Aug 21 2008, 10:40 AM
*le sigh* every day this month tcm is showcasing a different star, today it's the luminous ava gardner. i'm bummed because i missed the bribe, a very noirish movie with vincent price and charles laughton with that lovely over blown rococo chiaroscuro (hows that for a turn of phrase?) lighting that makes that genre so memorable. and if you like it super over the top like i do, the bribe is right up there with welles' noir classic (and some say the zenith/death knell of noir) a touch of evil. that said, i'm enjoying what's turned out to be a very good romance noir, east side, west side:
man: think i'm a stuffed shirt?
woman:yeah, but i like what the shirt is stuffed with.
woman: (from the car) do you think you can drive this thing?
man: (drunk) i certainly hope so, i'm in no condition to walk.
since i'm talking about noir, if you like comic books, noir and movies, you might want to check out ed brubaker's comics. i knew ed a while ago when we lived in the bay area, and we were roomates for years here in seattle. he called me when there was a noir festival in sf in the 80's cos i could get him passes into it-- we spent every day eating burritos in the mission and watching 8 noir films a day for two weeks-- a hell of a diet, but we were both hooked. i read the occasional jim thompson or james m cain, but he tore thru them--voraciously reading everything he could get his hands on. he got me a job in a video store, and later i got him a writing gig reviewing movies. he's been writing comics since i've known him, and the thing that makes him interesting is that he writes them in a very pulpish, noirish way, even when he writes for the cape and tights set. a few years ago he took on the batman mythos from a different angle in gotham central-- instead of obsessing on the guy in the suit, this was a police procedural, with batman viewed as an asshole who came in and took credit after all the legwork was done.
if you wondering why i'm posting this in the film thread, i'll skip to the end-- one of brubaker's best stories, sleeper, is being developed with the help of sam raimi, with (ugh) tom cruise attached. personally i love the idea of seeing this on the big screen, not because of ed, and certainly not because of cruise, who will probably try and make the movie happy and shiny. no, the reason i like sleeper is because it's a super hero comic for adults. no capes or tights, and it's just as much about the espionage and backstabbing as the powers the people wield. most of all, because ed's stories are infused with what makes noir interesting to me story wise-- seedy locations, twisted plots, and shifting allegiances. plus, if your a film fan, you'll note that the books have familiar titles-- they're like much of ed's work it's full of references to his favorite noir or neo-noir films. i guess that's why i'm so excited about this. i know how much ed loves film, and hopefully a little of that will come thru the film.
Aug 22 2008, 04:41 PM
girltrouble: I love your thoughts on noir! And I cannot wait to see SLEEPER!! Have you heard when it's supposed to be out?
Okay, Hollywood minute, I know you all are sooo excited
Decided to check out "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" last night. Te he, I liked it. Now there WERE a bit too many explosions and guns and gratuitous warmongering (understatement of the century...more like petty murder and organized stupidity), however, this is not unlike any other action flick at all out there, so that is always the case for me...I rarely view these action/war movies, unless it's to laugh at the stupidity (any Steven Seagul movie is sure to please)...but was curious about this one...okay, first, it was exciting; lots of the action took place at night time, Mrs. Smith does some coolass stunts, such as belaying down a building, batman style; let's admit it, they're sexy; plus there is a point that rings true: marriage/relationships are a bunch like warfare = crazy egos out of control, etc. I like the roles each of them play and found their characteristics very real, even though they seemed sort of like radical people by traditional Hollywood standards. Yes, so they're married, they're both assasins...It's corny. Good corny. I like the conversations they have. I like that there's a lesbian in the movie and that Mrs. Smith admits her sexual kink, and it's wild. I like that both of them run around in their underwear all day and all night long. I like how he gets topless and she does not. Plus, Jolie reminds me of Clint Eastwood, the only other action hero I ever loved! *sniffle* I miss Dirty Hairy
* ** (More good cornyness!!), ( "The Dead Pool"? anyone, LOL.) M & D took me and sibs to check out at the drive-ins ... "Weallcum to the jungle!!" *insert R & R fingers*
Anywho, yep, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, now on DVD at a public library near you.
Aug 22 2008, 10:48 PM
I liked Mr. and Mrs. Smith because at a particular point the movie became all about kidnapping and possibly killing Adam Brody's character.
After watching my husband obsess about the O. C. for a good long while, that subplot made my day.
Aug 24 2008, 02:54 AM
See above plesae
Aug 24 2008, 02:56 AM
Oh right, they kidnapped him and aired out their dirty laundry the whole time; then they take him to the seedy motel whwere they nag at him, recite plans A thru D to him, threaten him, air out their dirty relationship laundry before him; he lets them humiliate him in this manner for like 5 or 6 hours before dropping the bomb on them that THEY are actually the targets, and HE is sent to pin THEM down (you'd think he might have revealed this sooner in order to save himself the heartache). Also, I'm sure you enjoyed how ... "REALISTIC" ... the last couple scenes were. I did! And do I feel that AJ is my daddy now? Yes I do
Aug 24 2008, 11:17 AM
ok, i just saw the most over the top action movie. i'd never heard of shoot 'em up before. it was at the library, and i just figured it would be a run of the mill action movie. but the lure was that it starred clive owen, paul giamatti, and monica belucci. what i didn't expect, and perhaps what i should have with the film reference title, was a movie that was very film aware.
shoot 'em up is one of the funnest action movies i've seen in years. it starts out seriously enough, but within moments it's sense of humor is fully on display. in first shoot out scene and owen not only delivers a baby while taking on a gang of toughs, he delivers a baby, neatly cutting the cord with a blast from his gun. hilarious lines, absurdly over the top action sequences, and even silly homage to raising arizona, i can't help but lurve this movie. it's gory at times bordering on splatter, but this is like crank with a sense of humor, tounge planted firmly in cheek. this is one of those movies that would be great at a movie party with lots of your friends so you can groan, applaud and cheer at all of the lines and stunts. it's a fantastic popcorn movie. light, fluffy, fun.
Aug 24 2008, 11:50 AM
I saw that movie last year. It was ridiculous and fun and unreal, especially the skydiving shootout and the final shootout with Motley Crue's Kickstart My Heart blasting.
Aug 24 2008, 08:34 PM
Hey girltrouble thanks for the info on Shoot em up! I have been wanting to catch that movie for some time and they just started showing it on skin-e-max but I keep missing it. I loved Clive Own in Sin City and thought this movie looked pretty good. I don't know there is something mysterious about his voice... weird right?
Now I'm looking forward to seeing it since it sounds like it is pretty funny but good!
Aug 25 2008, 04:56 AM
Shoot 'em Up is such an amusing pastiche of the shoot 'em up genre; I went to see it having no idea it was tongue in cheek and was very pleasantly surprised.
Aug 25 2008, 06:46 AM
I generally try to watch whatever noire passes my way. Just had a bad experience slogging through Payback with mel Gilbson. I'm no fan of MG, but it was tipped as Neo-N and more important a remake of the wonderful "Point Blank." Really useless... the essential Noire element of confusion and paranoia was replace by MG as this invincible juggernaut of revenge. Two wasted hours, better spent listening to... Duke Ellington?
But before that I came upon Possessed at Netflix, a noire version of a woman's melodrama, with Joan Crawford looking dowdy and un-made-up. With a famous one-take POV of her sailing into a hospital, on a gurney. Recommended, if you haven't see if already.
And have you seen Street with No Name? That was a good Noire find of the past few years. Excellent B&W lensing, by Joe MacDonald. Also a notable homoerotic vibe between Widmark and Mark Stevens. Documentary style realism.
I don't have TCM, alas. Much turns up there which is simply unavailable elsewhere. As used to be the case for AMC, many moons ago.
Aug 25 2008, 12:47 PM
i have seen a street with no name, and i like it quite a bit. wasn't it one of the first noir to be shot on location? witmark is always good in noirs, i'm sure you've seen fuller's pick up on south street. i've posted about fuller before, and i love naked kiss more, but, i love that movie. there's don't bother to knock, no way out, panic in the streets, and of course night and the city.
i really need to start marking my copy of film noir again.
and while i'm talking about that book, i should just talk about it. if you are interested in film noir, alain silver and elizabeth ward's book, film noir is the absolute book to get. it is exactly what it is touted as, an encyclopedia of noir. from an overview of styles, and influences, to synopsis and reviews of the classic noir cycle, to a listing of recent neo-noir and pivotal newer films, this book has everything you'll need to know to really understand noir.
i use mine as a playbill, noting which films i've seen, making notes of particulars, stars i follow, writers of note, etc. it really is invaluable.
i'm not sure if i've seen posessed, although if i was to bet, i would think that i had. shortly after that noir film festival i talked about seeing with ed, i became sort of obsessed with joan crawford. the only thing i knew about her before it was mommy dearest, but i think my favorite movie of that festival was the fantastic mildred pierce. which i cannot say enough about. yes touch of evil, yes, scarlet street, yes, double indemnity. all great films that are straight down the line noirs. i can't knock them, but the noir films that really grab me are the ones that are off the beaten path, like in a lonely place or pierce.
i'm sure you know all too well dear dolor, of crawford's perfomance in that film. it's absolutely stellar.
you're right. TCM shows movies you simply can't see anywhere else, and you can't rent. i suffered for years without it, now i find it's a matter of keeping my sanity. i do remember when amc was like that, but amc is a shadow of it's formerself, but it has great shows like shoot out. they should go the documentary route, or foreign movies, and change their name, but i love madmen and i am starting to like breaking bad.
Aug 25 2008, 01:42 PM
Clive Owen? I don't even need a plot with those two on screen together *swoons*
Got to chime in on the love for Mildred Pierce
, and I'd argue Crawford was made for that role, and for the other strong-ass doomed women she played. I love her steely yet tragic face. Also love Touch of Evil
, especially the famous long pan at the start. I like Double Indemnity
too, but for me it pales besides Touch of Evil.
Other noir faves include Gilda
(of course) and Out of the Past
I'm sure we've had this conversation on this thread before, but the awesomeness of good noir (if that's not a contradiction
) bears repeating...
Aug 25 2008, 03:22 PM
Awesomeness of good noir is not a contradiction!
Not sure what my all-time fave Noir is.... hmmmmmmmmmmmm, that's worth some reflection...??...
...but Out of the Past is definitely up there!
As for Mitchum, "Night of the Hunter" is one of kind. There's nothing else like it. But I'm talking about Laughton's vision, even more than RM.
The jaw droppeth.
Aug 25 2008, 03:43 PM
oh god the two of you have just named some of my favorite movies. and i've said it before, night of the hunter, visually is every bit as brilliant as wells' touch of evel. it's too bad laughton didn't direct more. but i love his acting too. his quasimodo in the hunchback was the first movie to make me cry. it still does. and i've got a wicked crush on his wife (elsa lancester) as the bride of frankenstein.
i'm hesitant to start up on noir again because we always come back to noir.
ok, we'll talk about noir, but let's talk about neo-noir gems this time. we always talk about the grifters, and i always go on about after dark my sweet or devil in the blue dress. but what are other neo noirs that you love that people haven't heard of...
badlands is pro'll one of the landmark neo noir films and fantastic to be sure. but have you seen mickey one with warren beatty? and what did you think about it? how about the nicholson the postman always rings twice?
or boiling point, an neat little waltz of a movie?
Aug 25 2008, 04:43 PM
Favourite neo-noir? Probably the Cohen Brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There....but there have been quite a few out recently.
There was a really good one starring that kid from 3rd Rock a couple years ago....
In other news, just saw Tropic Thunder. LOVED IT. 1<3 RDJ.
Aug 26 2008, 06:56 AM
For Neo-Noir we have the aforementioned Point Blank, which is now so far back as to be closer in time to the original classic Noir period following WWII than to where we are now(!), but.... in color, certainly neo-N.
And then the aforementioned Memento. Which I am such a fan of. Here the noir themes of confusion, paranoia, and revenge and are all cranked up qualitatively. Wow.
For those interested, an extended and excellent essay on it:http://archive.salon.com/ent/movies/featur...ysis/index.html
And for a not so well know instance of Thompsonian Neo-N, here's my Netflix review of Hit Me:
As an instance of neo-noir, Hit Me is more neo- than noir. The core Jim Thompson plot is noir, but there is much melodrama, sentiment, humor and farce on top. It an odd amalgamation, more odd than most of the reviews indicate-- but worked better than I anticipated. (Not just another Tarantino wanna-be.) The hero assumes extreme levels of agitation, pathos and confusion, to the point of over-acting. But I'm sure that's what they were after. Much work went into this low-budget movie. The re-created hotel is in enjoyable bad taste. Aggressive and potentially distracting camera work. A very upfront and extensive score-- the music might be the single best thing in "Hit Me." The commentary by the director is useful and instructive.
[With "Tarantino wanna-be" I refer to QT's cutie amalgamation of brutal violence and farce and goofy conversational asides, which we now see all over the place, right?]
Aug 26 2008, 09:07 AM
I used to be really into film noir when I was in high school. I couldn't follow Pickup on South Street, the plot seemed confusing to me. The Naked Kiss was fantastic, I loved the cinematography and the storyline.
The Last Seduction is a great example of a neo-noir, but I'm sure lots of us already know it.
Read My Lips was a French film from 2001 about a shy deaf woman getting caught up in a heist scheme with a sexy ex-convict. The film was mesmerizing and so intriguing and fascinating, I had found a copy of it while working in an artsy movie theater, and watched it twice in one weekend.
Aug 26 2008, 09:33 AM
oh and the french love the noir. lol.
talking about read my lips reminded me of an asian noir, the original bangcok dangerous (not the movie with the same title with (ugh) nick cage), was a yarn about a deaf hitman, which sounds absurd, but is pretty ingenious in how it's done in certain scenes.
i love how you are constantly seeing all kinds of films anna. it always impresses me that you are so open to see anything. it's pretty cool.
i think i've recommended the matador with pierce brosnan, and kiss kiss bang bang with rbt downy jr.
did anyone see the bank job or flawless with demi moore?
Aug 26 2008, 09:51 AM
I watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang recently, and wasn't too interested in it. I got that it was suppossed to be witty, but I just couldn't stay into it.
Aug 26 2008, 09:58 AM
I would count Body Heat (1981)as neo-noir and Sin City, although adapted from the graphic novel has noir themes (narrative and visual) aplenty.
What about Dark City (1998)? Sci-fi-ish meets noir, it's flawed but intriguing...
Aug 26 2008, 06:25 PM
"i think i've recommended the matador with pierce brosnan, and kiss kiss bang bang with rbt downy jr." (the quote button doesn't seem to be working...)
Both great films!
geekchickknits, the film you mention was Brick. I'm still undecided as to whether I liked it or not.
Aug 27 2008, 05:41 AM
Read my Lips was Great! I can't think of any movie which is more empowering... from a feminist standpoint. Where a woman who is being put upon... gets her way.
(And not at all as the woman does in the Last Seduction, wherein it is clear that she is a black widow.)
And speaking of noir and black widows, my fave is-- of course!-- Barabara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity.
Aug 27 2008, 10:45 AM
Thanks Bunny! I wasn't blown away by Brick, but I did enjoy it. I thought it was very good, but not excellent.
Aug 27 2008, 10:45 AM
Anyone ever watched 'Habla Con Ella' ? Its a Spanish film. I loved it. Any other good Foreign films out there?
Aug 27 2008, 10:55 AM
That's a really good one, though depressing and sad at times.
Aug 27 2008, 11:18 AM
yeah. i watched it with a class full of super conservative college freshmen so it wasnt well received, but i loved it. It really makes you think. I love movies like that. I especially loved the progression of the nurse/stalker's character.
Aug 27 2008, 01:52 PM
what's the english translation of that movie's title?
what kind of foreign movies did you have in mind, QB? recent? older? any specific country?
i got suckered! i ended up watching the last bit of the vikings on TCM, i had to watch it. i have no clue what the movie was about other than the title, but the framing in the final fight scene was so good... well i stopped and watched. next thing you know i've watched who was that lady with dean martin, an silly little comedy who's theme song i'd heard weeks ago on a local swing/jazz radio show. now i'm watching operation petticoat, a movie that i've only seen snippets of, with cary grant. i can't resist cary grant....and it's a fun movie. later they are going to show boeing boeing, which, being in seattle i have to watch too. it's got such a funny theme song which i've been trying to hunt down for years. i can't imagine what the movie's like.
tcm really does make me happy, and i know i sound like a product placement ad, but y'all know i just love movies. they do these things where they have stars talking about movies and they had john tuturro. he said he'd take girls to see on the waterfront, if they didn't like it, he couldn't date 'em. lol. that was so me. it's brought up memories of highschool. i took a girl out that i had the meanest crush on to see some like it hot. i've seen it a kazillion times, and it was probably a feeble attempt to come out, or test the waters. she didn't like it. we never went very far.
how can you not like some like it hot? sheesh.
anyways, they're showing that later too. i've seen it so many times i can skip it.
and apropos of nothing, if i didn't have a crush on rose mcgowan before, i really have one now. she really knows film, and that's pretty much all i need to have a crush. the rest is gravy...lol
Aug 27 2008, 03:12 PM
GT, Technically its Talk with Her, but conversationally, Talk to Her. *nerd* lol.
Um, I really like Spanish Films because i dont really have to pay attention to the Subtitles, But ill watch them from any country. I love listening to the language. I watched The Edukators a few months ago,in german, it was pretty good.
I love old films like youre talking about. I havent watched a whole lot though. Casablanca = <3. lol.
Aug 27 2008, 03:31 PM
i love almovodar, but i still haven't volver. i like his early films most like the super anti catholic tract, bad habits.
and i always rant about open your eyes. it's spanish, i can't remember the spanish title, but it was what vanilla sky was a remake of. that director's earlier movie, thesis is a great thriller too. i love terminados 73, which is a goofy sweet little period piece movie about a couple in the early 70's as they try to get into porn movies. the red squirrel is a great almost coen brothers type loopy comedy.
i wanted to see the edukators, but was sidetracked when it was on ifc, or whatever. if you like old movies, see some of the movies recommended here when we talk about noir or screwball comedies. these busties have great film sense, and if you are looking for a certain actor/ess then throw out a name. i kind of look at this thread as the bustie film knowledge base.
Aug 27 2008, 06:48 PM
I heard Volver was AMAZING. I still need to see it. ha.
Thanks for the tips, ill check those movies out.
The edukators is definitely worth the watch as well. It took a second for me to get into it, but there are some plot twists that i really enjoyed. lol.
Aug 28 2008, 06:16 AM
Please watch Volver; I love it. I'm sure it was chacha who mentioned when it was released that it's a re-working of Almodovar's earlier film The Flower of my Secret, which I've yet to see but desperately want to after her telling us that. I love his obsession with mothers; it's what put him on my radar in the first place.
Aug 28 2008, 09:09 AM
Volver was an amazing film, just superb.
I watched The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane last night, a 70's horror movie starring Jodie Foster. It was an interesting little movie. She plays a preteen whose father is dying, and trains her to be independent and live in their house alone, warding off adults who inquire after her father. Of course Foster was good at playing smart and precocious, but I was also surprised by Martin Sheen, who played a slimy pervert, calling her a "very pretty girl," and "accidentally" touching her breast. He was just very convincing and good in his part.
girltrouble, I've been having a crush on Rose McGowan for years, even if she's been looking weird lately (and I don't buy that she had facial reconstruction for a "car accident"). She's good on TCM, she's a genuine fan of old movies, and has a lot of obscure knowledge. I like her because of that, and that she also has dark hair and pale skin like me, so I can pretend she's my movie star doppelganger. I've felt that same way about Rachel Weisz and Jennifer Connelly.
Aug 28 2008, 10:32 AM
sundance has a documentary of one of the best contemporary cinematograpers around, christopher doyle, called in the mood for doyle known for his bright, colorful, sensual, very pretty hong kong based films, primarily with director wong kar-wei. doyle is probably one of the most influentual cinematographers living. if you're not familiar with his name, the movie hero, with jet li, is one of his, as is lady in the water. neither, however is typical if his films. for that, you have to go to the films of kar-wei.
kar-wei is an arthouse darling, but how could he not be? his movies are masculine, but dwell on the feminine, he is romatic in the extreme. his men can be rable-rousers, but they seem lost without the anchor of their last girlfriend, a love lost and forever to be mourned. i think that's why i loved the first of his films i saw-- chungking express. it has a girl who sneaks into her crushes house to clean and re-arrange, but it meditates on love and it's expiration date, a symbol made literal thru the movie. it's a theme that's been reworked in kar-wei's films in a way that's very rare for contemporary directors. his characters in some of his earlier films, i'm thinking particularly of the lead in the days of being wild, is taken up again and again, but in different settings, parts of characters are stripped and reconstituted and fused with others. to understand what i mean, you should see these films in this order, the days of being wild, in the mood for love, and 2046. the first film is set in the late 50's/early 60's, the second in the late 40's/early 50's, and the final one in the year 2046 and earlier.
time, memory, play tricks, weave in and out twist and change in unexpected ways. the lead in the first movie isn't really in the second, but the last film is a funny amalgam of the first two films. the result is an incredibly deep inter-texual film where seeing the films in different orders, teases out different meanings, changes meanings, gives you clues, and hides other facts. it's terribly complex, and i'm not doing it justice, but if you think that complexity gets in the way of the films, you might be right, but that second film-- in the mood for love is fantastic as a stand alone film. it has one of my favorite movie moments of words unspoken-- those scenes where what needs to be conveyed isn't done by having things explained to you, but rather, the ideas are done with a simple gesture, or a shot that tells you all you need to know. and you feel it in your gut. i've posted about my other two moments like this, the colonnade sequence in pasolini's the passenger, the bouncing ball sequence in fuller's the naked kiss, but the one in this movie, in the mood for love, to me atleast, was a gunshot. not literally, metaphorically, to me it was an anthem, a flexing of feminist power, in a country and age when women were thought to be powerless.
in the mood for love is about two married people whose spouses are cheating. they are thrown together and an attraction takes root. the cinematography-- where i started this sloppy rant of mine-- is beautifully sensual, full of bright colors, and lingering details and longing. the costumes, oh! the costumes let me just say this:
if you like the suits and dresses in the amc series mad men, in the mood does them better. if that sounds like a tall order, it is, but i loaned the movie to a neighbor and we were talking about getting dragonlady dresses for months after. the costumes are dreamy. the perfomaces are fantastic. tony leung is one of hong kong's best, and maggie chung, his most frequent co-star. *sigh* i'd start talking about maggie chung, since she is one of my biggest crushes, but see the movie. you'll crush out on her too. but i digress-- again.
i was talking about words unspoken scenes. and this one comes in the form of the two leads discussing who's spouse seduced who, the man insists that it was the man, because women have no power, and with one gesture she proves she has more power in her little finger--literally-- than he could have dreamed of.
but back to doyle, and a new digression, if you'll forgive me. the film i like of his recently is the last life in the universe. i'm a sucker for arthouse playfulness in a film and when a movie waits 15minutes into a movie for the opening credits, well, it's a slam dunk. it also makes a great asian existentialist double feature with another one of my favorite films of 2003, kiyoshi kurosawa's bright future.
ok. i'll shut up now
Aug 28 2008, 10:36 AM
*le sigh* so many movies... so little time....
Aug 28 2008, 11:23 AM
ok weird/useless little trivia fact, i was looking up some info on ang lee, and it turns out he was the first asst director (1st A.D.) on a short called Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads. spike lee's thesis project at NYU's film school
Aug 28 2008, 03:02 PM
(I'm not stalking you GT, honest...)
Aug 29 2008, 06:42 PM
Oh, but The Flower of My Secret is also such a great film! And I love how the narrative of what becomes Volver makes its debut there, so fitting, and a little prophetic. The star of The Flower shows up again as the mother in Volver. Has anyone see Kika? I keep meaning to, I even carry it around with me because I think, "well, you never know...!" But the moment has yet to arrive.
Thank you, GirlTrouble, for posting that beautiful image.
Sep 3 2008, 07:48 PM
i've seen kika, it's fun, but not very memorable as far as almovadar films. there's lots of fun, bondage and outragous outfits if i remember right... oh and it has my supercrush, rossy de palma. i've said it before, if you ever see this woman irl, she is beautiful. yes, she photographs funny, but she came into town for a film festival i was working at for...kika, actually. everyone expected women like veronique forque and victoria abril to be the eye candy, but to this day i remember everyone, all the men and women working at the film festival having a HUGE crush on her.
re: the photo, cha, you're very welcome. i love that movie. it's so slow and quiet, but stunningly beautiful.
speaking of stunningly beautiful, if you like the dangerous liasons movies-- the 60's one, the two in the early 90's valmont, and whatever that kiddie one was, you might want to see 'untold scandal'. it's a japanese version of the story, but the sets and costumes are painstakingly droolworthy. i wish you could see it on the big screen as i did. everything-- everything in it feels like it's from that world, terribly ornate, delicate, wonderful. of all the movies made from the novel i think it ranks with the best known of them somewhere between valmont and the DL with glenn close. each were superlative in their own way, with great art direction and terrific acting. the same can be said here.
while i'm on the topic of multiple movies taken from a single source, i've just seen the invasion, which is the most recent version of the invasion of the body snatchers movies, and probably one of my least favorite. i disliked almost all of it. the editing was disjointed, and difficult to follow, and while you'd think it would add to the tension of the film, and i suppose it did, but there was so little tension to be had, i wonder why they bothered.
i find myself going to two of my favorites in this category of films, the teen horror film, the faculty, and abel ferrera's bodysnatchers. the thing those ones had that made them terrific was a very specific idea of the world they were in, and what the enemy was. in faculty the bad guys were the faculty, who seemed to push teens into losing their individuality, in bodysnatchers, it was a family against a military that drained every drop of emotions from it's soldiers. invasion plays at that, with the heroine of the film, nicole kidman, playing a shrink who, it is implied, de-individualizes her clients by giving them perscriptions. but this set up ruins the film before it begins. sure, it means she she's conflicted about what she does in the face of an alien invasion with the same goals. unfortunately, it's a bad call. what would have been better is if kidman was a patient-- this would have given the film a stronger charecter arc. instead of being the person doling out the medicine she would be one who depends on it.
the reason that the other two films succeeded, and this one failed is because they had singluar enemies. invasion sets up the field of psychiatry, the CDC, and the police it's enemies, which diffuses the film's need for a strong bad guy. invasion tries to make a parallel to the fear after 9/11-- a terrific idea, but terribly executed. it falls flat when the military ends up being the hero and it's underlying message seems to be that war is human, and we should love it. the pleasure of IotBS movies is that there is a clear bad guy, a clear, distinct evil. on that score, invasion constantly muddles things.
then there are the performances, which are lackluster at best. when a character becomes infected later in the film, we barely notice, and when it is made clear, we don't care. i can't blame the actors. it's the script, which really deflates any of the tension almost as soon as it arrives. both of the other films have a good sense of panic, of suffocation-- even the faculty which had the gallows humor of teen horror to work against, but still managed to turn the screws. bodysnatchers of course had two scene chewing scenes that are still some of the best in horror for me-- the first by meg tilly, astounding in itself-- who knew she could act? the second, in a cameo by forrest whitaker, as a military man who's lost his mind trying to stay alive. these scenes serve a very important purpose in mass horror films, they give you the scale of the horror, the hopelessness, and a feeling of suffocation. a case in point is a similar film the japanese film pulse (which was much better than the american remake) at one point they think the problem is local-- until a plane crashes while they are walking down the street. this isn't just the people you know, this shit is everywhere, and the question is simply put most succinctly by bodysnatcher's meg tilly:where you gonna go? who are you gonna call? we're everywhere...
the final piece of the puzzle is the mis-en-scene, the way that the film is shot that deepens the dread, ferrera's film does this best, silloettes are shot from beneath, a 70's metzotint golden brown obscuring their faces, testicles are everywhere, in trees, roots, pipes, hair, webs. the visuals reinforce that sense of dread, forcing it's way onto the screen. invasion tries to make sterility--white walls, lack of color or mess, overwhelming order, a symptom. it's been done in countless movies, but the whole movie is pristine, so it seems as if the invasion has taken place, won and moved on. there is no visual progression, because of that, everything seems bland, and there is nothing to contrast it with, and with a movie about paranoia, about loss of individuality, this movie seems to have no personality of it's own. if it reminds me of anything it reminds me of the unyielding sterility of cries and whispers, but bergman knew what he is doing and how to use that. invasion doesn't seem to have any clue... or any individuality.
Sep 4 2008, 11:37 PM
Tonight I watched Bug, which was a trippy and underrated film, and something I was not expecting. It's a psychological thriller starring Ashley Judd as a woman escaping her abusive ex-husband (Harry Connick, Jr., who is really fantastic at being abusive and nasty, for seeming like such a nice guy in real life). She's a world-weary Southern beauty with a damaged past, something that Judd excels at playing (Ruby in Paradise, Come Early Morning, Ya-Ya Sisterhood), and she's so much more of a layered, interesting actor than I had thought, from previously seeing her in romantic comedies and formulaic roles.
This film is intriguing and different than I thought it was. From the DVD plot summary, I assumed it would be like Mimic or The Host, of fighting giant bugs to save the world. Instead, the bugs are invisible to all except for Judd's character Agnes and Michael Shannon's character, who is a paranoid schizophrenic that comes into her life. It interested me how Agnes becomes more mad and loses touch with reality the more she believes the guy's delusions about bugs crawling on him and the FBI and/or CIA being after him. She begins the film as a tough, weary woman, telling her ex to fuck off and leave her alone, shoving him off, but unconsciously allows herself to be abused and controlled by a new man because she is so desperate for love and affection. This movie is a mindtrip, and gets more despairing and sad as it goes on, but it is so so good.
Sep 4 2008, 11:49 PM
omg anna-- i was trying to remember the name of that movie because i wanted to get it from the library...
ooooh they've been holding the bank job for me!
Sep 5 2008, 09:27 AM
GT, I owe you a thousand words. Truly.
But first: I'm really curious to know what you think about The Bank Job. I saw that months ago, when it first came out, on a lazy Sunday afternoon when the city was quiet except for this busy and loud corner pub, open to the streets, filled with soccer fans cheering on Manchester United, who won when one of their Welsh players scored the winning goal (the significance is lost on me there...however it was painstakingly pointed out to me). You know that odd feeling you get when you come out of a movie theatre, your mind still focused on the world of the film you just saw, and it's still daylight and very different in the "real" world outside? Well, in this case, I came out of a theatre showing a very British film about some very British characters...and walked into a street full of very excited British ex-patriot football fans. Disorienting!
Sep 5 2008, 09:42 AM
i watched the band's visit (foreign film) the other night, and i loved it! the mis en scene made my heart go aflutter. there's just so much precision and thought that went into the filming of that movie. and it's a sweet little film, too. it's touching and funny, and just freaking awesome.
*creeps backwards and runs to amazon.com to check the prices on the dvd*
Sep 5 2008, 12:25 PM
well i am still very interested in our little project, dr. cha cha charming, and i am working at something else i'd like to show you when i am finished. i've been side tracked but i'll email you soon. i miss writing you. you are such a lovely writer... i'll tell you what i think of the bank job soon as i see it, k?
Sep 5 2008, 02:57 PM
anna, i love that movie. i saw it when it first came out in theaters, and people were pissed when it was over. it was marketed as a horror film, so the typical horror film crowd showed up and expected the usual crap that comes out.
but i had a big smile on my face when it was over. i thought it was fabulous.
Sep 7 2008, 10:27 AM
i just watched in bruges last night, and i loved it! i suspected i would, but the movie turned out completely opposite how i expected. i thought it was fabulous.
smart people...not so much.
Sep 7 2008, 10:40 AM
I went to see Frozen River yesterday and absolutely loved it. Very authentic and powerful, not over dramatic. Loved it. Highly recommended.
Sep 7 2008, 11:04 AM
faerietales, I really want to see In Bruges!
I've hardly watched any films lately but once life calms down I will catch up... I want to see Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day as I really enjoyed the book.
eta: I did see Mama Mia and I LOVED it (sad, I know].
Sep 8 2008, 09:47 AM
In Bruges... made me want to go there. To drink beer, and eat cheese and chocolate. All three of these items being Belgian specialties. And all quite fattening, n'est-ce pas?, so best to visit in winter, when we'll be covered in our coats and scarves. Yummmm & Yum!
It surprises you with its shift in tone..
Sep 8 2008, 01:45 PM
i've heard nothing but good things about that movie and it did look pretty fantastic.
i'm watching dicaprio/danes version of romeo and juliet, and-- i'm kind of astounded that i've never seen it before, perhaps i was caught up in the colors and the language, but the way it was shot-- some of the flamboyant theatricality reminds me of a ken russell film.
i love ken russell films, of course he's not for everybody. i would think bunny or rosev would like-- people with a theater background-- would love. theatrical to the extreme, frenetic camera work and a rather ridiculously over the top love of the baroque... most people are probably most familiar with his film tommy...
but i love his films of the 70's and 80's.
i have to stop at this point because i've got into one of these crazy conversations that i have with mr. t's roomate, and we just talk about films rapid fire.
he thought that ken russell directed the knack and how to get it, but that was richard lester, who directed all of those beatles films (he's a baby booming hippy, so everything comes back to the beatles--ugh) but he reminded me that lester directed the three musketeer movies of the seventies, which i loved as a kid. before cable they used to show the musketeer movies back to back on cbs late night, and if they were on, i was watching them till daylight. i probably watched them 2 or 3 times a year, and never tired of them.
which brings us to oliver reed, who, got me into ken russell movies, years later after university when i was working at a repertory movie house, and i saw it with a double feature with marat/sade, a movie notorious for having the world's longest movie title, which goes like this:The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum at Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade. but back to oliver reed, he starred in the devils, a movie so unlike anything i'd seen before, yes it was reminiscent of the musketeers, having swashbuckling scenes, but absolutely broke my heart. it made me want to see other movies of russell's. i realized i had seen one of his other movies, lair of the white worm, a hilarious campy vampire with hugh grant, and later i saw the music lovers, a beautiful film which is very much in the vein of dangerous liaisons.
ugh. i can't keep up with the conversation. we ended up talking about a russell film we'd not seen, called The Fall of the Louse of Usher, a play on a old corman film based on poe, the fall of the house of usher. from there it was on to nicholson and the king of marvin gardens
Sep 9 2008, 04:04 AM
I'm not a fan of Martin McDonagh (the playwright who directed In Bruges) so I'm not in a hurry to see it, but apparently it's great and I'm very much in the minority. I do like Colin Farrell: I think he's good if he's directed well.
Lair of the White Worm is insanely hilarious. Fans of Hugh Grant must see it, if only to catch a glimpse of his earlier oeuvre... *snicker*
GT, I like R & J's director Baz Luhrman, I think he has a great, if exaggerated visual aesthetic. I love the beginning of that movie in particular: all billboards and near-apocalyptic images of LA...
I have to say, I waited on Ken Russell many moons ago and he was an arrogant asshole. I hear what you're saying about his aesthetic though.