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Everything posted by Russ

  1. Russ

    Django Unchained

    Leary, it's as if you are living in my head. One of the books I bought my nine year-old for Christmas is Bad News for Outlaws, a picture book based on the life of Bass Reeves, a black deputy marshall who brought in myriads of wanted outlaws, while famously shooting almost none of them. The competing counter-narrative of a freed slave who brought in outlaws for pay really framed my viewing of the bounty-hunting portions of DJANGO UNCHAINED.
  2. Re: Stromboli, I have an import DVD that I'd be happy to send around, as well. I don't know why it's been in distribution limbo for so long. Apart from its amazing marriage-related insights, if you were captivated by the fishmongering in Leviathan, there's a fishing scene in Stromboli that must be seen to be believed. I think the second came in after the deadline. A little help, here? Ingrid Bergman, Ingrid Bergman. Let's go make a picture. On the island of Stromboli. Ingrid Bergman.
  3. Well, we can't all be plied with screeners and screening invites. Some of us have to, y'know, pay our own way. Kidding. I understand.
  4. I get it. Each man must work out his own Microsoft Money spreadsheet with fear and trembling. For me, going this route was a cost-saving measure, as I cut out pay TV and a DVR, as well as the couple of bucks I was spending at redbox each month. I went from $80-90 per month to $8. Oooh, look at that. Netflix streaming just added the horror anthology V/H/S.
  5. Russ

    Barbara (2012)

    Nice. The film is all about Barbara's body being conveyed from place to place. By bike. By the cloppity-clop of high heels on village roads. By bus. By train. By clandestine personal watercraft. It's also such an awesome vocation film. The cliche character on network TV who sucks at relationships but is great at their job has his/her nose bloodied by the model in this film. Doctors as healers, bedside sitters, lab equipment creators and, natch, lovers.
  6. I'm not sure I'm on all fours with your decision-making process, pal. At least sign up for a free trial month of Netflix streaming before you make a rash or unwise decision. I think you'll be pretty amazed at the amount of available content you can get for eight bucks a month. Plus, while Netflix doesn't put too many of the new mainstreamy DVD-released movies on their streaming service (you can't stream THE AVENGERS or CABIN IN THE WOODS, e.g.), they appear to put pretty much every arthouse/documentary new release right into the streaming service. I love the anticipation each week of seeing which arthouse new release is going to pop up.
  7. Russ

    Things kids say

    Just a few hours ago: My wife Ali: "Is daddy going to help you put together your Sponge Bob legos?" Our 2 3/4 year-old Daisy: "Yes...daddy...loves...legos." Daisy's got a working diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech, so a spontaneous and uncoached multi-word phrase is, like, the best thing ever.
  8. Yes, I've seen it, and it really is something. Curiously, it's almost the polar-opposite of OFFSIDE in strict accessibility terms. I showed OFFSIDE to my daughters two or three years ago, thinking the straightforward narrative made it a perfect entry-level world film. THIS IS NOT A FILM, while great, really works best with an implicit level of familiarity with Panahi's plight and the circumstances of the film's smuggling out of Iran.
  9. Russ


    This film is bananas. In a good way. I wanted to close the gap after seeing SISTER, and HOME is an interesting contrast to that film. Also, it's better than SISTER. The film tries out several different tones but never settles on one, which is an unexpected strength, as we're kept disoriented throughout. It never goes full-on absurdist farce. It never sells out fully to claustrophobic character study. It's a mishmash of interesting things, most of which are, as mentioned, bananas. There's a little bit of SAFE and a little bit of BUG. But it's never guilty of being rote, which is a real danger particularly in movies that trend toward the ridiculous. It's a good move that the government never shows up or the nature of the squatting/de facto taking is never explored. The crowning moment of spectacularity is this: near the end of the film, the mom calls out for dirty laundry. That's one of her domestic tics. She calls out for laundry, and the kids and dad give it to her off their bodies. Another tic is that the family-- or more properly the dad, the 20something daughter and the 9ish son-- has an ultra-comfortable stance regarding nudity. And it's not just typical Euro pro-nudieness. It's 20something girl bathing with her 9ish brother nudity. The family's only straitlaced member, the high school daughter who's characterized as being modest and a little uncomfortable with herself physically, is not a participant in the frequent nakedness. But near the end of the film, when mom calls out for dirty laundry, sensible daughter decides, spur of the moment, to get nakey. She stands before her mother in the altogether, fishing for affirmation. "How do I look?" says the daughter uncertainly. At this point, in art cinema and commodity cinema alike, there's a form of screeplay autotext that reflexively applies to make the mother say, with reassurance, some crap about how you're beautiful honey, or you be who you are and don't let anybody else, even us, tell you what you should be like. BUT THE MOM SAYS NOTHING. She just stares blankly at her daughter. Daughter turns to the brother, whom she adores and with whom she keeps company, in a last-ditch effort to preserve her self-esteem. "What do you think of me?" she asks with a little too much desperation. THE BOY SHRUGS AND LEAVES THE ROOM.
  10. X-man, they're ENGAGED TO BE MARRIED. This slope, it is not slippery. In addition, owing to a bit of non-clarity in the relevant exchange between Nica and Dato and Nica's ring-finger ring, some first-time viewers figured the couple was already married. I think the film is the same in every relevant way if their marriage takes place before or after the events portrayed in the film.
  11. I dunno, big guy. You can apply that hypothetical to all of their circumstances, can't you? Maybe this would have played out differently if they were already wed, and maybe this would have played out differently if they weren't in the remote Caucasus, where they're effectively forced to spend the many days following the events in each other's presence. For me, the connection is this: relationships and marriages continue, in large part, based on habits. Habits of speech and thought and fighting and forgiveness. All of that's on display in this film in uniquely stark terms. Here's something else: if you met this couple, would you counsel them to get married, knowing what you know about them? Flipping it around, I think the film could be a useful one to show another engaged couple prepared to embark on marriage. In short, I'm gonna nominate it, and we can hash out whether it's within the scope of our list as part of the process.
  12. Hilariously, we'll probably forget to nominate it.
  13. Yeah, but if the underlying purpose of paying special attention to films about marriage is to talk about how these films get at the nature of love and its preservation in a lifelong, committed relationship, then isn't this film one you want to have available as a talking point?
  14. I know. I tend to not like children's books that adults may "get" or enjoy more than children, but those two Klassen books are genius. I love how those two books respect the food chain, in contrast to most of the rest of the animal-personification genre. Plus, while you'd think THIS IS NOT MY HAT would just be a rehash, it's actually funnier than its predecessor. The disconnect between the narration and the action in the pictures never fails to get laughs out of my kid.
  15. Russ

    Holy Motors

    Because I know you wanted to watch this again:
  16. You're exactly right, Tyler. While the first moment of conflict is the "inciting event" that opens the gulf, it's that moment that really cements their estrangement. The potential life-taking danger of the first moment is upped by actual life-taking danger, and Alex is MIA when she needs him most. It's a fantastic moment in part because it builds on the conflict that Nica's had to deal with throughout the trip as regards being seen as an equal who can take care of herself. While each couple has to develop and manage their own private language of duty and help, there is that whole other category of situations in which it's not paternalism or outdated chivalry that motivates us, but simple concern for another's well-being. Alex isn't just looking ahead when she slips-- he's entered that sort of sulky state where, in his mind, she's on her own. It's the added texture of this scene that really makes me admire Loktev's relationship-observation skills. I can think of lots of times where I've been the guilty party in a simple offense against my wife, but my own stubbornness or self-centeredness holds me back from taking responsibility and asking for forgiveness. Then, instead of dealing simply with that one act, in the cloud of that smallness I cause or allow some other offense, and dig the hole immeasurably deeper. I watched the film again last night. I wonder if there were any changes made to the film from when I saw it in Toronto in 2011; there seemed to be some shots that I remembered differently.
  17. Yep. Ali thinks that one's too pomo, but I enjoy it. Plus, we've got a Sesame Street Golden book from the 70s where Grover pulls pretty much the same schtick.
  18. Russ

    Django Unchained

    Rather than rehash the whole redemptive violence discussion, we could just link to the halcyon days of our multi-page discussion of KILL BILL, VOLUME ONE, which is a pretty good discussion but for the fact that I repeatedly come across as a jackass. When I walked out of HOLY MOTORS last Friday night, the first thing that occurred to me is that regardless of all the loose thematic ends which resist tucking-in and neat arranging, movies like that one will always get the presumption of greatness from me if for no other reason than the sheer and unalloyed joie de cine on display. These guys for whom you can tell the consumption and creation of film-images is a purpose-giving ecstasy. Tarantino might not have any other reason to be compared to Carax, but they share that quality. Which is a long way around saying I'm pretty excited for this film.
  19. What did you get them? I'll have to fill in individual titles later. Daisy, our 2 3/4 year-old, is getting the two Elephant and Piggie books we don't own, but which she has loved when we've had them out from the library. One of them is Happy Pig Day. Among present-day picture-book writer-creators, I think Mo Willems is pretty much in his own league.
  20. Last week my wife and I met for lunch and went to something she's been telling me about for years-- the 50% off sale at Scholastic. They open their actual warehouse for non-education professionals and you can browse through their entire stock of hardcovers and softcovers for all ages. We half-filled a standard-size shopping cart with $200 worth of books, discounted to $100, which gave us an additional $25 off. So, $200 in books for $75. So, everybody's getting a fairly substantial book stack this year.
  21. You speak of BARBARA? It's worth your dogged persistence. I've spent the last few weeks watching Petzold's other films, apart from the DREILEBEN contribution, which I don't think I can readily get. YELLA is almost just as amazing as BARBARA. I finally get to see HOLY MOTORS tonight. I'm gonna try to talk my oldest daughters into watching A KID WITH A BIKE with me tomorrow night, and I have the library's copy of CARNIVAL OF SOULS on loan.
  22. I know completely how you feel. A couple of years ago, when my oldest two daughters were preteens, I was gearing up to show them THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING and it was absolutely essential to me that we get through Kundera's novel beforehand.
  23. A seriously unserious question from someone who hasn't read THE HOBBIT: do I and my kid only need to get the first 1/3 of the book read, or more or less than that?
  24. Russ

    Dr. Who

    All right, if there was one book you could buy a fledgling nine year-old Dr. Who fan, what would it be?
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