Review: Everybody Wants Some!!

 

Frontiers are where you find them.

I haven’t written much about movies for awhile now. Mostly due to work, family and other outside interests, but I haven’t really felt the immediate need to scribble down my pearls of wisdom regarding my film viewing. It’s not that I haven’t seen anything good or that I haven’t thought of anything to write about, but there’s been a definite lack of “passion” towards expressing my thoughts down in pixels.

But then a film like Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! comes along and specifically speaks to passion – and not just in an overly simplified generic “follow your bliss and do what you love” kind of way. Through its casual, “let’s all hangout” vibe, it suggests an open, accepting, come-what-may approach to life that embraces the uncertainty ahead and suggests that there’s no rush to find out exactly who you are. Just make sure you enjoy the process. That sounds a bit dangerously close to the cliche that “it’s the journey not the destination”, but the film is never that reductive (even if it does occasionally feel a bit overly written in some of its philosophical meanderings).

The story centres around a university freshman named Jake who is about to start his baseball scholarship and takes place completely within the 4 days before the start of classes in the Fall of 1980. Jake meets his housemates/teammates, parties with them and engages with life. That’s pretty much the extent of the plot. Actually, usage of the word “plot” here may be an overstatement. The movie is about interacting with your environment, the people in it, what they bring to it and what you can give back. There’s no major 2nd act conflict, no life changing moment and very little tension as our characters converse, drink, compete, drink, annoy each other, drink and philosophize – usually with a beverage in their hand. And it is so incredibly refreshing to just simply spend time with them.

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Dreaming in the Flickers

With Inception being the conversation du jour, one key splitting point on whether or not you are going to cry “Masterpiece” or merely “Top Notch Entertainment” for the film is how ‘mundane and rational’ the dream-state is portrayed. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Dom Cobb and his heist posse infiltrate, steal secrets and implant ideas into the mark by having him (or her) consciousness ‘shared in real time’ under the constraints of a maze-maker, The Architect, sort of a con-man (or woman) of the subconscious. The dreams as envisioned onscreen are represented in excruciatingly obvious metaphor at some times, with an elevator down to Cobb’s ‘basement of his subconscious’ and at others, like a full blown James Bond set-piece, as in the wintry fortress of solitude or elaborate car chases through town. It all looks like a (hundred) million bucks, but does it really dig into your brain? Nobody in Nolan’s world is standing naked in public or anxious (or self-indulgent) about much of anything, let alone violent sexuality or other taboo areas that the subconscious id may process when the super-ego is out of the picture.

It seems that dreaming and the movies have always been in sync with one another, from Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. up to and including Guy Maddin‘s entire filmography (being a one artists personal cinema-laced fever-dream) and to action fare like the collective dream of The Matrix flicks.

So let us take a look at some other films that handle ‘dreaming’ portion of their narrative with a little more icky and a little more sticky, that is a lot less steel and polished glass and a lot more wounded flesh and psyche. Chime in with more entries I may have missed, there are many, some more obvious than others!

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Rot’s 10 Best Films of the Decade

Little Children

As promised, we’re trickling out each of our individual lists to coincide with, or better qualify, our overall list of the best of the decade as chosen by all of the RowThree contributors.

I will kick off theses individual lists with my own:

1. Little Children
2. The New World
3. When the Levees Broke
4. Rachel Getting Married
5. Waking Life
6. 25th Hour
7. Mammoth
8. Bloody Sunday
9. Inland Empire
10. In the Bedroom

Film on TV: September 14-20

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The Cranes are Flying, playing on TCM Monday the 21st at 2:00am (or really late Sunday night, depending on your point of view)

 

Mostly repeats this week, but a few really cool new additions, all courtesy of TCM. First, one of Hitchcock’s most lighthearted thrillers, The Trouble With Harry, is showing on Tuesday. Then Friday night/Saturday morning, don’t miss one of the all-time great so-bad-it’s-good movies, Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. And then The Cranes are Flying, a Soviet classic I’ve never seen TCM run before, is playing late Sunday night/early Monday morning.

Monday, September 14

8:00pm – IFC – Fargo
Still one of the Coen Brothers’ best films, despite over a decade of mostly good films in the intervening years. Dark comedy is not an easy genre, and Fargo is the gold standard, blending shocking violence and a noir-ish crime story with comical inept criminals and a perfectly rendered performance from Frances McDormand.
1996 USA. Director: Joel Coen. Starring: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi.
Must See
(repeats at 2:00am)

Tuesday, September 15

7:15am – IFC – Waking Life
Richard Linklater’s first foray into overlaid animation is a philosophical dreamscape that’ll either leave you cold or inhabit your thoughts for weeks. It’s the latter for me. Like most of Linklater’s films, it’s largely made up of people talking, but with the added interest of the unique ever-shifting, never-solid animation style (which he’d reuse with a slightly more standard sci-fi story in A Scanner Darkly).
2001 USA. Director: Richard Linklater. Starring: Wiley Wiggins, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy.
(repeats at 11:45am and 5:35pm)

8:00pm – TCM – The Trouble With Harry
A group of small-town New Englanders find a dead body (that of Harry) in the woods and, fearing they’ll be murder suspects if it’s found, conspire to hide it. One of Hitchcock’s funniest films, mixing the macabre and the absurd adeptly.
1955 USA. Director: Alfred Hitchcock. Starring: Shirley MacLaine, Edmund Gwenn, John Forsythe, Mildred Natwick.
Newly Featured!
(repeats at 10:00am on the 20th)

8:05pm – IFC – I Heart Huckabees
Not too many films take philosophy as their base, but this one basically does, following a man (Jason Schwartzman) plagued by coincidence who hires a couple of existentialists to figure out what’s going on.
2004 USA. Director: David O. Russell. Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Isabelle Huppert, Dustin Hoffman, Naomi Watts, Mark Wahlberg, Lily Tomlin, Jude Law.

10:00pm – TCM – The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
Hitchcock’s second version of this story (the first was 1934) has Doris Day and James Stewart as a couple who discover an assassination plot and have their son kidnapped to try to keep them quiet. It’s a well-done film and worth watching, though not quite up to many of Hitchcock’s other classics.
1956 USA. Director: Alfred Hitchcock. Starring: James Stewart, Doris Day, Bernard Miles, Brenda De Banzie.
Newly Featured!

12:15am (16th) – TCM – Vertigo
James Stewart is a detective recovering from a vertigo-inducing fall who’s asked by an old friend to help his wife, who has developed strange behavior. Hitchcock plays with doubling, fate, and obsession, all the while creating one of his moodiest and most mesmerizing films. And watch for a great supporting turn by Barbara Bel Geddes as Stewart’s long-suffering best friend.
1958 USA. Director: Alfred Hitchcock. Starring: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes.
Must See

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Film on TV: August 31 – September 6

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A Hard Day’s Night, playing at 7:25am on Friday, September 4th, on IFC

 

Monday, August 31

6:15pm – IFC – Before Sunrise
Though some people think Richard Linklater’s 2004 follow-up Before Sunset is better than this 1995 original, I’m going to disagree, at least until I get the chance to see both together again. Before Sunrise may be little more than an extended conversation between two people (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) who meet on a train in Europe and decide to spend all night talking and walking the streets of Vienna, I fell in love with it at first sight. Linklater has a way of making movies where nothing happens seem vibrant and fascinating, and call me a romantic if you wish, but this is my favorite of everything he’s done.
1995 USA. Director: Richard Linklater. Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy.
Must See
(repeats at 5:05am on the 1st)

8:00pm – TCM – The Spy Who Came In From The Cold
Based on John LeCarre’s bleak novel, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold is the anti-James Bond spy story, full of world-weary cynicism and spies who just want to get out, but can’t. It’s hard, and cold, and its edge of sadness and grief won’t let you go.
1965 UK. Director: Martin Ritt. Starring: Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Oskar Werner.
Newly Featured!

10:00pm – TCM – The Haunting (1963)
No worries, this is the good, 1963 version of The Haunting, not the overblown 1999 remake. The story’s the same, but Robert Wise’s original is creepy, disturbing, and, like, good.
1963 USA. Director: Robert Wise. Starring: Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn.

12:00M – IFC – The Proposition
Australia’s answer to the western; Guy Pearce must hunt down and capture his brothers for the law in order to save his own skin. Gritty and violent almost to a fault, and it definitely brought new life to the Western genre.
2005 Australia. Director: John Hillcoat. Starring: Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone.

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Film on TV: June 15-21

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The 400 Blows, playing Thursday, June 18th, at 10pm on TCM

 

This week TCM pays tribute to Elia Kazan, Orson Welles, William A. Wellman, François Truffaut, Martin Scorsese, Mervyn LeRoy, and Vincente Minnelli, as well as throwing in some shorter director marathons for Tony Richardson (on Wednesday) and Blake Edwards (on Friday). I only highlighted a couple from those last two, but if you like them, check out the full morning schedule on TCM for those days.

Monday, June 15

3:30pm – TCM – National Velvet
One of my favorite movies growing up, probably not least of all because I was mad about anything to do with horses. Even so, National Velvet stands pretty tall among family friendly films, with a young Elizabeth Taylor fighting to run her beloved horse in England’s most prestigious steeplechase with the help of world-weary youth Mickey Rooney.

Great Directors on TCM: Elia Kazan
I gotta say I don’t really count Elia Kazan among my favorite directors – he tends to be a little message-y for me. Still, he got some great performances out of some great actors, and the Academy Awards loved him – although I’m not entirely sure that’s a positive.

9:30pm – TCM – On the Waterfront
Marlon Brando’s performance as a former boxer pulled into a labor dispute among dock workers goes down as one of the greatest in cinematic history. I’m not even a huge fan of Brando, but this film wins me over. Must See

12:00M – Sundance – Sex and Lucia
This isn’t a favorite of mine, but a lot of people around Row Three like it a lot, so I’ll let them defend it in the comments if they so choose. 🙂

See the rest after the jump.

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Film on TV: June 1-7

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Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, playing at 12:30am on the 5th on TCM

I‘ve been posting these TV schedule recommendation run-downs on my blog for a few months, and it was suggested I crosspost them over here as well. This turned out to be a good time to start, at least for classic movie fans, because Turner Classic Movies is apparently highlighting a different Great Director every night in June, showing some of their best movies. That means they are showing a BOATLOAD of great films. I’ve included a tiny intro to each director – note that after the director blurb, all the rest of the films that day on TCM are by that director. There may be films on other channels interspersed, because I’ve kept the times chronological.

These tend to lean heavily on TCM, because studio-era films are where my film knowledge is the strongest. I throw in films from IFC and Sundance as well, but not as many, frankly because I don’t know as many of them; if you have other channels you’d like me to include, let me know. And if any other R3 writers want to fill out the IFC and Sundance portions a bit more in the future let me know. Oh, and this month it’s going to lean especially heavily on TCM, because of the Great Director theme. I normally don’t pick almost EVERY SINGLE FILM on TCM for these posts, I swear.

All times are Eastern Standard.

Monday, June 1

9:30am – TCM – Love Affair (1939)
This film is not as well known as its remake, 1957’s An Affair to Remember, which has the advantage of having the more famous Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr rather than Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer – who were both huge stars at the time, but are less known now. Both films were directed by Leo McCarey, and tell of a shipboard romance and a fateful rendezvous. I actually like Love Affair a tad better, but that could be just because I like being contrarian.

2:30pm – TCM – Duck Soup
Leo McCarey directs the Marx Brothers in what many think is their best and zaniest film. This is the one with Groucho becoming the dictator of Freedonia and declaring war on nearby Sylvania. Frequent Marx Brothers foil Margaret Dumont is on board as the wealthy woman who causes the rivalry that leads to the war. Personally, I prefer A Night at the Opera to Duck Soup, but this may be your best bet if the idea of musical interludes from Allan Jones (of which Opera has several) turns you off. Must See

6:15pm – TCM – The Awful Truth
This is one of the definitive screwball comedies (along with Bringing Up Baby), starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne as a married couple who constantly fight and decide to divorce, only to wind up meddling in each other’s lives (and screw up other relationship attempts) because they just can’t quit each other. Dunne’s impersonation of a Southern belle showgirl is a highlight. Must See

8:00pm – IFC – Clerks
Kevin Smith’s first feature, done for cheap, has become a cult classic, and though I think he’s done better films since Clerks, it’s definitely a worthwhile watch.
(repeats at 2:05am on the 2nd)

TCM – Great Director: John Ford
TCM starts off their celebration of great directors with John Ford, usually considered one of the greatest auteurs of the American studio era. He’s best known for westerns (like Stagecoach and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, playing tonight) and war films, but turned out plenty of quality dramas as well (like The Quiet Man). Disappointingly, TCM is not playing The Searchers, arguably his best film. Pick it up on Blu-ray, though – it’s not very expensive and it looks incredible.

10:00pm – TCM – Stagecoach
Major breakthrough for John Wayne, here playing outlaw Cisco Kid – he and the various other people on a stagecoach form a cross-section of old West society that has to learn to get on together to make it to the end of the ride alive. The most memorable, though, is Claire Trevor’s prostitute – a woman who does what she must to survive, and is shunned by everyone except Wayne. Her reaction to him treating her as a lady is perfect. Must See

2:00am (2nd) – TCM – The Quiet Man
John Wayne plays a retired boxer returning to his ancestral home in Ireland, where he meets spitfire Maureen O’Hara and decides to marry her. She’s game, except her somewhat boorish brother Victor McLaglen disapproves and refuses to give up her dowry, and tradition is tradition! A great supporting cast of character actors and an epic (and comic) boxing match round out The Quiet Man into one of the most entertaining and endearing films John Ford ever made. Though I will say the last time I watched it, I was a little more concerned by its gender politics than I had been in the past.

4:15am (2nd) – TCM – She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
The first of John Ford’s informal “Cavalry trilogy,” which continued with Fort Apache and Rio Grande – all three films star John Wayne, though they’re unrelated in plot and character. Technically, I guess that makes them both westerns and war films, doesn’t it? Heh.

Tuesday through Sunday after the jump, highlighting Frank Capra, King Vidor, Ingmar Bergman, Steven Spielberg, William Wyler, and Michael Curtiz. And other random films, of course.

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