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Doug C

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Everything posted by Doug C

  1. Yeah, Russ, I too saw that it is already streaming, which might have shocked me if I hadn't already witnessed its theatrical marginalization. I suppose we should start a new Nancy Drew thread, but I'm not sure the film warrants one; I don't have a ton to say about it except that it was a good matinee for me and my 11-year-old. And watching a movie about a spunky teen solving mysteries and learning life lessons was a notable breath of fresh air after all the overinflated, "mythic" superhero drudgery on the big and small screen these days. Maybe we should just retitle this thread Good New Movies for Parents of Tweens and leave it at that. Given the title, we shouldn't have to update it more than a couple times a year.
  2. Doug C

    DVD Bazaar

    I might have some old Criterions I've upgraded to Blu-ray if I dig around, although I tend to trade in my old DVDs for store credit. I'll keep an eye out.
  3. Attack the Block sounds awesome, I will track it down. My daughter discovered the mystery genre last year, and while the Nancy Drew books (ghost-written in the 1930s) have not aged well, there is a series of first-person video games she has really enjoyed, so I was eager to take her to the new movie. Needless to say, your sarcasm about the film's distribution is completely deserved. I was shocked to see that it was showing only in three theaters in my general vicinity, which is like 3% of the available screens. No surprise that we were the only people in the theater, although I think a handful came in at some point. It's a modest, fun movie, with a plum role for an elderly actress I couldn't identify, although she reminded me of Olivia Dukakis. Afterward, my wife told me it was Linda Lavin, the star of the TV show "Alice," which I probably haven't thought about since I was 12. She's great. We had a good time.
  4. Hi Beth! Yes, although I'm not that familiar with the original texts, I appreciated how the kid's story paralleled the literary Arthur's—without constantly underscoring it. (He thought they succeeded but failed to contemplate his own soul, etc.) I think a young person who might like the film would be amenable to the original's themes because the film retained them in many ways.
  5. Well, I've read the essay, which I think is pretty good. I don't know if Jones has any training in phenomenology, but I do think his statement is justified--Riquet acknowledges and tries to befriend Rosetta, and although she fights it, she eventually relents and in return, acknowledges him and "allows him to exist." In her incantation, she says "I have a friend," but does she really at that point? The waffles and dancing scene is a masterpiece of counterpoint, Rosetta resisting intimacy every step of the way. And later, she reports on him to get his job--until she finally understands a job is not what she needs to truly exist (though her solution is to cease existence). Rosetta is not a bad person, her care for her mother reveals that, but a deeply afraid one whose hard shell of self-reliance is a protective survival mechanism. It treats everyone in utilitarian fashion, a means to an end, which she thinks is necessary for her survival. Her revelation is that this persistent young man really wants to be her friend and that she needs him.
  6. I'll have to hunt down Jones's essay, but my initial thought is that the intentionality of Subject and Object is reversible, thus Riquet sees Rosetta, and in return she sees him. He's really the only character (or the first at least) who she allows within her self-protective shell. Of course this is part of a process that is first seen when she tries to let him drown but can't, which Riquet even points out later. Riquet's cries compel her to respond even though she doesn't want to, and for reasons she hasn't fully processed.
  7. Yes, Ken, as phenomenology is a method that describes the initial moment of impact, and brackets off interpretation until one has adequately described the phenomena (in the case of film, visual and aural, although other senses might be perceived), and looked for variant/invariant qualities through intersubjective comparison (or in the Dardennes' case, multiple subjectivities of viewer-camera-and characters watching other characters), it is pre-reflective and pre- or proto-ideological (political, theological, what have you). One can still get to those thematizations but it takes longer; you really have to stop and focus on what you're actually seeing and hearing first, the perceived sense of being-in-the-world, both what is revealed and what is hidden. So in that sense, the idea that we are formed by our response to what we perceive—and particularly, in Levinas and the Dardennes, through the face of the other—is both pre-reflective and post-reflective. The kid with a bike grabs Samantha because she is there, and only later does he and she (along with the viewer) come to recognize meaning(s) in the action, etc.
  8. I've actually been focused on other things in my graduate studies the past few years, which made it particularly nice to revisit the Dardennes, and that article, which was really a summary statement of my several years of engagement with the whole neorealist-transcendent Rossellini-Bresson-Dardenne continuum. Definitely recommend Address of the Eye, which is The Book on film phenomenology, which continues to spark my fascination with film (and life in general). Thank you for your summary, Ken, it makes me happy to know some of my main ideas successfully came across!
  9. I can now add the new Nancy Drew movie to "fun, smart, empowering films for tweens." I find these kind of movies so rare in today's Hollywood, most of which—as you know—is superheroes, franchises, or their sequels, and all of which are overblown, self-consciously mythic (in the worst Heroes Journey-as-rote-template), and take themselves more seriously than that most stolid Biblical adaptation. Hollywood seems to have forgotten how to make clever, unpretentious entertainment, but it's movies like this that renew my hope.
  10. Hey Russ! I admit to knowing nothing about any of the filmmakers. Do clue me in on Cornish...
  11. Harry is often compared to a (were)wolf in sheep's clothing—think of him extending his hand to the moon before he kills Willa or yelping and running to the barn after being shot by Rachel—and I think that is the dualism involved. Not so much someone struggling between right and wrong, but someone who is quintessentially malevolent but constantly trying to appear good.
  12. Sorry, Joel, I don't really have notes, or at least readable ones. I was drawing from a lot of different sources and just giving them an intro (I only had 20 minutes).
  13. Hey Christian! Yes, I had mild expectations, and it's not like The Greatest Film Ever, but it was really nice to finally have a film that I could take my daughter to that was fun, empowering, emotionally honest, and didn't insult her intelligence. We had a good time.
  14. Just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Ken and my presentations last night at Campbell University. I hope this is a series Ken continues with other speakers. He presented on Dreyer, and I presented on the Dardennes. We had about 80 students, and they seemed very engaged and asked questions afterward. Given that I met Ken here at A&F many moons ago, I thought I would mention it here.
  15. I visited A&F to see if there was any commentary on this film, and I was surprised there wasn't. You probably need to have been a 10-year-old and currently have a 10-year-old to fully appreciate this very charming throwback (and in many ways improvement upon) '80s coming-of-age fantasy films, complete down to its retro synth score. I'll take one of these over 10 of Hollywood's latest superhero movies any day.
  16. A new article on Wolfe in the New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/sci-fis-difficult-genius
  17. Yes, it's super exciting news, and they've already announced their home video release, too: http://www.blu-ray.com/news/?id=16598 Despite (or maybe because of) it's length, it's completely immersive, an homage to Louis Feuillade serials, mid-'70s art/youth culture, secret societies, you name it. Eric Rohmer has a wonderful cameo as a literary professor. Rivette is an extremely fascinating filmmaker, it's tragic his "non-commercial" formats (extended lengths, alternate versions, etc.) have helped keep him off U.S. screens. He's still alive, but I understand he's suffering from Alzheimer's so he won't be making any new films. Also highly recommended is the once elusive but highly entertaining Le pont du nord (1981), which has just been released on Bluray by Kino in the U.S. and Masters of Cinema in the UK: http://www.kinolorber.com/video.php?id=1926 Sadly, I think New Yorker has pretty much folded, so let's hope Criterion or someone can pick up the work they're said to have already done on Celine and Julie. In the meantime, you can download the very cool poster and yearn for teh day: http://www.newyorkerfilms.com/administrator/movie_posters/CelineandJulie_Poster2.jpg
  18. New Yorker distributed this theatrically a couple years ago, and has been working on a DVD / Bluray release, which hopefully will come sooner rather than later. It is far more entertaining than its relative obscurity in the U.S. would lead you to believe, and that goes for many early Rivette films including the captivating, 13-hour Out 1, which Carlotta will release theatrically in the U.S. later this year. Almost certainly influenced by the anarchic Czech classic Daisies (streaming on Hulu) and very influential on indie filmmakers (notably Susan Seidelman's Desperately Seeking Susan) and a good many female buddy movies, it is unpredictable, funny, mysterious and even a little scary--probably our closest cinematic equivalent to Lewis Carroll.
  19. Doug C

    The One I Love (2014)

    The SF is problematic in that it's crucial but only half-heartedly applied. But I would forgive that -- like a playful, mid century science-lite concoction by Lafferty or Leiber or even Bradbury -- if it made emotional sense, which I don't think it does.
  20. Doug C

    The One I Love (2014)

    I'm not the biggest fan of D'Angelo's writing in general but I think that's a pretty fair description of the plot. I'm most interested in readings of the final twist. For example,I've come across two quotes from the director (as opposed to the writer) that imply that he thinks SPOILER the original couple are together at the end, but that the "bacon question" is just the kind of residual baggage all relationships have. But I think that's a rosy interretation given what we see. The more I think about this film, the more impressed I am by the performers (who cowrote and improvised all of their dialogue) and the brilliant editing, which help shape the infectious emotional rhythms. But problems with the ending are compounded. If Ethan does end up with Sophie #2, then Sophie #1 and her choice disappear entirely from the film, which doesn't seem fair given how invested the audience has been in her character.
  21. Doug C

    The One I Love (2014)

    Yes, the question remains as to whether or not it's an "adequate response." I think there could have been a better way to preserve the ambiguity, leaving it in the mind of the audience. I wouldn't want a conventional "happy ending," either. Maybe it's just the way Ethan shrugs and the Coenesque pop music fades in that makes it feel flippant to me. After being glued to the characters and their problems, I felt like the filmmakers just check out at that point: "How does this twist grab ya? Later!"
  22. Doug C

    The One I Love (2014)

    Just saw this and found it entirely engrossing without a false step the entire way (totally comfortable with CC comparisons). But ... spoilers? ... Like John, I also found the ending quite unambiguous, and Ethan's quick acceptance of his new reality a disappointingly cynical twist to a film that perpetually asked the question, "In spite of the fact that your partner is not the ideal you married, are you still willing and able to do the difficult work required to maintain the relationship?" It felt like a flippant coda to an otherwise remarkable film.
  23. Doug C

    Gravity (2013)

    Saw's Ken's post about this on Facebook, and didn't know where else to comment. I have not seen Interstellar, so I can't offer much in the way of comparison/contrast between the two films, but I thought it was a very well written article, SDG. It reminds me of two more references for further inquiry I'd like to suggest, one is the work of Olaf Stapledon, especially Star Maker (1937), a mindblowing and extraordinarily beautiful history of the universe as seen through the eyes of an astrally projected English agnostic on the eve of World War II. I won't spoil its conclusion, but I will say that even if I don't completely share its ultimate vision, I admire its humane imagination and potent sense of awe. C.S. Lewis hated the ending, but the book as a whole is the prototype for "Man's Place in the Universe" narratives (it was a huge influence on Clarke, and thus 2001) that has never been bested. To me, it's a more applicable literary reference to the concerns of this essay than Wells. My other thought is in regards to taking "biodiversity, not music, literature, or art ... let alone religion" into space and that "Coop has made a sort of return journey -- not to his actual home, but to a facsimile" reminds me immediately of Tarkovsky's Solaris, for me the definitive statement on these matters. As Johnson and Petrie put it in their book on Tarkovsky, Lem's book is set entirely on the space station and is essentially a critique of anthropocentric thinking, whereas roughly a third of Tarkovsky's film is taken up by a "lovingly detailed presentation of the natural beauty of the earth that [the protagonist] may be leaving behind forever, and family and personal relationships have a central significance" -- "he even takes with him a box containing some earth and a plant". They also go on to note that "it is in the library, however, with its paintings and other art objects, its fine furniture, china, and glassware, and its books, that Earth becomes most inescapable and Tarkovsky makes it clear that, for truly 'human' values, we must look to the past (Brueghel, Cervantes, Bach) rather than to a soulless future." And of course, the film ends with the protagonist mysteriously reuniting with his father in a Solarian facsimile of their home, directly homaging Rembrandt's painting of the Prodigal Son.
  24. Not sure, but I'd keep an eye on the official site.
  25. Absolutely. I like Shinkai's earlier films a lot (especially Five Centimeters), but I couldn't even finish Children Who Chase Lost Voices, it was so dramatically inert and obviously aping Miyazaki. But Wolf Children is a beautiful film, like Christopher says, a very moving portrait of early motherhood and the Japanese countryside; also, all of the supporting characterizations are efficient and compelling, and it also has maybe the most fetching and observant depiction of young children since Totoro in their awkward but infectious movements and energy. My four-year-old (who was enraptured by a subbed version) really resonated with the characters and has been playing "wolf child" ever since. It's a very deft film with a lot of heart that never sinks into sentimentality. Definitely my favorite animated feature last year--highly recommended. Very eager to see what Hosoda does next.
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