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Comment Archives: stories: Film: Video Essays

Re: “On the Creepy Alluring Art of the Follow Shot

La Promesse was amazing! The end shot where they walk away from the camera blew my mind!

Posted by j03 on 06/03/2009 at 7:09 PM

Re: “On the Creepy Alluring Art of the Follow Shot

To the author.
Simple question re: your method.

What do YOU use to make such a montage? What format are the files you edit?

Posted by paulhanlon on 06/03/2009 at 5:31 PM

Re: “On the Creepy Alluring Art of the Follow Shot

Another brilliant essay by Matt Seitz. Thanks to L for giving this man as much space as he wants to stretch his one-of-a-kind abilities.

Posted by gumbyisinthehouse on 06/03/2009 at 12:42 PM

Re: “Vulcan: The Soul of Spock

A marvelous piece of work. Thank you very much - I'm trying to get others to view it. LL&P!

Posted by John in Cincinnati on 05/26/2009 at 8:15 PM

Re: “Is Steve McQueen Really That Cool?

Yes I like this too. And nice that Lincoln Center offers series passes...

Personally, I'd go with "Junior Bonner", "Towering Inferno" and McQ's last film "The Hunter" which is pretty rarely seen although available on DVD. At time of release I think that was considered one of his softer or more nuanced roles. Anyway, sentimental favorites.

Also, when you're talking about tough guys with a soft/effeminate side that brings to my mind "This Sporting Life", with Richard Harris playing the lead.(and the flashback structure, triggered by Harris getting his teeth broken in the opening scenes.) so maybe- "This Sporting Life", "Junior Bonner", "The Wrestler".

Posted by gjk on 05/22/2009 at 10:49 AM

Re: “Is Steve McQueen Really That Cool?

"(So we're apparently in agreement that McQueen did his best work in the opening credit montages of Sam Peckinpah movies. Huh.)"

Yeah. That sounds a little weird at first, but when you think about montages as the purest expression of cinematic language -- putting shots together to create ideas, and putting ideas together to create a statement -- it makes sense. McQueen by himself, thinking, in a long take, could be boring or shallow or just opaque if he wasn't kicking ass. But cut shots of McQueen thinking together with other shots that seem to create a complicated argument within McQueen's mind or heart, and you've got pure movie gold.

Terence Stamp is obviously a much deeper actor than McQueen, but I think Steven Soderbergh was hip to the same dynamic in "The Limey" and exploited it extraordinarily well. That entire movie is basically the Kuleshov Effect illustrated over the course of 90 badass minutes.

Posted by MZS on 05/21/2009 at 9:48 PM

Re: “Is Steve McQueen Really That Cool?

Oh, totally. Not to take this too far afield, but there's that locker room scene in The Wrestler where Aronofsky cuts from The Ram getting his wounds treated to flashbacks of how he got them -- that's basically the conceit of the opening credits of Junior Bonner.

(So we're apparently in agreement that McQueen did his best work in the opening credit montages of Sam Peckinpah movies. Huh.)

(I seem to recall reading that Peckinpah let his assistant editors do a lot of The Getaway's credit sequence, but will have to look that up.)

The story is that Warren Beatty was really excited to play Clyde Barrow as impotent, but, as producer, he stipulated to Benton and Newman: "I gotta do it once."

Posted by Mark Asch on 05/21/2009 at 8:24 PM

Re: “Is Steve McQueen Really That Cool?

I love that triple feature idea. It's going on the calendar for the Repertory Theater of Matt's Imagination.

I hadn't thought of "The Wrestler" as a reimagining of "Junior Bonner" with steroids and mullets, but the description totally fits.

Agreed that both Rourke and Newman have a facility for playing soft/effeminate in a playful way, without ever compromising their machismo. That's a gift that McQueen didn't have or chose not to exercise, and it's one of the qualities that elevates the great leading men above the rest. Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty were also good at it; in fact Beatty's career, in particular, seems an exercise in seeing how helpless, vulnerable and otherwise not in control he can seem while maintaining his heterosexual ladykiller cred.

Posted by MZS on 05/21/2009 at 7:31 PM

Re: “Is Steve McQueen Really That Cool?

Steve MEHcQueen?

sorry, couldn't resist...

Posted by gjk on 05/21/2009 at 2:53 PM

Re: “Is Steve McQueen Really That Cool?

"Anyway the movie is doing well and what it is supposed to do, which is make $20 million."
-Sam Peckinpah to Ali McGraw, on The Getaway.

I think Junior Bonner, meanwhile, is one of the really great American films. (Though upon reflection Robert Preston and Ida Lupino kind of fill in a lot of the space of McQueen.) Particularly the way Peckinpah uses the beat-up body of a cinematic axiom of American masculinity to represent the flagging national spirit.

(An ideal triple feature: Junior Bonner, Slap Shot and The Friends of Eddie Coyle, about which I'll have lots more to say later incidentally.)

For those reasons -- and much more specific ones having to do with certain editing choices -- The Wrestler is basically a remake of Junior Bonner. Aronofsky's no Peckinpah (and actually, Robert D. Siegel's no Jeb Rosebrook), but now I'm reconsidering McQueen's (very fine, stoic) performance in light of Rourke, who's similarly minimal, but -- like Newman in the Hud clip, and as is frequently the case with the big lug -- daringly effeminate at times.

Posted by Mark Asch on 05/21/2009 at 10:20 AM

Re: “Vulcan: The Soul of Spock

Thank you for such a powerful and moving essay. I particularly like the analogies between Shakespeare richest characterizations and Spock. It reminded me of a Leonard Nimoy poem:

"Like a photograph, you develop

Unlike a photograph

You never stop."

Posted by Trey Moynihan on 05/08/2009 at 11:41 AM

Re: “Vulcan: The Soul of Spock

Thanks a lot for this really rich and rewarding work. It's been added to a list of scholarly but entertaining Star Trek Studies Online at Film Studies For Free

Posted by Catherine Grant on 05/08/2009 at 9:29 AM

Re: “Vulcan: The Soul of Spock

Colin Powell is Spockish in his soldierly cool masking streaks of mischief and hostility. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsN61h6iVwo

Matt, this lovely essay gets at the heart of the original series' appeal and longevity: Like the original Star Wars trilogy, the mythic elements and sci-fi fetishism fall second to the characters and their simple, universal struggles. We can laugh at the papier mache rocks and tribbles and a thousand other camp targets, but the psychological suspense of the Spock/Kirk/McCoy friendship remains solid. It's really what fans fear losing in a re-imagined, reloaded version.

I like that you carefully tune out ancillary media/marketing/cultural noise (while helpfully identifying it) to get at what's substantial in a pop product like Star Trek. I'm not too surprised that the substance is mostly in what the actors create with their characters over time. You'll find in a lot of hidden riches like that in 60's television (which, imo, whips contemporary Ho'wood's butt).

Posted by Boone on 05/07/2009 at 10:49 PM

Re: “Vulcan: The Soul of Spock

This ROCKS.

Posted by Nomi on 05/06/2009 at 8:07 PM

Re: “Vulcan: The Soul of Spock

Totally brilliant.

Posted by YouGotItRight on 05/06/2009 at 10:22 AM

Re: “Vulcan: The Soul of Spock

I was hoping that you would cover some of Spock's recent evolution in the films.

After attempting to purge his emotions in ST:TMP, hi meld with the machine intellect that is V'ger demonstrates to him the value of feelings.

It is then a far mellower Spock we meet in ST:TWOK. He empathizes with Kirk's feelings of being put out to pasture and defers command to him. He jokes much more openly with McCoy.

After the momentary amnesia he experiences in ST:TSFS and ST:TVH, Spock regains his footing in ST:TFF, continuing an emotional evolution. This is most apparent in his willingness to embrace the camping experience with his friends, roasting "marsh melons" and singing "Row Your Boat" with little to no embarassment (can't say the same for fans).

In ST:TUC he has finally achieved a Zen-like tranquility, slipping in and out of his human and Vulcan personas with equal expertise. He allows himself to show anger when slapping the phaser out of Valeris, his protege, after discovering her betrayal. And he also concedes that Starfleet should "Go to hell..." after they decide to mothball the Enterprise and its crew which, yet again, saved the galaxy from interstellar war.

These acting choices by Nimoy were all conscious, as he admits in a recent interview at Trekmovie.com, where he speaks of the performance and character continuing to evolve in the new film.

Posted by Tony Dayoub on 05/06/2009 at 9:50 AM

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