Wednesday, December 26, 2012

F This Movie! - This is 40

Patrick and Erika spend Christmas talking marriage, family, Judd Apatow and Megan Fox's boobs. This is 40.

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Also discussed this episode: Sleepwalk With Me (2012), Cleanflix (2009), Les Miserables (2012)


  1. While watching Cleanflix, I found myself on the side of the Mormon editors.

    I think that audiences own their experience of watching movies. They shield their eyes from images they can't handle; they exit the cinema for a few moments to hit the concession stand or use the washroom; and at home they have the power to fastforward or skip scenes. Additionally there are already third parties that change the film for television.

    I think the documentary had some contempt for these particular editors because they were grounded in religion. It had a bit of fun at their hypocrisy in terms of what they find objectionable as well as their unapologetic homophobia. And then the film took a big turn that completely sidelined the issue of the film-editing to focus on scandal. How did that tie into the film's thesis other than to defrock some of the people involved?

    I don't like censorship but I do like fan-edits of films. They're often terrible but I like that they're out there. As long as they acknowledge what they are and aren't passing themselves off as the filmmakers' version I don't see the harm, irrespective of the actual laws.

    1. But it's the "irrespective of the actual laws" that throws the whole argument made by the subjects of Cleanflix out the window. The whole movie is about a kind of hypocrisy -- that these people can object to sex and violence in movies (and, again, then DON'T SEE THOSE MOVIES) while still willingly breaking laws in the name of 'morality.'

      I'll agree that viewers own their viewing experiences. You named several options for avoiding objectionable content that doesn't involve re-editing films and then selling or renting those versions out without consent of the copyright holder. I don't think the subjects of the movie really have a leg to stand on in terms of what they're doing. And, yes, the movie does spend a lot of time on the one guy (again to underline a kind of hypocrisy), but I didn't feel like it was equating that guy with all Mormons. I think it was just suggesting that the issue gets confused pretty quickly -- it quickly became about something more than just morality.

    2. Darren, you're assuming to know the thesis of the film. I don't think it has one. It's not an issue film in my opinion. First of all, one of the directors is Mormon and one is ex-Mormon, so I don't think they are taking shots at the religion. I live in Utah and I can tell you that Patrick is right, they are not representative of all Mormons, just the kind of Mormons who went to Cleanflix.

      To me, the doc is simply a telling of the story of Cleanflix and an exploration of the culture and personalities that created it. It shows the hypocrisy, but I don't think it is trying to insight debate on the issue, just report on it.

      I've heard the filmmakers speak twice at local screenings and they are always surprised when people don't understand the choice to follow the perverted character. What kind of irresponsible film would tell the story of Cleanflix and leave out the pervert? Can you imagine the beating they would take if people found that out after the fact and they hadn't include it?

  2. I think... oops, Gesundheit Erika; as I was saying, the... yikes, Erika, Gesundheit again! ;-)

    I used to be a fan of Judd Apatow's when he worked on TV. "The Ben Stiller Show," head joke writer for the Academy Awards (back when the show still mattered somewhat and split-second last-minute jokes actually scored some laughs), "Freaks and Geeks," etc. But all the movies he's either directed ("Knocked-Up," "Funny People") or produced ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Superbad") that I've seen just leave me cold. They're occasionally funny (haven't seen "40 Year Old Virgin" yet, which I'm told is his "funniest" movie) but I just find them tedious and cold to the point that, after "Funny People," I've stopped caring or seeing Apatow's movies. I like the observation Parick makes that Apatow has taken the mantle from James L. Brooks for that type of movie, but Brooks' best movies ("Broadcast News" and "Terms of Endearment") achieve a degree of pathos and humanity Judd's movies don't come within a continet of reaching. They might be funnier than Brooks' movies, but so are hundreds of episodes of "The Simpsons" (and the 2007 movie).

    The fact Leslie Mann, pretty as she might be, keeps getting cast in all of Judd's movies makes him no better than Len Wiseman putting Kate Beckinsale in all his movies, or Paul Anderson putting wife Mila J. in his flicks. We get it guys, you lucked out and scored a hot wife; stopped shoving her in our faces. Woody Allen and David Lynch were also guilty of this (with Mia Farrow and Isabella Rossellini, respectively) but you can argue that these actresses earned their keep and owed their being in their significant other's movies as much to their skills as to patronage (which you cannot say about Leslie).

    BTW, I remember a time in "F This Movie's" award-nominated history (always a "Bridesmaid"... get it? :-P) when Patrick would say regularly 'We rarely talk about new movies on the podcast.' Based on 2012 that golden nugget has clearly gone out the window. Here's to the last podcast of 2012.

    P.S.: Patrick (and Erika if she can), help a good chap that's seriously thinking about wasting seven bucks on a matinee of "Les Miserables." I just saw Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina" and my mind is still trying to process what this guy tried to pull off. How do you compare the staginess (for lack of a better word) of "Anna Karenina" 2012 with the showmanship and presentation of the new "Les Miserables"? I heard what you guys said, just curious how would you contrast that with the way Wright stages/shows "Anna Karenina."

    1. HI J.M.! I have not seen ANNA KARENINA yet, but when I do, I'll get back to you. Also, thank you (I just sneezed again).

      (I think die-hard LES MIS fans are going to like the movie no matter what. I like the music, but the movie itself did little for me!)

    2. Hey, Erika... Gesundheit, again!

      I ended up seeing "Anna Karenina" and "Les Miserables" back-to-back Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. These were my first exposure to either one as a movie (somehow missed the dozens of movie, TV adaptations of both the Leo Tolstoy novel and the Victor Hugo novel/Broadway show, respectively) and, in their own messy ways, they're both tremendously flawed but thrilling-to-watch Broadway-on-film spectacles.

      "Anna Karenina" is definitely the weakest Joe Wright/Keira Knightly effort yet (I loved "Pride and Prejudice" and "Atonement") but it has a vision that it commits to (even though it feels messy and cheap), the music is exquisite, Jude Law steals the movie by virtue of playing repressed intellectual jealousy perfectly and Keira, as usual, goes all in. Ironically, while "Le Mis" builds great sets and then proceeds to ignore them to focus on the close-ups of the cast, "Anna Karenina" goes out of its way to show how cheap/theatrical it is (the horse race scene in particular) but, either because of budget or creative thinking, I found it jarring to have such a great tale of mad love amongst the uptight bourgeois Russian society before the Zar revolution presented as if it was a Broadway show with Baz Luhrman-like camera tricks. There's a dance sequence in the middle that is about the most erotic and sensual (than even the movie's actal sex scenes) thing I've seen in movies this year, but overall "Anna Karenina" is flashes of brilliance amidst too messy and show-offy a movie vision.

      I'd never heard the music from "Les Mis" before (except a song excerpt here and there from other movies/shows) so my reaction dealing with the characters, the story and the songs as someone that's never heard or seen them before (unless you count the reporter from TV's "The Incredible Hulk" as a dead ringer for Javert :-P) is that this is an incredible experience. Then, afterwards, I remembered Patrick's words about "Toy Story 3" being an overrated 2010 movie because the sequels had done all the heavy lifting for this movie to just do its thing. Tom Hooper had decades of good will from the Broadway show, movie versions and the Hugo novel make the music and characters of "Les Mis" already beloved and/or familiar by most people seeing his version. The heavy lifting had been done for him, and the only things Hooper brought to this is chop-chop editing, bad CGI (the opening shot is embarrassing) and close-up to close-up to another close-up an infrequent two-shot/long-shot then back to close-up. Who does Hooper think he is, Carl Theodore Dreyer? :-O You know your musical is in trouble when the audience actually welcomes Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena B. Carter with open arms to lighten-up the heavy dramatic load.

      I agree with the points you guys made on the podcast. This is a badly-directed movie version of "Les Mis" (it's no accident Hathaway is getting so much buzz for singing "I Dream The Dream": it's the one time in the movie the close-up is not only justified but left alone for minutes... that's the movie version of "Les Mis" I wanted to see) but the original material is so strong it still worked its magic on me. That final song/scene (bad CU's of Wolverine and Selena Kyle notwithstanding :-P) brought me to tears, and the fact there is some honest-to-goodness dark places about the plights/dreams of French peasants made that final shot/song all the more resonant and powerful. Looking forward to seeing more movie versions of "Les Mis" (the Raymond Bernard '34 French version is on top of my kevyip pile) so, as the start of a potential new thing to like, I guess Tom Hooper's take ain't that bad of an appetizer for the real McCoy.

  3. Speaking on the endings of movies, I saw 'Lincoln' today and was not a huge fan (mainly because people sitting around talking about passing an amendment to abolish slavery doesnt interest me) but about the ending. So Abe Lincoln and some of his cabinet are talking about where to go now, now that the amendment was passed, and Lincoln's "servant" (a free black man who was never a slave, as he says) comes in to tell him Abe's wife is waiting in the carriage for him and that they have to pick up 2 other people first. Lincoln grabs his things, thanking his "servant" for reminding him, and walks down the hallway (in the iconic Abe lincoln garb) in silhouette, as the "servant" looks on, proudly (very speilbergian and manipulative but whatever I really like 'War Horse'). And if it ended there, the audience is to assume he's going to the play where he is unfortunately assassinated. And if it faded out right there, it would've been great and poetic and decently subtle (cause they never point out "hey you have that play too go to and i hear John Wilkes
    booth is great in it"). But it doesn't end there it goes on for another 5 minutes in which a man, in another theatre, cries out, "the presidents been shot".

    P.S. - 'Lincoln' was very well made and Daniel Day Lewis is incredible but the movie's boring.

    1. Bingo! Fade to black after Lincoln walks out of frame going down the White House steps and it's a perfect ending to a really good movie instead of the 'two beats too long' finale we have. And "A.I." would also have gone on a high note if you-know-who had ended you-know-where instead of the 20 min. coda where you-know-who discovers the previous you-know-who. Who's on first?

    2. Spielberg is pretty bad at endings overall. He wants to make sure we REALLY get it.

    3. But he used to be great with endings, even as recently as 'Jurassic Park' (which sure was 20 years ago but hey I'm trying to make a point) when their on the helicopter and Richard Attenburough's kids are by Sam neills side with John Williams score underneath. It's a great ending to a wonderful film and definitely more subtle than his more recent efforts

    4. I kid you not, that scene on the helicopter and the credits are the only parts of the movie I like... at all. There are so many reasons I dislike this movie (too many to mention) but Spielberg completely nails the ending, then Williams' music takes care of the rest.

      Since "Jurassic Park" is getting a theatrical re-release in early 2013 in 3D (which might be good enough to actually make me finally like it since everything in 3D is automatically better, per :-P) I wonder if Spielberg will not be tempted to digitally remove that sun reflection hitting the glass on the helicopter from which he was shooting the survivors' chopper flying away into the distance. It's such a pretty shot and you can tell it was supposed to last longer than it did, but the darn reflection forced Steven to fade to black much sooner than he wanted to.

    5. i hate that you dont enjoy 'Jurassic Park', it's such a great movie. But yea hopefully you see it in 3-D (making the movie, as you said, better :P) and at least appreciate it more. But i think it's amazing that speilberg made Schindlers List and Jurassic Park (which i know patrick addressed in his f great directors column) in the same year, talk about an over-achiever.

    6. Agreed on the Jurassic Park ending, though there are a lot of people who think it's too heavy handed (the shots of the birds, specifically). I still dig it.

  4. The best part of This is 40 for me was that it had two Fiona Apple songs in it. Otherwise, I really wish Apatow (who I am/was a big fan of) would try to get away from his ensemble and start something fresh.

    I think Apatow maybe needs Seth Rogen in his movies more than he realizes, Rogen has an amazing ability to get an audience on his side which is a big problem with This is 40 - there are very few characters that are likeable.

    All in all, I would like to say a lesser Apatow movie is better than an average no-name director's movie but I'm not sure I feel that way anymore. I see a decline from him that I don't like.

    Also thought I'd throw my quick two cents in on Django Unchained. I liked it a lot. I would probably put it 6th out of his 7 movies (before Death Proof but after everything else).

    I didn't feel as much of an emotional pull from the revenge story as I did with Kill Bill. I think the reason for it is Jamie Foxx's performance. I understand he's underplaying but I kept thinking how Will Smith would have been better in the part.

    The movie also would have been better if it wrapped shortly after its climax and didn't go on for an extra 20 or so minutes. All in all, it's very good but not a masterpiece which is maybe what I go into every Tarantino movie expecting.

  5. Quickly, on the subject of Les Miserables, now that I've seen it I tend to agree with most, if not all, of your gripes, Patrick. And it was clear that they chose several of the actors based on star power and singing ability was secondary. I'll bet it went like this: "You're a big name actor? Great! You can 'kind of' sing? You've got the part!"

    I think if they had gone for unrecognizable talent with more vocal power (for example, Samantha Barks [Eponine], who I thought was great, and has actual experience with the material), especially in the case of Russel Crowe, things would maybe have been better. Excellent singers are obviously paramount in a musical.

    That said, Tom Hooper's decisions were also a problem, like you said.

    I love the stage play, and I feel that there is not much gained from seeing it on screen. And in some cases, it loses a lot. That's a shame.

    1. John! I need you to come with me as I make these points to my friends who are die-hard LES MIS fans. :)

    2. Haha, I'll be right over. I just have to take a short 2+ hour plane ride! :)

      But seriously, they're probably better off just enjoying the stage version or listening to the soundtrack. Like I said, there's really not much in the movie that isn't done just as well as, if not better than, the stage version. But I wholeheartedly recommend the stage version for those who have not seen it.

    3. Just got back from Les Miserables and I have little more to add other than I completely agree with what you all are saying.

      It's a lousy movie.

      The audience applauded after it was over and I got douche chills.

      P.S. Go away Sasha Baron Cohen, you're as bad as Paul Dano.

    4. "P.S. Go away Sasha Baron Cohen, you're as bad as Paul Dano."

      And take Helena Bonham Carter (and that character she almost always plays) with you.