etc.). You'll be sure to get more feedback from me as I catch up with these. I'll probably post a preliminary 2012 list by the end of next week.
I will say that Carnage looks bad. When we saw the preview before Le Havre, I leaned over to Jeff and whispered, “I'd rather watch The Immortals. Twice.” I'll give Carnage a chance, though. I did enjoy seeing a production of Art while I was in London 12 or so years ago.
Speaking of the historical beginnings of film club (which Brandon did), TSPDT just posted their revised 1,000 picture list. Everyone should check it out: http://www.theyshootpictures.com/gf1000_all1000films.htm
Early on, Brandon and I printed out the then current list and discussed and compared how many we had seen. Who knows how many work hours we wasted on this list?
I will say a bit about Midnight in Paris. I totally confess to the audience context affecting my reaction, BUT I think that my complaints about the film still stand. I might have framed things in a bit more of a positive light (I don't hate the film and I do see things to praise in it) if I had seen it under different circumstances; I don't think (who can say?) that I would have had a completely different reaction to the film.
I was going to write a short story about a stubborn donkey working in a neighbor's field that I coaxed onto my property, only to beat him with a rod each time production slowed; how this method produced results for a time, but how eventually I had to trade in my rod for a bag of carrots when the donkey just wouldn't take it any more.
I haven't had time to do small responses, let alone get fancy with some fiction. Here's a carrot tossed your way, though. :)
I am, of course, pleased that you love Cold Weather and The Way Back. I don't have the inclination to write more now, but I pretty much agree with all that you write. I hadn't realized that you'd seen The Plumber. What a great film! I love Weir. I also want to agree with you that Katz has an awfully heavy burden on his shoulders. I'm going into his next film (whatever it is) with HUGE expectations.
And yes, your haikus are great. You are so valuable and we all love you.
I suppose I'm still talking to Jason, too. I appreciated the analysis of Drive's hope (or lack thereof). I'm more and more convinced that the Cold Weather comparison served an important function. I do stand by my thoughts of “constructive” vs. “de-constructive.” Putting the films side-by-side helps to showcase this. Unlike Jeff, I'm not sure that the debate was entirely about “style vs. substance.” Both films are heavy on both style and substance. At least from my angle, the debate was about the aims of the substance as manifest in its style.
I've been enjoying the frequent posting. Keep it up.
Oh yeah, thanks for grabbing The Story of Film. I'm looking forward to watching it.
I've got to get those lists of yours up on the lists page. I'm impressed by all of your TCM/Hulu+ watching.
Jeff, you are Drive's best champion. I agree with all that you've written about the film. I think that Drive is pretty perfect as what it is and I think that the ending is perfect for what it is. Saying that I value (and naturally gravitate toward) one type of cinema (“constructive”) over another type of cinema (“de-constructive”) is not saying that the latter serves no function or can't be excellent. Again, I bring up Godard. Les Caribiniers is “de-constructive.” It gleefully wages war on war and particularly its expression as found in the War Film genre. Drive tears apart the Man With No Name Loner Save the Girl and Saves the Town Fairy Tale. It does so wonderfully.
If you're not a Shakespearean jester, you must, at least, be the Danny Kaye kind.
But, let's talk book club.
You wrote: “One of the arguments that I wanted to make while we were discussing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is that most contemporary literature is crap.”
Sturgeon's Revelation: 90% of everything is crud.
"And I do feel that every fan of his should eventually outgrow his work. If there are sixty-year-old dudes walking around quoting Tyler Durden in the future, may god have mercy on us all."
This struck a nerve with me because I recently read almost the same sentence about Kurt Vonnegut in a NYTBR piece. I haven't "grown out of" Vonnegut. Whether I like it or not, I've "grown into" him. I disagree with him more than ever, but I think I love him even more.
It is interesting to think of the differences between growing "out of" something and growing "into" something. The best fiction (the best anything) continues to teach us something and change us somehow each time we encounter it. This presupposes that we want to encounter a work repeatedly. Much contemporary fiction isn't up to this task. Most contemporary readers don't re-read anything. It's "one and done." (The exception is obviously the weird fanboy fiction. Harry Potter. Twilight. I know a girl who has pretty much read nothing but the Twilight books repeatedly for the past couple of years).
There are films that I want to grow into and spend a lot of time with. I've been thinking for a while now that one of the best things about film club, the drive to watch it all and discuss it all, is also one of the worst things about film club. Do I really need to watch another 2011 film? Do I really need to perfect my 1940 list or make complete lists for every other year?
My 2012 film club resolution is to enjoy more films that I've already enjoyed. Enjoy them deeper and more often. Enjoy them repeatedly.
It was nice having you around for a few days. Too bad it doesn't look like this is going to work out. Check your mailbox for your official warning letter. Malick Hating is a serious crime around these parts. We expect a repentant apology detailing all of the reasons why you are wrong about Tree of Life.
Seriously, nice 2012 post.
I was just talking to Brandon this afternoon about ToL. I try and try to think back to it and remember something positive. I can hardly remember a single worthwhile moment. I remember flashes of actions/motion, but it all seems abstract and apart from any meaning. The only concrete thing that pops into my head is an image of a penis fish chasing a vagina fish. That's the handle I have on ToL. Then, I have a hard time taking ToL seriously any longer. At that point, I can't figure out why anyone likes it at all. I think I'm in trouble.