Seen in 2006

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  1. Favorite Movies Seen in 2006

  2. [Really Liked] L'Enfant (2005, Jean-Pierre Dardenne)
  3. [Liked] A Cock and Bull Story (2005, Michael Winterbottom)
  4. [Liked] The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005, Tommy Lee Jones)
  5. [Loved] Satantango (1994, Bela Tarr) The more films I watch, and the more professional criticism I read, the more I realize that I am totally unqualified to critique film. Still, my best guess at the greatest film of all time remains Persona, and I have a suspicion that Satantango is among the all-time greats. But whatever its true value, Satantango is surely an enjoyable and awe-inspiring film, sort of like Tarkovsky but with subtle black comedy. There are even a couple shots that make that show-boating Sokurov look like a pussy. :) I had planned to watch this 7.5-hour butt-number over the course of a week, but I ended up watching the whole thing in one stretch.
  6. [Meh] Mr. Arkadin (1955, Orson Welles) [the Comprehensive Edit by Criterion] I haven't seen any of the other edits. Very stylish, but not at all convincing. Welles is so hit and miss.
  7. [Really Liked] A Scanner Darkly (2006, Richard Linklater)
  8. [Liked] The Dead (1987, John Huston) I generally don't like adaptations, especially stuffy costume dramas, but this one was totally solid.
  9. [Liked] Velvet Goldmine (1998, Todd Haynes) A superb portrait of glam rock with excellent performances, but way too long.
  10. [No] Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006, Gore Verbinski) Yikes. The magic is most definitely gone.
  11. [Liked] Poison (1991, Todd Haynes) Inconsistent, but Haynes abounds with style and profundity.
  12. [Liked] Jesus Camp (2006, Heidi Ewing) A decade ago I was a young kid going to Christian camps and conferences and back then I would've agreed with everything said by the subjects of this documentary about a Christian kids camp in Missouri, so its portrayl of evangelicalism in youth is dead-on. And its criticisms of evangelicals are valid: delusions that Bush is a Godly man, training children into ignorance regarding evolution and global warming, foolish prayer (for example to make a strike in bowling), comprehensive joining of church and state, forced "praying in tongues", "fire insurance" salvation, materialistic consumerism, and American indulgence. But I also noticed a lot of good: a focus on God rather than destructive pursuits, a respect for the Bible, a respect for prayer, engagement in spiritual warfare, a respect for children's capacities, repentence, authentic discussion of doubt and failure, intense passion for God, action with the Holy Spirit, and praying for our leaders. And I don't think this is a film against radical Christianity, but against the fusion of church and state.
  13. [Meh] Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990, Tom Stoppard) Very well done for a play adaptation, but Stoppard's idle narrative worked better for me as a play script.
  14. [No] Dead End (2003, Jean-Baptiste Andrea) The cool part is not that this is a good movie, but that it is better than most standard, mainstream horror fare.
  15. [No] Casino Royale (2006, Martin Campbell) It is a fresh new bond, and the ladies will really love this one! In addition to his usual dashing, dominant ways, this Bond comforts a sobbing woman, pays her genuine respect, remains steadfast while his testicles are tortured, sleeps only with a woman he loves, and gives up his career for that love. But really, I think we're just seeing the creation of the Bond we already know. See,
    Spoiler: Highlight to view
    Bond lets himself fall in love and then is bitterly betrayed.
    So, I think in the next installment we will see the heartless, womanizing Bond we've all come to know and hate. Oh, and don't believe the hype: this one sucks just like the rest of 'em.
  16. [Meh] The Fountain (2006, Darren Aronofsky) Gorgeous, creative, and incredibly ambitious, but flawed on a scene-to-scene, moment-to-moment level.
  17. [No] Jarhead (2005, Sam Mendes) Just goes to show that American Beauty had little to do with Sam Mendes, and much to do with Alan Ball.
  18. [Liked] An Inconvenient Truth (2006, Davis Guggenheim)
  19. [Liked] The Bad Sleep Well (1960, Akira Kurosawa)
  20. [Liked] Hamlet (1990, Franco Zeffirelli)
  21. [Really Liked] Palindromes (2004, Todd Solondz)
  22. [No] Scratch (2001, USA) A way-too-brief-and-superficial look at DJing.
  23. [Really Liked] Pom poko (1994, Isao Takahata) Your children will love this delightful, enviro-friendly tale of shape-shifting Japanese raccoons and their Green Lantern-esque magical scrotums. I wish my ball sac could withstand a baseball bat beating, smother people, or destroy a truck. Seriously, though, this is constantly entertaining.
  24. [Meh] Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005, Alex Gibney) I mostly missed this story, so the documentary caught me up to speed. And hey! They scored strippers' gyrations with Einstein on the Beach!
  25. [Hated] Nacho Libre (2006, Jared Hess) [did not finish]
  26. [Really Liked] The Passenger (1975, Michelangelo Antonioni) Quite a bit like Bourne Identity, but without all the stupidity.
  27. [No] Nazarin (1959, Luis Bunuel) Certainly no Diary of a Country Priest.
  28. [No] Lumiere and Company (1995, several directors) Forty-one acclaimed film directors each shot a short film using the Lumiere brothers' original Cinematographe, edited in-camera, no longer than 52 seconds, and without synchronized sound. A nostalgic look at the present through the lens of the past.
  29. [Meh] The South (1983, Victor Erice)
  30. [Loved] Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006, Larry Charles) Yes, it really is one of the funniest movies ever made. It's in Monty Python and the Holy Grail territory.
  31. [Liked] The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (2000, Paul Kafno) A frantic, irreverant, hilarious abridged parody of, yes, every single Shakespeare play, with special attention played to Hamlet.
  32. [Hated] Slither (2006, James Gunn) I wanted to know why an obvious D-movie horror flick was getting rave reviews. I still don't know why.
  33. [Meh] Equus (1977, Sidney Lumet)
  34. [Liked] Read My Lips (2001, Jacques Audiard) Or [Meh], whatever.
  35. [Meh] A Prarie Home Companion (2006, Robert Altman) As a Minnesota boy, I grew up to Garrison Keilor's voice and especially the culture he exaggerates for comic effect. Altman's movie is accurate, funny for the first half, unguided for the second half, and basking in those long zoom-pans he and I love so much. Oh, and I know two of Keillor's nephews and they say he's an ass.
  36. [Meh] Romeo + Juliet (1996, Baz Luhrmann) Very imaginative, sexy, and energetic! But that doesn't mean I have to like it. I just can't dig Luhrmann's ADHD uber-drama.
  37. [Liked] Jazz (2001, Ken Burns) [miniseries] As expected, this was a story of the people, the culture, the business, and the society of jazz more than of the music of jazz. And the film is so much in jazz's corner that it is unfair to other musics (except the blues), I thought. And I hated that the documentary claimed that jazz "just died..." in the mid 70s, instead of mentioning the continuing story told by Anthony Braxton, Anthony Davis, Guillermo Gregorio, Matthew Shipp, and others. (Strangely, the documentary reverses its stance 30 minutes later, claiming that "jazz is as alive as it has ever been.") But it was a romantic intro to early jazz, and anyone who can keep me interested for 19 hours of still photos gets my respect.
  38. [Hated] Dressed to Kill (1980, Brian De Palma) De Palma annoys me. He has so much talent. Why do his movies suck?
  39. [Liked] Consent (2004, Jason Reitman) [short] A funny idea. I'm surprised it wasn't an SNL sketch first.
  40. [Liked] Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992, David Lynch) Like the show, but weirder and better.
  41. [Meh] Bus 174 (2002, José Padilha) A titillating story, but not a particularly great documentary. Too long.
  42. [Loved] The Hand (1965, Jirí Trnka) [short] Brilliant! Watch it.
  43. [Meh] Macbeth (1979, Philip Casson) [TV] Filmed version of Trevor Nunn's famous take on Macbeth. As a stage play, it's quite good. As a movie, well... it's just not a movie. Infinitely more effective with the story and characters than Welles' version.
  44. [Hated] Macbeth (1948, Orson Welles) Failed in every way, very little of it attributable to lacking budget.
  45. [Loved] Amateur (1994, Hal Hartley)
  46. [Loved] Paris, Texas (1984, Wim Wenders) A sledgehammer of emotion, masterfully restrained.
  47. [Loved] Ellie Parker (2005, Scott Coffey) Not for everyone, I suppose, but I was laughing my head off. And it helps that I'm still amidst a several-year crush on Naomi Watts. Actually, by definition I guess that can't be a crush. I'm seriously disturbed.
  48. [Liked] Art School Confidential (2006, Terry Zwigoff) See, now, I like bad movies... just, a different kind of bad movie than any of my (non-online) friends like.
  49. [Liked] March of the Penguins (2005, Luc Jacquet) I'd thought I was immune to schmaltz. I guess not.
  50. [Meh] The Da Vinci Code (2006, Ron Howard) Very clever. I wish I could write like this. But I have no desire to direct like this. Ron Howard tries to inject this uberdramatic story with ridiculous filmic hyperbole, like trying to inject Tom Cruise with stimulants... and we all know what happens when you do that. Oh, and did Langdon and Sophie escape certain death because a bird took flight during tensioned silence that didn't take flight during the violence and the shouting? The film is full of moments like that. I did appreciate Langdon dramatically saying, "I need to get to a library - fast!" Such a cultured man. I knew I wouldn't like The Da Vinci Code, but now at least I'm caught up on pop culture. Also, I don't particularly blame Dan Brown is millions of readers believe that fiction is history.
  51. [Liked] Thank You for Smoking (2005, Jason Reitman) A poor story, but a string of fun, funny moments. Hits the spot.
  52. [Meh] 13 (Tzameti) (2005, Géla Babluani) Could have been great, except for several recurring patterns of amateur mistakes. Perhaps this will be remade by a more effective director.
  53. [Really Liked] Werckmeister Harmonies (2000, Béla Tarr) Long shots do not make a good film, so I was happy to see so much else at play here. Part philosophical essay, part performance art, part spiritual sermon, part human story, the film shows Bela Tarr working on the same plane as many of literature's finest artists. And now I'm wet as ever for Satantango. Alas, Tarr doesn't quite have the skill or budget of Tarkovsky. FYI, the Facets video transfer left much to be desired. I wonder if the Articial Eye release is better.
  54. [Hated] Night Watch (2004, Timur Bekmambetov) And I thought Hollywood movies were all style and no substance... Yikes!
  55. [No] Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982, Amy Heckerling) Written for teens, or written by teens?
  56. [No] The Last Combat (1983, Luc Besson) My suckerhood for post-apocalyptic movies and no-dialogue movies could not overcome the storytelling flaws, bad soundtrack, and one really terrible montage sequence.
  57. [Liked] Team America: World Police (2004, Trey Parker) [rewatch] I am a child. But kids have more fun, anyway.
  58. [Hated] Kingdom of Heaven (2005, Ridley Scott) I'm on a bad movie marathon!
  59. [Hated] Godzilla: Final Wars (2004, Ryuhei Kitamura) Hahahahahaha.
  60. [Hated] X-Men: The Last Stand (2006, Brett Ratner) This movie begins with some very awkward dialogue. Xavier lectures old buddy Magneto on abusing power, and then abuses his power and wrecks some cars to make a point to young Jean Gray. Cut to a gruesome scene of a panicked young boy trying to cut mutant structures from his back, weeping in shame before his father. Cut immediately to the anthemicly-scored CGI credits sequence. I'm already thinking, "What the hell? Does Brett Ratner have no talent whatsoever? Does he not understand the basic concepts of emotional continuity?" And then it got worse. And worse. And worse. What a train wreck. I'll admit I did keep watching because I like to watch people being thrown through walls.
  61. [Loved] When the Levees Broke (2006, Spike Lee) [mini] Perfect.
  62. [Meh] Twist of Faith (2004, Kirby Dick) Touching, but unsurprising. There is the (imo) unhappy ending of the main character settling, his abuser publicly denying all allegations, and the results of the Catholic church's internal study indicating over 5,000 abusive priests. That means there's still a lot of work to be done. But you probably don't need to see this movie to get going.
  63. [Liked] Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005, Shane Black) Funny bullshit.
  64. [Meh] Lucky Number Slevin (2006, Paul McGuigan) Bullshit.
  65. [No] Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005, Robert Greenwald) Extremely biased, and not the best presentation of the data, but certainly the message is hugely important. Spend your time with The Corporation instead.
  66. [No] The Wicker Man (1973, Robin Hardy) Dated, incompetant.
  67. [Loved] The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005, Cristi Puiu) A truly fascinating journey of an old, sick man through the indifferent Bucharest medical system. Brilliant and convicting.
  68. [Liked] Smack My Bitch Up (1997, Jonas Akerlund) [short] By far the best music video I have ever seen, and the only one I feel like including as a short on this film-watching log.
  69. [Loved] Manderlay (2005, Lars von Trier) Not quite Dogville, but much better than I was expecting. Terrific storytelling.
  70. [No] Akeelah and the Bee (2006, Doug Atchinson) Five minutes in, I knew who every character and what every plot twist would be. Why? Because I've seen this movie a dozen time already. Sheesh, this was a load of crap. And... pulchritude is a championship-level spelling bee word? Give me a break.
  71. [Liked] The Man Without a Past (2002, Aki Kaurismaki) Oddly, bizarrely, awkwardly, mildly funny.
  72. [Loved] Hukkle (2002, György Pálfi) Unfortunate fighter jet scene aside, this is a lovely, dialogue-less look at life in a small Hungarian village, and murder that takes place there.
  73. [Loved] Celebration (1998, Thomas Vinterberg) A chilling family melodrama that squeezes all the rules of dramatic development into a claustrophobic evening dinner. The birth of Dogme 95.
  74. [Loved] V for Vendetta (2005, James McTeigue) Sure, there are some movie-flaws and a few hokey parts, but this film (like the comic) is bursting with great ideas about government, terrorism, heroism, character transformation, and more. This could've been expanded into a great miniseries, too.
  75. [Meh] The Matador (2005, Richard Shepard) Kinda fun, mostly boring.
  76. [Really Liked] United 93 (2006, Paul Greengrass) As chilling and thrilling as the early chapters of the 9/11 Commission Report.
  77. [Loved] Stalker (1979, Andrei Tarkovsky) YES! Oh, Tarkovsky... it's been too long. Every frame could be an Ansel Adams photograph. The soundtrack is incredible. Scenes are rich and subtle in humanity and science (it is sci-fi, after all; the metaphysics and speculation type, not the robots and lasers type). Sculpting in time, indeed. And hey, since videogames will be recognized as art sooner or later, I'm going to speculate: what would a videogame designed by an artist like Tarkovsky (with today's technology) be like? Golly, I'd like to know.
  78. [Really Liked] Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964, Robert Aldrich) A surprisingly daring and haunting take on psychosis.
  79. [Liked] Keeping the Faith (2000, Edward Norton) A funny concept. Strangely, the parts that should be great merely move the plot, and the funniest parts are totally unexpected. Not a good movie, but I laughed enough to enjoy it.
  80. [No] The Legend of Suram Fortress (1984, Sergei Parajanov) Poor Georgia, too poor to produce a good movie. The uninformed cinematography, acting, scripting, and sense of timing make for a comical failure, however much effort was put into making it.
  81. [Liked] Tickets (2005, Olmi / Kiarostami / Loach) Basically, three short films taking place on the same train. The first is the most showy and least interesting. The last two are decently engaging vignettes of human behavior.
  82. [Meh] Land Without Bread (1933, Luis Bunuel) Heartbreaking, but not at all the breakthrough in nonfiction film art I'd been lead to believe.
  83. [Liked] The Unbelievable Truth (1989, Hal Hartley) The genesis of Hal Hartley's strange approaches to dialogue and acting.
  84. [Liked] Trust (1990, Hal Hartley) Honestly, the deadpan acting and showy dialogue get to me sometimes, but Hartley movies just have so much to say, and so much creatity that I end up liking them anyway. Again, I'm not sure if this is actually any good.
  85. [Meh] Flirt (1995, Hal Hartley) The same sequence played out with basically the same scenes and dialog, but in three different contexts. Sure, it's poetic and shit but by the third time, it's pretty dry.
  86. [Liked] No Such Thing (2001, Hal Hartley) Just so silly and fun; I enjoyed every moment. The monster's superficial resemblence to Hellboy is further proof that something like Hellboy could've been full of heart and wit instead of great suckiness. Now, if someone would bother combining heart and wit with big-budget ass-kickings, that would really be something. Alas, some serious flaws in its second half keep No Such Thing from being very good.
  87. [Really Liked] Henry Fool (1997, Hal Hartley) Exactly what I expected from Hartley. It's very ambitious, and it inspired me to write a lousy poem.
  88. [Hated] Cellular (2004, David R. Ellis)
  89. [Meh] Frida (2002, Julie Taymor) Not bad, per se, but a kind of fake movie; a string of unoriginal but cute, interesting, sexy, or well-shot moments. There's even a decent story here, but the execution lacks soul. And a film critic would be able to tell you why.
  90. [Hated] The Pledge (2001, Sean Penn)
  91. [Guilty Displeasure] The Music Room (1958, Satyajit Ray) I'm sure it's good compared to most of India's 1950s cinema, but it didn't impact me like Ray's Apu Trilogy. I found it boring.
  92. [Meh] The Twilight Samurai (2002, Yôji Yamada) Japanese Jane Austen. Not bad, but I get bored easily by perfectly good and perfectly bad characters (especially after Simon Birch) and predictable stories (especially after Simon Birch). And the only character who is both good and bad is revealed as such at the very end by a long, clumsy monologue.
  93. [No] Simon Birch (1998, Mark Steven Johnson)
  94. [Really Liked] Grizzly Man (2005, Werner Herzog) Pretty much wipes the floor with most documentaries I've seen. Timothy Treadwill is a fascinating character: brave, pathetic, excited, passive, serving, narcissistic, funny, and obnoxious.
  95. [Meh] Oldboy (2003, Chan-wook Park) Like Million Dollar Baby, this is high-class bullshit. Some will put the emphasis on high class, others on bullshit, and I really don't mind which one you choose.
  96. [Liked] The Proposition (2005, John Hillcoat) Had all kinds of opportunity for profundity and soul, and as far as I can tell, passed every last one of them up. The movie is empty. But then, given the setting and the plot, maybe that's precisely the point.
  97. [Really Liked] Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005, Miranda July) Hehehehehehehe. I'm going to have to start watching some movies I don't enjoy (say, knock off a few more Bresson flicks), or else I will become helplessly addicted to the wonderful world of movies.
  98. [Loved] Brick (2005, Rian Johnson) As with Down With Love, another daring fusion of old and new styles that has so many potential problems, I was shocked that this worked so well. Trust me, this movie will bring you joy.
  99. [Loved] Begotten (1991, E. Elias Merhige) Lol. Thinking of Eyes Without a Face as "disturbing" compared to this is laughable. It's the gruesomely shot story of God disembowling himself to birth Mother Earth, who deposits Flesh On Bone (Jesus) on the planet, both of whom are eventually raped and killed by creatures of the earth. It is extreme, poetic, and perfectly soundtracked. "Filmed in speckled chiaroscuro so that each image is a seductive mystery, a Rorschach test for the adventurous eye" (Richard Corliss). You may think it's garbage; I think it's much deeper. Definitely a love-it or hate-it affair. Thanks, DarkmanPoe!
  100. [Meh] The Quiet Earth (1985, Geoff Murphy) Shoddy filmmaking, but a very interesting concept.
  101. [Meh] Salvatore Giuliano (1962, Francesco Rosi) Good filmmaking, but dragged on way too long for me.
  102. [Really Liked] Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932, Jean Renoir) Solid.
  103. [Loved] Sparrows (1926, William Beaudine) Mary Pickford and little children are cuuuuuuuuute. Thanks, RosieCotton!
  104. [Really Liked] Eyes Withut a Face (1959, Georges Franju) One of the creepiest movies I've ever seen, including Gaspar Noé flicks.
  105. [Meh] Real Women Have Curves (2002, Patricia Cardoso) Like Spanglish, but more honest, much less funny, and less interesting.
  106. [Really Liked] Viridiana (1961, Luis Bunuel)
  107. [Meh] The Vanishing (1988, George Sluizer) Competant, but not thrilling.
  108. [Loved] Pi (1998, Darren Aronofsky) [rewatch] A thriller about... math? You bet! This movie was much better than I remembered. In fact, Requiem for a Dream looks less impressive now, knowing that Aronofsky's filmmaking was already so mature with Pi.
  109. [Really Liked] My Night at Maud's (1969, Eric Rohmer) I'm glad I switched rating scales because under my old scale I wouldn't have been able to say how much I like this movie; only that it was a talking heads flick and talking heads flicks didn't score well on my old system. What mattered, of course, is that I was very interested in what they were talking about. Of course, such discussions are better made in books, but they still make for an interesting movie, if you like the subject.
  110. [Liked] Ashes and Diamonds (1958, Andrzej Wajda) I imagine this is a movie that was great in its time, with its people. But however good it is, it's not timeless and cultureless, which is how I especially like 'em.
  111. [Meh] Casque d'or (1952, Jacques Becker) A high-class soap opera without depth.
  112. [Liked] Death in Venice (1971, Luchino Visconti) Like Match Point, this started very slow and has no likable characters, but in this case the movie was redeemed by its second half, wherein I learned the point of the early slow pace and leisurely character development. Everything in the second act has tremendous impact. For example, hearing that everyone is covering up
    Spoiler: Highlight to view
    death in Venice
    was far more powerful than any special revelation in, say, Aeon Flux. And of course, it's Visconti-beautiful.
  113. [Guilty Displeasure] À nous la liberté (1931, René Clair) Once again, something in my gut tells me this is a good movie, but alas, I didn't like it.
  114. [Meh] Chronos (1985, Ron Fricke) I'm usually a sucker for these photography extravaganzas, but this one is boring compared to the -qatsi films and Baraka.
  115. [Hated] Starsky & Hutch (2004, Todd Philips)
  116. [Loved] Underground (1995, Emir Kusturica) About time, I know. The best comedy I have ever seen? Not as funny as, say, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but I can't think of any comedy that is a better film.
  117. [Meh] Sunshine State (2002, John Sayles) It was a'ight, but just not quite good enough. The sub-par acting brought it down, maybe.
  118. [Liked] Mandabi (1968, Ousmane Sembene) Essentially the same as watching a Satyajit Ray classic. It's great to see Africa as Africans see it, not as outsiders see it. It's unsophisticated, natural, and passionate filmmaking. Perhaps not quite as lyrical as Ray. ... ... ... hahaha, just kidding; I have no idea what that even means! Anyway, if you like to complain, maybe Mandabi will help you shut up.
  119. [Loved] Inside Man (2006, Spike Lee) I couldn't possibly ask for more from a straight-up bank heist flick. Phenomenal pacing, good acting, good characters and story, good twists. A kind of "perfect" film, like Double Indemnity or Body Heat or Sideways is perfect. Yes, 0dysseus, I noticed all the product placement.
  120. [Meh] Trouble in Paradise (1932, Ernst Lubitsch) A quaint, annoying, pseudo-sophisticated, upper-class farce.
  121. [Meh] After Life (1998, Kirokazu Koreeda) The recently deceased are asked to choose one memory to take with them to the next stage of the afterlife.
  122. [Really Liked] Zardoz (1974, John Boorman) Woah. This is a bizarre, ridiculous, aesthetically dated (the most 70s movie I've ever seen), critically reviled, unpopular movie with Sean Connery running around in a bright orange loincloth and heels. Nobody, including myself, could have predicted I would not hate this movie, let alone really like it. The movie is way too long and complicated for a synopsis or an investigation of its bizarre, satirical philosophical treatises, its rich metaphors, its narrative structure, or its originality. Let me instead simply encourage you to watch this movie with an open mind. There are more ideas in 10 minutes of Zardoz than in entire careers of many directors. This would make a great candidate for a film class or club, as it is sure to provoke an incredible variety of reactions. And now I have to re-watch Brazil. Though I wouldn't rank Zardoz among the 100 best films of all time, it may prove to be one of the most underrated movies of all time.
  123. [Hated] People Will Talk (1951, Joseph L. Mankiewicz) My friends that I haven't seen in a year chose a random Cary Grant movie from the library. We talked for 8.5 hours last night, and also watched this dumb movie.
  124. [Liked] Close Up (1990, Abbas Kiarostami) Ali Sabzian pretends to be bigshot Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbag and enters a wealthy family in Teheran. It's a true story, re-enacted by more than a dozen of the actual persons (including Makhmalbaf, Sabzian, and Kiarostami). It includes footage from the actual trial that followed the incident. Very interesting idea, and shot with rigorous naturalism by Kiarostami. I suspect the "acting" is poor, since virtually none of the cast are trained actors, but honestly I can't tell. When I don't understand the language, and the ethnically-specific expressional subtleties are foreign to me, I usually can't tell whether I'm watching good acting or not. I have the same problem, usually, in watching arabs, eskimos, and Japanese persons on screen. Does anyone else have this problem?
  125. [Liked] Laura (1944, Otto Preminger) One of the best of film noir, I suppose, which isn't actually saying too much in my book.
  126. [No] Superman Returns (2006, Bryan Singer) Well, at least they finally got it made, so the good news is that maybe the sequel has a chance at being decent. I will say that I was expecting Routh to fail, but he fits Superman just fine, and the suit doesn't look as ridiculous as I'd first thought. The rest, though, is all bad news. All performances are mediocre, the score is blah, and the grand evil plot is lame. If you're going to make such a formulaic movie, at least do the formula properly, like Cars or Mission Impossible III. The villain is weak, the pacing is inconsistent, the hero is boringly perfect, the movie is 40 minutes too long, all characters are underdeveloped, and the action is... distant. As Ebert writes, seeing Superman strain to lift an airplane (and later,
    Spoiler: Highlight to view
    toss a continent into space
    ) just doesn't work like watching Batman or Spider-Man in action. Update: Oops, there is no good news: Superman Returns is absolutely dying at the box office, so there probably won't be a sequel. Filmmakers should stop making strict homages to older movie styles - with which modern moviegoers are out of touch - if they want to sell tickets. Think Superman Returns, King Kong, or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
  127. [No] The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967, Jacques Demy)
  128. [Meh] Notre musique (2004, Jean-Luc Godard)
  129. [Hated] The Visitation (2006, Robby Henson) Ha ha ha ha ha... Christian movie productions suck.
  130. [Liked] Transamerica (2005, Duncan Tucker) Most of the time, the movie operates on the very edge of lameness, but I let it go - it's just a good thing I wasn't invested in this movie being good. Felicity Huffman sure is... transformed.
  131. [Meh] Match Point (2005, Woody Allen) Hmmm... very non-Woody. There's not a single character in this movie I like (which isn't always a bad thing), and I didn't care about the story until about 1:24:20, which is waaaaay too late.
  132. [Liked] Daddy and Papa (2002, Johnny Symons) A classroom documentary on gay (male) parents. Educational documentaries have apparently improved a great deal since the 90s and previous decades, but it's hard for me to call this a "good" or "bad" movie. The film's purpose was to advocate gay adoption, so obviously it neither showed nor mentioned gays who were anything less than excellent parents. And one gay parent made the point that "straight people just have to fuck to get a kid, and we have to be grilled." He was referring to the especially greuling adoption process for gays in his state, which includes background checks, interviews, psychological examinations, drug use and history examinations, home inspections, and more. But as wise Tod (Keanu Reeves) in Parenthood put it, "you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car - hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any asshole be a father." What I'm (not) getting at is that heterosexual couples are not screened before parenting, but the primary method for gays (not lesbians) to have children is through adoption, which includes rigorous screening. As such, are gays, on average, better parents than heterosexuals? Wouldn't surprise me if children of gays generally have healthier development than children of heterosexuals. Then again, children of gays have additional issues to work through, such as cultural stereotyping and rejection, having no friends in the same situation, etc. But I doubt that's a bigger problem for children than divorce is, which ends the majority of U.S. marriages. In addition, socioeconomics favors gay parents. Gay couples have much, much more money than heterosexual couples or especially lesbian couples. Food for thought.
  133. [Loved] The New World (2005, Terrence Malick) My eyes almost started leaking during the opening credits because I could tell by their rhythm and design that I was going to cherish this movie, and every moment past that affirmed my prediction. Every shot, every scene, each part of the score is exquisite. And... "boring"? Boring!? This is a thunderously enthralling and beautiful movie. I think I get so excited about films like Apocalypto because I imagine what they could be with Malick directing them.
  134. [Meh] Saved! (2004, Brian Dannelly) Pretty funny, though it would've been funnier if it wasn't so preachy, especially at the end.
  135. [No] Saw II (2005, Darren Lynn Bousman) Surprisingly, much better than the first one.
  136. [No] Me You Them (2000, Andrucha Waddington) A plodding Brazilian "comedy" about a butterface with three husbands living in one house, based on a true story. I watched this and Big Love to prepare for a school paper on how polygamy is represented in modern TV and movies.
  137. [Meh] Big Love: Season 1 (2006, Julian Farino, et. al) [TV] Notable as the first major show or movie to focus on polygamy. Of course, it's about ratings, not sociology, so the real foci were melodrama and explicit sex.
  138. [Liked] Cinderella Man (2005, Ron Howard) I'm ever-changing (though not always for the better). I swear these last four flicks wouldn't have scored even a 55 on my old scale, and here I am admitting I liked each of them!
  139. [Liked] Cars (2006, John Lasseter) Pixar puts everybody else to shame with the amount of work they put into their animation and stories. This is the least-good Pixar movie ever, and still better than every 3D animated movie by every other studio. The animation is crisp and gorgeous, the jokes are rapid, and the story is... extremely formulaic but effective through details. All the twenty-somethings with whom I saw Cars were very skeptical, and came out won over by a little Italian forklift who said "Pit stop!"
  140. [Liked] Walk the Line (2005, James Mangold) A typical but effective biopic. Kinda boring in its predictability (even though I knew nothing about Cash except his voice), but way better than Ray.
  141. [Meh] Symphonie diagonale (1924, Viking Eggeling) [short]
  142. [Liked] Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic (2005, Liam Lynch) Desperately provocative but hey, she's funny and cute.
  143. [Liked] Pandora's Box (1929, GW Pabst) German Expressionism? How? Pandora's Box is a naturalist tragedy. Louise Brooks' performance as Lulu could be compared to Audrey Tatou's performance as Amélie, and not just because of the hair.
  144. [Hated] Clash of the Titans (1981, Desmond Davis) Poor filmmaking on so many levels. Now I don't have to see any more Harryhausen, right?
  145. [Loved] The World (1997, Zhang Ke Jia) I loved it and I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was the genuineness of inter- and intra-cultural relations, the cinematography, the natural rhythms, and the creative animated interludes but... I just can't explain it. I certainly found it more enjoyable than Kar-Wai's heavy-handed work.
  146. [Liked] 2046 (2004, Kar Wai Wong) The filmmaking is solid, but narrative storytelling is not a universal language like music, and in many (but thankfully not all) Eastern films I feel like I'm missing so much. Imagine a Mongolian peasant trying to be engaged by All About Eve. Thankfully, after half an hour we spend most our time with another universal language: sex! Like the stories the MC was writing, much of 2046 is absurd and kinda tedious. Say, do I get to call something kafkaesque without having read Kafka?
  147. [Nah] Chungking Express (1994, Kar Wai Wong) I thought the acting and writing was amateur, actually.
  148. [Meh] Happy Together (1997, Kar Wai Wong) Never got into it.
  149. [Liked] The Squid and the Whale (2005, Noah Baumbach) I'm so blessed. And I know what I don't want. And I know who I don't want to be. It's all very common and beautiful. I hope people don't see me as the "Berkman of video games."
  150. [Hated] Jabberwocky (1977, Terry Gilliam) Boring.
  151. [Liked] Mission: Impossible III (2006, J.J. Abrams) Idiotic movies are fine until you see a few slick, exciting movies that have fewer than 250 gaps in logic. Then you start complaining about movies like Mission Impossible III, where special agents use the most dangerous, expensive means possible to accomplish their goals or even transmit mission briefings, where field agents also function as mission planners and have first access to forensic discoveries, where... ... This is the review I was planning to write. Then I saw the bridge scene, and I thought, "Ah, screw it. This is too much fun. Brain = off." And I had a hell of a good time. This is the best impossible mission by far. And it used the trusty ol' Raiders Rule: "The hero must fail, fail, fail until the very end."
  152. [Really Liked] Salesman (1969, Albert Maysles) Great, great look into the world of the salesman. The door-to-door Bible salesman.
  153. [Liked] Dazed and Confused (1993, Richard Linklater) Why is 80s American culture caught on film so repulsive to me? Will I feel the same way about 90s flicks in 5 years? Still, for an 80s movie, it was pretty enjoyable. I'll bet half the budget was spent on music rights. Say, when was the last time I wrote a real review? Hmmm...
  154. [Meh] The Last Days (1998, James Moll) Shoah trimmed to a reasonable length. At this point, I'm not hearing or seeing anything new.
  155. [Liked] The Exterminating Angel (1962, Luis Buñuel) Bizarre.
  156. [Liked] The Crowd (1928, King Vidor) Stupid frickin' sappy cliche simplistic manipulative technically sub-Murnau movie made me cry.
  157. [Nah] The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964, Jacques Demy) This is "comedy"? I didn't laugh once. I did like that this musical's dialogue is regular in words while still sing-song in rhythm and tone. However, the story and dialogue couldn't have been more template and boring. This reminds me of how uninventive and boring most musicals are, which makes me think Dancer in the Dark may have been something special after all.
  158. [Really Liked] Capote (2005, Bennett Miller) I submit Hoffman's performance for my argument that acting just keeps getting better as the decades pass. Really, can you think of a piece of imitative acting as impressive and thorough from the 40s? The 60s? The 80s? I can't. I may also have liked this movie so much because it's about writing, and I wish I was a writer. Perhaps I'd have enjoyed Munich better if I liked guns, or The Constant Gardener if I liked... uh... pharmaceuticals.
  159. [Meh] Munich (2005, Steven Spielberg) Pretty good for a video game: mission 6 was my favorite. Like Metal Gear Solid or Max Payne, it could even make a decent movie. I imagine Doug Liman directing.
  160. [Liked] The Constant Gardener (2005, Fernando Meirelles) A good movie, but not that thrilling, since we always know what's going on long before Justin does. Now, what do you think? Do movies like this and Hotel Rwanda and hundreds of others actually make a difference? Do they make a difference in your choices? I think it probably has a cumulative effect. One movie might give me a bit more compassion about, say, impoverished Africans, but if I see a dozen impactful movies, I might donate to drill a well there. Etc.
  161. [Liked] Syriana (2005, Stephen Gaghan) I wasn't sure if I was watching a fictional, multi-threaded essay on world affairs, or if I was watching human stories. I preferred the essay parts.
  162. [Liked] Devils on the Doorstep (2000, Wen Jiang) Fun, basic tale with a bizarre denoument.
  163. [Hated] Hoodwinked (2005, Cory Edwards) Patrick Warburton is good for a few laughs, as is a goat who sings about having exchangeable horns for every function, but mostly this is abominable filmmaking.
  164. [Loved] Come and See (1985, Elem Klimov) Pulverizing. You think you've seen a war movie like this. You have not.
  165. [Liked] Parenthood (1989, Ron Howard) [rewatch] Great material for Child Psyc, where I watched it. Though it carries the usual dose of 80s cheese, I still like that the characters and dilemmas are presented so complexly and bidirectionally.
  166. [Hated] Scary Movie 4 (2006, David Zucker) Well-described as a sort of live-action Family Guy... Gasp! This is worse than some television. Television!
  167. [Liked] Murderball (2005, Henry Alex Rubin) Perhaps the measure of a successful documentary could be, "Do I wish this was a weekly, hour-long TV show?" Without the crappy soundtrack.
  168. [Guilty Displeasure] Chimes at Midnight (1965, Orson Welles) Assigning numbers makes me feel like a pretentious ass, so I'm switching to a Jimian emotional scale. Even if Chimes at Midnight is one of the best films of one of the best plays (and I have no idea if it is), I still can't "get into" filmed plays. They're more unnatural than musicals, especially when in old-school English. And Welles' battle scenes do not compare favorably to Kurosawa's. It was pretty funny to watch fat Falstaff bumble about in a suit of armor.
  169. [32] VD Attack Plan (1973, Les Clark) [short] Yup, a Disney cartoon about veneral diseases.
  170. [01] Condorman (1981, Charles Jarrott) [rewatch] A childhood favorite. It may be the worst movie I've ever loved, but in an amusing way. (Unlike Alex and Emma, which is awful in intolerable ways.)
  171. Alex & Emma (2003, Rob Reiner) [did not finish] I'm thinking it would have been about a [04].
  172. [55] Crash (2005, Paul Haggis) [rewatch] I guess I should expect to get hit by trucks going both ways. Crash has many well-written scenes, some good acting, some balanced and imbalanced looks at prejudice, and it certainly holds one's attention. But I didn't like it this time, either. Crash takes the most pivotal, emotional scenes from dozens of other movies and juxtaposes them without development or context. So, it is both derivative and lacks punch (it's a flurry of showy jabs). Another thing. I watch movies because I want to be manipulated, but I don't want every character during every action to carry a Verfremdungseffekt sign that reads "I am manipulating you." Speilberg is more subtle.
  173. [85] Woman in the Dunes (1964, Hiroshi Teshigahara) Loved it. Don't be afraid of the "avant-garde" label; the film is a normally paced, compelling, drama of human desperation. In fact, it nearly won Oscars for best foreign film and best direction. I've never seen sand so well-shot, alive, and terrifying. I was listening to Penderecki's Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (because it sounded like the film's soundtrack) with the movie, and thought it was a great effect, but then I switched arbitrarily to Part's Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten and realized that the movie plays great with any serious music. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. Reviews cannot tell you what you're missing.
  174. [43] The Short and Curlies (1987, Mike Leigh) [short]
  175. [48] Kiss Me Deadly (1955, Robert Aldrich) "Ahead of its time!" I was hoping for The Killing, but I got a sub-par 50s noir that happens to have a shocking ending.
  176. [77] Naked (1993, Mike Leigh) A monolith of realism, acting, dialogue, and character, with a bad score.
  177. [74] Tarnation (2003, Jonathan Caouette) At first, the continuous text exposition was irritating, and then I surrendered to what is one of the most emotional movies I've seen (that it's a true story, wherever exaggerated, probably helped) and a stunning work of editing from an unknown director. There's a small chance this will be looked upon as the summa of underground film for the early 21st century.
  178. [53] A History of Violence (2005, David Cronenberg) High-class violence, stripped-bare intrigue, and mediocre filler (school bully scenes, sex scenes, etc.) In the end, I'm just really not seeing the substance everyone else apparently saw. Still more shrewd than most violent movies.
  179. [35] The Weather Man (2005, Gore Verbinski) The terrible script was unstoppable.
  180. [61] Junebug (2005, Phil Morrison) Like Spanglish, overdone and not as insightful as it tried to be. Like Spanglish, I enjoyed every minute of it. I did like to see that a racist, trash-art, asshole painter, a naive & dysfunctional family, and the most heroic character in the film each claimed Christianity. The protagonist wasn't sure what to think, and the ending provided few answers.
  181. [78] David Holzman's Diary (1967, Jim McBride) Is this the earliest feature-length mockumentary? The film lampoons cinema verité, with some bitterness. I thought it was brilliant. Your mileage may vary.
  182. [69] Through a Glass Darkly (1961, Ingmar Bergman) It's just not fair to watch any Bergman film after Persona, but so be it. I actually saw this movie because I love the Biblical phrase, and idea, used as its title. The movie is quite good but sets its sights lower than its eponymous concept by chiefly examining what it's like to see the world through schizophrenia, rather than what it's like to see the world through human eyes. One could argue that Bergman also examines the latter, but no: if it does, it does so only as every other movie ever made does so. ...Gosh, this review probably makes sense only to me. Anyway: the thrill of pretending to carry out intellectual autopsies on movies is wearing off. I still think Darkly is a better movie, but I had a little more fun watching Were-Rabbit and a lot more fun watching Mulholland Drive and Persona. Oh, and: Darkly was very quotable, and I'll just pick one line: "We draw a magic circle and shut out everything that doesn't agree with our secret games. Each time life breaks the circle, the games turn grey and ridiculous. Then we draw a new circle and build a new defense."
  183. [51] Corpse Bride (2005, Tim Burton) Makes an interesting double-feature with Were-Rabbit, as both are animated, superficially creative, rigorously formulaic, mostly effective films. Watching them together brought to attention the multitude of formulas they both use. I really liked the story of Corpse Bride, but it was done too predictably, with some problems, and a hella annoying Peter Lorre character.
  184. [58] Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005, Nick Park) I enjoyed it.
  185. [50] The Dot and the Line (1965, Chuck Jones) [short] See the Oscar-winning short here.
  186. [89] Mulholland Drive (2006, David Lynch) [rewatch] Yup, still my favorite movie! The similarities to Persona are even more striking now, including at least two shot-for-shot visual "quotes" from Persona. But Mulholland Drive does entirely new things with the whole deconstruction & levels of reality thing, making it wholly great in itself.
  187. [64] Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005, George Clooney) Unconnected thoughts. Very slick, Clooney. The movie is a slightly better JFK, except that JFK told us something we potentially didn't know. It's difficult for me to believe there was an era when anybody went to such great trouble for responsible journalism. The film is a relevant critique on our politics of rhetoric; we have not learned from our recent past. This seems like the first compelling adult drama with a PG rating since... ever. A clear representetive of the often-confusing term "docudrama." Economic and focused. Strathairn.
  188. [44] Hustle & Flow (2005, Craig Brewer) I'm probably just racist.
  189. [05] Transporter 2 (2005, Louis Leterrier) This movie challenges the low end of my ratings scale, but I did manage to make an entertaining and good social engagement of the viewing. I'm getting better at that.
  190. [97] Persona (1966, Ingmar Bergman) [rewatch] [Review] Each viewing gives me further insights into Persona, and I couldn't fit 1/100th of them in my "review." I'm tempted to write a 100-page essay on Persona, but right now I haven't the time, and I should probably study Bergman and anything relevant to the film, as well as see it 10 more times, before I really go at it. I've come away not only respecting Persona as possibly the greatest film ever made, but also really loving it.
  191. [69] American Beauty (1999, Sam Mendes) [rewatch] The movie gets "worse" every time I see it, but I still think it's very funny and the ideas really speak to my heart and the way I see beauty in the world. And it's still fun to show to people who've never seen it before.
  192. [??] Persona (1966, Ingmar Bergman) [rewatch] Unexpectedly my favorite Persona viewing ever. I was riveted to the screen, enjoyed myself, and was left wanting to see it again - not just because I'm still trying to it out, but just because I really liked watching it. In the meantime, my ideas about the purpose and meaning of the film changed entirely, so I need to watch it again before I can articulate my thoughts about it.
  193. [28] To End All Wars (2001, David L. Cunningham) I'm not wasting words on this crap.
  194. [70] Brokeback Mountain (2005, Ang Lee) Good direction, surprisingly great performances, blah blah blah. What works extremely well here is the passage of time. The acting and sparse scene construction are effective enough to catch us up on years after each jump, and not in the "Oh, his house is littered with beer bottles and now she looks like a whore" way you're used to, but in much subtler, deeper, multifacted, heartbreaking ways. The tiny details in each scene, especially later ones, are as complicated as those in real life. The movie is also socially responsible. It argues the genuineness of their unchosen bond and their chosen love, the anguish and damage inflicted upon innocents by their choices, the compassion of its broken characters, the power of hate to destroy, and the power of love to overcome (I'm thinking of the final scene with Ennis' daughter). Now, I want to watch some subtle, deep, worthy flicks about afflicted love between members of the most discriminated-against class in our society: the fat and ugly... ... Does it look like I'm kidding?
  195. [43] The People vs. Larry Flynt (1992, Milos Forman) After Flynt gets shot, it's at least kinda entertaining.
  196. [75] The Godfather (1972, Francis Ford Coppola) [rewatch] This is not the peak of Hollywood storytelling, but it's somewhere near the peak of Hollywood cheat-laden megadrama. By that I mean that it employs the same "minor" dramatic shortcuts and lies as most Hollywood dramas, but does it all with such panache, such effect, such... coolness that it's hard to blink during its cocksure stride past Hollywood's dreck. Perhaps the most pervasive film influence on US pop culture this side of Star Wars.
  197. [44] Millions (2004, Danny Boyle) "Isn't that sweet? The faith of a child. And he gives the money away to poor people!" And... we all go back to our lives of iPods and SUVs and central air and don't give a damn about the poor. A few movies actually try to inspire change, and a very few succeed. This one just wants to be warm and fuzzy. (These comments have nothing to do with my rating for the film.)
  198. [67] Broken Flowers (2005, Jim Jarmusch) If ever a movie pushed journey over destination, it was this. I was expecting a solid, cliche road movie. I got a solid, somewhat original road movie and was pleasantly surprised.
  199. [70] Wild at Heart (1990, David Lynch) Two damaged lovers on the run, one addicted to violence, the other to sex. The movie is a meditation on sex and violence through the lens of a simple - even parodic - road story. As such, several shots and some scenes make little sense if you're looking for plot, but Lynch still manages to tell an engaging story. Lynch's first (Eraserhead) and latest (Mulholland Drive) flaunted their brilliance, but in the 90s Lynch made several great films that seem determined to conceal their brilliance under kitsch makeup and filmmaking "clumsiness" that might actively repel those unwilling to look deeper. This shows the confidence of Lynch, but I still prefer Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive. (Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is still kitsch under kistch makeup.) Lynch uses incredible music in his films. Okay, one great moment: Lula tells Sailor (her boyfriend, a violent Elvis wannabe) she's going to write him a note because she can't say it out loud. She hands him the note, which reads, "I'm pregnant." Sailor lights up two cigarettes at once, draws deep, and says, "It's okay by me, Peanut."
  200. [30] Dracula (1992, Francis Ford Coppola) Very stylish garbage. Keanu Reeves must be stopped. (First, though: Paul Walker.)
  201. [09] The Island (2005, Michael Bay) O my dog! They still make movies like this?
  202. [28] Dogma (1999, Kevin Smith) Childish; as poor as something I would write.
  203. [67] The Believer (2001, Henry Bean) In some ways, what American History X should have been. Where American History X simplified complicated issues to fit a story formula, The Believer pursues its complicated, dangerous ideas more rigorously, and ends up being a study of characters and ideas, not of archetypes of character and ideas. Ryan Gosling is no Ed Norton, and I was disappointed by the underdeveloped girlfriend subplot and ineffective use of slow motion. The movie dissects Judaism as I don't know it; I'd love to hear what a liberal jew, fundamental jew, and quasi-jew think of Danny's view of Jewish faith. It also dissects hate and radicalism better than any movie I can think of. The final shots, and final line, are heartbreaking.
  204. [17] Milo & Otis (1986, Masanori Hata) [rewatch] Huh. Didn't realize this was a totally Japanese production (Koneko monogatari). It was easy to port to other countries because there is only one speaking part: the narrator, who does all animal voices like an audiobook. It's an absurd and poorly-made children's film (and I can't imagine the Japanese cut is much better), but the first half is often funny, and I suppose the "moral lessons" are great for kids. I wouldn't have survived it watching alone, though. As with most live-action animal movies, I'm most curious as to how they got the animals to do what they wanted, and am tempted to believe that some scenes' narration was written after they caught something interesting on camera.
  205. [65] Last Days (2005, Gus Van Sant) Gerry was wonderfully pure and minimalist (to a fault in only two scenes). Elephant was more powerful and flawed. Last Days achieves a kind of balance between the two. Its photography is just as painterly as both its predecessors, the treatment of its characters as true as Gerry, and the atmosphere nearly as thick as Elephant. Mormons may be offended by their pathetic representation. The Mormon evangelists I've met astonished me with their knowledge and purity, but I fully believe the Mormons in Last Days because I've seen many a young Christian evangelize as feebly. Been one, even. I'll mention just one scene. Blake, high as always, sinks very slowly to the floor, a pop song playing in the background. Eventually an oppressive drone overcomes the pop song. Blake crawls slowly off-camera while the pop song irregularly makes disfigured breaks through the drone in Blake's head.
  206. [49] Jesus of Montreal (1989, Denys Arcand) Meh. A too-simple abuse of a decent idea with some creative moments. Desires popularity, not profundity. Or maybe I just cannot stand the stench of the 80s. Seriously, the decade is a black hole for movies and me.
  207. [47] Watership Down (1978, Martin Rosen) A magical and mythical tale. The movie is hurt by its limited budget, which I credit for the film's cheap look and mediocre mouth/voice syncing, both of which distract. I'm also dumfounded as to the target audience for this movie. It's a cartoon, greatly simplified from its source material, and yet far too terrifying and bloody for children. Whatever its weaknesses, I'm very tempted to read the book.
  208. [40] Beyond the Gates of Splendor (2005, Jim Hanon) An interesting documentary about the missionaries murdered in the 50s by Waorani tribesmen. Now I know the people and the story and I don't have to watch the apparently awful fictionalized version, End of the Spear (also by Jim Hanon).
  209. [42] The Rescuers Down Under (1990, Hendel Butoy) [rewatch] Idiotic like most pre-Pixar kids movies, but wins major points for being fun at every minute. Would rate at 100 if I was 9 years old.
  210. [14] Harvard Man (2001, James Toback) You'd think precedent would convince me not to take recommendations from my Cambridge friends, just as it would inform them not to take movie recommendations from me. I guess we're all incorrigible. Harvard Man is excruciatingly bad in every moment, in every way. I think the guy who recommended it to me liked it because "When the kid goes on LSD, people's faces look like my desktop-warping screensaver!" If I hadn't been watching this with 4 others, I wouldn't have finished it. I spent the last half of the movie finding excuses to run to the kitchen. "Anybody else want another omlet? You sure? Well, I do!"
  211. [43] The Brothers Grimm (2005, Terry Gilliam) I was expecting this to be awful, and it was merely bad, so I found myself enjoying it. I laughed aloud several times and was entertained by Gilliam's sick twisting of Grimm tales. As a succession of fantastic sets, locations, and costumes, the movie doesn't disappoint. As a movie, it's as problematic as the reviewers have said.
  212. [50] Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974, Sam Peckinpah) Every element - the opening scene, the hunt, the hunters, the lovers' arc, the MC's arc, the revenge - is a tired cliche done with more panache than usual. The themes are wonderfully incorrigible, and the acting is solid. In all these ways, it's the Million Dollar Baby of trash westerns.
  213. [30] Wedding Crashers (2005, David Dobkin) Not as funny or good as The 40 Year Old Virgin, but still funny at times and stuffed only with unnaturally gorgeous women.
  214. [58] Coffee and Cigarettes (2003, Jim Jarmusch) When I was really giving screenwriting a shot, I could always come up with what I thought were smashing scenes, and then I tried to build a story I didn't care about around them and it all fell apart. Unfortunately, I just now thought of what would be my dream writing project: a collection of totally unrelated, fascinating scenes. (Does this exist already? Probably. Anybody know?) This is what Jarmusch approaches in Coffee and Cigarettes, the only unifying element being that all scenes are talky bits over coffee and cigarettes. All the scenes are very interesting, but not too profound - which is what some thought of Jarmusch's Dead Man, but I disagree. Not great, but good enough that I'll still watch anything with Jarmusch's name on it. Anyhoo, quite a cast: Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Roberto Benigni, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Jack & Meg White, Alfred Molina, Steve Coogan, Wu-Tang Clan, Steve Buscemi, and more.
  215. [18] The Fast Runner (2001, Zacharias Kunuk) The first film written, directed, and acted by Inuits has all the writing, directing, and acting quality of a high-end home video. All those reviewers who loved this movie must be desperate for evidence that they're not racist.
  216. [51] Dancer in the Dark (2000, Lars von Trier) Whaddyaknow? Bjork can act! Sure, it's heavily sentimental like all von Trier's work, but it's also a bold reimagining of the movie musical form. Which doesn't mean I've started enjoying musicals: this is the first von Trier film I haven't liked. It seemed to have no pace: it moved ever onward without any indication of when the story should finish, or accelerate, or decelerate; which ain't a bad thing except in a movie I wasn't enjoying. Also, I don't think von Trier's rigorous "natural" aesthetic blended well with the unnatural aesthetic of a musical. Then again, this same contrast worked for me in Dogville (where the unnatural aesthetic was the transparent set rather than musical numbers), so maybe I just don't know what I'm talking about.
  217. [49] All That Heaven Allows (1955, Douglas Sirk) A semi-decent movie (with a good heart) that inspired two great ones I watched recently: Ali: Fear Eats the Soul and Far From Heaven. Watching any Hollywood movie from the 50s reminds me that audiences must have been just a bit stupider back then, and it is harder to appreciate All That Heaven Allows immediately after Far From Heaven, even though the latter tries to imitate the former's naivette.
  218. [44] Thirteen (2003, Catherine Hardwicke) I would've called this movie an exaggerated, manipulative lie except that one of my intelligent, virginal (in every way) childhood friends went through the same destructive, shocking, swift transformation (but, around age 16). The movie namechecks everything that characterized my friend's descent: insecurity, slutty dress, thievery, deception, single mother, abuse, hate, promiscuity, alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, self-harm, suddenly poor grades, rejection of past friends, and more. The only difference is that
    Spoiler: Highlight to view
    Thirteen has a (sort of) happy ending.
  219. [84] Safe (1995, Todd Haynes) Every moment works better than any moment of most movies. For once, the characters, scenes, plot, and dialogue are believable. The movie mixes plot scenes with quiet scenes of ordinary or nonexistant dialogue that build the themes and characters. Haynes makes little attempt to manipulate his audience into liking or disliking any character or idea. He conjures psychological terror from strict naturalism and an unseen, "distant" villain (environmental sickness). And I'm beginning to realize that Julliane Moore may be the best actress working today. The movie doesn't contribute to the development of film or narrative art, but it is flawless.
  220. [61] JFK (1991, Oliver Stone) A decent mainstream flick, but far more important as a popular historical document. Not all the details are correct, but this movie finally got the word to millions of Americans that JFK was definitely not killed by Lee Harvey Oswald. I'm not much into conspiracy theories, but this is one I've always known was true. Too bad all the history books are still wrong.
Author Comments: 

character limit exceeded, so I deleted a bunch of shorts I watched from the list.

Cloned From: 

Hmm, I wonder what you'd think of Haynes' "Poison."

I'm scared to watch Velvet Goldmine or Poison, and possibly ruin my image of Haynes as a master filmmaker. Have you seen either? If so, what did you think of them?

BTW, my first exposure to Haynes was his infamous, illegal Barbie short, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, which "doesn't count" and sucks.

And, I'm not sure Bob Dylan needs more praise, but holy crap: look at the cast and idea of Haynes' I'm Not There: Suppositions on a Film Concerning Dylan!

"Velvet Goldmine" is, as you'd imagine, very stylish and full of good music, but it's the filmic equivalent of a uneasy drug trip. "Poison" is interesting satire, but not a very good movie. I'd say go ahead and watch them if you're interested in Haynes. They're interesting, at the very least.

Did you think Safe and Far From Heaven were far superior to Velvet Goldmine and Poison?

Yes, I think it's safe to say (pun not intended) that "Safe" and "Far from Heaven" are superior films. That's not to say that "Poison" and "Velvet Goldmine" aren't without interest; they're stylish and never boring. Up to you whether you want to bother with them, though.

The best thing about "Thirteen" is that it's not Barbara Kopple's "Havoc."

How often, when a film is clearly going to score a fat "Make. It. Stop.", do you simply shut it off part way through? I almost never do.

P.S. I think I figured out 78704: you're living in Austin, and that's your zipcode? I promise you can figure out 101866 if you try.

I admit to watching a lot of crap, but last year was bad even by my standards. I failed to finish seven movies. This year should be better, because I intend to spend a little more time in the theatre. But, I'm not sure that answers your question.

And, yes, 78704 is where we call home. Have to think about your blog title for a while, though.

Oh, you are so wrong about "Dancer in the Dark." Don't worry, though, lots of people have your back.

I'd be fully willing to accept that Dancer in the Dark is a very good movie if someone could substantially tell me why, but I don't enjoy it.

Did you like Dogville?

Did you like Dogville?

Yes, I loved "Dogville." I also loved "Breaking the Waves" and "The Element of Crime."

Yeah, the ratings are really a nice addition.

What would be your favourite Jarmusch?

I've only seen Dead Man, Ghost Dog, and Coffee and Cigarettes. I want to see Night on Earth, Mystery Train, Down by Law, and Stranger Than Paradise. My favorite is definitely Dead Man so far.

BTW, my to-see short list (selected from the thousands of want-to-see titles) is:

Amateur (1994)
Cache (2005)
Jesus of Montreal (1989)
The World (2004) [Shijie]
Hawaii, Oslo (2004)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
A History of Violence (2004)
Tarnation (2004)
Human Nature (2001)
Last Days (2005)
Kings and Queen (2004)
Moolade (2004)
Underground (1995)
Capote (2005)
The Squid and the Whale (2005)
Naked (1993)
Satantango (1994)
2046 (2004)
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
Watership Down (1978)
Limite (1931)
Grizzly Man (2005)
Wild at Heart (1990)

Two of them, Limite and Satantango, I may never have the chance to see.

Do you really think that it is that difficult to get to see Satantango?

Well, it's not on DVD, and I don't think it plays in north-central Minnesota very often. Do you know something I don't know?

No, it's a bootleg. Bad-VHS quality taped off of TV.

You and kza agree on "Alfredo Garcia". Unfortunately, you are both wrong. auto_matt_ic is correct, however.

I feel Luke will have some arguments with grandpa_chum on this too.

Most music videos, like most movies, are crap. I never paid much attention to them. After downloading a torrent of "visually impressive music videos" and thereby watching a few of the more creative ones of recent years, I wonder if there is some great art to be found among music videos. Especially as visceral surrealism goes. And, the short form is always more apt to succeed because it has fewer opportunities for mistakes than long form films/videos.

Favorites so far: Come to Daddy by Aphex Twin, The Sound of Violence by Cassius, There There by Radiohead, Remind Me by Royksopp, Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers

No, I probably won't start reviewing music videos here.

How does everyone feel about Disney having just bought Pixar? Methinks it sad.

Sad, indeed.

Good for Disney's financial situation,
and bad for Pixar's good reputation.
.
.
.
PS: Uh-oh, only 14 for Harvard Man. Are you not a James Toback fan, or did you have special complaints about Harvard Man? :D

Oh well, this movie must be really bad.

What angers me about Harvard Man and a score of other movies is that "it thinks it's good" - it's self-congratulatory, but has nothing to show for it. American Beauty is self-congratulatory, but it's a good movie (though certainly not the best film of all time, lol). Harvard Man camera work directly quotes Godard's Breathless, employs distorted POV shots, heavily manipulates color, and uses other classic avant-garde techniques, but only because "they look cool," without regard for the effects of those techniques. It was a bad movie to begin with, but this addition thorn in my side engorged my loathing.

Watership Down... <shudder> 28 years later, and I'm starting to fear these scars will never heal.

Just be glad you weren't a child growing up with 1950s advertising.

I went ahead and clicked. That was a mistake.

First row, second picture: That girl is scary!

Just noticed that 2005 will be the first year since 1996 (The English Patient) that the Best Picture winner made less than $100 million. And unless Brokeback Mountain gets a pretty big boost from winning, the last time a Best Picture winner sold fewer tickets will be 1987, with The Last Emperor.

Eh, don't count them out quite yet. They're all still in theaters except for Crash, and they all should get a decent boost just for being nominated.

Yay, good to see you liked Broken Flowers. It doesn't get paid enough attention. In my opinion, the best film of 2005 I have seen so far, but tonight I'll see Crash and in the weeks to come finally Brokeback Mountain.

Please pay close attention to Crash.

"A few movies actually try to inspire change, and a very few succeed."
Got a particular movie in mind that had inspired so much?

One of the most influential movies of all time caused a very bad, bad change: Birth of a Nation. On a much lesser scale, JFK probably changed the way a couple million people thought about the Kennedys, the Vietnam war, and government conspiracies (for the better, I'd argue). As for actually insipiring large numbers of people to "do good", nothing comes to mind, but I've only been paying attention to movies for the past 5 years, so someone older and more aware than me will have to come up with better examples. Any volunteers?

War Games gets credit for inventing the war dialer, which quickly became a staple phreaking tool, but that's a little different.

BTW, somebody mentioned last night at 8PM that the Superbowl was today. I had no idea. One of these days I'll finally reach the point where the Superbowl comes and goes and I don't have a clue.

I guess that into the group that inspired "to do good" we can include movies that inspired to lower prejudices towards certain groups of people or silmular things. Well there film as a means helped a lot, I guess.
So why throw at Millions that it wasn't powerful enough when a lot of also great movies weren't particulary powerful to reach people. Maybe it doesn't want to be an extreme "knock-out". ?)

Are you deliberately wanting to forget about Superbowl? To do such refusal needs courage. :)

Millions could've had something powerful to say, but Boyle would rather be cute and ineffective. That's fine, but then Millions lacks both intrinsic value and any potential social value. [gobbledygook dictionary]

I'd like to honestly and completely forget about something millions of people around me care about. Because I'm 99% a conformist, I take pride and joy in my few mold-breaking traits and decisions. Everyone does.

My last post was such hogwash. Why had I said, "when other movies didn't inspire, why does this one need to do it", I have no idea. I'm usually going by that every single thing can make a difference, and don't like such vindications so I was rather hypocritical. ×)
Nevertheless I will probably enjoy Millions on a lot more viewings though, despite its ineffectivness. :)

Yes, I see your emphasis on a few succeeded triumphs. It's hard to honestly want different and not give in.

Damn it. Of the Bergman-films I have seen so far, Persona is actually the only one that didn't "get" me (on no level)...

Mind you, this is my 5th or 6th viewing, and the first time I've responded to it in an emotional way.

Have you seen Woody Allen's Love and Death?

Nope! Why?

Well, at the end of the film, there are some references to Persona (and also The Seventh Seal). Of course parodic. Woody Allen is also a great admirer of Bergman's work.

97 for Persona? You enjoy that movie much more than I do. Maybe I should rewatch it some time.

Yup. Best movie I've ever seen, by quite a margin. Gets better every time I see it, too.

Your favorite movie only gets an 89?

Birth of a Nation is up on the Internet Archive.

This is not a joke, and it makes me giggle and despair.

Joke or not, "Giggle and Despair" is a great name for a band.

Not that it matters to the film, but Oswald did kill JFK by himself.

So you believe in magic bullets?

Dammit, now I'd actually have to research the whole thing myself to form an opinion. Thanks a lot.

no, really

Given the choice between magic conspiracies and magic bullets I have to side with the bullets. I'm just as shocked as anyone to be agreeing with Senator Specter.

I'm interested; on your new /100 rating scale, what would The Shawshank Redemption and The Third Man get?

Well, now it's my old /100 scale. Shawshank is flawless and derivative, probably about a 77. It's been too long since I've seen The Third Man.

Ok, thanks - just interested. :)

"Derivative" of what?

Every prison escape movie ever made, every prison movie ever made, every archetypal "Hero's Quest" drama ever made...

Okay. I can see that. I sort of think that prison movies are bound together (haha!) by their setting... prison. And I confess that I didn't really see SPOILER - highlight to read the escape coming in The Shawshank Redemption but I sure did in Escape from Alcatraz... or The Great Escape... Escape from New York... L.A....

You've lost me on "Hero's Quest."

Here I'm referring to the seminal work of Joseph Campbell, especially his famous Hero with a Thousand Faces.

At least it's not a submarine movie.

Condorman...man, that sounds like a delicious movie!

It is exactly what it sounds like. A cheap Disney bumbling Bond spoof with cool cars.

The very narrow area of "expertise" I possess qualifies me to pick a nit regarding your review of Chimes at Midnight. Shakespeare wrote in Modern English. Chaucer is in Middle English. Beowulf is in Old English.

Thank you.

You can now download Le voyage dans la lune.

"Jimian", I like that. :-) Very close to "simian", which is somehow appropriate.

But I couldn't be more surprised by your switching to a subjective rating scale! I thought one of the linchpins of your critical style was a search for objective greatness.

(I like your "do I wish this was a weekly, hour-long TV show?" rule of thumb for evaluating documentaries.)

I'm still attracted to objective greatness, but I'm fooling myself if I think I am remotely able to measure it. I haven't even taken a single class on film. I'll still take guesses at objective greatness here and there, but mostly I'll leave that search to better-trained hunters.

Two thoughts about the new An Inconvenient Truth trailer. First, who taught Al Gore to speak like he was awake and cared about things, and why didn't they do that before the 2000 election? Second, why would you title a movie that argues for impending worldwide doom "an inconvenient truth"? That's the old Al Gore talkin'.

Maybe the film's point is not just that worldwide doom is impending, but that we all have the power to do our part to stop it - hence the title. If we all inconvenience ourselves a little bit, we can stop this from ever becoming a reality.

"Come and See": Great movie. I like your word 'pulverizing' -- somehow, 'harrowing' just doesn't seem strong enough. The torching of the village: what Spielberg wishes he could have done with "Saving Private Ryan." (Not that I don't love "Ryan"... I'm just sayin', is all.)

The early scene of bombs dropping in the forest and the 15 minutes that follow while his (and our) hearing haven't recovered also come to mind. What a great sound mix this movie has!

I remember when Ryan came out and people were saying it was the best war movie ever, and I thought, Clearly these people had never seen Come and See. That ending with the picture of little Adolf just fuckin' haunts me.

--The Man Who Saw Come and See In The Theater (Twice)

Another thing. I watch movies because I want to be manipulated, but I don't want every character during every action to carry a Verfremdungseffekt sign that reads "I am manipulating you."

Yes.

Babel is apparently awesome. Yes. Can't wait.

FYI: "Dazed and Confused" was set in 1976. :-)

"Why is 80s American culture caught on film so repulsive to me? Will I feel the same way about 90s flicks in 5 years?" It looks to me like a classic case of: If you weren't there then you just don't understand.

I think that if you don't know and understand the context most things don't make sense. Recent nostalgia is unsettling. But I do admit that I can't recall a recent release that looks back to the 80s... it's probably better that way. The farther away history is the more comfortable it is. I believe that recent history is very disconcerting. It is often inexplicable... unimaginable.

How could you possibly conceive of a world with rotary phones, Atari, Abba, carbon paper, bulletin boards, apartheid, blow, East Germany, drunk driving, Macintosh, Prince, unprotected sex, Maradona, Ma Bell, Yugoslavia and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson?

How can you explain the time of fanny packs, Lollapalooza, Roxette, flannel, Napster, the OJ Trial, crack, impeachment, Tickle Me Elmo, Windows 95, the Artist Formerly Known As Prince, the Macarena, Ronaldo, AOL, the Balkans and Late Night with David Letterman?

How are you going to recall a life before mobiles, Flash, Ace of Base, hoodies, MySpace, the Internet, vitamin E, Jon Stewart, email, iPods, Prince, snowboarding, Ronaldinho, google, the EU, and The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien?

Yeah, I must hate watching the 80s (and, apparently, a 1990s interpretation of 1976) because I didn't experience it so as to understand it, and it's recent enough to unsettle me. So, the 60s are cool, and the 90s and afterward I gork, even though every decade is as inexplicably wacko as any other. Fun juxtapositions, 0dysseus.

I'm going to work very hard to recall a life before MySpace. I think MySpace might (semi-rightly) become the major "moral destruction of our youth" scapegoat after MTV.

(Leaving aside problems with artificial and arbitrary divisions in history...) I actually think that there are some decades that are more "inexplicably wacko" than others. For all of its supposed tumult I think that the 1960s were a rather conventional time of rebellion. Boomers (how I hate them) like to romanticize the events of their lives and inflate their importance.

I believe that it is the transitions between conditions/eras that result in "more unique" (I know, that's one of the worst abuses of language... let's try that again.) Times of true uncertainty churn out the more unusual events, conditions and wackiness. The 1920s and 1980s (at least in America) spring to my mind.

Pop culture developments such as Jazz and Rap, movies and VCRs, radio and cable television, 78s and cds.

Culture changes such as Woman's Suffrage and the disappearance of Mrs/Miss, the rise of Fascism and the rise of Fundamentalism.

Economics such as Harding/Hoover's "the business of America is business" and Reagan/Bush's Reaganomics, Black Tuesday and Black Monday, the Depression and the recession.

Political events such as the Scopes Monkey Trial and Bowers v. Hardwick, the collapse of the Russian Empire and the breakup of the Soviet Union, Prohibition and Pro-Life.

Personalities such as H. L. Mencken and David Letterman, Clara Bow and Madonna, Will Rogers and Oprah Winfrey.

Reading that over it strikes me as very anecdotal and, in total, not very convincing. I don't think I care. But it seems to me that both the 1920s and the 1980s were times of turmoil without resolution... and if you jump it back another 60 years you get to the 1860s which would certainly fit the pattern. I'm sticking by my preconceived notions if only out of pride and stubborness.

As for MySpace: I think you're right about scapegoating. Like swing, rock & roll, blue jeans, etc. it joins a long list of "what's wrong with youth today." I doubt it will be quite as durable as those partially because the avalanche of culture has become so massive and fast. But my grandparents were convinced that pizza would never last so... I'm not sure what that proves.

I'm looking to sell my three Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition DVD sets together (pic). All DVDs, booklets, and packaging are intact. I'll sell the complete set to the first Listologist who wants it for $30 + shipping (U.S. only). If no Listologists want it, I'll put it on Ebay.

Any takers?

I was bored to death by the first two LotR movies and never watched the third one - I pass on the DVD's ;-)
Too Bad you didn't enjoy "The Fast Runner". I watched it in the theater, and the whole public was spellbound by its beauty.
Why didn't you like it?

The acting was amateur. The writing was amateur. The cinematography and direction weren't great. I feel like I must've seen the amateur video that inspired the "real" movie that everybody has fallen in love with.

Lol
How come you watched so many short films?
I hope you haven't watched them in a row, or you must have a fucking huge attention span ;-)

I did watch them all at once, but they were mostly less than 10 minutes each.

If I watch 5 shorts in a row, that's usually enough. More than that, and I can't properly remember the one's that came before.
I mean a "short" film is as much a film as any other, and I need to give it time to sit in and my mind to reflect on it.

Here is the complete list of movies I've seen that I can recall. Like my list of albums, it's too long for Listology.

Wahoo! I asked Artificial Eye and they said they plan to release a full-cut DVD release of Satantango "in the Autumn if all goes to plan."

I think the "Liked" tells more than the 55 would have.

Good!

AFI's 100 Most Inspiring Movies. Two of the top 5 are Capra flicks, and Capra and Speilberg each have 6 titles on the list.

I haven't seen American Beauty. I know it's well-respected and such, but do you think I'd like it? Is it worth my time? I'm very stingy with movies I see, I pick and choose quite carefully, and only get through about a couple a month (I spend more time on TV, music, Internet) so I try to pick out movies I think I'll like; but I don't want to read any in-depth plot synopses of AB as if I do see it, I'd want to go in without having any of the plot's main points revealed beforehand.

So, yay or nay?

I'd say it fits quite well with many of your all-time faves as a well-constructed, very human, mainstream, entertaining and challenging movie. Since it was for a while my absolute favorite movie of all time, I must reply "Yay".

Tonight I feel like dreaming:

1. An epic, space-opera actioner by Terrence Malick. John Adams adapts his Harmonielehre for the score.
2. Batman's "Knightsaga" storyline, a trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, written by David Goyer.
3. Follows several characters before, during, and after a total nuclear apocalypse, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu.
4. Any damned thing by Charlie Kaufman.

Wow, when's the last time you saw this? 5 movies opening this weekend are scoring above 75% at Rottentomatoes.

I noticed that too and was indeed surprised, especially because lately it's been poorly-reviewed movie after poorly-reviewed movie that are making big money (Click, Waist Deep, Nacho Libre, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, The Lake House, The Break-Up, Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, The Omen, X-Men 3, etc).

Of course, already The Motel has sunk to 67% and Strangers With Candy has sunk to 64%, but hey, at least they're all still fresh.

Lol, that was quick!

Re: Daddy and Papa

Very interesting review. I hate to keep saying, "There's no point to me saying this, but what you've said reminds me of some random comedic work," but I've got two for you here.

The first is a segment from a recent episode of the Daily Show that featured coverage on the House of Representatives debating violent video games...

Rep. Lee Terry (R, Nebraska): As the father of three young boys - 11, 8, and 6 - who are avid gamers, I’m very concerned about the content included in the games.

Jon Stewart: (doing an impression of Terry) And as I stand there, watching them play these violent games, helpless to do anything about it, I can’t help but wonder where the system has failed.

The second is a script I read at my film internship for a movie that's actually coming out later this year called Idiocracy. Some parts of the script were pretty stupid, but the opening sequence was hilarious and mildly disturbing as well. It's an explanation for why society is constantly dumbing down, because natural selection doesn't necessarily favor those with positive traits, it favors those who reproduce the most. Then it compares a yuppie couple who keep saying they're going to wait to have kids because the market's not right, etc., and a trailer trash couple who keep popping out kids left and right. The sequence is a sharp exaggeration, but given that as a broad generalization, more educated people tend to have fewer kids than less educated people, I think it's easy to see how this could become a reality.

I'm sure Lee Terry is an intelligent man. He has a B.A. in political science as well as a J.D., plus he's a member of the House of Representatives. But Jon Stewart makes an excellent point about how lazy parents can be, and Terry is probably a better parent than most. If there was more bureaucracy in the process of heterosexuals having kids in America, Terry would probably pass the test. Maybe one could say that in a free society any [heterosexual] couple should have the right to reproduce as much as they want, but on the other hand, unfit parents can often have their children taken away from them by social services, so if you know the parents are going to be unfit, why not save the trouble?

Disclaimer: These are not meant to be firm positions or fully-fledged arguments. Just something to think about.

Poor people produce far more offspring than wealthy people. This is one of the great poverty traps, and one reason why 80% of the world's wealth is held by 10% of its people (or something like that). Of course, it also means that the vast majority of humans remain uneducated and malnourished. But I don't see evidence of our society "constantly dumbing down." If I had time, I'd track down data on how the average person today has 2.6 more years of education than the average person in 1966, the increased complicatedness of popular entertainment media, etc.

I don't think the education proves anything because college and graduate education is also much more highly valued than it was back in the 60s. Also, I feel like the tendency for poorer and less educated people to have more children is a more modern trend. Certainly with the baby boom, everyone was having lots of kids. As long as we're stuck in the current trend, I do think society could start dumbing down, but the reason why it's called a trend is that it doesn't last forever. I certainly don't think that by the year 3001 Americans will just be a bunch of complete morons (as is proposed in Idiocracy).

I so enjoy your two cents regarding these movies that when I'm working on the scoreboard, I have to stop and read your list before I can go on to the next one.

Thanks for the encouragement! I'm glad some of my thoughts are interesting outside my own head; I often have doubts about that. I wish more Listologists would give more than a rating for each movie they watch.

I wish more Listologists would give more than a rating for each movie they watch.

I do, just not on Listology... :-)

Your comments are insightful. You should never doubt their value. You are a very smart fellow.

Ah, yes! I discovered your site a long time ago via Milk Plus, and read it intermittently.

That's about right - I update it intermittently. :-)

Holy crap.

"Civilization as we know it has been destroyed, but remnants remain. In this story, a man has set his heart on visiting a famous pre-apocalypse museum which is now isolated in the midst of a new sea, the result of the melting of the polar icecaps. Those who hold onto the remnants of the old civilization live in isolated settlements, and keep a tight rein on the more numerous mutants, whom they keep in concentration camps (except for those who pressed into duty as servants). The stranger, who is an odd looking man, is taken by these mutants as a long-awaited messiah, and he swiftly becomes involved in the mutant-liberation rebellion, leading his followers to a new land on the other side of the sea." That's Visitor of a Museum (1989), by Konstantin Lopushansky, compared to Tarkovsky

Now, the actual movie is probably too underbudgeted to be as visually stunning or action-packed as it could be, but ain't the idea just cool?

Boo for not liking Trouble in Paradise and for dissing film-noir, but big amens to your reviews of Inside Man and Superman Returns.

Thanks for commenting. I was just plain bored by Trouble in Paradise. Not my style of humor, I guess, as I didn't laugh once. And, I didn't mean to "diss" film-noir, only recognize that it's not as artistic or exciting to me as some other genres. I did name a noir and neo-noir as "perfect" in my Inside Man review, you'll notice, and I could probably name more.

Alright, alright, fair 'nuff, though I've always found most film-noirs very exciting.

I've been diggin' the reviews. I'd be curious to know what you would think of the Superman Returns/X-Men 3 comparison, the former with the better director and the latter with the better subject matter (at least IMHO). But if you think you'll hate X3, feel free to say no to indulging me.

I have no intention of seeing X3, but probably will eventually with some friends or something. I think I might end up liking X3 better, because I'll bet they are both very poorly executed, so subject matter will win out.

BTW, did you notice the, oh, 500 billion explicit Christ metaphors throughout Superman Returns? That started annoying me after about #60.

Yeah, they annoyed me too. I mean, I wouldn't mind some subtle parallels, but what the hell was up with that speech he gives the kid in the end?

I am very thrilled that Brick and The New World thrilled you.

Viewing some of the inane remarks about the latter, I realize it is a divisive film that makes it easy for me to tell which reviwers' opinions I should take seriously and which I can easily ignore as the moronic shards of noise they are...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I'd be hard pressed to come up with a 2005 film I liked better than Brick or especially The New World. But there's a lot I haven't seen.

Brick: "...on a rare occasion, the attempt to walk the wire between earnestness, tribute, and humorous takes a perilous dip." Do you remember which part you were referring to when you wrote that?

Am I a moronic shard of noise for disliking King Kong?

I'm trying to remember exactly which scenes I meant, but my powers of memory decrease as my age increases. It could have been a couple of his conversations with the principal; I remember loving a few and thinking a few went a bit too goofy...

No, you are not any of that. You have reasoned opinions, and I certainly feel like you understood the film. I have little patience for people who judge art before making good efforts to understand it, and that was evidenced in many of the negative reviews I read for The New World...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

You make a good point, which encourages me to review honestly. When I don't understand something, I should say so, rather than bash the film. That goes for Lost Highway, Angelopolous, and plenty of foreign films in general. I'm usually pretty good with that, but I appreciate the unintentional reminder.

I understand! I can always respect disagreement, especially concerning art, but I do get tired of people who wish me to accept their kneejerk reactions to everything they see as seriously as I accept those from people who obviously tried to think and to understand what they watch.

That sentence was needlessly long, but I'm too tired to go back to trim it!

If I see a film I'm pretty sure I don't get, I either fess up or just stay silent about it until I have a chance to see it again. Confusing me while convincing me that I (and not sloppiness on the film's part) am at fault is a surefire way to get me to watch a movie many times!

(It is how I got into Hal Hartley; the first time I saw Trust, I mildly liked it, but I knew I wasn't quite getting his style yet. Over a decade later, and I love it and many of his films!)

I think you usually do an excellent job of withholding criticism until understanding, but that's just how I see it!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Which version of King Kong did you not like? I wasn't a big fan of the remake myself.

Both. They're both dumb. The original at least at a good score.

I think part of the enduring reputation of "Land Without Bread," besides its imagery, is that it's really not much of a documentary. There's a lot of stuff in it (the falling donkey in particular) that was either caused, manipulated or plum fabricated by Bunuel. It might be history's first mockumentary; it's definitely a cynical master's bleakest joke and a stunning example of how an artist can reframe reality to fit within his own sensibilities.

But that's exactly what Nanook of the North was, a full decade earlier, so what's the big deal?

Satantango will be released on DVD on November 28, 2006.

I'm stoked.

Released on DVD today: Snakes on a Train.

Actually, this is exactly what I was hoping to hear about Lynch's Inland Empire.

No, no, lukeprog. Hollywood movies are no style and no substance.

Oops, I was actually intending to write "style". Nice catch. :-)

I think you have a font color tag to close.

Thanks. I ended up eliminating the font color tags altogether on this update so that I can maybe make it to the end of the year without having to split lists. :)

Good job. What is the limit?

I know Jim once told me the character limit his host imposes, but I can't find it now.

65,000 characters, unfortunately.

Thank you Jim. Sounds like the same number of rows in Microsoft Excel. Any relation?

Yeah, I assume it all comes back to the binary nature of computing. That's why lots of numbers are powers of two (like how MP3 players come in 256MB, 512MB, etc.). 216 = 65,536, which is not exactly the cutoff I've observed, but I assume it's related. It's a performance setting, so there's probably some buffer size somewhere or something.

Makes sense.

Thanks.

Yeah, I don't see anything. The Wizard of Floyd is not.

i totally agree with your views on slither, horrible dull movie with no good features to it. not funny, dperessing, really boring

I could not possibly be more stoked about INLAND EMPIRE.

Damn it, where is Shane Carruth?

yay, someone else who liked V for Vendetta! A lot of people I know didn't like it, but I thought it was different from a lot of the crap being made nowadays. Sorta like Nineteen Eighty-Four except with a happy ending.