Cinecast Episode 206 – My Disney Compass is Spinning

 

 
 
Hello folks. We are back after a week off and we waste no time getting into a detailed, and probably too damn introspective, conversation about Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch. Is it a movie that panders so hard to its base, or a movie that stabs its core audience in the chest while smiling? Is it a case of too much director ambition, too little story telling chops or simply a product of too much fiddling on the studio end such that, and there is no debate on this last bit, things just end up a muddled mess? Matt and Kurt discuss the particulars (onward ye Soldiers of Cinema, this may be your toughest battle yet) and remain, astonishingly spoiler free in the process. Afterwards, it is around the table again (and again) for a lengthy session of what we watched. We go from cheese-merchants to sleaze-merchants (that would be from Don Simpson and Joel Silver to Elmore Leonard and Paul Schrader for those keeping score) before Gamble trumps all with crazy-awful Dan Aykroyd paranormal documentary TV. Kurt revisits a couple of childhood horror-kids flicks, Gremlins and Dragonslayer while Matt travels to New York for the premiere of Beauty Day. Andrew re-evaluates Polanski’s The Ninth Gate, and there is mucho talk about the Spanish Swords and Sandals and Science Blockbuster Agora. Of course, there is the proverbial much, much more in that segment (which clocks in at a staggering 110 minutes) as well as DVD picks, Netflix fresh and expiring picks and a tiny tangent on the Canadian Bandwidth Wars(tm). Grab your battle-axe, strap on your shield and wade into it.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_11/episode_206.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…



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IN-HOUSE BUSINESS:
– New contributor, Colleen

MAIN REVIEWS:
Sucker Punch


WHAT ELSE WE WATCHED:

Matt
Beauty Day
Dan Aykroyd Unplugged on UFOs
Agora
New World Order

Andrew
The Ninth Gate
52 Pick-Up
Top Gun (6-part, “making of” documentary)
Jurassic Park
Twister
Face/Off
The Matrix

Kurt
Hardcore
Gremlins (Kurt’s Kids Review below:)

I Am Love
Dragon Slayer
The Goonies


DVD PICKS:

Kurt
The Secret of NIMH [Blu-ray] – Dogtooth

Andrew
Black Swan
The Secret of NIMH [Blu-ray]

Matt
The Secret of NIMH [Blu-ray] – “Mad Men (season 4)


INSTANT WATCH NEW RELEASES/EXPIRING SOON:

Kurt
Eraserhead (expiring May 1st)
Whale Rider (new)

Andrew
Gangs of New York (new)
– “Buffy” and “Firefly” (expiring Apr 1st)

Matt
Invaders from Mars (new)
Basketcase
Weekend at Bernie’s II


OTHER DVDs NOW AVAILABLE:

Tangled
Fair Game
Topsy-Turvy
(Criterion) [Blu-ray] The Times of Harvey Milk (Criterion) [Blu-ray] The Mikado (Criterion) [Blu-ray] Soylent Green [Blu-ray] Scream [Blu-ray] All Good Things
Made in Dagenham
Teen Wolf
[Blu-ray] “Treme” (s1)


NEXT WEEK:
Win Win
Source Code
Insidious


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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Mike Rot
Member

Kurt, your description of Sucker Punch as all empty CGI that was exhausting to watch echoes my sentiments of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. I haven’t seen Sucker Punch and god willing, won’t, but I know that feeling of seeing something full of sound and fury signifying nothing and time crawls while it happens.

Kurt
Guest

Further ***MAJOR SPOILERS*** noodlings from the conversation on this show with Matt regarding SP.

“THERE IS NO SPOON.”

Nobody here at Twitch has floated the theory that all of these ladies are given aliases because they are simply fractions of the main characters personality. Meaning that each of them are incomplete chunks fighting to deal with the death of the sister. They all burn away in the crucible of her own hubris and self loathing. There is no abusive step-father, no mental asylum, the whole affair is simply one big fat unreliable narrator. Rocket is the optimist – Killed. Baby Doll is the ‘there has to be a solution to the problem’ – Killed. The other two girls, I really don’t know what they do in the film, one drives vehicles, the other a traitor, they are bum-aspects of her personality – Killed. Only Sweet Pea, the grim realist, accepting of bullshit in life, soldiering on with very little joy, but at least some loyalty to protect folks, manages to end up surviving to solider on for another day, and pick up the pieces back in the real world. Scott Glenn represents ‘self-help-wallowing’ via cliche and that explains the inane bus sequence at the end of the film.

Ok, the film doesn’t deserve this kind of consideration because it is borderline incompetent in its storytelling and boring besides. And this theory sounds worse than even that Donald Kaufman “The 3” script from Adaptation. But there you have it. It’s not about empowerment, it is about moving on psychologically from deep scarring tragedy. Synder’s a genius. GENIUS!

/yea, I’m kidding.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Ok, the film doesn’t deserve this kind of consideration because it is borderline incompetent in its storytelling and boring besides.

Bullshit. Solipsistic bullshit no less. You aren’t the only person that has the right to examine films that perhaps the public conscious doesn’t immediately grasp. Especially after you’ve tongue bathed Southland Tales which a far worse film, with far less to say.

Christ I’ve had to talk about The Prestige at least a half a dozen times, so you will fucking sit down and talk Sucker Punch and you will fucking have a smile on your face while you do it god dammit.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

hehe. We did for an hour. Not half bad, gamble, not half bad.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Or people see it as a crazy, sort of, commentary on genre films and what is sexuality and why the girls are dressed like that. I think that’s also valid, because that’s what the movie is.

A winner is me. Suck it, Halfyard.

Kurt
Guest

I thought you might enjoy that link.

Ambition still exceeds grasp by a long shot on this one. Time will tell if it goes down as a Show-Girls re-evaluation or not, or how any sort of directors cut factors in there, and whatnot.

Happy trails…

Kurt
Guest

“The romance of movies is not just in those stories and those people on the screen but in the adolescent dream of meeting others who feel as you do about what you’ve seen. You do meet them, of course, and you know each other at once because you talk less about good movies than about what you love in bad movies.” – Pauline Kael.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Ambition still exceeds grasp by a long shot on this one.

And I think this is a fair criticism of the film and one I would agree with. Its the idea that the film has nothing to say and thus doesn’t deserve anyone spending time talking about it, let alone liking it, that is patently ridiculous.

Mike Rot
Member

I bought New World Order on Jay mentioning it, and I was really disappointed in it. I think I am done with documentaries that take marginal groups, find the most marginal of that group and make a documentary to emphasize just how marginal they are. It seems so utterly pointless, and like shooting fish in a barrel. I knew of Alex Jones before the documentary and I didn’t get anything new from it about him that I didn’t know through hearsay. It seems more like a pat on the back for conspiracy skeptics, the kind of propaganda piece Fox news does about Obamacare or something. I know enough about some of the conspiracies talked about in the documentary to know that the selection of people they choose are not representative of the story anymore than the sound-byte Tea Party clan are representative of libertarians.

I think Alex Jones is a joke, I think the people who follow him like some kind of Jesus are a joke, I didn’t need a documentary to point that out. That doesn’t mean some of what he stumbles upon is de facto bullshit just because he talks about it – but really, why bother getting the information from him when there are more reputable, and balanced people to get it from.

Col. L Fletcher Prouty served as Chief of Special Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President John F. Kennedy, and was the person who inspired the character “Mr. X” in Oliver Stone’s movie JFK. He can attest to the JFK assassination conspiracy and makes a very strong case for what Churchill himself called a global elite motivating policy since WWII.

You can also look at the declassified documents directly for illustrations of false flag activities of the US government, such as Operation Northwood.

Does that mean the Roswell incident is real? No.

Jay C.
Guest

Mike, are you suggesting that documentary films should never focus on fringe or marginal groups simply due to the risk of offending or misrepresenting the majority?

No films on Jonestown? Waco? Pro Life extremists? White supremacists? War criminals? Crooked cops? Religion based terrorism?

Just because a group is marginal doesn’t mean they’re not worth exploring. it also doesn’t mean there isn’t anything of substance to be drawn from their stories/perspectives.

Mike Rot
Member

No, what I am saying is I am done with documentaries whose sole purpose are to emphasize how fringe a particular 1% of a fringe group are for the sake of ridicule. It has to do with the intent of the film, ultimately. If there was a documentary on Jonestown that’s emphasis was on “geez these people are fucked up” without trying to probe why, or seek out the humanity in the topic, or how this relates sub-textually to the world at large, than yeah, I personally don’t have any need for it.

It’s not the category of film I have a problem with, it is the intent within a segment of that category. If the sole purpose is to mock and particularly mock a group that is so marginal as to have no pull whatsoever in the world, then that to me is a waste of time of the filmmaker and me as the viewer.

This kind of gets to my issue with Erroll Morris’ Tabloid – at least it has some entertainment value, but in the end it is entirely at the expense of the subject, and not for anything more than a laugh. It is not so much that I find it cruel, just not that worthwhile… it’s the Andrew Dice Clay of comedy.

Jesus Camp is about a marginal group that has wider political and social implications, if it was not about children and not tethered to American politics but was about a group of fanatics that live in the woods and recruit people and the tone of the documentary is look at these idiots we are smarter than them… then yeah, not interested.

New World Order selectively chooses characters who are fringe in their presentation of the subject in order to show they are fringe, and that they are messed up. What else do you derive from it? Maybe if it was a controversial conclusion, that would be something…

Jay C.
Guest

I didn’t get a sense of ridicule from the film at all. I think it works as a great follow up to their previous documentary Darkon (about live action role playing) in that both focus on people who validate their existence by assuming the role of someone of great importance, be it a sword wielding warrior or a us-against-them group of conspiracy theorists bent on convincing the world of the TRUTH. It’s a character piece through and through, not a comment on conspiracy theories as a whole.

“f there was a documentary on Jonestown that’s emphasis was on “geez these people are fucked up” without trying to probe why, or seek out the humanity in the topic, or how this relates sub-textually to the world at large, than yeah, I personally don’t have any need for it.”

Why are the people in New World Order fucked up? Well first, I don’t think the film ever claims that they’re ‘fucked up’. I think if anything the majority of them are portrayed as passionate people that might be slightly delusional. There’s nothing overtly ‘fucked up’ with that.

As for seeking out the humanity in the topic, I think the film ends with an insanely powerful speech by the guy in New Orleans who is brought to tears because of how strongly he feels about the message he’s spreading. I don’t care if what he says is garbage, I empathize with his passion and his quest.

As for how it relates to the world at large? RELIGION. The idea that someone has THE KEY and is on this Earth to enlighten those around them and save them is a theme that’s present in both the quests of these conspiracy theorists AND anyone who stops you on the street asking if you’ve accepted Jesus Christ into your heart.

I think you’re underestimating the power of the film — and it’s subjects — because of a gut reaction to their extreme views and tactics. Yes, there are some docs that exploit and sensationalize with no real substance or reason, but I think many films are accused of such things based on the views or prejudices of the audience rather than the filmmakers.

Mike Rot
Member

You didn’t get a sense of ridicule? Wow. We watched different films entirely. I mean, even Matt on the Cinecast acknowledges how pathetic these people seem, and irrespective of how pathetic they are, the film presents them in that light. I mean if the subject matter is those who believe in a New World Order, the filmmaker consciously choose these people to represent it… it is not accidental that they are ALL obsessive and delusional. If the point is, like you say, to represent a kind of fanaticism, then mission accomplished.

My approach is this, if a film on a particular subject does not expand upon the superficial preconception I have of the subject then it is kind of pointless, and I should try my best to avoid them. I would include Alex Jones’ own documentaries which I suspect are just as slanted and self-serving as this documentary.

I had originally expected New World Order to be a spectrum of people that are conspiracy theorists, but this is so clearly a fringe of a fringe for the sake of celebrating that fringe. I knew obsessive and delusional people (what I deem fucked up) exist on the fringe of any issue of contention, I had a pretty good mental image of what they looked like and how they behaved, and New World Order presented the mental image precisely. The New Orleans guy, irrespective of his feelings, is framed in the scene prior as someone who meets debate with a self-righteousness that naysayers are lost and he feels sorry for them, much like the religious zealots that he also appears to be a part of. So when he cries at the end it is in context of that bottled theatrics of a person who is shown to be a zealot. He might not be that way… maybe the footage the filmmaker used was the 2% of him that way but it paints a picture of him as that. I don’t feel his humanity anymore than I feel the humanity of a drunk who in a fit a debauchery whimpers to himself that no one else understands. OK. Have a discussion in the film about WHY people don’t understand, get to something deeper than the superficial representation of the one deluded wringing his hands of the world.

Mike Rot
Member

“As for how it relates to the world at large? RELIGION. The idea that someone has THE KEY and is on this Earth to enlighten those around them and save them is a theme that’s present in both the quests of these conspiracy theorists AND anyone who stops you on the street asking if you’ve accepted Jesus Christ into your heart.”

Fanatics are fanatical is what I am supposed to take away? If it is talking about the larger groups, religious people and conspiracy theorists than how again is this not ridicule? It is selective emphasis because of their eccentricities, not a fair representation of the larger groups.

Jay C.
Guest

So you think that the act of simply putting an obsessive or delusional person on camera is inherently rooted in ridicule? How else do you tell the stories of such people? Or are you suggesting that they should just never be given screen time to begin with?

Again, I think this film is a character piece. I really don’t think the point is to provide information on the “New World Order” in a objective and sensible fashion. The New World Order doesn’t matter. The film is about people living out fantasies. It just so happens that fantasy sees them acting as a lone voice to inform America of a New World Order. You say that you’re aware that there is a fringe element to this subject matter and therefore it’s not worth exploring. Well that means you’re aware of the folks who AREN’T fringe extremists…does that make THEM not worth exploring? I don’t understand this idea that just because you’re aware they exist, they shouldn’t be looked at. Take away the obsessive nature of their plight and you no longer have a film about conspiracy theorists, you have a film about conspiracy theories.

It also sounds like you think the only way to dig into the psyche of these people is to bring in some mediator that might ruminate on what makes them tick. In my opinion that’s boring and safe. I appreciated the detached approach in this film.

As for the guy at the end…I believe his feelings towards the naysayers are genuine, as are the feelings of most religious zealots. There’s an honest sense of desperation there and he feels the need to walk around the streets handing out flyers because he thinks he’s doing it for the good of mankind. As ridiculous as his arguments are and as ill informed or ineloquent as he may be, I find that extremely powerful.

Jay C.
Guest

“It is selective emphasis because of their eccentricities, not a fair representation of the larger groups.”

Who said the film set out to portray a fair representation of the larger groups?? Again, you’re looking at this film as some sort of definitive representation of conspiracy theorists when it’s simply a character piece that focuses on the obsessions of a group of people who need to find a way to feel like they have a purpose. I pull the same themes from New World Order as I might a film about big game hunting or serial killers. People who need to know what their role is in the world and want to feel as though they’re important and making an impact on those around them. I don’t give a fuck about how conspiracy theorists are represented as a whole because that’s not what the film is.

“Fanatics are fanatical is what I am supposed to take away?”

I suppose that’s what YOU took away. Perhaps you have certain sensitivities to the subject matter because of your own dabbling in conspiracy theories. I for one didn’t take away ‘fanatics are fanatical’ end of point. I took away ‘fanatics are fanatical’ because they can’t help but BE fanatical due to their own shortcomings, their need to feel as though they’re a part of the world and their own self-validation.

Mike Rot
Member

“So you think that the act of simply putting an obsessive or delusional person on camera is inherently rooted in ridicule?”

Not necessarily, for example in Catfish I think Angela is delusional but that in that case she made an eloquent self-expression that transcended any contextual framing the film imposed. I would have thought she was a wholly pathetic person, and first impressions onscreen kind of made it seem that way, but she, in a moment of unguarded truth, acknowledges the hardship of her position, the loneliness of it, and that to me made her self-aware, if only fleeting, and therefore, redeemable.

I should clarify that when I say New World Order offered me nothing I didn’t already hold preconceived, I am talking about personal taste. I didn’t say filmmakers should never make these kinds of films, just that I am tired of seeing them. You are right it is a character study, but to me, not an enlightening one. It selects people that are eccentric and shows them to be eccentric under the banner that is notorious for being eccentric. I didn’t need a documentary to tell me that fanatics are fanatical due to their own shortcomings, especially not in the context of conspiracy theorists. Imagine it was Tea Party protesters and apply the same circular thesis, is that enlightening to you? The film is taking an easy target, fish in a barrel and in that respect, yes I do find it exploitive. The intent is to show the failings of these characters, is the effort worth the residual insult? It is not aiming high, even by ‘character study’ standards. What is the insight, do any of the characters show doubt, show remorse? You can say, it is not the job of the filmmaker to force that into the story, fine, but you are left with wounded people presented as losers. Which they may be, but why do I need to see that? Had it brought something new to me, turned my preconceptions on their head, than I would say yes, that is worth watching.

It is not that I need their theories to be justified in the film, it is that I need a point for watching them fail, and the point you gave was to see fanaticism for what it is – not insightful for me. If I was 16 maybe, had no concept of cults or how reason can be perverted, than sure, I can see how it could be insightful.

“Well that means you’re aware of the folks who AREN’T fringe extremists…does that make THEM not worth exploring?”

It is not just being aware of them, it is not expanding on my preconception of them. So sure, a documentary on conspiracy theorists who are not fringe and who say word for word things I have already heard would be a waste of my time. I know a lot of criticisms from people about Collapse was that it wasn’t shocking because they were all too familiar with the ideas proposed by Michael Ruppert. Fair enough.

I prefer not to be told what I already know, whether it be factual or behavioral – I don’t need my ego patted reassuring myself I am right. If I watch something like Inside Job I am watching it for information I didn’t know. I would welcome a documentary that refutes everything in Collapse, and some aspect of it is refuted nicely in Cool It. It is the desire for expansion that motivates me to say I am done with stories about fringe groups/individuals that appear to relish in the fringe aspects without any further insight.

I don’t want to see a documentary about an Elvis impersonator that lives in the shadow of the king and has no life because of it. I don’t want to see hoarders who cannot get through their living rooms because they are comforted by the clutter of stuff. It is this kind of circular thesis that doesn’t expand on things I already feel confident knowing that I want to avoid. I want to be challenged, not placated. Not feeling smug, looking down on these people, thinking yup, I figured they were this way and now I have confirmation.

Mike Rot
Member

The problem with my original statement however, is I can never REALLY know if a documentary is superficial or not until I actually see it. There might be a definitive D&D documentary that shows dimensionality in its character study and expresses something beyond the obvious, but I will probably not see it because on the surface it SEEMS like the same kind of story I have seen done badly repeatedly. And I am just exhausted by it.

Jay C.
Guest

Okay, so it’s simply your personal taste. You chose to look for something in Angela and refused to look for anything in anyone in New World Order.

I would argue that Catfish’s “you never know who’s REALLY behind that avatar on the internet” theme is pretty obvious and adds very little to the conversation. Same with the “pathetic woman lives out her fantasy online” concept. For me, these themes were not redeemed simply by the fact that Angela provided a moment of self-awareness (a moment that only happens because the filmmakers MAKE it happen).

I guess my requirements for what makes a person interesting simply doesn’t end at my preconceived notions of who I think they are. Even if I’m met with ideas and actions that ultimately verify my suspicions, I still find value in seeing it coming out of their own mouths/represented by their own actions as framed by a filmmaker(s) who feels the urge to document it. It’s up to the audience to decide whether or not they connected with someone on screen. But just because you didn’t connect with anyone or weren’t satisfied by your need for “more input” (a la Jonny Five) doesn’t mean the filmmakers set out to seek and exploit.

rot
Guest

yeah and you also have a higher tolerance for genre than me, you are happy to embrace the familiar more than I. I DO need input. New World Order is ridiculously familiar and, if not exploitive, unwilling to defend or nuance its subject from the prejudices set before it. They are a loud, certain and obsessive bunch… I don’t think that is a question of personal taste, that is what is depicted.

Matt Gamble
Guest

We watched different films entirely. I mean, even Matt on the Cinecast acknowledges how pathetic these people seem, and irrespective of how pathetic they are, the film presents them in that light.

I’m pretty sure I never called them pathetic, and I certainly didn’t think the film was exploitative of them.

New World Order is ridiculously familiar and, if not exploitive, unwilling to defend or nuance its subject from the prejudices set before it.

That’s not the intent of the film, so I’m not sure why you are judging it based on that rather for what it is attempting to do.

rot
Guest

The question of exploitation, for me, rests not on how each individual is edited, this may have been a pretty accurate portrayal of these particular people, but the selective grouping of them by virtue of their eccentricities to make a deliberate point of their mutual delusion. Yes, that is the point of this documentary, I get that, but it doesn’t negate the issue that in doing so the filmmaker has consciously ridiculed his subject insofar as the individuals are the subject. I have to believe these participants didn’t come into this documentary thinking I would like to share my story of delusion, in the hopes that when edited together by this filmmaker it will show how pitiful (and Matt you said several times you felt so incredibly sorry for these people) we are.

I said in the beginning it is the INTENT that bothers me. It is shooting fish in a barrel, to me it merits no value, because any of us can pick a fringe group, find what makes them strange and edit to that weakness, and present it to the world. The intent is to show fanaticism, and in this case I don’t see it is worth it, particularly because the depiction of fanaticism is preconceived by the filmmaker, there is no room for nuance or study of where it comes from. There is NOTHING in the film that I hadn’t already superficially preconceived about this group of people. You might as well have a film playing off racial stereotypes, it would make me feel just as icky, and, like Matt, sorry for them.

It is not a question of me needing more input, it is me not being satisfied with stereotypes and getting off on a feigned knowledge that “yup, that is what fanaticism looks like”. That is what fanaticism as edited narrowly by a particular filmmaker looks like. The lack of nuance is, to me, not a virtue.

rot
Guest

Also Jay implied in an earlier comment I may be too close to the subject matter to appreciate what is going on… I would say perhaps it is the other way around.

What if it was a film by a filmmaker who handpicked six or seven fringe scientists that have fringe theories under the banner subject of Evolution, and each is edited according to their eccentricities for the sake of a character study. But it too, is a character study sharing the subject of delusion. The individuals clinging to the idea of evolution are shown as sad people, their egos getting in the way of their evidence. The film has no time for nuance about whether evolution is valid, because the focus is on the deluded belief in it. Intelligent Design folks can slap each other on the backs, and laugh at this sad lot.

To me that is just as bad as New World Order, irrespective of where my allegiances lie. It is just EASIER to accept the narrative when it conforms to a certain status quo.

antho42
Guest

The Ninth Gate — What a surprisingly good film. I did not have problems with the ending. In fact, like the ending. The film did have a bit too much outdated, CGI.

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