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David Poland

By David Poland

BYOB: At Ebertfest

It’s like being in Southern Illinois!

It’s been an odd week of not writing. I kinda feel like I’ve explained most of what’s been going on in the movie news cycle for years, ad nauseum.

So you probably already understand that Netflix’s problems didn’t start or end with the announcement about spinning off the DVD segment of the company… you understand that Bob Iger’s vision for Disney was branded sections for which Disney didn’t fund movies and that Rich Ross was left holding the bag for that bad idea and that the firing and the need for stories to run about how hard finding a replacement is are all about the May 8 stockholders event… you know that neither Lionsgate nor Summit really know what they will look like beyond TwiHunger GamesLight… that theatrical is fine, thanks…

I tried to get to 5 Year Engagement for review, but in spite of showing it at SXSW, Universal didn’t want to show it to me before this week and family won over the one opportunity in Chicago.

Nothing new here at EbertFest. I really liked, to my surprise, a doc called Phunny Business about a game-changing black comedy club called All Jokes Aside in Chicago about which you’ve probably never heard. Really enjoyed Terri, which it took me 15 months to see for some reason (perhaps why it got a weak release… it’s not the movie’s fault).

I’ll be back to a regular schedule on Monday.

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122 Responses to “BYOB: At Ebertfest”

  1. matthew says:

    Too bad Sound of My Voice isn’t playing around San Francisco yet. I didn’t care overmuch for Another Earth, but I think Brit Marling has a nice career in store if she can continue to be in (and write) interesting films.

  2. Krillian says:

    Lucky, lucky.

    Let him know he’s still wrong about Full Metal Jacket.

  3. hcat says:

    Because of someone’s previous discussion on a BYOB I went and rented Myra Breckinridge to see what all the hubbub was about. While ambitious it is quite a huge mess, half of the time I had no real idea what was going on, it reminded me a lot of watching Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.

  4. hcat says:

    David – Actually you are in Central Illinois, they take the distinction pretty seriously.

  5. Krillian says:

    Here’s something for the group:

    1. What’s the most critically acclaimed classic movie you still haven’t seen?

    2. What’s your favorite movie you think the fewest amount of people have seen?

    3. What critically-acclaimed movie were you most disappointed in when you saw it?

    Mine are
    1. From Here to Eternity
    2. Paprika
    3. Leaving Las Vegas

  6. Joe says:

    I’ll play:

    1. The Maltese Falcon/Treasure of The Sierra Madre
    2. Dogville
    3. The Artist

  7. Aaron Aradillas says:

    I think Brit Marling has the potential to be a major actress. What she needs to do is STOP writing or co-writing her scripts. SOUND OF MY VOICE is better than MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLEN but that’s not saying much. It’s another lightwieght movie about cults that’s not really interested in cults. It just want to lay the groundwork for another TWILIGHT ZONE-style freak-out ending. The best part of the movie? The use of Hot Chip’s “Thieve in the Night” as the closing-credit song. It gets under your skin more effectively than the movie.

    The best movie made about a cult remains Todd Haynes’ SAFE.

  8. JS Partisan says:

    Yeah here we go:

    1) All Quiet on the Western Front
    2) The Good Thief
    3) Requiem for a Dream

  9. hcat says:

    1. Citizen Kane (I’ll admit it)
    2. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (also the best movie title of the last 20 years)
    3. Saving Private Ryan

  10. storymark says:

    Hmmm, fun question. Requires a bit of thought….

    1. Psycho
    2. Following
    3. Lost in Translation

  11. Geoff says:

    Fun little exercise.

    1. Gone With the Wind (never saw the whole thing)
    2. Croupier
    3. Million Dollar Baby

  12. spassky says:

    1. What’s the most critically acclaimed classic movie you still haven’t seen?

    Black Narcissus
    Birth of a Nation

    2. What’s your favorite movie you think the fewest amount of people have seen?

    Out of the Blue
    Louie Bluie
    The Emperor’s Naked Army Watches On
    The films of Laurie Anderson should be studied and viewed alot more frequently

    3. What critically-acclaimed movie were you most disappointed in when you saw it?

    2000’s: Million Dollar Baby, Gladiator, Erin Brokovich, MOULIN ROUGE, Gangs of New York, Seabiscuit, Babel, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Precious, Crash, most critically-acclaimed movies from this decade

    1990’s: Titanic, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, The English Patient, Braveheart, Dances with Wolves, Awakenings, TOO MANY MAUDLIN SHIT FILMS TO NAME

    1980’s: Ghandi, Platoon, The Big Chill, but as a whole I think this decade is criminally under-appreciated in terms of filmmaking

    1970’s: The DeerHunter, Coming Home

    1960’s: Psycho (lots of things play into this disappointment, though)

    1950’s: Ben-Hur

    And I will add a fourth q:

    What popular (or critically-acclaimed film) did you expect not to like and loved?
    I just watched ‘Animal House’ for the first time, and thought it was classic. Didn’t see that coming AT ALL.

  13. Rob says:

    1. The Graduate (on my mind b/c it’s rereleased in my city this weekend)
    2. The Deep Blue Sea (no post-theatrical life yet; I implore people to catch this while it’s in theaters)
    3. District 9

  14. storymark says:

    Wow, spassky. Im used to people going outside the parameters of some polls like this, but damn, you couldn’t narrow things down to a couple dozen??

  15. lazarus says:

    1. The Seventh Seal
    2. Céline and Julie Go Boating
    3. Pierrot Le Fou/Contempt

    Also, Ebert was RIGHT about Full Metal Jacket (and he wasn’t critically alone in his feelings). Kubrick’s weakest along with Lolita.

  16. tbunny says:

    Brad Pitt’s character eats so much in Moneyball it’s amazing he’s in such good shape. He’s literally stuffing his face in half the scenes in the movie.

    Does a woman appear in this movie? The whole thing takes place in near monastic jock-space. Hoffman makes a prominent turn in oompa-loompa-esque baseball tights. Tableau’s of post-game sweaty mens in various states of physical deliquesence. Crisis moment when the suave Beane catches goomba Giambi in Fellini-esque post-loss strip tease amidst a 6 game losing streak. Tells him their crap and should feel like crap. Jonah Hill never touching any of the abundant snacks Beane munches on throughout. And stats won the AL west that year.

  17. Mike says:

    1. The Searchers
    2. After Life
    3. The Godfather (I have never gotten the love for that movie)

  18. cadavra says:


    2. Why, THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA, of course. Failing that, ONE TWO THREE.

    3. Anything by James Cameron, though by now “disappointment” is the wrong word, as I expect them to be turgid pieces of hackwork.

  19. spassky says:

    Hahaha… no … not for the 2000’s and 90’s …

    … and I feel I should have added “lost in translation” to that third item as well…

    I feel like a decent amount of people have seen ‘following’ though… decent little flick. I remember seeing it just after ‘Memento’ but I guess I’m curious to see if people who really enjoyed ‘Dark Knight’ have checked this one out.

  20. spassky says:

    Okay @storymark, I’ll bite and give three single answers:

    1) Birth of a Nation

    2) Out of the Blue (d. hop 1980)

    3) Platoon

    That was kind of tough..

  21. PastePotPete says:

    1. The Rules of the Game
    2. Things to Come (1936)
    3. Shakespeare in Love

  22. film fanatic says:

    Best line in the Jeff Robinov-sourced Nikki Finke public lynching of Joel Silver: “Once the relationship soured, the issue now was how to avoid a bad situation devolving into a bad breakup by publicly embarrassing Joel.”

  23. chris says:

    1. Casablanca
    2. Chaser
    3. The Descendants

  24. Hallick says:

    1. What’s the most critically acclaimed classic movie you still haven’t seen?
    – The 400 Blows

    2. What’s your favorite movie you think the fewest amount of people have seen?
    – Rita and Sue and Bob Too (from the late Andrea Dunbar and the great Alan Clarke. Hell, they’re both great. Both late actually too…)

    3. What critically-acclaimed movie were you most disappointed in when you saw it?
    – Being John Malkovich, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Requiem For a Dream, and Fargo (which I like to this day, but I was so built up by Siskel & Ebert’s raving reviews I just sat there feeling dejected because I only liked it).

  25. hcat says:

    First Potter comes to an end, now Silver is out of the studio. Thank god for Eastwood or I might not even recognize Warners anymore.

  26. Not David Bordwell says:

    1. The General (Buster Keaton’s, not John Boorman’s)

    2. Any movie with Til Schweiger before The Replacement Killers

    3. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (in fact, no one has ever been able to explain to me effectively what is unassailably great about it, especially if one finds the music of Leonard Cohen grating, or the pot-addled “direction” of Robert Altman half-assed… if Julie Christie and Warren Beatty are the movies only other charms, I’d rather be on a desert island with Shampoo… so, if anyone here wants to take a shot at it rather than point at me like Donald Sutherland at the end of Kaufmann’s Body Snatchers remake with cries of “heretic!” have at it).

  27. palmtree says:

    Too many to mention, but here are a few…

    1. Early Malick, Coen Bros., Herzog, Sayles, etc.
    2. Any film by Tsai Ming Liang
    3. Chinatown, Raging Bull, On the Waterfront (I saw them all on a tiny TV but naturally my opinion of them has improved since)

  28. Not David Bordwell says:

    Why the hell are so many answers to number 3 films made in the last decade? How old are you people?

    “Gutter, you are aware there was music made before the 1980’s, aren’t you?”

  29. Not Martin H. Leaf says:

    1. The Passion of the Christ

    2. Jud Suess

    3. Europa, Europa

  30. Sam says:

    1. The Red Shoes
    2. One Two Three (props to Cadavra)
    3. The Thin Red Line

    Hopefully soon all three of my answers will be different: (1) because I’ll have seen it, (2) because this post means more people will have seen it, and (3) because Tree of Life makes me think I should give that one a second chance now that I have more life experience to draw upon and inform my viewing of it.

  31. 1. Barry Lyndon
    2. The Stunt Man
    3. Easy Rider/Lost in Translation

  32. sanj says:

    1. Star Wars movies – all of them

    2. Martyrs 2008

    3. Tree of Life

  33. mysteryperfecta says: Top 250 was helpful for the first question:

    1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

    2. Rushmore. Yes, most cinephiles have seen it, but based on its box office, and the relatively few number of people who have rated it on, its hasn’t been seen by many. Also Maltese Falcon, because its old.

    3. Waking Life

  34. hcat says:

    And to spaasky’s additional question, I recently rented Cinderella Liberty though I am not a big fan of James Caan, Marsha Mason, or Mark Rydall and the thing just floored me. Talk about another example of the academy choosing something fun (The Sting) over something gritty.

    I can’t think of any film from the past few years that gave me the same kick in the gut.

  35. Foamy Squirrel says:

    1. Gone With The Wind. The fact my sister was obsessed with it when I was a kid has given me an irrational hatred by association.

    2. Brain Donors. Oh Turturro, is there nothing you can’t do?

    3. 2001. Never been able to sit through the entire thing.

  36. bulldog68 says:

    1. What’s the most critically acclaimed classic movie you still haven’t seen?
    Gone with The Wind/Casablanca

    2. What’s your favorite movie you think the fewest amount of people have seen?
    Avatar. (Just kidding) Remains of the day. Mainly because most of my friends have not seen it.

    3. What critically-acclaimed movie were you most disappointed in when you saw it?
    Any Terrance Malick film

  37. hcat says:

    YEA FS, Everytime Brain Donors is shown affection an Angel gets its wings.

  38. movielocke says:

    Just popping in to say that all the movie blogger elite who every year line up to put their stamp of approval on boring acting nominees (by only talking about boring safe ‘predictions’ they artificially narrow the field to the boring and safe choices). should really advocate hard to remember and take seriously some non “I’m having a divorce and is zo sadz” performances.

    Specifically, let’s make Best Supporting Actor completely kick ass and fun: Robert Downey Jr. The Avengers, Josh Brolin Men in Black III, Michael Fassbender Prometheus, Tom Hardy Dark Knight Rises, Richard Armitage The Hobbit (this last is the only one that would happen if Jackson weren’t a fucking moron for making two movies out of one story).

    Any oscar blogger/pundit who starts predicting this years awards without promoting this legit excellence we have in popular movies this year and instead goes for promoting the typical herd award movies should be tarred and feathered.

  39. movielocke says:

    1. City of Sadness, The Traveling Players, Voyage to Italy (based off the 2002 Sight & Sound list, those are the three highest ranked films I’ve not seen)

    2. Empire of the Sun, or A Matter of Life and Death. Both are criminally overlooked masterpieces. Spielberg’s lowest grossing film (and his most visually artistic) and Powell & Pressburger’s greatest achievement, the film that puts “Love” on trial in Heaven and asks if Love can be proven, can be measured and quantified if Love can be enough to set aside a conviction (Death)?

    3. In the Mood for Love. I fell asleep all three times I’ve watched it.

  40. Yancy Skancy says:

    1. Classic/haven’t seen: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP (I think I’m the third person to mention a Powell/Pressburger title; I love every one of theirs I’ve seen, but this one keeps getting past me).

    2. Favorite that fewest people have seen: RUGGLES OF RED GAP

    3. Acclaimed disappointment: MISSISSIPPI BURNING – maybe a bit of a cheat, since plenty of people hate Alan Parker movies, but this one got multiple Oscar nods, and even John Simon liked it.

    Not Martin H. Leaf: “Jud Suess”? Does he write antisemitic children’s books in verse? 🙂

  41. Yancy Skancy says:

    movielocke: We were composing at the same time, so I’m the FOURTH person to mention a P&P film.

    By the way, point taken on your Supporting Actor suggestions, but is it okay to wait until we actually see those films before we judge the performances to be award-worthy? 🙂

  42. Krillian says:

    Regarding some of the 1’s, I still also have not seen Birth of a Nation all the way through. But I’ve never really felt a desire to. Still need to see the 400 Blows, The Red Shoes and barry Lyndon too.

    Regarding some of the 2’s, I’ve seen Lost Skeleton of Cadavra and Brain Donors.

    Regarding some of the 3’s, I’d concur with recent Malick, Raging Bull, and 2001. I was bored when I saw 2001 at age 12, but I’ve never been able to get myself to sit through it again.

    And what movie did I not expect to like but loved? Igby Goes Down.

  43. spassky says:

    I find that James Caan movies are always ones I don’t expect much from and wind up being a great movie experience; the gambler; rabbit,run; the killer elite … will need to check out cinderella liberty.

  44. arisp says:

    Fargo? Deer Hunter? Platoon? Chinatown? Raging Bull? Psycho? Good grief, you people realize that you know absolutely nothing about what constitutes a classic film (let alone a great film) if you think these films are disappointing right? No leg to stand on whatsoever. I’d be curious how old some of you are, b/c those films are some of the greatest films ever made. And no that’s not one person’s opinion, that’s as solid a fact as saying the sun will rise tomorrow.

  45. Joe Straatmann says:

    1. Once Upon a Time in the West (There’s probably 2 or 3 other Westerns I could put on here since it’s really not my genre of choice)
    2. Sky Crawlers (Though I don’t recommend anyone run out and see it as soon as possible. It’s trailered like an action movie and runs like an Antonioni film)
    3. Children of Men

  46. cadavra says:

    NDB @ 1:09–No, you’re not alone on McCABE. I find it a crashing, self-indulgent bore. Never understood the love for it.

    I believe COLONEL BLIMP is getting a small art-house reissue this year, likely in advance of a Blu-Ray edition, so keep an eye peeled for it.

  47. brack says:

    1. Lawrence of Arabia (going with AFI’s list)
    2. Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach (one of those direct-to-video/cable movies that cracked me up)
    3. Blade Runner (though I still like it, with a story almost as complicated as Legend)

  48. Glamourboy says:

    hmmm, I was going with Lawrence of Arabia for my #1 but I’ll try to have different choices, as there are several for every category…

    1. Have never seen….Mean Streets (and Unforgiven)
    2. ..that I doubt many have seen…Sparkler (and Parting Glances)
    3. ..that I never got the love for…Crash (Patton)

  49. Glamourboy says:

    spassky, I agree with you. Caan was in some very underrated movies…I love Cinderella Liberty and I have BIG LOVE for Slither.

  50. LYT says:

    1. What’s the most critically acclaimed classic movie you still haven’t seen?

    Hard to name one huge one. Easier to say I haven’t seen any Truffaut or Antonioni, and very few Fellini.

    2. What’s your favorite movie you think the fewest amount of people have seen?

    Louis CK’s first feature TOMORROW NIGHT. Rarely shown, never available. And as brilliant as everything he does – maybe more so.

    3. What critically-acclaimed movie were you most disappointed in when you saw it?

    A Woman Under the Influence.

  51. palmtree says:

    Calm down, arisp. “Disappointing” doesn’t mean not a great film…it means it was hyped beyond belief to the point where seeing it didn’t live up to the expectation.

    No need to jump on people who are answering honestly unless your hope is shut down the entire discussion.

  52. sanj says:

    Amanda de Cadenet talks to actresses about personal stuff in new tv series on lifetime …

    here’s a preview – 3 minutes

    compared to dp/30 – there is better lighting – better camera and DP wouldn’t go into personal questions normally.

    this is the interviews Oprah usually does but there is no audience clapping and the questions seem real…
    but it’s mostly famous actressess and not anybody we haven’t really seen before…

    more videos and info here

  53. Don R. Lewis says:

    1. SCHINDLERS LIST (I missed in theaters and there’s probably no real “good time” to rent it)

    2. IN BRUGES


  54. Fitzgerald says:

    1. Have never seen a single Fassbinder film. Well, Michael yes, but not the other one. Shame on me. As it were.

    2 . Was thinking about a little film called “Bug” I saw years ago at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. Not the Ashley Judd one. Really unique and funny. Brian Cox hilarious in it. Love going to fests for this reason. I never would have found it otherwise.

    3. American Beauty.

  55. arisp says:

    palmtree – not sure the films I mentioned were overhyped beyond belief (they were all made before the current hype-machine 24/7 twitter world we live in). Anyone who was disappointed in them needs to admit that their taste doesn’t lean towards masterpieces, and that maybe they should read up on a thing or two. Also, My hope is not to shut anything down on this site. My hope is to impress upon people that their honest opinions can be wrong.

  56. Monco says:

    1.) Brith of a Nation but Fitzcarraldo kept coming to mind while I was thinking . I also haven’t seen a lot of Chaplin which is distressing and something I hope to remedy.

    2.) Any Dardenne brothers movie…I’ll go with Rosetta.

    3.) All time: Bonnie and Clyde…it’s greatness is completely lost on me. Most recent: The Descendants and Lost in Translation. But I also have to mention Avatar. People forget how much critics loved that movie. Ebert compared it to the original Star Wars and DP was practically orgasmic in his praise for it. I think it is a piece of shit.

  57. hcat says:

    Since someone mentioned Patton, there was always something I ask others. Is it possible that Patton is a satire? As a normal war movie it is a strong movie, but as a lampooning of this giant in his own mind character I thought it was genius. But I am not sure my enjoyment of it was the filmmakers intention. However since Scott had played a very similiar role before in Strangelove and Scheafer had just come off of Planet of the Apes which also had a slight satirical edge to it, I think its completely possible that Scott’s ‘I was on the battlefield at Carthage, I was a sentry for Rome, Machavielli used to suck my cock etc etc..’ performance as Patton was meant to slyly rib the behavior than lionize it. Wondering how others felt.

  58. hcat says:

    arisp, just by putting it on their list they are agreeing with you that these films are classics, just ones that didn’t personally move them as much as it did others. And people are only mentioning one apiece, if someone had listed all of those, then yes you would have an arguement about their understanding of film. But if I love every film you mentioned and then say The Searchers left me cold I don’t think that would immediately qualify me as a phillistine.

  59. Not David Bordwell says:

    Cadavra @ 5:22 — Ah, a kindred spirit!

    You live in Petaluma, right? Can’t wait to have Lagunitas brewing right here in Chicago.

  60. Not David Bordwell says:

    This thread has gotten long enough to evaluate the evaluations.

    There are probably hundreds of films that could fit even one person’s slot for the first category, but here are my favorites for the second so far:

    The Good Thief (JS Partisan has layers?!), Croupier, and The Stunt Man. What I’ve seen of One Two Three is great fun, but I’ve never seen the whole thing (BTW, it tends to run on German television, go figure).

    My favorites for the third:

    The Big Chill, Contempt, and arisp be damned, Raging Bull

  61. Drew McWeeny says:

    For the record, Universal did NOT screen “The Five-Year Engagement” at SXSW this year. They didn’t bring anything.

  62. movielocke says:

    @Yancy, you said, “By the way, point taken on your Supporting Actor suggestions, but is it okay to wait until we actually see those films before we judge the performances to be award-worthy?”

    No, it’s not okay, because the critics and pundits dismiss these performances before they are seen and judge about thirty drama performances to be award-worthy months before they’re ever seen.

    Something like Bane should get the same benefit of doubt that Javert gets. Movies shouldn’t need a Tarantino to make non oscar bait performances safe for oscar.

  63. SamLowry says:

    1. Raging Bull (I could not care less about boxing or down-and-out urban dwellers or the greater New York metropolitan area or anything else this film seems related to.)

    2. Fight Club (Yeah, I know a lot of people “saw” it, but I get the distinct impression either they didn’t watch the whole thing or they tuned out when they realized Tyler Durden didn’t exist. Anyone who says the movie is about fighting clearly didn’t get it.)

    3. Midnight Cowboy (It creeped me out enough that I never got more than halfway through.)

  64. lazarus says:

    Nice to see all the Powell & Pressburger mentions, even if it’s for stuff people haven’t seen. And in response to what was posted above, Colonel Blimp has indeed been restored and is making its way through Europe right now. I saw the print in Paris this month and nearly wept as it’s in my all time Top 10.

    As luck would have it, I then headed to Berlin and found myself right in the middle of a P&P retrospective at the local film archive. Managed to catch prints of The Red Shoes (glorious), Down To Earth (this really needs a domestic DVD release), Tales of Hoffmann, and surprisingly, The Elusive Pimpernel, which as far as I know isn’t available to watch on DVD anywhere. The latter was a really fun swashbuckler. David Niven was hilarious.

    Also a shout-out to whoever mentioned Brain Donors. Currently reading a Groucho Marx memoir and that film is a brilliant little tribute.

  65. Foamy Squirrel says:

    “Also a shout-out to whoever mentioned Brain Donors”

    Credit for that goes to Joe Leydon – a while back Joe mentioned he did an interview with Turturro who seemed genuinely pleased when Joe complimented him on Brain Donors.

  66. movieman says:

    (3) “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
    I’ve always had a prejudice against movies that sentimentalize mental illness (see “King of Hearts”), and Milos Forman’s aggressively manipulative Oscar winner has always left me cold. Nicholson, Fletcher and Dourif are all fine, but I never understood the love this received. Even gave it a second try last year to little avail.
    Questions (1) and (2) are just too big to answer adequately.
    Maybe something by Nancy Savoca (“True Love,” “Dogfight,” “Household Saints”) for (2).
    Perhaps Karel Reisz’s “Isadora” with Vanessa Redgrave’s legendary performance for (1).
    The fact that it’s never been released on dvd (was it ever released on VHS?) could explain this glaring oversight on my part. It’s one of those late ’60s movies (e.g., Losey’s “Boom!” and Lumet’s “The Sea Gull”) that seem to have vanished into a gaping black hole reserved exclusively for lost movies.

  67. MarkVH says:

    Also happy to see all the Powell & Pressburger mentions on the list, even if it’s for the films people haven’t seen. Acknowledging you have a problem is the first step toward addressing it, and I’m envious of those who have yet to discover the genius of Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, Colonel Blimp or any of their other masterpieces.

    1) Herzog is a major blind spot for me – have only seen Grizzly Man and maybe one or two others, just never got around to him. It’s on my “To Do” list.
    2) They Live By Night – early Nicholas Ray-directed “Bonnie & Clyde” story with Farley Granger and the luminous Cathy O’Donnell. A stone-cold classic with one of the saddest and most beautiful final shots in any movie, ever.
    3) There are very few established classics that I can’t find some level of admiration for, so I’ll go with something more recent and name The House of Sand and Fog. Glowing critical notices, ample year-end award nominations, and to me it’s a complete piece of shit. I’m actually sort of happy that it seems to have been mainly forgotten since its release.

  68. anghus says:

    Count me in on the Brain Donors love.

  69. movieman says:

    …add “I Know Where I’m Going” into the list of Powell/Pressburger cinema treasures. (“Peeping Tom,” too, although that was Powell solo.)

  70. Joe says:

    As a fan of early Malick and not (as) much of recent Malick, I can not recommend Days of Heaven and Badlands enough to those who haven’t seen them.

  71. Don R. Lewis says:

    I’m the one who lives in Petaluma and yes, Lagunitas RULES. You guys are going to love their laid-back attitude.

    And looking at alot of people’s #3 on thse lists, I think alot of the confusion or “I don’t get it” seems to stem from people not getting that the film was important because of WHEN it was made. Heck, myself included. fully *get* that RULES OF THE GAME is a scathing indictment of the bourgeois and alot of the satire and whatnot are lost on me due to my age.

    The thing that brought this idea to mind was the person who didn’t *get* BONNIE AND CLYDE. While I too feel it’s a bit over-praised, it still did some things no other film ahd done before (uber violence, namely).

  72. Yancy Skancy says:

    “My hope is to impress upon people that their honest opinions can be wrong.”

    Dude, how did you type that with a straight face?

    Of the six films you singled out, I consider only four to be masterpieces. Does that mean I’m only a partial idiot?

  73. Hallick says:

    arisp, come on now, quit kidding around here. I have no doubt at all that you yourself feel “meh” or “blecchhh” about several other movies that are considered classics and masterpieces somewhere else on somebody’s list of GREAT CINEMA. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The appreciation of movies, like any other art form, is utterly subjective because all we’re talking about is how we feel about a film, not how well it was shot or how literate the dialogue was or how fine the performances were. It’s got zilch to do with anyone’s literacy, education, or knowledge of film history.

  74. Hallick says:

    “And looking at alot of people’s #3 on thse lists, I think alot of the confusion or “I don’t get it” seems to stem from people not getting that the film was important because of WHEN it was made. Heck, myself included. fully *get* that RULES OF THE GAME is a scathing indictment of the bourgeois and alot of the satire and whatnot are lost on me due to my age.”

    The question for #3 didn’t make reference to any accounting for the importance or a movie at the time of its release, the question is “What critically-acclaimed movie were you most disappointed in when you saw it?”. That’s it. I’ve got some, you’ve got some, and everybody else here has some. If somebody wants to put up the other question and talk about cultural impact, please do.

    I hate to bang on and on over this point, but anybody who’s swift to dismiss another person’s taste in classic films or masterpieces because they don’t think all that highly of movie X, Y, or Z (which come to think of it, is an actual movie of critical acclaim) is probably being a hypocrite who feels the exact same way, just about a DIFFERENT classic that hasn’t been mentioned yet. And that’s just the way it is with EVERYTHING we watch, listen to, read, etc. Chill the hell out, we’re all living in glass houses on this point.

  75. doug r says:

    1 Any David Lean epic, except I did see Gandhi-in a double feature with a sneak preview of Blue Thunder, ironically enough.
    2 Shakes The Clown. Bobcat Goldwaite’s masterpiece about the clown world.
    3 Any David Lean epic that I still haven’t sat all the way through.

  76. tbunny says:

    You people who can’t sit through 2001 are PATHETIC BABIES. Kindly leave my movie theater.

  77. Joe Leydon says:

    1. Sweet Smell of Success (though that will change very soon)
    2. Claude Lelouch’s Les Miserables
    3. Fight Club

  78. movieman says:

    Lean didn’t direct “Gandhi,” Doug.
    That was Richard Attenborough who, despite rumors to the contrary, actually helmed a few good movies once upon a time (“Oh! What a Lovely War,” “Young Winston,” “Chaplin” and “Shadowlands”).
    “Gandhi,” its Oscar sweep notwithstanding, wasn’t among them.

  79. lazarus says:

    If we’re bringing up I Know Where I’m Going into the P&P discussion, then I’ll also mention A Canterbury Tale, which is so beautiful, and understated compared to their other works.

  80. Triple Option says:

    1. What’s the most critically acclaimed classic movie you still haven’t seen? Gone With The Wind

    2. What’s your favorite movie you think the fewest amount of people have seen? Gonna go w/Italian film, La sconosciuta or “The Unknown Woman.” I saw the original film that was subtitled and a few years later got a copy on dvd but it had been re-cut. Some stark scenes that would’ve constituted child abuse, though for the context of the film they all made sense. Still, it’s worth the find.

    3. What critically-acclaimed movie were you most disappointed in when you saw it? I’m gonna lean heavily on the word disappointed. Tree of Life I abhorred but I can’t say I was pumped up going in and kinda suspected the thing would’ve been a lot of hot air. There are so many films I leave feeling disappointed. I guess I would have to go with Heat.

  81. spassky says:

    arisp, I stopped reading when you only cited so-called ‘classic’ films that anyone who watches amc 2 hours a week could name. entry-level=you.

  82. arisp says:

    ^^ SO because AMC plays Deer Hunter and Raging Bull, etc I’m entry-level, and these films are not classics? Got it. I assume a cable channel would show films that are irrelevant so that they can amass all the advertising dollars that come with unknown, shitty films. I didn’t realize you’d written dissertations on film. From here on – Be It Resolved That – any cable channel that shows films like Godfather and Platoon is for rookies, and therefore, the films are “so called classics”.

    I know what classic films are. You’re post proves that you do not. And there is no interoperation on Earth that can convince me, and anyone with even a passing knowledge of film history, otherwise.

  83. Yancy Skancy says:

    arisp, what are you on about? You make it sound as if ALL film buffs, critics and scholars are on board with the same film canon, which is not and has never been true.

    Maybe some of the confusion is over the debasement of the word “classic,” which tends to get slapped on any film over a decade old, regardless of quality.

  84. Joe Leydon says:

    Arisp: No offense, but some of us have always felt The Deer Hunter is one of the biggest frauds in the history of cinema. “If you can drink the wine without spilling a drop, you’ll be happy for the rest of your lives.” Cut to close-up of TWO drops of wine on the wedding dress…

  85. SamLowry says:

    “You people who can’t sit through 2001 are PATHETIC BABIES. Kindly leave my movie theater.”

    Did you see the debate earlier this week between exhibitor heads who were actually willing to allow texting during designated showings? They are SOOO desperate to get youngsters into theaters that they’re willing to alienate anyone over the age of 25.

  86. JS Partisan says:

    No love for Deer Hunter? Really? Eh, it happens. Nevertheless, yes Not David, I have many layers but no matter how many times I mention it, YOU FOLKS IGNORE IT!

    Seriously, I’ve seen thousands of movies in my life, and could go on with more movies that I love that don’t get the dap like BRAIN SMASHERS (Even though I vaguely remember Brain Donors) :D! I kid I kid but who is here, who doesn’t love movies?

  87. sanj says:

    summer movies preview – 8 minute video

    spiderman – batman dark night rises – director James Gunn doesn’t think Anne Hathaway is right for the role – pretty funny…

  88. movieman says:

    I think I may have gotten the #s wrong, lol.
    But lest there was any confusion:
    “Cuckoo’s Nest” is my pick for most overrated/overhyped/oversold;
    any of the Savoca films I mentioned are the best movies too few people have seen;
    and “Isadora” is the best regarded film I’ve somehow managed to miss (although really through no fault of my own).

  89. arisp says:

    Joe – funny you mention that, as I watched the BD of Deer Hunter last night, and yes, that wine droplet scene was a bit on the nose. But I still MARVEL at the first hour and quarter of that film – I can never watch it enough times. I don’t think any film before or since has had such a ballsy first act.

    Here’s another poll for you: Name the ballsiest first acts in cinematic history. I nominate Deer Hunter and Psycho.

  90. JKill says:

    I’ll nominate GAMBIT for ballsiest first act.

  91. bulldog68 says:

    Pulp Fiction for ballsiest first act.

  92. I know he was “paying homage to” PSYCHO, but DePalma’s opening act of DRESSED TO KILL was pretty ballsy.

  93. SamLowry says:


  94. Yancy Skancy says:

    Ballsiest? How about THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY? Or am I thinking too literally? 🙂

  95. sanj says:

    so i watched a review of the raven on g4…
    they didn’t like it much .

    the only thing i know about this edgar allan poe guy is raven was on the simpsons ..

    hard to find video interviews… so this poe guy needs a dp/30… DP get on that.

  96. christian says:

    I always thought EXECUTIVE DECISION had one of the best first acts if only for killing off Steven Seagal…

    And good question! How nice to talk about FILM and not…whateva:

    1) GRAND ILUSION – Have seen no Renoir. Waiting for the right time.

    2) SKIDOO. Nuff said. Outside that, SHAKES THE CLOWN is a good comedy pick – I HATED Bobcat’s shtick until I saw this dark masterpiece. Binky The Clown is one of the greatest unknown villains in film history. Jodoworsky’s THE HOLY MOUNTAIN is the most amazing film I’ve ever seen.

    3) FIGHT CLUB – I think PT Anderson summed it up best. And throw in PORKY’S.

  97. Tim DeGroot says:

    Maybe it qualifies as “most punishing” first act rather than “ballsiest”, but I’ll say Irreversible.

  98. movieman says:

    …what about the apes first act in “2001”?
    audiences new to the film today still say, “WTF?!?”
    can you imagine what 1968 moviegoers must have thought?

  99. SamLowry says:

    “I think PT Anderson summed it up best.”

    That anyone who makes fun of cancer should get cancer?

  100. JS Partisan says:

    Fight Club is a Fincher film to see instead of Seven. Seven I’ve seen once and that’s enough, but Fight Club gets better with age.

  101. hcat says:

    Christian, not sure if Porky’s, though freakishly popular, was critically praised. I haven’t revisited it since that night in fifth grade when the HBO premiere coincided perfectly with my parent’s bowling night but I remember it fondly.

  102. SamLowry says:

    While we know for a fact that the Pentagon screened The Battle of Algiers for its analysts, I wonder if they’ve done the same with Fight Club.

    Maybe I shouldn’t give them any ideas.

    (When I looked up that screening I found this quote, written a year before the Abu Ghraib scandal broke: “Is this what the Pentagon wants to convey to its men and women in Iraq or to those who will lead them? That the end justifies the means? If so, they should recall that the use of torture in Algeria became one of the things that destroyed the French case for remaining there and it so disgusted the French public they ultimately acquiesced in giving up their colony.” )

  103. sanj says:

    Marvel’s The Avengers (on a budget) – trailer parody –

    3 minutes ..

  104. sanj says:

    so i noticed Jennifer Lawerence is married to Bradley Cooper in Serena … i dunno seems a bit miscast .

    this could be another version of blue valentine with Michelle WIlliams … going crazy and yelling a lot and
    trying to be somewhat realistic .

    but Jen’s got an oscar nomination already so they won’t give
    her another one so soon …so maybe Cooper does the yelling and he finally gets an oscar .

    movie won’t be out till 2013 but DP should get on this and make this an oscar film with lots of interviews .
    director is Susanne Bier who already got a dp/30 and
    Rhys Ifans who also got a dp/30 .

    i also want a dp/30 with Lorene Scafaria for Seeking a Friend for the End of the World …. she’s new and does
    tv mostly and now she got 2 big stars . Keira Knightley
    is too famous for a dp/30 . the movie has way too many famous co stars . it might hurt the movie.

    i’m always thinking ahead . ordering a dp/30 should be as easy as ordering from mcd’s but it isn’t.

  105. christian says:

    hcat, I was joshing about PORKY’S. But it was critically acclaimed among my peers at the time.

    Speaking of awkward sex, LAST TANGO IN PARIS is unbearable to sit through.

  106. Don R. Lewis says:


  107. David Poland says:

    Fight Club > Se7en

  108. spassky says:

    The Game>Fight Club>Se7en

  109. storymark says:

    Fight Club @ Seven

    The Game ^ Fight Club

    Panic Room % Ben Button

  110. Tim DeGroot says:

    PT Anderson’s comments on Fight Club were reported around the same time Kevin Smith dissed Magnolia. I thought someone should contact David Fincher to find out what he thought of Dogma.

  111. Don R. Lewis says:

    spassky’s like the guy who puts some random hip-hop album on his year ends best just to be “deep.” Or the person who says JACKIE BROWN is Tarantino’s best.

  112. JS Partisan says:

    The Game really is an under-appreciated masterpiece. I’ve seen it countless times, it never gets old, and it’s by far my fave Fincher film. It and Fight Club never get old.

  113. sanj says:

    the season finale of eastbound and down and raising hope are pretty good – they both deal with death and the last 5 minutes of the episode has some real good acting in each …

    tv deaths have been done over and over and it’s not that shocking …yet both these shows went from emotional highs to low in 5 minutes and that’s the end.
    so they did try something a little different.

    the only thing about raising hope that bugs me is why that kid on that show hasn’t talked yet …

  114. spassky says:

    Was kind of joking about ‘The Game’ … even though, yes, it is underrated.

    “Or the person who says JACKIE BROWN is Tarantino’s best”

    um… so like a person who is correct?

    And I assure you that no one puts hip-hop albums on music year end best lists to seem ‘deep’ … even if it is some post-backpacker psych-rap like shabazz palaces or something…

    On that note… Zodiac is better than everything else Fincher has done combined (minus ‘express yourself’ video)

  115. Krillian says:

    I am one of those who feels The Deer Hunter holds up better than Platoon. But my Nam-vet uncle probably helped my bias in that department.

  116. JS Partisan says:

    Yeah the Deer Hunter is fantastic. Platoon has it’s moments but come on, it’s a tad bit melodramatic. Deer Hunter, even with what happens to Walken in the end, feels authentic in the way it depicts everything.

    Now, with Zodiac, yes it’s a great film, but The Game works better because it flows better. Zodiac gets stalled in the third act and it never recovers. It’s just all denouement.

  117. spassky says:

    Mr Poland: I remember a slightly heated argument about Baumbach handling ‘The Corrections’ — any chance of finding that and starting a new BYOB?

  118. movieman says:

    I’m wondering whether anyone will ever get the chance to see Baumbach’s “Corrections” pilot now that HBO has decided not to “pursue” the series.
    (And yet they’re actually bringing the supremely indulgent, dog-chasing-its-tail “Treme” back for a third–count ’em–season. Mind-blowing.)

  119. Don R. Lewis says:

    I can’t imagine THE CORRECTIONS would be all that great. I recently read it and it’s very good but I didn’t find the characters all that engaging. Now, Franzen’s FREEDOM is fantastic…I think it’s a more well defined version of THE CORRECTIONS. Maybe they can swap Baumbach over.

    I don’t want any AVENGERS spoilers so I’m not in that review thread but seeing it’s mostly IO and DP right now makes me think there’s an epic battle of IO declaring the movie the best comic book movie ever and DP saying it’s a mediocre film. Am I right?

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon