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.


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.

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