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

Monday, November 06, 2006

New Bloody Feature!! Screening Diary: Week of 29 Oct 06

[Welcome, scant readers, to a new feature on the ol’ K.B. First off, go look at my Films Seen list. I’ll wait. Okay, welcome back. It’s pretty effing long, no? Yes, I’ve noticed that, too. And perhaps you too may have noticed that, while I write about at least half, probably far moreso, for the PW, that still leaves more than plenty for which I have very little to answer to. I mean, a letter grade? What is that? Not much, really. I’m usually able to brush off such concerns, heading directly for the “Well, I write a lot of shit for the PW. It’s not like I’m just hitting the Open/Close button my DVD player.” Except that I kind of am. I’ve therefore decided that once a week, I will grace this site with a breakdown of my movie-watching week, writing off the top of my head for, oh, 15 minutes a film, until I have a little, vaguely presentable blurb. Something that’s not too time consuming but forces me to justify my grade and time. I will of course excise any titles I watched (and am thus writing about) for the Philly Weekly. (You thought I wrote for Publisher’s Weekly?) But I will note them at the bottom. Because you care. This will also not keep me from writing longer reviews-cum-articles of films that particularly jog me cranium. Which is to say, of course, it won’t keep me any more than it once did. Ditto little random posts to say, oh, I dunno, thanks MOMI, for only showing Jacques Rivette’s super-rare 12 1/2-hour Out 1 once, and not making tickets available to non-members till fucking the beginning of December. Seriously, if any of you MOMI members have even the slightest reservation about spending two straight nights sitting on your ass for six-hours-plus apiece watching some longwinded Rivette madness, please succumb. Lastly, I know that I have started features like this and they rarely make it past a couple sessions, if that. But as I said, I think this one is perfectly manageable. And besides, I want to boost my visitor numbers for ego-stroking reasons, and this sounds like a really easy way to get people to come back regularly. You’re so being used. Diabolical laughter. And away we go!]

Time period up for scrutiny: 29 Oct 06 thru 04 Nov 06

/Dawn of the Dead/ (1979, George A. Romero) [A]
Second viewing in less than three months, though that was my first viewing since freshman year in college, as well as my first since becoming Mr. Die Hard Romero Head. (I should also note I watched the extended cut, which restores more characterization, jokes and boobs.) Bizarre how I missed all the blunt satirical jabs, which, in case you forgot/ignored, are more than mall-centric/consumerist. Indeed, the opening half hour is some of Romero’s densest work, sketching the breakdown of media and briefly, hilariously showing the rise of Western Pennsylvania’s rednecks, seen gunning down zombies while swigging Iron City Beer. (Should the apocalypse come, surely they will be the ones who triumph.) What’s really amazing is how Romero seamlessly weaves his own Marxist concerns into what really is, when you get down to it, one of the most delirious, perfectly realized popcorn pictures ever concocted. It’s always a thrill to watch our (surprisingly well-acted/-developed) quartet slowly figure out how to conquer the mall, step by step, even as Romero leads us down a dark corridor where humans wind up coming off worse than the zombies. (As I often say, it’s insane how, for all the zombie movies on the planet, no one but Romero bothers to explore or make them evolve. Except when Danny Boyle says, “Hey, I have an idea, let’s make them run fast instead of move slow, even though that’s one of the main reasons why zombies are so fucking terrifying. Of course, we’ll call the virus ‘aggression’ or something, as my screenwriter is a novelist.” And then Simon Pegg says, “No, they really should move slowly. Dumbass," and makes Shawn of the Dead. To which Romero says, “Yes, and by the way, this British comic performer understands the Dead movies better than most of you horror mavens,” and makes Land of the Dead, giving Pegg a zombie cameo in case he was being too subtle. You’re the man, Romero.) In the end, DoD is doubtless one of the most humane and sympathetic explorations of the consumer mindset, as well as the macho one.

Regular Lovers (2005, Philippe Garrel) [A]
I heart this movie. Is that a sufficient explanation? Perhaps, but I want to talk more about this anyway. And I probably will once I have a couple more minutes. In conclusion (for now), I heart this movie.

[Seen for Da Weekly: Harsh Times (2005, David Ayer); Moon Over Harlem (1939, Edgar G. Ulmer); Boarding House Blues (1948, Josh Binney); Shut Up & Sing (2006, Barbara Kopple & Cecilia Peck); Mutual Appreciation (2006, Andrew Bujalski); Kansas City (1996, Robert Altman); David Holzman’s Diary (1967, Jim McBride); Portrait of Jason (1967, Shirley Clarke) (aside: I’m not bragging, but whew!)]


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