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
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.