I grew up watching the Big Stomper, and a few years ago got to see the original Japanese cut of Gojira.

Here's a clip of Godzy's greatest foes:


Salo: The Dullest Film Ever?

Shit-eating and assorted other debaucheries made not repulsive, but dull.

Pier Paolo Pasolini was a failed poet and writer, and, like Jean Cocteau, decided to take his failure into another art form.

Salo, or 120 Days Of Sodom is a yawnfest from start to end.

Herein a trailer/clip:

Quoth me: 'Overall, Salò, or 120 Days Of Sodom is a very bad film; not the worst film I’ve ever watched, but surely amongst the dullest- think of an Andy Warhol Factory Film with some pointless perversions tossed in. There is little artistic merit, technically, no real narrative nor character development, no deeper ‘meaning,’ so why watch it? The only possible reason would be so that a young filmmaker could see exactly what NOT to do. I will watch some of Pasolini’s other films, but given my knowledge of this and his poetastry, I hold out little hope of getting by aesthetic socks knocked off.
Of course, one of the reasons the film’s ‘reputation’- such as it is, has endured, is because of the death of Pasolini shortly after the film’s premiere. Depending on your mood, it was either ironic or fitting that Pasolini was murdered by a young man who was repulsed by the lech’s overt homosexual advances and propositioning for money. There are several versions of the tale, online, but the most consistent details seem to be that the underaged youth, then recently released from jail, beat the crap out of the filmmaker, left him in the road, and then took Pasolini’s keys to his car and repeatedly ran over the man with his own Alfa Romeo until he was dead. Naturally, and given the acrimony following the release of Salo, Pasolini defenders took to claiming that the Left Wing ‘artist’- a convicted child molester, himself, could not have been killed by the kid, but was the target of- you got it, a government conspiracy to ‘silence him.’ Now, given the utter lack of intellectual depth that his last film, and his body of poetry, as well as a sampling of his ‘critical writings’ that I have read translations of, this would be akin to the proverbial ‘using a sledgehammer to kill a flea.’ But, it has kept Pasolini and this swill on the fringes of cinematic consciousness. In fact, in 2006, Time Out magazine rated Salò the most controversial film ever made, or, did exactly what PPP wanted: if one is incapable of art, go for what keeps the name.

Correct again!


Fatty Arbuckle

Before the Great Trinity, there was Fatty Arbuckle. His comedies helped introduce Keaton and others. Then came the false rape allegations that ended his career.

A shame, because while not in a league with the Big Three, he was nonetheless funny.


Harold Lloyd

Completing the Trinity of Silent Comedians is the All-American Boy, Harold Lloyd.

This clip (poor quality and all)-

-is from a typical Lloyd short. Note his zealous character. Before striking upon this prototype, Lloyd went through at least a half dozen other 'characters,' including a Chaplin Tramp ripoff.


Buster Keaton

Here is a classic short. Keaton was a master at reaction comedy, later embraced by Bob Newhart.

Good stuff.


The Charlie Chaplin Festival

My mom died yesterday, on Memorial Day, and she was born in 1922. I don't think she was a big moviegoer, but she did mention seeing some Chaplin as a girl.

While not the best quality, these 4 shorts are vintage Tramp.

In recent decades, it has become chic to put Buster Keaton and even Harold Lloyd ahead of Chaplin in the Silent Comedy Trinity of greats. And, I love all three, having seen them all on the old Joe Franklin tv show in NYC, in the 1970s- along with the Keystone Kops, Fatty Arbuckle, Laurel and Hardy, etc. But, in truth, most of this is a backlash against Chaplin's supposed sentimentalism. Yes, The Great Dictator ends in a sappy fashion (however well wrought the final speech is).

The shorts show an almost vicious Tramp, and, while Lloyd was the more thrill seeking of the trio, and Keaton the more cerebral, they all played off of Chaplin's virtuoso schticks and balletic moves.

Chaplin was king, for a reason- he was simply better at more comedic things than anyone. As proof, of the Holy Trinity, only his career did not tank in the sound era. He was versatile, as well as funny.

Note the great gaslight scene in, I believe, Easy Street! Sentiment my ass.

Long live King Charlie!


Eye Candy Extraordinaire: Christian Bale.

Been thinking about Christian Bale lately, if for no reason, other than he's hot.

I would just love to have been that actress in the Malick film The New World who is forced to choose between Colin Farrell and Christian Bale. Why doesn't life give me such tough choices as that?

I've actually not seen any of his Batman movies, believe it or not, but I loved him in The New World, American Psycho, Rescue Dawn, and even in The Machinist, where he's deathly thin. He's the hottest anorexic I've ever seen.

I like him both shaved and scruffy. He looks hot either way.

Anyway, that is my fluff post for the day. It can't all be about Sharon Stone and Zeta-Jones!

At The Circus

It's a 70 year old flick and not their best- but still, Groucho is da man!


American Pie: Yawn.

Last night I flipped on the TV and saw that the 1999 movie American Pie was on. I saw it only once in the theater, when it came out, but after rewatching some of it, I can definitely see it's not a film that holds up over time. Granted, when I first saw it, I knew it was just a "teen comedy" but there are some who think this is somehow transcendent of the genre, which it is not. (Though Eugene Levy is good).

During the movie, there were clips with the directors and some of the actors, and the directors mentioned that Diner was an influence. Well, Diner isn't a great movie either, but it is loads better than the silly, dated frat boyish humor that incorporates this film. There is also an homage to The Graduate where one of the characters screws his friend's mom. But the point is that American Pie is not in a league artistically with either of those two films.

I also get annoyed by this movie because it's one of those films that young guys feel the need to quote from in everyday life. (It's like what Ace Ventura was in the early-mid '90s). I remember back in '01-'03 my male coworkers would just mutter lines from this shit, and it's always a bad sign when you can't come up with your own jokes, but need to repeat the stale lines from mediocre films. Granted, another film they quoted from constantly was Office Space, but Office Space, while it can still appeal to the high school/frat boy mentality, has far better acting, writing and comic realism in that film.

Basically, if you're into toilet humor and want a film that does it well, I recommend the 40 Year Old Virgin, where the writing is much better. Here is the American Pie trailer:



The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie

The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie may very well be the best film of John Cassavetes.

I nail its greatness: 'The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie succeeds as a great piece of cinema because its lead character is one of the most realistically drawn characters in film history- he’s a thug and a killer, yet one who is explicable. He is a businessman who cannot separate work from personal lives- his girlfriend is the bar’s top stripper, and twenty or more years his junior. Yet, it is not a film noir, as so often called, for Cassavetes transcends the simpleminded techniques of that genre, and delivers a film of intellectual heft and psychological breadth, where murder blossoms from the seemingly most inane, perfunctory, and inconsequential of moments, and leads to an examination of masculinity and territoriality that has no peers in film. Sometimes his scenes go on a tad too long, but, like Walt Whitman’s poetry, there is beauty and strength in even his excesses- something that many other so-called artists’ most focused works lack. Cassavetes consistently served up his art at ‘the grown ups table,’ as Woody Allen called drama vis-à-vis comedy, but so few film fans are used to real, or pure, drama, for Hollywood has so dissolved their minds with mid-level melodramas, that they simply are overwhelmed by his best films audacious pseudo-verité.'

Ben Gazzara is great, and gives one of the most realistic mobster performances in history. This, and Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog, are the best mobster portrayals I've ever seen. Best and most realistic- none of the stretching of truths in Scorsese nor any of the faux Shakespeareanism of Coppola.

Here's a taste that shows the realism I mean:

THIS- not gunfights and great decisons- is what dominates criminal enterprises. Just listen to the agita-inducing BS that Gazzara's Cosmo Vitelli must deal with. And this is a slice of hundreds of little bullshits in a day. Note how people go about in their own little worlds, ignoring each other. No filmmaker does this the way Cassavetes did.

Beautiful. GREAT!

Marx Brothers Weirdness

A little levity:


Lord Of The Rings

Yesternight, Jess was on the BBC radio show hosted by Richard Bacon, and talking about Chick Lit. Bacon then coined the term bloke lit, meaning the male equivalent.

Could there be a better example of bloke films than The Lord Of The Rings? I mean, how many women have ever read J.R.R. Tolkien's works? Only geeky nerds with no real life. And, what of those who fetishize it and are over the age of 30?

And the films are nothing but comic book level stuff, and not even at Spider-Man film level.

Herein a clip:


Glee: Don't Stop Believing.

Dan and I watched the first episode of the Fox show Glee, which was OK. Though the cover to this Journey song was pretty good. Dan hates Journey but I've always loved this Journey song.

Manhattan Murder Mystery.

I watched another lite Woody film the other day, this one Manhattan Murder Mystery. This film was released right after the Woody-Mia scandal and originally the part was going to go to Mia, rather than Diane, but I think Diane is much better suited for this comic role. She and Woody also have a great screen chemistry.

I enjoy all aspects of Woody, from his deeper, more resonant films like Another Woman and Stardust Memories, to that of Sleeper and Manhattan Murder Mystery. After have just endured a fluffy interview with the BBC about chick lit, it's amazing how people are so willing to settle for fluff and mediocrity. They always defend it, thinking that "people need an escape" as though quality art isn't an escape as well. I am disappointed in the interview because I only got to say like 5 % of what I wanted, but what can you do?

This is one of the many reasons for why quality suffers, it's all about what people "like" and "escape" is their primary concern, over say, quality, which can also offer an escape, but something more as well. Woody is someone who values comedy and the occasional lite flick, but even his lite flicks offer some wit and entertainment. He's allowed to have some lite entertainment here and there, because he's earned it, with having put out so many great films throughout his career.

Though if I am forced to pick my fave lite Woody film, it would probably be Love & Death.

Why Are So Many Movies So Dark?

Anyone who has seen The Dark Knight will notice the unfortunate tone in action movies to go ‘dark and serious’. Unfortunately, most people do not go to see action movies to get depressed. To be honest, they go to see action movies to get an adrenaline rush. The best action movies, such as Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, Kill Bill Vol. 1, and most Arnold Schwarzenegger movies recognize this. Others, however, such as Kill Bill Vol. 2, The Dark Knight, Sin City, and the 2005 TV miniseries Hercules do not.

Yes, the old Ray Harryhausen films, like Jason and the Argonauts and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, were campy, loaded with hammy acting, and dated SFX…but they were good adventure films, and the hammy acting was often quite humorous. Moreover, the stop-motion SFX, while not on a par with modern CGI, have their charm. Harryhausen was the greatest SFX person in history, not because his effects looked realistic, but because he elicited good ‘performances’ out of his ‘actors’. Creatures such as Talos in Jason and the Argonauts and the Cyclops in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad have a far wider range of emotions than anything CGI has ever constructed, such as Shrek.

Yet, the CGI effects in Hercules are every bit as corny as anything Harryhausen ever constructed, and they lack the emotional range of his creatures. Although I am no fan of those films, there is simply no comparison between the effects in Hercules and the lauded effects in The Lord of the Rings films of a few years back. In fact, all the actors, digital and real, are bad. The person who plays Hercules is like a British Tom Cruise, in that he has the range of a cucumber. Alcmene is a total one-note psycho-bitch, and Meg seems to be sleepwalking through her performance.

In fact, the only major actor in the film is Sean Astin, who played Sam in The Lord of the Rings films, playing Linus, a songwriter who accompanies Hercules on his missions to provide a record of his great accomplishments. The only other semi-notable actors are Timothy Dalton, who most regard as the worst filmic representation of James Bond, and Leelee Sobieski, who is most notable for her 5-minute role as a modern-day Lolita in Stanley Kubrick’s masterful psychodrama Eyes Wide Shut, starring Tom Cruise. Astin probably does the best acting job in the film, although that is not saying much. As Amphitryon, Dalton shows no improvement in the nearly 20-year gap between his duo of terrible, wooden performances as 007 and this, and as Deianira, Sobieski shows why her career never went anywhere after Eyes Wide Shut in the kind of role that serves as a platform for actors to go on to bigger, better roles.

Yes, the cheesy acting in the Ray Harryhausen films is much preferable to this. It is hardly great, but at least some of the actors knew how to perfect the art of scenery chewing, à la Jack Nicholson in Batman. There is no such luck here, which brings me to the greatest flaw in Hercules, how unremittingly bleak and dull it is.

Simply put, the film attempts to be ‘dark and realistic’ in a genre that is inherently unrealistic. This is Hercules, not Othello! I wanted a ripping good yarn, something equivalent to the Spider-Man films of a few years back, where the story is intriguing and the characters are people we know and meet every day. Yet we do not get that. Instead, we get wan attempts at character development and intellectual depth, in a supposed critique of religious fanaticism. Fine, we get it, religious extremism leads to nothing but bloodshed, but anyone old enough to remember the September 11 attacks knows that! There is no attempt to probe this fanaticism or understand it. Instead, we merely get a condemnation. In addition, the characters are so one-dimensional and dull that the 2/3 of the film wasted at trying to develop them simply makes the audience want to sleep.

Now, as if that is not bad enough, the few action scenes in the film are dull and disappointing. Look at the action scenes in Terminator 2 or Aliens. There, the action is so intense, and we so did not expect what was coming that the audience cannot turn away from the screen, and the thrill intoxicating. Those films actually transport us into the action. In Hercules, the action is so rote that the audience simply does not care, and we usually know exactly what is coming…in fact, the characters usually tell us exactly what’s coming! In the Hydra scene, I knew that Amphitryon was gonna die, and I knew that the beautiful woman was the Nemean lion, and I knew during Hercules’ ‘climactic showdown’ with Antaeus that there was going to be a ‘stunning revelation’, à la Darth Vader.

This brings me to the ultimate flaw with the film. Simply put, dark and grim does not work when imposed on a genre that deals with things essentially fantastic and whimsical in nature. If there had been well-developed characters if we actually cared about them and their plights, and if they were actually compelling and realistic, then some of these flaws may have been forgivable. The problem is that they are not, and it is easier to create a string of good action scenes and a rollicking adventure than it is to do Shakespearean drama. Why do you think that everyone remembers The Terminator but only remember Terms of Endearment as a synonym for tearjerker? That is easy, because The Terminator is a great action film while Terms of Endearment is one of the most shameless tearjerkers out there. Simply put, Hercules’ angst and plight does not compare to that of Othello, Hamlet, nor Macbeth, and while it makes for a ripping good yarn, when played as serious drama, it is ridiculous.

Despite many pretensions by scholars and academics, Greek myths are not Shakespeare. They do not tell us anything deep about ourselves, nor do they explore relevant issues…and may Joseph Campbell and the rest of his ilk rot! The fact is that Greek myths, such as the tales of Hercules, the Argonauts, and Theseus are ancient Greece’s equivalent to comic books. Compare Hercules to Superman or Theseus to Batman, and the similarities are manifest. Instead of learning from the master’s mistakes, and correcting them, it appears that comic books decided to recreate the mistakes of their masters, and this all culminates in last year’s egregiously dull and vastly overrated The Dark Knight, replete with terrible performance from the late Heath Ledger.

Simply put, until people learn how to develop characters, create interesting stories, and deeply explore intellectual issues through such media, they should stop trying to do it. They do not know what they are doing, and they are clearly way out of their league. Even Frank Miller, inventor of the black-and-white comic book (I refuse to use the term ‘graphic novel’ because only geeks use it), only did such to impress girls. Yet his work was so dead serious that it had its own inevitable camp value. Imagine having Hercules standing at the edge of a cliff giving a soliloquy in Elizabethan English. Now imagine the laughter that would invoke. That is what Miller did. Like The Dark Knight, Hercules does not go far enough in that direction.

No, instead, it is just a bad action film, with pretensions to depth and seriousness, and whereas a noted hack like Michael Bay can claim that his schlock does not pretend to be anything else, Hercules can make no such claim. Game, set…oh, well, you know what is coming.


The essay is up.


Land Of The Lost

Synchronicity is odd. A few days ago I mentioned Land Of The Lost, and yesterday I saw this trailer for a comic, spoof version of the old show:

Will Ferrell is probably the best film comedian around- less predictable than Mike Myers, and not as taken with his own humor as Jim Carrey or Robin Williams. How to take on this old show? Just make fun of it all. I may even be tempted to see this in theaters. Pretension kills. This looks like the least pretentious Hollywood flick in years.


A Boy Named Charlie Brown

I forget whether it was this film or the re-release of The Sound Of Music, which was my first movie experience in a theater. And that theater was Radio City Music Hall. On a big screen, this film was quite impressive.

In my linked post, I erred and thought this film was called You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, but the correct title is above. I recall the river rafting sequence, and, somehow, it's as if 40 years pass by in a whirr. Too, I recall Julie Andrews' mien on the big screen, but even more so than the first Christmas tv special with the Peanuts gang, this film is the definitive Charlie Brown, to me.

Here is a link to the film.

Here is the opening sequence:


Dark City Redux?

I earlier posted about this film, and rewatched it last week, in the Director's Cut edition. A great film, but I don't know if the additions, and deletion of the opening voiceover really makes the film better. Proyas, in the DVD commentary thinks so. But I think the changes are more akin to the Apocalypse Now-Apocalypse Now Redux cut- longer, but still of the same quality. Oftentimes directors are screwed, but other times it's their vanity and egos at work when they decry studio edits. Blade Runner, while no great film, is actually better in its first cut, with cheesy voiceover that leavens some of the mawkish scenes within by adding a taste of unintended POMo self-deprecation.

Here is Kiefer Sutherland doing his Peter Lorre best:

However, the most famous scene from this film made iconic the image of Jennifer Connelly at the end of a long pier.


I watched the 1973 Woody Allen film Sleeper last night. It's been kind of a hectic and emotionally tiring week, so I just wanted something lite to kick back and enjoy. I remember this movie from when I was a kid and saw it on TV. It's silly-funny. Basically Woody Allen wakes up and the year is 2173, and it's always funny to see what the past anticipated the future would be like. The computers are still large and film projectors are still being used, yet the hair and styles are still from the 1970s.

Even though the movie is silly, there are still some witty lines. A list can be found here, but here are some of them:

Luna Schlosser: It's hard to believe that you haven't had sex for 200 years.
Miles Monroe: 204, if you count my marriage.

Miles Monroe: I'm not really the heroic type. I was beat up by Quakers.

Miles Monroe: When I asked my mother where babies came from, she thought I said "rabies." She said you get them from being bitten by a dog. The next week, a woman on my block gave birth to triplets... I thought she'd been bitten by a great dane.

Miles Monroe: I'm what you would call a teleological, existential atheist. I believe that there's an intelligence to the universe, with the exception of certain parts of New Jersey.

Luna Schlosser: I think we should have had sex, but there weren't enough people.

The trailer is really funny and worth the watch. Woody appears in it as himself:


Tearjerkers: Good Stuff

The label tearjerker has become a pejorative, because it often means sentimental to the extreme.

But there are films that are tearjerkers that are great art. In mind are film's like Robert Bresson's Au Hasard Balthazar and Theo Angelopoulos's Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow. These films are truly masterpieces of misery and sadness.

But, even Hollywood can occasionally get things right. About a decade ago. My Dog Skip was released, and it is a superb film; I would argue a great one, if but for the writing. It puts me in mind of October Sky and A River Runs Through It, films also based upon memoirs, like My Dog Skip.

Here is the film's end, and even non-animal lovers, or cat lovers (like me) can appreciate the scene below, for it is simple, not simplistic; realistic, not truthful; and never makes one want to retch. It also is a family film- another term that has become a pejorative.

I say, watch it, for it's even better than Stand By Me, long considered te king of non-Disney family films.

Doug McClure and the TV show 'Lost'

Last night, I kicked back and was switching between American Idol and Lost- two popular tv shows.

I'd seen only two full episodes of Lost before and this was the season 5 finale. What a bad show! Now the cast is stuck between times- 1977 and 2007, and there is absolutely no depth to the show. It reminded me of many of the 1970s B films of Doug McClure, where random shit is thrown in the script and the actors deal with it; or even of the old Saturday morning 1970s show, Land Of The Lost; which was actually quite superior in its writing and themes.

The thing that annoys me, though, is that this dreck is what passes for deep television. Not something like The Prisoner, but this garbage.

No character development, the dumbest possible action trope to push the plot along....yet this is billed as deep. Jeez!

At least Doug McClure is not around to see his silly B films lauded as real art!


Dr. Cyclops

One of the earliest color horror films, and one that has stayed with me for decades.

Albert Dekker is great as the Doc, but it's hard to believe this was made almost 70 years ago!


Sharon Stone

One of the things I hate most is waste, and one of the biggest wastes of acting talent around these days is Sharon Stone. Loved her in some early roles, but after her Scorsese gig in Casino, it's been all downhill- bad roles, age, medical problems, divorces, and then mouthing off stupidly as a celebrity.

Oh well, I guess even Mensans have their off decades.


Bicentennial Man

While resting up after a hard week of work, I flipped the channels and came in about five minutes after the start of this film, based on an Isaac Asimov tale, and directed by, of all people, Chris Columbus, that Ron Howard wannabe.

The first hour or so is very good, far better than Spielberg's A.I. Then the film transitions from the robot version of Andrew to a flesh and blood Robin Williams. While the film does not outright tank, it does become a 'Robin Williams' film- i.e.- a tearjerker. But, in a good sense.

The tale is strong enough to overcome the predictability of Williams' character- Andrew- in his quest for humanity and, yes, love. But, with a better script (and a different lead actor), it could have been a great film, rather than a merely good one.


Thirteen Conversations About One Thing,

Dan recently posted a trailer to this film, which in turn, prompted me to watch it this afternoon. I remember thinking how good it was when I first watched it, and upon rewatch, it only reconfirmed this notion. Many seem to label this film "a film about happiness" but the underlining thing is actually randomness. Subjects like what luck and fortune play in one's life enter in, as well as routine and spontaneity.

One dumb website calls the film "uneven" and compares it to Todd Solondz' Happiness, which is nothing at all like this film. It amazes me what critics miss. I can't disagree more, since this is one of the best plotted and tightly woven films I've seen. It's incredibly even. To reduce this film to a "search for happiness" is fairly simplistic, but it's more about how our actions can impact others, and more importantly, how they can't. There are certain things that are out of our control. Life is unfair. Not everything ties up into a little bow. There is no reason for this because that is the reason.

The film does an excellent job with its use of symbolism, where moments are brought out naturally, and not forced upon us via way of some melodramatic score. The dialogue is also insightful and flows naturally. Metaphors appear but they appear as they would in life, not like in that terrible film The Hours, where water is flowing beneath the bed that holds a crying pregnant woman to a Philip Glass score. No dying gay men with AIDS jump out of windows in this one.

The reason this film has not been given more attention is because it is so intelligent and doesn't dumb itself down. In a society that values Doprah's Book Club and The Hours, Crash, and Brokeback Mountain, what can one otherwise expect from a world of philistines? The fact that this film is not as well known and crap like the above films are is testimony to the unfairness in life--a point the film addresses well.



This is my second Jancso, I'm still far from having a fair perspective on his work; but I can say one thing for sure: He loves large dynamic tableaux. The dynamism of his scenes is interesting, it's based mostly on numerous (up to hundreds) actors executing different asynchronous actions coming in and out of frame. He stages his actors often in groups at different distances from the camera, giving the shot depth (3-D perspective), adding the different actions in/out screen you'll have the feel of witnessing a giant complex machine in motion.

The first film I saw of his (Electra, my love) was a re-interpretation of the legend, in an neo-operatic theme. His control of the hundreds of actors during lengthy scenes is astonishing! I couldn't escape this thought: repeating a ten-minute shot of a hundred something actor if one mistake happens sounds really painful!

Back to The Red and The White, plotwise though it's a film about the 1920's war b/w the communists (Red) and the Czarist (White), it is a plotless movie, no main actors, no heroes. Jancso would lead us to follow a main "commander" everynow and then only to arrive to his demise very soon after, and that's a smart mechanism to describe the war: no intervention, no involvement, passive observation of different war figures, and the futility of the war itself.

Like many, I knew about Jancso after reading about Tarr, and I can see where this association comes from, yet Tarr is different from Jancso despite his adaptation of this "dynamism".
Not only Tarr's image is unrealistic, contrastest shadowy grey, black, and white. But also Tarr's "dynamism" is different (and more sophisticated):

1. Tarr doesn't constantly rely on large number of actors in his scenes like Jancso, to produce an effect of motion.
2. Tarr's camera's movement is more complex, often traverses through windows into different territoires. Jancso's camera follows, tracks, observes, rarely zooms, but doesn't cross planes.

Tarr even surpasses Tarkovski in manipulation, while the latter uses a slow paced rythm and a slow flow of images to create an effect (something he called Sculpting in Time, i.e using time to enhance the memory of an image, thus sculpting). Tarr uses time and his complex camera movement to distort our perception of time AND space. At times I am "lost" in a shot, in the very opening of Man from London, the full information about the "place" is giving SLOWLY through the flow, the close follow up over stuctures, furniture... adding the "actual" action (not created by the camera movement) the camera captures. Anotonioni and Teshigahara did that at some elementary level, They would start a scene by a confusing close up, but nobody like Tarr pushed that effect to such level.

Jancso is different from Tarr and anybody else, and "The Red and The White" is worth watching for its splendid tableaux, including a hauting scene (at the end) of an army gathered on a triangular-shaped open land surrounded by water.


Thirteen Conversations About One Thing

This is a terrific little film from 2001 that deserved more attention- it's a great film. It's only weak section is the Matthew McConaughey section. Still, that's a good, solid tale.

Here's the trailer:


Jimmy Cagney

I grew up watching his films as a kid. My dad loved Cagney. Humphrey Bogart couldn't hold his water, and John Garfield was a wannabe. Drama, musical, comedy; what couldn't the little Mick do?

Here's a clip from The Public Enemy, where he swoons over Jean Harlow:

Here's an interview with him and Pat O'Brien:

Here's some scenes from White Heat, his last hit:

Here's the trailer for the same film:

Cagney kicked ass!


Film Critics: Gene Siskel

It's over ten years since Gene Siskel died.

Here is a cool clip of him and Roger Ebert bickering:

If Ebert was better at wordsmithing, Siskel certainly was better at understanding the art of film, and things like character development. However, he was not a great critic, either, and also seemed to fall along the like/dislike emotional axis rather than the good/bad intellectual one.

Still, 10+ years. And now Ebert seems ready to kick off.


Office Space

This weekend I watched the movie Office Space, after encountering references to it a couple of times of the past couple of weeks. This is a film that is listed as a ‘great genre’ film on Cinemension’s Great Film List, though I must say that I don’t think it is a great movie, genre or otherwise. I think it is just ok. It had some funny moments, particularly at the beginning of the film, and did capture many of the inanities of office life. But it kind of petered out at the end, and overall I don’t find it to be an especially memorable film. On Dan’s list, he’s featured Annie Hall as an example of a ‘great genre’ film in the Comedy category, and I’d say that is a better example of such. It is better written, and I’d say funnier and more memorable. Yet Allen has films that went beyond it, like Stardust Memories, so you can understand the argument for it as a ‘genre great'.

Here’s a scene with Jennifer Aniston. My friend remarked that Aniston always seems to play the same character in her work, and I kind of agree that she doesn’t really make much of an impression as an actress. I find the ‘flair’ thing to be funny though, as someone who did have to wear those fucking lame buttons at this one job I had.

Elem Klimov's COME AND SEE


Mentioning Eisenstein today made me remember one fine russian movie by Elem Klimov.
One of the best movies I've seen about WW2. Seen and heard thru the eyes and ears of a young boy who decided to join the russian army. why "heard"?? after barely surviving explosions, the young boy (and us) will be hearing humming noise as a result of ears damage for the rest of the movie.
The young boy's face features will have a transition from a soft childish face to plastic-like harsh features.
I've seen it a while ago but I remember well finding the ending is little "preachy".... but overall a pretty solid work.

I'm planning to watch two Russian movies soon: Sokurov's Father and Son, and Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky (reputedly a masterpiece).



Michael Haneke's FUNNY GAMES

So I found myself stuck in front of a big screen TV. Away from my DVDs I had to browse the on-demand menu and amongst the junk I decided to watch a Haneke: Funny Game (2008), a frame-by-frame American remake of the same-titled 1997 german speaking movie made by him (why the hell someone would do something like that).
I have to say that despite my dislike towards his movie, he succeeded in catching my attention. It was a painful feeling of guilt, I knew I fell in the trap Haneke had set up. Matter of fact his way of making movies is almost the same in his movies: to provoke the audience by presenting extremely disturbing situations, most often a couple or a family in crisis.

this is the synopsis of the movie by the female lead N Watts.

Haneke's "Funny Games" plays on two levels: the young guys playing games with the family, and Haneke himself playing games on the audience by letting his characters breaking the fourth wall, rewinding and fast-fwding the movie itself!

And though he makes a good point by breaking the Hollywoodian cliches formulas of violance and crime (shying away from the expected action, but spending ten minutes on after the aftermath. (the latter clip being from the original 1997 movie).

His first movie, the seventh continent received a high critical acclaim, look how he "annoyingly" goes on and on and on about the family destroying the furniture, or them flushing money bills down the toilet.
His die-hard fans always defend this as it gives strength and more reality to his scenes... I personally don't see anything of that at all. For me even if he tackles plot-wise, visually he is unimpressive at all (a crucial element in movie making)

Most of his movies either won or got special attention in Cannes: Code Unknown, Cache (Hidden), Time of The Wolf....


100th Post: Another Woman

Couldn't find any video for this, on of the Woodster's greatest films, a mesh of Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries and Woody.

So, here's the image:

There simply is nothing to fault in this film, from the use of Erik Satie's Gymnopaedie #3 (topping its use in My Dinner With Andre), to the cinematography and screenplay. Perfect. And, as great as she was in her husband, John Cassavetes' films, this is Gena Rowlands' greatest role. Given that my mom is now in hospice care, and near death, I find that deeper, more meaningful art, as this, takes on an even greater power, because what soothes the mind ultimately soothes the soul, but the reverse is not always true.

It's always open, to me, whether this, Stardust Memories, or Crimes And Misdemeanors is Woody's numero uno film. Which do you think?

BTW- this is the 100th post, despite what it might say on the side. One of our co-bloggers has yet to officially post his first post- it's in waiting, so this is 100, despite it stating 99!