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Entries in Hit Me With Your Best Shot (109)

Tuesday
Apr222014

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Visual Index ~ Pocahontas (1995)

For Earth Day, Hit Me With Your Best Shot returns to Disney's long neglected Pocahontas (1995). Can you sing with all the colors of the wind? The movie uses a lot of them and not shyly: blues, greens, pinks, oranges, yellows, and that glorious raven hair of Disney's most beautiful heroine.

Pocahontas's Best Shot(s)
12 savages chimed in. Click on their best shot selections to read the corresponding article

One of the greatest marriages of image and melody in the entire Disney canon...
- Three Pounds Lost 


She's still dwarfed by the majesty of the earth...
-Film Actually

The best scene in the movie is a silent one... 
-Coco Hits New York 

...not one without its wonders.  The main two of which for me are its use of long lens widescreen framing and the music.
- Best Shot in the Dark 


We're no longer looking at moving drawings, but being moved by the drawings...
- The Film's The Thing 

Pocahontas looks really good especially when her hair is wind blown (nature as her personal wind machine for the win)... 
- Sorta That Guy 

 At times it feels as if Pocahontas is a feature-length version of a lost Fantasia sequence... 
-The Entertainment Junkie

One of the least busy and textured images in the film, 
- Lam Chop Chop


Love Story, Flawed History Lesson, and Nature Appreciation Pamphlet all in one go? No easy feat...
-Minnesota Gneiss 

It's dealing with big themes that kids don't think about and visualizing them in a way that kids can understand at every level...
- Dancin' Dan 


For all of Pocahontas failures, I love it and feel deeply protective...
- The Film Experience 

 

Confession: I totally started to tear up here...
- I Am Derreck 

 

NEXT TUESDAY ON 'HIT ME...'
Three Women (1977) - Join us for this Robert Altman curio
Netflix Instant |  Amazon Rental | iTunes Rental

Tuesday
Apr222014

"should I choose the smoothest course...is all my dreaming at an end?"

Happy Earth Day to all! For this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot we're looking at the environmentalist drama, romantic fantasy, historical epic, animated musical (*whew*) known simply as Pocahontas. Though Disney's 1995 release was a hit, in 2014 is has something of a stepchild reputation, coming as it did on the heels of four consecutive gargantuan critical / cultural smashes (The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King) that are all still beloved today.

Disney's most beautiful and best sung heroine ever

Should I choose the smoothest course
Steady as the beating drum?
Should I marry Kocoum?
Is all my dreaming at an end?
Or do you still wait for me, Dream Giver
Just around the riverbend?

Pocahontas admittedly suffers, as those earlier hits did not, with the weight of sky high expectations. You can feel the pressure and strenuous attempts to be all things to all people by repeating the things Disney knew everyone already loved: princesses, showtunes, jutting triangular cliffs (seriously what was with that visual fetish they had for awhile?), fat/skinny foppish villains, and animal sidekicks. But Pocahontas actually wants to be something else, something earthier and more grown-up (womanly rather than girlish for one) and thematically sober. That same push-pull friction between Delivering What People Want and Listening To Your Heart (to borrow Grandmother Willow's sound advice) to follow your true path beset Hunchback of Notre Dame the following year. But in many ways I prefer both of the "trouble" pictures to the latter half of Disney's Magnificent Foursome from 1989-1994.

Best Shot
For all of Pocahontas failures, I love it and feel deeply protective. This is a melancholy love without a happy ending. In other words, just like the movie itself. This image, from the penultimate climax (the true climax is Pocahontas's decision to stay with her tribe, screencapped above, while she lets her dream man sail away), was really my only choice, though hardly the film's most beautiful; it's a perfect snapshot of my love for the movie, and its adult romanticism. Note that the figures are nearly horizontal (as John and Pocahontas will be in the most passionate kiss drawn for any Disney animated film), which is a far cry from the moony eyed straigth to the altar romance most Disney films favor that's so removed from the earthier passions of the body.

I know Pocahontas is not the masterpiece it could have been if the studio had lifted its chin as proudly and bravely as their heroine does throughout. The absolute worst decision Disney made was to excise the love ballad "If I Never Knew You" which was relegated to the end credits but was to have been sung between John Smith and Pocahontas in the tent where he's held captive. Pocahontas might have been a masterpiece if they had pulled back on the standard Disney motifs to make more room for the things the movie is doing superbly. And that's chiefly Pocahontas herself who is the best-sung and most fully realized Disney heroine. Whenever the movie embraces her passions for her own truth ("Listen To Your Heart"), the bounty of the earth ("River Bend" and "Colors of the Wind") and John Smith (the missing song!), it soars like an eagle and gestures to the kind of grand romanticism that demands magical wind machines and a whole rainbow of leaves.

Speaking of, where were they in my Best Shot? Oh, thank god. They sweep in when we cut back to the Native Princess and her man after they realize they've saved countless lives by embracing love rather than fear. 

 

P.S. I actually have a lot more to say about Pocahontas, which I might share in random list form later this week if I sense that there's interest, but I wanted to return Best Shot back to its original beauy focus. That is to pick one image and discuss why it's the image for the beholder.

Next Tuesday Night: Robert Altman's 3 Women (1977) Netflix Instant |  Amazon Rental | iTunes Rental

Tuesday
Apr152014

Hit Me With Your Best Shot. What's Next?

I hope you'll join us tonight when we celebrate The Letter (1940) and I hope you enjoyed the first three episodes of Best Shot this year covering forgetful lovers, violent cops, and disco freaks. If you've never joined the party, please do. Try it. You'll like it. This year has been so fun with more participation than before. All you have to do is watch the movie, pick a shot, post it and tell us why.

Here's what's next:

Tuesday April 22nd Pocahontas (1995)
For Earth Day, sing with all the colors of the wind.
Netflix Instant Watch | Amazon Instant | iTunes Rental

Tuesday April 29th 3 Women (1977)
Robert Altman's fascinating Persona-influenced actress triptych (Shelley Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Janice Rule) went on to influence everyone's favorite amnesiac lebsian mystery Mulholland Dr. If you haven't seen it, you must.
Netflix Instant |  Amazon Rental | iTunes Rental

Tuesday May 6th Blow Up (1966)
To celebrate the publication of the forthcoming biography of Vanessa Redgrave by Dan Callahan, we'll look at Michelangelo Antonioni's mod classic. (I had really wanted to do The Devils which would make an awesome Best Shot episode but it is still just too hard to find in a good print and form - so many different edits and crummy transfers).
Amazon Instant | Netflix Disc  | iTunes Rental

Tuesday May 13th
TBA

Tuesday May 20th BATMAN 75th Spectacular
* a special one-off episode experiment *
For Batman's 75th year watch any theatrically released Bat movie -- there are 8 live action films and 1 animated film from 1966 through 2012 to choose from and select a best shot. Or do multiple movies. And if you do really try to adhere to the one-shot rule that we're all too longwinded to stick to as we should. It'll be interesting when we hit the chronological visual index to see which films, batmen and villains are best represented.

 

Wednesday
Apr022014

Can't Stop The Glitter. Or the Best Shots. 

glitter attack!True story. In the late 1990s after graduating college, before New York City and The Film Experience years, I was working as an artist at a company that specialized in parties and events. Every day in a big warehouse I was a hot mess of glue guns, paint rollers, foam shavings, and glitter. Glitter above all else. Three years later in New York City I was still finding glitter in the weirdest of places; that shit lasts forever.

I thought about this as soon as the opening credits of Allan Carr and Nancy Walker's Village People origin comedy, Can't Stop the Music (1980), our "HMWYBS" April Fools Selection. It was like the movie was blowing its glitter load in the first frame. Turns out there was no refractory period. The glitter just keeps on coming and not just over animated fonts. Dancers actually FLING physical glitter at each other and in the final scene it RAINS glitter. David Hodo (the construction worker) falls victim to the glitter the earliest in his introductory song, the ghastly "I Love You To Death" (pictured left). Hodo is now 66 years old and only stopped performing with the group last year. I bet you anything that he still finds glitter in the retirement home.

Surprisingly my choice for Best Shot is glitter free. But it's still really gay, don't worry. But no it's not this one...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Apr012014

Visual Index ~ Can't Stop the Music's Best Shot(s)

April Fools! I needed an infamous 'bad movie we love' for today's edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot a crowd source visual party, where anyone with a love for movies can watch the pre-assigned film and chime in on the one moment that makes it or defines it or reflects it. In other words, whatever "best" means to you.

The Village People musical Can't Stop the Music (1980) starring Valerie Perrine (of Lenny & Superman fame), Olympian Bruce Jenner (long before the Kardashian days) and Steve Guttenberg early on in his career, came through. And how. You can barely believe this movie while you're watching it but you can't exactly look away either. (Credit where it's due, the lightbulb for this week's selection came to mia via an e-mail from Awards Watch, about their new series pairing Razzie winners with Oscar winners.) 

This musical, the very first Razzie Worst Picture winner is awful, sure, but it's also adorable in its own glittery misguided 'let's put on a show' kind of way. The Razzies, which are also crowd sourced, have a long history of homophobia (they're no fans of camp or gay icons of any kind) so it's no surprise that it all started here with this super gay film that's weirdly caught between "Liberation" and the closet and the cusp of the decades it straddling. But more on that in these fine fun articles.

Can't Stop the Music's Best Shots
click on the photos for the corresponding article 

Its massively ineffective attempt to split the difference between the look and mood of the 1970s versus the 1980s...
-Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy 

The movie it might have been in another time. NOT THAT IT WOULD HAVE EXISTED IN ANOTHER TIME....
-Nathaniel R, The Film Experience


The kind of joyous, “ZOMG out of ★★★★” masterpiece that I would place in the same company as Battlefield Earth and Showgirls... 
-Robert Hamer, Awards Circuit 

Presented as a dream sequence with lyrics that veer quite close to an imagined rape sequence...
-Manuel Betancourt 

a wacko comedic origin story with occasional music-video interludes...
- Jake D, Minnesota Gneiss 


Half trying to phone it in, half trying to get out...
-Lam Chop Chop 


This is the '80s, darling. You're going to see a lot of things you've never seen before...
 - (Home) Film Schooled 

The Rosetta Stone to understanding the pleasures of Can't Stop the Music...
-Coco Hits NY 

I chose the reaction shot because I imagine he’s thinking what I’m thinking...
-Drink Your Juice, Shelby pt 1 and pt 2


It’s such a ludicrously mounted production that it thrills me to no end that it was a hit in Australia and nowhere else...
-Glenn Dunks 

I adore this shot for SO many reasons... let me list them for you"
-Nathaniel R, The Film Experience 


Following the film's gonzo logic, this sequence does nothing to advance the plot...
- Jason Henson, The Entertainment Junkie 


Guys! Wait! This can’t be The Gayest because LOOK AT THIS PRETTY STRAIGHT LADY!
- Anne Marie & Margaret, We Recycle Movies 

You can hang out with all the boys...
-Shane Slater, Film Actually 


a product of its time...
-abstew - The Film's The Thing

 

literally shooting out rainbows...
-Sorta That Guy 

These 15 articles are so fun, people. Please do enjoy them in all their jaw-dropped glory.

Previously on "Hit Me"
Eternal Sunshine & L.A. Confidential

Next time on "Hit Me"Bette Davis in the Best Picture noir nominee THE LETTER (1940). Choose and post your 'Best Shot' by 9 PM Tuesday April 15th to be included in the visual roundup.