Skandies runners-up — scenes
“You Make My Dreams,” 500 DAYS OF SUMMER — Only people who don’t have a silly bone in their bodies, and so should not be reading this site, could fail to love this scene — so impossibly giddy, scored to such a bouncy piece of 80s pop cheese, a feeling of literal head-over-heels love as the whole universe impossibly cooperates in the impossible. (And the “impossible” part we’re told right from the beginning — giving the scene and the whole movie a wiser undercurrent.)
The Kids in the Chatroom, ADORATION — Another encapsulation of the film in miniature — or at least one strand of Egoyan’s messy thoughts. The hero Simon writes a story that becomes an Internet when some revelations about it are made — and what happens in this scene is that Simon’s friends debate via face-to-face chat what he did, what it meant, and rebut each other and get angry at Simon, at those in the story, at each other until Egoyan explodes the screen with more and more mostly-anonymous talking heads saying stuff that eventually becomes indistinct noise. Welcome to democratic mediated reality. Speaking of which …
Rob’s tribute film, AFTERSCHOOL — Mike has the scene posted here after it placed #15 in the overall results, which I’m not sure comes across as even very good outside of context, and it makes Rob seem like a bigger a*****e than he is. But again that’s a fair representation of the film as a whole, which is off-putting in some ways — stylized past the point of recognition, radically subjective. But the scene and the film wind up being both a subjective cri de coeur from a wounded soul and an objective cautionary tale about such souls.
Interrogating the two old ladies, THE BAD LIEUTENANT — PORT OF CALL: NEW ORLEANS — I’m pretty sure it’ll be outpolled by iguana-cam and the dancing soul, but this was the most batshit-funny scene in the film. From the start, with Cage doing an entrance from behind a door and then — well, a dada-insane bit of business that is so unexpected that even to describe it would be to spoil it by “goosing” you. And Cage growls over-the-top about being on 1 1/2 hours’ sleep as he interrogates a woman by playing with the tubes on another lady’s breathing machine — it’s like Jack Bauer played as a sick joke.
Taking the art teacher hostage, BRONSON — Now here’s an equally theatrical crime scene that is in every possible way the opposite of the TBL:POCNO scene. And yet, it’s a bit of a joke in the heart of the titular character who commits the crime, declaring with flair and panache that it was the capper to the REAL work of art that was his life of crime. Such a CLOCKWORK ORANGE Nietzschean act, which director Refn and actor Hardy indulge (they have to somewhat, lest the film be moralistic posturing), is aiming for my sweet spot.
The Boys Bloom, BROTHERS BLOOM — Mike has the scene posted here after it placed #18 in the overall results. An equally theatrical crime scene that is in every possible way the opposite of both the BRONSON and TBL:POCNO scenes — it’s like BUGSY MALONE set to a nursery rhyme. And the brilliance of Johnson’s writing is that he effectively hides his format — nobody realized until seeing it spelled out that the entire narration is in perfect rhyme and meter.
Ending, DRAG ME TO HELL — Hard to say much about without spoiling, obviously, except that it bumped the film up to clear “pro” vote from a marginal one (or even a “mixed”). Suffice to say that if you loved the ending of (click and drag to read) THE WAGES OF FEAR — this is just as sudden, just as pitiless and moral(istic?), and even more of a nawwwww—
Guitar sale, EXTRACT — This YouTube clip picks up the scene a minute or so into it, but you’ll get the point (you see the last minute of what previously had been going on). Hal Sparks in a Dana Carvey “Garth” mullet; two men pretending to do their job while really acting out something else, and the element that REALLY makes it work — the other customer in the background (this clip only has his last gesture). If only the rest of the film could have lived up to this, the opening scene.
The effect of sodium hydroxide, GOOD HAIR — Damn. By dropping this scene, I did something to GOOD HAIR that before this year I had never done to any film I gave at least an 8 grade — not given a single Skandie point in any category. (Like my hero Obama, I do ascribe to the “spread the wealth” philosophy.) Damn. As I said in my review, this was the scene I wanted to happen the minute I found out what the active ingredient in hair relaxant is. And then the white scientist has the exactly the same reaction at the end of Chris’s experiment.
Shave and a haircut, two fists, HUNGER — My actual choice for the best scene in HUNGER (it would not have been here, trust me) was declared ineligible for length’s sake, even though it’s as unified as any scene you’ll ever see. I decided to list this brutal scene instead, from “Act 1, Life inside the Maze” as a demonstration that, as we comfortable few are wont to forget, when you deal with obstreperous people, even treating them well sometimes cannot be done by acts of commendable civility.
Car bomb, THE HURT LOCKER — Mike has the scene posted here after it placed #12 in the overall results. Possibly the white knuckle scene of the year because Bigelow finds good excuses to spin things out, in the curiosity of a character for whom this is all, if not exactly a game, sufficiently routine not to be scared into a state of freedom from all excrement.
Job interview, OBSERVE AND REPORT — The scene in question begins about 4:10 into this general highlight clip and takes up the rest of its 6:30. The scenes in the first 4 minutes are generally very good, but what they can really do, for right here, is set up Rogen’s character and what makes this specific scene so hilarious. Rogen’s low-key assurance and bonhomie co-exists in the same body with some really twisted darkness and a soul-defining obsession. His character is trying to make a good impression, and by his own lights, he damn well is. (And the other scenes also have me kicking myself for forgetting short-listing Celia Weston for Supporting Female, though her highlight — “just beer” — isn’t here.)
Dillinger in the FBI office, PUBLIC ENEMIES — Mike has the scene posted here after it placed #17 in the overall results. It’s funnier really in concept than when you’re watching it, though that retrospective glance is probably the point. Even if it’s just a legend or myth, it’s the kind of “true myth” that points to something broader that really IS true. Could, say, Osama bin Laden show up at the Justice Department today and do this? In a mediated, post-McLuhan world … no. But Dillinger in the 1930s (or Bonnie and Clyde; both in real life and the Arthur Penn movie) … yes.
Bomb shelter, THE ROAD — The movie’s one sequence of lightness, of reverie, of security, and of something like what we recognize as a materially normal life (says Victor, typing during record blizzards that already have knocked out his electricity five or six times, albeit only once for more than a minute or two). Though I don’t consider that “happy feeling” per se why the scene is great and memorable, as if happy scenes are better than sad scenes — no, the reason this scene is great is the gap between the father’s relief and the boy’s incredulity at a world he knows nothing of. And the reason it comes to an end.
The Spinners vs. Muhammad Ali, SOUL POWER — Damn. By dropping this scene, I did something to SOUL POWER that before this year I had never done to any film I gave at least an 8 grade — not given a single Skandie point in any category. (Like my hero Obama, etc., etc. … What makes this scene stand out, in a film not short of great concert numbers, is that it shows the not-merely-historical link between the concert and the Rumble in the Jungle — in how much Ali learned from the great R&B stars (and they from him) in terms of the brash-talking persona, strutting his stuff in public, and dancing about the ring. Damn.
The meaning of the song, STILL WALKING — Dunno how well this scene, a quiet scene near the end, would really play outside of context, and cannot really describe what it’s about beyond the title. Let’s just say it’s a very low-key, almost-stifled, equivalent of the night quarrel in AUTUMN SONATA, where one character tells another what he knows and has thought about him for decades but never had reason or occasion to say before now.
Die Männer, A WOMAN IN BERLIN — I haven’t seen this since Toronto but I remember saying to myself every manner of “what the frack/this can’t have been true” (though it obviously was). I could hardly believe characters in this situation would say this. Or maybe it was just harmless “he doesn’t pay any attention to me” girl-talk, only with really really REALLY amped-up stakes that the women themselves hardly notice any more.
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That particular scene in STILL WALKING is the exact moment I pushed Kirin Kiki onto my Best Supporting Actress ballot for the Muriels. It’s just beautifully played, even more so than the later big (yet still quiet) speech she gets about her feelings towards the awkward young man who owes his life to her deceased son.
> “You Make My Dreams,” 500 DAYS OF SUMMER — Only people who don’t have a silly bone in their bodies, and so should not be reading this site, could fail to love this scene
I’d best un-bookmark you now then, V-Mort. I can’t remember when in the film this seen appeared, but I’m pretty sure I was hating the film by this point.
Comment by DanO | February 20, 2010 | Reply
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Skandie runners-up — male leads
Well, it’s now Skandie time, and Mike is unveiling the Top 20 at his site Listen, Eggroll. So in the next couple of weeks, before posting my entire ballot proper, I’ll be posting a few words about the films, performances, etc., I voted for. And to start with, about those I DIDN’T vote for.
My procedure every year is to devote a day to making a short list of contenders, based on the Eligible Films list, and what has managed to stay with me, as of late January of the next year (all eligible films started to screen commercially in New York during 2009, and did so for at least a week). Then I shuck away, until I’m left with 10 in each of the categories. I’ll start with the acting categories — these are the Lead Male Performances that I short-listed but DIDN’T vote for. In this and other categories, the bold-face and the lead art are from the last one I eliminated — the #11, as it were.
This most-circulated HUMPDAY still (Duplass, left) is precisely what the film is NOT about. Instead, Lynn Shelton's film is about the ridiculousness of giving in to sex in Bohemia's name.
Joseph Gordon Leavitt, 500 DAYS OF SUMMER — So what if he can do the sensitive emo dork role in his sleep? In *this* sensitive emo dork, there’s not a trace of self-righteousness or whininess.
Willem Defoe, ANTICHRIST — When asked at Toronto “how does one prepare as an actor for a scene where you’re genitally mutilated,” he replied “you don’t.” Really — that’s all that need be said.
Lluis Homar, BROKEN EMBRACES — Shows off a late middle-age “this is my last chance” hunger that prevented his character from being either a dirty old man or a petty tyrant. Pedro should work with him more.
Mark Ruffalo, BROTHERS BLOOM — His occasional cocksure self-regard really works well in this role but he keeps it in rein and appropriately artificial, as the however-illogical ending requires (think — or don’t — what Mark Wahlberg would have done here).
Sasha Baron Cohen, BRUNO — Yes, the film as a whole was a misfire, but when Cohen gets a provocation really cooking, with the right audience he can milk it better than the best professional wrestling heel.
Clive Owen, DUPLICITY — Blows away George Clooney’s performance in UP IN THE AIR in the category of Sheer Old-School Glamour Dripping Off His Fingers role of 2009 — playing a rogue.
George Clooney, FANTASTIC MR. FOX — Blows away George Clooney’s performance in UP IN THE AIR in the category of Sheer Old-School Glamour Dripping Off His Fingers role of 2009 — playing a rogue.
Souleymane Sy Savane, GOODBYE SOLO — Here is the very opposite of Sheer Old School … etc. — a performance that feels like (even if it isn’t) a real person playing a slightly-fictionalized version of himself, a la 40s De Sica and Rossellini.
Mark Duplass, HUMPDAY — Here is the very opposite of Sheer Old School … etc. — a performance that feels like (even if it isn’t) a real person playing a slightly-fictionalized version of himself, a la 40s Visconti.
Morgan Freeman, INVICTUS — Went back and forth on this one. Even if it is just an imitation, it’s a damn good one, and good casting too — the man who played God portraying our era’s secular saint.
Benno Furmann, JERICHOW — Probably the least-known performance in this bunch, but it’s a triumph of masculine physicality and mannerism creating a not-black-souled viciousness (Waz isn’t wrong in saying it’s a bit wooden, but also not wrong in saying …)
Kim Yung-ho, NIGHT AND DAY — Probably the least-known performance in this bunch, but it’s a triumph of utter self-absorption and complete cluelessness that somehow doesn’t create a Mister Magoo or (mere) Innocent Abroad
Micah Sloat, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY — Along with Katie Featherstone (not among Actress Runners-Up … hint, hint), he creates something new and exciting — effectively natural performance in a completely self-referential genre (the YouTube home movie)
Dragos Bucur, POLICE, ADJECTIVE — Eve was correct … he is awesome at eating soup, though look for someone even more awesome at chopping wood in the main list.
Viggo Mortensen, THE ROAD — The testimony to this performance is that the film, which pretty much rests entirely on his shoulders and has only the most elemental of plots, is even watchable (in fact, pretty good in my opinion)
Colin Firth, A SINGLE MAN — Seeing D’Arcy as a Christopher Isherwood character was disconcerting, but like Mortensen, he fills out a simple-content movie, though only as far as watchability in his case (the ending is unforgivable, sorry)
Charles Berling, SUMMER HOURS — Among the kids in the family, he’s the audience-identification figure, and Berling has the right mix of idealism and pragmatism (Binoche and Regnier are different shades of pragmatic) to pull off the needed surrender.
Teruyuki Kagawa, TOKYO SONATA — He has the bits I remember best from Toronto 2007 (I saw it alongside NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and so hated its last reel that I’ve never gone back to it) — the pride-shame mix in dealing with his family.
Woody Harrelson, ZOMBIELAND — Remember how awesome Woody the Bartender was. Here’s a completely different type of comic “character role,” sure, but Harrelson shows he hasn’t lost it. He should just do comedy from now on.
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A personal story, idiosyncratically told, "(500) Days" itself has a writing-as-therapy feel. "This is a story of boy meets girl," a narrator tells us at the opening. "But you should know upfront it's not a love story." Published July 17, 2009
Long and boring … do not read
Before Big Hollywood gave Sonny the space to rebut Ben Shapiro’s execrable post about the Top 10 Most Overrated Directors of All Time — the site’s editor-in-chief weighed in. But not on the correct side.
John Nolte aka Dirty Harry defended the Shapiro piece (saying “Bravo!” and “I loved” it), which was a disappointment. Again, not so much because he defended it (one would hardly expect an editor to turn against his own writer in a public forum), but because of the way he defended it — with the most unconservative arguments in the book. Here is the essential excerpt.
We could all come up with lists like this, lists that defy the conventional wisdom in one area or another. Taste is subjective. Certainly there are those who somehow find themselves in the enviable position of being “cinematic tastemakers.” But…
…who anointed them?
Who anoints the anointers?
There are many film writers and historians worthy of admiration for both their passion and knowledge of cinema’s rich lore and history. Off the top of my head I can’t get enough of Robert Osborne, Kurt Loder, David Thomson, Richard Schickel, and Ephraim Katz. Not to mention our own Robert Avrech and Leo Grin. Leonard Maltin’s movie guide has been a well-thumbed staple at my side for a quarter century. So I say with no offense to any these gentlemen that their opinions mean nothing to me.
As with any art medium, no matter how schooled, experienced, educated or knowledgeable, when it comes to likes and dislikes, there is no arbiter. No one knows.
I’ll take a velvet Elvis over a Picasso or Jackson Pollock Any. Day. Of. The Week. Because…
No one knows.
Certainly there are reasonable ways to objectively judge the look of a film, the performances, the score, and the other cogs that make up the wheel. But not the wheel itself, not the movie itself. That would be like judging someone’s love for another. You and everyone else may find her homely and dumb and a lousy cook, but he loves her and she makes him happy.
And I’m tired of being told what to like. I’m tired of being told that this director’s important or that film has something to say…
To elaborate on the response I gave at the Big Hollywood combox, there is much there I agree with. Obviously, matters of pure taste are inarguable, aesthetic judgment is not mathematics, and nobody is trying to tell Nolte, Shapiro or anybody else what to like. I was careful to state that I don’t have anything per-se against someone not liking Hitchcock or any other director. Most of the better comments against Shapiro stipulated that exact point. What I, and apparently quite a few other Big Hollywood readers, have something against (a lot, actually) is Shapiro’s specific post — its schoolboy fact errors, its pronunciamento tone, and its utter lack of argument and support that might make a discussion with him over beer *actually worthwhile.* Shapiro’s article consisted of “it roolz/it droolz!!!” and no details that indisputably demonstrated that he had ever seen the movies in question. And I’m sorry, but that’s just sophomoric drivel.
There’s also something deeply unconservative about Nolte’s defense. The recent movie (UNTITLED), which is in significant part about hucksterism in the contemporary art scene, had a very apposite line: “That is not my opinion. It is my judgment.” The difference between opinion and judgment cannot be overstated. For most college-educated conservatives of my generation, our defining moment, the event(s) that made us conservatives was the campus political-correctness and canon wars of the late 80s and early 90s. At that time, the canon of the arts was being attacked as the oppressive tool of Dead White Males and the very notion of canonicity and its key element (judgment) were being “deconstructed,” “problematized,” “critiqued,” etc. And not just in the name of raceclassgendersexuality but also whole (much more serious and weighty, if often popularized and vulgarized) philosophies dating back to Nietzsche and Rousseau.
We were attracted to conservatism because it opposed radical selfdom, radical subjectivism and radical emotivism. Yet Nolte’s defense of what is essentially a list of self-referential emotive outbursts from Shapiro is a betrayal of the concept of “judgment” in the name of subjectiveness. Yes, subjectiveness is *IN* every aesthetic judgment, but that doesn’t mean every aesthetic judgment is NOTHING BUT subjectivity. I couldn’t care less about someone’s opinion of Hitchcock (on that, Nolte and I are at one); I could care about someone’s judgment about Hitchcock. However, Shapiro offered no judgment and Nolte defends that. And even if, at the end of the day, it IS all subjective, can we at least GET to the end of the day in an interesting way?
But why should someone have to offer judgment? Because artistic canons exist. While it’s fine not like a canonized work or body of work (that’s an opinion and inarguable), it’s incumbent on a person who doesn’t do so in public to state his reasons and provide a basis for his judgment. And yes, it is incumbent on the contrarian in a way that it is less so for the person who likes the canonized work(s). Is this unequal? Yes. But arguments from inequality per-se and the four-letter f-word (“fair”) should only persuade nihilistic liberals. Conservatives are supposed to stand for Tradition, for the settled ways that represent the accumulated wisdom of the past; it is liberals and leftists who think, like children, the world can be made anew, starting with Year Zero (there was something faintly Khmer Rouge-ish about Nolte’s closing “Yes, right here at Big Hollywood, let’s tear this mother down, start over, and have at it”). Conservatives do remember our Edmund Burke, don’t we, or are we all now subjectivists all the way down, indifferent to canonicity? The notion that artistic canons had to justify themselves anew every day to everyone is the natural territory of liberal authorityphobes and god-haters. Ah … there’s that other bugbear word, besides “opinion” — “authority.” Nolte nods in this direction with his passage about “cinematic tastemakers” and “anointers,” but immediately responds with, in effect, “who made them that.” The very fact that a conservative like Nolte takes us so quickly to the not-so-grand not-so-cosmic “sez who,” to any notion that smells like authority is itself symptomatic of the sickness of our time.¹
The short answer to Nolte’s question is “nobody,” at least not in any formal sense. But art is no more like government than it is mathematics. Nobody has authority in any of Max Weber’s formal senses (I certainly don’t claim any; I know no critic who does). The only authority I have to declare Ben Shapiro a twit and his article a worthless embarrassment is my reason, my experience and my appeals to others’. That’s the only authority that will ever exist in the arts or criticism. But it is a kind of authority, and conservatives shouldn’t argue that we can do without it. Artistic authority has no formal expression and/or we wouldn’t want to give it formal expression. But going from that fact to attacking it is akin to (actually just “is,” if in another field) post-war liberals thinking that informal (or “soft”) types of social authority as family, custom, elders, credentials, propriety, manners, etc., were mere oppressive prejudices and could either be done away with or replaced by more “rational” forms of authority, meaning government and law.
We all know how that turned out, don’t we?
¹ Nolte’s phrase “who anoints the anointers” is a play on the Roman phrase “who guards the guardians.” It’s another symptom of our time’s sickness that a conservative thinks of artistic judgement in terms of a metaphor related to the domination that is government power.
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Lucidly argued. I read the Shapiro piece- and, though I have hardly watched any of the canons exhaustively, I found the piece pretty shallow. If he claims to be a critic, then he does deserve the flak. As a sophomore amateur cinema-enthusiast, I have my feelings of wtf’s-the-big-deal-with-this moments, but then I read, gain insights, assuage my doubts(even if slightly)and refine/reserve my judgements.
My takes at the moment??
I find the Lean films I’ve tried ‘boring’, his films ‘feeling’ more like templates of future more engaging spin-offs.
And, Lynch’s Blue Velvet had me guffawing at the sheer mountain out of a molehill-ness of the whole thing, a judgement I still doggedly reserve, principally as a reactionary backlash. Was Absolutely Enthralled and Bemused by Mullohand drive. Though, while reading the reviews later, something at the back of my mind kept telling me a schoolboy manipulator could cook this up for fun. Like Chance Gardener and contrived meanings.
I did have a hearty laugh at Shapiro’s sheer college-boy-horny reductionist take on Aronofsky. I’ve no qualms though( Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, in his next, that seriously clouds any judgement of mine)
Michael Mann: love his casting, (not much of a critical judgement I know, but nothing that exciting in his oeuvre imo).
Martin Scorcesse. Worship Taxi Driver, maybe cause he’s like a damn-you idealistic Holden Caulfield and it feeds on my own post-teen self-imposed weltschmertz. The Departed, Cape Fear, Goodfellas, Gangs, Temptation, Casino- with decreasing level of favorable critical interest. Raging Bull- havent got round to watching it, probably from a ‘who cares’ attitude. In Scorcesse’s own words though, his films are excessively (maybe unlikable) character- focussed for my taste.
Tarantino. well, he’s overrated- if only as a director.QT films OK stories/plots,but the sheer (for-me) exotic nature of his dialogue, his character’s portrayals/casting and interactions are a pure pleasure.
Woody Allen, Ridley Scott. Hits and misses, ashes and diamonds, simultaneously. Annie Hall is so awesome(u cant argue with that), I turned into a neurotic Woody Allen for a month.
Hitchcock is a genius, and one of my favorites, though having watched countless post-Hitchcock versions of his films, the responsive tension or surprise is subdued and rare. Love the classic(whatever that means), clean-at-the-surface, stylised direction of his films. His films are just so..crafted, visually written novels, efficient ‘wholesome’ dramas. effective?? not so much, at least for me.
Having said that, director’s- all of them- are a bit overrated. From my own limited exposure, I gather noone’s oeuvre or ‘canon’ is consistent, in toto. (except Wes Anderson..maybe??)
1. Do you admire Ayn Rand?? (re: http://markshea.blogspot.com/2009/08/some-folks-may-remember-victor-morton.html)am awed by the sheer clarity and organisation of her sometimes harsh thinking, but am bemused when i see cliques deifying her as a prophet or something.
2. With re to this post, I can’t figure out the last paragraph viz. conservative/liberal dichotomy. So, what exactly is a ‘liberal’s’ take on authority supposed to be?? (I have to confess all this liberal/conservative b/w division stumps me. Ah well, maybe thats my Indian nuance fudging the fences)
3. When are you putting up 2009 Skandies, love your ‘scenes’ skandies.
Comment by Rohit | January 19, 2010 | Reply
Lucid as always, and I find it revealing (although it stands to reason — never really put it together) that the canon wars / p.c. stuff would’ve been so defining for conservative intellectuals of our age bracket.
A quibble: although I wholeheartedly agree that much of this sloppy “deconstruction” went too far in a lot of unproductive directions, I would like to think that, with benefit of distance, we might be able to remove the (productive) impulse from the (doctrinaire, self-serving) fervor.
I suspect even the staunchest conservative intellectual would agree that Time and Knowledge are not linear pursuits and that our understanding of the past is forever being modulated and adjusted. The difference, it seems, is in degree and in relative caution vs. rapid, willy-nilly upsetting of the apple-cart (which is, I contend, also good from time to time, but whatever).
To claim that aesthetic judgments are not 100% autonomous, that they have a sociological component, and that what qualifies as great artistic achievement shifts over time due to pressures that are not solely internal to the development of an artform’s own imperatives, does not seem at all unreasonable. The problem was when folks (quite tendentiously) reduced the aesthetic judgment to the pure folly of the social, i.e., “Here’s what the straight white male power base thinks is good.” Period. That’s just willfully dumb. But to say, wait a minute, there are social and historical reasons which have diverted us from considering (say) Zora Neale Hurston, and let’s take a look and see if this stacks up in aesthetic terms, is a different and wholly appropriate matter.
All that having been said, I (not surprisingly) agree with you that rampant subjectivism is b******t. There are expert opinions and they count for more (provided they can explain themselves, rather than hide beneath the aegis of Pure Authority! We all must justify ourselves now and then.) The Big Hollywood problem, clearly, is that these guys believe that because the canon of cinema has been formed, by and large, by a critical and academic establishment that tilts leftward (or further) that all aesthetic judgments made by these folks are tainted tout court, the mystifying nonsense of “liberal elites.” Um, not everything comes down to politics, boys. Sometimes the evidence is right there, irrefutable, on the screen.
I do not admire Ayn Rand at all, either substantively or temperamentally (she attracts the acolytes she deserves). She had, like, three insights her entire life, but one was that certain terms either were used or could only be used as taboo-markers or “capture-the-flag” rhetoric. In contemporary times “torture” is one such term. And for future reference, please do not link to Mark Shea from here. I appreciate that you asked me something directly, but his ability to understand the ideas of people who disagree with him is zero.
The point of my last graf is that liberals’ successful assault on pretty all forms of non-rational, non-positivistic, non-government authority had disastrous consequences (the destruction of the family, for example).
And, as always, I will post my Skandies ballot after the results are announced.
Damn, I wish I could disagree with you more, youpinkoyou …
Seriously, I more or less agree with everything you say. As you know, I’m not averse or allergic to post-modernism and deconstructive acts. Indeed, I think the right can usefully use them against the meta-narratives that liberals treasure — Whig and Marxist theories of historical progress, e.g. But just ranting against the cinematic canon because it includes a lot of liberals is unproductive; yes, not everything is politics.
Perhaps the reason for the excesses of the 90s was that its motivating factor and the dominant part of the rhetorical and/or public case for it was “equality” not “enlightenment.” No sane righty opposes encouraging and/or assigning to students the Harlem Renaissance or Asian painting or the Koran, etc. Now, as a flaming reactionary, I’m free to oppose equality and say “history is what it is, can’t be undone and if that results in a disproportionate [sic] number of the important writers or composers, etc., are men or white [or gay … in principle], then so be it.” For liberals who support affirmative action or reparations, etc. — that’s not an option, so they have to dig for something else as the cause (hence the excesses).
I think the test is — how does one react to Bellows’ question “Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus; I would love to read him.” I would say re film, then who IS the Scorsese of the conservatives?* When he comes, I’ll be his biggest fan. But I won’t insist a priori that the Zulus MUST have a Tolstoy and conservatives MUST have a Scorsese.
*Which isn’t exactly a fair comparison — I think the cinema canon has plenty for us and some of us. But it’s why I won’t pretend conservative affirmative-action movies are great.
This forum’s quite an education.
Anyways, Any good books you could recommend to broaden an understanding of cinema?? Have read a few, but they are either too specialized or too cursory in focus.
And, is that a Saul Bellow quote in your last reply??? I have ‘Ravelstein’ with me right now…but i am a bit tentative to begin reading Bellow with his last work..
Comment by Rohit | January 20, 2010 | Reply
With re to “destruction of the family”…there’s something like TOO MUCH family, at least here, in India. Family can also be so oppressive, so obdurately baselined to supposed honor, it can stifle the spirit out of you. Me, in my present rebellious malaise, I am all for a bit of destruction….
Comment by Rohit | January 20, 2010 | Reply
I’m taking this over here simply because the IFC blog isn’t mine to run riot over and I feel uncomfortable getting into debates with people I actually know on there. And you’re right: Graham’s article doesn’t *specifically* say that. But the BH crew (and I have, like, zero idea why you like them; none of them are as cogent as you, most of them are downright awful writers, I’d maybe give an exemption to Robert Avrech and Stage Right) generally operates within a very narrow confine of talking points that underlie each post, shuffling the deck depending on the day. And one of their big ideas is that Obama is bringing “thuggery” and “Chicago-style politics” to the White House — as opposed, presumably, to the bipartisan, compromise-heavy Bush administration. A selective memory indeed. Over here on the left, I’m *definitely* of the opinion that Obama should’ve rammed the healthcare initiative down the throats of Congress while he could and just terrorized everyone LBJ style (I don’t have health care, so it’s kind of a big deal to me). Which is manifestly not what happened; he gambled on compromises that would sort themselves out for some weak brew, and he lost.
The whole “BDS” annoys me because of its pseudo-medical connotations and because it’s out of whack. BDS worse than accusations of Clinton as sociopathic murderer et al.? Worse than Obama = Hitler? Same difference, seems to me; everyone loses on those.
Comment by Vadim | January 21, 2010 | Reply
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Skandie runners-up — supporting males
Hilmi Sozer (right) steals JERICHOW, especially at the end, playing the unwanted third leg in a romantic triangle someone like Mr. Dietrichson in DOUBLE INDEMNITY.
Ptolemy Slocum, (UNTITLED) — I considered him just to annoy Sicinski, as he’s playing a hilariously vicious caricature of the Bad Modern Artists whom Waz loves. Just kidding bud. Sorta.
Horst Rehberg, CLOUD 9 — Plays a 70-year-old man with a convincingly heedless, romantic (and Romantic) 20-year-old’s soul. He always has the sparkle that Ursula Werner only sometimes does — and therein lies the drama. This year was filled with “nearly” performances in German films.
Timothy Spall, THE DAMNED UNITED — Proves he doesn’t need Mike Leigh to inhabit a working-class Joe (yes … men in his position at that time weren’t filthy-rich — part of the film’s interest). And the reconciliation scene with Clough at his home doesn’t have a hint of anachronistic gayness as a result.
Peter Sarsgaard, AN EDUCATION — Why is Carey Mulligan getting all the Hosannas in Excelsis for this film? The charming villain is always the better role, and Sarsgaard oozes it like pretty pus.
Anthony Mackie, THE HURT LOCKER — After playing the enemies of Tupac Shakur and Eminem … pffft to al Qaeda in Iraq. Mackie has all the charisma needed to be a great star, and maybe his Jesse Owens and (less likely) Buddy Bolden biopics will make him one. He and Jeremy Renner nail soldiers’ ornery chemistry (most importantly, the drunken barracks carousing) without a hint of anachronistic gayness or psychopathy.
Tom Waits, THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS — Why is Heath Ledger getting all the Hosannas in Excelsis for this film (OK, besides THAT)? The charming villain is always the better role, and Waits oozes it like pretty pus.
James Gandolfini, IN THE LOOP — But here’s the opposite end. In a movie that’s all a barrage of would-be farcical “flow” (to the point of exhaustion and without being terribly funny to me — the timing was never right), Gandolfini provided the little “ebb,” the few moments of non-showing-off solidity.
Hilmi Sözer, JERICHOW — Damn. I so wanted to give JERICHOW something. May have been prevented by the fact I didn’t get a chance to see it a second time, in retrospect with full knowledge of everything including … the end … (especially considering how blown away Sicinski was by JERICHOW). Lack of a second viewing meant the film stayed a “solid 7” — and thus always on the (ahem) outside looking in. Sorry Waz. No joke.
Eli Wallach, NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU — It really takes something to stand out in an omnibus of 11 or so shorts. And something else again to be a huge star of decades ago, not rely on the instant-recognition factor, not rely on pity for the elderly. I honestly had to look him up — who played the husband in the last piece, about the love remaining between the old couple? Him? Really?
Kristyan Ferrer, SIN NOMBRE — Had to look up his name too. He’s the young kid who wants to join the teenagers trip to El Norte — for various reasons. Like Wallach, only at the other end of the life cycle, Ferrer plays a role that easily could have reduced to age-pathos or alternatively to easy kid-brutalism (e.g. the film the people who hated CITY OF GOD imagined they saw).
Christopher Plummer, UP — Hurt to also leave out Plummer, who is having a nice late-career renaissance between this film, PARNASSUS and LAST STATION. Plummer’s also done quite a bit of voice acting lately (IIRC, Burton’s 9 and narrating THE GOSPEL OF JOHN), and ideally for this type of “Bond villain” role, he has a low, quiet but resonant voice with menace he can turn on and off.
Paul Bettany, THE YOUNG VICTORIA — I hated Lord Melbourne. That means Bettany was awesome.
(spoiler), ZOMBIELAND — It’s only a single-sequence cameo, and it very much relies on who he is. But it’s too funny and he’s too good — needed counterpoint, both to downplay Woody Harrelson’s “I can’t believe it” fanboy slobbering and to be taken aback by Abigail Breslin’s “who?” incredulity.
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Like many of you, I was watching Superbowl 52 (I refuse to congratulate the city of Philadelphia) and saw the trailer for The Cloverfield Paradox, a film that claims to explain the origins of the 2008 hit film Cloverfield. A secret Netflix exclusive seemed too good to pass up so I decided to do a last-minute review. For those of you who saw this trailer and thought that you were finally going to get the answers to your ten-year-old Cloverfield questions, I’m afraid you have been misled…again.