ReelSociety Forums


Your home for all Reel and Real discussions.

The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Like a book club, but for movies instead. Hosted by NSpan.

Moderators: Buscemi, BarcaRulz, Geezer, W

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Chienfantome » August 22nd, 2013, 3:48 am

I'll definitely have a few comments to make later today about the columns you wrote while I was away.
Fluctuat nec mergitur
User avatar
Chienfantome
The Terminator
 
Posts: 8737
Joined: May 29th, 2010, 4:22 am
Location: Paris, France

Advertisement

 

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » August 29th, 2013, 6:00 am

The first of two updates (the second will appear later tonight).

While The Truman Show showed that Jim Carrey was more than just the rubber-faced comedian of blockbusters and Eddie Murphy had back-to-back hits with Mulan and Dr. Dolittle, here is a selection of other films that opened in June 1998.

Kurt and Courtney
Image
Why I Chose It: before Kurt Cobain: About a Son came out in 2007, this was the definitive documentary on the short career of the lead singer of Nirvana. Focusing on his fall and turbulent marriage to Courtney Love, Nick Broomfield explores possible theories of his death (was it a suicide, was it a murder or was he a victim of Love's mental health?) and Love's attempts to sabotage the film. Even if you disagree with some of the theories the film brings up, it is still an interesting documentary on the case and it does get you to think. It also shows you how much of a messed-up bitch Courtney Love is (if you didn't already know that) and the possibility that she could be hiding something. Though it probably asks more than answers, it is still fascinating.

Mr. Jealousy
Image
Why I Chose It: before Noah Baumbach became known as Wes Anderson's frequent collaborator, auteur of challenging indie fare and Armond White's mortal enemy, he was just another indie director struggling to get by. And this film, a dark comedy about obsession, lies and life in 1990's New York City, may be the most underrated film of his career. Eric Stoltz gives perhaps the best peformance of his career as Lester, a struggling writer who is stuck in a quagmire of self-loathing and infidelity and has to get out of holes by digging deeper ones. The rest of the cast, a who's who of indie talent of the era, support Stoltz well and enhance the mood on-screen. Also, the film uses the New York setting well instead of using it as an excuse to show off the indie cred. In short, not for everyone but it's worth a shot.

Dirty Work
Image
Why I Chose It: after leaving Saturday Night Live, Norm McDonald weighed his options and made this film about two working-class stiffs who start a "revenge for hire" business to pay for one of the two's father's operation and see the money rolling in. But when they get involved with political corruption, will the gravy train stop rolling? Though not everyone's style of humor, it is a film that kept me laughing with its situations and McDonald's brand of humor. Another highlight is its cast, which features McDonald and Artie Lange in the leads, Chevy Chase actually being funny as a incompetent doctor and a number of cameos (such as Chris Farley in his final role, Adam Sandler as the Devil, Don Rickles as a jerkish theatre manager and even John Goodman shows up). Bob Saget (who actually won a Student Academy Award before becoming an actor) does a decent job as director but it is the cast and script that really sells the film. A film that deserved a better showing at the box office.

Passion in the Desert
Image
Why I Chose It: Filmed in 1995 but not released until 1998, this was an interesting film about man and his relationship with nature. After being separated from his regiment, a French soldier is lost in the desert and the only being that can help him is a helpful leopard who understands his situation. Now, the man has to become like the leopard to survive the untamed wild. It is a small film (self-financed by the director) and there isn't much going on but it certainly a fascinating film on showing how one blends in with nature to survive. Even though there isn't much dialogue, most of the film is depicted with images that keep you watching. Also, it is a good movie if you like leopards. In a way, it feels more like a film from the 1970's (back when international co-productions took advantage of the locations) than a film that was released in 1998. In short, a very interesting 90 minutes.

High Art
Image
Why I Chose It: throughout Lisa Cholodenko's career, she has been known to go against type and depict that the life of a lesbian is more than the "butch manly girl who has lots of sex" type that Hollywood loves to portray. This film, her debut, is a fascinating study of a potentially doomed relationship between a young woman seeking adventure (Radha Mitchell) and an older woman whose passion for life has faded (Ally Sheedy), both of whom live in the same apartment building. Along the way, Mitchell's character begins to see the pitfalls of Sheedy's character's lifestyle but chooses to ignore it as their relationship grows more and more until there is no turning back. Mitchell does well in the lead but the highlights are Sheedy and Patricia Clarkson. Sheedy goes way against type here and after seeing this one, you will never see here as just one of the Brat Pack members again. Meanwhile Clarkson delivers (as usual) as one of the third wheels in the relationship, a drug-addicted German immigrant who lives with Sheedy's character. It's a role that's unexpected for her but she's damn good as well. Even if you aren't into heavily sexual films, I still think the performances can bring you into this one.

Henry Fool
Image
Why I Chose It: perhaps the most ambitious film of Hal Hartley's career, this mix of fantasy and comedy focuses on an everyman and his relationship with the title character, a novelst. In the process, the main character goes on a crazy journey as he begins work on a poem that could make or break him. Under most filmmakers, the film's 135 minute length and "great American poet" theme could have failed the film. But with Hartley directed, it becomes a fascinating journey of the three main characters (the third being the protagonist's sister, who develops a relationship with Henry) and their journeys. Though the film was followed by a sequel (Fay Grim), this is a much better film.

Smoke Signals
Image
Why I Chose It: life on the reservation is usually depicted on the news as being a bleak existence with lots of depression and death. But sometimes, you can take a sad story and make it feel good. This is one of those cases. Focusing on two brothers (a stoic basketball player and an eccentric storyteller) and their checkered relationship, the two must patch up their problems as they go on a journey to retrieve the body of their father. Along the way, they meet a girl who helps give them a deeper understanding their problems. This is a well-made film with great storytelling (comparable to the works of Mark Twain) and strong performances by the two leads (I most notably enjoyed Evan Adams as the storyteller). Despite the smallness of the film and a premise that might be a hard sell outside of the U.S., it is a film that has enough appeal for everyone. So if you are in the mood for a meaningful comedy, give this one a try.

Later tonight: February 2003.
Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/user/1244530511/playlist/6exMMnE4Kpu99GBj16VEmr
User avatar
Buscemi
CONGRATS! You may now chose your own rank!
 
Posts: 16164
Joined: October 21st, 2009, 11:14 am
Location: Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » August 29th, 2013, 8:16 pm

While the Oscar nominees were still going, Old School launched the Frat Pack and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (somehow) grossed over $100 million, here are other films that opened in February 2003.

Shanghai Knights
Image
Why I Chose It: not long after the events of Shanghai Noon, Chon Wang and Roy O'Bannon being a new adventure in London to restore the honor of Chon's family against a corrupt political officer and the Boxers (led by Donnie Yen!). Along the way, Wang and O'Bannon run to action, have hijinks with the English culture and meet Charlie Chaplin and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I actually liked this film more than Shanghai Noon, due to the sequel escalation and the fact that setting the film in London gives a film a lot of possibilities. Much like the first film, Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson have fun with the material and the fight scenes are among Chan's most exciting in his work in Hollywood (the fight scene in the hotel lobby is a highlight). I also liked the idea of the two teaming up with pre-fame Chaplin (played by a young Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Doyle and unlike other cases, this is a case of historical fiction that works. It's too bad that the planned third film (Shanghai Dawn) never got produced.

Stone Reader
Image
Why I Chose It: throughout history, there has been many authors who have completely disappeared from the public eye after a book or two. This fascinating documentary is about one man's search for the author of the book The Stones of Summer, Dow Mossman. Along the way, we get to know more about Mossman and why he stopped writing and his life now. In a way, the documentary reminded me of a lot of coming-of-age films (main character searches for something and when he or she finds it, the discovery could be a make or break) but for real. The film is as much of director Mark Moskowitz's as it is Mossman's as his journey takes up a major part of the film. Moskowitz is a lot like us, trying to get people to dig up this obscure work. But while most of us fail, he is succeeding by making this film and making people aware of Mossman. Mossman is also extremely interesting for his background and the places that he's gone in life. In short, a better journey than say, rich kids talking about emulating Salinger or Kerouac's journeys.

Daredevil
Image
Why I Chose It: this pick was a mere coincidence, as I had chosen to spotlight it before Ben Affleck was cast as Batman. Anyway, I feel that this is an underappreciated comic book adaptation that was didn't get the reputation that it deserved (due to the film being heavily cut and Affleck doing Gigli right after). But despite the edits, it is still a fun and well-paced film with Affleck making for a serviceable lead as a blind lawyer by day and The Man Without Fear by night. The late Michael Clarke Duncan makes for a great Kingpin while Colin Farrell is clearly having fun as Bullseye. I can understand the hate for the love plot (and the Nu Metal soundtrack is a bit annoying) but that is only a minor blip in an otherwise entertaining and exciting movie.

All the Real Girls
Image
Why I Chose It: David Gordon Green is a bit of an odd duck. Much of the time, we don't know if to expect a slow-burning but throught-provoking drama or a broad, big-budget comedy from him. This one falls into the former and it is perhaps one of his best. Focusing on a womanizer in a small Southern town who has run out of potential women to break their hearts, his luck soon changes when the teenaged sister of one of his best friends comes back to town. While courting her, he begins to feel something different and soon begins to see her as more than just a one-night stand. However, her brother stands in the way between the two. Paul Schenider and Zooey Deschanel are strong in the lead roles and Green's direction is very natural and unforced. In a way, the South seems to bring out a lot in filmmakers (see Terrence Malick and Jeff Nichols) and Green makes great use of the potential that comes in shooting in a land that seems to be cut off from much of the United States. Also, this is a good opportunity to watch a film where Deschanel is not the "manic dream pixie girl" of hipster fantasties. If you want, watch it with Undertow or George Washington.

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
Image
Why I Chose It: before essentially disappearing from US screens for a spell (though the recent releases of Therese and last year's Delicacy have remided this), Audrey Tautou was everywhere. After the smash success of Amelie (which grossed $30 million in the US and resurrected Jean-Pierre Jeunet's career), distributors left and right were releasing other films that Tautou made before Amelie or after its success. This is one of the better ones, a dark comedy about an obsessive university student and her whirlwind relationship with a doctor. Tautou really pushes herself here in the lead, as she breaks the type that she created with Amelie by playing a psychologically confused character who makes up stories to improve her own life, even if it means harming others in the process. In short, the kind of film that you wouldn't expect a Hollywood starlet to do so close after a big success. Also, it breaks the mold of romantic comedies by being dark without being farcial or cliche (or insulting its audiences with inanity). Even if you are not into subtitles or non-linear storytelling, I think Tautou's appeal should be enough to sell it to a passerby.

Dark Blue
Image
Why I Chose It: the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, along with the events leading up to them, was a period in American history that showed us that even after the progression of civil rights in the United States, there was still a lot of work to be done in fighting racial prejudice. This film, directed by Ron Shelton and written by David Ayer and James Ellroy, takes place during that time frame and focuses on a fictional story that ties into the events. Kurt Russell does well in a rare villain role and his supporting cast is also strong (especially Ving Rhames as the assistant chief). Shelton, Ayer and Ellroy also do well with the subject matter, analyzing the behavior and moral compass of Russell's character. In a way, the film could be seen as a precursor to the later film Rampart (which is a better film than the reputation suggests) as both analyze corruption throught the history of the LAPD. In short, an unexpected but well-made drama that deserves another look.

Open Hearts
Image
Why I Chose It: Susanne Bier's career has often consisted of making challenging films that have had trouble connecting with American audiences (with After the Wedding being perhaps the sole exception). However that doesn't change the fact that she is one of the most daring directors in international cinema, with an Oscar and a few acclaimed films to her name. This film (which can only be rented in the US through Netflix, for some reason) was perhaps her breakout project, a Dogme 95 project on the after-effects of a car accident. The film feels extremely natural (perhaps due to the filmmaking techniques) and the character's emotions and choices don't feel like contrived or done for the sake of entertainment. This is a premise that actually could happen to you. Though you may know Bier today for the original (and better) Brothers, After the Wedding or Things We Lost in the Fire (another film I may cover someday), this is definitely a good one to look back at.

Next week: November 2010.
Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/user/1244530511/playlist/6exMMnE4Kpu99GBj16VEmr
User avatar
Buscemi
CONGRATS! You may now chose your own rank!
 
Posts: 16164
Joined: October 21st, 2009, 11:14 am
Location: Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby W » September 2nd, 2013, 8:06 pm

This is the first I've seen of this thread. Sorry. Skimming through for now, there's som great stuff on the past couple pages. I think Dirty Work may have made my top 100, or it was close and is exactly what I like in the stupid comedies of the 90's and early aughts. The "dead hookers in trunks" scene is probably my favorite.

I actually seeked out White Man's Burden after I saw the premise somewhere and was extremely intrigued. It is worth a watch with some truly "so bad it makes you laugh" parts.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
User avatar
W
Jack Torrance
 
Posts: 6593
Joined: October 21st, 2009, 4:37 pm

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » September 5th, 2013, 12:22 am

This week's entry will be pushed to next week due to a heavy workload. Expect a double update on September 12th.
Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/user/1244530511/playlist/6exMMnE4Kpu99GBj16VEmr
User avatar
Buscemi
CONGRATS! You may now chose your own rank!
 
Posts: 16164
Joined: October 21st, 2009, 11:14 am
Location: Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Chienfantome » September 5th, 2013, 3:35 am

Hopefully this will give me time to comment all the films I've wanted to comment.
Fluctuat nec mergitur
User avatar
Chienfantome
The Terminator
 
Posts: 8737
Joined: May 29th, 2010, 4:22 am
Location: Paris, France

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » September 12th, 2013, 1:43 am

Due to being swamped with school work (this week, I've had to write two papers on Hamlet and a paper on Frankenstein), I will simple post the titles that I would have covered over the past two weeks and (if you want), readers can write their own opinions on the films.

The first list: November 2010.

The titles:

127 Hours
Client 9
Red Hill
Heartless
Made in Dagenham
White Material
The Next Three Days

The second list: July 1994

The titles:

Baby's Day Out
Blown Away
The Shadow
Ciao Professore
Mi Vida Loca
L. 627
Black Beauty
Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/user/1244530511/playlist/6exMMnE4Kpu99GBj16VEmr
User avatar
Buscemi
CONGRATS! You may now chose your own rank!
 
Posts: 16164
Joined: October 21st, 2009, 11:14 am
Location: Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane

Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » September 20th, 2013, 1:08 am

Due to scheduling conflicts, I will have to shelve this series for a while. I apologize for the inconvenience.
Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/user/1244530511/playlist/6exMMnE4Kpu99GBj16VEmr
User avatar
Buscemi
CONGRATS! You may now chose your own rank!
 
Posts: 16164
Joined: October 21st, 2009, 11:14 am
Location: Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane

Previous

Return to The Movie Club

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest