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

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Random blurbs I feel like putting up

Capote (2005, Bennett Miller) [C]
There’s no way I was going to fall for the stereotypical middlebrow approach anyway, but this is no mere case of hagiography. Most reviews have asserted that Miller and screenwriter Dan Futterman don’t chose sides/remain ambivalent re: Capote’s journalistic approach. That may be so for the first half (which is more interested in fish-out-of-water antics), but their contempt for him and his vast army of faults (see if you can find them all!) is unmistakable in the second half, and their condescending pity for him by the end drips off the screen during the final scrawl of suggestive pop psychology. (“And he never finished a book again! DUM-Dum-dummmmm!”) This guy does a far better job than I could at combing it for hypocritical moves, but maybe Miller should’ve also taken a look at the In Cold Blood movie, where Richard Brooks' instruction to Robert Blake to show no guilt but stand in front of a rainy window produced one of the most memorable visual accidents in Hollywood history, while this one just has Clifton Collins, Jr. fight back a couple Visine drops. (During a different monologue, but still. Don't directors know actors love to do the ol' I-told-myself-I-wasn't-gonna-cry routine?) Among the autumnal landscapes and drippily-scored moments (why, Mychael Danna? why?), only Catherine Keener produces actual life, eventually suggesting that a better movie has sprung to life somewhere else once the movie no longer has use for her. You know? Kinda like Truman? Fuck this movie, in my opinion. Also, why has no one mentioned that Philip Seymour Hoffman looks kinda distractingly like Ralphie from A Christmas Story?

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005, Nick Park & Steve Box) [B]
Easily the least of the W&Gs, but a mark above Chicken Run, I’d say. Essentially, what Park and Box have done is take the 30 minute shorts and stretch them out, Rack-style, so there are no highs, no (or few) lows, just medium -- which, in the case of Aardman working in the world with which they're most comfortable, happens to be pretty goddam high. Great to see people still doing the painstaking, fingers-on-clay stop-motion stuff, no less because of Gromit himself, who’s the best example of The Kuleshov Effect used for comedic effect since Buster Keaton. More Rube Goldberg devices next time, fellas. Ile de France brie is great, chewy stuff.

Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997, Werner Herzog) [B+]
The most haunting part of this late Herzog doc is Dieter himself, more specifically his singularly casual mien. You think he’s merely learned to live with the trauma of his life -- which he recounts with a gabby insouciance that somehow never seems to hide reservoirs of pain -- until we see a clip from just after his escape, where he treats a press conference in much the same animated, “well, glad you asked” manner. Herzog being Herzog, his attempts to punctuate his subject’s shell are many but fruitless: he even has Dieter re-enact his capture and imprisonment by the Vietcong, to which he acquiesces without so much as a shrug, never breaking down during or afterwards. ("What the fuck do I have to do?," you can almost hear Herzog scream.) Even moreso than his wildly lurid history, Dieter is one of the greatest wonders Herzog has ever dug up.

Oh, and here's my Weekly junk: a review (third down) and a Rep.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Shamelessness X 2

In today's issue of Da Weekly, you can find my review of the David McKean/Neil Gaiman CGI extravaganza MirrorMask and, as ever, Rep. A pretty bulky week, what with the remains of I-House's Amos Vogel fest, which includes...well, you can read.

Also, and sorry to sound make it sound like I'm in a 12 Step Program (I'm not...yet), but I really think I'm due some huzzahs round here. Because (unusually protracted drum roll) I quit smoking. If that weren't enough, I've decided to add to the pile of More Blogs Than Anyone Ever Needs by chronicling my endeavors over here. You really don't need to read it; I may grow quickly tired of it and try to delete any trace of its ever having existed.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Did I forget to do this?

Oh well. Never too late. This issue of the Weekly finds me flapping my gums re: Elevator to the Gallows (third down), as well as doling out the usual thang.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Hell Freezes Over

Quoth the Coulter:
Bush has no right to say "Trust me." He was elected to represent the American people, not to be dictator for eight years.

Yeah! Wait, what? Mean, bigoted, racist Ann says something I and my brethren have been saying (if, I hope, less hyperbolically) for years?! Moreover, the rest of the piece, while sprinkled with her usual repugnant, acid-Vaudeville quips, possesses more merit than I'd ever she'd be capable of. It's still far below the belt and what she says is hardly news (even that it's a GOP-er saying it isn't news). But I take small pleasures where I can get them: this is the first time I've not wanted to strangle her through the broadband. For that modest triumph, I am truly impressed.

Anyway, that was simply a feeble way to beef up this post, which is otherwise just shameless plugs. In the Weekly, I whipped up this (last one) and this.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Attention: Logophiles


1. Of, relating to, or dependent on charity.
2. Contributed as an act of charity; gratuitous.
Example: Roger Ebert is aggressively eleemosynary towards the movies he reviews.

What is this. I spotted it today on a co-worker's word-a-day calendar and, not to sound like a word power guru, but I believe it's the first time in years and years that I've seen a word in passing I have never seen. Am I dumb? Is everyone throwing "eleemosynary" around at cocktail parties or while in line for the ATM? Enlighten me.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Tongue-slicing, giant dildos and the changing of the guard

Ichi the Killer
(2001, Takashi Miike) [B-]

I suppose had this been my first or even fourth Miike, it might have blown me away. But it’s not, and it didn’t. Miike has a habit of coming off like one of those ‘giallo masters, what with the combination of heavy (and, with him, deadpan) longeurs and show-stopping gore (or, more often, suggestion of same -- as always, Miike relies on careful editing that, as we all know, is all the more unsettling). And the big moments are both plentiful and appropriately shocking; I half feel like starting a poll on which moment was the craziest. The hanging tatooed dude who gets treated to scalding water? The tongue-slicing? The exacto-blade-to-nipples trick? Miike sustains a level of debauchery and heightened reality that makes each of these a bit easier to take -- hard to get bugged by the vertical-cutting bit when the effects look so (intentionally) cartoonish -- but I wound up less interested in Tadanobu Asano’s well-dressed mafia nutcase than I was by Ichi himself, finally deciding that I wished the movie was more about him. (Then again, given the manga origins and anime successors, the movie ultimately comes off like the weirdest, most unassuming orgins-of-a-comic-book-antihero ever.) Springs to life intermittingly, and not only for the Big Moments, but still too much of a rough draft, even for Miike. What about either of the women screaming while their necks let loose some mean arterial spray?

Save the Green Planet!
(2005, Jeong Jun-hwan) [B+]

I’ll contend that this is one damn derivative South Korean entry -- this really needs to be updated -- but I’d like to think of it more as an F.U. to Hollywood calling cards, a statement of purpose that the SoKo market flourishes so strongly that turks need not emigrate to be successful. Jeong is more smooth than most at the tonal switcheroo; the whole thing goes down easily as a nutso remake of Imposter, complete with funky hats, five-foot dildos, skin-shavings, and a swarm of descending bees whose victim tries to shoot down with a pistol, one by one. Rarely challenging but always engrossing, its central mystery -- is the businessman really from Andromeda? -- is held nicely in the air till the final moments, even allowing for some sympathy switcheroos. Maudlin moments integrated painlessly and with deft restraint, although the end credits too abruptly have a vague Amelie-ness to them. Sort of.

Lastly, as promised, both by him and in the subject header, md'a reveals end of the world as we know it. Not that you couldn't have seen that coming -- my six month-old Mini iPod is already off the market -- but it's something even multiple watchings of The Terminator and countless dystopian fare never prepared me for, even if those per se aren't what's on the horizon. Also, Naked is fawesome.