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Archive for the ‘Sunday Reading’ Category

Sunday Reading

Posted by Hedwig on July 20, 2008

What, really? A new Sunday reading? Can it be?

I am really embarrassed my blogging has been so spotty and sketchy lately. But let’s get on with three weeks of saved up links!

That I love the Onion A.V. Club is no secret. But it’s easy sometimes to miss the gems hidden in the blog. Like this treatise, by the great Nathan Rabin, on Matthew McConaughey and the Perils of Male Beauty. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sunday Reading #5 – A Mixed bag

Posted by Hedwig on June 28, 2008

Ah, where would we be without bad films? Take, for instance, The Incredible Hulk, which invited many critics to play with its title (A.O. Scott, I believe, talked about “the merely adequate hulk”), or its tagline (“You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Boring“). Meanwhile, it’s lead to a re-appreciating of its forebear, Ang Lee’s modestly titled Hulk (see here and here, for instance).

But there isn’t just mediocre. There’s also amazingly, unbelievably bad, as apparently Shamaladingdong (copyright CJKennedy) made with The Happening. Even the notorious contrarians over at Bright Lights Film Journal don’t defend this movie, just make excuses for its maker.

Speaking of Mr. Kennedy, he’s been reporting from the LA film festival (LAFF), and his dispatches are a lot of fun to read, and very well written, especially considering how fast these pieces are usually written (I know, I’ve been there.) So go check’em out!

I know that in the film blogging community, it’s almost a cliché to link to Girish. But how can I not link to this post on “received ideas in cinema”? We’re so used to certain givens, that sometimes it’s a shock to see things we accept as truths refuted. Imagine my shock, for example, when I saw in my RSS-feeder this post, about the third Godfather movie being the best of the three. Then, of course, I realized there was a Bizarro blog-a-thon going on.

FAs it turns out, Paul Schrader (writer of Taxi Driver, among other things), is a pretty good film critic. Check out, for instance, his review of Belle De Jour, written all the way back in 1969. And speaking of the beautiful Catherine Deneuve, the Moving Image Source is full of great articles, including this one on the grande dame.

Meanwhile, Nathaniel, Nick and Goatdog are discussing all Oscar winners… from both ends. That is, each time they go forward one year and back one year. This first installment? No Country for Old Men and Wings (which I really want to see now. I’ve seen and loved Sunrise, which won the other BP award that first year, but not that one). The second? Broadway Melody (which doesn’t sound like a must-see) and The Depahted.

Then: some random links. Want a Barbie doll, for example? Why not this one? And if you think you’re an awful geek for obsessing over aspect ratios or stupid anti-piracy ads that you only have to watch when you’re playing a LEGALLY BOUGHT DVD, you can always tell yourself that at least, you’re not obsessing over semi-colons.

Finally, for your viewing tip of the week, the Onion AV club put together a lovely primer on Pixar because Wall-E is coming out (July 30th here), and it reminded me of this hilarious short. I don’t think it’s much of an exaggeration to call it Chaplinesque.

And for the bonus viewing tip, a friend of mine is dabbling in stop-motion, and while he admits the trailer for the film he’s making is about as long as the film itself, that doesn’t mean it isn’t mouth-watering.

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Sunday Reading #4

Posted by Hedwig on June 15, 2008

Late, I know. So let’s get on with it.

I linked to Lauren Wissot’s piece on Marnie before. This week, she analyzes an S&M-like scene in another movie, David Lynch’s Wild at Heart. Which I still haven’t seen, but I absolutely want to now.

Furthermore, there’s been a lot of discussion about all kinds of criticism lately. Movie criticism most of all, especially considering the recent spate of firings, but the question “what is film criticism good for and what should its goals be” can be easily applied to other fields of criticism as well. And one thin that’s oft overlooked is that criticism can just be incredibly fun to read, even if you don’t have much interest in knowing whether something is good or not. For instance, while I think Palahniuk’s books are relatively entertaining with diminishing returns, my opinion doesn’t really matter: this piece by Lucy Ellman is fun to read even if you have no clue who Chuck Palahniuk is.

(is it bad that I’m kind of looking forward to Choke nonetheless?)

In the same vein: even people with no interest in superhero movies can, I’m fairly certain, enjoy this Hulk review. I can just see the reviewer angrily gloating while he typed it out.

For your viewing tip (or rather tips) of the week, how could I not point you to IFC’s 50 worst sex scenes in cinema?

That’s it. Happy Father’s Day, and if you want to understand my current state of mind about my future, this strip pretty much sums it up.

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Sunday Reading #3

Posted by Hedwig on June 8, 2008

A rather short Sunday reading this time, since in the past week I’ve been rather busy with…other things. First of all, for the release of Mother of Tears, Terrence Rafferty takes a look at Dario Argento’s career from the early giallo’s to the more recent efforts. I’ve actually never seen a single film by the Italian horror-master (I know, shame on me), but I found the article intriguing, and I’ve added quite a few titles he mentions to my “to-view queue”.

Then, I’ve been trying to defend my love for Marnie lately, but I can’t quite articulate what I love about it so much. Maybe it’s that it revolves around a woman who’s really, completely a mess psychologically, but not in a way that makes her weak. So often, women with psychological problems in movies are either hysterical or, well, totally ineffective. She’s screwed up, but her problems are hidden within, and on the outside she’s a smooth, tough-as-nails, always impeccably dressed thief. Until, of course, Mark Ruthledge comes along. And their relationship is one that Lauren Wissot thinks is perfectly described as an S&M one. I can’t help but agree.

Roger Ebert wrote a negative review of Sex and the City, and all he got in response was… e-mails about how female dogs masturbate. That probably says something, but I don’t quite know what. Personally, I’m conflicted about the dog: on the one hand, it’s refreshing that girls get crude humor in their films as well now, but on the other, really, a masturbating dog? I liked the movie ok, I’d recommend it to fans of the show (and only to them), but the fashion-porn was a bit much for me (it was always my least favorite part of the show. After Carrie voice-over, which is also very present here), and I didn’t think all the storylines made sense for the particular characters.

Or does even mentioning that there is a masturbating (female) dog a spoiler? I know that many of my reviews contain spoilers, and that I should probably put a permanent spoiler-warning in my banner – I usually write for people who’ve seen the film, and give more away than I maybe should. My friends sometimes get mad at me too, because they think you still shouldn’t spoil the ending to the Sixth Sense. But what exactly constitutes a spoiler? And what’s the appropriate etiquette? Jim Emerson over at Scanners considers exactly these questions (and don’t forget to check out the comments).

That was it for the week. Let me just conclude with something that I don’t usually think fits on my blog: I love my country, sometimes. Like yesterday, when I first had a Hollandse Nieuwe to celebrate vlaggetjesdag*. Then, I saw a parade of nekkid people riding bikes.

Finally, your viewing tip of the week: the most infamous scene from Marnie.

*a Hollandse Nieuwe, literally a “Dutch New One”, is a herring that’s been deemed fat and tasty enough to open the season. Which is done on “flag day”. Herring, eaten raw, is a Dutch delicacy most foreigners and a significant proportion of Dutch people find exceedingly disgusting, but I love it.

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Sunday Reading #2

Posted by Hedwig on June 1, 2008

More of a mixed bag, this time, but there is sort of an underlying theme: many of these articles and blog-posts aren’t about movies, but about how we interact with cinema (and television). What it does to us, and what we do to it. Take this piece, for example, by Germaine Greer about Jules et Jim. She describes how she saw the movie, and especially central protagonist Catherine, when she was in college. And she describes how her view has changed in the meantime. I’m still with young Germaine on this film, but who knows, as I grow older I might come to see the film in a different light as well.

In a somewhat similar piece, Noah Forrest describes following Sex and the City between the ages of 15 and 21, and how his love/hate relationship with the show developed over that time. I agree with almost all of what he says (I, also, love Miranda and think Carrie is fairly annoying), and as someone who watched Sex and the City in a similar period of my life, I can vouch for the fact that it does, in fact, affect you. Of course, most men don’t have a love/hate relationship, they just have a hate/hate relationship with it. According to Variety, most guys would rather kill themselves than watch it. Rather than just pointing at this and laughing, the lovely people over at the Vulture blog decided, instead, to investigate exactly what men would do to get out of watching SatC: the movie.

Because yes, not liking something is part of the movie experience as well. The question is how you deal with it. You can write a vitriolic review… but you can also do something creative. Like, oh, I don’t know, write a post than combines Cameron Diaz and Wittgenstein (something I’ll wager has never happened before).

Meanwhile, there’s a new quiz up at SLIFR: Prof. Brian O’Blivion’s all-new flesh for memorial day film (and TV) quiz. Like always, I told myself this time I’d participate…and like always, there were simply too many questions that had me stumped. For me, these quizzes are mostly a) a reminder that my cinematic education is a work in progress, and I’m still at the elementary school level, and b) an opportunity to read many of my fellow blogger’s thoughts on assorted topics, such as Coffy or Foxy Brown? What is an “important” film comedy? Victor Mature or Tyrone power? One of the questions I can answer inequivocally: Rio Bravo or Red River? Gorgeous as Monty Clift is, it’s gotta be Rio Bravo.

I’m sure if you’d ask Dan Callahan to choose between Gloria Grahame and just about anyone else, he’d choose Gloria. He wrote a great piece about both her work and her life over at the Bright Lights Film Journal. I saw The Big Heat again last night, and she is simply amazing. Expect more about that movie in a post tomorrow or Tuesday.

Finally, for the viewing tip of the week, I strongly urge you to go over to Cinema Styles and take 7 minutes to be amazed by Jonathan Lapper’s love of cinema. Good clip-montages can be watched over and over, with one evocative juxtaposition after the next and a hypnotic rythm and flow, and Frames of Reference is a great one. He pulls fragments from movies as diverse as Gun Crazy, the Passion of Joan of Ark, No Country for Old Men and Jaws, and they work together beautifully. It opens and closes with a camera in the frame, and it’s a perfect ending to an afternoon reading about all the ways cinema can affect us.

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Sunday Reading #1: the Indy issue

Posted by Hedwig on May 24, 2008

What’s this I see? A new feature? Brand spanking new?

You are correct, reader. As you might have noticed, posting frequency has been below optimal, for various reasons. And to get it back up, what better than a) making a new feature, b) putting a day in the title to force me to get to it more or less weekly, and c) giving me something to post when I can’t think of any original content.

So yes, I’ve avoided linkage so far, only sometimes posting articles of interest on my tumbling log, but I do come across quite some interesting stuff you might be interested. You might, of course, also have seen it already. But who know, I might be able to provide some interesting reading material for your lazy Sunday. Sometimes, like today, the articles will have a common topic, sometimes it will be a random assortment. As for its weekliness, I make no promises, but I will do my best.

Now, what is there to read about Indiana Jones and related topics on the interwebs? My job was made easy for me thanks to a blog-a-thon, but still, I have some more surprises.

Read the rest of this entry »

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