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Author Topic: Movie Club  (Read 17373 times)
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pugetopolis
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« Reply #1290 on: May 31, 2008, 10:31:16 PM »



Brokeback Mountain (2005)

“Tell you what...
truth is, sometimes I miss
you so bad I can hardly stand it...”
—Jack Twist, Brokeback Mountain

Now that Heath Leger’s gone—does it make any difference?

I mean if you’re really into it—the young male charisma thing—unashamedly, unabashedly, uncontrollably—like that last scene in Brokeback Mountain—when Heath Leger is standing there in his dumpy trailer out in the middle of nowhere—alone after his divorce & daughter’s marriage coming up—standing there with all the hurt inside—the bleak Wyoming landscape out there—coming thru the cheap skimpy bedroom window curtains—unable to be himself—feeling Jack Twist twisting inside him—never feeling perfect—not then or now—but then neither was Jack either—except those times—up there on Brokeback Mountain—camping out together under the stars at night…

Jack Twist: [looking over at Ennis in the firelight; he has laid back and is looking up at the stars, smiling] Anything interesting up there in heaven? 

Ennis Del Mar: [for the first time in a long time, content] I was just sending up a prayer of thanks.

Jack Twist: For what?

Ennis Del Mar: [with a wink and a smile] For you forgettin' to bring that harmonica. I'm enjoyin' the peace and quiet.


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Dzimas
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« Reply #1291 on: June 01, 2008, 07:42:28 AM »

Nice recap of blaxploitation films down through years.  I'm not quite sure that Superfly and Shaft fit the category, although Gordon Parks definitely played on the themes.  The use of music and montage was fantastic in both those films and a big influence on filmmaking in the 70s.  But, not to get too serious, I loved the Pam Grier movies, especially Foxy Brown,



It was great fun seeing Tarantino bring her back in Jackie Brown.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2008, 08:19:33 AM by Dzimas » Logged
pugetopolis
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« Reply #1292 on: June 01, 2008, 06:05:39 PM »



Fiend Without A Face (1958)

“The cinema seems to have been
invented to express the subconscious
life, whose roots penetrate so deeply
into poetry; but it is almost never
used for that end.”—Luis Bunuel

1. Why would Criterion Collection put out a film like Fiend Without A Face (1958)? So I bought it to find out why.

2. Actually the real reason I got it was because of certain “faces” that I’d seen lately in movies I’d been watching; fiendish but extremely handsome faces.

3. Like Heath Leger in Monster’s Ball (2001). There’s this scene at the beginning of the movie with Leger in the motel waiting for a prostitute. He’s in the bathroom looking at himself in the mirror. It’s a strange, distorted, weird face—the mirror-face of a fiend? Maybe it’s just the cheap little mirror on the wall that does the trick—but is that the way Leger sees himself? There’s a knock on the door—it’s the young cute prostitute. They have a drink & a quickie.



4. Another face-scene—at the local bar where Billy Bob Thornton preps Leger for the electrocution the next day. Thornton is Ledger’s father—they both work as prison guards. Ledger doesn’t say anything—he just sits there nervously drinking his beer & smoking a cigarette. Freeze-frame the film—Leger’s face, expression, body language = pretty boy angst. Slow-mo the scene—it could just as well be  “proposition scene” in a gay bar. Moody Leger’s face says it all—the way he sips the beer & nervously smokes his cigarette. The vignette is about death—but it could just as well be about sex. Is there any difference?



5. There’s another face-screen with Ledger after the electrocution—looking at himself in the prison bathroom mirror. Thornton busts in & starts beating Leger up, because things didn’t go smoothly. Ledger had screwed up the whole weird ritual so important in Thornton’s mind. He sees his son as an embarrassment & failure—resulting in Ledger shooting himself back home in front of Thornton & grandfather.



6. Young male beauty makes these face-scenes compelling & authentic—for the same reasons that Lynch’s Mulholland Drive succeeds while Inland Empire fails. A pretty face makes all the difference—at least in my book. For example, Leger as the “Man in Trouble” instead of Laura Dern as the “Woman in Trouble” might have made Inland Empire more interesting—at least for me. What would Blue Velvet have been—without Kyle MacLachan’s pretty face along with Isabella Rossellini?

7. Lynch’s “Intervalometer Experiments” in Dynamic: 01 showing empty scenes like Sunset, Steps & Interior Dining Room are intrinsically boring like the motel room in Inland Empire—but with a pretty face any boring scene becomes interesting. The same with movies—pick any movie. Put a pretty face in it—young male beauty makes boredom interesting.

8. Brokeback Mountain, Candy, The Brothers Grimm, Casanova, A Knight’s Tale—Heath Ledger’s face makes all these movies interesting to me regardless of whatever critic’s say. The face is what makes the film interesting—even a bleak empty Inland Empire motel room or Dynamic Sunset, Steps & Interior Dining Room scene.

9. In fact, the more nonlinear & meta-fictional the movie is—the better. Gertrude Stein’s anti-mystery detective story “Blood on the Dining Room Floor” is like the Inland Empire motel room & plot-less “Intervalometer Experiment” scenes. No matter how boring a movie, a scene or a room is—put a pretty face like Heath Ledger in it—and things pick up.

10. The animation morphing multifaceted face in Gus Van Sant Jonathan Caoquette’s Tarnation “Texas 1975-1981” is a face-collage of many faces. It captures in a poetic way the movie at that particular moment in time when Caoquette’s life is going thru changes. The power of the image is the young man’s face—caught up at that moment in the montage of home movies that gives Caoquette meaning. His home movies = autobiographical Filmography.

11. Can anything be gained from studying faces? Other than merely aesthetic pleasure & movie entertainment at one end—and obsessive cult status at the other? I’ve asked myself that question—freeze-framing certain scenes in movies like that scene in Boyz n the Hood with Cuba Gooding Jr. & his girlfriend in South Central Los Angeles.

12. There’s a certain iconic still-shot magic to various face-scenes—so I started doing random capture-shots of these movies: Jean-Paul Belmondo in Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, Ettore Garofolo in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Mama Roma, Alain Delon in Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard, Kieran Culkin & Ryan Phillippe in Burr Steers’ Igby Goes Down, Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Greg Araki’s Mysterious Skin, Matachi the Boy in F. W. Murnau’s Tabu, Roberto Cobo in Luis Bunuel’s Los Olvidados, Ryan Carnes in Allan Brocka’s Eating Out, Steve Sandvoss in C. Jay Cox’s Latter Days, Macaulay Culkin in Fenton Bailey’s Party Monster, Keith Fulton & Louis Pepe’s Brothers of the Head…

Notes:

In regard to the Bunuel quote on poetry & film, as well as  the Movie Club discussions—there’s always been a certain despairingly snarky faction in the other Movie forum kvetching about anything discussed from a writerly point of view:

http://forums.escapefromelba.com/index.php/topic,30.msg93098.html#msg93098

“I think you may be looking for the department that's one step to the right at the bottom of this staircase where the elevator shoots up to the aerie for the more rara avis of film poetics; it is right past the trivia department but came about as an intense desire to create a difference between intense film esoterica at a higher going rate than us drudges down here with the receipts, the directors, occasionally a producer, the actors, and the writers who produce the slush fund.”

Film poetics”? What would Bunuel say? I guess we’ll just have to consult with the all-knowing Madame Rexroth expert here in Elba?


« Last Edit: June 01, 2008, 06:20:47 PM by pugetopolis » Logged

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« Reply #1293 on: June 01, 2008, 06:21:21 PM »

From what I have read, the genesis for this film genre is to be found in the rise of the atomic age and the fears surrounding it....powerlessness against an undefeatable enemy, genetic mutation, an overriding distrust of science combined with the recognition for dependence on it. 

A great background for the mindset of this time is the movie, "The Atomic Cafe", possibly one of my favorite films.   


I haven't seen Fiend Without a Face.  Is it one of those you love because it is truly dreadful? 

Here is a poster you might enjoy:

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pugetopolis
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« Reply #1294 on: June 01, 2008, 07:41:20 PM »

From what I have read, the genesis for this film genre is to be found in the rise of the atomic age and the fears surrounding it....powerlessness against an undefeatable enemy, genetic mutation, an overriding distrust of science combined with the recognition for dependence on it. 

A great background for the mindset of this time is the movie, "The Atomic Cafe", possibly one of my favorite films.   


I haven't seen Fiend Without a Face.  Is it one of those you love because it is truly dreadful? 

Here is a poster you might enjoy:


I’m almost too ashamed to admit it—but camp schlock Edward Wood Jr. Grade-Z movies are my greatest addiction. Movies like Atom Age Vampire, Teenage Zombies & The Slime People perk me right up after sliming my way thru Costco doing my shopping for kitty litter & junk food…

I guess I’ve got a sick sensibility—you know, like David Lynch & Terry Zwigoff’s movie Crumb (2006). The only thing better than camp movies is Robert Crumb’s sick mind, his artistic genius & sexual obsessions. He’s a size queen for ladies with nice big thick thighs & the Crumb movies goes into excruciating detail how he got that way. A fascinating bio-flick intro to the world of Zap Comix, Mr. Natural & Fritz the Cat.

Sometimes the world is so crummy—only Crumb can make me laugh.

« Last Edit: June 01, 2008, 07:44:02 PM by pugetopolis » Logged

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« Reply #1295 on: June 01, 2008, 07:46:12 PM »

Nice recap of blaxploitation films down through years.  I'm not quite sure that Superfly and Shaft fit the category, although Gordon Parks definitely played on the themes.  The use of music and montage was fantastic in both those films and a big influence on filmmaking in the 70s.  But, not to get too serious, I loved the Pam Grier movies, especially Foxy Brown,



It was great fun seeing Tarantino bring her back in Jackie Brown.

Thanks, dzimas—that was fun slipping into the Blaxploitation mood. It brought back many fond movie memories. We had two theaters in our little Midwest town west of Kansas City. The Granada was a classic old film palace designed in Spanish Colonial Revival style with lots of stucco, tile roof, finial-topped towers, vulture-capital columns & a corbelled parapet above the windows with five terra cotta clown figurines. It had a Robert Morton pipe organ along with a Moorish flavor lobby & auditorium. My favorite spot was the balcony with brass railings and red velvet curtains with plush thick carpets leading up the stairs & luxurious seats. It closed in 1982 & now is a performing arts center like the Granada in Kansas City.

Both were designed by the Boller Brothers. The KC Granada is more a Southwest Spanish Colonial Revival architecture—with a Spanish villa atmospheric treatment. The Boller Brothers designed many movie houses in the Midwest. I considered the Granada more of a holy Hollywood Temple—than the astute Presbyterian Church across the street. There’s a brief shot of the Granada in Capote’s In Cold Blood—as the killers drive up Commercial Street after buying rope at Haynes Hardware Store to hog-tie the unfortunate Clutter Family.

The Highway 50 Snake Pit Drive In west of town was where I saw most of the Blaxploitation & Teen Sexploitation flicks on weekends. Usually exquisitely campy horror & sci-fi movies that are still great fun to watch on DVD. Most drive-ins are gone now—replaced by multiplexes & home entertainment centers. NetFlix seems to conquer all now—including Blockbuster etc. Funny how the distribution venues change—but the movies stay the same.


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« Reply #1296 on: June 01, 2008, 07:54:45 PM »

Pugetopolis....What are you talking about?  You can tell that Crumb fans have taste....just look at the price tags on some of these    Wink

http://www.crumbproducts.com/prints.html
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1297 on: June 02, 2008, 12:50:36 AM »

I loved Crumb along with American Splendor. This is a slice of American life we rarely see these days, but was a big part of the 60s and 70s. 

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« Reply #1298 on: June 02, 2008, 04:12:29 AM »

Criterion has come out with some interesting cult movies, such as



Launching us from a grave past to a space-age future, these two thrilling double features, from producers Richard and Alex Gordon, spin classic tales of hair-raising homicidal mania and intrepid, death-defying exploration. Featuring Boris Karloff in two of his most horrifying roles (THe Haunted Strangler and Corridors of Blood), and two classic sci-fi treats from the atomic age.

http://www.criterion.com/asp/boxed_set.asp?id=364

I think it was pretty much a response to the atomic age and the collective fear that ensued.  I think Plan 9 from Outer Space still ranks as one of the worst movies of all time,



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Films_considered_the_worst_ever
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« Reply #1299 on: June 02, 2008, 12:13:14 PM »

Mystery Science Theatre has sort of ruined these for me.  MST is hilarious, but once you've begun to watch these movies to MST narration, you will never again view them in the same way.

Similar to the effect that watching "Airplane" has on watching the old Airport movies. 
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pugetopolis
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« Reply #1300 on: June 03, 2008, 01:32:16 AM »



R. Crumb’s Retro Aesthetics

I’ve been thinking about Crumb lately—thumbing thru his Zap Comix Books & art books. Actually I don’t “think” about Crumb—what happens is I see thru his eyes.

Crumb has this retro-sensibility—a lot of us have it. But Crumb is an artist & he can project himself images. These images aren’t just images—they’re something else. For me at least a Crumb cartoon is a window or doorway—an aesthetic keyhole to see the world.

What kind of world? It’s a Sixties & Seventies world—the kind of ‘60s & ‘70s world that many of us lived thru. Crumb has this retro-aesthetics that is almost too “relevant” to the times back then. But it’s unique—because once you see thru his eyes—there’s no way of turning back.

The Crumb DVD lets in on quite a few bio-flick things—like the image of the smooth confident Business Man on the Street. Who ends up a Wreck or gets mind-fucked by what happens. That’s Crumb’s father—and it’s not a pretty picture with R. Crumb, his brother, his father & growing up the way they did.

Art saved R. Crumb—and many of us too.


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« Reply #1301 on: June 03, 2008, 01:35:26 AM »

R. Crumb’s Retro Aesthetics #2

One of R. Crumb’s books especially fascinates me: Odds & Ends, “The Heap Years of the Auto (1946-1959,” London: Bloomsbury, 2001. It has to do with big car styles back then—lots of chrome, heavy metal, fins, etc.

Of course, all of his art books are interesting—portals to other worlds or ways to see the worlds differently. His illustrations, drawings, cartoons, doodlings and ruminations are published everywhere—then every once in awhile somebody gathers them together in another book.

I was watching an Edward Wood Jr. movie last night—Bride of the Monster (1956). It rates up there with the best Fifties schlock—along with Night of the Ghouls (1958) & Plan Nine From Outer Space (1959). Some of the funky cars remind me of Crumb’s art essay on style:





http://images.tribe.net/tribe/upload/photo/f19/203/f19203b3-768f-4c65-a51a-27476fa56c4a (larger image)



http://images.tribe.net/tribe/upload/photo/479/309/479309ee-341f-4206-982e-41fa8a4eb7fc (larger image)
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« Reply #1302 on: June 03, 2008, 02:51:10 AM »

There was a nice book that came out on Crumb a few years back, an anthology of sorts,



which comes with a CD that includes his Cheap Suit Serenaders.  Crumb on banjo and vocals.

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« Reply #1303 on: June 03, 2008, 04:34:47 AM »

The R. Crumb Handbook!!!—I’ve got it. One of my favorite Books. Some books you want to always come back to because you never get tired of them. Crumb’s got quite a 78 music collection (pages 402-403) in Southern France doesn’t he?      Grin
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« Reply #1304 on: June 03, 2008, 10:01:57 AM »

Great book!  Another one of my favorites,

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