CATCHING UP WITH FILM - THE QUEST FOR A PERSONAL CANON

 

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Canon Entry - Stalker (1979)

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. Most cinephiles will never seek out Andrei Tarkovsky, or for that matter, Chantal Akerman, Tsai Ming-Liang, Bela Tarr and the other auteurs who specialize in “slow” cinema. Some of the more snobbish ilk may say that such heretics are philistines who besmirch the good name of cinephilia. I personally think cinephilia is so wide and all-encompassing that all are welcome - whether you specialize only in the grungiest direct to VHS exploitation flicks or you dine solely on the rarefied air of Stan Brakhage and Maya Deren. Stalker w

Canon Entry - Heaven's Gate (1980)

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. Heaven’s Gate has been overshadowed by its reputation as one of the biggest box-office bombs ever. It was a revisionist Western when the Western was supposedly going out of fashion. It was apparently plagued with tons of production problems, mostly instigated by obsessive director Michael Cimino’s outrageous demands such as to tear down a whole set because he didn’t like how the buildings were spaced out, even though they had been built to his specifications. It is also apparently responsible for killing the auteur driven 70’s

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. What you use to make white clothes whiter. The people who were attempting to create the philosopher’s stone so as to create the elixir of life and gold from stone were called what? The rivals to the Greek Gods were giant, deformed monsters called what? The full name of the creator of the detective who resides at 221B Baker Street. If a b

Short Film Wednesday - Power

K-pop is perhaps the most interesting and innovative pop music in the world right now, so I will be examining some of the most distinctive and artistically compelling K-pop music videos for April. Strangely, this isn’t the first K-pop music video with a vaguely Power Rangers-inspired theme that I have ever seen. (That honor would go to Crayon Pop’s FM.) EXO is one of the most popular groups in Korea and most of Asia, thanks to the powerful influence of SM Entertainment and their ability to practically conjure immense, devoted fandoms through tons of hard work and really smart presentation and marketing. All of their groups (Girls’ Generation, Shinee, TVXQ, f(x), Red Velvet, etc.) have had ma

Theme Tuesday - Indigenous Voices - Drunktown's Finest

For April 2018, I will be exploring films that feature indigenous people in leading roles and feature narratives about the identity of such people and the society that has inevitably oppressed them. Drunktown’s Finest focuses on many of the same themes I have seen in indigenous narratives. It follows three characters - Sick Boy, Nizohni, and Felixia - and their struggles. Sick Boy (Jeremiah Bitsui) is a immature, volatile young man who is attempting to join the military to support his family but avoids responsibility and gives into temptation easily. Nizohni (Morningstar Angeline) was adopted at a young age, but, unbeknownst to her foster parents, she is seeking the truth about her birth par

Canon Entry - Ms .45 (1981)

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. Ms .45 is much better made than its material really merits. Thana (Zoe Tamerlis), a mute seamstress in New York, embarks upon a quest of revenge against all men after she is raped twice in one day. She manages to kill the second rapist, who had threatened her with the titular .45, which becomes her main instrument of death. It sounds like a pretty straightforward premise, but there are so many ways that this genre is subverted within the movie itself that I find it easier to view this movie as a dark comedy, and not even a part

Canon Entry - Losing Ground (1982)

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. Losing Ground doesn’t start in a particularly cinematic fashion. Sarah Rogers (Seret Scott), a college professor of philosophy, is lecturing on existentialism. The camera pans smoothly across the classroom as we see students in various states of engagement. One of the wonders of this scene is that we see a woman desired for her mind and her inspiration instead of just her physical beauty. The rest of the film will explore this tension between body and mind and whether one can solely live at one extreme or another. The film foll

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. What R in pilot or NATO code stands for. A small town or settlement (Must fit with theme) A game involving black and white circular tiles that originated in England as Reversi and is played on an 8x8 uncheckered board. A salad of romaine lettuce, croutons dressed with parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, egg, Worcestershire sauce, an

Short Film Wednesday - K-pop - Crayon

K-pop is perhaps the most interesting and innovative pop music in the world right now, so I will be examining some of the most distinctive and artistically compelling K-pop music videos for April. If K-pop were embodied in a person, it would have to be Kwon Ji-young, better known as G-Dragon. K-pop is characterized by an obsession with image, but more specifically, how that image can be manipulated to serve different purposes: to exude sex and confidence or innocence and vulnerability. More cynically, the image is manufactured to make money and sell a certain experience that is easily digestible. Most K-pop groups undergo extensive training not just in dance and music but also how they prese

Theme Tuesday - Indigenous Voices - Boy

For April 2018, I will be exploring films that feature indigenous people in leading roles and feature narratives about the identity of such people and the society that has inevitably oppressed them. Taika Waititi has had such a meteoric rise, going from small indie features to one of the biggest Marvel movies of all time (Thor: Ragnarok), that it’s difficult to see how dedicated he is to his Maori roots. It’s not as if he tries to hide it. In Thor, his character Korg has the distinct, New Zealand accent. He and Jemaine Clement were advisors on Disney hit Moana, which draws heavily from Polynesian lore. But nowhere are his roots more evident that in his second feature Boy. Boy shares a lot wi

Canon Entry - A Nos Amours (1983)

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. Though A Nos Amours starts with a young girl (Suzanne, played by Sandrine Bonnaire), rehearsing lines for a romantic period drama, this is the closest that this film will come to the teen romance genre, a deservedly maligned one with its most heinous culprits filling young minds with unrealistic expectations of love and romance. In fact, this film is so free of cinematic artifice that I felt most of the time I was watching a documentary rather than a constructed narrative. Suzanne is a young Parisian girl who is just starting t

Canon Entry - Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

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. Watching Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind now, it seems to be a story that has been told many times. Big budget pictures with environmentalist themes are a favorite for directors like James Cameron (Avatar). Movies with strong, capable heroines are getting slowly more popular (Moana, also with environmentalist themes). Yet when this movie was first released in North America, it was butchered beyond recognition. It was retitled Warriors of the Wind, presumably to appeal to young boys (the same logic for calling a Rapunzel movi

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. The part of a man’s tights or closely fitted pants that covers the crotch. What a clue that is meant to mislead is sometimes called in detective fiction. According to Meghan Trainor, what it’s all about. What the bird in the picture is sitting on This word means to trick someone through Facebook or other social media for the purposes of

Short Film Wednesday - K-pop - Sixth Sense

K-pop is perhaps the most interesting and innovative pop music in the world right now, so I will be examining some of the most distinctive and artistically compelling K-pop music videos for April. It is not unheard of for music videos, K-pop music videos especially, to suggest large worlds within their relatively short running times. Hell, there is even an implication that certain music videos take place within the same “cinematic universe.” But no video has made me more curious about the world it created than “Sixth Sense,” performed by the Brown-Eyed Girls. We immediately see an Orwellian world where a masked figure has imprisoned the four members of the group in one way or another. His mi

Theme Tuesday - Indigenous Voices - Winter in the Blood

For April 2018, I will be exploring films that feature indigenous people in leading roles and feature narratives about the identity of such people and the society that has inevitably oppressed them. When Virgil St. Raise (Chaske Spencer) wakes up in a ditch at the beginning of this story, it kind of feels like he and (we the viewers) never really escape it. Virgil stumbles through life in a haze of alcohol and sex. In true male fashion, he thinks he can find some redemption if he is able to find his wife who has left him, but it’s hardly enough to get his life back on track. He is too caught up in his own pain, internal and external. Winter in the Blood (adapted from the novel of the same na

Canon Entry - Tampopo (1985)

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. As inventive and delightfully quirky as Juzo Itami’s Tampopo is, its skeleton is quite recognizable. It is an underdog story about an embattled woman, Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto), who seeks the guidance of an older, somewhat grizzled mentor (Tsutomu Yamazaki), to become the best ramen chef possible. Stripped of the specifics, it’s possibly the most popular narrative in all of art. There is even a training montage with Miyamoto wearing a suspiciously Rocky-like outfit while wondering vocally how running will help her become a bett

Canon Entry - The Fly (1986)

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. On first seeing The Fly, I knew I was watching something more than a mere horror picture even though it is one of the best examples of the genre. Of course, knowing that it was directed by David Cronenberg probably prepped me to evaluate this film higher than from some relatively unknown genre director, but I could feel my brain whirring about what it could all mean and how Seth Brundle’s metamorphosis (Kafka’s work is a somewhat more cerebral predecessor to this movie) could represent so many different ideas, and on revisiting

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. Popular and potentially very messy game that Jimmy Fallon plays on his show with guests such as Anna Kendrick, Channing Tatum and Peyton Manning. Famous ex-NFL athlete who murdered his wife and her lover and whose trial was nationally covered for months. What two important people who are not the bride and the groom might make at a weddin

Short Film Wednesday - K-pop - Dumb Dumb (Red Velvet)

K-pop is perhaps the most interesting and innovative pop music in the world right now, so I will be examining some of the most distinctive and artistically compelling K-pop music videos for April. K-pop is a bit of a misnomer since not everything that constitutes “K-pop” is not strictly Korean. For instance, for this song, the composers and producers include LDN Noise, a British songwriting duo who have written songs for Nick Jonas and Chris Brown. The choreographer is Willdabeast Adams, who has danced with many American acts such as Usher and Demi Lovato. And while all members of Red Velvet are ethnically Korean, there are many groups and musicians who come from diverse countries such as Ja

Theme Tuesday - Indigenous Voices - Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2013)

For April 2018, I will be exploring films that feature indigenous people in leading roles and feature narratives about the identity of such people and the society that has inevitably oppressed them. Aila is a tough cookie. She has to be. She grew up on the Red Crow reserve, raised by her uncle, but really fending for herself most of the time, selling drugs. Her dad is in prison after her mom accidentally ran over her younger brother with a car while both were on drugs. Her mother took her own life soon after. To avoid being sent to the state-run schools, which were notorious for their abuse of young native students, she bribes a corrupt official named Popper, who had actually known her fathe

 
 
 

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