Apr 26 2009, 12:09 PM
epi - I love animation, stop-motion and otherwise. Have you seen Aardman's other work besides Wallace and Gromit? Some of it is wonderfully rough. My favorite is the short Creature Comforts
For more surreal
, not for kids stop motion, check out the work of Jan Svankmajer
. His Alice
is seriously disturbing yet strangely beautiful.
I really enjoyed The Triplets of Belleville
it is beautifully animated and a sweet story.
anna k. - Isn't that a Plympton film? I'll have to check it out, I like some of his shorts, he has a loose, sketchy style.
Apr 26 2009, 01:15 PM
ooooo crino... i've got such a crush on you right now!!!!
aardman is wonderful, and his wallace and gromit
movies are so sweet.
i adore svankmajer
. it's always worth the hunt to see a lot of his shorts. if you like him you might also want to check out the brothers quay
for equally creepy adult live animation. they have that same kind of weird polish animation style.
no animation, but eastern european, you can get hukkle
(hungarian for hiccup) from netflix. it's one of my all time favorite movies-- beautiful, quiet, lyrical, funny, sprawling and practically wordless film that seems to accidentally, subtly turn into a genre movie, then falls out of it just as quietly, just as obliquely, as if it's no more important than the old man with the hiccups we start with. a great, great, great little gem. a straight up masterpiece in my book.
but back to animation--
i didn't think i'd like the triplets
, but i adored it. if you like that you might like the films of satoshi kon-- particullarly tokyo godfathers
. i've written a bit about him in the comic thread. he directed one of my favorite anime series, the fantasy mystery, paranoia agent
, as well as the surreal feature, paprika
but if you like animation, you might want to try anime, i can recommend akira, ghost in the machine, paranoia, tokyo godfathers
and some others. i've been reading and watching mushi shi
, which i love. i wrote a bit about it in the comics thread too. it's hard to explain, but here is the synopsis from netflix:
An award-winning anime series, Mushi-Shi brings the viewer into a dreamlike world where ghostly organisms called Mushi hover on the borders of perception. Neither plants nor animals, Mushi are primal life forms that can be seen only by some humans -- including Mushi master Ginko. He roams the earth in an effort to learn more about these strange beings, along the way helping people who've experienced the Mushi's supernatural effects.
it's quickly become my favorite. there is a live action version out there, but netflix doesn't have it i'll have to check greencine.
and epi, i haven't seen mirrormask
, but lo and behold-- it was at the library yesterday so i checked it out. i'll tell you what i think. i've wanted to see it for a while.
ETA:netflix has a place holder for the live action version of mushi shi under the title "bugmaster
." but there is no eta for it's purchase/release. while greencine
has no mention of the live action series.
Apr 26 2009, 05:37 PM
Oh, I love Bill Plympton! I actually got to see him at the film festival a few years ago, when they seemed to have a lot more animation than they do now. He was presenting a bunch of his shorts. Unfortunately, I've never been able to find my favourite one, where two guys are torturing each other by turning each other's heads inside out and tying strings to bricks and stringing them through each others eye sockets, ears and noses and then yanking on them, and it just escalates until one guy flicks the other guy's nose and he bursts into tears...classic. I saw Hair High when it first came out, and I just saw his new one, Idiots and Angels, a few months ago. I found it a bit long and really sexist, kind of hard to sit through. But I am still a devotee.
Triplets was great - I used to play it all the time at the video store I used to work at. And I love, love, love that creepy gothic animated Alice - what the fuck is up with that movie? I have an old dubbed tape of it but it's been played so many times now the sounds seems to have gone. I love putting it on when I have some unsuspecting friends over.
I still haven't seen Tokyo Godfathers! I've rented it once or twice but never got around to watching it. I'll have to put it back on my list. I made a point of going to see Paprika when it played in the independent theatre at the university - movies like that are best on the big screen. They're made for sensory overload.
That's funny that you just found Mirrormask at the libray yesterday, GT - I just found it yesterday on sale for 8 bucks at a tiny, dingy little video shop in my neighbourhood!
I really love watching anthologies of animated shorts by the National Film Board of Canada. There's some great stuff, and it's just so Canadian and so nostalgic to watch.
Oh, and I always forget to mention Who Framed Roger Rabbit! What a great movie. It holds up so well, even with the primitive technology they had at the time. And such a damned clever idea.
Has anyone here seen a short (about 30 mins) called Flatworld, that's stop-motion animated entirely with cardboard cutouts? Very clever. I saw it on YTV when I was a kid and was very surprised when I stumbled across it a few years ago in the back room of the video store I used to work at. I really miss the good old days of YTV and TeleToon. TeleToon especially used to have a ton of great indy animation - it was kind of their specialty. What the hell happened? It's all crap now!
Apr 27 2009, 04:52 PM
aw thanks gt! I absolutely loved Tokyo Godfathers
, it's such a sweet Xmas story. It was also pretty accessible from a western perspective, which is something I love in the more mainstream Miyazaki
films like Spirited Away
, Princess Mononoke
,and Howl's Moving Castle
. (I also love the steampunk fantasy of Howl's..
.) GITS and Akira are classics.
My brother is hugely into anime, so I've seen a wide range of good, bad, and spectacular. Grave of the Fireflies
was very well done, but difficult to watch, since it's about the decline of two children after Hiroshima.
I also liked Metropolis
which is an anime remake of the Fritz Lang classicFLCL
is an excellent exercise in strangeness, and I highly recommend it.
I also love Azumanga Daio
which is based on a type of manga very similar to our three panel comic strips. Very cute and funny.
The opposite of cute and funny would be the morbid existentialism of Serial Experiments Lain
, but it is still excellent. The series focuses on a girl who is increasingly connected to virtual reality and disconnected from actual reality.
I loved Mirrormask
!! It was so lush and creepy! Flatworld
sounds interesting too...
Apr 27 2009, 09:02 PM
crino: the crush continues!
i LOVE, LOVE L-O-V-E LOVE FLCL!
have you seen the anime for xxxholic? i loved the manga....
Apr 27 2009, 09:14 PM
I met Bill Plympton a few years ago, at a showing of Hair High. His Guide Dog shorts played before the movie, and afterwards I got a signing and he sketched the dog as part of his autograph. I thought he seemed like a sweet old man.
Metropolis was really good, I saw it with my mom several years ago, and loved the animation and musical choices.
I hated Who Framed Roger Rabbit as a kid, I thought Roger was annoying and I wasn't a Looney Tunes fan, I didn't like cartoon violence. Looking back, it's a fun movie, but I could see how it irritated me, save for the part with the innocent cartoon baby switching into a pissed-off, temperamental actor.
Apr 27 2009, 11:15 PM
i hated rodger rabbit too.
the way the cartoons were treated as second class citizens, reminded me waaaaaay too much of jim crow in hollywood, but that movie had too many of my pet peeves for me to ever like it. i cannot stand charles fletcher, who did the voice for rodger, and i hate, hate, hate rob't zemekis. ok, if they had handed me a crisp 1000 dollar bill, i would have loved the movie, anything short of that....no dice.
Apr 30 2009, 09:19 AM
I watched part of Beyond Silence last night, and really enjoyed it. It's a German film about a young girl raised by deaf parents, and she is their translator to the outside world, her father being utterly dependent on her. She wants to play clarinet like her aunt, but her father detests it out of childhood jealousy of his sister making beautiful music and him being unable to hear it. It is beautifully shot, has a quiet grace to it, the scenes with the girl as translator made me think of first-generation Americans with immigrant parents, and there is this solmenness to it that makes me get engrossed into their world. I was tired last night and didn't finish it, but plan to watch the rest tonight.
Apr 30 2009, 11:08 AM
when was that movie made, anna? i love german films from the 30's, 40's 70's and 80's and some of the more recent stuff...
saw mirrormask today. meh. i liked the visuals, but the story... and i hated the music. soft jazz? i swear, sax can ruin anything.
yesterday, however.... yikes.
the french are making some mean horror movies, and i mean, MEAN. the movie i'm referring to is inside. and it pulls no punches. let me spell it out for you in three words: pregnant woman in peril. if you are wondering how hardcore it is, let me reiterate: it pulls no punches. it's stalker/slasher/home invasion, but at it's center is two women-- sarah, a pregnant widow, who lost her husband in a car accident, and "la femme", a mysterious woman who knocks on the door on xmas eve, played by a terrifying beatrice dalle. seems she wants sarah's child by any means. now if you stop and think about that much, your mind can imagine where a horror film could go, then add a pair of huge scissors. now, all those places? inside goes there. it does not give a FUCK about being tasteful. i usually have no qualms about seeing gore on film, framing/lighting/sound and editing are usually what i'm thinking about anyways, but i was covering my eyes, talking to the screen, and thinking, oh no, they wouldn't..... it is a brutal, bloody, but in a lot of ways, a very smart movie. this is all about suspense and shock, and for a first film, it's amazingly lean. they were smart enough to hire the cinematographer and music supervisor/composer from haute tension. good call. while the twist* in that movie turned it from a masterpiece to a master piece of shit; the technical work, the sound and vision were spot on. it was the story and the direction that was weak. here, there are no such monumental issues. the music is perfect, from quiet strings and piano solos to electronic feedback, and whistles, this is how horror music should be done-- with lots of space for foreboding quiet to let creaks, and groans in. it does have it's flaws, to be sure, there is some knife over gun logic, a slight twist, you can see a mile away, and super dumb cops; but it's sense of claustrophobia and tension is unerring, the heroine spends most of her time in a bloodied bathroom, it's sterile interior, battered, stained, a clever metaphor for the violation/violence against the safe space of her child's womb. the lighting is, in the main a medical, antiseptic, murky yellow, similar to von trier's comedy/horror/soap opera, the kingdom, save for the shock red of blood, which inside wallows in, flows freely.
one thing i find interesting about this new wave of french horror, at least the films that i've seen so far, which have had women almost entirely at it's center, is that female focus. not just as victims, but also as the stalkers, killers. two of them, inside, and haute tension*, center on female/female violence; men are simply an obstacle for these vicious women, on their way to disassembling the heroine. i can't really say i've figured out how or if i think this is feminist film, at least those two. the attacking women are just as focused as a jason, or michael myers, but the pre-requisite pre-marital sex, isn't required to focus their ire. in each case, there is a relationship between the two of them, and these women mean to literally, viscerally, sever it.
the cannibal films, however, are in one way or another, more feminine, in my skin, focuses on a woman's self image, as she starts to consume herself literally; trouble every day, is much more sensual, lyrical in it's approach, and both are female directed. the women, in them, on the other hand, are driven by impulses that have gotten out of control, it's not so much that the women have vacated themselves, as chosen to indulge, and see no need to stop. if they have blood lust, or more accurately, are skin starved, then it's because they are biding their time tell their addictions can have full reign.
*i have to admit, with the case of haute tension this case of female/female violence is a bit strained visually (although not textually), because of it's twist: it is revealed at the end that the killer of the film, a stocky tall man, is infact, one of the the heroines, who has blocked out all of her killing, and concocted/projected a stock serial killer to block out her killing. lame, i know that's why i hate that movie.
Apr 30 2009, 12:09 PM
Beyond Silence came out in 1996/97. I assumed it was more recent, like 2004.
Now I want to see Inside, GT, based on your analysis!
Apr 30 2009, 02:32 PM
Now I want to see Inside, GT, based on your analysis!ha.
thank you, i'm flattered, anna.
but you can't say you weren't warned.
in one way or another i've admired each of the french new horror wave films i've seen, censorship is, near as i can tell non-existant in france as far as film is concerned. i can't see inside or trouble ever getting released without the end being cut.
there is something charming about inside's bluntness. it starts at the scene of the accident where sarah looses her husband, she is almost covered in blood. then it fast forwards, there are few wasted scenes. and i love how it plays with interior and exterior spaces, although i think they could have used more framing, but i think that about all movies except safe, which shot after shot of confining frames. but hey, if the subject warrants it (with a name like inside, c'mon!), i say go for it.
i have to say i wish i knew more about french politics. inside is set durring the xmas riots a few years ago, and i can't help thinking that in some ways dalle-- dressed as if in mourning, black dress, black corset on top, and black gloves, represents just as much of an intrusion into daily bourgeois life bursting into sarah's house (read womb), as the rioters. in one sense she becomes a bit of a looter...
another angle that i'm thinking about is how it views motherhood, all of the women, (save possibly one) play the role of mother in the film. the person who is the least interested in it, would be sarah. if you do see it, i'd love to get your read on the way mothers are used in the film. there is a lot of stuff there.
if you can, watch the making of film on the dvd. it's fun. good info. i just wish i could get a hold of some of the films they reference, mostly 80's french horror. i should mention, that what inside does with sound-- the electronic screeching-- owes much to films like texas chainsaw massacre with it's grating, scraping, metal audio.
lol... i suppose it's a good time to admit, i've never been able to sit thru TCM. it's not the gore, i just find it a bit....boring...
anyways, next up is another french horror film:them, which was remade into the american film, the strangers.
Apr 30 2009, 08:12 PM
I'll brace myself, GT.
I finished Beyond Silence
tonight. It's a good movie, but has a cheesy ending, with a freeze-frame shot that was unnecessary. I liked the pacing, the music, and a lot of the childhood scenes in the first half of the movie. I didn't take notes on it, so I don't feel like writing a longer review of it, but it seemed very realistic in how a child with deaf parents would grow up, as their translator, and knowing deaf people via sign language and having a mutual understanding between a deaf person and a hearing person raised by deaf people. Martin's difficulties with communicating reminded me of Bangkok Dangerous
, in that the deaf hitman Kong is struggling to communicate, mostly using his eyes and hands, and is held back from expressing himself among friends and his dream girl.
Apr 30 2009, 09:14 PM
saw ils aka them.
dumb. i said a bit about 'knife over gun logic' in inside, but it's over the top in them. just one dumb move after another. it's a shame because had they done it right, this could have been a great, suspenseful, practically gore free horror movie, instead it's just dumb. honestly, this would have made a much better short than a feature. perhaps it just pales in comparison to inside.
i will say though, the opening scene is very scary, and i loved the end, which was ironically mundane. what is it they say about the banality of evil? they must have seen the end of this.
next up is stuck-- based on the true story of a hit and run where the victim was stuck in a girl's windshield for days. it could be awful. i hated the director's first movie, king of ants, it's one of the top 10 worst movies ever. keep your fingers crossed. then the hysterical korean police procedural, public enemy. which i've seen before. it goes with my theory that any movie where a cop loses his gun is always good.
May 1 2009, 11:46 AM
Has any one ever see The Room? It was playing at a local indie theatre last week, and I went. It's honestly one of the worst movies ever made. Very cult, and I loved it.
May 4 2009, 08:56 AM
The Room? Hmmm, I haven't heard of it, sassy. I will keep my eyes open for it though!
I went to see this movie Hunger this weekend. Anyone seen it? Good, but very hard to watch.
May 4 2009, 09:56 AM
Sassy-I'm so glad someone else has seen the Room! It has to be one of the worst films I've ever seen alongside Gigli, Showgirls and Glitter (don't ask why I've seen all of those), but I couldn't stop cracking up during it.
May 4 2009, 12:15 PM
I finally found "The Legend of Billie Jean" to watch on DVD. I had been wanting to watch it again for so long. I love that movie. You just can't get better than the 80s sometimes.
May 4 2009, 03:14 PM
I watched The Slanted Screen last night, a documentary about Asian-American men in Hollywood, mostly actors and directors. It was well-produced, and I learned a lot of new things, of actors I hadn't heard of before (James Shigeta and Sessue Hayagawa), how Bruce Lee was both a positive and negative (positive for being a badass star and super-cool, negative for setting the bar as all Asian men know martial arts stereotypes), and the casting changes done out of fear and racism. For instance, in The Replacement Killers, Chow Yun-Fat's character is against villains who are white, but they were changed to be Asian because movie people didn't want to see an Asian man kill white men. Or an audience rejected the romance between Jet Li and Aaliyah in Romeo Must Die, and it was pretty much cut out of the movie and showed them as friends, despite the Romeo and Juliet story. It's avaliable on Youtube, and has a lot of good history about films and racial stereotypes/representations.
May 4 2009, 10:03 PM
i'm glad you posted that anna, i've heard chow yun fat talk about why he left hollywood: he knew in american films he would never be a romantic lead-- that same problem you mentioned about romeo. it's kind of interesting that cinematic choices-- like the one you mention in replacement killers-- are always made in favor of the white male.
right now i'm reading the book, a cinema of loneliness, it's a study on the major directors of the 70's spielberg, scorsese, and a few others. the author's point is the virtual death of the auteur theory in american cinema. i think you see a lot of that in the choices you mentioned. there was a really experimental time in the 70's where a director really did call the shots, and could decide to keep a controversial idea in the film*. now, however, that audience acts as a de facto editor, thanks to the money men. one thing i am finding fascinating is an idea that i always kind of knew-- this era of the money men was almost entirely because of spielberg. his beguilingly manipulative blockbusters with their reassuringly conservative themed stories created the conditions we find ourselves in today. don't get me wrong, i love the block busters as much as anyone, but there are scant few american films that really explore with form.
*a great documentary film about 70's film and the directors playing with the way films are made is ted demme's a decade under the influence. it's a great primer not just on that era's films but a great teacher on how to appreciate film, with outstanding interviews with actors, directors and critics.
kari-- i've seen the hunger... if are you talking about the 70's film. if you're not, what is it about? i know there are a couple of hungers out there...
if you are, i saw it in high school at a friend's house... *sigh* a girl who i had a huge crush on asked me if she could hold my hand thru the film.
suffice to say that movie has some great memories associated with it. heh.
i liked it, it was ahead of it's time in a lot of ways: the 28 days later-esqe idea of a viral disease, complete with crazed monkeys, it's european sense of sensuality, lesbian themes, david bowie, and if i remember right, bauhaus' bella lugosi is dead. i hated that other bowie vehicle, the man who fell to earth, but i loved the hunger. the only thing i disliked was i think they used too much Vaseline on their lens.
i've become slightly obsessed with inside. i've come to the conclusion that i don't think it's a feminist film-- inspite of the violence being female/female instead of male/female, there is quite literally no place for any women who aren't mothers in the film. it's sarah's loathing of her baby that, film wise, justifies la femme and her attacks. all the same, it's so wonderfuly constructed, with hitchcockian use of scopophilia(voyeuristic longing), mirroring, dopplegangers, doubles, triples, mirrors and echoes of characters. within the conventions of horror, it is one of the best made films since funny games, and i'd only give funny games the edge since it breaks down the 4th wall, and how it clearly, unequivically implicates the viewer in the violence. one other thing, is i think i've come to understand the place of the riots place in the story-- they, and la femme, the attacker, are a metaphor for terrorism, the working classes, disruption of middle class life, and in a way, terrorism. the further i get from viewing the film the more i admire it's construction.
May 4 2009, 11:10 PM
GT, I felt it was telling when many of the indie/small films that featured Asian-American casts not doing martial arts or in an action film were unknown films, save for Better Luck Tomorrow, which MTV produced. It just seemed sad to see these clips of films that wouldn't get national distribution or seen in a widespread way.
I felt happy for any of the actors expressing pleasure in playing something not stereotypical, like playing a role meant for a white actor and someone pushing for them to be in it, Tzi Ma in Dante's Peak and his race not mentioned in the film, or Will Young Lee being shown as sexy instead of nerd or anonymous bad guy. It's still not perfect, though. The story that the film 21 was based on was about MIT students who were Asian, and they were made white in the film. Or the live-action film Avatar: The Last Airbender, using white actors for characters meant to be Asian.
I thought that Chow Yun-Fat did play a romantic lead in Anna and the King, but I didn't see it, so I don't know if he and Jodie Foster ever kiss.
Kari is probably talking about a different movie. I saw The Hunger years ago, and thought it was spooky but good. The scenes between Catherine Deneauve and Susan Sarandon are wonderful.
I hate that too that the audience decides the ending, be it Fatal Attraction or Pretty in Pink or Romeo Must Die or anything else where their opinion influences what everyone else will see.
May 4 2009, 11:24 PM
funnily enough, the one refuge of all minorities is always the family film. black, latino or asian, a film about family and cultural concerns get made, and do quite well critically and at the box office.
yeah, i remember an interview i think it was kal penn, talking about that's why he loved harold and kumar-- because all of the other roles he was given were stereotypes.
i remember hearing about 21 and avitar. there is a theory in hollywood that audiences can't relate to anyone who isn't white and male. they seem to forget that their audience isn't always both those things, but i think it's just the same stupid sexist, racist bs. slightly OT, but i was watching msnbc's hardball, and he was talking about obama's supreme court nominee. since the odds on bet is that they will be a latina-- female and hispanic, he kept asking the question, "are we still doing that?" claiming, or insinuating that it was just a kind of affirmative action. i honestly wanted to slap him. how is it not sexist and racist that he assumes the best nominee would be a white male? how is it not affirmative action that in a country that white males are the minority, they have the majority seats on the supreme court? the old boy's club is nothing more than affirmative action, they just don't call it that. grrrr!
May 5 2009, 03:31 AM
How about Cassandra in Wayne's World? She did whip out some kung-fu at one point, but other than that she was totally not a stereotype. She was an asian woman who was a rock star instead of a hooker or a star math student. She talks about it in the director's cut.
May 5 2009, 07:47 AM
No, not the 70's film, it's new. It's this one : Hunger
It's about a hunger strike waged by prisoners in 1981 in Ireland.
(I did, thanks Bunny!)
May 5 2009, 08:35 AM
QUOTE(kari @ May 5 2009, 01:47 PM)
It's about a hunger strike waged by prisoners in 1981 in England.*de-lurks*
Ahem, kari, I think you meant to type Northern Ireland and NOT England.
It's an infamous hunger strike and I'm very interested in seeing the film.
May 6 2009, 05:36 AM
Just saw the re-edited version of Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil."
The most notable difference comes with the-- super famous, super virtuosic-- opening shot, which has been cleaned up. The credits have been removed, and now turn up at the end. Mancini's music has been removed, so you hear the busy mix of Mexican musics, as the camera swoops about.... Wow! > Puts the OW in WOW...
A must see, for all those interested in Welles, Noir, B&W cinematography.
Delightful ensemble cast.
I'll now go re-view OW's "The Trial."
May 6 2009, 11:05 AM
yay for dolor! have i told you how happy i get when i see you've posted, o delicious, delirious dolesome?
touch of evil is probably in my top 5 noir films. i've heard evil's visuals called rococo, which is the perfect way to describe the overly ornate use of light and shadow. it's the zenith of that style influenced by german expressionist films like metropolis and m.
i'm curious as to why the took out the score. was that studio meddling? personally, the touch of evil soundtrack is my favorite of all the movies that mancini created, with shot in the dark a close second. it's so memorable, with those heavy tubas and trombones standing in for the bloated villanous part wells plays in the movie. it might just be my favorite soundtrack of all time.
as far as cast, it always cracks me up to see charlton heston, bemustached, wearing 'brown face' saying he's a mexican. i get a thrill from that the way some people do hearing him talk about "damned dirty apes."
have you ever seen F is for Fake, dolor? i adore that movie since, at it's heart it's about film fiction. i still remember the interview 60 minutes did on welles and fake. *sigh*
i still really need to sit and re watch othello, chimes at midnight and the trial. perhaps i'll join you in a mini welles film festival.
have they re-edited the trial? and any other welles films? i'd be curious to hear their reasons why, or is this another case of reselling it to film buffs because of blu-ray. i get a bit irritated by new versions of films, i mean at this point how many versions of blade runner are there? we should be getting into the double digits by now.
i was reading something on the lincoln center film website talking about the headless woman or La mujer sin cabeza. i'm sure you know, it's the latest film from Lucrecia Martel, who directed that great film you recommended me, the holy girl. i'm also curious to know what you thought of the swamp, since i was thinking about putting it in my netflix queue. at any rate, they were calling headless one of the top 20 best films of 2008 not to be released in the us. i'm wondering if it might show up at the seattle film festival in the next month, but most importantly: what did you think of it?
May 6 2009, 08:00 PM
Thanks to the documentary The Slanted Screen, I watched Better Luck Tomorrow tonight. It was decent, more of a coming of age/teen film mixed in with some crime/caper stuff. It was pretty low-budget, and the ways of introducing characters by quick photo flashes definetly seemed like something MTV picked up on, as they distributed it. There was a scene where I assumed one guy was the twentysomething-year-old boyfriend of a high-school girl, until he mentioned trying to pass his S.A.T.s, and he looked too unbelieveable to be a teenager, and I slowly realized the other actors were also about 30 years old or so. It took me out of the movie, as they looked too old to play teenagers. Besides that, it was a decent story, but not a really great movie.
I remembered seeing The Trial when I worked at an arthouse theater as a teenager, and could not follow it. I liked both Jeanne Moreau and Anthony Perkins, but lost track of the plot about halfway through. It's been years since I've seen it, so maybe I could understand it better now.
May 7 2009, 09:37 AM
Querida Chica-Perturbada (and all other b-gals)
After I wrote that bit about Touch of Evil I re-watched the opening scene, right before I popped it into my mailbox...
In the original cut, Mancini's-- great, I agree-- music, as I recall, overwhelmed the scene. What Welles wanted (and now gets) was to have a jumble of different musics. So you have the initial music (wailing big band), and then the music (more R&Bish) of the radio in the car which is about to blow up. These then interweave, as the scene unfolds...
In watching it this time, and also reading Welles' notes (pleading for a re-editing), I grapsed more clearly how structured it is, and how sexual frustration is part of this structure. The opening scene ends with Heston and Leigh (newlyweds, hot-to-bonk) about to kiss... and then the car blows up... the plot kicks in...
At that point they are separated, which develops into the back and forth of her story, his story. And at the end, they finally get their big hot smooooch. In between, she's there in her sexy undies, off in the motel, waiting for her man-- but then being raped (it appears) by leering stoned Mexi-creeps-- while super-butch Mercedes McCambridge stays to watch... The notes definitely bring out Welles erotic view of all this. I'm sure he chose Janet's pointy bra.
Meanwhile, poor Orson/Hank has passed into his post-erotic-- i.e. "post-chili"-- doldrums... Hanging out with Dietrich, eating candy bars. "He was some kind of man..."
Yes, I saw F is for Fake about a month ago. Watched it twice, in fact, and liked it much more the second time around. I'll poke into my mem, and see what I have to say about it... Then I'm off to the Trial, another re-viewing. I do recall how wonderfully sexy Romy S was in that one, while poor flustered Tony did not seem to know what to make of the situation... That may have been the movie that turned me into a Romy fan.
Hmmmm, did Welles or Hitchcock cast Perkins knowing /guessing his sexual ambiguity?
Meanwhile, if I see you floating by, I promise to say: "She was some kind of... Baby-Duck!" (Which is why you'll be floating so well, T-Gal.)
And then: "What can you say about a person...?"
May 7 2009, 11:22 AM
Fire in the Sky. Good abduction/alien movie. It creeps me out on how they show the experience of it all. Anyone seen it?
May 8 2009, 05:15 AM
OH, Mz. TG, thanks for the tip on Martel's latest. NYC is about 3+ hours from here, and I don't just bop down at the drop of a hat. Tho I am getting restless, I hope to spend a serious chunk of time exploring Montreal, come June.
The Swamp /La Cienaga is definitely well worth it. Like The Holy Girl it's also a semi-autobiographical view of Argentines on vacation... Without a clear plot... but if you pay attention, then you see what's going on. Even less plot than the HG. I love how it opens.... with rumbling thunder... the alcoholic torpor... the broken glass... It's perhaps more bitter than than the HG since it is not charged up with the holiness of her sexuality.
Also, it comes with this Amazing early short movie, "Rey Muerto, which is a delirious satire on the Latin Macho thang. [Just checked: This is a bonus with HG.]
BTW, do you post reviews at Netflix?
Does the cinema of loneliness = a cinema of masculine loneliness? Which is not to say that there isn't feminine loneliness, but that it would give rise to a different kind of cinema...
ta fer na,
May 8 2009, 02:20 PM
i've actually just started posting reviews at netflix (under cinecita) and imdb (under itspoop). i have to really like or hate a film to write about it so far, but i'll link my review of inside next post.
i've seen vanishing point, towelhead, next and stuck in the last two days, i'll talk about 'em later after i run an errand. but the cinema of lonelyness is more about the big american directors of the 70's: penn, kubric, scorsese, spielberg and altman. but the most male centered would have to be the chapter on patriarial reinforcement of spielberg. so far.
are there any good books on either french or american female directors? dunno, i think my fave right now is katherine bigelow, but she's sort of faded of late. lol.... but most directors are more or less faceless lately so i suppose that's just the problem with american film now. :/
May 8 2009, 02:39 PM
I miss Kathyrn Bigelow. Strange Days and Near Dark were both very original movies in their genres, and I don't hear about her anymore.
I hate that a movie that I'm not interested in should be supported because it's a female director behind. I'd love to see female directors have the same A-list respect as male directors, but not to just blindly watch something because a woman made it.
My favorite female directors have ranged from Allison Anders, Jane Campion, Martha Coolidge (for Rambling Rose, Real Genius, and the Dorothy Dandridge biopic) Isabel Coixet (for My Life Without Me) Mira Nair, Lisa Cholodenko, Catherine Breillait, Sarah Polley (for Away From Her), and Nicole Holofcener. I even like Sofia Coppola, more for the dreamy artsy cinematography of her films, and I miss Sarah Jacobson, who showed a lot of promise with Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Anymore.
Unfortunately I had to look up a bunch of names to remember the ones I've liked, which isn't a good sign.
May 8 2009, 03:25 PM
it's like that for most films nowadays. i was having some debate years ago about black directors, and i rattled off a few directors the person i was talking to had never heard of, but when i named their movies they were mainstream blockbusters. gender or ethnicity seems to get erased for most directors...unless you are a rapper, directors seldom get the 'auteur theory' treatment. much as i hate to say it, male or female, black, white or otherwise, i don't think most have earned it--- they are usually little more than hired guns. there are exceptions, of course, but they come up thru the indy film scenes, but even those seem to have fewer break out names and artist/directors in the last 15 years. it's sad.
May 13 2009, 02:27 AM
so have you seen it anna?
two more horror films, that couldn't have been more different. the first was stuck. in all truth, i dislike movies like this. the movie has a very.... xenophobic, racist subtext. the protagonist, steven rea, gets stuck in the mena sevari's windshield after a drunken night of partying. white people are simply agents of the system. it's not even that they are mean. they just follow the rules to the point of robots. the exception, of course is sevari, who, acts as sort of a mulatto. we meet her, hip hop blaring, the camera focusing on her other cultural signifiers: her hair is in cornrows, her nails covered with bling. once rea gets stuck in her windshield, anything bad she might do is under the influence of black people. either her drug dealing, cheating boyfriend or her drug taking oblivious best friend. the one sympathetic black person is homeless, and after showing rea some kindness, we see him next, spread eagle, getting arrested. latinos don't fare much better, either cheaters, or compassionate, but more concerned with deportation. they are non violent criminals. whoopie. that's progress. if that weren't bad enough, the acting is universally bad, the story is riddled with cliches, and when the gay guy with the de regeur corpse finding Pomeranian shows up, i have abandoned all hope. a story that could have been good is utterly wasted, turned into a piss poor tv movie revenge tale that gains in stupidity with every minute that passes.
george romero's diary of the dead, starts out with some of the same problems as stuck, the camera wielding protagonists of the zombie holocaust are all solidly middle class. when zombies first appear it's in the projects, a mixed race family being gunned down by the cops, and at that point it would seem diary is heading in the same direction as stuck, but then we meet a bunch of super organised brothers who have looted and stockpiled anything they'd need from their city. as they leave, the leader talks to the female lead, saying "i think we are a lot a like." while some of the points romero makes have the subtlety of donald trump, particullarly the ones about voyeurism. while the acting is...uneven, the blair witchish style suits the material, and romero's ideas of how technology. some good, inventive splatter gore to boot.
there are quite a few movies that we have talked about that are going to be at the seattle film festival starting in a week. including the korean hansel and gretel, headless woman, and a few american horror movies that look promising. i'll put up a good list with links soon as i can.
May 13 2009, 09:05 PM
I watched Inside today, and it scared the hell out of me. It was dark and creepy and forboding, and re-reading your analysis, GT, I can understand some things better, like Sarah resenting her child because of the circumstances, and connecting the Parisian suburban riots to Beatrice Dalle's sociopathic character just looting her baby. I was shocked at certain scenes, thinking "This movie just does not give a FUCK." The screeching electronic sounds that played during BD's kills made me think of her like a cougar attacking her prey. And I love horror films with no happy endings, of just, bam, the "good" one doesn't win, this is life. I felt totally absorbed by it, and would hide my face at times Sarah killing her mother by accident, the perp being killed, Sarah being gutted open, but it was worth it. It reminded me of The Descent, in that the suspense and horror keeps coming and nobody is safe or the designated hero to survive the film.
I watched the behind the scenes featurette, and thought it was funny how the cast/crew were joking about the movie, being silly, teasing about the makeup and dark characters, and breaking up the tension while creating this horrifying piece of cinema. Similar to the behind-the-scenes featurette of The Descent as well.
May 14 2009, 12:57 AM
heh. i'm glad you liked it. helluva movie, huh? i thought the same thing. i loved that sense that nobody, but nobody was safe. that's the way a horror movie should be.... dangerous. it should feel like things are out of control, and there is no place to hide.
as much as i love horror, there is something really sublime about a good, austere, minimalist film. that's where tony takitani comes in. what is that thoreau quote about "men leading lives of quiet desperation?" i can't recall the last film that was so wonderfully beautiful it made me want to cry just thinking about it. takitani is based on a story by the cult japanese writer, haruki murakami. it feels like a story being told to you, a quiet little fairy tale meditation on loss and loneliness. the premise is that tony, because of his name and his father, has kind of inherited a very solitary life. when he meets a woman thru work he realizes how lonely he is. they get married, but he discovers that she is addicted to shopping. of course it's a treatise on western values and their emptiness, but it is done so gracefully, so artfully so delicately.... after seeing the last life in the universe i came up with a theory: the later the title card comes up in an art film, the better it's going to be. the reason being that the late title card means that the director is willing to defy expectations. let me say now, according to my theory, tony is terrific.
it's said that the difference between books and film is that books are about interiors, films exteriors. tony mediates the two. the entire film is told via voice over, with the people in it occasionally interjecting, interrupting the narrator to clarify personal feelings. it's a fantastic distancing device. while it keeps you at arms distance, you can't help but feeling the loneliness of the characters. all the same, you feel the intimacy and interior life that you get in a book. it's a nice trick.
in so many ways, this is one of the most charmingly constructed movies i've seen in a while. i cannot say enough about the visual design and cinematography of takitani. it's shot in muted greys, cool, sterile whites and browns, occasionally blues. rarely are there any shots closer than a medium two shot, but it likes to show a small tony trapped against the sky. alone against a background of the city, trapped in small boxes. i never thought i'd say it, but this film beats out safe for its masterful framing. at every turn, people, strong emotion is restrained, held at bay. even at intimate moments, like tony falling in love with his future wife is shown, with both their backs to the camera. we are constantly denied any sort of visual entry to their inner lives. but when we do, when the disaffected people of the film do feel something, we feel it too. i love also that the film owes something to the style of bresson films. bresson, an early french master, was notorious for illustrating people's feelings not with reaction shots of people's faces, but their hands and feet. it's much more subtle, poetic and instinctual way of illustrating things indirectly. when tony's wife, konuma goes on a shopping spree, we see nothing more than her feet, walking in and out of stores, and it works.
then there is the editing. oh the editing is sublime. most scenes have invisible cuts, as we drift thru time in tony's life the camera gently glides to the right, as if we were looking at little compartments, near tableau, that come to life just as the camera dollys in. it's like turning a page, or as if we are watching tony's life peeking over his couch. it's kind of like watching a paper boat drifting down a river, it's got a quiet beauty and sweetness.
one last thing of note. i love doubling, dopplegangers, and codas-- essentially repetition in films. the actor who plays tony also plays his father, the actress who plays his wife, konuma, also plays a younger woman, hisako. which ends up making the stories kind of a mobius strip. the loneliness of the son is mirrored by the loneliness of the father, their lives over lap and double back on themselves.
tony easily, easily gets added to the list of my favorite movies possibly my top ten. top 5 asian films easy.
May 14 2009, 01:28 PM
I didn't realize that about nearly every woman in the movie being a mother. I laughed during the early scene with the nurse talking about her painful childbirth next to pregnant Sarah, then lighting up a cigarette.
BD's character seemed like the angel of death to me, all in black and with one mission, and just eliminating anybody who got in her way.
I read a short story by Haruki Murakami a few years ago that was about a widower who hires a personal secretary, and has her wear his dead wife's dresses as a uniform. It may be the same character, as his wife would have a lot of dresses. It was both sad and funny, and had this clear precision to the storytelling that I liked, very matter-of-fact.
May 14 2009, 05:06 PM
that was tony takitani, anna! you really should see it. it's so very well made. strangely it feels like a antidote (or perhaps a palate cleanser) to all the horror movies i've seen lately*. i think you'd like it. it's quite wonderful. i posted a link to the story on bunny's fb page (i <3 bunny), with a post about tony. did you ever see the last life in the universe, anna?
as for more about inside (yay!) that nurse acts as a double for 'la femme'-- beatrice dalle -- because of that cigarette. i think it was a week later that i realized it. there are 3 times cigarettes are lit in the film, the nurse (who gets called a cunt for it), and talks about how her child died-- like la femme-- and instead of the all black she wears all white, the first time we see la femme, and a second time by la femme when she gets scorched. but except for the child (who, they said in an interview, is female, but irrelevant for the reading of the film) , all the women are mothers. i also like that all the men are basically ineffectual.
and i agree, la femme, is the angel of death in a sense. or some sort of harbinger or midwife of death, which would make sense with her clothes....
i didn't say much about the foul king. it was good. it stars the dad from the host (he also plays one of the detectives in bong-ho's movie before that, memories of murder). it's a cute little comedy about a inept clerk, who finds his calling as a cheating wrestler. it was ok, but i remember hearing lots about it at the film festival so many years ago, back when korean film was just starting to take off. but with brilliant films like JSA: joint security area, coming out at the same time, i was really hoping it would be a real gem.
*i've been hoping to actually see a few ligher movies, since the next film up from netflix is gaspar noe's notoriously brutal film, irreversible, which i am NOT looking forward to. i had been meaning to see noe's films for some time now, but i thought i would be starting out with i stand alone. i don't think i've ever dreaded watching a film the way i am with irreversable. i've seen clips, and.... i just know it's going to be extremely....harsh.
May 14 2009, 09:57 PM
Oh good, GT, I thought the story sounded familiar! And The Last Life in the Universe is the next movie on my Netflix queue!
I did notice the reoccuring cigarette lighting in Inside, and wondered about its significance.
I've been entertaining myself recently by watching clips on Youtube of Kickboxer 2: The Road Back, this sequel to Kickboxer (that had starred Van Damme) now starring Sasha Mitchell, where he plays a kickboxer who gets brutally beat in a fight, and has to win back his title, respect, the whole deal. He has an old Asian man as a teacher who speaks in proverbs and doesn't seem to have an life outside of guiding the white guy to victory, and the music is really cliched and horrible, like somebody making fun of it. I just like action B-movies, especially ones from the early 90's with shady lighting, cheesy songs, a formulaic storyline, and everyone in it taking it so seriously.
May 14 2009, 11:22 PM
anna, you kill me. i love that you are game for anything, film wise.
i've been hearing a lot about JCVD, the semi documentary about van damme... it's supposed to be pretty amazing. but i guess he talks about those films.
as for the cigarettes, or any coda or repeated symbol, they reveal themselves with the clues we are given. ask what is going on, shot, place, words, character, action. a good film maker uses that repetition to emphasize their points, or to point to other works. with inside it is about the women being variations on motherhood. think of the eye shot-- when the sara did it, looking thru the knitting and exclaims, "it's shit!" what is going on is knitting for her child, later when la femme does it, she is looking thru the bathroom door, the bathroom itself being a metaphor for the womb, and she talks about how badly she wants the child, and says, "i want one!" you can even make a case that shot being a reference to psycho, after janet leigh gets killed, there is the drain/eye shot. shot, place, words, character, action. the shots are almost the same , what is changed(dialog, foreground, character, place, and action) or what is the same (eye, shot, place and action)tells us what we need to know. after all, film is only the juxtaposition of unrelated images to create meaning.
in tony takitani, that repetition is taken to another level. i do hope you see it sometime. one particular part is crucial, and it is repeated thru the film. first time when we see the father, laying in the prison, listening to his friends getting killed by firing squad. later (although it is too cluttered to actually see it till the 4th or 5th time) it becomes tony's wife's closet. the circomstances in the film, the words that the wife and narrator use make that room about the things that trap us in life. but the film is almost all repeated shots, it is all patterns, and that is what makes it so sublime. it's style is so distinctive, those patterns become it's own language.
tell me what you think of last life. if it's at the library i think i'll check it out again. i really love it.
May 15 2009, 07:09 AM
I really want to see JCVD! It was only on for about a week here, so I missed it in the theater.
May 20 2009, 03:23 PM
I really enjoyed Last Life in the Universe, especially the rhythm and quiet pace of the film, and the intimate sense of relationships. I liked that Kenji seemed to be split between two extremes the nerdy, shy librarian and the Yakuza member with full-back tattoo, the title card coming up in the first fourth of the film wih the dialogue still playing, the spaciousness of both the main characters' homes, in neatness and messiness, and how the couple had a romance without ever kissing or having sex, it felt more unique and less cliched for me.
Little things stood out for me, like how Kenji seemed bothered by the blood staining his walls and books instead of having killed someone and his brother being dead, his physical discomfort with Noi's dirty dishes, and the shot of the ex-boyfriend in the window's reflection, seeming unreal, until you realize he's actually in the house.. The cinematography had this clear fluidity to it that I liked, and minimal music played in the film, not much background noise.
And I liked that the ending was open-ended, that two possible endings were shown and it was up to the audience to decide which was the real ending and which was imagined.
May 20 2009, 11:11 PM
i'm glad you liked it anna. it really is this wonderful, fresh, little surprise, isn't it? and i love that the title card came so late. it just pointed out how idiocyncratic the film is. there are a couple of nice little asian films that came out about that time, like 3-iron and bright future that were moving away from horror. of course there are others, that i haven't gotten around to seeing like the bow, or oasis, or spring, summer, winter, fall... or the existential action film, 9 souls.
i adore 9 souls for it's originality too, it's so visually crazy/sweet/beautiful, and constantly takes me places i was not expecting.
i just rewatched the film PTU(police tactical unit), which is the sort of great action movie that would go so nicely with asian cop/yakusa films like infernal affairs, (remade as the departed). ptu, for me, is a rule movie. anyone who sees way too many movies finds some strange, goofy or off the wall theory. for me the rule is that any movie about a cop who loses his gun is a winner. it's always going to be fun. exhibits a thru d: miami blues, public enemy(asian), another public enemy, and ptu. while the other films, public enemy in particular plays for laughs, ptu takes itself very seriously, and that is a good thing. johnny to, who has directed i don't know how many action pix, takes ptu to a completely different level. it looks like a strange asian neo-noir, it's cities are almost absent of people except a few unlucky by-standers, and the lighting seems to come from a key light-- that single over head lamp that in most films illuminates the whole scene. here it does the exact opposite. it provides a sort of pool of light that the cops and yakusa briefly swim thru before being ensnared in some form of violence. to's camera work is easily as smart and mature as scorsese's and in this case, i prefer it.
tcm is showing one of my favorite depressing movies from the 70's, sidney pollock's they shoot horses, don't they? pollock has been all over the map as far as the films he's directed, from out of africa, to tootsie, to three days of the condor, but they shoot horses is the best film he's ever made in my book, and could have only been made in the 70's. harsh, heartbreaking and horrifying, it's the kind of movie that makes you squirm but you can't turn away.
May 23 2009, 08:10 PM
I watched 3-Iron tonight, and was really intrigued by it. So romantic, very quiet, and very unique. I liked that neither lead spoke, how their silence could say so much, the reactions of the various apartment dwellers, and how heartfelt it was. And I agree, GT, I liked how the film switched genres and expectations, and got surreal towards the end, and was so beautiful and funny and sweet.
I really loved the prison scenes, and kept laughing at each encounter between the guy and the guard, how he kept smiling after each beating.
May 25 2009, 02:44 AM
analysis of gaspar noe's irreversable, moved to my blog.
May 28 2009, 02:20 PM
so the film festival has started, i finally saw my first movie last night-- almost a week into the thing. as much as i love SIFF, it's a bit daunting 300 some movies, most with only two public screenings, at i think 12 venues this year. it's you're carless (as i am) it can be a nightmare. add to that, that this year i am determined not to spend one dime on the movies.
last night i saw dead snow, a zombie movie with a bonus: the zombies are nazi zombies. i think it was from norway. it was fun with an audience, but paint by numbers american style horror. none of the balls to the wall annihilation machine, inside, or the indy creativity/exoticness of trouble everyday or in my skin, or let the right one in. so, i'm glad i didn't pay. it wasn't bad, but the tickets are for the most part 11 dollars. a pretty high threshold in my book. i think most movies should be 5 bucks max. that way you always feel like you got your money's worth.
tonight i see rembrant's j'accuse-- a greenaway film. i'm excited. i've always loved his dense visual intellegence and playfulness. and his detail really does demand to be seen on the big screen (particullarly a zed and two naughts) unfortunately he's gone more academic in his last few years, with film treatise like the tuluse suitcases, which is a shame. i always thought he was one of the few directors who was at his best trying to fit his cerebral ingenuity into something resembling a mainstream movie. he could never actually make a mainstream movie, ofcourse, but he didn't take himself so seriously then. go back to the cook, the theif era, please!
the second movie is the hurt locker, which could be the first really good movie about the iraq war. it's directed by katherine bigelow, one of my favorite directors, and, i think one of the most underrated female directors because she sticks to a typically male genre--action-- and kicks the boys' asses up and down the street. most people know her for point break, but i prefer her neo-noir take on voyeurism, strange days, or her loopy take on vampires, near dark.
and either today or tomorrow i'll see dead girl. a horror movie that i hope will surprize me.
the siff website is here. you can see all the movies they have this year, the one category i always keep an eye on is emerging masters. some of the best directors get their current and past movies shown in this series, and it's a good way to find amazing directors and films long before anyone else. the other one is midnight adreneline. it's where you see (sometimes)great cult films.
May 29 2009, 12:53 AM
the greenaway film was good, although a bit dry, but classic greenaway, obsessed with numbers, theater, Renaissance paintings, and semiotics. it's a mystery supposedly encased in rembrandt's painting, nightwatch. if it sounds like greenaway taking on the latest dan brown thriller, it's not. it's closer to a museum education/ tour of rembrandt's painting, but done by way of the video effects from his recent movies (the tempest thru tuluse suitcase era). utterly dense, but very interesting.
the hurt locker is probably this generation's platoon, it starts out as a great suspense/thriller film (it centers on 3 guys who disable bombs in iraq), but then becomes a story about one man's struggle to find his place in the world. it's funny and by turns serious, but it has a for the most part has a light, non-judgemental feel, much like three kings.
tomorrow i will be seeing hansel and gretel, a woman's way, and deadgirl.
May 29 2009, 07:21 AM
Greenaway: I saw The Draughtsman's Contract and Belly of an Architect (which I watched with an architect!)-- but neither were worth writing home about. ("Le Poop," as GT would say,)
-- but "Prospero's Books" is Just Amazing. All my thumbs (I have seven of them) are up.
Visually, it's up there with the most simply beautiful movies I've ever seen. WOW! & WOW!!
As for the content, it helps if you love Shakespeare's "The Tempest," as I do.
Unfortunately (and surprisingly, since it is sooooo beautiful) it's not out on DVD.
So I had to buy the VHS.
May 29 2009, 07:29 AM
PS Speaking of Le Poop, T-Gal, your netflix reviews of High Tension and Switchblade Romance appear to be identical, word for word.
Was that your intent?
If it was, my apologies for bringing it up...
May 29 2009, 12:08 PM
I saw Obsessed. Man that girl is crazy! I don't think she tops Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction tho.