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Doug C

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  1. I quite agree. It's really unfortunate that this film has become known as the "worst film ever made." It's absolutely fascinating in its astonishing incompetence; I don't know that ambitions have ever so outstripped actual resources (creative and technical). I would watch it any day over much more polished mediocrity.
  2. Metropolis, The Bride of Frankenstein, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), Things To Come, Forbidden Planet, The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Nutty Professor (1963), Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Alphaville (Darren, I'd love for you to tease out your comments), 2001: A Space Odyssey, Je t'aime, Je t'aime, La Jet
  3. I would distinguish between plausibility and probability. For me, "plausible" is all about consistency and logic. As long as the future a storyteller imagines is consistent with itself (narratively and aesthetically), I'm usually willing to accept the premise of its existence. Metropolis is consistent with its odd juxtaposition of modern and medieval/Gothic/Christian imagery, thus it feels like a multifaceted environment one can inhabit and extend offscreen. It also seemed more probable in 1927 than it does today. But I would also contend that all future visions are, on some level or another, extrapolations of the present, and there is a point at which these visions become ideologically extreme enough that their commentary becomes the focus rather than their probability. Yet they can remain plausible. Zardoz, a highly improbable future, is nevertheless plausible with its consistent and logical use of Irish location, futurist Greek imagery, and telepathic technology, and its representative style and structure foregrounds it as a sociological and religious allegory, which it (also consistently) develops throughout the entire film. Ditto Brazil. I would say virtually all of my favorite SF movies are plausible regardless of how probable they are.
  4. Yeah, I figured it had something to do with Floyd despite my relative ignorance of pop music culture. Perhaps, I don't really recall. But if so, it's another pretty minute connection in the overall film.
  5. "Liberal and progressive Christian groups say a new computer game in which players must either convert or kill non-Christians is the wrong gift to give this holiday season and that Wal-Mart, a major video game retailer, should yank it off its shelves." http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?...MNG8TMU1KQ1.DTL
  6. But in a class, you're not selling anything; you're educating. I think introducing kids to art/world cinema is a great idea. (And I like your classical Hollywood suggestions, too.) Are they ever?
  7. If it isn't already clear, I want to emphasize that I think Cuaron is a very talented technical director--all of my complaints about the film are how those skills are ultimately put to use here and whether or not the film has any real depth or is merely full of sound and fury, signifying nothing (except perhaps a loose connection to another meaningful narrative). I am looking forward to his future work.
  8. Oh, okay. But you know, the only thing I remember about Huston is the inflatable pig outside his window and his having to scream to get his son's attention. I mean, he's a pretty aloof, minor character. One scene, right? Sure, and I liked Owen's performance and the fact that his character wasn't a typical action hero, but that dramatic myopia is part of my beef with the film; he's virtually the only character who seems human, or worthy of focus. Me too, as a premise; in fact, I think the whole immigration angle had real potential given the sociological scars that exist between Europe and North Africa. I just wish Cuaron had developed that premise with some degree of complexity. The fact that the film contains interesting sparks is what makes its lack of depth so disappointing to me. Did Cuaron mention why he emphasizes the police state/Homeland Security angle so often?
  9. That's funny, I remembered that remark from his review, too. (Although I think Welles' Chimes at Midnight--a huge influence on Braveheart, btw--throws blood and/or mud on the lens, which JR, of all people, should've remembered.) I thought of that line (which, again, is such a small moment in the movie, played for laughs), but it could just as easily be read as a corrective to reading too much into the "miraculous" birth angle. She practically replies, 'It's a miracle--NOT!' Oh, that makes her a Balthazar figure, then. Wasn't he the He didn't exactly strike me as dignified or sane, nor the nurse, who is repeatedly made out to be a half-looney, New Age eccentric. (Although her one monologue about her past experience was touching.)
  10. Jeffrey, you've got some good questions there--I'm looking forward to his responses. I'd also ask if he feels the film offers a dark vision of humanity and if so, what he's trying to communicate through that. And I'd definitely ask him about the many "war on terror" references in the film. (Homeland security, Abu Ghraib imagery, etc.)
  11. Here's one example: http://daily.greencine.com/archives/000043.html
  12. That sounds like a very helpful distinction (one I recall Steve Lansingh making years ago) that I would love to see articulated more fully in the future. I also know it's also hard to chart the influence of Christians engaging and writing for established film journals or newspapers or teaching at secular universities--penetrating and contributing to culture outside of Christian venues--but I want to emphasize that option for believers, as well as its already pervasive occurance and benefits. There was no such thing as film studies for 60+ years until French cinephilia was exported internationally and film buffs who happened to be professors in other fields began instituting its intellectual ambitions. But it began as an informal, popular movement. It's sort of a chicken and egg paradox, but until film history and theory become real values in Christian dialogue, and cultural interests outside of commerical mass media become cherished, there will be few academic film books written with believers in mind. Not only that, but it's written by someone raised as a Christian, who highlights my writing much more than Jeffrey does. (Not that I'm asking Jeff to start! ) GreenCine also highlights Christian writing like Mike Herstenstein's phenomenal new series of essays on Roberto Rossellini, whose centenary occured this year and whose films outnumber anyone else's in MoMA's Hidden God book. I don't believe CT has even mentioned it.
  13. Thank God! You're forgetting that I did, in fact, actually see this film. And I'm just as familiar and attached to the Nativity as Jeffrey is. Of course I saw his point. Perhaps my recognition was merely implicit, but to say that I felt he was over-applying a lens without taking into account the bulk of the film is not in any way "dismissing" him. It's saying, 'Huh, I'm familiar with everything you're referencing, and this seems to me like an incomplete or reductionistic reading of the film (not a necessarily false one).' Of course, Jeffrey's breathless comments on the film were more promotional ("to get you curious") and weren't necessarily a real review, but when he references Die Hard and Indiana Jones, I have to wonder if his experience of this film's violence is anything resembling my own. Wow--now who's claiming my reading is "wrong"? One point here deserves highlighting: I place a great deal of emphasis on the style of a film in my constructions of meaning (in fact, we all do implicitly). From my point of view, you and Jeffrey are focusing on this film's premise alone (even including attachment you have to the novel's meaning). This may be a "new hope" infant premise, but the form of the film (not to mention its plot, which contains few if any allusions to the Nativity that I'm aware of) is a manipulative, violent, rub-your-nose-in-it kind of thing. When someone yells or upsets me, I demand a reason, and this film never offered me one. And I will gladly debate whether a resistance to the effects of onscreen violence is merely my "baggage" or a serious spiritual issue to be reckoned with if you wish. Only those with a great deal of ignorance and presumption. Bad analogy, Greg. First of all, I'm not an armchair ignoramous making assumptions about which I'm simply unfamiliar with--again, I saw this movie. If you want to convince me that the bulk of the film is not an unrelentingly dark vision of humanity, then you'll have to cite examples from the film in which "aside from Owen, and the girl protagonist, and arguably the eccentrics Caine and Moore, virtually everyone else in the film are oppressors, revolutionaries, lunatics, or crazies." (My words.) Secondly, what do you really know about the intentions of the makers of this film (as opposed to those of the writer of the novel, if that)? Just as I cannot know your character apart from the words you type, we cannot know the intentions of filmmakers apart from the images they shoot, the sounds they record, and the way they put them together. Sometimes interviews can be helpful, but even then a filmmaker might be highly self-delusional like George Lucas, and anyway, we can never truly know the heart. Firstly, anything I write--especially an art critique--is obviously my opinion! How often do people around here flag every one of their opinions by using the words "this is my opinion"? People say 'this movie wasn't funny,' or 'this movie was exciting.' They don't always say, 'In my opinion, this movie was touching.' That would get conversationally pretty monotonous, don't you think? For future reference, if it comes off of my keyboard and involves my feelings or critical interpretation, it's an opinion. Secondly, when were we supposed to avoid moral judgments of films around here? Huh??!? I think I was pretty clear in my first post what I liked and didn't like about the film. If you're referring to my comments in post #63, the ratcheted rhetoric explained what I perceived as your vitriol towards me from the start and, more importantly, what you really wanted out of me--recognition of a Nativity reading's validity. And that was a real breakthrough in my understanding of our discussion. Ken, this is a brilliant idea. At this point, there are simply different boards for different purposes, but I never thought of having them share the same webspace. And I use a Cobra these days, you disc snob.
  14. Every rational human being except Stef, who is, incidentally, one of the most rational, and human, beings I've ever known.
  15. Not only could you never sound like me, mister-story-provides-all-meaning, but having slept beneath you for three long nights, I can affirm that the steaming, odiferous paws you note belong to none other than yourself (and your father smelt of elderberries). Given a choice, every rational human being on the planet would choose Dreyer in an instant.
  16. Sorry it has taken me a bit to respond, M. I'm glad! Oh, no--I wholeheartedly endorse your initial definition, but I felt the article later aligned its summary of Christian criticism with what has been recently published on the internet at newer venues like CT and I think "Christians writing about film" is much broader than that, and has been for some time. I guess in retrospect, I feel it would be helpful to further delineate the distinction you make between Entertainment Weekly-type criticism and "full-orbed technical criticism." It seems to me that the latter is still not accepted by the evangelical market, and those of us who aspire to engage it consistently feel marginalized on account if it. (Your kind interview notwithstanding. ) Ultimately, my observations here are a combination of personal experience and interpretation, your article, and initial ideas that arose from this thread, so I don't mean to imply that everything I'm saying or contesting is directed at your article. For me, it all revolves around existing film culture (that of world cinephilia as well as popular US culture, which of course, can be dramatically different cultures) and insular evangelical culture, and those of us who float somewhere in between in various capacities. I'm very much looking forward to your future installments in the series and hope it will grow into a productive dialogue. I confess that your initial article pressed some buttons for me, and I probably should have responded earlier to your invitation to respond. Yes, thanks for giving me a specific example. "Relatively" would be preferable to me--I really don't intend a critique of JO's column here (particularly since he's apparently smarting over my recent comments in the Children of Men thread!), but in short, I feel it focuses much more on week-to-week Hollywood releases without a rigorous valuation of what is culturally or artistically important outside of the North American box office; something akin to GreenCine Daily. But given today's viewing habits, I'd probably be highlighting DVD releases rather than theatrical releases, anyway. This may have changed since I was last informed of it, but as far as I know, CT won't even pay its writers if they write about anything outside of current wide releases (which, of course, comprises fewer and fewer films each year). And that seems like devotion to an industry that allows it to determine the major cultural talking points rather than a progressive critique of it. That sounds good. I'd also emphasize thoughtful alternatives to the mainstream, especially given how rampantly film culture is shifting from the multiplexes to the home viewing market, and how accessible mail order services are making previously commercially obscure DVDs. But herein we have two very different approaches with very different priorities, and I do hope your future articles can address them on some level. Your quotes sound very fascinating, even if I'm not familiar with all of their references; thanks for sharing. Well there's a big difference between an educational instiitution and a magazine! I don't know of any publications that make freelance contributors sign a statement of belief...?
  17. If I get a chance to respond to your other comments, Greg, I will, but this is such a misreading of my posts that I hope we've made a breakthrough here. First of all, that is an exaggerated summary of my position ("being on crack"? "hopelessly"?). I was very careful in my initial post to affirm the film's technical direction, action sequences, acting, and thematic potential...but express that it simply wasn't enough for me. I never said I couldn't see Jeffrey point (anyway, why must I?); in fact, I repeatedly said I thought he was emphasizing his point to the detriment of everything else in the film, which I found to be empty, brutal, and manipulative. Personally, I'm increasingly sceptical of the spiritual value of films that merely want to pummel us in our seats. That's not to say Jeffrey's "wrong" or "invalid" at all--his reading is his reading. Sure, there's a "new life" theme here that can be found in many mythological narratives. But I personally wanted more. (And for the record, your posts struck me as much more vitriolic than merely asking me, "Can you see Jeffrey's point at all?" Especially given that I don't recall ever conversing with you before. So thanks for your apology; I appreciate it, and I hope we can have positive future exchanges.) Sorry if I offended you, Peter, I did mean "cute" as an affectionate term, even if I don't find the theory useful for my experience of the film. It does have a certain cleverness, however.
  18. As it so happens, I am currently Googling disc golf courses near Long Beach, but make no mistake: this tet-a-tet will most definitely be continued...!
  19. Oh suuuuure, Mr. I'd-rather-play-disc-golf-than-watch-a-movie-anyway. I don't recall you ever swearing allegiance to the infallibility of the Top 100 before. I'm surprised that you've even heard of Ordet. We're talking about the same movie, right? That's not the Danish title for The Crying Game. It's the Danish film-of-films-to-end-all-films! To paraphrase the infamous General Zod, you will kneel before its sublime artistry!
  20. Whoa...insulted? I wrote: "95% of the movie wallows in a humanity without dignity, steeped in meaningless violence" and Greg responded with, "And in this way reflects the reality of 95% of the world, probably." And you claim that you can't find any suggestion? You apparently know him personally, which I don't, so you can't hold me accountable to who he is offline; I can only go by what he writes. And a lot of people in this world--including professing Christians--do not believe or act as if they believe that all human beings have inherent dignity, so I don't think I was out of line. When Greg's later response clarified his position, I thought I may have misread his remark, but then he writes that "Asia and Africa contain the vast majority of the world's population, and evidence suggests that these are not places known to value the dignity of mankind." Speaking as someone who did mission work in Asia for months and who continues to have many friends--including a niece--from that region, I was deeply offended by his comment. I mean, Greg doesn't know me--maybe I'm Asian? I think a lot of unfortunate insinuations in this thread could have been avoided if people hadn't made negative assumptions (fueled by disagreement over a movie) and jumped to defend others by casting aspersions. But apparently, there's no end in sight... (And I think you know that my New World comment was genuine concern and not a "personal jab." Not only have I affirmed the durability of our friendship, I find it honestly impossible to have a productive conversation about a film that we disagree about if you persist in taking everything personally. And I've gone on record here citing The New World as my favorite American film from last year, so I used that example as a film in which we share strong sympathies.)
  21. That does it, Morefield--name the time and place!
  22. It did? I'm not sure what this statement means in terms of the film or in real life. 8O Well then I'm glad you know me better, unlike Greg, who for some reason wants to cast me into such a mold. I don't feel "dismissive" of your reaction (please don't turn this into another New World persecution complex), I simply don't understand it and I still think it focuses on only one aspect of the movie. But hey, no biggie, we've disagreed on films before and we've survived. Thanks, as I will yours (although I doubt I'll literally watch the movie again). Oh yeah, "Pull my finger." Hilarious! (Not that a film needs humor.) But not in the movie, eh? I hear the book has a lot of depth. All narrative contains at least implicit ideology and receives our own as part of the interpretative process. Additionally, science fiction (or any future-oriented fiction) is a genre that exists in order to suggest "where things are going," and if a novelist or filmmaker can't muster up a modicum of reasons for the dystopian future they envision, I feel cheated. That actually makes it an alternate universe story more in the realm of fantasy than any kind of prophetic warning. Sorry Greg, this is just crazy talk. On the contrary, I like cute arguments (I meant that as a compliment to Peter) and, believe it or not, this entire board was established on the principle of theological interpretation (and political ones are always implicit, as this thread has abundantly shown). Wow, I didn't realize people were so fragile here! Yes, as I loosely wrote, apart from a major character or two. Aside from Owen, and the girl protagonist, and arguably the eccentrics Caine and Moore, virtually everyone else in the film is oppressors, revolutionaries, lunatics, or crazies. Like I said, it's the anonomous hordes of John Carpenter all over again. And I think this movie wants to be more than that.
  23. That's so great that you met with Zahedi, Darren. I'm so behind in my blog reading, but I hope you posted something about it? I haven't seen Japon, but I will if you recommend it. I was worried about what was reported as rampant animal cruelty, which I can be really sensitive about--but maybe it was overplayed? After our conversation, I checked out IMDb and noticed P
  24. And so we'll agree to disagree here. I believe all human beings have inherent dignity. Precisely, which is why I registered my difference. Vitriol? What are you talking about?
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