Monday, March 28, 2011


Jeffrey I noticed you said you didn't agree with most of the movies on my list of movies I know I should like but don't. I just wanted to say that clearly based on my choices I obviously didn't expect anyone in the entire world to agree with any of the movies on my list. I was making it more of a list like, based on personal preference or because there is clearly something wrong with me I don't like these movies but the rest of the world does and I wish I did... not saying anything about the movies themselves. They are obviously all excellent movies or I wouldn't be the only person I know who doesn't like them. I was just saying that personally I don't like them -- I don't want any of you to think I'm saying anything about the movies themselves, like that they were overrated or anything like that, I didn't mean that at all. Just wanted to clear that up!! I'm going to bed now to catch up on my sleep from last night. ;) Goodnight Film Club.

Brandon I swear I'm not ignoring your posts...

Brandon I keep missing like half of your posts for some reason. I think I'm glad that I didn't read anything about Dogtooth, although I'm curious what you learned listening to an interview with the guy? I'm not surprised that it's probably just Euro art house trash... it seemed really excessive to me, I thought all the sex was just... I don't know what the right word is. Definitely trashy. Gimmicky? I was thinking "just... why????" during most of the movie. I was REALLY surprised that it was nominated for an Oscar.

Thanks guys for understanding my problems with horror movies. I think the "NSFL" rating is working really well so far. Jeffrey, thanks for that in your last post... if I opened up a scary clip and couldn't sleep again tonight I would have been upset. What's that I'm saying? Yes, you heard me right - I couldn't sleep last night just from watching 10 minutes of Antichrist and then reading what you guys had to say about it (and reading a review on Slate about it). Seriously I didn't even see any of the most scary scenes and I couldn't sleep. And then other scary things that I HAD seen started to come into my mind. It's a snowball effect, the more I try to stop thinking about it the more images come into my head, it's horrible... I think it's because I was talking about The Ring, which really did scare me... and I've been watching the TV show Damages lately and there have been some really vividly violent scenes that I just can't shake from my mind. And so then I *really* couldn't sleep. I think I need to watch some happy movies and shows for a little while to clear my mind. So lame.

Also guys thanks for the heads up on Benny's Video, because Netflix did recommend it to me. But I really would not be able to stomach that, it sounds way too upsetting. Yuck, I can't put that into my head, how horrible.

Brandon, would you give the horror movies you listed at the beginning of your post a NSFL rating? (Bedlam, Eyes Without A Face, etc.?) I tend to do a bit better with older horror movies... but as you can see I do lose sleep easily.

Jeffrey, I understand what you're saying about laughing about things to remove yourself from them. I think I could stand to incorporate that tactic into a bit more of my own watching to keep some of this stuff out of my mind. I just don't really think it will work for me, sadly.

Top Ten Movies I Don't Like But Feel Like I Should

There are a lot of movies I don't care for but feel like I should, to be honest. Some things you should know about me before reading my list - I've been a theater geek for almost my entire life with a strong preference for musicals, so that informs my list a bit. Also, I spent all of my formative years watching old movies with my grandpa, which also informs my list. OK so here are the ten that immediately come to mind - please don't judge me:

10) Some Like It Hot. I want to like this, I really do. I generally like movies from this era and I usually can't resist the old mistaken identity story. And I have to give it to them -- it took chutzpah to do a gender-bending plot in that time period. But I thought the storyline was really overdone. And to be honest I'm not the biggest Marilyn Monroe fan. Ah I feel bad even saying this.

9) Singin' in the Rain. I've never liked this movie, and as a lover of musicals and Gene Kelly, I feel ashamed saying so. I just get bored watching it. Even the famous dancing scene. Give me Top Hat over Singin' in the Rain any day. Ugh I think my grandpa is spinning in his grave.

8) Easter Parade. Another musical I should like. My family watches it on Easter every year, and I like it even less each year than I did the year before. I just don't really like the plot, plain and simple. It might have something to do with the fact that I hate parades. So a movie about which dancer is going to dance in a parade isn't exactly my cup of tea. But I know everyone in the world loves it because, hey, Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. Ah well.

7) Rocky Horror Picture Show. Everyone I know loves this movie. Maybe it's because a lot of my friends are theater geeks too, but seriously, I think I am the only person I know who does not like it. I just can't get into it. I don't think it's funny, or good, and I think dressing up like the characters and going to a movie theater at midnight to act it out is pretty silly. (No offense if any of you do it, you just won't run into me there.)

6) Un Chien Andalou. Don't hate me. I just can't stomach this movie. I know I should like it as a person who loves films. But... no. I really don't.

5) Notorious. I am a huge Hitchcock fan... but I really don't like his espionage movies. I think they just spin themselves into a confusing web of nonsense that probably made sense at the time they were made when everyone was afraid of Russian spies but now they just seem tedious.

4) The Big Lebowski. Everyone always thinks I would love this movie because I like other Cohen brothers movies, but I just don't like this one. I think it's kind of stupid, and I'm sure you're all going to hate me for saying so. Don't ever tell anyone I don't like it - I always just pretend I do because it's not worth getting into. I wish I liked it, it would make my life easier.

3) Mulholland Drive. Again, based on the other movies I like, everyone thinks I will love Mulholland Drive. Maybe it's because I watched it late at night, but I just did not get this movie. Is it because I don't live in LA? I didn't think it was interesting, and I felt like it was trying wayyyy too hard to be "artsy." Maybe I'm just a curmudgeon and should give it a second shot. I know I should like it, I just... don't.

2) All Monty Python movies. As we get further down on this list, I am questioning whether it's even worth it (as the new member in this group) to write this post at all, because I know you guys are just going to hate me by the end of it. Please don't hate me, but I don't like the Monty Python movies at all, but I really feel like I should. I just really really don't. Part of it might be that my friends were seriously obsessed with them in high school and annoyingly quoted them ALL the time, and then when I actually watched them I was like, this isn't even funny, why are you quoting this every five minutes? I'm sure it's me.

1) Every Mel Brooks movie ever made. I think Mel Brooks humor must be like boy humor or something. I don't like it, or get it, or think it's funny at all. The Producers was the worst musical I've ever seen. I'm clearly in the minority here - yet again, everyone I know loves Mel Brooks and all of his movies and musicals. Boo.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I know what you're thinking... seriously Lisa, 3 posts in one day? It's just that I finally watched the movie Priceless and I had to write about it immediately in case any of you were planning on watching it tonight... in hopes that I could stop you from wasting 2 hours of your life.

What the hell? Has anyone seen this? I love Audrey Tautou (she's such a great actress, and so pretty... I always wished I looked like that), and I love French movies (pretty language too). But this was just horrible. A more appropriate name for the movie would have been Golddiggers, so that's what I titled this post. It was basically about a golddigging prostitute who mistakes a hotel bartender for a rich hotel guest, spends all his money until he is literally broke, realizes he is broke and then leaves town, and of course he follows her, like a complete idiot. So now, knowing he is broke, she spends more of the money he doesn't have, racking up a huge hotel and credit card bill that he can't pay because he does not have one euro left to his name. So of course - somehow didn't see this coming - he decides to follow suit and become a gigolo, and they hold a competition for who can get more stuff out of their rich bedmates. I won't "ruin" the rest of the movie by telling you the whole plot, in case you decide to make a terrible life choice and watch it. But I will say that the characters are insufferable and completely unrelatable, and I thought the movie might get better toward the end but it never did. Officially hated it.

Ben, I really love the **NSFL** rating, it's perfect... everyone should feel free to use that in the future!

Re: Not So Funny Games

Jeffrey - thanks for the heads up about Funny Games, I really appreciate it. I hate being such a wimp.

I tend to like psychological thrillers (to a certain extent), but not horror movies or slasher films or anything gory, overly scary, overly disturbing, or anything with creepy kids or zombies. (Sorry everyone.) It's just not worth it for me, I can't handle having those images in my head. I would say my favorite horror movies are The Exorcist, Silence of the Lambs (is that really a horror movie though? I guess it's a psychological thriller), Carrie, Jaws (I don't think that's a horror movie either), and The Ring (The Ring is about as scary as I can go, it kept me up for nights). I have been too chicken to watch The Shining, but I think I will probably like it- it's been in my queue for a while. There may be a few others I'm not thinking of. But I definitely would not call myself a fan of the genre. I LOVE Hitchcock movies, but I think those are psychological thrillers. Psychological thrillers I would say I am definitely a fan of the genre... but my issues discussed in my last post obviously limit my viewing of some of them.

I would say Dogtooth is one you can probably skip. I was curious whether anyone had seen it, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, although I did think it was interesting. But it didn't blow my mind. There are definitely better things to watch, I wouldn't bother.

Dogtooth, von Trier, and a few other thoughts

A few things:

- I clearly need to get up on my directors. I haven't really watched films that way (beyond like Wes Anderson, Cohen brothers, Hitchcock, Scorsese... the ones that everyone watch that way), but I can tell you guys do, and I actually think it's a great idea to consider someone's body of work as a whole. I haven't even heard of most of the directors you guys are talking about, but I'm going to check out their work for sure. You guys are definitely opening my eyes to new things - yay film club!

- Ben thanks for your review of Broken English. I thought you put it perfectly. As I said in my comment earlier, the experience of Nora in the first half of the movie had me in tears because it's so close to my own life, so I appreciated reading your thoughts on it from a bit of a distanced perspective. I also loved the song you included - I've been listening to it since you posted it. That's definitely what I'm looking for, and I think it's what Nora was looking for too. It seems so simple, but it's so hard to find. Also, I agree with you about the first half being better than the second, I thought so too.

- Don't hate me guys, but I haven't seen The New World. I guess I should take a watch since you all actually agree on it. I'll weigh in once I see it.

- So I have something to admit (this is what you get, inviting a girl into the group)... I am super sensitive and have an overactive imagination and internalize everything... and therefore I get scared VERY easily. I actually started watching Antichrist and was really uneasy just watching the prologue and kind of felt like throwing up and I didn't know why... thankfully I paused it for a second and read Ben's post about it and I actually decided to turn the movie off. I do like movies that affect you but I am just blatantly a huge wimp and can't handle things that are really scary, overly disturbing or stomach-turning or gory. (Sorry, so lame, I know, but because I over-empathize with characters, movies like that really upset me a disproportionate amount.) And once you've seen something like that you can't unsee it. So if you guys can give me fair warning if a movie is going to terrify me or make me throw up, before I watch it and sear it into my brain for all time, I will love you forever, seriously.

- On other von Trier films... I remember kind of liking Dogville, but I haven't watched it in a long time. I don't remember thinking it was funny at ALL (maybe I take things too seriously but I remember thinking it was pretty dark)... I remember liking how it was like a play (with the bare set marked off with chalk outlines, the choice to include narration and title cards) and I thought it was well acted and liked the camerawork (a lot of bird's eye shots). I think it's interesting that I actually don't recall the ending whatsoever, and if I remember correctly the ending was controversial? Maybe I blocked it out. I guess I should give it another watch so I can say something more intelligent about it. I watched The Five Obstructions in a film class once -- from what I remember, I thought it was a cool idea but that it was definitely a filmmaker's movie made for filmmakers. I'll try a few more von Trier films but unfortunately I don't think he's ever going to be one of my favorite directors. Maybe I'll try Europa next - but someone please alert me if it's going to make me puke/afraid to be in my apartment alone.

-Dogtooth. Have any of you seen it? I watched it today and I don't really know what to say about it. It's a Greek film about a family whose kids are completely closed off from the world (they don't even know what an airplane is), what measures have to be taken to ensure that level of control is maintained in a household full of teenagers, and what can happen when even a tiny bit of that control is lost. The metaphor of the movie is totally clear once it starts - parents, don't overprotect your children or things can get ugly. (At some point during the movie I found myself thinking, ok ok we get it.) But I did think it was really well directed and acted in that you could intensely feel the desperation of the father in trying to sustain the "perfect" (yikes) situation he thought he had created as he took more and more desperate (insane?) measures to maintain the illusion. And I really liked the character of the oldest daughter, especially the scene where she was dancing for the parents' anniversary and just started to lose it completely - how you had been feeling this building up and how you just KNOW what she's going to do next. I thought the movie was visually stunning and definitely got across its message. But I have to give fair warning - it was not at all what I expected. First of all, the movie was really really sexual, which was unexpected based on the description of the movie given by Netflix. It was also a little more bloody than I expected (there was a scene where an animal was killed... and it was gross), although that wasn't as unexpected to me as all the sex. Apparently it was nominated for an Oscar... I don't think it would ever be on my Oscar-worthy list, but it was an interesting watch. Did anyone else see it? I'd love to hear someone else's opinion on this and if you were as surprised as my naive ass was.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jeffrey's 2010 and Ben's Post

I'm ashamed that I haven't seen a lot of the movies that were released in 2010, especially because I really meant to go see them. I've heard such great things about so many of them that I'm really eager to check them out. As soon as they are out on DVD I'm going to get caught up.

That being said, I did see a few of them you guys have been talking about, mainly Inception, Shutter Island, and The Social Network. I liked Inception, but like Jeffrey said, not in a wow-my-mind-is-blown kind of way, but more in the, that-was-a-good-heist-movie-with-really-cool-shots kind of way. I would never say it was one of the best movies ever, and it probably wouldn't even fall on my top movies of 2010 list except as a runner up, because I generally prefer films that are less cool but more powerful. But I do think it's a quality Hollywood blockbuster type movie -- one of those that is popular for a reason, if that makes sense. I wasn't totally awestruck by it, or thought it was that complicated or mind-bending really at all. I was just really entertained by it and liked it a lot, and I think movies that don't punch you in the gut are still worthwhile for entertainment value. But I also get why people were not that impressed with it considering the hype it got.

I loved Shutter Island. I mean, I was REALLY disturbed by Shutter Island, but I loved it. I'm actually usually pretty disturbed by Scorcese's movies because I have a bit of a weak stomach. (The shots of the dead kids were just horrifying to me... I thought it was a bit gratuitous honestly.) It was definitely one of my favorites of the year. I thought the overall themes of the movie were so powerful, the cinematography was beautiful, and the writing and acting were fab. I actually liked it so much I saw it twice in the theaters.

As far as The Social Network goes, I feel like I have to weigh in on this. As Ben knows, I'm a huge Aaron Sorkin fan (although, Ben, I agree with you that he's a total self-righteous bastard), and as you may not know, I'm also a huge David Fincher fan. I agree with Jeffrey that this is NOT a movie about Facebook. I think it's a shame that people discount it or refuse to watch it because they hate Facebook or think that it's too soon to make a movie about Facebook when it has only been around for a few years. I don't think it really has much to do with Facebook itself beyond essentially a "setting" or like contextual details. Facebook as it is today isn't even in the movie at all. Like you said Jeffrey, you could really replace Facebook with any company, because this story is about the human condition of the characters and the relationships and the conflict and the way the events unfold. I think a movie about Facebook and what it says about our time is a great idea Ben, but in my eyes it's just a completely different movie, you know?

I always feel bad when people blame Sorkin for the story itself and for whether or not it's accurate. I'm sure you guys know that it was loosely based on a book called The Accidental Billionaires, which is a book I own and that I read long before the movie came out. I don't know if you read it, but the book came about because Eduardo Saverin contacted the author (who is a journalist) with his own version of the story and the journalist thought it was so interesting that he interviewed Eduardo and the Winklevii, who were the only people who responded to his emails (Zuck said no) and wrote the book in story form based on those interviews. So I feel bad when Sorkin gets blamed because if anyone deserves the blame, it's the author.

The events in the movie unfold as they do in the book (same events, same order) and while they are definitely and obviously biased, they also tell a compelling story. Sorkin's dialogue (which is not the same as the book, of course) is delectable (as usual), and I feel like his style is so appropriate to the events in the story and the "character" of Zuckerberg that they were trying to create... and a huge improvement on the book. I guess he could have written a different movie (he's such a self-involved egomaniac that I'm sure he WOULD have if he wanted to), but I think I also read an article from New York Magazine where he said that he liked the parable-like "story" this movie was supposed to tell (building and developing and filling in what people's motivations COULD have been, in a story scenario, not what they actually were in real life which is probably much less interesting) and this wasn't a biography or a documentary, so he didn't try to make it totally factual anyway, he was going for the story. (Clearly the "journalist" who published the book was also going for the story, or he would have made it an article, not a book, and wouldn't have published it without equal comment from Zuck.)

Like Jeffrey quoted, "every creation myth needs a devil"... my feeling is that Sorkin added that line in on purpose to show what he was trying to do and that this wasn't necessarily the whole story. Sorkin also said in an interview that he actually LIKES Zuckerberg and so he wanted in the end for you to not hate him, which I think he really did succeed in doing. I do recognize the issue with creating a movie whose characters are actual people who are alive, if the movie isn't factually accurate, but I guess we'll never know how accurate it is or isn't, right? (Of course Zuckerberg's not going to say, yeah I was a complete douchebag.)

Anyway, all that is to say that I really liked it, having read the book and having gone into it knowing the background and that it was coming from just one single perspective (just like any movie, which I am also always overly aware of when watching documentaries). I do understand the many reasons people have for not liking it, and I think they're all totally valid. I just always feel the need to speak up for it whenever the subject comes up because I thought the direction and script and cinematography were fantastic but it's easy to be distracted by the pesky little details (wink) of its factual accuracy.

I can't wait to see some of the rest of these, especially True Grit, since I'm a Cohen brothers fan. I'm a little nervous about Blue Valentine, because I feel like I'm fatalistic enough as it is about relationships, so I hate watching movies where everything goes up in sad sad flames. But Ben you know I trust your opinions on movies more than the opinions of most people I know, so based on your recommendation I will give it a shot. And then I'll just come crying to you when it upsets me. (Fair warning.)

Jeffrey, I'm a Joanna Newsom fan and just recently started to adore The Tallest Man on Earth. I just learned The Gardener on guitar last week. I'm in love with it, officially.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ben's Indie List and Funny Games

I haven't seen Funny Games, but I do have the original version in my NWI queue. Maybe I'll take a watch and weigh in on the debate. I'm not familiar with the director. Which one of his movies would you guys recommend to start for someone who hasn't seen any of them?

Ben - From your list, I've seen We Don't Live Here Anymore (love it, have owned it for years, always recommend it to people), Dakota Skye (loved it too, cute romance), and Good Dick (honestly I'm not sure how I felt about it... I love Jason Ritter but the movie was a bit much for me... but I think it's probably an accurate representation of what that situation would be like if you'd been sexually abused). I have all of the rest of the ones on your list in my queue, actually (including The Go Getter and Gigantic too) -- The Exploding Girl was the next one I had in mind to watch because Netflix actually thinks I'll give it 5/5 stars. Which on your list do you recommend starting with?

Along with 500 Days of Summer and Dakota Skye, my favorite indies that I've seen within the last few months are:
  • Peter & Vandy (easily one of my favorite movies ever)
  • Broken English (I love Parker Posey)
  • My Girlfriend's Boyfriend (love Alissa Milano too)
  • Weather Girl (an indie romantic comedy with a happy ending! I know you don't believe me but it's true)
  • TiMER (kind of weird, but I liked it)
Movie club is fun. :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Vicious Kind

Ben said the rule is we have to write at least a sentence about every movie we watch. You may want to change that rule, because as you guys will soon come to find out, I unfortunately watch a lot of terrible indie movies in a quest to find the really good ones. To be honest, my constant viewing of indies (crappy or otherwise) is just flat-out masochistic, really, because they always make me depressed and bitter. And now you guys get to enjoy my commentary on them. I can tell you're excited. I promise I'll try to consolidate into a roundup type of post in the future to help contain the pain.

That being said, tonight's indie of choice was The Vicious Kind. I don't know if you've seen it, since I haven't been able to catch up on your entire blog archives yet. I mostly chose it because Netflix thought I'd give it 4/5 stars, and also because it stars Adam Scott with a beard, and I had never seen him with a beard before. (Aren't you guys glad you invited a girl into the club?!)

I just really was not thrilled by it. The plot pretty much centers around this guy who got his heart broken a long time ago and is still unable to get over his ex -- which is fairly standard as far as indies go. (As a side note, I'm getting really tired of that storyline, in movies and in real life, which is why I haven't watched Harmony and Me yet -- did any of you guys see that one? However, I will say that 500 Days of Summer is an excellent example of that storyline at its best.) I don't think in the end they were able to decide what movie they wanted it to be, so they just went for everything. It was a mashup of some of the worst indie plotlines there are (and this is coming from a lover of the indie). Filial strife, crazy sex trysts (there were some steamy scenes, I will give them that), weird camera angles, flashbacks, revenge, mistaken identity, infidelity, cancer, death, drug and alcohol abuse, bowling... you name it, it was in the movie. It was like an indie designed by committee.

There were some shots and scenes I liked, especially the silent dream sequence, the shot at the end where the faces of the son and the dad were overlaid in the screen door, and the scene with the hooker in the hotel room. (Oh wait I'm sorry, did I not mention there was a hooker too? Yep.) I also liked that although there was a shotgun in the movie, the father and sons weren't going around shooting each other in the head, because it crossed my mind that having all the main characters die might have been just the insane Shakespearean twist the indie film committee had in mind.

Did you guys see it? If so, do you disagree with me? It's possible I might just be tired, or jaded after having seen about 1800 indie movies recently. Or maybe I'm just missing something altogether. I get what they were trying to do, I just was not impressed with the execution.

Right now I'm just glad to have a first real post over with so I can cut the suspense and find out if you guys are going to just kick me out immediately or if you'll wait til my 100th review of an indie movie. Looking forward to getting caught up on your blogs!

Hi, Film Club!

Ben asked me to help offer a female voice for the club. I love movies -- especially documentaries -- and I've really liked the posts I've read so far from your blogs (which Ben kindly sent me). I'm by no means a professional film critic... or even an unprofessional one... so please don't take anything I say seriously, because I definitely don't know what I'm talking about. Honestly I'm just thrilled to have an excuse for the hours and hours I spend every week watching movies in my apartment. So I wanted to say hi -- and if you decide you hate me, no hard feelings if you kick me out. Thanks for the invite, I'm looking forward to participating!