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Beltmann

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About Beltmann

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    More Like the Moon
  • Birthday 06/19/1974

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    Male
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    Southeast Wisconsin
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    Movies, literature, history, sports

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  1. We have tickets for two Wilco shows: A few weeks ago we scored greats seats for the Wilco/Sleater-Kinney show in St. Louis (August), and we have tickets for Wilco in Green Bay for September, which is a show rescheduled from last fall. Our last show before the pandemic was Wilco (Madison), so it feels fitting for Wilco to be our first show back, too. Especially since the Tweedy Show provided near-daily sustenance in between!
  2. Had my second shot yesterday (while wearing my Summerteeth t-shirt) and spent quite a bit of time thinking about (and mimicking) Jeff's arm exercises!
  3. Over spring break I shared quite a few movies with my 13-year-old boy, including Airplane!, The Pride of the Yankees, 42, Ford v Ferrari, The Call of the Wild, and The Journey of Natty Gann (which, I remain persuaded, is one of the most underrated Disney live-action features). Best of all? We enjoyed a big-screen experience with The Wizard of Oz, which he had never seen before. (He always resisted my overtures, and you can't force these things.) Damn straight I lied and warned him the whole thing was black and white. And damn straight that key moment when Dorothy opens the door to Oz still has the power hold audiences rapt. Tonight we watched the Coens' version of True Grit, which was his first Western (unless Back to the Future III counts). I think we'll try High Noon next.
  4. A few days ago I watched Slacker for the umpteenth time because I’m reading Melissa Maerz’s book Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused and the opening section contains roughly 50 wonderfully detailed pages about Slacker, Linklater's 1991 indie breakthrough. The film, which was made for $23,000 and has no plot, captures in amber the specific misfit subculture of Austin, Texas in the Nineties. The movie always peters out for me, but I nevertheless remain fascinated by its shaggy ambience and its baton-passing structure, which lets more than 80 characters take center stage for a few minutes. This movie was a formative experience for me as a burgeoning cinephile. Has it really been 30 years? Bonus point, too, for how Teresa Taylor (aka Teresa Nervosa), one of the drummers for the Butthole Surfers, shows up. She delivers what is probably the movie's most iconic scene (see the linked video).
  5. I've been a huge Demme fan since the late '80s. He surely made many great docs (Stop Making Sense is a landmark), but he is perhaps better known for his narrative features. Both Philadelphia and Silence of the Lambs made massive cultural waves (Silence swept all five major Oscars!). Even better, to my eyes, is 1986's Something Wild, which was my introduction to Demme and ranks among the greatest of American movies. I don't want to write an essay here, so I'll just say that there must have been a divine alchemy at work in Something Wild--how did one film get so lucky with its perfect script, perfect casting, and perfect choice of director? Everything sparks, including its mesmerizing tonal shifts, but one of the things I most cherish about the film is what happens on the margins. Demme consistently presents a view of America and her people that is honest, weird, egalitarian, lived-in, and totally sublime. And the music fucking rules. Back to Lambs, though... maybe it's my age speaking, but I actually miss lengthy credit sequences that used the time and space to artistically set the narrative table (tone, exposition, etc.). In the case of Lambs, that sequence strikes me as totally brilliant. The visuals inform the viewer of exactly who Clarice is and how this male-dominated agency completely discounts her. (She is dwarfed by the tall men, and the only person who actually seems to acknowledge her--and earn a glowing smile in return--is a fellow female.) The culmination is a careful shot of Clarice hurrying to catch an elevator: Once inside, the composition and lighting call attention to her marginalized status, as she stands, tiny in a gray sweatshirt, against a backdrop of nine men (yeah, I went back and counted!), all of them towering over her in identical red shirts. The point is clear: She isn't one of them. Then the door closes. EDIT: Below, I added a screenshot of the elevator shot. Long ago I read an essay by Amy Taubin about the movie. Allow me to simply present a relevant portion here: TAUBIN: In one of the great opening sequences in narrative-movie history, Demme places Clarice on a rough path through a thicket of towering trees. An early-morning mist envelops their gnarled branches, nearly obscuring Clarice, who appears in the distance, rising as if she’s reached the top of an unseen hill and continuing her run straight toward us. Demme’s crane-mounted moving camera avoids so many traps. It doesn’t stalk Clarice from behind, or secretively peer at her through the tree trunks. It is simply her mirror—thus, we are her mirror—as she tests her endurance and agility on this FBI training course that is also the forest of children’s nightmares. Clarice is concentrated on the task at hand, but the gloomy setting, the threatening sounds all around her, and, most of all, Howard Shore’s score, with its Mahler-like surging melodies and yearning harmonies driven by an ominously accelerating bass line, speak to inchoate fears and desires and barely repressed feelings of abandonment and loss—everything she tries to vanquish with her commitment to law and order. Demme’s direction, the mise-en-scène, and the score magnify Clarice’s interiority, but even without them, these feelings would be evident in Foster’s every glance and gesture. It is a complicated, perfectly calibrated performance, most expressive in its reticence and refusal of accommodation. The film could not exist without her. Clarice’s solitary run is interrupted—just as she comes face-to-face with a sign bearing the FBI’s injunction “Hurt, Agony, Pain, Love It, Pride”—by a male superior who tells her that Crawford, their boss, wants to see her. As Clarice runs off, Demme holds on his face, his puzzled expression the first example of the reaction to her from every man whose path she will cross: What is this alien being doing here?
  6. u2roolz, I was fortunate to catch Black Bear as part of a virtual film festival. It was the first movie that I screened, and it speaks to the film's originality that it somehow remained near the top of my mind as I navigated another 74 feature films! I, too, really liked The Vast of Night. Sound is elevated to a fascinating motif, whether it means speaking (the rat-a-tat dialogue is a compendium of ‘50s slang), listening (there are several long monologues, including one over a black screen), or recording (remember reel-to-reel machines?). But the visuals are often captivating, too, especially a 10-minute shot that showcases a young woman simply processing her next steps and also one show-offy shot that travels through several roads, fields, and buildings, including the local gymnasium where most of the town’s residents are gathered for a basketball game. I found the payoff unsatisfying, but based on this fleet, suspenseful, Spielbergian effort, I’m eager to see what Patterson does next. Jim Cummings really is a fascinating figure. I presume you have seen Thunder Road (there's a short and a feature)? Like The Wolf of Snow Hollow, it's an off-kilter genre hybrid with an edgy Cummings performance at the center. I was less enamored with Tesla. I was on board for only about thirty minutes; I think I agree with you that The Current War is a better experience, but it's tough to compare since they are radically different types of works. I also didn't care for The Relic, but I suspect I really need to give it another chance.
  7. Usmar Ismail's After the Curfew (1954) is a politically tense Indonesian drama that charts the PTSD of a returned soldier who had been ordered to commit war crimes during the tumultuous period after the nation declared independence from the Netherlands in 1945. While watching, I couldn’t help but think of The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), William Wyler’s celebrated portrait of WWII vets facing domestic challenges (and a quick search confirmed that Wyler’s film was indeed an influence on Ismail). But I also thought about The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer’s nonfiction diptych about the butchers who purged Indonesia of “undesirables” after General Suharto’s anti-communist coup in 1965. Like those films, After the Curfew is about a postwar Indonesia poisoned by its legacy of blood.
  8. My first screening of 2021 was The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. This new re-edit of The Godfather Part III confirms my view that part three is a highly personal, long underappreciated piece of the saga. Overall, the changes are relatively few but significant. The opening is dramatically different (the knighting ceremony is gone) but more streamlined. The ending, with an aged Michael alone in a chair, has been shortened but the edits radically change the meaning of both the scene and the movie. It's better, more tragic.
  9. Of course I was there. I'm always hungry!
  10. I had a full head of hair when this thing started! It's been great keeping up with you, too.
  11. Seconded. HUGE thanks! They have become an essential reference for me!
  12. Through happenstance, I noticed that today marks 16 years since I joined this forum as an unbridled enthusiast for all things Wilco. Today I remain deeply devoted to Wilco. They are still my favorite band. I respond deeply to their music, of course, but that's only a starting point and not the main reason why they top my list; after all, I can think of another dozen bands with records that I love equally, maybe more. But a “band” is more than just a collection of songs. The reason Wilco tops my list is because of the total package and all of the ancillary details: The music, yes, but also all of the other important facts that have made a major imprint on my life—the history; the shows, including one living room show; the impact the music made on me when I most needed it; the people that I've met, including Jeff; the relationships cultivated as a direct result of Wilco; the Tweedy Show; the bottomless memories, meanings, and stacks of T-shirts. (Seriously, my collection is embarrassing.) No other band has carved out such an important, long-lasting space in my life. Even when the music fades, or even when new Wilco music might leave me cold, that imprint remains and always will. The affection I feel for this band transcends their music. Perhaps the most significant bonus feature of my Wilco journey has been Via Chicago. I’m an admin now, but I started as just a fan after longtime lurking, a little intimidated at first, and once I chose to dive in as a newbie and engage (and sometimes spar) with the veterans, I grew to love this place. I remember with deep fondness all of the old inside jokes (too many), scandals (remember the VW ads?), and perhaps the Internet’s greatest ongoing gag (list the albums in chronological order). But it’s always been about the people. Many of my closest Facebook relationships started first at VC, and many evolved into real-life friendships. And I'll never forget the outpouring of love, support, and gifts that VC gave me and my family after a few members learned that my 18-year-old brother had been killed in a car crash in 2005. That was the most moving and breathtaking online experience of my life. It's been a great 16 years. Thank you, Wilco. Thank you, Via Chicago. Eric
  13. I've been slowly working my way through Criterion's massive Ingmar Bergman box set. Most of the titles have been repeat viewings, but the early work “Port of Call” (1948) was new to me and rather surprising since Bergman chose to operate in an unusual register. The story, which concerns a young woman hesitant to tell her new beau about her checkered past, might be too melodramatic for, say, Rossellini, but the visual style, quotidian details, and focus on class and culture were clearly inspired by the traits and philosophy of neorealism. I also took another look at “Cries and Whispers” (1972). I've always considered it one of Bergman’s coldest, most mannered films, but I don’t mean that as a criticism. There’s a stark, feminine interiority at work in the story of a dying woman being attended to by her two sisters and housemaid. Drenched in red and white, the complex psychoanalytical interplay between longing, dreams, childhood, mortality, eroticism, repression, jealousy, rejection, body horror, class, and privilege remains carefully controlled and inexhaustible nearly 50 years later.
  14. Beltmann

    Today

    You need to start pulling your weight around here, pal.
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