December 20, 2006

Hoho

If you ask me, Christmas has come early at FFC, as this past week has truly been one of our finest in recent memory. In case you missed any of these, allow me to draw your attention to Travis' Revolutionary twofer comparing La Commune and 1900 as well as the final instalment in his series of Gary Cooper reviews, Sergeant York. Meanwhile, Walter says Dreamgirls is something of a nightmare and newcomer Ian gives the old Yuletide smackdown to Ron Underwood's live-action version of The Year Without a Santa Claus.

This Friday may be light on theatrical reviews as Walter recuperates from a minor but no less incapacitating injury.

33 comments:

Jefferson said...

Thanks for your work, guys. Good luck to Walter in his recovery.

Will FFC be hauling out a year-end best/worst, or is that something that's exclusive to the Annual? My own filmgoing has been pretty subpar this year, so I've nothing to contribute, but I'm always interested in others' lists.

Music, now ... since that's something I can do on my ass at home these days, let me recommend Ghostface Killah's Fishscale, Yo La Tengo's I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (also the best album title of the year), Tom Waits' Orphans collection, Spank Rock's YoYoYoYo (albeit filthy), Josh Ritter's Animal Years and Joanna Newsom's Ys (weird, but growing on me rapidly).

If that sounds like an indie blog roundup, well, where do you think I steal all my music?

Bill C said...

We'll definitely be publishing a Top 10/Bottom 10 at the beginning of January. I just started my annual two-week all-nighter (otherwise known as a sanctioned bender) where I try to squeeze in as many best-list potentials per day as I can.

The Captain said...

Whoa, what happened to Walter? Heal up, dude, you're still the greatest film critic ever to have lived. No one here can deny it.

Rick said...

Agreed. All of filmfreak's critics are very, very good but I think Walter may be one of the greatest and most passionate critics of all time.

And I love Yo La Tengo's new album. "I Should Have Known Better" and "Beanbag Chair" are my two favorites.

Has anyone seen Idiocracy yet?

Alex Jackson said...

Has anyone seen Idiocracy yet?

I read the screenplay. It's really very funny. The general word of mouth though is that Judge kind of fucked it up through the execution. I'm still dying to see it though.

Some critics have expressed disdain for the intro which harkens back to 19th century eugenics arguments.

Eugenics is just plain hilarious to me. I know that it justified slavery and the natural outcome of the idea was the Holocaust, and slavery and the Holocaust are quite not funny, but there is something deeply amusing to me about the misapplication of pure reason to social ethics. I mean it sounds like a sound argument, if certain health or social problems are passed down genetically then it does make sense to eliminate the problem by sterilizing all carriers. I mean you would do the same with cattle wouldn't you? Maybe not sterilize them, but you wouldn't breed them.

But Idiocracy actually turns out to be an anti-capitalist creed, the anti-thesis to pure reason actually, arguing that capitalism, in it's purest form, eats away and destroys culture. It bugs the shit out of me that I can't quite justify why libraries should have books other than porn, why movie theaters should show films other than ones of a giant ass farting, or why water fountains should have water instead of Gatorade. Clearly that's what the vast majority of Americans want (or it wouldn't have ended up that way), deny them that and you deny the vast majority of Americans their wants.

Walter has an axiom I tend to think of from time to time. It's something like "Taco Bell is the most popular restaurant in the United States. Does that mean that it's the best?" Well, if it is the most popular doesn't that mean that it serves its function better than any restaurant in the country? If we were to define the primary function of a restaurant as being visited, but try and identify a function more primary than that and it gets sticky.

That's the dilemna. Everybody understands what a dollar is-- it's food, shelter, freedom, and pleasure. It's resources and everybody is able to grasp the idea. But whenever we try and develop values beyond that of the dollar, I think we tend to go into the realms of subjectivity.

Anyway, as you can probably tell, it's a film that seems tailor made for critics.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Alex:

I think you'll have to take your diss on Travis back, albiet the throw-away blasphemy against Apocalypse Now, since he's finally given a film four stars. Solid work, Travis, getting better with each review.

Chaw is definetly up there, the entire staff is, although one thing that has been biting my ass about him is his dismissal of perfectly fine films for the lack of "tension". Jeez, attach yourself to a slinky and then maybe you'll stop slapping little bunnies for being cute and cuddly. Just a tad too cynical at times. Get better soon though, I almost stabbed myself in my modula oblangata after watching Roeper on the tonight show.

Joan said...

Sample conversation in my house when children want to see a movie:

Kids: Can we go see (new movie)?
Me: I have to wait for the reviews.* Kids: Well, has Walter seen it yet?

Seriously, even my kids know Walter is the best.

So, Walter, I hope you're on the mend and quickly back to your old self.

Ron: that review almost justifies the existence of such a bad "movie." Thank you.

--
(*) They've heard the "I'm not going to waste my time and money on a bad movie" part of that speech so many times I don't even have to say it anymore.

Bill C said...

Idiocracy is GREAT. Review forthcoming, though it may come from the inferior likes of yours truly.

Walter's doing well after his annual attempt at autofellatio. No, just kidding, he cut his palm doing some unpacking (12 stitches), making it exceedingly difficult to type. Hope I didn't scare anyone, and I'm sure he'll be back in fighting shape soon.

Rich said...

I enjoyed Idiocracy when I saw it in its brief poorly-advertised theatrical run (my friend and I were the only ones in the theatre), but have found that that initial 'like' has grown into something a bit more. It has stuck with me more than anything else I've seen recently - and I've seen some pretty awesome Godard and Kurosawa flicks in the past few months. That's not to say that Idiocracy is as good as those, but it's so goddamned pertinent and topical that I just can't shake it. I see reminders of its exaggerated consumerism all over the place.

Rick said...

Bill, is Idiocracy Top 10 great? I really can't wait to see it, eventhough Mike Judge did not fight for it. I heard he's a headcase anyways, so I'll have to see it and "judge" for myself. Also, I really can wait to see Haneke's remake of Funny Games. Why? I know remake bashing is cliched but...why?????????????? It is perfect as is, and is not even a decade old!

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Funny Games remake! Wicked! I'll see it. My favorite Haneke. The only annoying thing about it is Naomi Watts. I hate this new breed of stupid hollywood female actOrs.

Rick said...

I do not like her much either. 21 Grams annoys the hell out of me. So many big emotions are on display but the movie is so uninvolving I cant even take it. But with all the emotions going on I bet Naomi was thinking like Kate Winslet from the HBO show Extras (go for the gold!)

Anyone watch Conan lately? Horny Manatee madness!

Bill C said...

Aw, ease up on Naomi. Her performance in Mulholland Drive is the best in the Lynch canon since Dennis Hopper's in Blue Velvet, and she's really the heart and soul of King Kong. Don't much care for her in 21 Grams, either, but even Penn and Del Toro couldn't make anything out of that drivel.

As for Idiocracy, it's currently a contender for my Top 10, at least.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

I know what you're sayin' Bill, but I'm just beginning to get annoyed by these "indie" actresses (pardon, female actOrs) pulling out there big emotions and tits every single film to get a nod. Every single damn one of them wants to be a anorexic Meryl Streep. (Anyone seen Christina Ricci lately?? Now she's really starting to look like Wednesday Addams) "My dog died when I was seven... I can cry too!". Man, 70s are dead and buried and now they've pulled out the corpse and kicking it.

Alex Jackson said...

The Funny Games remake sounds like a giggle. I mean the first one was intended to be a reaction to Pulp Fiction and Natural Born Killers right? An American remake sounds like it would add a whole new layer on the idea.

Good for him, not like he's remaking Cache.

Never really had an opinion about Watts. She's a competent actress and I like looking at her. Never really connected with her though. I dunno. Movie also has Tim Roth and Michael Pitt.

Jack_Sommersby said...

Heal up soon, Walter, for I'm dying to read your take on Rocky Balboa. And everyone at FFF and the blog, have a great Christmas.

Vikram said...

I saw Idiocracy over the one weekend that it played near me and I walked out thinking that it could have been really great but somehow didn't quite get there. To me it felt rushed somehow and seemed like they ran out of money and/or ideas.

Having said that, it had some of the funniest scenes I've seen in a long time and the intro about how stupid people start ruling the world is inspired.

Dave Gibson said...

Whoa...whoa....don’t hassle the Watts. The Watts is awesome. The Watts can cure cancer with her smile. Christina Ricci? Who? Merry Festivus y’all-- I’m not inspired to shell out for pretty much anything this year—“Dreamgirls”? “Rocky Balboa”? “Eragon”? “Black Christmas”? Speaking of “Rocky” do yourself a favour and revisit Rocky IV—a near perfect distillation of 80’s cheese that Rainer Wolfcastle might have made in his heyday. “Draaaaagggooooooo!”

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Of all those Rocky Sequels, as horrible as they are, I prefer Rocky IV. It is just so incredibly absurd and openly bigoted peice of work, it becomes an anthropological study of bigotry. Like Borat but not aware of itself. My favorite scene is when Russians start cheering for Rocky in the end. I was half-expecting him to invade Iraq right after.

Justin said...

One more movie for the "I wish that FFC will review this" pile: The Good German. I'd love to know if you guys hate it as much as every other critic seems to. (It doesn't sound like a candidate for one of Walter's prestigious No Stars reviews, but who knows?)

Bill C said...

Walter submitted a three-for-one review of THE GOOD GERMAN SHEPHERD and THE PAINTED VEIL(starring, drumroll, Naomi Watts) in the wee hours of the morning; look for it soon. We're gonna have to take a holiday break at some point, though more new stuff will be up before such time.

Rick said...

Has anyone seen Taxidermia? (Alex, maybe?) If so, is it in anyone's top 10? I haven't really heard about any kind of US DVD release for it though.

I havent heard anything good or bad about any of those movies in the three-for-one review, just complete indifference. Well see what Walter has to say.

I was just reading a recent blog about TV shows, and I enjoyed it. Its nice to see people who enjoy good television. For some reason ( in Albany) I am always surrounded by pretentious jerks who say things like "I don't watch television" (aka I'm way too smart for it!) Like listening to Saddle Creek bands, drinking cheap wine and reading kerouac are such intelligent activities. Damn Hipsters.

The Captain said...

Walter, we will see a Children of Men review from you? I'd love to read your thoughts...

Walter_Chaw said...

Count on it, Capt.. Thanks for the well-wishes. Getting better at hunting & pecking.

W

Dave said...

BTW, Twin Peaks 2nd season is on preorder at Amazon and will be released April 10 ...

Alex Jackson said...

Has anyone seen Taxidermia? (Alex, maybe?) If so, is it in anyone's top 10? I haven't really heard about any kind of US DVD release for it though.

Ha! Meaning to say, I'm happy you've been thinking of me Rick. Never heard of Taxidermia but I IMDB'd it and it certainly sounds like my style. I do have Period Piece next on my que though, and it sounds similarly gonzo.

Rick said...

Alex, does your version of Cannibal Holocaust have the animal cruelty-free option available? If so, did they just cut those scenes? I know in the UK version they cut out alot more than the animal cruelty scenes, so Im just making sure. Im sick of having to leave the room during the animal scenes, so id like to see a copy with them cut.

And years ago who would have thought Mel Gibson would be into exploitation movies like Cannibal Holocaust/Ferox. Does anyone know of any interviews he has done where he mentions his cinematic influences?

Alex Jackson said...

I would recommend you see it with the animal cruelty in tact of course, it's important in terms of visceral impact but also the point of the film is how we use civilization to distance us from our base animal natures. All the animals that are killed are killed for food (and by the Columbians, Americans, and natives respectively) and seeing it reminds you that man is a meat eater and drawing the line at cannibalism is kind of arbitrary. Plus, I think it kind of keeps director Deodato honest; he can't succumb to ivory towerism if he has animal cruelty in his picture.

But yeah, the copy I've seen has an "animal-cruelty" free option. I haven't used it, but it is available.

I love Gibson and I loved Apocalypto. Lots of things I could say about that. There is definitely something of the Italian exploitation filmmaker in him. What I kept getting from Apocalypto is this idea that blood is life, life is beautiful, and so blood is beautiful. There seems to be something very "Italian" about that idea. I now think it's overly simplistic to call him a sadomasochist. *POSSIBLE SPOILERS**





The underwater childbirth in Apocalypto was pretty graphic. But does that mean that he loves pain? I think it just means he just really loves bodily fluids and functions. Helena Bonham Carter says that his sense of humor is "a bit lavatorial and not very sophisticated". I wonder how he would get along with Peter Jackson. Until Passion, Dead Alive was the goriest movie ever made and it comes from that same well-spring of loving your body. I know that Quentin Tarantino, champion of the lowbrow and friend of splatter, hailed Gibson as the greatest visual filmmaker of the sound era since Charles Laughton.

For the record, the dwarf in Passion of the Christ is played by Davide Marotta who was featured in Dario Argento's Phenomena and Lamberto Bava's Demons 2.

I also know that the 15th-16th century artists Caravaggio (Italian) and, of course, Hieronymus Bosch (Dutch) have been credited as two of the biggest influences of Passion of the Christ.

Rick said...

I understand how the animal scenes fit well with Cannibal Holocaust and how anything less would seem out of place, and in such a movie they would not have been able to stage animal death effectively enough to align with the rest of the movie. With that being said, I think with CGI & design advances there should no longer be animal deaths in movies. It is kind of like people who still wear fur, eventhough synthetic fur has advanced and looks just about the same. Don't get me wrong though, I am not some Timothy Treadwell-like "activist" who projects human qualities upon animals of which they do not possess. I just do not like to see any living thing suffer, it is simple as that. And the fact that alot of animal deaths in movies, possibly subconsciously, are put into for sensationlism. I think Von Trier made an ass of himself by cutting the donkey scene in Manderlay. By cutting the scene it proved the lack of artistic intent he had, because he did not stand by his decision and show how the scene was integral to the themes of the movie. Either way, I am not some activist, I am just empathetic towards suffering in general. Actually I hate most animal activists, most are just as exploitive as some of these filmmakers, using animals for a cause and purpose to justify their meaningless existence.

Anyways, I am not trying to argue here, Cannibal Holocaust can justify those scenes. And Animal deaths in movies are mostly done humanely now. Has anyone ever seen Bad Boy Bubby? Animal death was essential to that movie also, but it bothered me to hear gossip from someone who was on the set during filming insinuate that the deaths were not done humanely, eventhough the filmmakers proclaimed they were. Oh well, I hope I did not come across preachy with this post because that was not my intention.

And I agree with what you said about Gibson, I do not think he is a sadomasochist either. I just read an interview where he was extremely offended at some critics calling Apocalypto "blood porn". He accurately defends scenes as being appropriate to the subject matter.

Bill C said...

Just a quick note that Walter's review of Pan's Labyrinth is up at the mothersite. If I have an opportunity this weekend, I'm going to blog about my favourite DVDs of the year, and then at the beginning of next week things should return to some semblance of normal. Knock on wood, our Top 10 of 2006 lists will go live on Monday.

Bill C said...

Oh, and I LOVE Bad Boy Bubby, but it's hard to imagine any of the animal violence in that movie being carried out humanely.

Rick said...

I can't wait to see the top 10s. If you guys are doing bottom 10s, you should just cut and paste Roeper's top 10 (Blood Diamond, Babel, The Good Shepherd, etc) I think Mr. Skin has more quality films in his top 10 of the year (though last year I think they both loved Havoc) I actually like Roeper for some reason. He is cynical, not very intelligent and huge into sports. Oh wait, he is alot like me. Wow, I guess I like myself after all!

I saw Bad Boy Bubby back in Jr High when I practically rented out a private movie store. I have not seen it since and every frame of it is still burned in my memory. That is a definitely a movie that stays with you.

Bill C said...

Man, Roeper's such a prestige whore. I wish he had the guts to hate something self-important once in a while. Actually, I just wish he had the grace to quit.