Member Return Roll Call

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Re: Member Return Roll Call

Postby Big Magilla » Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:27 pm

ITALIANO wrote: Ah but Viola Davis could do that too...


Perhaps she could afer spending her honeymoon some years ago at George Clooney's estate on Lake Como. Viola Davis, unlike Jennifer Hudson, is a classically trained actress who was said to be quite adept at Irish and Scottish dialects at Julliard even if Ebonics (Alfrican-American slang) and Jamaican accents are the only dialects she's generally offered. Maybe some day she'll get to play an Etheopian married to a Neopolitan, and we'll see. :?

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Re: Member Return Roll Call

Postby ITALIANO » Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:15 pm

I'm here. Holidays and work have kept me away for a while but, of course, I haven't left. And when we get into full Oscar seasons, I'm sure that my posts will be as frequent as in any other Oscar season.

A bit less enthusiastic though. I'm one of those who feel more excited about the old than the present times - which is partly for personal, and not necessarily bad, reasons and partly because yes, it's true, American cinema isn't as good as it used to be, cinema in general probably isn't as good as it used to be, and the Oscars definitely aren't as good, nor as interesting, as they used to be. And they are SO easily predictable nowadays!

But I have changed too - I mean, Sabin is right - only a few years ago this almost unanimous praise for such safe, unchallenging performances as Viola Davis's in The Help (!), would have led to a typically furious reaction from myself. Now I just smile - with, I admit, condescension for those who can really think that that is a great achievement in acting - and how unlucky they must be, if they have rarely seen better performances! But condescension is better than fury - and it saves energy, which by the time you aren't 30 anymore becomes important.

Plus, recently I have found an Italian board on movies - not as good as this one, and, I'd say, less profound, too. And, I mean, let's face it, not ALL Italian B-movies from the 70s are masterpieces - as interesting as they might be. Still, for the first time since I was at university, I've started writing about movies in Italian there - I've actually started writing in Italian on internet (with the exception of emails for work), because I actually use internet only here or for keeping in touch with my foreign friends. And I discovered something which most of you know, of course, very well already - how wonderful it is to use your own language! You can be so subtle, you can say so much more, you can be so easily understood, you can imply things... It made me realize how, sadly, limited my posts on this board are.

Which brings me to Anthony Quinn. It doesn't have anything to do with this thread, but never mind. I've had a complicated summer - with Lebanon full of Italians (the soldiers, which aren't the best Italians), I was going to go to Syria, but as you may know the situation isn't that good there, so they forced me to cancel my trip. Anyway, at the last moment I booked tickets to Cyprus and Crete. Not my first time to either place, but I decided to get prepared by, you know, reading or re-reading a few books, including Durrell's Bitter Lemons of Cyprus, and re-watching, after a lifetime, Zorba the Greek. I knew that Anthony Quinn had dubbed himself in my language for the Italian copy of this movie - which was a nice gesture but, I guess, not a big deal considering that at the time he was married to an Italian woman and living most of the year in Italy. Still, what I have noticed now and I think should be known - he's perfect. I mean, any time an American speaks Italian you understand where he comes from after the first syllable he says - Quinn's Zorba not only speaks Italian, he speaks Italian with a perfect Greek accent. There is only one time, in the whole movie, when he pronuounces a word, a letter actually, an r, with an American accent, otherwise you'd really think that he's a Greek speaking Italian. It's amazing, really... Not bad for an American actor, eh? Ah but Viola Davis could do that too...

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Re: Member Return Roll Call

Postby Greg » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:24 am

Mister Tee wrote:We can still argue about who was rightly or wrongly chosen in 1974 or 1976 because those films still matter to us. Is anybody going to feel like arguing the last few years’ results on that level? As BJ says, half the films – even the good ones – are in and out of theatres so quickly they barely become part of any conversation. In Weinstein World, they’re designed to open as close as possible to the Oscars, goose the gross during their short time on display, win awards, and create DVD covers that begin “Winner of…” Once they’re in DVD, there’s no possibility of any national conversation, like we had about so many films, worthy or not, in past decades. Individual talents still exist, but movies as an entity have almost ceased to matter.


I do not see why there could not be a national conversation about something in DVD; or, what I think will become the primary mode for watching film, pay-per-watch on the Internet. If the predominant way to watch films is pay-per-watch on the Internet, and, there have been at least somewhat of national conversations over trivial viral YouTube vidoes, why could there not be national conversations over Internet films?
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Re: Member Return Roll Call

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:26 pm

The subject Uri raised – and BJ and Magilla chimed in on – may cover more ground than I can comfortably deal with right now. But let me take a stab.

I’ve been feeling a lot of the same things, but thought it was partially due to my personal circumstance. My domestic situation has become substantially more difficult and limiting of late -- to the point that the last time I was inside a theater to see a movie was Albert Nobbs, prior to the Oscars. This situation may not change much for the foreseeable future. Not since my senior year in high school – a very long time ago – have I felt so distant from the movie culture.

But, you know…for the first several months there, I was hard pressed to think of a thing I’d have gone to see. Yeah, I’d probably have taken in The Hunger Games, just to brush against the zeitgeist – but now I’ve got the DVD in hand and, really, who cares it’s a few months later? More recently, a few titles have popped up that I’d obviously see first run – Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, possibly even the Dark Knight Thing, or Hope Springs. But that’s not much to show for about 8 months’ worth of releases.

Obviously, things will change some when Fall kicks in. I’ve been excited about The Master since seeing the trailer online, and the enthused/bewildered reactions from early viewers have me even more intrigued. And there are a few other big ticket items that I can’t help looking forward to – Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, The Silver Linings Playbook – plus, of course, the hope that something arises unexpected from the mid-range list at Toronto or Venice. Things generally look less bleak by Thanksgiving than they do late summer.

But it’s getting harder each year to rev it up; to get the charge I used to in older days. Going through the historical replay threads, I can still summon up the passion I felt about certain races, whether they went exactly as I hoped or disastrously otherwise. Lately, though…

I understand Uri’s feeling about last year’s batch, in particular. I wasn’t especially fond of The Artist, but I found it hard to argue strenuously against it because it was plain there just was no top-drawer Oscar-type movie competing with it. I loved Tree of Life, but something that abstract was never going to be Academy fare. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was in a genre never much honored. I liked The Descendants more than many here, but both it and Moneyball were second-tier stuff. And the rest – Hugo, Midnight in Paris – were, like The Artist, sweetly crafted, but way too trivial to champion. You can understand why, in that setting, a number of critics flipped for the late-release Margaret. Whatever that film’s shortcomings, a contemporary story taking a big bite out of serious issues must have felt like a meal at Lutece after months of Burger King.

Going back, I guess I’d argue the previous year (2010) was a little more solid, if only because many of the filmmakers at the center of the race – Fincher, Russell, Aronofsky, the Coens – are, along with a few others (Payne, the Andersons P.T. and Wes, Jonze/Kaufman separately or together, Ang Lee) the talents I WANT to see involved in an Oscar race. But I guess, for those who found The Social Network violently overrated by the critics, or those just crushed by the triumph of the easy uplift King’s Speech, that year was also disappointing. I myself was somewhat in dissent from the critics’ favorite the previous year, The Hurt Locker, and not over the moon about Slumdog the year before that, so my enthusiasm was muted in both those cases. You have to go back to the No Country/There Will Be Blood face-off of ’07 to find a really bracing race between films that meet the criteria Uri set out in his post. (And let me indulge my usual dislike of the this-site-excluded Oscar bloggers’ role in all this. Attempting to forecast the race months out, they’ll always highlight the dreariest, most unchallenging contenders imaginable. Nate Rogers is one of the better thinkers out there on the subject, but his current top five predictions are Lincoln, Les Miz, Anna Karenina, Hyde Park on Hudson and Life of Pi – except for the last, as utterly homogenous a group as can be imagined, and, sight unseen, one of the dreariest)

All this matters because the sort of films Uri talks about – people seeing/talking about them – play a vital role in any sense of a common culture. We can still argue about who was rightly or wrongly chosen in 1974 or 1976 because those films still matter to us. Is anybody going to feel like arguing the last few years’ results on that level? As BJ says, half the films – even the good ones – are in and out of theatres so quickly they barely become part of any conversation. In Weinstein World, they’re designed to open as close as possible to the Oscars, goose the gross during their short time on display, win awards, and create DVD covers that begin “Winner of…” Once they’re in DVD, there’s no possibility of any national conversation, like we had about so many films, worthy or not, in past decades. Individual talents still exist, but movies as an entity have almost ceased to matter.

Now, BJ rightly points out, there’s plenty of strong drama being generated, on television (mostly on cable). In recent years, I’ve found my Netflix renting being bifurcated – each week, one movie, and one cable series compilation. And, absolutely, if you stack up The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, The United States of Tara, Nurse Jackie (and, if you missed them back when, The Sopranos or Six Feet Under)…you’ll find infinitely better writing and stories than you do in any comparable sampling of recent films. But there’s a caveat: the television form is designed for a different effect. TV shows are supposed to go on and on; they don’t provide the catharis, the singular experience that a great movie does over the course of 90 - 180 minutes. It’s possible some of these series will self-limit, and create a sense of closure and fullness when they wind down (I’d argue The Wire did that spectacularly – start to finish, it’s the fully-rounded epic of modern urban American that Tom Wolfe made a pathetic stab at in Bonfire of the Vanities). Hopefully, Mad Men will live up to our hopes and provide just such a perfectly calibrated finale, that makes us feel the experience had a wholeness to it comparable to the cohesion we feel in a well-made film. But the phrase “Jump the shark” originated on TV for a reason: there’s always the chance even the best shows will lose their way…that, in extending season after season, they will lose the initial bump of excitement, and make their fans feel like saps for having stuck around. Fans of Twin Peaks, or Lost, or many other shows you could name, will know exactly what I’m talking about.

And, besides…many of us don’t have time to devote that many hours to one project (the same way many never got around to Berlin Alexanderplatz). There’s something about the limitations of movie running time – along the lines of the classical unities, though not as stingy about time and space as the Greeks were – that compel a creator to fashion something that does all the things those fine TV dramas do, but wrap it up – complete it – in a one-sitting format. We NEED those kind of movies, and we need them to play a more prominent role in our culture. Otherwise, we’ll have become a Seinfeld culture – all about nothing. Which is close to a definition of decadence.

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Re: Member Return Roll Call

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:12 am

I'm sure we all agree with Uri and BJ, at least to an extent, which is why most of our interesting discussions center around the past for at least eight months out of the year.

Until 1990 I could always find a film to root for in the Oscar race even if my own choices were winning less and less - only three films from the 80s, Ordinary People; Terms of Endearment and Platoon were my picks to win, but at least most of my favorite films of those years had been nominated. In 1990, I only marginally liked GoodFellas and Dances With Wolves, and chose GoodFellas as best picture of the year by default. Since then, I've only agreed with Oscar six times - with Schindler's List; Forrest Gump; Chicago; Million Dollar Baby; The Hurt Locker and The Artist, which I thought was clever and amusing but not something that will be remembered in a few years - in fact it's already practically forgotten.

On the other hand I could always find something - a performance or a technical achievement - to root for even i couldn't find a film I was highly enthusiastic about. I suspect when this year comes to a close it will be no different, thouugh I do wish they would make more films worth a trip to the theatre throughout the year instead of bunching them all at the end of the year when it's virtually impossible to catch evertything.

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Re: Member Return Roll Call

Postby ksrymy » Sat Aug 18, 2012 12:42 pm

I wouldn't say we're canceling the Oscars this year. Being people who appreciate actual art when it comes to film, we only get anywhere from three to four good months of film at the end of the year. I never bother seeing anything in the summer because it's all blockbuster drivel.
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Re: Member Return Roll Call

Postby The Original BJ » Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:20 am

Uri wrote:My obsession with the Oscars has always been closely associated with my love of what I would call, for lack of a better term, Oscar movies. And by this I mean, in a perfect world, well made, intelligent, original yet still somehow mainstream, English speaking films. But for the past decade or so, I feel more and more that this particular kind of Cinema has practically become extinct.


You aren't alone in feeling this way. One of the reasons I've found the historic poll threads so interesting is because I'm finding it increasingly UN-interesting to write about so many contemporary movies. I actually was mulling over whether or not to write a long, Mister Tee-style post entitled "2012 So Far: Are We Just Cancelling The Oscars?" Of course, I don't believe this year will be a total barren wasteland -- there are certainly a handful of year-end films I'm anticipating -- but it's hard to stay invested in going to the movies much these days. I've actually been thinking lately how ironic it is that, as a starving college student without a car, I used to make regular bus trips around LA to catch the major releases on their opening weekends...and now, with a lot more money and easy access, I just can't work up the enthusiasm to go see even many decently-reviewed mainstream efforts, because I just don't care enough.

It's gotten to the point where the "Oscar movie" has become a niche genre unto itself -- almost separate from what people consider "mainstream" movies -- and so the end-of-year glut seems like it's becoming more and more pronounced, with prestige titles from the indie divisions released within a very short window to make the best awards splash they can before quickly vacating theaters (it's not like they were designed to make much money or make a dent in the cultural conversation anyway). Gone are the not-too-long-ago days when movies like Saving Private Ryan or Forrest Gump could become a huge moviegoing event and top the year's box office.

And with so many of Hollywood's top talents emigrating to (or remaining in) cable TV, it's becoming clear that that's now the place to go for mainstream adult drama -- among my circle, I heard FAR more excited discussion about the six nominees for the Best Drama Emmy than nearly ANY movie that's been released so far this year. And because producers and writers know TV will be a far more nurturing (and lucrative) environment for these types of projects, anyone interested in character-driven drama has set up shop far away from the franchise blockbusters that have overwhelmed the movie industry.

I don't know that I've reached any kind of conclusion with this post -- I started out just wanting to let Uri know I sympathize -- except to lament that I think Oscar is going to have more and more trouble coming up with candidates as the years go by.

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Re: Member Return Roll Call

Postby Uri » Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:59 am

Thanks for your concern. As it happened, I myself was wondering this weak why I was not posting here lately. I do frequent the board regularly, keeping up with what you guys have to say, and I am, at times, intrigued to comment, yet I never seem to gather enough energy to do so. And yes, since for me writing is an extremely labored process (even in Hebrew, by certainly in English), I need to be enthusiastic enough, my mind should be liberated enough for me to be active here. Yes, I have been, practically but even more so mentally, quite occupied lately by my work as well as by personals stuff. But there is something else.

My obsession with the Oscars has always been closely associated with my love of what I would call, for lack of a better term, Oscar movies. And by this I mean, in a perfect world, well made, intelligent, original yet still somehow mainstream, English speaking films. But for the past decade or so, I feel more and more that this particular kind of Cinema has practically become extinct. The experience of watching contemporary American films turned into a very depressing one, 9 times out of 10 (I wish – the ratio is higher by far I’m afraid). For me, having to deal with a cinematic output which consists of the likes of The Descendents, The Help, War Horse, Hugo and Midnight in Paris is almost insulting. I too have my lists of personal, alternative nominees and winners, and with the last few years I struggle, and quite often these lists are not completed – there are years I can’t think of more than 2 or 3 nomination worthy pictures. So I’m gradually giving up. I haven’t progressed further than 2009 yet. And I guess losing this passion affected my all notion of what we do here. There is a very saddening sense of what-the-point about it which for me is quite paralyzing. Hopefully I’ll get over it. I miss being able to be part of this, and since in no way did I made a conscious decision to quit this board, there is a good chance that sooner or later you’ll be hearing from me.

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Re: Member Return Roll Call

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:26 pm

Uri had been busy a while back; I noted his absence from the historical Oscar rehash threads, and he said he was trying to keep up but finding it difficult. I presumed whenever he finished whatever was occupying him he would be back.

I figured Italiano might be on vacation, it being the time of year for it.

I certainly agree, the lack of their voices is noticeable. We've lost too many key contributors around here, and don't want to see any more disappear.

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Re: Member Return Roll Call

Postby Sabin » Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:43 pm

Yeah, I know. We've gotten through how many comments about Viola Davis...and nothing! Let alone Octavia Spencer.
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Re: Member Return Roll Call

Postby Sonic Youth » Thu Aug 16, 2012 7:36 am

What's happened to Italiano and Uri? I know I haven't been posting much (or watching much), but I've been lurking. But have Marco and Uri decided to leave? I hope not, and I hope everything's cool with them.
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Re: Member Return Roll Call

Postby Reza » Sun Nov 13, 2011 5:57 pm

Welcome back Jefforey.

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Re: Member Return Roll Call

Postby Big Magilla » Sat Nov 12, 2011 1:32 pm

Jefforey Smith wrote:Hello, I was a regular in the previous forum from, say, 2000 or so through around 2005 or 2006. Around five years ago, I sort of stopped frequenting the UAADB...the usual Oscar party I attended sort of disbanded & the Oscar pool ceased a few years after. Over at the old place, I was "Jeffrey"..yet it seems that name has already been taken. Here, then, I"m "Jefforey Smith"...& I'm glad to be back!


Welcome back, Jeffrey.

The user "Jeffrey" is you - user names were carried over from the old UAADB. If you would like to go back to using that name just send Oscar Guy a PM or e-mail requesting he re-set your password. If you prefer to keep the new name, that's fine, too.

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Re: Member Return Roll Call

Postby Damien » Sat Nov 12, 2011 1:24 pm

I happened to speak to Flipp on the phone today and urged him to returm. Hopefully . . .
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Re: Member Return Roll Call

Postby Damien » Sat Nov 12, 2011 1:23 pm

Welcome back, Jefforey Smith!
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell


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