CATCHING UP WITH FILM - THE QUEST FOR A PERSONAL CANON

 

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Canon Entry - The Seventh Continent (1989)

Inspired by the 1001 Movies to Watch Before You Die, Edgar Wright’s 1000 favorite films and other lists, I am striving to come up with my own personal canon of films. Michael Haneke has always been a filmmaker I have had trouble with. Not for the opaqueness of his films, which I have heard as a criticism. In fact, I find Haneke a very blunt filmmaker, as in, as deep as his films might be, you could make the point of his films in one sentence. Funny Games - people are sick voyeurs. Cache - people are sick voyeurs. Amour - real love means ugliness, loneliness, and pain. White Ribbon - the more morally upright a society is, the sicker it is at its core. This bluntness is not necessarily a bad t

Trivia Thursday

I’ve always been a sucker for pub trivia, and I almost like creating trivia quizzes more than competing in them. The answers to the first nine questions are all connected by a theme, and the tenth is the theme. Feel free to share this quiz, and no Googling when you’re trying it! (What’s the fun in that?) Answers will be posted next week with the newest quiz. His birthday is celebrated in January and is a federal holiday. Elizabeth, Victoria and Marie share what in common besides being girl’s names? Black, Nicholson, Kerouac and White are all famous whats? The aorta and pulmonary arteries are part of this organ. Heath Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for playing this iconic villain. When rating

Theme Tuesday - Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

Chantal Akerman is one of the most prominent female filmmakers of the 20th century, and a director that has been a glaring blind spot for me. During March, I seek to rectify that blind spot. Akerman’s most famous and renowned film was one I saved deliberately for last. I wanted to be “prepared” for her vaunted masterpiece and to be completely on its wavelength from the very start. I realize that this may have been too optimistic on my part. Jeanne Dielman is a single mother who makes money through prostitution. Akerman deliberately plays down any salacious elements of her “profession” (it doesn’t seem she would declare what she does on any tax forms) and instead focuses on her most mundane t

Canon Entry - The Grifters (1990)

Inspired by the 1001 Movies to Watch Before You Die, Edgar Wright’s 1000 favorite films and other lists, I am striving to come up with my own personal canon of films. Noir may be the one genre that best illustrates many men’s petrifying fear of women. In few genres are women reliably villains, often “relegated” to the role of femme fatales. Ironically, these femmes are often the most interesting characters in the noirs and are usually the most significant challenge to the (usually) male protagonists because they don’t fight fair. Violence a man can understand, but women rarely fight with violence. So imagine poor Roy Dillon (John Cusack) having to deal with not one but two femme fatales, his

Canon Entry - My Own Private Idaho (1991)

Inspired by the 1001 Movies to Watch Before You Die, Edgar Wright’s 1000 favorite films and other lists, I am striving to come up with my own personal canon of films. Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho is a meandering messy combination of two stories. River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves play Mike Waters and Scott Favor, two young street hustlers. Mike has narcolepsy, a condition that seems to dictate the direction of his life (quite literally). He finds himself at the mercy of “friends.” His quest to find his mother drives most of his plot but only tenuously so. Scott on the other hand is the son of the mayor of Portland, and he will inherit his father’s power and fortune once he turns 21. He is

Trivia Thursday

I’ve always been a sucker for pub trivia, and I almost like creating trivia quizzes more than competing in them. The answers to the first nine questions are all connected by a theme, and the tenth is the theme. Feel free to share this quiz, and no Googling when you’re trying it! (What’s the fun in that?) Answers will be posted next week with the newest quiz. Most famous mobile game from Finnish company Rovio. This show with a mostly female cast took place on Wisteria Lane. This infamous reality competition featured contestants taking on challenges such as eating spiders and injecting needles into their body. This popular movie unfortunately never made fetch happen. This is an extremely popul

Theme Tuesday - News from Home & The Meetings of Anna

Chantal Akerman is one of the most prominent female filmmakers of the 20th century, and a director that has been a glaring blind spot for me. During March, I seek to rectify that blind spot. In both News from Home and The Meetings of Anna, Akerman treads very familiar territory, especially in News from Home, which is almost a companion piece to Hotel Monterey. This does not mean that she is derivative or lacking creativity. In fact, both of these films help refine her aesthetic even more and some of the themes that will be present in all of her work are crystallized further. In News from Home, Akerman films New York City in a way that I have never seen an American film it before. When most A

Canon Entry - Malcolm X (1992)

Inspired by the 1001 Movies to Watch Before You Die, Edgar Wright’s 1000 favorite films and other lists, I am striving to come up with my own personal canon of films. With Spike Lee, I feel that people who know of him are extremely aware of his politics and issues on race. Considering how boldly and directly Lee deals with these issues, this is hardly a surprise. Do the Right Thing incensed (mainly) White critics so much that they had to try extremely hard to hide their bigotry and White guilt. Chi-Raq is nothing if not a searing satire on the patriarchy and its pernicious influence on..well, everything. Even a “smaller” film such as He Got Game, which is smaller because of its story not bec

Canon Entry - Naked (1993)

Inspired by the 1001 Movies to Watch Before You Die, Edgar Wright’s 1000 favorite films and other lists, I am striving to come up with my own personal canon of films. Mike Leigh is famed for being a very collaborative director. All of his films are the result of months of improvisation and rehearsal from the actors. He finds the story with them, creating the script as his process unfolds. What emerges are some of the most potent films with some of the best, most naturalistic performances I have ever seen from any director. HIs actors do not perform their characters so much as embody them. As a result of this collaborative process, the performances tend to be uniformly excellent, with a few t

Trivia Thursday

I’ve always been a sucker for pub trivia, and I almost like creating trivia quizzes more than competing in them. The answers to the first nine questions are all connected by a theme, and the tenth is the theme. Feel free to share this quiz, and no Googling when you’re trying it! (What’s the fun in that?) Answers will be posted next week with the newest quiz. This baseball team originally started in Brooklyn when Jackie Robinson played for them. Birthstone of September The material that True Religion, Lee’s and Diesels are made from. It’s a dye that was harvested in South Carolina in colonial times. This university in New York City is where Alexander Hamilton went to school when it used to be

Theme Tuesday - Je, Tu, Il, Elle

Chantal Akerman is one of the most prominent female filmmakers of the 20th century, and a director that has been a glaring blind spot for me. During March, I seek to rectify that blind spot. Je, Tu, Il, Elle is not a hard to follow film, at least in terms of its complexity of plot. A young woman (played by Akerman) occupies herself with mundane tasks in a dingy apartment for several days. She moves a mattress; she writes a letter; she survives by eating spoonfuls of sugar. One day, she decides to leave for no clear reason. She manages to hitch a ride with a truck driver, with whom she has the most casual of sexual relations. She then ends up with a (seemingly) older woman with whom she has s

Canon Entry - The Last Seduction (1994)

Inspired by the 1001 Movies to Watch Before You Die, Edgar Wright’s 1000 favorite films and other lists, I am striving to come up with my own personal canon of films. The Last Seduction is a nasty, briskly-paced noir that should have been consigned to Cinemax hell. Indeed, it actually had a release on HBO during its run, disqualifying it for Academy Award consideration. According to the screenwriter Steve Barancik, the filmmakers had every intention of making a quality piece of work under the guise of cheap, pulpy entertainment. And cheap, pulpy entertainment it is. Linda Fiorentino plays Bridget Gregory, a ruthlessly mercenary woman working at a telemarketing position. She has convinced her

Canon Entry - Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Inspired by the 1001 Movies to Watch Before You Die, Edgar Wright’s 1000 favorite films and other lists, I am striving to come up with my own personal canon of films. The deeply imagined and well-realized world of Ghost in the Shell has had a wider impact than most people realize. Its aesthetic as well as the ideas about human identity are obvious in The Matrix, which would go on to influence countless other films. Its depiction of the female body as object and tool to be manipulated is nothing new, but the way that it meshes this trope with technology has never been topped, though I do think that Under the Skin is kind of a weirder, more artsy cousin to this movie. So much of this film was

Trivia Thursday

I’ve always been a sucker for pub trivia, and I almost like creating trivia quizzes more than competing in them. The answers to the first nine questions are all connected by a theme, and the tenth is the theme. Feel free to share this quiz, and no Googling when you’re trying it! (What’s the fun in that?) Answers will be posted next week with the newest quiz. She infamously sang Happy Birthday to President Kennedy in an almost see through dress. Real name of controversial White rapper from Detroit. How you would write the year 2000 if you saw it in the copyright notice of a movie. This movie features Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa. This actress and singer played Rapunzel in Tangled and

Theme Tuesday - Saute ma Ville & La Chambre

Chantal Akerman is one of the most prominent female filmmakers of the 20th century, and a director that has been a glaring blind spot for me. During March, I seek to rectify that blind spot. Just from these two short films, I can see that Chantal Akerman is a filmmaker that has no interest in conventional cinema. Her first film Saute Ma Ville (Blow Up My Town) was made when she was 18. It is a film full of youth and anarchy. A young girl (Akerman herself) shuts herself in an apartment and does a variety of bizarre activities - make a huge mess, polish her shoes and then proceeds to polish her leg. The film ends with an unexpected display of violence that, once you think about it, really shou

Canon Entry - Lone Star (1996)

Inspired by the 1001 Movies to Watch Before You Die, Edgar Wright’s 1000 favorite films and other lists, I am striving to come up with my own personal canon of films. It’s usually not a good sign if a film can be described as “literary” or “novel-like.” While writing is an important part of creating narrative films, they are obviously different mediums and what works in one will probably not work in the other. I remember a long time ago when the third Harry Potter film came out when an impassioned coterie of my middle school students railed against the film for not being enough like the book, which was ironic since Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is one of the best-reviewed entries

List Sunday - Oscar Predictions and Thoughts

Personally, I think the Oscars are meaningless, but seeing who and what wins is a good indication of the direction the film industry will take in the coming years. For the categories that I have any familiarity with, I included whom I would like to win. Otherwise, I am playing the odds though there are some that I think could be potential upsets, which are in bold. Best Picture Who will probably win: The Shape of Water Who I would like to win: Phantom Thread. I loved Get Out and Lady Bird but I think winning an Oscar on the first outing would be detrimental to these first-time directors. I think Paul Thomas Anderson has come so far from his brilliant debut, and I would like to see him finall

My Favorite Films of 2017

Before the Oscars, I thought it was finally time to share my top ten of the year. 2017 was one of the best years in film in recent memory. Out of the top ten, four of the movies were from first-time feature length directors, and the diversity of the work inspires hope in me that I will be watching and witnessing unique voices making great, compelling work in the future. 10. Get Out Dir. Jordan Peele Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Alison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Lil Rel Howery, Betty Gabriel, Keith Stanfield, Marcus Henderson, Stephen Root While I really enjoyed this movie, I feel a bit protective about it because I want Jordan Peele to create more interesting and better movies

Canon Entry - Jackie Brown (1997)

Inspired by the 1001 Movies to Watch Before You Die, Edgar Wright’s 1000 favorite films and other lists, I am striving to come up with my own personal canon of films. From a director known to be the epitome of cool (at least in terms of his films), Jackie Brown is a surprisingly sad film. All the characters are decidedly small-time, some because of circumstance, others because of their self-destructive tendencies. Even the character with the greatest pretensions of grandeur, Samuel L. Jackson’s Ordell Robbie, believes he’s a much bigger deal than he really is. Jackie sees Ordell for who he really is, but her situation is extremely precarious. Having been relegated to a low-paying job as an a

Trivia Thursday

I’ve always been a sucker for pub trivia, and I almost like creating trivia quizzes more than competing in them. The answers to the first nine questions are all connected by a theme, and the tenth is the theme. Feel free to share this quiz, and no Googling when you’re trying it! (What’s the fun in that?) Answers will be posted next week with the newest quiz. Hardest naturally occurring substance on earth. The first song of this famous Disney movie with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice. A popular mobile search and discovery app that is not Yelp. Also a playground game similar to handball but without a wall. This area of the ocean is notorious for having many mysterious disappearance

 
 
 

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