everything you know is wrong

what i watched last week

Jam (Mark Woollen, 2006). Indie documentary about an attempt to bring back roller derby features some engagingly eccentric folks, but the entire movie is way too low-key, and the absence of much historical context beyond "I always loved it when I was a kid" means it's not easy to understand why these people have such a passion for the game.

The Return of the War Room (D.A. Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus, 2008). Barely a movie, this plays like a DVD extra for the original War Room, which wasn't as good as its reputation in the first place.

Frost/Nixon (Ron Howard, 2008). Ron Howard is the great disappearing director of our times. He doesn't make bad movies, he doesn't make great movies. He makes movies that get 6 out of 10 and he makes movies that get 7 out of 10. In other words, I don't have the slightest idea what Ron Howard brings to a movie. This is one of his better ones. Nominated for five Oscars, including picture, director, actor, and screenplay ... I might go for actor, although of the three nominees I've seen in that category, I'd probably put Frank Langella third. One thing you notice in the early historical wrap-up in this movie ... there was a time when Democrats took their jobs seriously. They didn't kiss Nixon's ass the way they kissed George W's.

Rope (Alfred Hitchcock, 1948). The Production Code ensures that the gay text becomes homoerotic subtext, the acting is highly variable as is often the case with Hitchcock, and the long-take experiment is pointless.



You know, I find Rope insanely claustrophobic between the confining elements of the long shots, the limitations of the set, and the rather stultifying performances that seem too mannered to me. And while the homoerotic aspects are mildly interesting for the era, the crime itself seems muted and less horrific than I think he intended. The fear of discovery is over-played...it all crowds out any chance it could thrill me. Maybe I don't get the context of the times, but it's like a high school stage play to me.

I'm reluctant to see Frost-Nixon in the same way I resisted going to see Oliver Stone's shrub film. I've already rented out too much head space to these creeps and unless the material is worked into a fantasy lynching or public stoning, count me out.

I loved the battles between the Bay Area Bombers and the LA skaters when I was a kid. Them gals was boss! When Lurleen Brown (who wore 747) cut off the jam, you were cut off for life.


I'm by no means a huge fan of Rope but I'm also not so sure the long-take experiment is pointless. I mean, it does get used well to frame what Gabby says above (the claustrophobia, the theme of discovery) in addition to helping to make the gay subtext also a homophobic subtext (along with the "killer queers" subject and, at least I think, the stiff and "mannered" (so well said by your fan above) acting). How 'bout a 7? 6.5?


I don't get how the long takes create homophobic subtexts.


I think only as it amplifies the tensions and themes, but those revolve partly around the "dysfunction" of being queer. Their gayness kind of runs alongside their crime and their general lifestyle/philosophy (I'm sure you lit folks have a more applicable word for that). I felt the long takes amplified that, positioning us (as voyeurs and knowing judges) behind the "fourth wall" in a much more conscious way until the first abrupt cut links us to Jimmy Stewart. It's like we're in the trunk, seeing all but unable to tell, and when Stewart figures it out he "sees us." But what are we saved from? I don't know, it's been awhile...

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