John Otteni

Rokk Talk Ep. 21: Woodstock

Fifty years ago today a bunch of hippies got high, slid around in the mud, and listened to Country Joe and the Fish… Or so we thought! Turns out there was more to the story. A festival was had Wood-something? Well apparently they made a movie about it and John and Colin watched it. Not only that, but they watched the long-ass edition. Check it out and hear what they had to say.

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Criterion Month Day 27: Kicking and Screaming

Kicking and Screaming (1995)

I should have seen this movie when I was in college. Aside from the obvious point that it’s about directionless college students, I would have been able to relate. No one likes to face uncertainty, especially when you’ve spent the last few years hitting the books only to find those skills may not translate to the real world. The film rings true and I wonder if was a reflection of whatever writer/director Noah Baumbach was going through at the time. Baumbach has made a lot of movies of people of different ages struggling to figure out their next step and here’s where it started.

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Criterion Month Day 26: Shallow Grave

Shallow Grave (1994)

Danny Boyle is forever young. No matter what he does (or how good it is) you always feel his youthful energy. Boyle’s films are high adrenaline, quick-paced, and never boring. Stupid, maybe *cough, The Beach but never boring. What amazes me is that Boyle wasn’t a young hotshot music video director or hipster underground filmmaker when he made his first feature. Boyle was 38-years-old with a respectable background in theater and producing/directing for the BBC. How that evolved into marathon running zombies and guys chopping off their arms I don’t know, but he’s never lost that spark. Boyle knows how to balance the fine line between high art and entertainment, and in no place is that better displayed than in his 1994 dark comedy Shallow Grave.

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Criterion Month Day 25: Slacker

Slacker (1991)

Damn it! This is so late. Here we go!!!

I made more than one mistake picking Slacker for my “First Time Filmmakers” list for Criterion Month. First, Slacker isn’t Richard Linklater’s first feature-length film. It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books is a $3,000, 86 minute, Super 8 mm film, starring Linklater as he drives through the country doing mundane day-to-day activities. Wow, I wonder why that isn’t a classic? As far as I can tell the film isn’t available apart from being a special feature on the Slacker Criterion. My second mistake was picking a non-narrative film. I don’t have a good track record with non-narrative films. I like drama, rising action. Even Linklater’s iconic hangout film Dazed and Confused had the underlying threat of Wiley Wiggins gettin’ a paddlin’. Slacker had a lot going against it in the John test and yet… I liked it okay, but why?

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Criterion Month Day 20: House of Games

House of Games (1987)

Me choosing House of Games for Criterion Month is the equivalent of closing your eyes, throwing a pile of DVDs in the air, grabbing one, and then deciding to watch it. Before yesterday I knew slim to bupkis about this film. I knew it was the directorial debut of acclaimed playwright/Jiu-Jitsu master David Mamet and that it fit my theme of “First Time Filmmakers”. As for what the film was about and who was in it, I had no clue. I know now, and I am Jiu-Jitsu kicking myself for not discovering this movie earlier.

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Criterion Month Day 16: Smithereens

Smithereens (1982)

Criterion Month is in full effect here at Mildly Pleased. If you haven’t been checking in and stumble across this post by accident, we’re reviewing films from the Criterion Collection every day in chronological order. For my films I chose the theme “First Time Filmmakers”. A theme that not only narrows down the catalog, it gives me the opportunity to experience filmmaking in its most uninhibited form. Though it wasn’t until I watched Susan Seidelman’s punk debut Smithereens that I noticed similarities to the film’s I’ve already watched. Not all of them share a connective tissue—And God Created Woman and Night of the Living Dead being outliers—but between Shadows, Ivan’s Childhood, and now Smithereens I see how debut filmmakers most often introduce themselves to the world.

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