Cinecast 162 – The Ron Howard Syndrome

 
You would think with both Gamble being gone this week and a lack of high profile titles at the multiplex a fairly short Cinecast episode would be called for this week. WRONG! Your humble (well not really) narrators manage to find a way to run off on this tangent after that, and clock in an episode with more length than John Holmes. We cover everything from “New Hollywood” earlier and successful experiment Midnight Cowboy to the catastrophic yawner for the whole family The Phantom Menace to the 2007 Cannes winner, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days and a fairly comprehensive and SPOILER laden review of Bong Joon-Ho’s (The Host, Memories of Murder) Mother. Lots of goodies in the margins (including a digression how not to take a photo in the cinema) as well as DVD picks and contests. And the strange and soporific career of Mr. Ron Howard. Sound off in the comments section if you can muster passion for The Da Vinci Code or Gung Ho!

As always, thanks for listening!




To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_162.mp3

 
 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…


show content



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IN-HOUSE BUSINESS:
Guess the Grosses contest


MAIN REVIEWS:
Mother (Marina’s review)


WHAT ELSE WE WATCHED:

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (Andrew’s review)
Atonement (Andrew’s review)
The Misfortunates (Bob’s review)
The Phantom Menace
Buffalo ’66
Midnight Cowboy


DVD PICKS:

Andrew:
Pirate Radio
(IMDb)

        Kurt:
Defendor
(IMDb)


 
 

BLU RAY:

Andrew:
Apollo 13
(IMDb)

        Kurt:
Love the Beast
(IMDb)


OTHER DVDs NOW AVAILABLE:
A Nightmare on Elm Street [Blu-ray] Essential Art House Vol. 5 [Criterion]


OTHER STUFF MENTIONED:
Hot Docs
José Padilha (not the terrorist one)
MSPIFF
Ridley Scott
Brown Bunny
Easy Riders/Raging Bulls
Departed/Infernal Affairs
Ron Howard


NEXT WEEK:
Red Riding Trilogy
The Joneses


PRIVATE COMMENTS or QUESTIONS?
Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, or email us:
feedback@rowthree.com (general)
andrew.james@rowthree.com
kurt@rowthree.com

 

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Antho42
Guest

At my local theater center, they are playing A Prophet, Mother, and Kick Ass. Now, I am going to eventually watch all three films, but which film should I see right away in the cinema?

kurt
Guest

I'd go with MOTHER If you are aiming for 'cinema,' and but Kick-Ass is very good. Most people think A Prophet is a tad on the long side.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

Still listening, but wanted to throw this info on Kim Hye-ja from the press materials – she's only got a few film credits, but she's well-known in South Korea as a TV actress. NOTE: This quote could be construed as a spoiler, though a very vague one.

"The star of The Rustic Diary, one of the longest running [1980-2002] and most beloved television series in Korean history, Kim Hye-ja nonetheless struggled with the stereotypical image of an endlessly tolerant, boundlessly loving mother. With MOTHER, Kim has completely subverted the almost sacred maternal image she helped construct over the last thirty years."

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Nice, I'm not surprised that the IMDb is not up to date on the unbelievable amount of Korean TV stuff (and a fair bit of that is of exceptionally high production value).

Using what you are known for and subverting it for a film is always a good thing, just ask Richard Dawson (and his awesome role in The Running Man!)

Henrik
Guest

Meh. Ragging on Episode 1 and praising Episode 4 is lame! HEARD IT.

Finally checked out a show, since you talked about alot of movies I have watched, and hardly any I haven't (just skipped the mother review). The show is alright, but Kurt constantly chuckles at his own remarks which is grating to listen to. Especially when he's saying dumb shit like 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days is a Hitchcockian movie. I recently rewatched that, and I hadn't seen it since the theaters, but I had listened to people like Jay Cheel talk about it, and only talk about the red-herrings and the construction, as if that's what you take away from the movie. If that's what you take away from that movie, you might as well stop watching movies and start reading books about movies. If you can not recognize the humanity that is present in the characters and get some thoughts going about the situation they're in, other than trying to guess what's going to happen next, I think you're about done.

Now Andrew likes this movie. In spite of everything I have called Andrew in the past, he generally likes the same movies I do, but it seems for completely different reasons. In this show he mentions how it's not a "prolife" or "prochoice" movie… Why would it be? The only place that issue exists in those terms is in America. Getting pregnant is not a political issue in the real world, it's an immediate lifechanging event, and it does happen all the time. The movie shows you how a society can utterly and completely fuck over a person, just because they're unintelligent or lack proper judgment. It's a society where once you cross a certain line, it's done with you, it doesn't care about you anymore, and the horrors that ensue from it. It's not about a fucking ambulance outside a hotel room, or a chase scene in the dark, but those are the elements that can be written about in a book because they can be categorized, and that's why they're also the most obvious to talk about if you want to seem smart about filmmaking. But they're inconsequential to the actual movie, and what it should instill in you as a viewer. When I rewatched it I liked it even better than the first time, and I did think to myself that this is a fucking movie. This isn't some bullshit that's just made, it's what people should strive for.

I hated Rashomon, not a big Kurosawa fan, and I did find it boring, with poor acting and a ridiculous plot.

Now, Midnight Cowboy – great movie. Since you go on so much about Oscars in this, I was surprised you didn't mention how ballsy of a choice that movie was for best picture.

Henrik
Guest

To get back to the Hitchcockian thing, his movies are all about the McGuffins and the set pieces. If you honestly think that 4, 3, 2 is about the MacGuffin, you've seriously cut yourself off of any humanity in your movie watching, and I think you should call it a day with movies, and try and get stirred somewhere else. Some people aren't into getting stirred though I suppose, which is fine, but then you might as well just read books about how the movies are made, instead of watching them.

kurt
Guest

@Henrik, "If you can not recognize the humanity that is present in the characters and get some thoughts going about the situation they’re in, other than trying to guess what’s going to happen next, I think you’re about done."

The wonderful thing about 4,3,2, is that you get both. Of course in an abortion drama you are going to get a fair bit of 'humanity' and the situation, but what this movie does is also give you a tightly constructed genre movie with maximum tension, and the wringing the most tension and anxiety out of the situation is where I reference hitchcock.

Also, I somewhat resent that I cannot enjoy both the empathy and humanity of a film, as well as the construction. There are many ways to wring pleasure from a film.

Kurt
Guest

@Henrik, "But they’re inconsequential to the actual movie, and what it should instill in you as a viewer."

WHAT IT SHOULD? I think you are getting preachier and more overbearing than normal. Who the hell are you to tell me what I SHOULD feel from a film??!!

I think people would take you more seriously if you weren't such a condescending bully, Henrik. If you cannot see this aspect of yourself in online forums, I'm more than happy to point out the obvious to you.

Thanks for listening though. I hope we didn't cause too much heartburn or ulcers in our particular mode of processing films.

Henrik
Guest

What I am talking about, is sitting there and watching 4,3,2, and afterwards only having something to say about construction and why a scene was tense. If you can't watch that movie and be affected personally, I think you're done with movies.

Henrik
Guest

"Also, I somewhat resent that I cannot enjoy both the empathy and humanity of a film, as well as the construction. There are many ways to wring pleasure from a film."

Sure, but from what you're saying, it didn't seem like you got anything out of it other than a good Hitchcock replacement, which – to me at least – is completely ludicruous.

Bob Turnbull
Admin

You're building straw men Henrik…This is one particular discussion of the film and it happened to focus on its ability to wring tension from the situation – which it does in spades (the dinner scene is very Hitchcockian, but is even more tense because of what you are imagining is happening…). As far as I know, they've never said they don't get anything more from it.

I'm generalizing here, but it seems that you focus more on what others get or don't get in films – "Anyone who doesn't see X in this movie is an idiot." or "Anyone who does see Y in this movie is stupid." – then in what you get from them. Why is it not possible to have a discussion about the profoundly human aspects of the film versus the way it uses tension without implying someone is devoid of humanity?

Antho42
Guest

I'snt better to be a Michael Bay type filmaker than a Ron Howard-type filmaker. At least, Bay puts a distinctive style to his films. Plus, Bay knows that he is film for teenagers, and therefore, is not expected to be high art. On the other had, Howard's vanilla films feel like he aiming for high art, especially for an Oscar award.

Andrew James
Guest

I actually think Howard gets a bit of a bad rap. Don't get me wrong, I don't rush out to see his movies on opening day or anything (and the DaVinci Code movies are pretty horrible), but looking over his filmography I can't quite understand why people hate on him so much. Are they really that "Vanilla?" About every third one is actually pretty good (or at least fun): Splash, Coccoon, Parenthood, Willow, Apollo 13 (awesome movie), Ransom, Cinderella Man, Frost/Nixon.

So yeah, I'd sit through any one of these titles before watching anything Bay does again.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I'm not so sure I care about either Bay's or Howard's filmmaking, but I can see Antho42's point. Vanilla (a very good description) is often worse than unintentionally-surreal-nails-on-chalkboard ™

Antho42
Guest

For the Netflix's Watch Instantly, multiple people can use it at the same. With my account, I let my friend and cousin use it at the same time. So you do not have to call Andrew to see when he is not using Netflix. Not sure about the Canadian IP situation. My guess is that you can still use it, since Netflix would probably think that Andrew is temporally traveling to Canada. It would be foolish for a company to disalow their services on the road trip. Hopefully, you be able to use Netflix's Watch Instantly, since they contain a huge portion of Criterion Collection's films.

David Brook
Admin

Backdraft is a guilty pleasure for me. I haven't seen it for years, but I loved it when I was a kid (I was a sucker for explosions in those days and it delivered in spades). I actually bought it on HDDVD (yes I made the wrong choice, bloody Sony) for a couple of quid, but I haven't brought myself to watch it yet in fear of shattering my childhood memories.

As for Howard's output in general I'd agree with the vanilla description. He's a made some decent films but no truly great ones and hasn't much of a stamp on his movies. You couldn't watch one of his films fresh and instantly say 'that's a Ron Howard movie', which you usually can with say Scorsese, Spike Jonze or Altman etc. Bay on the other hand has a clear 'Bay Movie' stamp, but his films are fucking braindead so I'd still rather sit through Howards collection, even if they're usually only OK.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

My issue with Howard is exactly what Kurt said – he's aggressively middle-brow, and gets rewarded for it. At least since Apollo 13, which I do like. I'd rather watch reruns of Happy Days all day than most anything he directs.

re: 4 Months. Glad you finally saw it and liked it, Kurt! Also one of my favorite films of the past decade.

re: Atonement. I've already stated that I'm not as big a fan as others of this film, and though Andrew may want to kill me for putting off Kurt any further, my response to Kurt's question about whether it's TOO perfect is yes. I can't fault anything in the way its made, its cinematography, its acting, anything – there's nothing I can really put my finger on that I can say "that element of filmmaking could be better" except that it didn't gut me. Like, even though I can point out things that I thought were better in the book, I can't really say what I would've changed to make them work for me in the movie, and even the things I didn't like (the soft cinematography, for example) I can totally understand why they did it and explain the narrative reasons for it. But it didn't gut me. It was very pretty, but it was a little too precise, a little too mannered, and yes, a little too perfect. That sounds so weird, but I think you'll know what I mean.

re: Midnight Cowboy. I'm not going to write about this one, even though I saw it a while back; I just don't have much to say about it. It was well-done, but didn't really grab me for whatever reason. I think I'll just link the Easy Riders marathon post here as the entry for Midnight Cowboy. 🙂

dan
Guest

Wanted to comment on Buffalo '66. I remember having that exact experience of always seeing that cover on the videostore shelf back in the day and being intrigued. I love that movie. The aesthetic and visual experimentation of the film just speaks to me. There are some sequences in there that just blew me away, like in the bowling alley where christina ricci breaks into a surreal-ass tap dance out of nowhere and for no reason–just gorgeous film-making. Sure, the movie could be labeled as "artsy" and super "indie," but like you said Andrew, there's definitely talent there. Also, the movie's pretty damn funny. Vincent Gallo's character's disturbed, verbal freak-outs and abusive ramblings were hilarious. The photo booth scene is classic, how he wanted to "span time." And mickey rourke was in there too.

I wasn't as high on The Brown Bunny, but enjoyed it fairly. The ending sequence worked well. I just remember feeling really self-conscious and pervo when I saw it at a shabby art-house theater in Berkeley years ago, since it was rated NC-17 when it came out over here.

rot
Guest

re: Atonement, but Jandy you read the book so you are somewhat biased in your perspective on the film. I wouldn't call Atonement a perfect film but neither do I consider it what Kurt is thinking it is, some big showy Oscar bait film. It DID hit me in the gut, it DID give me something to think about, and it is melodrama but successfully so. Also one of the most erotic sex scenes ever filmed.

rot
Guest

I forgive Gallo Brown Bunny because he made Buffalo 66.

rot
Guest

nobody remade High and Low? um, what about Ron Howard's Ransom… you were just combing his resume not ten minutes before 🙂

Jandy
Guest

True, and I've acknowledged that bias in my reaction to the film. But I'd also read Pride and Prejudice before seeing Wright's version of it, and that impressed me more than Atonement did – it showed me elements of the book that I'd never noticed before. Atonement didn't give me anything but gloss. But I'm going to snag it from the library one of these days; I'm prepared to eat my words if time and distance from the book help me appreciate the film more.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Heh. I never saw RANSOM, it was after my moratorium on Ron Howard movies, but all I can say is that Ron Howard is about the last person I would want to remake High and Low. I'd be fine if he remade On Golden Pond however…

Matt Gamble
Guest

Ransom isn't a remake of High and Low, its a remake of the 1956 film Ransom! which was based on a television show, whereas High and Low was adapted from an Ed McBain novel and made in 1963.

rot
Guest

It is unmistakably paying homage than to High and Low, the similarities are like The Missing is to The Searchers.