Sunday, September 30, 2012

September 2012 Recap

September 2012

6 Features
Brave (2012) ****
V/H/S (2012) **
Why Did I Get Married Too? (2010) ***
The Master (2012) ****
Looper (2012) ***
Damsels in Distress (2011) ****

1 Short
La Luna (2012) ***

The Simpsons Season 1 6eps
The X-Files Season 1 4eps
Breaking Bad S05E08
Robin Hood 3eps
Rocky & Bullwinkle 3eps
Revolution 2eps
The Office New Season e1
Parks and Recreation Ditto
Big Bang Theory Ditto

Saturday, September 29, 2012

2012: Total Bummer Edition

Looper became my most anticipated film of the year after seeing this season's Rian Johnson directed episode of Breaking Bad. Unfortunately, my opinion of Johnson remains unchanged. He's a much better director than he is a writer.

Looper was a huge disappointment. Which is too bad because for the first five or so minutes I was grinning ear to ear, thinking this MUST be the glorious masterpiece of the year that I've been waiting to love.

I guess I'm a bit of a time travel snob. I do really enjoy all three of the Back to the Future movies, but they're silly and hardly make sense. Looper follows the BttF model of time travel and tries to do so with a serious straight face. If I'm going to watch this kind of goofiness, I need a Huey Lewis soundtrack.

I can't go into any more detail without getting into spoilers. Maybe I'll get into it if one of you comes back loving the movie.

Before heading home last night, I hit a Redbox and got a copy of Damsels in Distress since Abby hadn't seen it yet. Watching Damsels again was a good palate cleanser. I haven't changed my mind since my last review so I direct y'all there.

I'm not too optimistic about the rest of 2012. It's been kind of a bummer year so far. Brandon would probably point out that I always feel this way this time of year and that there's good yet to come. Okay. I guess. Still, I'm bummed at the moment.

Monday, September 24, 2012

More Master Spoilers

Just stay away for a while if you haven't seen The Master yet.

I'm awaiting more posts and any interaction.

A little bit more rambling on the ending.

Saturday night, I think I thought of the ending as cynical. I made a joke about Quell using the "Master's" words as a pick-up line.

I didn't know how to feel about the ending. It felt like a throwing up of hands and a shrug, as if this man Quell could only go on to more drinking and start enjoying some "a-roving" with the village maids. I'm convinced now that this moment is more significant. I was thinking about it all morning today. As I wrote in the last post, I believe that the physical positioning of Quell in the frame is important. Throughout the rest of the film, he has been sexually aggressive, the one who mounts and destroys, as is evidenced in the sand scene at the beginning, but also evident in the aggressive way that he pursues other women in the film. In the end, though, he is brought into a relationship of opening himself up rather than closing himself off. He is out of attack mode and his defenses are down. Again, this is abstractly communicated through his position on the bed. That may seem like a stretch, but for a careful filmmaker like Anderson, why else present Quell in this way? Why else would Quell's sand woman be whole once more as if she had never been violated? I think that it's a cautiously optimistic end.

You Got Served

My Impressionistic Fumblings

*The Master*

Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man.

I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy.

Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?

The kingdom of man is like hooch down the hatch while every primordial recollection screams condemnation.

The kingdom of man is like fucking a sand sculpture while the tide rolls in.

The kingdom of man is like roiling, rolling, and roaring.

The kingdom of man is like a slow boat to China, never arriving.

Babelic assertions of power. Serpentine grasps at the divine. Gnosis utmostest.

The Master is an Impressionistic work of representation, not a "realistic" one. The narrative of The Master is much more straightforward than something like Malick's Tree of Life, but it nevertheless grasps at its narrative as if shepherding the wind.

As evidenced above, I'm convinced that Anderson is working toward the filmic equivalent of a string of parables and proverbs, dark sayings of old. Let the wise understand.

I'm impressed by Anderson's vision. I'm especially impressed by his mastery in constructing a scene visually and in conducting his actors.

And the story.

Quell is first introduced as landlocked, unable to deal with the shifting sands of life ashore. Dodd is first introduced as master of the waves, completely in control of his kingdom on the water. Yet even Dodd must dock and face the crowds ashore. Life on land is no kinder to Dodd, however, as he deals with one mouthy pig fuck after another. These two men are both happier adrift. One man fancies himself as the only anchor while the other man must live unmoored. Both need to be set apart in order to feel at peace with the world.

The father/son brother/lover dynamics are pale perversions of the Trinitarian mutual self-giving that is the center of the life of this world. Dodd and Quell struggle to love and live as friends and maybe as equals with differing roles, but the relationship fails because Quell cannot live under tyranny and Dodd fails to see that he who would be exalted must be servant of all. Dodd does not know how to glorify anything or anyone other than himself.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Quell (is this an ironic name or not?) may (or may not) find peace at the end of the film. I'm not sure. It does seem as if the real and the unreal have begun to blur and bleed together (if indeed they had ever been separate). All I know is that Quell seems open to experiencing wonder as he shares the words that worked for him. He laughs in a way that Dodd talks about, but can never achieve. Quell is maybe a little ridiculous. He's vulnerable. It is interesting and probably exceedingly important that, at the last, he utters Dodd's "processing" words, as a way of pleasuring someone else in a playful way, while in a relaxed physical and emotional position of submission.

There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:
The way of an eagle in the air;
the way of a serpent upon a rock;
the way of a ship in the midst of the sea;
and the way of a man with a maid.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Prepping for The Master

The only movie I watched in between V/H/S and The Master was Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too.

I am not the target audience, but I enjoyed it just the same. There's something comforting about these Perry pictures, catering to ridiculous people with ridiculous foibles right where they are. Still, my man Perry always gets serious. This one ends with a death that allows all of the characters to reconcile and heal. It's more than a little bit of a cheat, but I don't think that Perry's capable of exploring the depths of pain and suffering that not dying would have entailed.

That's it. I had to get that out of the way before any Master talk ensues.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Film Fatigue

Since the V/H/S party, I've watched an episode of the X-Files, an episode of The Adventures of Robin Hood, and two episodes of The Simpsons. I also fell asleep twenty minutes into watching Labyrinth with the girls. That's it.

Jeff, the hitch-hiking scene in It Happened One Night is even funnier when your daughters re-enact it for you. I hope you have that pleasure some day.

I do have a few more Rohmer films that you can borrow. And I'm glad that you liked Varda's Cleo.

I'm exhausted. This movie watching conversation blogging stuff is tough. I'm gonna go take pictures in the grocery store now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September already.

Conversational catch-up

Mostly written last week and finished today.

It's good to see you becoming more ruthless and handing out more 3-star ratings, but you've done so to some of my favorite movies. Ladykillers and You Were Never Lovelier might both get "essentials" posts some day. I am glad that you enjoyed Minnie & Moskowitz. Some days, I think that it's Cassavetes' best film. It's certainly one of my all-time favorites.

Did we talk about The X-Files? I recently bought (off of eBay) X-Files Season 1 and The Simpsons Season 1. These were both favorite shows of mine way back when. It's nice to revisit them.

I can't make it opening night (or anytime opening weekend) to The Master. :(

It was good to read your Brave thoughts. I took the whole family to see it again yesterday at the Cinema Saver.
It was nice to see all of those lists. I'm going to try to make it a priority to watch films from everyone else's lists in the next few months.

Like the rest of you bums, I've been behind on blogging.

House of Bamboo is worth a watch. It's one of the few truly hard-boiled Technicolor Noir films. It's also fine melodrama. This is the film Douglas Sirk might have made if he had tried his hand at crime pictures.

Big Deal on Madonna Street is no big deal, but it's plenty entertaining. I liked it.

I was happy that I watched Diary of a Country Priest mere hours before Jeff posted it as his #1. It's a worthy NĂºmero UNO, worthy of many re-watches.

Brandon and I are in agreement regarding Lawless. It's a mess.

I already wrote about V/H/S.

See CR5FC-FB for why I didn't like AGOT.

The Breaking Bad semi-finale was great.

I'm enjoying The Simpsons. The X-Files isn't grabbing me, but I'll keep slowly plowing through the first season. It's solid, just not great. Started watching Robin Hood with the girls again on Tuesdays after a long Summer of being busy. I fell asleep watching Labyrinth with them the other day.

I've got Internet access at home again. Maybe I'll get back to streaming now and then. I do at least want to finish The Big Combo. I watched the first twenty minutes several weeks ago and was very impressed.

I saw a girl wearing a shirt I liked in Wegmans. I sneakily took a picture. It would have been easier if I'd had Jeff's spy glasses.

Here's the picture:

Friday, September 7, 2012

I'm upgrading to laserdiscs.

V/H/S is yet another entry in the long line of perennial doomed-to-failure anthology films. All genres have had their turns at this sort of showcase. The horror genre is the one genre that's doggedly stuck at it the longest.

Like all of its predecessors, V/H/S is a mixed bag.

Tape 56, the framing story, is entirely uninteresting. It establishes the stupid gimmick and that's all.

Amateur Night immediately strains the VHS gimmick by establishing that the footage was taken by a pair of eyeglasses with a built-in spy camera. Regardless, it fits the found footage theme well. I guess I wish it was scarier (and this might be the most effectively scary short of the bunch). Without spoiling things, I'll say that the short ends on a punchline. This little gag twist at the end undercuts some of the horror, but it's also the only reason that I'm somewhat impressed by this installment.

Second Honeymoon wasn't as great as our wonderful host, Brandon, thinks it is. It wasn't even the best short of the anthology. It looked decent, but it felt like Rod Serling trying to turn an episode of the Twilight Zone into a snuff film. Wait. I guess that doesn't sound all that bad after all.

Tuesday the 17th is the obvious dud of the bunch. It's too bad, too, because all of Brandon's hating just gave me a big ol' fondness for McQuaid. I looked him up and his feature I Sell the Dead looks like a lot of fun.

The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger really pleased me. It was definitely the most "high concept" of all of the films. It felt like a super-condensed X-Files scenario. Not much padding here and a nice twist at the end.

10/31/98 is definitely the best of the bunch. It's well done, yes, but part of its charm is that this is the first of the films in which we get goofy real characters who just seem like they're having fun instead of participating in a horror sketch. The story is nice and tight (though I think the ending is weak), the acting is great, and the fx are fantastic.

Here's how I'd rank them all:

1) 10/31/98
2) The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger
3) Amateur Night
4) Second Honeymoon
5) Tuesday the 17th
6) Tape 56

I'm being too kind here. The film isn't really worth watching. If you must watch it, though, I recommend that you watch it at Brandon's place with some of his buddies and a few Film Clubbers.