April 03, 2006

Notes from the Trenches

Working on this very piece tonight, I hear a racket from the backyard, open the door to find my dog a bloody mess. Got tangled up with something or another nasty back there and now, three hours later and five hundred dollars poorer, my pooch has something like forty sutures in her and enough morphine to kill a horse and I’m looking at not making the mortgage payment this morning. Hard not to feel sorry for myself today, turned 33, wife too pregnant to do much celebrating, and now I’m crawling into bed covered in dog blood and looking into taking out another loan in the morning so we’re not on the street come summer.

Yesterday, though, spent the morning at Vail for a critics’ panel discussing film criticism (among other things) and how it’s been changed in the digital age. For all that, I was the only Internet critic on a panel that included Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman and the Independent Weekly’s Godfrey Cheshire. Felt good to be there. Felt a little like a validation – particularly when I was referred to as possibly the best "non-analog" critic in the country.

I think I’ve made a friend of Cheshire, at least, who’s as affable and well-spoken in person as he is in print. Gleiberman seems a nice chap as well though I did disagree with him over a few things: his worst crime might be that his position as one of the most-read analog critics in the land insulates him from a lot of the indignities and outrages that I try to articulate once in a while here. When he and Cheshire talked about private screenings in lushly-appointed screening rooms in New York, I think back to the other day at a local mall’s multiplex amongst the abandoned popcorn bags and the stench of old nacho cheese, watching Basic Instinct 2 with my colleagues while overhearing one of them talk about how much he hated Citizen Kane because it was, among other things, “boring.”

Believe me when I say that this guy’s not a rebel: he’s just an ill-considered, low-brow boob that doesn’t have an argument beyond “I just think. . .” Hard to keep it level.

Gift bag from Vail included some very nice, expensive male toiletries, a lovely glass, an energy bar, and a magazine with Dennis Quaid on the cover.

Last week also saw me at the Denver Public Library discussing Nimrod Antal’s Kontroll – a film that I was enthralled by upon initial viewing over a year ago, but had cooled on to the extent that it didn’t even crack my top 30 to end last year. Revisiting the film with an audience, however, especially the impassioned comments of one woman I knew from the Argus Film Festival, has renewed my interest in this film as a fairly sophisticated Susan Faludi-influenced look at the destructive component of masculine competition. Coincidentally, as I waited for Raimi to get stitched back together again tonight, read an old Sports Illustrated article about a small town in Maine that had three of their high school football players kill themselves within a short period of time. Fact I learned from the piece that sticks is that while athletes are less likely to try, when they try, they’re more likely to either succeed, or gravely injure themselves in the attempt.

Also last week, presided over the second installment of the DPL’s Cinema Club where we talk about a group of movies that folks have had a month to view. This session included a talk and shot-by-major-shot dissection of The Day the Earth Stood Still, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the Incredible Shrinking Man, and Village of the Damned. The Cold War was the starting point, but the discussion soon went into a fruitful chat about our current situation in Iraq, about the intense sexual disorder and fear of noir and ‘50s sci-fi, and ultimately the cogent humanity of the WMD solution of Village of the Damned. Most surprising revelation to me was provided by a late arrival who, out of nowhere, suggested that it seemed to him that all the films were about secrets. Simple/complicated.

Anyone catch in Siegel’s Body Snatchers, by the way, the three prints decorating the pool room of the writer-friend? Pretty interesting stuff.

The spider mouth/vagina dentata imagery of The Incredible Shrinking Man, by the way, is a fascinating illustration of that film’s gender-displacement anxiety – among other things, of course. Especially when our tiny hero pinions said vagina with his mighty (pin) prick.

Audience this month twice that of last month. If that trend continues, in about a year, I should have a million people packed into that little conference room. I just hope that we get enough participation that the DPL doesn’t pull the plug for their summer session as they were threatening to do this week (pre-show) when it looked like no one would show.

Last thing: saw Slither late, but in time for a possible Wednesday pub-date on the review. It did awfully in its first week so you might not have much time, but go see it. It kicks ass.

Raises the question of favorite genre actor now that Nathan Fillion is climbing the list for me: gaining ground on the great Jeffrey Combs.

Here’s the capture:

(Hot off the presses - April 5) -

Bill completes (?) his trail-blazing work on "Dawson's Creek" with a review of its final season and finds time, too, to administer the DVD post-mortem on the moribund Fun with Dick & Jane remake. Travis, meanwhile, tackles a little giallo action with his humane treatment of How to Kill a Judge - and proves himself a workhorse with reviews of Chariots of Fire and Adam & Steve. I, on the other hand, only managed to squeeze out a review of Slither - a film I'm going to try to see again before it vanishes ignominiously from the theaters.

46 comments:

Chad Evan said...

Dark Star?

My God, condolences about the dog and the rest.

dave said...

Regarding the Wenders interview: interesting read, especially what he said about "The end of violence". He is absolutely right: the title is terrible. I'd like to know why he chose it in the first place. But in Germany, it was even worse: in the ads for the movie, they wrote the German title with an "@" instead of an "a", so it read "Das Ende der Gew@lt". I can only assume they wanted the movie to look more like an "internet thriller". Just pathetic.

It's also interesting that he dislikes that a "huge amount of film criticism now bathes in tearing things apart", since just last year he wrote a brilliantly scathing review of "Der Untergang", for which I will love him forever.

Hope your dog gets well soon!

B. Earnest said...

2001?

Anonymous said...

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). What a wonderful movie.

Adam N said...

oops, didn't set my name there. I just said IOTB (1978). What a wonderful movie (so true I'll say it twice.)

Alex Jackson said...

Raimi must be getting up there in years. How old is she?

I wasn't a hundred percent sure that it was your birthday yesterday. Good day to be born. You share the day with Emile Zola, Buddy Ebson, Sir Alec Guinness, Hans Christian Anderson, Marvin Gaye, Dr. Demento, Linda Hunt, Ron Pallio, and adult film actress Stryc-9 (aka Cherry Mirage).

This was also, and I shit you not, the day that the first full-time movie theater opened in the United States.

Dave Gibson said...

Creepy. The screen-shot is from the opening credits right? The original Invasion of the Body Snatchers was one of the first movies I watched only with my dad (50’s vintage Sci-Fi geek that he is) so—I ensured he had the complete set as soon as he got a DVD player. There’s a lot to like in the barely released Ferrera (sp?) version too—making me wonder if there’s many other films that have been revisioned so consistently well.

Not that anyone asked, but I also used to have a crush on Brooke Adams. (In This one and Cronie’s Dead Zone) What an elegantly sad pair of performances.

Oh, and Happy Mirthday WC. Enjoy your last couple of years in the Target demo--it's all Motown compilations and Chryslers after that.

Walter_Chaw said...

Congrats, Adam - is indeed Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Phil Kaufman version. A film that gets better every year you get older. Amazing stuff and fast becoming one of my all-timers. The shot is Sutherland's health inspector dropping in on unctuous restaraunteur Henri.

"No, no, eees a CAY-peer!"

Love Brooke Adams. Days of Heaven, too, same year as IotBS. New version of Body Snatchers this year, by the way, with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. Anyone familiar with the Abel Ferrara version starring Gabriel Anwar & Forrest Whitaker? Interesting failure. She's married to Tony Shalhoub nowadays.

Dave:
Should've asked why he did name it that - didn't occur to me that there might be an explanation more than "fucked up." Did you like End of Violence?

Adam N said...

Walter,

Happy birthday and sorry to hear about your dog. If anything like that happened to my cats (they live with my parents now, but they're still very much MINE) I would go to pieces, so I'm with you.

Invasion does get better every year you're alive: that's why I watch it exactly once a year. My girlfriend just wrote a paper on it for school, which gave me my annual excuse. My favourite gag is when Sutherland starts telling the long, involved joke about the guys in the desert and then Adams stops him before the punchline cuz she's heard it before. And then Kevin McCarthy smashes into the windshield of the car screaming bloody murder. I've always wondered what the punchline was...
Only slightly off-topic: I loved McCarthy's cameo in Looney Tunes: Back In Action, too. I forget if you ever reviewed that, but it was pretty good. Dante's Masters of Horror ep was justifiably praised, but don't call it a comeback, I say.

Alex Jackson said...

What was Wender's beef with Downfall (as it's known to most of us)? I found this article which states that the first time he wrote a review out of anger was with Hitler: A Career. Guess that this was the second.

Surprisingly topical interview in light of that huge epic battle we had two entries back, in regard to his observation about film criticism being too opinion-oriented.

Man, it is terrible about what happened to The New World. Totally mangled in the advertising. Those dreadful posters came close to pre-emptively ruining the film for me. I still think that it's kind of shockingingly great, but I'm going to need some time to filter that poster art out of my mind to fully appreciate the film.

Only good thing about the New Line distribution is that we have a sporting chance of getting a good special edition of a Malick film.

sabine said...

Alex,

this is basically Wenders' argument on "Downfall":

"But if you want to tell a story it's not enough to know what you're talking about, you also have to take a stand on how and from which perspective you're telling it. Disastrously, those last two questions were not considered when making this film or, even worse, they may have been avoided on purpose." (Die Zeit, 21.10.2004, my translation)

He goes on to ask whose point of view we're given: Traudl Junge's, little Peter's, the guy's who wrote the book the film is based on. Wenders also objects to a strange reverence towards Hitler: while all others are presented fighting, dying, being maimed, etc. Hitler's and Goebbels deaths and dead bodies are not being shown.

He basically accuses the film of revelling in the picturesque details of those last days without taking a clear stance toward the Third Reich and its protagonists.

Walter: some birthdays are better soon forgotten ... best of luck anyway!

Alex Jackson said...

That's a fair enough attack.

I suspect that it might be a great weakness of mine that I respond to slick filmmaking with little regard at all toward moral perspective. I mean I can acknowledge it, it just doesn't make much a difference to me when I watch the film.

I guess that you could argue that the perspective of the film is from a generation of German filmmakers so removed from the realities of Nazism and the post-war period that they can ladle it with some form of romantacized nostalgia. (The film was Paul Thomas Anderson's favorite film of 2005, or at least the last film he mentioned when he was asked if he had any recent favorites).

To me the biggest problem with Downfall is that coda at the end that all but out and says, "The Holocaust was bad, m'kay". Yeah, we know that dude, movie audiences aren't all that unsophisticated.

Jack_Sommersby said...

Ah, Walter, the 'ol Body Snatchers. Knew the screenshot as soon as as I saw it -- though not soon enough, in this case. My friend and I would always get a kick out of that eye shot, but also the next shot, where Matthew's point-of-view shot brings us face-to-face with Henri, where his broad welcoming smile hilariously and slowly turns into quite the frown.

tmhoover said...

Walter:
Belated happy birthday. Sorry about the dog, the loan, the general miasma- speaking as one on the low end of the solvency meter, I can sympathize.

Re Downfall: I still have no idea what I was supposed to get out of that movie. It seemed like nothing so much as a morbid version of Royal watching- there were horrible people doing horrible things, but no useful context (beyond the Germans-can-be-victims-too escape hatch)in which to understand them. If I'm going to watch Joseph Goebbels murder his children, I want some serious payback beyond the usual posh historical rigmarole.

Kirk said...

Sorry about your dog, Happy Birthday!
Glad you liked Slither. Everybody's comparing it to Night of the Creeps (though Gunn claims not to have seen it.) I've actually not seen it either although Ebay's about to fix that problem for me.
Anyhoo--Did you catch the Predator gag in the Sheriff's Dept. right before the Squid Hunt? I was very geeked out about it, not to mention all the storefront/director gags. I thought it was gonna be a lot worse, reference wise. The worst I've seen for that is Steve Norrington's Death Machine, where a roundtable of Execs are named Carpenter, Romero, Raimi, etc. It really sucks when not done right.

ed gonzalez said...

Sorry to hear about the dog, Walter...and happy birthday, old man.

Jefferson said...

Is there a PayPal method by which we can send Walter a birthday present/mortage donation/veterinarian deposit?

I'm not entirely unserious. THAT was a sucky day.

Alex Jackson said...

Night of the Creeps was my favorite film when I was six. Anybody remember Captain USA's Groovy Movies? The USA network used to be so fuckin' cool; now it's nothing but movies, Law and Order, and Monk.

I also really liked Dekker's The Monster Squad and between the two of them, that film actually holds up better. The humor is considerably more subtle. One of the characters is called Scary German Guy and the ending is nothing short of hilarious.

From the sounds of it, I think that Gunn also heavily plagerized the movie Squirm which I still think was one of the better films to be shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

dave said...

Re Downfall: Though Sabine already summarized the basic arguments, those who can read German may read his original review here.

Walter: It's been some years since I saw End of violence and I just remember that I was rather indifferent towards it. I'm afraid I see myself among those critics who say that Wenders is a weak narrative storyteller, at least in his later works. But I must say that I really liked the way he directly acknowledges this criticism in the interview, and End of violence is surely one of his films I will have to see again.

Jack_Sommersby said...

For all that, I was the only Internet critic on a panel that included Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman and the Independent Weekly’s Godfrey Cheshire.

I wondered what had happened to Cheshire after his departure from New York Press after his decimation of The New Yorker's Anthony Lane over his "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" review.

Sorry about your dog and the vet costs. And, hey, I myself am currently living out of my car while awaiting word whether I'm going to qualify for SSI and/or SSDI benefits (I've been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia), so if you want some pointers on living out of a car, I can provide a few. (I'm joking about this being your fate; I'm sure a brainiac like yourself will find a way to keep the homestead.) Happy birthday to ya. 33, huh? Well, don't feel too geriatric -- I'm 35 about to hit 36 in less than 3 months, and I still haven't bagged a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader yet.

Finally, I just got through re-watching Siegel's Body Snatchers, still find it just as unnerving as Kaufman's version (though I prefer Kaufman's -- and loathe Abel Ferrara's failed one), and wish for an anamorphic transfer, though simply having it letterboxed is satisfying enough.

Best of luck and wishes, man.

Mercedes Benz said...

...I think back to the other day at a local mall’s multiplex amongst the abandoned popcorn bags and the stench of old nacho cheese, watching Basic Instinct 2 with my colleagues while overhearing one of them talk about how much he hated Citizen Kane because it was, among other things, “boring.”

Believe me when I say that this guy’s realize you not a rebel: he’s just an ill-considered, low-brow boob that doesn’t have an argument beyond “I just think. . .” Hard to keep it level.



Oh pleeease. Citizen Kane was a borefest and everyone outside a film school glass tower knows it. It's not just the rebel and low brow boob who disagree with your * or ** rating on everything not aiming to be high art either. You obviously have some talent so get over yourself already. Money is not the measure of a man. Turn the classical music off. Take away the fancy mustard. The guests have left. Now you can jerk off to porn not featured in a period piece movie for once. Ew, I can't give it above a ** rating dear. Noone dies and it is clearly not Felliniesque. No catharatic sundry machinations of Freud to ponder. Well, pooh, pooh. The little man poohs back at you. What a pompous ass you are sometimes. The sad artist thing is so lame. God gave you gifts. Stop wallowing. What you need to do is get out in the real world and get your hands dirty. Turn the lights on the movie theater once in awhile, take to the streets and the shelters and listen to the plights of the poor; the real downtrodden. Open up your wallet and your heart instead of turning up
your nose and shifting back your shoulders when you see some poor bum on the streets hobbling, struggling to make it. You'll feel good about yourself for once. You are miserable because you spend too much time trying to impress. I know you will take this the wrong way and skewer me but think about it when you are old and grey and realize you never really lived.

Alex Jackson said...

Looks like someone's off their meds. Good use of italics, but you need to use paragraph breaks.

Maybe it's just a personal preference of mine but paragraph breaks are seem to me to be more important than grammar and spelling.

I probably shouldn't try to engage you but which recent review of Walter's pushed you over the edge? Basic Instinct 2, Eight Below, Nightwatch, Don't Come Knocking, Failure to Launch, The Hills Have Eyes, 16 Blocks, Freedomland, Firewall? I'd be interested to learn if you felt that any of those were better than Kane and why.

Thanks for the laugh though, that image of Walter as a cold-hearted Dickensian villain passing by hobbling beggars asking for spare change while he makes his way to his mansion to enjoy his classical music and fancy mustard had me hitting the fucking floor.

Walter_Chaw said...

No need for a personal donation, but thanks for the thought - just buy the FFC Annual in its 2005 or, upcoming (if all goes well) 2006 form - we could all use the boost.

I love hearing from the insane, sometimes, and yeah, it's usually one review that shoves 'em right on over the edge. "b-b-b-b-b-ut, I luuuuuved Basic Instinct 2 or March of the Penguins, you must hate everything that's not an arthouse flick!" What kills me - not in a laughy sort of way - is that I'm on the record now for something like 2000 films and, man, I think (and maybe I'm wrong) - I think that I champion a lot of really mainstream pictures.

Problem for us - for me, without speaking for everyone here - is that the high-brow hate me (not esoteric enough, liked King Kong) and the low-brow hate me (too esoteric, hated Napoleon Dynamite) and the middle-brow don't like me all that much either (Million Dollar Baby, March of the Penguins, Crash), leaving, what, the iconoclasts?

I like to think of my primary readership - when I do think of my readership - as people who just like good movies. Citizen Kane is maybe the height of art/mainstream, too, which is why the "arthouse/ivory tower" appellation is so weird to me - that's not an elitist film, man, it's not the slightest bit difficult or obscure. Ain't no Fellini, ain't no Bergman, ain't no Lynch - Kane is the story of a little guy who makes it big, falls for the wrong woman, and dies alone: it's the kind of movie that wins Oscars sometimes, even a monkey could understand it.

Pauline Kael even loved it and you know how populist/anti-elite Kael was.

Open my wallet and my heart? Christ, what're you auditioning for? I open my wallet and little moths fly out of it. I do enjoy your image of me, though, wearing a tuxedo and spats, walking a great dane, sneering at the proletariot. I would love to compare calluses with you, my man, summers baling hay, washing dishes, and loading packages into filthy trailers just to fund this writing jones have made mine nice and hard.

Only thing people disdain more nowadays than Arabs and lawyers are film critics. I'm a pretty bright guy - if I was all that interested in praise and approval, I'd find myself a different motherfucking goddamn job, now, wouldn't I? Yeah, let's all think about that for a while - I know I am.

joe f said...

On a different note...

Great review of Slither, Walter - glad to hear its worth the watch as I'm been stupidly excited about seeing it.

However, I'm curous as to why you find the rape scene gratuitous in keeping with the tone of the film, but I don't believe you made the same claim about the rape in Evil Dead which always bothered me as being 'out of place' (in horror film of all things). Whats the, dare I say it...difference between the two?

Of course, I haven't seen Slither yet and I'm sure when I do that question will answer itself.

Chad Evan said...

Mercedes Benz:

Seems like you're the one who's insecure and trying to impress people. So classical music and alleged art-house flicks like Kane are beyond you? Must mean anyone who appreciates them is a pretentious phony, right? 'Cause there ain't no way the problem lies within you, right? Right?

Ian Pugh said...

Mercedes, you wittingly/unwittingly pretty much represent what Walter is talking about in the blog quote that you cite. They're hard to come by, but there have been compelling arguments made against Citizen Kane and its high place in mainstream art -- not the least of which being the cathartic nose-tweaking that Welles himself gave it in his brilliant F for Fake. We point out and mock the arguments that come from the likes of you and the low-brow boob because they say nothing beyond "That fucking shit was awesome" or "That fucking shit blew!" Don't you think that movies, as the most influential art form of the last century or so, socially and artistically, deserve some sort of dissection beyond that? It may surprise you to learn that we love disagreement and general discourse around here, but you'd better be able to back them up with something a little bit more substantial than "you suck." Funny damn thing that this little spat about elitism should nearly coincide with the three-and-a-halfer review for Slither.

Of course, all the best to you on your birthday, Walt. Don't forget about Gerard St. Dubois Wutherton's catillion in North Kensington. We're all anxiously awaiting the hilarious anecdotes you'll share about your chauffeur, your manservants and the lower middle class.

Dave Gibson said...

Not to mention that getting a scolding on elitism, by someone nicknamed "Mercedes Benz" is ripe for satire.

BLH said...

The sad artist thing is so lame. God gave you gifts. Stop wallowing. What you need to do is get out in the real world and get your hands dirty. Turn the lights on the movie theater once in awhile, take to the streets and the shelters and listen to the plights of the poor; the real downtrodden. Open up your wallet and your heart instead of turning up
your nose and shifting back your shoulders when you see some poor bum on the streets hobbling, struggling to make it.


Hmm, shall we call it Chaw's Travels?

Alex Jackson said...

The sad artist thing is so lame. God gave you gifts. Stop wallowing. What you need to do is get out in the real world and get your hands dirty. Turn the lights on the movie theater once in awhile, take to the streets and the shelters and listen to the plights of the poor; the real downtrodden. Open up your wallet and your heart instead of turning up
your nose and shifting back your shoulders when you see some poor bum on the streets hobbling, struggling to make it.


No matter how many times I read that, I still piss myself laughing. Funniest thing I've read since this review of the The O'Reilly Factor for Kids

Alex Jackson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alex Jackson said...

I should add that I hope Mercedes Benz doesn't get scared off, because I'd genuinely like a comparison of Citizen Kane with one of the "entertaining" pictures that Walt panned.

Kind of like that Three Stooges short Hoi Polloi where the professor tries to prove nurture over nature by turning the Three Stooges into gentlemen; I'd like to see if I could prove passion-centrism over knowledge-centrism by locating Mercedes Benz's disgust with Kane and showing it to be a valid and meaningful objection.

Seriously though, Mercedes Benz let it out for us. I'm willing to give you my attention.

James Allen said...

Oh pleeease. Citizen Kane was a borefest and everyone outside a film school glass tower knows it.

Ironic isn't it that Mr. Benz, in denouncing the film buff "glass tower" as he calls it, implicates himself in his own tower of what can best be described as philistinism. You see, it's not enough not to care for Citizen Kane (like Alex, I'd love to read a case against), but it further has to be stated that anyone who likes it is some sort of elite snob (hey Walt, pass me a glass of the Chateau Margaux 1787, will you please?) and the "regular" people (whom he is speaking for) reject it as if it were common sense.

Is this symptomatic of the the general backlash we get when the typical list of films are continually venerated and either people are sick of being told what films are great, or are just disappointed by films that don't live up to lofty expectations?

I must admit, I have succumbed to such feelings on occassion (and this is a big reason why I can't stand the continual lists eminating from AFI, BFI, BMW, AFU, EIEIO or whatnot) and, for a long time resisted Citizen Kane because I was just so damn sick of hearing about it. Only after a few viewings did I finally get over it already and appreciated what was going on.

Anonymous said...

I really think that this guy is just baiting us -- I don't think it's a coincidence that he chooses the post where Chaw writes that the bank might foreclose on his farm to call him a gluttonous aristocrat.

--Kim

James Allen said...

I really think that this guy is just baiting us -- I don't think it's a coincidence that he chooses the post where Chaw writes that the bank might foreclose on his farm to call him a gluttonous aristocrat.

Aristocrat???

"Walter and Bill walk into an Mercedes Benz's office and say, 'We have the greatest act you've ever seen,' and then Mr. Benz says, 'Well, whaddaya do?" And Walt says..."

Walter_Chaw said...

Whats the, dare I say it...difference between the two?

That's an interesting question. Evil Dead's rape sequence is certainly disturbing, but goddamn, it's kind of exhilarating. I remember talking about it in whispers in junior high before even seeing the thing m'self - way back when rape was just a hazy concept to me along with almost everything to do with sex. Seeing it for the first time held an illicit thrill for me like renting porn for the first time.

It's hard for me now to separate the violence of it with the illicitness of it, if you know what I mean. It's Albee's pornographic playing cards, right, does it engender eroticism or does it reflect an innateness about the concept?

As loaded as the image of a root bisecting a girl length-wise is, I do wonder, too, if the appellation of "rape" isn't too strong? Probably, I'm just hedging.

The rape scene in Slither struck me as extremely protracted and cruel - it wasn't "fun" in any way, y'know, not overly gross, not kinetic, just sad. Again, the preferred way to portray rape, I'd offer 9 times out of 10, but out of tune all the same with the rest of the picture. I liked the picture enough, though, to wonder if I'm not missing a valuable read of that scene and the resultant pregnancy.

I'm open to ideas/condemnations.

petalumafilmcenter said...

I don't endorse the mercedes post, but here's my nickel:

Walter says:

I like to think of my primary readership - when I do think of my readership - as people who just like good movies.

Don't agree. The readership - which am I among - is mostly comprised of smart adults who can appreciate Walter's use of the English language: his excellent word choice and perfectly inserted profanity, his dashes, his double parentheses, his overuse of the word tableux. If a movie is worth gutting, this is site you come to see it properly done, with gusto -piss, vinegar and wit. I became a faithful reader after his hilarious pan of "Van Helsing." And he's one guy willing to bury Steve Martin's family goo into the dirt.

But at times his triumphant negativity throws the baby out with the bathwater. Looking back at the reviews, Walter can recommend just 1 of the last 10 Best Picture nominees. I'm not deifying the Academy so much as I'm saying that there are a lot of "good movies" Walter doesn't like that other critics mostly did. Or maybe I should take ** from Walter as a borderline recommend.

Alex Jackson said...

Looking back at the reviews, Walter can recommend just 1 of the last 10 Best Picture nominees.

The Aviator recieved four stars, Ray recieved three. He didn't review Sideways but I think that he liked it. Just said that there isn't much to say about it.

None of the 2005 nominees recieved higher than two and a half stars. In 2003, he gave three and a half to Master and Commander and Lost in Translation.

2002:

The Pianist: ***

2001:

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring: ***1/2
Moulin Rouge: on his top ten for 2001
In the Bedroom: ****

Meh, maybe on average about one and a half of the Best Picture nominees get a solid recommendation.

Rachel said...

Walter!

I was wondering what you'd think of this band Paris Motel. (You can snag the full version "I Lost My Heart / Philippe, Philippe" down the page a bit here, where I found 'em.) I think they're sort of breathtakingly sweet, and constitute the first time "chamber pop", as a term, has made any damn sense to me. Also: happy birthday, man.

Anonymous said...

And three stars for Two Towers.

Bill C said...

Behold: the single-most vacuous conversation that has ever taken place on the IMDb message boards.

Ian Pugh said...

I dunno, Bill, they've had some pretty stupid ones in the past. One horrific example from a few years past (or perhaps sooner after that, I don't frequent the boards): "What I would have done to the baby" at the end of Rosemary's Baby.

As for The Benchwarmers board, what can you say about that? It's another Bad News Bears featuring three of the unfunniest people on this planet; unscreened for the press. With all of those factors, I think a board like this (love the typed-out screams) is just an inevitability.

Now all we have to do is wait for Rob Schneider to start blasting all of the critics for panning it. Ever see that episode of South Park which presents a series of fake Schneider trailers ("Rob Schneider is... A Stapler!" "...A Carrot!") before finally ending with a trailer featuring its narrator announcing a bunch of nonsense words? Even taken on its own, that final joke gets the point of Schneider's movies down perfectly. One imagines that when South Park is criticizing you for stupid humor (I love the show myself, but mind you that this was the season that featured people pooping out of their mouths), you may want to think twice about mouthing off. And, when you think about it, the same essential idea applies to David Spade and his Hollywood Minute-now-Half Hour on Comedy Central, doesn't it?

James Allen said...

David Spade likes to think he's so cutting edge but when you get down to his show, he is incedibly toothless. Yeah, he can make jokes above Kevin Federline (hell, anyone can), but he obviously pulls his punches when it comes to the town that he supposedly mocks but desperately wants to belong to.

Schneider attacking critics is incredibly astounding. You'd think he'd take the tack of his friend, Adam Sandler, who ignores critics while quietly solidifying his fan base and putting money in the bank. Granted, Sandler has been more successful, but Schneider's movies have made a few bucks here and there.

And further, the formula for success of these films (The Benchwarmers, Big Mama's House 2, etc) have critics nowhere in the equation anyway. If you have a reasonably expected audience and good prospects for DVD sales, who needs a screening? Do fans of Larry the Cable guy really give a damn if Roger Ebert likes his stupid film?

cory m said...

Sorry to interrupt, but I just wanted to mention that I finally saw Keane this weekend. Don't think I could call it entertainment, but I'm sure I'll watch it over and over (which, I think, says more about me than I'd like it to). I'm not one to yell at the TV screen, but I was prepared to get on my knees and beg Keane not to do something stupid during the final scene.

Jefferson said...

Then there's this:

http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/entertainment_movies_blog/2006/04/the_movie_sony_.html

Rachel said...

No doubt The Benchwarmers is hideous as a film, but as a string of commercials, it's strangely pleasant. Undoubtedly Jon Heder works best either in 3-second segments or as a frozen moment in time. At least, that's the only way to explan why this pic is actually funny.

My favorite IMDB discussions are probably those about young starlets, centered as they are on whether a particular actress is hot enough to deserve to live. Eva Green's board is pretty funny and more active than usual, what with the Bond announcement and all. Nerds get pretty particular about areola size. Good to know!

Also OT, but this Star Trek: First Contact reenactment (found on the Onion AV blog) is sort of wonderful. There was also that Chris Walken love-scene compilation that was pretty neat, did anyone else catch that?

James Allen said...

Speaking of commercials, I assume most of you have seen the American Express ad with M Night Shyamalan. Well, it's not especially interesting (or particularly funny or even amusing) other than for M Night to get his face out in the open again prior to his new film coming out (I believe Lady in the Water is due in July.) I do give it credit for not being agressively annoying like that fake Sci-Fi Channel doc from a few years back.

Mind you, I have no problem with him doing the commercial in the first place. Better names than him have gone this route already and I'm sure Amex pays well. Also, with the continued blurring of the line between entertainment, promotion, and advertising, the idea of the "celebrity sellout" has a lot less of the stigma it used to.