May 18, 2006

Beatty: Fear Eats the Soul

Lately, I've had an inexplicable craving to watch circus movies. As if catering to the culinary whims of an expectant mother, the DVD gods deposited 1954's Ring of Fear on FFC's doorstep yesterday afternoon. I've long been curious about this film, if only because it's excerpted repeatedly during the lion tamer segments of Errol Morris' Fast, Cheap & Out of Control. One of Paramount's recent Batjac acquisitions, the picture looks and sounds better in its home video debut than those clips led one to expect, although Warnercolor sucks in any medium.

Ring of Fear's narrative is obviously a pretext for shooting the Big Top in Cinemascope (initially, it was going to be in 3-D), which co-scenarists Paul Fix, Philip MacDonald, and James Edward Grant (who also directed) evidently interpreted as permission to experiment. The result is a groundbreakingly post-modern but ultimately ridiculous (and ridiculously insensitive) thriller that de-DeMille-ifies The Greatest Show on Earth. Sean McClory (above left) stars as Dublin O'Malley, a WWII vet who returns to his post as Director of the Clyde Beatty Circus after making a violent escape from the loony bin. Animal trainer Beatty plays himself, as does pulp novelist Mickey Spillane, who's ostensibly there to research a piece on carny life but of course assumes the role of detective once Dublin's homicidal urges start getting the best of him. Taking its quasi-documentary approach into account, Ring of Fear inspires an alarming amount of schadenfreude; Dublin, the most unambiguous psychotic this side of Jason Voorhees (he really might as well be in monster makeup), is pitted against such cowards--who'd rather attribute the recent string of unlikely deaths to a jinx than implicate Dublin--that you finally root for their comeuppance. Oddly, however, the nihilistic treatment of Dublin himself is far more disconcerting: while he's no doubt meant to stand for the natural disaster that always threatens to level the circus in these movies (his victims, the standard collateral damage), Dublin is, unfortunately, given so much backstory that Ring of Fear just fosters unnecessary paranoia towards veterans and the mentally ill. Then there's Gonzalez-Gonzales, the Latino Mantan Moreland, who unlike Spillane isn't allowed a scrap of dignity in caricaturing himself. (This Pedro Gonzales has no concept of time--"...Every day, I give you $1, and in one million days I will have $1 million!"--and gets his ass kicked by a kangaroo in boxing gloves.) The fact that he emerges from Dublin's reign of terror unscathed seems only to say that ignorance is bliss.

What are your favourite entries in the genre?

Update (05/20)
Potsie tries to stop Richie from finding out a secret about Fonzie that could spell the end of Arnold's on tonight's episode of The Da Vinci Code.

Update (05/24)
Un Film de Brett Ratner: X-Men: The Last Stand.

90 comments:

tmhoover said...

Bit of a stretch, I admit, but Nightmare Alley is the one that leaps instantly to mind. Maybe carny and circus aren't the same thing, but if your tastes run to the dark and the tawdry you can't go wrong.

And hey- how about those last scenes of Octopussy? Not.

Anonymous said...

The correct answer, obviously, is Killer Clowns from Outer Space.

What circus movies are there? Octopussy (blech), parts of Big Fish (yay!), Freaks, Big Top Pee-Wee, The Greatest Show on Earth... that's all that come to mind.

--Kim

Dave Gibson said...

Ah—my favourite sub-sub genre---

Put me down for “Freaks”, “Carny”, “La Strada”, “Santa Sangre” and “Circus of Fear”

Chris said...

Batman Forever.

Petra B said...

Last year I had the fortunate opportunity to see a restored print of Chaplin's "The Circus" (1928) at the Seattle International Film Festival. It is my favorite of this genre, but then again it isn't really playing fair to pick a Chaplin movie.

Walter_Chaw said...

I second Santa Sangre.

Walter_Chaw said...

anyone see Night Tide, the Dennis Hopper flick from 1961? That's more a carnival, I guess. Wings of Desire? Not one of my faves, but there you have it. Or was that a carnival, too? Something Wicked This Way Comes?

Frack, need to rethink the question, I think.

Am I the only one, by the way, that doesn't get the appeal of Carnival of Souls?

Seattle Jeff said...

I've alwaysbeen fond of Bronco Billy, but that might be more of a stunt show than a circus/carnival movie.

Ian Pugh said...

I like Roger Moore's Bond, but dressing him as a clown to escape the Keystone Kops and defuse a bomb? Blech, indeed.

Come to think of it, don't most Tim Burton movies deal with circuses and carnivals in some respect? Big Fish, obviously, but then you've got the twisted darkness of Batman Returns, which really captures the disturbing elements of circuses and clowns by draining their color. It works to a less specific but frankly creepier degree than his original Batman. Feasibly, you could consider Beetlejuice and Willy Wonka as barkers for their respective circuses of shenanigans. And, although not a Burton film, you could say that Big Top Pee-Wee was a natural progression from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.

Alex Jackson said...

I third Santa Sangre.

Bill C said...

I tend to think of the carnival and circus "sub-sub-genre"s as relatively interchangeable. Ashamed to admit I still haven't seen Santa Sangre (always need a good month to psych myself up for a Jodorowsky movie), but I would certainly second Freaks, Chaplin's The Circus, Nightmare Alley, and a few others mentioned already. I pretty much hate The Greatest Show on Earth and found Ring of Fear to be a fascinating antidote to it.

I quite enjoyed Carnival of Souls the first time I saw it, but man does it disintegrate on repeat viewings. On Saturday I watched Roustabout, which turned out to be pretty rudderless even for an Elvis vehicle.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't Beetlejuice actually morph into a big-top tent/carousel at one point?

--Kim

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

No point flogging a dead pony but here's an excrept from Ebert's "DaVinci Code" review:

"Yes, the plot is absurd, but then most movie plots are absurd. That's what we pay to see. "

Bill C said...

I've never really understood why Ebert will move heaven and earth to defend Ron Howard. Taken literally, the quote above is just rubbish; who here has ever walked out of a movie saying, "Wow, that plot was absurd. I sure did get my money's worth!"

Jefferson said...

Wings of Desire and Mirrormask -- two recently-viewed circus movies that come to mind.

Jack_Sommersby said...

Under this sub-genre, I think Eastwood's Bronco Billy counts.

Dave Gibson said...

Carnival of Souls grew on me after a few viewings. Initially, I was nonplussed by the overdone conceit which drives the “trick” ending (a cliché even when it was originally released) and the inconsistent performances, but now I’d have to agree with the Criterion ad-copy that it’s like a “horror film by Cocteau”. The moody black and white photography and creepy organ score reminds of early Lynch, and the aural landscape of the film is just stunning (especially the “chirping birds” motif which hints at the heroine’s otherworldliness throughout the film) Hilgoss is a wonderfully unsympathetic protagonist and, the sinister interplay between her and the creepy “gentleman caller” living in the boarding house is chilling. I’m a sucker for B&W images of old, abandoned buildings too.

Speaking of Lynch, what do y’all make of the alleged “clip” from INLAND EMPIRE making the rounds? Apparently, it’s actually a “test film” made for the trade—and not actually “from” the film—but, it’s damn creepy.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

One of my favorite Altman lies in the genre:

Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson

Highly under-rated. Demythifies cowboy-injun' relationship.

Jack_Sommersby said...

Dave,

Hilgoss is a wonderfully unsympathetic protagonist

Agree with everything except the "wonderfully" part. Her performance here is one of the worst I've ever seen, almost displacing Demented's Salle Elyse as the all-time worst. She can't even say the line, "Fill 'er up." without elicting tons of laughter.

and, the sinister interplay between her and the creepy “gentleman caller” living in the boarding house is chilling.

What, that chimpmunk-looking guy? More unintentionally-hilarious than chilling.

I’m a sucker for B&W images of old, abandoned buildings too.

Me, too. Wonderful imagery in the film, which is something you don't expect from someone making their directorial debut after years of earning his living making industrial-training films.

I know "Carnival of Souls" has a cult following, and while the remake was 100% dogshit the original, well, has never quite done it for me. A fellow film-loving friend went agog over it, especially when the heroine gets on that bus that's chock-full of zombies; my favorite scene is where she's running away from the amusement park and all of the zombies are running after her. But I can't really recommend the film, even though there are parts of it worth watching, no doubt.

Bill C said...

I just had a head-slapping moment where I realized I forgot to cite Dumbo, although I don't think it's Disney's best movie by a longshot.

Tempted to add Carny with Jodie Foster, but I haven't seen it in a thousand years. Her little Mae West outfits in that drove me pretty crazy as a kid, though.

Also tempted to pull out Carnival of Souls, just to have a more current, definitive take on it. That scene with the organ-playing is what sticks in my mind, all those Caligari angles.

Jack_Sommersby said...

Hey, what about The Jerk? ("Step right up and win some crap!")

Or that film, Touched with Airplane's Robert Hays where he plays that dunking-booth guy?

I, too, thought of Carny, but, like you Bill, I haven't seen it in 25 years since it played on cable TV. Wanted to re-visit it a couple of years ago after Robbie Robertson won me over so much in Scorsese's second-best film, The Last Waltz. (The best being Last Temptation of Christ for those interested.)

Bill C said...

Re Touched: just looked it up on the IMDb; you've got to love any movie with the credit "John Hagy [as] Third Retard from the left."

Jack_Sommersby said...

Ha! Reminds me of one of the chaper-stop titles for 1986's Raw Deal that Anchor Bay put out: "The Fag Bar". I involuntarily blinked in total disbelief of what I'd read. Whew!

Anonymous said...

O/T, Anyone feel like weighing in on why The Proposition is getting such good reviews from the crits? Alex was right on the money, it's damned awful and most of the positive reviews lack any real argument for it.

Alex Jackson said...

O/T, Anyone feel like weighing in on why The Proposition is getting such good reviews from the crits? Alex was right on the money, it's damned awful and most of the positive reviews lack any real argument for it.

Thank you thank you thank you. I was actually doubting myself for a minute there.

I think they are giving it good reviews just because it knows the words.

aron said...

Re: da Vinci Code. Walter, are you right. I never really got how a book that supposedly celebrates some quasi-pagan cult of the feminine can be so abstract and completely unsensual. Not to mention the young (French!) heroine who becomes estranged from her grandfather because she accidentally sees him having ritual sex with a woman. At the end she can forgive him because it is revealed that woman was her own grandmother - what prudish bullshit. And yes, the discerning reader has become a rare phenomenon indeed. Sad.

Alex Jackson said...

Watching the first ten minutes I began wishing that Walter would record an audio commentary for the DVD.

I can't begin to justify why I hate it. It's the sort of thing that needs to be torn apart scene by miserable scene.

Bill C said...

If only Opie had enough humility. That's one thing I gotta hand to the makers of Date Movie: the DVD features "anti-commentary" from LA Weekly's Scott Foundas, who rips the movie a new asshole.

dave said...

OK, I have a new rule: never read Walter's zero star reviews while drinking hot tea. That "talk-about-it-ology" was really painful. Brilliant.

Jack_Sommersby said...

Sheesh, Code has an 18% on the Tomatometer, while his Grinch has 50%. This might be Howard's worst-reviewed film.

Walter, disagree with you, though, that Howard has never directed a graceful scene. Night Shift, Splash, and parts of Gung Ho, all have wonderful moments I'd be more than happy to take credit for.

Alex Jackson said...

I personally really liked Apollo 13 and Parenthood.

But that was a long time ago.

James Allen said...

Re: Ron Howard

Jack, that you have to go back 20 years (or more) to cite positive examples of Ron Howard's directing is quite telling, and for the most part illustrates what Walt was driving at (despite not illustrating it literally). Before he became an A-list prestige director (with, I would think, Willow) he had his moments where his directing didn't seemed burdened by what seemed to be a ten ton weight of lumbering pretention. Heck, I'd take the throwaway car chase quickie Grand Theft Auto over his current work any day. I would agree with Walt in one sense, even when he was "good" (more Night Shift than Gung Ho) I never thought he was anything special. That he's turned into the go to guy for the overstuffed, middlebrow Hollywood prestige film hardly surprises me.

About the reviews of Da Vinci Code, I'm quite stunned by the level of pummelling the film is taking. Not that it doesn't deserve it or anything, but Hanks and Howard always seemed to have more faithful defenders than they appear to have this time around.

Jack_Sommersby said...

Since I haven't seen Code, my least-favorite Howard film remains the atrocious Backdraft. I'd rather watch Bio-Dome again over that million-dollar-fx/five-cent-screenplay cinematic catastrophe.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

"The Paper" is my favorite 2'o clock at night film. It is so well-paced, you never fall asleep. Marisa Tomei is the bomb even when she is pregnant. Ron Howard is good when he is funny, his train went off the rail when he adopted this new avtar.

Jack_Sommersby said...

Anyone remember what Pauline Kael wrote concerning Howard? In her review of Walter Hill's Crossroads, she wrote that she was asked by a Hollywood director which was more depressing: Ron Howard or John Hughes. Kael felt that both directors showed snap in their early pictures yet after they had hits they went flabby practically overnight. This was in '86, and Howard's last film was Cocoon, so this is the picture Kael thought started his downfall. And Howard responded in kind by naming the main villain in Willow General Kael.

raphael said...

About Howard...it takes one huge ego to wanna remake east of eden...

Bill C said...

Dunno about its "gracefulness," but I will defend Splash 'til the end of my days. I love Hanks' anger and Hannah's vulnerability in the ice-skating scene, and the whole thing is really just funny and sad and sweet. It's also the only decent moonlighting gig John Candy and Eugene Levy ever had together.

I had a friend who loved Backdraft, operative word being "had." How do you fuck up a movie with Kurt Russell, Robert De Niro, Donald Sutherland, Scott Glenn, and Jennifer Jason Leigh? He's just a sandbox director now, trapping the pick of the litter in these action-figure daydreams. He'll never be a great director, but once upon a time he knew that and I enjoyed watching him prove himself in those first few films.

Jack_Sommersby said...

Nothing wrong with a director with a huge ego -- well, Michael Cimino and Heaven's Gate is certainly an exception. Usually what happens with a director who's truly egocentric is a film that even if it's a botch is an interesting botch (Cimino's nonsensical but mammothly entertaining Year of the Dragon -- which has been given a stellar transfer on DVD, by the way -- is a classic example). The thing with Howard, though, is that he just doesn't seem the least bit interested in going for broke. Showing a breast or two people humping, you feel, is the most he'd be willing to put before an audience. In White Hunter, Black Heart, Eastwood's John Wilson character tells his screenwriter that to make a good film you need to forget that anyone's ever going to see it. Now, can anyone even remotely imagine Howard doing such a thing? I sure as hell can't -- not by a longshot. So what Howard might categorize as being "risky" is what go-for-broke directors would categorize as "mild". The degree of critical drubbing he's taking for Code reminds me of the drubbing the usually-non-risk-taker Barry Levinson took for Toys, only Levinson's film at least was a valid artistic failure that wasn't short of imagination. I detest the hell out of Toys (it's borderline unwatchable), but I at least respect Levinson for taking chances in seeing his dream project through.

Seattle Jeff said...

raphael said...
About Howard...it takes one huge ego to wanna remake east of eden...


AS Darth Vader once said...."NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!"

At least it isn't The Grapes of Wrath

Alex Jackson said...

HA!

Bill C said...

Just so's you know (or know that we know), FFC's server is temporarily down. We're working on it, but FYI, this effects our e-mail addresses as well.

James Allen said...

Re: Toys

Jack made a point about Levinson's Toys, and it jibes with the attitude I've had towards that film since I first saw it: it is an utter failure, but I'd be damned if it wasn't one of the most interesting failures I've ever seen.

Heaven's Gate (also mentioned) seems to fall into this category for some people. Any others?

Raphael said...

Alien ressurection comes to mind.

James Allen said...

Since the FFC server is down I've been scanning some of the pull-quotes from Rotten Tomatoes, and I came across this nugget that I hadn't read before and it had me rolling:

There is no audience for this film, because retarded monkeys don't have money.

-Walt on Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd

Don't ever change, Walt, I beg of you.

Alex Jackson said...

I liked Toys. Or maybe, I can't quite seem to reject it.

The jokes aren't funny, for whatever that's worth.

Rich said...

Interesting failure: Van Sant's remake of Psycho. Despite going shot-for-shot with the same screenplay (more or less) and score, somehow it fails to approach the greatness of the original. Still, I admire Van Sant's audacity in taking up such a cool experiment.

James Allen said...

Alex wrote:
I liked Toys. Or maybe, I can't quite seem to reject it.

The jokes aren't funny, for whatever that's worth.


Hard to evaluate, isn't it? Levinson goes through so much effrort to establish a look, but the film is amazingly inert. There's some satire in there about the military industrial complex, but it doesn't cut all that deep. Robin Williams appears to be acting crazy, but he also seems fairly restrained. And the typically fine Joan Cusack logs in a performance that- words fail me- I have no idea what the hell she was going for. I get confused just thinking about this film.

raphael said...

Last year's White noise was a weird experience.There were moments i was bored out of my mind and groaning at the screen due to the absurdity of the plot and then there were others wich intrigued me.When Keaton´s character spends days glued to white noise screens,surrounded by machines and tapes,longing for some kind of message from his dead wife while neglecting his kid wich sits and plays alone in the same house,there´s genuine sadness and grief in there.
The film seems to use evp as a metaphor for unresolved grief,something wich can be as emotionally damning as the loss of a loved one .In this reading,the final scene is bittersweet,as much a proof of undying love(pardon the pun) as a curse passed unto one more generation:sins of father being carried on by the sons...

Alex Jackson said...

Speaking of interesting failures, have you guys been keeping up on the press for Richard Kelly's latest?

Sheila Lynne said...

Walter, thank you for your photo comment on your review of Da Vinci Code, I have not laughed this much in a long time. Absolutely hysterical. Really. Most of them are, actually, but, this one was tops!

Jack_Sommersby said...

James, I think Heaven's Gate is the worst film ever made...

http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1228&reviewer=327

...yet I owned the $50 LaserDisc and will own the DVD whenever an anamorphic transfer comes about. Fascinating film to watch in that it possesses not a single good scene to its credit, which is saying quite a bit when it's almost 4 hours long and was helmed by an Oscar-winning director. If anything, it makes for a great teaching tool in how not to make a film.

Oh, and Walter, I'm listening to the audio commentary to Warning Sign as I'm writing this. Pretty interesting, my man. And the transfer is absolutely gorgeous, giving Cundey's lighting and Safan's score their proper due.

Tim Norberg said...

my personal favorite flop is "One From The Heart". Coppola put his heart into it, and you can really tell. It's extremely innovative, and gorgeous to look it, but lacks emotional resonance. Still, it has some amazing sets, and I wish more movies would try to be as daring as it was with the usage of lighting in order to edit within a scene.

I watched "Toys" recently as well, and did love some of the more surreal scenes, such as the magritte-influenced music video and the shrinking room, but overall found it to be clumsily directed and without a real purpose. The dvd has several trailers on it for the film, and it's interesting in that you could tell nobody really knew quite how to market it. Even Robin Williams appears baffled by what the film is actually about.

Bill C said...

Walter, thank you for your photo comment on your review of Da Vinci Code, I have not laughed this much in a long time. Absolutely hysterical. Really. Most of them are, actually, but, this one was tops.

Poor Caption Boy: always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

The mother site's back up, as you probably know by now. If you sent us any e-mail between Sunday and this morning please re-send it; other than that, the kinks should be ironed out, though we won't be updating the site with new material until later this evening.

Needless to say, I'm pretty pissed about the whole thing, which revolved around unpaid dues for which we were allegedly invoiced at the beginning of the month. Oh well, more fodder for the memoirs.

Chad Evan said...

Interesting failures:
I'll second One From the Heart and raise you Rumble Fish and several other post-seventies Coppolas (hell, I even think Jack has moments, although it is admittedly terrible.)

Spike Lee's Bamboozled was unwatchable, but damn if it wasn't bursting with ideas.

I don't want to get into another argument about it, but I think Fight Club is formally riveting and thematically fascinating before it trips over its own untied shoelaces in the last act.

Jack_Sommersby said...

Something Pauline Kael wrote about the art-house calamity Moon in the Gutter: it's "the kind of film only a talented director can make -- hacks don't leave this much common sense behind". And I remember Rex Reed writing in his damnation of Rumble Fish: that someone during the screening yelled, "Bring back Moon in the Gutter!"

The Captain said...

Offtopic, anyone want to throw in a word about the Season Finale of 24?

SPOILERIFFIC!! I loved it, as always, all except for the final 10 minutes, in which Errand Boy Jack is carted off to the Chinese as revenge for supposedly killing their consulate last year. Even discounting the fact that its horrible to see our avatar in such pains (especially after the day(s) he's had now) and ignoring the complete ridiculousness in transporting Jack from a warehouse in the middle of LA to a freaking ship in the middle of the ocean in 8 minutes (they may as well have just revealed him to be in China already), the scarily racist blanket enemy of "The Chinese" is pretty worrying for any show, particularly one that tries, for the most, to balance its depictions and stereotypes.

Alex Jackson said...

Spike Lee's Bamboozled was unwatchable, but damn if it wasn't bursting with ideas.

I totally forgot Bamboozled, that would definitely fit. I really liked that movie, but I'm not sure it "worked". I didn't find it unwatchable at all, there were individual sequences that I found myself compulsively rewatching. Really the kind of mess that only a talented filmmaker could make.

For whatever it's worth you'll actually learn more about blackface if you actually watch a film featuring blackface without the satirical backing.

Bill C said...

Speaking of interesting failures, recently saw the Director's Cut of Kingdom of Heaven. It's a lot longer and opens with an old-fashioned overture and there's even intermission and entr'acte music.

Anyway, while it's vastly superior to the theatrical version, I'm starting to think Ridley Scott vandalizes his movies simply so they can enjoy a triumphant resurrection. The DC of Legend is not a masterpiece in and of itself, only in comparison to the US release version; ditto Kingdom of Heaven. I mean, he had final cut on both pictures--seems like Blade Runner gave him a taste for martyrdom.

James Allen said...

Re: Caption Boy

If you thought the one for The Da Vinci Code was funny, the one for Over the Hedge is even better. It didn't really hit me until I realized the actress in question doesn't do a voice in the film at all. Zing!

Sheila Lynne said...

I stand corrected. Thank YOU for the comment, poor caption boy...heee.

James, what is even funnier for the Over the Hedge comment is the fact that the same photo commment was said for The Chronicles of Narnia, of which, of course, Penelope Cruz was also NOT in...

James Allen said...

Re: Penelope Cruz

Good catch, Sheila. It seems like Ms. Cruz is a bit of a running gag 'round these parts. See also the captions from The Dark Crystal DVD and Masked and Anonymous reviews.

Also she's often invoked in the reviews themselves:

From Walt's review of Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit:

After clearing the sprawling estate of hideously ugly aristocrat Lady Campanula Tottington (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter and not played, surprisingly, by Penelope Cruz)...

And from Walt's review of Jump Tomorrow:

...vivacious Alicia (Natalia Verbeke, a ringer for Pénélope Cruz, except she's beautiful and can act)

Ouch.

I'm don't exactly know where (or why) all this started, but I'm sure it's all Bill's fault.

tmhoover said...

I believe "Caption Boy" and I had an e-mail exchange once where I opined that Penelope Cruz was not only attractive, but more so than Cameron Diaz. He replied: "How do you type while wearing a straitjacket?"

Anonymous said...

You're a weird, weird man, Travis.

Anonymous said...

Even though Cameron Diaz looks like a Killer Klown (how's that for staying on topic?) I have to agree with Caption Boy about that..

rachel said...

Cruz would be less annoying if Salma Hayek were ever allowed to present an award by herself anymore.

Interesting failures:

The movie I always bite my tongue when recommending is Time after Time. In many ways, it's my dream popcorn movie. But man, does Mary Steenburgen act lobotomized. The ending is just lousy and false, the only point worse is the scene of her taking sedatives the day she's marked to be killed. Convoluted, awful.

Another film I just saw, on the same boat, was Brain Dead. It was weird and morbid and featured Bill Pullman as another nerd, Bud Cort as a nutter and Bill Paxton as a lump of grease. I was fully prepared to love it until Pullman woke up halfway through his conspiracy-untangling. Why must a movie pretend it's interested in its mystery to just throw it out? Still, the flick had such strange, beautiful moments (Pullman walking around with his pet brain in a jar, his head popped open during surgery to reveal worms and butterflies). I still enjoyed it, and certainly can't dismiss it.

Alex Jackson said...

Bad news. Marie-Antoinette was booed at the press screening at Cannes.

First DaVinci Code, then the Kelly film, now this. Must be an awesomely bad year at Cannes.

Justin said...

And yet Cannes' gone crazy for the Korean monster film:

http://www.kaijushakedown.com/2006/05/first_host_revi.html

Joan said...

I had low expectations for X3, and I see unfortunately that they have been met. Bummer.

Is it wrong that I'm still holding out hope for the new Superman flick? Please can't I have one decent comic book movie this year?

Bill C said...

Is it wrong to feel a bit of schadenfreude towards Southland Tales' Cannes reception? I still like Donnie Darko, but for some reason I find Richard Kelly's hubris really unbecoming, and Southland Tales seems more like a prefabricated cult movie than like an honest, organic one. I prefer the naive, from-the-heart type to the kitchen-sink attention-getters: gimme, say, Eraserhead over Buckaroo Banzai any day.

Joan: I'm still holding out hope for Superman as well. Singer's got the goods, I think it's just gonna come down to alchemy.

Walter_Chaw said...

Cruz would be less annoying if Salma Hayek were ever allowed to present an award by herself anymore

Oh my fucking god. Thank you for the most brilliant thing that I've read in a week.

Sorry for the absent Trench this week, folks, between the site failure and my own spasms of neurotic dysfunction, it was only a matter of time before I dropped the ball.

Will be back, barrels blazing, this weekend.

tmhoover said...

Don't count Richard Kelly out yet. J. Hoberman gave Southland Tales a rave- and rigid as he can sometimes be, I'll take his word over a snarky Cannes press conference any day. Remember, Trouble Every Day was reviled at Cannes, and we all know how wrong that judgment turned out to be. As well as a few others.

Alex Jackson said...

Andrew O'Hehir's summary of the film made it sound pretty unappetizing.

Still looking forward to Marie Antoinette though.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe this.

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060524/REVIEWS/60509005

The last three paragraphs are the only ones that actually critique the movie, and they seem pretty negative at first glance. Then there's the last paragraph:

All the same, I enjoyed "X-Men: The Last Stand." I liked the action, I liked the absurdity, I liked the incongruous use and misuse of mutant powers, and I especially liked the way it introduces all of those political issues and lets them fight it out with the special effects.

So Ebert gives the movie three stars because he likes the mostly mediocre elements. Give this jolly man another shot of laughing gas.

- David H.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

As much as I love Lost in Translation I would have never seen Marie-Antoinette because Kirsten Dunst in a film is analogous to shit in a bowl of cereal. You can have as many Cheerios as you want in there, there will always be a scoop of brown stuff on your spoon.

p.s Roger Ebert's digestion system works the other way.

Matt Barron said...

God, but Ebert's gotten useless. The way he fawns over blatantly obvious themes as though they were cunning subtext, his penchant for rambling and pissing all over a movie then pulling a recommendation out of his ass in the last paragraph... When did the cheese slide off his cracker?

Shame about X3, shame about Cars (though I saw that one coming), shame about the squandered potential for insight in Over the Hedge. What's a guy craving summer movie entertainment to do?

Joan said...

I had a bad feeling about Cars from the very first time I saw the trailer. I haven't read any actual reviews yet, so I haven't decided whether or not to take the kidlets. We did take them to see Over the Hedge and had a modestly good time, and all especially enjoyed Steve Carrell's manic squirrel Hammy. Yes, the film was derivative and obvious, but it wasn't nearly as wince-inducing as many other "children's" offerings have been.

Supe is my last real hope, but the number of movies I see this summer will most likely depend on how many rainy days there are!

As for Ebert: I read his reviews knowing that his view of the world is skewed pretty much 180 degrees from mine, and that he is fairly consistent (if insane). I'm no longer surprised when he spends an entire review trashing a film and sums it all up with a 3-star rating nevertheless.

rachel said...

But the magic, h-man, is that the film should appeal to Kirsten's fans as well as those who just want to see her beheaded. It's her House of Wax, in other words.

I've always liked Dr. Sunkentits. I still have fond memories of Bring it On. I like that she doesn't do tons of work so that I feel bullied. Actually, I think of her as a character actor, a lot like Jude Law: both honey-voiced, slippery/slick. Essentially pampered, needy. A bit rotten.

Of course, it's also nice that she looks like a human being, no crazy horse teeth or glass-doll eyes crushed into her skull.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Just saw Passion of Joan of Arc for the first time. One of the best films I have ever seen.

Alex Jackson said...

But the magic, h-man, is that the film should appeal to Kirsten's fans as well as those who just want to see her beheaded.

Actually I think that the French press booed because she wasn't beheaded.

Just saw Passion of Joan of Arc for the first time. One of the best films I have ever seen.

Fuckin' A. That and Vampyr are the only Carl Dreyer's I've seen though. Would you believe that Netflix doesn't carry Ordet, Day of Wrath, or Gertrude? I ended up putting three of his minor works on my queue instead.

jer fairall said...

Yes! Toys is a prime example of an interesting failure. It's heavy handed anti-war message doens't work, and Robin Williams grates even more than usual, but damned if I wouldn't watch it right now if I could.

Miles better than the painfully uninteresting failure of The Da Vinci Code. I was a fan of Splash, Parenthood and The Paper at younger points in my life, but I don't think I'll ever be seeing a new Howard film after this.

Bill C said...

Dr. Sunkentits... Gotta love the anagram generator.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Ordet is wicked.

Seattle Jeff said...

I don't think I'll ever be seeing a new Howard film after this.

That was my pledge after the hideous Grinch debacle. And I've held to it.

A Beautiful Mind? Not seen it.

Cinderella Man? Nope.

And I won't see him blandify "East of Eden" either.

rachel said...

Actually I think that the French press booed because she wasn't beheaded.

Ah. I wasn't sure. However, I was thinking of its appeal in terms of box office, for which I'm thinking only the expectation is necessary.

Bill, I'm sorry you deleted your bit about Dunst-- you're absolutely right about her growing more self-conscious. Of course I'm more forgiving not having seen Elizabethtown. I just feel she's misused. There's no reason for her to keep playing cherubs (the straw-villain in Mona Lisa Smile not counting). Like, I thought she was pretty fab in Eternal Sunshine, that the film really took advantage of her clumsy machinations and pretension.

Ordet is wicked.

This is probably classless, but my friend and I caught it at a screening last year. We both found the opening line hilarious in its portent ("Johannes is on the dunes again!"), and have been using it as our default punchline ever since.

Bill C said...

Sorry Rachel, had a kneejerk fit of self-consciousness. I certainly wouldn't recommend catching up with the abhorrent Elizabethtown, but it's really where Dr. Sunkentits (I can't stop saying it) definitively jumps the shark.

Chad Evan said...

Saw X-Men III last night.

SPOILERS


I enjoyed it enough on a purely nostalgis level--any competently made X-Men flick is going to be fine by me (and I know what people are thinking--If I really loved X-Men, I would strongly protest an asshole like Ratner ruining it--and alas, you are right: I don't really love X-Men; it is nothing more to me than a fond memory from middle school.)
However, I do have some issues with Ratner, and not just the leering misogyny (encapsulated in the two times female characters, including a girl who appears to be thirteen years old, are called bitches for the audiences titilation.) I think the screenplay here, despite all the lame one-liners (which are really no more cheesy than the ones found in the typical X-Men comic, or at least the ones I'm familiar with,) has real potential that Ratner ruins with his inablility to locate poetry or pathos in scenes that are ready made for them. I mean, the scene near the beginning in which Logan goes to the lake to find Pheonix and rocks and Cyclops' visore are floating around in the fog--it so obviously strives for the lyrical, and fails so clumsily.
All that said, I did get all a-tingle a couple of times, but they were all moments taken directly from the comics: Wolverine ordering up a fastball special from Colossus, Pheonix in an early scene begging Wolverine to kill her before she kills again (as opposed to the echo scene at the climax, where Ratner predictably botches it.)And I must confess that I found Magneto's defeat to be brave and kind of touching--I actually felt sorry for the old bastard, going from a god capable of rearranging the Golden Gate Bridge to his liking to a pitiful old man in one quick, clean stroke.
I guess what I'm saying, in so many words, is that Ratner sucks, but he had a pretty good screenplay.

Anonymous said...

"any competently made X-Men flick is going to be fine by me"

I'm sorry, I had to go vomit..

Anonymous said...

I thought he fired Spinotti. Or was that someone else? What's the story on that?

- David H.

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

Oh, no -- it's Entrapment 2!

Well, as long as it ain't Avengers 2, Jack.

Although, according to the imdb notes, Connery is no longer with the project. Is Connery unofficially retired now, or have I heard things wrong? He will be 76 in a few months, not that has stopped people before (nor should it), but the time for him as an action hero quietly passed years ago. Still, his mere presence gives weight to a role, so I hope he keeps working here and there.