Thoughts From Within - Woody Harrelson

Bad 'poem' but funny video.

It’s a Wonderful 14 of 14

It’s a Wonderful Life 13 of 14

It’s a Wonderful Life 12 of 14

It’s a Wonderful Life 11 of 14

It’s a Wonderful Life 10 of 14

It’s a Wonderful Life 9 of 14

It’s a Wonderful Life 8 of 14

It’s a Wonderful Life 7 of 14

It’s a Wonderful Life 6 of 14

It’s a Wonderful Life 5 of 14

It’s a Wonderful Life 4 of 14

It’s a Wonderful Life 3 of 14

It’s a Wonderful Life 2 of 14

It’s a Wonderful Life Part 1 of 14

It’s a Wonderful Life is the greatest Christmas classic- although it’s really a great film any time of year. Here’s the film, for free on YouTube:


Cheers - Sam Knows Diane's Secret

Recently saw some early episodes of Cheers and the Sam & Diane arc made that show. After Shelley Long left it became run of the mill.


Lost on Gilligan's Island

Nice spoof.

INSP presents The Waltons-The Childrens Carol with Richard Thomas, Ralph...

I watched this last night because they've been advertising the hell out of it. It was just ok. I've been watching The Waltons in order on INSP and it was weird to suddenly see Elizabeth with full teeth and Mary Ellen married with a kid. The writing wasn't as good as usual episodes and the Brit kids were weird. I didn't think much of the Brit actress.

OK, I understand there will be some trauma when dealing with London having been bombed but I doubt kids would be so terrified of everything as those were. Even of airplanes, when one flies over, they duck and hide. Then another causes the boy to freeze on the runway. Why they were even there, I don't remember. Dan raves about the 1st Walton's Christmas, which was a pilot for the show--as being much better. But this was ok if you don't have much else going on.


the homecoming: a christmas story

Trailer for The Homecoming, the pilot for The Waltons.

Richard Thomas was a terrific actor.


Crows vs Cat vs Cat Street Fight

Cool music and fight, with passive aggressive birds; although I don't think they're crows- perhaps grackles.


John Updike

Vastly overrated writer, but some interesting comments.


More Tim Burton

These are the other Tim Burton films I’d rank as good:

Well, OK, that had more to do with Jack Nicholson than Tim Burton...but you get the idea.

The rest of what I’ve seen- everything from Batman (1989) to Big Fish, excepting Mars Attacks!, is crap. Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Sleepy Hollow, and Planet of the Apes (2001)- all crap. I avoided Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, knowing that it couldn’t be any good, and that I didn’t really want to see him assrape one of my favorite childhood movies, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He’s an aesthete moreso than a storyteller, and that’s his main problem.

I haven’t seen anything he’s done since- Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), nor Alice in Wonderland (2010). I also haven’t seen any of his pre-Batman films- Pee-wee’s Big Adventure nor Beetle Juice.

Big Fish - trailer

The rare good Tim Burton film.


Peixoto's Limite (1931)

Recently I saw "Limite" at the BAM rose cinema in Brooklyn. A movie that since its creation in 1931 was never released to the public. It was the first movie ever made made by -then- 19 year old Brazilian Mario Peixoto, who never managed to finish any movie afterward until his death in 1992. This is from the opening scene:

It is almost impossible to grasp what the 19 year old man had accomplished -at least technically- in 1931: The movie has long uninterrupted tracking shots in the middle of the sea, unconventional camera positioning and close ups, non-linear narrative ... etc. Peixoto must have been a technical genius, many years ahead of everybody else: he built special camera supports for fluid 360 degree motion and long tracking shots, manipulated the lens optics to achieve fast "crisp" zoom effect for close ups...etc.

The movie opens with three young persons (a man and two women) in a small boat in the middle of nowhere. It will take some 20 minutes into the movie to realize that all "water" scenes relate to the present while the "land" scenes relate to the past of each character. There is no demarcation between the past and the present (very daring for 1931). The story is revealed progressively with almost no dialogue (dialoque screens can be counted on one hand over the 2-hour long movie) and we get to know why each character had grown tired of his/her own life. In a surprising (for 1931) way, the director would conclude the movie after two hours with no hints of how these people ended up on one boat after they reached the "limite" of their tolerance for life. Does the boat and the ocean really exist? or is it a metaphor for loss and despair? the dream-like quality of the images in mid ocean support the fact that this is just a dream (a nightmare) that the three total stranger are sharing, or "converging to" this one inevitable end: death ?

Even the conclusion of the movie is widely open-ended (again, this was 1931), the man chose to jump into the water and swim (and will never be shown after that) right before a storm hit the boat (the storm smartly suggested by close ups on waterfalls and waves) leaving one woman on a piece of floating wood (while the other one is totally not mentioned!).

Style-wise the movie is a lesson in symmetry, the opening and concluding shots are similar, just like the accompanying Satie (amongst other) music. The director at times opens a shot by very close zooms on objects (scissors, light poles....), few decades before Antonioni did that.

In Cinema there are movies that will never be touched by time, its quality will never be diminished, simply because they overcame the limitation of time and genre. Movies like Mirror, The Seventh Seal, Satantango will be watched and will be perceived with the same strength they evoked when they were first made. Limite is NOT one of those; just like Metroplois, Battleship Potemkin, Citizen Kane...etc its own importance is heavily based on it being an avant-guarde work that sooner or later would become the norm for plenty of mainstream movies.

Limite is an absolute must see, it is one of the best silent movies ever made.. and by itself it is an excellent work.

Roger Ebert - Archive Interview Excerpt on Film Criticism

Siskel & Ebert on Film Criticism



William S. Burroughs is a worthless cunt

A couple days ago, I was bitching to Jess about this worthless hideous awful horrendous atrocious cinematic assrape of a Holocaust of a molestation of a stupefyingly shitty piece of shit. I had to write a review of it, and so I decided to torture you with it! Here’s my review of The Junky’s Christmas!

“Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, all the way in 1993…William S. Burroughs wrote the screenplay for a wretchedly bad film called The Junky’s Christmas. Now for those of you who are unaware of who Burroughs was, I envy you…but since I was forced to sit through this calamitous monstrosity of regurgitated mental diarrhea, I’ll do a bit of complaining. Burroughs was a talentless hack of a writer who shot to fame in the 1950s after murdering his wife. A bit of good publicity and behind-the-scenes manipulation from his fans and publishers somehow reduced the charge to “culpable homicide”, although it’s a known fact that Burroughs loathed his wife, and he knowingly and deliberately aimed a loaded gun at her head—William Tell or no. who Burroughs was, far away, all the way in 1993… who Burroughs was, far away, all the way in 1993… who Burroughs was, far away, all the way in 1993…He proceeded to join a group of literary losers with little to no talent called the beatniks. OK, Ginsberg and Gregory Corso had some talent…but that is it, and even they managed to squander it after a while. Burroughs, however, was talentless, and never wrote anything approaching greatness. Ironically, the only reason anybody knows of him is that he was a murderer. Imagine if a decade from now Ted Bundy were more famous for being a “great poet” than for being a serial killer…despite being a damned awful poet.

This brings us to his awful POS known as The Junky’s Christmas. It is a truly horrendous film, replete with bad stop-motion, a gimmicky plotline that is dull, uninteresting, and pointless, and a bunch of “cool” gross-out moments and weird stuff intended to show us what a Brilliant Genius Burroughs is, but that is simply bizarre and strange. I was surprised looking at the packaging, to see that the executive producer was none other than the great Francis Ford Coppola, who directed such masterpieces as The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather Part II, and Apocalypse Now, as well as writing the great screenplay for Patton. I am genuinely annoyed! What were you thinking, Francis? You are so much better than this!

Without a doubt, the film is just Burroughs being snarky and giving the finger to Christmas. Wow! You are so mature, Billy Boy! The film is so bad that it makes one yearn for the puerile antics of Tim Burton’s dull yawn The Nightmare Before Christmas. That was similarly a dark and twisted Christmas tale done in stop motion, but at least that had some interesting visual effects, some good and memorable songs—helped by composer Danny Elfman’s great singing voice, and while no one over the age of ten or twelve would find it very entertaining, there’s much there for children. Moreover, that actually had an interesting premise, unlike The Junky’s Christmas. Admittedly, Burton, being the overgrown infant that he is, squandered that premise, but at least it has SOMETHING. Burroughs’ rubbish has NOTHING.

Now, given all the complaining I have done, you doubtlessly want to know what the film is about, right? Actually, you probably do not want to hear anymore, as you have already made up your minds, but tough luck. I sat through this radioactive brain fart of toxic waste, so you must listen to me complain about it! This cinematic anus of cruel and unusual punishment begins with a bunch of close-ups of an old person. Why do we want to see this? Well, as you may have already guessed, we do not want to see this—Burroughs wants us to see this. Why he wants to show us and fetishize over his atrophied form is beyond me. I went on a twelve-hour drinking binge, chain-smoked six joints, and I still drew a blank.

So anyway, we cut to Danny, a poorly animated stop motion figure who just got out of jail for being stoned in public. Already, the stop motion effects are worse than the effects in Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon, released over a hundred years ago. Forget comparisons to The Nightmare Before Christmas, released the same year. After Danny Boy’s release from jail, the pipes, the pipes start calling—IF ONLY! No, he decides that he wants to break into a car and steal it. Why are we supposed to care about this wretched and disgusting person? Oh right, I forgot! Depravity fascinates Burroughs and he revels in it! How silly of me!

Unfortunately, Dan-O fails to break into the car, and the film goes on a while longer. Eventually, he comes across a suitcase, which he decides to steal. He takes it to Central Park and decides to look inside of it. Once he opens it, Jack Nicholson pops out with an axe, starts chasing him around a hedge maze, and yelling “DAN-AY!” Well, that is what would happen if Burroughs had an ounce of humor. Instead, he finds a pair of severed human legs. That is nice. Seriously, I stopped caring when we got the five-minute fetishizing of Burroughs’ face.

So he decides to stuff the legs back into the suitcase—apparently, reporting it to the police wasn’t an option?, and decides to sell it to some scumbag in a cheap diner. Wow, Dan the Man is really a worthless person, isn’t he? Afterwards, he decides to go see a doctor to obtain some dope. After doing some facial gymnastics that even the aforementioned Nicholson could not top, the doc decides to give him some drugs, despite apparently knowing that our friend and terminal cretin is a faker. Whatever, I do not care.

After going to his shack where he presumably lives (?), he gets ready for his trip…until he hears moaning and groaning coming from next door. Apparently, he is a perv, so he decides to go see who it is. President Clinton never forgave him for this, and had the Secret Service shoot him on the spot.

No, it is actually someone who genuinely is sick. After some bad 2001: A Space Odyssey-wannabe effects that serve no real purpose, lack the majesty of the scenes in the Stanley Kubrick masterpiece, and aren’t half as convincing as the effects which actually came a quarter-century before it, our favorite obnoxious idiot suddenly changes heart, and decides to give his dope to the person actually in need of it.

What a copout! This ending is crap. I mean, what came before it is bad, gimmicky, and dull, but this takes the cake! You mean to tell me that some third-rate visual effects, which are not half as good as what I could do with Photoshop, suddenly cause this worthless wretch to become an actual human being! No. NO! THAT DOES NOT HAPPEN! Think of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Granted, he too was vastly overrated, and needed to learn concision, but he at least knew how to create well-wrought characters. His work had actual social commentary, not the self-indulgent mental masturbation that Burroughs engages in. Scrooge starts as a seemingly worthless miser, but we see throughout the course of the tale that this was not always so, and that there is some imminent goodness left in him. That is because Dickens was a master of a little thing called CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, an area in which William S. Burroughs is clueless! He realistically and believably limned the character of Scrooge, so that we not only believe the ending where he redeems himself, but we actually understand it and root for it. We understand and see his regret at alienating all his friends, and him finally coming to grips with himself. This is simply natural progression of character. Burroughs, however, simply has his character as a stupid, despicable person until the very end. Neither understanding nor insight changes his character—cheesy visual effects change him! Tell me who is better.

It is a bad film, and obviously so. In fact, it is so bad that it even terrified my computer. When I started to write this review, my computer was so horrified that Microsoft Word actually crashed. I could not make this up if I tried. It is a god-awful, worthless disaster of a film with no nearly no redeeming qualities that did nothing but strangely and bizarrely waste twenty minutes of my life. I will never get those twenty minutes back. Truly, the only good things I can say about this horrendous and evil crime against humanity are that it was relatively short and that I actually enjoyed eviscerating it. I am a sadist. This is clearly a Thumbs Down, and if you can avoid this Holocaust of a film, do so! Watch The Nightmare Before Christmas instead. That is all!”

Fortunately, a camera was able to capture my reaction to this hideous Satanic monstrosity. Here it is, in all its glory (my reaction, not the worthless movie):

Annie Hall- McLuhan Scene


DVD Review: Frisky, Furry and Fearsome

Click here to read my review.

Better ‘n’ “Lolita”

I’ve always believed that Allen’s great masterpiece Manhattan is far better than any version of Lolita is- be it the 1962 Stanley Kubrick film, the 1997 Adrian Lyne film, or even the original Nabokov novel. Mariel Hemingway’s Tracy is far better and more realistically written than any version of Lolita ever has been, and the whole story is much funnier, wittier, more entertaining, not to mention significantly deeper than any version of Lolita has been, as well. That’s because Allen has a far better and deeper understanding of people than Nabokov was capable of, and Allen is better able to convey it...narratively and humorously.

Of course, the final nail that Manhattan has over Lolita is actually somewhat obvious...Gershwin! Allen’s use of Gershwin creates a certain romantic poesy that no version of Lolita has matched. Perhaps if Kubrick had made it post-2001: A Space Odyssey, he would’ve done it. In fact, Kubrick himself openly regretted making it when he did- wishing he’d made it after the Production Code had fallen, so that he could get more risqué material in there. It would’ve been a better film, as long as he’d still cast Peter Sellers.

Speaking of which, the only advantage that any version of Lolita has ever had over Manhattan is, in fact, Peter Sellers. Sellers was probably the funniest film actor in history, and no one in Manhattan can match him for flat-out hilarity and laugh-out-loud moments. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Sellers is the only reason Lolita is NOT Kubrick’s worst film- that’d be Barry Lyndon. James Mason was also terrific, but his performance was dramatic, and as dramatically great as he is, there’s not enough material for him to elevate it. Comedy can often do far more to enliven a dull story. Mason’s was a great performance searching for a better film. Sellers’ was a great performance enlivening a wae

Here’s the famously great opening:

Here’s the famously great ending:

And here’s Peter Sellers:

Lolita 1962 - The Murder Scene


James Mason

Always thought James Mason was a better film actor than Olivier was. He was as good dramatically as Peter Sellers was comedically in Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita- arguably Kubrick’s worst film, but Mason and Sellers make it good. Tellingly, Mason and Sellers were among a mere handful of actors whom Kubrick truly respected and allowed to improvise.

Laurence Olivier


I Am David - Theatrical Trailer

I watched this movie last night on the Inspiration Channel (and likewise saw lots of commercials for hip replacement surgery, old people scooters, home health, knitting tools, buttons to hit when you fall, etc.) and anyway, while this was a made for TV film, it was decent. I've not read the book, but this film did a bit to invert some of the predictable cliches. For one, it is set after WW2 so it's not a concentration camp he escapes from. (I've often wondered why movies seem to think all ENDED with the end of the war--when in fact, many were still held in labor camps years afterward.)

Basically, David travels around and meets a variety of interesting characters, notably the painter--Sophie, played by Joan Plowright. Also, the boy is a good actor--he's not so cute and nor is he a wise ass, but a believable kid. He stumbles across people along the way, dips into their lives and then moves on. While this isn't a greatly deep film, it is one of the better "plot driven" ones I've seen, notably because the characters he meets are memorable.

The film could have benefited from a bit more deep moments or some rumination and observation, but it was well done for what it was and far better than cliched shit like Schindler's List.

Interview with Alec Guinness (BBC's Film Extra program 1973) Part 2

Interview with Alec Guinness (BBC's Film Extra program 1973) Part 1

Alec Guinness on “Star Wars”

Perhaps no one hated Star Wars as much as Alec Guinness did. He was certainly no fan of the series, later admitting he only did it for the money.


The Outer Limits Intro

Another cool show that mined The Twilight Zone material.


One Step Beyond - The Sacred Mushroom (1/3)

A series that was doing Serlingesque things before The Twilight Zone.


The Cinema of Jacques Tati

Tati made only 6 long-feature movies during his career. The past two weeks I saw 4 of them (his major works):

1. Mr Hulot's Holiday (Les Vacances de Mr Hulot), 1953. It announced the famous character of Hulot (played by Tati himself), a straight-forward "physical" comedy. Tati was heavily influenced by the silent cinema and by his training as a mime on the theaters of Paris. In most of his movies you can subtract the dialogue (usually distant and unheard) without effecting your experience.

2. My Uncle (Mon Oncle), 1958, was his biggest hit. It followed the same character (Hulot, now very popular amongst the French audience) but touched a deeper level socially and instead of studying random characters (like in Holiday) it contrasted two "worlds" in Paris: the simple, peaceful world of Hulot (vivid colors, sunny skies, happy soundtrack) to the modern, grayish, noisy Paris (where his sister and her family belongs).
The first scene to introduce Hulot's house is a hilarious one:

On the opposite side, the famous sophisticated Villa Arpel, notice the lady running to turn the fountain on to show off, and the funny "S" road encounter

The cars/traffic scene also in Mon Oncle:

3. Play Time (1967) is the work of an artist gone mad (in a good way). Using the money generated from his two previous very successful movie, his production company (also called Mon Oncle) came out with a 70 mm wide-screen movie about a futuristic Paris (tativille, made for the movie) of metal and glass. what was a shrinking world in Mon Oncle (the world of Hulot) had completely disappeared and it seemed that Tati lost all hope in civilization. Tati himself was getting tired of "Hulot" and he wanted to phase him out of his cinema (but he wasn't able), instead he played games during the first 10 minutes of Play Time when few random characters appear in the airport, bus, streets...etc they dressed and walked like Hulot. By the time Hulot appears he is soon to be lost again. Play Time is visually stunning and it is Tati at his extreme comedy and cynicism.
the cubicles at the bank:

Watching TV

The movie is filled with visual jokes and dark humor most of it happening in the background. Tati often plays his scenes with multiple events happening at the same time in the same screen (Play Time gets better at the second or third watch)

Tati orchestrates his movies, especially in Mon Oncle/Playtime/Trafic. Geometry and Architecture is dominant in his visuals:

4. Trafic (1971). After the massive failure of Play Time at the theaters and Tati's bankruptcy, he had to "compromise" by going back to the narrative style of Mon Oncle. Trafic was in fact not even close to the latter substance or style.

Even in his weaker work, he always had a strong sense of observation to the most ordinary things in daily life... nose picking in cars (above) and the hilarious windshield wipers scene (both from Trafic)

I highly recommend watching Tati's major two works: Mon Oncle and Play Time (in that preferably in that order. PLay Time is a MUST

Gian Maria Volonte - Alias Indio - For a few Dollars more


Max Schreck

Technically, his name is Count Orlok, but everyone knows that it’s really Dracula. Still the creepiest and most memorable portrayal of the character. Yeah, Klaus Kinski gave a better performance, but he was more pathetic, and it was really just a riff on this. Enjoy:



Vincent Price

I forgot that Vincent Price had played a Disney villain in a movie called The Great Mouse Detective, sort of like what Professor Moriarty would be were he an anthropomorphic rat. His Professor Ratigan was, of course, one of the better villains, thanks to Price, and along with Robin Williams in Aladdin, the best star performance in a Disney film.

The overall movie isn’t good, but Price steals every scene he’s in, and makes it worth watching.

Top 16 most evil Disney villans

One of several online lists.


More Headless Horseman

I seemed to remember that Dan’s clip was Disney, and a quick Google search reveals that it’s from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Most of it was quite lame, but the actual ending is pretty good—although it’s nowhere near as outright terrifying as Pinocchio. Still, it’s good enough to nearly redeem the silly song that precedes it.

Good, but not really scary. This is still their scariest:


'The Headless Horseman"

Was this Disney? If so it's a shame that it tames a great horror tale.

The Scariest Scene in All of Disney

Needless to say this isn’t exactly what you think of when you think Disney. I mean, was any other Disney film as scary as this one…at least for children? This is why this one is easily the best. Many people think children can’t handle this shit; in truth, they love it. This film actually assumes children’s intelligence and treats them like adults, in both cases unlike most of the other films Disney produced. I mean, this guy is fuckin’ scary, even as an adult! In fact, I’d actually forgotten about this scene until I rewatched my VHS today, and it sent chills up my spine…and I’m a perfectly normal healthy adult! Many people say that that creature at the end of Fantasia is the Devil—I disagree. The Evil Coachman from Pinocchio is the Devil…and here’s the proof

I mean, WOW! For a long time, there’s been debate over who the greatest Disney villain is. The debate is now officially over. The Evil Coachman is the best/worst Disney villain, hands down. No one else can top him. He is a force of pure evil…and unlike many other Disney villains, he survives! He survives and nothing happens to him! He continues gleefully and sadistically being the Devil, without any comeuppance! I’m surprised the Hays Code didn’t go on Disney’s ass for this! WOW!

It’s sad they never went this dark or this scary again, in 70 years since this terrific film came out. They really had something going here.

More “Dumbo”

I agree with Dan’s statement that Dumbo is one of Disney’s better films—although Pinocchio is still the best by far—and here’s the best scene from that film:

Really, it is to Dumbo what Pleasure Island is to Pinocchio. This scene really pushes it over the edge, and without it, it wouldn’t be half as good.

EDIT: As an avowed and proud alcoholic, I can officially state that that was not just alcohol. I have no idea whether it was mixed with cannabis, LSD, or what, but it wasn’t just alcohol.


Baby Mine-Dumbo & His Mommy

Other than Pinocchio, this and Bambi were the only Disney films I liked as a tot.


Disney’s “Pinocchio”

Generally, I’m not a fan of Disney, but there’s always one film of theirs I’ve loved very much…Pinocchio. Perhaps it’s because it’s the only film of theirs that doesn’t promote a nauseatingly sweet, sunshiny view of life. In fact, the world it portrays is quite corrupt and cruel. With the exception of the four main characters we meet in the first twenty minutes—Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket, Geppetto, and the Blue Fairy—all of the characters are scum. They’re either con artists—Honest John, hoodlums—Lampwick, abusers—Stromboli, and simply downright evil—the Coachman. Not a nice, Disneyesque world at all, really. I still have the 1985 VHS release, and before writing this, I actually popped into the VCR to see if it still works after being watched at least a billion times—it does. It’s rundown and worn out, but it works, amazingly enough. At any rate, here’s one of the most famous scenes from the film, if you really wanna see how it differs from later Disney films:

As an interesting side note, I’m betting this movie started my trend for feeling sorry for young punks named Alex. You know who I’m talking about.

Unfortunately, this film wasn’t a box office success when it came out for whatever reason, and thus Disney decided to revert to the insipid formula of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for later films, instead of Pinocchio, which is actually far better for both children and adults. However, they did incorporate the film’s song as the theme music for the entire company, and allowed its lyrics to become their slogan. Here it is:

15 years of aging www.theheadshell.com

This one reminds me of the old film, The Time Machine.


Noah takes a photo of himself every day for 6 years.

On the Smoke theme.

Smoke - Auggie's photo collection

An underrated film starring Harvey Keitel; and this is its best moment.

Jack Palance’s Kick-Assery!

I now hereby decree that Jack Palance is officially the coolest, most kickass old guy ever. Reagan and John McCain are fuckin’ pussies! Here’s the link since the fuckin’ Academy decided not to allow embedding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGxL5AFzzMY. Just let it be said that I couldn’t do that when I was 18; he’s fuckin’ 73!


Taxi Driver Theme Music

Bernard Herrmann.

More Film Composers

However, as great as John Williams is, I don’t believe he’s the greatest film composer of all time. That’d be Nino Rota. I won’t go into detail, because I think the diversity, quantity, and quality of great film scores speak for themselves.

Great music and hot chicks! Double whammy!

OK, eye candy for Jess here.

Rota’s music gives the ending here to Nights of Cabiria a quality comparable to Chaplin’s City Lights that I don’t think it’d really have without it.

And as an addendum, I’ll include what is inarguably Rota’s most famous piece, although you’ve certainly heard it before a million times, and you really don’t need to hear it again:\

No wonder Francis Ford Coppola insisted on him for The Godfather—apparently, Robert Evans didn’t like Rota, the same way he didn’t like Brando, Al Pacino, setting it in NYC during the postwar era, the Sicily sequences, the three-hour running time, etc.!


Here’s Rota’s great uncharacteristic score for Fellini Satyricon:


Superman The Movie 1978 - Opening Sequence And Theme

In light of Geoff's last post, my fave Williams song is the Superman Theme. This was my FAVORITE movie as a kid. Like, this and Superman II I watched 100s of times.


Great Scores, Awful Films

I've long believed that one of the greatest of all film composers is John Williams. Yet, with a few exceptions, he seems to have made a career out of doing great epic scores for truly terrible films. Star Wars is the classic example. Just listen to this:

This is one of the greatest leitmotifs in film history. Yet is serves a film every bit as cheesy- in terms of script and dialogue- as Plan 9 From Outer Space. Yet it's undeniably a great, beautiful and powerful piece that does convey a sense of heroism in a distant time and place.

Here's another great John Williams theme:

Again, you get the sense of magic, awe, and wonder that should accompany such a piece...but the film it accompanies is simply mediocre kiddie stuff. Better than Star Wars, but still...

And finally, here's a theme I'm sure you'll all recognize instantly:

This for a lame B-movie even worse than Star Wars! The dialogue's a little better, but it still sucks. But again, it's a rousing action/adventure theme that rivals even the kickass "James Bond THeme"! It also has a sense of romantic heroism that the Bond theme doesn't. But the character it accompanies is a cardboard cutout with the charisma of a styrofoam cup.

John Williams is almost always great, but I can't think of another film composer who regularly writes such great and memorable music for such awful films. Maybe Hans Zimmer...but that's a story for another essay.

Picnic At Hanging Rock Trailer


Kiarostami's "Certified Copy"

Certified Copy is Kiarostami's first narrative movie outside of Iran. An interesting story surrounding the meeting between an English art critic (Opera singer William Shimell) and an art dealer (Juliette Binoche) and a fan of his latest book about the authenticity of art. Soon after the two strangers start wandering the streets of Tuscany an unexplained tension rises between them accompanied by sparse hints thrown in their dialogue that may link them together in the recent past. Things become more confusing when a waitress at a coffee shop mistakes them for a married couple.

Kiarostami's story echoes the book the art critic is promoting: Real life Vs. art as copy of that life. In the Q & A section that followed the screening (I saw it at the NY Film Festival) Binoche noted that Kiarostami told her that the story of the movie (an event that supposedly happened to him) with all details, but to her surprise he finished his story by asking her "why if I made all this up? would this take from your (Binoche) experience as a witness (audience)?".
Like in Close Up and Taste of Cherry before, Kiarostami is playing the game of cinema (or art) within reality and vice versa. The result would have been much MUCH better had he made more effort to close some major narrative gaps in his tale. Kiarostami -under the excuse of engaging the viewer- still have the bad habit of leaving major holes in his narrative; something that has a rebound effect on the viewer who realizes that all effort to "make sense" out of the story is futile. Another weakness in the movie is Binoche's acting itself: at times cartoonish and at the level of hollywood love dramas/comedies.

Copie Conforme (the french title is a more accurate than the english Certified Copy, since "Certified" stands for the legal aspect of the copy but the French "conforme" stands for the "physical" matching of the copied art) is far from a failure or a major disappointment when compared to Kiarostami's oeuvre (unlike the latest Tarr or Ceylan). It is actually a good movie. Kiarostami's humor in this movie (mostly based on social observations) is very similar to Kieslowski's in his last trilogy.
Style-wise it has no sound track, very simple cinematography with few face close-up shots.

Insect Woman (1963) [Trailer]