Tuesday, January 06, 2009

NEW YEARS RESOLUTION MEME/ MAN ON WIRE DEBATE/ CHE BASHING (THE MAN, NOT THE MOVIE... NOT YET)

***UPDATE***
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Since this post evolved from a New Years resolution post into a Man on Wire and "Cult of Che" discussion, I wanted to add those two topics to the title. Plus, if Fidel happens to Google "Che" while he's chillin' in bed in his favorite jumpsuit, maybe, JUST MAYBE, a link to this post will pop up and El Comandante will join us in the discussion!
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Adam Ross at DVD Panache tagged me with a clever idea for a meme:

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1. Post a list of nine movie-related resolutions for the new year. These can be as serious or light-hearted as you want them to be, and it also gives you a topic at the end of the year to post about when you take a look back at the resolutions.

2. Tag five other people with completing this meme.

3. Link back to my blog in your post so I can keep track of how many cool people are going along with this, and also for the purpose of compiling a list of the most interesting resolutions.
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I think this a good way to clear my head in anticipation of the first full "new movie" weekend of the New Year...

My 2009 Film-related Resolutions:

1. Stop arguing with people about The Dark Knight.

2. Start arguing with people about Man on Wire (this shall intensify if it wins Best Documentary at the Oscars).


3. Watch Berlin Alexanderplatz. (I don't do well with long books, and I don't do well with long films. I'm a consume-in-one-sitting type of guy, because the next day I'm usually curious about something else. But this movie/made-for-TV miniseries is 15 hours and 31 minutes long!! Seems like a good excuse for a sick day).

4. Attend more Terror Tuesdays and Weird Wednesdays. (The fact that these two weekly events are FREE and I've yet to go to one is very, very sad.)

5. Fart really loud during the quietest moment of Revolutionary Road. (This could go down this weekend!)

6. Yell "Che Guevara can eat my f*ck!" at a screening of Che until one of the many coffee-shop revolutionaries comes and puts a plug in the back of my skull. (This could go down in about two weeks!)



7. Listen to more commentary tracks of lesser films. (The commentary track on The In Crowd was one of the best I'd ever heard. Who knew!?!)

8. Watch (or re-watch) every Ken Russell movie that is available on DVD or VHS.



9. Go on a used-bookstore search for that most recent Ken Russell tome.


**I tag Jason Bellamy, Bob Turnbull, Jonathan Lapper, Pat, and the Kindertrauma gentlemen!

41 comments:

Marilyn said...

These are superb resolutions, especially the Man on Wire and Russell ones.

Fox said...

You know, Russell may just be "TOERIFIC" come August!

Sadly, it looks like many of his movies are still unavailable on Netflix... specifically three that I would like to watch/re-watch: Whore, The Music Lovers, and The Devils.

Adam Ross said...

Nice list, I haven't thought about "The In Crowd" well ... ever! Good luck with your "Che" resolution.

Fox said...

Adam-

I would recommend keeping up the habit of not giving The In Crowd much thought, but it had an unique experience on me.

The film was dull, dull, dull, but when I listened to the commentary I started liking the film. The two lead actresses did the track, and they were so charming and funny and modest.

As you know, sometimes on a commentary the director tries to to make more out of their below-average movie than there is, but the two ladies from the The In Crowd would mock their acting in certain scenes, tell entertaining stories, and overall were generous to the co-stars and crew. It was very refreshing.

Jonathan Lapper said...

The In Crowd "had an unique experience on me." You sure it was "an unique" and the experience was "on" you. What does that mean? Did the movie shit on you or something?

Sorry, I'm just giving you a hard time because Che is my favorite film of all time - EVER!

Of course I'm joking. I have no intention of even seeing a movie glorifying The Butcher of La Cabaña but I'm sure I will end up doing just that, eventually, and grinding my teeth throughout.

Thanks for the tag, I'll see what I can do.

Fox said...

The In Crowd "had an unique experience on me." You sure it was "an unique" and the experience was "on" you. What does that mean? Did the movie shit on you or something?

Jonathan-

I confided in you - in a private chat room - about my poor grammar and you choose to betray me this way?!? Although, public flogging is a good motivator.

I will be seeing Che too. I HAVE too! I have so much twisted up emotions in me about it and him that I can't NOT see the movie and form an opinion about.

BTW... did you know that Rick Olson has a Che tattoo on his abs? And Bill has "Thug Life" tattooed across his lower back like a tramp stamp.

bill r. said...

Have any of you seen those Che T-shirts that have the same ol' picture of the guy on the front, and then underneath it says "I Don't Know Who This Is"? Good stuff.

So you didn't like Man on Wire, I take it? I watched it a week or so ago, and I thought it wasn't half bad, though I also think people are overrating the hell out of it. Every so often, when I come across a reference to the film, I have to remind myself that I've actually seen it.

Ken Russell is an atrocious pig. I actually hold that opinion, by the way -- I'm not just trying to work in a couple of in-jokes.

Fox said...

On the Che shirts...

I haven't seen those, but I love it! I would be tempted to wear one, but some goofball might try to high-five b/c he didn't take the time to read the bottom.

On Man on Wire...

No. I very much didn't like it. It felt like the worst example of what a documentary can offer: A person in love with himself being able to preen for the camera for as long as he wants. It wasn't as disgusting as something like Tarnation, but pretty close. Petit controlled that movie, not the director.

I also get the impression that Petit is a liar. Look, we all inflate our life stories to make them more interesting, but I think he takes advantage of this for the camera and really plays it up for drama. (The naked roof romp where he finds the arrow hanging by a whisper??? Come on...) The fact that the director doesn't challenge him on this stuff, or at least lighten it up in the reenactments made me huff.

On Ken Russell...

He actually, physically, kinda looks like a pig. He's not very, um... attractive.

As much as I'm intrigued by Russell, I do kind of find it hard to argue with your assessment of him. I'm not fresh enough on his work to give my own feelings on him yet, but thinking to movies like Whore, Crimes of Passion, and The Devils, you may be right.

That may be similar to calling someone like Ferrara or Pasolini a pig. I would find it hard to argue with those too, but I would qualify them as artistic pigs, romantic pigs,... pigs that I like, I guess.

bill r. said...

I have pretty much the exact same reservation about the shirts, but I do love the idea.

That seems like a completely fair assessment of Man on Wire to me. I guess the only reason my antennae didn't go up, as it does with so many documentaries (especially these days)is because ultimately the story doesn't matter. It's a nice story, interesting and all that, but in the telling of it no one is being run down, and the lies, if that's what they were, are harmless. If it turns out the guy was lying about some of the more dramatic moments, then the film is junk (junk that cribs its whole style from Errol Morris, by the way), but I wouldn't be able to get all that angry about it.

Moviezzz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Bellamy said...

It felt like the worst example of what a documentary can offer: A person in love with himself being able to preen for the camera for as long as he wants ... Petit controlled that movie, not the director. I also get the impression that Petit is a liar.

Oh, Foxy. So distrusting, and so genuine. It's why I love you (relax, man; in a bloggy sort of way).

Your comments above assume that a better director would have held Petit in check. But why? Petit's theatrical, for sure. He also delivers one of the most entertaining performances of the year, in my opinion. (Alas, like little WALL-E, he can't be nominated for an Oscar. But I digress.)

See, I'm drawn to documentaries in part because I used to make my living in journalism, and I'm attracted to the idea of finding drama in real life. And back when I wrote features, my aim was to get out of the way -- to let my subject's quotes tell the story, to be invisible. So if I'd made "Man on Wire," I'd take your insult above (that Petit controls the movie) as a compliment.

This isn't at all to refute your conclusion that Petit probably embellishes. Who cares? (Homeboy tight-roped between the towers; he's earned the right.) Nor am I trying to convince you to have the emotional response to this film that I did; that would be silly.

But let me say this ...

This isn't the first time we've debated documentaries, and I'm sure it won't be the last. But I think your 10th resolution should be to try to approach documentaries without jumping to the conclusion that what looks too-good-to-be-true must be a lie. Know what I mean?

Anyway, I see you've tagged me, and I'll get my resolutions posted in the next few days. Nice job on your list.

Jonathan Lapper said...

Look, we all inflate our life stories to make them more interesting,

Not me, I really have been a revolutionary, a counter-revolutionary, a rum-runner, a spy for the government, a hired assassin, the lover of Evita Peron and on one occasion, trusted yet secret counsel to Vladimir Putin. All totally true. And apparently I'm a pig, but not an atrocious one. Somebody make a documentary about me. I'll sit on a barbeque and we can call it Man on a Fire. It's a goldmine I'm telling you, a goldmine.

Krauthammer said...

My favorite "Che" shirt is the one with his picture and then underneath: "Kurt Cobain 1967-1994"

Genius.

Fox said...

Bill-

Good point about the Errol Morris similarities in the re-enactments. Kinda The Thin Blue Line-ish, yes?

But another thing about Philippe Petit and his tight roping is... sorry, but... who cares? He's a egotist that walks tight ropes. And???

Moviezzz-

If I'm thinking of the right girl, she seemed totally nice. She has a good southern accent, right? She was one of the two actresses on the commentary and she seemed really sweet. And yes, she's pretty, but I'm trying not to be so "guy-like" right now (maybe that should be another resolution.)

Fox said...

Jason-

Perhaps we should have a round two???

But, really, the reason I like our documentary discussions is that I think we've reached a point where we no longer are trying to sell each other on the other's point-of-view, and we are just taking the conversation further with examples (did that make sense??).

You make good points. I remember mentioning that I didn't like when a documentarian stepped in the way of the camera so much (ie Tarnation), and you're right that Marsh goes out of his way to avoid doing that. Because of that that, I can appreciate his modesty.

But Marsh's modesty gave way to double arrogance on Petit's part. And true, that's gonna be something that will probably split viewers down the middle (for example, you see him as one of 2008s best characters). But his arrogance seemed to damage the people around him, in particular, his girlfriend Annie and best buddy Jean-Louis. Here, I think Marsh gets TOO out of the way. I want to know that Jean-Louis is ok. I feel for him. He's crying while Petit is poking his head out of curtains telling tales. Why Marsh doesn't go back to Jean-Louis (or Annie)??... I don't know why. Was he seduced by Petit himself?

And as for Petit's embellishing, this goes back to the "Are documentarians obliged to guarantee the viewer accuracy?" question. Right now, I think there are good arguments for "YES" and "NO". I'm kind of left in the middle after our debate a few months ago, but with Petit, I dislike his narcissism so much that his storytelling ticks me off. Again, I can definitely appreciate Marsh getting out of the way, but here is another example of how I think he gave Petit too much room.

Finally, and I mentioned this in my comment to Bill, I'm left wondering "why all the fuss?". What's so special about a man who can tightrope across tall buildings that he deserves Erik Satie's music underneath? I don't deny Petit's got talent and is in a unique profession. More power to the guy and his career. But I think Marsh makes a false idol out of him, and I think that's a mistake and it's unfortunate for the viewers.

I'll finish on this: Is Man on Wire really anything beyond a 20/20 piece? I don't mean that to be an insult, b/c there is talent and competency in TV journalism. But is it art? And more importantly, is it cinema?

Fox said...

Not me, I really have been a revolutionary, a counter-revolutionary, a rum-runner, a spy for the government, a hired assassin, the lover of Evita Peron and on one occasion, trusted yet secret counsel to Vladimir Putin. All totally true.

Jonathan-

All of that, PLUS running at least three blogs, working full-time in an office, raising kids, providing for your wife... you're like a real super man!

And here is this French guy, whose only gift is walking across a rope, hogging the spotlight while you're left talking to a blogger who goes by the moniker of a little red animal! Life isn't fair.

Fox said...

Krauthammer-

Damn... where are you guys seeing all of these? Maybe I need to look more closely at the "goofballs" wearing Che shirts. Maybe they've been wearing these anti-Che shirts all along and I've been misjuding them!

bill r. said...

Regarding Krauthammer's shirt sighting: I just now got the joke. That is brilliant.

Fox said...

I know this makes me kind of a pig, but I couldn't help sharing this blog entry I found about the Che/Kurt Cobain shirt (my favorite part is when she calls Che "the most famous, smartest revolutionaries of our time"):

Being a cashier at a book/arts supply/LSU stuff store gives me a chance to strike up conversations with some interesting people.

A tall-ish, blonde guy I saw the other day wearing a ridiculous shirt was NOT one of those people.

He was sporting a red t-shirt with the oh-so-famous picture of Che Guevara on it. Under the picture of one of the most famous, smartest revolutionaries of our time read…………… “Kurt Cobain 1967-1994.”

How does that make any sense at all??? I grilled him immediately. I asked “Young boy, what does your shirt mean? Where did you purchase this abomination of cotton fiber?”

“It’s my friend’s. I’m just wearing it,” he mumbled. Typical.

I just can’t get the shirt out of my head! Here was Che, a guerilla warrior/doctor who hid out in the mountians for maybe almost half of his life, fought the government because it oppressed his people and resisted until the bitter end when he was murdered. Under his head was Kurt Cobains birth and death years. Cobain, Nirvana front man who has somehow received idol status after killing himself because he hated fame in one of the most tragically ironic situations I have ever heard of.

I have searched the Internets far and wide for this shirt. I don’t know what I would do if I found it. Maybe find the creator’s e-mail address and give him a good talking to for misleading young impressionable minds into thinking these two men belong on the same shirt, or buy every single one of them and iron a unicorn on top of Cobain’s name.

These crackhead t-shirt makers need to stop. It’s going too far. What a sick joke. They make these ridiculous shirts that make no sense, and they probably laugh while they do it. They know some helpless child with no knowledge of history or grunge music will buy shirts like these thinking they are so cool because they saw a poster of Che like that in a head shop in Florida, and they love that song “Smells like Teen Spirit.” “What a statement I am making!” the children think. Oh, how wrong they are.

It can’t hurt to stop and think of the message you are wearing on your boobs before you leave the door. Some angry cashier might call you out if you don’t.

bill r. said...

Ugh...who the fuck is this person? I think I need to talk to her.

PS - Fox, I'm glad you're not dead. Everybody else on the internet seems to be.

Fox said...

I'm barely alive... on the internet that is.

I've been swamped this morning (I think b/c I played too much yesterday...), and I have barely been to any blogs. I'll be taking a break here soon though and making a few stops.

Do you have a major kick-ass post up right now????

bill r. said...

Not really kick-ass, no, but possibly of interest to you.

Bob Turnbull said...

Thanks for the tag on the meme Fox...I just put my post up earlier today.

I knowed you're probably talked out about "Man On Wire", but you did make a resolution about it...I'm fully with Jason on this one.

"But his arrogance seemed to damage the people around him, in particular, his girlfriend Annie and best buddy Jean-Louis. Here, I think Marsh gets TOO out of the way."

No, Marsh gives Petit as much rope as he wants to hang himself. I found Petit to also be totally self-centered, but also very entertaining. And in the end, I didn't think much of him as a person ("how could he do that to that very sweet woman?" I thought), but was utterly amazed at what he did.

Is it important? Well no, but not all documentaries have to be. "Spellbound" and "Wordplay" aren't overly important, but they are both incredibly entertaining, paint very interesting portraits of the people involved and show us some of the things humans are capable of. "Man On Wire" does the same and in a very artful way. When I heard that most of the evidence of the actual walk was photographic (no video), I was disappointed. Marsh still made it (for me at least) very exciting and dramatic. And if that one shot of him on the wire with the tower and a plane in the background doesn't hit home on another level...Well, you're just made of stone man!

The film also stands as a terrific document of the towers themselves. Without ever mentioning anything more or descending into mawkishness.

I think there's room for films that play in the documentary genre, but that toy with other facets of filmmaking. Of course, it's a tricky thing to do depending on what story you're telling and whether you are trying to convey the absolute truth or if you're reaching for something different (e.g. Herzog's "ecstasy of truth"). I'm not saying Marsh necessarily does that here, but I don't think he should be chastised for not digging for all the facts. It's not journalism.

I really did enjoy your previous discussion with Jason about documentaries by the way...I hope you do it again.

Fox said...

Bob-

I will never tire of good discussion. And you've just added to it!!

You bring up Herzog and the way he plays with truth. What I really like about his Lesson's of Darkness and especially The Wild Blue Yonder is that he clearly defines what is & isn't real. In these films, it's almost as if he's accepted that documentaries can never present absolute truth, but he still feels that real & revealing ("truthful") footage is worthy of being in a film.

I can't imagine the footage from The Wild Blue Yonder ever ending up in a film OTHER than a Herzog film, and I think that makes it (and him!) special.

But Herzog has also made more "traditional" docs, many that I haven't seen. But I DID see Encounters at the End of the World, and I actually had some of the same problems with it that I did with Man on Wire (a gut feeling that Herzog embellished a lot and/or asked his interviewees to embellish or fib). But b/c Herzog has been open about his manipulation of truth in the past, I kinda gave him a pass b/c I assume that most fans of Herzog know to take his varying documentaries with a grain of salt.

Jonathan Lapper said...

Can someone send that LSU cashier the link I provided in my first comment, the link behind the words "The Butcher of La Cabaña" - I think her head would explode. Or more likely, she A) Would have never heard of Johann Hari B) Would assume it was all lies because Johann was jealous of how cool Che was.

Fox said...

Jonathan-

Since she's a cashier at the LSU bookstore, I'll give her the benefit of the doubt that she's still in college... thus, she hasn't started thinking for herself yet, nor has she started to do research of her own volition.

Rick Olson said...

I confided in you - in a private chat room - about my poor grammar and you choose to betray me this way?!?

You guys chat privately in chat rooms?

And I agree with you on almost everything you say about "Man on Wire". Petit is a pig, and who cares?

Bob Turnbull said...

"Petit is a pig, and who cares?"

I don't necessarily care that much about Petit, but he was entertaining. And I certainly do care about an amazing feat (maybe not as difficult as climbing Everest - then again, maybe it is - but it's along the same lines).

"it's almost as if he's accepted that documentaries can never present absolute truth, but he still feels that real & revealing ("truthful") footage is worthy of being in a film."

Herzog absolutely does that. As a matter of fact, I don't believe a damn word he says...B-) In "Fata Morgana", you see a shimmering image of a bus in the distance with people getting off. Herzog says that later on when they went over to where the mirage was and there was no bus...Obviously bullshit - though he doesn't frame it that way. As well, I have to say that I'm still not convinced that he was actually listening to that tape in Grizzly Man - but there's a truth in what he says about it (it must've been horrific and the mother should never listen to it).

As for Man On Wire, I still think that Marsh is just putting Petit out there for the audience to judge. He doesn't need explain that he's a pig. Petit is pretty good at doing that himself.

However, I do understand how a dislike of a main subject (or a character in a fictional film for that matter) can completely turn a viewer off.

Jason Bellamy said...

Wow. Busy day. Just getting back into this. Glad to see the discussion went on without me, which pretty much allows me to reply to your questions by saying: "Ditto what Bob said."

But to second/add ...

* It's impossible to give Petit "too much room." It's called "Man on Wire." Not "Man on Wire and His Girlfriend and Associates." At this rate you're going to complain that there's too much of Orson Welles in "Citizen Kane."

* "What's so special about a man who can tightrope across tall buildings that he deserves Erik Satie's music underneath?" Well, first: "Man on Wire" isn't about a man who CAN tightrope across tall buildings. It's about a man who DID. But, more importantly, it's about a man who came up with the idea and dedicated his life to the strange pursuit. It's a film about a dreamer and chasing dreams and the pursuit of art, not about tightrope walking. The stunt, while amazing and beautiful, is incidental.

* Like Bob said: Yes, the film puts Petit out there for you to judge. Don't like him? Fine. Maybe I'm wrong here, but it seems like you're jumping to the conclusion that loving "Man on Wire" means endorsing Petit. But that doesn't have to be so. I love "Capturing the Friedmans," and those people were crazy. Again, I'm not trying to argue with your analysis of Petit, or to convince you to love the film. I'm trying to convince you that a documentary filmmaker can present a subject without a disclaimer and yet without it being an endorsement of the subject. A documentary filmmaker's opinon doesn't have to be part of the story ...

* ...not that Herzog understands that. Lately at least ("Encounters" and "Grizzly Man"), he spends all his time telling us what HE thinks. And, Fox, maybe you'd call that refreshing honesty. But I'd rather him put the images out there and let me have a second to form my own opinion.

* Small note: Bob ... I have no doubt that Herzog listens to the snuff tapes in front of the ex-girlfriend in "Grizzly Man." That's honestly one of the most disgusting displays I've ever seen. He's too classy to play the tapes for us (good call), but instead he becomes an actor, emoting his horrified reaction to give us a sense of how awful it is (bad call). Pretty much the same thing. And right in front of the ex-girlfriend. Offensive.

I'm probably forgetting to respond to something. Sorry. Good discussion though!

Fox said...

Jason-

Hey now! Let's not go drawing lines (or tightropes) between Petit and Orson Welles. :) But I see your point about the title and Petit being subject # 1, but don't you think Marsh weaved in Petit's associates enough that he at least owed them a face-saving nod at the end? Of course, he doesn't "owe" them anything, but I think they deserved it. Marsh used the emotions of Annie and Jean-Louis enough that, to me, they were at least 25% of the film.

Well, first: "Man on Wire" isn't about a man who CAN tightrope across tall buildings. It's about a man who DID. But, more importantly, it's about a man who came up with the idea and dedicated his life to the strange pursuit. It's a film about a dreamer and chasing dreams and the pursuit of art, not about tightrope walking. The stunt, while amazing and beautiful, is incidental.

I agree that Man on Wire is primarily about Petit and his dream, but to say that the stunt is incidental, I think, is inaccurate. The climax of the film (!!) is when he finds confidence and comfort up on the wire between the two towers. Let's be honest, the money shot of the film is Petit being 200 + feet off the ground, and this movie would not be a hit (nor nominated) without it. Petit, as a man, is not singularly special enough for people to truly care about WITHOUT that stunt.

I don't think you have to like Petit to like Man on Wire, nor do I think you should necessarily like subjects of documentaries in general in order like a documentary, but where I think we part is that you like Man on Wire b/c it's about a interesting man and his dream, whereas I dislike it b/c I see it being about a narcissistic man and his stories.

Beyond Petit, and something we haven't really discussed yet, is that I also think it's a poorly put together film. You know well, already, that I don't find most documentaries aesthetically pleasing or technically interesting, and I would definitely tag Man on Wire with those descriptives.

Jason Bellamy said...

I agree that Man on Wire is primarily about Petit and his dream, but to say that the stunt is incidental, I think, is inaccurate. The climax of the film (!!) is when he finds confidence and comfort up on the wire between the two towers. Let's be honest, the money shot of the film is Petit being 200 + feet off the ground, and this movie would not be a hit (nor nominated) without it. Petit, as a man, is not singularly special enough for people to truly care about WITHOUT that stunt.

Sort of. Yes, absolutely, a huge thrill of the movie is the stunt itself: not just tightrope walking, not just tightrope walking between two skyscrapers, but tightrope walking between two skyscrapers that were iconic for one reason before 2001 and now are iconic for another reason. No question about it. And, yes, that's what makes Petit "special."

And living with grizzly bears made Tim Treadwell special. And being wrongfully accused made Randall "The Thin Blue Line" Adams special. And living backward makes Benjamin Button special. And taking on a band of Euro terrorists single-handedly make John McClane special. And on and on. My point is that many central characters in movies -- factual or fictional -- are put in that role because they go through experiences that most of us won't.

Is the shot of Petit leaning back on the wire the "money shot"? I guess. But that image would play a lot differently if Petit hadn't gone through so much just to get on the wire in the first place. It's the money shot because it's his moment of triumph. It's jaw-dropping too, sure. But it's much more than that.

Consider this: Regardless of if you knew of Petit's stunt before you saw the film, the movie never wastes any time pretending that Petit is anything but successful. The title tells you he's successful. The posters tell you he's successful -- I imagine the DVD box, too. The stills released for the film tell you he's successful. The trailer tells you he's successful.

And yet "Man on Wire" is full of suspense. Why? Because it's about a man who dares to dedicate his life to the pursuit of something that he might never even get a chance to attempt and that he might die in attempting. Yes, the stunt itself is moving. But it's the triumph that is at the heart of the film. Here it's triumph via tightrope walking. In "Hoop Dreams" it's triumph (and then tragedy) via basketball.

For me, the money shot isn't Petit ON the wire. It's Petit taking that first step onto the wire -- a moment that's metaphorical for so many of life's challenges.

Again, I'm not trying to argue you into an emotional response you didn't have. But this helps to articulate mine.

Pat said...

Fox -

Sorry I'm late to the partty - I've been offline due to a recurrence of a back injury - until today, I haven't even been able to sit at the computer comfortably.

Great resolutions (especially the "Revolutionary Road" fart - I would love to be there when that goes down!) I'll probably post mine tonight or tomorrow.

Fox said...

Jason-

First you compare Petit to C.F. Kane, and NOW John McClane!?!? Just kidding. :)

You articulate your case well. Maybe "case" is the wrong term b/c - as you said - we're beyond trying to convince each other. But you articulate your love for it well. It's always good to have these back and forths. It helps me think through movies more than I would without it.

In fact, I read some of the Man on Wire reviews (via Metacritic) after watching it this past weekend, and I was really kinda bored by most of them. One in particular had a positive rating, but the writer couldn't seem to express anything they liked about it. The review was like a summary. What I'm trying to get at is that more interesting thoughts and perspectives come out of exchanges like ours than the regular newspaper/online-magazine reviews.

Pat-

Great resolutions (especially the "Revolutionary Road" fart - I would love to be there when that goes down!)

Are you sure about that??? :)

Also, after I see RR, I'll be anxious to hear what you thought about it b/c I remember you saying you really liked the book. Right?

Bob-

I really need to see more of Herzog's docs like Fata Morgana. I haven't even seen Grizzly Man. And wasn't there one called Wheel of Time that came out the same year as GM?? I did see at the video store that a comp. came out of three of his earlier, shorter documentaries.

Hmm... Herzog blog-a-thon?? Somebody needs to host one of those!

Pat said...

Fox -

Yeah, I do love the novel "Revolutionary Road," althought my enhtusisasm for the film is waning, based on the handful of reviews I've peeked at, plus Kate Winslet's interview with Charlie Rose. She described her character as "so courageous" and her supporting evidence for that indicated to me that she'd pretty much missed the point of the character entirely. I'm hoping I misuderstood her, because I normally like Winslet's work a lot.

Fox said...

Pat-

I wonder if that would be Sam Mendes' fault or Winslet's. I don't really know how it goes for actors of that stature. Do they get free rein over their performance? Is the creation of the onscreen character all Winslet's or did Mendes mold it?

Although... I forgot that they are married, so they probably are the same person at this point.

Bob Turnbull said...

OK, it's my turn to come back late and say "Ditto what Jason said." B-)

Just to close on Herzog - Jason, I agree actually about that scene of the audio tape in Grizzly Man. Though I think Herzog was trying to make some point about "why would anyone WANT to hear the tape?", it was crass to do it in front of the ex-girlfriend (I obviously haven't seen it in awhile since I called her his mother...). I certainly wouldn't put it past Herzog to listen to the real tape in front of her, but I can't help but think it fits in better with his "ecstasy of truth" ideas to not even have the tape with him while filming the scene. I'm basing that on nothing whatsoever though...

Fox, "Wheel Of Time" (2003) was lovely (though focusing more on the ritual and the ideas of rituals than on thoughts of educating someone about Buddhism), but even better was "The White Diamond" (2004). There's some beautiful shots in there and yet another interesting portrait - but keep your bullshit detector on...B-) The film is a good example of it not really mattering if he was telling the truth in some situations or not.

As for artful documentaries, have you seen Gary Hustwit's "Helvetica"? Not only does he manage to make an 80 minute film about a font very interesting (pretty damn impressive in and of itself), he does so very artistically. There are many shots of the font in every day incarnations - on street signs, on buses, on people's shirts - and he delivers these scenes (combined with some terrific music from the group El Ten Eleven) in lovely shots. Even the framing he uses is well thought out.

And as to your point about discussions bringing out ideas of film much better than many reviews, I completely agree. I love trying to describe why I react in a certain way to a film - even if I'm not always successful at doing it.

aunt john said...

@Fox(y): I see the gauntlet you've thrown down before me, and I am working on it... I swears.

elgringo said...

1. This doesn't have anything to do with the meme.
2. Sorry I don't comment more often. I read, but don't comment. That'll change now that Sundance is over.
3. One time in my Film Theory course, my professor showed Personal Best. During one of the steamier scenes, the half-retarded kid who sat next to me started freaking out. He just STARED at me and wouldn't stop. Then he started slapping himself in the face and having a good ol' fashioned shit fit. He started yelling and slamming his fists on the ground as I got up and left school for the day. I don't know how Personal Best ends but I don't think it could be half as dramatic as that fuckin' kid.

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