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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 04:55 pm:   

Ben, do you know if there's an Australian DVD of The Castle? That old Aussie comedy...
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ben peek
Posted on Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 08:53 pm:   

it's been a while since i've seen it round anywhere, but sanity online have got a listing for it here

http://www.sanity.com.au/product/dvd.asp?sku=932841

the release date is only a couple of years ago, so i reckon it's still round, yeah.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 09:05 pm:   

Thanks.

Is Australia really like the Castle? :-)
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 09:13 pm:   

What do you reckon the best Australian movies made in the last 5-10 years are?
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ben peek
Posted on Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 11:46 pm:   

it's been years since i've seen the castle... but some of what it's poking fun of is there, yeah, from what i remember. it's set in the eighties, isn't it? which is why eric bana has that mullet. but: for a sort of snapshot of western suburbs white family culture, it's poking fun of things that exist.

disturbing, innit?

as for australian films, i've put my list below, but i'd hardly call them complete. australian films appear and disappear in a week or two here, so if you blink, it's gone, and a lot of the stuff they do just doesn't interest me. i haven't seen LITTLE FISH, for example, which was the cate blanchet flick from last year where she played a druggie in the western suburbs, wasting her life. or something like that. i don't need to go to the cinema to see that, y'know?

then the question pops up if you mean films made by australian directors, or with australian stars, y'know? but i limited it to things made in aus, though i could have added noyce's THE QUIET AMERICAN, and a few others like that which you could consider 'australian', but which are made with overseas money.

however, list goes:

Chopper

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0221073/

Dead Heart

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116047/

Erskinville Kings

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0212936/

Lantana

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0259393/

Head On

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0138487/

the Tracker

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0212132/

the Interview

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120714/

though i'm pretty sure it's incomplete, as these sort of things are, and nothing has really done it for me in the last couple of years. haven't yet seen THe PROPOSITION, however.
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ben peek
Posted on Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 11:47 pm:   

anyhow, why the curiousity?
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 05:50 am:   

Thanks.

I'm thinking of doing a piece on Australian film.

I've seen all the movies on your list except for Erskinville Kings -- there's no dvd or video i can find -- and Head On. Loved the fuck out of Lantana. I might add to your list: Walking On Water, Alexandra's Project, The Rage In Placid Lake, Praise, Two Hands, Love Serenade, Somersault, Japanese Story (just because of a great Toni Collete performance). The Rage in Placid Lake struck me as a successful, more sarcastic, angrier Napoleon Dynamite (again, no dvd). Alexandra's Project (yet again, no dvd) is movie everyone who's been married should see--cool thriller). You see any of these. Maybe I should add The Bank, too.
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ben peek
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 06:44 am:   

i hated TWO HANDS. just gave me the shits for all the western suburbs cliches that ran through it. but you know how films are sometimes if you're local. bryan brown was okay in it. did you ever see jordan's NED KELLY? beautiful looking film, but ledger looked like he was constipated throughout the whole thing, and it didn't make a lick of sense, really.

(but much of the problems with the film came from robert drewe's book, i thought)

LOVE SERENADE i'd actually forgotten about, but i didn't mind that. i also liked KISS OR KILL from round about the same time. it has this opening that is just great. things like SOMERSAULT and THE RAGE IN PLACID LAKE and JAPANESE STORY i just missed, cause i don't live anywhere near the cinemas that play them.

(though i must admit that PLACID LAKE wasn't my thing because of ben lee, whose music i don't mind, but who i couldn't really find the right frame of mind to watch for two hours on the screen.)

(it's also a sad fact that pretty much all these films are viewed as independent films in australian cinemas, so they tend to hang round in the arthouse cinemas. i live out in the western suburbs of sydney, and you can just guess what is popular in cinemas out here.)

sanity has got a copy of HEAD ON, btw:

http://www.sanity.com.au/product/dvd.asp?sku=983220

it's an intense little film, i found.

did you ever see DIRTY DEEDS from a few years back? not a great film, but it's got its moments, and it paints a nice portrait of 60s/70s sydney, with pokie machines and corrupt cops all in the middle. plus, you know, bryan brown and toni collette.

also worth a mention is CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION, which was this black comedy about josef stalin's son, born by an australian woman who raises the kid here. weird little film, but i found it funny. has judy davis and sam neill in it (geoffrey rush as well--and i think f murray abraham is stalin, from memory).
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 06:56 am:   

I wasn't thrilled with Ned Kelly. It looked nice, but wasn't very good. I can't remember if I even finished watching it.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 07:01 am:   

Ben, what's the name of the Australian film (made in the 70s or 80s I think) about a couple who go camping at a remote beach in an effort to save their marriage or something and, bit by bit, nature starts to turn against them? I remember seeing it years ago and finding it very chilling. Do you know the one I mean?
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ben peek
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 07:07 am:   

alistair--

nah, man, i don't know. i know someone who might, so i'll ask him, see if he does. it does sound a bit familiar, though.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 07:26 am:   

Thanks, Ben. Unfortunately I don't know anything about it, the director, actors etc. But it was very creepy, maybe more so because it didn't have the feel of a horror movie. You're never sure if it's all down to the paranoia of the characters or whether there really is something vaguely supernatural going on, so the psychological drama is very effective. I'd like to see it again to see if it's as good as I remember it, but no prob if you can't find out anything.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 07:33 am:   

Alastair, I have that film--Dead Weekend or something? I'll look for it after the Aussie victory.

Ben, I figured you'd hat e two hands if you hated Little Fish.

Saw Children of the Rev. I think you're missing out on Placid Lake -- It's pretty damn amusing. Will check out Dirty Deeds, if possible.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 07:56 am:   

LONG Weekend -- Starring John Hargreaves and Briony Behets. Dir by Colin Eggleston who wrote the classic Razorback.....
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 07:58 am:   

You can buy it at EXPLOITED Films, it's pretty effective.
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ben peek
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 08:52 am:   

i never saw LITTLE FISH. but i can sniff out those films about the western suburbs which'll piss me off :-)

there was a film in the mid nineties called IDIOT BOX which was a bit more interesting in relation to the western suburbs and the relation of tv. dunno if it's worth the effort of tracking down, though.

i'll give PLACID LAKE a look in.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 09:01 am:   

If you find it, let me know....
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David Carroll
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 04:12 pm:   

Hi. Ben Peek pointed me in this direction. Among my favourite Aussie movies not mentioned yet are Ghosts... of the Civil Dead, Romper Stomper, Road Games and Bad Boy Bubby. In fact, here's a list: www.tabula-rasa.info/AusHorror/AustralianHorrorFilms.html
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PM
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 04:31 pm:   

Erskineville Kings is available as a region 4 PAL dvd at:

http://www.homesick.com.au/shopping/shopexd.asp?id=187

and other Aussie retailers...
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 04:35 pm:   

Hi, David. I was mostly interested in films which were made during the past ten years, but I'm thankful for your list which includes a few I hadn't known of made prior to 95, 96. I'm particularly interested in the Proyas and de Heer's Incident at Raven's Gate. I'm going straightaway to search for them. Thanks.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 05:06 pm:   

Thanks PM

Apparently Alex Proyas Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds and de Heers Incident at Ravens Gate are really hard to find, even for Australians. While searching for the Proyas, I found a site where one guy had found a rental copy in Brisbane after much searching...
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David Carroll
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 05:32 pm:   

Yeah, they're both very difficult. I own a videotaped copy of the Proyas, but not an original. I don't think I have a copy of Incident at Raven's Gate (am at work at the moment). One film that isn't listed is Wake in Fright/Outback, just because I've never managed to find it (not that I can claim I've seen everything that is available).

We seem to have left Harlequin off the Recommended list, though that's also old (1980). beDevil is a fascinating one, being an Aboriginal film about 'white fella' ghosts, but once again, extremely scarce.

Then there are the movies that have never been released in Australia, but turned up on US video, like Dark Age.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 05:46 pm:   

I have Dark Age, an early John Jarratt movie. Found Raven's Gate on Ebay. Still looking for Spirits. May be impossible. Thanks again,
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 06:16 pm:   

A lot of rock and roll is pose, we all know that, but some rock is all pose. I just watched Burst City, which is a sorta scifi film that purportedly influenced Miike and several other newish directors, and supposedly effects a document reflecting the state of Japanese punk in 1980.
Not only does it suck as a movie, which I expected, but my impression is that Japanese punk also sucked, that the movement was even more shuck than it was in this country, which is fairly believable since whenever I tried to talk to Japanese about rock they seemed to feel it was something akin to bushido, a comparison I would not make....I don't know. Attitudes toward music haven't prevented them from doing some great psych folk and metal. Anyway, I'm confused by this movie, but not ABOUT this movie -- keep clear of this rancid slice of crap pie.
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PM
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 06:17 pm:   

Warning: Use this information at your own risk.

Like a good dog, I just dig it up...

Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds at:

http://www.superhappyfun.com/

Probably other stuff too...
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 06:32 pm:   

All I get is a blank page. Let me try my laptop.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 06:35 pm:   

Blank page. What's it say to you?
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PM
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 06:58 pm:   

LS, you need some tech support I think. Either your security settings are too restrictive or you don't have the necessary Flash plugin installed.

Try:

http://www.superhappyfun.com/content.htm
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 07:16 pm:   

Thanks, PM. I can't figure it out. I downloaded Flash but...

My life is now complete/

This sight also has Wake in Fright, David. It's a transfer. but what the hey...
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PM
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 07:37 pm:   

Hope you can find someone (perhaps a stray cyberpunk) to assist with the tech issues. It really will improve your Internet experience...
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, June 26, 2006 - 08:02 pm:   

Yup. Maybe I can have one wired....:-)
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - 09:21 am:   

I've now seen both Ray and Walk the Line. I remember John Stewart's joke from the Oscars, that Walk the Line was just Ray with white people. While there is some truth to it (both deal a lot with the musicians overcoming drug addiction), they are different. Walk the Line was essentially a love story, detailing Cash's pursuit of June Cart, and the drugs were an obstacle to his pursuit. Ray was more about telling Ray's life story.

Besides this, I felt Walk the Line was too enamored with the musical performances. Phoenix sounded good, but we didn't need to hear him perform every song in its entirety. Ray's use of parts of songs worked better. The full songs made it feel like they were padding Walk the Line.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - 09:31 am:   

I didn't care about either one. RC was, according to friends of mine who had dealings with him, a miserable excuse for a human being, and the movie seems more than a bit of a whitewash. But I agree about the partial songs....
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - 10:04 am:   

Has there been a biopic that didn't whitewash? I'd like to see one that shows someone in their full unpleasantness.

Ebert wasn't fond of Superman. He's usually more forgiving of movies than I am, so I'm not sure if I'll bother with it. Pirates does have some appeal for me. I fully expect the story to suck, but I'll watch it for Depp.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - 10:41 am:   

Hitler biographies, for several. ;)

Citizen Kane, as a portrait of Hearst, was pretty good. There are probably others,
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - 12:12 pm:   

For better or worse, you couldn't say that RAGING BULL was a whitewash. Or POLLOCK.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - 12:20 pm:   

True...Or Modigliani. :-)

Rasputin.
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - 01:06 pm:   

Speaking of arts, just caught a showing of Rebecca Dreyfus' STOLEN, about the 1991 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum robbery, the biggest art heist in the US to date.

I could pick nits with the doc, but it's such a fascinating and important subject, and so neglected by the mainstream media, that any coverage it gets should be applauded.

Dreyfus does an interesting job of suggesting the type of bizarre network of fakes, crooks, terrorists, blowhards, eccentrics and general flakes that comprise the underground railroad for stolen art, but isn't allowed much of an inside glimpse. These art detectives certainly have to wade through a torrent of b***sh** to find the truth.

It would have been an A documentary if she had taken a little time to sketch out the big picture of art theft, and given us a little more background on factoids she just drops, like, say, the thefts from the Beit Collection at Russborough House in Ireland.

Hope they get those paintings back.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - 06:06 am:   

Watched La Ceremonie, Claude Chabrol's terrific Hitchcockian film starring Sandrine Bonnaire and Isabelle Huppert as, respectively, a dyslexic maid and a postmistress in a remote French village whose relationship leads to violence. It's a marvelous example pf how character can be revealed by an intelligent script in such a deft manner as to be gripping and suspenseful,
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - 06:32 am:   

I saw that in the theater here in DC. That was kind of a great flick, especially the ending, which was really harrowing.

Forgot to mention, after 25 years, I finally saw THE GREAT ROCK AND ROLL SWINDLE. Kind of amateurish and slapdash, but boy, what a fun romp. I laughed like hell. A really fitting epitaph for punk rock.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - 08:03 am:   

I think Burst City was an epitaph for Punk. Yeah, Rock and Roll Swindle was funny.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - 08:54 am:   

Steve Jones and Paul Cook skinny dipping in Rio with Ronnie Biggs. Priceless.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - 09:27 am:   

Yup.

Did I mention Burst City? I actually saw a couple of other movies recently, one of them Heirloon, which a lot of people liked and I couldn't fininsh. Maybe J-horror is losing its mojo on me.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - 08:21 pm:   

Well, I just got through watching A Scanner Darkly. It's sort of a geek item, this film. If you're a stone (i mean, stoned) Dick fan, you're probably going to love it; if you're not, your reactions are going to have a wider range, but chances are you'll find it annoying. I like Dick okay, but I'm not a zealot and for me much of the movie was like times I recall walking in on friends who had put away a considerable dose of some psychotropic drug and were giggling, knocking themselves out with the profound shit they were saying, at least they thought it was profound--being that I was in a totally different place, I thought what they were saying was at best sophomoric, occasionally funny, and frequently callow and self-absorbed. Now if these friends were played by Robert Downey Jr and Woody Harrelson, as in a Scanner Darkly they are, probably the most noted druggie actors of their generation, I would have really been annoyed, because when playing to type, those two really overdo it. They have some good moments, but mostly it's as I said. This movie is rotoscoped, drawing done over film, and though you may not think that drawings can overact, in this case they do. You see the thing is, Dick was a funny guy--he wrote funny and A Scanner Darkly is maybe his funniest book. But he was just screwing around with the existential stuff, I think, just riffing, and one problem with the movie, I'm not sure the director, Richard Linklater, recognized that, or rather he had an imperfect understanding of it. I don't know. He gets some things right, the paranoia, for instance, but he's too faithful to the book--some books are better read than seen, and A Scannner Darkly is one such. Keanu Reeves (Bob Arctor) mumbles a lot and is reticent, a relief after Downey and Harrelson, and Wynona Rider is in the movie as sort of a love interest. Then there's Freck who's played by Rory Cochrane, who played a similar role in Dazed and Confused, who talks even goofier than Harrellson and Downey. That's what the movie is. People sitting around, acting stoned and talking. That's about it. There have been movies contrived from less, but Linklater didn't make them. There too much regard for the Work here, too much geekish devotion. There is some cool visual stuff, but a lot of the time the characters looked carved out of wood, Overall, visually, it's not great. Maybe if Linklater had co-directed and there had been some guy there to keep him straight on matters of pacing and so forth....I don't know. For me, after I watched it, besides being annoyed, I felt sad, like I just got through watching somebody someone trace over a work of art...
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 06:25 am:   

I always thought Time Out of Joint would be an amazing film.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 06:55 am:   

Depends on who makes it..
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 07:17 am:   

Cronenberg.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 07:34 am:   

Cronenberg now, or Cronenberg circa 1990? Actually, the latter might be good for a Scanner Darkly. He wouldn't have overintellectualized it, would have given it texture and pacing....

I can think of a number of people who I'd like to see try a Dick thing. But the chances are, none will ever get the chance to do them.
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 08:00 am:   

I think he would be good for TOOJ, because he has shown a recent knack for depicting the bizarro undercurrents that inform "normal" smalltown life. A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE is a good example. Since Dick's novel involves an artificial veneer of hypernormality stretched over an oddball future world, I think DC could handle the transition without awkwardness. I actually think today's DC would do a better job.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 08:15 am:   

I thought HOV was pedestrian work. Off that, I can't think of anything I'd like to see him make. The best Dick movie I've seen is Barjo, Confessions of a Crap Eater, which was a French movie. I don't expect to see anything better. The thing about Dick, Hollywood always spoiled his work by throwing in action movie tropes, but after seeing Scannner, I realized that Hollywood may have had the right idea, they just executed it clumsily and placed the emphasis on action instead of using it to carry along the ideas and etc of the novel. Scanner has some good moments. Even Downey and Harrelson have good bits, like one where they talk about a bicycle pedal, but the overall effect is of being trapped in a room with a couple of self-absorbed speed freaks.
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 10:32 am:   

Yeah, HOV was just OK, but I think DC would do better with better source material (cf NAKED LUNCH).

The problem is that Dick is just too cerebral to translate well onto the screen. BLADE RUNNER is one of my favorite movies, but they definitely sacrificed a lot (for example, all Dick's religious subtext) in favor of shoot-em-up stuff.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 10:46 am:   

Yeah, there's a balance that could be struck.. Movies aren't novels. I agree about him not translating well. As far as DC goes, there's a reason, I think, why he's not choosing challenging material -- that's why I suggested the 90s DC.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 10:54 am:   

His next two pictures are a satire about Hollywood excess and then another thriller with Viggo and Naomi Watts. Not very Cronenbergesque, if you ask me.
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 11:36 am:   

VIDEODROME seems like a long time ago, to be sure. They don't make 'em like that anymore.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 11:44 am:   

Naked lunch and dead ringers were a while ago, too. It's been a while since cberg was cberg...
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jk
Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 06:08 pm:   

Barjo looks cool. I'll have to check that out, I thought the book was pretty funny. Doesn't look like it's on dvd though, at least region 1.

Speaking of French films, have you seen Serie Noire yet Lucius? That's another one that might be good, but not out on a region 1 disc.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 06:24 pm:   

No, I havent seen Serie Noir. My French translator volunteered to send me a copy, but I'm saving that favor for something I really need to see.

In case you're lurking, Jean Daniel. ;)
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2006 - 06:30 pm:   

I saw Barjo on VHS. It might still be available.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 07:34 am:   

Recently saw a couple films discussed here in the past: The Descent and The Proposition.

I found The Descent to be a pretty humorless, straightforward horror film with thinly sketched characters and a few suspenseful setpieces. Overall, quite average.

But I loved the blend of brutality and beauty in The Proposition, which is filled with memorable characters and great movie faces (particularly John Hurt's eccentric bounty hunter). The only downfall: Emily Watson seems to dial this one in. Overall, near great.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 08:07 am:   

Have to disagree. With the recession of time, the Proposition has come to seem rather pedestrian. Emily didn't have a whole lot to do and neither did Winstone, for that matter. I didn't really see much beauty in the film, unless you're speaking of the way they shot the Outback....the whole interaction of the characters seemed pretty straightforward brutal. The bounty hunter character is squeezed out of the spaghetti western mode and wasn't really effective for me. The part of the film that remains interesting is Winstone's relationships with Watson and, especially, with the prosecutor/mayor character, the forced flogging, etc -- I wish now they'd made more of it.

The Descent, albeit formulaic, as noted, struck me as not a better movie than the Proposition, but satisfied its formula more fully to my mind and had enough tweaks to count as original. But then again, caves freak me out, so maybe that's what's going on....I liked it. The guy tried to make a scary movie, not an art flick, and I thought he succeeded. But hey, differences of opinion are what make it interesting.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 09:03 am:   

Maybe in 6 months time I'll feel differently about both of these.

Regarding the Descent, I thought the director underlit the cave scenes to compensate for lack of budget, which led to my indifferance towards the characters. Who just got killed by the albino creature? Maybe this'll be rectified when seen on U.S big-screens later this summer.

The beauty in the Proposition, for me, comes from the sadness that I perceive in all of the characters, which stems from their futile desire to protect their respective families. So I see beauty when Guy Pierce takes the moral high-ground at the movie's end, yet still sits with his brother until his death. Cliched? Sure. But, for me, effective and affective filmmaking.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 09:12 am:   

Yeah, that was sorta nice -- I wish in the end that they had gotten a __little__ more into the political ramifications of the situation.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 10:18 am:   

Fuck! I just read on Hollywood-Elsewhere that Fabiane Bielinsky, the Argentinian director of Nine Queens and El Aura, died today in Sao Paolo while working on a TV commercial. Those are all the details I've heard so far. He was 47. Damn.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 10:33 am:   

Asi es la vida...
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PM
Posted on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 04:43 pm:   

Gomer or Goober?

Mayberry is the place for me :-(
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 05:23 pm:   

Well, that movie's probably coming soon....
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PM
Posted on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 05:47 pm:   

Perhaps we could get a prayerstyle to handle the Hollywood movie and remake menace...

(Could there be a review in that?)
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 05:57 pm:   

I don't think so--nothing will stop it.
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PM
Posted on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 06:17 pm:   

Unfortunately I have to agree with you.

All we have left are our fangs which have been worn by wear...

and on a brighter note watched the third of the Samurai Trilogy. The opening shot at the waterfalls is breathtaking. Reminds me of the scene in Kurosawa's Dreams where the young boy goes out into the forest for his encounter. Staggering.
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Nathan Ballingrud
Posted on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 09:07 pm:   

I had a big problem with The Proposition, but I'm willing to accept the possibility that I missed something. I just couldn't see that anything was happening with Guy Pearce's character when he rejoined his brother. I got the impression what I was SUPPOSED to think something was happening, something very sad and beautiful and Nick Cave-y, but there was nothing in the film to support this. Apparently Pearce's character was conflicted about what he should do (golly, should I shoot my brother or not?), but since nothing was said by anybody outside of the elder brother's hollow pontifications, and Nick Cave's loopy song lyrics (which are meant to sound deep but really mean FUCK-ALL), I was never sure. What was Pearce's role in the massacre which got them into trouble in the first place? The third brother (the one in prison) seemed confused about why they were in trouble, so ... were they there at all? I mean, what the hell was going on? I liked the storyline involving Winstone and Watson, but Pearce's storyline seemed pointless and affected. Am I wrong?
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 09:34 pm:   

I was more interested in Winstone and Watson, too. The brothers, to me, were confusing, They wrote Pierce and younger brother as if they were, respectively, a moral guy and a retard, and thus not responsible, trapped by circumstance. It was weak, a flaw. I still liked the movie okay but the interesting thing was Watson, Winstone, and the politics of the situation. The movie needed to explore that.
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jk
Posted on Saturday, July 01, 2006 - 01:34 am:   

Lucius have you seen Death and The Compass? Alex Cox(Repo Man) film based on a Borges story. Sounds cool, but seems to have gotten bad reviews.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 01, 2006 - 03:07 am:   

No. I never saw it. Heard about it, of course. Heard it wasn't that good. A lot of Cox stuff sounds way cooler than it is. Last movie I liked by him was the movie he filmed in Spanish, Highway Patrolman.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Saturday, July 01, 2006 - 06:05 am:   

I wasn't fond of Death and the Compass either. Lucius is right, his stuff always sounds interesting, but the execution is lacking.
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Nathan Ballingrud
Posted on Monday, July 03, 2006 - 04:00 pm:   

My copy of COOKERS just arrived in the mail. I'll probably watch it tonight...
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, July 03, 2006 - 04:17 pm:   

Hey, Nathan. Nice story for Datlow.
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Nathan Ballingrud
Posted on Monday, July 03, 2006 - 07:12 pm:   

You read it already? Thanks!
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, July 03, 2006 - 08:08 pm:   

Just watched Alex Proyas' first film, Spirits of the Clouds, Goblins of the Clouds. It's pretty good. Sort of a post-apocalyptic Spaghetti western with a faux-Morricone score. A man walks out of the desert and collapses at the solitary home of a wheelchair-bound man and his eccentric sister. Their father was a preacher of sorts and so the ramshackle house and surrounding desert is festooned with thousands of crosses. The crippled man has designed a footpropelled flying machine and he talks the man, who is being pursued for some indefinite crime or breach of regulation, into staying and building it--it's the only way to get across the mountains. The sister tells him the crippled man's mad and has done this before, always killing his pilots when they crashed. But then she thinks the interloper is a demon. Together they build the machine, while the sister plays weird Morrocone violin. Eventually the thing is built, and the sister refuses to leave with her brother and the man...That's basically the plot. The transfer isn't great but it's watchable and I'm glad I sprung for it.

It's weird what's happened to Proyas. After I Robot he's been shunned. Now he's been hired to direct Knowing, the ex-Richard Kelly project which was dumped by the studio for insisting on a script that was too complex for the average cinema goer (and who's fault is that), so Proyas became attached and now the studio has backed out and the production company is financing the flick....

Anyway, there you have it....
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, July 03, 2006 - 08:10 pm:   

Yup. Ellen shot me a copy....

Thank you
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ben peek
Posted on Monday, July 03, 2006 - 09:30 pm:   

how come he's been shunned after I ROBOT? i thought that was a reasonable success? the movie was a nice example of in product advertisement, too.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, July 03, 2006 - 10:02 pm:   

Excellent product placement.

It didn't do __that__ well. He hasn't been offfered another studio pic, and it'll be four years between pictures. That's shunning in my book. Why? I can only conjecture -- he was handed a big property and it underperformed, or else it pissed someone off.
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ben peek
Posted on Monday, July 03, 2006 - 10:14 pm:   

shame, really. i always liked THE CROW, and while none of his films have been great, there's always been something enjoyable to them.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, July 03, 2006 - 10:25 pm:   

Except for I Robot, you mean? Right? There was fuck all enjoyable about that. Let's see what he does with Knowing. It's got a good idea. A time capsule buried back in the 50s is found to contain drawings by grade schoolers that predict over forty disasters, all but one of which--the biggest--have already happened.
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ben peek
Posted on Monday, July 03, 2006 - 10:37 pm:   

actually, i liked how he worked in the car accident and robot. the movie was pretty shithouse, and those product placements pissed me off no end, but the little backflash bit where he loses his arm was okay. not, y'know, that i need to ever watch it again.

it's not a bad idea for the knowing, i agree. heopfully the big disaster won't involve a pair of converse sneakers...
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, July 03, 2006 - 10:46 pm:   

I thought it reeked, but then it was a Will Smith movie...

Knowing could be great. Pity they won't be using Kelly's script, though...
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Nathan Ballingrud
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 06:59 am:   

Richard Kelly, of DONNIE DARKO fame.
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ben peek
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 07:26 am:   

DARK CITY was okay. kinda falls apart at the end, but the set up is pretty nice, i thought. proyas also did a film called GARAGE DAYS, which was about a band, though i never saw it. it was reported to not be very good, but it came and went pretty quickly i never got the chance to tell.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 07:30 am:   

Yeah, I looked at that online--didn't seem good.

Donnie Darko's the best American scifi movie of the past two decades.
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jk
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 11:35 am:   

Lucius, have you seen Jodorowsky's Tusk? I found it at a bootleg dvdr site. Www.revengeismydestiny.com
I have a version of El Topo I bought off ebay from them. It's a good copy. I'm kind of wary of buying stuff that way though, because you never know how good the copy might be. On the other hand, I have a feeling lots of this stuff will never see the light of day as legit releases, or only PAL region 2 releases. They have a ton of Mondo Macabro stuff that isn't on Mondo's website, as well as Mystics in Bali, and all kinds of other weird international releases too.
Of course I'd prefer to buy a legit release and would do so if it was available.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 12:05 pm:   

No, I haven't. I don't like buying that way either, but sometimes it's necessary.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 06:21 pm:   

DONNIE DARKO's the best American sf movie of the last twenty years? I just don't get it. I thought the film was okay but nothing great. I know the years 1986-2006 aren't going to go down in history as a tremendously creative period in American science fiction moviemaking, but still . . .

Personally, I'd rate ROBOCOP, ETERNAL SUNSHINE, and BEING JOHN MALKOVICH ahead of it and that's without looking up any lists of other movies from the same period. (Does ETERNAL SUNSHINE count as American? I'd think so, even with a French director.)

What I really don't get is why DONNIE DARKO's reputation seems to grow so much. I remember your initial review, Lucius, and you thought it was pretty good. I saw the movie after reading your review and thought, eh, it's okay. But people seem to glom onto the movie like it's some personal epiphany or something else that I just didn't feel watching it. Is the movie a film equivalent of that Talking Heads song that people often said made them reconsider their lives, the one that goes "You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife"?
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 09:01 pm:   

I just liked Darko more than the movies you cite, Gordon.
I'm not that complicated so as to need an epiphany in order to like a film. I enjoyed Robocop and Starship Troopers, but found them broad, rather heavy-handed satires. The one scene I retain a complete memory of from Robocop is the ED robot gunning down the corporate type. Characters weren't important. Robots were. The two films were basically crude put-downs of America (deserved, no doubt), and I didn't think they achieved much beyond that. Malkovich, I enjoyed quite a bit. It, too, is a satire. I have some difficulty in considering it science fiction, because the central device strikes me as absurdist, not science fictional. The characters' emotions are not at issue. This is a movie about __something__ not somebody, not even John Malkovich. The uglying up of Diaz and Cuzak is a constant reminder that there are actors beneath those fright wigs -- in effect, it's a post-modern device that is a modern analogue to "Dear Reader..." In spite of my admiration for its cleverness, it remains merely clever. Eternal Sunshine, I liked somewhat less. While Winslet and Carey are real people, they are handled satirically by Kaufman's script, the way a novel about yuppies, by a yuppy, deals, say, with pain, adding a dash of cleverness, of absurdity, to alleviate the burn, to distance the viewer, to allow him or her to view the characters' self-absorbtion in terms of their own, and I'm sure this pleases the people it's designed to attract, but I am not one of them. Though again, I appreciate Kaufman's cleverness.

While it also has elements of satire (the wingnut teacher and her Swayze, for example), Donnie Darko is not a satire. It's a story about a kid named Darko and what happens to him and his family over the course of a couple of months. The love story, the family and friends, are handled with relative naturalism. It's a sentimental movie whose sentiment succeeds in the eyes of many people without being maudlin or overstated. For all its flaws, it engages the audience's emotions directly and does so while managing to be clever (not so clever, perhaps, as Kaufman) and funny. I think that's why people have more affection for it than they do for films like Malkovich and Robocop. It stays with them because its invention seems more human than that of the movies you list, because Donnie as a character is more endearing than John Cuzak in a wig or Peter Weller in a steel suit.

"But people seem to glom onto the movie like it's some personal epiphany or something else that I just didn't feel like watching it..."

Considering how other people feel about a move doesn't seem a good critical criteria for judging a film, but be that as it may, I think if people glom onto the movie for personal epiphany, that hides or is a feeble rationalization for a deeper reason.

As to my opinion of the movie, it really hasn't changed. When I made the comment, best American sci-fi film in 20 years, like you I wasn't consulting a list, and it may not be true, there may be some movie I've forgotten--but off the top of my head, which isn't a bad way to judge these matters, it is IMO the best of the last twenty years, at least it has to be ranked among the best. It has hooks that the films you mention don't have, yet it is clever and, though something of a period piece, quite modern. I've only seen the movie twice (that's more repetitions than I wanted to give Malkovich or Sunshine or Robocop) and I remember it vividly. (I have watched Starship Troopers several times, partly by accident and partly due to something of a Doogie Houser Nazi jones.) The movie, for me, was all about Donnie, and If Donnie Darko's reputation has grown, I think it's because people simply like the movie, they regard it with an affection they don't feel toward Sunshine, Malkovich, et al.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 09:30 pm:   

Lucius, you've probably nailed it with the satire/naturalism angle. Or at least you've given me some insight into why DONNIE DARKO works better for other people than it does for me.

Just to be clear, I wasn't trying to judge DARKO by other people's responses to it so much as I was tryng to figure out what's there that I'm missing.

I skipped STARSHIP TROOPERS, by the way, so my appreciation of ROBOCOP is not affected by Verhoeven's later SF film. (Oh, I guess there's also TOTAL RECALL.)

And yeah, we can argue as to whether BEING JOHN MALKOVICH is SF or not, but let's not go down that road.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 09:47 pm:   

Oh, come on, Gordon...let's do. ;--)

So what you're saying is, you don't like naturalism in movies? Does that extend to literature? About the only area I prefer satire to naturalism is...well, there aren't any.

I forgot Total Recall...Gak. I actually like Starship Troopers. It's hilarious. But I don't need to see it again.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 05:58 am:   

I like naturalism in movies just fine. In general, though, I don't like it in science fiction movies. I thought it worked in THE QUIET EARTH, but in general, I think using it in sf films is like going big-game hunting armed with a mop and a broom. Wrong tools for the job.

But if you'll agree that, say, John Ford films are rife with naturalism, then I like naturalism in movies just fine.

Ditto Steinbeck. If you agree that Steinbeck's writing is naturalistic in general, then I'm just fine with naturalism in literature.

In fact, would you say that naturalism and noir go hand-in-hand? Or am I distorting your definition of it? There's a great definition that distinguishes hardboiled from noir---hardboiled is about an outsider descending into hell while noir is the view from hell's denizens. If you buy that and you'll agree that, say, David Goodis's novels are naturalistic in their portraits of losers and in the depiction of the Philadelphia area, then I'm completely down with naturalism in literature.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 06:19 am:   

Garage Days was OK. If you happen to catch it on TV, it's not bad, but I don't think it's worth looking for. There are other rock band movies that are more worth seeing. Still Crazy, The Commitments, Almost Famous, Airheads.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 07:43 am:   

I don't have a hard-and-fast definition of what is naturalism and what is not. Denis Johnson is, to me, a naturalist, as is Ray Carver, Russ Banks, Jim Tompson, et al. I do have a low tolerance for satire in movies and literature. Except for Sheckly, who was hilarious, I can't think of a satirist in SF i enjoy. As much I found Malkovich and some of Verhoeven funny, I've no desire to spin them again. Naturalism in science fiction? I don't have a problem with it. in fact, I'd like to see more. If, for instance, Tiptree's Quintana Roo stories were movies, or Zenna Henderson's stories (i think there was a TV movie), or a number of other writers' stories, naturalism would be the way to go, For me, the most convincing scifi stories are those that arise from realistic situations, like, say, Nancy Kress All Them Bright Stars and so forth. As far as I'm concerned, that's far from going big game hunting with a broom -- that's like using a blind to catch the big cats. ;)

I'm okay with saying noir is naturalistic. I'm okay with lots of things being called naturalistic. Haven't read Goodis, so can't comment, but I like losers.

Let me think about this some more. I'll get back to you.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 08:53 am:   

Lucius, point taken about wanting to see more of it in movies. But I doubt we will. Science fiction and spectacle are synonymous in Hollywood.

You've probably seen some Goodis film adaptations:

DARK PASSAGE (with Bogart and Bacall)
THE BURGLAR (with Jayne Mansfield and Dan Duryea---I've never seen this one)
SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER (Truffaut)
AND HOPE TO DIE (one of Robert Ryan's last movies)
MOON IN THE GUTTER (Depardieu, Natassja Kinski, and more pretentiousness than most humans can bear)
STREET OF NO RETURN (directed by Sam Fuller)

I can name another satirist you enjoy (at least, I think you've said you like his stuff): Brad Denton. But it might not be the satire in his books that you like. He's amazing at balancing naturalism and satire.

Gardner Dozois has a low tolerance for satire in SF also.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 09:12 am:   

I don't know, Gordon. Indie film, such as it is, gives us stuff like...what was that movie with Donofrio and Tomei (Kathy reviewed it), as well Pi and etc. My story, A Traveler's Tale, is currently in the latter stages of development by a production company with a studio deal...There are some outlets for it. Then there's TV. It's possible we'll see more.

Thanks for the Goodis info. I have seen a couple.

Oh, yeah. Denton. Forgot him.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 09:27 am:   

Yeah, I know the movie you mean. I want to call it CROSSING DELANCEY but I know that's not the title. It's a Brad Anderson movie---HAPPY ACCIDENTS, that's it.

Wasn't PI the one you said that if they'd had a big budget, it would have been a Hollywood thriller?
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 09:43 am:   

Yeah, that's it. ACCIDENTS.

I did say that about PI, but Hollywood would have made it more a corporate struggle, enlarged the scope, thrown in chase scenes, etc, and would have lost the personal story. Aaronovsky has another small budget (it had a big budget, but got clipped back) scifi film coming, supposedly this year -- The Fountain.

There won't ever be a lot of it, but there'll be some, I think.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 10:21 am:   

If there are some such films, that's cool. My concern is that when Hollywood makes SF films that aren't centered on spectacle, they tend heavily towards sentiment. (I never saw K-PAX or that John Travolta film PHENOMENON, but the reviews of both led me to think they didn't skimp on the sentiment.) But of course that's true in most genres, not just science fiction.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 10:21 am:   

If there are some such films, that's cool. My concern is that when Hollywood makes SF films that aren't centered on spectacle, they tend heavily towards sentiment. (I never saw K-PAX or that John Travolta film PHENOMENON, but the reviews of both led me to think they didn't skimp on the sentiment.) But of course that's true in many genres, not just science fiction.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 10:35 am:   

You know I agree, Gordon, and KPAX and PHENOMENON were as loathesome as you would expect. I just hold out hope for the Fountain and for other semi-small projects, like Knowing and others. What I said to your reader about always thinking that the movie's going to be good until it proves me wrong is true--my cyncism is underminded by an optimistic naivetee. And I do think that we may have more small good films once the new generation gets acquainted with the new technology. I can't bear the thought that the future will be like the present, only worse, even though that's what I at heart believe.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 10:40 am:   

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