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stelfox
17-01-2005, 06:15 PM
for non-americans, really, this one, because if you are american and have any sense you'll already have seen it. euro folks, though, go see this film as soon as it comes out (jan 28 in london). probably one of the most sharply observed, understatedly funny bits of cinema i've ever seen. pisses all over napoleon dynamite and absolutely destroys the life aquatic (which is truly, truly dire). lead actor paul giamatti (harvey pekar in american splendour) is making quite a career out playing the antithesis of the all-american archetype - a hunched up, angry underachiever who you still end up liking. if i had to draw a comparison with any other movie, though, i'd say it's swingers with a much, much darker heart and is all the more successful for it.

nick.K
17-01-2005, 07:14 PM
dave - where'd you stand on About Schmit. I was very disappointed after Election, it left me cold

nick.K
17-01-2005, 07:15 PM
don't worry, I'll go see it on your recommendation..... and paul giamatti

baboon2004
07-02-2005, 12:48 AM
I'd say the film comes across as a less dark version of 'In the Company of Men', and, as such, is ultimately disappointing. The production values are completely misjudged too,imo - way too little light and shade, looks like it was lit for a sitcom.

baboon2004
07-02-2005, 12:50 AM
Although I agree (if I interpret correctly) that Napoleon Dynamite was easily the most overrated and charmless piece of cinema I've seen for a long time.

nick.K
07-02-2005, 01:03 AM
loved it, thanks dave

xero
20-02-2005, 03:52 PM
loved this as well, the relationship between the characters is very reminiscent of swingers as stelfox say, paul giamatti is a genius at body language & facial expression acting. have to disagree with the knocking of its cinematography which i thought fit perfectly - i've never seen california on film looking so drab & down-at-heel and the conversational scenes are exquisitely edited

xero
20-02-2005, 03:53 PM
and i was almost put off watching it in the first place cos i thought about schmidt was overrated crap

Omaar
20-02-2005, 08:20 PM
I find it hard to believe this is worth seeing, after watching About Schmidt and thinking it was the most overrated sentimental pap I've seen in a long time. But everyone seems to say its good ...

h-crimm
21-02-2005, 12:55 AM
hello hello,

i thought i ought to bring the dissensus to this love in... and maybe stop omaar making a mistake :) (in my opinion...)

as you might have guessed already i really didnt like this film at all, nor did i like american splendor or about schmidt... or zizou
i dont know how to sum up my objections succinctly... i'll try... there was just too much to dislike

for one thing its another of those films for people who think theyre 'arty outsiders' much in the way a libertines record is represented, maybe the taregt audience is a bit older but its the same bracket of straight white male well off middle class comfortable bored with being the hegemone (is that a neologism?) who doesnt kno what to do with everything thats chucked at his feet or cant get fucked or is feeling old or is upset that being the boss of everything didnt challenge him enough. who whats a bit of exciting rebellion (performed by someone else lasting no more than two hours). its like having the streets on yr ipod and thinking yr urban (quote off silverdollar) or being passionate about the white stripes saving rock and roll... its about buying into a pedestrianised marketed accessible mirror of culture. its fine to an extent but its not the end of everything.
those psuedo-brechtian white box scenes in american splendor make you feel all warm and artily innovative, but they are meaningless prosaic pointless signifiers of excitement (like franz ferdinands choppy guitar) and they should leave you feeling hollow

possibly the most distasteful thing is the moral that (all tho we dont like the jack guy for a while) the quick shag that he was trying to set giacometti up on really did turn out to be the panacea that the meathead imagined. we're talking about the meathead who hillariously fancied a fat person. the meat head who ended up safely back in his idyllic marrying-someone-rich lifestyle, phew! thank god for that.

while we're on the sex angle, lets look at the female 'characters', its abit of a stretch to call them characters i kno, the portrayl of women was as the most idiotically supine bestial negligent drones (what was that scene with waking up the womans kid and her not really giving a fuck... just to remind you what an evil single mother whore she was??)
oh my god i just found it exhausting!
...and the angelic limp ex wife with the orange husband... that whole making peace with the past scene was so limp!

also the whole wine thing was vacuous pretentious shit and very poor as a metaphor as well as boring, affected and exclusive...

yep for me it was a string of platitudes and cliches with an overriding stink of sub-ruling liberal class ennui. something that all those zizou/tennebaum films have as well.
did anything suprising happen in the entire film?
closely observed it might have been - but only in the sense that it was entirely cribbed from some ideal movie of this sub-genre. it was certainly not at any point an observation of life.
doesnt it annoy people that hollywood deliberately puts out films marketed as somehow outsider but theyre entirely designed as sub-cultural to the mainstream of movies and devoid of any counter-culture? devoid of any difference in approaches or technique?


hehe sorry about the mamoth post... and the bile.... i really dont like this sort of 'notting hill for boys' rom com stuff
and i think it is grossly inflated with intellectual pretensions

so uhmmm nothing personal please tell me what i'm missing, i was kind of suprised that it was getting loved up like this on here....

Backjob
21-02-2005, 04:13 AM
Middle class people have real lives too.

henrymiller
21-02-2005, 09:24 AM
if only it were just 'middle-class people'. it goes further: like all us indies it's about people who work in or near the media in some way. it can't just be a sadsack divorcee: it has to be an *unpublished writer*. let's face it: this was a poor man's 'old school'. will ferrell conjured infinitely more pathos than these two sexist assholes.

xero
21-02-2005, 10:48 AM
as you might have guessed already i really didnt like this film at all, nor did i like american splendor or about schmidt... or zizou

why group these together? I don't understand what schmidt had to do with arty outsiders, the nicholson character was a corporate manager


possibly the most distasteful thing is the moral that (all tho we dont like the jack guy for a while) the quick shag that he was trying to set giacometti up on really did turn out to be the panacea that the meathead imagined. we're talking about the meathead who hillariously fancied a fat person. the meat head who ended up safely back in his idyllic marrying-someone-rich lifestyle, phew! thank god for that.

didn't perceive that moral myself and it was hardly a quick shag, took half the film to pull off!

and the 'meathead' clearly wasn't going to be happily married was he?


what was that scene with waking up the womans kid and her not really giving a fuck... just to remind you what an evil single mother whore she was??)

are you sure that was the filmaker's intention not your moral judgement?

agreed the female characters were poorly sketched out but not drones at all


also the whole wine thing was vacuous pretentious shit and very poor as a metaphor as well as boring, affected and exclusive...

seems to me it took the piss out of the wine thing's vacuousness & pretentiousness and wine was an integral part of the area the film was set in.

anyway due to some pretty good writing and some very good acting this film managed something that is pretty rare these days - it was extremely funny but was still well-observed and resonant

I don't think this film can be compared to tennenbaums at all - that reminded me of white teeth, unfunny, boring & pretentious

stelfox
21-02-2005, 11:22 AM
how the two people who, either directly or indirectly, accused this film of being "pretentious" have the gall to *use* the word, i don't know.


for one thing its another of those films for people who think theyre 'arty outsiders' much in the way a libertines record is represented, maybe the taregt audience is a bit older but its the same bracket of straight white male well off middle class comfortable bored with being the hegemone (is that a neologism?) who doesnt kno what to do with everything thats chucked at his feet or cant get fucked or is feeling old or is upset that being the boss of everything didnt challenge him enough. who whats a bit of exciting rebellion (performed by someone else lasting no more than two hours). its like having the streets on yr ipod and thinking yr urban (quote off silverdollar) or being passionate about the white stripes saving rock and roll... its about buying into a pedestrianised marketed accessible mirror of culture. its fine to an extent but its not the end of everything....

for fuckssake get off your high horse for once in your precious (and i use the word advisedly) life. don't extrapolate flaws in my character from the fact that i liked a sodding film and you are very very wrong about this, anyway.


if only it were just 'middle-class people'. it goes further: like all us indies it's about people who work in or near the media in some way. it can't just be a sadsack divorcee: it has to be an *unpublished writer*. let's face it: this was a poor man's 'old school'. will ferrell conjured infinitely more pathos than these two sexist assholes.

a very ILX point of view. and henry, dear boy, it's all well and good to come up with an everyman critique of media world but somewhat hypocritical when you have connections to this exact world falling out of your arse, isn't it?

henrymiller
21-02-2005, 11:41 AM
a very ILX point of view. and henry, dear boy, it's all well and good to come up with an everyman critique of media world but somewhat hypocritical when you have connections to this exact world falling out of your arse, isn't it?

well, firstly: don't extrapolate flaws in my character from the fact that i disliked a sodding film and you are very very wrong about this, anyway. seriously.

but also: yes, i recognise that ilx invented the idea of preferring x mainstream comedy to y mainstream (fox searchlight) comedy, oops sorry, i must thank ilx in person.
but not for nothing was i making this critique: the film does pose a certain relation to one audience, which will get the robbe-grillet references, and excludes those who don't. i won't push this too far, because this kind of film often appeals to me. i loved 'i heart huckabees' and am generally quite pretentious, and obv i got the reference. but i did find that ferrell's bad behaviour in 'old school' was easier to sympathize with, and without the unconvincing 180-turnaround the actor guy has in 'sideways'.

but anyway, i really liked 'election' and rate 'about schmidt', and just felt this was off: kind of toothless and indulgent but - soemhow - sneering at the same time. the godawful music and the visual ugliness seemed to be just gratuitous here, because in all other ways the filmmaker was 'with' his characters much more than in the equally ugly 'election'.

xero
21-02-2005, 12:02 PM
if being an unpublished writer is working in or near the media then every literate person in the world does - the guy was a teacher who tried and failed to get paid to write

henrymiller
21-02-2005, 12:06 PM
not every literate person in the world has an agent handling their 700pp novel or has ambitions to to make a living from writing or even to write anything for publication. but a lot of fans of independent cinema are in analogous positions.

xero
21-02-2005, 01:22 PM
but as you pointed out this is a mainstream big-studio financed picture not a real indie. Having seen it in a cinema with a big fairly broad audience i just don't think it's excluding. Yes there a are a few nod wink references like the robbe-grillet one but you don't have to get them to understand or enjoy or laugh at the whole thing. Having two main characters, one stereotypically vacuous californian & one stereotypically neurotic intellectual & managing to portray a convincing relationship between them and making us laugh at both equally is what makes this stand out

i dunno your description toothless and sneering was exactly what i thought of about schmidt but sideways didn't do that for me

stelfox
21-02-2005, 02:06 PM
exactly how did it sneer?

LRJP!
21-02-2005, 04:37 PM
i saw this the other and I’m pretty bemused by both positions - i didn't find it so hot, but then neither did I hate it as a textbook example of all that’s wrong with Cinema…



possibly the most distasteful thing is the moral that (all tho we dont like the jack guy for a while) the quick shag that he was trying to set giacometti up on really did turn out to be the panacea that the meathead imagined. we're talking about the meathead who hillariously fancied a fat person. the meat head who ended up safely back in his idyllic marrying-someone-rich lifestyle, phew! thank god for that.


An apparently vacuous if good-bad-not-evil asshole who clearly suffers from some grim psycho-pathological dysfunction. His marriage , as has already been stated, seems unlikely to turn out happily.



while we're on the sex angle, lets look at the female 'characters', its abit of a stretch to call them characters i kno, the portrayl of women was as the most idiotically supine bestial negligent drones (what was that scene with waking up the womans kid and her not really giving a fuck... just to remind you what an evil single mother whore she was??)


I thought the point of that scene was that she trusted him with her kid – used the term ‘Uncle’ – suggesting how far he was going in wheedling his way into her affections, thereby abusing her trust.



...and the angelic limp ex wife with the orange husband... that whole making peace with the past scene was so limp!


Clearly he didn’t make peace with her or his past. He was still hurt, distraught from what she said, so he goes to brood on it. We know he was at least on some level to blame for the divorce when they mention his affair earlier in the film.



also the whole wine thing was vacuous pretentious shit and very poor as a metaphor as well as boring, affected and exclusive...


At least part of the wine metaphor was deliberately clunky – the main character is portrayed as pretentious (or just oblivious to his friends disinterest) when teaching Jack to taste wine properly – and by implication his novel is overly verbose and even perhaps self-serving…



yep for me it was a string of platitudes and cliches with an overriding stink of sub-ruling liberal class ennui. something that all those zizou/tennebaum films have as well.
did anything suprising happen in the entire film?
closely observed it might have been - but only in the sense that it was entirely cribbed from some ideal movie of this sub-genre. it was certainly not at any point an observation of life.


I thought it was well observed in the relationship between the two leads (friendly, but not true friends – mutual incomprehension) and in it’s narrative (which is neither too sprawling to call as such, nor too enclosed).

Surely it can be enjoyed as a demonstration of the attendant pathologies of the sub-ruling liberal class – they are presented as self-centred, emotionally damaged and prone to recklessly endangering the public by driving while intoxicated…

henrymiller
21-02-2005, 04:45 PM
i thought everyone knew america's ruling class was made up of liberal robbe-grillet-referencing would-be novelists...

LRJP!
21-02-2005, 05:07 PM
i almost started another thread about this but...



those psuedo-brechtian white box scenes in american splendor make you feel all warm and artily innovative, but they are meaningless prosaic pointless signifiers of excitement (like franz ferdinands choppy guitar) and they should leave you feeling hollow



I really liked American Splendour and I’m not sure that it’s playful, elastic reality has anything to do with Sideways apart from Paul Giamatti [amusingly the spell checker wants to turn ‘Giamatti’ into Gamete]. It seemed to me like a vivid and valid attempt to tell stories about the modern world. I thought the boxes were meant to be evocative of comic panels but they could have been ‘pseudo-Brechtian’ I guess…

h-crimm
22-02-2005, 03:33 AM
how the two people who, either directly or indirectly, accused this film of being "pretentious" have the gall to *use* the word, i don't know.

for fuckssake get off your high horse for once in your precious (and i use the word advisedly) life. don't extrapolate flaws in my character from the fact that i liked a sodding film and you are very very wrong about this, anyway.



hey i'm sorry, it wasnt meant to be a personal attack on your character at all. or on people who happen to be in the target audience, which would probably include myself. i just find the engineering of films by hollywood that are supposed to appeal to 'us' abit unpleasant.

i feel like all those films mentioned (as different as they are) are conciously designed to be sold to people who like cinema and who want to go see a sort of film that due to the dominance of the major film distributors is not always available.

i wasnt saying 'youve been duped' or that you consider yourself an 'arty outsider' :)
but that people deciding what films to make are thinking about us in those terms, they take afew of the signifiers of indie films and package them up and in the mix they through afew assumptions about who we are; that we're male, that we can be beguiled by the finer things, that we dislike the tasteless new rich (the immigrant fiancee) and the tasteless poor (the pleb winery) and that underneath our analytic exterior we secretly want the love conquers all ending.
that's not too different from franz ferdinand.

i dont think it was pretentious, it felt like going thru the motions and in the end only revealed afew ordinary false truths.
probably the film just wasnt pretentious *enough* for me


hmm i'm affriad this still comes across as me trying to be withering and superior :(
which isnt the intention.
i just found the film abit frustrating and wanted to try to express some of the reason.
in the town where i grew up the choice at the cinema was always very limited and every now and then the indie kids would get chucked a bone like this... access to cinema can still be a very closed club outside cities, maybe like music pre-filesharing but with fewer reissues and hardly any second hand stores.
this history has obviously informed and possibly clouded my judgement but there it is...

i can respond some more but i think i've written enough for now already. :rolleyes:

Backjob
22-02-2005, 05:03 AM
Well quite honestly I think you need to detach your (in some ways reasonable) dislike for the "target audience" of this film from the actual film itself.

Yes, middle-class educated people are going to enjoy this film, no that doesn't IN ITSELF make it bad.

I also think the adjective "sneering" is misplaced - to me this word implies that a piece of art presents one point of view as valid and mocks all others. This film gently mocks ALL points of view presented within. Giamatti is clearly a pretentious and weak-willed individual who is neither scrupulously honest nor loyal to his friend. So his sneering at the pleb winery doesn't translate to the filmakers disdain for the petty bourgeoisie. Every character in the film (with the exception of Maya who is deeply bland) is shown as very flawed.

Personally I just liked it as a nice little tale of people who are awful in the way that real people are, and likeable despite their awfulness in the way that real people are. Maybe it's the dread "middlebrow", but the ire directed at that word itself is, i think, deeply elitist and boring.

But yeah, not as good as Election.

stelfox
22-02-2005, 10:54 AM
i thought everyone knew america's ruling class was made up of liberal robbe-grillet-referencing would-be novelists...

nice bit of sarcastic, superior, yank-bashing knobheadery, there.
giamatti's character in sideways would not have voted bush, therefore would not be part of the *ruling* class at all.
he's a classic nyt-reading, school-teaching, underachieving pissed-of-with-his-lot, barely-scraping-by liberal.

henrymiller
22-02-2005, 11:15 AM
chill the fuck out dave, that's exactly what i was saying. someone else had said the film depicted the US' ruling class. i poured some water on this. jesus.

stelfox
22-02-2005, 11:26 AM
apologies in that case.

simon silverdollar
22-02-2005, 12:01 PM
i really, really liked this film. it struck me as very true- the central relationship was very like some friendships i have. and it was funny.
i don't see how it was 'pretentious' or a pseudo-arthouse film at all. it was a a very straight narrative, with no attempts to do anything even remotely 'out there'/'arty'. in a way, it was film making at its simplest.

orson
22-02-2005, 09:58 PM
ohh shit ... im back in the grime forum :hahaha:

gumdrops
24-02-2005, 07:41 PM
for non-americans, really, this one, because if you are american and have any sense you'll already have seen it. euro folks, though, go see this film as soon as it comes out (jan 28 in london). probably one of the most sharply observed, understatedly funny bits of cinema i've ever seen. pisses all over napoleon dynamite and absolutely destroys the life aquatic (which is truly, truly dire). lead actor paul giamatti (harvey pekar in american splendour) is making quite a career out playing the antithesis of the all-american archetype - a hunched up, angry underachiever who you still end up liking. if i had to draw a comparison with any other movie, though, i'd say it's swingers with a much, much darker heart and is all the more successful for it.

i dont see where the dark heart is in this film. if anything it was far too subtle, than dark or neurotic or disturbing. if anything it has a perfectly fine heart, just one that was often in danger of being slightly too understated for its own good.

swingers was far far better IMHO.

i also cant help thinking that films like this, garden state, the good girl and their ilk are basically 90s indie american flicks churned through hollywood's safety filter which removes all trace of any unsettling or slightly pertubing elements and makes them into the film equivalent of i dont know, snow patrol or someone.

craner
12-03-2005, 04:18 PM
It struck me as a really good advert for Pinot and Virgina Madsen.

I enjoyed it. But then I define 'sub-ruling'.