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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 02:36 pm:   

It’s kind of sad…No, it’s appalling, really, that Neil Jordan, director of THE BUTCHER BOY and MONA LISA, should have his name attached to formulaic dreck like THE BRAVE ONE, Jodie Foster’s Charles-Bronson-in-a-thong revenge fantasy. Previously, Jordan has always managed to imbue his commercial films with at least a gloss of personality, but not this time. The movie plays like bad TV with better cinematography and tries to pass itself off as an important part of the feminist dialogue, when what it sounds like is the feminist dialogue declawed, pimped up with a bit of the old ultraviolence, and wrapped in a package that should appeal to folks who buy their DVDS at Costco and their CDS at Wallmart, people who prefer their entertainment still warm from the corporate tit.

Erica Bain (Foster) is a New York radio personality with a show called Street Walk. She’s a pop intellectual, a snarky Andrea Rooney who rues the day (as she states in an early scene) when Rudy Giulani scoured mid-town clean of criminals and turned it into Disneyworld North, and believes that the city could stand a funkiness injection in order to renew its character. That this will come back to bite her in the ass is what passes for irony in Hollywood, but is for the rest of us an obvious set-up. When her fiancee David (Naveen Andrews of Lost) is killed by thugs, Erica begins talking in a terse half-whisper just like Jodie Foster in THE ACCUSED and half-a-dozen other films, buys a handgun and goes to knocking off random bad guys. Now despite this, the story might have been handled with a modicum of wit and style, but the screenplay (by two guys named Taylor and a woman appropriately named Cynthia Mort) comes to us courtesy of the Paul Haggis (CRASH, IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH, and the script for MILLION DOLLAR BABY) School of Filmmaking, whose doctrine requires that every scrap of meaning be pounded into the audience’s brain with a mallet. Trouble is, the movie can’t decide what it enjoys more--riffing on Foster’s lesbian cachet, letting her whip out her 9 mm dick and blow holes in an assortment of masculine villains, or trotting out its confused morality.

How confused is it?

After Erica initiates her Batwomanish reign of vigilante terror, she begins to allow call-ins to her radio show. The first caller praises the vigilante, the second thinks he or she should rot in prison, the third blames it all on the media…Get the picture? It’s multiple choice! They’re letting you go interactive with the movie, supplying five or six simplistic possibilities from among which you can pick.

In another scene, an older woman, Erica’s neighbor, who hails from a land plagued by blacks with guns, empathizes with the vigilante, implying that once Erica has done with Manhattan, she would do well to bring her own version of ethnic cleansing to Soweto. And for all its feminist drag, the suggestion is made that Erica’s violence is nothing more than a psychotic burp and she’ll be all better once she hooks up with a good man and put herself under his consoling influence. Perhaps this idea is presaged when doctors are shown cutting off David-and Erica’s clothes after the beating, and this is intercut with scenes of the two enjoying a sensitive fuck, while Sara McLachlan keens in the background—it has to be the most manipulative usage of sex paired with violence since Speilberg’s Munich, when he intercut a reunion coupling between Eric Bana (playing a Mossad agent) and his wife with clips from the Olympic massacre.

What can be said about a movie that’s too chickenshit to dig into its heroine’s psyche and show her enjoying her work? Just this. By contrast, DEATH WISH was a moral and intellectual triumph.

Critics and reviewers have a favorite word they like to use when discussing the films of David Cronenberg: transgressive. The meaning, as applied to art, has been defined thusly by the Atlantic Monthly:

“A genre that graphically explores such topics as incest and other aberrant sexual practices, mutilation, the sprouting of sexual organs in various places on the human body, urban violence and violence against women, drug use, and highly dysfunctional family relationships, and that is based on the premise that knowledge is to be found at the edge of experience and that the body is the site for gaining knowledge.”

That certainly describes much of Cronenberg’s work and—superficially, at least—seems to describe his latest, EASTERN PROMISES. But there is a point at which the transgressive becomes so familiar, it verges on cliché, on the exploitative. Thus I was led to speculate, while watching the movie, that he begins his story with a mid-wife, Anna (Naomi Watts), delivering the baby of a 14 year old Russian prostitute simply in order to show us, to shock us with, the barnyard aspects of a birth.

After the prostitute hemorrhages and bleeds out on the table, Anna finds a diary in her effects, and in the diary she finds a card advertising an upscale Russian restaurant belonging to Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), a charmingly sinister old school Godfather type, who runs the Vory V Zakone, a criminal mafiya. She takes a copy of the diary to Semyon, the image of European decline amid the red-and-gold faux-Empire opulence of his restaurant, and asks him to translate it, and thus becomes involved with Semyon, his weakling son Kirill (Victor Cassell), and their enigmatic chauffer, Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), a man also known as the Undertaker, a name referring to his skill in rendering bodies unidentifiable. In one scene, he hauls a body out of the freezer, softens the flesh with a blow drier, and cautions onlookers that they may want to leave the room before he starts “doing the teeth.” Unfortunately, the audience does not get that priviledge.

When I first became aware of Mortensen, first in a small part in CARLITO’S WAY and later in the effective B-picture AMERICAN YAKUZA, I had the sense that he would one day become a great actor. I don’t believe he has fulfilled that promise, but with his chiseled features and astonishing blue eyes, his air of toughness and vulnerability, he has become an iconic figure, and Cronenberg has seen fit to make use of this quality in his last two films, the other being the vastly overpraised THE HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. That said, Mortensen is the best thing in PROMISES. Of the three main Russian characters, his is the only convincing portrayal. Covered in gulag tattoos, he exudes menace yet maintains a palpable Russian soulfulness, the kind of man who one moment can make a woman feel treasured and the next can take a drugged-senseless prostitute from behind for the edification of his superiors, who wish him to prove his manhood. As Nikolai, and as the killer-in-hiding of HISTORY, it seems that Mortensen has become Cronenberg’s inspiration, much as Marlene Dietrich once inspired Eric Von Stroheim, exemplifying Cronenberg’s bleak view of humanity. Under Cronenberg’s direction, Nikolai-Mortensen is a portrait of a doomed society embodied in a single man. “I’m dead already,” he says, and you believe not only that his statement is true, but also that it applies to you.

In the film’s sure-to-be-much-talked-about set piece, Nikolai fights two Chechen assassins in a bathhouse, wearing nary a stitch of clothing. It’s a persuasive scene, emblematicizing both this moribund everyman’s vulnerability and his savagery, yet it is also exploitative, amping up the movie’s homoerotic content (Kirill is a homosexual, ridiculed by Semyon’s enemies), and concluding with the image of a knife slicing into an eyeball, a gratuitous Grand Guignol flourish. The film is rife with such flourishes, and as I left the theater I wondered what we are to make of Cronenberg, and what Cronenberg wants us to make of him. He has become the standard bearer for many twenty- and thirty-somethings’ taste in movies. And there is a case to be made. In movies like DEAD RINGERS he aspired to more than his B-picture origins evidenced, yet while his latest films are said to be transgressive, the truth is that they are charged with the most simplistic of social and psychological observations, and are simply tarted-up versions of the same old crime movie less gifted directors have been producing for decades.

In a recent interview, Cronenberg says that he has grown tired of “all that,” the “all that” referring to his genre preoccupations on view in films like VIDEODROME; but he is not done with his grindhouse influences. Without them, without the constant Grand Guignol touches, PROMISES, like HISTORY, is essentially a very traditional movie, even a sentimental movie, enlivened by Mortensen’s compelling performances, and Cronenberg, whose last science fiction film, EXISTENZ, betrayed his weariness with that genre, appears to have merely switched over to conventional thrillers. He has never been less than an intelligent director, but his intelligence seems enervated, his violent, transgressive tricks overplayed and old-fashioned. Though PROMISES is an outstanding B-picture, it fails to reach the heights of some of his past work, and certainly does not fulfill the promise of its fundamental conception, an attempt to explore more than the surface of multi-culti London. The copious amounts of blood and gross-out material detract from that purpose, and give rise to the suspicion that Cronenberg is not just tired of science fiction, but may be tired of making movies as well.


It’s kind of sad…No, it’s appalling, really, that Neil Jordan, director of THE BUTCHER BOY and MONA LISA, should have his name attached to formulaic dreck like THE BRAVE ONE, Jodie Foster’s Charles-Bronson-in-a-thong revenge fantasy. Previously, Jordan has always managed to imbue his commercial films with at least a gloss of personality, but not this time. The movie plays like bad TV with better cinematography and tries to pass itself off as an important part of the feminist dialogue, when what it sounds like is the feminist dialogue declawed, pimped up with a bit of the old ultraviolence, and wrapped in a package that should appeal to folks who buy their DVDS at Costco and their CDS at Wallmart, people who prefer their entertainment still warm from the corporate tit.

Erica Bain (Foster) is a New York radio personality with a show called Street Walk. She’s a pop intellectual, a snarky Andrea Rooney who rues the day (as she states in an early scene) when Rudy Giulani scoured mid-town clean of criminals and turned it into Disneyworld North, and believes that the city could stand a funkiness injection in order to renew its character. That this will come back to bite her in the ass is what passes for irony in Hollywood, but is for the rest of us an obvious set-up. When her fiancee David (Naveen Andrews of Lost) is killed by thugs, Erica begins talking in a terse half-whisper just like Jodie Foster in THE ACCUSED and half-a-dozen other films, buys a handgun and goes to knocking off random bad guys. Now despite this, the story might have been handled with a modicum of wit and style, but the screenplay (by two guys named Taylor and a woman appropriately named Cynthia Mort) comes to us courtesy of the Paul Haggis (CRASH, IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH, and the script for MILLION DOLLAR BABY) School of Filmmaking, whose doctrine requires that every scrap of meaning be pounded into the audience’s brain with a mallet. Trouble is, the movie can’t decide what it enjoys more--riffing on Foster’s lesbian cachet, letting her whip out her 9 mm dick and blow holes in an assortment of masculine villains, or trotting out its confused morality.

How confused is it?

After Erica initiates her Batwomanish reign of vigilante terror, she begins to allow call-ins to her radio show. The first caller praises the vigilante, the second thinks he or she should rot in prison, the third blames it all on the media…Get the picture? It’s multiple choice! They’re letting you go interactive with the movie, supplying five or six simplistic possibilities from among which you can pick.

In another scene, an older woman, Erica’s neighbor, who hails from a land plagued by blacks with guns, empathizes with the vigilante, implying that once Erica has done with Manhattan, she would do well to bring her own version of ethnic cleansing to Soweto. And for all its feminist drag, the suggestion is made that Erica’s violence is nothing more than a psychotic burp and she’ll be all better once she hooks up with a good man and put herself under his consoling influence. Perhaps this idea is presaged when doctors are shown cutting off David-and Erica’s clothes after the beating, and this is intercut with scenes of the two enjoying a sensitive fuck, while Sara McLachlan keens in the background—it has to be the most manipulative usage of sex paired with violence since Speilberg’s Munich, when he intercut a reunion coupling between Eric Bana (playing a Mossad agent) and his wife with clips from the Olympic massacre.

What can be said about a movie that’s too chickenshit to dig into its heroine’s psyche and show her enjoying her work? Just this. By contrast, DEATH WISH was a moral and intellectual triumph.

Critics and reviewers have a favorite word they like to use when discussing the films of David Cronenberg: transgressive. The meaning, as applied to art, has been defined thusly by the Atlantic Monthly:

“A genre that graphically explores such topics as incest and other aberrant sexual practices, mutilation, the sprouting of sexual organs in various places on the human body, urban violence and violence against women, drug use, and highly dysfunctional family relationships, and that is based on the premise that knowledge is to be found at the edge of experience and that the body is the site for gaining knowledge.”

That certainly describes much of Cronenberg’s work and—superficially, at least—seems to describe his latest, EASTERN PROMISES. But there is a point at which the transgressive becomes so familiar, it verges on cliché, on the exploitative. Thus I was led to speculate, while watching the movie, that he begins his story with a mid-wife, Anna (Naomi Watts), delivering the baby of a 14 year old Russian prostitute simply in order to show us, to shock us with, the barnyard aspects of a birth.

After the prostitute hemorrhages and bleeds out on the table, Anna finds a diary in her effects, and in the diary she finds a card advertising an upscale Russian restaurant belonging to Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), a charmingly sinister old school Godfather type, who runs the Vory V Zakone, a criminal mafiya. She takes a copy of the diary to Semyon, the image of European decline amid the red-and-gold faux-Empire opulence of his restaurant, and asks him to translate it, and thus becomes involved with Semyon, his weakling son Kirill (Victor Cassell), and their enigmatic chauffer, Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), a man also known as the Undertaker, a name referring to his skill in rendering bodies unidentifiable. In one scene, he hauls a body out of the freezer, softens the flesh with a blow drier, and cautions onlookers that they may want to leave the room before he starts “doing the teeth.” Unfortunately, the audience does not get that priviledge.

When I first became aware of Mortensen, first in a small part in CARLITO’S WAY and later in the effective B-picture AMERICAN YAKUZA, I had the sense that he would one day become a great actor. I don’t believe he has fulfilled that promise, but with his chiseled features and astonishing blue eyes, his air of toughness and vulnerability, he has become an iconic figure, and Cronenberg has seen fit to make use of this quality in his last two films, the other being the vastly overpraised THE HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. That said, Mortensen is the best thing in PROMISES. Of the three main Russian characters, his is the only convincing portrayal. Covered in gulag tattoos, he exudes menace yet maintains a palpable Russian soulfulness, the kind of man who one moment can make a woman feel treasured and the next can take a drugged-senseless prostitute from behind for the edification of his superiors, who wish him to prove his manhood. As Nikolai, and as the killer-in-hiding of HISTORY, it seems that Mortensen has become Cronenberg’s inspiration, much as Marlene Dietrich once inspired Eric Von Stroheim, exemplifying Cronenberg’s bleak view of humanity. Under Cronenberg’s direction, Nikolai-Mortensen is a portrait of a doomed society embodied in a single man. “I’m dead already,” he says, and you believe not only that his statement is true, but also that it applies to you.

In the film’s sure-to-be-much-talked-about set piece, Nikolai fights two Chechen assassins in a bathhouse, wearing nary a stitch of clothing. It’s a persuasive scene, emblematicizing both this moribund everyman’s vulnerability and his savagery, yet it is also exploitative, amping up the movie’s homoerotic content (Kirill is a homosexual, ridiculed by Semyon’s enemies), and concluding with the image of a knife slicing into an eyeball, a gratuitous Grand Guignol flourish. The film is rife with such flourishes, and as I left the theater I wondered what we are to make of Cronenberg, and what Cronenberg wants us to make of him. He has become the standard bearer for many twenty- and thirty-somethings’ taste in movies. And there is a case to be made. In movies like DEAD RINGERS he aspired to more than his B-picture origins evidenced, yet while his latest films are said to be transgressive, the truth is that they are charged with the most simplistic of social and psychological observations, and are simply tarted-up versions of the same old crime movie less gifted directors have been producing for decades.

In a recent interview, Cronenberg says that he has grown tired of “all that,” the “all that” referring to his genre preoccupations on view in films like VIDEODROME; but he is not done with his grindhouse influences. Without them, without the constant Grand Guignol touches, PROMISES, like HISTORY, is essentially a very traditional movie, even a sentimental movie, enlivened by Mortensen’s compelling performances, and Cronenberg, whose last science fiction film, EXISTENZ, betrayed his weariness with that genre, appears to have merely switched over to conventional thrillers. He has never been less than an intelligent director, but his intelligence seems enervated, his violent, transgressive tricks overplayed and old-fashioned. Though PROMISES is an outstanding B-picture, it fails to reach the heights of some of his past work, and certainly does not fulfill the promise of its fundamental conception, an attempt to explore more than the surface of multi-culti London. The copious amounts of blood and gross-out material detract from that purpose, and give rise to the suspicion that Cronenberg is not just tired of science fiction, but may be tired of making movies as well.
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PM
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 04:00 pm:   

I'm wondering if Jodi Foster is going to add to our slang as in, "I'm gonna go all Jodi Foster on ya" or some such rot.

C'Berg and Mel Gibson need to get together and work their violent magic...
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Carole Hall
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 04:09 pm:   

Cronenberg is a genius. He's put Aragorn, with tattooes, fighting in the nude. How great is that?
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 04:13 pm:   

Well, if that does it for you... ;)


PM, I doubt that this will be that big a movie.
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PM
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 04:17 pm:   

Are you saying that it (the Foster flick) isn't going to be as transformative as say Fight Club?
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 04:35 pm:   

No, it's a female Death Wish. It's a bad movie.
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PM
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 04:41 pm:   

Well I can't believe I posted that with a straight face.

One wonders what will happen if there's an outbreak of female vigilantism.
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Michele
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 06:18 pm:   

"One wonders what will happen if there's an outbreak of female vigilantism." Puh-leeez...

Another fascinating and insightful review. Thanks!
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 06:25 pm:   

Thanks for reading.

I think, I hope, PM meant that tongue-in-cheek.
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PM
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 06:32 pm:   

Yeah, in a way it's meant cheekily.

But I could easily envision a certain segment of folk rallying around this film. It would become their "Fight Club".

Additionally, I could also see one or more disturbed individuals using this film as an excuse for bad behavior. And then the handwringing.

And I could also easily imagine tv coverage about real life female vigilantes to tie in with the film.

Of course it would be fine with me if none of this were to take place.
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Michele
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 06:36 pm:   

Hmmm. I think you just dug yourself in deeper.

Watch out or I'm gonna go all Jodi Foster on ya. ;)
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 06:41 pm:   

Have their been female vigilantes. Notorious ones, I mean, and not like, you know, my old girl friends. :-)

The movie is getting around a 42 percent favorable rating on rotten tomatoes--it's not going to be another fight club.
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PM
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 06:42 pm:   

Just as long as you don't spit on my grave. I couldn't handle that.

I'm reading this interview over at salon.com with C'Berg...
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 07:12 pm:   

That would be ungentlemanly, now wouldn't it. :-)
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Michele
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 07:26 pm:   

And definitely unladylike. Besides, Jodi would never spit. Hiss, maybe.
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PM
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 07:28 pm:   

Actually, I think Jodi could probably stare someone to death.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 07:34 pm:   

Actually, I think Jodie could hiss/stage whisper someone to death. When she went, "i want my dog back!" I would have laughed out loud except I was so scared...
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Michele
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 07:41 pm:   

Okay. Now you're just making me want to go see it - that and the nekkid tattoo fighting Aragorn.
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PM
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 07:43 pm:   

I bet a certain Vick is runnin' scared...
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jk
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 08:00 pm:   

The name Paul Haggis on the screenplay tells me to steer well clear of it.
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PM
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 08:12 pm:   

I see there's a new Haggis on the immediate horizon dealing with the Iraq war.

I think what movie reviewing needs is more on-air puking.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 08:18 pm:   

Well, Eastern Promises isn't terrible, and Viggo gets naked a lot, but no shit, don't go to the Brave One.

Yeah. Haggis is pretty much the death knell.

The Haggis film is In the Valley of Elah and, yes, I've seen it and it blows chunks.
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jk
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007 - 09:05 pm:   

Haggis is the king of the melodramatic shitstorm.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, September 15, 2007 - 09:09 pm:   

ick Klaw, author of Geek Cofidential, will be blogging about the upcoming Austin Fantastic Fest 3, a film festival specializing in genre film running from Sept 20-27. You can check it out at:

http://www.revolutionsf.com/bb/weblog.php?w=16

It sounds like a great line-up, but the one that really atttracts me is OFFSCREEN, a Danish film. Here's a description:

Nicolas Bro reigns supreme in the role of Nicolas Bro – a man intent on making a film about himself. His friend Christoffer Boe lends him a camera and tells him to record everything, a remark which Bro takes a little too literally. His constant filming succeeds in driving both his wife Lene and his friends nuts, and when Lene finally calls it a day and moves to Berlin, Nicolas – driven by the thought of getting her back and filming the entire process – begins his inevitable descent into disintegration. His self-monitoring is so hair-raisingly private (and creepy) that it becomes impossible to separate fact from fiction.

Bro won the Danish Film Critics award for Best Actor, and the picture won a prize at the prestigious Venice Film Festival.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 04:49 am:   

Southland Tales .is Richard Kelly's ultra-ambitious follow-up to DONNIE DARKO. The film premiered at Cannes in an 160 minute version with the special effects unfinished, and was generally savaged by critics. Those few who enjoyed it related it to Lynch's ouvre, whatever one is to make of that. Even the majority of French critics, who generally like anything that paints the US in a bad light, especially if it's incomprehensible, didn't like it. "Incoherent mess" was the average comment. Kelly said his film was a puzzle and needed to be watched at least twice...to which one reviewer responded, "I don't want to watch your shitty picture twice." Humbled by almost unanimous distaste for his baby, Kelly cut about a half hour from the two and a half hour film and made a deal with Sony to fund the special effects. Here's some of what you'lll see:

The movie opens with nuclear terrorist attacks in Texas over the 2005 Fourth of July holiday. During the film's three sections, labeled IV and V and VI respectively (more about this later), we discover that the US has placed all law enforcement activity under the control of the federal government. An agency (US Ident) performs random surveillance of the citizenry and cities are ruled by UPU's (Urban Pacification Units).

A mad German scientist (Wallace Shawn) and his nutso cohorts (John Larroquette, Bai Ling and Zelda Rubinstein) have created an alternative fuel source ("fluid karma" ) that is produced by a huge tidal generator that they distribute to military technology by means of cellular microwaves.

An action-movie star (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is pushing a film called "The Power" that he has co-written with porno actress Krysta Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar), who wants her own reality show. Their screenplay envisions a future in which a mad scientist creates an experimental hydro-electric energy source that creates a wormhole in the space-time continuum.

Jon Lovitz shows up as a psychopathic cop who murders husband-and-wife performance-artists. I believe there are five ex-SNL performers in the cast. Nora Dunn tasers John Larroquette's genitals. It's narrated by Justin Timberlake, a mutilated Iraqi War vet, who performs a "hot" video tune entitled "All These Things That I've Done." A little baby's constipation may be saving the planet from a world-ending fart. There's a giant zeppelin on its maiden voyage. There's a group of losers in a magic ice cream truck that's fueled by the collapse of the fourth dimension and who turn out to be the last of the Democratic Party who're trying to overthrow the government.

And oh yeah. Did I mention it's a musical...about time travel and the end of days and a whole bunch of other stuff?

I'll be reviewing this one for F&SF. But what do I review? The reason the chapters are labeled 1V, V, and VI, is that chapters 1, 11, and 111 have come out in a graphic novel that will be collected in a single volume this October.
I have all three but haven't read them. I also have a copy of the film as it was shown at Cannes, but have decided to wait to watch it until I've seen the theatrical release. I'll probably wait to read the graphic novel, too, because I think I should experience the film as most people experience it.

Is it valid for a director to make a film that requires the reading of a 360 page graphic novel to be comprehended? If it doesn't require that, why write it? Pure commercialism? A parody of the Star Wars prequels? Anyway, I really liked DONNIE DARKO, but didn't see much point to the director's cut. I sure hope Kelly doesn't blow this.
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 06:02 am:   

Sounds like an excellent Sat. night to me...
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 06:36 am:   

"Is it valid for a director to make a film that requires the reading of a 360 page graphic novel to be comprehended?"

A movie should never require external material to make sense. If it relies on it, the creative team obviously did something wrong. Maybe they should be writing a novel or graphic novel series instead of making a movie.

Based on the comments so far, I'm pretty sure I won't watch it (unless Lucius gives it an amazing review).


Latest viewing: The Proposition. Better than the only other Australian western I've seen (Quigley Down Under). Bloody, violent. Strangely unsatisfying though. I can't quite put my finger on why, but it felt incomplete to me.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 06:46 am:   

Yeah, I don't think enough time was spent with the winstone and watson characters, or with the dynamic of the town--the outlaw bros were basically a cliche, and he spent too much time on them.

As far as Southland Tales, I don't think I've seen such a unanimity of revulsion from critics...but I'm holding out hope.
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 07:47 am:   

Wasn't nick cave involved in The Proposition?

If all critics everywhere hate something, I am almost certain to like it...
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Michele
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 07:53 am:   

"And oh yeah. Did I mention it's a musical..."

Not to be trite, but I really am laughing my ass off. Thanks for the morning guffaw.

I'm looking forward to the review.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 08:49 am:   

Cave wrote the script.

Glad you had a laugh, Michelle, but it's more of a tragedy for me. :-)
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 08:58 am:   

Cave wrote The Proposition. More time with the outlaws might have helped. They seemed to want the audience to identify with both Winstone and Pierce, but didn't give enough to like either.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 09:08 am:   

The outlaws just seemed cliched to me. I think more time with Emily and Ray would have helped.
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Michele
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 10:52 am:   

I don't envy you the job of reviewing this, but I do hope Kelly pulls this one off. Err...somehow.

The Brave One seems to be topping the charts!
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 11:26 am:   

The Brave one topping the charts was a given,,,it was positioned to win a week or two. That don't mean it's good.
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 12:25 pm:   

Until it gets knocked off next week by Dane Cook and Jessica Alba!
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 12:35 pm:   

Which doesn't mean that's good, either.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 01:29 pm:   

Topping the charts...it's in good company with Fantastic 4, Pirates 3, Night at the Museum, Epic Movie, Rush Hour 3, TMNT, Wild Hogs...the list of terrible number one movies goes on and on.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 02:07 pm:   

Yup. Sad.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 04:09 pm:   

When's the last time we had a good no. 1? The 80s?
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 04:31 pm:   

This year...Ratatouille was very good and it was #1 for a week.

Prior to that, The Prestige was pretty good. Fellowship of the Ring before that.
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 05:41 pm:   

I want to be very clear...I am not a Dane Cook fan!!
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 06:08 pm:   

I didn't the Rat movie, but yeah.

I don't even know who Cook is, just some lame-ass comedian, I suppose.
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jk
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 08:01 pm:   

Is Southland Tales supposed to be a comedy? Wallace Shawn? It sounds like a mess.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, September 17, 2007 - 08:15 pm:   

A satire/black comedy I think. Mess is the word oft used, but ut has been recut, so there's hope.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - 05:19 am:   

I remember when they had those lame Marvel cartoons with primitive animation in the 70s, I knew all the theme songs and would irritate my bandmates by singing them while driving from Kalamazoo to Muskegon or whatever midwestern oasis awaited us. My favorite, of course, was the Hulk. Any lyric that rhymes "gamma rays" with "unglamorous" gets my attention. And who can forget...

"When Captain America throws his mighty shield,
All those who oppose his shield must yield...."

Eat your heart out, Bob Dylan.

I even dug Submariner, the lamest song of them all. But I noticed they never did Iron Man. If did If they did, they probably would have recycled the Hulk song.

Iron man, Iron man...
Does whatever a tin can can...

I didn't mind they didn't do Iron Man. It was a pretty cruddy comic. And now comes a movie that to equal it...

http://youtube.com/watch?v=eNm85Vt5qTY

Does Robert Downey really cobble together a hi-tech supersonic zoot suit while in terrorist jail? Wasn't Iron Man impaired? A wasting disease or something? Maybe they felt Downey's substance abuse was impairment enough.

Oh, well...
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - 05:26 am:   

Sounds like you have little love for men in armor.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - 06:52 am:   

None.
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Jean-Daniel Breque
Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - 07:24 am:   

"Does whatever a tin can can..."
Mmm, it does have a French ring to it.
I beg to disagree about the "cruddy comic": loved that artwork! (Don Heck, Gene Colan, George Tuska...) Of course, I stopped reading it in the early '70s.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - 07:29 am:   

The character never involved me. The artwork seemed all right, but the storylines never interested me. I was a Doc Strange guy.
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - 07:45 am:   

I was a Scarlet Witch guy...:-)
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Nicholas Paris
Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - 08:47 am:   

Lucius: How can you forget the Iron Man segements of that cartoon? It certainly did have a theme song! I had them all memorized once upon a time also, though I admit I had to look this one up to remember the odd word here and there:

Tony Stark
Makes you feel
He's a cool exec
With a heart of steel.
As Iron Man,
All jets ablaze,
He fights and smite'n
With repulsor rays!
A blaze of power!
Iron Man!
Amazing armor!
Iron Man!

LOVED that cartoon... but can we even call it a cartoon?
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Jean-Daniel Breque
Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - 09:08 am:   

Doctor Strange? Wow. Loved the early Stan Lee/Steve Ditko stories. Then came the Roy Thomas/Gene Colan psychedelic tomes, and, to top it all (IMHO), the Steve Englehart/Frank Brunner kosmic tales (Marvel reprinted them in book form a few years ago).
You're a man of taste, my friend. By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth!
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Blue Tyson
Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - 09:34 am:   

Lucius, I still have many Colan Strange panels in my head. Speaking of retro finds too, Essential Marvel stuff has 'em, so pretty cool.

Here, we had black and white reprints of Marvel called 'Newton comics' and DC called 'Planet comics', being compendiums of stuff, and bigger and considerably cheaper, so that is how I first saw it anyway - and frankly for Colan think it is better.

Crappy old 'dot colour' comics don't look too flash, by the Ragged Rings of Raggador.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - 10:45 am:   

Nick, yeah, that was pointed out to me already. I must never have seen it or blotted it out.

JD, yep, those were great. THere was also a horrible Doc Strange movie, a made-for-tv thing, I think.

I don't know, BT, I liked the color, but never saw the B&W. I almost wrote a story about a Doc STrange panel...still may.
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PM
Posted on Sunday, September 23, 2007 - 01:55 pm:   

Watched Resident Evil Extinction. If there's an afterlife I hope I won't have to atone for it...
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Monday, September 24, 2007 - 10:05 am:   

Has there been a movie role that has killed an actor's career? In order for a career to be killed, there needs to be a career to start with. Mark Hammill never had a big career before Star Wars, so his inability to escape the role wouldn't be considered killing his career.

Some thoughts that come to mind:

* Ben Affleck in Gigli. His career is sort of dead after it, but was it the film or his off-screen relationship that killed it?

Orlando Bloom in Elizabethtown. Pirates 3 came after, but he was already signed for that. He has no upcoming films that I could find, and Elizabethtown convinced some people I know that he doesn't deserve his fame.

Can anyone think of good examples?
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, September 24, 2007 - 11:13 am:   

Julian Sands in BOXING HELENA?

Mickey Rourke in WILD ORCHID?

Tom Hulce in AMADEUS?

Cuba Gooding in JERRY MCGUIRE?
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Monday, September 24, 2007 - 01:08 pm:   

Those are good examples. I remember Cuba saying roles really dried up after Jerry McGuire.

What's strange is Jerry McGuire won him an Oscar, and Amadeus was good. It's not like they were terrible movies, yet the careers still suffered after. Is it easier to recover from a bad film? I guess so, considering all the actors who continue after them.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Monday, September 24, 2007 - 06:33 pm:   

I came up with another idea: Kevin Costner in THE POSTMAN. Waterworld was the first blow to his career, but he didn't recover from Postman.
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PM
Posted on Monday, September 24, 2007 - 06:41 pm:   

I think Costner has been able to flop after flop after flop.

I would put him in some sort of fish out water survival contest. It's not a pretty picture but he somehow keeps flopping...
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, September 25, 2007 - 07:03 am:   

He was in the worst sports movie of all time: TIN CUP. Has anyone else been as vexed and annoyed by this film as I have?
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PM
Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2007 - 04:49 pm:   

Didn't watch it. Thankfully.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2007 - 07:44 pm:   

Tom Hulce was never gonna have a huge Hollywood career--he was nerdy guy when nerdy guys weren't popular. As for Cuba, I wouldn't say the roles dried up. The year after McGuire he had a plum roll in As Good As IT Gets and another in What Dreams May Come which was positioned to be a hit. The thing is, Cuba's a supporting actor. When he's in a lead role, the movie has invariably been some lame-ass piece of trash like Instinct or Lightning Jack...with one exception, the Rowdy Herrington film Murder of Crows, which was a cool thriller but a low-budget straight to video deal. He has a plum part in American Gangster, which is going to be huge, and awful....he's had about as good a career as you'd expect. It's like what happened to Brad Dourif.
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jk
Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2007 - 07:57 pm:   

And now he's doing underwear commercials.
I thought Murder of Crows was pretty good too, for a direct to video movie.
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jk
Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2007 - 07:58 pm:   

I saw Cuba Gooding on some show saying he made some really poor choices after Jerry McGuire. I'd have to agree with that.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2007 - 08:03 pm:   

He made some pretty fucking choices before McGuire too.

Yeah Murder of Crows was cool...from Rowdy Herrington, the guy who brought you Roadhouse. :-)
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2007 - 08:04 pm:   

He made some pretty fucking lame choices before McGuire too.

Yeah Murder of Crows was cool...from Rowdy Herrington, the guy who brought you Roadhouse. :-)
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2007 - 08:46 pm:   

Oh yeah. Rowdy Herrington did a movie called I Witness. It's not bad, but not that good, but it has a terrific Jeff Daniel's performance....I didn't know he had it in him. Like some kind of Graham Green character.
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jk
Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2007 - 09:08 pm:   

Roadhouse, that was a real classic. There were some scenes in that that were so bad they're still burned into my brain. Ugh. I've seen Jack's Back and The Stickup, both with James Spader. Didn't really care for either. I'll check out I Witness. Looks like Murder of Crows was a rare good one in a lackluster filmography.
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Dave G.
Posted on Friday, September 28, 2007 - 06:42 am:   

I must protest.

Roadhouse is the greatest American film since Citizen Kane.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Friday, September 28, 2007 - 08:43 am:   

Regarding Cuba, which is worse: supporting dogs (Snow Dogs), or supporting Robin Williams (What Dreams May Come)? I imagine the dogs might take direction a little better. :-)

Saw The Lookout. Pretty good movie, something from Hollywood with a good script.
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Dave G.
Posted on Friday, September 28, 2007 - 09:44 am:   

Old showbiz adage: never work with kids, animals or Robin Williams...
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 28, 2007 - 05:31 pm:   

Supporting dogs. At least What Dreams had some kick-ass art direction. What did Snow Day have?

Thanx for the tip on the Lookout.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 28, 2007 - 08:04 pm:   

Richard Kelly's Southland Tales trailer...

http://youtube.com/watch?v=vtp14ikRvxo

This is the third official trailer I've seen. The last was more staid.
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jk
Posted on Saturday, September 29, 2007 - 01:53 am:   

Saw a howlingly bad piece of crap called The Tomb directed by Ulli Lommel. Goddamn this thing sucked. Low budget horror direct to dvd looks like a cheap home movie. The title is HP Lovecraft's The Tomb, but what this atrocity has to do with HPL is beyond me. It's basically just a sorry Saw rip-off, people wake up in a warehouse and are told to do things by a guy with spooky voice. "Only one of you will get out alive!" I can't believe this garbage was distributed by Lionsgate, I guess they'll distribute anything. The acting was horrible too. They were supposed to have been tortured and have blood and bruises all over them, but act like they aren't in pain at all. One of the victims was a runner who was on the beach. He's a fat guy who looks like he hasn't run a day in his life. And the director kept cutting to the same skull sitting on a warehouse shelf like 5 times within ten minutes. Pathetic.
Ulli Lommel is a talentless hack! Uwe Boll is a masterful auteur in comparison to Ulli Lommel.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, September 29, 2007 - 08:38 am:   

Sounds like an art piece... :-)
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jk
Posted on Saturday, September 29, 2007 - 09:51 am:   

I thought it was the work of a rank amateur, but I looked up his/her/whatever work and they've been making films for 30 years! I can't believe it. They also worked under Fassbinder, although I never considered him a great filmmaker, I would at least expect that would lead to a tiny degree of competency. It hasn't.
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jk
Posted on Saturday, September 29, 2007 - 10:18 am:   

I see Puritan has gotten a Region 2 release. That's the British one with David Soul that's supposed to be a sort of occult thriller, with one of the character's living in Aleister Crowley's house. Someone plays Crowley in the movie too, supposedly with a head full of hair.
Sounds interesting. I wish it would get a Region 1 release. Seems like they are really limiting their market with only a Region 2 release.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, September 29, 2007 - 11:24 am:   

"...worked under Fassbinder..." may have another meaning.

I decided not to buy Puritan, though I'm still kinda on the fence. It sound interesting, but kind of mish-mash. Even fansite reviews weren't thrilled. I may change my mind.
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jk
Posted on Saturday, September 29, 2007 - 11:51 am:   

"...worked under Fassbinder..." heh heh
Yeah, I'll just wait for Puritan to come out on Region 1 and rent it.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, September 29, 2007 - 11:59 am:   

Me, too. The director's first film, the Late Twentieth, sounds more realized.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, September 29, 2007 - 07:16 pm:   

I've been watching the new BBC version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jekyll--it's pretty entertaining. I watched the first three episodes today. James Nesbitt, who takes the main roles, makes a great and different Hyde. I don't know if the last three eps will be as good, but even if they aren't, it allowed me to forget some shit for a while.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Sunday, September 30, 2007 - 01:07 am:   

Anyone seen This is England? A pretty good film.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, September 30, 2007 - 06:19 am:   

Yep. Saw it, liked it. Good skinhead movie. Saw it right before I left.


I've got Exiled and Secret Sunshine to watch when I get through Jekyll.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Sunday, September 30, 2007 - 06:33 am:   

Secret Sunshine should be good. I havent heard of Exiled. Is it Korean too?
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, September 30, 2007 - 07:20 am:   

It's HK, a Johnny to film, the guy who made Election 1 and 2. It's a sequel to one of my favorite HK films, the Mission, with the guys from the first movie 10 years older.

Yeah, Secret Sunshine's supposed to be great.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Sunday, September 30, 2007 - 11:42 pm:   

Johnny To is good.
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, October 01, 2007 - 06:07 am:   

Horror weekend: Saw a British production called ISOLATION, about genetic experiments on a remote farm. Quite good, well acted and shot, scary without surrendering to a lot of cliches, although you could see the ending coming for miles. Doesn't make the rookie mistake of "showing the monster." Definitely worth checking out for fans of the genre. Also, for fans of the portmanteau horror film, watched the second half of my TALES FROM THE CRYPT/VAULT OF HORROR two-fer. Really solid stuff, great cheesy Brit comic book horror with great stars (Curt Jurgens, Denholm Elliot, Tom "Dr. Who" Baker). For horror fans: The CRYPT/VAULT double-feature is a solid, solid buy...

RED ROAD is next in my queue...
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, October 01, 2007 - 06:40 am:   

I reviewed, briefly, isolation. I much preferred the mutant sheep movie from OZ, Black Sheep.

Johnny To's a little overrated these days, but yeah, he's good. Though I liked Exiled less than the Mission. It's more bang bang HK...
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Monday, October 01, 2007 - 08:40 am:   

Over the weekend I saw Burmese Harp and Perfume: Story of a Murderer. I liked Burmese Harp, I'm indifferent towards Perfume. It had a fairy tale quality to the story and in the end that seemed a bit inappropriate for the subject matter.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Monday, October 01, 2007 - 02:19 pm:   

The Burmese Harp is great. I have Perfume to see. I am not expecting much, but since most of what I watch is old/underground/Asian/hard to fine, I sometimes like to see a bit of popular junk.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, October 01, 2007 - 02:44 pm:   

Perfume was arwful, another misstep from Twiker. Ditto on Harp.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Tuesday, October 02, 2007 - 12:50 am:   

I am surprised you didn't like the Burmese Harp. I have always considered it a very great film. I think Kon Ichikawa is an excellent director. Ever seen An Actor's Revenge?
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Tuesday, October 02, 2007 - 12:54 am:   

Or were you dittoing me on Harp? Not sure if you meant it was awful like Perfume, or that it was Great, as I had said...
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, October 02, 2007 - 05:56 am:   

No, no...Harp's terrific. Sorry.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, October 02, 2007 - 06:33 pm:   

I've been watching the BBC series Jekyll on DVD. For those who haven't seen it, it's a contemporary take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I didn't buy the explanation of how it came to pass that Hyde was alive today and the ending was weak, but all that pales beside the performance of James Nesbitt as Jekyll/Hyde...especially as Hyde. Nesbitt's Hyde is not a grotesque, as he is usually depicted, but if anything is better looking than his alter-ego, wittier, taller, faster stronger smarter, and more compelling, IMO, than any previous Hyde. It lacks the psychological resonance of previous films, but Nesbitt makes it a sprightier entertainment and the writing is good, particularly in the first three episodes, nonlinear, with lots of flashbacks and flash forwards.

I'm a big fan of legal thrillers--I like even lame ones--so I'm happily anticipating Michael Clayton, with George Clooney and Tilda Swinton. Swinton is a terrific actress, and this is, I believe, her first role as a villain.

A screener just in to my mailbox is 30 Days of Night, a vampire movie starring (shudder) Josh Hartnett as the sherriff of Barrow, Alaska. It's based on a graphic novel (what isn't these days?), but it sounds a lot like Frostbite, a recent Swedish movie that took a blackly comic view of vampires loose in a community in Lapland in the dark of winter. In 30 Days they appear to have dropped the comedy and pumped up the violence (though Frostbite is pretty gory), and the vampires seem like more brutish versions of those in Katherine Bigelow's Near Dark. I watched a few minutes of it last night and it might be cool. I'm going to wait and watch it at a theater, however. The cinematograpjy looked very good and might be the only thing to recommend it. Frostbite, however, is a funny movie, if you can take the gore.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Tuesday, October 02, 2007 - 09:39 pm:   

Caught Flash Point last night. Bad script, good film.

I also have a copy of Secret Sunshine I intend to watch. Glanced at some clips and it looks nice.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, October 02, 2007 - 10:56 pm:   

You'll probably get to it before i do--I've got a hell of a lot of work, so I won't get to it til next week...
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 05:58 am:   

Anybody seen an Asian horror called AB-NORMAL BEAUTY?
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Mike McLatchey
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 08:40 am:   

I loved Jekyll, I also really liked the performance of the actress who played his wife (from Coupling). Nesbitt's definitely great and iirc Michelle Ryan got her lead role in Bionic Woman from it. The news is that Stephen Moffat, who wrote Jekyll (also Coupling and the best eps of the new Doctor Who fwiw) has been picked to write the new Tintin trilogy of movies for Spielberg and Peter Jackson.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 08:53 am:   

Tintin movies? God help us....


No, Abnormal Beauty didn't sound that good to me. I passed.
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Mike McLatchey
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 08:57 am:   

The subject matter is the least of the problems with Spielberg in the driver's seat. There's no way a Moffat script will remain a Moffat script once its been through that wringer.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 09:18 am:   

Absolutely. As to Moffat, I hated the ending. But the first three episodes compensated.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 09:22 am:   

Gina Bellman from Coupling and Jekyll is one of the insanely, ridiculously hot women on TV.
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Mike McLatchey
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 09:37 am:   

Couldn't agree more Dave. I thought Ryan really paled in comparison on just about every front.

I also thought the final three eps weren't quite as good as the set up and the end twist was a bit on the cheesy side.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 10:26 am:   

Well, that usually the case with this sort of thing, great beginning, weak ending. Hopefully Moffat will survive Hollywood.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 11:54 am:   

Gina Bellman could get more mileage from a line like "I do the traffic report. From a HELLY-COPTER!" than most actresses could get from an entire Neil Simon screenplay.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 12:13 pm:   

I'm puzzled by the statement, becaise while I don't know what a Simon screenplay means to you, I know what it means to me, and further, I seriously doubt I'd like that line, no matter who said it.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 12:22 pm:   

Anyone know anything about Torchwood? Another Moffat thing?
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 12:45 pm:   

Secret Sunshine...Good stuff. That was until the second half, when my dvd player conked out and stopped reading the subtitles. Hopefully I can see the rest soon.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 01:07 pm:   

Excellent. Maybe next Teusday.
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Mike McLatchey
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 01:31 pm:   

Torchwood's a Doctor Who offshoot (they're anagrams) "for adults" about a secret agency fighting aliens in Cardiff (so some crossover writers but no Moffat). For me it's a mix of the good and ridiculous and I don't think it's found its footing quite yet, but it's still pretty entertaining.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 01:33 pm:   

Thanks Mike...
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 02:01 pm:   

I mean she's a funny lady...Didn't think I'd like that line either until I heard it on Coupling. Quite amusing.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 04:24 pm:   

I was just teasing ya... ;)
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Alan
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 06:57 pm:   

Anything with Tilda Swinton is great - even if Keanu Reaves is also in it, like Constantine. Even Female Perversions, which was basically plot-less, was excellent due to Swinton. If she had a better agent she would be Cate Blanchett. But I find her much more compelling to watch. So I am also looking forward to Michael Clayton.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 - 09:47 pm:   

I have to admit I'd see it if it starred Heather Graham and William Shatner. But yeah, Swinton's great. I saw her first with Ray Winstone in Tim Roth's the War Room, about a marriage shattered by pedophilia, and then in the remake of the noir, The Deep End.
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, October 04, 2007 - 05:54 am:   

Ray Winstone loves those dysfunctional-family dramas, eh? How does the Roth film compare with NIL BY MOUTH, probably the grimmest depiction of domestic violence ever.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, October 04, 2007 - 06:17 am:   

It's not the mess that Nil by Mouth was--I thought Nil was spotty, brilliant but way too long, needing an editor. War Room doesn't as many highs or lows, but is a lot less ragged.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, October 04, 2007 - 06:28 am:   

War Zone, not room...
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Mike McLatchey
Posted on Thursday, October 04, 2007 - 08:50 am:   

Any of y'all watching Mad Men on AMC? Finding it pretty sublime myself...
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, October 04, 2007 - 09:10 am:   

Never heard of it.
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Mike McLatchey
Posted on Thursday, October 04, 2007 - 09:17 am:   

It's about an advertising company in 1960. Everything about it is top notch. There's a brilliant moment in one of the recent episodes where the lead character goes to visit one of his "mistresses" who is something of a beatnik, to walk in on her and her friends listening to Miles and Gil. For me it works great on the obvious comparisons between then and now. It's also on On Demand if you have it.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, October 04, 2007 - 10:22 am:   

Great. I do have on demand. Thanks Mike.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, October 04, 2007 - 11:34 am:   

watched the first ep. Not bad, I cam see it'll get better.
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Mike McLatchey
Posted on Thursday, October 04, 2007 - 12:05 pm:   

That it does, it's just continued to improve.
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Alan
Posted on Saturday, October 06, 2007 - 05:55 am:   

Michael Clayton is a terrific movie, as expected. As a one-time big firm litigator, I can tell you that although the movie is thriller-ish it captures some of the reality of litigating a big case at a big firm.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, October 06, 2007 - 07:50 am:   

I don't like Clooney nuch but I'm hoping he's in the kind of part that doesn't demand great range. That's good about the realism. Looking forward to it.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Sunday, October 07, 2007 - 06:40 am:   

I don't mind Clooney. He is certainly not a great actor, but he seems like the kind of guy a good director could get a decent performance out of.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, October 07, 2007 - 07:02 am:   

Well, I don't count tony gilroy (the bourne movies) as a great director, but we'll see.
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jk
Posted on Sunday, October 07, 2007 - 11:10 am:   

Have you seen Mystics in Bali yet Lucius? Looks like it just got a region 1 release.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, October 07, 2007 - 01:12 pm:   

I've seen Penggang (sp?) movies before, and if mystics in bali is the ultimate Penggang movie I don't care, because the ones I've seen have been invariably rotten and I just don't need to see another flying head with its guts hanging down. So no, I haven't seen it and unlesss someone sees it first and tells me it's the greatest thing since forever I probably won't see it. I've got nothing against flying heads, but the way I read it that's all Mystics has going for it.
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jk
Posted on Sunday, October 07, 2007 - 01:47 pm:   

"witness the flying heads and pig transformations in all their lurid glory" heh heh
It's probably about as good as The Devil's Sword, which isn't very good. I'll rent it and see if I make it through it.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, October 07, 2007 - 02:40 pm:   

The Devil's Sword I bought because I needed a movie to use in a novella, Vacancy. It had some humorous moments. But you can say the same about a fungal infection. :-)
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Sunday, October 07, 2007 - 11:54 pm:   

No - He is certainly not a great director. He isnt really a good director either. But not horrible.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, October 08, 2007 - 04:39 am:   

I suppose "not horrible" is high praise for a hollywood director these days... :-)
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Alan
Posted on Monday, October 08, 2007 - 06:18 pm:   

In Michael Clayton, Cooney is the bue collar "regular guy" among the sea of high-achievers who have outsmarted their own conscience. In law land in Manhattan, Fordham Law School and state court prosecutor means blue collar. Tom Wilkinson is a perfect portrait of a brilliant and decent man (and litigator) brought low by excactly the type of endless grind that big law firms can inflict on people, and which can be life ruining or at least life wasting projects. I have seen people like him. Although Tilda's immorality goes beyond anything you would encounter in reality (except in the metaphorical sense), the fragility and emptiness of her character capture a certain type of woman found especially in law and probably not so much in other disciplines. I believe that because law -- especially litigation and law office hierarchies -- can simulate the drama of intense relationships, sometimes people heavily involved and successful in that milleu don't need another life. Many lawyers live and die their entire emotional lives in court or their offices -- living for a form of glory and ritualized sadism (law is full of symbolic sadism -- "motions to compel" "motions for sanctions" "contempt motions" --- and of course in criminal proceedings actual physical punisment. Lawyers are one of the few civilian professions that can issue what are essentially court orders, in the form of subpoenas, to make people do their bidding.)
People who are totally absorbed in that world go outside (really to them, "down" to the real world)only to 'feed' on mere mortals, often in a form of emotional/sexual or more often simply economic vampirism.
I felt that the movie implicitly captured this dark side of that world.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, October 08, 2007 - 07:03 pm:   

All I can say is, I'm looking forward to it. Thanks for your insight. It sounds, to put it mildly, forbidding and desert-like.
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, October 09, 2007 - 09:30 am:   

Saw RED ROAD this weekend and really enjoyed it. It reminded me of MORVERN CALLAR in its style and approach.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, October 09, 2007 - 09:35 am:   

Yeah, I really liked that flick. Teriffic lead perfomance and direction.
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, October 09, 2007 - 10:06 am:   

yeah, to tell a story in that mise en scene, through surveillance camera monitors, requires a lot of technique and intelligence.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, October 09, 2007 - 11:31 am:   

Another Lars Von Trier project. I want to see the next movie using the same characters but a different director.
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jk
Posted on Tuesday, October 09, 2007 - 09:04 pm:   

Whatever happened to Lars Von Trier? He did some interesting things there at the start of his career. Then he seemed to disappear up his own backside with his Dogma projects.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, October 09, 2007 - 10:32 pm:   

Red Road is one of his projects and its cool. Maybe he just became more interested in producing, in creating places where art could happen?
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2007 - 05:02 am:   

One of his dogma projects, I meant.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2007 - 06:12 pm:   

The PBS POV series aired the most recent installment in Michael Apted's Up series, 49 Up, last night. I was very curious, having watched all the preceding films. As interesting as it is to watch folks age before your eyes and deal with life's ups and downs, you have to wonder, ultimately, about the success of the series.

I think the thesis, as voiced in the closing segment from the first film, "give me a child until age seven, and I will give you the man," is pretty definitively disproven, as many of the characters grow up quite differently than we expected. Nicholas, a thickish, provincial lad, grows into a Ph.D physicist. Susan, a sullen, cynical teen, is a fulfilled wife and mother.

But is it great cinema? Only one really compelling character, the tormented drifter-turned-rural-politician Neil, emerges. And the format of the film, drop-ins at seven-year intervals, means we don't really get to see how folks deal with major challenges that arise. Some characters simply get bored with it and drop out altogether. I mean, we see that the toffee-nosed upper-crust brats turn into reasonably sensitive and complex human beings, and guys who look ready to become emotional train wrecks generally right the ship, but aside from the fact that we're all different, class is not an ironclad predictor of happiness, and people change throughout life, do we learn anything we didn't already understand?

I'd like a more indepth look at a couple of these folks and there are a bunch more I've seen quite enough of.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2007 - 08:19 pm:   

"I mean, we see that the toffee-nosed upper-crust brats turn into reasonably sensitive and complex human beings, and guys who look ready to become emotional train wrecks generally right the ship, but aside from the fact that we're all different, class is not an ironclad predictor of happiness, and people change throughout life, do we learn anything we didn't already understand?"

Do we learn anything at all? Do we believe that these characters aren't edited into shape, as on a reality show?
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2007 - 11:48 am:   

Another interesting thing is that a lot of resentment bubbles to the surface in 49 Up. A couple of folks vent about how intrusive Apted has been and how they resent participating in the films. Will there even be a 56 Up?
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2007 - 03:46 pm:   

Back from Hawaii. I'm not positive, but I think I saw Lost's Jorge Garcia when I was there. It didn't inspire me to watch the next season.

On the flights, they subjected us to a bunch of bad movies: SpiderMan 3, Shrek the 3rd, Fracture, Nancy Drew, Evan Almighty. Nancy Drew's teen fluff was the least offensive of the bunch, at least you know it's aimed at kids and doesn't pretend to be deeper. I think SpiderMan 3 was the worst of the bunch. It was probably the worst #3 in a series movie that I remember seeing.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2007 - 10:10 pm:   

Welcome back. Congrats on maintaining your resolve. Spiderman 3 was seriously bad. FF3 may be worse.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, October 12, 2007 - 04:34 pm:   

Saw the Assassination of Jesse james and Michael Clayton. Clayton looked to be going places then all of sudden it ended. It was tense, atmospheric. Clooney was more than credible as a big law firms fixer, Tom Wikinson and Tiilda Swinton were excellent in supporting roles, but the middle act was insuffiecient to sustain the wish fullfilment of the ending.

Assassination is harder to pin down. Let's say for now that it was better that I thought, but still fell far short of the masterpiece some are labeling it.

I'm off to write a review.
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jk
Posted on Saturday, October 13, 2007 - 09:57 am:   

When I heard Clooney was playing the clean-up man at a law firm I thought he would be playing the janitor. Now that's a role I could believe him in.
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jk
Posted on Saturday, October 13, 2007 - 10:04 am:   

Are you going to see the new Elizabeth movie Lucius? They should put Dr. Dee in one of those movies. I looked at the cast list but didn't see anyone listed playing that part. That would be the only thing that piques my interest.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, October 13, 2007 - 02:00 pm:   

It's not Clooney's fault; it whoever cut the film. Clooney was actually pretty convincing.

No, no Elizabeth for me. Just looking at the trailer bores me.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - 03:16 am:   

Andrew Dominick’s first feature, released seven years ago, was CHOPPER, a hyperkinetic film based on the life of Australian sociopath and criminal Mark “Chopper” Reed, who is the author of a string of quasi-autobiographical books, one subtitled How To Shoot Friends And Influence People, reminiscent in their hero-as-outlaw tone, though not their language, of the 19th century dime novels that purportedly served up true relations of the lives of men like Jesse James, Buffalo Bill, Bat Masterson, and so on, as told by these worthies to a variety of hack writers. CHOPPER was a stunning piece of work, beautifully ambiguous and absurdist, compact and gritty, revealing of Reed’s pathology and documenting his rise to the status of folk hero, if only in his own mind.

Now comes Dominik’s second feature, THE ASSASINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, a dark, revisionist western that aspires to be seen as a companion piece to movies like THE SHOOTING and MCABE AND MRS. MILLER, and is anything but kinetic, 106 minutes longer than his first, yet effects a character study of another seeker after celebrity. Between these two movies, Dominik worked as second unit director on Terence Malick’s THE NEW WORLD, a reshaping of the John Smith-Pocahuntus story. What Dominik learned from Malick—the use of voiceover, an attentiveness to the beauty of the natural world, et al—is on full display in JESSE JAMES, albeit with mixed result. The movie puts me in mind of DODESUKADEN, a film made by Akira Kurosawa immediately after being mentored by Masaki Kobayashi, the great Japanese filmmaker who gave us KWAIDAN, THE HUMAN CONDITION, and HARA KIRI. DODESUKADEN reflects Kobayashi’s influence throughout, particularly as regards its visual style, and is patchily brilliant, a harbinger of things to come.

In the fall of 1888, then, Jesse (Brad Pitt) and Frank James (Sam Shepard) are preparing to rob a train. Their gang has been decimated by death, imprisonment, and defection, and so they’re operating with a gang made up of young losers and misfits who are awed by their association with the charismatic Jesse—they might be a skuzzier version of the posse in Entourage. None are more starstruck than Robert Ford (Casey Affleck), a shifty-eyed 19-year-old with an aw-shucks grin of whom Frank James says, “I don’t know what it is about you, but the more you talk, the more you give me the willies.” Ford, whose brother Charlie (Sam Rockwell) has also signed on for the robbery, is unhealthily obsessed with Jesse and sleeps with a box of Jamesian memorabilia under his bed. After the robbery succeeds, but fails to yield the expected reward, the gang goes their separate ways, Frank and Jesse parting for the final time, and Jessie gradually descends into to clinical paranoia—he’s certain that the huge reward offered for his capture will lead one or another of the gang to betray him, and he visits each in turn to determine the quality of their loyalty. During this overlong middle section, the film’s pace goes from leisurely to glacially slow, and we are given far too many reiterations of Jesse’s evolving psychoses, too many scenes directed to the same purpose, and too many art shots—trees swaying in a wind, chairs in empty rooms, cloud-dappled wheat fields, a veritable Malick-fest of gorgeously photographed minutae, yet lacking the moral connectivity this imagery acquires in movies like THE NEW WORLD or DAYS OF HEAVEN, the sense that the landscape is somehow complicit in the events of the film, or adversarial to them, or at least an observer of human events. Roger Deakins’ cinematography at times seems to have been lifted from the pages of a coffee table book, beautiful, dreamlike images with a high gloss that are meant for display and not for any kinetic purpose.

It’s apparent that Dominik, who both directed and wrote the movie, had great respect for his source materials, Ron Hanson’s morose and psychologically vivid novel. Indeed, it seems he became infatuated with it and so forgot the dictum that things that work on the page do not always work on the screen. The voiceover, for instance. An omniscient narrator, Hugh Ross, delivers chunks of Hansen’s prose and, though initially effective, pronouncements such as “He read auguries in the boiled intestines of chickens” come across as odd irrelevancies, facts culled from a book entitled “The Weird Old West,” rather than being part of an accumulative process that establishes Jesse’s eccentricity. Dominik allows the voiceover to become sententious and too often commits the cardinal sin of voiceover use by merely recounting what is shown on the screen. “Zee wiped her pink hands on an apron,” we are told when Jessie’s wife does exactly that, as if the audience is blind or otherwise impaired.

Hansen intended his book to be Shakespearean in scope, a tragedy rife with jealousy and betrayal—this is hinted at in the movie, but Dominik, perhaps wisely, has focused his film on the modern myth of celebrity, with Jesse playing John Lennon to Ford’s Mark David Chapman. Pitt’s Jesse is less a performance than a collection of squints and twitches—we’ve seen amped up versions of this portrayal in 12 MONKEYS, FIGHT CLUB and, seminally, in Dennis Hopper’s demented photojournalist in APOCALYPSE NOW. It’s astonishing that Pitt should have received the Best Actor prize at the prestigious Venice Film Festival for what is so unrevealing a performance; yet I suppose the performace is appropriate to the movie’s subtext in that the iconic figure remains iconic, that we end up with only intriguing clues about the character of Jesse James—Mark David Chapman knew no more than that about John Lennon, after all. The awards should belong to Affleck, who provides Ford with enough whiney detail for three such characters. You begin to hate this mumbling, pink-eyed, little creep, and there’s the problem. Would you want to spend two hours and forty minutes watching a sad, deranged, inconsequential, fanboy carry a movie? “I got qualities that don’t come shinin’ through right at the outset,” Ford tells Frank James. Not only at the outset, pal. This guy is the original punk-ass, and watching him cringe and cajole, terrified of Jessie one moment, doting the next, is interesting…for a while. Then it’s not.

I generally like slow movies and non-sympathetic characters, but somewhere around the two-hour mark I was ready to write the picture off as a case of Dominik's reach exceeding his grasp. Though I was never bored, neither was I ever fully engaged. Despite some amazing images (notably a train approaching through a pitch-dark forest), all the stylistic touches didn’t amount to much. The tone was of unrelieved joylessness and the narration had become beyond annoying and I had grown weary of the painstakingly accurate period dialogue, which lent every pronouncement an air of quaintness…and then everything clicked. From the point when, on the day before he kills him, Ford pokes around Jesse’s house, examining his toilet articles, slipping into his bed, and on through the murder, accomplished when Jesse goes to straighten a picture on the wall, and on through an eerie and surreal epilogue in which the Ford Brothers take to the stage in order to re-enact the now-legendary event, the movie and Affleck are mesmerizing. It kind of ticked me off that Dominik got this last bit right after getting so much wrong, but I believe that last 30, 40 minutes is a harbinger of things to come—I’ve seen enough of Dominik to persuade me that sooner or later, probably next time out, he’s going to bring in a masterpiece.

MICHAEL CLAYTON, the legal thriller starring George Clooney and directed by first-timer Tony Gilroy (the screenwriter of record for the Bourne trilogy), suffers from exactly the opposite problem. Unlike JESSE JAMES, which could have used about thirty minutes or so of cuts, CLAYTON could stand to have thirty minutes of film restored—it’s evident that at least that much was excised from the picture to try and fit it into a neat two-hour theatrical slot, which it now does, precisely. Devised as a formulaic entertainment, CLAYTON entertains, zipping along merrily for the first hour and three-quarters, setting up a conflict between a powerful corporation and a worn-out cynic, a fixer in a law firm (“I’m not a lawyer, I’m a janitor,” the titular Clayton/Clooney says), someone who knows how to bend and shade the law to his clients’ benefit…and then, in the space of fifteen minutes, it concludes with unsatisfactory abruptness, leaving its sub-plots unresolved or, in some cases, abandoned. A young woman of whom much is made, Anna, a victim of the corporation, is brought on camera briefly, her family introduced, and then she never appears again. A child’s book yields an important clue and seems as if it has greater secrets to reveal; but its potential revelations, too, are left on the cutting room floor. Then, too, there is Tilda Swinton’s too-brief appearance as adversarial lawyer—one senses that there was considerably more to her part.

Michael Clayton (Clooney) is disillusioned with the practice of law, haunted by loan sharks, and resentful of his junkie brother, whose addiction effectively ruined a restaurant venture and plunged him into debt. He’s a shell of the man he once was, trying to recoup his losses in Chinatown poker games, negligently parenting a ten-year-old boy whom he lost in a divorce. Like the poet says, he’s “unloved and unsung.” Shortly after the movie opens, he is called to “fix” a situation involving a wealthy suburbanite who has committed a hit-and-run, as yet unreported to the police. On his way back to the city, he leaves his car on the shoulder and goes to have a closer look at some horses in a field. He’s obviously having some sort of epiphany. But as he’s communing with the horses, his car blows up.

The movie flashes back to four days earlier, to another problem he has been called in to fix. His firm’s top litigator, Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), has suffered a breakdown and stripped naked during a deposition relating to a three billion dollar lawsuit in which he’s representing U-North, an agrochemical company who have been killing people—thousands of them, perhaps—with their fertilizer. Arthur, like Michael Clayton (like almost everyone in the movie, as a matter of fact), is an empty shell, a victim of the spiritual rot endemic to the practice of this high-powered, profit-first sort of law, and now he has cracked wide-open. Marty Bach (Sydney Pollack), the amiable yet cold-blooded head of Michael’s firm, sends him to shepherd Arthur and keep him quiet, but Arthur, who’s in possession of a document that will incriminate U-North, escapes Michael’s care and threatens to bring the whole edifice of lies tumbling down. U-North’s chief counsel, Karen Crowder (Swinton), wants Arthur kept quiet as well. We first meet her after she throws up in the bathroom preparatory to an important meeting. She operates in a perpetual flop-sweat, under such great pressure that she, too, has cracked a little, and she authorizes a hit on Arthur, telling the button-down thugs that U-North uses for these chores to use “any means necessary.”

Steven Soderbergh, the co-producer of MICHAEL CLAYTON, is the man generally credited with being the first director to squeeze a decent performance out of Clooney when they joined forces on Elmore Leonard's OUT OF SIGHT. He must have given Gilroy a few tips, because Clooney has never been better, projecting an aura of failure and desperation in a two thousand dollar suit, of someone who has given up any hope of self-respect in exchange for a job that is killing his spirit. It’s too bad that in their unseemly desire to tailor the movie to a time slot, the studio threw the baby out with the bathwater and sacrificed what might have been a sublime thriller in return for increased popcorn sales.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - 06:23 am:   

Just finished watching a DVD of Five Days, a Brit police procedural that played quite nicelym being five days selected from the investigation of a case involving a missing woman. Weakish end, but the rest is excellent.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - 10:34 am:   

Finally got to see DEATH BED. Pretty funny, especially the DVD intro by director George Barry, who sums things up: "Too late to take it back now!" Funny that the thing had overseas release for a decade before Barry found out about it.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Sunday, October 21, 2007 - 06:54 am:   

Into the Wild: Good, but flawed film. The songs by Eddie Vedder mostly hurt the film. They fall into the trend of putting songs into films to convey the emotion that the scene is supposed to show. The only difference between bad teen movies and this is Vedder's songs were acoustic instead of pop. The worst offender wasn't even a vocal song, the ending song, after McCandles dies, is far too happy and triumphant sounding. Dying alone in the woods isn't a triumph. Vedder's non-lyrical songs were OK, his wordless moaning and wailing worked decently.

My girlfriend felt his death wasn't unpleasant enough. She thought it should have been more terrible seeming.

It was otherwise fairly good. Reading the book, I felt some sympathy and kinship with McCandles, but seeing it on screen convinced me what I really felt was for Krakauer, McCandless seemed like a prick.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, October 21, 2007 - 09:19 am:   

I saw 30 Days Of Night, which sucked. Just a bunch of munch munch splatter.

Eddie Vedder...Jeez i thought he was defunct. Sorry. Never read into the wild and had no interest in the movie, despite Sean Penn directing, I generally despise wilderness movies, but maybe I should check it out.

How'd he die?
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Sunday, October 21, 2007 - 02:47 pm:   

He ate something that poisoned him, made it so he couldn't digest food, so he starved to death. Not a pleasant way to go.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, October 21, 2007 - 03:23 pm:   

No, not at all. Girlfriend was right.
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 - 06:55 am:   

Watched FAMILY PORTRAITS last night. Definitely enjoyed it more in reflection than in the actual watching. "Cutting Moments" was grisly for sure. I remember thinking snarkily "this should have been directed by Tom Savini!" and voila! there he was in the credits! Viewed as a somber meditation on the decaying state of family in America, I don't think it works. The characters are too zombified and the acting is not refined enough. Viewed as straight American Gothic horror, it's more successful Anyone else catch the reference to THE STEPFATHER in "Home"?
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 - 07:41 am:   

Having Hartnet in 30 Days of Night killed any desire to see it. Plus, being based on a comic book isn't a selling point for me.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 - 08:37 am:   

I had to see it, you know, or i would have passed. What got me was this "new vision of a vampire" crap. They're the same animalistic vamps we've always had, sort of crossed with the zombies from 28 days later.
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 - 09:22 am:   

For "new visions of vampires", I'll take Bigelow's NEAR DARK or Romero's MARTIN.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 - 10:15 am:   

Yeah, those were cool.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 - 10:45 am:   

Saw ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES this weekend. Lucius, while I liked it better than you, I enjoyed your review. What can I say? I'm a sucker for funereal films with striking imagery.

Also saw another Casey Affleck film, GONE BABY GONE, where he plays a middle-class P.I. who gets hired to find a missing four-year-old in the slums of Boston. Directed by, yes, Ben Affleck and adapted from a Lehane novel, this was a pleasant surprise: gritty, realistic, and morally complex. Ed Harris has some standout moments as well.
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jk
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 - 10:51 am:   

Saw William Friedkin's Bug, a stagey piece of crap with Ashley Judd. I should have known better. It should have remained an off-broadway play, and off the screen. A crazy guy meets a slumming-it Ashley Judd in a rundown motel room and convinces her that he's been experimented on by the army and that he has tiny bugs under his skin. The rest of the movie they descend deeper into madness in the motel room. Whoopee.
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 - 10:58 am:   

Ashley Judd descending into madness? That sounds like an entertaining premise to me!
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 - 11:03 am:   

Well, Kelly, I'm a sucker for fillms like that too,but this one, while it had some great parts, disappointed in the middle section. Overall I was pleasantly surprised.

I passed on Bug. Yuck.

I might see Gone Baby Gone this weekend.
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Kelly Christopher Shaw
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 - 11:20 am:   

I saw BUG in the theaters earlier this year. Agreed: It's a one-trick pony.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 - 10:25 pm:   

I just watched the Australian movie, Noise, directed by Matthew Saville, his first full-length feature, and I really, really liked it! Saville plays with elements of the thriller, but what emerges is
a quiet character study, a portrait of a specific place and time, an allegorical meditation on decency and conscience, and a harrowing police procedural. The film never treats the audience as an idiot, constantly challenging it with fresh perspectives and engaging the gray areas if the plot rather than following a conventional arc. It's among the most cinematic and authentic films I've seen in years.

Police Constable Graham McGahan (Brendan Cowell) is afflicted with tinnitus, a disease of the inner ear that causes constant ringing and the news may be darker than that--he's waiting for tests to come back that may tell him he has a tumor. He attempts to get some time off work, but instead is given light duty, assigned to sit each night in a caravan (a trailer) parked in a rundown suburb of Melbourne where a series of murders has recently occured, his job being to listen to the members of the public who drop into the caravan, trying to pick up whatever information he can. At first he goes about this job diffidently, sardonically. Graham doesn't much like being a policeman. The only reason he became one is, as he says, because he didn't have the grades to do anything else. There's not much he does like about his life. Even his relationship with his girlfriend seems flat and joyless. And his tinnitus is growing worse. At one point he turns on every appliance in his house, hoping to drown out the ringing. A gunshot sounds to him like a bomb going off in his head.

Saville, sound designer Emma Bortignon, and composer Briony Marks have created a brooding score that dances and fades behind aural signatures, yielding a sinister, unsettling sense like the onset of a psychedlic drug. All the prosaic sounds of the day--telephones ringing, muffled dialogue, liquids being slurped--are instruments in a disorienting symphony that flows between atmospherics and more spectacular moments. It's absolutely brilliant, the way Saville uses sound to build realism. What the audience hears becomes central to the film and its premise.

We begin with a terrible mass murder on a commuter train that leaves a single survivor, an aboriginal girl, Lavinia (Maia Thomas), and a doer for whom the cops have turned out every resource to find. Parked in his caravan over the Christmas holidays, McGahan engages a number of neighborhood folk who are grappling with the tragedy each in their own way, exposing their kindness and angst and malevolence, and gradually his character changes. Lucky Phil (Simon Laherty), an impaired teenager who likes to take pictures of his dog wearing eccentric outfits, exemplifies how the movie refuses to lapse into stereotype, but all the roles are wonderfully written and acted. I think Maia Thomas, in particular, is going to be a star. And, of course, there's Cowell as McGahan, who pulls off an amazing, many-layered performance. The cinematography, by Lazlo Baranyai, is impeccable, using off color mixes to generate a pulsing energy in context with the sound design.

This is a film I'm going to watch a lot, both for pleasure and to figure out it's secrets. I highly recomend you try it. At present it's only available from Austrailia for 23 bucks. I suggest Ezy Dvd at

http://www.ezydvd.com.au/

Warning. If you like movies in which all mysteries and all plot lines are resolved, you won't be happy with this. The usual resolutions are not what Saville is after.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - 06:58 am:   

Watched A Tale of Two Sisters. It was OK, didn't impress me as much as Uzumaki. It's another twist ending movie, although it was done fairly well. You can see the twist coming, but it didn't feel cheap. Some nice use of color throughout the film.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - 08:28 am:   

I saw ATITS a while ago, couple or three years, and all I can recall is that I was bored, and it was good, but not compelling.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - 09:32 am:   

Sounds like a fairly good summation of it.

I just came across these movie director T-shirts from CineFile:
http://www.cinefilevideo.com/2007/10/11/new-t-shirt-von-triervan-halen

I can definitely skip a Von Trier one, but the Herzog one might be cool.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - 11:36 am:   

I read a description on one of the cine sites about a "Herzog porno". Did Werner do skin flicks?
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - 11:38 am:   

I wonder if the Von Trier comes in a "wife beater"...:-)
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - 11:51 am:   

The hersog is cool, but how do you order?

Don't know about H's porno.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - 01:09 pm:   

Apparently no online ordering yet, they're just in the off-line store. Supposedly an online option will be available by Christmas.

I looked for Herzog Porn in Google and found that xploitedcinema.com has some stuff that is listed as "Label: Herzog." It seems to be a production company, and doesn't seem to be affiliated with Werner.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - 03:42 pm:   

Thanks, Robert. Herzog-Danzig for Xmas.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - 05:38 pm:   

I was kind of hoping there were some Herzog pornos out there...:-(
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PM
Posted on Friday, October 26, 2007 - 09:51 pm:   

Watched American Gangster. Snore.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, October 26, 2007 - 10:23 pm:   

Yeah, well. It;s gonna make money for my buddy, but it's gotta suck.
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PM
Posted on Friday, October 26, 2007 - 11:18 pm:   

It's like 3:10 to Yuma in that it's been done before and better.

I don't know what it is with the Scotts and Crowe and Washington. Where's Ron Howard when you need him :-)
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, October 26, 2007 - 11:21 pm:   

I just finished Ex-drummer, a Belgian film that is every bit as accomplished in its own way as Noise. I have to watch it again, so I won't say much. It's the story of bored, jaded novelist who's invited to become the drummer of a punk band with three impaired and rather depraved men--a skinhead rapist, a drug addict, and a gay man who can't bend his arm and has major mother issue and a lunatic father. It's crude, vulgar (borderline obscene), but has a raw energy and style, and is, ultimately, pretty amazing. More later.
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PM
Posted on Saturday, October 27, 2007 - 06:11 pm:   

I'll be on the lookout for these.
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, October 29, 2007 - 06:21 am:   

On the TiVo for Halloween, HELLRAISER 2 and KWAIDAN!

Watched a couple of good ones this weekend...an old Amicus frightener THE BEAST MUST DIE with Peter Cushing and 2LDK, a pretty fascinating and well made Japanese film about two actress sharing an apartment whose differences lead them to duel to the death. I really liked this one!!
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PM
Posted on Monday, October 29, 2007 - 12:36 pm:   

Watched Battle Royale which has something for both young and old.
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 - 02:08 pm:   

Anyone else surprised at what a good movie THEY SHOOT HORSES, DONT THEY still is after all these years?
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 - 04:01 pm:   

Haven't seen it lately.
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jk
Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 - 09:36 pm:   

Watched the Japanese movie Horrors of Malformed Men. It was ok, but nothing spectacular. Nothing like the "greatest cult movie ever" or whatever hyperbole was posted on diabolik from the one sheet.
There was quite a bit of female nudity (from the waist up) which surprised me, since it came out in the 60's. The story involved a man who escapes from an asylum and poses as his rich dead brother, then goes to an island where his father is creating mutants. Some of the mutants are kind of surreal, but the special fx aren't that good. Worth watching if you're a fan of Japanese horror from the 60's, but it's no lost masterpiece.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 - 09:58 pm:   

Sounds kinda okay. I have't watched anything since Ex-drummer, but I will in the next couple of days....
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 - 06:33 am:   

Anyone know anything about the MEN BEHIND THE SUN films?

I'm kind of excited that the first volume of Sony's complete Three Stooges reissue series came out yesterday. Ahhhh, pure sweet childish pleasure without the necessity for critical appraisal...:-)
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Huw
Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 - 07:18 am:   

Ah, a fellow Stooges fan - I'm excited too, Dave! I spent many a pleasant hour with my nephew, when he was a toddler, watching old videos of Moe eye-poking Curly and Larry. "Why you... " ;-)
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 - 07:35 am:   

Lots of gore, okay movie, nothing special--that's the first Men Behind the Sun flick. Haven't seen the rest, but they're not supposed to be good....
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 - 08:08 am:   

Nice to disengage brain and simply enjoy...
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 - 10:23 am:   

Maybe. I can't say the first was all that enjoyable.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 - 02:00 pm:   

Am I the only one profoundly wierded out by the fact that Zemeckis is directing a movie BEOWULF?
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PM
Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 - 02:10 pm:   

Ridley and Russell are going to do a Sheriff of Nottingham revision.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 - 02:51 pm:   

Just saw The Hidden Blade. Pretty good.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 - 03:40 pm:   

I'm more weirded out by the computer animation for Beowulf. Gaiman's involvement intrigues me, but everything else about the movie turns me off.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 - 05:06 pm:   

I'll go you one further... :-)
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Mike McLatchey
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2007 - 09:16 am:   

Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge) joined Curb Your Enthusiam last night as Larry David's therapist. I've been up and down with CYE but it's about as good as it has ever been right now.
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2007 - 11:33 am:   

The producers have a real knack for surrounding LD with great supporting players. Over the years, CYE has become a "Whos Who" of comedy:

Wanda Sykes
Ben Stiller
Kaitlin Olson
Richard Kind
Steve Coogan
Martin Short
Richard Lewis
Shelley Berman
Paul Dooley

and innumerable others. Great casting.
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2007 - 11:36 am:   

I'm not that familiar with his past work, but Greg Araki's film of Scott Hiem's MYSTERIOUS SKIN was pretty terrific. I was lukewarm on Joseph Gordon-Leavitt in BRICK, ice cold on his turn in Barbara Kopple's HAVOC, but he is excellent here.

Also, I had never seen the Beatles' HELP! before. I want to go back in time and marry Eleanor Bron...
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2007 - 11:52 am:   

Dave, that sounds more like a sub-section of unfunny comedians. I can't remember the last time Martin Short was funny, and was Richard Lewis ever funny?

Joseph Gordon-Leavitt was good in The Lookout. I didn't see Mysterious skin, but I wasn't that thrilled with Araki's Nowhere. It was kind of "surrealism lite."

Over the weekend I watched "The Promise." Pretty film, but ultimately dull. cgi-fu love triangle melodrama.

At least I hope to see some good stuff in the next two weeks. The Three Rivers Film Festival has started, and there are a bunch of interesting-looking films coming including one with live didgeridoo music and a talk with Kenneth Anger (never seen his work though).
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Mike McLatchey
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2007 - 01:01 pm:   

Most of Dave's list are pretty great on CYE though. Was just watching a Wanda Sykes ep over the weekend...

JB Smoove as Leon this season has been fantastic, steals nearly every scene he's involved in. Sometimes CYE can tilt far more to the uncomfortable than the funny, but they've got the balance just right lately.
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2007 - 01:38 pm:   

Leon rules. He's this season's Krazy-Eyes Killah.
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Michele
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2007 - 11:35 pm:   

I just returned from a showing of the newly remastered, digital, Final Cut Blade Runner. It was showing in a top notch, big theater with great sound system, etc.

It looked and sounded jaw-droppingly gorgeous!! If anyone gets a chance to see it in theatrical release, go. It's a whole different experience.
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david h
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2007 - 09:55 am:   

Hi Michele. I saw Blade Runner in the theaters recently too. The Final Cut or whatever they're calling it. It was fantastic to see it up on the big screen all fixed and spruced up. I have to say that, even though he's turning out some pretty unattractive movies these days, Scott's treatment of Blade Runner should be held up as an example: how not to wreck your masterpiece. Lucus could learn a thing or ten.
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david h
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2007 - 10:04 am:   

Has anyone here heard anything about The Mist? I used to love that story when I was in grade school and junior high. I found it in a pdf version online and read it again last night. It's still pretty cool. I wonder if the movie will be any good? The trailer makes me think it might be a faithful adaptation.

Somewhere along the line I stopped reading Stephen King. Maybe I got too snobby. Re-reading The Mist made nostalgic for him though. I might go back and read a little more of him. I have such vivid memories of sitting in the backseat of my mom's car reading that illustrated werewolf book of his as a small kid. Oh, to be a terrified greade schooler with a werewolf book again...
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2007 - 10:17 am:   

I'm going to see The Mist. I'm not really a King fan, but when I was growing up, my parents used to shop in the grocery store where the story was set. I don't expect the movie to be good, since The Shining was the first/only good adaptation of his work.
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david h
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2007 - 10:50 am:   

>>I don't expect the movie to be good, since The Shining was the first/only good adaptation of his work.

Agreed. As to why that's the case, I have no idea though. It can't be that hard to adapt something of his well.

By the way, that's pretty cool about the supermarket.
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Huw
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2007 - 11:39 am:   

Really? I thought Cronenberg's THE DEAD ZONE was a good adaptation. Ditto for MISERY, STAND BY ME, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, and CARRIE. I think the bad far outweigh the good, though; Mick Garris seems to be responsible for most of the misfires.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2007 - 02:02 pm:   

I think I can revise my statement that The Shining was the only good adaptation of his horror work (although I didn't watch Misery). Non-horror stuff has worked (although Lucius disagrees).
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Dave G.
Posted on Friday, November 09, 2007 - 08:23 am:   

Rewatched Hal Ashby's THE LAST DETAIL last night, which is one of my all-time favorites. For some reason, it just really captures of flavor of the East Coast in the 1970s...
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, November 09, 2007 - 05:05 pm:   

Kyool! Dead Billys are excellent. Frank D. is a consummate artist.

I recommend Ex-Drummer, david. You're in a band-it'll speak to you.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Friday, November 09, 2007 - 06:11 pm:   

Just got back from The Nines. Three different stories, the same actors different characters in each, and they're all vaguely related. It was well constructed, rather odd, but the oddness all came together in the end. The end was a bit goofy though.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Sunday, November 11, 2007 - 04:37 am:   

Last night I saw Kalkadoon Man. It was a short documentary about making a didgeridoo in the traditional way. It was nice, but the real draw was a live performance by William Barton. I've heard plenty of didgeridoo before, but it didn't compare to Barton's playing. He was just so far beyond what I've heard before.
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david h
Posted on Sunday, November 11, 2007 - 01:09 pm:   

Lucius, I'll check out Ex-Drummer.

Although, these days I'm an ex-bassist. The last band went belly up a little ways back. The two guitarists broke up and found that, when they weren't humping, they didn't really like each other all that much. Pretty much, they threw a record deal in the crapper. So... Lot's of my own priorities have shifted recently. I love music, hate the industry and the selection bias in creates in musicians who are willing to pursue music as a career (i.e. they're all intrapsychic infants), so I'm focusing mostly on pscyhology and scietific writing at the moment. I'm about to finish my MA and have a manuscript that's just about ready to send off to a journal.

And, believe it or not, instead of music, I've been doing a lot of backpacking recently.

To that end, I saw INTO THE WILD last night. I thought it was brilliant. Just great and, thankfully, a very honest movie. At first, I found myself dismissing MacCandless in a typically reductive manner: if he was going to go that far and commit himself so totally in wilderness living, why didn't he take the time to learn enough to do so without taking unnecessary risks? But to do this is to miss the point of the film I think.

MacAndless had a clear agenda. The risks were necessary. He knew there was no place that was off the map any more, but he needed that off-the-map-ness to achieve the exestential effect he was after, to learn about himself. So he threw away the map, and, similarly, threw out (or just didn't bother with) the typical professional wilderness competencies that people now assume are necessary in order to push your own limits.

He was young and impetuous, but smart too. His story doesn't have that personality disordered feel that is so typical in most wilderness stories. His motivations, I think, are to be commended...if not their execution. And I have to disagree about his death scene needing to be more terrible. By his own account, his last days were a time of growth. Admitedly, they were painful and terrible too, but even after knowing that he'd made a mistake that was likely to cost him his life, he worked to come to terms with why he'd felt so isolated for his whole life and realized that happiness only matters when it's shared. That didn't seem terrible to me.

But people in the audience just couldn't process it. They'd been hungry for some man vs. nature epic cliche and only seemed to have access to the movie's surface: a young guy with no widerness aptitude starving slowly in an abandoned bus. The narrative was not the sort they'd been conditioned for and it's emotional content was out of their reach. They watched the same movie as me and got nothing out of it. That really made me mad for some reason. The girl behind me whispered to her boyfirend "I hope this is going to make me want to go to Alaska" when the movie opened. When it was over, all she said was "What a stupid fucking kid" then began talking about what bar she wanted to go to. I guess I don't feel too plugged into our stunted, doomed culture either.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, November 11, 2007 - 04:52 pm:   

Yeah, I got the same thing from The Thin Red Line when this girl in front of me and her boyfriend went, Okay, war is hell. SFW.

Sorry about the band. Next one, call it Intrapsychic Infants.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Sunday, November 11, 2007 - 05:41 pm:   

The audience I was with for Into the Wild was mostly elderly, so I didn't get the same kind of reaction. I think most people who read the book went in with one set of expectations, while people who hadn't read the book and just saw the commercials had a different idea, more of a man vs. nature epic.

I found it intriguing how the book seemed more about getting out on the road, while the film seemed more about his final revelation that happiness only matters when it's shared. Reading the book made me want to travel again, but the film made me want to stay with family and friends.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, November 11, 2007 - 08:19 pm:   

The answer would seem to be travel with fam and friends. :-)
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 - 07:01 am:   

I expected better, and was seriously underwhelmed by FACTOTUM. Is it just my own psychic deficiencies that prevent me from being moved inspired by yet another skid row-boozer-unmoved-by-mundane-concerns-in-pursuit-of-literary-perfection story? I kept thinking "so what if this guy is a good writer? What is it about being a dissolute asshole that is essential to the craft?"

Maybe I'm missing the point. Or has the whole enlightened-genius-bum character become an empty cliche? Help me to understand!
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 - 12:48 pm:   

The point is, it was a biopic about a writer. Who happened to be an asshole. Control is a biopic about a deluded young asshole. They both suck, but I prefer Factotum because the asshole did better work. That's the problem with biopics. Most lives are uninteresting.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 - 01:44 pm:   

And Oh yeah and how is the bum writer more tired a type than the tormented rockstar...Aw! :-)
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 - 03:44 pm:   

I would have had more respect for it if it was a biopic, instead of a "fictional" bio of Bukowski's alter ego. That seemed like kind of a cheesy cop-out.

I haven't seen CONTROL yet, so I reserve judgment although, yes, the tormented rockstar is also quite tired...

Why doesn't somebody do something really radical and make a biopic of Wallace Stevens? Wouldn't that blow the minds of the English 101 crowd? I would call it MY WIFE IS ON THE MERCURY DIME, SO F*** YOU.
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ben peek
Posted on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 - 10:07 pm:   

i saw INTO THE WILD and it didn't do much for me, either way. it was good to see penn doing a different kind of film, and it wasn't like i disliked it or antyhing.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2007 - 05:13 am:   

Trigger Man - a no budget film about 3 New Yorkers going on a hunting trip and somebody starts hunting them. It starts very slowly, not really getting interesting until halfway through it. The camera work is straight from the Blair Witch school of shitty cinematography. However, it does get suspenseful for most of the last half. It could have made a tight 45-60 minute piece with some editing.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2007 - 05:46 am:   

I just got back from a screening of Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, the latest film by 83 year old Sydney Lumet, and his first film of any quality since 1990's Q&A, a movie which made a briefly shining star out of Armand Assante. It's Greek tragedy meets family drama in this story of two brothers who, hard pressed for money, decided to rob the family store. The brothers are played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Andy) and Ethan Hawke (Hank), I can't believe I'm about to say good things about Hawke, but the qualities that make him such an unconvincing actor in most films make him perfectly suited for the role of Hank, a moral weakling, a deadbeat dad, whose ex savages him on a regular basis. Hoffman is on his A game and his Andy is a pudgy lump of rage and excess--he needs the money to wiggle out of an embezzlement charge and to support his drug habit. and his unending anger at his father Charlie (Albert Finney) may have something to with the fact that the caper goes wrong, and then wrong and wronger yet. Not everything works, but the acting and the script (great) carry us through the rough patches. Marisa Tomei gives a terrific performance as Andy's trophy wife, alternately dominating and fearful, and there isn't a bad performance in the entire ensemble. The end is a little much, but hey, best American movie I've seen this year...on a par with No Country for Old Men, but better acting. They both have more or less the same message, the world is an evil place, but Before the Devil Knows You're Dead requires no serial killer to make its point, just ordinary men and women.

Going to check out Southland Tales this weekend. It's supposed to have been cut by 25 minutes, but the theatre that;s showing it still lists the film at 2 hours and forty-one minutes. Curious.
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2007 - 06:28 am:   

Does SOUTHLAND TALES star The Rock?? Will this be yr first review of a Rock vehicle? :-)

I should add that Tomei was one of the few things I really liked about FACTOTUM. Now that she is past her babealiciousness, she is settling into some seriously good supporting roles.
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Mike McLatchey
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2007 - 09:41 am:   

That penultimate scene on the Curb Your Enthusiam series/season finale was hysterical. Best season yet!
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2007 - 09:49 am:   

I'm glad LD finally came to his senses. I hope it means Leon sticks around for another year.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2007 - 11:19 am:   

Yup, the Rock. I think he's a good comic actor, and this'll be my first review...
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Clint Harris
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2007 - 01:58 pm:   

After a quick IMDB on Abrams, I might have to agree with you on that. I enjoy "LOST" (when the plot is actually moving--so you might be able to add "stagnant" to the list of water metaphors) but the rest of his stuff is really pretty typical.

Then there's "Alias." The only interesting part about the whole show was whatever fetish outfit Jennifer Garner was going to wear in the first ten minutes. Outside of that, it was really just "who gives a shit?"

And what's up with the monster movie anyhow? Cloverfield? Cloverdale? Unless of course the monster is played by a 100 foot tall, pissed off Jennifer Garner in a merry widow and stilettos...

But it's the other 79 minutes of the movie that will have to keep everyone's attention. Maybe the monster can wear the pink wig halfway through?
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2007 - 02:32 pm:   

Re Cloverdale, I have read that the monsrer will be a dino with lots of little dinos....Affleck, Garner, and their progeny?
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2007 - 04:57 pm:   

The Rock did a bit as a gay singing bartender on SNL that was freakin' hilarious.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2007 - 05:03 pm:   

A part he reprised in Be Cool! :-)
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Luke Jackson
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2007 - 05:29 pm:   

Just saw Before the Devil Knows You're Dead too. Phillip Seymour Hoffman's role was so different from the quiet-loser ones I've seen him in before: Happiness, Boogie Nights, Owning Mahowny, etc. (The experience was kind of like seeing Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast.)

I felt great pity for the aw-shucks beaten-puppy little brother played by Ethan Hawke. You could tell he at least loved his kid..
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2007 - 07:01 pm:   

He's done that type of role before...on stage, anyway. And lets not forget MI3. :-)
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2007 - 07:34 pm:   

I want to forget MI3.

I just got back from a Kenneth Anger event, several of his film and a Q&A session with Anger. It was my first time seeing Anger's work, and it will probably be the last. Given his reputation, I expected more from his work, something weirder, perhaps with a bit of narrative.
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Clint Harris
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2007 - 10:04 pm:   

I never saw MI3. MI was bad enough, with Tom Cruise doing some sort of weird technical climbing ballet crap you see at community rec centers. I want that seven dollars and 108 minutes back at the end of my life, thanks.

The only Tom Cruise movie I want to watch is one where the other actors take turns beating him with a sock full of quarters for an hour and a half.

In my opinion, he hasn't made a decent movie since Interview with the Freakin' Vampire. No, wait. Legend. And that's probably just because he was terrified of Ridley Scott during production.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2007 - 11:14 pm:   

Well, duh,

I go back to Risky Business for a decent TC movie.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 04:53 am:   

Magnolia was a decent movie with Cruise. But that was a movie that had Cruise in it, rather than a "Tom Cruise movie."
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Fabrice Doublet
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 05:03 am:   

Just seen "In the Valley of Ellah" (just out in France). I enjoyed it (from a European point of view, that is to say without being involved in the hot political internal US debate). Moving story and moving Tommy Lee Jones. I understand better why more and more Americans want to "cut and run", whatever the consequences. Even if I'm not sure the US Army is really so "secret", "paranoiac" and arrogant in its dealings with civilian people and the police.
Well, seems Paul Haggis isn't sonsidered a saint here. No matter. I liked the movie.
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Luke Jackson
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 07:22 am:   

Cruise was good in Magnolia because his role seemed to be almost a satire of himself.

He also made a good sleazy neocon politician in Lions for Lambs, in a kind of argh-I-want-to-smack-him kind of way.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 07:39 am:   

Not a fan of Magnolia. I haven't liked Anderson since he quit using an editor.

I'm afraid I'm not going to make Lambs.

Valley of Elah...it was okay for Haggis, but I'm getting a bit tired of Tommy Lee's Grumpy Old Men acting style. He almost ruined No Country For Old Men....
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Dave G.
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 09:21 am:   

Liked Cruise in Magnolia, too. The movie lost me when it started raining frogs, though. Anyone have any clue what that was all about?
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 09:21 am:   

Against my better judgment, I'm going to see Beowulf in 3D tonight. I'll let everyone know how bad it is.
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Luke Jackson
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 09:28 am:   

I thought it was something biblical. I found this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raining_animals

Does that make the movie slipstream?
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Luke Jackson
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 09:30 am:   

Actually, this is more on point:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=1005101900005
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 09:46 am:   

Look forward to it Robert.

The frog thing, biblical or not, was indulgent BS. IMO.
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Luke Jackson
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 10:08 am:   

It was a pretty heavy-handed deus ex machina.
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jk
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 10:17 am:   

Saw Woman In The Dunes. What a fantastic movie. Amazing photography-I loved all the textured shots of the sand, and an excellent score by Takemitsu. Now I'm looking forward to seeing some of the directors other movies.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 10:17 am:   

Yup. To say the least.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 10:42 am:   

How can anyone not like Tom Cruise? Might as well ask how anyone can not like Peyton Manning.

A sense of good taste? An acute yearning for justice? A code of ethics? Coherency in their words and thoughts? I guess it all boils down to one simple fact. Some people are just born weird.
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Dave G.
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 11:05 am:   

Yeah, but weird often coincides with "interesting." The phenomenon of weird trying to steer mainstream is pretty awful.
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Dave G.
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 11:06 am:   

I am referring of course, to Mr. Cruise, not Mr. Shepard.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 01:14 pm:   

Yes, Woman of the Dunes is good. The truth is that there are SO many good Japanese films from that era. A film I saw a while back and enjoyed a lot is Black Test Car.

I was going to watch The River Fuefuki this evening but my DVD player wasn't behaving.
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jk
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 10:04 pm:   

Lucius, have you seen the French film Innocence? About the girls at the strange boarding school?
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 10:24 pm:   

Yeah, it's kind of good, but it never seems to build to anything. Very atmospheric, a sort of fable about sexuality....it's was like popcorn that didn't pop all the way.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Friday, November 16, 2007 - 11:47 pm:   

Yes, Black Test Car is cool...(I did a tiny blog about it here: http://brendanconnell.wordpress.com/2007/09/11/black-test-car/ )

It isn't as profound as Woman of the Dunes, but it is a very cool anti-corporate piece of film making.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Saturday, November 17, 2007 - 06:16 am:   

Beowulf was much better than I expected. Far better than any other Beowulf adaptation (not difficult). The script was much better than most big action movies. I don't think Lucius will like it, but if you're looking for a fantasy/action movie that's not stupid, it provides some good entertainment.

Some things that I found interesting: the computer animation of people has come a long way, I think computer Anthony Hopkins was probably better than real Hopkins. Considering how much of action movies now are CG, it seems more fitting to watch complete animation rather than people mixed with CG (especially since the animation here was better than most computer enhanced action movies). It was also interesting that most of the characters were modeled after the actors who played the part...except for Ray Winstone. Beowulf seemed more modeled after Sean Bean.
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jk
Posted on Saturday, November 17, 2007 - 10:37 am:   

Watched a French film called Black Night. A weird movie with a dreamlike feel. The main character is an entymologist and there are lots of arty close up shots of bugs. There isn't much of a narrative, but some of the images are interesting and kind of painterly at times. At one point a girl comes out of a cocoon on his bed. It's surreal and the director said some of the images were from his dreams, but I'm not sure it hangs together that well. Plus the photography looks kind of like cheap dv. Seemed like kind of a failed experiment to me, but interesting for trying to do something different.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, November 17, 2007 - 01:39 pm:   

No, I was disappointed in BN. I'd hoped for better.
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jk
Posted on Saturday, November 17, 2007 - 03:04 pm:   

There's a dvd of his shorts out too. Wonder if they're any good? I can't be bothered.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, November 17, 2007 - 03:27 pm:   

Me, neither. I saw Southland Tales. There was more awful than good in it, I think, but it was interesting.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, November 17, 2007 - 03:29 pm:   

Thanks for the link, Brendan...
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jk
Posted on Saturday, November 17, 2007 - 03:34 pm:   

Justin Timberlake's in Southland Tales. How could it not be good?
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jk
Posted on Saturday, November 17, 2007 - 03:35 pm:   

Did you read the graphic novels too? Isn't that the movie where you need to read the graphic novels to know what's going on? That's kind of presumptous on the director's part if he thinks people are going to slog through graphic novels before they watch his movie.
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jk
Posted on Saturday, November 17, 2007 - 03:41 pm:   

Speaking of bad movies I saw Herzog's Wild Blue Yonder recently too. Really terrible. Brad Dourif plays an "alien" who looks like a bum standing in front of a wrecked building, spouting nonsense about his alien race that's come to earth. In between Herzog inserts footage of divers underneath ice, which is supposed to be his "alien world with a sky of ice", then shows interminable shots of astronauts in space doing nothing particularly interesting. I guess it's supposed to be some commentary on how man is wrecking the planet, but it's just a mess.
Maybe would have been better as a 15 minute short. Or maybe not.
The score was kind of cool though. Impov cellist with different world music vocalists. Only good thing about it really.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Saturday, November 17, 2007 - 06:44 pm:   

Darn, I was interested in Wild Blue Yonder.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2007 - 02:06 am:   

Actually, I sort of liked Wild Blue Yonder. I don't really think it's a mess. It's just not a conventional film.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2007 - 05:55 am:   

New thread.

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