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Steven Santos
Astoria, NY
Recent Activity
As a fellow freelancer, I can certainly relate to the experience of getting clients to pay invoices. My response to their excuses is becoming more like Henry Hill in "Goodfellas": Fuck you, pay me.
Toggle Commented Aug 11, 2010 on Day labor at Some Came Running
I have to admit that my estimation of Allen's entire filmography has fallen considerably because I'm finding less and less about it that means a whole lot to me anymore. Despite most of his characters living in the same city as I do, they feel like they live in another universe. His Upper East Side neuroses (his European movies are just the same neurotic people dropped into different settings) was funny when I was younger, but now it just comes off as a bit immature and pathetic. What has made his recent work so hard to watch is that he often seems to not care about shooting a visually engaging film. His camera setups are pedestrian and the editing is sluggish. Plus, someone who puts out a film every year is probably going to have a tendency to recycle his own ideas. There have been many debates about the idea of growth in filmmakers and Allen, to me, represents what happens when a director stops exploring and experimenting. It results in a beyond stale body of work.
Toggle Commented May 17, 2010 on Woody one-note at Some Came Running
Does a day ever go by where a print or online writer does not write something so astoundingly stupid for the purpose of driving sales and traffic? Call me cynical, but I think bringing up the actor's sexual preferences in a "review" seemed designed to get the response it did. Honesty, my ass. We have reached the point in our culture when people like Setoodeh seek any press, even if it's bad press, as long as people are talking about what he's writing even if it does not provoke thought as much as it provokes controversy for the daily news cycle. Meanwhile, it does not function in any way as legitimate criticism.
Toggle Commented May 17, 2010 on About Nothing, part 2 at Some Came Running
Summation of the article: "Isn't it cool I live in Brooklyn, have celebrity encounters and that the Paper of Record pays me to tell you about them as if my anecdote was profound in some way?" Did no one from the writer to the NYT editors consider the obvious privacy issues here?
Toggle Commented Apr 19, 2010 on Personal to Albert Stern at Some Came Running
I am pretty sure we can mark Armond's lunatic manifesto as the low point of film criticism.
Like Fuzzy Bastard says above, I'm not quite sure why anyone took White seriously in the first place. I read him more consistently in the 90's and found his arguments and writing to be amateurish and attention-seeking back then. I sensed the tide started to turn when he trashed all online critics in that piece a couple of years ago. This should be the nail in the coffin, but I think that can only happen if everyone just ignores this attention whore. A controversy like this is something that he feeds on and it wouldn't surprise me that he sent that e-mail out to manufacture more controversy. I don't think being proven a liar in this case shames him at all, as long as everyone is talking about him. That's always his end goal.
Toggle Commented Mar 11, 2010 on It's not an animal... at Some Came Running
So when a critic wishes a filmmaker's mother aborted him or claims he can tell he's an asshole from watching his films, that's okay. But deny that critic a screening (though it's not like he will be banned from every theater in the country playing it) and it's time to invoke the Nazis and Gestapo tactics. The moral and ethical stance of this e-mail perplexes me.
Toggle Commented Mar 9, 2010 on Feeling left out at Some Came Running
Every movie has continuity errors. A good editor will choose the moments that best serve the emotion of the scene rather than what will "match". To judge a filmmaker primarily by the continuity errors in their films is rather short-sighted. As far as "Carrying Marty's Water", this conversation occurs with every important filmmaker out there who has a following. I believe every great director out there falls short of having a perfect filmography (and I think Scorsese has been spotty himself recently), but I would generally prefer critics make their arguments about the film rather than spending half their reviews talking about which side they're on regarding the "Water Carrying". Do I really need another critic touting their alternative-to-the-mainstream opinion as if they were so special and unique? Congrats, guys, you see Martin Scorsese for the fraud he is that people like me are too dumb to see through because I liked "Kundun" too much. Excuse me, but Marty has more buckets of water for me to carry.
Isn't this the usual "I am outraged, just outraged that someone speaks ills of other's political beliefs" schtick when we all know if Ebert had tweeted pot shots that agree with Nolte's views, Nolte would be more than okay with it? And that isn't something restricted to one political party as much as it is about the ability for people in this country to go into self-victimization mode in record time. This is the internet. If you don't like what anyone says, you can write and formulate your own argument about why they're full of crap and publish it as opposed to trying to create some bullshit high moral ground by taking down someone's character as opposed to their logic. You would think the internet was invented so that people could exclaim that they are angry without bothering to explain why they're angry. It's like all those people in "Network" screaming out their windows that they're mad as hell only because they saw Howard Beale do it on television. P.S. Glenn, I laughed at Pam Meister, but this blog definitely needs more stoner cat.
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2010 on Roger's version at Some Came Running
Lazarus, I would argue more that the method of finding the film in the edit room has mixed results depending on the footage shot and how the film is edited together. Those directors you mentioned have had both successes and failures that resulted from that process. I'm sure Malick has done this with all of his films, but "New World" was the first time I felt the imagery was straining to achieve poetry and that the editing choices seemed indecisive and almost random at times. I would say this often results in sequences both great and not-so-great that do not necessarily add up to a satisfying film experience. The opening passages of the film are the high point for me, but I would also add that any of the scenes that center around the love story between Pocahontas and Smith are a bit dull and uninvolving. I almost feel Malick should have concentrated on making a film about that time rather than telling the Pocahantas/Smith story.
Toggle Commented Dec 6, 2009 on Possible sins of omission at Some Came Running
I never quite understood the praise for "The New World". The version I saw the 2.5 hour version that played in New York for a week. The thing about Malick is that I often get the feeling he shoots so much and then seems to depend greatly on the editing room to find the film. I thought his other films were great, but this one rarely involved me becoming little more than a series of pretty, but not particularly poignant images. I'm not quite convinced the film was edited the way it was due to any strong directorial vision, as much as it seems like a Hail Mary pass to get something semi-coherent up on the screen. I also think Glenn's point about sentimentality is a valid one. I almost wish Malick depicted the central Pocahontas/Smith story with more than continuous shots of them standing out in a field of high grass separately or together either thinking, smiling or looking pensively at the sky. At a certain point, it sometimes feels like a lesser director imitating past Malick films. Despite all that, I'd still like to give the slightly shorter version a shot someday.
Toggle Commented Dec 6, 2009 on Possible sins of omission at Some Came Running
The two films that I would put high up for the decade that haven't been mentioned yet: "OldBoy" and "Children of Men". If I had a list that went to 70, I'm pretty sure I would include every Park Chan-Wook film this decade except for "I'm A Cyborg".
To add to the appreciation for Anthony Edwards, I always found his final scene to be one of the most emotional moments in the film. And it's so effective because, as the rest of his performance, it's perfectly underplayed.
Toggle Commented Nov 19, 2009 on A Melvin Belli Christmas at Some Came Running
I don't like Jean-Luc Godard, though I still enjoy Akira Kurosawa (different director but still foreign).
If "Precious" had been directed by Steven Spielberg and starred Eddie Murphy (in fat suit and makeup) playing both Precious and her mother, Armond White would have declared it the best film of the decade. Although the movie doesn't interest me much, I do wonder why the film (like many other films about non-whites) is being framed strictly by race in both pro and con reviews, making it seem as if it were a statement about Black America as a monolithic collective as opposed to being treated as just a story about a daughter and her terrible mother. It's not like the reviews of "A Serious Man" framed the movie as being representative of all Jews. So we have reviews from critics who want to seem as if they're compassionate to African-Americans and then other critics who are obsessed with trying to call out those critics' hangups about race when they clearly have some of their own.
Toggle Commented Nov 6, 2009 on "Contract" work at Some Came Running
Actually, I don't care what Glenn says, this piece is an allegory for the war in Afghanistan with Kael representing Afghanistan and young Glenn representing the United States. Don't let the author's explanations fool you. Plus, it must have really happened because Sweet Dreams is a real movie and the Brill Building actually exists, so the rest of it must be true, right?
Glenn, if your piece addresses the excessive film critic navel-gazing that this blown-out-of-proportion incident inspired, then please have at it.
I'm always perplexed when cinematographers light green screen exteriors like interiors. Even non-experts pick up on how fake this looks. I also believe directors today are addicted to composites to get the "perfect" background, as opposed to having any abilities to shoot on location and deal with the imperfections. I saw "A Serious Man" a couple of days ago and they relied on actual locations with detailed set dressing and it wasn't that big a deal that in some exterior shots the sun was a little too glaring. It's okay if it doesn't look too pretty and polished. Who knows? You may get caught up with the emotion of the film rather than admiring the landscapes.
The funny thing is, Glenn, that it was clear to me the post was about rhetoric and also, I would add, the self-righteous addiction to outrage. But if you at any point question the sincerity of those who seem so invested in Polanski being sent to jail (while not getting worked up if, say, an innocent man is executed), the response is often to be accused of sympathizing with a child rapist. More outrage! I think a lot of people missed the point of this post by a mile and went into either knee-jerk anti- or pro-Polanski modes. Why does every argument have to wind up into this "either you're with us or with them" attitude where I don't want to be on either side? In another words, if I have to choose whether to side with cinephile apologists lacking moral compasses or self-righteous pseudo-moralists, leave me out. Polanski being a great director should have no bearing on whether he serves time for a rape that we all know he is guilty of. His supporters need to recognize that no director is a god and they are the same fucked-up human beings we all are. Making great films doesn't trump his obvious guilt for committing a crime. And, on top of that, he fled the country like a coward rather than face the punishment. Let justice, as flawed as that system is, hopefully take its course now. And, yes, most of the vocal outragists (yes, I just coined that phrase) probably could care less about the victim. It's more about an agenda where they get to demonstrate their moral superiority to anyone who's willing to listen, particularly when the target of derision is famous. As I said earlier, this is an opportunity for them to vocally pronounce how "moral" they are. Well, good for them. I'm sure none of these people are capable of doing great wrongs onto others, right? The last I checked, morality is a day-to-day personal struggle that you work at, not a gift handed down from the heavens to only special people who then preach to others because they consider themselves infallible. Basically, a crime is committed against Ms. Geimer (who had the double misfortune to be raped by a famous person in a celebrity-obsessed culture that would never had truly left her alone even if Polanski hadn't fled even though his fleeing obviously exacerbates this situation) and now she and her family gets to watch as something terrible done to her gets politicized. Fodder for 24 hour news and internet message boards where, let's face it, considering how narcissistic most people are, we really make it all about ourselves.
Toggle Commented Oct 1, 2009 on Priorities at Some Came Running
There's no doubt what Polanski did was wrong and illegal, but, as Glenn is pointing out, it brings out a lot of people who use this opportunity to take a rather self-promoting moral stand on a highly publicized case involving a movie director while remaining apathetic about tragedies that do not involve famous people. Certain members of the moral police foam at the mouth when a public outrage happens just so they can chime in with perhaps a little bit of self-deification in the process. While some of us do actually remember that those that make the loudest moral accusations in society have often been people with dubious morals themselves. Ultimately, this is a legal matter now. And whatever happens to him will happen, but a lot of this self-satisfied "We Got 'Em Now!" rhetoric while readying the noose reeks of self-aggrandizement for taking down another Hollywood figure rather than any genuine concern for the victim.
Toggle Commented Sep 28, 2009 on Priorities at Some Came Running
I was perplexed early in McCarthy's review when he says that "The Road" reads more cinematically than "No Country for Old Men". The book for "No Country" practically reads like a script. Even the Coen Brothers joked that their adaptation consisted of one holding the book open while the other typed. "The Road" was not a book that lent itself to an easy narrative and could have easily been ruined by imposing more genre action and a less episodic storyline. Also, McCarthy states the film doesn't capture the book, but everything he describes (except for obviously the score) was in the book. As a big fan of "The Proposition", I thought Hillcoat was the right director and Viggo Mortensen was the right actor for that role. Still very much looking forward to seeing it.
Toggle Commented Sep 4, 2009 on "Road" war at Some Came Running
In all fairness, Glenn, everyone who writes and comments on the internet is an "insufferable twat" to a certain extent. It really is about measuring how much twattage you exude. Twattage in measured doses is better than excess twattage which is more common. It's sort of similar to the dick, pussies and assholes speech at the end of "Team America". And, as Matthias said, your snark is actually funny and, I would add, truthful.
Toggle Commented Aug 17, 2009 on A week without snark at Some Came Running
I think each of us can find a moment when we happen to agree with Armond White, but, for me, it has never been about the opinion, but about how he makes his argument and, as Glenn points out, his lack of writing ability. It may be easy to label White as someone crazy, but I just don't think he's as intellectual about film as much as he and his supporters try so hard to convince us. White gets basic facts about movies wrong that makes me wonder if he actually saw the film or was paying attention. His sentences are not well-constructed considering he's been writing for quite awhile now. And making an argument requires more than railing against other critics and using adjectives as "stupid". White's supporters are actually upset that Ebert labeled White a "troll", but I don't remember any uproar over the many nasty potshots White took at Ebert over the years. I certainly don't mind the idea of having a contrarian critic, but why can't that person be a little more intelligent? And can any of White's supporters explain to me why he suddenly doesn't like "The Hurt Locker" mere weeks after raving about it? Are we really to believe his opinions are his own or mere self-promotion when he consistently turns on movies he initially lauded because too many critics agreed with him?
"Mediocrities are not replaced by substantive figures; they are replaced by WORSE MEDIOCRITIES." Maybe they set the bar so low with the two Bens, there was nowhere else to go except putting two chimps on the show.
@Tom Russell: You're asking people to understand where your argument is coming from while dismissing those who look for something else out of a filmmaker as "hogwash". The first step to having your argument respected is to respect the arguments of those who disagree with you. If everyone one of us only appreciated filmmakers as you see fit, that would be a) boring and b) the moment when appreciation of a filmmaker turns to apologia and then, finally, hero worship. I don't see what that has to do with auteurism. Every one of my favorite directors have made several movies that didn't work, which I think makes them more interesting. I can acknowledge that Wes Anderson is a talented filmmaker with a strong eye for visual detail without needing to feel that he was touched by the hand of God for every idea he ever came up with or yelled "Action!" on a set. You can appreciate a filmmaker's work, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't train a critical eye towards it just because he's one of your favorites. The creative process of filmmaking is too complex and obstacle-laden to think that any director is capable of hitting it out of the park every time he goes to bat. This thread is basically turning into the "you're either with us or against us" style of argument, Zach's comments being the only one that stood out for appreciating Anderson as a filmmaker, while still acknowledging the many flaws in his work. Personally, I prefer a director to challenge himself rather than work in his safe zone each time out. Isn't that what being an artist is about? By your definition, Tom, should I also appreciate that Woody Allen makes a movie every year, rehashing the same tired material, without actually having anything new to say? I appreciate someone like Robert Altman more, who made different types of movies and completely misfired half the time. But, at least, the movies that worked as well as the ones that didn't work had an adventurous spirit to them, as opposed to Anderson's failures which come across as a filmmaker trying way too hard to call attention to how exquisitely he can frame a composition or block a scene, as opposed to having anything interesting to say about, you know, life outside of his movie references.
Toggle Commented Aug 1, 2009 on Long distance dedication... at Some Came Running