I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Amistad

tn_amistadWith AMISTAD Spielberg brings his historical dramas closer to home, dealing with slavery in America through the story of an unusual court case. The case deals with a group of Africans captured as slaves and transported on a schooner called La Amistad. Cinque (Djimon Hounsou) leads an uprising and takes control of the ship, but they end up taken into custody along American shores.

Like Jamie in EMPIRE OF THE SUN these are innocent people trapped in a complex set of conflicting rules put in place to explain an inherently wicked practice – society’s fancy way of convincing themselves that barbarism is civilized. Even the heroic abolitionist lawyers who defend the Africans (led by Matthew McConaughey as an 1800s version of the John Grisham brilliant underdog lawyer) are forced to discuss these human beings as “property,” looking through laws about possessions, slaves, treaties, all that shit. It’s like they’re not even people, it’s like they found a shipment of cigarettes or something and gotta decide who gets to keep them. And while these white people try to straighten that out the Africans have to sit there in the court room, not having any clue what’s going on because of the language barrier.

We were born just a hundred and change years later, and it’s unfathomable to us. It’s like fucking let them go. Give them free. But to the characters in the movie it’s a complicated case, an interesting debate. They enjoy arguing the minutia of it. The international slave trade is banned, but people born to slaves are still considered slaves. So they gotta argue about where these people were born to prove whether they’re free or if not who “owns” them. Is it the two surviving white guys on the boat, the 11 year-old Queen of Spain (Anna Paquin), the Americans who “salvaged” the boat?

Even if they’re free are they killers and mutineers? If they do let them go, is that gonna be that, or do they lock up the two guys for being slavers? These were all big serious arguments back then, and then the Van Beuren administration makes matters worse by trying to influence and interfere with the case in order to appease the li’l Queen and the South. Fuckin Van Beuren, man.

It’s a terrifying idea that this bratty kid, because she’s inherited the mantle of Queen by the laws and traditions of one country, has a say in the human rights of people all around the world. It’s kind of like now days how some of the world leaders gotta bite their tongue and try to be nice to the crazy dictators so they can try to negotiate deals and shit. Here it’s a little girl, shown jumping up and down on her bed in one part.

mp_amistadSince it’s mainly a court room drama AMISTAD isn’t nearly as exciting as SCHINDLER’S LIST. It’s powered mostly by the interesting situation and the Oscary performances by a cast of then and future A-listers, not as much on Spielberg’s potent filmatism. But a couple times the script by David Franzoni (JUMPIN’ JACK FLASH) does drop the speechifying and allow for classic image-based sequences that take place overseas. The opening Amistad uprising – kicked off by Cinque’s bloody fingers managing to pull a nail out of a plank on the ship – weirdly reminded me of the unseen first dinosaur in JURASSIC PARK. It’s dark and chaotic, an unexpected nightmare, not an action sequence. Later, the crisp Spielberg visual storytelling comes into play for a horrifying flashback from Cinque’s capture to his near-escape. As harrowing as the whole thing is, it also makes him seem like a great action hero. It’s a history lesson but it’s also a little CONAN. I not only wanted to see this guy escape, I wanted him to go on and have other adventures. In fact, that could be a great adventure movie, whether history-based or entirely fictional: a rousing epic about a badass that leads a slave uprising. I understand why people choose the Serious approach for this horrible era of our history, but if you can have a pulpy action hero who fights Nazis or the Klan or whatever we could use more that fight against slavers. (I guess/hope that’s sort of what Tarantino’s doing with his next one.)

Anyway, that great flashback scene starts as Cinque telling the story to the lawyers through an interpreter (Chiwetel Ejiofor!), when it ends it’s McConaughey telling it to the court. Economical storytelling for a movie that’s mostly dialogue.

Morgan Freeman plays Theodore Joadson, a colleague of McConaughey’s lawyer character. Of course he’s always good, and his presence creates a contrast between the slaves and the educated free black men that also existed at that time, and got to wear top hats and shit. It’s an interesting tension between Joadson and the people who are worse off than him, and also between him and the white men (including his friends) who can’t understand racism like he can. But at times he feels kind of like the token African-American character put in there just so it won’t seem like as much of an “Isn’t It Great What White People Did To Stop Racism?” type movie like THE HELP. He doesn’t get a huge amount to do, and since he’s a fictional character sometimes when he does have something to do (like finding a Mende translator in a clever way) it’s taking away credit from the people who really did it.

Anthony Hopkins is good and show-offy as John Quincy Adams, the weirdo ex-president, abolitionist and lawyer who McConaughey convinces to step out of his father’s shadow by getting involved in the case. His part is like Orson Welles in COMPULSION – mostly an epic court room speech. But the obvious acting highlight is Hounsou in his first major role. He doesn’t speak or understand English, so the whole movie is a struggle to communicate. The actors playing the Africans all do a good job of looking like they have no idea what’s being said, but he’s the one that figures out 3 words and tries to use them. He’s a compelling character because he’s a brave warrior in battle, he’s smart when he ends up in court, but he’s not some perfect noble hero. He can be belligerent. When he flips out you can see why these white people would be afraid of him. Better hope he doesn’t find a nail.

If you think about it Cinque is McConaughey’s E.T. He takes him in, dresses him up, draws a map in the dirt to try to ask him where he’s from. Everybody has to come together to save him from government custody and send him home. At the end he’s learned a couple words for a farewell message. I only wish he used some tradition African salve to heal a cut, and that Morgan Freeman said he didn’t like his feet.

(It should be noted that Hopkins’s Adams looks and moves more like E.T. than Cinque does, and shows a strong interest in botany.)

There’s a subplot about one of the Africans looking through a Bible all the time. He can’t read it but he likes the pictures and comes up with an interpretation of the story of Jesus and how it relates to their situation. He even looks up at the masts of boats and sees crosses. I wonder if he just sees a symbol of salvation or if he’s thinking that being chained up on a slave ship is like being nailed to a cross. The amount of stuff he’s able to figure out from the pictures is far-fetched, but it’s an interesting explanation for Christianity replacing the previous religions of many Africans. In fact, it wouldn’t seem so weird if it was reversed, a white man stranded in Africa deciding to learn and practice their religion. It would seem pretty enlightened, it wouldn’t seem like a sad denial of his own culture. I think that sort of happens in THE PHANTOM for example.

I always feel a little uncomfortable with these type of stories, it’s always gotta be the white people as the main characters. Good job, white people. But (like SCHINDLER’S LIST and its Jew-saving Nazi party member) it is an interesting episode in history that I never heard of before, and a legitimate example of people on the wrong side doing an extraordinary thing to help the right side. Cinque is a very memorable character with both physical and mental strength and it’s nice (even funny at times) to see the exchange between these two cultures. This might be Spielberg’s weakest historical drama, but it’s still a good and unique one.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 26th, 2012 at 2:36 pm and is filed under Drama, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

56 Responses to “Amistad”

  1. “I always feel a little uncomfortable with these type of stories, it’s always gotta be the white people as the main characters.”

    Vern – I don’t think they are. I mean the meat and potatoes of the emotions of that movie is Djimon Hounsou. Yes the guy who played bongos naked while stoned has alot of screentime, as does Morgan Freeman and Hopkins, but Hounsou is the Hitchcockian guy fucked over by the cirumstances and trying to escape a supposed inescapable situation. I think the audience naturally gets behind him, instead of just another face.

    Spielberg took an obscure historical incident and used it to tackle a topic in American history in his John Ford-mood. So yes, I do give the Beard a break in having Stoned Bongo Drummer and Hopkins involved in critical parts. I know Vern you’re a liberal, but this isn’t literal white washing here as you argue. This isn’t AMAZING GRACE or MISSISSIPPI BURNING.

    I say AMISTAD is pretty good. Not great, but a proud worthy if obscure entry within the filmography. Three and half slave ships out of 5. I liked that early scene of Van Buren literally kissing babies at a whistle stop. Historically inaccurate as fuck since presidential candidates didn’t campaign in person until the 1890s (blame William Jennings Bryan) but visually is sets up that Van Buren will go below his supposed humanity* and suck the dick of the Southern bloc to win. That scene with goddamn John Calhoun (who played him?) at the dinner, where he a mere racist Senator made the President of the United States fucking humble* at his own home. That was great.

    Anyway my favorite scene though was Hopkins’ argument to the Supreme Court. Certainly in anecdotes, while Adams became an abolitionist while in Congress, he apparently was a racist himself. I remember that one story that he told some woman at a state dinner that Othello and his white lover in Shakespeare’s play deserved to die for betraying nature. Yikes. Then again, Adams was an interesting case. Spectacular political career, yet his most unremarkable period of his life was when he was President. Before and after the White House, he was the most effective and relevant. I give him high marks for using his knowledge of proceduralism to work around the infamous Gag Rule, which was supposed to suppress any debate of slavery at Congress. A racist, but a great ex-President.

    *=did the Iron Sheik play him?

  2. Oh and shit, I realize now reading my first post here that I had two asterisks. If anyone (as in nobody) wondered, the Iron Sheik question refers to the second asterisk. The first one? ignore it. My bad.

  3. Though this movie is far from perfect, that middle section flashback is pure cinematic gold. That whole segment is heartbreaking and delivered with such conviction; anybody who was not moved/disturbed/angered/all of the above is just a cynical asshole looking to continue their agenda of Spielberg bashing. At least, that’s been my experience…

  4. A flawed film, but in the end a good one. Over the years, I’ve liked it more with each viewing.

    RRA: Calhoun was played-very well-by Cowboy from Full Metal Jacket. And yeah, this is his Old Hollywood-John Ford How Green Was My Valley / Young Mr. Lincoln formalism at it’s best. Everything he got wrong with The Color Purple he gets right here.

    It’s main problem is they try to fit about three entire movies into this one–The Saga Of Cinque, the courtroom drama, and a period piece about American politics in the years leading up to the Civil War; and I’ve never been able to decide if it feels too short or too long. There’s some terrible, clumsy scenes, and they’re right alongside some of the best work of Spielberg and his collaborators have ever done. Pretty much everything involving Adams and the court case is superb: Hopkins performance, William’s soaring Copland-esque score. It’s a film that’s deeply critical of America, yet is also one of the most truly patriotic movies I’ve ever seen.

    And I can’t wait to see Spielberg’s LINCOLN.

  5. A rousing epic about a badass who leads a slave uprising: SPARTACUS.

  6. “Even the heroic abolitionist lawyers who defend the Africans (led by Matthew McConaughey as an 1800s version of the John Grisham brilliant underdog lawyer)”
    I not seen this movie, so I thought this bit at first was you making an A TIME TO KILL joke. Change the record already, McConaughey!

  7. To second RRA’s emotion, Amistad is a solid ensemble piece where each component is given its due. It definately doesn’t suffer from “Cry Freedom syndrome”.

  8. so….no Jurassic Park reviews then? may I ask what you have against reviewing those Vern?

    anyway I’ve never seen this one, as a matter of fact I had never even heard of it until I first got imdb, strange that it’s so obscure considering it’s so relatively recent

    also here’s a weird fact, I may in fact be a descendant of John C Calhoun (which gives you a hint as to what my last name is)

  9. I agree completely with JD. The script has some unfortunately cheesy moments, but the majority of AMISTAD is excellent.

    If you haven’t yet seen AMISTAD, at the very least you should watch the opening slave ship sequence. I won’t link to a YouTube clip here because that is against my religion. Turn out the lights, turn up the volume, and put it on the bigscreen if you’re going to give it a chance.

    The “mutiny” scene is arguably the most intense, awe-inspiring, scary piece of narrative cinema of Spielberg’s career, which makes it some of the best cinema of all time. It’s badass cinema. It’s shocking horror. It’s striking atmosphere. It’s beautiful. It’s teasing. It’s substantive. It’s just amazing stuff. More is said with one man’s nubby fingernails than with 1,000 abolitionists’ speeches.

    And Djimon Hounsou absolutely dominates. Remember Vern’s little complaint about mainstream critics’ description of action stars supposedly evolving to take non-action roles? Well, like Vern suggested in this review, I’d also love for Hounsou to become a new Conan or blade-wielding badass hero type. And Chiwetel Ejiofor can continue to be the eloquent sidekick/translator, who also happens to assassinate people with his sword. (How weird is that?)

  10. Re: that fuckin’ YouTube link to the fuckin’ South — yes, I’m somewhat ashamed to be from South Carolina, especially the last few weeks. I hold the perspective of history that the 19th century wasn’t so long ago, and that the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s is still not a finished fight, so for me it’s excruciating to see racism alive & [subconsciously?] thriving among my neighbors while in the same train of thought I consider discussions & essays about how much civilization has progressed since my home state’s secession catastrophe and since Jim Crow. Irrational hatred & fear is retarding this country’s potential for greatness, yet, despite South Carolina’s worst efforts to revert to anti-enlightenment values & shitheadism, the country is somehow still the greatest.

    I am proud to have helped Obama-Biden barely win North Carolina, where I registered since I technically had a Bragg/Fayetteville address there in 2008, though, so I’m one of the good ones. The SC Republican primary winner is an imbecile. In a non-bizarro world, he would have no name recognition and would not be worthy of discussion on this fine web sight.

  11. I really meant “I always feel a little uncomfortable with these type of stories,” and no more than that. I agree with you RRA that ultimately it is Cinque’s story.

    Griff – I’ve seen the Jurassic Parks a bunch of times and the reason for this series was to force myself to finally see all the Spielbergs I never watched. I made an exception for Hook just because I didn’t remember it well and thought I probly wouldn’t watch it again otherwise and was kind of curious if it was as bad as I thought it might be. And I had already watched the movies by the time you guys started asking for Lost World and I realized I apparently haven’t reviewed it. Which is weird because I re-watched it a summer or two ago, I must not’ve realized I hadn’t reviewed it.

    Maybe I’ll check out the blu-rays later on and review them.

  12. I see Vern, I was under the mistaken impression that you were reviewing EVERY Spielberg movie you had reviewed before, not just the ones you hadn’t seen, sorry

    and yeah, you should definitively check out the blu ray set, fantastic transfers on all 3 movies

  13. *you had never reviewed before

  14. I know what you mean about feeling uncomfortable at watching stories where white people save the poor down-trodden minority from evil white people. But. At this point in history the only ones with the power to do something about the injustice were those already in power. I’m not saying it was the only way to make change, I’m just saying unfortunately, I think that’s how change usually comes about on a systematic level.

  15. Mouth, something like the above link?

  16. In isolation, I think Amistad does a good job of portraying ways in which the African characters fought for their freedom, whether it is when they take over the ship or when they collaborate with the lawyers. One of the better scenes is when Hounsou’s character is sending notes and suggestions to John Quincy Adams. It is only when you take in the whole of “civil rights” cinema that the portrayal of the benevolent white freeing the helpless blacks becomes a problem.

    African-Americans and Native-Americans were both at the center of fighting for their own rights. If it weren’t for escaped slaves who wrote incredibly popular slave narratives, abolitionism wouldn’t have likely made much of a difference in the arena of public opinion. Not only did Native-Americans fight to keep their land, but many of them became lawyers so they could do so in the American court system. The Cherokee even got the Supreme Court to declare their removal illegal (which was quickly ignored by the authorities). Of course, this is not the way history is portrayed in the movies. I don’t mean to diminish the role of white abolitionists and other freedom fighters. Their stories are important too. But it would be nice if Hollywood told the story of slavery or civil rights from the point of view of those who were most affected by it.

  17. Vern – alright fair enough, I’m sorry for misinterpreting you.

    Griff – honestly I don’t blame Vern for not wanting to review a JURASSIC PARK or RAIDERS. I mean what else can he add that hasn’t been said already? “Wow that was funny when the lawyer got eaten from the toilet!” or “RAIDERS maybe arguably is the greatest American action movie ever, yes even more than DIE HARD.*”

    RBatty024 – I understand all that and I agree with you about Hollywood and race in a broad general consensus, but hairs are being split by using AMISTAD as the target of that point. If it was say fucking THE HELP instead, I would be dancing with you in agreement. BTW, what bullshit that one was and got it earned a Best Picture nod. Is that Hollywood throwing a bone to Middle America or something? Seriously.

    “If it weren’t for escaped slaves who wrote incredibly popular slave narratives, abolitionism wouldn’t have likely made much of a difference in the arena of public opinion.”

    You know color me ignorant in retrospect, but when I first saw AMISTAD at the time as a kid, I thought Morgan Freeman played Frederick Douglas. Now that’s a good movie and casting we unfortunately never got.

    *=Actually Vern would never write that, but I’ll argue that.

  18. RRA – I actually find interesting when Vern posts his thoughts on really well known movies, like his Psycho and Jaws reviews

  19. Don’t remember liking this one. Just remember laughing at Matthew M’s poor efforts. I give it credit for giving the world the classic “Give us free” though which I’ve obnoxiously used in my every day life quite often. That and for giving me a point a reference to call Honsou all those times I had difficulty pronouncing his name or someone didn’t know who I was talking about. Ie:

    ME: You know who’d make a great Black Panther?
    LISTENER: Who?
    ME: Djimon Honsou
    LISTENER: Who?!?
    ME: Amistad
    LISTENER: oh yeah

  20. See I can’t even spell the guy’s name properly. I missed a U.

  21. Broddie – Yeah Naked Drummer’s New England accent was certainly all over the place from the set to the catering table to the trailers to Spielberg’s chair to the porta-pottys, everywhere.

    I’m surprised you didn’t use GLADIATOR instead.

  22. Maybe I’m the only one, but I found all the crass promotion of JURASSIC PARK really obnoxious way back when it was released. They branded the shit out of that film, which is probably why I never bothered seeing it.

    David Letterman best expressed my exasperation at the time: “It’s just mechanical lizards.”

  23. RRA – I don’t know why Hollywood hasn’t made a Frederick Douglass movie yet. They would probably screw it up, so it’s just as well. But in the right hands that book could be gold. The fight between Douglass and Covey gives me chills every time I read it.

  24. RRA: Mcaunaghey’s character doesn’t HAVE a New England accent. He’s from Philadelphia.

    Matthew M. does do a pretty good sort of period-Atlantic accent. When you realize how genuinely thick his natural Texas drawl is, it’s impressive how effectively he disguised it.

    That being said, the New England accents in Amistad–in the opinion of this lifelong New Englander–are great. John Q. Adams (a helluva better American accent then Hopkins’ Nixon, I’ll tell you that) and various supporting characters, particularly one of the naval officers who tries to claim salvage rights of the Amistad. That guy has maybe the most accurate, really old-fashioned rural Yankee accent I’ve ever heard in a movie.

  25. Jareth Cutestory – but Hollywood brands the shit out of every big movie these days too, do you avoid seeing any blockbusters today for that same reason?

    man, how could someone have passed up the chance to see Jurassic Park in theaters? that’s literally unfathomable to me, it’s like saying “halley’s comet? nah who gives a shit, I don’t want to see it” or passing on Jaws or Star Wars in theaters

    I don’t think me and you see eye to eye buddy

  26. Griff: Yeah, I avoid most blockbusters, even the good ones like TERMINATOR 2, sometimes for years. Many of them I end up seeing on airplanes, like IRON MAN 1 & 2 and GREEN LANTERN. Some, like TITANIC and NEW STAR WARS, I never get around to seeing.

    I like to experience movies, music and television from a perspective that is uncluttered by hype and fandom. I find the mob mentality that surrounds event movies really off-putting. Anyway blockbusters have never really been my thing. I’m more of an arthouse goon. And if you punks don’t get off my lawn I’m gonna turn the hose on you.

    Also, I just don’t like Spielberg very much, so it’s not like I suffered for missing JURASSIC PARK. And even though it is common practice now, the ubiquitousness of JURASSIC PARK’s marketing was pretty extreme for the early 90s; they only brought out those heavy guns every few years, like for Burton’s BATMAN. Or maybe I just came up for air in the mainstream at the wrong time.

  27. Jareth Cutestory – I understand, but for me it just seems strange because I’ve grown up with every big blockbuster being marketed heavily, it’s just an accepted fact of life for me for better or worse

  28. I don’t let it affect my opinion of the movie itself

  29. I’m not even gonna tell you how long we had to wait for RAIDERS to come out on Betamax. And how much it cost.

    Something to keep in mind: I live in a city with a lot of repertory theaters. If I want to see HAYWIRE six months from now in a theater it won’t be difficult to find. It’s easier to be casual about skipping blockbusters during their first run when you know you have a year to see it on the screen. And if the film has any kind of staying power, like EVIL DEAD and DEATH WISH 4, it’ll be a staple of these theaters for years. Here’s some of what I can choose from this week on one of the big screens:

    BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK
    TREE OF LIFE
    FERAT VAMPIRE
    SOLARIS (1972)
    BEST IN SHOW
    METROPOLIS (restored version)
    THE DEVILS (1971)
    BABETTE’S FEAST
    THE NEW MUPPETS
    THE OLD MUPPET MOVIE
    DR. STRANGELOVE
    THE ROOM (of course)
    THE BIRDS
    ROCKY HORROR
    EASY RIDER
    DIRTY HARRY
    MIDNIGHT COWBOY

    This is about 10% of what I can see on a typical week. A few years ago, before a few of the rep theaters closed, we had even more to choose from, like a theater that played only kung fu flicks and Hong Kong pulpy goodness. We’re fucking spoiled up here.

  30. and where do you live exactly Jareth Cutestory?

    and yeah, you better believe you’re fucking spoiled

  31. Toronto. I’m sure that most of my misgivings about downloading movies from the internet and my distaste for blue ray discs stems from the fact that I’ve spent much of my life in repertory theaters. Downloading will inevitably lead to the extinction of most of these venues, and it’s difficult for me to imagine enjoying stuff like LA JETEE* without the film showing signs of age. A beat up old film is given a veil of poetry in these grand old theaters, and it has become a part of my aesthetic sensibility. I certainly wouldn’t trade it for convenience or clarity of image.

    *Fans of 12 MONKEYS really need to see this film if they haven’t already.

  32. yeah, but look at it this way Jareth, if it werent for things like blu ray, people like me would be shit out of luck if we wanted to see classic movies

    we can’t all live in hipper than thou metropolises

  33. Oh I think we long ago lost the hip credibility of sitting in a damp, near-empty old theater watching a pulverized print of SISTERS.

    I’m sure one day my entire generation will be diagnosed with some terrible disease stemming from this feeling afterness that was instilled in us by our boomer parents and our “greatest generation” grandparents going on about how they lived in such formative epochs, leaving us with nothing to amuse ourselves with but our decaying media and genre nomenclature. It’s not like any of us can claim that Bananarama and Ewoks changed the world. Your tech savvy generation will have us all committed for our own well-being.

    Then your kids come along and blame you for being too busy playing pornographic video games on your telephone goggles to notice that the last tree was chopped down for toilet paper and that clean air is being sold in bottles.

  34. Griff, I assure you, Toronto is by no means a hipper-then-thou metropolis.

  35. 12 MONKEYS = Bruce’s best movie not named DIE HARD.

    The first 2 movies I ever saw in a theater were B-movies (KICKBOXER, THE FLY II). I was conditioned from a young age to watch anything of interest at the cinema. I could see skipping out blockbusters when you have discount second run theaters around though. I’ve never skipped them myself and like Griff I don’t allow hype to cloud my judgement. I used the $1 theaters back in the 90’s to watch the movies again months later but not the first time.

    TERMINATOR 2
    JURASSIC PARK
    BATMAN RETURNS
    THE MATRIX

    Are some of the greatest movie theater going experiences of my life. I can’t imagine what my imagination would be like if I didn’t witness those flicks on the big screen and had my mind completely broken on an epic scale. Keep in mind that one of them is possibly still the most ambitious and “I don’t give a fuck I’m making an arty personal movie with these millions” and in that sense quite polarizing. But I will always love BATMAN RETURNS partially for how awesome all those Batman and Catwoman interactions looked on the big screen.

  36. *’most ambitious and “I don’t give a fuck I’m making an arty personal movie with these millions” blockbusters ever made;’

    I don’t know how I forgot to type the rest of that the first time. I need to proof read my shit more lol.

  37. I don’t know, Toronto seems pretty hip to me, I mean wasn’t Scott Pilgrim filmed and set there?

    plus there’s the Toronto after dark horror festival where they play horror movies probably years ahead of when I might get to see them

    trust me guys, if you knew what where I lived was like, ANY city would seem hip compared to this place…

  38. It’s Canada, man. It is by definition unhip.

    I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Seriously, Toronto’s a cool city. Hey, Cronenberg hangs out there, right? Anyway, it’s vastly preferable to Calgary, that’s for sure.

  39. “I’m sure one day my entire generation will be diagnosed with some terrible disease stemming from this feeling afterness that was instilled in us by our boomer parents and our “greatest generation” grandparents going on about how they lived in such formative epochs.”

    Ah, the ol’ gen X inferiority complex. I wouldn’t worry about this too much. The boomers had a brief moment in the last 60s/early 70s where they got to have a bit of an impact on the world, but they’ve consistently fucked up ever since. Even during the anti-war days, a lot of the opposition came not from moral stance on Vietnam, but rather from the realization that they’re not just shipping the poor overseas anymore. Sure, there were a good handful of principled anti-war protesters, but looking back on history, I think most boomers only started to care when it became clear that they had to die a half a world away, instead of those other people. These are the same people, after all, who voted in Reagan, and I recently read that a majority of twenty somethings actually voted for Nixon. Besides, if you want to know who to blame for endless overseas wars and a broken economy, then you can point to the boomers.

  40. I love Toronto. And I say this only after spending 9 hours with walking from the ViaRail station to Pearson International.
    That’s all.

  41. JD’s right: Montreal is the only city in Canada that could hope to qualify as hip. But in Toronto there’s never a lack of things to do. And Calgary’s proximity to the mountains is spectacular if you like all that showy unspoiled nature and stuff.

    RBatty: I actually agree with your points. But the boomers have had such a stranglehold on the public consciousness with their self-mythologizing that it’ll take decades to re-write their history more realistically. There’s also their sheer numbers. They all stand behind the perceived genius of “Ob La Di Ob La Da” or whatever in such massive outspoken numbers while the miniscule fanbases of truly innovative Gen X bands like Suicide and Joy Division only become part of the conversation 20 years after the fact.

    Gen X really dropped the ball when its media simply adopted the boomer template for discussing its cultural products. Bands like The Clash and Talking Heads get dropped into the same Hall of Fame discussions as the Monkees despite the inherent differences in their music and politics, while bands that can’t be digested by the mainstream, like Crass or The Cramps, remain ignored. Gen X were the first to recognize the brilliance of bands ignored by the boomers, like the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, but when the time comes to articulate their relevance to our experience, we have a tendency to simply regurgitate boomer platitudes and wish for reunion tours.

  42. Hey, I like Calgary too. Toronto’s just more metropolitan.

  43. Cronenberg was born in Toronto and continues to live here, but he’s generally seen by Torontonians as belonging to the world. Same thing with Leonard Cohen and Montreal. It’s not that we’ve disowned him, it’s just that we collectively suspect that we don’t really deserve him. It’s made us a bit aloof towards him. When we see him in the food court we smile politely but keep our distance. You never know what he’s got in his pockets. Or why he’s with that mugwump.

    Then later he’ll win every available Canadian film award because, c’mon, it’s David Fucking Cronenberg. A DANGEROUS METHOD is going to pulverize that quaint little one room drama about the hardships of farm life.

    The Toronto After Dark Festival is fun but brief; they only screen about 15 films each year. Nothing major happened at last year’s festival (unless your idea of major is MANBORG and a film called SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE), but previous years have attracted good ones like LET THE RIGHT ONE IN and BLACK DYNAMITE. They strive to produce effective genre counter-programming to the big film festival, which is admirable, but seem to have difficulty attracting some of the best names in shlock. So they get a lot of B Level stuff like DEAD SNOW.

  44. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    January 28th, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Broddie:

    “12 MONKEYS = Bruce’s best movie not named DIE HARD.”

    Yeah, and your point is? Might as well say the ocean is wet or something.

    “La Jetee”. I may look out for it if it’s that good.

    I think I’m the odd man out here (as usual) though, because while you guys all seem to have had a great film-viewing upbringing, I never did. South Wales, UK, is NOT known for its thriving film scene. Where I grew up, there was the local Odeon, and that was pretty much it. So unless you really, really like Michael Bay / Brett Ratner (does ANYBODY really like Michael Bay or Brett Ratner?) you were pretty much screwed.

    It wasn’t until a few years ago that I started going to see movies, especially “art films”, with any real regularity. It was a lot easier when I actually lived near the arts cinema, of course. And while there’s been some stinkers, for the most part I’ve picked good ones, and seen some absolute gems that nobody else seems to have heard much about. Hell, I’d say that I’ve already seen four movies that are at least very very very good this year already. (Of course, I’ve also seen way more than I ever wanted to see of Michael Fassbender’s cock, but hey, take the good with the bad, etc.)

    And the one that I wouldn’t say was as good as the others – “Haywire” – was the one I watched at the local multiplex. Guess I should’ve seen that one coming.

  45. Nope smartass I stated that as my opinion because some people think PULP FICTION is the best movie featuring him outside of DH and some others think it’s LAST MAN STANDING. Hell someone out there may even think that it’s THE STORY OF US; but whomever that is they’re certainly no friend of mine.

  46. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    January 28th, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Oooooh I forgot about Pulp Fiction. Close one there.

    And you called me smart. :-)

  47. my dad is like the first batch of Generation X (he’s 47) and he always tells me that the Baby Boomers were real assholes to young people

    it all reminds me of this

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwYn6EWUpFU&list=FLaI511E9DAWLBwZEMTXN40A&index=61&feature=plpp_video

    Jareth – I guess I should mention that I’m an occasional reader of this blog http://thehorrorsection.blogspot.com/ and this guy always covers the Toronto After Dark film festival and it always seems cool to me

    by the way, I would say Pulp Fiction is better than 12 Monkeys, but Pulp Fiction doesn’t STAR Bruce Willis, he’s just in it, so it doesn’t really count

  48. I personally prefer UNBREAKABLE over TWELVE MONKEYS.

  49. The way I see it PULP FICTION is an ensemble piece. It doesn’t really have a star since it’s an anthology movie where each character gets his/her space. So in that sense Bruce is as much of a star in that movie as Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman are.

  50. Oh man I forgot UNBREAKABLE that’s a good one so was THE SIXTH SENSE but 12 MONKEYS still own. Probably one of the smartest looks at time travel ever and Bruce and Brad Pitt completely sold the shit out of it under Gillam’s masterful direction.

  51. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    January 28th, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Griff – trying to decide which of “Twelve Monkeys” and “Pulp Fiction” is better is like trying to decide between bacon and breasts. Yes, there’s a very small minority who won’t like one or the other, but for the most part… how can you possibly put a “value” on either?

  52. I’m not a big fan of SIN CITY, but I think Willis was good in that one. He was the only actor I remember having much gravity in that film.

    I liked him in NOBODY’S FOOL too. I think he was most convincingly badass in LAST BOY SCOUT. And I swear I saw him on THAT 70s SHOW twice before I even knew it him under that wig. That has to count for something.

  53. Off topic here but the potpourri one was full…

    HAVE YOU SEEN FULL SEQUENCE YET AND HOW WAS IT??

    Thanks for letting me know.

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