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About EricJ

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  • Birthday 06/14/1964

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  1. I Just Watched...

    Yeah, like maybe you need to watch the clip first--It's funnier that way. (Remember that "Forrest Gump vs. Curious Case of Benjamin Button" one a few years ago when that one was up for Oscars? This is worse.) At least, more human than Del Toro's last soulful/sensitive Black Lagoon fish-dude-in-love, but at least that one already came from a comic book:
  2. I Just Watched...

    Del Toro seems to have seen Splash: ("But he directed Pan's Labyrinth!"...Yeah, and let's not get into those Spirit of the Beehive discussions, either. Gil was probably kicking himself that someone else stuck Universal's 30's Frankenstein into some kid's Spanish-Civil-War childhood.) Oh, so now that they finally got the Columbia UPA cartoons on DVD, Del Toro's moved on to classic musicals, and doesn't have to have Gerald McBoingBoing playing on every background set like in Hellboy and Blade II? Well, like Marilyn Monroe said, maybe he just wanted a little love.
  3. I Just Watched...

    TCM shows Eraserhead occasionally, and while it's not perfectly the film it wants to be, if you catch on to What He's Trying to Do, it's a key for understanding all his movies up to and including Blue Velvet. (Not after: Basically, we watched Lynch fall apart during the second season of Twin Peaks, and we never got him back. ) Eraserhead was Lynch trying to film an actual REM-state dream, as when you wake up and remember your own dreams, they don't look exactly like movie dream sequences, do they? The whole idea of the character wandering through a black-and-white world of non-plotted isolated scenes, odd/muffled sound, things suddenly going disturbing, and other characters hysterically saying things that don't 100% make sense, is good for a technical exercise--But when they had to hitch Lynch up to the harness of a straightforward narrative movie like "The Elephant Man", "Dune" or the classic first-season of Twin Peaks, we still get the story seen as if in a dream. (Elephant Man basically cribs the initial abstract-image opening of Eraserhead, and when it jarringly cuts to a sudden Anthony Hopkins "where am I??" turning around and he's in the London side show, that's exactly the "Middle of the story" dream plot we've had every night once we're past the abstract-image stage and our plot-filling subconscious kicks in.) And then after Wild At Heart and Twin Peaks S2, he turned nutty and stylized, and thought everything would be "artistic" if they started shouting and primal-screaming for no apparent reason. "Sweet" Uma Thurman?? Maybe it's that my vision of Thurman will forever be corrupted by "Batman & Robin", but seemed like she always went out of her way to play the self-consciously weirdo-edgy roles--Tarantino is a given, and I'll throw in the "Adventures of Baron Munchhausen" gig she did for Terry Gilliam. And yes, her Mrs. Peel for the '99 "The Avengers" movie could have been so much better, or at least as good as it should have been when we heard her cast. Btw, has she worked since "My Super Ex-Girlfriend"? I'm too lazy to check IMDb.
  4. I Just Watched...

    Apart from the obvious "One essential movie they ever made" Raising Arizona (where they basically taught DoP Barry Sonnenfeld how to direct "Men in Black" by overdirecting everything into swirling kinetic cartoon surrealism), the only Coen film I've ever actually liked was O Brother, Where Art Thou, three years before the movie-musical form was rediscovered again. And keeping in mind the yuk-yuk but not-too-bad Gene Kelly parody from "Hail Caesar", my advice to the Coens is to stop being hip-Millennial deconstructive about historical eras they were never alive to see but just remembered cheap jokes about, and just shut up and do more musicals. Like the old vaudeville saying, when the gags aren't going over, go into your song and dance. It's Kubrick's emotional coldness that makes GOOD irony....Whereas the Coens' constant rib-nudging self-stylizations and chortling over stoners, bowlers, oh-yah Minnesota accents, or anything anyone said in the first half of the 20th century, is Bad Irony. The essential Kubrick shot is watching the characters from a mile away--like HAL lip-reading the astronauts in 2001--and Kubrick's distance punches up our emotional distance from what's happening. The climaxes of Barry Lyndon, Paths of Glory, Clockwork Orange, etc. manage to make the "irony" sting enough to make the point, without feeling as if he was domino-toppling the characters for his own hip amusement. Yes, the "Wacky Pentagon dialogue" from Dr. Strangelove could tip dangerously into Coen territory, but, like R. Lee Ermey's Wacky Marine Dialogue from "Full Metal Jacket", Kubrick knows how to play it as scary as satirical.
  5. I Just Watched...

    You're not alone: Just mention "Hail, Caesar", and clear the dance floor... Just recently I'd caught up on Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies (2015), where the Coens did final script-doctoring, and I'd seen enough Bad-Coen to cherrypick on first viewing by ear what parts of the script the Coens likely wrote (fresh off of their "We remember this and you don't" satires of 50's Cold-War), which parts were probably in Matt Charman's original script, and which parts were punched up with Spielberg's own urges for historical-nostalgia sentimentality: Generally, the Coens parts were hip/ironic cheap-symbol sniggering at low-hanging targets about how messed-up our culture was in the 50's--For example, when we see children in a school being shown "Duck and Cover", that's Coen, and probably the "ironic" shot of the kids being traumatized into tears by it was as much Coen as Spielberg. (Although the scene where Tom Hanks' son fills up bathtubs because he believes he alone now has to protect the family from nuclear war was out of Spielberg's own memories.) In short, whenever we see Tom Hanks dealing with shady government guys in identical 50's-suits and black hats warning him of the Red Menace, all I could see was Matt Damon pedaling away on that little girl's bike from Suburbicon (2017). Yes, two movies the Coens didn't direct, but have their distinct smell all over them. You can dress 'em up with other directors, but you can't take 'em out in public.
  6. I Just Watched...

    Actually, the Tulip Mania of the 1630's has been in the trendy news a lot in the past few years, because it follows EXACTLY the same psychological economic-bubble patterns as Mortgage Derivatives and Dot-Coms. It's very likely they're teaching it more in high school and freshman Economy 101 classes now, because it could tell you--with pretty flowers--everything you ever needed to know about how the past Meltdown happened in the 00's, and why you shouldn't hoard up Bitcoin waiting to retire on it when it replaces world currency as we know it. I haven't seen the movie, but I know the historical point the setting was trying to make: The tulip was still a brand new flower in 17th-cty. Holland, neato, and trendily in demand. That made new varieties more and more valuable for manor gardeners, but problem was, without professional tropical greenhouses, a tulip takes a full year for its owner to get into the profitable bulb-selling business. Tulips bloom in the spring, fade by summer, have to have their bulbs harvested and planted by fall, and sleep dormant through the winter. So, if you're a high-rolling tulip dealer, how do you make your money in the winter? By getting together at tulip-trading sessions in the taverns, showing investors the Audubon-painting of a rare pink-and-white-streaked Semper Augustus, and sell them a signed promissory note reserving that bulb for the owner in summer. Of course, if you're an investor who wants to get in on the hot market, all you've bought is a piece of paper now, and a bulb six months later...So as value went up, investors found there was more money selling the imaginary promised future ownership papers of rare bulbs to other investors in rapidly price-jumping games of hot-potato, rather than the actual solid trade currency of the flowers themselves. And like mortgages, investors even began wagering on futures and securities of how high a flower's price would go, and did what they could to see it reach those figures. It was all about the hollow inflated price, and it never occurred to anyone to ask whether anyone was actually buying a flower, or what would happen if a bad frost killed the investment. Until that one market when it turned out nobody who showed up was buying--Everyone had gotten in on selling, and had no one to sell them to. And like the quarterly-report news that Merrill Lynch might be having trouble with mortgages, tulip investors panicked once they got the word, tried to unload their burden, and the price went through the floor overnight. Suppose it's easier to use the setting as a love story than a "metaphoric" post-Meltdown history of the events, but seems like just a distraction to use it as mere period dressing.
  7. Yeah, but takes me back-- I remember back during the first DVD Renaissance (approx. '00-'01, a year before the '02 post), when the most people who owned DVD players were kids with Playstation 2's: From '97-'99, most of the titles had been recent boom-boom action hits, but after '00, studios were starting to make the big push for vault-restoring their essential studio classic titles, and those same kids on the disk-fan forums (most of them gamers) were encountering the classics for the first time...When was the last time YOU got into a discussion about what the heck that 2001 ending was all about? And then, of course, fans' belief that Everything MGM/UA Did Was Evil, after the big blowup over Yellow Submarine's ratio: Oh, the days of "Let's start a petition! We demand that MGM stop catering to the 4:3 crowd, and release the true widescreen versions of Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind!"
  8. pathetic

    (Let's the rest of us guess: You didn't notice after posting it that it was in the wrong category, right?... ) Why, , of course.
  9. Top Five Elizabeth Taylor Performances

    Styles, plural: Half of Liz's roles were glamorous, the other half she was typecast as misogynistic Virginia-Woolf shrews in Tennessee Williams-style dramas. She managed to be 110% perfect casting for Kate for BOTH reasons. There are some Shakespearean films so dream-cast, you just want to retire the role. (Although I'd heard Holly Hunter played a cowgirl Kate up against Morgan Freeman for NYC Shakespeare in the Park in the late 80's, but that's never been filmed.)
  10. I Just Watched...

    When Scoresese directed it in 1976, he and Paul Schrader thought they were doing a "modern" update of Dostoevsky's "Notes From the Underground" (about a depressed misanthropic loner who inspires another sad female depressed loner by being sadder than her), but the idea of the Gun-Toting Loner shooting up schools or college campuses just wasn't in 70's culture yet--That's why they had to bring the "Political candidate" subplot in, to suggest where the Lee Harvey Oswald's of the 60's came from, and where they'd still come from in the Nixon era. It's a good performance by DeNiro, but, like his good performance in "The King of Comedy", you're watching DeNiro go all-out and throw himself into playing a creepy loser. He can do it, and then he can turn around and do comedy in the next scene, but it's still a role that's more admired than loved. And then, of course, even that realistic sudden-violence climax has to be wrapped up with the nice, happily "ironic" ending where Travis is considered a "hero" by the press for saving Jodie Foster from her messed-up life (there's some more unintentional irony ), and, because of our twisted fame-culture, gets to return to the good life, Cybil included. The confrontation is something Scorsese could do for scary effect with "GoodFellas" in the 80's, but back in the Abe Beame-era NYC of the 70's*, everything had to be social criticism. ---- (* - Still, it's that doomed 70's Mayor-Abe NYC that you miss about great old gritty-70's movies. I've been watching "The Warriors" and "The Taking of Pelham One-Two-Three" on streaming, and those dirty subways just take you back...)
  11. I Just Watched...

    Speaking personally, just because someone didn't like it didn't mean it's not thematically confused... Would you have preferred it if Fedya had gone the Cybil Shepherd route and said "Gee, he's creepy, oily, a loner, conversationally challenged, stalks me at work, and took me to a porno for our first date, but there's just something unexplainably sad and magnetic about him..."? I remember the real-life incident, when Tonya was playing her fifteen-notorious-minutes fame to the Jerry-Springer crowd, saying "I've got dollar signs in my eyes, I did it for those Olympic promotional tie-in deals!" And then when some of us were curious to tune in her Olympic competition, IIRC, she fell on her rear so many times, we thought the only Olympic tie-in deal she'd get would be from a pillow company.
  12. I Just Watched...

    Actually, the maturated version of Mr. Batson has been "Shazam!" in the comics for a while now, because of said confusion long predating the movie. (Since that was what most of us thought his name was from the 70's Saturday-morning series anyway.) Marvel's Captain inherited her powers from alien captain Mar-Vell (get it?) before becoming "Ms. Marvel" throughout the 80's and 90's. Now she's Captain, and the "Ms." title has since passed down to a sweetly nerdy Arabic teenager in New Jersey: Just the ones for long-delayed overhyped superhero or Star Wars movies that haven't shown a real trailer yet, like the Captain Marvel one-- I don't know exactly WHY fans do that, it's sort of the same reason studios announce release dates and title logos for movies before writing and directing them: They psychologically feel as if if some piece of the movie actually existed yet, it would be spiritually the same as the movie actually existing yet...
  13. I Just Watched...

    Yes, Warner/DC makes you appreciate how much Disney/Marvel is trying to court the audience who doesn't read comics, and needs someone patient and willing enough to explain who Black Panther is to them-- Warner, OTOH, thought they could leap into the loving arms of print-comic fanboys, who demand utter print-comic faithfulness in transcribing the Big Epic Storylines, and let the rest of the outside world confuse themselves and go hang. (And then still go into big rages that Zack Snyder ruined it anyway.)
  14. Studio Styles

    Even the Warner precode Busby Berkeley musicals were considered "street-grittier" than RKO's or MGM's, since they were more about the pavement-pounding jobs of producers and cheap-apartment showgirls just trying to get by with keeping variety-show gigs going during the Depression (Gold Diggers, 42nd St., Footlight Parade), and didn't bring in champagne and hotel suites and until after the Hays set in. So, apart from Fred Astaire, Orson Welles, King Kong and Walt Disney, what was RKO's image? Seemed like they also aimed for an artsier upscale audience. Universal had Lon Chaney, the Monsters, and comedy series like Abbott & Costello and Ma & Pa Kettle almost straight out of the gate, and they've prided themselves on cheap-thrills ever since.
  15. (Y'know, every time Nip and spence happily and obliviously Like every post that talks to them even to make fun of their ramblings, you get that sort of guilty feeling?-- Like you just kicked a poor puppy who hadn't the faintest idea what you were doing, and still wags his tail because you're paying attention to him? )

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