What Films Are We Watching?

Started by Something Spanish, March 31, 2018, 04:59:34 PM

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Something Spanish

Saw Julien Donkey-Boy over the weekend on 35mm, not sure what to make of that one. It's a ballsy  experiment, giving you the feeling you're watching a disturbed family's home movies, all the more so since it was shot on mini-DV, ultimately not adding up to any traditional satisfaction, though I can't say I regret the experience. Korrine's intentions of putting you in the shoes of a young schizophrenic ultimately pays off, achieving his intended desire, especially since it all fees so authentic, making you forget at times you're watching a movie. Not much happens throughout, except Korrine's depiction of life with mental illness. We basically join Julien in his daily routines. Herzog is funny in the father role, berating his family with off-beat insults, and Ewen Bremner leaves little doubt that he is heavily deranged. Would like to revisit down the road, but way down; the last 5-10 minutes aren't easy to watch.

Realizing that I haven't seen a new Adam Sandler movie since That's My Boy (probably a good thing), I wound up watching Sandy Wexler, and to my surprise enjoyed it for the most part. Sandler is great in an otherwise mediocre to shitty movie and elevates the schlock to a watchable level. The romantic inclinations were beyond corny and unbelievable, like that 90's Woody Allen playing a love interest, the rest was pretty fun and watching Sandler inhabit this character was impressive. Felt like it had the spirit of his earlier flicks like Big Daddy and Deeds, with plenty of moronic cameos from pals like Rob Schneider and Nick Swardson, both generally always good for a few laughs. Would give it a C+. My next move would prove unwise, thinking one good Sandler turn deserves another, I hit play on The Do-Over. That one was bad. Very much so.

Saw most of Tropic Thunder, too. Didn't hold up as well and I was surprisingly turned off the way Stiller spoofs graphic intestine spilling war battles. 

Something Spanish

Pulp Fiction on 35mm this weekend. This is the movie that opened my eyes to the possibilities of filmmaking, that raised me, that took me from PG-13 to R, that intensified my movie obsession like nothing else. Before Pulp it was Gremlins 2, Roger Rabbit, Jurassic Park and Jim Carrey, after it was Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Untouchables. I can remember seeing the TV/print ads at 11 and reading the script, my first ever, at 12. I remember renting the VHS dozens of times and the joy of buying a copy on cassette for my 13th birthday once the price wasn't over $100 (ownership was a struggle on its own since my mom's boyfriend had a bug up his ass about me watching R movies, but that's another story). The screenplay put me in a permanent trance, the dialogue opening portals in my brain though which Scorsese/Coppola/Depalma would soon  stampede through. Those who remember the impact Pulp had at the time know what I'm talking about; it birthed a generation of filmmakers. I've seen it on the big screen once before, an experience that can never get old and that I'll always take advantage of given the opportunity. Not going to get into why this film earns its reputation as one of the GOAT's, but seeing it in my 30's the part that always stands out is the last few minutes, when Jules flips the tables on Pumpkin, holding him at gunpoint. That last speech, where he gives personal meaning to Ezekiel 25:17 is a TKO, saying more about the gangster genre that any flick since.

Something Spanish

Smack in the middle of reading Cassavetes on Cassavetes, decided to watch Husbands for the first time last night. The only other Cassavetes I've seen are Shadows and Love Streams (edit: actually saw Minnie and Moskowitz) , both very interesting. I'm on the Husbands chapter and kept falling asleep trying to watch Faces 2/3 times earlier in the week, most likely induced by the B&W, so wanted to switch it up a bit. Husbands was alright, not as impressive as Shadows, feeling too indulgent for the most part, but at least it was not boring. When you have Cassavetes, Falk, and Gazzarra starring boring is far from problematic. Reading the Cassavetes book, the main takeaway is that the man's sole focus while he's making a movie is his actors' performance and doing everything in his power to bring out the most truthful performance possible. Everything is in service of the performance. I can't say I learned anything about human nature or behavior, as is somewhat intended according to the book, but the trio's chemistry was enough to hold interest. I always assumed the three were tight buds before they got together for Husbands, apparently not the case, although you'd be convinced otherwise when watching it. Their camaraderie makes the flick what it is, and Cassavetes is always so fun when onscreen, in all his roles, not just Husbands. 


just watched this, and thought it had that movie magic that I can't put my finger on or try to explain without spoiling it - but I recommend it to everyone!


It's a very imaginative movie. I got scared by the frenetic japanese rhythm of the first twenty minutes, but that movie just transports you.

Jeremy Blackman

Just caught up with Atomic Blonde because it's on HBO Now.

Pros: Some of the best continuous-shot fight scenes I've ever seen. Not unlike that Daredevil scene that went viral. Worth watching just for that. And Charlize sells everything so hard.

Cons: The rest of the movie is either (A) a character smoking a cigarette or (B) the most boring/obvious 80s pop hit one could possibly choose. Sometimes both.


I spent the whole time feeling bad for Charlize for committing so hard to a movie that was so intent on not living up to her.

I wasn't even as impressed with the fight scenes as I thought I was going to be. For all that the John Wick dudes are amazing at choreography, they've never figured out where to put the camera so it looks like the people are actually hitting each other.
My house, my rules, my coffee


Finally got a chance to watch Sebastián Silva's "Magic Magic," the better half of his 2013 "Let's fly Michael Cera down to Chile and shoot some movies" duology. I do not suffer from paranoid schizophrenia myself, nor do I have direct experience with it, but I'm pretty sure nonetheless that this is one of the better cinematic portrayals of it. Certainly better than the cartoonish approach of "A Beautiful Mind," and much more restrained and convincing than Lodge Kerrigan's massively overrated "Clean, Shaven" and "Keane." There are some really savvy cinematic storytelling techniques at play, though it never once feels showy or ostentatious.

This is to date the only movie I've seen that fully utilizes Michael Cera as an actual actor more than a screen presence (while also taking full advantage of the somewhat off-putting nature of said screen presence). And the fact that we're not constantly talking about Juno Temple as one of the great actors of her generation is some serious bullshit. She's fearless and she's honest, beyond anyone else I can think to compare her to, and that's everything I ask for out of an actor.
My house, my rules, my coffee


Just Withnail and i were walking by CBS Television City, and i told him, you know, "this is where they shoot Price is Right, and James Corden's show." and then Just Withnail mentioned that James Corden was in Mike Leigh's All or Nothing, and i hadn't realized that so i about flipped out. Just Withnail said something like, "you got a movie to watch tonight!" and i'm actually not one prone to accepting suggestions from others, but because of the environment and just the right timing and everything, because All or Nothing is 1 of 2 Mike Leigh movies i own on dvd (others on blu-ray), it did so happen that i watched All or Nothing soon after and, now, true story, i'm making this post about it.

i think James Corden did a fine job acting. and--oh--the beginning of Sally Hawkins! well i'll be. it's been over ten years since i last watched All or Nothing. Lesley Manville is in it too. and Timothy Spall's gaping mouth plays a major role. maybe the first hour of this movie is flawless? it starts off so strong. i can't remember what i thought about it a decade ago, but i probably haven't watched it since that long ago because the ending doesn't quite impress me. it emphasizes narrative themes that to me were latent and unexpressed but completely present since the beginning. so to me it's like the second hour explains the first hour, and plus it's a two hour long movie. oh, now i'm being hard on it, no i didn't begin this post to be hard on All or Nothing. who portrays real normal and flawed people better than Mike Leigh? Ken Loach is perhaps his equal and they're both better than America, because of their commitment, because they don't use these types of movies as stepping stones toward a Hollywood career.


i went to see Lubitsch's So This Is Paris on the opening night of its series coinciding with the release of Joseph McBride's How Did Lubitsch Do It?, which btw isn't titled The Lubitsch Touch because a book is already titled that and in fact The Lubitsch Touch was a popular expression during his career while he was alive and Billy Wilder worshipped him. i saw the movie in the Billy Wilder Theater, and everyone was mentioning how Lubitsch was better than Wilder. like for example the fact is How Did Lubitsch Do It? was written on a sign owned by Wilder. that's funny enough. so, Lubitsch was the name known as a director before Hitchcock*.  i sat in Peter Bogdanovich's row Peter sat at the end by the aisle i think i correctly remember that he was wearing sunglasses when speaking as offered during a post-movie q&a with for example Lubitsch's daughter who was a naturally awesome person obviously by the way. Peter mentioned that Renoir mentioned that Lubitsch invented Hollywood, then Peter explained he meant that before Lubitsch Hollywood was DW Griffith and Lubitsch made Hollywood cosmopolitan (*it does seem clear that Griffith was the first director known by name). then Peter made a dig at contemporary comedies, mentioning how they aren't as good, and a theater full of mostly old people absolutely agreed with him. Peter didn't mention him but from background conversations btw i think Apatow is perceived as like leader of church of satan-type comedian in terms of middlebrow comedy which they hate the same as lowbrow comedy but middlebrow gives them the chills because it's the closest enemy i think. it's also tough not to notice how intricately woven Lubitsch is. he's his own breed and his movies literally taken place in his own world. oh and he invented romantic comedies and the musical. everyone in the theater fucking died with laughter when Peter said other people were confused about what to do when sound film began and Lubitsch said "gonna make a musical duh" (obvs exact quote). the movie itself was a real kick and utter delight i had to see it because of course i did. i didn't see a young person who looked like a young me i saw a few young people who looked like the kind of people who weren't like me when i was young too. of course again as always i observed the elderly cinephiles and thought about life etc you know.


so i went to my friend's and watched Shanghai Express, which i'd been dying to see since forever. Anna May Wong is a name i became familiar with--she's savage and elegant in this movie. the beginning train station is outrageous next level. it's beyond. when the animal stops the train on the tracks! what a moment. oh i was glad as hell i watched this movie.

with the same friend we watched Sundays and Cybèle. have you seen it? can they please just have been friends? i'm really hoping i don't hear otherwise, i'm hoping the movie thought of them as just friends too, in fact i'm hoping that was a narrative point like i think it was. it did win on Oscar too after all. it's just nutso well made. ugh. it was so good it turned me into a mouth breather.

and i watched Barton Fink on my own. oh i watched Bad Lieutenant on my own too. you know what? oh you already know. well i'll mention it anyway: now my King of New York blu-ray skips. that was quite devastating, but i checked it another player to make sure it was the disc and not the player. it's the disc. but i first brought up Barton Fink, so let me get back to that. it's interesting to me that it's the writer whom i'm obsessed with thinking about, but Charlie Meadows brings the flames. how easy it is for me to picture the entire movie happening because of Barton. i don't think the Faulkner character is essential. his secretary is essential, because of that great mosquito slap. i don't think the navy vs army dance-off is essential. but how fun these extra things are anyway, and they help set this movie's atmosphere. the Coens can stay on track and fuck around like nobody's business.

and i went to see Oyster Princess, I Don't Want To Be A Man, and Forbidden Paradise. Ossi Oswalda is a name to know! such unbelievable personality. and the first vamp, Pola Negri. Lubitsch impresses me even when i know how he'll impress me. his reality is so delightful.


lol i keep almost writing this post, this page open

i watched my Shampoo dvd to think ahead re upcoming criterion release.

it's written by Beatty and Robert Towne, directed by Hal Ashby, first Hollywood role for Carrie Fisher, with Goldie Hawn, Julie Christie, Lee Grant and Jack Warden (actors Oscar nominated for this movie), László Kovács dp, Richard Sylbert production designer, music by Paul Simon

so that's insanely impressive and absolutely perfect for the time period.

the election night party is cutting edge good. fully interwoven characters, every actor fully engaged. just nailing it left and right. the bulk of this movie is spectacular. i accredit all the sprinkled in perfect lines to Robert Towne based on guessing.

though i submit that the overall narrative is conservative. it benefits Beatty because we come to feel sorry for him, but the audience cares about him to the extent that Jack Warden plays the more challenging character who wins the audience brightens the theme won the Oscar and he was a Republican even. now, it is a smart and progressive movie in that context actually, in that favoring the left is the Hollywood thing to do. Warden stays a Republican but turns out to be the better man. that's healthy thinking, that's fine. good men are republicans. but what i'm saying is the movie tidies itself up too cleanly by the ending. and perhaps you think--hmm you are always against that, what do you see as the benefit to your fight? and i can tell you clearly: life is not simple, that is a lie. that is politics. life is not easy. and as i grow and age etc what i learn more and more is that the complex is not simple. so i don't appreciate when a movie turns the complex into simple. this production method limits its dynamics to me.


Man, wish more young cats would start ripping off Ashby. With the possible exception of Harold and Maude, his style has never quite been aped so readily as all the other 70s stalwarts, and yet, I find it so vital and relevant. Re-watched The Landlord recently and just damn, what a picture. Maybe even ahead of our times.

And Shampoo, yeah. Imagine somebody made Shampoo today. We'd all love them. Cool, humanist movies, actually funny comedies and sincerely tragic dramas, kinda equally shaggy and sharp, stylistically interesting but subtle and humble. With the exception of Bound For Glory, you could make these movies cheap too.



This raises a good question; are there any current filmmakers who might be considered the standard-bearer for the continuation of the Ashby aesthetic? Baumbach and Gerwig come to mind... anyone else?
My house, my rules, my coffee