Thursday, February 9, 2012

Special Feature: Occupy 1001

As Tracy mentioned, after watching 49 films (plus the rejects) we got a tad mouthy and decided to nominate movies for inclusion and movies that we'd like to take out back and shoot.

Natalie:  Ready to Occupy 1001?
Tracy:  We ARE the 99%.
Or rather, the .000001% who would ever watch all of these.
Natalie:  Ha! You beat me to it :)
Natalie:  So, this is out 50th watch since I can't count and we've decided to replace a film of our choosing each--what are you' taking away and what are you' adding?
Tracy:  All right. It was easy for me to pick which movie I wanted to add. But the subtraction ended up being more difficult. So I'm going to add . . .Breaking Dawn Part 1!
It's Twilight.
Natalie:  Ha!
Tracy:  Kidding! I am adding Todd Haynes's genre-busting Dylan biopic I'm Not There, and taking away . . . .
Natalie:  Brilliant choices all around. I'm taking away a Buster Keaton, any Buster Keaton. I have no stake in which one and kind of wish I could take away more than one.
And I'm adding Get Low, probably the most overlooked film of 2009
Tracy:  I wish you could take away all the Busters we haven't seen yet, because I'm pretty sure we've "seen" them all after watching the first five minutes of Steamboat Bill Jr. or whatever. So what is your argument for subtracting BK? (Though I'm pretty sure I can guess.)
Natalie:  At least one BK needs to go because with FIVE directed by Keaton (no clue how many more may be lurking that he only acted in) we have an overabundance of 1. the same damned movie, 2. a single director doing the same damned movie. So, it's not like two directors have different takes on the silent slapstick or Keaton does different things with his own movies. They're just the same thing over and over and over--even within an individual film. I'd allow ONE Buster just because they did set precedent but we don't need five (or even two, really).
And, you're taking away Avatar because . . . .
Tracy:  Agreed. It's true--you can be groundbreaking precisely once. So I loathed Avatar. It's hyper-derivative, pseudo-philosophical, and facile. But the one reason I thought it needed to be seen was that I felt it did do new and interesting things with 3D. Now, with Hugo, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Pina, and even the possibility of something like Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby using 3D in ways that are thematically resonant and conceptually smart (not just "oooh, the glowy floaty things look cool), I don't think just the technological advance warrants its inclusion. Just watch Dances with Wolves again if you want the story, and any of the films I mentioned if you want the tech.
So sing me the praises of Get Low!
Natalie:  I'm right there with you loathing Avatar. I hated every minute of it. Get Low! I had to see this in a tiny theater off the beaten path in Santa Monica with about 4 other people because it wasn't released wide and then none of the awards picked it up as even close to viable. Why I don't know. The actors are perfect (and I don't always love Bill Murray), the dialogue is hilarious ("Ooooh, Hermit money!") and poignant at the same time as is the story of a self-loathing hermit who wants to throw a funeral party so he can confess his greatest sin . . . while the rest of the town believes him horrible for many many many lesser sins. And, I can't think of another movie that does the same things.
Tracy:  I agree. I was one of the people who missed it (even though you told me to see it and you were so right), so I just watched it a couple of months ago. It's not easy to balance that kind of understated humor with that depth of feeling. Duvall got robbed.
Natalie:  And it's not easy to balance those two things with such a bizarre premise. Curmudgeonly dude wants to have a funeral party while he's alive? That's super easy to make absurd and slapstick but not so easy to make funny and heartbreaking. So . . . . . I'm Not There . . . another film I had to watch in an odd theater but this one was more recognized. Why do you love it?
Tracy:  I also loved the costumes. So first of all, I love the audacity of INT--it takes what seems to be a pretty gimmicky premise--we're going to get six different actors, including a chick!, to play Dylan--and uses it to make a pretty compelling argument. The film takes the idea of a biopic, and posits that our access to celebrity identity (and perhaps any identity) is always provisional, and therefore our understanding of famous people is always partly fictional. For that reason it makes sense to pick Dylan, who reinvented himself so many times. And I also love how the movie's amalgamation of forms, styles and genres then makes the case that multiplicity and heterogeneity aren't this disastrous hollowing out of the idea of an artistic self, but rather they produce the best, most liberatory kind of art. Which is sort of Haynes patting himself on the back, but I think it worked so well, he deserves it.
Natalie:  It worked amazingly well. When I think of that film, I don't immediately separate the parts into Cate did this and whosit did this, I just think of Dylan and a story being told about him. But, yes, it could have been a horrific failure. I'm amazed that the book didn't pick these two when they revised. Well, sort of, since the book seems to like to curry favor to Oscar winners/nominations despite the lack of inspiration in some of the recent choices.
Tracy:  Exactly. I almost picked Black Swan to boot simply because I don't like the way the book seems to be pandering to whatever was popular last year rather than what seems to have (or has proved itself to have) staying power. I did check for Crash, though, and was gratified that it, at least, wasn't in there. And I assume we would also both go to bat for Eternal Sunshine. Can't BELIEVE that got overlooked.
Natalie:  And to put Black Swan on the cover . . . sigh. I think Crash was in there but was booted at some point? Eternal Sunshine's lack of presence continues to baffle me. We could add all of these films just by kicking out the extraneous Keatons.
Not to mention the other terrible choices, like Avatar.
Tracy:  And I would like to register the visceral revulsion that Performance invokes in me, but since it seems to still have pop culture moments, I shall let it stay.
Natalie:  Ha! I know you were upset to have to let that one be. Yep, Crash was just booted in the most recent revision (because they seem to only be able to boot movies from the last 15 years or so).
Tracy:  They beat us to the punch.
Natalie:  But, the book should set a standard of sorts. The editors SHOULD be able to discern what will be brilliant in 20 years. We figured that out, why can't they?
Tracy:  Yeah--it seems like the book is now just a collection of essays about the latest Academy Award winners. Which fine, but that is not what the book markets itself as. And yet, on we merrily watch!
Natalie:  Merrily merrily! Do we have anything else to add or is it onward to Broadcast News and Cool Hand Luke (swoon)?
Tracy:  I think onwards and upwards! 

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