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In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2012 4:37:14 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 2, 2012 5:06:58 PM PDT
J. Baker says:
I watched 'Ed Wood' again last night, to be sure: yep, it's Burton's masterpiece.
I'd give it a 9/10.
Same rating for 'Pee-Wee's Big Adventure', incidentally, as it was my personal favorite for a longer time, and I have a hard time judging it objectively.

No review now, but let's bask in several of Criswell's greatest predictions, as I open the purple velvet boards (literally) of the Crisy's "Your Next Ten Years" volume. . .

* Q: "What is the new Teen-Age threat, Criswell?"

A: "I predict it will be "Spite disease," where anyone can be infected with the mere prick of a pin to implant syphilis, small pox, scarlet fever, gonorrehea, measles, or malaria! This toxin is placed on the head of a pin, imbedded in a ring, and there mere brush or scratch of the skin can infect! High school students have been known to infect teachers and parents with this new "spite disease" just for personal revenge!" [I dunno about "spite disease"...how about "pin-prickers youth brigade"...sounds more punk.]

* "I Predict the return to all-male casts to the screen, as in the old days of the westerns, for men resent seeing a brave stalwart hero submit to a woman and her domination at the end of the film! Men can always live the life of a hero but cannot accept female domination!" [...other than 'Master and Commander', I can't think of any all-male cast movies since this prediction.]

* "I predict the the best seller the 1970's will be 'The Cannibal Cookbook'! With the rise of African culture, habits and living pattens, the consumption of human meat will be common place thing ▬ by other humans!" [....as opposed to aliens, I presume.]

* "I predict that one of the top secrets of our Pentagon, whispered around Washington, D. C., will be a potent gas, which can be sprayed over a city, causing all of the inhabitants to have their eyes turn to jelly! The major breakthrough in destructive gas will be known within the next five years! All mankind is basically depraved!" [I believe that last part has come true.]

* I predict the completion of a new death ray which will kill unborn children by rendering every man and woman sterile." [...out with the old death rays, in with the new!]

Posted on Jul 2, 2012 5:12:52 PM PDT
J. Baker says:
I thought 'My Boyfriends Back' was decent. 5/10 stuff. Haven't seen it in about ten years but I remember it fairly well. How many other Disney films deal with the themes of necrophilia and cannibalism?
Seems like people are missing the point that it's a satire of teen sex comedies. Dumb? Yes. Deliberately dumb fun? Of course.
When the boy hears his best girl ask "Don't you want to eat me?"... one of the most romantic zombie movie sentiments I've ever seen!
Bob Balaban's first movie - 'Parents' - was much better. It's an acceptable followup. Mary Beth Hurt and Edward Herrmann make a good parent team too.
Much better, this, then the zombie movies they're grinding out today.

Posted on Jul 2, 2012 5:56:54 PM PDT
7 & 7 IS says:
Just watched my new Dvd copy of Shrunken Heads (1994) that I got several months ago from Full Moon for the first time. Until then it'd only been on VhS. Matthew Bright wrote the screenplay and Ric Elfman directed this low budget horror / comedy / coming of age piece. It's about these 3 little kids who get pushed around by the local neighborhood street gang. Who work for a lesbian crime boss called Big Mo. The 3 little kids are led by Tommy, a good little boy with a big mouth, who gets the goods on the street gang and falls for the leader's girl and steals Big Mo's cooked books.He & his 2 friends get off'd in a hail of lead but their friendly new neighbor Mr. Sumatra who they befriended by visiting his comic stand and who is an ex-officer of the Haitian secret police, the Ton Ton Macoute as well as a practicing VooDoo witchdoctor, steals their bodies from the church and brings them home to resurrect the 3 of them as flying shrunken heads in order so that they may exact their revenge on the malefactor's who ended their short lives and to do his bidding in cleaning up the entire crime ring.Tommy first visits Becky at his gravesite in his new form and has relations with her the best he can for an 11 year old boy/newborn shrunken head. But the funniest part is the director's cameo during the car chase scene between the gang and the heads. Ric Elfman as the pastor of The Church of The Apocalypse standing in the middle aisle of the church bus, spewing forth doomy gloom rallying his troops onwards toward the coming end, until the bus collides with traffic and goes off the overpass into the sea and he says "AAAAAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!" The big scaredy-cat. I really like this thang even though it's no Masterpiece Theatre. I'd give it 2& 1/2 stars (out of 5)

Posted on Jul 3, 2012 5:00:46 AM PDT
Oz le Fou says:
I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With, written by, directed by, and starring Jeff Garlin.

A very MILD film about an aging, fattening, slowly going out of work actor in Chicago who is *kinda* looking for love. A very easy paced film, that just ambles along as Garlin meets a couple o dames, hangs with his best mate, chats with his mum (who he also lives with), and tries to get a part in the remake of his favorite film, 'Marty'. A very calm film. Not overly funny, but not unfunny either. Just...mild. 5.9/10

Posted on Jul 3, 2012 6:22:34 AM PDT
Jersey Girl says:
21 Jump Street. I thought this was funny, but not as funny as I heard. But usually I have to watch a comedy more than once to truly fall in love with it. 7/10 Great cameo by Johnny Depp Btw!

Posted on Jul 3, 2012 6:24:42 AM PDT
Jersey Girl says:
I also saw V For Vendetta for the first time yesterday. Stars Natalie Portman. I was surprised that I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. 6/10.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2012 7:51:58 AM PDT
Severin says:
Jersey Girl, "V for Vendetta" is one of my top 5 favorite movies of all times. It has layers that stand up to multiple viewings. It came out at a time when people were paranoid about terrorists but it showed how one man's terrorist is anther man's freedom fighter. Also it's a great holiday movie, provided that the holiday is Guy Fawkes Day. John Lennon must have been a fan of Guy Fawkes, he mentioned the day at the end of 'Remember' on the "Plastic Ono Band" album.

Posted on Jul 3, 2012 8:25:30 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 3, 2012 8:26:18 AM PDT
The Taking of Power by Louis XIV (The Criterion Collection), directed by Roberto Rossellini, 1966. I came upon this film as the result of a discussion on accuracy in historical films on other thread. The final phase of Rossellini's character was a series of television films on historical subjects; Criterion has done us a great service by making a sampling available. In addition to Louis XIV, films dealing with Pascal, Descartes, and the Medici are available on another set--comments to follow. (Eclipse Series 14: Rossellini's History Films - Renaissance and Enlightenment (Blaise Pascal / The Age of the Medici / Cartesius) (The Criterion Collection)) Rossellini was driven by utopian ideals in making these films--he saw television as a medium that would banish ignorance, which he saw at the root of all evils. (Thank goodness he never lived to see reality TV.)

Louis XIV was made on a shoestring budget of about $20,000 for French television. I must say at the outset that it is not a film that is likely to appeal to all viewers, and all tastes. First of all, it presupposes a certain degree of knowledge about French politics in the mid-17th century--the Fronde uprisings, the roles of Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin, the background of civil and religious wars, other key figures like Fouquet and Colbert. It is handsomely mounted, with remarkable fidelity to the detail of 17th century interiors and costumes; but the quality of the acting is highly variable. Jean-Marie Patte, who plays Louis XIV, is wooden. He refused to learn his lines (they were delivered on the morning of each day's shooting) and read them from blackboards. Rossellini uses this defect to some advantage--Louis has an rather otherworldly quality that befits a king who transformed the political and economic system of France, but it's at the expense of conventional dramatic qualities.

This is not a dramatic film in any conventional sense. Much of the dialogue is lifted directly from 17th century sources; characters indulge in direct exposition of actions that would have been unnecessary in a straight dramatic context. The affect is curiously flat, considering how intensely dramatic many of the events are. A dramatic story it most certainly is; Louis XIV came to the French throne at the age of 5, under the regency of his mother, Anne of Austria, and with the real ruler of France being Cardinal Mazarin. The story really begins in 1661 when Cardinal Mazarin dies; Louis is 23 and has at yet displayed none of the remarkable political talents that marked his reign. In short order, he asserts her prerogatives at king; he displaces the powerful superintendent of finance Fouquet in favor of Colbert; and he develops what might be called the Versailles system, a political masterstroke for controlling a fractious nobility by making it necessary for them to be in continual direct attendance on the king at Versailles--expanded to house 15,000 people at a time. His achievement was a remarkable combination of politics, theater, and deliberate political iconography, comparable in many ways to techniques used by Elizabeth I. (On Elizabeth I, the curious might enjoy Astraea by the great Frances Yates, and on Louis, The Splendid Century: Life in the France of Louis XIV/) Rossellini presents the Versailles system dramatically in one remarkable sequence showing Louis dining before the entire court--a lengthy sequence, albeit only a glimpse of this elaborate ceremonial.

The film is not a documentary in the current conventional talking heads / moving stills style; it's not a conventional traditional documentary with narrative and staged recreations. It comes across as a kind of Brechtian pageant, emotionally distanced. (The Criterion disk has a visual essay on the film by Rossellini scholar Tad Gallagher, which manages to get nearly everything wrong, in my view.) Is it a remarkable film? I was not sure initially, but it certainly won me over. My criterion is very simple--after watching this film, you will understand why Louis built Versailles, and you will have insight into one of the great political acts in European history.

Is this film the model for the historical film? It certainly raises any number of interesting ideas and questions. It is hugely superior to the witless excuses for historical examination that dominate the History Channel and its like. But I cannot say that I find that it achieves a full measure of success. In writing history, there are always two elements to consider: fidelity to the evidence, and interpretation. Narrative history will largely be judged on the first, more academic history on the second--but both are necessary. One aspect that becomes more and more important the further we move back is what one can call the zeitgeist--the spirit of the times, the intellectual context, the habits of thought. It is always a capital error in interpretation to try and filter all of history through a single paradigm--be it Spenglerian decline or manifest destiny or Marxist teleology. The most distant a period is, the more different will be the way people think and behave. When we translate this to the screen, we have the added complexity of the physical setting. An interesting example--in the BBC production of The Pallisers, the makers took great care with the costumes, which were frequently uncomfortable and difficult to work with. Susan Hampshire, in an interview, noted that it was well worth it, because it forced the actors to move appropriately. When we go back to the 17th century, the difficulties are compounded. Not only do we need to see the actors move appropriately, we need to hear them think appropriately.

Rossellini succeeds rather brilliantly on the first, and partially on the second. Gallagher interprets one scene in the film in totalitarian terms--which might be correct, but is certainly not historically nuanced. What the 21st century may see at totalitarian, the 17th would see as the Great Chain of Being.

I fear that this has been a bit of a rambling digression, and so let me summarize. Rossellini does a remarkable job in giving us a physical sense of the period; he does a very good job in explicating a complex series of historical events; but the result is not particularly satisfying either as drama, or as interpretation. Perhaps it is impossible to make a film that would satisfy the highest aims of historical interpretation. At any rate, I have yet to see one.

And so: for those interested in history, and in particular history on film, I would recommend this enthusiastically. For those with only a casual interest in history, it will be more of a curiosity. An 8 out of 10, with particular notations for audacity. I am awaiting the Medici films with great interest.

Posted on Jul 4, 2012 11:28:50 AM PDT
El Emmarino says:
Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith was on tv last night. That movie gets worse with every viewing. Afterwards I had to revise my favorite episodes to:

Episode V
Episode IV
Episode VI
Episode III
Episode II
Episode I

Apparently, I offended the Husband by ranking VI above III... so he (no joke) made me watch Sith AGAIN! That's cruel and unusual punishment I tell ya!

4/10

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 12:47:35 PM PDT
Zolar Waka says:
That's exactly how I rate those Star Wars movies.

SOME POSSIBLE SPOILERS AT BOTTOM

Today, The Whistleblower [Blu-ray], with Rachel Weisz, from 2010. There are supporting roles here for Vanessa Redgrave, David Strathairn and Monica Bellucci, but Weisz carries this film, with a pretty good performance. (7.5/10): I was never really convinced that the main character was in any actual danger, even though she was.

_______________POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW____________________

She plays a Nebraska cop, looking for transfer, who accepts a lucrative assignment to keep peace in Bosnia as an agent of a private peace-keeping organization contracted by the U.N. While there, she distinguishes herself by successfully aiding local police in the first conviction of a male for domestic abuse on a female in 4 years. She then gets promoted to head gender affairs. There, she uncovers a human trafficking ring involving agents of....well, you get the picture.

Posted on Jul 4, 2012 12:52:31 PM PDT
Emma: A curious choice. I am in a distinct minority in defending the virtues of the I, II, and III as, on average, at least equal in quality to VI. In fact: my personal ranking would run

V; IV; III; II; VI; I.

VI and I suffer from the same issue--excessively cute and cartoonish supporting characters (the Ewoks and Jar Jar) and are distinctly a cut below the others, although VI does have the redeeming feature of the Emperor in all his evil. Where it not for Hayden Christiansen's weak performance, III would almost equal V in my view.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 1:45:04 PM PDT
El Emmarino says:
William,

That is a respectful grouping. All is well in the world as long as V. is first and I. is last. The rest is open for good debate.

"Where it not for Hayden Christiansen's weak performance, III would almost equal V in my view."

Agreed, if you add...

The table revolves, revealing Vader for the first time. Cut to black. You only hear Vaders breathing and then the credits roll. The whole vader = Frankenstein scene completely soured the experience for me.

Posted on Jul 4, 2012 2:23:41 PM PDT
Severin says:
I take the 6 Star Wars films at face value. I don't think last 3 (I, II and III) were all that bad. Lucas wanted to make a movie that kids could enjoy as well as adults so you have funny aliens and a child hero in episode I. They're enjoyable, special effects are great and they tell a story. I wouldn't put any of them in my top ten list.

I like different movies for different reasons. Some like "The Reader" and "The Hours" have depth while "Ghostbusters" is just a fun comedy. It's nice when you get both substance wrapped in a colorful wrapper like "Blade Runner" and "V for Vendetta" but those are rare.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 3:24:49 PM PDT
J. Baker says:
>Emma: "Apparently, I offended the Husband by ranking VI above III... so he (no joke) made me watch Sith AGAIN!"<

Intolerable cruelty!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 3:38:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 4, 2012 3:44:41 PM PDT
J. Baker says:
Zolar, I've been meaning to watch 'The Whistleblower' again. Rachel Weisz's film choices have been very interesting lately, and her acting is better than ever.

There's a new Cult thread up you might be interested in:
http://www.amazon.com/forum/movie/ref=cm_cd_fp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2E577OZX17PPI&cdThread=Tx3CEOC4GV4QBFY

Contrary to some people's belief, we are eliminating steadily there, but each player is allowed to add two new titles at 9 points each.

I saw a couple movies in the last few days.

'The Long Riders' - one of my most treasured modern westerns (not much to choose from, albeit!)... I'm ranking it among the best Walter Hill movies at about 7th place (mind, he's one of my favorite directors,) right behind 'The Driver / The Warriors / Hickey and Boggs / Extreme Prejudice / Streets of Fire / Hard Times'.
I'm only going to rate it here. 8.5/10
____________________

The other movie I saw again was The International, with another couple actors making interesting film choices - Clive Owen and Naomi Watts. Not bad, if too derivative, diffuse, and maybe too classical in style for its own good, considering how much the screenplay dips into sensationalism. I liked it, but I wish I'd liked it more. Tom Tykwer is at his best with non-stop kinetic action like with his breakout movie 'Run Lola Run'. I've never seen a bad Tom Tykwer movie, and the acting is always strong. The ending is bound to disappoint most viewers looking for emotional resolution.
5.5/10

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 3:42:25 PM PDT
El Emmarino says:
Baker,

"Intolerable cruelty" indeed! I'm contemplating divorce. This goes way above the whole Back to the Future debacle :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 3:51:37 PM PDT
J. Baker says:
Hello...E,

If you can prove he makes you sleep next to a stuffed Jar-Jar, I know a Lawyer who can make it a fast and painless Asunder-ment!

On the 'Back to the Future' thing, I forget who took the side of Stoltz as McFly? I'd have to put that in the "interesting ideas that probably wouldn't work." Fox was fine for the role. Stoltz probably would have done well, but he'd change the tone of the character so much, likely, it's hard to imagine him in that part.
He was good in 'House of Mirth' with Gillian Anderson and Laura Linney.

Posted on Jul 4, 2012 3:55:13 PM PDT
J. Baker says:
Also... I don't know why, I can't picture Eric Stoltz on a skateboard.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 3:59:41 PM PDT
El Emmarino says:
Watching Sith back to back isn't enough? What a tough world!

I was on the Fox side. Eric just seems super creepy.. like Dateline: To Catch a Predator, creepy.  

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 4:05:04 PM PDT
El Emmarino says:
"can't picture Eric Stoltz on a skateboard"

A Segway seems more his style, to me.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 4:13:39 PM PDT
Emma: Actually, I thought The Phantom Menace was better than Attack of the Clones. And IV and V are pretty much dead even.

Posted on Jul 4, 2012 6:45:25 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 4, 2012 6:50:15 PM PDT
Zolar Waka says:
I picked this up for next to nothing a long time ago and only now got around to watching it...Observe and Report, about as bad as people say, or maybe not that bad. There were long parts of slow dialogue and whole scenes that had nothing to do with the development of the characters. There were parts that were supposed to be funny, but weren't....or they weren't supposed to be....hard to tell at times. (4.1/10 or less, maybe, but I did laugh a couple of times)

This is the 2nd movie I watched recently where Aziz Ansari had a small role...this movie and The Rocker (Born to Rock Edition). That guy is so funny; I'm glad that soon after these movies he started getting larger roles.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 6:49:41 PM PDT
Zolar Waka says:
I might check it out, but I've been turned off the game threads for a while because of what happened in the Spielberg thread, and, to a lesser extent, the Scorsese thread.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 7:11:06 PM PDT
Oz le Fou says:
Aziz Ansari is hilarious. He's great in 'Parks and Recreation', and great in 'Funny People'. I can't get enough of that guy.

I was reading that he is in the upcoming 'End of the World', which also stars Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Emma Watson,James Franco and Jay Baruchel. Supposedly they all play themselves in the film. Plot: While attending a party at James Franco's house, the celebrities are faced with the apocalypse. Sounds.....interesting.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 7:22:26 PM PDT
J. Baker says:
Zolar Waka,

Understood. For what it's worth, it promises to be a Lew Archer-&-Gordo-free zone.

And if a majority decide to call the game and rank the titles at any point, called the game shall be. No pointless continuation for the sake of it.
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