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

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

"Do you want handsome blow joob?" [sic]

Hi, buds. Once again, I feel guilty about just dumping a bunch of shameless plugs your way, particularly since this blog is one ball of tumblin' tumbleweed away from being a total wasteland. So, we're going to try something different.

I'm not sure exactly what I did (or more accurately, where I went) to bring this on, but over the last couple months I've gotten an unusually large amount of spam. This time, however, it's not the usual army of penis (or "pennis") enlargement messages. It started out innocently, with some absurdly misspelled, confusing subject headers; "fair Sluts in hardcore actiion!" and the like. Nothing surprising, he depressingly muses.

Thing is, they kept on coming. And coming. And coming. (Prurient subtext semi-intentional.) I would wipe out my bulk mailbox, turn my back, and then three more would sprout up where the others left off, like some horny hydra. (Or something.) After awhile, I got curious. And so, starting on the morning of 6/14, I stopped deleting or checking my spam, not even to look at what had amassed, and didn't stop, um, not doing anything till today, 6/28. My count? 369.

But a mere whopping number does not do these justice. Not to put too fine a point on it, but these subject headers cannot have been even made up. Their attacks on spelling, grammar and logic are simply breathtaking. There is an inexplicable fascination with -- or, rather, belief that potential clients will be fascinated by -- the word "aesthetic." And their other adjective choices, be they disarmingly clever or awesomely misapplied, are equally out of this world. This is not the work of humans. I can only imagine that these are the work of a non-English speaking robot that's been programmed with a set of interesting -- and sometimes obscure -- words, presumably by a wordsmith with a dead-end job and a rascally sense of humor. I want to know more.

I have compiled a host of these title attractions, going so far as to preserve the "sender"'s sometimes normal, sometimes totally not names. Needless to say, this is all [sic]:

  • Marguerite: Just aesthetical Slut suckking Dickk!

  • Jarrett: Ruussian scenic Eighteens here doing delightful blowjoob.

  • Barney: picturesque Teens at Pornn!

  • Douglas (presumably Wallen): She wants a better sex? All you need's here

  • Shawna Mckinnon: esthetic Young Lady so goluptious and young

  • Marquis (!!): Just fine-looking Bitch succking Diick!

  • Rae Hackett: Best cumshotts on best goluptious Girls.

  • Andrea: Do you want scenic Slut?
    (followed minutes later by)
  • Pansy: Do you want scenic Lady?

  • Kendall: bonny Young Eighteens so grace and young.

  • Lizzie Ham: pleasant Bitch doing attractive blowjjob!

  • Lucinda Tompkins: bonny Young Eighteen so better-looking and youngg.

  • Clark Pryor: Do you want killing virgin Sluts? (I really have no idea what to make of this. It might be Hostel.)

  • Dustin: lovely Gay inccest Content!

  • Katherine: Son fucking magnificent Mom!

  • Alicia Graham: Do you want jolly viirgin Sluts?

  • Roslyn: B A A H Pornstar Cherokee Swallowing A Big Cock

  • Agnes: Young pulchritudinous virginns at harrdcore Poorno.

    The last one is by far my favorite, and not because of the multiple mispellings. Imagine a street hawker howling, "Pulchritudinous virgins, right here!"

    And with that, I can finally wipe out my bulk cache. It will fill up like clockwork.

    Now for the shameless self-promotion! Fuck Superman. The Devil Wears Prada is where it's at. No, I jest, and I should know: I review the fool thing here, along with words on Olivier Assayas' criminally underrated Clean and Andy Garcia's hilariously overwrought The Lost City. Also, as ever, Rep.

  • Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    Halftime Report, or: A Feeble Attempt to Play Down A Bout of Rote Shameless Self-Promotion

    Since everyone's doing their Top Ten-So-Far these days, why not? As you barely need telling, the real meat and potatoes -- or at least the award-friendly fare -- come out in the year's final third. I'd very much like to say eff that, brandish words like "pompous" and "sheep," etc. But I can't, not when a good portion of my favorites so far are actually holdovers from last year -- or worse, two years ago. Perhaps I'm the pompous sheep, or whatever. I don't pretend to know.

    Anyway, here's my purely alphabetical list of not ten, but eleven favorite 2006 movies that I've seen (note: and I've already gone and switched a title or two around!):

    Brick (Rian Johnson)
    Clean (Olivier Assayas)
    Dave Chappelle's Block Party (Michel Gondry)
    The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu)
    Down in the Valley (David Jacobson)
    Half Nelson (Ryan Fleck)
    Inside Man (Spike Lee)
    L'Enfant (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardennes)
    A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman)
    The Sun (Alexander Sokurov)
    United 93 (Paul Greengrass)

    And there you have it. Three of those I'd place above the rest, and I'm thinking that, since it's been growing in my memory -- and since what little I caught during a DVD test scan was just fawesome -- a second go of Block Party will have it climbing the rungs. I won't go into what will and won't make it. (You can go to my 2006 grades list if you really care.)

    In any case, far more interesting is what filmmakers have, by my calculations, already flopped. I can't say I was stoked for the latest from Paul Weitz, but I in no way anticipated the moribund attempt at reinvention evidenced by American Dreamz. (Ditto, I guess, with Danis Tanovic, whose L'Enfer effectively kills the post-mortem Kieslowksi trilogy.) But genuinely crushing were new films by Terry Zwigoff and Laurence Cantet, who produced two films -- Art School Confidential and Heading South -- that found them taking the easy route into smug condescension, creating films that motivated purely by hatred. Oh, and the latest Quays long player bit something fierce. But you probably guessed that.

    On the flip side, who could have guessed that I'd come around on Larry Clark? Dude got humanity -- or at least some subjects he doesn't clearly despite -- with Wassup Rockers.

    I can't guess what will round out my list -- except, at least, that one of them certainly won't be Scoop -- though titles I'm simply anticipating include De Palma's The Black Dahlia, Maddin's self-proclaimed "first foreign film" (i.e., made in American) The Brand Upon the Brain!, Ceylan's Climates, Bong's SoKo creature feature The Host, Lynch's Inland Empire, Gondry's non-Kaufman-ed The Science of Sleep, Almodóvar's Volver, Fincher's Zodiac, and, of course, Brisseau's Exterminating Angels. Also, Daft Punk's robot drama Electroma better get a stateside distributor.

    Finally! Shameless plugs! An interview with New York Times Crossword Puzzle Editor Will Shortz accompanies a review (towards the bottom) of the doc featuring him: the anemic but still heart-able crosswords porn (basically), Wordplay. Also, as ever, Rep.

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    False alarm; just stoppin' through

    Too busy for a post proper (if nothing else, tomorrow's my first phone interview in, like, years), but certainly not too busy for some shameless self-promotion. A review by way of an A-list (third down) on the harrowing, epic cancer-kids doc A Lion in the House is one; reviews of The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (at the bottom) and the comparatively dull SoKo actioneer Typhoon are two others. (Note: the opening line of the latter was supposed to have an opening that tipped readers off to the intended jokiness of the hyperbole. Now, it is hyperbole. Just sayin'.) And as ever, Rep.

    Also, I totally neglected to mention last week's Rep. Silly me.

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    Isle of Mann: Turner Classic Movies Breaks Up Apparent Estrogen Fest with Films by Guy with Dudish Name

    I know that TCM's all about the ladies this month, but they've somehow found room to program the near-entire filmography of that most lady-like filmmaker, Anthony Mann. Starting tomorrow night -- what are you doing on 66(0)6? -- the channel will unspool its first Tuesday night marathon, kicking off with his two signature noirs -- 1947's chiaroscuro-heavy T-Men and the subsequent year's brilliant (and pictured) Raw Deal -- and then proceeding, till 3:45am, through more from the same bin, including Border Incident, Railroaded! and the early cheapie Two O'Clock Courage. If you haven't seen these (and I've only seen Deal and Railroaded!, myself), you've surely seen traces of T-Men, whose near-cartoonishly lit opening is one of the most eye-popping clips from Visions of Light (not to mention Kino's old Saint-Saëns-backed trailer).

    Subsequent Tuesdays include more from his '40s output (6/13), his late-'50s westerns and Samuel Bronstein days (6/20), and but a taste from his Jimmy Stewart joint ventures (6/27). There's also the occasional, stray Mann showing; be eagle-eyed.

    Most heart-crushing ommissions? Apart from the missing Stewart westerns (no Man From Laramie?!), God's Little Acre, El Cid and, in particular, his reportedly awesome 1950 western The Furies, with Barbara Stanwyck, Walter Huston, Wendell Corey and Judith (Motherfucking) Anderson working out some Freudian/Elektra issues -- with scissors.

    But, yeah, I am so not complaining.

    Sunday, June 04, 2006

    Out 750 Minutes: You

    Holy shit.

    Claims of a crappy print kept me from rejimmying my schedule when Out 1: Spectre -- Jacques Rivette's more-manageable-but-not-really whiddled down version of his legendary ass-numbing opus -- played the Anthology Film Archives in April. Now I don't feel so bad. Ranked, at 12 1/2 hours, as only the fourth longest theatrical film, Out 1: Noli me tangere doesn't have quite the reputation as other Rivettes, but for obvious reasons: no one's seen it. (And according to Claire Denis, in the NYT article linked above, those who have were probably stoned.)

    There is a school of thought, though, that posits that, simply by making a film of such immense length, you're automatically setting yourself up for confirmed masterpiece status by a large portion of the cinepholic community. Perhaps. Or, at the least, probably definitely. But as anyone who's trawled through some of Warhol's longer works or Bela Tarr's Sátántángó knows (or should know), daunting length has its own built-in merits. Though I could watch Sátántángó's miserablist tracking shots for days, my possible favorite moment came roughly halfway through the third (and longest) part. Having not eaten as well as I should have -- just a modest sandwich beforehand, plus a made dash to a hot dog vendor across the street during the first intermission; I later discovered many had smuggled apples and such past MoMa's not-so-rigid-after-all security -- my hunger wound up reaching a fever pitch...just as our characters sat down for dinner. This being a long take movie, we watch them eat the entire meal. Fuck Béla Tarr in my opinion.

    Having never made anything under two hours -- 2001's surprise hit Va Savoir was a comparatively frivolous 154 minutes -- Rivette is, suffice to say, a whiz at elephantine lenghts, and what they do to an audience. This is, after all, a guy who didn't reveal why a movie called Celine and Julie Go Boating was called Celine and Julie Go Boating till, oh, the final 30 seconds of its 193 minutes length. It's no coincidence that being his most playful work, C&J is also his most popular. But that's not a total slight on the rest of his work, which includes everything from a near-complete dissection of the dissolution of a marriage to four hours of Emmanuelle Béart neglecting to reclothe herself. Might as well clear my November schedule.

    Now if only someone can finally bust out Peter Watkin's 14 1/2 hour, multi-continent nuclear arms epic, Resan.