Cinema

This was originally a “page” on my blog that I updated from time to time. But I like using the chronological format of a blog better now. Be sure to check out the Reading, Watching, Listening category of this blog!

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(4-11-08) Caught Jerome Bixby’s The Man From Earth. Enjoyable

(4-2-08) Saw Being There. I absolutely loved it.

(3-29-08)I’ve been perseverating on the movie Fearless for a while. I hadn’t seen it in years so I rented it with Charlotte. I considered for a long while exactly -why- I was so engrossed with the film. It’s that life-changing moment, such a change is, in part, put upon the character and part of it comes from within. I took a look at some other movies and found that awakening-moment in a lot of them.

Fearless – 1993 – Max knows the plane is going to crash, he looks out the window to see a blinding reflection of sunlight on the plane and realizes that he isn’t afraid.The Matrix – Neo is shot at by the agents, he raises his hand serenely and says “No”.

Run Lola Run – Lola is lying face up, dying on the street, befuddled at how the day could have ended up going so poorly. She decides what “has to be done” and says “Stop.” The day begins again.

Ratatouille – 2007- (1:36:27) Anton Ego tastes the Ratatouille Remy made. The experience throws him forcefully back to a moment in his childhood. The wheels on his busted bike still spinning, he comes home nearly in tears and his mother serves him the greatest comfort-food a boy could ever have.

L.A. Story – 1991 – Quoting the characters:

Sara: And if I were to go?
Harris: All I know is, on the day your plane was to leave, if I had the power, I would turn the winds around, I would roll in the fog, I would bring in storms, I would change the polarity of the earth so compasses couldn’t work, so your plane couldn’t take off.

That isn’t the moment. The moment is when it actually happens.

Eraserhead – He is staring at the murmuring radiator.

Waiting for Godot – This from the script, the last lines in the play:

VLADIMIR:
Well? Shall we go?
ESTRAGON:
Yes, let’s go.
They do not move.

Henry V -1989 – The St Crispin’s Day speech

Groundhog Day – it’s hard to tell… I suppose the entire movie was about that realization moment.

Koyaanisqatsi – There is a crowded escalator, people are decending, the music is… well, the music is Phillip Glass, and I make eye contact with one person in the throng.
Movie Reviews3-22-05: Run Lola Run is a beautiful film. This is the first action movie I’ve ever seen who’s main focus was the philosophical construct of determinism. There is a moment in the film that is quite comparable to the brilliant moment in The Matrix (before all those other Matrix movies ruined it) after Neo is shot, he stands up again and says, “No” to the rain of bullets coming at him. But this movie is far more direct. Far more simple. It’s about love causing transcendence.

8-9-03: Monsters Inc. Why didn’t someone command me to see this movie?! I laughed out loud for an hour and a half! The details bedazzled me (did you pause the movie to read the headlines of the newspaper Roz was reading?), the animation rocked, the story warmed my heart and was tight and…. and …. gush gush gush. Wow. I’m in awe of the completeness of this zany world they created. Thank you, Pixar people, Disney people!

3-3-03: Donnie Darko is an incredible movie. I found it much more interesting the second time through, with the Director’s commentary turned on. Director commentary tracks can really change and expand the way the viewer sees a movie!

2-24-03 Princess Mononoke. I’ve said in the past that I’d like to see more films where the line between good guys and bad guys isn’t so distinct. Where it’s not as simple as good vs. evil, good wins, fade to black. I recall being very impressed with Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven several years ago. Well, Princess Mononoke pretty much freaked me out because it struck so hard at that chord, my head is all a-jumble. It’s set me off kilter and it saddens me. The forces at work in this world are stronger than most of the characters that are led by them. Everyone is led by destiny, or vendetta, or instinct, or honor, or rank. And most of the time, their motivation is their Achilles heel. Furthermore, the forces at play are ones that, at their most fundamental level, must tear and destroy their opposing forces. Never mind the finale music at the end of this movie, each surviving character…. or to put it more appropriately… each of the forces that we saw at the beginning of the film is just as ready to tear the throat out of anyone else that would oppose them.

“When the forest has been cleared and the wolves wiped out, this place will be the richest land in the world.” Lady Eboshi. And to do that, she has to get her team of leper engineers to design the best rifle possible to kill the very Spirit of the forest (and anyone else that would oppose her) and set ambush for an army of boars attacking because she had poisoned their god. And she’s just one of the amoral lead players in this film.

“We are not trying to solve global problems with this film. There can be no happy ending to the war between the rampaging forest gods and humanity. But even in the midst of hatred and slaughter, there is still much to live for. Wonderful encounters and beautiful things still exist.”–Miyazaki, in a statement quoted in PRINCESS MONONOKE: THE ART AND MAKING OF JAPAN’S MOST POPULAR FILM OF ALL TIME

2-15-03: Notes… I find that I really appreciate media with absurdist elements. The TV show Scrubs is a good example… It’s a mostly realistic drama, but the viewers get a humorous, absurdist slant on character motivations. The characters sometimes say EXACTLY what they are thinking instead of just what a real person would say. The show then keeps it’s feet on the ground by having the other characters respond (for the most part) to what the original speaker meant to say, instead of what we all actually heard. We get a window on their id.


Want to watch a good movie? Find one at the IMDB Top Rated Films list.


The following lists don’t necessarily represent films that I think are
“good”, they are about films I think are “important”. Films
that have changed the way I look at the world include:Major effect

  • Genghis Blues. 7-3-01. It’s moving… moreso that it’s a true story!
  • Wings of Desire – The ’98 film “City of Angels”, though sporting a nice soundtrack, is a poor copy of this masterpiece.
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory I didn’t realize how important this film was to my psyche until I saw it on Pier 25 in NYC in Aug 2001. At one point, the projector stopped but the sound kept going and I knew that I didn’t have to -see- the film to remember it frame-by-frame. It’s a far more adult oriented film than it was billed as. To this day, I use phrases from that movie in my everyday life. I couldn’t tell you offhand which ones they are because they are so ingrained in me.
  • L.A. Story
  • Grand Canyon
  • Better off Dead
  • Clerks
  • Psychos in Love Read my review of the film on the IMDB.
  • Breakfast Club The quintessential ’80’s teenager film (Hey, I was an ’80’s teenager)
  • Eraserhead I caught this in a tiny viewing room in the Tufts Library in… ’90 or ’91. I admit that I saw this film with a heavy hand on the Fast Forward button. But there are all these important images and “concepts” (yes, I put “concepts” in quotes) that it puts forth.
  • so many short films!
  • Buckaroo Banzai
  • Wargames
  • Holiday Inn – Dancing with Fred Astaire and Marjorie Reynolds
  • Henry V – After the St. Crispin’s Day speech, I would have gone to war for him too
  • Groundhog Day – I know, it’s just some cute little comedy with Billl Murray. Ask me sometime in person why this film had a major impact in how I think about the world.
  • Fearless

Minor effect

  • Office Space – 11-19-02. I’ve seen it a bunch of times before but it is even more poignant now that I’m rethinking my continued Dilbertness.
  • Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within – I finally got to seeing this 10-8-02 with Shara on Tivo. It was just so frigging cool! The visual was so more than real… transcendently pushing though the envelope into another level of existence! Wow. Wow. Wow. Of course, I don’t understand quite what it was about either… it looked like they forgot to mention a couple things before the closing credits but it way more than made up for it in sheer coolocity! Did I tell you yet that it was cool? Shara unfortunately didn’t quite share my enthusiasm for this film’s coolness, leaving me to rant on my web page instead of to a real person. Ah! I figured out what it was about! It took me about 3 viewings and some daydreaming before I got it. The message is as transcendental as the visuals. Rebirth, reincarnation, the resilience of the human spirit (and other spirits), forgiveness, wonderment, the innate beauty of life and the importance of that beauty. And I’m honored that the film makers didn’t just explain these concepts to us, the viewers. He demonstrated them by putting up a mirror to our own souls and letting us gaze. Heavy. Cool. Yeah. :-)
  • Des Morceaux de ma Femme – a 6 min short I saw 5-16-02. I understand the main character’s need to cast away his old life in the face of lost love.
  • Brainstorm
  • Strictly Ballroom
  • The Dead
  • Romeo + Juliet -1996,West Side Story meets Shakespeare! This version is the most accessible, the sexiest, the fastest, the coolest.
  • Big Night
  • Metropolis
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth
  • Field of Dreams
  • Koyaanisqatsi
  • Chasing Amy- Been there, done that.
  • Harold and Maude – Been there, done that.
  • A Single Girl – This French flick where we get to watch this woman working as a maid in a hotel in PAINSTAKING real time.. One can learn from their cinematic mistakes too.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
  • Deathstalker and Deathstalker II – Bad warrior flix at their best
  • Excalibur Through the entire film, all the knights are either in full plate or naked. Not bad, eh? But seriously, this portrays (and develops on it’s own) the King Arthur legend like no other.
  • Highlander There is only one Highlander film. Forget the other two.
  • Heavy Metal
  • Cinema Paradiso
  • Casablanca
  • Blade Runner This -is- cyberpunk.
  • Reservoir Dogs
  • Das Boot
  • The Princess Bride
  • The Boys in Company C – I really didn’t like watching this film. It’s extremely critical of the Vietnam war by introducing the “war is hell” genre. Made a year before Apocalypse Now, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket feel like re-makes of this film. I hated it. It gives me nightmares. That is part of the reason why it is an “important” film.
  • So many Hong Kong Kung Fu movies! – Especially the wacky ones… ones with Pogo Stick Vampires for instance! And ones with exploding chickens and rooms filled with ladders! Wee!
  • Repo Man – It’s so surreal… or is it? It pulls on several strings… the fear of nuclear things, that primal fear most people have of being too close to weird people..
  • The Four Corners of Nowhere

General ratings: These films might not have changed the way I think about the world but I recommend them.

  • The Matrix.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (saw twice, spring of 2001) What a magical tale it tells :-)
  • The American President – (seen again for the 2nd or 3rd time 5-11-02) – The story was written with such grace. It’s such a refreshingly pleasant ride. It makes me want to believe in politics again, in love again, in the strength of human character again. It inspires me to be a patriot. The story makes me think of the speech that Senator John Glenn gave upon his retirement from politics. (I looked for this speech online and was very disappointed to not find it. If you can locate it, I’d be very grateful!) It was the kind of speech that makes you want to believe in something as sappy as truth, justice and the American way. But the absolute best thing about this movie is that it shows that dignity can be sexy.
  • American Beauty – (saw Wednesday November 24, 1999 with my folks in Florida)
  • The Red Violin – (saw Jul-Aug? 1999 with Miriam and Rebecca) On the way out, I asked if we could go see the next showing of this film. It was that good.
  • Spirited Away / Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi – (saw November 2002 at AMC 25 in NYC) A rich tale, probably suitable for children as well as adults because of the layering of themes. A beautiful escapist film. It really takes to to another world.

Writer/Directors I admire and the works I favor:

  • Richard Kelly – Donnie Darko
  • M Night Shyamalan – Signs, Bound, The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable

Sloppy/Bad Directors:

  • Wes Anderson – The Royal Tenenbaums. Script needed work, Direction needed work
  • Kinka Usher – Mystery Men. This could have been a really good movie, but it was brought down by directorial sloppiness and suckiness

7-15-03Here are my ratings from my 6 month subscription to Netflix.

—-Your 5.0-Star Ratings—-
Harold and Maude
Koyaanisqatsi
Donnie Darko
The Matrix
The Sopranos: Season 1: Disc 1
Excalibur
Clerks
Moulin Rouge
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Life Is Beautiful
Galaxy Quest
The Matrix: Revisited
Romeo + Juliet
Blade Runner
The Man Who Fell to Earth
Das Boot
Ocean’s Eleven
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Big Night
Beetlejuice
Real Genius
The Terminator
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
The Prisoner: Vol. 1
The American President
Forbidden Planet
Signs
Fearless
L. A. Story
Dark Star
Metropolis
The Blair Witch Project
Genghis Blues
Cinema Paradiso: Director’s Cut
Spirited Away
Brainstorm
Groundhog Day —-Your 4.0-Star Ratings—-
Beverly Hills Cop
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Four Weddings and a Funeral
The Red Violin
Erin Brockovich
Spy Kids
Chocolat
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Repo Man
Princess Mononoke
The World According to Garp
Lexx: Series 2: Vol. 1
Going My Way / Holiday Inn
The Sixth Sense
Being John Malkovich
Revenge of the Nerds / Revenge of the Nerds 2
Memento
Total Recall
Strictly Ballroom
Good Will Hunting
Jerry Maguire
Die Hard
Escape from New York
Brewster’s Millions
Deathstalker
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai
Better Off Dead
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Big
Chasing Amy
Grand Canyon
The Emperor’s Club
The Fifth Element
Braveheart
Almost Famous
Dogma
A Fish Called Wanda
Forrest Gump
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Killer Klowns from Outer Space
My Cousin Vinny
Roxanne
Six Degrees of Separation
RoboCop
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The Conversation
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
Field of Dreams
The Fast and the Furious
Blast from the Past
Monsters, Inc.
Cast Away
National Lampoon’s Vacation
Enemy Mine
Risky Business
American Beauty
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Life as a House
Predator
Glengarry Glen Ross
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Joe Somebody
Toy Story
—-Your 3.0-Star Ratings —-
Vanilla Sky
Ghost
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Mummy
The Hunt for Red October
Short #6: Insanity
Fight Club
Quest for Fire
The Mummy Returns
I Shot Andy Warhol
Monster’s Ball
Men in Black
Mission: Impossible
48 Hrs.
Revolution OS
Jurassic Park
Mr. Deeds
Swordfish
Time After Time
City Slickers
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Porky’s / Porky’s 2: Double Feature
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Showtime
U-571
Catch Me If You Can
The Silence of the Lambs
The Sum of All Fears
Shallow Hal
Minority Report
Unbreakable
Enemy of the State
The Thing
Pretty Woman
Best in Show
Flashback
Predator 2
Johnny Mnemonic
Jackson Pollock: Love and Death on Long Island
Crocodile Dundee
Cirque du Soleil: Novelle Experience
Goldfinger
The Man with the Golden Gun
The Transporter
Tank Girl
The X-Files: Fight the Future
Changing Lanes —-Your 2.0-Star Ratings —-
Fletch
The Four Feathers
Monkeybone
13 Conversations About One Thing
Planet of the Apes
Hearts in Atlantis
The Man with Two Brains
Mystery Men
Panic Room
The Cannonball Run II
K-Pax
Innerspace
Krull
Every Which Way But Loose
The Black Hole
The Royal Tenenbaums
Evolution: The Animated Movie—-Your 1.0-Star Ratings —-
Charlie’s Angels
Grave of the Fireflies
XXX: Special Edition
Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams
Star Trek: Insurrection
Fast, Cheap & Out of Control
The One
Spider-Man
V: The Final Battle: Disc 1
The Princess Diaries

Over those 6 months, I rented 39 titles… $120/39 = $3.08 per title… delivered to my house. Personal conclusion: Yes, Netflix is worth it. I extended the membership by 1 month. Well, actually I forgot to cancel it before the due date. So I decided to fill up my Tivo for a month. I captured 17 movies in that month, lowering my overall cost to $2.53 per title. That’s a lot of movies!


You probably don’t want to see this this, but here is my rental history from February to August 2003

Movie Title                                                 Shipped        Returned
The Deep End                                                08/26/03       08/28/03

Happy Accidents                                             08/25/03       08/27/03

Baraka                                                      08/25/03       08/27/03

A Beautiful Mind (2001)                                     08/22/03       08/26/03

Space: 1999: Vol. 1 (1975)                                  08/15/03       08/25/03

Frequency (2000)                                            08/19/03       08/25/03

Powaqqatsi (1988)                                           08/18/03       08/22/03

Road to Perdition (2002)                                    08/11/03       08/18/03

Sabrina (1954)                                              08/11/03       08/18/03

Wide Awake (1998)                                           08/12/03       08/15/03

No Man's Land (2001)                                        08/08/03       08/12/03

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)            08/07/03       08/11/03

Old School (2003)                                           08/06/03       08/11/03

The Reduced Shakespeare Company (2000)                      08/01/03       08/08/03

Like Mike (2002)                                            08/04/03       08/07/03

The Pianist (2002)                                          07/15/03       08/06/03

Shanghai Noon (2000)                                        07/29/03       08/04/03

Children of Dune: Disc 2 (2003)                             07/28/03       08/01/03

Children of Dune: Disc 1 (2003)                             07/15/03       07/29/03

Autofocus (2002)                                            07/22/03       07/28/03

Punch-Drunk Love (2002)                                     07/15/03       07/22/03

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002)               06/17/03       07/15/03

Koyannisqatsi (1983)                                        06/02/03       07/15/03

South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (1999)                 06/17/03       07/15/03

City by the Sea (2002)                                      06/06/03       06/17/03

Catch Me If You Can (2002)                                  06/06/03       06/17/03

Best in Show (2000)                                         05/09/03       06/06/03

High Fidelity (2000)                                        05/21/03       06/06/03

The Four Feathers: Collector's Edition (2002)               05/21/03       06/02/03

Moonlight Mile (2002)                                       05/08/03       05/21/03

Glengarry Glen Ross: Special Edition (1992)                 05/13/03       05/21/03

The Emperor's Club (2002)                                   05/06/03       05/13/03

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)                               04/21/03       05/09/03

K-Pax (2001)                                                04/30/03       05/08/03

Chocolat (2000)                                             04/30/03       05/06/03

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)        04/22/03       04/30/03

Short #6: Insanity (1999)                                   04/14/03       04/30/03

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)                       04/10/03       04/21/03

13 Conversations About One Thing (2002)                     04/10/03       04/21/03

Legend of 1900 (1998)                                       03/26/03       04/14/03

Cirque du Soleil: Novelle Experience (1991)                 03/26/03       04/10/03

Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (1997)                         03/17/03       04/10/03

Dark Star: Director's Cut (1974)                            03/21/03       03/26/03

Memento (2000)                                              03/11/03       03/25/03

XXX: Special Edition (2002)                                 03/17/03       03/21/03

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)                             03/03/03       03/17/03

Jackson Pollock: Love and Death on Long Island (1999)       03/05/03       03/17/03

Fight Club (1999)                                           03/04/03       03/11/03

Donnie Darko (2001)                                         02/25/03       03/05/03

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)                                 02/26/03       03/04/03

The Matrix: Revisited (2001)                                02/20/03       02/28/03

Princess Mononoke (1997)                                    02/20/03       02/26/03

Mystery Men (1999)                                          02/21/03       02/25/03

Changing Lanes (2002)                                       02/14/03       02/21/03

Mr. Deeds (2002)                                            02/03/03       02/20/03

Signs: Special Edition (2002)                               02/14/03       02/20/03

Panic Room (2002)                                           02/03/03       02/14/03

Minority Report (2002)                                      02/03/03       02/14/03

You probably don’t want to see this either, but here is my queue list (movies that I want to see next), July 15, 2003

Seven Samurai

Wide Awake

Space: 1999: Vol. 1

Powaqqatsi

Frequency

Heathers

Randy Newman: At the Odeon

The Master of the Rings

Mysteries of Magic: The Impossible �

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship: Bonus Disc

Dogtown and Z-Boys

Faust

Heavenly Creatures

Meet the Feebles

Lathe of Heaven

America's Most Scenic Drives: Disc 1

Unsolved Mysteries of World War II: Vol. 2

Aelita, Queen of Mars

Secret Agent A.K.A. Danger Man: Vol. 1

Shanghai Noon

Auto Focus

Insomnia

Once Upon a Time in China

24: Season 1: Disc 1

Taxi Driver

Evolution: Disc 1

Phone Booth
---DVDs Awaiting Release---

Naqoyqatsi

Head of State

Blue Car

Shaolin Soccer

The Way Things Go

Swimming Pool

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