a seemingly random journey through cinema's heart of darkness. so to speak.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Come With Me
Sit down. We need to talk.
Look. This blog is dead. However, I -- at least the interweb I -- am not. Over the last year I've consistently maintained my Twitter page, where I've put down ca. 140 characters on every film I've seen (as opposed to usually zilch). And over the last month I've kept up with my Tumblr page, which is like this blog but prettier, snazzier and more prone to short (and hopefully sweet) posts. Also, it's not weighed down by past baggage and whatnot.
What I'm saying is follow me at either of those places. In the meantime, consider this a sort of homebase; the databases (films seen, grades for years, past top tens, etc.) will be maintained. Otherwise, see youse theres. And bombard me with comments. I'll reply. I'm nice.
Haven't been round these parts since January. Here's what I've been doing the last few months in lieu of Kidney Bingoing:
Blogged the Philadelphia Film Festival, which literally made me sick. (Or perhaps it was the violent change in weather. I still theorize that watching too many goddamn movies makes one physically ill.)
Watched retros on Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Pedro Costa, and finally caught up with Berlin Alexanderplatz.
Rode my bike a whole heck of a lot.
I'm not sure if I'm doing anything much with this blog; as I've stated before I'm far more prone to update my Twitter page, what with its refreshing and inventiveness-causing 140 character limit. But you know, who knows? Maybe I'll feel bloggy in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, I definitely will not let my films seen list (turn to you right) go un-updated for longer than a couple days, much less four months.
My Top Ten is already set in stone, you say? Why, it's already slightly changed. Here's where it stands right this now:
01. Zodiac (David Fincher) 02. Regular Lovers (Philippe Garrel) 03. Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul) 04. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson) 05. My Kid Could Paint That (Amir Bar-Lev) 06. Offside (Jafar Panahi) 07. Grindhouse (Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, et al.) 08. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik) 09. The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass) 10. I'm Not There (Todd Haynes)
How did I not find time for even shameless plugs? Got me. Let's get her done: 1/9/08 A review of Diva, happily reissued, plus Rep. The latter features a rather wordy blurb on Ken Jacob's Star Spangled to Death, which took me nearly a week to plow through.
1/2/08 A Six Pack on unlikeable protagonists in honor of There Will Be Blood, plus Rep.
12/26/07 My first ever printed Top Ten List gets, er, printed, with Zodiac at the top. The list is already out of date, wouldn't you know. Also, Rep.
12/19/07 A holiday-minded Six Pack on gruesome X-mas movies, plus reviews of Walk Hard and The Kite Runner. Also, Rep, featuring a lengthy gush on My Kid Could Paint That.
12/12/07 A Q&A with Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman in honor of Juno, which I review here along with The Red Balloon/White Mane mash-up and Starting Out in the Evening. Also Juno-related, Six Pack looks at reunions between actors that take on a meta weirdness: Michael Cera playing Jason Bateman's son in Arrested Development but giving him (Bateman) his (Cera's) son in Juno, etc. Also, Rep.
Just got distracted by holiday shit and this whole Oscar season December movie thang. Updates (or something) tk in the forseeable future. In the meantime, no YTTOSSPW clip this week, but plenty of pluggings:
11/21 An interview with Todd Haynes, a Six Pack on eccentric biopics (whaddaya know, like I'm Not There) a review of The Bubble (third down) and Rep.
11/28 A lead on The Rape of Europa (slow week), a review of War Dance, a Six Pack on techno marvels that have been forgotten (or, like Beowulf, will be), an A-List bemoaning the decline of Peter Greenaway and Rep, where I bemoan some more.
Lastly, I'd like to put in a word for the new blog Thrift Store Music, maintained by my landlord/roommate Shepard Ritzen. At this late date, solid blog gimmicks are hard to come by, but Shep has gone and dreampt up with one: an avid collector of semi-randomly chosen thrift store (and flea market) LPs, he'll be showcasing his findings on this new blog, complete with reviews, track listings, images, copious links and, when available, mp3 samples. It's a mighty task -- there's already a list up of dozens of records to catalog -- but Shep is entirely the guy who'll keep at it. Unlike some people.
YouTubing-to-Obscure-Shameless-Self-Promotion Wednesdays: Brian De Palma is a True Villain
I haven't seen Redacted yet -- hurry up, Cassidy -- but even I apparently know more about it than Bill O'Reilly. As you've surely heard, O'Reilly laid into De Palma and Redacted the other night on the Factor and the clip is really a hoot. Disregard him not even attempting to discover or even guess what De Palma's after when he shows (since redacted) images of real soldiers massacred. I mean, it's O'Reilly. (And by the way, he's not seen it yet. Natch.) What you should pay attention to is his cartoonish demonization of a man who's no stranger to cartoonish demonization. "Here's how vile this man is, this De Palma man is." "I think Brian De Palma, to me, is the worst Hollywood person I have ever come across." "I don't want to see anything bad happen to De Palma." And the line that made water come out my nose, "Brian De Palma is a true villain." 1983 all over again!
(Holly McClure, some conservative broadcast film critic, is also hilarious, declaring the film "anti-for-our-military" and expressing disbelief that a filmmaker could ever -- ever! -- have their film taken away from them by a studio. She wrote a book?)
PW! A Six Pack on movies about the end of mankind in honor of Southland Tales, which I review here along with Finishing the Game. Also, Rep.
YouTubing-to-Obscure-Shameless-Self-Promotion Wednesdays: Richard Lester Rulez
When I arrived at film school in 1997, I emulated Woody Allen. When I left in 2001, I emulated Richard Lester. My thesis film, which I never completed or even got terribly far into, was supposed to be a shameless Lester imitation, specifically of his exhilarating, experimental Grand Prix winner The Knack. Apart from granting an epic interview for Steven Soderbergh's book Getting Away With It -- which spanned both his career and unexpected asides, like evolution, atheism and Richard Dawkins -- Lester has remained frustratingly modest and reclusive, not even sticking up for himself when the director of Radio Flyer and Timeline kicks him around over Superman II. And yet suddenly he's...well, not everywhere, but at least present, chatting up on the finally dropped Help! disc -- something he did not do for A Hard Day's Night back in 2002 -- and granting an honest-to-the-intelligent-designer interview with Keith Phipps for The Onion A.V. Club.
Will his time finally come? We'll see, though the interviews with both Lester and his frequent, amazing and innovative d.p. David Watkin will hopefully at least awake the peoples to his considerable technical prowess. On the disc, it's revealed that this was one of the first films to make extensive use of bounce boards, which reflect the light, either natural or non-, onto the subjects. Back in Getting Away With It, Soderbergh and Lester had the following exchange:
SS: I'll make a bold statement here and say that Help! is, to me, the birth of what I consider to be modern color cinematography. The basic principles that are at play in that film -- particularly in the "You're Gonna Lose That Girl" sequence -- are still being used by the people today [i.e., 1995-ish] who are considered to be the top cameramen in the world. It's all there. Especially the hard, overexposed back light and the reflective fill light, which Watkin is a master of.
RL: I think it was the first serious attempt to make diffused lighting positive. In other words, I think people like Raoul Coutard were working with natural light and doing it fairly effectively, but David was making it into a dominant factor in the way that he photographed people's faces. It was stunning and he was brilliant. Totally extraordinary.
Hey, judge for yourself.
Today's PW A Six Pack on cartoonish cinematic representations of right-wing demons -- I would make today's YT clip Ed Begley in Billion Dollar Brain if someone had ever uploaded it or if I actually knew how to myself -- a review (third down) of Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten and Rep. Don't forget to read Burnsy's hilarious, dead-on review of Robert Redford's awful Lions for Lambs, which also swiftly assesses this season's dearth of blunt and underperforming War on Terra dramas: "Pundits are wondering if the timing is off. Too soon? Maybe so. But after enduring In the Valley of Elah, Rendition and now Lions for Lambs, I humbly suggest that perhaps the real problem is these movies are awful."
YouTubing-To-Obscure-Shameless-Self-Promotion Wednesdays: Sorry 'bout the Wait
Yeah, no excuses. Just a very particular combination of busy and lazy. (I have, however, been rather good at keeping up my Twitter page. Go there for near-daily updates.) Here's the Shameless Plugs from the many weeks I've been gone.
Let's start with today's issue. Firstly, I did a web-exclusive interview with Wes Anderson, Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola that went up Monday. I also mentioned Anderson in my Six Pack, which concerned directors who should act more (as opposed to those who should act less, like good old QT). Also, a review of Kurt Cobain: About a Son and Rep.
From the 10/10. A biggish articleon locale niche film fests, in honor of the just-beginning Terror Film Festival, a review of We Own the Night and Rep. I also did a Six Pack on movies about rich white people abroad, in honor of The Darjeeling Limited. One of the entries was Kip Pardue's mindmelting, Ugly Americanish jaunt around Europe from The Rules of Attraction and this week's YouTube! Whee!
From the 10/3. A Six Pack on American westerns directed by foreign-born directors (i.e., no Spaghetti Westerns) in honor of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Cowards at Warner Bros. Also, reviews of The Last Winter and Lust, Caution, where I actually got the phrase "Tony Leung's nut sac" into print. Lastly, Rep.