Film Freak Central is a comfort – but with this last little blowup between myself and the Denver Film Society over their 28th film festival has inspired me to begin to look into projects locally that might actually change the things that I bitch about around here all the time. Your friends only listen to you whine for a while, after all, before they start handing you quarters and therapists’ business cards. I realized that part of what was bugging me so much this year was that I was waiting around for the Film Society or something like it to give me a call and they never did. But why should they?
So in that spirit, took several meetings this week, called in a couple of favors, made a lot of phone calls, and I’ve lined up several different lecture/teaching gigs with various non-profit organizations around the state in the next month and for the remainder of 2006. That means I’m spending a lot of time tonight putting together programs to appeal to wildly divergent audiences. It’s the most fun I’ve had in months. I can’t change the world, but I can shut up about it long enough to introduce some organized film appreciation where there wasn’t any before. What the hell, right?
Between the stuff I’ll be doing and the stuff that the Denver Art Museum does with their film series (programmed by pal Tom Delapa) and Howie Movshovitz’s monthly Tattered Cover film series – the dream is that in Denver, there’ll finally be an option at least one night every week of the year.
Stay tuned to FFC in the New Year, too: team strong like bull.
What kills me about Syriana is that Clooney almost eats himself to death packing on the pounds so that he looks like a slovenly, middle-aged schlep, and his body looks just. Like. Mine. So on the one hand I can finally say that my body looks like Clooney’s, but on the other hand, I’m putting the Eskimo Pie back into the freezer.
The film itself is overstuffed, too – I’m reminded of a very nice Anne Sexton poem called “The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator” that I’ll reference here instead of the review so the vocal segment of FFC’s casual readership that hates it when I reference poems won’t have their heads boil and pop like zits. This is the last stanza:
The boys and girls are one tonight.
They unbutton blouses. They unzip flies.
They take off shoes. They turn off the light.
The glimmering creatures are full of lies.
They are eating each other. They are overfed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
It’s hip, it’s got a beat, and you can’t dance to it because it’s onanistic liberalism. Lots of targets, all presented pretty well in a shorthand, flip sort of way (and lots of speechifying, too) but at the bottom of it is this message that says “give up” and “be nice to your family because it’s the only thing that you can control.” The penultimate scene in Traffic is the Michael Douglas family going to an AA meeting, right? Most of the criticism of this film has been along the lines of it doesn’t have a heart – bologna – there’s a dead kid, a broken marriage, a reconciliation, an absentee father and an emotionally-vacant son, and on and on, woven in and out of all the broadsides at macroeconomics and the very fundamental non-secrets of how the world works when no one thinks that you’re watching. It’s got plenty of heart, it just doesn’t have any surprises.
Wrote the Memoirs of a Geisha piece finally – it’s long. Disturbed a little by Ang Lee’s recent comments on it – disturbed about his comments on Brokeback Mountain, too, come to think of it. His thoughts on Geisha are essentially “who cares, the girls are good” – and while I’m not saying that he’s wrong, I’m sort of wishing that a Chinese-American as visible as Mr. Lee would offer at least the illusion of having spent more time coming to his opinion. I’m also not pleased with his takedown of Stephen Chow.
In a case of the world shrinking, this very blog has gotten mentioned in places like Variety’s website and IFC’s, too, for weighing in on this Geisha business.
Working on a piece on Edward Scissorhands to coincide with its fifteenth anniversary, and it’s kicking my ass. Still, I should be done before the Chinese make their moon landing. There’s something going on in that flick with the casting of Anthony Michael Hall as the bully: it’s an interesting, heartfelt piece of work.
Watched Asif Kapadia’s The Warrior: a film about faith and blood set in feudal India, the best scene in it one where a man has a vision in the desert and, when he comes out of it, we see that there is snow packed in his footprints. It’s not bad. There were moments, in fact, that I felt like it was on to something truly holy in its extended silences and bottomless, heartbroken implications. Miramax bought the rights to this film four years ago and it’s just now finding a very limited release in the United States. Also finally caught up with Ong Bak: Thai Warrior which is, oddly enough, the second film this year I’ve seen about Muy Thai Boxing. Some of the stunts and the fights are pretty amazing. Not so amazing is a Thai motorcycle-taxi chase and the thin plot, dialogue, and performances.
Was sort of cruising Box Office Mojo’s ytd charts and noticed that Chicken Little has done terribly overseas. Why would that be, do you suppose? I just can’t get my head around this shit. Guess I’d be a helluva lot richer if I could.
Read Bill’s DVD write-up for Cinderella Man and my not-very-good-but-there-you-have-it review of Dario Argento’s classic The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.
Jack S. has two, Chad E. and Tim R. have one apiece, making this screenshot important. And #5/7 (2.5):
Hot off the Presses (12.5.05)
Read Travis' outstanding take on Powell/Pressburger's Tales of Hoffman and rejoice as FFC finally enters the Criterion age.
Watched the highly-anticipated Outback slasher flick Wolf Creek today and, fellas, it stinks. It's got the vibe of High Tension, but without all the nasty subtext that I felt redeemed Aja's flick to some degree. It didn't make it "okay", but it made it worth a conversation - but shockingly, Wolf Creek doesn't even have any kind of sexual undercurrents. There might - just might - be something in here along the lines of the transgressions of city mice in the land of the country mice (Deliverance, Hunter's Blood, Southern Comfort, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn and so on) - but even that's so undeveloped that it lands as more of an accidental afterthought than anything else. Best comparison is to Open Water - only without the gratuitous full-frontal nudity.
Hot off the Presses (12.6.05)
Here's my review of Memoirs of a Geisha and a new DVD addendum for the packed Lion's Gate 2-disc uncut edition of The Devil's Rejects.