Sunday, July 11, 2010
ASHES AND DIAMONDS (1958, POLAND)
(June 10, 2010) I just finished reading The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. It is an enlightening book and I recommend it highly. This reading is why I’ve been delinquent on putting up my latest film essay entitled, “Socio-Economic problems in Post World War II Poland and the films of Andrzej Wajda.” Ashes and Diamonds, featuring the Polish James Dean (Zbigniew Cybulski), is of course Wajda’s most noted film, though he is still making films today. I’m going to look over the film once again and finish compiling sources, so I will have to get back to this blog later.
(June 17, 2010) Looking up what I can find on the Internets about the film Ashes and Diamonds. I was doing well when I was using this stack of movie magazines and books to the left of me, but when I started looking at online sources, I’d do all right for a while, but then I’d get sleepy. I guess I’ve been buring the candle at both ends too long. :-(
(June 24 2010) I’m sitting at my computer and am staring at the screen. I know I was going to right something about this movie, I forgot the name of it, I know it’s a Europe thing. When I went to watch it again, I realized it wasn’t in English and couldn’t follow the subtitles. I need to rest. I’m not sure why I have such a big stack of books here to my left, but they make a good place to put my Hardees Milk Shake. Thinking if I should get back to this movie thing. No, not write now. I know! I’ll play that game on Facebook. What’s it called? Tractor Land, that’s it. Looking now. Hey! I Got a knew cow!
(July one 2010)Spended two many time on Tractor Land. I was gonning to doo something else. Something about a movie. See emages of movie. Guy with glassses like JamsDEan has a gun. Aktor. Whatwas his name? Zgyskiii, I think. But Guns are bad. Drunk guy waz funnie.
(Jul 201) progris riport: Don no how ta turn on VDD player. Forgotted what I was going ta do anyhow. Rather go on internnet. Tractor Land. Nead to harvess my pigs. Too busie to right anymore. Insant massage comeing in. Forgetted a lot. No I was trubbled befor now I am happie. playin my game. Be my frien.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
SPIRITED AWAY (2001, JAPAN)
I've been wondering what the critical consensus is on some of the movies I’ve looked at recently.
So where better to look than www.rottentomatoes.com, which gives films an up or down rating based on the opinions of a community of critics? Don’t answer that. It’s a rhetorical question. Anyway here are some of the ratings.
Citizen Kane 100% positive ratings.(Good thing there are no dissenters. They would probably be drummed out of the critics union.)
A Clockwork Orange 90% positive (Got mixed reviews when it first came out, but now, well you do the math.)
Annie Hall 98% positive (There are people that don’t like Annie Hall, but not many critics.)
Jean Luc-Godard’s Two or Three Things I Know About Her 93% positive (Considering how unusual this movie is, I’m surprised the percentage is that high.)
Chariots of Fire 86% positive (Still haven’t seen it, but will one of these days.)
But lets face it. It’s often more fun to look up reviews of bad movies.
Bio-Dome 5% positive. (I think the one critic who liked Bio-Dome really HAS been drummed out of the critics union.)
Battlefield Earth 3% (The three critics who liked this shows that you can usually find someone to like anything.)
Plan 9 From Outer Space 66%. (Talk about time being kind! Even the critics that pan it seem to have affection for it.)
Another fun thing I just found to do on Rotten Tomates is look up a film that people feel passionately about, like The Empire Strikes Back, and look for negative reviews. There is only one negative review for The Empire Strikes Back. Go there and look up the user comments. Let’s just say most of them aren’t in agreement with that particular reviewer and give their opinion in a most forceful manner. (Note: For the record, I have said nothing negative about The Empire Strikes Back. Love ya, Yoda!)
I’m getting off subject. What was my subject?
One question that comes to my mind is whether or not criticism even matters. This weeks 92% negative reviews for The Last Airbender haven’t prevented it from making 51.8 million dollars last weekend (Note: I have no idea what The Last Airbender is. What? It’s from M. Night Shyamalan? Thanks for telling me.)
Why do I bring this up? I was taking a look at the anime Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away.
It got a whopping 97 % approval. And I’m sure the four out of 150 who didn’t like it aren’t really nice people anyway.
One of the most creative movies I’ve ever seen, but don’t take my word for it. Heed the words of professional critic Eleanor Ringel from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I quote Eleanor because she was the AJC critic I used to go to in the 70’s and 80’s. Eleanor, I’m glad you are still doing reviews and doing them in an actual newspaper to boot!
If Lewis Carroll were alive today, and making movies instead of writing books, "Spirited Away" is the movie he'd make. Not since he sent Alice tumbling down that rabbit hole has there been such a rapturous mix of whimsy and the surreal.-Eleanor Ringel.
Thanks for everything, Eleanor.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971), EYES WIDE SHUT (1999)
The husband begins to administer smelling salts to his wife. It takes her a moment, but she does revive. She eyes him in disbelief as she becomes fully conscious.
Wife: Tape? My wrists! They’re taped! I absolutely can’t believe you’ve done this to me. What the hell is this all about?
Husband: No need to be hostile. I just want you to sit still to watch a movie and wanted to make sure I had your undivided attention.
Wife: Who the hell do you think you are? Wait! This isn’t one of those movies by that Russian. What’s his name?
Husband: Sergei Parajanov. No, not Parajanov.
Wife: As soon as I get out of this, there’s going to be hell to pay! Do you read me mister?
Husband: Calm down, my dear. We are going to watch or should I say re-watch Eyes Wide Shut. Widescreen and everything.
Wife: No! No! Not Eyes Wide! I’ll do anything. . I’ll watch Beloved…Mullholland Drive…Dogville…The Color of Pomegranates. Just don’t make me watch Eyes Wide!”
Husband: Don’t you understand I wouldn’t do anything to you that’s not for your own good?
Wife: (Crying). I can’t believe you’re doing this. It was one thing to be surprised by its awfulness the first time. But now that I know what to expect, how can I brace myself for this?
Husband: You’re angry now, but you’ll thank me later. Mark my words.
Wife: (Wiping away her tears) Fine, fine. Do your best. I can take it. Bring it on. I’m stronger than any painful movie is.
At this point the husband applies pinchers to his wife’s eyelids to keep them open. He administers a steady flow of eyedrops as she watches what comes before her.
Scene one has Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman talking about going to a society party in the first scene.
But then the film breaks into something different. The scene is now of random bunnies hoping back and forth. One of the bunnies seems to turn into chocolate and a little girl with a missing front tooth eats a bite of the candy and smiles, showing off that adorable gap in her teeth! Obviously it’s going to be a happy Easter! And don’t worry about that bunny. Its perfectly safe and hops onto the little girls lap. Obviously this happy little girl has a new pet! All of this goes on while Beethoven’s Ninth is playing in the background.
We go back to Eyes Wide Shut. We see the scene with Cruise and Kidman discussing her fantasy about a sexual relationship with a Navy officer.
Eyes Wide Shut is interrupted by a new scene with a young couple. Clearly not Tom and Nicole, but there is a resemblance between these two and the stars of the film. They are holding hands on a cruise. (No pun intended!) They are clearly in love. They can eat anything they want and not gain any weight! And it’s all free! And who is that performing in the ship’s lounge? Why for one night only, it’s none other than Ludwig Van Beethoven himself!
Back to Eyes Wide Shut. Cruise is in trouble. He has been discovered to not belong at the secret ritual party he is at. Conflict?
The Cruise look-alike appears in a similar scene. Everyone unmasks. They smile at him. He is welcome to go help himelf to hors d'oeuvres of his choosing. The music turns to the ninth. The man at the piano smiles as he unmasks. It is none other than---Ludwig Van!
Random scenes now appear on the screen.
Scene #1 A man drops out of a plane sitting on an atomic bomb. It plummets to the earth. He yells like a cowboy at a rodeo. The bomb drops to the ground. Clink! A perfect and safe landing! He jumps off the bomb just in time to join in on the weekly square dance!
Scene #2 A writer living in an isolated hotel takes a break. His wife picks up his rough draft while he leaves the room. The book is entitled All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy. She flips through the pages. She can’t believe her eyes…It is the greatest novel she has ever seen! It is bound to be a great success!
Scene #3 A group of young men in white outfits and bowler hats come across an old bum and they proceed to…feed him and help him find shelter…and a job!
Scene #4 Finally, to the tune of Strauss’s Thus Spake Zarathustra the universe opens up and everything becomes…clear. And it is good.
After the movie is over, the husband takes the pinchers off the wife’s eyes. And takes the duct tape off her wrists. She looks at him. He asks her what she thinks.
Wife: How did I not get it the first time? I can see that what lies beneath the surface is what’s important. The erotic tension inherent in Kubrick’s vision…I’ve never seen it portrayed like this before. Every other film dealing with any kind of relationship or marriage or social ritual seems suddenly empty, incomplete, and a sham. Oh, and the Ninth symphony. How beautiful! I tell you what. There are no two ways about it. I have seen greatness! Thank you for letting me embrace it.
Husband bends down and kisses his wife on the forehead.
Husband: (Checking her condition) Aren’t you glad we did this now? Your eyes look good. Might want to rub your arms where the tape was. I had it pretty tight. I’m just so happy you were cured.
Husband bends down and kisses his wife on the forehead a second time. He leaves the room to get her a glass of milk. As soon as he’s gone, she rubs on her wrists as her visage turns sour. The smile that reenters her face exhibits more than a trace of malevolence.
Wife: I was cured all right.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
PAUL BLART: MALL COP (2009)
The 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die blogger walks into the door of his psychiatrist’s office. During the previous session, the blogger explained to his doctor that he sometimes loses focus, control and perspective during his viewing of these films. Dr. Berger, who looks exactly like Judd Hirsch, prescribed that the blogger watch Paul Blart: Mall Cop, much to the chagrin of the blogger.
Dr. Berger: (already seated) Welcome back, my friend. Please make yourself comfortable.
The 1001 blogger sits down without saying a word.
Dr. Berger: Well did you watch the movie I told you to?
Dr. Berger: So what are your thoughts? And how did it make you feel?
Blogger: I don’t know. Just like someone who might watch have trouble watching Citizen Kane for the first time after being told how great it is, I went into watching Paul Blart: Mall Cop expecting the worst movie of all time. I guess I thought I would run screaming from living room saying “I’ll be good. Let me watch Lawrence of Arabia or The Godfather. I’ve learned my lesson!”
Dr. Berger: I take it that didn’t happen.
Dr. Berger: And what did happen?
Blogger: It was okay. It had its moments. I actually thought Kevin James was kind of funny at times. I can’t believe I’m saying this.
Dr. Berger: You laughed out loud a few times.
Blogger: I wouldn’t say that.
Dr. Berger: Yes, you did.
Blogger: Wait a minute. Was that you outside my window? I thought that was a raccoon! I don’t know whether to compliment you on being a dedicated professional or get a restraining order.
Dr. Berger: I am thorough with my patients. And you laughed. I saw you go ‘ha ha ha ha.’
Blogger: No, never four ha’s. I’ll admit to a couple of sequential ha’s, but never ha ha ha ha. Two ha’s is an acknowledgement. Four ha's is a commitment.
Dr. Berger: Sometimes you might like a lame, lowbrow comedy. What’s wrong with that?
Blogger: I didn’t say I liked it. I just said I didn’t hate it. I didn’t call it lame either. Hold on, I’m confused.
Dr. Berger: So aren’t you mad? A Kevin James comedy about a mall cop makes $146 million domestic. $146 million! Doesn’t that stick in your craw?
Blogger: Yes…No…I don’t know. Why are you confusing me, you bastard?
Dr. Berger: Here’s sophisticated brand A over here. This is the product the good people like. Here’s generic brand B over here. The bad people like this. And there’s more of the bad people. And those bad people have paid for Kevin James’s mansion in Beverly Hills. But it least gives you a forum to make fun of the bad people.
Blogger: You make it sound so…sordid.
Dr. Berger: You tell me if it's sordid! Sitting on your sofa and mocking. Is that what you want to do?
Blogger: No, no. I need a new way of thinking about things. That’s too simple.
Dr. Berger: You need a new paradigm.
Blogger: Yes, a new paradigm. Uh, what exactly do you mean?
Dr. Berger: You grew up in a Siskel and Ebert world. Thumbs up. Thumbs down. Good vs. Bad. Right vs. Wrong. Life isn’t so absolute. Do you think most people are going to get your Jean-Luc Godard movies? The whole thing is more complex than you seem to acknowledge.
Blogger: One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.
Dr. Berger: Right. That’s right. It’s not a hard concept to understand, but implementation is a different story.
Blogger: (Sighing) You know, I feel better. I feel free. Find beauty where you can, even if it’s in a empty bag swirling in circles in the wind. I thank you, doctor. What about next week?
Dr. Berger: No next week. You don’t need me anymore. You’re ready to be on your own.
Blogger: But I...I know you're right. I’ll take that hug now.
Blogger and Dr. Berger embrace.
Blogger leaves Dr. Berger's office prepared to continue on.
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