Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Blog 10

Monday, February 14, 2011

Blog 10

Blogger in a Red Blouse (after Pierre Bonnard)
Mike Licht,
NotionsCapital.com

This past weekend, in resurrecting Dracula's image (first used last November to call for Blog 10 submissions) I reminded readers of my promise to round-up blog highlights from the past year. Today, let me quote another 1931 horror film: "It's Alive!"
 
The past two months have been extremely busy for me - I was barely able to squeeze out one "Remembering the Movies" per week. I didn't have any time to work on my long-delayed year-end round-up until now, but finally I can say it's up and running. This is the third (and possibly last?) time The Dancing Image has hosted an annual tribute to the blogosphere.

As in 2009, I asked bloggers to submit what they thought was their best work of the year - and the result shows the wide array of possibilities offered by the internet - reviews, yes, but also visual tributes, video pieces, lists, musings...even blog posts unrelated to film and film posts not from blogs.

If you are curious about my own work, which I've pretty much left out here, you can visit my Top Posts page, which collects my strongest pieces (after the dust cleared, the stuff I still find most interesting, original, well-written, or informative). And "The Year of the Blog" summarizes my activity in 2010.


Before jumping in to the list proper, I want to pay tribute to a few individuals who deserve a spot above the fold. First of all, no account of the past year would be acceptable without mentioning Sam Juliano and Allan Fish. Sam's site, Wonders in the Dark, was where I spent most of my online time (that is to say, truth be told, most of my free time) this past year, and Allan's massive countdown was one of the primary reasons why.

I've tipped my hat to Allan's work, which will soon be appearing in book form, elsewhere (see the "Wonders in the Dark" tab above). But here I'd like to kill two birds with one stone, by linking my favorite essay Allan's written, which also happens to be about Sam Juliano.

Sam is a great guy, whom I had the good fortune to meet in person last fall, and one of the most generous and enthusiastic bloggers out there (example: when asked which of his own pieces he wanted to submit to this round-up, he selected a tribute to another blogger). However, Allan's piece so perfectly captures Sam's eccentricities and likability that I'll shut up and let it speak for itself:

"Secondly, he’s terrified of flying, so it’s rather lucky he lives in New York, where he sits and waits for the mountain to come to Mohammed, presiding over gatherings at Juliano Towers like a modern day Trimalchio mixed with the spirit of human kindness. A sort of dictatorship by generosity and fuelled by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that means when he gets interested in something there’s no holding him back. When the blog was starting up, you couldn’t get him away from the computer. Believe me, I tried; I couldn’t even do it when I was there. In my harder moments I nicknamed him the Sultan of Sycophancy, but there’s one crucial difference. A sycophant flatters to deceive, to ingratiate, to impress; it’s all part of a plan. With Sam I think he knows no other. He couldn’t say a bad word about anyone, unless they insult one of his children. By which I don’t mean Melanie, Sammy, Danny, Jillian or Jeremy, but a particular film seen by him as sacred. Slag off Far from Heaven, say, and he’ll go onto his haunches and start issuing forth verbal vitriol worthy of Malcolm Tucker in full bollocking mode."
"The Genesis of Wonders in the Dark - A Tale of Three Sanshos" Allan Fish, Wonders in the Dark




Next, I have to acknowledge my own favorite blog post of the year, and perhaps of all time. It's disarmingly simple: in response to my call for personal picture galleries, Dean Treadway decided not to pick ten or twenty screen-caps, but rather 200. He did so spontaneously, mostly avoiding thematic or chronological organization and the result is a sweeping, giddy love song to the whole grand cinematic smorgasbord. His epigrammatic captions also manage to capture some of that movie magic, but it's the images that speak louder than words:


"A Cinema Gallery - 200 Images: Part I - Part II - Part III - Part IV - Part V - Part VI" Dean Treadway, Filmicability



Finally, I want to mention Tony Dayoub, one of this The Dancing Image's earliest and most consistent commentators and followers. He came on board in August 2008, when I was writing about "Twin Peaks," and offered a number of insightful and knowledgeable observations. Meanwhile, he has maintained and grown a thriving movie blog, Cinema Viewfinder, and begun writing for other venues as well (most recently, the sleek online Nomad publication Wide Screen). Over the past few years Tony has been developing a professional site that captures the best qualities of the pros (economy, focus, consistency) as well as the amateurs (a focus on what he finds interesting, a flexibility to the approach). He has offered several selections from 2010, and ultimately I went with his take on The Social Network, probably the most-discussed film of the year - yet I found Tony's review to be one of the sharper takes on the movie.

"As the fast-paced film progresses it becomes clear that these barriers never really come down, they just become frustratingly transparent, allowing those who are 'out' to get a look in without ever actually making it 'in.' Like the crucial sliding glass door I described earlier, the barriers become almost invisible, sneaking up on the characters and the viewer. The Social Network's climax, in which Saverin finally discovers how far out of the loop he is at Facebook just as the company signs up its millionth user, mostly plays out with Saverin and a lawyer behind a closed office with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall which allows us to see, not hear, a loyal old friend get stabbed in the back by Zuckerberg. By the time Saverin comes out and causes a scene, we are witnessing the aftermath, not the incident."

And without further ado, the grand round-up begins below...

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"When I was in college I wrote two Oz related stories, one was about an old homeless Dorothy hallucinating scarecrows and hiding her ruby slippers in a shoebox at the bottom of her trash-filled shopping cart, finally bleeding to death after being robbed and beaten by a flying monkey, she lies dying in the gutter, saying there's no place like home and seeing the Emerald City open up before her.

The other had Dorothy the liberal, stopping along the yellow brick road for every needy creature that asked for change, until she had an army, a million strong, marching towards the Emerald City, and then they can't get in, so they riot, then retreat out into the poppy fields, where eventually a shanty town forms. Addiction runs rampant, the poppies die out and the now opiate-addicts must steal everything in Oz not nailed down and hock it for the good fairy dust because the crops they left behind when following Dorothy have been eaten up by crows. Dorothy meanwhile has skipped out, hiding down in Munchkinland, crying in the ruins of her fallen house."
 
"Great Acid Cinema: WIZARD OF OZ (1939)"  Erich Kuersten, Acidemic Film



"'Solitude–and Freedom!' That’s what I’d call my Vidor book, if I was gonna write one. These two concepts–and the relationship between them–form the axis upon which the director’s oeuvre turns. He’ll be exploring these things–and continually reassessing their respective meanings–for the next 35 years. And, of course, he won’t be alone–after all, solitude and freedom make up the marbled gobstopper that’s been stuck in the ideological craw of America since the Puritans came to town.


Anyway, some time later, on his beloved open seas, Woolfolk has an epiphany of his own, dramatized through a flashback to the moment that this man gave up on intersubjectivity, followed by some very Jack-Knife Man style astral projection therapy."


"Ascorbic Victory"  Dave, Anagramsci



"The war is mostly represented in the letters he has written to her, and in his depression on coming home. He tells her, 'Ever since I came back from the war, I’ve wanted to be alone. I’ve been miserable with other people. You’re the first one with whom I feel at peace.'

She replies, 'That’s because you’re broken up inside almost the same as I am. You’ve been through the war and you can’t bear to look back.'

In this movie, and as World War II drifted into the past (the film was released in August 1945, after the Japanese surrender but before the formal surrender ceremonies in September), the generation that fought the war seemed to decide in large measure not to talk about it anymore. Many servicemen, like Joseph Cotten in the film, preferred not to look back. Much of that war is documented in letters, and the intriguing notion that two people can fall in love without ever meeting each other…I would not hazard a guess as to how many times that actually happened. I don’t doubt that it did."





"Indelible Images from the Decade" Carson Lund, Are the hills going to march off?




"Aliens (1986) is unique among Cameron’s major films in that he did not originate the project – it was the continuation of a franchise initiated by Ridley Scott, et al. Regardless, Aliens bears the unmistakable Cameron stamp. Where the original Alien was sci-fi/horror, Aliens is fundamentally a sci-fi/action film. The artificial body theme appears in the form of the giant exoskeletons operated by Sigourney Weaver and others. Strong women, such as the one played here by Weaver, are another recurring Cameron motif. Closely connected is the intensely protective relationship between Weaver’s strong maternal character and a little girl who becomes a kind of daughter substitute for her. That relationship, superbly acted by Weaver, is the film’s emotional core, and it recalls the intense mother/child relationships in Terminator and Terminator 2. The fact that Avatar is not centered around an intense mother/child relationship or something comparable to it may be one reason why it seems to have less 'heart' than those earlier films."

"Some Cameroning, Part 1, Part 2" • C. Jerry Kutner, Bright Lights After Dark



"The word for this remarkable incubator of human emotion appears to be 'dramedy,' and Kelley, if not the inventor, has certainly been one of its most successful practitioners. The thunderbolts and otherwise addressing various issues of the day, attempting to humanize them, make up the bulk of the drama part of that ugly word. The comedy, so-called, tends to derive almost exclusively from what was called 'jiggle TV' in an earlier time, incidents of rampant, tawdry, repulsive sexuality, telegraphed sitcom style in elaborate set pieces of humiliation. The basic idea appears to be a kind of vision of the noble egalitarian society wherein all are equal in their obsessive-compulsive and pathetic need to get laid. That characters in pursuit of this are reduced to buffoonery by the effort is beside the point, although sometimes it appears to be a jovial point in itself, one carrying a grotesque label of inclusiveness."

"Boston Legal (2004-2008)"  JPK, Can't Explain




"Richard Kelly's Southland Tales, released in 2006, makes no mention of September the 11th and yet its world is parallel and near to that reality. Terrorist attacks in Texas may replace those in New York but the Presidency of George Bush Jr, and the war in Iraq, remain integral to its narrative. The war in Iraq is part of a new World War (abbreviated throughout as WW3). Southland Tales is therefore an amalgam of the two approaches mentioned above, close enough to make raw and pressing comment on current affairs, distanced enough to enable artistic and moral freedom. It is sufficiently removed for metaphor and allegory to take seed. Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant, released in 2009, takes place in New Orleans. Its story begins in the immediate aftermath of the storm. It uses the hurricane as a starting point, using it as a screen on which to cast its plot, the titular lieutenant's investigation into the massacre of a family.
Southland Tales is keener than Bad Lieutenant to openly address and acknowledge a chain of cause and effect born of a real-life inspiration. What distinguishes and typifies both films, however, is their atmosphere. Although what connects the people and these (ongoing) real life instants of horror is not always explicit or direct, it is as though the elemental forces of specific cataclysms have been siphoned off into a reservoir of melancholy and sadness in which all individuals in the fiction are steeped."

"A Wounded America: Bad Lieutenant and Southland Tales" Stephen Russell-Gebbett, Checking On My Sausages




"Shall we stay awhile, wondering back through the trees to the shore? Maybe the old crone will be out on the point with her camera. She is often here – squinting when the light is bright."


"Mayne Island Tree Spirits" Terrill Welch, Creative Potager



"Elvis Costello once said that writing about music was like dancing about architecture...but that doesn't mean that there aren't some pretty talented architectural dancers out there. Of course, the same applies to writing about movies too. Yes, like William, I am piggybacking on someone else's artistic expressions to make my own artistic expression. However, I believe there is a role for witnesses like William to play, and it goes beyond flying on borrowed wings."

"1,000th Post: Another Day - ALMOST FAMOUS" The Mad Hatter, The Dark of the Matinee




"Kore-eda proceeds to slowly unravels things, allowing his characters to be displayed naturally from this situation and being comfortable enough in those characters to simply let us study them and take away some subtle and understated points.  There are no verbal explosions and no blow-ups here, but everything sits and simmers, sometimes just boiling over before quickly being pushed back down.  There's a surprising and welcome lack of melodrama here, which makes this fare comparably to another family drama I watched earlier in 2009, Summer Hours.  Both films served as introspective and realistic studies of the universal truths that come with how a family works.  It's when Still Walking portrays the realities of these types of family gatherings, that it is at its best and is a sterling example of the genre."

"Still Walking" Troy Olson, Elusive As Robert Denby



"The animation is deliriously creative, and mind-boggling, at times, a phantasmagoria of impossible shapes and architecture; the lazy man’s comparative reference would be Escher, but I’ll be damned if I haven’t seen a more appropriate use of that simile in animated film.  The floors shift like a perpetual puzzle, corridors become slides, and staircases begin where the last ones ended.  This is nothing new in animation, nor has it seen its last appropriation (see Tarsem’s The Fall or Inception), but Williams manages to achieve a particular nimbleness in his movements that prove more giddy with invention than with a penchant for simply showing off (and speaking of now-trendy visual effects, check out the climactic Rube Goldberg sequence; he may have a hit on his hands after all)."




"On one level, George (Firth) inhabits a stylized world that logically extends from a fashion designer's vision. Everything about Ford's world, from the Psycho-enhanced parking lot, to George's 1949 John Lautner-designed house, to his perfectly symmetrical classroom (nothing written on the chalkboard) is just on this side of the laughably perfect. George can't walk past some college student guys playing tennis without Ford including some swooning slow motion close-ups of their chests glistening with perspiration (a scene almost worthy of the Twilight series). Is this a movie or a Calvin Klein ad? George can't even get his clothes from his bureau without stunning the viewer with the exact organization of his socks. So even if some of my initial reactions have some validity (especially concerning the ending), A Single Man increasingly impressed me with its technique."






"Today, Film Studies For Free presents an entry of links to online studies of the cinematic split screen. Rather excitingly (for this blog, at least), the resources include the above video essay on this very topic ... by FSFF's author."

"Split-Screen Studies" • Catherine Grant, Film Studies For Free



"May 2010


Hollywood, et.al.
N Highland Ave & Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90028


Dear Hollywood Producers, Writers, and Directors,


I write to you at this critical time on behalf of the worldwide movie-going public. They have not requested that I write this letter, but the situation is urgent and, selfless hero that I am, I accept that it is my duty to save the world of cinema using the judicious power of this blog. Maybe you'll make a movie out of my story one day. You have a lot of bad ideas like that, actually, which is why I'm writing this letter..."



"In that light, Superstar is a validation of auteur theory that lends weight to the suggestion by Hitchcock—one of the godfathers of daring technique—that actors are nothing more than cattle. Armed with his cast of inanimate players, Haynes finds emotions not in the faces of his characters but in his cuts and camera movements. Memorable is the scene in which Haynes quick-cuts back and forth between the face of Karen and the hand of a record producer who is reaching out for her trust.


Effective is the Altmanesque slow zoom toward Karen and Richard Carpenter having dinner at a restaurant, our view becoming tighter as the tension of the scene rises, with Karen insisting that she isn't hungry and Richard pleading/demanding that she eat something. Also notable is the scene in which Haynes employs a slow pan that searches for Karen across her seemingly empty room as Richard calls out for his sister, only to find her face down on her makeup table next to a box of Ex-Lax. Given this mÈlange of techniques, I suppose Superstar could have come off like a class project, an exercise designed to teach a novice film student about the inherent effects of basic editing and cinematography. Instead, Superstar comes across like the product of a practiced filmmaker who, like Hithcock before him, understood the emotions of every scene just by diagramming the camera angles. Haynes' next film, Poison, would seem in some ways experimental. Superstar, by contrast, seems entirely assured."

"The Conversations: Todd Haynes" • Jason Bellamy and Ed Howard, The House Next Door



"18.) 500 Days of Summer (Directed by Marc Webb) Webb's unconventional rom-com seemed like a throwaway movie at first, but upon further reflection (thanks to Craig's brilliant three-day entry on the film at his blog) I see that it's a more complicated comedy that plays upon the audiences expectations of the genre it's working with. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is wonderful as the heart-on-his-sleeve greeting card writer Tom who falls in love with the pixie-like Summer played by Zooey Deschanel. The performances are good (more so Levitt than Deschanel) and the film is completely stolen by one ridiculously good scene where Tom is invited to a party by Summer. Webb utilizes the split screen to show Tom's expectations on the left and the reality of what is happening on the right. It's a fantastic scene set to Regina Spektor's "Hero", a perfect song for a perfect moment. It's one of the best soundtracks I've heard since Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited and meshes perfectly with Webb is trying to evoke here. A film that needs to be seen twice to be fully understood."

"2009 in Film (and Some Thoughts on Two Years of Blogging)" • Kevin J. Olson, Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies



"John Huston begins Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957) with an ocean, an island, a raft, a man, and no dialogue. For seven and a half brilliant minutes, not a single word is spoken as the camera approaches the same drifting raft at least five times before finally getting a glimpse of what is inside: an unconscious marine. This is Corporal Allison (Robert Mitchum), and he has not seen land for days. When he wakes up, he walks on shore and drags the raft behind him--as the camera takes the point of view not of Allison, but of the raft. Then we follow Allison as he plunges into the forest and crawls agonizingly on piles of sharp, unseen debris scattered around on the sand. He reaches a lagoon, drinks from it, then swims across it to a small cottage on the other side. Out of the doorway sweeps Sister Angela (Deborah Kerr), startled by his presence. Allison has the first line of the picture: "Let's keep it quiet, ma'am." He asks her if she speaks English. She does. She asks him if the Americans have landed. No, it's just him. He asks her if she's alone. "God has been with me," she replies."

"Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)" • Adam Zanzie, Icebox Movies




"A thought occurred to me as I was writing my recent post Agent Provocateur. I had focused on two films starring Anna Karina (Pierrot Le Fou) and Harriet Andersson (Summer with Monika), in which both had played characters who were unsympathetic on paper and yet were transformed into charismatic roles on film. These challenging roles had been written specifically for them and directed by their respective lovers – and this is when the thought occurred to me. The most memorable female roles that I have seen committed to film, the best work and performances by actresses, have all been created and directed by their lovers."


"Labour of Love" • Susan, Kinetic Frames




"While the film is almost totally controlled by Hess, who appears in nearly every scene, supporting player Sasha Grey proves quite a charmer as a local TV reporter searching for her missing sister. Grey, who shot Smash Cut before her stirring turn in Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience, is a real natural and she has a very refreshing and stylish quality about her. Smash Cut also reveals an aspect to Grey that The Girlfriend Experience played against and that is her natural warmth in front of the camera. She’s good throughout the film, specifically in the film within a film where she shows herself naturally adept at horror, comedy and (yes) even Shakespeare."


"'That Guy Makes Ed Wood Look Like Orson Welles.'"  Jeremy Richey, Moon In The Gutter



"Although Rohmer transcribes the basic set-up of Celine and Julie Go Boating from the mystical territory of Rivette's film, Rohmer does preserve the sense of charm and humor that characterized his obvious influence. His heroines are bright, pretty young girls whose adventures are always light-hearted and marked by a sense of fun and playfulness, and above all by an openness to the possibilities that present themselves. Each of these four segments revolves around a new set of ideas, a new set of opportunities for these girls to interact with one another and the world around them in ways that reveal and explore their conflicting moral perspectives and priorities. Rohmer is examining the ways in which, from a common bond of friendship and affection, these new friends probe their different outlooks on life and morality. It's a typical Rohmer subject, starting from the dawning of a friendship and then revealing, in one incident after another, just how different these girls actually are in how they think about the world and each other."

"4 Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle"  Ed Howard, Only the Cinema



"Works of art often need active help to be preserved. Librarians have been fighting bookworms and mold for centuries. Many old oil paintings were covered with shellac in an effort to protect them. Europeans have discovered that acid rain is not good for marble sculptures.

Motion pictures, long strips of pictures on a thin cellulose base, have special issues for preservation. Until about 1950, virtually all motion pictures intended for theatrical exhibition were shot and printed on film using nitrocellulose as a base. This film is generally referred to as "nitrate." Nitrocellulose, a compound originally made of cotton (cellulose) treated with nitric and sulfuric acids, was developed in the Nineteenth Century as an explosive. By their nature, explosives are unstable. Celluloid used in photographic film was produced by treating nitrocellulose with camphor, to produce a plastic-like substance...

Sadly, most films didn't survive long enough to decompose or burn. Producers sold prints and sometimes negatives to companies that would burn them to recover the silver used to capture the images. Others dumped prints that no longer seemed useful in landfills. There are stories, possibly true, that some movies were recycled as guitar picks."

"Why Do We Need to Preserve Films? A Brief History of Nitrate (Part I)(Part II), (Part III)" Joe Thompson, The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion




"The Rules of the Game (1939) – TSPDT ranking: #3

I’m not trying to suggest that Renoir’s playful, lusty tragicomedy is secretly a horror movie. But I just really love Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre, and I love Renoir’s very theatrical take on it. This macabre little dance routine is performed by members of the nobility for the benefit of their friends, and also for us, the audience. In a movie where trivialities and misguided passions lead to serious consequences, it only makes sense that skeletons and ghosts should be reduced to characters in a brief entertainment."

"Horror is Everywhere (1), (2)"  Andreas, Pussy Goes Grrr



"In many respects, A Walk on the Moon was a warm-up for her role in Unfaithful. In that film, she played a 1960s housewife who gets caught up in the sexual revolution of the era and cheats on her husband with a good-looking traveling clothes salesman. Whereas her character’s motivation was clearer in that one, it is more ambiguous in Unfaithful. In fact, Lyne cast Lane based on her work in A Walk on the Moon in which he found her to be 'very sympathetic and vulnerable.'

During the production, Lyne fought with 20th Century Fox over the source of the affair. Executives felt that there needed to be a reason while the director believed that chance played a large role. Early drafts of the screenplay featured the Sumners with a dysfunctional sexual relationship and the studio wanted them to have a bad marriage with no sex so there would be more sympathy for Connie. Lyne and Gere disagreed and the director had the script rewritten so that the Sumners basically had a good marriage. He said, 'the whole point of the movie was the arbitrary nature of infidelity, the fact that you could be the happiest person on Earth and meet somebody over there, and suddenly your life’s changed.'"

"Unfaithful" J.D., Radiator Heaven



"Episode #499" Robin and Laura Clifford, Reeling: The Movie Review Show




"It’s difficult to begin a discussion of Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr. anywhere but the film’s famous shot, perhaps one of the most famous in all of cinema. The front facade of a house has broken free of its moorings during a cyclone on a Mississippi River port and falls onto Keaton, who’s saved only by the fact that he’s standing in the exact location of the second-story window’s course. It glides right over him, leaving him standing bewildered. The shot is brilliantly executed (more on that in a moment) and it never grows old to watch, but the reason to begin with it happens to be something else entirely. I like the shot in the larger context of Keaton scholarship because it symbolizes his approach to filmmaking: chaos and mayhem swirl around the stone-faced comedian, trying only to keep his footing in the world around him."

"Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)" T.S., Screen Savour



"Fort Apache (1948), first of the director’s cavalry trilogy, marks a stark shift in tone and attitude for Ford. It is from this film onwards that Ford’s view of the west becomes progressively unromantic. For one, the central protagonist, Colonel Thursday (Henry Fonda), is gradually alienated from us. His actions seem increasingly misguided and the only force of sanity comes in the form of Sergeant York (John Wayne) who acts as our mouthpiece in the film. Colonel Thursday is a prisoner of his own position in the army. He’s the first of Ford’s many men to show loyalty to external ideologies than to his conscience (“Tell them they’re not talking to me, but to the United States government” says Thursday). These men abandon what is essentially human for some vaguely defined concepts of glory and martyrdom (One can imagine how much Ford would have admired Stanley Kubrick’s first masterpiece). These are also invariably the men who believe in establishing hierarchies and locking people into rigidly defined categories that could systematically be manipulated and deployed (Ford’s reaction to such men would move from fascination to ambivalence to utter contempt, as is evident in his last Western). Consequently, the film, like most of Ford’s subsequent works, is full of petty rituals – ball room dances (compare this mechanical waltz with the divine dance sequence in The Grapes of Wrath), coldly worded field orders, automated salutations and bookish sentences. Ford would take a decade and a half to convert the cynicism of this film to a monumental tragedy."



"The Westerns of John Ford Part 1, Part 2" Srikanth Srinivasan, The Seventh Art



"Frills Over Onyx" Shahn, six martinis and the seventh art



"It’s a film plagued by miscasting, first with Nick Nolte straightjacketed in the role of the straightlaced lawyer who has the wrath of God come down upon him. Nick Nolte is a fine actor but one thing he does not project is straightforward stability. It feels like every scene begins with him hiding a bottle just out of frame. Furthering the problem is Juliet Lewis, who as you might remember, I hate with the passion of a thousand suns. Its no exaggeration to say she’s my least favorite actress, and every moment she spends on screen is a moment where I am wincing. Furthermore, it is the only Scorsese movie that I would argue feels dated. It keeps doing this thing where it flashes to pointless, negative images that screams 'Madonna Video in 1991'."

"Cape Fear"  Bryce Wilson, Things That Don't Suck



"The acting is mostly pose-and-scowl, but Statham carries the picture. He’s also the most talented actor in the cast to get any screen time of note. He’s dynamic and exciting to watch, even though his fight choreography is miles from his incredibly staged fistfights in the Transporter movies or the kinetic gory free-for-all of Crank. The movie is essentially a buddy movie with Statham and Stallone front and center for most of the action. Stallone, for his part, doesn’t let his painfully obvious plastic surgery distract from his wooden delivery. He’s too tough a guy to let apparent facial paralysis get in the way of his emoting."

"Grumpy Old Men: THE EXPENDABLES" The Voracious Filmgoer



"M: You created a number of animated shorts for Sesame Street in the 90s. My favorite short that you produced for the show is “Beginning, Middle and End”. Aside from actually introducing core concepts of Aristotelian narrative, it's also just extremely fun and appealing. I want to ride a Pterodactyl taxi when I wake up! But was there anything you ever produced for Sesame Street that was cut due to content? How specific were the outlines for a particular short? How much creative freedom did animators have working for the show?
Arlene Sherman was the producer I worked with for Sesame Street and she was a wonderful person. So much creative freedom, unbelievable. She'd send a lyrics sheet, with a composer singing his own rough track. I'd do a storyboard and send it back. Very few changes ever. Then I'd do all the animation, shoot a pencil test and with approval, on to final coloring. I guess there were a few changes suggested but really very few."

WAX MASK talks to Sally Cruikshank Max & Greg, WAX MASK




"From the fight choreography by Nick Gillard to the stellar coverage by David Tattersall, the action sequences of The Phantom Menace stand among the best work of its kind from the past fifteen years, and along with the work of Yuen Woo-ping on the Matrix trilogy and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, have helped usher in a new era of quality movie stunt-work. Since then, we’ve seen a rise in the popularity for films driven by similarly styled acrobatic fighting and one-on-one combat, mostly tied to the wuxu school popularized by the films of Ang Lee and the Wachowski Brothers, and further perfected in art-house craftsmanship by Zhang Yimou’s latter-day breakthrough hits as a Hong Kong action-director and Quentin Tarantino’s grindhouse action-packing in the Kill Bill movies. Though these swordsmanship-driven sequences have proven somewhat over-the-top for some filmgoers, and not quite as accessible as a simple punch-out or feats of down-to-earth aerial combat, they have proven exceptional contributions to the adventure genre and prove that swashbuckling in any form is likely to remain in style for the foreseeable future, a brand of wish-fulfillment as old as Douglas Fairbanks, as international as Toshiro Mifune, and as modern as Scott Pilgrim. And while we’ve seen impressive high-concept action set-pieces from Bond-maestro Martin Campbell, stellar movie shootouts from Michael Mann and Tom Tykwer, and a discouraging trend towards intentionally disorienting choreography and cinematography in Paul Greengrass’ Bourne movies and their ilk, the kind of work evidenced by TPM’s showstopping duel can provide either a classically styled palate-cleansing chaser to modern-day efforts, or even, if need be, an antidote."

"Notes on 'The Duel of the Fates'" Bob Clark, Wonders in the Dark




"An ardent photographer, who loves to walk and observe the scenery around here, Terrill was spurred on to launch the entrancing Creativepotager blogsite this past December as a result of an unfortunate occurence in her life that required some serious reapplication. In August of 2009 David Colussi suffered a stroke that required cognitive therapy exercises to assist him in his recovery and required a great deal of one-on-one attention. As David’s health improved, assisted in large measure by disciplined walks with Terrill, an idea sprung to blunt the daily loneliness in their lovely strawbale timberframe home to “build community and conversation around creativity” while maintaining a flexibility that would not intrude upon David’s healing process. The blog, which has achieved a remarkable popularity among fellow artists and nature-lovers, has in the space of nine short months attracted the regular and profound participation of a number of exceedingly intelligent and passionate contributors, some of whom proctor their own blogsites, specializing in science, nature and art."


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That's it. I had hoped to include a list of further posts as a conclusion (since many people submitted more than one pick) but I'll have to leave that for later on, in the comments section. Meanwhile, if anyone - either those already featured or those who missed out - wants to respond with more links to work you're proud of, feel free to do so below.

Happy New Year, er, Valentine's Day, and keep up the good work!

12 comments:

Just Another Film Buff said...

This is nothing short of divine.

MovieMan,

Allow me to say that this obscures even the mammoth first edition with ease. Looking at just these images here takes me altogether on a different plane.

I thought you should have added your best post. But you have. It's this.

Thank you so much for this great project and I'm honored to be alongside my famorite bloggers and the favorites I'm yet to discover.

I'll keep coming back no doubt.

Thanks and Cheers! For the ages!

Stephen said...

Thanks very much for this great round-up MovieMan. I missed almost all of these when they were posted so I'm looking forward to catching up.

I recommend your post on the various incarnations of Let the Right One In to everyone:

http://wondersinthedark.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/let-the-right-one-in-best-of-the-21st-century/

FilmDr said...

Very impressive work, Joel. I feel honored to be included.

MovieMan0283 said...

Thanks, guys - I'm glad the long delay was worth it for you!

JPK said...

Wow, this is so generous of you to go all to the work that this post obviously entailed. I've enjoyed all the pieces I've looked at so far, and looking forward to more discoveries. Honored and flattered to be included. Thank you!

Troy Olson said...

Not much more needs to be said other than the fact that you do the blogging community proud, Joel.

Dean Treadway said...

As always, I'm humbled and thrilled to get a compliment from you, MovieMan. My Cinema Gallery is one of my favorite features on filmicability; it points to a new talent I have for screen caps. Anyway, I'm starting a new series of 200 images this year, beginning here at http://filmicability.blogspot.com/2011/01/innocent-feeds-in-au-hazard-balthazar.html

Fantastic overview of the year in film blogs, by the way. As always, you're one of the best film analysts out there. So thanks again for the kind words.

MovieMan0283 said...

JPK and Troy, thanks.

Good news, Dean - I look forward to the rest of those!

Sam Juliano said...

To say that I am flattered- that the we at Wonders in the Dark are moved and ingratiated by all this would be a paltry understatement, but having met you in person over the past months I can see the sincerity shine through in every line you've spoken - a real trouper with a deication and real appreciation for the blogging experience.

The many hours you spent revamping the WitD sidebar will never be forgotten, the daily ritual of spending a good chunk of your time at the site, the fervant enthusiasm you've imparted to Allan's magnificent work, the peerless essays you contributed over many months - the leadership role you volunteered to get everything in order, the scholarship that underlines virtually all your writing, and the uncompromising scrutiny in assessment - well it all speaks for itself.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all this, and for this extraordinary showcase of our fellow bloggers' work, much of whidch I well remember and applaud!

MovieMan0283 said...

Thanks for that Sam, and for providing a "home away from home" on the blogosphere!

Dean Treadway said...

Just thought I'd let you know about the next 40 entries into my Cinema Gallery. I worked really long and hard to choose these images, so I thought you and your readers might wanna check them out.

<a onblur="try http://filmicability.blogspot.com/2011/03/cinema-gallery-200-more-movie-images.html

Dean Treadway said...

And yet more of my CINEMA GALLERY series here, this time focusing in on the blackest of frames from the movies: http://filmicability.blogspot.com/2011/03/cinema-gallery-200-more-movie-images_13.html

Hope you like it!