The General

Singin in the Rain

What’s the best movie ever made? Would the person sitting next to you agree? Does the title really matter, or is the search a happy distraction meant to let the cream of the crop rise to the top? What happens when you watch a bunch of that cream? And why has “cream” become a metaphor for quality? The Sight & Sound Top 50 is a great place to start with all of those questions. For almost two years, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs have been watching the best movies of all time and discussing them with the aim of discovering and re-discovering important cinematic experiences. Now that their quest is over, here are their thoughts and conclusions on what it’s like to see that many treasured movies, followed with links to all 50 conversations for your perusal. Take a deep breath, grab a bowl of cream and dive in.

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Buster Keaton - The General

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they celebrate Buster Keaton as a superhero who is faster with his locomotive. In the #34 (tied) movie on the list, the union army steals a supply train with a damsel on board, and Johnnie Gray But why is it one of the best movies of all time?

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This is 40

Self-indulgent. Nevel-gazing. Structureless. Plotless. These are some of the shared criticisms that have been leveled at Judd Apatow’s This Is 40, but many of these denunciations have been articulated in tandem with complaints about the film’s length. “This is 40 hours long” became a common joke on Twitter after press screenings leading to the theatrical release, and descriptions of critics’ experience of the film’s length were often provided in great detail alongside some of the above criticisms. Dana Stevens of Slate even mistakenly referred to the 133-minute film as “nearly three hours long.” It’s strange that, in the same month that saw the high-profile releases of several two-and-a-half-plus-hour films including Django Unchained, Les Miserables, and Zero Dark Thirty, it’s Apatow’s film that has received the bulk of holiday season duration-related criticism. Sure, there have been complaints about The Hobbit’s 170-minute running time, but that’s also a film that is 1/3 of an adaptation of a relatively short novel and has been projected on some screens at an eye-fucking frame rate. In short, the length of The Hobbit seems to be only one of several problems, whereas the flaws of This is 40 have often been summarized, and inferred, as revolving around its length.

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The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  By the end of Breaking Dawn — Part 2, it’s clear that the Twilight Saga, as one long story about vampires, werewolves and a chaste teenage girl, is first and foremost a romance picture. This may not sound like a revelation, but in the past four years we’ve all looked at the series in terms of how it transcends the traditional “chick flick” ghetto to dabble in elements of superhero and horror genres, potentially wooing male moviegoers in the process. Interestingly enough, the finale features a sequence that is very much aimed at fans of genre cinema just before pulling a 180 and concluding with an ending that the same audience will find mushy and sappy as (their personal) hell. While romance figures into most film genres and even dominates the conventional Hollywood denouement for movies no matter what audience is targeted, most of these features are not classifiably romance pictures. The love stories are secondary or even tertiary in importance to plots primarily concerned with adventure or disaster or some treatment of good versus evil. And although there are antagonists strewn throughout the Twilight films, there aren’t really good guys and bad guys in proper terms. Instead there is simply love and family versus threat to love and family. […]

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Not to take anything away from the fine people who create digital effects in films, but there are certain things that just look better when done for real. One of which has and always will be chases, crashes, and explosions. Trains are a solid example of this, so I’ve opted to share what I consider to be the best train crashes done primarily through practical methods such as model work or – in some cases – by just blowing up a damn train.

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This post is probably not what you think. There are no LOLCats, no Rage Comic stick men bellowing about the superiority of The Dark Knight and Inception. It’s not really a love letter to modernity. But it’s also not Sight & Sound‘s decennial Top Ten List. That prestigious publication has done great work since even before polling critics in 1952 to name the best movies of all time. They’ve recreated the experiment every ten years since (with filmmakers included in 1992), and their 2012 list is due out soon. However, there is certainly overlap. The FSR poll includes only 37 critics (and 4 filmmakers), but we’re young and have moxy, and none of us were even asked by Sight & Sound for our considerable opinion. That’s what’s fascinating here. The films nominated by those invited by S&S have the air of critical and social importance to them. They are, almost all, serious works done by serious filmmakers attempting to make serious statements. This list, by contrast, is the temperature of the online movie community in regards to what movies are the “greatest.” The results might be what you expect. But probably not.

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As we all know, George Washington tried desperately to become a professional wrestler and world-class ballet dancer, so it makes sense that the General-turned-President would be the focus of a future Darren Aronofsky project. The director has attached himself to The General – a biopic with a script from Adam Cooper and Bill Collage (Tower Heist, Accepted). According to Variety, the director is shopping the project to Paramount (as contractually obligated) but if they pass, he’ll be taking it around town. Then, after they see the town, they’ll start taking meetings with studio executives. Why they’re stealing the name from a brilliant Buster Keaton Civil War adventure is unclear. However, it sounds like a solid enough idea. Cooper and Collage must be showing off a different side for Aronofsky to get on board like this, but it’s high time that we get a dirty-handed version of Washington. After all, if Abraham Lincoln can hunt vampires and FDR can be an American Badass, why not make Washington an unironic hero with blood on his hands? If you’re unfamiliar with our first President, learn about him here:

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Culture Warrior

Editor’s Note: With Landon still celebrating Marcel Pagnol’s birthday, Cole was left to write this week’s entry. Please don’t riot. Every so often, The History Channel will play The Planet of the Apes, and it freaks me out. In recent years, the station has lost the meaning of its name completely, but a few years ago, I genuinely worried that someone would stumble upon the movie in progress, see the logo at the bottom, and be convinced that there was a time in Earth’s history that we were ruled by simians. There’s no proof, but considering that people have tried to rob banks with permanent marker all over their faces as a “disguise,” it seems possible that at least one person would be confused by a non-fiction station about our past playing a fictional movie where Moses pounded his fist into the sand in horror. Maybe there’s no real danger of that, but it still displays a certain power that movies have. They, like all stories, are how we share with each other. From person to person, from culture to culture, movies provide a certain shared sentience. A great story, told well, can transport and give insight into What It’s Like, especially in a world where photography and audio recording are relatively new technologies. The hitch is that there are still limitations to the art. The camera always lies, so even as we grasp toward understanding, it’s easy to be misled when it comes to experiences we have no personal […]

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american-flag-header

Instead of doing a cheesy list for Veteran’s Day, we here at FSR decided just to give a run down of all the war-type movies that we’ve covered over the years (the good, the bad, and the boots on the ground).

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thisweekindvd-header1

Rob Hunter loves movies. He also loves working for the local “retirement home” as head geezer catcher… basically he gets a call whenever one of the elderly residents escapes wanders off in a daze from the home. These two joys come together in the form of cash money payments that he receives every week and immediately uses to buy more DVDs. This week… Up, The Merry Gentleman, Spread, and more!

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Buster Keaton in The General

Every Sunday, Film School Rejects presents a movie that was made before you were born and tells you why you should like it. This week, Old Ass Movies Presents: The General (1927).

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