Random Thread for November 2012

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Remember when Nic had a column at Hollywood Elsewhere? Anyone?

79 responses »

  1. Openings tomorrow morning. Because I’m lazy today. Got up around 11 after working past 3 last night, tinkered around a little bit in the apartment, got some lunch, took a walk. Now I’m going to watch a movie, and then go back to work.

    So those waiting breathlessly for my take on Wreck-It Ralph‘s opening are just going to have to wait. Sorry.

  2. I dropped Wells and Poland at the same time. I’ll occasionally head over to one of their sites if there’s a story I’m curious to see their take on (really just to annoy myself) but that’s probably less than once every few months.

  3. Speaking of Wreck-It Ralph, here are the films eligible for this year’s animated film Oscar:

    Adventures in Zambezia
    Brave
    Delhi Safari
    Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
    Frankenweenie
    From Up on Poppy Hill
    Hey Krishna
    Hotel Transylvania
    Ice Age Continental Drift
    A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman
    Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
    The Mystical Laws
    The Painting
    ParaNorman
    The Pirates! Band of Misfits
    The Rabbi’s Cat
    Rise of the Guardians
    Secret of the Wings
    Walter & Tandoori’s Christmas
    Wreck-It Ralph
    Zarafa

  4. My business website is badly in need of a refresh. I’m considering switching over to a WordPress theme on my own site, but I’m finding customizing these newfangled options to be quite difficult. Has anyone played around with them before?

  5. James, I’m a senior assistant manager at a big megaplex. Lots of late nights, especially on Thursday, when I have to do concession inventory. Not a bad gig on the whole, though, really.

  6. Indeed, very good news. I know you’ve mentioned that you’ve been seeing far fewer films theatrically, is that just because you’re kind of multiplexed out by the end of the day?

  7. Well, yes and no.

    I wouldn’t say that I’m multiplexed out – I actually kind of enjoy going to a movie off the clock. It’s like going to work, only I don’t have to work. It’s kind of fun, honestly.

    But, I’m considerably more lazy overall on my days off, and enjoy sitting around the apartment much more than I did when I was unemployed and bored (plus I need to make time for laundry and such). I actually feel like I’ve earned the occasional dead-ass lazy day, instead of feeling guilty about them.

    So some of the more marginal want-to-sees go by the wayside. Seven Psychopaths is a good example – I probably would have seen it under ordinary circumstances, but I’m lazy now when I’m not working, and I don’t really expect to get much out of the film. So it’s hard to work up the enthusiasm for that kind of stuff.

    On the other hand, a big part of the reason is that there simply haven’t been a huge number of movies I’ve wanted to see lately under any circumstances. There have been a couple of times when I actually wanted to go to a movie, and would have even taken something lower on the priority list, and couldn’t find anything I was even slightly interested in. The Gene Siskel Film Center has gone months without much that’s interested me (plus their showtimes can be tricky with my schedule), and even the Music Box has had a rather dull slate lately.

    So there’s that.

  8. Makes sense. I haven’t been to a film theatrically since The Dark Knight Rises and I don’t feel like I’ve been missing much.

  9. That should say:
    “Shaking head slowly, pursing lips, stretching the word out as far as you can: balls.”

  10. Has anyone tried a Kiku apple? Really, really juicy and incredibly sweet. Not as good as the Autumn Glory, but close.

  11. Once again, for no real reason, IMDb ratings for the films of Robert Zemeckis:

    Forrest Gump 8.7 (#19)
    Back to the Future 8.5 (#50)
    Back to the Future Part II 7.7
    Who Framed Roger Rabbit 7.7
    Flight 7.7
    Cast Away 7.6
    Back to the Future Part III 7.3
    Contact 7.3
    Romancing the Stone 6.9
    A Christmas Carol 6.8
    I Wanna Hold Your Hand 6.8
    Used Cars 6.6
    What Lies Beneath 6.5
    The Polar Express 6.5
    Beowulf 6.4
    Death Becomes Her 6.2

    Interesting to me that Beowulf is last of his three mo-cap films, because that’s the only one I would even consider watching again. And I thought A Christmas Carol was the most intolerable of the three, even though it’s rated highest. Other than that, I have no serious arguments with this list, although my personal favorite is Contact.

    I’ve never seen his first three films (I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Used Cars, Romancing the Stone) and so I have no opinion on them, although I always meant to watch Romancing the Stone at some point.

  12. I Wanna Hold Your Hand is a lot of fun, but it’s more so for Beatles fanatics like myself. I think I’d put Roger Rabbit number 1, too. But I did like Forrest Gump a great deal, even though it’s not cool to say so now.

  13. Come on, Back to the Future!
    And Romancing the Stone is an underrated gem. I mean, DeVito falling off the railing to get his wanted poster? Comedy gold. (Or was that Jewel of the Nile)?

  14. Oh, man, does The Last Stand look so, so bad.
    Why do brilliant foreign directors come to Hollywood and make shit? Why?!

  15. You know, I watched some of Jurassic Park the other on cable and it hit me that I really don’t care to ever watch it again. The spectacle aspect was fine at the time, but it’s really not a very good movie otherwise.

  16. You’re mad, man. It’s still brilliant and imminently watchable. Still just as good, from the moment ‘Dodgson, we’ve got Dodgson here!’ is uttered to the moment the banner falls behind the T-Rex and the Raptor as the building comes down.
    Not very good……you’re mad.

  17. It’s watchable, certainly, and I don’t dislike it – but I’ve just kind of moved on. It doesn’t have the replay value of Jaws or Raiders.

  18. On Zemeckis, agree with consensus is WFRR? is top of the tree – am surprised it doesn’t have a higher reputation than it has. For a good 15 years or so I don’t think there was anyone better at creating entertaining and fun films than Zemeckis.

    Haven’t seen ‘Death Becomes Her’ for a while but thought that was better than its reputation despite being overly silly at times.

  19. Back To The Future.
    Without the animation, Bob Hoskins is a dude riding around in an invisible car and acting strange.

  20. Taking a little bit different direction with the IMDb ratings this time, reviewing a director that is not considered by anyone as a great filmmaker. But Barry Levinson has had a long career with some very well-known films, and even spent a period during the 1990s when he was the go-to director for adaptations of popular fiction.

    Rain Man 8.0 (#234)
    The Natural 7.5
    Sleepers 7.4
    Good Morning, Vietnam 7.2
    Wag the Dog 7.1
    Diner 7.1
    Avalon 7.1
    Liberty Heights 6.9
    Bugsy 6.8
    Young Sherlock Holmes 6.6
    Bandits 6.5
    Tin Men 6.4
    Man of the Year 6.1
    An Everlasting Piece 6.0
    Sphere 5.8
    Disclosure 5.8
    What Just Happened 5.8
    The Bay 5.6
    Jimmy Hollywood 5.2
    Toys 4.8
    Envy 4.6

    First off, I’m surprised by how many of these I haven’t seen – I’ve only seen 8.

    Second, Wag the Dog is the only one I have seen that I hold in truly high regard. The Natural is one of the most overrated movies I’ve ever seen (and I’m a huge baseball fan). I also think it’s weird that Sleepers has such a high rating.

    Third, that’s a lot of really low-rated films. I don’t even remember Envy being released.

  21. My record on Levinson films is dire – the only ones I’ve seen are ‘Rain Man’ (reviewed on here almost 5 years ago) and ‘Disclosure’ (OK but unmemorable; Douglas’ corporate yuppie act was getting tired by then). It’s especially strange as there are a fair few films there I’d be interested to see; I’ve always wanted to see ‘Wag The Dog’ since it was released but just never got around to it.

    But by any measure his record over the last 20 years is underwhelming – the notorious failure ‘Toys’ seemed to be the decisive turning point in his career for the worse.

  22. Wag The Dog is as perfectly paced as it can get. The greatest thing Levinson did for that was to step away and let it make itself.

    It’s CRIMINAL how much Bugsy is ignored. …criminal. I used to watch that on VHS at least once a week. Love it.

    Sphere, Disclosure and Bandits deserve a bit more love than that.

  23. I thought Bandits was pretty funny myself, but I haven’t seen it since its release.

    Disclosure was a big deal when it was released. Crichton was at his apogee as a pop culture force, and a sneak preview at the theater I worked at got a very enthusiastic response. Looking it up, I see it made over $83 million domestic and over $200 million worldwide, which were outstanding numbers back then, especially for an adult-oriented drama. Hell, if an R-rated drama made $200 million worldwide now, it would be a big deal.

    I remember going to see Sphere (I was a big Crichton fan back then) but I don’t remember anything about it.

    Among his well-known films, I haven’t seen Diner, Bugsy or Good Morning, Vietnam.

  24. I installed WordPress’ software on my business website last week and love all the new templates. We really should consider a facelift to take advantage of the new features sometime, it’s been a while.

  25. Gosh, as much as I’m looking forward to a dozen mostly incoherent comments from you on the subject, I unfortunately won’t see it until sometime next week at the earliest.

  26. “blahblahblah [you don’t like me] blahblah”

    I get it. Just go watch it. So I can rip it.

  27. Oh, and the Django Unchained trailer looks ridiculously good.

    And the next Die Hard movie….smh……does not.

  28. I would like to take a moment to talk about the state of projection in modern movie-going.
    As Brian helpfully pointed-out, Lincoln is indeed being distributed in 4K digital presentation to theaters across the country.
    My issue with that little fact is this: when a filmmaker and even a film company goes through the expense and trouble of shooting a movie on film and then spends the expense of doing a 4K digital intermediate to then gets to the end-result which is dimly-lit projectors and resolution that is in no way possible 4K (as I’ve seen 4K projected in LA) and to charge 30 dollars for three people to simply walk through the door, what behooves someone to even bother to take the time to ‘go to the movies’? And how does this then make suburban movie theaters anything except a ‘hangout for teens’ to pass the time?
    When I watched The Dark Knight in one of the worst theaters for projection in America, (Just ask Ty Burr), the Sony Loews Boston Common, I thought my experience could sink no lower than it had. After the amazing experience of Lord Of The Rings in an SDDS optical soundtrack presentation, with crisp picture, I was at the zenith of my moviegoing life. And then I saw Signs at the Mann’s Chinese Theater in LA. And I thought I couldn’t be any happier watching a movie.
    And then digital began to take hold everywhere, as a ‘cost-cutting measure’. And then I watched Matchstick Men at the aforementioned Loews, and then as I said, the next experience was The Dark Knight. And they were both as horrible as the next, so dim that when someone entered the theater, the entire picture was lost from the sliver of light the door let-in.
    And I lost all hope. And I had no intention of watching digital ever again unless I had a chance to pay for the premium experience (t’s a business, after all), or I was able to get to LA again. And then the community theater in the Poconos closed to switch to ‘digital’ and I knew all hope was lost.
    And then I went to ‘fake IMAX’, as is the premium, and was treated to crisp picture and sound and thought ‘alright…event movies, maybe this isn’t so bad’. And then I watched a 3D Avatar so dull and dim, it almost resembled a black and white movie recolored for the theaters. It was a terrible experience, in Framingham, MA, and cost close to 20 dollars.
    And so I was relegated to ‘fake 2D IMAX’, but then I couldn’t get to fake IMAX and I once again entered a shitty suburban mall multiplex and watched the worst movie of Spielberg’s career from a technical standpoint (and script) and was once again reminded how insanely horrible movie projection is. The blacks so bright they may as well be transparent and the washed-out colors and the dull sheen and the sound so low you can’t even hear the dialogue over the old man snoring two rows away.

    I want to go to the movies again and be happy about it…without having to travel to LA. Just ask Ty Burr how bad theater projection has gotten in America. How can anyone travel even an hour into NYC to spend the same amount of money on a movie now, instead of being able to travel 15 minutes to see the same film in what is *advertised* as 4K projection?
    I wanted to watch The Master in 70mm. or at least 4K, but could not get into NY. Did I go to a local multiplex? No. Would I have? Absolutely. I wish I didn’t have to miss movies because theaters don’t care to show a movie in any way but the way to make the most money, and I wish studios cared enough to help show their films in the best way possible everywhere. But I guess that just isn’t possible anymore.

    And so what is possible? Watching The Dark Knight on a 50 inch plasma on bluray and seeing the best picture I’ve seen since Signs at the Mann’s Chinese Theater. And I have to willingly stay away from theaters, which is one reason for their decline. And that makes me feel even worse. But the studios likely don’t care and presentations like Lincoln will continue.

  29. I should say those weren’t the ‘only’ moviegoing experiences’ I had in heaters…just the ones that hurt the most.

  30. It appears that Filmman deleted his post on Lincoln, along with my comments. Perhaps it is the case that when anyone disagrees with him, he takes his ball and goes home. If this is true, I suggest his posting privilege be revoked, if that’s possible. If I’m in error, I apologize in advance.

  31. Well, that escalated quickly.
    Do what you need to do.
    It wasn’t that you disagreed with me. You got personal and condescended and didn’t disagree with me, but disparaged me. No problem. I got rid of it so you could post yours. Which, by the way, is fatuous nincompoopery for a really poor movie.

  32. You have remarkably thin skin, because I did not get personal and did not disparage you–that’s only in your own mind. But it was extremely uncool to delete my comments.

  33. I thought that kind of thing ended with the ghost of Jaydro (sp?)! Also, I’m sorry I missed both the review and the comments.

  34. My take on Filmman’s review is that mostly he thought the film was mistitled. He expected some sweeping overview of Lincoln’s life, and was disappointed that it was a smaller look at the passage of the 13th amendment. I said that a critic should review the film he is watching, not the one he wants to see. Out of this he thinks I personally insulted him. I suppose he takes umbrage that I said “I know you are not a critic,” which means he looks at films as the filmmaker he is, which is often a different approach than those who have been taught criticism. I would think he would take it as a compliment that I don’t think of him as a critic.

  35. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…I thought you meant ‘you, sir, are no Jack Kennedy’.
    Well, that sucks. I have your comments in my email and I can mail them to you, if you’d like and there was so much more wrong with the movie besides the title that I don’t even know WHERE to begin.

  36. But you failed to mention your ‘boo-hoos’ and other equally disparaging brush-offs of my opinion.

  37. Besides, I didn’t want to post it anyway, because I knew either you or Brian would yell at me but I did it because Brian yelled at me *anyway* and so I figured what the hell and the *you* yelled at me, so I took it down because I didn’t want to put it up anyway.

  38. Boo hoo bothered you? Well, boo fucking hoo.

    Seriously, grow thicker skin. I don’t care you that you called my review fatuous nincompoopery.

    Also, don’t delete posts that have others’ comments to them. If you do it again, we’re going to have to ban you.

  39. No, boo hoo doesn’t bother me. but boo-hoo tells me you only thought the review was about a ‘title change’, so the fifteen other paragraphs didn’t matter, so you either didn’t read them or they were incoherent. So what is the sense of leaving the review there if your only response is ‘so you didn’t like the title, boo hoo’.
    I felt I elucidated my remarks and thoughts about the worst film of Spielberg’s career from a writing and technical standpoint (and again, this is from the same guy with 1941 and Always and AI on his immaculate resume), and numerous other issues, of the under-written character actors and-oh, never mind. You only got ‘title’ from it.

  40. No, I got the other stuff. For you, that review was pretty coherent. I even agreed with you on some of the lighting stuff. But I just flat out disagree with your interpretation.

  41. I get passionate about films, good and bad, and I guess I can’t gather my thoughts real well, for what I want to say. I know what I want to say, but it all comes-out in a gurgle of incoherent madness, as it did on the atrocious Dark Knight Rises.
    But I felt I had a legitimate beef with this movie. Again, my apologies for overreacting and deleting it.

  42. …I got into a shouting match outside the theater after Lincoln with a nice 60 year old lady. It wasn’t pretty. Not a bad shouting match, an ‘I can’t believe you think that about this movie’, you know, passionate shouting match.

  43. Hey, you’er entitled to your opinion, but respect that you’re in the minority: Lincoln has an 86 on Metacritic and a 90 on Rotten Tomatoes.

    And remember, nothing I say to you in movie discussion is meant to be taken personally.

  44. IMDb ratings for the feature films by Steven Spielberg:

    Schindler’s List 8.9 (#7)
    Raiders of the Lost Ark 8.7 (#26)
    Saving Private Ryan 8.6 (#39)
    Lincoln 8.4
    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 8.3 (#95)
    Jaws 8.2 (#138)
    Jurassic Park 8.0 (#246)
    Catch Me If You Can 7.9
    E.T. the Extra Terrestrial 7.9
    Close Encounters of the Third Kind 7.8
    Minority Report 7.7
    Munich 7.7
    Empire of the Sun 7.7
    The Color Purple 7.7
    Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 7.6
    The Adventures of Tintin 7.4
    The Terminal 7.2
    War Horse 7.2
    Amistad 7.1
    Artificial Intelligence: AI 7.0
    The Sugarland Express 6.8
    War of the Worlds 6.5
    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 6.4
    Hook 6.4
    The Lost World: Jurassic Park 6.3
    Always 6.2
    1941 5.7

    And holy cow are almost all of these higher than they ought to be. Filmman’s complaints about the IMDb ratings look pretty credible when looking at this list.

    Still, they more or less make sense when viewing the list only from the perspective of descending quality. The top three films on this list are a perfectly defensible, even uncontroversial, list of his top 3 films, and while I haven’t seen Always, by all accounts the same thing can be said of the bottom three films. Or bottom 6, really.

  45. Made roasted chickpeas today, came out incredible. I’ve previously been paying like $3.00 a bag and I made an entire tray of them today for like a dollar. Just a couple of cans of chickpeas, olive oil, kosher salt and whatever else you want to experiment with (I used paprika, cumin, chili powder, black pepper and a little garlic powder). Awesome snack, cheap and healthy.

  46. Regarding Spielberg, I’ve seen all of those except 1941, I can’t disagree too much with the order, but I thought E.T. would be higher, certainly above IJ3, Catch Me if you Can, and Jurassic Park.

    It’s tough to pick my favorite Spielberg. Jaws, E.T., Raiders–I can’t separate them. I also liked Saving Private Ryan a great deal, even with the horrible ending. As for Schindler’s List, I certainly admire, but I wonder how many people rank it so high out of feelings of guilt.

  47. Just watched CATCH ME IF YOU CAN for the first time today. Great fun, but I can’t help but feel bad for the five fake stewardesses he used as camouflage then presumably abandoned in Europe.

    As for ones I have seen I like many of the usual suspects, but I’m partial to the often maligned MUNICH and MINORITY REPORT.

  48. It’s tough to pick my favorite Spielberg. Jaws, E.T., Raiders–I can’t separate them.

    It’s been a good long while since I saw E.T., but all the same, I think Raiders is a very easy pick for me out of that trio. I like Jaws fine and all, but Raiders is simply much better.

    As for Schindler’s List, I certainly admire, but I wonder how many people rank it so high out of feelings of guilt.

    An interesting question, although I can’t imagine myself liking a movie out of guilt. I imagine that many people do, but while I never take a contrarian viewpoint just for the sake of being contrarian – I’m always sincere in my opinions – I do admit that I take no small amount of pleasure in being contrarian when the occasion arises. If I disliked Schindler’s List, I’d be happy to say so, and I can’t imagine why anyone would approach a discussion any other way.

    But as it is, I think Schindler’s List is a magnificent achievement. Oh well.

    As for ones I have seen I like many of the usual suspects, but I’m partial to the often maligned MUNICH and MINORITY REPORT.

    I’ve actually been thinking that I need to give both A.I. and Minority Report another look – I remember both of them having interesting and admirable facets but me having vague issues with them both. But I don’t quite remember what those issues were.

    As for the rest, I still haven’t seen Empire of the Sun (at least not all the way through), The Color Purple, The Sugarland Express or Always. I actually have seen 1941, but hope I never have to again.

    Still, I’m not sure I’d rate it his worst film, with Crystal Skull, Lost World and The Terminal all out there. Like Jackrabbit Slim can’t pick his favorite from a group of contenders, I can’t quite figure out my least favorite.

  49. My first outing with my wife was, oddly, to see Schindler’s List. Kind of an odd first date movie in retrospect, but it holds a special place in my heart as result.

  50. Ranking those I’ve seen:

    Love:
    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Jaws
    Saving Private Ryan
    Schindler’s List

    Classics, but will never watch again:
    ET
    Close Encounters

    Good, if disposable:
    War of the Worlds
    Jurassic Park
    Catch Me if You Can
    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

    Completely ambivalent about:
    Minority Report
    The Color Purple
    Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
    Always

    Hated:
    Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull
    The Terminal
    Jurassic Park: The Lost World
    1941

  51. I haven’t seen it but am surprised ‘The Terminal’ is as high as it is. iirc the critical response ranged from lukewarm to negative and the reaction from the public wasn’t any better.

    It’s rep isn’t great but I quite liked ‘War Of The Worlds’, overly happy ending notwithstanding. Leagues above the usual standard of such action mainstream films.

  52. Haven’t seen it since its initial release, but I remember thinking WotW was really lazy from a narrative standpoint, with a lot of characters doing things that didn’t make much sense and an overall feeling that the script was haphazardly and indifferently put together.

    Plus, that ending was really bad, bad enough to sink even a better movie overall.

  53. I saw WOTW for the first time a few months ago and it was utterly forgettable with interminable “let’s be quiet so the pods don’t find us” scenes…

  54. A.I. was also a movie that was fucked by its ending. If it had ended with the boy just a few feet away from the statue of the lady for all eternity, that would have been great (and probably what Kubrick would have done). But instead Spielberg had to tack on that horrible coda.

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