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Author Topic: Bondo's Great Directors  (Read 51102 times)

Bondo

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Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #120 on: June 05, 2010, 08:26:37 PM »
The Happening (M. Night Shyamalan, 2008)

Again I find myself conflicted. The premise here; nature getting revenge for man's sins against it, and doing so by causing us to kill ourselves, is interesting and creates a natural sense of tension. And the actual delivery of the scenes in which people off themselves are mostly stunningly effective.

On the other hand, this film has some of the most terrible scripting and acting I've ever witnessed. It famously inspired the SNL "Mark Wahlburg talks to animals" sketch, so I suppose we should give it at least some credit for that. Yet, the fact that no one in this film seems even remotely human does make it kind of unintentionally funny. I'd argue that this, combined with the neat aspects, sets up The Happening as a so bad it's good cult classic in about 20 years. Considering how many "classic" horror films there are with similar scripting/acting problems, I don't know why people are as harsh about this one. On this viewing I actually think more of it is intentional than I previously would have assumed and it is a little more camp horror in addition to the sci-fi. Once you look at it from that angle, it is shockingly more coherent.

I guess what I'm saying is, The Happening > Drag Me To Hell. There, I said it.

Rating: 3/5

Bondo

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Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #121 on: June 09, 2010, 12:49:24 AM »
Added Edgar Wright and re-added Steven Spielberg to the list to get to. Just thought I'd ask, am I missing anything essential from Spielberg's list? I've tried to do complete filmographies for the others (I don't generally count TV shows/TV movies, so don't effing mention Spaced, which I've watched some of), but Spielberg's done so many films that I don't really feel like being comprehensive. I've seen all of them I list except Empire of the Sun, but I've heard enough good about that to add it. Anything else I shouldn't be skipping?

Bondo

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Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #122 on: June 11, 2010, 11:52:15 PM »
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001)

Of the directors I would consider for a great directors list, John Cameron Mitchell is almost certainly the least conventional. And Hedwig and the Angry Inch has no business being a film I like. Among other things, it is structurally messy, jumping around and never really giving you a sense of time or place. Yet there is such a fantastic attitude and character embodied by Hedwig and his disintegrating search for identity.

I think it is important that I use the pronoun he here. It is highly debatable whether Hedwig is particularly transgendered. He is rather coerced by events into the operation that leaves him with the angry inch and subsequently dissatisfied at never being either man or woman enough for the men in his life. And this gender difficulty unsurprisingly leads to the cracking up we see in the film's present.

The film manages to age Mitchell very well, to the point that in the present, he's not particularly appealing, which is saying something since I usually like good drag queen or transsexual in film. But in youth you see the kind of fresh faced appeal that charmed. A more stunning feat is that of Miriam Shor as Yitzhak. I'm not sure if the first time I watched this I even knew that was an actress. I think I remember being like "really?" when reading up on Miriam when she was on Swingtown. But even having known it you have to really think about it or you wouldn't notice. Unfortunately they almost ignore her character...which I guess is fitting because I think Hedwig ignoring her is part of their relationship dynamic.

Anyway, I'm not sure I can really say Hedwig is a great film. It doesn't really speak to me in any profound way, certainly less than I remember, and is a little too frenetic to want to watch it a lot. However, it is still a fascinating character and has great music that makes me want to see a staging of the play because I think that could be very intense with live music.

Rating: 4/5

oldkid

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Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #123 on: June 13, 2010, 04:39:31 PM »
I really need to see Hedwig.  One of these days....
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

Bondo

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Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #124 on: June 14, 2010, 10:21:38 AM »
A Fistful of Fingers (Edgar Wright, 1995)

Apparently when you take Edgar Wright but deny him a budget and good actors, he makes really terrible movies. This take on the Western genre is nothing that Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz bring to their respective genres. This film is so criminally unfunny, that in the world of comedy it is considered an outlaw. This film is so criminally unfunny that there is a large reward for watching it, dead or alive. I recommend dead. This film is so criminally unfunny, it makes us willing to forgive the less savage criminals in order to help fight off this one. This film is so criminally unfunny, that even ready access to prostitutes doesn't make it worth the risk. This film is so criminally unfunny, it makes you hope it dies of tuberculosis. This film is so criminally unfunny, I can't even make an OK Corral joke lest I accidentally suggest it is average.

Anyway, it makes me wonder if I really liked Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, or perhaps whether I should credit Simon Pegg for their success, which could bode less well for a film like Scott Pilgrim.

Rating: 1/5

Bondo

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Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #125 on: June 19, 2010, 10:21:03 PM »
Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell, 2006)

As I was starting to watch this film (second viewing), it struck me. This is essentially a narrative film adaptation of Dan Savage’s multimedia universe of sex and relationship advice. And I love his work so perhaps it is no surprise I love this film, which I consider better than Hedwig. If you’ve read/listened to Savage’s stuff, it captures the rich diversity of sexual fetishes and peccadilloes that in many ways drive people. It is not for the faint of heart. As one might expect based on that kind of unofficial source material, this is perhaps the most sexually explicit mainstream film ever. It is a catalog of unsimulated, unconventional sexual activity. But unlike many films that use this simply to draw in lecherous eyes, Shortbus really makes it work to further the story.

Anyway, the film starts with a sort of helicopter trip around an animated NYC, peeking into windows to see a variety of people engaged in sexual activity. Eventually, we are introduced to a nightclub, Shortbus, where all manner of attractive, young people interested in alternate lifestyles gather. Basically the film is just watching all the characters interact. The dialogue here, not sure how much is ad lib, feels so natural and funny. I just love spending 100 minutes in this group of people. I’d actually compare it with Linklater’s style of flowing conversations around a theme.

Given the content of the film, I feel hesitant to recommend it despite my own love for the film. It takes someone with an extraordinarily open mind and high tolerance for sexual material. In this way, I think Hedwig serves as a useful test. If one finds Hedwig to be pushing the borders of good taste or acceptability, steer clear of Shortbus. Of course, there is a line “voyeurism is a form of participation” and I think that goes straight out to the viewer, no matter how they use this film, saying that by observing it, they are in their own way a part of the film and there is a kind of magic to that. It was already in my top 100, but after this viewing it will be climbing higher.

Rating: 5/5

mañana

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Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #126 on: June 20, 2010, 02:33:05 PM »
Nice Shortbus review, Bondo. I'm gonna catch up with that film one of these days. Sook-Yin!
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smirnoff

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Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #127 on: June 20, 2010, 10:07:50 PM »
Nice Shortbus review, Bondo. I'm gonna catch up with that film one of these days. Sook-Yin!

I'd watch it just for her :)

Bondo

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Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #128 on: June 23, 2010, 06:56:35 PM »
Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004)

After rewatching this, I have to say I'm still uneasy listing Edgar Wright in a Great Directors marathon because it is hard to sort out whether my enjoyment of this film has more to do with Edgar Wright or with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The first half of this film is truly brilliant entertainment. It does not suffer from seeking the dumb gag like Fistful of Fingers. There is a really mannered nature to the jokes, both in the delivery of Pegg and Frost but also in the way the camera captures things in the background. Basically until they get to the Winchester for the final time, I was really enjoying the ride.

But at that point, it is far less of a comedy and far more of a zombie film. Many have credited the ability of the film to switch into this gear and be a legitimate entry into the genre as a mark in its favor. I find the final third to be the weak point in the film and I do think Wright gets the blame for that. The film simply doesn't work as a good zombie film because it is too willing to put the tension on hold for the sake of a long conversation. It doesn't have the quality in this that a truly spectacular film like 28 Days Later or even 28 Weeks and Dawn of the Dead (2004) in being able to create interesting moments as pure zombie film. And with the comedy being less effective, you are left with some rather bland stuff.

Certainly still enough here to recommend but I don't think it attains quite the level that many claim of it. I dare say my next film in the marathon is the superior entry, but I shall wait until I see that one again to say for sure.

Rating: 4/5

1SO

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Re: Revisiting Great Directors
« Reply #129 on: June 24, 2010, 03:04:32 PM »
The film simply doesn't work as a good zombie film because it is too willing to put the tension on hold for the sake of a long conversation. It doesn't have the quality in this that a truly spectacular film like 28 Days Later or even 28 Weeks and Dawn of the Dead (2004) in being able to create interesting moments as pure zombie film. And with the comedy being less effective, you are left with some rather bland stuff.

Certainly still enough here to recommend but I don't think it attains quite the level that many claim of it. I dare say my next film in the marathon is the superior entry, but I shall wait until I see that one again to say for sure.

This. 

Bondo, once again you and I are in complete agreement here.  I really enjoy Shaun, but your criticism is precisely why Hot Fuzz (which never stop building tension, excitement and laughs) is the better film.
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