Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 2012 Recap

July 2012

16 Features
Red Dust (1932) **
Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932) ***
Freaks (1932) ***
Ride the High Country (1962) ***
The Most Dangerous Game (1932) ***
Brave (2012) ***
The Amazing Spiderman (2012) ***
A Farewell to Arms (1932) ****
Cause for Alarm! (1951) ****
I Was Born, But (1932) ***
No Blood Relation (1932) ***
Planet Hulk (2010) ***
Scarface (1932) ****
The Old Dark House (1932) ***
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) ***
War Arrow (1953) ***

1 Doc
Golden Saddles, Silver Spurs (2000) ***


Breaking Bad Season 1
Breaking Bad Season 5 E1,2,3
The Big Bang Theory Season 1
The Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Season 1
Usagi Drop S1E1

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Here's a brief rundown of the 1932 movies that I've watched recently.

Red Dust features a very similar plot to China Seas and the same two leads. China Seas is charming once it gets going. Red Dust is suffocatingly mundane in its exploration of the same themes.

Boudu Saved From Drowning is a disarmingly confrontational film. Boudu confronts silly bourgeois conventions, but is also just as clear that the anarchic spirit of this lower class guest is not to be desired.

Freaks is remarkable for its genuine tenderness. The "freaks" on display are humanized because, well, they're human.

I'm not sure if Chris has seen The Most Dangerous Game, but he should. Killing creatures for sport is under the lens here and it doesn't come out looking all that great.

A Farewell to Arms was the big surprise. I'm not sure why I like it so much. The staging and photography are incredible. The relationships are meaningful and the realities of war are fully on display. It's probably the most insistently human of all of the films on display in 1932.

I Was Born, But felt like an arthouse edition of The Little Rascals. There are some great moments in this, but I'm not a big fan of children in movies and I'm not really convinced by the movie's message.

No Blood Relation would put Brandon into a coma. It opens with one of the greatest whip-pans in cinema history and is immediately striking in its use of the camera. Naruse has discovered zooms. By the end of the film, Naruse has lost control of his camera. Every shot is a zoom, focusing intently on faces and responses.

Scarface is a lot better than I had previously given it credit for. I may possibly be influenced by watching this in the light of Walter White's rise to power, watching Scarface and gaining satisfaction thinking about White's end.

The Old Dark House has some good moments, but fails because it's not really scary and because none of the travelers are all that interesting in their interactions. I'm a James Whale fan, though, and is touches are evident all over this picture. I'm looking forward to seeing more of his films.

So, after that binge watching, here's my current '32 list. Notably, Chain Gang has fallen significantly. Mostly, this is because I can never remember anything about it. The last time I watched it, I was surprised to discover that I had already seen it. Thinking about it the other day, I realized that I could not remember a single thing about it. I had to read an online plot synopsis to remind me. So, based on its strong forgettability, I've decided to lower it way down on the list.

My Top Ten 1932

1. A Farewell to Arms (Frank Borzage)
2. Scarface (Howard Hawks, Richard Rosson)
3. One Hour With You (Ernst Lubitsch)
4. Boudu Saved From Drowning (Jean Renoir)
5. Freaks (Tod Browning)
6. The Most Dangerous Game (Irving Pichel, Ernest B. Schoedsack)
7. I Was Born, But... (Yasujiro Ozu)
8. Once in a Lifetime (Russell Mack)
9. No Blood Relation (Mikio Naruse)
10. I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (Mervyn LeRoy)

Honorable Mentions: The Blood of a Poet (Jean Cocteau), Horse Feathers (Norman Z. McLeod), Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer)

Mentions: The Mummy (Karl Freund), The Old Dark House (James Whale), Red Dust (Victor Fleming), Trouble in Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch),

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

s5e04 is titled 'fifty-one'

I'm predicting bacon. Probably not veggie bacon.

It definitely looks like the premiere's pre-title credits sequence is setting us up for a one-year jump. Maybe to be played out over the second eight episodes of Season 5? Which I only just recently discovered won't be airing until NEXT July! I knew there was going to be a split, but I was expecting December or January. Not July!

This morning, I found the following Breaking Bad timeline. It's only through Season 3, but it's helpful as a general recap and specifically in pointing out all of the time references.


Chris, let's keep Breaking Bad club alive. I'm planning on at least one spoilerific BB post every week for the next eight weeks.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Magnets Yo

I don't feel much like writing. Even so, the blog demands it.

Ride the High Country was a disappointment, if only because I was expecting so much from it. It's a fine movie and I enjoyed it.

Brave is another great Pixar film. As someone who liked Cars 2, I can honestly say that Pixar's streak of perfection remains unbroken.

The Amazing Spider-Man is much better than I was expecting it to be. I think I like it better than Raimi's. Andrew Garfield is our best screen Spidey so far.

Planet Hulk is okay, but could have been amazing if the animation had stuck closer to Carlo Pagulayan's pencils. The story is condensed a bit, too, and doesn't quite pack the same emotional punch as Pak's story does on the printed page. Planet Hulk was the last great Hulk storyline. I can't tolerate all of the Red Hulk crap going on in the series right now.

Golden Saddles, Silver Spurs isn't even boring enough to fall asleep to. The narration is enough to make any cowhand want to give up and start a new life as a city banker, because anything must be more exciting than this.

I watched The Big Bang Theory Season 1 and The Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! while cleaning and sorting and transferring data from a laptop that kept crashing. Both shows benefitted from this state of divided attention. I'd have a hard time sitting still to watch either one, but they both worked well as "amusing enough" background entertainments.

Finally, Breaking Bad.

I was able to watch the season premiere live, but I almost regret doing so. Watching with commercial breaks sucks. Not getting to watch the end credits sucks. I've watched the episode a second time. The look on Skyler's face at the end of the episode is much more effective when followed by a cut to black and rolled credits than it is when followed immediately by a lame AMC promo.

It's hard to write about the premiere without sounding like Chris Farley. Wasn't it awesome when they used the magnets and the laptop went flying and Jesse shouted Yeah Bitches and everyone was happy and Walt is such a badass-Because I Say So!-and how could it get any cooler and can't you just not wait to find out how that machine gun is going to be used?

Seriously, I was not disappointed. I love this cast. I love the direction. It's pretty amazing how much emotion these actors are able to convey with the slightest changes in facial expressions.

As always, the show looks great. I could post a couple dozen screen shots.

Narratively, it's nice and concise. The shifting roles and relationships in the aftermath of Season 4 are clearly delineated. All of the characters, including Walt, are re-oriented toward and relativized by Walt's new position of power. This is often uncomfortable. The way that the episode ends is radically awkward.

Lastly, the magnet set piece is an incredible short "heist" sequence! It's an ingeniously destructive "theft" that has never been seen before (at least by these eyes). Earlier, I posted the picture of the junkyard man shouting "Yes!" after a successful trial run. That's exactly how I feel while watching Breaking Bad. YES!

I've also watched (and re-watched) eight features from '32. I should have another post up soon.


I love Breaking Bad.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Great shall be the peace of thy children

"And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth."

"But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness."

Suzy is identified as the raven.

This can hardly be an accident considering the amount of careful symbolism amid Anderson's detailed kookery.

Moonrise Kingdom starts with Narration from a Narrator. The appearance of this character sets the story apart from the beginning, resistant to any sort of naturalist reductionism. We're about to enter a Story.

The action takes place on an island and our two love birds (ravens) are islands, apart from the stable mainland of persons united.

Mom: "We're all they've got."
Dad: "It's not enough."

Jeff has rightly pointed out the emphasis on community, but he failed to point out that the primary visual metaphor that Anderson uses for this is the community church, the building that materializes the unity that those in it possess (or ought to possess). In the end, the church becomes the ark which provides salvation from the storm. This metaphor is then extended to the reconciliation of Sam and Suzy with the rest of the Body.

Sam and Suzy, though, are the trailblazers, the pioneers of love, who teach one another to die to self and live for another. It is their example of reckless, sacrificial love that transforms the rest of the community, finally allowing for others to follow in this sacrificial love and bring Sam and Suzy back into an established place of safety within the group.

I like thinking about names, sometimes. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but it works.

Sam = short for Samson, the Mighty Bridegroom, "Man of the Sun"

Suzy = diminutive of Susannah, the "Little Flower" who soaks up the rays of the sun and blossoms, the glory of her bridegroom, beautifying his every initiative.

Moonrise Kingdom is where deeply disturbed children go to die for one another. The long day of bourgeois expectations is over and the rules of the game are left behind in order to chase Wisdom. An unexpected moonrise kingdom takes the place of the works of the day which have failed. The younger sun replaces the elder and shines brighter.

If I've surprised you guys by being so positive, well... I've also surprised myself. I agree with all of your praises and hopefully I've added something new, if minor, to the conversation by giving my slant above.

After a week of thinking about the film, it settled into a nice pleasant place that I couldn't quite ignore without doing violence to the film and to my own honest reaction.

Moonrise Kingdom is definitely Anderson's best. It also fits in nicely with the comedies that I've been championing lately. As far as I'm concerned, MK and JWLaH can co-exist peacefully.

Brandon, let's call a truce.

"For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee. O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children."

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I came close to my stupid June goal. I watched 28 films in 30 days. Now, I'm burnt out on movies and haven't seen a single one in July. It was probably all of that overindulging that gave me this cold.

Moonrise Kingdom will get its own post soon.

Like Jeff, I also watched Born Yesterday a little while ago. It's enjoyable, but I was distracted that day by interacting with Brandon on FB about Jeff, Who Lives at Home.

La BĂȘte Humaine and La Grande Illusion are both excellent. This was my first time searching the former. I love the train scenes and was happy to hear that Renoir and Gabin made the film as an excuse to play with trains.

Raiders of the Lost Ark holds up well after all these years. If you've never read Rosenbaum's review, you should: http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.com/?p=24689

Red State wins points for its consistent cynicism. It wasn't at all enjoyable to watch, except for a few "I can't believe he just went there" moments. If Smith makes a companion piece titled Blue State, I'll watch it.

Ministry of Fear is minor Lang, but it deserves a wider audience if only for the cake on the train scene.

The 'Burbs might be my favorite Dante film. It works as both a comedy and as a horror film, achieving laughs and scares and moments of stunned reflection that lesser films in either genre could only hope to imitate.

I'll try to write a Moonrise post by next week.