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.:Movie Report Card (the watching thread redeux):.
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Jeff Mason
The Nitrate Bandit

Posts: 20814
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 21st, 2011 08:05 PM   IP              
Quote:
Beckner wrote:


But are those films really even trying to scare the viewer? Nauseate and horrify perhaps, but really frighten? I don't think anyone thinks "The Devil's Rejects" is a *scary movie.* It's a horror movie, to be sure, but not scary. Is that their intent?






And Dave quoted a famous line from Stephen King from Danse Macabre. That line never sat well with me. It was almost an admission of failure, that he only did a grossout if he couldn't do terror, and that his goal was simply to get a gut level reaction from a reader. Well, that may be so. And that may be why so many of his books don't hold up well for me.

Frankly, all three of those (terror, horror, grossout) IMO are extremely tough to do well. AIP proved well how tough terror was to do well (tons of non-Corman copies of the Poe films prove that). Horror knockoffs are the same. And grossout knockoffs are equally vapid. But what is really true, though, IMO, is that at least today, you only see for the most part the grossout knockoffs. Because it is easy to make a gross film that will get people in to watch it, but a lame terror film will never catch an audience. You HAVE to be good to make a terror film* that gets any business, whereas gross films have a certain free audience with them.

(* the one strange exception is Shymalan or however you spell his name, not worth it for me to look it up. I don't see why people dig his films which at least TRY to be more terror-like, but are as bad as bad AIP films at their worst IMO. Anyone who watches The Sixth Sense next to The Others, the REALLY great "terror" film of our time, cannot fail to see the difference)

But you also get at a distinction I make intuitively but have not succeeded at working out in practice yet. Indeed, many of those films do not try to scare people. And that's why I don't think many of them are actually truly horror films. That is EXACTLY why, I think, that I consider Dawn of the Dead NOT to be a horror film. Romero is doing a lot there, but trying to scare people is not one of them I don't think. Too much thinking going on, and too much layering of meaning. Whereas he absolutely was trying to scare the willies out of you with Night of the Living Dead and succeeded.

It's also why I think of Black Swan, the example I keep coming back to, as a true horror film and in fact one of the most frightening films I have ever seen. There is no doubt that among all of the goals of that film, they wanted to scare you in the most disturbing way possible. And it was far more effective at churning my insides in all directions than any other modern horror I have seen. And they are billing it as a psychothriller. I don't get it.

Just rambling here, trying to figure out how to tease out something that I feel is true but can't yet put into words.
   
Chris D.
Gene Rayburn's BLANK

Posts: 3213
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 22nd, 2011 12:19 PM   IP              
The old thread ate my original reply, but here goes:

1) Totally agree with that description of shock v. suspense, Ian. Thanks! And maybe I shouldn't have used "suspense" in the sense I did. Dave seemed to be saying that a story still has to unfold and have drama. Of course, I agree. But sometimes writers care too much about surprise and less about character/story. The whole thing that started me on this was an Eddie Campbell (From Hell, Alec) interview:

Campbell From Hell Interview

He discusses how Hollywood changed the From Hell comic for the movie. Some choice quotes:

Quote:
CAMPBELL: Something I actually dislike is suspense. The whole audience manipulation. Iím off on another subject here, this isÖ

DEPPEY: Thatís fine.

CAMPBELL: The manipulation of an audience; you donít know this and Iím not going to tell you. At that point, I think, ďWell, fuck that, Iím going home, then.Ē [Laughter.] Iím turning off. Iím going to go have a beer. To me, thereís something, thereís a kind of deceit. I mean that in the worst way: Iím going to deceive you for the purposes of giving you a thrill. Now, if Iím getting involved with a book or a movie, I want to be reading at a much higher level than that. Otherwise, Iíll go and have sex or something. Iíll go see what my wifeís doing, rouse her from her reading of the advertising brochures. I just canít be bothered with the wholeÖ I see it as a very primitive sort of art where Iím going to deceive you for the purposes of thrilling you. I donít need that. Those screamer movies. I canít sit through Texas Chainsaw Massacre or whatever. I just donít care. Honestly, I donít care enough to sit through it.


Don't agree with his view of "Texas...," but otherwise he's right.

Quote:
CAMPBELL: And weíre left with the dressing. Anything that meant anything was ditched. Like, the first thing we decided was that we donít want this to be a whodunit.

DEPPEY: Thatís of course the first thing they turned it back into.

CAMPBELL: In fact, they put it to me almost at though it was a good idea. I remember they said, ďEddie, look, weíve got this great idea.Ē They said, ďLook, you donít know who the Ripper is until right at the end!Ē [Deppey laughs.] That was the first thing we kicked out, because Alan absolutely detested the idea of turning murder into a parlor game. Whatís that movie, Ten Little Indians, based on the Agatha Christie thing, where they actually freeze the whole thing for a minute while the audience ó




Quote:
Chris, I don't think you are giving Hitchcock the credit he deserves for laying the track that made a filmmaker such as Lynch possible in the American mainstream.
Rear Window is just as much of an internal "head" film as Eraserhead. It takes place in one room, and concerns one man's perceptions. This is why we must proceed through the story along with him. The film gives the audience the credit of not needing to actually see the neighbor commit murder, to know that he did. As soon as Stewart suspects, he actually knows, and so do we.
Psycho was an excercise in fucking with the audience's minds, by playing with genre and era. The audience came to the film to see the last film of the 1950's, which they did in the first half hour. The audience walked out seeing the first film of the 1960's, which starts right when the murder occurs. And it doesn't have anything to do with the violence portrayed. It is the violence he does to the audience's perception that matters. He was telling the audience that the key element of the plot in the early part of the film, the money, the thing the audience has been tricked into thinking is important, is nothing. Something only fit to be put into the trunk of a car and discarded. He has a different story to tell.


I definitely acknowledge his influence on Lynch (though I see it more in earlier Lynch...I guess that's why I didn't mention him), not to mention other directors I like (Truffaut). I just see Hitchcock's movies as a sensory experience, like Kubrick, Lucas, or Spielberg. They never make me think. I do love North By Northwest and Psycho, though. Rear Window I used to have more affection for. I should probably give him more credit, but he never comes close to the great directors/movies for me.


When Ian Wagner meditates, he uses the lyrics to "Wild Wild West" by Escape Club as his mantra.
   
Beckner
One Motherfucker

Posts: 19232
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 22nd, 2011 12:26 PM   IP              
It follows that you, Chris, would prefer that angle... you're way more into intellectual entertainment as it were. Where I simply prefer the
Quote:
primitive sort of art
-- and who gets to say that primitive means inferior?
   
Chris D.
Gene Rayburn's BLANK

Posts: 3213
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 22nd, 2011 12:58 PM   IP              
Quote:
Jeff Mason wrote:
ut what is really true, though, IMO, is that at least today, you only see for the most part the grossout knockoffs.


Check out House of the Devil. It's fantastic. There's also crap like Case 39, which was horrible, but it isn't about gore. And the indescribably bad Paranormal Activity movies, which are at least copies of a great non-gore film (Blair Witch).

Quote:
But you also get at a distinction I make intuitively but have not succeeded at working out in practice yet. Indeed, many of those films do not try to scare people. And that's why I don't think many of them are actually truly horror films. That is EXACTLY why, I think, that I consider Dawn of the Dead NOT to be a horror film. Romero is doing a lot there, but trying to scare people is not one of them I don't think. Too much thinking going on, and too much layering of meaning. Whereas he absolutely was trying to scare the willies out of you with Night of the Living Dead and succeeded.


Building off Ian's quote, those movies don't shock you, but they definitely scare you. They're not just about images, they're about ideas. Night has many creepy shots and great atmosphere--hell, it's a great movie period. But for me the scariest parts are the daughter eating her family and the black guy getting shot. Those are ideas more than images. Dawn takes the concept further. The gore could never be convincing. The idea makes it scary, and that's what's great. Other movies would spend the time making a 3-second blood splatter look right, but wouldn't have the message.

When Ian Wagner meditates, he uses the lyrics to "Wild Wild West" by Escape Club as his mantra.
   
Jeff Mason
The Nitrate Bandit

Posts: 20814
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 22nd, 2011 02:54 PM   IP              
See, I get too caught up arguing with Romero and his ideas to get scared in Dawn. To me at least, the scariest films function at a deep, primal, emotional level. Ideas I'm films can engage, maybe even depress me, but they usually do not scare me. Whereas NotLD scared me primally. And yes, the scenes you reference were biggies. Only later, though, did I think about their implications.
   
Robster Lobster
Liberace's cabana boy

Posts: 456
Registered: Jan 2011
 Posted February 22nd, 2011 08:20 PM   IP              
The Haunting, 1963, Robert Wise - first film (at 19) i blanked out - totally fried my brain. Still not certain what it did - but it did. Films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Romero's dead films (which I adore) are more accountable in so many ways.

There are a few bastard films like Xtro - and probably Last House On The Left - but like any trauma film (Exorcist/Texas Chainsaw Massacre/I Spit On Your Grave) I believe these are down to the context of how, and when you saw them...

Georgie likes ducks!

   
IanWagner
The Rustic Bumfiddler

Posts: 47999
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 22nd, 2011 10:22 PM   IP              
Quote:
Jeff Mason wrote:
See, I get too caught up arguing with Romero and his ideas to get scared in Dawn. To me at least, the scariest films function at a deep, primal, emotional level. Ideas I'm films can engage, maybe even depress me, but they usually do not scare me. Whereas NotLD scared me primally. And yes, the scenes you reference were biggies. Only later, though, did I think about their implications.


For me, only ideas and dreams are truly scary any more. Watch Dawn, then go to the mall, and see if what happens in your head afterward is not scary on the deepest and truest of levels. The scary films are the ones that plant seeds, not the ones that take flower and wilt away before the film is over. Most "horror" genre films do the latter, unfortunately.

   
Matinee Idyll (129)
Camp Counsellor

Posts: 8244
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 22nd, 2011 11:10 PM   IP              
Claytons' The Innocents remains the most chilling film I've ever seen - talk about planting seeds, that thing grew a whole damn acre of terror-beans!
"Nick is the Mode guy. Jon is the Duran guy."

   
Jeff Mason
The Nitrate Bandit

Posts: 20814
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 23rd, 2011 06:25 AM   IP              
Quote:
IanWagner wrote:


For me, only ideas and dreams are truly scary any more. Watch Dawn, then go to the mall, and see if what happens in your head afterward is not scary on the deepest and truest of levels. The scary films are the ones that plant seeds, not the ones that take flower and wilt away before the film is over. Most "horror" genre films do the latter, unfortunately.


By that logic, a lot of non-horror films would become horror films to me. Because if that is considered scary, then a lot of other films not classified as horror reveal some frightening ideas to me.
   
Matinee Idyll (129)
Camp Counsellor

Posts: 8244
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 23rd, 2011 06:43 AM   IP              
I am freaking out over these Night of the Hunter outtakes... well, Blu-Ray here I come!





"Nick is the Mode guy. Jon is the Duran guy."

   
Matinee Idyll (129)
Camp Counsellor

Posts: 8244
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 23rd, 2011 06:54 AM   IP              
Which again reminds me, one of the most unsettling elements of both films is the childrens singing (and yes, I know Pearl was dubbed)... I do find something both alluring and terrifying in the pieces. There's a great duality there, they tug at you and simultaneously keep you at arms length - nightmare sounds, I literally get shivers thinking about either of them.

I've just started a childrens choir at one of my schools - I really, really, really want to get them singing both of these pieces, would make a beautiful acapella medley (and scare the heck out of their parents!)





What were we talking about again?

"Nick is the Mode guy. Jon is the Duran guy."

   
Matinee Idyll (129)
Camp Counsellor

Posts: 8244
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 23rd, 2011 07:08 AM   IP              
One last before bed - speaking of terrifying audio, the sound design in Picnic is the scariest I've ever heard. The deep, indistinct moaning throughout the film (apparently achieved by slowing down field recordings of earthquakes) are one of the reasons I really can't watch that film anymore, it's too affecting, too primal. I'm getting the jitters.

G'night!



"Nick is the Mode guy. Jon is the Duran guy."

   
Beckner
One Motherfucker

Posts: 19232
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 24th, 2011 10:04 PM   IP              


Largely unimpressive, but definitely influential. Irwin Allen owes his entire career to this film, and probably George Romero too.
   
IanWagner
The Rustic Bumfiddler

Posts: 47999
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 24th, 2011 10:36 PM   IP              
LARGELY UNIMPRESSIVE??????????????????????????
WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK???????????????????????????????

   
Beckner
One Motherfucker

Posts: 19232
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 24th, 2011 11:06 PM   IP              
I don't know, man. I'm pretty sure anyone with a right mind could fight back against a few stupid ass seagulls better than the kind citizens of Bodega Bay. I mean, feed them some Alka Seltzer or something.
   
MoogDroog
Michael Bolton's mullet

Posts: 8501
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 25th, 2011 10:11 AM   IP              
The pacing of The Birds is amazing. Such a slow build, very subtle - makes a potentially silly premise very unsettling. So many classic scenes! The silent discovery of the body, the town attack, THE CLIMBING BARS OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL!!! Dear god, how can anyone be unimpressed? I think it's my most watched Hitchcock. He fucks with the audience in a masterful way - it's so ambiguous and layered and unexplained
"The other thing is that the quality of the mp3's I listen to varies especially as some of the music from the likes of Led Zeppelin is old, even with re-mastering still isnt up to the quality of the likes of Def Leppard."
   
IanWagner
The Rustic Bumfiddler

Posts: 47999
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 25th, 2011 11:36 AM   IP              
Quote:
Beckner wrote:
I don't know, man. I'm pretty sure anyone with a right mind could fight back against a few stupid ass seagulls better than the kind citizens of Bodega Bay. I mean, feed them some Alka Seltzer or something.


If you were thinking along those lines, you missed the point entirely.

   
Matinee Idyll (129)
Camp Counsellor

Posts: 8244
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 26th, 2011 08:44 AM   IP              
Birds is amazing, but having to study it for a correspondence English class in high school sucked most of the enjoyment out of it (this ruined Alien for me aswell). If teetering on the knife-edge doesn't frighten you Dave, I'm not sure what could...



Anywho, one of the greatest films I've ever seen - why did it take me so long to get to it!? Superb characterisations (duh!), pacing, and one of the most literate and sardonic scripts I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. The Ruling Class doesn't seem quite so groundbreaking as I'd first thought! Between Ealing, Hammer, noir, and westerns my movie plate is getting very full indeed!

"Nick is the Mode guy. Jon is the Duran guy."

   
Bubba Ho-Tep
God's Lonely Man

Posts: 12408
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 26th, 2011 12:26 PM   IP              



I think the film is quite nice....

I want to be a writer when I grow up. CLICK HERE and humor me!
   
Bubba Ho-Tep
God's Lonely Man

Posts: 12408
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 27th, 2011 12:28 AM   IP              
Hall Pass

I thought it was pretty damn funny!

I want to be a writer when I grow up. CLICK HERE and humor me!
   
Primey Prime
Crosby's love child

Posts: 1045
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 27th, 2011 05:59 AM   IP              
The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Okay. Amusing, but much wrong when you think about it.

Knocked Up. Really rather good.

I'm liking these comedies. Nothing in the league of Superbad so far, though.

   
Chris D.
Gene Rayburn's BLANK

Posts: 3213
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 27th, 2011 09:40 AM   IP              
Quote:
Primey Prime wrote:
The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Okay. Amusing, but much wrong when you think about it.

Knocked Up. Really rather good.

I'm liking these comedies. Nothing in the league of Superbad so far, though.




Superbad and Pineapple Express are definitely the two to see from those trolls and fools.

When Ian Wagner meditates, he uses the lyrics to "Wild Wild West" by Escape Club as his mantra.
   
Jeff Mason
The Nitrate Bandit

Posts: 20814
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 27th, 2011 09:51 AM   IP              
A few films this week I have already seen, but some new twists on them:

Sunrise -- got to see it in a theater with a new 35mm print. Now more than ever it becomes a desert island disc. This time I was most taken with Janet Gaynor's performance. Definitely worthy of the first Best Actress Oscar.

And a slew of films over the last few weeks that Caroline and I have done (she reacts best to comedy I have seen):

Jerry Lewis -- The Bellboy. Her reaction is best seen by the fact that she asked for The Nutty Professor later on. Obviously she digs the Lewis' outrageous buffoonery.

Go West -- I have wanted her to see this for a while because I knew she would laugh insanely at the climax. I know my girl. 8 year olds and cows wandering through the streets and shops of Los Angeles are a potent mix.

I think I've gotten something started though -- she is starting to ask for Chaplin, and when I was screening Go West, she asked at first whether it was going to be Robin Hood -- and by that, she meant the Douglas Fairbanks version (she watched Thief of Bagdad a while back and it made an impression). Obviously if you give kids a chance and give them good movies with good prints, they will still "get" the classics.

Have some alone time this afternoon for the first time in a while and I plan to watch SOMETHING during that time. Just don't know what.
   
Jeff Mason
The Nitrate Bandit

Posts: 20814
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 27th, 2011 07:33 PM   IP              
After today's viewing I have come to a startling conclusion. W.C. Fields is in fact alive. He has moved to Albany, NY, and changed his name to Bubba Ho Tep and all, but he's still alive. Because that is EXACTLY how I often imagine Bubba. Fields is Bubba's psychic parent.
   
IanWagner
The Rustic Bumfiddler

Posts: 47999
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 27th, 2011 07:45 PM   IP              
I've seen all 10 Best Picture nominees, True Grit was the only bad one of the bunch.
I hope Toy Story 3 wins. That is all.

   
Jeff Mason
The Nitrate Bandit

Posts: 20814
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 27th, 2011 07:49 PM   IP              
Quote:
IanWagner wrote:
I've seen all 10 Best Picture nominees, True Grit was the only bad one of the bunch.
I hope Toy Story 3 wins. That is all.


Did you break down and get more emotional than you did for TS 2? I really thought it was the best of all.

How could any film trying to re-do John Wayne's Oscar role possibly be any good? And why are so many people saying it is a good film?

Haven't seen enough of them to be able to comment, but the best made and most powerful film of those I have seen is Black Swan. Portman better win the Actress Oscar, the ninny on TV begging for Annette Bening to get a "lifetime achievement" award be damned. You gotta acknowledge greatness somehow. Probably should still see Social Network and King's Speech.
   
Jeff Mason
The Nitrate Bandit

Posts: 20814
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 27th, 2011 07:49 PM   IP              
..
   
IanWagner
The Rustic Bumfiddler

Posts: 47999
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 27th, 2011 08:05 PM   IP              
Quote:
Jeff Mason wrote:


Did you break down and get more emotional than you did for TS 2? I really thought it was the best of all.

How could any film trying to re-do John Wayne's Oscar role possibly be any good? And why are so many people saying it is a good film?

Haven't seen enough of them to be able to comment, but the best made and most powerful film of those I have seen is Black Swan. Portman better win the Actress Oscar, the ninny on TV begging for Annette Bening to get a "lifetime achievement" award be damned. You gotta acknowledge greatness somehow. Probably should still see Social Network and King's Speech.


127 Hours is incredible too, the best one after Swan and Toy Story. Winter's Bone is also very, very much worth seeing. Same with Social Network. Inception just below those. King's Speech is good, no more, no less. Same with The Fighter and The Kids Are All Right.
People are saying True Grit is good because they are gay for the untalented moron Coen brothers.
Oh, I wept at the end of TS3.

   
Jeff Mason
The Nitrate Bandit

Posts: 20814
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 27th, 2011 08:12 PM   IP              
Quote:
IanWagner wrote:


Oh, I wept at the end of TS3.


After years of manipulative movies, trying to force tears and emotion that have not been earned, it was almost catharsis to see one that did in fact prompt genuine and unforced emotion. The ending was very simple, no gimmicks, nothing that wasn't real. And by golly, if you didn't want to cry and feel both sad, happy, relieved and nostalgic all at once. And it's a cartoon, for crying out loud. But it was better played than almost anything I have seen from Hollywood in a long time.
   
Matinee Idyll (129)
Camp Counsellor

Posts: 8244
Registered: Aug 2007
 Posted February 28th, 2011 01:24 AM   IP              
What hit me hardest were the simple expressions of solidarity as they approached the inferno - that wasn't a cartoon, that was life.
"Nick is the Mode guy. Jon is the Duran guy."

   



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