December 17, 2005

Thinking about going to the movies.

Look at how this silly man is outraged that I talk about movies when I haven't seen them. It would be a nice advantage for the folks who make movies if they could get people to believe that it was inappropriate to talk until you'd paid up and wasted your time. I think a key skill in modern life is figuring out which movies to avoid. Well, why don't I just keep my thoughts to myself? I'm a blogger: we display our thought patterns in real time. If you aren't interested, don't read. Really, why is that silly man upset? Does he have a financial interest in the movie? Or is he some fanboy who really, really wants Peter Jackson to succeed?

Occasionally, I actually put three hours of my precious life into movie-viewing. Usually, it's not worth it, even though I rarely do it and am highly selective. Having something bloggable does create a little additional value, but trotting out an actual movie review, MSM-style, doesn't interest me much. If I were paid to do it, I'd put in the effort needed to find new ways to say "X gave a great performance" and "the plot was confusing" and so forth.

All that said, I am giving a tiny bit of thought to seeing a movie today and blogging about it. Here's what's playing in Madison. Actually reading that list reduced my interest in going to the movies about 80%. The only one I really want to see is "Capote," but I don't know that I want to see it in the theater, especially the crap theater where it's playing. Then there are some that I think I've heard are -- in the inevitable cliché -- "supposed to be good"? "The Squid and the Whale"? Well, what the hell is it? I'd have to do some research to have any idea. What a drag! "The Family Stone"? The clip looked good when Sarah Jessica Parker was on "The Daily Show" the other day. But have I heard that it's "supposed to be bad"? I can't remember. Again, research is required! "King Kong"? You know how I feel about that. I'm just not that into nostril-gazing.

I spend much of the day staring at a screen already. For diversion, why look at another screen? There is that famous real world that I've heard so much about. I could go out there.

BONUS QUESTIONS, thought up on rereading this post: What actress has the most beautiful nostrils? How much harder is that question to answer than what actress has the most beautiful eyes or the most beautiful lips? There's a reason it's harder: you don't really want to look at nostrils, even on a beautiful face. Sometimes you get an actress who does too much nostril acting. You know, that flaring and re-flaring. Once you start noticing it, the performance becomes comic. Can you think of any actresses or actors who belong to the nostril-flaring school of drama? Any examples of an actor or actress that does nostril-flaring spoofily, for deliberate comic effect? And can someone clue me in on how much Peter Jackson's Kong goes in for nostril-flaring. Nostrils, nostrils, nostrils. There, I've said it! I'm obsessed with nostrils. Nostrils are the body part of the week, here on the Althouse blog.

UPDATE: Can you believe it? The very next day I write an elaborate post about another movie I haven't seen. I'm starting to think that this actually is a specialty of mine -- check out my old posts on "Alexander" -- and I'm going to pursue it actively and intentionally now. I note too that some of my critics are perplexed about the nostril-focused material in this post. They really aren't understanding the unique mix of topics that is Althouse. The most flat-footedly pedestrian of these critics feel compelled to point out time and again that I am a law professor: in their regimented world, everyone is supposed to stay neatly on track, doggedly pursuing the matters of their occupational specialization. The dentist must blog about teeth, and the conlawprof about conlaw. How terribly dull! What grim little minds!


David said...

Hollywood is out of touch. They are pushing a tired agenda of gays (gay cowboys), retread monster movies, aging hippies (Fokkers/Family Stone), ho-hum special effects, and, the biggest mistake of all, imho, Darth Vader sounding like an anti-war activist on the latest Star Wars.

I was in the Bel Air/Beverly Hills area Halloween last and they actually had the police put up barricades to keep the riff raff (that be you and me) out so that they could pass out boxes of See's candy and Godiva chocolate to the neighborhood kids who looked like they got their costumes from the wardrobe warehouse at Universal.

The movies I choose to view will come out on DVD sooner, not later, and I can watch from the comfort of my home.

Ann, instead of going to a movie theatre that has all the charm of an aging movie star who doesn't know he is past his/her prime, go out for a beer and bratwurst and watch the sun go down!

john(classic) said...

Netflix and similar services are great. They have a huge library of dvd's that lets us see the quirky films (usually selected by other viewers' comments) that we want.

There are a number of movies I would enjoy,and a number my wife would enjoy.

The movie industry also produces a large number of movies that are lousy and a few gems.

So somehow we have to get an intersection of all these factors to get movies that are good and that we both enjoy.

The internet in the form of Netflix (which is gradually adding Amazon like recommendations) and IMDB come to the rescue. It works very well for us.

Recent winners for us have included:

The Chorus (French school for wayward boys--very well done)

Twilight Samurai ( makes Tom Cruise, and his director, look like inept idiots)

Babette's Feast (What a novel setting for a good story)

Danny Deckchair--spotty but a lot of fun

Lagaan --poor Indian villagers, crushed by the fickle English tyrants, burst into song and dance numbers while preparing for a cricket match

tonight will be "Bubba Ho Tep"---

reader_iam said...

Nostril-flarers. I think there are a bunch!

Oddly, the first one to jump to mind was Sean Young.

Tonya said...

Judd Nelson is a nostril flarer.

Jim Gust said...

I thought Chronicles of Narnia was worth seeing on the big screen. For reasons I can't articulate, the CGI didn't seem cheesy or intrusive, so it was easy to suspend disbelief. No nostril emoting that I recall.

reader_iam said...

Oh, yeah,, Tonya, he really is! He may be without peer, even! How could I have forgotten?????

Jonathan said...

I'm with Ann on watching movies, but I take it one step further: I read some reviews but entirely avoid going to see any actual movies. I'm sure that some of them are very good, but many aren't, life is short and I'd rather do other things.

Nostrils I have no opinion about. Sounds like a deep subject, though.

Dave said...

Nostrils: Nicole Kidman

PatCA said...

Capote was good but could could well be enjoyed on DVD on a cold winter's night.

(I also enjoyed Netflix pick The Chorus.)

SteveWe said...

Nostrils: Annette Benning.

About Ann's observation: "I spend much of the day staring at a screen already. For diversion, why look at another screen? There is that famous real world that I've heard so much about. I could go out there."

I think Ann discovered why fewer people are going to the movies. Today's movies are just eye wash on the big screen -- CGI, FX, extreme violence -- just visuals for the camera. And, we can get that on our computer screens or TV.

When movies feature a real plot or a real situation that regular people must resolve with 90 commercial-free minutes, then surprise, the box office numbers are higher than expected.

Ann Althouse said...

Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman.

Which question are you answer? Beautiful nostrils, acts with nostrils, or is comical with nostrils?

Luke Blanshard said...

Beautiful nostrils: your fave, Lisa Kudrow -- of course.

Ann Althouse said...

There's also: horrible nostrils. Most of these are in the plastic surgery category. There's a woman on FOXNews with these horrid slits for nostrils.

chuck b. said...

Are we talking about nostrils or noses? There's a difference right? Or is this one of those "you say pop, I say soda" things?

My favorite actress has a nice nose here, but big nostrils here.

She's also playing in The Dying Gaul (with Peter Sarsgaard!) where I am, which I would be delighted to go see. Maybe I will.

Pooh said...

Nostrils: Kate Beckinsale

Bad Nostrils: Fran Drescher

May I make a distinction between saying "I'm not going to see this movie because..." and "I haven't seen it, but it's a bad movie because..."?

john(classic) said...

Even as we speak there is a conference in Hollywood where they are kicking around ideas:

"How about the Penguins march back from the sea?"

"This time his love interest could be a gay cameraman with the expedition but we don't know Kong is gay until he picks him up and their eyes meet .."

"So, anyway,after the hobbits get home they have problems readjusting to civilian life cause they are not killing anymore, and one starts doing drugs.. "

"So Narnia just keeps getting warmer because of all the pollution, and the Witch, who actually is a feminist, maybe Julia Roberts, organizes to do something about it .."

OddD said...

I think people have this wrong: It's not about being "out of touch". Hollywood is always, and has always been, "out of touch". Politics aren't really the issue: Bad movies are. For the audience, I mean: critics seem to be required to bless a movie with the correct politics.

The reaction to The Constant Gardener for example isn't political outrage. It's boredom. It's a dull, stupid movie, however well shot, produced and acted.

Personally, I like the big-budget Hollywood flicks, but they've been so bad lately, my movie-going practices have completely inverted: I used to see a foreign or indie film maybe once a season, and now I see primarily foreign/indie films, which the occasional Hollywood film.

I'm intrigued by the variety of films available to you in Madison. I live in the L.A. area, and good many of the films you can see came and went months ago.

Some word of mouth for ya:

Capote is excellent, but you won't miss much seeing it on the small screen, except the occasional cell phone interruption.

Paradise Now is--well, it's actually pretty good, but you gotta drink the Kool-Aid first, because the big question being debated is whether it's good or bad to blow up one's self and others to kill Israelis. The possibility that Israelis aren't the evil oppressor isn't really discussed, nor is the whole issue of blowing up civilians. But it probably reflects the predominant Palestinian view.

I enjoyed The Squid and the Whale, but it's part indie film, part ABC After School Special. Same sort of topic, no especially grand insight, darker characters with some sexual issues.

I dug on Broken Flowers but some I know really, really didn't. It's Jarmusch, so...I dunno, don't expect a lot of resolution, happy or otherwise.

March of the Penguins is great. But, you know, a lot of the best movies this year have been documentaries. If you like nature films at all, it's not one to miss.

I'd probably go see the midnight showing of Edward Scissorhands. Johnny Depp and Tim Burton at their best. (And Winona, and Michael Anthony-Hall in his post-geek-uber-jock phase!) Of course, snow is a lot more magical here in L.A. than in Madison....

amba said...

Ah, nostrils! Is it the thing itself that fascinates and repels, or the word, that sounds rather like "nostrums" but with hairs sticking out? (Isn't the "nost" part the dark hole and the "strils" the hairs?) YUCK!

Actors who act with their nostrils: If you are not the squeamish type, watch "The Silence of the Lambs," quite a good movie (and very true to the VERY good book). Watch close-ups of Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. He pulses his nostrils just like a shark's gills.

amba said...

Beautiful nostrils: Angela Bassett?

Denzel Washington had beautiful nostrils before he had them fixed and made more normative and honky-looking. Find an early picture of him. They were dramatic.

katzxy said...

An oddity: the blog (
aclublog) has as it's header quote a line from the Fountainhead.
"I play the stock market of the soul and I sell short!"
Of course it's from the bad guy, but what did you expect.

miklos rosza said...

amba you break my heart... it never would've crossed my mind that denzel has had a nosejob.

back to nostrils in general: yeah, judd nelson, though he's not someone i've ever watched a mvie to see.

the french actress who played the maid corrupted by ther marqis de sade in "quills" (who i've also seen in a very good french film in b&w where she plays an art student who falls in love with a moroccan thief and throws away her life.)

SteveWe said...

Annette Bening does have a nice nose but she emotes too much with her nostrils (esp in that Bugsy movie opposite Warren Beaty).

OML said...

I like movies. All kinds. I'll give most anything a shot. So far this year I thought the following "serious" films were wonderful: A History of Violence, Capote, The Constant Gardener, Crash, Good Night and Good Luck, Pride and Prejudice, and Syriana. Strictly for fun: Batman Begins, Domino, Flight Plan, Sin City, Star Wars Revenge of the Sith. Surprises: Skeleton Key, Broken Flowers, Thumbsucker. I look forward to seeing Brokeback Mountain, King Kong, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Walk The Line. I like seeing movies on the big screen altho I agree the theaters and the audiences have deteriorated. I try to go very late on Saturday or early Sunday - when I believe the more civil audiences attend. I rent and buy DVDs - and think many films deserve multiple viewings at home. But I love seeing a film on the big screen and like to see films when they first come out.
I don't want to wait until they're available on DVD.

Pooh said...

OddD, I couldn't agree more about Constant Gardener. Regardless of politics, the movie was crap because the storytelling was bad.

As to why studio movies, in general, are crap these days, consider the parallel to music (mainstream music also being complete and umitigated crap):

in 2003 it cost record companies "upwards of $400,000 to $500,000" to get a song on commercial radio. (And that's not payola?) You can understand why the record companies are reluctant to take a chance on anything new. And so listeners to commercial radio are assaulted by the repulsive paradox of rock music devoted to the status quo, while innovative acts, signed to independent labels, bypass radio altogether. The Big Four record companies keep giving us Rock Hudson and Doris Day while the independent labels wrap up post-production work on Easy Rider and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Radio stations owned by Clear Channel play only music targeted to niches identified by marketing people, and so the music is limited by the imaginations of the sort of people who take jobs in the marketing departments of billboard companies. Since the niches are defined by what has come before, the goal of the exercise becomes to avoid programming anything that sounds new.

That sounds familiar, right? (And if we deviate, audiences 'aren't ready')

john(classic) said...

Does anyone listen to braodcast radio? Internet radio has totally won me over by its ability to discriminate right down to the tiny litle niches where I live.

Though one of my stations has deteriorated since it abandoned its previous promise to play "Ghost Riders in the Sky" at least once an hour....

Glenn Kenny said...

Okay, I get it. It's not so much about an individual movies as it is about "them" and how they're trying to shove a bunch of gay commie gorilla crap down everybody's throats. So...that makes blogging the interactive replacement for sitting in front of the television and muttering dark imprecations at it. Because you're too lazy (or something) to go out and pursue other leisure activities you might actually enjoy and find meaning in. (And please spare me the "pop culture is socially significant and omnipresent" argument. As someone who deals with it for a living, I have no problems ignoring it at home when I'm so inclined.)

I do wonder in what context the usually reasonable Terry Teachout called Professer Althouse "sublime." I would hope—but alas, I do not expect—that he was pitching his comment at the same level as Vladimir Nabokov's observation that nothing is more exhilarating than philistine vulgarity....

Ann Althouse said...

Glenn: Teachout's word for me isn't "sublime." It's "divine." Learn to read. Then come back and attempt to write.

Glenn Kenny said...

My bad, as they say. But one misremembered word doesn't make me...hmm, what's the pertinent pop culture reference here...Forrest Gump. Convenient for you that the flub allows you to discard my entire argument, which might require some actual effort for you to refute.

Also, I thought that, as dismissive as my comments were, they were couched in a mildly civil tone. Whereas you just shoot back and call me illiterate. Nice.

Jonathan said...

Also, I thought that, as dismissive as my comments were, they were couched in a mildly civil tone.

Did you really think that?

Glenn Kenny said...

Well, "mildly civil" is not even close to the right term, now that I look at it. Given my fluish physical condition (I'm not pleading for sympathy, just stating a fact) I shouldn't have said anything to begin with, and yeah, there's a minivan's worth of sarcasm in there. I was trying to put across something having to do with ye olde "culture of complaint," and about how lousy movies are the result of mediocre imaginations at work rather than a nefarious conspiracy. And, by implication, say that there's a lot of great stuff out there to see and read and listen to that two minutes into whatever that might be you ought to have forgotten about how much you don't want to see "King Kong" to begin with. My tone was the most civilized I could concoct to confront Althouse's hauteur, and given her response (which, in light of the reading list on her Blogger profile, will provide me with a hearty chuckle for years to come, and not for any reason you might assume—but none I'll reveal here either) I'm not terribly sorry.

Palladian said...

Glenn, you write like a sophomore who just discovered the magic of a thesaurus. We're not really impressed.