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Nathaniel

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Everything posted by Nathaniel

  1. Tarantino's command of widescreen imagery in this film is impressive. I was actually enjoying the film until about the 90-minute mark, when a certain show-stopping monologue (you'll know it when you see it) reminded me that Tarantino always operates within a moral vacuum.
  2. Darren! Thanks for helping me understand the appeal of Carol, and for taking a charitable attitude toward my fumbling attempts at exegesis. Would that I were so well informed when it comes to unpacking "difficult" contemporary cinema.

    1. Darren H

      Darren H

      No need to thank me! Fumbling attempts are my favorite type of film criticism. :)

  3. Nathaniel

    Deadhead Miles

    Such a quirky movie. I read somewhere that Arkin is basically doing a Malick impersonation.
  4. Nathaniel

    Carol (2015)

    I hesitate to go further after a single screening of Carol, but since Darren has opened up the conversation... With regard to choice of film stock, I feel like critics are praising intention over achievement. It's an interesting, intelligent choice to use an archaic format to evoke a bygone period. But it seems obvious to me that digital exhibition has changed the intended meaning. If a film is shot in 16, I want to see it in 16. What we're experiencing here is a "denatured" (to borrow Richard Brody's phrasing) version of film grain. And that's important, somehow. A film's surface is its skin; it can entice or it can alienate. And although it requires specialized knowledge to make an image (and Haynes and Lachman have fussed over this one considerably), it does not take an expert to size up a film's material accomplishment as it appears onscreen. That's why I don't get the critics' quotes proclaiming Carol as "sumptuous" and so forth. The lighting and camera placement are impeccable (in that slightly suffocating, closed-frame, Haynesian sort of way), but digital exhibition has rendered the images coarse, the color corroded. But if that sounds too picky, I'm afraid my discomfort with the film is also on a more basic level. I am clearly struggling to understand the characters and their choices, as well as the director's attitude toward them. The more I read about the film, the more confused I become. Is it love or manipulation? Is Carol sympathetic or sinister? Is the style melodrama or something closer to noir? Is it tasteful or transgressive? Is it transgressive because it's tasteful? (Thank you, John Waters.) Darren's most recent comment is about as concise a reading as I could hope for, but it further alienates me from the characters. We clearly inhabit different universes. And then there is the high-minded, vaguely condescending way Haynes retreats into the past in order to comment on the present. Couldn't you make the same point--wouldn't it be more daring--to take an old pulpy story along with an old style and transplant it into a contemporary setting, as Fassbinder did with Ali: Fear Eats the Soul? Anyway, it's obvious there are others who will enjoy Carol on a deeper level than I have. I can admire it for the acting and the period detail, but that's about it.
  5. Nathaniel

    Carol (2015)

    I haven't read a single interview with Haynes about the film, so I can only assume what his goals were. If he was trying to achieve something more transgressive, then the gamble was almost completely lost on me. All I know is that it's hard to enter emotionally into a scene--especially a love scene--when the photography turns the actors' skin into the color of uncooked chicken. Unless I somehow manage to see the film projected in 16mm, I'm unlikely to change my mind about this. As for the characters, I, at least, don't know what to make of Carol's "motherly lover," or Haynes's attitude toward her. If you ever find the vocabulary, Darren, I'd be curious to hear your take!
  6. Nathaniel

    Carol (2015)

    I stand corrected. One should never underrate Haynes's devotion to cinema history, especially when it comes to gay esoterica. But my point still stands. The tasteful rendering of a "creepy intergenerational seduction fantasy" is precisely what bothered me. But I also recognize that my reaction is a hopelessly subjective one, an attempt to resolve an issue that simply doesn't exist for many viewers. My other main objection to Carol is a purely aesthetic one. For reasons of their own, Haynes and Lachman decided to shoot in Super 16, which just doesn't look good when projected digitally. The result is a coarse, scratchy image that works against the very sensuality that the filmmakers seek to achieve. It's like trying to snuggle up to sandpaper. What a gross miscalculation from an otherwise excellent cinematographer!
  7. Nathaniel

    Carol (2015)

    Haynes seems to me a rather limited filmmaker, his touted intertextuality a sort of crutch to compensate for a lack of originality. (I'll take any Rainer Werner Fassbinder over Far from Heaven, for instance.) But I agree about the performances in this one. Blanchett and Mara are both touchingly vulnerable. Even so, there's something slightly disturbing about how Carol oscillates between motherliness toward the virginal Therese and something more predatory, a tension that Haynes hardly acknowledges. It's unfashionable to say it, but this may be one of those instances in which sexual consummation demeans what might have been a great love story.
  8. Envious! I hope this means we'll see a high-def transfer soon, although I would love to see it in a theater. Quick question, before I completely derail this thread: Do you recall if the MoMA print featured a '60s-sounding folk guitar soundtrack? Mine did, although I wasn't able to figure out who composed it.
  9. I predict Morricone will win the Oscar for Best Original Score.
  10. Stark Love! I saw this recently, too. An impressive piece of regional filmmaking in the tradition of Flaherty and Griffith. What was the context of your screening? I hope it was better than my crappy VHS tape.
  11. Nathaniel

    Hitchcock/Truffaut

    Overstreet wrote these words in a duplicate thread, now closed to comments, 8 years ago. His wish has finally been granted in the form of a documentary by one of our most illustrious film critics, although it seems it's not opening in Seattle, forsooth. But the Public Cinema is getting it (well done, Darren!), and it will no doubt be available from Cohen Media on Blu-ray in the spring. I might catch it at the Nuart next week. Quick question for those who have seen it (I'm looking at you, Darrel Manson!): Is there any good archival footage in it? I'm sure the film clips look great, but I'm all about the archival footage. I hope this film rehabilitates Hitch's rep after the awful Hitchcock a couple of years ago. I still can't evict that shot of Anthony Hopkins binge-eating foie gras from my memory.
  12. Nathaniel

    Spectre (2015)

    Question for you music/opera buffs: Is that Andreas Scholl coming through on the soundtrack when Bond enters Lucia's house? I inadvertently trained myself to recognize Scholl's voice after listening to the Merchant of Venice soundtrack several dozen times. That moment--maybe even that scene--was the only one with any genuine gravitas.
  13. We're taking it easy this Halloween, having some friends over for dinner and then watching The Uninvited on Blu-ray. As a side project, I've been catching up on some vintage British telly, including a famous Doctor Who two-parter ("The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances"), an episode of the nearly forgotten Sapphire and Steel ("Assignment 2" aka "The Railway Station"), and a rarely shown half-hour ghost tale ("A Child's Voice") notable for being the sole screenwriting credit of film critic David Thomson. Happy All Hallows weekend, everybody!
  14. I forgot to mention that I showed this at a community gathering earlier this month. For me, it improved slightly on a second viewing, but I discovered that the audience struggled with many of the same things I did the first time around. I suspect that there is a cultural disconnect here. The idea of a two-income household living paycheck to paycheck is so common in the U.S., yet they were flummoxed by what they saw: Sandra and her family living in an attractive home, driving a nice car, eating good food, etc. So why is she freaking out? Can't she just find another job? (American optimism versus European determinism.) But the comments that really took me by surprise were the ones related to Manu, the husband. Certainly they were not blind to his finer qualities (chiefly, his gentleness and tenderness), but isn't he kind of pushy and insistent? Why isn't he the one looking for a better position rather than settling for the cafeteria gig? And why is he constantly stopping for snacks when they are on such a tight budget? For my part, the only thing that really struck me as false was the suicide attempt/recovery in which Sandra is up and running after a few hours' convalescence. Much like the hero of a Hollywood action flick in which the protag is beaten to a bloody pulp and the next day is back on the job with nothing but a Bandaid to show for it.
  15. Today was a great day because I got to see Meshes of the Afternoon in HD for the first time, courtesy of the good folks at Flicker Alley.
  16. ralphy, I've never heard of The Rites of May before. Could you tell me a little about it? Ryan, maybe we should start a club: The Fans of Stanley Kubrick Against The Shining.
  17. Dark Water is simply the best ghost/haunting film of the last ten years. I've been meaning to revisit it.
  18. We're ten days away from Halloween. How's everybody's horror odyssey going? I'm trying to stick to an agenda this year: The Stone Tape (1972) Anguish (1987) The Medium (1951) The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas (1957) Vampyr (1931) The Woman Who Came Back (1945) Children of the Stones (1977) Cuadecuc, vampir (1971) West of Zanzibar (1927) Inner Sanctum Mysteries (1943-1945) The Uninvited (1944) John Drew, you were right about Anguish. It's a highly inventive and stylish horror film, although I wish it had concluded as strongly as it started. The final scenes reminded me a little of Bogdanovich's Targets.
  19. I missed part of this discussion. Were we talking about Romanowski's evaluation of Jeffrey's and Steven's reviews of Brokeback Mountain in Eyes Wide Open (pp. 113-115)? I think it dates Romanowski to treat Brokeback as a profound work of art. Now that the hullabaloo has died down, Lee's film looks rather like a period piece, though its technical excellence remains undisputed.
  20. I was being a bit frivolous with my name dropping. Violent Saturday doesn't actually deal with the Amish to the degree that Witness does. It's a tense, straightforward crime picture. But there's an Amish farmer played by Ernest Borgnine who plays a key role, and he's pretty much my favorite cinematic representative of this underrepresented sect. I loved Witness as a teenager but I'm afraid I'd find it a little corny today. Although it's the only major film I can think of that takes a close look at this cloistered community (not counting all those dumb Amish romances so popular in the Christian ghetto), it all seems idealized and Hollywoody now. And the scene where Ford decks the ice cream guy comes off as terribly false. To be fair, SDG, you mention both of those things in your piece and still come away impressed by the film's overall design, so maybe I need to revisit it. I've always liked Peter Weir. He's a good craftsman and his interest in primitive cultures (with the Amish replacing the Australian aboriginals here) is sincere. And you've got to love a director who tips his hat to D.W. Griffith by having one of the bad guys meet his death in a grain silo!
  21. This is a well written encomium on a film I've lost some enthusiasm for over the years. Nowadays, I usually cite Violent Saturday as my favorite film about the Amish.
  22. Nathaniel

    Crimson Peak

    Rumor has it that by the time it's released, the title will be The Heightful Ate. *Like*
  23. Nathaniel

    Crimson Peak

    Don't forget Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight! Sorry, I meant the H8ful Eight. Sigh.
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