September 28, 2005

Notes from the Trenches

Did a speaking engagement tonight at the Denver Public Library after finding out that they might be losing funding to continue doing films in their basement what with the new budget and all meaning the fifth (or so) straight period of budget slashing at a major metropolis’ cultural center. I wonder what people are thinking about when they vote down taxes for public works – you eviscerate government, right, and government sure enough gets eviscerated. Doesn’t take a genius, but it does preclude retards. More’s the tragedy as the librarians that I’ve met at the DPL are, to a one, bright, funny, and most important, devoted to their jobs as archivists and curators – just putting together a series of road trip films that includes The Gold Rush, Sullivan’s Travels, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and North by Northwest takes imagination and follow-through. Their reward? Their lives getting fucked with on a regular basis – benefits cut, retirement cut, hours cut, and programs like this cut. Public outreach is superfluous – the reason that the outer extremities are the first to contract gangrene, I suppose – but the outer extremities are the ones that keep us connected to the ground and reaching for the stars. Not to quote Kasey Kasem but, there you have it.

Anyway, talked before and after Treasure of the Sierra Madre tonight: to paraphrase Chris, one of the dying breed at the DPL, Bogie, you was never uglier. It’s a brilliant film, a brilliant transfer, a fine evening and one of the last for a while (after next week’s North by Northwest) here in downtown. We like to brag that Denver is turning a corner from cow-town to Metropol, but shit like this is just really shaming. It’s not like different leadership and leadership philosophies can’t resuscitate this institution – but it will do so at the expense of all the folks that this current leadership is using as grist for their great social experiment. I realize that the bootstraps, govern thyself philosophy means that with my $100.00 rebate check, I can purchase three books and get a head-start on my own little library at home but it, somehow, just isn’t quite the same thing. Rumor is that there’s not even any money for our library to buy new books.

Caught a screening on Monday of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s endlessly disappointing Mirrormask - if you’re a fan (and I am) of these guys, there are hints here and there of their brilliance – but mostly, it’s just the most puerile, obvious elements of their stuff distilled into a CGI fireworks display that is, actually, just ugly. A lightshow of a different kind, watched Into the Blue this morning after learning that a screening of the Keira Knightly Pride & Prejudice set for Wednesday afternoon had been pushed back. Looking forward to that one, even though it’s longer than most movies ought to be. Mirrormask and Into the Blue both industry, press-only screenings though the former had been filled with a cinematography class from a local arts school. Kids were well-behaved though and, judging from the murmur afterwards, uniformly impressed – at least by the software. Chances are good that they would have been just as impressed by Into the Blue’s “software” as I declare I’ve just spent (another) 110 minutes with my face pressed up against Jessica Alba’s ass. Into the Blue, by the way, is sort of a remake of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre - take that as you will.

You can kind of see why they made Mirrormask for all its adolescent earnestness, but it’s hard to put a finger on why something like Into the Blue exists. It raises the daunting question of whether art has to serve a purpose – for my money, art – good art – should at least strive towards touching the face of god. The sublime as the ideal, that tingle you get when you get something that you know you can’t explain and, if you’re surrounded by the right folks, know that you won’t need to. The first time I heard Ian McShane utter “cocksucker” – I got it. The first time I saw Johnny Depp step into the town of Machine in Dead Man, I got it – hell, the first time Michael J. Fox’s DeLorean gets struck by lightning, I got it. Not to say that Into the Blue doesn’t instantly go into my memory banks as one of the most galling pictures to wiggle down the pike, just to say that I wish at those moments that I was actually in a public screening with my seat turned towards the audience.

It’s better, after all, to keep people like that in front of you.

On a side note, finished a 4000 word-plus piece on the first season of “Lost” tonight – don’t know where it fits on the publication schedule, but at least I’m done with it barring major (and likely) rewrites. One of those episode-by-episode things you might recall if you’re a total bleeding masochist from such gems as my “Xena” and “Dark Angel” pieces (speaking of Ms. Alba). What irks me the most about Alba, I think, isn’t that she’s a bimbo, but that she has these pretensions. She refuses to strip (though, watching Into the Blue after Sin City - what’s the difference anymore?) and proclaims to the heavens that she’s cast in her insipid roles because of her non-boob-and-flat-tummy-related talents. Latest thing is her wanting to start a line of non-violent video games so that filmmakers can see what kind of action movies she’d like to make in the future – films with, I guess, more of the extreme jet skiing and less of the ugly violence of Into the Blue. Talking? Meet “out of both sides of your cute little bow of a robotic little mouth.” I hope they had professional advice before deciding to put Alba and Paul Walker in the same room together – what’s that stuff about anti-matter colliding with anti-matter that I slept through in college?

Pictured here, of course, is the lovely Evangeline Lilly from "Lost" demonstrating one of her two expressions. This one, which I call "expression 1" is meant to convey fatigue, concern, curiosity, chagrin, shame, resolve, uncertainty, ardor, confusion, mild irritation, major irritation, mild fear, physical discomfort, quiet bemusement, condescension, concentration, meaningful flirtation and, if held for three seconds or more, to indicate the onset of a flashback to her uninteresting backstory. That, plus a hardbody and the same Alba-like resolve not to get naked on network television but to dress in wet t-shirts and teeny-bikinis, equals fanboy pin-up infamy. Now, let's talk about why the rest of "Lost" - with maybe three exceptions - just flat stinks or, more sensibly, just wait until the review goes live and we'll use that as a springboard. Did I say "4,000-plus?" I meant "4,100-plus".


The Captain said...

I absolutely cannot wait to read your Lost review - it may be the first time we've ever really disagreed on something and I'd love some debate. (Although my relationship with the thing is hardly die hard fanboyism, more of a love/hate relationship that involves having been strung into the mystery whilst hoping that the creators - including the dead- weight "Wha' Happened?" moron J.J.Abrams - actually have some idea what they're doing.)

Have you seen any other Chan-wook Park films, btw?

Joe f said...

What's your view on Deadwood, Walter? Season 2 finished over here only last night.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Never seen it. Did anybody see the new Family Guy movie. FUCKING HILLARIOUS !

TAJ said...

I apologize in advance but I feel the need to address this particularly egregious politcal question:

"I wonder what people are thinking about when they vote down taxes for public works"

That taxes are already too high and they have no desire to continue to give money to the gluttonous monster that is the government.

Walter_Chaw said...

Can't say I wasn't hooked - but I think my dislike for "Lost" has a lot to do with how little faith I have that there'll be a satisfying resolution to the thing. After getting burned by a decade of "X-Files"-faith, I feel loathe to play the fool again. Love/hate is strong for me: how about vaguely curious/hate? I find the acting, save O'Quinn's, to be uniformly poor (the guy who plays Sayid is pretty decent, I guess) and the scripts (independent of plot), with maybe three exceptions, are just awful.

I have a real problem with the stock characterizations, too - was sad to see Arzt go. The lack of sack that Abrams demonstrates from week-to-week is appalling.

I've only seen Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Old Boy - I heard from a colleague that Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is fantastic, though.

Joe F:
I think "Deadwood" is a little like tuning in each week to witness new Shakespeare. It's like a privilege to watch it. Ian McShane is a genius, ditto David Milch. The second season, I think, isn't overall as successful as the first - more an interlude, perhaps - but I can't wait for the third season, especially with the addition of Brian Cox to the cast as a theater owner. The first season of "Deadwood" is one of the best things that I've ever seen.

New Family Guy movie? Didn't even know there was one in the pipes!

That's the problem, isn't it? You'd like to pay $0.00001 cent/dollar to keep the libraries open, but you wouldn't like to pay it so some government appointee (particularly when they're appointed by an adminstration that hates "bloated" government) can head FEMA, let's say, or some other toad can declare war on a soveriegn nation. We have no control over how tax money is spent, do we? I guess there's your answer.

Unless assholes are also voting down public works bonds. . . That would be foolish and dogmatic, wouldn't it? What perplexes me about the Republican stance on taxes is that even in the wake of something like post-Katrina and the near-universal condemnation of our government's response to it - the first thing our fearless leader promises is that he'll conjure 200 billion dollars in relief with, read his lips, no new taxes. So that he can continnue to rip out the guts of the government agencies that failed so egregiously this time around. Isn't a lack of a properly funded response the problem in the first place? Where's the next 200 billion coming from? And the one after? And after?

A complicated question, I think, more than an egregious one - let's not pretend that there are easy answers to these issues. With this administration's approval rating now hovering around 40% though, I do wonder if we aren't headed for some kind of change what with the massive disatisfaction amongst the stretching of gov't workers, the considerable backlash against the war in Iraq, fuel prices (that affect all aspects of industry - including/especially big business). . .

Here're some questions that're actually egregious: is it time, do you think, to privatize all public works? Libraries, road crews, elemetary/middle schools and universities, museums, symphony orchestras. . . And to whom will the contracts go when that day comes? Does government have no role to play in our lives - should we, RoboCop-like, also privatize the police? What's the line to be drawn, ultimately, in shrinking government?

Who was it that said either we hang together or hang seperately?

Ben Franklin? Oh yeah, that asshole.

Anonymous said...

The "Family Guy" movie he's talking about is, I think, the Stewie Griffin one that's been on commercials and the like. I don't know what "in the pipes" means but if it's fancy-talk for "in the works," I don't think there is one in the works. There is one in the stores though (yuk yuk yuk). I'm a sucker for Stewie (actually who really isn't that's a "Family Guy" fan?) so I'll probably try to wrangle a copy. Sidenote: I don't really like how the show's been taking a dump on Meg lately.

Anonymous said...

By the way, it's kind of a bummer to hear you don't like "Lost." Then again, like the Captain, my relationship with it isn't exactly an unabashed lovefest. Still, I'd have figured that the first handful of episodes would've been up your alley, since it's more about the whole "rebuilding of society" that you claim is part of the zeitgeist right now and not so much of the mystery. I have to say that I feel like the show sort of disappeared up its own ass with all that funky jazz somewhere around the midway point.

Walter_Chaw said...

I do like the rebuilding society thing - and the airplane melodrama thing - I think it's interesting. But that, in itself, doesn't often save a film. Like Flightplan and The Forgotten for instance, both firmly a part of the zeitgeist and both not so hot.

The show disappearing up it's own ass is an interesting comment seeing as how Locke almost gets swallowed by a metaphysical asshole at one point, half the castaways live in a cave, and the season cliffhanger involves a long, long shot down a narrow tube. You know how I defended Joseph Campbell as one viable strategy towards good criticism if never a good template for plotting? Well, "Lost" is example prime of what happens when someone is holding open a copy of Hero with a Thousand Faces with one hand and copying madly with the other.

Boys with father issues and girls with progeny issues. Ho. Hum.

They're taking a lot of shots on "Family Guy", period. I think they have carte blanche now from a network that took some heat for cancelling them the first time around and so they're abusing it. Meg was always a whipping boy - what disturbs me is the treatment nowadays of the next-door-neighbor. When Peter ate his legs, I sort of got a little queasy.

The Captain said...

Thanks for the responses, I have a lot to say on the "Lost" topic - I'll wait until your review to get to any nitty gritty. Would one of those 3 exceptions be Walkabout?

Ditto on the Meg mistreatment. The pot shots at Meg in recent episodes of Family Guy have made me feel more than a little ill - nowadays, rather than making a point of how disempowered and devalued she is because she's close to the bottom of the food chain as an unattractive, non-stick-figure female (as disempowered as one can be without being black or gay) they just seems to be taking delight in torturing her. Amusing and appalling, but not in any way that's productive - the hatred for the character that fans rejoice in now signifies exactly the opposite of what it seems like they were doing in the first place, attacking and revealing sexism rather than rejoicing in it. Meh, moot point - Family Guy is so uneven it's hard to really embrace, although I enjoyed the movie as well.

Ah, I'm getting fast off topic - what I wanted to ask was about Serenity and whether you were reviewing it soon. Any luck?

Rich said...

Captain - agreed on Family Guy being uneven. What do you think of Stewie's evolution? Early on he was an evil menace devoted solely to the killing of his mother, but is now some kind of homosexual upper-middle class intellectual caricature. Personally, I found his character much funnier as the homicidal baby genius.

As for Deadwood, I think the show is excellent and agree that the first season was superior to the second. One thing I noticed was that the quality of individual episodes was hugely dependant on who was directing. All of the episodes were fairly competently done, but some directors seemed to have a much better sense of how to present the intricate dialogue than others.

Incidentally, why are shows like that directed by multiple people? Workload reasons? For variety?

Chad Evan said...

I don't know that Family Guy was ever revealing/attacking racism--although alot of people probably tried to convince themselves that it was so they wouldn't feel guilty about laughing. The same thing is common amongst South Park fans (like me.) In my opinion, the nihilistic South Park/ Family Guy (although the latter seems much more nihilistic to me) is a reaction the pussified p.c. porridge kids were brought up on in the '80s and early '90s--as weak as the left is in America right now, for people of a certain age, multiculturalism is the sacred cow they love to see lampooned in comedy, just as organized religion was for an earlier generation. Just my two cents.

Chad Evan said...

Sorry, that should read "revealing/attacking sexism" in the first line.

jer fairall said...

I'd say that the final third or so of the Family Guy movie was pretty great, so much so that I wish they'd just extended that plot thread throughout the whole thing and just made a whole (spoiler?) feature-length Back To The Future 2 spoof. The credits reveal that the film was written by three separtate writers, which certainly explains why the film just feels like three episodes of the show that were glued together to achieve an 80 minute writing time. Also, the whole post-script evoked Jay and Silent Bob Strike back way too much for me, even having one of the show's characters echo Hooper's "one big long gay joke" sentiment from that film.

I do need to watch the film again, though, as I realized after it finished that the DVD contains alternate censored and uncensored audio tracks, and that the censored one is the one that automatically loads up if you just play the film without making any adjustments. Not sure if the stupidity here is on the part of me or the studio (why even bother with a censored track?), but I do feel that watching it this way may have slightly affected my enjoyment of the film, so it will get another, proper viewing real soon.

And since we're on the topic of TV shows, a question for any Freaks and Geeks/The 40 Year Old Virgin (though I know that the latter was not very well liked by at least two FFC staff members) fans out there: Does liking the above mean that I should just go ahead and buy the box set of Undeclared sight unseen?

Alex Jackson said...

I have to say, I thought that Meg was always kinda cute. Starting out, I think the attacks on her were meant to lampoon the insecurity teenage girls had about themselves. I don't think that it has anything to do with sexism, per se.

Walter_Chaw said...

Look for Serenity probably as a mid-week review. They're screening it for us late here and to preserve whatever sanity's left to preserve, that and Polanski's Oliver Twist might get nudged. Our schedule is murderous, I thought I'd mention, appropriate to nothing. I mean, it's not like digging a hole or turning a giant crank - but it's hard.

I liked Stewie better, too, when he was fantasizing about Lois-skin rugs stretched out before a fire.

I don't know why they alternate directors - P.A. Robinson, re. Band of Brothers, indicated that it had a lot to do with scheduling.

Two things to cheer from what you said. The weakness of the left (hip hip), and "multiculturalism is the sacred cow they love to see lampooned in comedy" (hurray)! I think you've got it dead in the crosshairs on both counts.

Have to confess that I never watched "Undeclared" - I think Bill might know something about it, though. . .

Yeah, I thought that they went after sexism/feminism in that episode with "Mrs. Ironbachs" voiced by Candace Bergen and that Meg was more the anti-Heather in her teen drama. I also liked that Peter was so insensitive to her plight (that Breakfast Club eps where he pretends to be her prom date is priceless) - but recently - in agreement with some of the above, have found "Family Guy" to be extremely hit-or-miss and, at times, disturbingly center-less.

Lee said...

Saw "Serenity" last night. If you are a "Firefly" fan there's a lot to admire, although I'm curious how others will respond. It seemed to me you already needed to be somewhat familiar with the characters to care about what's happening. I'll be curious to see if I'm wrong about that...

Dave Gibson said...

I'm also looking forward to your review of "Lost". I've given the show a few tries, but I still find it a laborious soap opera which highlights most of the reasons I cannot stomach most network television (an over-abundance of toned, buff folks for one thing--yes, I'm not forgetting the Harry Knowles character) I was never a fan of the "conspiracy" themed X-Files episodes (preferring the one-off "Mulder and Scully go to a weird town" episodes) so, I tuned out that series almost entirely after a few years. "Lost" has grim intimations of the problem that befell "Twin Peaks" many years ago---an idea that would be perfect as a 12-episode miniseries will now be stretched and padded to such an extent that any "resolution" will ultimately be disappointing. Network shows now seem impossibly gimmicky. After reading some positive buzz, I watched "Commander In Chief" last night which was so cloyingly earnest and obvious--that my wife (who has a stronger stomach for sucrose) actually was yelling at the television during the concluding schmaltz-fest. How are they planning on sustaining this sucker for a few years? "Family Guy" remains sort of a guilty pleasure--but, it seems to be betraying its "Frat Boy" heart a little more now that the writers have a bit more breathing room. I saw the "Stewie" movie on the weekend--and felt it was pretty mediocre, mostly an opportunity to stuff in more gross jokes and the udeniable misogynist streak that ripples through a lot of the episodes.
Which reminds me, while discussing "A History of Violence" a writer pal of mine lowered the "misogynist" boom on David Cronenberg (not a new accusation). "History" has stuck with me since the day I saw it--but, I want to think about that staircase scene some more....

Alex Jackson said...

I'm not a fan of Firefly. Know why? Secular, secular, secular! A space opera without aliens, that's just fucking depressing. I can see how people can respond to it (my wife loves everything Joss Whedon excepting Alien Ressurection which you know has to especially suck ass as she is also a huge Jean-Pierre Jeunet fan), but I'm sure you can see how people cannot. There is something distinctly self-indulgent and self-absorbed about it that really pushes away the unconverted.

Not a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Freaks and Geeks either. I never got laid in high school and so not only does that not represent the experience for me, I find all the bitching about how horrible it all was hella forced.

Undeclared is OK. I guess.

Walter_Chaw said...

I'm with you on "Lost". Soaper all the way. Glad I missed "Commander-in-Chief" - but speaking of Geena Davis, what's this about Cronenberg and misogyny?

And what of the strength of the women in Cronenberg films? Holly Hunter in Crash, Geena Davis in The Fly, Genvieve Bujold in Dead Ringers, Miranda Richardson in Spider - and on and on. I feel like, consistently, his women are among the most fleshed-out and self-actuating characters in modern cinema. That they're acted upon by the prejudices of society and the cruelties of his transformative plots to an equal-often-lesser extent than his male protagonists to me stink of better than fair play.

People kneejerk Hitchcock as misogynist as well (at least they did in the 70s when it brought them some mileage to do so) but Hitchcock created some of screen history's most powerful women. I'd argue, in fact, that the moment that the birds start attacking in The Birds is the same moment that Tippi Hedron's character begins to sacrifice her power for domesticity. Hitch cosmically punishing women for their acquiescence (generally initiated by them) to a societal structure that is essentially unfair to them is not the same as misogyny - I'm thinking of Shadow of a Doubt and the strength and resourcefulness of Young Charlie in spite of the way things are - and I'm thinking of Notorious and just how loathsome Cary Grant is made for whoring out Ingrid Bergman to the Nazis.

History of Violence is very much about the eruption of creatures from the Id on the one level - if Maria Bello's character discovers that she's a little turned on by bad men, I'm not sure how this is a statement of misogyny on Cronenberg's part. (Particularly if her character has been established as something of a play-actor in her own right.) If your friend is suggesting that she's enjoying a rape - I'd offer that not only would that be the only time in Cronenberg's history that he's exhibited anything quite so Peckinpah - but that the film's text itself presents a more complicated read. Why the complicity with the sheriff? Isn't this woman the glue that's holding the family together and, at the end, isn't it the daughter who takes the torch, as it were, from mom's example respecting the sanctity of the familial bond no matter the shiftiness of its foundations?

I think reading Cronenberg as misogynistic is as reductive as reading Peckinpah that way - or Hitchcock - or reading Capra as populist or Van Sant (as one of my colleagues has) as "just interested in pretty men". It's an observation without teeth: an, "uh huh, I read that same article, what else you got?"

I'm the last to suggest that there's no such thing as misogyny in the movies - but to stick someone like Cronenberg into that airless little liberal bottle stinks of lack of imagination and, worse, an inability to appreciate nuance.

Some films are misogynistic, some are about misogyny - and while I think that Cronenberg's films are neither, at least that would be the way I'd begin to approach a serious rebuttal.

Now, Michael Bay on the other hand. . .

Bill C said...

Just finished watching the new DVD of The Fly about an hour ago; boy was Geena a tall drink of water back then. Her character, too, is probably the most recognizably human in all of Cronie. I love that she's like this casually beautiful woman who accidentally wandered into a David Cronenberg movie, and I love that Cronenberg makes her a damsel in distress at a cellular level (with her pregnancy). It lifts the veil of misogyny off the archetypal monster-movie heroine.

But anyway, "Undeclared": caved in and picked up the box set back in August, having watched it during its Fox run. I happen to treasure "Freaks and Geeks" but mostly deplore The 40 Year-Old Virgin, and I'd say that "Undeclared" falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, if definitely closer to "Freaks and Geeks". Problem with "Undeclared" is that even though it doesn't have a laugh track, it's fundamentally a sitcom; many an opportunity for catharsis is sacrificed for a cheap laugh and the series as a whole is rendered ephemeral by the constant hitting of the reset button. Still, it's phenomenally well-cast and it does manage to evoke the (lighter side of the) college experience better than almost any campus comedy I can think of. Rent it and if you like it by all means pick it up--almost every episode is imminently repeatable.

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem with Whedon has always been the dialogue -- or rather, the delivery of the dialogue. A lot of people are too impressed with it to deliver it right -- I imagine David Duchovny could pull it off; whenever Fox Mulder had something clever to say, he always seemed a little embarrassed about it at the same time. With the people on Buffy, it always came out like they were waiting for the laugh track.


Alex Jackson said...

I never understood the misogyny charge against Hitchcock, particuarly since he populates his films with actors like Jimmy Stewart, Claude Rains, Anthony Perkins, Cary Grant, and Joseph Cotton; none of which scream masculinity. (Quite unlike Peckinpah, who probably is a misogynist but of course his misogyny is one of those "yeah, and... deals).

And his men are often figuratively impotent and have to compensate with overt phallic objects.

Hitchcock may have feared women, but only because he saw them as being so powerful.

Seattle Jeff said...

On Jessica Alba:

I was never too geeked on her...until she had a Rolling Stone article about her when Sin City was released. She detailed her experience with, and subsequent rejection, of Christianity. (To paraphrase: "I'm too sexy for my Jesus".)

As a former Fundy, it totally turned me on. It doesn't matter how lame she is, I'm sold on her. I never knew I had a Jessica ALba shaped void in my heart.

Joe f said...


The first season blew me away as well - To be a broken record for a moment, Ian McShane is tremendous. The second season was definetly harder going than the first, but Garret Dillahunt was terrific as Francis Wolcott.

I definetly agree with the second season feeling an interlude; I think big things can be expected in the third season.

Walter_Chaw said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Walter_Chaw said...


Into the Blue

Off to see Wallace & Gromit.

Dave Gibson said...

Accusations of “misogyny” directed at Cronenberg are misguided—but, I do think it’s an interesting point of discussion even if the term is somewhat limiting. This type of finger-pointing dates back to the hoary old tax-shelter days and the common lament that tax-payer “Canadian Cinema” like bran-muffins, should be good for you. (Strangely, I believe this is still the finest era in English Canadian film) Curmudgeonly critics who believed tax dollars shouldn’t go towards films about sex parasites and porn-star vampires—naturally fixated only on the surfaces of a Cronenberg film—which is inherently pointless given that Cronenberg approaches all of his films as a surgeon; surfaces are not the point. Cronenberg’s profile also began to rise during the same period when mainstream and scholarly critics were attacking slasher and other horror films for many of the same reasons—so, of course he got pasted with that “misogynist” label because there were a significant number of folks who couldn’t tell the difference between “Videodrome” and “I Spit on Your Grave”. There was a period when any mainstream depiction of kinky or violent sexual behaviour was automatically branded as misogynist—overly simplistic perhaps, but then again --it isn’t usually the men getting raped and stabbed in these films. “Crash” is a film that willfully mimics the structure of a straight porn movie—beginning with its triumvirate of “rear entry” sex scenes and continuing with the fetishistic stroke jobs applied to wounded flesh and metal alike. (It took me a couple of tries to view “Crash” as Cronenberg’s best comedy—and, I mean that affectionately) But, like Cronenberg—I am a straight male who brings a complicated, but undeniably male gaze to this sort of material—even when I actively resist it. I did read the “staircase” scene as a clear evocation of the “Id” issues that you mention—but, is the Maria Bello character then just transformed herself into another iconic male fantasy that acts as a counterpoint to her “naïve cheerleader” earlier in the film? (Tellingly—these scenes are a tender, playful cunnilingus scene and a “Fuck” scene respectively—and, it’s also important to note who “the top” in both scenes is) I think these are important questions because Cronenberg is defiantly not a naturalistic director (which makes his films all the more resonant) This is no more a film about “real” people any more than William Hurt is a credible gangster (as a movie character, he’s great) “A History of Violence” is not a film about Mr. And Mrs. Stall—this is a thesis about men, women and family worked out from a Cronenberg perspective. Indeed, the title dually suggests some sort of objective, cultural treatise as well as a clinical description of Tom Stall—and, it actually isn’t either one of those things. I think the characters are “play acting” in every Cronenberg film, here is a director who creates and studies his own work within the same film, often simultaneously-- so, perhaps misogyny isn’t even the right word—in Cronenberg’s world—all of us are interesting mutants.

Postscript—overheard TV promo for “Into The Blue” with requisite blurb from faceless quote-whore: “Jessica Alba gives a knockout performance!”

I never thought I’d live to hear that sentence.

Anonymous said...


This is, of course, coming from one Earl Dittman. He was probably asked if he wanted to "take" that quote by whichever studio is releasing Into the Blue.

Walter_Chaw said...

I'm with you on Whedon and his casts. He's moving into Mamet territory for me - unspeakable dialogue reliably unspeak-ed by a stable of actors. Alison Hanigan? What's her name? Willow? I wanted to stab chopsticks into my ears every single time she opened her mouth on "Buffy" - says a lot that my favorite episode of that show is "Hush" - that one where they all lose their voices. I think there's a lot of self-consciousness in Whedon's writing - enough so that if you're not a really damned fine actor, you're going to come off like a preening ponce.

A Jessica Alba-shaped void in your heart. . . I'm well and truly speechless.

Wolcott - jesus he was a scary S.O.B., wasn't he? Totally fictional, I guess, based on a composite - but, wow.

Nice analysis of Cronenberg - appreciate the creating and studying in the same moment idea. I think that's exactly right. As to the suggestion that Bello is shoehorning (herself?) into another male fantasy. . . yeah, undoubtedly. That's a tangled thing, isn't it? I accede, as you have, that I bring a lot of baggage into every film - makes it hard for me to be absolutely objective about it all.

As to slasher flicks being misogynistic (and I know this is not your opinion, just something you brought up as a popular opinion during Canada's tax shelter days) - I think it's really interesting that most slasher flicks end with the adolescent male audience identifying with a young female protagonist. How often does that happen in "straight" flicks? There's a decent study of slashers out there called Men, Women, and Chainsaws by Carol Clover. Look it up; worth at least a read.

And, yes, Earl Dittman. Horseman #5.

Anonymous said...

Agree on Whedon -- he's definitely a smart and talented fellow, but I'd say he's a tad too fond of reminding you how smart and talented he is. It's as if he deliberately takes time-worn and oft-scorned genres -- horror, sci-fi, western -- only to show off just how well he can do them himself; he may as well put "/witty" HTML tags on some of the one-liners he writes.

-- Ian

Seattle Jeff said...


Though I choose to be blind in regards to Jessica Alba, I'm not denying that she's going to have a Denise Richards career trajectory.

One day, she'll be a genius scientist in a Bond film, the next she'll star in a UPN sitcom that no one knows about but me.

But isn't that the career trajectory for most actresses? They hit 26 and it's all TV. They hit 30 and it's car commercials.
By the time they hit 32, they're all but forgotten.

I'm telling you, there should be gambling pools based on this.

Anonymous said...

Did any of you throwing stones at Firefly actually watch the damn thing?

Bill C said...

I watched and adored "Firefly" but haven't had the wherewithal to jump to its defense, mostly because I want to see Serenity first. Wrote a little about the show back when it came out on DVD; the secular aspect of it certainly doesn't bother me--frankly, I'm sick of dudes in latex masks pretending to be from Zorgax Five.

Walter_Chaw said...

Yeah - watched Firefly in its entirety and while aspects of it intoxicated me (mostly its ambition in an age where "ambition" is defined by stuff like "Lost" - HA! Another cheap shot) I found the performances to be an insurmountable obstacle to my enjoyment. Could be that when I watched it, I was finishing watching all six (?) seasons of "Buffy" with my wife and had, frankly, had enough J. Whedon.

I do appreciate the use of Mandarin swear-words though - that's pretty funny for this Mandarin kid.

Walter_Chaw said...

Yes, but what has-been former brat-packer is Alba going to marry and become disenchanted with on the pages of People magazine?

I'm putting my money on honorary "Bratter" Gedde Watanabe.

You go, my brother.

Seattle Jeff said...


I'm placing my money on Andrew McCarthy. For some reason, I've got a whole Mannequin vibe on this one.

Jefferson said...

Walter: Just a point of correction on the MirrorMask review -- Sandman won the World Fantasy Award, which then changed its rules to exclude comics.

Love the site, think the writing and critical assessment from all players is spot on. And while Jessica Alba sets many pants afire, she and Evangeline Lilly will one day soon belong to the same ex-starlet support group.

Walter_Chaw said...

Ah shit! Thanks for the correction, Jefferson. You a fan of Sandman?

Jefferson said...

From way back. Every issue since the first, although not mylar-bagged and backing-boarded. So some of them are in pretty sad shape. Unlike a lot of geeks who came up in the collector-centric '90s, I READ my comics.

I grew stale on Gaiman after American Gods, though -- he's a wonderful writer, his characterizations and dialogue are exceptionally rich, but all of his climaxes? Are anticlimaxes. Sometimes, a comics reader (a reader of any fantasy/sci-fi) just wants a story to get resolved through Big Punching.

As such, I'm mixed on whether I'd like to see MirrorMask -- although I doubt I'll even get a chance, not living in a major metropolis, until its out on disc. Thanks for watching stuff I can't/don't want to.

Jefferson said...

SeattleJeff: There's a new later phase for hot actresses -- the post-40 Desperate Housewives renaissance. We'll see how long that lasts.

Seattle Jeff said...


Good point.

I think Donna Reed is the pioneer of this career track.

However, the Desperate Houswive's have indeed added a new pit stop before the "Now I'm replacing Barbara Bel Geddes" on a different prime time soap.

Walter_Chaw said...

Watched the first two Season Two episodes of "Lost" the other night and have to say, between Desmond and the Dharma Shark and the arrival of (urgently whispered) The OTHERS (dum dum duuuuuummmmm) - that I've lost any faint hope I might have had that this show is going anywhere. More, I have the sneaking suspicion that any sort of archetypal resonance they drummed up in the first season was completely serendipitous and that in their desperation, they're actually burying the sense of collective dread they managed now and again in favor of an "Alias" plot with underground bunkers and Kalishnikov-wielding Scotsmen.

It's not deep water, anymore, it's a government conspiracy - and, after all, we've already got one "X-Files" kicking us in the short-pants into eternity. Ah well, then again I could be wrong about all that - what the hell do I know?

Seattle Jeff said...

Jessica Alba quote:

"One of the reasons why I chose not to be a devout Christian is because a lot of people gave me a lot of grief for just being a woman and made me feel ashamed for having a body because it tempted men."

That quote drips with truth just like water off a t-shirt.

Seriously, her observation is spot on.

btw, she's 24. That means she's only got 2 years left. Unless she bears the children of a brat packer, in which case we'd have to shave 6-9 months off of that.

Should we get a "End of Jessica Alba's Career" pool going?

Alex Jackson said...

Wow. That complaint could have just as easily have been lodged against the Taliban. Thin line, isn't it?

Seattle Jeff said...

What line? LOL

Jefferson said...

Walter keyed in earlier on suspicions that Alba is hypocritical in what she says about her goals and ideals, vs. the roles she takes. Does anybody else find it funny/ironic that the Multiethnic It Girl of the millennium when "Dark Angel" launched ("She's Mexican! She's French! She's the new Face of America!") has been a bottle blonde for her last three movies and wore blue contact lenses for Fantastic Four?

Seattle Jeff said...

I am saddened that the hypocritical charge is likely accurate.

Funny thing is, I've never seen ANYTHING she's been in. Ever.

Isn't the anglosizing (sp?) of Alba par for the corporate course? I wish she had been in The Island instead of that girl from Ghost World. (I love referring to Scarlett Johansen that way!)

Jefferson said...

In fairness to Miss Alba (re: what you say vs. what projects you take), I'm pretty sure nobody offered her Keira Knightley's role in Pride and Prejudice. Like all careers, you work with what you get, and hope that what you get improves.

Seattle Jeff said...

Man, all this discussion on Alba, and the fact that Pamela Anderson just "wrote" a "book" flies totally under the radar!

Walter_Chaw said...

By the way, Jefferson - meant to say that I flagged off Gaiman around about Neverwhere. I don't think he has the chops to be a novelist - though I did think his collaboration w/Pratchett was pretty good. Did you hear they postponed a Good Omens movie indefinitely (directed by Terry Gilliam) because post-9/11 it was "too apocalyptic"? Idiots.

I heard from a colleague 'round here that Tideland is a disaster, too, by the way. Hope it's not true.

Ah, poor Barbara Bel Geddes. Can I confess that I never watched "Dallas" (was it "Dallas" that she was on?) - I know her best and only as Johnny's girl friday in Vertigo. She was also in that Robert Wise noir western Blood on the Moon, though. That's a pretty fraggin' great flick.

Ditto the "what line?" crack.

It's not so much the roles that Alba takes that I begrudge her, exactly, it's the way she acts uncommitted. Reminds me of two things: of the way Sarah Polley blew off publicity for Go because it was beneath her somehow - and the way that Krista Allen reacted when asked about her nipples in last season's "Project Greenlight". Emmanuelle calls "perv" when asked about bra continuity? I call shenanigans. You're either a pro or you're not - don't sign on to be a stripper only to keep your clothes on out of principle.

Pam Anderson wrote a book? I got one: Jewel is the top-selling American poet in something like sixty years.

Walter_Chaw said...

By the by, Serenity is pretty great. Especially if you're a fan of the series - but even, shockingly, if you're not.

Lee said...


Are you planning to post a "Serenity" review?

Anonymous said...

You are incorrect, sir, about Serenity. It was everything I came to expect from Joss Whedon, the modest highs and unbearable lows.

Then again, this comes from someone who has hated every incarnation of Star Trek. But SPOILERS SPOILERS the acting is still awful, the dialogue cheesy as hell, the hordes of marauding space zombies not very well thought out and then of course there's the horrible copout at the end with the true believer villain.


Walter_Chaw said...

Serenity should be up by Wednesday unless I finish that nervous breakdown I've been working on.

Yeah, there're certain Whedonisms about the thing, but I didn't mind it so much on the big screen for whatever reason. Acting bad, dialogue cheesy - sure - but bad and cheesy to me in the traditional melodrama sense. I sort of liked it the same way I liked The Chronicles of Riddick, come to think of it: broad gestures in the service of big issues.

Not good sci-fi, certainly (space zombies, et. al.), but for fanboy teensploitation, I did like that the hero was cutthroat, that there was a Buffy, and that at its root, the film is about belief while being staunchly anti-religious. About time we reclaimed faith and morality from the born agains.

Still fond of Wrath of Khan for this kind of high-falutin', moral sticklerism space opera - but all in all, thought Serenity was pretty great. And this from a guy who didn't much care for the series (but does like "Star Trek" in many of its incarnations: classic, the Ressikan Flute eps of Next Gen, the stray flick now and again).

The Captain said...


Glad you liked it, Walter, though I disagree - it's brilliant sci-fi.

A prominent argument against the show and movie seems to be reinserting the western genre into sci-fi, which (at least to me) hasn't been apparent in the recent uninspired sci-fi entertainment of the past few years - find the lackluster Stargate choking on its own bile with reincarnations and computer simulations, oh my, not to mention throwing Nazis into the mix on the most recent (now, thankfully, truly deceased) Star Trek stillbirth - and let's not even approach the weightless, lifeless husks that are the Star Wars prequels. But even if the genre is unorignal, it's only a springboard for much more interesting discourse involving a family of likeable liberal misfit characters trying to stay off the radar whilst running crimes, an overbearing authority screaming to hold control over a universe, and an "alien" race of terror-created cannibalistic rape-hungry ex-humans who want nothing more than to fuck you to death and eat your battered corpse.

About that "There's no aliens!" grudge, which is definately more a grudge than a solid reason to avoid the show. Weren't our xenomorphic men-in-costumes always meant to represent fear within ourselves manifested in villains that could be conquered? Seems to me that the Reavers do a far better job of representing fear of animalistic masculinity in the most extreme way than any of the other sci-fi aliens of late.

Re: Kim - Cheesy dialogue and poor acting? Aside from the occasional poor/mistimed delivery (which, for reasons already described, you kind of expect from anything penned by Whedon - besides, more hits for every miss) and the tricky introducing-9-protagonists-in-a-brief-time-period that is attempted at the beginning, I don't know what you're talking about. Reavers not well thought out? Hands up if you felt the air thin as we travelled through the wall of violence and sadism hearing only staticy screams of suffering, the entire crew silent for fear of drawing attention to themselves - or if you felt that terrible dread when it looked like everyone was going to die in the hallway.

And about that "cop-out" ending involving the belief-driven Operative having all his beliefs shattered, and thus changing his ways? Just screams illogical, dunnit?

It's hardly flawless, but there's genuine tension, genuine fear and some unsubtle political commentary thrown into the mix. Character deaths have real weight and resonance, the special effects are more convincing and interesting that anything else on offer recently and the humor and the freshness and the risk-taking of the whole thing make it a standout for the year.

And really, is there any better name than "Serenity" for a movie involving an overpowering authority attempting to calm an entire world and accidentally unleashing a monsterous force of aggression upon the universe?

Anonymous said...

Points of contention:

Character deaths -- no weight, no resonance.

Whedon dialogue -- 1 hit per 2 misses.

Staticy screams of suffering -- point conceded. But dread in the hallway? Hardly. Besides which, they're ZOMBIES THAT FLY SPACESHIPS.

Bad guy: Ok, this is my least favorite part of the movie, the ending for the belief-driven bad guy. He has his beliefs shattered, and the next thing, he's all like, oh well, I guess I'm on your side. His beliefs are everything that drives him, and he has it taken away and he just kind of shrugs it off. I felt gypped. And ignoring that, I didn't buy that his beliefs would be shattered in the first place. He considers himself a monster, he's in the employ of the Empire. So clearly he understands that the Empire has dirtied its hands a bit in pursuit of a cause he feels is noble; why should this suddenly change everything?

I was underwhelmed. There's a good movie there, I think, just botched.


Anonymous said...

For the record, I've only seen one episode of Firefly, and I absolutely loved it.

The Captain said...


Ok, fair enough - most of our disputes are over things developed over the Firefly run (i.e. fondness for peaceful, light-hearted Wash; that the Reavers aren't zombies but men who are, monsterously, all id - not unintelligent, just driven by testosterone bloodlust (note they work guns in addition to spaceships); and that the Alliance accidentally created the Reavers and then covered it up is a huge revelation flying in the face of the everything the Alliance stands for, even with the moral-based end-defines-the-means stance that has the Operative employed in the first place) though having seen the film twice, I still argue for the effectual, helpless dread as the survivors are driven back into the hallway. That made me feel sick both times.

Keep on watching Firefly; as much as I like Serenity, it's only an above average "episode" put alongside the rest of the series. The apex is "Ariel", which I think is a spectacular achievement.

Walter_Chaw said...


Do you feel like it's one above-average episode, or three episodes? Two average, the third, well-above average? Film didn't cohere for me until the beginning of the last half-hour and, in writing it, realized that the last half-hour saved the rest of it for me to a large degree.

Interesting point about sci-fi, Cap'n, I wonder if I'm not too rigid in my definitions. Found the flick to be more of a straight western (like the series) - something like a cyberpunk western, say, like Blade Runner is more specifically a noir though, admittedly, also sci-fi. I didn't mind the last conversation with the bad guy nor his apparent "conversion" (which is shaded anyhow, by uncertainty - key line of the film may be "I don't know": twice-repeated in the last ten minutes) - seems to me that his "sparing" of the crew was based more on the same kind of pragmatism that fueled his hunt in the first place. He's a monster of machine logic, after all - not a monster of the Id as Cap'n identifies the zombies (more 28 Days Later zombies than Romero) - and our heroes are likewise charted on a line between (less extreme) extremes of logic and passion. So if your boss is about to suffer some massive mojo loss, it makes logical sense to go freelance. Same decision the cap of Serenity made back when the Alliance left him to die in Serenity Valley (see? I did see the series!). The process of the film is Nathan's traveling from cold logic (leaving the settler to the Reavers) to Id monster (from shooting the surviving Alliance pilot in cold blood through to crippling the baddie) - to, finally, balance.

Find the roots for "Lost's" Eastern-philosophy-"borrowing" in this series. For all of Whedon's self-consciousness - I actually do trust the guy to honor the Dharma he's scraping off for his own use - there's nice karmic balance by the end of Serenity. Not a perfect film, of course, but an ambitious one. There are a lot of ideas going on in here and I'd be talking out of both sides of me-arse if I bemoaned the lack of ideas in modern cinema, but didn't stop to praise, in particular, the films that try so hard to perpetuate so specific a vision.

The Captain said...

Maybe an above-average season finale - it'd be difficult to separate both parts of Becoming despite the fact that it really picks up in the second part...

Jefferson said...

I liked Serenity. I especially like how Whedon is finally telling (allowed to tell?) a story using more than just pizzazzy dialogue. Witness the opening ten minutes -- a voiceover which is revealed to be a flashback which then becomes a nightmare which is then FINALLY revealed as a recorded digital image. A lot of layers there, a lot of metaphors for memory and dream, all in the service of getting the audience up to speed on the central River-Simon dynamic, and the movie's entire MacGuffin. I call that skill.

Walter_Chaw said...

Y'know - best film to open in this area this week is probably Kings and Queen, the new Arnaud Desplechin flick finally finds the French director hitting his stride. Biggest disappointment is probably Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist - it ain't terrible, but it could have been directed by like a bazillion doorstops to similar effect. God, Polanski when he's good is so amazingly good.

Watched about an hour of Arthur Hiller's Making Love on FMC tonight and, folks, holy crap. Holy f'in crap is it bad. Ho. Ly. Crap.

Dave Gibson said...

Making Love? Ouch! I was a Residence Don at University--and, I remember attending a "diversity" workshop--where bits of this film were used as the main 'talking points'(ah--the early nineties). I miss Kate Jackson though..still holding out for a "Scarecrow & Mrs. King" movie...

Chad Evan said...

Off topic, but this is the only discussion really going right now.

Anybody else catch Sunset Blvd. on TCM last night?

I watched it for the first time, and I must say it saved Billy Wilder from my trash heap. Of his work, I'd only seen Double Indemnity, which I couldn't even make it through even though I love noir; the thoroughly mediocre Sabrina; and the monstrously over-rated, under-directed, unfunny Some Like It Hot.

Sunset, though, while far, far from perfect (the love interest is a mere plot device, the first half is over-reliant on narration, and Von Stroheim's big moment ("In those days there were three promising directors--D.W. Griffith, Cecil B. Demille, and...MAX VON DIMMERDUNGER!")was utterly ludicrous,)it is definitely something of a masterpiece, wonderfully nasty and visually striking (although Wilder often seems to be aping Welles.)

Questions or comments?

Bill C said...

I don't know that Wilder is really aping Welles as much as returning to the same well of German Expressionism that inspired Welles and countless others. Certainly there are echoes of Xanadu in Norma Desmond's pad, though, which shows how fast some aspects of design become shorthand.

Not the biggest Wilder fan, myself, but I have to disagree about Double Indemnity. At the very least, it's ground zero for American noir. (And you owe it to yourself to check out One, Two, Three if you haven't already.) Always perversely fascinated to see what his Schindler's List would've turned out like.

Alex Jackson said...

Sabrina was directed by William Wyler, the director of The Best Years of our Lives and Ben Hur. Easy mistake, they are practically the same name and they were working at the same time.

Bill C said...

Alex, man, you're thinking of Roman Holiday. Sabrina is indeed a Billy Wilder film -

Walter_Chaw said...

Fond of Wilder m'self - largely on the strength of Sunset Blvd., Ace in the Hole, The Apartment and One, Two, Three which is, as Bill says, really remarkable. James Cagney is en fuego in it - it's a minor miracle he didn't bust a vessel during it. Fan of Irma La Douce, too - and appreciate the screenplay he worked on for mentor Lubistch's Ninotchka.

They say of Wilder that he was an auteur without any identifying marks - but I look to his protagonists (Wilder was a writer first) for indelible stains - a parade of outsiders lured by sex, money, and power into an amuck-place of artificiality and perversion.

Funny you mention Welles, Cap'n as between his unwillingness to fund a Welles project and his taking Schindler's List from Wilder - Spielberg had a role in shafting two of his heroes and, as it happens, two of the most revered filmmakers in the last sixty years. Hurray for the film brats, huh?

Alex Jackson said...

Ha, crap.

I swear to God I wasn't mistaking it for Roman Holiday, I seriously thought that that was a William Wyler.

Apologies throughout. Should have double-checked.

Mediocre films both by the way. I never understood the appeal of Audrey Hepburn. The Sabrina remake is real hell on earth though, Sydney Pollack should be put in movie prison for encouraging Harrison Ford to play boring.

Bill C said...

A-fucking-men on Audrey Hepburn. She's like one of those Magic Eye puzzles--I just don't see it.

Walter_Chaw said...

dittos - can't stand Audrey Hepburn. Bad, bordering on awful, actress. Her turn in Wait Until Dark makes me want to put forks in my face.

Chad Evan said...

Yeah, if I was hugely successful, hyperinfluential director like Spielberg, the first thing I would have done is finance a Welles project. Am I imagining things, or did Coppolla also give him the snub? I seem to remember hearing that.

I've often thought that I need to give Double Indemnity another chance, as I wasn't in the best mood when I tried to watch it. Like I said, I love noir. I remember that the main thing that turned me off was the narrator saying something to the effect of "...the light coming through the venetian blinds showed up the dust in the air." In addition to sounding like a bad Hemingway imitation, the fact that Wilder didn't show said dust in the air bothered me. As I said, I wasn't in the best mood when I tried to watch it, and I didn't make it very far past this pretty early point. I'll put it on the queue and give it another try.

Jefferson said...

It's probably hard to get perspective on it today, but by the time Spielberg and Coppola were ascendant, Welles had been persona non grata in Hollywood for some time. While they might not have thrown Welles a bone, Coppola et al did pour some energy and resources into launching other, younger directors, and Lucas went back to rescue Kurosawa from the dungheap. Their philosophy on Welles (and like Chad, I don't know the truth of any story that Coppola cockblocked a Welles comeback) might have been, "You had your shot." Not fair, but also not inaccurate.

Walter_Chaw said...

Double Indemnity is pretty great, methinks. Stanwyck is sublime in it - lot's of groovy noir lighting.

Hard call on Welles - I've had the fantasy a lot of us probably have had that if I ever hit the Powerball and, when all the dust settled, I still had a few dozen million lying around - who would I slide that cash to so that they could make their dream project? I'd like to think that I would have helped ol' Orson finish Heart of Darkness. Then again, who knows, success and - especially - money change people's best intentions.

The project that Coppola/Lucas helped Kurosawa to complete, Kagemusha, they helped by convincing 20th Century Fox to fill in the budget shortfall in exchange for international distribution rights. They abused that leverage to edit twenty minutes from the final print for distribution in the United States. Coppola, more recently, also "helped" Chatrichalerm Yukol complete The Legend of Suriyothai, a three-hour-plus historical epic that Coppola chopped without Yukol's input by forty-some minutes for release in the United States. I've seen both versions: one of them is severely compromised.

I'd offer that that kind of help may be no help at all.

Anyway - off the top of the ol' nut - if you had a modest 10mil to throw at a director, no questions asked just make me your movie (and not including the guys who seem to be doing fine without the help) - who'd it be?

Bill C said...

Uwe Boll.

Jefferson said...

Young Paul W.S. Anderson shows promise ...

Chad Evan said...

Ironically enough, these days it seems like Coppola needs the help.

Alex Jackson said...

I very much agree with Chad. Coppola may be able to do something good again with ten million completely unattached.

The post-Heaven's Gate environment seems to have hit him the hardest.

Walter_Chaw said...

One thing that Coppola did tell me was that he was waiting to finally do On the Road until he got a script that had properly "updated" it. My fear is that he wasn't kidding.

Seattle Jeff said...

I'd keep Coppola away from my cache. Dude cried on the stand in his law suit over Pinnochio for crying out loud. Plus, if he owns a winery, he doesn't need my money.

I'd give it to Soderbergh so that he wouldn't feel compelled to do another Oceans movie to finance what he really wants to do.

Or Tim Robbins.

On Welles:

Saying he had his shot may be unfair. He was so genius, Hollywood resisted him. His first film, he busts out with Citizen Kane. That seems almost incomprehensible to me.

But then what happens?

RKO destroys "The Magnificent Ambersons".

Then it's all downhill from there.