January 23, 2006

Notes from the Trenches

I spent a couple of days recovering from the Cronenberg series last weekend: but wasn’t home ten minutes before finding myself already in the middle of preparations for their summer series. Similar format (3 films from one artist) with the hope that we’d be able to attract talent to speak with his/her pictures. I have a couple of prospects in mind – but I’d appreciate any ideas. Did I mention that A History of Violence gets better every time you see it?

Tuesday will find me at the Denver Public Library to start their “Dueling Divas” series alternating Bette Davis and Anne Bancroft films, starting with The Letter. This week actually starts a cycle where I’ll be doing three engagements a week for a bit, while the DPL has also created a “Cinema Club” to go with their Book Club that I’ll be hosting once a month. The first series, “Modern Love,” includes screenings of Edward Scissorhands, Punch-Drunk Love (and Bill's capsule from TIFF) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - the one following it is “Classic Sci-Fi" which will include one of my all-time favorite flicks: The Incredible Shrinking Man.

Saw Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World at a packed screening in one of the “balcony” theaters at Denver’s Landmark Mayan Theater. Raucous, self-congratulatory, liberal asshole laughter rebounded in the tight confines of the space, causing me to look around in sort of stunned bemusement at how anyone could find this thing funny, unless they were just demonstrating their “fitness” for their companions. I do wonder how much of this kind of laughter can be traced to anthropological explanations – sort of the corollary of the “snag” phenomenon in college where otherwise normal men pretend to be Alan Alda in order to get into some earnest co-ed’s hemp pants. (Also known as the Clinton Effect.) I remember, for instance, pretending to be very interested in recycling and vehicle emissions for the benefit of earnest eighteen-year-old girls, once upon a time. Films like Comedy, I think, inspire the same kind of calculated and, on the flip side, possibly the same kind of peer pressure towards appreciation that can be so hard to shake. Still and all, I counted 6 walkouts. An unusually high number, and a gratifying one.

Ebert: 3-stars. Though on my browser, it looks a lot like 1-star until you realize that 2-stars had been wrapped around to the next line. Discretion? almost had me a heart attack there.
We’re live finally with our Bottom Ten of 2005 list, its delay my fault entirely as I’ve found myself uncomfortably, hopelessly blocked. Two interviews to transcribe, reviews of “X-Files,” “Project Runway,” “Arrested Development,” and Bresson’s Pickpocket (just to name a few) hanging over my head like a multi-media Sword of Damocles – and all I can manage is a sentence or two per torturous hour. It sounds ridiculous, but reading Milton usually cleans the pipes: not this time. Just have to plug on through, I guess, but that weight is awfully hard to budge away from the cave opening sometimes. Maybe a screening of Big Mamma's House 2 will dislodge that obstruction. Errr, maybe not.

Anyway – an open invitation to post your own “bottom” lists – with the thought in mind that what I’m really interested in reading are not excoriations of dead horses (and a good argument could be made that my own #1 is one of those, though I’d argue that I wasn’t offended that it was terrible like most, but rather that it was that rarer variety: pure evil), but of pictures that actually make the world a darker, emptier place.

With the close of 2005 - fair game, too, to reveal what you're most looking forward to in 2006. Prime candidates:

Bryan Singer's Superman Returns
M. Night Shyamalan's Lady in the Water
Mel Gibson's Apocalypto
Invasion of the Body Snatchers IV: The Visiting (starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig)
Kidman also stars as Diane Arbus in Fur
A new Clint Eastwood about Iwo Jima (giving Clint his Hat Trick in directing Oscars)
the new Julie Taymor Beatles pic
the new John Cameron Mitchell flick Shortbus
Michael Mann's Miami Vice
Brett (ha ha ha) Ratner's X3
Casino Royale
The DaVinci Code
Pirates of the Caribbean 2
the two 9/11 pics (by Greengrass and Stone, respectively)
the new Soderbergh/Clooney The Good German
the remake of Infernal Affairs: Martin Scorsese's The Departed
Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette

and. . . more? others? A pretty compelling line-up, seems to me - lest we forget Snakes on a Plane and The Santa Clause 3.

Here’s a review of Flightplan that I logged a few months ago: meaning that it’s actually pretty good, I was surprised to find upon a re-read tonight. Jeesh, wish I could write a review like that. Bill, meanwhile, provides the DVD specs for Susanne Bier’s Brothers. I'm really eager, by the way, to start reading Alex's missives from Sundance. Hope he's vicious.

Reading Middlesex this week, and listening to a mix that includes Badalamenti’s “Jitterbug” from Mulholland Drive, some Sufjan Stevens, and a liberal dosing of Joseph Arthur and the new Depeche Mode.

Here’s this week’s capture:

Hot off the Presses (1.25.06):

Travis takes on the legendary Alan Clarke and his new collection of dvds and I do a little jig on the grave of Melquiades Estrada. Is that even a 2005 film? Funny how no one's talking about it anymore after its mini-splash at Cannes last year. Here's hoping that Levon Helm gets a little supporting actor love. Yeah, right.


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

Screenshot: Black Shampoo?

Rich said...

Did a quick IMDb for The Incredible Shrinking Man which revealed this upcoming remake by master director Keenen Ivory Wayans! Excited, Walter?

Keith Uhlich said...

If I may (not being a frequent poster), I believe the screenshot is from Peter Bogdanovich's "Targets" - one of his best, next to "Daisy Miller" and his "Chinese Bookie" redux "Saint Jack."

God, hope I'm right. :-)

Walter_Chaw said...

Keith! Congrats. Targets, his debut under Roger Corman, still might be Bogdanovich's best flick - I sure like it better than Last Picture Show in any case.

And, yeah, Rich, I can't tell you how excited I am about the new Shrinking Man flick. If you haven't seen the original, by the way, you need to do so - it's got one of the stickiest, most metaphysically-wondrous endings of any fifties sci-fi. It's out on legit DVD finally, isn't it?

Bill C said...

Targets is Bogdanovich's best, bar none--and it's the movie that prompted our iViews feature! (And thanks to Walt, I've got the original one-sheet for it hanging on my wall.) Can I confess something, though? I really like Mask.

Raphael said...

I didnt venture to enough potential duds to actually make a relevant top 10 bottom but there´s a couple of flicks that left me raging and feeling two hours closer to death.first culprit is a thing called "Les Daltons" wich pisses all over fond childhood memories of Lucky luke comics and cartoons.the sets and costumes look straight of a halloween party,the actors dont look remotely anything like their paper counterparts and a troupe of pretentious unfunny comedians were cast as the title characters.Imagine a movie much much worse than the first live action asterix and you have Les Daltons.Makes me terribly fearful of a french adaptation on Tintin..
Curiously the film crashed and burned at the french box office but was marketed here in Portugal like a blockbuster...
The second and somehow even more damning movie (pardon the pun) is The exorcism of Emily Rose.In a country like Portugal wich still bears some of the stench of mysoginistic old fashioned conservative catolicism,this movie feels like salt in a sociological wound.After all we´re still the country of Fatima and we still have dificulties with the separation of church and state.
So you have this inocent nubile young girl who is asked to imolate herself in the name of an omnipotent and all loving deity (Much like the little Fatima sheperds were asked (by whom?) to hold fasts and pray for long hours in the torrid sun of Portugues summer)and it feels like the Passion of the Christ all over again minus the brilliant film making...
By the way,Passion stayed atop the portuguese box office for six consecutive weekends back in 2004 so you know where i´m coming from...

Nate said...

My most-anticipated films of 2006 are Von Trier's Manderlay and Fincher's Zodiac.

Anonymous said...

I can only think of a few films I saw that I thought really, really blew: Hide and Seek, Cursed, Me and You and Everyone We Know, The Producers.


tommy five-tone said...

Will we ever read an evisceration of the truly hateful Rumor Has It... on FFC? Or will we have to wait for the DVD release?

Most anticipated for '06: Mann's Miami Vice, Singer's Superman Returns and Aja's The Hills Have Eyes.

Keith Uhlich said...

Rumor Has It has what must be the worst movie poster in the history of creation, at least, that is, the worst since Unhook the Stars (http://members.tripod.com/alish_poster_u/unhookthestars01.jpg).

I agree that Targets is probably Bogdanovich's best film - the richest Corman production I've ever seen - and I'm glad, Walter, that you're not head over heels about Last Picture Show. There's just something so damn tidy about it - it's kinda desiccated where Targets is thrillingly alive, moment to moment.

Bogdanovich's follow-up work never reaches the same highs, but I do love a lot of it, save for the sanctioned stuff like LPS and Paper Moon. And now Tatum O'Neal is on Dancing With the Stars 2, though, befitting the schadenfreude pitfalls of a former Oscar winner, she was the first one eliminated.

Chad Evan said...

What's this about a Beatles pic?

Raphael said...

looking forward for lucky Mckee´s long in the making The woods, Linklater´s Scanner Darkly and curious about will come out of "Paris je t'aime".

Joan said...

Right now I'm looking forward to seeing what two films are matched up with The Incredible Shrinking Man, which is one of the best sci-fi movies, ever.

By a very tortured route, TISM crossed my consciousness just a few days ago. I love coincidences like this.

Ian Pugh said...

Honestly thought you were kidding with Snakes on a Plane. Can you get much farther with the premise beyond "Holy shit! There are snakes on the plane!" Reminds me of "They're Creeping Up on You," the final chapter of George Romero's mediocre Creepshow: "I hope I don't get covered in bugs. Oh no! I'm covered in bugs!"

Finally watching the bizarro Tiger Beat trailer for Marie Antoinette before a preview screening, I felt abnormally compelled to shout "And then she got her head chopped off." I just barely resisted.

Otherwise I can't say I'm looking forward to much this year. There is Martin Campbell's Casino Royale, I being the huge Bond fan that I am, but I'm really worried at the same time. No Q, no Moneypenny, a young new-to-the-job Bond plot, a viable threat to change the casino's game-of-choice from baccarat to Texas Hold 'em... and not to mention the series threatening to dip into dire straits unless things perk up quick; are they going to flout Bond's traditions in order to make him "extreme"?

Also keeping me on edge is the fact that I revisited Campbell's other Bond reinvention GoldenEye, and I realized that it's just not very good -- it works as re-introduction to Bond, accounting for its box office, but you'd think the movie would do more with a villain who's a fellow 00 Agent. (I mean, beyond the ungainly blocks of '90s sociopolitical dialogue; "spare me the Freud," Trevelyan scoffs, but the movie certainly doesn't.)

Anonymous said...

Nowadays I only watch movies from which I know they are worth seeing (by reading filmfreakcentral, slant, etc.), so no bottom films from me. The movie I am most looking forward to in 2006 is "The Fountain" by Aronofsky. I think the teaser trailer contained some absolutely stunning images and although his previous movies are by no means perfect, both "Pi" and "Requiem for a dream" had fantastic scores and somehow managed to linger in my mind for a long time.

Jefferson said...

Ian said...
There is Martin Campbell's Casino Royale, I being the huge Bond fan that I am, but I'm really worried at the same time.

The true test is whether they cop out and excise the genital torture that's a key part of the book. As for whether they can turn it around in time for a 2006 release, seeing as they just got their new Bond, I'll believe it when I see it.

Walter: Curiosity piqued by your previous post -- with a young child in the house, how in the hell did you get away with watching all three Texas Chainsaw sequels? For that matter, how do you watch anything at home? You must have a home theater den with a combination lock, a vast backyard with lots of colorful plastic toys, or a terrifically understanding and cooperative wife.

Satchmo said...

Hi Walter

I'd be interested in your opinion of Middlesex - I read it last summer, and while I appreciated certain aspects, including the rather epic scope, there were also things I didn't like so much about it.

Alex Jackson said...

Walter: Curiosity piqued by your previous post -- with a young child in the house, how in the hell did you get away with watching all three Texas Chainsaw sequels? For that matter, how do you watch anything at home? You must have a home theater den with a combination lock, a vast backyard with lots of colorful plastic toys, or a terrifically understanding and cooperative wife.

Yeah, didn't even think of that. The Chaw kid is like two, isn't she?

Sundance, it was uh, wow. Won't spoil it until my report is published, but yeah.. expect blood to be drawn.

Vikram said...

Looking forward to V for Vendetta...

Carl Walker said...

Based on your list, I will say that I will definitely see Superman, most likely see Pirates 2, see Departed and Miami Vice depending on Walter's reviews, and wish I didn't feel compelled to see X3. Shit, at least there's nothing in the teaser trailer that looks completely awful, which is slightly surprising but not enough reason to hope that it will be good.

James Allen said...

Isn't anyone looking forward to The Pink Panther? (shudder) How long has that been on the shelf anyway? You know, I'm a big Steve Martin fan, he's a very smart and clever guy, but one wonders who the hell thought this was a good idea.

Looking forward to V For Vendetta (loved the comic book), though I hope the film doesn't get too wrapped up in establishing "mood" at the expense of the characters.

Re: Ebert's 3 stars for Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World

Ebert's review is throroughly unenthusiastic. Check this:

Brooks' movie has a lot of humor in it, but it's buried, oblique, throwaway, inside, apologetic, coded and underplayed.

Just what I love, a comedy with humor you have to search for with a microscope and a decoder ring.

But wait, there's more:

There are two bigger laughs in the movie, one involving his dressing room for the standup show, the other involving his meeting with executives of the Al-Jazeera network. And some medium laughs. And a lot of chuckles. And a stubborn unwillingness to force the laughs. Brooks has a persona that apologizes for everything including being a persona. No matter how much you laugh, you get the feeling he wanted you to laugh less. (emphasis added)

And this is for a film he likes, I mean, come on. I guess he's happy to be on the post-modern train with Brooks and his oh-so-low-key sense of irony and whatnot, but there comes a point where you cross the line from reflective detatchment to having nothing on your mind. And all Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World is Brooks using the word "muslim" (one distributor dropped the film because of the title, adding a completely phony aura of riskiness to the procedings) as a hook to once again slog through his tired schtick.

Bill C said...

At the risk of annexing Walter's thoughts on the matter, his wife is the real deal; FFC is more or less a testament to her patience and hipness. On a side note, not sure why wives and babies automatically spell the end of splatter cinema for so many people, but maybe that's why I'm single and childless.

Tommy Five-Tone: If we review Rumor Has It..., it definitely won't be before the DVD comes out.

Ian Pugh said...

Incidentally, Bill, I read a review of Dead Alive the other day, where the reviewer enigmatically mentioned that he forced his wife and daughter to watch it with him. Needless to say, trauma all around.

I pride myself on the fact that I have an abnormally strong stomach. Finally having seen the film, the "custard" scene is easily the closest I've ever come to throwing up during a film.

Bill C said...

See, I'd never force my family to watch anything with me, just as long as they're willing to part like the Red Sea when I need the TV for what this has unfortunately become: work.

Dead Alive is indeed gross, but the context is so lighthearted that it didn't really locate my threshold for gore.

Dave said...

Looking forward to: Inland Empire, The Fountain, Cache/Hidden (will see it this week, damn German release dates), New World, Shi no otome / Loft.

Bemis said...

I'm looking forward to Inland Empire, Manderlay, The Departed, Marie Antoinette, Grind House (if it is ready this year), Superman Returns, and most of all, I'm looking forward to being pleasantly surprised.

I had both responses to Dead Alive incidentally; I laughed and felt queasy. Things like the rampaging intestines/spinchter are sick, but in a way that a particularly inventive fourth grader could have come up with. What really churns my stomach are Miike's films, which feel like they're made by the kid in your class that your mom wouldn't let you hang out with (possibly for good reason).

Alex Jackson said...

Nah, the violence in Miike is a little more politicized than Jackson's to be sure, but it's overthetop in a way that turns it into comedy.

Again, the one we should worry about is Mel Gibson, who isn't a provocateur but a genuine sadomasochistic psychopath. He doesn't punish his audience for the sake of punishing them, he punishes them in order to purge the sin out of them.

Walter_Chaw said...

Ah, Inland Empire, Christ, I can't wait for that one. Wonder if Lynch will continue his reworking of late Hitchcock. Gibson's Apocalypto should be one for the books - single-handedly bringing exploitation grindcore flicks into the Christian mainstream.

Miike's Audition only played one show in Denver: as a Midnight Movie at the Mayan (a program that has since moved to the Esquire Theater) - and there was indeed one reported vomiting. The screening of Trouble Every Day in Boulder, however, (similarly, only one in the state) boasted of numerous walkouts and one woman who locked herself in the bathroom, weeping, and refused to come out for hours afterwards.

My strongest reaction in a film, though, remains for Dragonslayer where, as a child of, what, eight? I found myself under the chair in front of me for most of the duration starting somewhere around the time the princess is revealed as baby dragon lunch. What a great movie!

I usually save my slasher watching for after hours when the house is asleep. Find it to be a good way to get the dreams going, one way or another. Nothing better than a quiet house and a stack of splatter flicks.

Never got too ill at Dead Alive and the ilk, but one thing I can't stand to see in a film is the compound fracture as in, say, Deliverance or the upcoming Descent. That shit really makes me queasy. Also don't like razors drawn slowly across the vein. A scene in Dead Ringers, late, where one of the Mantles (Bev?) shaves. . . slowlly. . . makes every hair stand up on my neck.

Hey - anybody read that article for V for Vendetta in Rolling Stone zeroing in on Larry Wachowski's gradual sex-change? Yeah.

Really weird, that Ebert article. Seems he hides behind the star-rating and then writes his mind. It's a mess, any way you slice it.

I cried like a baby during and after the Superman Returns trailer, by the way. Something about the music and the Marlon Brando narration - and the retro tights, of course.

Can't wait for the Von Trier though the buzz has been venemous - and fingers crossed that we get to see the new Dardenne Bros. and Claire Denis before they go to DVD.

James Allen said...

Just downloaded the trailer to Superman Returns, I agree, Walt, great stuff. It's terrific that they could use the Brando narration.

I don't know what the hell to make of the Apocalypto trailer. Gotta at least give Gibson credit for balls. I think.

Anyway, I was scanning through imdb, searching for titles coming out in 2006, needless to say, most of them are titles that are in various early stages of "production," and a good chunk probably won't even see the front of a camera. My favorite titles: Bloodsucking Freaks II (and it's about time, too) and She Had Brains, a Body, and the Ability to Make Men Love Her, which is something with Jennifer Love Hewitt playing a prostitute. Get in line now.

Alex Jackson said...

Sorry to be such a cocktease, but I did see something really really great at the film festival. I'll tell you all about it real soon. Promise!

Manderlay is my Return of the King, Revenge of the Sith, even my The New World come to think of it (once I actually see the new Malick I'm sure that the spell will be cast anew; it's just that he's been out of my life for so long that I've fallen out of love and moved on to other thing). That's gonna be my new favorite.

The Marie Antoinette trailer comes off better the second time; Apocalypto's trailer looked kind of awful but so did POTC's and so I'll give Mel the benifit of the doubt.

Joan said...

I don't know how anyone of a certain age can see the Superman Returns trailer and, hearing Brando's voiceover, not get chills down his spine.

I was grossly, grossly disappointed in my kids when they couldn't figure out who the movie was about until they saw the guy in the tights. Obviously, I have neglected their education. But I've always (unashamedly) loved Spider-Man more, so I guess that explains why my kids know Spidey's complex history backwards and forwards, and barely recognized the Man of Steel.

They're young, though. I've plenty of time... especially now that there won't be any more "Star Wars" foisted upon us.

p.s.: Dragonslayer... ah!

Ian Pugh said...

Cautious optimism about Superman Returns. Trailer got me flustered, too -- I loved the Batman film back in the day just like everyone else (I even had an action figure of Bob, The Joker's Goon) but the original Superman -- the film and character -- continues to stick with me. It always aims for that feeling that folks must have gotten when they first saw Action Comics #1, that sense of disbelieving wonder that says "that guy just picked up a car"; it comes through loud and clear in reinvigorating a then-forty-year-old institution in American culture. Looks like this film is headed in the same direction. However, is there any truth to this idea that I've been hearing, that Returns it's set up as a direct sequel to the Reeve original (i.e., not just using the original film's Brando prologue)?

Don't get me wrong, I did laugh at Dead Alive. I've always been a sucker for zombie films, on both an intellectual and "fannish" level (check out the current comic miniseries Marvel Zombies, where -- surprise! -- all of Marvel's superheroes are insane, flesh-hungry zombies; biggest kicker is a line where they say in not so many words that Spider-Man ate Mary Jane and Aunt May) but Jackson brings it all to a "turn it up to eleven" stance that just hits my gag reflex. Which, I think, was the man's primary aim, even moreso than the excess gore being used for over-the-top comedy. Why else is the movie set in 1957 beyond than the fact that this premise is all the more pukeworthy when placed over a squeaky-clean bobbysoxer backdrop?

And She Had Brains, a Body, and the Ability to Make Men Love Her may be the best title I've ever heard. Rivals the old I Was a Teenage... series, methinks.

Carl Walker said...

Hey, glad y'all mentioned Inland Empire. I actually live in said area, and ever since I heard about the project, I've been looking forward to seeing Lynch savage the IE... that is to say, I've taken it for granted that such is his intention. Let's just say this isn't really one of the better regarded pieces of the "Greater LA Area."

Considering, however, that you actually have to drive outside of the IE to the OC to see stuff like this, it will be interesting to see what wins out; will the novelty of a film being made about us inspire theaters to pick it up here, or will the inevtiably unflattering depiction convince them not to do so. We'll see.

Jefferson said...

Alex Jackson said...
Nah, the violence in Miike is a little more politicized than Jackson's to be sure, but it's overthetop in a way that turns it into comedy.

Yeah, Audition was so funny I had to turn it off two-thirds of the way through and jog around the block to outrun the heebie-jeebies. The only other film that's ever made me do that is Videodrome.

Alex Jackson said...

Jefferson: You're right. I actually wasn't thinking of Audition as much as Dead or Alive and Ichi the Killer. Not informed enough about the man's work to call one or the other the norm.

But in any case, the violence in Audition (like the violence in Passion of the Christ) is restrained and focused enough to be affective as horror. There's a certain threshold that you can take violence and once you cross it then it becomes comedy. Miike crosses it a lot, but in the case of Audition he took it right to the limit.

Chad Evan said...

Hmmm, violence that actually gets to me in movies...curiously, it's rarely horror films.

Kong bouncing off the walls on the way down the Empire State Building has always made me wince.

The blade slicing the bull in Apocalypse Now is very unsettling.

The king, though, has to be Polanski. He films violence in such a flat, unhysterical way that it seems nightmarishly real. The nose getting sliced in Chinatown, Faye Dunnaway falling backwards with a hole in her head at the end while her daughter can't look away...subtly, beautifully staged and truly creepy. Simialarly, the murders in his Macbeth.

The Captain said...

Lemme just chime in for a moment to point everyone in the direction of something in the Apocalypto trailer - fast it to about 1:48 then go frame by frame. Eventually you'll hit a single frame that'll haunt you into your nightmares.

(Here for the lazy, but it's much better to check it out in trailer. There's the proof of the man's insanity. Not that we needed it anyway.)

Jefferson said...

Von Daniken was right! Aliens DID walk amongst the Maya!

Nate said...

I saw the Apocalypto trailer before The New World and I was looking for that frame - couldn't see it with the naked eye. I think I was eventually sidetracked by the awful digital effects.

Bill C said...

For those who may have missed it, here's the URL for our better-late-than-never review of The Alan Clarke Collection, which we've been raving about for a while - http://filmfreakcentral.net/dvdreviews/alanclarkecollection.htm

After struggling to describe the gut-punch of these films for more than a year, I took Travis up on his offer to review the set and I'm glad I did. His write-up makes me want to drop everything and do another marathon viewing of all five masterpieces covered therein.

dave said...

Although, I must admit that I am primarily looking forward to Inland Empire getting finished, so that maybe Lynch feels like supervising the second season Twin Peaks DVDs afterwards. This is really killing me, I am THAT close to rewatch the series on my old VHS tapes...

Raphael said...

Saw Miike's One missed call recently.Gore wise it´s kinda disapointing except for one hilarious decapitation scene but it´s not really disgusting since he plays it for laughs.
About "The descent" i was actually more disgusted by the camcorder scene than by the compound fracture.
But the all time gross out movie for me still remains Deodato´s "Cannibal holocaust",especially since i about eight years old when i sneaked out of bed to see it.

Bill C said...

Actually, Dave, the first and second seasons of "Twin Peaks" were prepared for DVD simultaneously. I believe that Lions Gate's acquisition of original rights-holder Artisan accounts for the delay.

On the bright side, we have a review of the new DVD of David Lynch's Dune coming up.

dave said...

Actually, Dave, the first and second seasons of "Twin Peaks" were prepared for DVD simultaneously.

This may very well be, but still it seems hat Lynch wants to inspect every frame before release, at least the FAQ on dugpa.com states: "Paramount is working with David Lynch to oversee transfers of Season 2. The latest word is mid to late 2006. The current reason for the delay is due to Lynch's involvement with his new feature film, INLAND EMPIRE, his schedule is quite booked, so the transfer sessions were pushed back to 2006."

At least there will be the new Wild at heart release in February... but I am looking forward to your Dune review, another movie which I have on my rewatch-list for this year.

Bill C said...

Interesting. I guess with technologies having progressed so much, those previously-approved transfers are probably no longer up to snuff.

Haven't heard anything about a new release of Wild at Heart. The 'old' one only just came out and Lynch even personally endorses it within the supplementary material. Maybe it's a straightforward reissue branded with the Sony stamp? (MGM hadn't switched over yet when the disc came out.)

The new Dune disc kind of sucks, by the by, but the movie is fast becoming one of my favourite Lynches. Then again, I say that after all of his movies.

dave said...

The 'old' one only just came out and Lynch even personally endorses it within the supplementary material.

For you it may be 'old', but the RC2 DVD will be released in February. ;-) As for Dune, that movie always left my puzzled and I always cringe when Sting does his "manic face". I somehow doubt that it will ever be my favourite Lynch, but it will always be better than Straight Story...

Alex Jackson said...

Ah, I heard it was delayed because the first season sold poorly; which only sold poorly because they didn't include the pilot.

Jefferson said...

Regarding the Superman teaser: It never or seldom occurred to me before, but hearing the Brando narration out of its original context reminds me of how much of a messiah story the Superman mythology really is: "For this reason above all, I have sent them you, my only son."

Brrr. That has resonance with everybody; I don't care what religion you are or what comics you read.

Bill C said...

D'oh, typical North American, assuming everybody's in Region 1. Sorry, Dave.

Yeah, the Supes teaser's the bomb. But aside from being scared of the unknown quantity of Brandon Routh, I'm really worried about the casting of Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. Singer said they had to go young in case they're still making these movies well into the next decade, but young is one thing, the morose, doll-like Bosworth's another.

Jefferson said...

The Superman vs. X-Men dichotomy of 2006 will be interesting, given that the two franchises essentially swapped directors at the last seconds of preproduction. My hope is that the X-Men franchise is strong enough now, in script and general aesthetic, that Brett Ratner's halfwittedness and hamhandedness can't really tarnish it.

On the flip side, however, I don't think Singer's ever been any stronger than his strongest script, so my prayer is that Superman Returns' story was already on solid ground when Ratner was ejected.

Nate said...

Just watched Head-On - what a great movie. I'm kind of surprised no one's talking much about the essentially conservative view of the film - that family and tradition is the only thing keeping us from degrading into hedonism and self-destruction. However you read it, it's incredible.

Question for anyone who knows: the aspect ratio of the DVD I watched (from Netflix) was 1.33 - was this the theatrical aspect ratio as well? It didn't feel cropped, except for maybe a couple of shots, and there was no noticeable panning or scanning. The compression sucked, though, so maybe the publisher (Strand Releasing) did a hack job on it.

Nate said...
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Dave Gibson said...

Count me among the swath of misty-eyed geeks as the John Williams score rose ever so slightly underneath
Brando's narration--If only they could have brought back Terrence Stamp ("You WILL BOW DOWN!") and I would be reserving two tickets for Superman Returns immediately (one for me, one for my childlike sense of wonder--and a jumbo box of Goobers). I'm hopelessly keen on "Miami Vice" as well. Even as a child of the 80's , I was never a big fan of the show--but, my Michael Mann love continues unabated--even after a recent re-viewing of "Collateral" forced me to conclude that gorgeous camerawork aside, this is one dumb flick. I'm generally nonplussed by most of the gigantic summer films, but I'm keen on "Lady In the Water", even though my heart was broken by "The Village". Very curious about "Don't Come Knocking". "Paris Texas" is definitely somewhere in my top 25 American film list, and I'm keen to see a new collaboration between Shepherd and Wenders. If memory serves me, I think WC also shares my appreciation for "The End of Violence", forget "Crash"--THIS is a great L.A. film. Love, Love, Love "Ghost World" and Daniel Clowes--so, I'll be checking out "Art School Confidential" too...

"Inland Empire"? A no brainer. Lynch is the filmic equivalent of renting some weird old house, sight unseen. I'll be there.

Oh and I'll probably have to see "The Texas Chainsaw" prequel. Why? God only knows. Some kind of implanted Horror Geek responsibility. As WC's recent piece revealed, while these movies aren't particularly good--there's something strangely watchable about all of them. Certainly, they all contain some pretty decent performances while remaining pleasantly sick. A feat not achieved by the Friday the 13th or Halloween (save the first) series.

"Worst" lists often seem like easy sport. I wish there was a less reductive (or more damning) term to describe the most grievous offenders in recent cinema. I'll reiterate a favourite observation from Jay Scott that the "ambitiously bad" movies are always more interesting (and harmful) than the "merely bad". I'd agree that "Crash" is certainly up there. Not just for its Plot Chart 2000 narrative, but for its supreme, wrong-headed self-importance and pleading insistence on underlining its banal thesis several times, like a dog-eared freshman Social Studies text, to create the illusion that its paying attention. 'Professor Obvious Emeritus' Oliver Stone would at least have made it grotesquely watchable. "Sin City" was alternately, one of the most disappointing and ugly films I've seen in a long time. Sickening torture violence in the service of a threadbare, women-hating pseudo-noir lacquered with a smirking veneer of "cool". Yeech. "Revenge of the Sith" was probably the worst film that was also #1 at the box office (I'm sure someone can prove me wrong)--reminding me how much naive, aging geeks like me have to be a hell of a lot more vigilant along with the great unwashed.

Dave Gibson said...

Ok...before anyone mentions it. Yes, "Three Men and A Baby" (#1 1987) and "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" (#1 2000) are prooobably worse than "Sith".

Although, if Guttenberg played Anakin in Sith...

the petaluma center said...

Walter: If it were I picking a three-film artist to speak at your symposium - somebody relevant, that is - I think David Gordon Green is an excellent choice. Assuming you haven't already had him for the event.

And he's not a director, but what about Charlie Kaufman?

Curtis Hanson?

Alfonso Cuaron?

The guy who directed 21 Grams and Amores Perros? The guy who wrote those movies?

My cosmetic worst:

Fun With Dick and Jane
Cheaper By The Dozen 2

Movies that made it a darker place:

Honestly, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. It's not a good movie - how can it be when it lops off a whole subplot and supporting stars in Keith David and Angela Bassett - and it continues to press this idea that Angelina Jolie is an interesting person and/or actor, which subjects us to more of her absurd projects. The whole female obsession with this woman is sickening in general. She looks and acts like an action alien half the time, and women, well, act like they want to fuck her. I have no idea what gives.

Star Wars III: For turning a serial that, George Lucas said, was supposed to give KIDS a basic idea of right and wrong into some three-hour piece of goo for 20-somethings that has ol Anakin kill kids and have those 20-somethings joyfully whisper (or squeal) afterward to cohorts: "Lucas fuckin killed kids man!" George has come a long way, ain't he?

North Country, for reasons articulated beautifully by Walter. The last 30 minutes of that movie are sickening, and the "Dead Poets Society" courtroom moment is laughable. Caro and Theron must people for real fools to buy that nonsense.

And I'm torn on Hustle&Flow, a movie about music so insipid and repugnant it doesn't deserve to be called music and yet, like Scarface - one of the more destructive films of modern times - is skillfully acted and filmed. But there's no doubt people that see that movie as uplifting. I do not. If the lyric "whoomp that trick" is the best our hero can come up with, than he's merely presenting his life instead of improving on it. Presentation of experience is sufficient to excuse using such a lyric, and it undermines the purpose of the tale. Merely saying "this is my life" is not in itself life-giving. Like a lot of rap music, this movie pretends it is.

Alex Jackson said...

Holy shit!

Nice Guy Eddie Chris Penn is dead at 42. I think Cintra Wilson wrote a piece on him for Salon a while back and that is as good an obit as any.

Is it uselessly piling it on to call Diary of a Mad Black Woman the worst movie of the year.

I actually liked a lot of movies everyone else hated.

The Captain said...

Is it uselessly piling it on to call Diary of a Mad Black Woman the worst movie of the year.

Not necessarily - the word "atrocity" was invented to describe such piles of crap.

It's really a toss-up as to my favourite part of that particular movie - the idiotic opening in which the protagonist/"hero" is portrayed as such an oblivious moron that she doesn't realise that her husband (who happily mistreats her!) is going to or is already cheating on her, or the series of disturbing revenge moments after he becomes cripple and she tortures him in his home, or the "my brain, my brain" ending where Christianity saves the day and everyone sings from the Bible?

Whereas Alone in the Dark covers the "incredibly awful filmmaking" base and Dukes of Hazzard covers the "ignorant, offensive, dangerous" base, the godawful Diary of a Mad Black Woman covers both.

It's useless me posting my Bottom 10 list at this stage, as many of the 'Worsts of 05' haven't even been released in Oz yet and my own worst is Soul Plane, which was released last year here. Likewise, half of Walter's Top 10/30 hasn't seen the light of day here, and at least half of those wont ever see release down under. So sad!

Alex, what were some of the "you love, everyone else hates" flicks? Bar War of the Worlds.

Bill C said...

Poor ol' Chris, my favourite Penn. I think he gave one of the finest performances in American film in The Funeral, and his memories of Lawrence Tierney on the Reservoir Dogs DVD are so side-splittingly funny I always thought he was born too late, missing his calling as a talk-show raconteur.

A few years ago I had the privilege of hanging out with the very-cool Adrian Pasdar in Las Vegas. Chris Penn was in Pasdar's directorial debut, Cement, and was apparently a handful to work with. It was just after his father (veteran TV director Leo Penn) had died and Chris was bent on self-destruction, even squeezing a glass in one take until it shattered and cut his hand to pieces. Part of me feels like an untimely demise was inevitable for Penn, who seemed more bloated and haggard with each new role, but what a tragedy.

Alex Jackson said...

I do have to say that even though Diary of a Mad Black Woman was the worst film I've seen this year, I appreciated that it was actually Christian in more than name only; preaching such unpopular (among jack Christians like Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity) dictims as forgiveness and loving the least among us. Probably the first such film since Tim Robbin's Dead Man Walking.

But yeah, it's really so bad that it's scary to watch. And what's even better it's bad in a way that we've never seen before and probably never will again (that is to say, until Tyler Perry's next movie). It's not that it's incompetent, just that it's chemically unbalanced.

Aside from War of the Worlds and Crash, I did like Revenge of the Sith which I maintain was genuinely edgier than a lot of the summer blockbusters and did have that terrific first shot. I don't agree with those who think that Lucas is a terrible director, I think that he's a terrible screenwriter. But there you go, I'm continuing to apologize for the thing just because I'm a Star Wars fan.

I also kind of appreciated North Country as elitist anti-red state (even though Minnesota is a blue state!) feminazi propaganda. It pretty affective for a button-pusher and has a handful of truly terrific images. I loved the alien quality to that scene with the dead dear in the beginning.

I'm a sucker for great visuals, but also I hate glibness which is why I don't disagree with taking Mr. and Mrs. Smith down. By the way, words can't describe how excluded felt watching that scene where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie make out in their demolished mansion. It's not positioned as escapism, it's positioned as a satire of the modern marriage and that's the problem. Not sure that I agree with Armond White that Mr. and Mrs. Smith is why the rest of the world hates America, but yeah not too good.

Here's the Salon article I referred to earlier, by the way.

cory m said...

I'm really looking forward to a lot of the films on that list, Walter. There are a few that I'm a little afraid of, but I'm hopeful. I'd probably add V for Vendetta (afraid, but hopeful) and Kim Ki-duk's The Bow. Also, you can't forget Herzog's Rescue Dawn (starring Christian Bale and based on Herzog's own Little Dieter Needs to Fly).

Re: Miike

Did you guys hear that Miike's episode of Masters of Horror will not air on Showtime? Apparently it was so gruesome they wussed out. What a shame--the whole series has been a disappointment (though I liked seeing Coscarelli take another swing at a Lansdale story).

Re: Tyler Perry

And what's even better it's bad in a way that we've never seen before and probably never will again

My local Blockbuster recently started carrying the "Tyler Perry Collection" (!), which leads me to believe that Diary of a Mad Black Woman is bad in a way that is shamefully consistent.

The Captain said...

See, I don't know about that - the Maddea character is certainly pretty appalling, but Diary actually transcends that awfulness into something really diabolical - seemingly standing out from the rest of Tyler Perry's garbage. It's manipulative, disturbing, and evil - I'm actually really offended by the Christianity, not just because of my own grudge against the zombie-worshipping, love-everyone-else-even-though-we're-better-than-them-and-they're-going-to-hell shindig, but because it's such a pathetic cliched deux ex machina tacked-on little ending screaming at us that the solution to a series of fucking disgusting events is to get down to your church and belt out a chorus. Can't people think for themselves? Can't they rationalise "forgiveness and loving the least among us" without needing to get down to the church? But also, would any sane person be prepared to forgive the shit these characters do? I wanted to take Maddea's chainsaw to half of the characters despite having a reasonable level of compassion.


Silent Hill


Anyone heard the reports from the SDCC about Aronofsky's The Fountain? They screened still unseen trailers for it, then the first 12 minutes; apparently so powerful that many people in the packed audience actually started crying. From the first 12 minutes alone.

Walter_Chaw said...

I'm always more than a little leary about reports like this - especially coming from Sundance Fests and the like as they ring of studio endorsements and planted tall tales. I like Aronofsky fine for what he provides to the conversation, such as it is (how's that for equivocal?) but let's not get too excited about fourth-party telefono anecdotes about the second-coming of Kane.

Was Mad Black Woman this year? We should review it - it's something special, for sure.

I think Michael might be my favorite Penn, but yeah, RIP Chris, loved you, like Bill did, in The Funeral. One of the best films of the '90s.

I like Alex's ID of North Country as a "feminazi" piece. Hadn't heard that epithet in some time, but damned if it doesn't apply here.

Thanks for the DGG suggestion - I'll pass it along. Maybe we can get him to come if he hasn't resurrected the Confederacy of Dunces project somehow.

Charlie Kaufman, too, is a fantastic idea.

How many have seen Hustle & Flow around here? I'm sort of stunned that there hasn't been more outrage about it.

Ian Pugh said...

Why, Diary of a Mad Black Woman was 2005, but "fear not" -- there's a sequel on the way.
Madea's Family Reunion

jer fairall said...

Glad to see Mr. & Mrs. Smith getting some mentions in a Worst of the Year thread. Not a painful and unwatchable movie in any way (both leads look incredibly sexy here, I must admit), but man did it make me squirm. Slimy, arrogant and (as others have said) thoroughly glib. The cameos by Vince Vaughn and the O.C. guy are particularly laughable attempts at "coolness." The feeling of exclusion, I think, comes from the fact that we are being asked to identify with killers who are not in any way disenfranchised or rebellious. Nothing I have seen from Doug Liman yet (and I actually did like his Go quite a bit) has suggested to me that he is not pretty much soulless.

That said, the *actual* worst 2005 movie I saw was Eating Out-- a truly atrocious gay romantic comedy that a special interest group (the same one that also recently hosted Robert Greenwald's only-much-better-in-comparison Walmart documentary) at my old university held a screening of--but who the hell saw that?

I tended to avoid movies that I knew will be bad most of the time last year. There are perfectly good reasons to watch bad movies, I suppose, but money and especially time are too precious to me right now. So I guess that if Mr. & Mrs. Smith was the worst high profile film I saw last year, I should consider myself very lucky.

the petaluma center said...


There hasn't been more outrage because a lot of its intended audience believes in the "this is my life" concept bandied about in this and other movies about the hip-hop culture. We're talking about a culture that looks at Scarface and Casino as trophy films depicting trophy lives. I have three kinda-friends with shittily-painted portrats of Tony Montana sitting at his desk with a mountain of coke in front of him. They have these things in their living room. One co-worker has seen the movie 38 times. They ask me what I think and I freeze like Joan Allen when the priest throws that "shepherd/flock" line at her in "The Ice Storm."

Why isn't there more outrage over most hip-hop and rap songs? We all know they're rotten to the core, objectifying women and glorifying selfishness. And they top the charts one after the other.

As a Christian, the scene that amused me most in Hustle & Flow was that bullshit where T. Howard watches a gospel performance, rolls a tear down his eye and in the next scene, shit, he's inspired. As if Jesus brought him to the church that day to move him to write songs about whoompin all those "bitches jumpin ship." So many hip-hop artists (read: Kanye West) use Christ as some sort of self-congratulatory Gatorade thirst quencher right before they scream "we want prenup!" - as if you'd find that in the Bible.