Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mad Men


Today all four seasons of Mad Men went up on NWI. The fifth season doesn't start until next year so you'll have plenty of time to catch up if you haven't seen it yet.

I think we can agree that when you mix drugs and schoolwork, you win. And you're right Brandon, that Norway thing was so last week; time to move on. But not before I issue a Gilbert Godfried-esque tweet about the tragedy.

Jeff isn't in the hospital but Alex apparently gave him a big bruise near his butt at soccer tonight. Oh wait, Jeff doesn't have a butt.

Black Death possibly tomorrow. Again, still in Jesse Spano mode. I've also got Source Code coming in the mail. Have yet to see it.

I Want a New Drug

Huey Lewis and the News references are fun.

Brandon, adderall is a gateway drug to cocaine. Similarly to how good gore is a gateway drug to bad gore. I really don't want to dismiss any genre now that I'm a part of this club, but lines will still probably be drawn. When gore dominates a movie, that's when it becomes gimmicky and crappy. If a good movie has gore in it here and there, I have no problems with this.

Al Gore is all right - he's kind of a turd, but I like his politics. I like others' politics more, but yes, I like the guy that gets an "eww" response from you well enough.

Like Lisa, I will say that you did the right thing when it came to Jeff "Wristcutter" Howard. You're a good friend, in my mind. Better to be safe than sorry.

No, it's true, I think you do have to be more concerned with yourself than others. I think it's stupid/childish to say something like, "Atheists are cooler than Christians." The reason why I gave that example was because the Norway thing really disturbs me/pisses me off and my emotions got the better of me. But yeah, too much generalization on my part. There are plenty of Atheist douchebags out there. But I'm ready to tone it down and start talkin' film again. I have yet to watch Black Death. Maybe I'll be able to tonight...probably not. More soccer - tonight I make Alex Craver a cripple.

Lisa, that is a great episode of Saved By the Bell, but I don't think it's as good as the one where Johnny Dakota comes to town to shoot a anti-dope ad with the students of Bayside. Not only does the gang find out that Johnny is keen on Kelly, but he's also pretty keen on pot as well. After all, it's worse than cigarettes, am I right? Man that show is ridiculous. All mullets are disgusting, but A.C. Slater's may have been the worst...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I'm Sorry For Apologizing...


I'm not sure if Lisa still has this up on her Facebook page - but she did have a someecard about Jesse Spano taking caffeine pills as her profile pic. If anyone is unfamiliar with this episode of Saved By the Bell, I pity you.

Anyway, the reason why I bring that up is because Jesse took caffeine pills because there was so much she wanted to accomplish and not enough time in the day to do it all. I'm in that place right now. I'm really hating work; I just want hang out with friends, sit around and write back and forth to you guys, watch movies, surf the web, etc.

There's so much to address. I don't know where to start.

I guess the first thing that I want to say is that the reason why I apologize so much is because I usually apologize to people for the littlest of things. When I play soccer, I apologize to people for giving a bad pass. It's just somehow very ingrained in me. So there's that, but then there's also the fact that I felt for a moment that I viciously attacked your religion, John. I'm glad you don't see it that way or you can understand what I really meant, but those posts could be viewed as fighting words and I don't want to fight with you or offend you at all. Again, I buy into hippie shit and choose love and respect over hate and anger. Anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. I'm also used to religious people being very uptight. You take down a poster of a Christmas tree and suddenly there's a war on Christmas. Jeff is right - this is America where Christians are in control (you can't even get elected president if you're not one). For them to paint themselves as victims will always piss me off. And mainly Christian conservatives pull that stuff - the Fox News team to be more specific.

So unless you're a Christian Conservative, John, I will patronize you and call you one of the "good Christians." I know it sounds pejorative, but that's how I feel. Or, if you were someone like that fucking douche in Norway - someone who lets his religious beliefs destroy/harm the lives of other people. But since there is no warrant out for your arrest at this time, I think it's safe to assume that you're not one of those Christians either. Those are the two "crazies" categories in my mind.

Sure you might believe some or all of the Bible to be literally true. If that's the case, all I can say is, "I can't understand that." Like Jeff said, believing in a lot of the stuff from the Bible is like believing that Harry Potter is real. I will say that I took a class on the Bible in college - it was a fun class and I really enjoyed it. I also found out that the Bible is pretty fucked up. If anyone knows the story of Lot, you know what I'm talking about. But I am not so completely turned off to Christianity and I don't hate people for believing in God. I just know that I don't but I can accept the beliefs of others.

I'm really enjoying my time here in film/rant/motion picture club. Thanks for those kind words, Brandon. I just hope that in the future I can provide more for the film aspect of the club. I enjoy the other stuff definitely, but I do have a goal of learning more about film and its history. I love classics and have seen the most talked about ones, but I definitely want to see more. I know I'm sorta wasting my time by going through the 90s and 80s first - but I really want to complete those years and move onto bigger and better things.

I'm with Jeff and Ben in that I don't care for gore. Al Gore, on the other hand, I can't get enough of! Often it's too gimicky in the way that 3-D is. Each year someone tries to up the ante. Soon Human Centipede will be considered tame. It's such a waste of time. But sure, it isn't always like that. Some gore I can deal with just fine, but mostly it ain't my thing, baby.

John, I completely agree with you in that I don't want to keep talking about non-movie topics every single post. That's not what I'm here to do. I didn't come here to shake things up and turn this into religion/politics club. And I'm glad we agree on the story aspect of The Passion. I feel we've found some common ground, even if took a while for me to get focused. But whatever, all the other stuff was fun, too. I enjoyed everything about it (especially now that I know you are unoffendable).

Brandon, thanks again, man. Sorry my Dashboard Confessional-lovin', emo brother had to ruin your dinner.

I just want to take the time to announce to everyone that the Howard brothers are very playful characters. 95% of the time we are straight-jocular and the other five percent of the time we worship Satan. That's another point I want to make, too. Some Christians assume that if someone doesn't believe in God, he/she believes in Satan. That red bastard is just as fictional to me as God is.

Anyways, I'm with you on squash tasting like shit. I want to go on record and stand up for asparagus, though. That stuff is delicious.

I'm positive Birth of a Nation has more to offer than I assume it does. I don't think that makes you a racist. Because I know you to be a very tolerant man, Brandon, I know that it makes you an admirer/lover of film. If I were to screen the movie at the high school that I sub at and the kids liked it, it would be 100% due to racism - those little racist shits. But yeah, I'm not afraid of that - it's not as if I feel that if I watch it I might secretly like it and it would make me question whether I'm truly tolerant. I don't know, that kind of blatant stuff just feels very horrific to me. I'm just not ready for it yet.

And I don't mean to sound as if the Marx Brothers were racist. Clearly they lived during a time (as Griffith did) when certain things that we know to be offensive now were the norm then. I'm just saying that - I believe it's Duck Soup - where Groucho has a slightly offensive joke where the punchline is "the darkies" - something to that effect. Not sure if you've seen A Day at the Races, but there is a slightly offensive dance sequence in that. It's nothing that would make you view them in negative way - certainly not the case for me, but the point is that there are people that I love (the Marx Brothers) who have done some controversial things and so I don't want to completely dismiss Birth of a Nation of Griffith. Again, Griffith is a huge figure in terms of film history. I can't ignore that fact.

With the atheist carrying out a religious killing example - I was really just trying to say...when was the last time an atheist killed a Christian or a Muslim because of that Christian or Muslim's beliefs? Even though I think you misunderstood me (or perhaps you were just joking), I'm glad you called it an oxymoron, though, and you aren't one of those people who think they're really clever by announcing that atheism is a "religion."

Atheists apologize for their violence, man. I had to give your singer a hug after we stopped playing. True story. Peace and love, man. I love hippies and I'd love to get a drumming circle going with Alex. haha.

I felt like I had more to say, but maybe after we all watch Black Death, we'll have more to argue about. Tree of Life this weekend. I can't wait.

Context

I just want to say that last night's rant was meant to give context as to why Christianity has bothered me for the past 10-15 years. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't believe myself to be anti-Christian. I think that Jeff rightfully points out that It's a Wonderful Life is a religious/Christian movie. I love that movie and am not bothered in anyway by references or depictions of Heaven, God, or angels. I'm sure there are plenty of other examples, but I wanted to type this quickly before everyone begins to wake up and read about what kind of asshole I am (except for Jeff, he's already fully aware that I am one).

Looking forward to keeping The Passion debate alive - but I feel that I need to tone it down on the religion stuff a bit. Even if no one was bothered by what I said, I'd rather not get that far away from film on here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Jesus Gonna Be Here (a long, controversial read)

I accidentally kicked Alex Craver's ankle pretty hard tonight - I feel bad because he's a good friend, an awesome dude, and a great singer/drummer for Summer People. I don't feel too bad, though, because the man is made of steel. And I nicknamed him "the knife" in high school because that guy will cut you.

I re-read my post when I got home - I didn't have time to edit it or anything. After doing some proofreading, I realized that there were many typos, mistakes, and unclear thoughts. I have since edited it, so I hope that no one really read it before 9:30 or so. If you did and thought it to be confusing, you were right.

I also didn't have the time to respond to Brandon and Ben's posts and to say hello to Jason. 

Jason, hello. You're catching me at a great moment - presenting myself as an asshole atheist. But I'm with you on The Empire Strikes Back. Easily my favorite. The first time that I saw Sleeper, I really enjoyed it. I did watch it recently and didn't laugh as much - so I'm also with you on it being slightly uneven. But it's hard to be too critical of Woody circa 1970. Have you seen Love and Death? One of my all-time favorite films. Looking forward to getting to know you better, man. I like The Shins, too, haha - don't get me wrong. Not with you on The Happening, though. I don't think I could ever make that bold of a statement.

Kirk Cameron shits himself and then turns that shit into movies. Give it up for Growing Pains, though, am I right? Alan Thicke is fantastic. I'm kidding, John. Thicke ain't no Gibson either ;-) Yes, I just winked at you. You probably want to punch me by now.

Brandon, nice post. Can't get enough of those pics, haha. John seems to be on a mission to watch The Passion again now. For all the shit that I've said about it...I really should too. My Dad has the DVD. No excuses other than the fact that there are just too many other films I have to watch first. Can't commit. So little time. 

Gibson is a polarizing figure. Ben's right, a lot of this discussion is predictable. I think he and Tom Cruise are two of the most hated guys in Hollywood who used to have such great careers. I want to argue that Aronofsky is more of an auteur than Gibson...but that argument is only based on subjectivity for me. I have no additional evidence (not yet anyway).

Yeah, Birth of a Nation is not a film I've seen and one that I'm not sure that I want to watch. I realize the guy made Intolerance a year later, but it's still not enough for me to get over it. I'll concede that Griffith is an important figure in film history and that he had talent, but I choose not to watch the movie...for now. I love the Marx Brothers, but there are definitely some slightly racist jokes/sequences in their movies. I can forgive them, but I'm not there when it comes to Griffith yet. But really, the racism in the Marx Brothers films isn't even comparable to the blatant racism in Birth of a Nation.

Definitely agreed on Mel skimping out on story - I'm trying to transform that into one of my main arguments now - as I begin to get more focused.

I feel kinda bad for announcing on here that Christians bother me. But I did have the line about it being nothing that people I know need to worry about. I really hope no one took that personally. To attack one's religious beliefs is a little more serious than attacking someone's movie preferences, so I do apologize for that. I also don't want to go into too much religious debate. This is film club and I want to talk about film on here (though Brandon makes a nice point about the two being easily relatable).

But really, I can't fully apologize. Look at the shit that just happened in Norway. Is every Christian responsible for that? Absolutely not. Not every Christian is vile and evil, but when was the last time you heard about an aetheist carrying out a religious killing? The list goes on and on when talking about religious hypocrisy and people killing in the name of their god. Yes, humans are violent in general. Yes, Christians aren't the only guilty ones for this, but I'm just more familiar with them and grew up a Methodist. And look at the Catholic Church and the evil that persists in covering up molestation.

I have to stop myself. Sorry. That's an extremely long rant waiting to happen. I really just want to say that there are some really great Christians out there who practice what they preach. My mom is one of those people; I love her to death. My dad is kinda one of those people, too. He's guilty of using the Lord's name in vain every time something falls out of the fridge- it's quite amusing, but other than that I really respect his religious views. He doesn't buy into the Noah's ark bullshit and realizes that it's a fictional story. My mom does believe the bible to be literal and I just can't wrap my head around that. There are so many great lines about God in The Seventh Seal that I would like to quote here, but whatever. I somewhat agree with Bill Maher when it comes to religion. Maybe a Religulous debate is on its way. I don't know how the universe was created. I admit that there are things that we can't explain with logic or science. But to think that there's a guy up in the sky helping the Green Bay Packers win the Superbowl (silly example, I apologize) or preventing the spread of evil, it doesn't seem plausible to me. I have so many reasons for knowing that God doesn't exist, but look at the Holocaust. It wouldn't have happened if God exists. And if God does exist and he/she/it let it happen, then fuck that guy/girl/thing. Damnit, it turned into a rant anyway.

Mainly I feel that God/Heaven was created by Man to give himself/herself the idea that we are special/important. Then there's also the fear of dying and finding no afterlife. Just fear and ego in my mind. 

Truly sorry if I've offended anyone or painted Christians with too broad a stroke. I certainly don't feel this way about anyone in film club, obviously. I don't really know John or Jason (in fact, just met Jason), but I have a good feeling that if we got into a religious debate, we would develop a nice understanding of one another. You're the religious guys on the panel, so it might appear as if this stuff is directed at you or you might feel the need to defend yourselves, but you guys aren't the ones I'm angry at. And I don't want anyone in film club to feel uncomfortable for expressing their religious beliefs based on what I've shared. I don't believe in God but I believe in love. The teachings of Jesus are liberal in my eyes and are very important and interesting.

Nice point about propagandist entertainment, Brandon, as I get back on track. Neutral art is boring, agreed. 

Ben, haven't seen Black Death, but I would be onboard if everyone else is. Thanks for the suggestion.

You Don't Win Yet, John

I was hoping to come home from work and start playing some Red Dead Redemption before playing soccer in Bainbridge tonight. Looks like that's not gonna happen.

Before I start my post, I'd just like to say that I respect the hell out of you, John (even though we've never met) and I think you make a lot of great points.

Having said that...

I'd like to copy and paste Jeff's post and insert it here. And that includes the last two paragraphs because I definitely realize now (in fact, I realized it yesterday) that making the argument of "if another director had made it, you wouldn't like it as much" is one I never want to use again. It is a stupid argument because you could say that about any movie - Woody Allen's Annie Hall is a great example, Johh, because I love that movie just as much as Jeff does. So I will concede that point. I think the reason why I said it again comes down to the fact that Gibson doesn't impress me as he does you. As I've pointed out before, he isn't the talentless hack that Kirk Cameron is. I think I used Kirk Cameron as an example because it was a joke and he amuses the hell out of me - Jeff and I rip on him and The Left Behind series every now and then. But yes, Gibson has been in the business longer than I've been alive and he clearly knows what he's doing and is an auteur - sure. Saying that there is "no other appeal" DOES sound like a straight attack now that I think about, so I can understand where you're coming from. Obviously there is an appeal for you and for others. The appeal was just never there for me, and I tried to project that feeling onto others. I can't really do that and I don't have an argument to stand on when I do it.

This conversation is getting off-track, quick, though, because you've never stated that Gibson is as good a director as Terrence Malick and you never said that The Passion is the greatest film of the aughts. My attack on the film and the director is mostly directed at those who would say those things about it. Sure that's no one in film club and no one I've met, but it's still the way I feel. Gibson is a good director, not great - in my opinion (which maybe isn't worth much because I clearly don't know as much about film history as you do or his career). The Passion is a bad movie - in my opinion - not due to the technical aspects of it...but MAINLY due the story and the message. This has a lot to do with my religious beliefs but like I told Brandon, I don't think it's the sole reason. Look at the story without the religious context - what do you have? It might not sound like a terrible story to some, but it doesn't sound like an interesting one to me.

I told Brandon that I feel that it's stupid for critics to just focus on the violence in the film and Mel's overall craziness rather than the rest of the movie. I was initially guilty of this, but I want to try and become a better critic/viewer of film. I do want to get away from doing that, so I do appreciate you and Brandon for steering me in a better direction.

I think we still differ mainly on the propaganda aspect. Is it Birth of a Nation? No. Is it a Goebbel's film? Hell no. So maybe propaganda is definitely too strong a word. Again, I maintain that Mel was preaching to the choir and NOT looking for conversions. I think we do agree on that point, John. But I do agree with Jeff's latest post as well. We differ again in the argument that Midnight In Paris is "nostalgia" propaganda. I get it - Woody Allen has a theme/message in the film. The past is better than the future (though, really, that's not the message at all) and antique shops are the greatest places in the world (again, I don't feel that this was the message and you don't either, you're just making your point). There is a world of difference between saying that nostalgia is great and saying that Jesus is great. Yes, Jeff is right - every director who is competent is trying to sell the audience on something but when your sell has to with spirituality and religion - I believe you are moving closer to propaganda (again, this film isn't propaganda...but I do see it as closer to that line that a movie promoting an antique shop). Sure everything is political. Sure there can be hidden spiritual contexts in films that appear to be secular. But this is a Catholic film, as you pointed out, John. I don't know - I really hope that I'm making my point clearly here because I really don't know how you can compare the two movies in terms of "propaganda" or audience indoctrination or whatever you want to call it...or selling the audience something as Jeff said.

Off to soccer for now, the saga continues...Wu-tang, Wu-tang

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Some More Thoughts...before the show starts

John, I was definitely joking when comparing Mel Gibson to Kirk Cameron. Agreed, Kirky boy is a no-talent ass clown, while Gibson does have a legit movie career (even if he's doing a lot to damage it right now). The point that I was trying to get at was that I feel that you guys only like the film because of Gibson's involvement. And it's not like it only could've been Mel - it could've been any other actor that you guys are fans of. There truly is no other appeal - though you make some nice points about casting unknowns and having the cast speak Aramaic. I can accept those examples. Also, it's hilarious to hear you rant about Cameron/Lahaye/Jenkins. I also feel like apologizing for making you even think about those turds.

Also, I know that you and Brandon don't care enough about this one to debate it and talk about it all day. I truly appreciate Brandon's commitment to the conversation. And I enjoyed it even though I don't hate the movie enough to talk about it all day either. I was just thinking a minute ago about how I really don't hate it as much as I let on. I dislike it. I dislike Mel...though I can respect his career more than I can garner any sort of respect for this movie. I am equally tired defending a film that I don't care about enough to truly hate.

But I appreciate your thoughts, too, John, as always.  Enjoy the show, man.

Some Thoughts...

Jeff and I had a discussion about The Passion shortly after I did my first post on it. I wish I could have recorded it and then put it up here, but whatever. We were discussing a lot of what you touched on, Brandon. We discussed the reasoning behind Mel's decision to make the movie and what he wanted the audience to take away from it. I also want to admit quickly that when I saw the film, I DID NOT think to myself, "My god, Mel hates Jewish people." I think the Anti-Semitism in the film is definitely blown out of proportion. The reason why I called him an anti-Semite earlier is mainly due to his drunken rants. But I truly believe that Mel made the movie because he wants the story to be shown on film/to be told. I believe that he truly believes in Jesus and that he died and came back to life to wipe away the sins of every man, woman, and child. So I definitely agree with John in that regard - Gibson clearly cares about this project. It's important to him...I give him that.

Jeff focused on the movie kind of acting as religious propaganda (Jeff, if I'm butchering your assessment, I apologize...this conversation seems like a long time ago now). For those who saw it and weren't Christian, there is a potential for them to feel guilty since Jesus went through this for them, too (and Patti, yes) - past, present, future people. Because he went through hell for them, they'll feel as if they need to owe him their devotion. Something to that effect. Again, Jeff, I apologize. I do agree that it can have that effect, but I really feel like Mel just wanted to preach to the choir. He wanted other passionate Catholics and Protestants to come and witness a big event that they all missed out on. But yeah, I'm not fully sure what the motivation was...like with each blow, that you talked about Brandon.

I agree that it's stupid for critics to just condemn the violence in the film and not attempt to talk about anything else about it. That's not really fair, and I wish I could remember more about it than the torture scenes...but in fairness (my definition of fairness) the violence is 95% of the movie. I'm sure that it is technically sound, but most of the time I can't get on board if the story doesn't interest me. You kinda need to know Jesus to watch this one because there really is no exposition in the film. It sounds funny to suggest that Jesus needs exposition, but whatever.

Agreed - the religious folks should have found it more objectionable. That's definitely something that disturbs me about Christians. But they're definitely not all like that. After Bin Laden was killed, my religious Uncle condemned the celebration of murder on Facebook. He probably liked this movie, though. Gah.

And I do understand your reasoning for putting it on your notable films list - I can support your decision, but I still remain true to the idea that I want nothing to do with it.

You are forgiven for the Graduate comparison. If Zach Braff was feeling ambitious at all while writing or shooting that movie, then I would gladly rip on it. I liked it for what it was, though - seemed simple and honest to me at the time. I'm sure if I watched it now I would feel indifferent - I'm not as impressionable and guys like Braff don't impress me anymore. I'm not concerned with emo shit and such. I feel that The Graduate accomplishes everything that it wants to say very well. I really love the last shot. Maybe you don't, but again, I'd like to find all of that out someday.

Nice to hear that you feel that The Sixth Sense is overrated. I believe that Jeff is on-board for that as well. Maybe it is premature to write the guy off now, but yeah, I think I want to go on record and say that he never had much in the first place. I like some of his movies, but people seem to rave about his "best" stuff a ton. You'd think that Bruce Willis being dead the whole time was the biggest twist ending in the history of film.

"Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine" - Patti Smith

I think the only reason why I mentioned my atheism was because I wanted dispel the idea that my  reaction was based on my religious view (but I guess by announcing that, I shot myself in the foot). I don't know, people probably assume that an atheist hates it merely for the fact that it's about the guy Christians believe died for our sins. But you're right, Brandon, let's call a spade a spade, it's torture and that's the reason to feel negative about it...not the Christian aspect. And I put the Patti Smith quote as my post title just because I love that cover of Gloria and that line. I really don't have a problem with Christians. Well, yes I do, but it's nothing that any of my Christian friends or family members have to worry about.

And maybe the root of the problem was that I don't understand the love for Mel. I DO NOT feel any negative feelings about anyone (whether they're in film club or not) for saying that they like him. I'm just curious, I guess. And I figured it was due to movies like Mad Max, Maverick, and Leathal Weapon. I liked him in Signs, too, though Brandon, so chalk that one up to weird inconsistency on my part. I hate the man, not the artist. I don't think Woody Allen or Roman Polanski's personal lives should influence the way people feel about their movies either. But speaking from a artist/talent stand-point, I feel that Mel is overhyped. But it's true, you grew up on Mad Max and I did not. Had I, I'm sure I'd have a different reaction and I definitely want to see that movie soon. Anyone a Ransom fan? Ha, I just remember watching that as a kid and maybe liking it...maybe. Not really a movie kids should be watching, though. What is wrong with my parents?

Right, I mostly don't have a problem coming at you, Brandon, because I know we both enjoy debate when it comes to this kind of stuff and we're not mean-spirited (even if I seem like it sometimes). And again, much respect. When John was ripping on us for liking Harry Potter, I was laughing my ass off...so definitely the same for me, come at me with all you've got. It's easier to debate the work of others anyway, if I made a film and you guys were critical...that would be the time for me to take things personally. So I definitely don't mind at all...but it is a little weird to share top ten lists. Feels more personal than it should be. But I'll come out of my shell soon.

And I have to say, Brandon, I'm not sure why you seem to be comparing Garden State to The Graduate. The latter is on my favorite films and a semi-modern classic - a great Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack beats the pants off of The Postal Service any day. Agreed, fuck that band. The Shins - I kind of like some of their stuff, but I don't know enough about them to argue in favor of them. But yeah, I don't really care for  Braff's bands or themes either. I think we should really discuss The Graduate at some point here - should be a lot of fun. But yeah, if both movies were personified and hanging from a cliff - I would save The Graduate instantly and let Garden State fall to its death...even if I had all the time in the world to save it.

You bastard, how dare you call the twist in The Village the pits! It's the single greatest moment in the history of cinema!! No, I understand what you're saying about the post 9-11 fear stuff and from that point of view, I do agree with you. I guess I just never considered that after watching it. Good point.

It'll be fun to discuss The Sixth Sense someday, too. Why is that movie beginning to feel overrated to me? Hm, maybe not. We'll find out later, I suppose. Thanks, Brandon, for this and future debates/discussions.

Bearing the Cross of Hating 'The Passion'


It's Sunday Morning, so I figured I'd treat everyone to something from the funny pages. In this case, Gil Thorp, the lamest comic strip ever created. I don't know...it amuses me.

Now that the newspaper's out of the way, let's move on to Jesus...

On The Passion, I don't mean to crap on it just because I'm an atheist. I don't think people should dismiss it based on their religious beliefs. It is a movie first and foremost, not a sermon. And I know that it's cool to hate it, but I consider this be one of those movies where I don't care how many people rip on it, I could never defend nor enjoy it. I just don't understand the appeal. I'm not condemning the use of violence in film, but that amount of it just isn't my thing...and I feel consistent with that sentiment; I don't wish to watch movies like Saw or Hostel (haha, yes, John - The Passion and Saw would be a great double-feature). Whether simulated or real, torture isn't for me. And I'm NOT calling you guys a bunch of Dick Chaneys for liking it either, you Bush Doctrine bastards!

I guess I also just don't understand the appeal of Mel Gibson. And let's say Kirk Cameron went off and made this movie instead, shot for shot, would anyone still be on board? Speaking of which, anyone want to partake in a Left Behind marathon with me? Louis Gossett Jr. is in the last one...

I don't think Mel should be blacklisted or that people should boycott his movies just because of his off-screen mistakes. Though I really don't even want to use that word -"mistakes." When you screw up as many time as he has, it's something much bigger than an accident or a mistake. Mel is anti-Semitic and a wife-beater with repeated offenses. This is who he is. And while I agree that his star status allows for a bigger magnifying glass to placed above him, and if we were in his position we all could just as easily get into trouble (though I don't think any of us would...okay maybe some of us would come across as Anti-American, but only because people don't understand what we're really trying to say), but that doesn't make it okay in my opinion. For Mel's on-screen work, I've never really been a fan of him in anything.

Brandon makes an interesting point about Mel probably knowing that this movie would make millions. I think that that part about it bothers me too - that it's that easy to make money off of people and their beliefs. But that's been true for hundreds and hundreds of years.

If this discussion already seems exhaustive, I completely understand. And I want to clarify again that I know that none of you are so in love with this movie or its director that I need to go on a rant like this, but whatever...just wanted to share. On to happier thoughts...

Ben, I understand what you're saying about Tarantino - if you don't like his movies, then you don't like them and that's perfectly fine by me. I just find them to be so completely entertaining. He's the type of guy who makes me truly enjoy the existence of film/movies. But again, I completely respect your opinion on the issue. I have not seen that Iconoclasts episode, but I will definitely look into it. I also wish I could do a better Tarantino impression - Norm MacDonald's is pretty damn good.

And great news about Tree of Life. I still need to see it as well. But I do understand that everyone (except for John) is kind of exhausted with discussion about it. Maybe you and I can have our own mini-discussion on it, Ben.

Brandon,

I did specify in my post that I felt bad for attacking movies that you didn't even list in your honorable mentions list. I should have made that more clear, my apologies. You know that I have a lot of respect for you, and if you didn't know that, you do now. I could never admit to at least partially liking a movie like Ella Enchanted, but I can promise you now that if something like that occurs, I will not be afraid to share...now that you've broken that ice.

Of the boxing exceptions you listed, I've only seen Raging Bull. I will check out the others at some point. But even with Raging Bull, I think that you and I would never refer to it as a boxing movie. In a way, it's not really about boxing at all. That's what I love about it, it isn't defined by the sport in the way that a movie like Rocky is. I watched The Fighter a few months back and while it had some great individual performances, the story as a whole felt familiar/stale. The ones that are the freshest for me are the aforementioned Raging Bull and On the Waterfront (even though it's technically about an ex-boxer, but it is one of my favorite movies of all-time). But Jeff and I will probably give Million Dollar Baby a shot here at some point.

And The Incredibles and The Iron Giant as well - added them to my queue.

I really don't want to back away from Garden State, because I want to stand by everything I post on here...but I guess I should really just watch it again. It was one of those "I liked it at the time" movies. I understand why you hate it. It feels kinda faux-sentimental/insightful in a way. Maybe that will be the one to go from my list when I see Before Sunset (I'm not scheming here, I was just such a big fan of Before Sunrise that I know it will make the list...but maybe not). In general, I feel kinda bad about my '04 list. Not only did I forget about a lot of the movies I saw, but I'm also just not as impressed with that year as I am with other aughties. I hope I can give a better showing for '03...looks to be the case right now; the list is done whenever we're all ready.

Right, The Village as a monster movie would have been more interesting. But I do like the twist the most - don't really care for the rest of the film. I think I'd just really like to write my own movie about a little village that casts itself away from the rest of humanity. I just find that idea to be interesting.

John,

Added The Five Obstructions to my queue. And I see your comment referring to Gale's murder; definitely true given the blood on Jesse's hands and the lab log in Gale's apartment. I'll have to check that podcast out. New episode tonight...can't wait.

Also, how is season 10 of The Simpsons coming along? What's the feeling like to return to those episodes after so many years?  I can't wait to see your rankings when you're done, and also can't wait to talk about earlier seasons.

The Twilight Zone is still on hold for now. It's amazing how little time there seems to be.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

More 2004

Brandon

On Tarantino, I completely agree. I love his abilities as a director, not just a screenwriter. He knows the perfect way to utilize every actor he works with - John Travolta, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, etc. I'm really looking forward to Django Unchained and I just know that he'll get the most out of Kevin Costner (who is otherwise a very terrible actor in my opinion). Tarantino's passion for films is very infectious.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - I love the structure of the script - the fact that when the film starts and we think they're meeting each other for the first time, it's actually the second time. I don't know, I feel like a kid at the circus when watching Kaufman movies - Gondry, too, because the man is extremely inventive and fun. I think the main reason why I connect with Kaufman so well is due to his comedic style. Agreed, definitely a film that will haunt you.

Crimson Gold sounds interesting and I would add it to my queue, but those bastards at Netflix don't seem to have it. Definitely like the cut of Panahi's jib after seeing Offside.

I have yet to see Million Dollar Baby because I mostly try and avoid boxing movies; they all feel the same to me. So while the odds of me seeing the film are quite slim, maybe I'll train hard, give it a shot, and then eventually win the middleweight championship belt. Yes, that was lame...but I couldn't resist.

I'm more familiar with Brad Bird for his work on The Simpsons than anything else. I love Ratatouille, but I haven't seen The Incredibles or The Iron Giant. The latter was just never on my radar, but with The Incredibles, I've definitely tried my hardest to avoid it. I know that you and Jeff had a discussion about Pixar awhile back and I agree with him (sorry). I see now that he did list this one as an honorable mention, though, but I'll list the Pixar movies that I don't care to see: Cars, Finding Nemo, and the aforementioned one. For some reason, I just see through the cookie-cutter writing and character construction. It just seems very easy to me - the writing, that is. The CG is revolutionary and commendable, no doubt. But there probably is hope for me yet - Monster's Inc. used to be on that list; I saw it and enjoyed it. I will give Iron Giant a shot, though, because Jeff's told me how much you love it.

Okay, so I have absolutely zero issues with your top ten or honorable mentions (from what I hear, I could call you out on Brown Bunny...but I haven't seen it). So maybe it's cheap to take shots at the other movies you listed...but sure, I'll call you out on Passion of the Christ. I would rather erase this movie from my memory than an ex-girlfriend. Jeff and I saw this with my parents and our older brother - a great family movie, by the way. And I remember my parents asking us what we thought about it. I had no freaking clue what to say to them. In fact, I still don't know what to say about it. What is there to say about watching a man be tortured for an hour? And the fact that this movie was made by Mel Gibson makes it that much more disturbing.

I admit, I am curious on your thoughts about Ella Enchanted. I'm not making fun of you on this, I am just genuinely curious on this one. It's probably just as good as Garden State, though, am I right?

Spider-Man 2 - I only seemed to be able to enjoy the first two Spider-man movies in the theater. Seeing them on DVD, they just lost their appeal. Even though I like and respect most of the people working on this one, it just feels very standard to me. Nothing special whatsoever.

The Village - I know Lisa talked about this one being M. Night's worst, but I would definitely disagree. The Happening will give you eye cancer and the steaming pile of shit that was The Last Airbender still has flies swarming around it. I will go on record and say that I liked The Village. I love the twist, whether it's cheap or predictable or whathaveyou.

I considered listing Team America to my short honorable mentions list, and I'm not sure why I omitted it. Maybe because it isn't as funny as anything else that Trey Parker and Matt Stone have done, but still, it has some good laughs and it's a nice parody.

Ben

Great question on how we're making these lists. For me, I don't have a definite answer. The top three are usually movies that I absolutely love and would watch again and again. After that, it's a mix between movies I like and movies I feel deserve to be higher than others. Even if I don't like a certain movie as much, it still deserves a higher ranking than another because it's more ambitious or something. Maybe that's not clear, but really, that's my actual answer - it isn't clear. Crash is definitely cool to hate and rightfully so. I've never understood why it's considered to be a good movie. It's been done before (the mosaic structure) and any movie with Sandra Bullock AND Brandon Fraser will bug the hell out of me. One of them is bad enough...except for Speed...I'm only human. Too bad about Tarantino, I would really like to know more about why that is. Like I said to Brandon, I feel his love for film is contagious. I added We Don't Live Here Anymore to my instant queue and Spring, Summer, Fall... to my DVD queue.

Lisa

I watched Closer back when it came out and I honestly remember nothing about this one. I don't know what happened to my memory for this year, but it's very ironic given Eternal Sunshine came out at that time. Glad to see that you have Outfoxed listed in your honorable mentions. I considered that as well. Fuck Fox News! And again, The Village...you aren't alone in liking it. I hated Napoelon Dynamite when I first saw it, but eventually Uncle Rico weaseled his way into my heart. "Coach woulda put me in fourth quarter, we would've been state champions." Oh shit, and Rex Kwan Do. Good stuff, but I really don't care for anyone else in the movie...just those two characters...which is why I didn't list it anywhere.

John 

Breaking Bad - agreed that the murder of Victor sets the tone for the season - that scene was great and I take my hat off to the writers, despite the thoughts I expressed a few days ago. I can't wait for more episodes and I do hope Jesse finds some joy again a la season 2. It's crazy how the writers draw more sympathy for him than Walt - a man with cancer, but it's definitely the case for me. Also, Jeff and I haven't been watching The Twilight Zone as of late, so you're not alone there.

Jeff

A nice list, as always. However, I am slightly disappointed that it doesn't mirror my own. Haha, Justin Finch-Fletchly will always make me laugh. The stupidest Harry Potter name in the history of the franchise.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

TV Club & Forgotten Thoughts From 2004

TV Club Section

John - Right, I didn't mean to suggest that you were a fan of Lard of the Dance or anything- I merely wanted to express my disdain for any bad episode post-season 8. Wizard of Evergreen Terrace is one of my favorites from season 10, though, and contains a lot of great jokes from John Schwartzwelder (who maybe you're not too familiar with, but from what I know about him and you I feel like the two of you would get along). And I have watched that episode recently, too, so I won't come back later and rant about how crappy it is.

Thinking more on Box Cutter, I have to say I'm starting to back down over my concerns that show is losing some credibility and would really just like to double-down on my feelings that I'm not crazy about the show's new direction. I still love it and think it's one of the best shows on television despite that, and I will continue to tune in each week. And to some extent, I agree with you, it would be silly for me to suddenly start picking the show apart this late. But obviously TV shows are different from movies. With movies, I do hate the people who buy into the first forty minutes and then, because they don't like something about the resolution, start nitpicking. With a TV show, though, the writers look for new directions with each season and it's constantly changing. In fact, they can implement a new direction mid-season...as they did on BB last season. But yeah, all in all, I just liked the first half of season 3 a lot more than the second half.

And I think I've boiled down the actual reason for why I'm not crazy about where the show is right now. I really like Gus and Mike as characters, and I think I'm bothered by the fact that they now want Walt and Jesse dead. This town ain't big enough for the four of them. I want to see them in a buddy montage with "Why Can't We Be Friends" playing in the background, I guess. (Similar to Brandon's criticism of the Harry Potter franchise) Part of me knows that Jesse and Walt will never be killed off, so I feel the show is wasting time in suggesting that they could killed. There are Emmys to be won.
--------------------------

Film Club Section

I forgot to say a few things about my '04 list this morning. Obviously it should seem silly that I would include movies on my list that I don't remember. I deserve shit for that, but I know Jeff and Brandon have had this conversation before. And similar to Jeff, the reason why I have those forgotten films on my list is 1 - I really liked them at the time and recorded my lists at a time when I remembered things about them. 2 - if I had to go with another film that I actually remembered from that year, it would be something I really don't like (Spider-Man 2 in this case). I've also made plans to re-watch those movies and The Aviator is on the top of my list.

I see that some people included I Heart Huckabees on their lists. I need to re-watch that one as well, but I really hate David O. Russell, man.

Also another popular one - Before Sunset. I watched Before Sunrise a couple of months ago and really enjoyed it. Despite that, I have yet to see the sequel. It's on NIW and everything - I really have no excuse. But yeah, as soon as I do see it, I imagine it will overtake something on my list. I feel like Anchorman is the first thing to go even though it's number 7. Who knows. I'm kinda happy with that pick, despite how popular it is. I just love me some comedies.

Aught-Four: A Test of Memory


I have to go to work soon, so I won't be able to spend as much time on this as I'd like to. But I really wanted to throw my hat into the ring before it got to be too late. More to follow later...


1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I believe that Charlie Kaufman is the best screenwriter currently working. The pairing of Kaufman and Gondry is a match made in creative man's heaven. I'm not a Jim Carrey fan by any means, but you really have to take your hat off to him for this one - very raw performance. The rest of the cast is great - Tom Wilkinson, Mark Ruffalo, David Cross - a big fan of all three. Elijah Wood plays creepy a little too well. I think we all just love how original the concept is - being able to erase memories. I seem to be able to do this when it comes to movies (see Hotel Rwanda, The Aviator, and The Motorcyle Diaries from this list). I'm also a sucker for the love story between Joel and Clementine. All-around, a great film.

2. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

This is my favorite Wes Anderson film as well. I love Team Zissou - the unifoms, the red caps (bought one on-line after seeing it and really wanted to track down the shoes). Also, as with every Wes Anderson film, it has a great soundtrack - David Bowie, Iggy Pop, The Zombies, and some great covers by Seu Jorge. The look and feel of this one is very striking and is instantly lovable. This world has so much depth to it. Another thing I love about this one is the performance by Bill Murray. I think those of us who have seen both movies can agree - Murray's character in this is easily comparable to Gene Hackman's character in The Royal Tenenbaums. Anderson seemed to be going with a shitty father motif. While I've learned to really love Gene Hackman as Royal over the years, I think that Bill Murray does a much better job. This is a very quotable one for me. Owen Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, and Willem Dafoe as Klaus are all hilarious.

3. Kill Bill Vol. 2

The better volume due to the great dialogue ability of Tarantino. Some really great scenes between Uma and David Carradine. I also love the way Bill dies at the end (spoiler alert). Maybe I should see it again, though, I am forgetting many of the specifics.


4. Hotel Rwanda

Speaking of forgetting things - I don't really remember anything about this movie. I just know that when I watched it back in '04 I really liked it and thought that Don Cheadle gave one hell of a performance. Needs to revisited.

5. The Aviator

Same here. How do I not remember anything about this?? I think I remember two scenes - when Hughes plays golf with Katherin Hepburn at her family's estate and when Howard locks himself away and begins to piss in jars. Leo and Scorsese is another fantastic combo. I plan on re-watching this very soon, especially since I am now so much more familiar with Hepburn. I remember really liking Cate Blanchett's performance at the time, but now I'll really know how to judge.

6. A Very Long Engagement

I really like Jean-Pierre Jeunet as a director (I'm one of those Amelie fans). Somehow I feel like this movie is underrated?? Probably wrong, but I really enjoy this one.  A great war film that deals with the other side of it - the ones waiting for their loved ones to return. There's also some mystery to it as well...and a young Marion Cotillard. Also a big Tautou fan - beautiful and talented. I like the visuals from the war scenes and the lighting in general is enjoyable for some reason.

7. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

It feels weird to include this on my list, but whatever. It's hilarious - we all know that...I don't need to go on and on about Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, and Paul Rudd. I don't know if anyone has seen this in a while, but it features a Seth Rogen cameo - he's the cameraman at the end, if anyone cares? No, no one does? Okay.

8. The Motorcycle Diaries

Don't remember this one. I liked it at the time.

9. Primer

Maybe watched this a year ago, or so. A very interesting film that's difficult to follow at times - but that'll never get me to shy away from a film. I love movies that make you think and this one does a lot of that. Still kind of confused by it, but it was well-done, especially for the budget they had to work with, as Ben points out.

10. Garden State

Some days I like Zach Braff, some days I hate him. He caught me on a good day when I saw this. I don't know, the movie just feels very down to earth and authentic. And apparently it impressed Cameron Crowe as well.

Honorable Mention: Shaun of the Dead, Club Dread

I just want to take a moment to do as Jeff and Brandon have done - praise Club Dread. Maybe some of you saw it and felt it was shite. But let me tell you, shite for Broken Lizard is Slammin' Salmon (I know from experience, dude). Club Dread is incredibly underrated. Every joke works in this one and it's a great parody of slasher films. The first time I saw it, I wanted to watch it again and quickly it became very quotable at the Howard household. I think people are adverse to it because they feel that it wasn't Super Troopers: Part II.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

One ring to rule them all...


Brandon - you're probably right; I know that many of the readers of LOTR were very happy with the films. Perhaps the best book-to-film adaptation ever?? Even though I haven't read the books, I know that they are pretty faithful - and I respect the hell out of Peter Jackson for that reason. In fact, you really have to commend the guy for the way he wrote the script and the way that he shot it - shooting all three films back-to-back. I'll be interested to see how those films stack up in your early 2000s top ten lists. Which was your favorite? For me, I'd have to go with Two Towers.

Homer and Heisenberg: TV Club Edition

John,

I just finished re-watching Lard of the Dance and I have to say, the experience was made worse by the fact that Jeff and I watched a couple of great episodes from season 6 yesterday. Before watching S10E01 today, my memory convinced me that while it wasn't as funny as the episodes from earlier seasons, it was still enjoyable and ranked high on my season 10 list. Lard of the Dance has some funny jokes, like the hog anus one, but it mostly bugged me and my inner Early-Seasons-Simpsons-Snob came out. I like the storyline with Homer and the grease, but this was also the point in the series when the floodgates opened and every possible Homer/get-rich-quick scheme was explored; his services were no longer needed at the plant, apparently. So ultimately I have mixed feelings about the b-story. With the A-story, I don't mind the exploration of maturity among the youth and the ultimate message that kids should behave like kids - but other than that, I wasn't crazy about the way it was written. And with guest star Lisa Kudrow, I was slightly annoyed by the fact that she makes no attempt to sound like a kid - something that Meryl Streep and Winona Rider do very well with in season 6.

On "Box Cutter,"

Ha - maybe this is my day to complain about shit. I liked the episode and the series a lot, but ever since Tuco's cousins were killed, I've really felt as if the show has been lacking in excitement. Sure the stakes are high - but I feel like they might too high too soon. We're only in the third season and already Walt and Jesse are working with the biggest meth trafficker in North America. In a way, that does make me excited to see where they can take the show from here. Obviously the stakes will always have to go higher, so I do wonder with excited curiosity as to what will happen next. Does the fact that Jesse is still alive make you question the credibility of the show? I understand that without Jesse, Walt won't produce the meth. But hell, Gus could kill Jesse and then hold Walter Jr. hostage and force him to produce the meth. I don't know, the show has lost some credibility for me for this reason. I love Jesse and don't want him dead, so really it's this new storyline that bothers me.

But Jesse does make a good point though - since Gus can't kill them he's going to make them wish they were dead. I like that idea. Also, the killing of Victor was insane and unexpected - well done - in a brutal as hell kind of way.

Pupkin and Potter

Brandon - watching The King of Comedy was definitely one of the best decisions I've made in a while. Agreed, there is a real, singular focus with Bupkin. The film makes a great point about how far a man can go to fulfill his dreams. For some people, the only way they can ever become famous, even if they are somewhat talented, is to kidnap a talk show host.
Mostly I consider myself to be a big fan of the black comedy genre. Obviously the subject matter in a dark comedy is very delicate and cannot be executed properly by just anyone. I would never doubt Scorsese/De Niro's abilities to get it right. And so I think because of the fact that I'm a fan of the genre and because it's with the aforementioned duo, it definitely made it easier to see through the disturbing/extremely dark aspects of the film. It was like a roller coaster ride or something - perhaps it should've scared the hell out of me, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Even the scenes with Masha.

Yeah, "fans" can be a real pain in the ass. And sure, we're all fans of someone...but you're right, Brandon, many of them don't realize how a celebrity or a performer can be burnt out. There's a part of me that wouldn't want to meet any of the actors or musicans that I "love." I'd hate to catch them in an inopportune moment. And really, I don't blame the celebrities who do act like assholes to their fans. To be an asshole every single time is one thing, but be caught during one bad moment is another and in my mind, they are forgiven. As a culture, we take way too many things personally.

Lisa & Brandon - I definitely do not view either of you as Harry Potter haters. Even if you were, I wouldn't necessarily feel a strong need to rush to its defense. I think the age thing is the biggest factor, and again, I was very close to missing out on all of this stuff like the two of you. And you're right Brandon, it would've been all the more difficult if I was being turned onto Lord of the Rings at the time. Though I do have to admit, I'm glad I didn't read those books in a way because it probably would have altered my love for the movies. Maybe.

Monday, July 18, 2011

King For a Night




Watched The King of Comedy last night and really wished I had seen it earlier - I absolutely loved it and would really like to see it again. While it's never really laugh-out-loud funny, I believe I was smiling throughout 90% of the film. Perhaps that's a little disturbing to those who are familiar with the plot, as it is extremely dark. But really, I chalk that up to how great the movie is. When you're able to root for someone like Rupert Pupkin, the filmmaker (in this case, the great Martin Scorsese) has done a hell of a job.

Given his performance in Meet the Parents, we all know that De Niro can be funny and get laughs - but if you really want a showcase of his range and talent, look no further than this film. It was also fun to see Bob play a character who is incredibly obnoxious and annoying. The way he incessantly prods at Jerry Lewis is slightly cringe-worthy and, at times, Larry David-esque.

But not only is Rupert an annoying character, he's also extremely demented, and in a way, reminded me a little of Travis Bickle. In fact, I would love to watch Taxi Driver and then King of Comedy back-to-back. And it's probably true that The King of Comedy is the more disturbing film of the two (and I don't mean that as a criticism in any way - to either film...Taxi Driver is my favorite Scorsese picture), especially when you consider the fact that there are real stalkers out there. I hate to only include celebrities into this, but I recall seeing a few articles about David Letterman's stalker. I mean, it's obvious that most celebrities would have them...not just talk-show hosts, but when you truly consider these people, it's apparent how dangerous and scary they can make life for their victim. Though I would say that Rupert seems more obsessed with himself than Jerry Langford, unlike his friend Masha (who's played brilliantly by Sandra Bernhard; I really enjoyed her performance in this one).

I was happy with the decision to only show Rupert's act at the end of the film - though, really, it was only way you could do it. And the act itself seemed apt for the character of Rupert - he clearly knew how to tell a joke, but the material wasn't very good...wasn't terrible either. I would say that it was respectful to who he is.

And the scene where he's watching himself on the TV in the bar is great. He has his moment, and even though it isn't deserved, I couldn't help but feel good for him. I was able to relate to that moment - no, I didn't kidnap anyone to get on television, but I did take a screenwriting class at college in '08. For our final project, we were writing full-length scripts and as we were working on them, we read and acted out each other's scripts in class. I wrote a Woody Allen-esque romantic comedy and when we read my script aloud I got a ton of laughs. It was one the greatest moments of my life to get laughs from people I didn't really know for something that I wrote.

But enough about me. Lastly I wanted to talk about celebrity. I love the scene when Jerry is walking through the street and the woman asks him to say something to her son on the pay phone - he refuses and she says that she hopes he gets cancer (read on imdb that Jerry Lewis claimed that that actually happened to him). It's amazing how quickly fans can turn on the people they claim to love. The concept of celebrity can be an awful experience for some. And really, I was able to sympathize more with celebrities with this film - something Judd Apatow failed at with Adam Sandler's character in Funny People.

And whether or not the ending is real or fantasized, it's a great satire of the world we currently live in.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Great Actress or Greatest Actress??


Jeff is right - you guys are as square as Ernie Macmillan. Worse than squibs, you are.

John - (said with a Homer Simpson voice) Mmm...jelly fart beans. But in all seriousness, I assume that your kids aren't buying into the craze? They should drag you to the theater for this epic finale.

Brandon - I enjoyed the US losing to Japan as much as you did...though as a full-blooded 'merican it would've been nice to get some revenge for Pearl Harbor. These colors don't run.

I definitely liked Yates' work on the films and don't mean to suggest otherwise - for me to put him in the same group as Chris Columbus would be ill-advised. I agree completely that he and Cuaron did the most to help the franchise. Yates had a large task ahead of him in transitioning these young actors (including my future wife/Oscar winner, Emma Watson) into adult actors. Along with them, the franchise became darker and more adult. This, in my opinion, was done well. Right, consistency is very difficult given the amount of years it took to make these movies and with the different directors and such. Ironically, I think we needed a new screenwriter, too - I don't know, I'm not big on Steve Kloves. Should've handed the franchise to Peter Jackson back in 2001.

The books are a lot of fun and I think you'd enjoy them. In 9th grade my English teacher was a fan (at this point, I think the first four had been written) and decided to read the first book aloud in class. I recall being in this class with a friend who would constantly rip on the book, but through all of that, I actually enjoyed it. Sure the writing was more for someone younger than myself at the time, but I thought the story and its ending were great. Maybe a few months later I figured I would read the next book and then I was hooked. I can understand the resistance to it, though. Anything that is this popular, we should all be skeptical of.

Ha, I'm sorry about the Barnes and Nobel ordeal. Few HP nerds hear about the other side of things. Really puts things into prospective. Sounds like hell.

On John Hurt - a little from column A, a little from column B.

Anyway...on to better movies soon. Jeff and I watched The King of Comedy an hour ago - I loved it.

'arry Potter and the Zany Crackhead


Like Jeff, I'm a Harry Potter nerd and have read all of the books.

Brandon, I enjoyed reading your review; I found it both interesting and hilarious, and like Jeff said, it's fun to hear the perspective of someone who hasn't read the books. And running with that thought - I want to say that I can't understand why anyone who hasn't read the books could ever be emotionally invested in the films or enjoy them. And by that, I aim to be critical of the movies, and not of those who haven't read the books. Hell, a small part of me wanted to shrug my shoulders when Dobby, the elf, died - not because I'm a heartless bastard, but mainly because he only has like four scenes in the entire franchise! I also feel like every bit of magic - be it spells, potions, or magical means of transportation - was explained with a wink in the movies. It was almost as if the script and direction wanted to point out to the audience how ridiculous it all seems. I'm not sure if anyone else found this to be true...but I feel it's a valid, minor criticism.

Like Jeff said (and what seems to be the main criticism of most book-to-film adaptations), too many details are omitted and the story moves too fast. A common problem was that you had British actors trying to explain something quickly. At times, important details seemed mumbled to me. Jeff and I constantly joke about the fact that in each movie there seems to be exposition from the books that are mumbled in the background by a secondary character. For example: In beginning of the Goblet of Fire, no one ever says, "Hey, we're going to the Qudditch World Cup" (not that it should be worded like that because that's terrible writing). So those in the audience who haven't read the books don't know that that's what they're going until they arrive at the stadium and there's a offhand, mumbled VO line from one of Ron's brother saying something to the effect of: "Wow! I can't believe Dad brought us to the Qudditch World Cup." Sorry if that sounds like a rant - but the point is that while the readers of the book know where they're going, those who haven't read them are caught up to speed by poor writing and delivery. So again, I don't blame those who aren't invested by solely relying on the movie versions.

I've been very pleased with every adult actor's performance in the franchise - all great, especially Alan Rickman. Another criticism I have of the movies is that kids have been pretty poor (the exception being Emma Watson). Though I will say that everyone improved. Daniel Radcliffe is a better actor than he was five years ago, but he still struggles with the emotional scenes. I've really grown to like both Rupert Grint and the character of Ron over the years. Emma was great since the first film, and it will be interesting to see what kind of post-Potter career she has.

(Spoilers) I liked parts of The Deathly Hallows: Part 2. From the point where Snape is killed to when Harry comes back to life - I really loved...the best scenes in the franchise by far. Everything else - meh. However, I will agree that this is the best film out of all of them. I liked the pacing of it - never seemed to to contain too many dull moments and it just kept moving forward, which was nice.

And yes, totally agree with Jeff on the ending. Apparently Harry applied an anti-aging spell to himself after killing Voldemort. Or perhaps Ginny gave birth to a ten-year-old the following month. It was weird, though, because it looked like they applied wrinkles to Malfoy but they didn't bother with anyone else. Hmm...

Agreed Jeff - finishing the books is a moment I'll never forget. It was emotional; it was a hell of a lot of fun. Those feelings were never going to replicated while watching the movies, so really, I don't care about them too much. I don't feel forced to like them just because they're they only screen adaptations we have.

Definitely agree with Brandon that it's the director's/studios'/screenwriter's job to sell a film like this to those who haven't read the books. Had it not been for my ninth grade English teacher, I'd probably be in the same boat as you (we read the first book in class and I got hooked on them).

Anyways, it's all over now. Yes, it was mostly enjoyable - despite my embitterment.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

There Is a Fifth Dimension...


John - we're in season 3 of the Twilight Zone; we're on episode 83 - "Dead Man's Shoes." Our viewings really come in waves. I think it's been a week since we last watched an episode, but next week we would be able to watch as many as we want. We will definitely do one episode a day so you can join in - and in general, will do whatever it takes to accommodate and allow you to catch up to us.

I'm curious, did you stop watching Twin Peaks after finding out who the killer was? If so, I completely understand. My major criticism of the show is that it went way downhill after that point (also when David Lynch seemed to abandon the show, despite showing up occasionally to play Gordon Cole).

I miss Siskel and Ebert as well - but due to my age, I'm more familiar with Ebert and Roeper. Not the same, I know.

And right, I wrote the wrong thing in suggesting that you were going to post on the previous three seasons of Breaking Bad. I'll have to check out those older posts on your blog. I, myself commented on the third season in a previous post on mine. But anyway, can't wait to discuss the new episodes.

Lisa - Glad to hear that you and Ben are both Twin Peaks fans. If you do re-watch, I'd be happy to discuss it with you. On Weeds, I've definitely hated Nancy ever since she was attracted to Esteban (I'm not a fan of the actor). And yeah, she is definitely the most selfish character on television, and has just increasingly ruined everyone's life over the past few seasons. You really have to feel for Andy, Cilas, and Shane. She's such a shitty mom and sister-in-law. That said, I really love Mary-Louise Parker and am very much attracted to her...so I can never really hate Nancy too much. And yeah, definitely, it's time to put an end to Weeds. I think Jenji Cohen said in an interview that this would be last season - I hope so. The only thing that could save it would be the reappearance of Conrad.

On CYE, I think the main reason why they had Larry and Cheryl separate/divorce was due to the fact that Larry got a divorce from his actual wife (Laurie David) before the sixth season started shooting. Guess he really wanted art to imitate life. I did enjoy watching him date other people though - very funny stuff.

I think I would see Winnie the Pooh on Netflix. Like you wrote back to Jeff, it would be kind of creepy for a grown man to see it in the theater without kids. I admit that The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh scared the hell out of me as a kid - just the heffalumps and woozles sequence, though...so it's kind of understandable. I also hear that She & Him wrote a song for the movie - sweet.

Brandon - Haven't seen an episode of Louis at all, but everytime Louis C.K. goes on the Daily Show I consider watching it. I do like him as a comedian, though maybe too crass for me at times. There's a great discussion about comedy between him, Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais, and Jerry Seinfeld for HBO's Talking Funny - maybe you've seen it. I'm with you on Chappelle, though I'm a bigger fan of Killin' Them Softly. But For What It's Worth has the joke about grape drink, right? Agreed, pure genius.

Jeff - What up, Hal?!

Everyone - Totally forgot to include Boy Meets World into my "shows I'm currently watching" list. I bought season 6 off of amazon last week. Grew up watching the show on ABC's epic TGIF line-up (the days when Patrick Duffy was getting regular work). Highly entertaining stuff.

Breaking Bad...and other shows


John - Jeff and I are both all caught up with the show. Can't wait to read your post on the previous seasons, and can't wait for the premier tomorrow night - should be excellent. Also, given your likeness for westerns and sci-fi (seeing as how you're watching BSG), are you a fan of the show Firefly? If you haven't seen it, I think you might enjoy it.

Other shows I've been watching lately:

Weeds - the seventh season is kind of off to a weird start. Season 6 was a huge improvement on the previous season, but now I'm starting to hate Nancy again. Andy hasn't been funny (the writers' fault) and Doug is joining Wall Street?? Definitely liking Cilas a lot more as a character (except for the modeling thing) but overall, not crazy about the new direction so far.

Curb Your Enthusiasm - I haven't started season 8 yet (I don't have HBO) but I can't wait to find the first episode on-line. I worship Larry David and can't wait to see him back in New York. Season 4 was the last great season for the show, but I don't think I'd ever want Larry to stop doing it. I'd miss him too much.

Twin Peaks - Currently re-watching this on NWI. Whether you're a fan of David Lynch or not, I think this is probably the most accessible thing he has his name tied to. I highly recommend it. Although extremely odd, the show is hilarious and well-written (even though there are times when it doesn't necessarily try to be well-written). If anyone has seen the show (besides Jeff), I'd love to discuss Big Ed, James Hurley, and the Black Lodge with you.

The Twilight Zone (original series) - Jeff and I are watching this on NWI and it's fantastic (I had only seen a couple of episodes until Jeff and I decided we would watch every episode in order). Hard to believe that a man from Binghamton could go on to create one of the greatest television shows of all-time. I really love Rod Serling - a brilliant guy and a great storyteller. And as Jeff pointed out to me, it's kind of odd that he never went on to become an actor or anything; he definitely has the persona. Anyway, I highly recommend this show if you haven't seen it or have only seen a few episodes.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Boonmee

I started watching Uncle Boonmee last night, but had to finish it up this morning because I was tired - not a good idea to start this movie when you're sleepy, by the way. I agree with everything Jeff had to say about the film (surprise, surprise). Although, I think that there were moments when I thought the film moved too slowly in a negative way (a scene such as the cast walking through the cave could've been shorten by thirty seconds or so). It's my fault though; I have slight ADD and I don't mean to make a big deal of it, but eventually I want to see some eye candy - though Weerasethakul does eventually deliver with the shot where the cave wall turns into the starry sky - brilliant and beautiful. I think having caught most of Malick's films recently has really helped me prepare to watch a film like this (and has just made a better movie-watcher in general).

Also, when Jeff mentioned Land of the Lost, I assumed that he meant that the costumes for the ghost monkeys were cheaply made. I was wrong in assuming that, as he tells me that he really meant that it was kind of silly that the ghost monkey would just sit down and have a conversation with them; I think having the ghost of Boonmee's wife show up first helped to bring more acceptance to the oddness of the scene/the film. I think I was ready to roll with an introduction like that from the moment I clicked "play" on the wii remote. Although, yeah, to be honest, the ghost monkey costumes used in the still-photos when Boonmee is describing his dream, were pretty bad. But whatever, it doesn't hurt the film in any way. And I am a big fan of the use of the still-photographs for that scene. The photography for the film was perfect all-around - I was most pleased with that aspect of the film. Weerasethakul has a talented eye.

Like I've stated before, I love any movie that can inject philosophy and, to some extent, spirituality into its script. For that reason, I did really enjoy the film...but I feel that it needs to sit with me before I get a true sense of how I truly feel about it. "Heaven is overrated," (which Jeff used as for a title for his first post on this movie) is a great line. I've read it and thought it before watching this film, but I do love that scene when Boonmee's wife admits that to him. Additionally, the scene where Boonmee and Jen are talking next to the workers and he claims that he's having kidney problems due to karma is fantastic. I would've liked more scenes like that - and just more dialogue in general, definitely. But one of the charms of the film is ambiguity. And it's definitely a skill to find the right balance between explaining everything to the audience and being completely ambiguous. I don't want the director to hold my hand through the film like this, because definitely the theme of the film is nothing that anyone can knowingly explain to us. As Brandon points out - he's just trying to get you to feel.

And with the ending, Jeff, I think I thought more about the choice of music than the significance of Jen and Thong seeing themselves watching television, haha. For a film that didn't feature any real music or score (correct me if I'm wrong), it was weird to suddenly hear rock/pop music playing. It was a sweet song, in my opinion - not being sarcastic. Even though I know very little about Weerasethakul (I did read up a little bit about him after I finished it), I assume he's the type of filmmaker that obsesses over every little detail - and so the music at the end of the film is no different and would have to tie into the final message or theme that he's trying to present. Like you, Jeff, I'm not exactly sure what that message is. I mean, obviously Thong strips off all of his robe to put on jeans and a t-shirt (western clothing), watches television (a western invention), and goes to a restaurant with a karaoke bar (not a western invention, but the music playing certainly is derivative of western-sounding music). I don't mean suggest that the message of the film is anti-western or anti-american, but I do think that those things are interesting to note. I do like your theory that perhaps Boonmee's death has helped them to prepare for the parting of themselves. I'm more inclined to think that given the other themes in the film. I think that's all I'll say for now. Looking forward to Jeff's reply as well as discussion from those who have also seen it - which I believe is just John and Brandon. But if anyone else is interested, it's up on NWI.

Also...

Lisa - I've definitely watched Hocus Pocus more than a few times, haha...even recently - occasionally Jeff and I will address our cat, Zooey, as "Binx"after Zachary Binx. Also, I agree on 30 Rock, and feel that it is the funniest and best-written show currently on television.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Trash and Treasure or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Write Longer Posts

Brandon - thanks again, man. I think you're mostly right about Jeff and me not being so similar (though, as Jeff and I talked about last night, The Social Network isn't a great example because we do like it for the same reason - Jesse Eisenberg's Gilmore Girls-esque quick-talkin') - but it's definitely not the case with many other films. We talked about how Malick might create differences of opinion. I've been impressed by all of his films so far (seeing everything except for TOL), but I'm sure we have very different reasons for being fans. Foreign and older films will also create differences of opinion - I'm not as big a fan of Fellini as he is, and I love The Graduate more than he does - to list off a couple of quick examples. And yes, good point, I wouldn't withhold my thoughts on a film for that reason. I know I was skeptical about joining at first, but the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that Jeff and I will be able to offer different perspectives. I'm definitely looking forward to agreeing and arguing with everyone on here - Jeff included. It is funny, though, because if this were a music club, Jeff and I would have plenty to disagree about - kind of. Speaking of music, Brandon, I can't wait to hear those new Summer People tracks. I've always been supportive of Graham Feltham/Alex Craver projects, having been friends with them for a long time, so I do want the world for your band.

On the film front, I watched quite a bit over the weekend...

The Thin Red Line

There's so much I want to say about this movie, but I'll probably only be able to cover a few things for now. Watched this for the first time on Sunday; I loved it. Like Malick's other films, I found TTRL to be incredibly beautiful. In the beginning of the film, Jim Caviezel talks about how there is a clash within nature, how it competes with itself for beauty (very apt for Malick). So while that conflict seems to play out, we also have a clash between people - American troops versus the Japanese troops. It's definitely interesting how he likes to juxtapose the beauty/tranquility of nature with the brutality of man (common in all of his films, I find). 

And not only is man brutal in this film, what I noticed was that it seems to paint World War II (at these specific battles) much in the same light as Vietnam. The war didn't seem as heroic (or, at least, seemed to show heroism in an uncommon way for the genre) and was definitely missing in valor. WWII was kind of an anomaly because it's the closest thing to a black and white war that we've ever had. I'm not a proponent of war, and I don't feel it's ever really justified, but certainly WWII was something the US needed to get involved in. The Holocaust was one of the human races' darkest moments (the Japanese internment camps and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan are others). And so, for that reason, I know that a lot of WWII films are going to focus more on the killing of Nazis. But we are seeing more movies and television shows focus on the pacific nowadays, but again, I would argue that they all still seem to paint America in a more heroic light than Malick does here.

Also, Malick's style seems best represented in the form of a war movie. He covers the thoughts and feelings of multiple characters with his signature use of voice over. A broader focus is needed in war. Sure you can tell one soldier's story, but it's more accurate to focus on the many. It's a mosaic of thoughts/feelings on love, fear, hate, beauty, ugliness, uncertainty, and it was just really well done. I loved the voice over for Nick Nolte's character, because it at least fleshed him out a bit more. His character has been done to death in war movies, but at least here we got some new thoughts and ideas on his feelings toward John Travolta's character. There's a jaded side to him despite his frequent robotic, gung-ho attitude.

Again, I have so much more to say about this, and also wish I could have put what I have said in a better way. Oh well, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Three Colors Trilogy: Blue

Again, I'm working on completing my 90s lists. Jeff and John are covering the 30s - and so I do feel a bit guilty for covering a decade that features more bad than good. I don't mean to completely shit on the 90s because there are many films from that decade that I would defend to the death, but I'd rather travel back in time and work my way up to the classics. So back to the 90s - I've watched the Three Colors Trilogy completely out of order (I went - Red, Blue, White). I really love Kieslowski's story-telling abilities. He writes authentic, interesting dialogue and seems to be quite philosophical as well - which I love in screenwriters (Bergman, Charlie Kaufman). Obviously there's a lot of praise about his technical ability as well. The film is very beautiful and creatively shot. My two favorite scenes: when Julie is watching the funeral from her hospital bed - great close-up on her trembling lips; when Julie confronts her husband's mistress in the bathroom. I just love how brutal the revelation of the pregnancy is - it invoked a lot of strong emotion for me. And well-executed emotion is definitely what you get with this one. Julie is someone I could quickly connect with - kudos to Kieslowski and Binoche. I love how accepting she was of her prostitute neighbor and her husband's mistress. It was certainly a display of strong will and I admired it a lot. I think too often we (in general terms) make a bigger deal out of things than we should. I try to be as rational as I can in everyday life. Not sure that I react the same way towards my spouse's mistress, but still.

Three Colors Trilogy: White

Like many others, I found White to be the weakest in the trilogy - not to suggest that it was bad. I did enjoy it - especially the second half - the scene where Karol Karol shoots Mikolaj is fantastic. But in terms of direction, it seemed to lack the creativity that Blue and Red had. In fact, I would go as far to say that it was pretty standard/conventional from a directing standpoint (I love the shot of Julie Delpy coming out of the wedding chapel, though). Like Blue and Red, we do have another interesting story, though. More later.


Heavyweights

Jeff and I have seen this movie so many times and we quote all of Tony Perkis' and Lars' lines every single time we watch it - it might be in my top-ten most quotable films list that only exists in my mind. It's my hope that at least someone else in film club grew up with it as well. It's weird (and criminal in some circles) to transition from Malick and Kieslowski to Judd Apatow and Steve Brill, but I love this movie a lot. In fact, I love most everything Apatow is involved with - Celtic Pride, included. And now with his recent success, it's funny to think that he helped write this one. But really, it's because of him and Ben Stiller that it's actually hilarious and watchable. The title of this post is somewhat reflected in my feelings for this movie (some might see it as trash, but it's definitely treasure to me). It's a 90s Disney movie geared toward ten year-olds and is by no means considered to be anything beyond that, but in terms of comedy, it's gold.

Harry and the Hendersons

All right, so now I've hit rock bottom. I haven't seen this movie since watching it in the late 80s or early 90s, and I'm fully aware of how silly, campy and god-awful it is. I watched it anyway because it was on NWI - and mainly because there's a 30 Rock episode (season 3's Goodbye My Friend) that makes various hilarious references to it and features a John Lithgow cameo.

I'm not at all a fan of seeking out terrible movies. I can't understand why anyone would want to watch Troll 2 just because it's considered the worst movie of all-time. I mean, I would watch an Ed Wood picture for that reason, but yeah, I think that's where I would draw the line. I feel that one of the reasons why you didn't have terrible movies back in the 30s and 40s was because not everyone was able to make them. Like the music industry, the movie industry these days is flooded with directors and screenwriters who have zero talent. While it's still difficult to get a film made, it's very true that people who have no business getting his or her film produced, actually do get that chance. I don't mean to waste people's time on a movie like this, but like all of you - I'll be honest about what watch, I hate film snobs, and I don't mind poking fun at myself on this blog. I guess I'm also just establishing more of a difference between Jeff and myself - he didn't seem to want to join me on this one, haha.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Blog On the Tracks

Ben - Hey and thanks for the welcome. That is me in the picture, but it's a little deceiving. The moustache is a fake, I'm disappointed to report. Still waiting on the ability to grow facial hair; it's a little embarrassing, haha. But yeah, with the contemplative look and 'stache I look a bit like William Faulkner, I feel.

On Catfish, the trailer is definitely a funny thing - I'm not sure if it's a service or disservice to anyone watching the film. Did you see the trailer before watching it? I do like the fact that the trailer almost paints the film as a horror story or something. I wonder what I would've thought of the film had I not seen the trailer first...damnit, I'll never know.

I see now, looking back on my Top 24 Dylan songs, that not only did I fail to include If you See Her, Say Hello on the list, but I also failed to feature any of the songs from Blood On the Tracks. I'm not as familiar with that album as I should be - knowing how much people seem to love and rave about it. I assume Jeff told you how much he's obsessed with Bob, and so he's taken issue with my list as well, haha. But yeah, if you've got a Top __ Dylan list, we would love to see it.

Lastly, that is some sweet juggling. Nicely done. And for what's worth...which at this point, probably not much...I have yet to see Tree of Life as well. I'm really hoping that I don't have to wait on Netflix to see it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

00s and 90s Lists

I've completed my top ten lists for the "noughties," aka the first decade of the 2000s. Though there are some films on my lists that I would need to see again before commenting on. And then, of course, there are a few movies that I have yet to see that I know would influence those lists. But mostly, I feel very comfortable with them.

The 90s lists are a different story. I'm trying to complete them using Netflix & IW. The process will probably be a little slower than I want it to be (it blows that video stores no longer exist), but I'm trying to catch a ton of the "acclaimed films" that I missed from the decade - starting '99 and working my way down.

I think we're all fairly close in age, but I was born in '86, so a lot of the movies that I saw during the 90s were either kids movies or just plain shite - I've seen the Mortal Kombat movie more times than Schindler's List. Good god.

I'll still end up including some of those "kids" movies into my lists for sure, but I haven't seen enough from each year to complete any of them - the only years where I have ten films listed are: '99,'98,'94, and '93. So I'll probably catch a few movies from '99 and '98, but mostly I'll be starting with '97 (watching The Sweet Hereafter first).

Just thought I would let everyone know, in case you're in the mood for some 90s nostalgia and want to do the same.