Re: I see people were talking about movies recently

1

I haven't seen any of the movies up for awards this year (wait, no, Inherent Vice was nominated for costume design at least, right?) but I'm hugely fond of Russian Ark and hope and doubt the whole comment thread will be about it.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 7:48 PM
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AIMHMHSB, I say Michael Keaton in a restaurant back when he was Batman-famous. That restaurant is now a Pottery Barn or an Apple store or a William Sonoma or something. I don't remember which exact building it was in.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 8:19 PM
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John Wick was buy-the-Blu-Ray popular among the cops and ex-cops I know.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 8:52 PM
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It was epochally popular.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 8:54 PM
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John Wick was fucking awesome.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:08 PM
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Also, on the topic of long takes, everyone should watch this Tony Zhou video on Spielberg: https://vimeo.com/94628727


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:19 PM
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Pulp Fiction is a terrible movie.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:19 PM
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I thought Russian Ark was excruciatingly boringly well choreographed and executed.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:21 PM
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On the OP, I'm also puzzled by a lot of the Birdman criticism. But I actually expected to dislike it* so there's probably a fine line between what I think is too meta - movies about plays, acting about acting - and what works for me. A lot of the making of grand claims about the film in order to deflate them seems overblown. No, it's not 12 Years a Slave, which I thought was truly amazing and historically significant, but movies like that aren't made on an annual basis.

Awards are important for the social system they're a part of, but in the long run "It won Best Picture!" is kind of the "lurkers support me in email" of arguing about movies. It doesn't reflect poorly on any movie or person that they never won.

*I saw it because there wasn't space left in the theater for me to see the children's movie my family went to see and it was the only other movie playing at that theater that even seemed interesting.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:23 PM
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I saw the Lego movie.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:31 PM
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I had something to say about movies about theater but I'm tired and can't get it to make even enough sense for a blog comment. It had to do with how theater doesn't film well and if you're wise, you do what Mankiewicz did and show nary a word of Aged in Wood or Footsteps on the Ceiling, settling instead for a flash of rehearsal and a curtain call.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 11:52 PM
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But then there's Topsy-Turvy so never mind.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 11:56 PM
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Hey but you saw Birdman though right?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 12:04 AM
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re: 12

Except ... Mike Leigh.

I've not seen Topsy-Turvy, but it does seem like the only Mike Leigh film I might not be allergic to.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:29 AM
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I heard Lego Movie was shot in one take because it was about money and Art.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 5:40 AM
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I haven't seen Rope in years but from memory the main character had some sort of fermented Nietschean murder-as-art motivstion too?


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 5:42 AM
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11 is a good point, Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan notwithstanding. I mean, this is something that comes up a lot -- there's no particular reason that a good commercial writer should be a great poet or that a screenwriter should be able to write for the stage, so trying to depict something profound from another medium is often fraught. (At least movies can borrow paintings and sculpture, sometimes. Samuel R. Delany got around this in Babel-17 -- which, pbuh, is not very good for other reasons -- by using Marilyn Hacker's work, which is I guess an equivalent strategy.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 5:44 AM
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I quite liked Russian Ark, but they had to kick me out of the Hermitage at closing time, so I guess I would. The single take was a nice bonus on an hour and a half of pissfarting about in one of the world's great collections. It's basically Night At The Museum: Mission to St Petersburg, but with less time wasted on tedious character backstory in the first act.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 5:48 AM
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the only Mike Leigh film I might not be allergic to

Oh, you get used to the funny accents after a while.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 6:58 AM
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16: If trolling Jimmy Stewart counts as fermented Nietscheanism.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:01 AM
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Moby, when you copy a wrong answer, you get a wrong answer.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:10 AM
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I don't spell German very well, if that's what you're on about.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:12 AM
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That was it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:14 AM
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'I' before 'e' except after 'c' and in 'Nietzsche.'


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:17 AM
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16: It was loosely based on Leopold and Loeb, the U of C students who took their reading a little too seriously, so yes.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:21 AM
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I don't know how they managed to read all that. I can't even get through the Wikipedia page.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:22 AM
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I'm thinking of starting a category page for "University of Chicago Students and Alumni Convicted of Murder." But I think I need two or three more to get the category accepted, if anybody is willing to help.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:24 AM
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26: It was before Wikipedia, so they had no choice.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:27 AM
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re: 19

Heh, that is actually, pretty much the problem.

The performances are caricatures and the combination of the incessant vocal and physical tics, and the regional accents exaggerated to the point that they no longer sound remotely authentic to me, even when the actors involved actually do have the accent they are doing, grates.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:30 AM
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I have no particular opinion about most of those, but can't really see myself to caring that E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark didn't win. And, I mean, one can't help but note that the films overlooked in these epochal travesties still seem to mostly have decent reputations.

I think neb is missing the point here -- the Slate reviewer apparently believes that that over time it becomes perfectly clear which films are truly great -- so in the long run it make no difference to the reputation of the movie whether it wins the Best Picture or not. What is tarnished when the Academy fails to recognize the genius of E.T. or Raiders of the Lost Ark, is the award itself.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:33 AM
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"Boy if only the Academy would stop farting around with artsy-fartsy stuff like Crash and Gladiator and recognize the timeless power of E.T." is pretty good slatepitchery.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:08 AM
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30: but why is it a travesty? And if the award is so tarnished by now, who cares?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:23 AM
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32: Yeah, I can't answer those questions.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:26 AM
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there is undeniably a cut in the hitchcock movie 'rope' (entitled so?), I don't know why people don't talk about this more. the camera fades out of focus in an extreme close-up of a character's back as he, wearing a dinner jacket, walks through the open arch separating the hall and dining room from the living room in which they are eating, with jimmy stewart (and the body). out of focus again and pull away, but clearly, unmistakeably a cut. what the junks, film critics?

my mom had make-or-break meeting with the oncologist yesterday: did the two rounds of chemo shrink her lung and lymph node cancers? if so, let's carry on with more chemo and surgery; if not, let's decide how we want to spend our remaining days. we were all certain it was working great--my mom is doing fabulously, has gained weight, can prance about like a show pony, etc. it turned out the oncologist kind of hadn't really expected mom to make it through the two sessions (3-weeks apart) at all! and was pleased to see her so hale and hearty, but ain't nothing shrank. didn't grow neither! the heads or tails coin landed balanced on its side. I'm checking into where she can get chemo here so she can come see me. every three weeks is a lot of chemo. fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

girl x got her appendix out but I was sort of worried it might be crohn's or some stupid immune system problem like every single female member of my family has. the appendix was only borderline on analysis after removal. I told y'all I came back from indo to be with her. today (seven days after surgery) I ended up taking her back to the ER because her abdominal pain is increasing and she's been having diarrhea right along. this is how my mom got diagnosed with crohn's: they took out her appendix and then it turned out her appendix was hunky-dory as vestigial organs go, but a lesion had perforated her intestine. girl x's white blood cells were higher than normal, but not terrifyingly so. no fever. errr we often don't run them. I took her home after signing papers saying I'd been offered admission (they were just going to observe) and it was entirely my fault if she died. I have to go to my doctor tomorrow, I'm more than out of all my meds but have been too busy taking other people to the doctor to go. I'm tired of the hospital. my baby better be OK. my mom's not going to die on me, she's tough as hale. MY DAD WON'T RESPOND TO MY TEXTS OR CALLS I DON'T KNOW WHERE HIS CANCER IS WTF DAD?

luckily, I like to go swimming in our awesome, beautiful pool. there are two, really, one longer thinner one for laps. there are palm trees whose boughs sough pleasantly when there is a breeze, and the heavy golden mantle of the sun. I guess my mom will come soon, that will be great. I sort of have to have a talk with her that I want her to leave all her money to me and my brother's sister because she's disabled and has no other relatives. but my mom wants to leave something to her only grandchildren. and I can't preƫmptively refuse on my brother's part, although I believe we are of one mind here. she can leave us stuff. god knows we need more stuff LOL. but he intends to have children too, immediately soonish if possible. surely we don't need anything but silver and china and paintings and shit like that. my grandmother made her children have color-coded stickers which they had to put on every item in her house while she was still alive. little dots. years in advance. it ceased to be macabre and was just amusing. I think occasionally she would forget whose color was whose and it would all begin again (she had four children.) the combination of alcoholism and extraordinary organizational skills sometimes yielded strange results in her hands.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:28 AM
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31: word. "remember the time they didn't recognize the supreme auteurship at work in E.T.?"


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:29 AM
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34: alameida, tell her about the generation skipping tax. She'll have to pay high estate taxes on anything she leaves her grandchildren.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:44 AM
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And I'm very sorry about everything going on with your family.

If she wants to take care of anyone with a disability, she should make sure that she sets up a special needs trust. This can be done in a way that allows her to retain eligibility for SSI etc while still providing certain extras.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:47 AM
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" No, it's not 12 Years a Slave, which I thought was truly amazing and historically significant, but movies like that aren't made on an annual basis."

I haven't seen the movie, but unless it's one of the 100-110 or so best feature films ever made, better movies have been, on average, made every year,.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:55 AM
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As long as Forrest Gump remains on the AFI's Best 100 list, better movies than the top 100-110 or so best feature films ever made will be made every year.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 9:16 AM
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I went to see Birdman with a load of people who hadn't read much of anything about it and were expecting a superhero film. They were a bit baffled.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 9:17 AM
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And thereby provided good unintentional commentary on the movie.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 9:29 AM
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I went to see Birdman with a load of people who hadn't read much of anything about it and were expecting a superhero film. They were a bit baffled.

I imagine people who go expecting a live action Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law will be baffled and disappointed.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 9:29 AM
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13: I did see Birdman. I thought it was a pretty good film about the theater because, in its way, it caught some of the excitement of theater. But the "dinner theater" quote strikes me as not unfair. I was watching those scenes as a theater fan (can I please use the word theater forty more times?) who has gone to several plays in that very house and wondering "is this a play I would enjoy, if it were real?" and also a little bit "does this seem like a play that would actually happen and make it to Broadway?" but of course I saw Impressionism that one year, and that hardly seemed like etc.

I guess it was more a film about theater vs. film than some movies just about theater. All About Eve sticks with one funny monologue and a few cracks at Hollywood whereas it's always present in Birdman and the critic, though she's kind of a parody, voices the feelings of plenty of NY theater fans. What was the question again? Our heater woke me up at 2am and 4 am?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 9:36 AM
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And there's that scene where Ed Norton does a reading and you get to watch an actor switch from "actor doing movie acting" to "actor doing movie acting of what his character would be like as a (very good) screen actor" so you have that fun moment where he finishes the scene and stops theater acting and you forget for a second that he's still movie-acting, because he's Ed Norton and he's really good.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 9:38 AM
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But the "dinner theater" quote strikes me as not unfair.

It's not unfair as an assessment of the on-screen play, but using that to condemn the movie, which is not the play, and which doesn't exactly come out and tell the viewer "this play is really, really good", does strike me as unfair.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 9:59 AM
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38: I guess I don't have a year-sorted list, and haven't watched a lot of movies from every year ever but I don't think I've seen a better movie in a few years, using the strict criteria of "movies that I've seen that I think are good." Also, maybe save making a comment like that for a film you have seen. Also also, average and annual mean different things.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 10:14 AM
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Does somebody think Rope really has zero cuts? It's contrived to look cutless, but they had to break in between reels (every 15-20 minutes or so). E.g., as I recall at one point the camera passes behind a character and his jacket fills the whole frame; there's a cut from one shot on the jacket to another, with a matching camera move. There are similar cuts in Birdman, e.g.., when he goes from inside the bar to outside, the camera moves through a dark spot and goes out of focus; more likely than not there's an invisible cut there.

I don't see what the point of arguing about that is. The aesthetic effect is clearly intended to be "one long take" even if there are technical impediments to actually accomplishing that. I'm not sure that Russian Ark really benefited from being one long take in truth, except that it was a good marketing hook.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 12:58 PM
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I think the play-within-the-film is supposed to be not particularly good* and the criticism-of-critics is not supposed to be particularly correct, but the ending kind of undermines that by making a weird satiric point about critics embracing not-theater as brilliant art.

* And it's interesting, I think, that Raymond Carver very effectively signifies a cultural product that Keaton's character would connect to and find profound, but reads as dated and middle-brow to the younger/artier characters.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 1:03 PM
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Somehow, 47, in responding to 34, manages to stupidly recapitulate 34.1. Anyhow, yes there are cuts in Rope, like that one frex.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 1:07 PM
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I thought there was a single cut in Russian Ark, where the camera zooms in on some painting or window or something and then zooms back out?


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 1:13 PM
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I haven't seen Russian Ark since it's original run, and I wasn't taking notes. It has some small number of cuts (possibly none).


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 1:15 PM
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Wikipedia says Russian Ark is indeed one take and Rope is 11: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_take.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 1:19 PM
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I wonder if the zoom described in 50 was a bit of a life jacket* the director threw himself, in case he(?) ended up with 2 near-perfect takes and decided it was better to splice them than to try for an all-perfect take.

Anyway, I agree with Ben that the post-Oscar criticism of Birdman has seemed weirdly overdetermined**. It's hard not to get the sense that it's a lot of people who were really taken by Boyhood, are mad that it lost, and so are coming up with reasons to crap on the winner, which by all pre-Oscar accounts is a fine film, far better than, if not the average Best Film winner, the kind of winner people typically complain about.

*I'm struggling for a more apt metaphor

**I don't know that Ben would agree with that description, but ISTM that it's a fair approximation of his point


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 1:56 PM
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Does somebody think Rope really has zero cuts? It's contrived to look cutless, but they had to break in between reels (every 15-20 minutes or so).

I doubt anyone thinks Rope really has zero cuts—I thought it was common knowledge that it had basically (running time in minutes)/(20 minutes) cuts to accomodate technological limitations, and that's what the blocking is for. That's why I mentioned it in the post—unlike Russian Ark and like Birdman, it's a cut-having movie shot so as to (superficially) appear cutless.

53: most of the criticism of Birdman I saw was pre-Oscar, actually.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 2:14 PM
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I thought Rope was trying to give the impression of happening in real time, not necessarily in one take.

Also, the murderers were trying to elevate murder to an art, but couldn't bear to go without a knowing audience, which proved to be their undoing.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 2:15 PM
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54 - Yes, the cuts are at the end of every magazine of shooting film, so roughly every 10 minutes. IIRC Hitchcock goes to some effort to disguise the cuts via zoom-ins on static objects for half of them, but at the end of every two magazines (which corresponds to the reel change markers) there's a more obvious cut.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 2:28 PM
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But as Neb says, it's a technological limitation that was imposed by shooting film; I think Hitchcock's vision was to do it in a continuous take but he couldn't do so at the time. (I don't think it's a great movie, but it is nice to see Jimmy Stewart play a magnificent asshole.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 2:31 PM
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The next level of technical sophistication and artistry will come in a film edited at the pace of forty of fifty cuts per minute but which nonetheless appears to have been shot as one continuous take.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 2:35 PM
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54: Birdman is also a cut-having movie shot so as to appear cutless.

I didn't love Birdman but I didn't hate it either. It's a weird movie, and not the kind of safe, middlebrow pap commonly associated with Oscar upsets. (The Dan Kois piece in Slate says more-or-less the same thing.)

Ironically, I really thought Michael Keaton deserved to win Best Actor (and he fits the "veteran actor gets a juicy part after a long dry spell" Oscar-winning archetype), but he lost to the guy playing a cripple in the makes-you-feel-smart-but-its-dumb biopic. That's the stuff that typical Oscar outrage is made out of.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 2:43 PM
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58: Things become continuous when you take the limit as the number of cuts tends to infinity.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 2:43 PM
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playing a cripple in the makes-you-feel-smart-but-its-dumb biopic

At least he wasn't in the biopic that asserted that Alan Turing was a victim of Soviet blackmail.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 2:45 PM
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I really thought Michael Keaton deserved to win Best Actor

Haven't seen the movie, but to me the best argument for this was that the movie is, if not gimmicky, at least on the edge of being a mess*. Without solid performances all around, and a rock-solid one at the center, the movie isn't Best Picture-worthy at all.

*because of the whole film vs. theater thing, because of the could-be-maligned-as stunt casting of an ex-Batman, because it's wordy (so if the actors aren't good it turns didactic), etc.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 2:55 PM
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Speaking of Michael Keaton, what is now where the Balcony used to be? The Pottery Barn?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 3:01 PM
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And it's interesting, I think, that Raymond Carver very effectively signifies a cultural product that Keaton's character would connect to and find profound, but reads as dated and middle-brow to the younger/artier characters.

Oh that's interesting. I thought Raymond Carver had passed (at least for the now) into unassailable canon. I don't know where I got that impression but for that matter I had also been told at some point that Rope only had the one cut with the back of the jacket, though I had subsequently mentioned that to someone and been corrected.

No, the scenes you see a little bit of from the semi-imaginary Carver play (it doesn't exist except it kind of exists) for me give the impression of the kind of thing that's dependent on director/actors but can be a very enjoyable evening in the theater, except for the part with the people in costume as I don't remember whats, which seemed both unlikely and ruinous.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 3:34 PM
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46: I wasn't taunting you!


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 3:41 PM
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Like deer or something for some reason.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 3:49 PM
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I don't have anything against Carver, specifically, but that kind of hard-boiled, alcohol-soaked, mid-century melancholia feels dated to me. I may be conflating him a bit with Bukowski, which is entirely unfair. (There was also that New Yorker piece a few years ago that sifted through various drafts of his stories and demonstrated that Carver's famous style was largely the creation of his editor, which demoted him two and a half notches in my esteem.)


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:05 PM
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Difference between cuts and takes though isn't there? A movie can have many cuts and be one take, and conversely can have no cuts and be many takes.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:20 PM
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How can a movie have no cuts and be many takes? (Excluding some meta-movie that depicts a series of takes of the movie within.)


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:24 PM
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Are we claiming that digitally-enhanced seamless cuts don't count as cuts?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:26 PM
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Or compositing, ffs.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:26 PM
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69 - really only an absurd film could have no cuts and many takes, I suppose, but you could just about imagine a film that was a carefully constructed sequence of takes that were independent (plays are a kind of example of this, if you think about it.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:32 PM
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I'm not sure what you mean by "take" here.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:40 PM
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69, 73: Multiple camera angles, no? Actors read their lines one time, with several cameras filming them: one take. Then the film is edited together from the different camera angles, cutting back and forth from one camera to another: any number of cuts. One take, many cuts works fine, although the reverse, as Keir says, doesn't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:44 PM
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and conversely can have no cuts and be many takes

IIRC Russian Ark required three takes.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:44 PM
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A take is the interval between "Action!" and "Cut!" on the set. One take could be covered by several cameras, so a scene could be composed of several cuts from one take. Even in a single-camera setup, there might be jump cuts within the same take.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:45 PM
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75: But only one is in the final, ahem, cut.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:46 PM
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How do you mean?

(I definitely think that the idea of a film with no cuts and many takes is perverse! But it is possible, I think.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:46 PM
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74, 75: I was interpreting "a movie can ... be many takes" to mean that many takes appear on the screen. There is no way I know of (short of invisible cuts or compositing) to put several takes into a movie with recourse to a cut. Of course nearly no movie ever is the result of exactly one take (I'm sure there's an exception).


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:48 PM
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74 - Yes - if you think about it, film of sports events are one-take but often cut a lot.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:49 PM
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"without recourse"

78: Can you describe what you have in mind?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:50 PM
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79: This may be what Keir meant by absurd, but just making it repetitive? Five minutes of script, four takes, no cuts, twenty minutes of screen time?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:51 PM
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You could turn the camera around and point it the other way, and then sit up the next take on set, and then turn the camera around again (this would reveal the time between the times, and maybe makes the whole thing into one take, but it would be possible.) Or you could have a curtain come down and then set up the next take behind the curtain. Ugly but possible, no? That would be a film of many takes but no cuts.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:54 PM
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Or you could do what 82 suggests, which is indeed what I thought of as absurd, but that's not a bad thing really.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:55 PM
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I guess Timecode is arguably "no cuts, many takes" (via screen splitting). As far as I know, the filming was simultaneous, so it's not really clear if the independent loci of action should be considered separate takes.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 4:57 PM
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86

I don't understand why 82 isn't one take of four-times-repeated action.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 5:17 PM
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87

The same, mutatis mutandis, applies to 83.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 5:18 PM
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88

Like, what makes repetition #3 a separate take from repetition #2? Not the non-fact that if #3 is better executed than #2 it'll replace #2.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 5:24 PM
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89

It's not totally clear that it's a legitimate move - but it's possible. 86 seems to be a strong objection.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 6:02 PM
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90

65: Sorry. I shouldn't post when I wake up cranky.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 6:25 PM
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91

I just looked up David Lynch's Lumiere film. It looks like one shot, multiple takes but he didn't follow the rules and used multiple locations. I originally thought he had the camera on a track and slid between sets with the lens covered.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 6:54 PM
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92

I don't think one shot + multiple takes is conceptually possible.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 6:56 PM
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93

86, 88: Imagine that you produced not one, but two completed films of the five minute script I hypothesized. The actors repeat the script four times with the cameras rolling continuously, taking twenty minutes. Film #1 has a running time of five minutes, and consists of shots from all four repetitions of the script cut together to create one continuous five-minute performance of the script. Film #2 is twenty minutes long, and consists of a no-cut record of the four repetitions.

When talking about Film #1, I think it would be absolutely correct to refer to each repetition of the script as a 'take' -- Film #1 wouldn't change in any way if the cameras had been shut off between takes. And if that's the case, I don't see why each repetition doesn't remain a 'take' even in the context of Film #2.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:08 PM
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94

Film #2 is the meta-film I gestured toward in 69. Since the film consists of four repetitions of the "inner" script, the single take in Film #2 comprises the four repetitions, even if each repetition is a "take" in Film #1 (the "inner" film).


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:19 PM
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95

In other words, you're begging the question* by assuming that the script for Film #2 is just some handwaving and four indirect references to the script for Film #1. You might save paper that way, but it wouldn't pass muster with the WGA.

* One so rarely gets to say that and really mean it.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:24 PM
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96

I can certainly see that argument, and it's probably convincing. But there's something to be said for the other way of looking at it, still.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:38 PM
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97

I don't see why each repetition doesn't remain a 'take' even in the context of Film #2.

The same logic suffices to prove that every "take" is actually made of innumerable other takes.

Suppose you have only one iteration of the script planned. You start your take and everyone nails it, it works perfectly, so you decide to use that. One take! Then, later, you decide to edit together little bits of the scene you just filmed into an even shorter mini-scene.

This does not mean that the components of that little scene were independent "takes".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:39 PM
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Except that there is a sense in which the repetitions of the script are (in that they are, well, repetitions) the same thing, in the same way that two conventionally separated takes of a shooting script are the same thing. Simply shortening a non-repeated script is clearly distinguishable.

Another way to put it is that in my Film #2, I could walk into a showing in the middle and ask a viewer "Which take is this?" And if he wasn't inclined to quibble over definitions, but just wanted to answer the question I was obviously asking, he could answer "It's take 3 - the film only has seven minutes left to run." That conversation wouldn't be possible in the context of a non-repeated script -- there wouldn't be any way to distinguish the 'takes' in the long version.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:47 PM
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But there's something to be said for the other way of looking at it, still.

I wish someone would say it, then, because AFAICT all that's been said so far is "when I use a word, it means precisely what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less"—except Humpty-Dumpty at least had the decency to say what he was using "glory" to mean.

I understand a "take" to be, roughly, a single go at a particular shot (a "filmed "version" of a particular shot or "setup".", per wikipedia). Since Film #2 in 93 has one shot that goes the whole twenty minutes, its final version could only be one take. Multiple takes might have been attempted, of course, but the final version will be take 3 or take 10 or take 1 or whatever.

I think the mistake here might be somewhat analogous to the following mistake:

When RIchard says "Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York", the LB position (I was going to include Keir but he hasn't actually given any justification at all, AFAICT) is analogous to someone saying: "since 'Now is the winter of our discontent', by itself, says of now that it is the winter of our discontent (i.e. 'is' is the copula), I don't see why Richard isn't saying that." But of course he isn't saying that because the whole context of the sentence matters; in the whole situation, what he's saying is that the winter of our discontent has been changed and "is" is an auxiliary. You can't just say that since in some narrower context p would obtain, in the actual context p does obtain—even though multiple contexts can be active simultaneously. The different repetitions might count as "takes" for the purposes of Film #1 (though I think it's actually extremely difficult to see how that could possibly work), but they don't in the context of Film #2. Film #2 consists of the whole thing.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:53 PM
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Another way to put it is that in my Film #2, I could walk into a showing in the middle and ask a viewer "Which take is this?" And if he wasn't inclined to quibble over definitions, but just wanted to answer the question I was obviously asking, he could answer "It's take 3 - the film only has seven minutes left to run."

Yes, it's true that politeness sometimes leads to people answering the question they understand someone to be asking, rather than pointing out that they've misconceived the proceedings before them.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:54 PM
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That conversation wouldn't be possible in the context of a non-repeated script -- there wouldn't be any way to distinguish the 'takes' in the long version.

That doesn't make any difference to the argument in 93 or my response to it. The answer to the question "which take is this?" in my single thing with no repetitions is "it's the first take", or "it's the second take", or whatever, depending on which take it actually is (because we can try that one little bit multiple times). You may not know if I mean "it's the first take of the entire thing" or "it's the first take of this little bit which we happen to be filming in the same so-called 'take' as the rest of the little bits" or whatever, but so what? I mean, according to your argument, why isn't it all takes all the way down?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:58 PM
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102

because we can try that one little bit multiple times

I don't understand this (and similar references to 'this little bit', or 'the second take'. In your non-repetitive script that gets cut down to a shorter version, what happens a second time, or multiple times?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:03 PM
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103

Or, you know the scene in Wayne's World where we get the following exchange?

Wayne Campbell: Kiss your mother with that mouth? I'm gettin' outta here, Damien!
Garth Algar: Fine then, go!
Wayne Campbell: I'm gone!
Garth Algar: Go then!
Wayne Campbell: But I am!
Garth Algar: Go!
Wayne Campbell: I'm Gone!
Garth Algar: Go then!
Wayne Campbell: But I am!

Do we have two takes of "Go then!"/"But I am!"? What about if we removed the intervening "Go!"/"I'm gone!"? Surely not, right? Can you consistently say no?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:03 PM
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104

In your non-repetitive script that gets cut down to a shorter version, what happens a second time, or multiple times?

Sometimes actors flub their lines or whatever, so you have, you know, another, uh, attempt at filming the shot.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:04 PM
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105

As noted supra, this is sometimes referred to as a "take".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:05 PM
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106

At this point I would like to reiterate, I guess more explicitly than previously, my desire that you say what you think a "take" is.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:06 PM
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104: So your 'single thing with no repetitions' was actually made up of multiple takes ('takes' understood in the conventional sense)? At that point, I don't understand your argument at all.

(I do understand the 'Now is the winter of our discontent' argument, and admit its force.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:07 PM
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106: During the filming of a movie, frequently the same part of the shooting script will be filmed multiple times, and the finished movie will be assembled from those multiple pieces of film. Each filmed version of the same part of the script is a 'take' of that part of the script.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:11 PM
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My "single thing with no repetitions" is a single script in which there are no repetitions. It's like:

A: Hello! That's a nice tie.
B: Oh hi, thanks!
A: Nice weather we're having.
B: Not at all! [clobbers A and runs off].

Ok, that's the script. Now, after filming it (perhaps taking multiple takes to do so!), I decide to make an even more compressed thing by editing whichever single take of the above I ended up with so that the middle exchange (B's response and A's second line) are eliminated.

Now, let's say I'm filming the above, and someone says "what take is this?". I reply that it's take 3: in the first two takes, B said "Oh hi, asshole!" instead of "Oh hi, thanks!".

I could also mean that it's the third take of just the first line, if I believed your argument (as I construe it) that, since it will later appear edited into its own thing, it counts as its own "take".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:12 PM
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110

Great, so, since the script for Film #2 evidently calls for the actors to do this somewhat repetitive thing for twenty minutes, it does not consist of four takes but rather of one take.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:14 PM
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111

The fact that someone might be shooting from a different script that happens to consist of a subset of the script for Film #2 at the same time (saves on studio rental, actor pay, etc.) is immaterial.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:15 PM
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112

I proclaim this argument over and myself the victor. You put up a good if perplexing fight, LB, and I admire the graciousness of your concession. Let's do it again sometime, four times in a row.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:15 PM
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113

The fact that I can semi-plausibly take credit for this whole absurd subthread makes me very, very happy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:16 PM
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Anyhow, the way to have multiple takes with no cut is, obviously, to hide from the actors the fact they they are continuously being filmed, and that all takes will be used.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:17 PM
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115

DON'T START WITH ME BUSTER


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:18 PM
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116

You would watch that movie, though. YOU would watch THAT movie, though. You would watch that MOVIE, though. You would WATCH THAT. Movie, though. YOU WOULD. Watch that movie, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:21 PM
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117

I may have "You put up a good if perplexing fight, LB" embroidered on something. Or maybe I'll get it on a coffee mug. I can't think of something anyone has said about me I've enjoyed more for a long time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 8:22 PM
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118

a single continuously-recorded performance, shot or version of a scene with a particular camera setup; often, multiple takes are made of the same shot during filming, before the director approves the shot; in box-office terms, take also refers to the money a film's release has made


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 9:36 PM
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119

an abrupt or sudden change or jump in camera angle, location, placement, or time, from one shot to another; consists of a transition from one scene to another (a visual cut) or from one soundtrack to another (a sound cut); cutting refers to the selection, splicing and assembly by the film editor of the various shots or sequences for a reel of film, and the process of shortening a scene; also refers to the instructional word 'cut' said at the end of a take by the director to stop the action in front of the camera; cut to refers to the point at which one shot or scene is changed immediately to another; also refers to a complete edited version of a film (e.g., rough cut); also see director's cut; various types of cuts include invisible cut, smooth cut, jump cut (an abrupt cut from one scene or shot to the next), shock cut (the abrupt replacement of one image by another), etc.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 9:38 PM
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120

fwiw


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 9:38 PM
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David Bordwell, who ought to know, uses "shot" and "take" interchangeably in his (long, but well worth reading if you're interested in this kind of thing) piece on Birdman. That isn't consistent with my usage above but also, mercifully, does not help LB's case.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 11:26 PM
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122

I'm still mad that Holly Hunter beat Stockard Channing in 1993 in The [Fucking] Piano, btw.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 11:55 PM
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123

David Lynch's Lumiere film. If you imagine that all in one rolling shot, with the camera covered between scenes, I think you might be able to make a plausible case for one take per scene, but multiple scenes in the one cut, so multiple takes in a single cut. It turns out it wasn't all one shot, it was takes at three separate locations, so it doesn't actually qualify.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-25-15 12:12 AM
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122: I admire that your bitchery spans decades, even centuries. I'm no spring chicken and back then I was still in high school.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-25-15 12:13 AM
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125

Perhaps weirdly I'm still mad about 122 as well. Fuck the Piano! Stockard Channing is way cool. Odd couple unite.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-25-15 3:18 AM
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126

Wonder twin powers, activate! Form of: crabby people who think the Piano was overrated middlebrow dreck! Shape of: crabby people who think that while Six Degrees was an ultimately shaky film adaptation, Channing as Ouisa Kittredge gave or rather recreated an immortal characterization that actually involved oh I don't know TALKING!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-25-15 10:31 AM
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Smearcase: Objectively anti-silent cinema.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-25-15 10:36 AM
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126: Totally with you on The Piano but never saw Six Degrees.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-25-15 11:05 AM
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It seems like someone with a name like Stockard Channing ought to be more famous than she is.

My grade school friends and I were all outraged that Chariots of Fire beat out the obviously superior Raiders of The Lost Ark. I'm still kind of bitter, to be honest.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 02-25-15 11:17 AM
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Her real name is Susan Stockard. Stockard Channing is a stage name. But seriously she's pretty famous, no? In the theater world, she's royalty, and she's certainly done a lot of television. Somehow she's had a pretty spotty film career, some good and lots of terrible. I can't entirely recommend Six Degrees because it's badly adapted and directed and Will Smith is terrible, or rather he's ok and I think of him as terrible because of the big stink he made at the time about how he was not going to film the scene where he kisses a guy. But Channing is truly perfect and Donald Sutherland, another actor with a lot of crap on his resume, is wonderful too.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-25-15 11:31 AM
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Somehow she's had a pretty spotty film career, some good and lots of terrible.

I've always loved Michael Caine's comment about Jaws: The Revenge:

"I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific."


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-25-15 11:35 AM
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