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Home » Culture and Criticism

Cinemarch Madness: Kaplan Division Poll

Submitted by on March 9, 2013 – 10:19 AM10 Comments

grunge film background

What a strange flight Kaplan is. I don’t quite understand the noms for Murder in the First and V for Vendetta, or even for Brazil, a movie I recall as having enough of a funny zing that it didn’t get too heavy. Babel I think wanted to be here, but didn’t work, starting from the casting. The Accused is a movie that depends heavily on whether you agree that Jodie Foster is a genius; I do not agree that that’s so, and I understand why the movie’s here, but the execution of the material didn’t take me there.

And…they’re all lumped in with Shoah, which on the basis not just of subject matter but also of length, and the terrible guilt you feel for getting bored at times…it’s like comparing apples and concertina wire. Well, except for American History X. [shudder]

I’ll vote for Shoah; for The Age of Innocence, that terribly frustrating and beautiful story that each time happens to me all over again; and for Shame, because it made me feel physically cold.

I seriously have no clue what does get through, though. It depends on who’s seen what. AHX, Shame, and Shoah to the semis, I’m guessing, but…I’m guessing.

Kaplan Division: Vote for the THREE (3) harshest films.

  • American History X (24%, 173 Votes)
  • The Accused (12%, 87 Votes)
  • Shoah (11%, 76 Votes)
  • Shame (11%, 75 Votes)
  • The Age of Innocence (8%, 56 Votes)
  • Brazil (5%, 39 Votes)
  • It's a Wonderful Life (5%, 35 Votes)
  • Farewell My Concubine (5%, 32 Votes)
  • The Boys of St. Vincent's (4%, 29 Votes)
  • Babel (4%, 29 Votes)
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild (4%, 28 Votes)
  • V Is for Vendetta (3%, 22 Votes)
  • Murder in the First (3%, 21 Votes)
  • Sharkwater (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Turtles Can Fly (0%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 285

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Not sure what’s going on? You’ll fit right in around here (heh) but in the meantime, the Cinemarch Madness FAQ is here, and a poll overview is here.




  • attica says:

    Hard flight. I had only one flick to put on my ballot (tBoSV).

    See, I liked that everybody ends miserably in AoI. It satisfied me, cinematically speaking. I’m in the camp that gives points to movies that resist happy endings. Same with AHX. Accused, well, she gets some justice in the end, which seems like the point of enduring the foregoing horror. The rest I’ve either not seen or didn’t have a strong reaction to. [shrug]

    But part of me still holds a grudge against Henry Czerny.

  • coleBlue says:

    Finally movies I’ve seen! V for Vendetta and It’s a Wonderful Life… neither of which really hit me as bleak or harsh. I mean VfV ends with blowing shit up to the 1812 Overture; there’s no way I can respond to that with anything other than resounding glee (which maybe says terrible things about me, but there you go).
    As for IaWL, well it’s sort of George Bailey’s ego trip when you think about it. Like, I get the message of everyone is important, but Doctor Who did it better with one line: “You know that in nine hundred years of time and space and I’ve never met anybody who wasn’t important before.” Which again, probably says more about me than the movie. Maybe there’s just too much hype around IaWL for me to take it as it is.

  • RobinP says:

    Massive, massive tangent but sort of relevant wrt IaWL: my husband has a friend who introduced us to the IaWL drinking game. Every time someone onscreen says something hateful or mean spirited, you drink. You have no idea. These people are serious drinkers, and most can’t finish the game. I used to think it was holiday drivel, but now I get it.

  • Erin W says:

    for The Age of Innocence, that terribly frustrating and beautiful story that each time happens to me all over again

    I got your reference, Sarah! Another Wharton fanatic here.

    I don’t know if I can vote for AoI, though. It’s so exquisite in its bleakness. I watch it over and over again, which seems counter to the Cinemarch Madness mission.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Erin [rueful high-five] I wondered about that too, though…and if the same reason I reread House of Mirth over and over, that desire for Lily somehow to get it right the 500th time, disqualifies that kind of narrative.

  • rab01 says:

    For me, this is the bracket of mixed feelings.

    With American History X, the bleakness in the middle struck a chord with me but the ending felt contrived and too “of course”, if that makes any sense. I left the movie irritated more than saddened.

    I voted for Shoah but hope it doesn’t make it into the bracket – “apples and concertina wire” indeed. Almost any film addressing the holocaust will be too unbearably sad to watch all the way through, just on subject matter alone. So, the trick of many of those films is to find an angle that provides enough of a glimmer of hope about at least one character to keep the viewer from immediately turning away. It’s almost the inverse of what most of the other movies under discussion are trying to do.

  • Claire says:

    I wrote my senior thesis on Cultural Revolution in Chinese film, so not only did I have to watch Farewell My Concubine, I had to watch it many, many times and pause it a lot to take notes. I’m still not over it. So, obvs, that one gets my vote.

  • Sandman says:

    But part of me still holds a grudge against Henry Czerny.

    Oh, totally.

  • To show how (insert your own joke here) I am about movies, which “Shame” are you talking about; the Michael Fassbender movie or the 60’s Ingmar Bergman movie?

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I’m talking about Fassbender, but I didn’t actually nominate it, so…? (heh)

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