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Russ

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Everything posted by Russ

  1. My wife and 13 year-old daughter started it yesterday and are really enjoying it. My wife couldn't say enough about Jared Harris's performance.
  2. Yeah, I'm with Anders. I took a college film class in ye olde autumne of Year of Our Lord 1991 that used the then-current version of Bordwell and Thompson's FILM ART, and it's still one of my favorite film books. Nice combination of film history and history of techniques, with discussion of the two woven together and tons of illustrative screen captures. It's a book that your students who get hooked on the film thing will refer to forever.
  3. I'm imagining now Doctor Mister activating the Eye of Agamotto and time twisting backwards until the thread reappears out of the ether followed by Steve sucking an expletive back into his mouth and reversing his ill-fated keystroke. BTW, Peter and I exchanged some comments on the twitter dot com about this, but part of what I think is so thrilling about the action sequences in DOCTOR STRANGE is that they reverse what we've all come to hate so much about high-stakes action films: the destructo-porn crumbling of city blocks and tall buildings, presumably stuffed with unseen people. This film literally reverses that awful cliche, and the thrill level is much higher, without the attendant disgust. If anybody else has already made that point, apologies, but I think it's a big reason why the action scenes work better than they have in any Marvel movie I've seen to date.
  4. This comparison really excites me. The soccer field scene is pretty amazing.
  5. This is most certainly true. The first sentence, I mean. The good news is that the roar is significantly less intense now that I've misplaced some weight, but the bad news is that my nose and throat seem determined to retain my Permanent Snorer status, which is something that I really need to start disclosing to people in advance of falling asleep in their proximity. If there's a bright side, I think you only ever had to endure one or two nights consecutive in the din. I've only ever stayed in TOR at the Clarence Castle, the bunkbeds-and-granola bars hostel that Doug introduced us to. Over the course of the five or six trips that I made this arrangement became troublesome bordering on creepy from the Wooderson Effect-- I kept getting older while the rest of the hostel's occupants stayed the same. The year that I went for a week--2009--I reliably left early every morning for movies while the rest of the room slept and came back close to midnight. I only ran into my "roomates" a couple times, and near the end of the week one Euro guy, seemingly egged on by others being in the room, wanted to passive-aggressively start something with me over the snoring. I felt bad. I'd been trying to sleep on my stomach to make it better, but I guess it didn't work. I felt certain that I was gonna get Private Pyled, but it didn't happen. Miss you, Ken.
  6. I remember thinking how unique the tone seemed to me at the time-- I'd had some exposure to black humor and social commentary through BRAZIL, I guess, but the way this film wove somber meditations through absurdist, sometimes slapstick humor was pretty great, and such a contrast from the beginning-to-end weighty, earnest self-seriousness of the American Oscar bait that comprised pretty much the entirety of my exposure to political films to that point. (I had yet to see DR. STRANGELOVE.) The influence of REPENTANCE's tone on later films like Kusturica's UNDER GROUND and the best of the Romanian New Wave seems pretty clear.
  7. That's awesome, Attica. I'm a big fan of REPENTANCE, and would love to see that movie get a wider viewing, particularly among a crowd like this one. I don't know whether it's an access issue, but I've never understood why the film hasn't had the sort of influence that might have been expected given its message and status. As far as modern works of film art that approach political thought through a decidedly Christian lens, this might have been the first one I remember seeing. My wife Ali saw it in an undergrad lit class around '91 and pretty much forced me to watch it. We liked it so much that when our uni put together a regional lit conference a year or so later we did a little standup on REPENTANCE and EUROPA EUROPA. She bought me an import r.1 DVD probably 10-15 years ago, so if there's anybody who can't see the film, I'll be happy to help make it happen.
  8. Russ

    Pete's Dragon

    That's such a great point, Jeff. I resisted just saying what I was thinking-- that if you set it in the present day you'd have to work hard to avoid allowing the smartphone/social media/internet omnipresence angles to crowd out the straightforward story-- because it seems like a crutch to just say that our present day realities work against representational art that isn't swallowed by phones and internet. And yet it does seem like that! I'm curious to what degree David got the remake as an assignment to remake the film to occur around the time the original film was released or whether that was a touch he and his co-writer wisely added.
  9. Russ

    Pete's Dragon

    Really dug this as well, and was not surprised to see some references to this film and STRANGER THINGS as both using a non-modern setting and fairly direct narrative throughline to tell a story that seems fresh by being really familiar. Sure, it's easy to chalk it up to what the respective directors grew up with, periodwise, but there is something significant about the fact that neither the Duffers nor D. Lowery chose to tell their stories in contemporary settings. It's more relevant in PETE'S DRAGON, of course, because that film isn't really tied to specific 80s genre conventions, so why not tell it in present-day? I think in part the reason is that the setting isn't a distraction for kids, and it's certainly evocative for the parents who brought them. There's certainly something non-contemporary about a "family film" where the parents die, pretty much on-screen, through sudden tragedy. And yet I remember seeing films that did things like that as a kid; one in particular made an impression where Ricky Schroeder's camper went over a gorge. Funny how those things recede but never leave. But anyway--a weird connection occurred to me after the road trip adventure was ended in that rolling-camera-car-crash shot. I though, hey I've seen that before-- a film essentially opening with a budding domestic tranquility interrupted by a rolling car-crash-shot! Has anybody thought about the way in which this film, by using the same shot as THE BABADOOK, sorta invites an interesting back-and-forth between the films, in which both feature these manifestations that show up when the grief does, and while Elliot is not menacing to Pete, there's a similar sort of push-pull symbiosis to Pete and the BABADOOK mom recovering their well-being and, more to the point, their need for community. Plus, in both stories, we're assured that the manifestations exist in the truest sense, to the point that they don't disappear from sight or existence when no longer needed, but simply recede, as managed from a healthy point of view.
  10. Russ

    An Apology

    Sorry--it's been a while since I logged on. I'm not part of the A&F facebook group, so I don't think we were friends on that site and I don't remember seeing what disagreement you're referencing. It's certainly a cool thing to always patch up disagreements when possible-- I don't think I did enough to reach out to Alan, for example, before he left the site. So, while I hope I'm not marginalizing the good intent underlying your post, my jerk nature compels me to ask which movie you're talking about.
  11. E.T., as long as you get the recent home video cut.
  12. Russ

    The Gift

    This film, folks, is riding on a cresting wave shaped like 93% freshness. I believe I may take Leah and Ruby to see it tonight, unless somebody wants to persuade me it would be A Bad Idea. Or Derelict Parenting.
  13. On Blu-Ray in less than a month! I expected to be waiting until the Christmas season!
  14. Russ

    The Public Cinema

    The Princess of France is really, really great.
  15. Russ

    Selma (2014)

    Yeah, me too. It's like there's a tendency to make this film Mississippi Burning all over again. White folks aren't really the focus of the movie, so let's stop giving them and their portrayal veto power.
  16. Russ

    Ant-Man

    To shoot that scene, I heard that they--in true The Limey fashion--just repurposed Michael Douglas's 23 year-old reaction shots from the interrogation scene from Basic Instinct. Now he's aroused by technology!
  17. I think the so-called "family show," where you'd commonly find parents and kids watching together, is a casualty of modern television programing, which has grown more and more niche-marketed. My eleven year-old watches ONCE UPON A TIME, but I can't vouch for quality. My teens like a show called SWITCHED AT BIRTH that runs on ABC Family (and Netflix) but neither of those shows seems to want adults to watch them. On your redirect question: I'd recommend GILMORE GIRLS as one of the last true parents and teens shows. It's all on Netflix, and focuses on mother-daughter dynamics among three generations against the backdrop of an eccentric New England town. The show has a really prominent moral backbone which is easy to see despite a lot of irreverence for where you might typically see those kinds of stirrings originating. Grandma and grandpa (Kelly Bishop and the late Edward Hermann) are bluebloods whose precocious daughter (Lauren Graham) got pregnant at sixteen and moved out on her own with her own daughter. The show goes on a bit too long, but the emotional beats are really fantastic. Destructive behaviors-- adultery, teen sex, lying and the like-- are treated with seriousness. We bought the complete set for my oldest daughter when she turned fifteen.
  18. --which is interesting to me because each one is actually a twisting or an inversion of the Passion narrative. Yes, I caught those, too, but don't forget the first, big one: Jaqen H'ghar, or the person wearing his face. Jaqen pronounces a just punishment on Arya for serving her own revenge bloodlust rather than the divine will, and after declaring that the unjust death she caused must be bought with life--you just know he's going to do this--he takes the death on himself. Or herself. Still not sure, but it had the same Christian-imagery riff, and with a little less contortion that the other events.
  19. I consider myself the Pauline Kael of picture books aimed at preliterate children, and BEEKLE is weak sauce. Weak. Sauce. Of course, it's a Jason Reitman project dot dot dot.
  20. You figure Walden looked around for a dystopia dance partner and this was the last unattached wallflower. Coincidentally, I just read today that the Population Bomb dude is still alive and kicking and hasn't recanted--in fact, he was quoted to the effect that people shouldn't be allowed to have unlimited kids any more than they should be allowed to spread their garbage around.
  21. Catherine Breillat is ready to make her Hollywood debut.
  22. I'm glad Weiner finally admitted to this. I know I'm not the only one with an Israeli Tourism Board-shaped vacuum in his life which only narrative closure could fill.
  23. Right. Exactly. And what an interesting arc it is. I keep seeing reference to Miller consulting Joseph Campbell's works between MAD MAX and THE ROAD WARRIOR, and I guess I need to brush up on my Campbell. Max is a unique hero in that he's more of a Zelig-- a guy who just happens to fall into situations where he's suddenly cast as a major player. I need to watch THUNDERDOME again (it's been nearly 30 years), but it's fascinating how different the character is from how I imagined he was. Max is not the Han Solo type, which I'd characterize as selfish until he realizes there's something bigger than himself and a quest for money. Recall that he only agrees to/insists on driving the tanker after he's wrecked and left for dead, only to be retrieved by Scrooloose and brought back to the refinery camp, and his offer to drive the tanker could be seen as self-preservation as much as anything. How else is he going to get away from Humungus and his clan? It's not as if the refinery people recognized Max as the leader they never had, either--we realize at the end that they always just saw him as a means to an end. They tapped Scrooloose (the dude who was going to take a young, pretty woman and flee until her conscience got the better of her) as their leader, not Max. So it's not as if in THE ROAD WARRIOR he has to turn away from society, like Ethan Edwards, or that he simply rejects it for solitude. Dude wasn't even asked! It's fascinating that FURY ROAD is essentially just a remake of THE ROAD WARRIOR, but with the plot set in motion at a different remove. Again the focus is on a tanker used to hide something other than what we're expecting. Max is involuntarily in the passenger seat this time, and never in the driver's seat. The throughline is really compelling to me.
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