a seemingly random journey through cinema's heart of darkness. so to speak.

Thursday, July 15, 2004


* Late-breaking whack news: Scott Tobias, ace film pontificator for the Onion, has just awarded Jonathan Demme's dubious remake of The Manchurian Candidate an A-. I trust Scott implicitly -- we both foam over the same movies, it seems -- and Demme -- who like John Boorman and Spike Lee doesn't make small mistakes -- is one of the few who could possibly give the loopy original a decent upgrading. Did he find all the right topical things to put in the film? Is it just as or more exquisitely paranoid than the original? Will he over-use the people-looking-in-the-camera trick? Apart from the latter (see the trailer), no clue, and Tobias only posts comments on the Cinemasters newsgroup and in his reviews. Still, it's already leaped up as one of my top three most anticipated movies of the season. Phew. (He also said I, Robot isn't crap. In case you cared.)

* Finally! Slate's David Greenberg has become the first (I think) to compare Michael Moore to his even-more-ribald '70s equivalent Emile de Antonio, whose Oscar-nomainted 1968 doc In the Year of the Pig is still the war-comp film to beat. Greenberg focuses on one I haven't seen -- 1971's Millhouse: A White Comedy (about Nixon, wouldn't you know) -- and points out the differences between the two lefty rabble-rousers: de Antonio never integrated himself in his films, mostly relied on clips, and only sporadically indulged in jokey edits. He also leaned more to the left than Moore and, as such, was less kowtowing than Moore, ensuring that he'd become an obscurity cherished by geeks like me and not the liberal fanbase at large. Moore probably won't suffer the same fate: he's loud, simplistic, patronizing and gimmicky; in short, he appeals to the "common democrat," and may just cause some actual change. As always I'm torn: the left has never really had a howling asshole, but I'm also a fan of actual journalism, not a bastardization of same. Speaking of which: I really oughtta go patronize that F 9/11 thingie.

* The Village Voice has an interview with Joshua Marston, director of the Colombian drug mule movie Maria Full of Grace. See?! I told ya he supplies the film's sole didacticism!

* Whatever you think about Disney -- evil (but waning) conglomerate; heartless pimp to Pixar; money-hungry debaser of children's entertainment -- they're getting some cred back by issuing a slew of shorts collections, each of them packed into a shiny tin case. A perusal of the Goofy collection was an eye-opener (especially when seeing the ones in which the world consists of Goofies, satirizing sports and nicotine addiction). But for history's sake, the one to nab is Tomorrowland: Disney in Space and Beyond. The shorts on the to-be-constructed Epcot Center are mostly trival, and the short entitled Our Friend the Atom is mostly negligible. But the first disc is killer, boasting three hour-long docs on space travel that just so happened to change the world: they're mostly responsible for garnering public interest in the then-nascent space program. (Whether this is a good thing -- it's one of the most money-wasting programs the government ever spearheaded -- is up for debate.) While each one's worth looking at for Ward Kimball's witty, minimalist animation, the Mars and Beyond episode is something close to a masterpiece, moving from history to takes on each of the planets to an imagination of the fanciful creatures that could live on Mars, all while operating on full cylinders. Besides, is there anything more fun than seeing archaic takes on science?


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