Watching Movies Alone with crumbsroom

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I didn't even know criterion had a last dance. There would be endless amounts of bonus material I'd be interested in before Emmylou Harris. Not that I don't like her, but considering what else there is there...just give me some more Neil Diamond already
Since this conversation I have acquired the Last Waltz Criterion BR, and unfortunately there is only one outtake, a 12-minute unrehearsed all-star blues jam. If you're like me and find unrehearsed all-star blues jams the absolute worst, then this is quite a letdown. It's only remarkable because Stephen Stills is there, since he's not in the film itself.

There's a disclaimer before the clip claiming that this is the only unused footage there is, so at least there's the comfort of knowing that nothing is being held from us.

But the film looks gorgeous and there's a few bonus interviews with Robertson and Scorcese so the package is still recommended.
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Captain's Log
My Collection



I spent a lot of time watching Old and trying to figure out exactly why I hated it. Like, the reasons are mostly obvious: nonsensical plotting, terrible dialogue, embarrassing acting. But none of these things would be an issue in a lot of other films I really love. So what exactly is it about the DNA of a Shyamalan movie that just makes his extremely weird movies so absolutely exhausting to watch.



I guess it's really just the sense that there is just no joy evident in the production. As imaginatively dumb as his movies frequently get, there is just something oppressive about how they are presented. So much wasted energy goes into us having to take what he's giving us seriously. It just all feels like an insult for us to be expected to think anything we are watching here as any relation to any kind of world we are supposed to believe in. It feels like a big lie. Whereas some direct to video piece of junk from the 80s at least allows us the courtesy to become lost along with the filmmaker, an empathetic kind of loss of direction, Shyamalan just keeps motioning for us to keep venturing further and further into his pointless films, assuring us he knows where he is going. Except he doesn't. He doesn't have a clue. He's as lost as we are and I think I just watch his films with a resentment that he will not admit as much to us.



Basically, I just find something deeply unpleasant in watching his movies, and I think it comes from some deep suspicion that there is just something about the personality of the filmmaker I refuse to abide. He makes movies like a humourless, smug prick, which is just so unbelievably baffling considering how obviously terrible and stupid nearly all of them are.



I do keep watching them though so *shrugs*



Shyamalan just keeps motioning for us to keep venturing further and further into his pointless films, assuring us he knows where he is going. Except he doesn't. He doesn't have a clue. He's as lost as we are and I think I just watch his films with a resentment that he will not admit as much to us.
I'm still able to find enough enjoyment from the occasional creative premise or performance (I really liked the main couple and thought they gave the movie a real lift) that I keep checking them out.

But you're right about the weird insistence on it being serious. I think that's why The Visit was one I was able to really enjoy, because it seemed to be a bit more aware of the absurdity.



I spent a lot of time watching Old and trying to figure out exactly why I hated it. Like, the reasons are mostly obvious: nonsensical plotting, terrible dialogue, embarrassing acting. But none of these things would be an issue in a lot of other films I really love. So what exactly is it about the DNA of a Shyamalan movie that just makes his extremely weird movies so absolutely exhausting to watch.



I guess it's really just the sense that there is just no joy evident in the production. As imaginatively dumb as his movies frequently get, there is just something oppressive about how they are presented. So much wasted energy goes into us having to take what he's giving us seriously. It just all feels like an insult for us to be expected to think anything we are watching here as any relation to any kind of world we are supposed to believe in. It feels like a big lie. Whereas some direct to video piece of junk from the 80s at least allows us the courtesy to become lost along with the filmmaker, an empathetic kind of loss of direction, Shyamalan just keeps motioning for us to keep venturing further and further into his pointless films, assuring us he knows where he is going. Except he doesn't. He doesn't have a clue. He's as lost as we are and I think I just watch his films with a resentment that he will not admit as much to us.



Basically, I just find something deeply unpleasant in watching his movies, and I think it comes from some deep suspicion that there is just something about the personality of the filmmaker I refuse to abide. He makes movies like a humourless, smug prick, which is just so unbelievably baffling considering how obviously terrible and stupid nearly all of them are.



I do keep watching them though so *shrugs*
Nah. Its because hes slick.



Nah. Its because hes slick.

Well, that depends on what you mean by slick.


Technically capable? In that case, no. The vast majority of movies I like are 'slick' in this way. Yes, I like a lot of films which are technically primitive or inept, but that has no bearing on my appreciation for directors who are accomplished in the medium. Like, at all. And the reason for this is because directors who have a personality, have something to say, have a passion for expressing themselves through film, continue to have these virtues as they develop as filmmakers.



Or do you mean 'slick' in the way where it is a filmmakers defining characteristic? That the best thing you can say about them is they have learned the rules. They have learned the appropriate reflexes required to make a proper looking movie and are displaying them. And this is something that should be commended as an artform. Well, in that case, no, I don't like slick. I do not care about any artist who can prove they have basic skills. If someone shows me a nicely rendered drawing they have made of their cat, and all I get from looking at it is I know they can draw, but I understand absolutely nothing about what their relationship with the animal they have drawn, I similarly don't care. I don't care when people can 'do things', I care when they can express things. Two completely different talents.


Shyamalan doesn't have shit to say through his films. And one of the reasons for this is he relies on the emotional states of his characters to bring life to his technical skills. But time and time again he proves to not be terribly deft in navigating the human terrain of his films. There is a disconnect, reducing everything else he does to a parlour trick. And frankly, Old may have been one of his technically least interesting to date.


He has thus far made two movies which I felt over came his obvious deficits as a director. Unbreakable, which I feel makes a decent attempt at articulating the humanity of his characters (at least comparatively). And The Happening, which pushes the behavior of his characters so far beyond anything that looks like people, they have been safely moved into the zone where I can just appreciate what he is doing as a bit of B Movie trash. Old, at the very least, comes the closest to this approach since The Happening. But there were still too many moments where I could feel how ineffective he was at making me truly feel for the plight of his characters, and how hard he was working at doing this, and it just becomes an absolute embarrassment to watch such levels of failure.



I'm still able to find enough enjoyment from the occasional creative premise or performance (I really liked the main couple and thought they gave the movie a real lift) that I keep checking them out.

But you're right about the weird insistence on it being serious. I think that's why The Visit was one I was able to really enjoy, because it seemed to be a bit more aware of the absurdity.

I couldn't stand any of the actors in this one. And thought they were all beyond awful.



And while I think the premise was right for The Visit, Shyamalan still has this weird tone deafness when it comes to the behavior of his characters. I spend the entirety of his films just cringing while I watch him fumble through anything that has to do with human emotion. I struggle to think of many directors who are worse at this than him. He's staggeringly bad at it.



I've been trying to figure out why I have issues with Spielberg's human beings starting after some cut off point in his early work, and I've been contemplating it for decades. And whatever answer I've ever come up with is then eventually met with, "why don't I have issues with these other films?"


The best explanation I can ever get to is they exist in this anti-goldilocks zone of realism and story-telling, where I become aware in a very negative sense of the artificiality of the behavior.



I've been trying to figure out why I have issues with Spielberg's human beings starting after some cut off point in his early work, and I've been contemplating it for decades. And whatever answer I've ever come up with is then eventually met with, "why don't I have issues with these other films?"


The best explanation I can ever get to is they exist in this anti-goldilocks zone of realism and story-telling, where I become aware in a very negative sense of the artificiality of the behavior.

I imagine whatever issues you have with Spielberg are very much what I push back against with Shyamalan.



I obviously don't have that reaction with movies like Close Encounters or Jaws or ET, as I am a bit of a Spielberg fanboy (up to a point). But even though I completely buy into the family dynamics he portrays, I can see the glimmer of artifice here and there that might catch people in that 'anti goldilocks' zone.



I think ultimately, there is always a struggle over how we are meant to relate to the reality of what we are seeing on screen with any director, as virtually all of them have specific tricks they use to lull us into believability. I imagine for young people today, the notion that at one time Laurence Oliver, or even my god Marlon Brando, are the epitome of cinematic realism is beyond laughable. There is really almost as much artifice in the mannerisms of Brando as there is in a Bogart or a Cary Grant. But they were fresh and new mannerisms we hadn't seen on screen before, so they seem to come from some honest place. Because they actually did, and while like anything, while they might not help eventually aging out, that honesty remains intact somehow.



But with Shyamalan, his attempts at realism, his attempts to allow us empathetic entry into the worlds his characters inhabit, are so beyond shallow the only thing I see is the mechanics or his writing. Nothing else. Everything they say and do is mechanical and relates exactly to what MNS wants them to be doing for his own purposes. Plastic gears for his plastic plots. It's not like a Spielberg, where I can understand there being occassional hiccups that dispel the illusion. In this case, it is all an illusion. It is all artifice It is all lies. And very bad ones as they very nearly feel like the kind of nonsense you might hear coming out of the mouth of a child caught in a lie. You just know its all bullshit. And then to dare try and make me invest in something so shallow and clearly built upon manipulation, really gets me frustrated. Makes me resist falling into whatever coma that might be required to believe anything he's telling me.



He's a fraud. And it is only the level of how bad he is at disguising what a phony baloney he is that makes his movies almost interesting. Whatever actual talents he has (and he does have some) are rendered almost irrelevant. Like a lot of B movie directors, it is his failures which are worth a closer look. At least until you realize he wants us to take his efforts seriously. Then the only fair response is to cover your face in shame and just beg for him to retire already



Also, the new Dune is great.


An amazing verdict considering how slick it is.
I imagine all the sand keeps it from being too slick.



I imagine all the sand keeps it from being too slick.

Shyamalan had more than his share of sand at hand. But instead of using it for its natural grit, he just got his dumb characters making sandcastles with it. You know, because they are still children inside and that was a nice and pandering way to remind the audience in case they forgot.

Because kids make sandcastles.

That's what they do when they are busy being kids.

At least according to the pamphlets about the human race MNS quickly flipped through before making this pile of shit.



I imagine whatever issues you have with Spielberg are very much what I push back against with Shyamalan.



I obviously don't have that reaction with movies like Close Encounters or Jaws or ET, as I am a bit of a Spielberg fanboy (up to a point). But even though I completely buy into the family dynamics he portrays, I can see the glimmer of artifice here and there that might catch people in that 'anti goldilocks' zone.
Jaws mostly predates when I noticed issued with his films. A little still pokes through, but overall I'm very positive on Jaws. I haven't watched Close Encounters for 20 years, I remember it being solid, but I also don't trust my 20 year old opinion of it. ET, I can't remember if I watched as a child or not, but I did watch it somewhat recently as an adult. There is that one (dinner?) scene with the kids and the mom that is still legitimately good to great, but I seem to recall having issues with lots of other things in the movie - there's a lot of non-people talking stuff as well that gets me in his films, such as crowds (but that requires further elaboration). I think as my comedy ballot is indicating, I might not be big on sentimentality, or at least the kind that Spielberg likes to embrace, so that probably makes it more difficult to be on that same suspension bridge of disbelief as his.

I do know by the time he got to Schindler's List (perversely, my memory of this is getting close to 30 years old and yet I'm okay relying on that negative take), he... I don't care for the monologues and stated rationalizations he has people try to do. This also pops up heavily in A.I. I know a lot of people have come around on that movie, but as it exists in my mind, I still haven't (I will say, the skeleton was an interesting mess, I at least don't mind the space it occupies in my brain and if forced to revisit something like that or Jurassic Park, I'd be picking A.I. just for the interesting, messy part). I think you're mostly right in your assessments of the directors we have issues with, there's just a gap between where they want to be on the realism/artificiality spectrum and where we want or perceive them to be.
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Saved for personal reference (to see how wrong I was): top 100 comedy countdown - my predictions for my ballot after #41 (Borat) on the list had been revealed



Jaws mostly predates when I noticed issued with his films. A little still pokes through, but overall I'm very positive on Jaws. I haven't watched Close Encounters for 20 years, I remember it being solid, but I also don't trust my 20 year old opinion of it. ET, I can't remember if I watched as a child or not, but I did watch it somewhat recently as an adult. There is that one (dinner?) scene with the kids and the mom that is still legitimately good to great, but I seem to recall having issues with lots of other things in the movie - there's a lot of non-people talking stuff as well that gets me in his films, such as crowds (but that requires further elaboration). I think as my comedy ballot is indicating, I might not be big on sentimentality, or at least the kind that Spielberg likes to embrace, so that probably makes it more difficult to be on that same suspension bridge of disbelief as his.

I do know by the time he got to Schindler's List (perversely, my memory of this is getting close to 30 years old and yet I'm okay relying on that negative take), he... I don't care for the monologues and stated rationalizations he has people try to do. This also pops up heavily in A.I. I know a lot of people have come around on that movie, but as it exists in my mind, I still haven't (I will say, the skeleton was an interesting mess, I at least don't mind the space it occupies in my brain and if forced to revisit something like that or Jurassic Park, I'd be picking A.I. just for the interesting, messy part). I think you're mostly right in your assessments of the directors we have issues with, there's just a gap between where they want to be on the realism/artificiality spectrum and where we want or perceive them to be.

I think it is necessary to embrace sentimentalism to fully embrace Spielberg. That is the albatross he carries and that which he defies us to overlook. I mostly can. Frankly, it was never the sentimentality which put me off of him. It was that he just became really boring and predictable.



I think Schindler's List has lots of perils to avoid in its monloguing. But this is mostly through Neeson and Kingsley's characters (who I also think are both spectacular in it, regardless of any nitpicking). But I believe the rest of the characterizations are pretty on point. Not that it is 100 percent realism. I think there is a battle going on in that film where we are dealing with the tragedy of what happened very soberly, but as an artist, Spielberg is employing loads and loads of cinematic tricks and different techniques that bring attention to themselves in ways that can only be seen as cinematic, creating a bit of an emotional distance in theory. But, even as they do this, they kind of nail the texture of the terror that is happening here. Give a panoramic view of the atrocities and the humanity that was affected. I think what gives the movie most of its power is all the little anecdotal stories that swirl around the main narrative arc. They supply the film with its feeling of life and of life being taken away.



Victim of The Night
I couldn't stand any of the actors in this one. And thought they were all beyond awful.



And while I think the premise was right for The Visit, Shyamalan still has this weird tone deafness when it comes to the behavior of his characters. I spend the entirety of his films just cringing while I watch him fumble through anything that has to do with human emotion. I struggle to think of many directors who are worse at this than him. He's staggeringly bad at it.
That's so interesting to me, the thing that I have always complimented Shyamalan on is how he handles his actors. Starting with Willis (that performance may be kind of his schtick now but it was very subdued for him back then) then Sam Jackson and an even subtler performance from Willis (and arguably my favorite performance from Robin Wright), then somehow reigning in Mel Gibson, which I thought was impossible, and I actually thought Joaquin Phoenix was a ridiculous over-acter until he was in Signs (only then did I take him seriously), While not as necessary really, I thought every performance in The Village was spot-on, particularly BD-H (but also Phoenix, Brody, Hurt, and Weaver), and then again in The Visit (where I particularly thought the child actors were aces (when I usually can't stand child actors), and the boy in particular gave a really good performance, and then Split, getting something that really worked for me, despite it kinda being the thing I would usually roll my eyes at, from an actor (McAvoy) I didn't realize could do that kind of work and not getting too much from the actors whose characters were in peril and could easily have overdone it.
And then there is one of my favorite performances of all time and probably the winner for Best Performance In A Movie I Didn't Like, Paul Giamatti's absolutely heartbreaking performance in Lady In The Water.
Honestly, if there's one thing I've always respected Shyamalan for, it's what he can get from his actors, whether it's a lot from someone I didn't expect a lot from or a very little from someone I think of as always doing too much.



Victim of The Night
Also, the new Dune is great.


An amazing verdict considering how slick it is.
It is very slick. And way too fast for me. Great?... hmmm...



Also, the new Dune is great.


An amazing verdict considering how slick it is.
Villeneuve is too methodically slow to be slick. Hes in the vein of Nolan as a more mainstream Kubrick.



Villeneuve is too methodically slow to be slick. Hes in the vein of Nolan as a more mainstream Kubrick.

I imagine you'll just keep qualifying the word 'slick' until it is left to mean nothing beyond James Wan and M Night Shyamalan. And at that point, wouldn't just 'hack' suffice?



I imagine you'll just keep qualifying the word 'slick' until it is left to mean nothing beyond James Wan and M Night Shyamalan. And at that point, wouldn't just 'hack' suffice?
Slack.



Villeneuve is too methodically slow to be slick. Hes in the vein of Nolan as a more mainstream Kubrick.
You just gotta grease him up. Get him nice and slippery.



Halloween Kills is dumb and boring. And the best part is how it pretends like it has something to say. Lol.


Thanks Halloween Kills. I learned so much about modern society through your deft touch.