March 16, 2007

Friday Talkback (03/16/07)

New content for the week:
Meanwhile, some offshore links of interest:

Incidentally, does it send chills up anyone else's spine that Angelina Jolie renamed the 3-year-old kid she just adopted? I don't remember three, but I'm pretty sure by that point I answered to my name and would've had a major identity crisis if you'd started calling me something else.

UPDATE (03/16/07, 8:15pm): For those of you who get TCM, tomorrow at 12:00pm EST is your last chance to catch Billy Wilder's ultra-bitter, rarely-screened Ace in the Hole (aka The Big Carnival), long considered a holy grail among DVD collectors.


Kevin said...

so i take it premonition is bad?

regarding angelina's new addition: didn't meg ryan adopt a chinese baby, rename the child with an anglo name, then change her mind some time later and give the child a different anglo name?

i try not to be cynical, but yeah, there's something decidedly bizarre going on here.

Cap said...

These wonderful, giving people have decided that they want their wacky foreign toys to have a new name! Nothing says "charitable" like having a collection of underprivledged children from all over the world!

Anonymous said...

I didn't know Walter Chaw talked about movies on the Bill Press show. I was listening this morning, wondering how this guy thought he could get away with blatantly lifting lines from Walter Chaw reviews, and what to do know, it was actually him. Pretty cool.

Kevin said...

on a side note, why did chris rock think he could improve upon eric rohmer with viagra/prolonged erection jokes? i don't understand the impulse. how do you love "chloe in the afternoon," as rock says he does, and then so completely bastardize it? it's almost dadaist.

Richard said...

That Zodiac thing is great. I was wondering how that shot following the cab was done even while watching it in the theater and it didn't even occur to me that the entire sequence was digital. That's great, though, I WANT to be fooled. Looking at it again I still can't tell it's fake - only the impossibly smooth tracking gives it away.

Dave Gibson said...

Renaming adopted children is not at all uncommon. It's easy (and perhaps sometimes justifiable) to impugn the motivations of wealthy celebrities who adopt kids from third world countries—but the truth is, innumerable parents the world over have children for less-than-altruistic motivations (including many who are very good parents thank y'all much) and many more who don't put much thought into it at all (hence: availability of
adoptable children) so--I can't get behind the Jolie-cynicism (unless we're talking "Beyond Borders")

corym said...

re: Zodiac

Since Fight Club I've loved Fincher's use of CGI to create impossible camera moves. Can anyone think of other directors using it the same way? I guess we couldn't really tell what shots are CGI if it's done well enough (as in the cab scene), but Fincher's shots have always been arresting to me.

Bill C said...

One thing that fascinates me is the comment in that Zodiac article about the sheer perfection of the tracking shot of--and its immaculate synchronization with--the cab, which would normally be compensated for somehow to avoid the Uncanny Valley effect, enhancing the suspense of the scene. When the camera made that 'curve,' I practically soiled my drawers.

Not sure how I feel about the digital blood/violence, though. Technical flawlessness I generally equate with soullessness, which is fine when applied to the POV of a shark, but a tad dehumanizing when turned around on the victims.

Rob Gonsalves said...

Ace in the Hole is coming to DVD sometime this year via Criterion.

Richard said...

Those Fincher 'shit-my-pants' shots (the soiling of drawers only happens in the movies) remind me a lot of Hitchcock's - like that swoop-through-the-window shot in Psycho and the various crane shots he used at characters' parties. In each case, though, they are pretty impersonal in that they remove your perspective from attachment to a character. Despite both Hitchcock and Fincher making movies with some strong main characters, they both seem to keep them at a distance.

By the way, what's the Uncanny Valley effect?

Alex Jackson said...

Uncanny Valley

Jared said...

Did anybody catch the premiere episode of The Riches? What do we think?

Probably the best debut of a TV show I've seen since Big Love but that says approximately nothing, also they are incredibly similar shows. I sort of felt like I saw half of a two hour movie instead of the first episode of a TV show, but at least I wanted to see more.

I'm going to miss TCM when I don't have cable next year. Are they playing Brewster McCloud again, I only caught half. That movie oh so desperately needs a DVD.

Anonymous said...

Before I netflix When The Levees Broke, what did filmfreakcentral think of it? Is it worth the 4 hours?

Bill C said...

Can't speak for my cohorts, but I thought it was a hell of a movie, better than Spike's previous foray into documentary (4 Little Girls). Kinda wish I'd seen it prior to compiling my Top 10 for the year.

Rick said...

So Alex, I take it you are not going to check out this ?

Ian Pugh said...

I have to admit my own admiration for the RiffTrax concept -- great, cheap way to reconvene the MST3K crowd and convince them to cough up some dough. I'm more mystified by Nelson's title choices. It's as if he believes that he wields a Midas touch of comedy: throwing snark at good films like X-Men and The Matrix, great films like Halloween and Night of the Living Dead (in what I presume is the same commentary from the much-reviled colorized disc), or films whose screaming badness/unintentional hilarity is so self-evident that further commentary is unnecessary, like Troll 2 or the unrated version of LaBute's Wicker Man -- it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Seattle Jeff said...

Went to see Zodiac tonight.

Walked out after the first 5 minutes.

Unfortunately this is not a reflection of the film, but of the audience.

(Yep, Walter should appreciate this!)

About 10 people were in the theater but only 8 were there to see the movie. Two girls were there to have a loud conversation. They laughed and giggled about another topic during the opening murder.

Therefore, I thought it was decision time. Stuggle through their nonsense for 2 1/2 hours or go home to my kick-ass entertainment center.

Did I mention the screen also had a reflective area where it seemed to have had a few drinks thrown on it?

In this day and age why would anyone go see a movie in public? I have a large screeen LCD HD tv and Netflix. Why do I need to endure morons (in large abundance in Auburn WA) and high prices to see 1 movie?

DOes anyone else feel this way?

James Allen said...

I couldn't agree more, Jeff. More and more people just don't know (or don't care) how to behave socially. Working in live theater I encounter this on a daily basis. (No matter how many times you tell people, a cell phone will always go off during a show.)

And it's, of course, a shame. I still try to see comedies in a theater, because I like the group experience, but it just ain't the same.

I remember (God, I sound like a wistful grandfather) seeing Airplane! with a full crowd in constant stitches. And I'll never forget the collective gasp of over 1000 people (yep, movies theaters used to be that big) when Darth Vader uttered the line, "I am your father."

But now with technology being what it is I don't blame anyone for retreating to the living room to avoid the inconsiderate assholes who go to the movies. It sucks, but there's not much to do about it, unfortunately.

Cap said...

I'm completely with you, Ian - I love the idea, but I'm thrown by the approach RiffTrax takes. Their Troll 2 shindig has all the ingrediants of greatness with such awful execution, it actually makes the film less funny and enjoyable to view.

Off topic, did anyone see Moolaadé? Can anyone weigh in with thoughts?

Seattle Jeff said...

James -

Thansk for your comments.

Speaking of Star Wars, I was telling my wife last night that the theater I was at (the local multiplex) will always be remembered by me as the place where I went to see Phantom Menace and as the opening titles scrolled some idiot yelled "FUCK YEAH!!"

It's also the place we saw "Hero" and some 8-year-old behind us kept complaining how stupid the movie was while another person griped about subtitles.

Yep, it's the place where another moron took his 5-year-old to see Kill Bill Volume 2.

Suffice to say...I may go to the local drive-in during the summer, but the multiplex? Hell, no.

Chad Evan said...

I understand completely where you're coming from--but as to the question of why "anyone" would want to see a film in public: not everyone has a kick-ass entertainment system, and for those who don't and yet still crave the full sensory experience, theatres are still the best bet.
But still, as I said, I feel your pain--and dread of such pain has influenced my attendance choices. Take a picture like 300, which I'm not dying to see, but am sorta interested in--I decided not to see it at the cinema, because I knew it would attract a large number of such jackasses.
One solution that I rarely hear mentioned is being implemented up the road from my podunk town in Jackson: dress codes. From what I've heard, a first-class cinema has opened with comfortable seating, etc., and a dress code to keep the riffraff out. Call me classist if you will, but the code doesn't require expensive clothing or anything--just a tucked-in collared shirt. In addition, cellphone and talking bans are rigorously enforced. Not sure how well it's working, but I'll be interested to see.

Seattle Jeff said...

Point taken Chad.

I was speaking in generalities there, but do understand that not everyone is in the same place technologically. Truth be told, I wouldn't have my TV if it were not for the chance to seel some Seahawk Super Bowl tickets a while back.

I'm a bit classist myself. I really don't think I'd have a problem in Seattle proper at one of the indie theaters...but here in, it's bad.

Seattle Jeff said...

Oops. "sell" not "seel"...

Seattle Jeff said...

btw, how obnoxious is it to make a film like "Disturbia" which is such a blatant rip-off of "Rear Window"?

O'JohnLandis said...

DOes anyone else feel this way?

Predictably, this topic has pissed me the fuck off. I suppose the readership of FFC, due to the site's implicit endorsement of DVD, was destined eventually to adopt the position that DVD/HDTV is either equal to or better than a cinema screen. Putting aside the loss of resolution, the loss of a darkened theater, the inability to pause, and the big fucking screen, the paradigmatic shift away from cinema screens in favor of TVs may be, culturally, the final nail in our coffin.

Why go to a concert when you can listen to a CD? Why go to a store and buy a CD when you can download the MP3s? Why go to a play if you can watch the movie, on a DVD, in your living room? If we are xenophobic, insular, comfort conscious, materialistic, and oblivious (and I think we are), then another experience outside your damn living room might serve to improve you.

In art, the cold absence of flaws is not the same thing as quality. Your HDTV sucks compared to 35mm exhibition. And compared to 70mm?

If you find yourself annoyed by the other people in the theater, ignore them or go to earlier or later show times. And if you are such a fragile creature that adolescents of all ages can't help but force you to abandon theater tickets and publicly martyr yourself after you've bravely tried to persevere for 300 seconds or so, then culturally, you're at fault and they're not. Either way, this has jack shit to do with how pretty or "kick-ass" your "large screeen LCD HD" TV is. You're not guaranteed a perfect experience every fucking second of your life, and if there's a more appropriate Cro-Magnon-simple lesson that you (or the culture at large) ought to learn, I can't think of one.

Seattle Jeff said...


It was a 10:05 PM screening with 10 people in the theater. I'm supposed to go to a later screening?

An HDTV beats a screen that's had drinks thrown on it and has not been cleaned.

Sorry, but I think that's reasonable.

reel2reel said...

"...abandon theater tickets and publicly martyr yourself after you've bravely tried to persevere for 300 seconds or so, then culturally, you're at fault and they're not. Either way, this has jack shit to do with how pretty or "kick-ass" your "large screeen LCD HD" TV is. You're not guaranteed a perfect experience every fucking second of your life, and if there's a more appropriate Cro-Magnon-simple lesson that you (or the culture at large) ought to learn, I can't think of one."

What, are you saying theaters *don't* suck? Because they most certainly DO. I've given up on them b/c every single time I've gotta deal with the inevitable ones that insist on ruining the experience for everyone else. Why should I stay and feel like I'm hanging out in their living room when I can go home to my own?

Face it, home theater is the way of the future, unless theaters can get their shit together. I'd personally love to see an upper-scale chain that doesn't attract the back of the bus crowd.

Otherwise, good riddance to the shitty godawful theater experience as it is.

Rick said...

Did you know David Cross played O'johnlandis in this Mr. Show sketch?

Kenneth said...

I would so, so, so much rather watch a movie in a theater. It's a bigger screen and it demands more attention than I can give sometimes to a television when there are a billion things distracting me, like Internet.

Seattle Jeff said...

I think there's a real economic consdiration...(there I go, being materialistic)

I remember heading to the dollar theater 15 years agoe. Taking my life in my hands hanging with legitimate gang bangers just because I could watch Pauly SHore in "Son-In-Law" for a put up with crap because you only paid a dollar.

Last night, I paid about $10 to get in and $9.25 for a popcorn and soda. Then I sat through trivia questions projected on the screen for roughly 10 minutes. Of course the same questions were repeated every thity seconds.

After that, I got the 15 minutes of "First Look"...more advertisement forced upon me.

Then the previews. Like I need a reminder of how the bad films are getting dumped into theaters at this time of year. My god, I don't want to see "The Color of Night", errrrr "Perfect Stranger". Again, more advertisement forced upon the audience.

Then came the blabber mouths.

Really it wasn't only them I was reacting to, but the entire was just lame.

Waiting for a play or a concert to start is NOT the same experience.

But if you've made an investment in a home theater and it's sitting at home unused while you sit in a room that hasn't been cleaned, has crap on the screen that distracts from the movie, and there are people who don't care that they're as loud as the movie... I'm going to pay $10-20 for that?

Honestly, I think you do put up with it depending upon how much it costs you.

I'd also argue that Zodiac is 2 hours and 40 minutes money was gone, but I was sitting there thinking how I was going to spend the next few hours. I voted against contending with the other people. Was it an easy vote? No.

Am I happy I did something else while I out Zodiac in my Netflix queue? Absolutely.

As far as being a "public martyr", I merely thought it was a good discussion topic.

Dave Gibson said...

There was once a theatre in my hometown (Hamilton, Ontario) named (rather ambitiously) "The Broadway". It was a dingy rep cinema next to the Salvation Army. It had a mediocre projector, conspicuously sticky floors--and those stiff, forties-style seats guaranteed to create back spasms.

It was also the first place I saw: "Eraserhead", "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", "Nashville", "L'Aventura", "The Unbelievable Truth", "Shivers" and many others--it also offered homemade baked goods at the snack bar. It's Twenty years later and the Broadway is long gone. I have my own snappy system at home (no great shakes, but it works) on which I enjoy many a flick. I'd trade my pristine copy of "Eraserhead" for an opportunity to see it at the Broadway again; shitty projection and all.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm a romantic at heart; and the theatre will always carry the potential for a magic that all the fancy home systems will never provide. Will that home system replicate the time I snuck into "Nightmare on Elm St 3"? The smell of butter and old upholstery which accompanied my first viewing of "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" or, watching "Die Hard" in a packed, yes, multiplex theatre, with a bunch of testosterone-crazed yahoos and loving' every minute of it. Multiplex rudeness is engendered by the home entertainment boom; so--movie lovers, I implore you, be a romantic at heart--go to the theatre--and if someone is talking during the film---kindly ask them to shut the fuck up.

Seattle Jeff said...


The place you describe sounds charming.

Regal Cinemas Multiplex at the Super Mall in Auburn WA lacks such a propert.

Craig said...

The advent of the 12A certificate here in the UK has been a kick in the teeth for the pleasurable movie experience. If 12A doesn't have an equivalent in the States, it basically means that any snotty brat of any age under 12 can see the movie if accompanied by an adult. So yes, you guessed it: a four year old can see a mild horror film, if he/she has a particularly irresponsible parent, with all the social irritation that implies.

One moment stands out: a mother had taken her four year old to see King Kong, and the poor little sod was scared out of his mind, and kept howling and screeching to the apparent indifference of his mum (who herself couldn't have been older than twenty). Eventually, a guy in front in them stood up, and said loud and clear: "Listen, you numb cunt, shut him the FUCK up!" He even caught a brief round of applause from those in his little section. And it worked, in that they left.

O'JohnLandis said...


I'm a big fan of Mr. Show. I'd go upstairs and get my Mr. Show DVD and watch it on my HDTV, but for the fact that it's, you know, early. I even illegally downloaded Jeepers Creepers so I could play it on my iPod. (The sound quality is pretty crappy. I'd demux the audio off the DVD and transfer it to WAV and MP3, but getting that OCD over one track I rarely listen to would set a dangerous precedent.) I can assure you that I am not a dinosaur and am not expecting people to smash their TVs because I have suddenly shown them the error of their ways. This was a discussion of preference and I think it's crazy and depressing and flat out wrong to prefer DVDs to cinema screens. I rent at least 200 DVDs a year and own quite a few more, and I do so out of utility. It's what's available. And maybe I've been astonishingly lucky in that the idiots in the theaters in my town are never more than a mild nuisance, but whatever financial or experiential difficulties I may endure as the result of seeing a movie in a theater, I do so gladly, not only because I love seeing movies in theaters, but also to keep the medium alive. I believe that in 20 years, it may be extremely difficult to see a film in a theater in all but the biggest cities. That's--for those keeping score--bad!

You don't have to actually hate TV in order to think that we should leave the house occasionally. And, similarly, you don't have to hate TV in order to think that the systematic disintegration of the whole theater culture ought to be avoided at all costs. You're just not used to someone saying, confrontationally, "it's your fault." Well, it is. It's mine too, to some degree. But it's extremely depressing to be in the presence of the kinds of people who have the ability to help, and to hear not only that they don't intend to help, but that they don't intend to help because they don't even see the problem. Reading this discussion has left me feeling like Kevin McCarthy or Donald Sutherland (or Gabrielle Anwar) in that a bunch of FILM LOVERS on a FILM SITE prefer VIDEO. Fuck that. Seriously...

Where do the film lovers go?

And even if you think I'm 1) wrong 2) a technophobe or 3) a dick, isn't there just the slightest possibility that I'm necessary, if for no other reason than to act as a control? (Talk about martyring yourself!) I do not naturally enjoy being hated or mocked, but I'm always stuck feeling like I have to be the purist, the hardass, because someone has to fight for these artistic principles. You need me on that wall because if you're wrong we all lose.

Alex Jackson said...

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any really terrible audience experiences. One of my favorites was seeing Black Hawk Down. A 14-year old girl behind me asked her friends, "Why do they call them 'skinnies'"? Also I saw people crying at the end of Deep Impact. Usually it's that sort of thing that bugs me.

Probably the worst was when I saw Marie Antoinette. This girl next to us had her cell phone out and was texting her friends. The guy next us saw this and screamed at the top of his lungs "Turn off your fucking phone!" Like, I could have ignored the cell phone OK; but him screaming at her was ugly and nearly ruined my evening.

Picture and sound is much better than home, but that's a minor reason for why I go. Mostly, I go to keep up with the new releases so I can talk about them, to get out of the house, and even to have a communal experience. Jackass was great, there was the heat of "did I just see what I thought I saw" there that everybody shared. I also saw a special screening of The Shining which everybody laughed hysterically at early on. That was great too, it was an affectionate laughter in a sense. I saw Jan De Bont's The Haunting in Newark, where the audience hooted and hollared through the whole thing. I saw it with my mother, who was extremely upset. She thought it ruined the movie, but I mean how do you ruin The Haunting?

But there is a trade-off. I like to talk throughout a movie and I especially like to watch films without any pants on. These are things that you cannot do in a movie theater.

I love the drive-in. We literally go even when our only option is a double bill of Catwoman and Ever After. It's social in a sense, but you can talk all you want and pants are not required!

On the previous topic of RiffTrax. This sounds like something I might do out of curiosity if I happen to own any of the movies they spoof. (Not sure NOTLD counts as I believe Mike is watching the colorized version). I saw something similar with Passion of the Christ and it was OK. Not worth actually renting Over the Top to hear them make fun of it though.