Criterion Year Week 32: A Woman Under The Influence

• May 1st, 2016

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

A Woman Under the Influence

Spine Number: 253

Director: John Cassavetes

Genre: Drama

We have been using the metaphor of a party to describe the films of Cassavetes, and so... let's continue that. "Shadows," is life at and around the party, what happens in social settings and how those dynamics function as a part of daily life. "Faces" is the after party. What happens when the party is over, but there is still that need to be out there and how do we deal with strange situations and people that only seem to exist in the wee small hours of the morning. In "A Woman Under The Influence,"  the party is over and all you are left with is the crushing banality of daily life. There are good times, but there are also a lot of bad times. Very bad times. Times where the air is just sucked out of the room and you struggle to make sense of any of it.

So... what is life after the party ends?



First and foremost... Gina Rowlands is so good in this movie that it almost hurts. It is literally impossible to put into words. The world she lives in is messy. She is unhinged and lacks any real moorings to steady her. Peter Falk is harrowing to say the least. This movie is hard to watch. It's a parade of characters who don't know what to do, don't really want to be doing what they're doing, and have no idea where what their goal should be.

This is a standout film, incredibly shot and acted, solidly paced and written, and you almost feel like you need a shower when it ends.



But don't let that dissuade you from taking the next step on our journey through the world of John Cassavetes.

Next Week:

We inch closer to the end with...

Spine number 254: The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

Also, check this out.

The Life Masters is now it's own show with its own site and own dedicated feed. That's right, we have two completely different shows!

Right now check it out at www.thelifemasters.podbean.com.

You can also drink in our brilliance on Youtube for both The Film Thugs and The Life Masters.

http://fantasymovieleague.com/

Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

If you live outside the US you can call us on Skype at The_Film_Thugs. You can leave a message, or someone might actually answer.

E-mail us at thefilmthugs@gmail.com and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail thugquestions@gmail.com to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

Also, we are on twitter @thefilmthugs and on Facebook and Vine.

You can also click on one of our sponsor links below and THEY will pay us. That's right. You won't have to pay a PENNY extra, and Amazon/Onnit/Teefury will give us a little taste.

Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...



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Criterion Year Week 31: Faces

• April 24th, 2016

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

Faces

Spine Number: 252

Director: John Cassavetes

Genre: Drama


There is an evolution to the work of John Cassavetes that is fascination to watch. Shadows was a revolutionary film that is very much tied to a certain age. Not just by the year it was made, but more the age of those making it. It's a film that expresses a certain stage in a young person's life. In as basic a way as it could be put, it's about life at the party. "Faces," is about life at the after party.

A little older, past the big fun years, as it were, an into the time after where things are a little more set and calm. It could just as easily be called, "We're Going to this Guy's Place." The party is over, but you aren't ready to go home because... why would you want to. So, you end up in places you might not normally go with people you might not normally go anywhere with. You're trying to hold on to something, but you know you can't. It's difficult to describe.


Free form, anarchic, and open ended. Cassavetes making what he wants regardless of the rules. Also, Gena Rowlands doing what she does best, being better than everyone in the room.



So, check out the second step our journey through the world of John Cassavetes.


Next Week:

The journey continues with...

Spine number 253: A Woman Under The Influence

Also, check this out.

The Life Masters is now it's own show with its own site and own dedicated feed. That's right, we have two completely different shows!

Right now check it out at www.thelifemasters.podbean.com.

You can also drink in our brilliance on Youtube for both The Film Thugs and The Life Masters.

http://fantasymovieleague.com/

Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

If you live outside the US you can call us on Skype at The_Film_Thugs. You can leave a message, or someone might actually answer.

E-mail us at thefilmthugs@gmail.com and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail thugquestions@gmail.com to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

Also, we are on twitter @thefilmthugs and on Facebook and Vine.

You can also click on one of our sponsor links below and THEY will pay us. That's right. You won't have to pay a PENNY extra, and Amazon/Onnit/Teefury will give us a little taste.

Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...




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Criterion Year Week 30; Shadows

• April 17th, 2016

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

Shadows

Spine Number: 251

Director: Gillo Pontecorvo John Cassavetes

Genre: Drama

"If American independent cinema could be said to have a birthday, Nov. 11 is as good a date to celebrate as any." - Elbert Ventura

Why November 11th? Because that is the day back in 1959 that John Cassavetes's "Shadows" premiered.

Now, up to this point movies were made by studios. Not necessarily the big studios, but due to the expense of the endeavor of making a film in one way or another, to some degree or another, a studio was involved in the process. Cameras, film, lights, talent... all that stuff cost a lot. So, even if it was some small time outfit, a studio was involved.

Enter John Cassavetes. He looked at what was happening and decided that "that's how we've always done it," was simply not a sufficient justification for producing films the way they were made. He set out to make a movie that broke, literally, every rule of  film making at the time. He didn't ask permission. He didn't follow the established channels. He ignored everything and made the movie he wanted to make. To paraphrase Ayn Rand, he didn't wonder who was going to let him make his movie, and refused to let anyone stop him.

So, employing students from the Cassavetes-Lane Drama Workshop, he set out to produce a completely self financed film. No studio, no backing company, nothing but the guts it took to make something completely on his own.

The result...

shadows.jpeg

A free form story that ignored any and all ideas of dramatic structure, didn't use a script, and only used unknown actors from the workshop. The only professional hired by Cassavetes was a cinematographer.

What resulted, regardless of your feelings on the film, was a complete and utter up ending of the status quo. Unscripted, unstructured, and as free form as any jazz album ever produced, "Shadows" put the world of film making on notice. Not only did Cassavetes deny any power to the "gatekeepers," he destroyed the gate. He told the world that all you needed to make a movie was the will to do it and a group of people crazy enough to follow it. Much like the popular statement that only a few thousand people bought the first Velvet Underground album, but that everyone who did formed a band, not many people may have seen "Shadows" when it first came out, but everyone who did tried to make their own film.

Shadows2.jpg

So, join us for week one of our five week Cassavetes exploration with a film that changed the game and erased the rules. Even if you haven't seen it, I assure you there is something for you to like in this show.

Next Week:

The journey continues with...

Spine number 252: Faces

Also, check this out.

The Life Masters is now it's own show with its own site and own dedicated feed. That's right, we have two completely different shows!

Right now check it out at www.thelifemasters.podbean.com.

You can also drink in our brilliance on Youtube for both The Film Thugs and The Life Masters.

http://fantasymovieleague.com/

Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

If you live outside the US you can call us on Skype at The_Film_Thugs. You can leave a message, or someone might actually answer.

E-mail us at thefilmthugs@gmail.com and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail thugquestions@gmail.com to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

Also, we are on twitter @thefilmthugs and on Facebook and Vine.

You can also click on one of our sponsor links below and THEY will pay us. That's right. You won't have to pay a PENNY extra, and Amazon/Onnit/Teefury will give us a little taste.

Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...

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Criterion Year Week 29: The Battle of Algiers

• April 10th, 2016

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

The Battle of Algiers

Spine Number: 249

Director: Gillo Pontecorvo

Genre: Historical/Political Drama


The very idea of discussing anything political in today's climate is solidly off putting. What should be a civil exchange of ideas has been reduced to vulgar grandstanding. Instead of sharing information and gaining knowledge people have become more interested in either picking a fight to show how stupid and wrong those who disagree with them are, or to get a solid pat on the back from the adoring chorus of like minded individuals. Ideas that are deemed "incorrect" or "improper," are cast aside and ignored. We, as a people, have become a mob, seeking whatever our minds can process as either truth or justice.

Such is the environment that created "The Battle of Algiers."



Gillo Pontecorvo's "The Battle of Algiers," is, essentially, the gold standard for historical/political filmmaking. Centering around the events leading up to and following the Algerian war of the 1950's Pontecorvo uses a cinema verite style that is so completely immersive it is easy to forget you are watching a movie, as it could have easily been constructed from newsreel footage.

This film does what good discussion should do. It shows both sides. There are no clear cut heroes or villains here. Both sides are shown as both the victim and the perpetrators of unnecessary violence against the innocent. Rather than take sides Pontecorvo instead focuses on the problems inherent in colonialism, the struggles of a people fighting for their independence, and a group upholding their sworn duty. It is not an easy film, but good discussion rarely should be.

Essentially, this film is about what happens when you ignore people. Ideas are never wiped out. They hide, they fester, and they spread, but they never really go away. What happens when people who have, what they feel, to be legitimate grievances are ignored? Do they simply forget about it? Or do those ideas find a different way to express themselves.

Be warned, we do get political in this show. But that's ok. You may not agree with us. But that, too, is ok. All that we ask, is that you listen to both what we say and how we say it. Nothing we say should upset you. If it does... your refund is in the mail.


Next Week:

We begin our 5 week John Cassavetes festival with...

Spine number 251: Shadows

Also, check this out.

The Life Masters is now it's own show with its own site and own dedicated feed. That's right, we have two completely different shows!

Right now check it out at www.thelifemasters.podbean.com.

You can also drink in our brilliance on Youtube for both The Film Thugs and The Life Masters.

http://fantasymovieleague.com/

Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

If you live outside the US you can call us on Skype at The_Film_Thugs. You can leave a message, or someone might actually answer.

E-mail us at thefilmthugs@gmail.com and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail thugquestions@gmail.com to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

Also, we are on twitter @thefilmthugs and on Facebook and Vine.

You can also click on one of our sponsor links below and THEY will pay us. That's right. You won't have to pay a PENNY extra, and Amazon/Onnit/Teefury will give us a little taste.

Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...

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Criterion Year Week 28: Ikiru

• March 27th, 2016

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

Ikiru

Spine Number: 221

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Genre: Drama

When you say Akira Kurosawa to most people, if they've hear of him at all, it's because of Seven Samurai. Which is understandable. I mean... it's an unquestioned masterpiece. Beyond that, people normally still think of Samurai movies. This week, we take a break from that and look at, what was at the time, a contemporary piece.

Ikiru.jpg

Ikiru, translated "To Live," is the story of a mid level government bureaucrat who is faced with his own mortality. It asks, essentially, "how does a man who has refused to live face death?"

It's impossible to overstate how beautiful this movie is. From the typically brilliant cinematography to the simple and elegant story to the amazing performances... this is everything we have come to expect from Kurosawa, but with less violence and a much more evident heart.

So, enjoy our take on a truly remarkable and life affirming film.

Ikiru2.jpg

Next Week:

Spine number 249: The Battle of Algiers

Also, check this out.

The Life Masters is now it's own show with its own site and own dedicated feed. That's right, we have two completely different shows!

Right now check it out at www.thelifemasters.podbean.com.

You can also drink in our brilliance on Youtube for both The Film Thugs and The Life Masters.

http://fantasymovieleague.com/

Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

If you live outside the US you can call us on Skype at The_Film_Thugs. You can leave a message, or someone might actually answer.

E-mail us at thefilmthugs@gmail.com and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail thugquestions@gmail.com to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

Also, we are on twitter @thefilmthugs and on Facebook and Vine.

You can also click on one of our sponsor links below and THEY will pay us. That's right. You won't have to pay a PENNY extra, and Amazon/Onnit/Teefury will give us a little taste.

Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...

Jim out.

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