April 27, 2007

The Trash Report

Hate to promote I Viddied it on the Screen while on this blog but I finally finished my Grindhouse review. Some three weeks after the fact, but I'm finished. I see writing a lot like Tony Soprano sees therapy: it's like taking a shit. Just glad to have that thing out of my body.

Speaking of which, I recently saw one of Quentin Tarantino's favorite movies: Revenge of the Cheerleaders. Buried treasure it is not. Yes, the anarchy is infectious. Yes, the music numbers are fun. Yes, it's dirty in an earthy way. Yes, Rainbeaux Smith is nothing short of magical. Yes, David Hasslehoff embarrasses himself. But none of that much matters. The film is cinematically uninventive and the narrative barely makes sense. It's all frosting and no cake. I couldn't find any ideas, characters, or story to engage myself with; just these petty simple pleasures. Perhaps I'm overly traditional.

I've been becoming addicted to
Criticker. This is a site where you rank movies on a scale of 1 to 100 and then have your taste compared with other users and critics. My top users are age 14 and 17. My bottom critic is Stanley Kauffman, though Tasha Robinson and Noel Murray of the Onion A.V. Club are on there too, and the beloved Kim Morgan who likes Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Kaufmann is a loon though. He liked Junebug, Dead Poets Society, In The Company of Men, The Hours, and Seabiscuit (?!); and hated Elephant, Barton Fink, Kill Bill Vol. 1, Dogville, Unforgiven, and Terminator 2. I don't get how that could be interpreted as anything other than a hatred for cinema. Particularly bizarre is that he praises stuff like Seabiscuit and In the Company of Men in terms of the great filmmaking. Kill Bill fails because it's not scary. Birth because it's not believable. Forgive me for my naivety, how did this guy become a respected name in criticism? I mean, this is just plain unbelievable to me.

45 comments:

Benaiah said...

In The Company of Men is a very good movie. That is one of the frankest looks at male culture this side of... David Mamet, Harold Pintor and Sam Shepard anyway.

Junebug was wonderful.

Dogville is hated by many, many people (I am not one of those people).

I won't try to defend his decisions on Seabiscuit, Unforgiven and Barton Fink though.

Bill C said...

I'm sorta flabbergasted that my bottom-2 (i.e. most-often-disagreed-with) critics are J. Hoberman and Stephen Holden, though I've only ranked about 100 movies so far. (Top, for instance, is Salon's Andrew O'Hehir, who doesn't seem to share my tastes at all.)

theoldboy said...

Most of the critics I like reading are at the bottom, and I did 571 rankings today. Thank you for distracting me from doing my 10 page term paper for film class, Alex.

aron said...

Thanks for the "Grindhouse" hint, Alex. I was overjoyed to read an essay that goes for a kind of analysis, is not afraid of spoilers - film criticism needs to have spoilers, otherwise it's promotion - makes contact with the reader and is long. Good and illuminating points made. Love it and will have to read it again.

schnofel said...

As a long-time (well, since it opened a year ago) user of Criticker I'd like to know what usernames you have...

Rick said...

Though Kim Morgan does like a lot of good movies, it seems as if she gets a handicap for being cute.

And I would say Terminator 2 and Barton Fink are my two of my favorite movies of the 90s, what is wrong with that guy?

Shrug said...

I think I'm using the number range a bit differently than most people.

I mean, I figure a "50" should be for something I thought was just sort of average, because it's in the middle.

The 90s aren't for "well I liked it a lot", its more for "fucking masterpiece".

So I'll be giving something a 80 because I enjoyed it a bit but didn't think it was anything too special and have no powerful desire to revisit it and then be told I "hated" it.

Huh.

Justin said...

Oh yeah, Alex, your tastes might be a little too traditional if you can't appreciate Revenge of the Cheerleaders. It's the 2001 of cheerleaders movies, beautiful and mysterious. I can't get over the crosscutting between the increasing grotesquery of the food fight and the increasing bubble-ness of the shower scene. And the scene where Lincoln Tech goes up by one, their cheerleaders storm the court and do their routine, and Susie Elene just yells out "FUCK YOUUUUUU!" in response? Possibly the greatest scene in all 70s cinema. Yeah. It loses its way near the end, of course, when it suddenly decides it needs a plot. And I was not impressed with Carl Ballantine's schtick (this my first exposure to it.)

And thanks for introducing me to Criticker. Die, productivity! Die!

Alex Jackson said...

In The Company of Men is a very good movie. That is one of the frankest looks at male culture this side of... David Mamet, Harold Pintor and Sam Shepard anyway.

Junebug was wonderful.


As different as the two films are, I have the exact same problem with both In the Company of Men and Junebug: they aren't cinema. They do not encompass or illustrate anything distinct to film (i.e. aside from that great last shot, In the Company of Men struck me very much as a filmed play). The directors aren't getting hard-ons when they go into the editing suite. There's no passion or urgency.

It's not a problem necessarily that Kauffman likes them. The problem is that he likes them and DOESN'T like stuff like Birth and Kill Bill Vol.1. Or Adaptation or Who Framed Roger Rabbit for that matter (who the hell doesn't like Who Framed Roger Rabbit). You know, that stuff is cinema. They all utilize sound, acting, cinematography, editing, and all the stuff that distinguishes the cinema from other art forms.

Championing something like Junebug OVER those films speaks of a hatred toward cinema to me.

BTW, user name on there is wokelstein.

Benaiah said...

Junebug anyway, has a lot of stuff that very much felt like cinema. In the Company of Men, though, I agree is not especially cinematic. Still, I thought it was amazing, much better than Kill Bill Vol. 1, though the comparison is absurd. The intention of QT and Labute is so disparate that they might as well be from different planets.

I rated 400 movies and Anthony Lane is far and away my best comparable, so obviously I am not doing it right. At least it isn't Peter Travers, that would be depressing.

Rick said...

I thought Alex's top critic could be Mick Martin, though Alex seems to be more intelligent and have more discernment than him.

O'JohnLandis said...

Here we go again:

Everything Alex just said.

If anything betrays a hatred of cinema, it's the assumption that in order for a film to qualify as cinema, it need have a certain (though likely unquantifiable) number of distinct locations, a camera that calls attention to itself, and only enough dialogue to prevent a silent film classification. If "My Dinner with Andre" isn't cinema, and the only outlet for people who occasionally enjoy the text over the sub is to watch the year's two or three most literate monster movies, then the compressed definition of cinema could have an unintended side effect: it could kill creativity and diversity. Oops.

If I could erase one odious snarkbomb from all recorded critical history, it would easily be "filmed play." Is Robert Altman guilty of making filmed plays? Do you have inside information? Did an unexpected, simultaneous erection experienced by Altman and his editor on "A Prairie Home Companion" instantly transerectify his filmed play into a piece of cinema? And if the filmmaker or editor is female, exactly which function of her genitalia brings about the AJ Cinematic Stamp of Approval? Might you start grading Scorsese movies on a "Thelma Schoonmaker Wetness Scale?" And if you think I failed to notice your intentional exaggeration, you needn't worry: I never fail to notice your intentional exaggeration.

If you're saying that "Junebug" isn't any good, and it seems that you are, you are asserting one of two things:
1) that in order for it to become good, it needed to have more locations, a showier camera, or some inimitable Viagra editing technique
OR
2)a film with its subject and approach cannot possibly be good, by definition.

So which is it? I'm guessing that you simply didn't like the films, probably due to a faulty attention span, and rather than just state that simply, you felt the need to rationalize and grasped at theory for a convenient crutch. You probably don't think the world would be better off at all without these uncinematic filmed plays, in which case, the best response is none at all.

Alex Jackson said...

Ha, the "Thelma Schoonmaker Wetness Scale?". I love it.

Is it possible to say that you don't like something without suggesting that it necessarily should be taken off the face of the earth? I'm not saying that nobody should have the opportunity to see them, I'm just saying that they aren't ever going to be part of my DVD collection. I have no use for them, they embody ideals that I find undesirable.

I'll have you know that it has nothing to do with a poor attention span. I really like Into Great Silence, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, and Tarkovsky's films; demanding and slow pictures that none-the-less have an undeniable sense of craftsmanship that is missing from In the Company of Men and Junebug. I'd actually never claim that those latter two films were boring. Just that they are unwatchable.

Censorship in any form is an absolute evil, but never disliking anything is tantamount to having no taste.

Anyway, I haven't seen A Prarie Home Companion. I have seen and enjoyed My Dinner with Andre. I do feel that My Dinner with Andre is cinema though. For one, the film format has a distinct sense of intimacy that Malle fully exploits. Andre's monologue about being buried alive could only be part of film. I do not see anything of the sort in something like Junebug. Actually, I think the problem with the film is not only that it's not visually exciting or kinetic; it's the meta-justification for the asceticism. A lot of the household scenes are blocked in a way that looks two-dimensional, suggesting that the film itself is supposed to be one of those "outsider" murals. I hate that shit. At least LaBute was inexperienced and naive. Robinson rubs our noses in the film's sun-dried ugliness.

To answer your question, the film is what it is and I reject it as it is. I have no idea how it could be changed to be better. I would probably take the latter position if I had to choose, there is no way that this subject with this approach could ever be good. I prefer Dominic Sena's Kalifornia a lot more.

Rick said...

I also enjoyed My Dinner with Andre, though it is basically self-important storytime followed by PHL 101.

One question for Alex, how is Jackass 2 film then? (except the opening and closing sequences)

Alex Jackson said...

One question for Alex, how is Jackass 2 film then? (except the opening and closing sequences)

Well, those sequences are in fact spectacular. And don't forget the "fuck the pain away" montage.

No doubt that Jackass 2 is hella grungy, but yeah it's certainly cinema. The dwarf walking though a hotel lobby naked or the guy taking a shit on a dollhouse toilet; these are moving pictures. You cannot get these images in painting, still photography, or theater. And as they are filler between the longer set pieces that actually have titles, these little bits of business are visual equivalents of non-sequitors.

The Jackass films--great cinema.

theoldboy said...

The Jackass movies are cinema because regardless of how amateurish their technical qualities are at times, the content is inherently cinematic. A great documentary, which is basically what the Jackass movies are, though the great part is arguable, doesn't really have to be well filmed or edited, I think, it just has to capture something that is cinematic, which is why talking head documentaries typically will fail on the Alex Jackson Cinematic Bonerometer. Now, if it was a talking head documentary consisting entirely of people with really fucked up John Merrick heads, that would be really fucking cinematic.

There's a difference between consciously adopting an uninspired visual aesthetic because it works with the material and doing it because that's how you presume good movies are made.

Anonymous said...

Roll call - who else here is checking back again and again to see when the Spidey 3 review goes live?

Anonymous said...

I sure am. In the meantime, I'm working on my review for the local paper; I'm almost glad Chaw hasn't written his yet because the temptation to read and then rip it off would be overwhelming.

--Kim

Anonymous said...

Alex think Planet Terror may be better than the original NotLD? He is out of damned mind. Heh. And he then has the audacity to so much as suggest that anyone who likes one half over the other doesn't understand/like movies as much as he does.

Justin said...

Most of the Spidey reviews have been pretty middle of the road but--three and a half stars from Walter! And Kim at the Viddied board loved it. OK--now I'm excited.

ColinS said...

Alex, very interested analog of the zombie movies as distinctly feminine threat and slasher movies as distinctly male threat.

"Tarantino’s problem...is that he hates men and over-idealizes women." That is a bold statement, but hardly supported.

Let's briefly look at the instances where women are central to the stories, shall we: Mallory is just as f'd up as Mickey, Alabama is just as loyal to Clarence as he is to her, Jackie Brown might not have pulled off her scheme without Max (and he was only corruptable by the tiny gap he made with his thumb and index finger,) Beatrix is just as merciless as Bill (she finding a path out of evil, and he remaining firmly planted in it does not suggest misandry). And in the Big Kahuna "Pulp Fiction," all the women are less than ideal, including Mrs Wallace, Mia (by the way Marcellus did not find a new path away from wickedness after being anally raped.)

Now, for the movie at hand in the double feature "Grindhouse," let's look at "Death Proof." Empowering women to overcome victimization "status" is not trying to destroy men. Maybe, for tradional paternalistic societies (which is almost a unanimous occurrence around the world) that could be the perceptiton, but there is no birth right for men to dominate women. Levelling the playing field is a good thing, not a hatred of men.

Indeed, the glee with which the women kick Stuntman Mike's ass, and the obvious sexual metaphors, Zoe's iron pipe, and Pam ramming the rear of Mike's car (totaly "getting off" as she screams expletives) is disturbing. But it was Mike who introduced the sexual connection when he said to the women "suck on this" (car as phallic) as he side swiped the car they were driving. The scene is about fighting back and not being the "weaker" sex against a predator of women, not about hating men. Abernathy illustrates that losing a sense of control and that a "satisfying" deadly boot stomp to the head could be crossing the line to sadism in violent revenge. Dangeous stuff, but hardly misandry.

Fighting back against victimization is one thing, but we must be leery of the cost to our values of what is good by not becoming that we wish to overcome. Yes, the "kill" is justified but at what price?

Alex Jackson said...

I've seen Kill Bill Vol. 2 only twice, but I was under the impression that Bill had pretty much retired from "the life" or was just as willing to do so as Beatrix. I may be missing something, but Tarantino appears to think that Beatrix's rights as a mother supercede Bill's as a father.

Mia as less than ideal? Because she uses coke and enjoys the lifestyle provided by Marcelles' money? I definitely don't see her doing anything that is even remotely in the same realm as killing Frank Whaley at gunpoint.

The archetypical violent male in Tarantino's films seems to be a gun-toting gangster. The archetypical violent female is a sword-carrying samurai. There is nothing as elegant as the Bride/O-Ren showdown in Kill Bill in any of Tarantino's other male-dominated films. (When Butch uses the samurai sword in Pulp Fiction it's the film's one instance of sanctified violence in contrast to something like Vincent's gun that goes over the bump). Granted there are a few instances of women in Kill Bill Vol. 2 that use guns and a few male characters that use swords. But none of the major characters in the series use swords. Budd keeps his in his closet and would rather use cheap tricks to subdue Beatrix. Hattoro Hanzai only makes them. Bill just kind of plays with his, he never manages to get it out and use it.

The most cynical film in Tarantino's oevre is unquestionably Reservoir Dogs. Everybody dies. It's also the one with no real female element.

Must concede that while we have no idea what Marcelles is going to do, torturing hillbilly rapists suggests that he is still being evil; so being raped probably wasn't enough to turn him around. And I haven't read Tarantino's script to Natural Born Killers and I'm unsure how it would have gone down had he directed it.

I do suggest you take another look at the deleted pessimistic ending of True Romance on the Special Edition DVD where Alabama expresses anger at Clarence for basically "being a tough guy" or something along those lines.

Abernathy illustrates that losing a sense of control and that a "satisfying" deadly boot stomp to the head could be crossing the line to sadism in violent revenge. Dangeous stuff, but hardly misandry.

Yeah, but Tarantino does not consider the moral implications of her crushing Stuntman Mike's skull in the slightest. As soon as she does it, that "Shaw Brothers" theme comes on the soundtrack and the words "The End" are superimposed on the screen.

The way I see it, Stuntman Mike doesn't kill women simply because he "enjoys it" and it's his birthright but because he hates women. The bit where he throws their photos on the ground suggests an ANGER toward women. His method of killing them puts himself in risk, regardless of how death proof his car is, and is actually kind of suicidal. By doing it he seems to be saying that he can take more punishment than they can.

I can imagine that, you know, he's killing the same woman each time. Maybe he was abused by his mother like Henry Lee Lucas or maybe one simply broke his heart like Ted Bundy. This kind of compulsive behavior is his way of mastering it. I'm kind of projecting I guess, but knowing what we know about rapists and serial killers isn't the motivation behind their crimes one of "evening the score" with the dominating gender and fighting against their own victimization?

I don't really differentiate between who started what. Both Stuntman Mike and his near-victims are killers. Stuntman Mike did not kill any of them and they had absolutely no knowledge that he ever killed any women (ultimately the damage was the car, a pretty scary twenty or thirty minutes, and a "bruised bum"), and yet they tracked him down and smashed his skull in. The misandry is in the fact that the women are going to sleep like babies that night. There seems to be a double standard there.

ColinS said...

Alex, Stuntman Mike was trying to kill them with the car. Cars can kill, haven't you heard? Momentum and relatively immovable objects do very bad irreverible things to the human body. If someone was trying to kill you, I doubt very much you would be concerned if that person had a prior rap sheet. You would be far more likely to try to fight back and/or outwit your attacker. You might even cross the line and turn to purposefully kill the person have gained an upperhand. I am not saying I would, but I might. The kill would be justified, but could be morally wrong. The kill paradox is gender neutral.

Come on, you are looking for elegance in killing visualizations as proof that Tarantino is idealizing women? I thought Mr Blonde torture of the restrained cop was quite elegant. Jules gave Brett a fair (I would say elegance itself) listing of the transgressions against Mr Marcellus Wallace.

I did see the intended ending for "True Romance." I don't see it as cynical. It seems to be a "natural" result of Clarence trying to live his movie myth of the "hero." It was idiotic of him to try to take on very bad people on his own. It's a commentary on the hero fantasy myth. One could argue that it is the woman who is the enabler here and is less sympathic (but Alabama is also an unrealistic dreamer...the "Pretty Woman" myth.)

Not because all the males (maybe not Mr Pink, don't get happy that the color is "feminized") in "Reservoir Dogs" makes it a treatise on misandry. The men are criminals with guns, and various degrees of depravity. Mr Orange, upholder of society's moral truths, succumbed to the hazards of his profession. And so did the other men. But even Mr Orange has his own sense of moral compass to bond with someone who is an outlaw. Not cynical at all, just human, and that is also gender neutral.

On "Kill Bill," I have heard/read the implication that mother's rights superceed the rights of fathers. That not the point at all. The point is at one point in parenting is it the responsible of parents to give their children the opportunity to not continue on evil paths. Lots of our personal and world conflicts involved this very core issue. I don't believe anyone is a natural born killer of anything other than to eat it (cannibalism my one exception, but even I could have my doubts.) We are taught ways of greed and possesions by our parents, and yes to kill for them if necessary. Bill choose to continue that "natural" path for his child, the natural born killer of goldfish. Beatrix wished another path, and I agree with her. I do acknowledge the first bond a child experiences is with it's mother and that is a natural fact. That doesn't make males powerless and useless, and it is not about anti fatherhood.

Regarding a filmakers responsibility, I agree with you to a degree that "...Tarantino does not consider the moral implications of her crushing Stuntman Mike's skull in the slightest." However, he does illustrate Abernathy's transformation. It is she and Stuntman Mike who are the most fascination and dangerous characters in "Death Proof." Tarantino does provide the kick ass cathartic finale of a kung fu revenge flick, but it is up to the audiences to see the moral implications. This is why I do respectfully consider Quentin Tarantino a true artist of the highest order.

Alex Jackson said...

Come on, you are looking for elegance in killing visualizations as proof that Tarantino is idealizing women? I thought Mr Blonde torture of the restrained cop was quite elegant. Jules gave Brett a fair (I would say elegance itself) listing of the transgressions against Mr Marcellus Wallace.

I disagree. The torture scene had Freddie the Cop screaming through the whole thing. Very rat eye level. Jules' monologue was very fast-paced, witty, and funny. I wouldn't quite call it inelegant, but it's definitely secular. It's not on the level of the O-Ren/Bride showdown; where the Bride wins with a good clean painless kill in the soft white snow. That fight strikes me as very serene, peaceful even if that's the word.

I did see the intended ending for "True Romance." I don't see it as cynical. It seems to be a "natural" result of Clarence trying to live his movie myth of the "hero." It was idiotic of him to try to take on very bad people on his own. It's a commentary on the hero fantasy myth. One could argue that it is the woman who is the enabler here and is less sympathic (but Alabama is also an unrealistic dreamer...the "Pretty Woman" myth.)

Nah, Clarence's flaw is much greater. He was willing to follow through with this traditionally male script, regardless of whether or not it made a widow of Alabama. Her enabling of him was borne out of fidelity toward their relationship. Her dreams were always about them, his dreams were on a basic level all about him.

Not because all the males (maybe not Mr Pink, don't get happy that the color is "feminized") in "Reservoir Dogs" makes it a treatise on misandry. The men are criminals with guns, and various degrees of depravity. Mr Orange, upholder of society's moral truths, succumbed to the hazards of his profession. And so did the other men. But even Mr Orange has his own sense of moral compass to bond with someone who is an outlaw. Not cynical at all, just human, and that is also gender neutral.

Not cynical at all? Pretty much everybody dies. And Mr. Orange succumbs to the same "hero myth" that Clarence does, plus kills the woman that shot him in the belly and Mr. Blonde which has the effect of only postponing the cop's death. He never redeeds himself.

On "Kill Bill," I have heard/read the implication that mother's rights superceed the rights of fathers. That not the point at all. The point is at one point in parenting is it the responsible of parents to give their children the opportunity to not continue on evil paths. Lots of our personal and world conflicts involved this very core issue. I don't believe anyone is a natural born killer of anything other than to eat it (cannibalism my one exception, but even I could have my doubts.) We are taught ways of greed and possesions by our parents, and yes to kill for them if necessary. Bill choose to continue that "natural" path for his child, the natural born killer of goldfish. Beatrix wished another path, and I agree with her. I do acknowledge the first bond a child experiences is with it's mother and that is a natural fact. That doesn't make males powerless and useless, and it is not about anti fatherhood.

D'oh. The goldfish story and Superman. I failed to understand Kill Bill Vol. 2 on a fundamental level. Of course, he was going to raise her to be "evil". Still, Bill is the only parent this girl really knows. She heard of Mommy and met her for a bit, but Daddy is her life. The fact that the Bride killed him and ran away with her and Tarantino does not show how the daughter may have been effected; suggests that the fatherhood role takes on a diminished sense of importance in his mind.

I also feel that The Bride's change away from the life is greater than that of Jules. She is a mother, and motherhood is seen as embracing a higher moral law. Jules has nothing of comparative value. After he ceases being a gangster he's going to "walk the earth"; which Vincent cannily recasts as "becoming a bum". Really once men cease being evil, where else can they go but this sort of undefined existential wasteland?

Regarding a filmakers responsibility, I agree with you to a degree that "...Tarantino does not consider the moral implications of her crushing Stuntman Mike's skull in the slightest." However, he does illustrate Abernathy's transformation. It is she and Stuntman Mike who are the most fascination and dangerous characters in "Death Proof." Tarantino does provide the kick ass cathartic finale of a kung fu revenge flick, but it is up to the audiences to see the moral implications. This is why I do respectfully consider Quentin Tarantino a true artist of the highest order.

Right. Again, the refusal to consider the moral implications of what Abernathy does and the refusal to make her as tragic a figure as Stuntman Mike is what makes me believe that Tarantino is a misadrist and immoral. And of course it is necessary for film audiences to be morally developed enough to ask the right questions and see this ending as creepy in contrast to the cues that Tarantino puts in.

What makes Tarantino a challenging filmmaker is, of course, his immorality.

ColinS said...

Sorry, Alex, I cannot accept Stuntman Mike as a "tragic" figure (Abernathy yes, but Stuntman Mike no.)

I think Tarantino respects the intelligence of his audiences (to be "morally developed"). I do believe our tete a tete is the "pie and talk" (sorry, no pie this round ; )) he recommends after seeing his films. To me, it's sad that a hugh amount of people dismiss him as an immoral, violence monger, unoriginal hack. I think they know not what they speak. There are lot's of good things in his movies to talk about, looking for the allegories. After all his stories so far are about criminals and idiots (people who do stupid things), and I do not think he is suggesting we should be criminals and idiots.

I digress. Back to the discussion. "The fact that the Bride killed him and ran away with her and Tarantino does not show how the daughter may have been effected; suggests that the fatherhood role takes on a diminished sense of importance in his mind." Children are impressionable, Beatrix can explain Bill's death at another time, just like he explained the absence of BB's mother. And BB does understand that death means no longer "flapping" like her goldfish. This does not prove Tarantino devalues fatherhood. What if Bill had simply died of natural causes?

Look, long story short, I would be just as happy if a father removed his child from an "evil" mother for a good shot at a moral turn as I was with Beatrix.

Alec Baldwin still hasn't made his case though. ; )

James Allen said...

Re: Travis on Major League

Another good read (am I the only one who comments on his stuff?) I would give the film and extra 1/2 star and say I still enjoy the film as much as I did when I first saw it. I agree, it's underdog uplift without apology, and more to the point it doesn't try to do anything more than it does. It barely has a bad-guy because the bitch goddess is so unthreatening and so not-really-defeated (typically films of this ilk require complete humiliation) when the team scores its inevitable win that barely anyone cares that they got over on her in the end.

And hey, in retrospect it's fun to watch Wesley Snipes (who Travis didn't mention and who I thought was quite good in the film, playing Willie Mays Hays in a tremendously endearing, breezy fashion) and a pre-24 Dennis Haysbert doing his Jamaican thing (or whatever it was) mon. "Up yur butt, Jobu" indeed.

Chris said...

Just a heads up to the community: Georgia Rule is to sexual abuse what The Other Sister was to mental retardation.

Anonymous said...

Question to Walter: Likewise getting all the angry emails over the poor review of Star Wars Episode Whatever, have you got angry emails over the good review of Spider-Man 3?

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see Walter comment on the negative reaction myself, maybe even defend the movie a bit. I liked it too, but I'm fairly convinced that it is the most flawed in the trilogy, by a significant margin.

Bill C said...

I wouldn't count on a lot of Spidey feedback--it's only really the pans that generate gobs of hate mail, even in a special case like this.

Seattle Jeff said...

George Lucas has joined the major newspaper critics in their negative appraisal of Spider-Man 3. In an interview with FoxNews.com's Roger Friedman, Lucas said, "It's a silly movie. ... There just isn't much there. Once you take it all apart, there's not much story, is there?" Over the weekend, Spider-Man 3 surged ahead of Lucas's Star Wars' episode Revenge of the Sith to take the record for the biggest weekend box-office record. Star Wars was also criticized as being "silly," Lucas noted. "But it wasn't."


Yeah, it wasn't...uh... so there!

Walter_Chaw said...

Jesus wept.

Don't even know what to say about Lucas as judge of "silly" - what I can tell, you get called "silly" by Lucas and you can bank it as a compliment.

No argument that Spidey 3 is the worst of the 3, but take away all the crap (90% of the CGI, 100% of the action sequences), and there's something really fucking interesting in there. And vital, too.

Here's a dangerous thing to say - there must be a reason that stuff like Spidey and Pirates nets this kind of moolah. It's not just quality - it's a finger to a pulse, yes?

Speaking of which, saw 28 Weeks Later tonight.

It's fucking phenomenal.

Skipped Georgia Rule, I'm ashamed to say. Just not as young as I used to be.

No hate mail re: Spidey; but I did get a really interesting email noting that composer Christopher Young had taken over scoring duties from Elfman and that Young had done, in the past, the score for Clive Barker's Hellraiser. . . AND, that the birth of Sandman in Spidey 3 is an awful lot like the birth of Frank in Hellraiser. I'd made the connection to that point, but failed to investigate a more tangible point and, hence, left it out of the review.

Brilliant observation there - wish to hell I'd made it.

Anonymous said...

Is the 10% of CGI that isn't crap which you're referring to the birth of Sandman, Walter? That was a lovely scene.

I agree with you that there is something vital within Spider-Man 3 that makes it work in spite of its many flaws. I guess I just find it interesting that you're so willing to overlook such egregious errors in judgment as the overload of characters and plot threads that serves to diffuse the full degree of potential power and meaning they otherwise may have had, and startlingly sloppy screenwriting shortcuts like the butler deus ex machina.

Walter_Chaw said...

Yeah - I'm a sucker for the series, I think. More, though, I have a hard time looking at the series literally so the "holes" as you describe them accurately, don't strike me that way. I didn't find the film to be overloaded either, odd to say, as that seems to be the consensus - but that in order to honor the father issues of the second film plus the Iraq parable that it can't help but be, it's necessary to have Harry, Venom, and Sandman.

Truth be told - I don't even really remember the narrative. Something that Pauline Kael would freak out about, I'm sure.

theoldboy said...

So 28 Weeks Later is fucking phenomenal?

Seems like an Iraq allegory, Aliens to Days' Alien, Dawn to Days' Night, etc. I'm officially excited. Is it the best horror movie in recent memory like someone claimed, or just merely phenomenal?

dennis said...

but that in order to honor the father issues of the second film plus the Iraq parable that it can't help but be, it's necessary to have Harry, Venom, and Sandman.

I can certainly see the Iraq parable, but how the father issues? That's a bit messy when I try to reason it out in my head - you have Harry coming to terms with his father, the forgiveness of Sandman as the equivalent for Spider-Man of coming to terms with his father figure issues in the wake of his Uncle's murder, and the Brock Venom as what? An externalized projection of the side of Peter that continues down the dark path?

Is it the best horror movie in recent memory like someone claimed, or just merely phenomenal?

If it's phenomenal, wouldn't that make it the best horror movie in recent memory by default?

theoldboy said...

I'm very fond of a good deal of our recent horror bounty. I don't much like the Saw movies, which are the only torture porn that actually feels like porn, from the arbitrary plot to the money shot every fifteen or twenty minutes, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Descent, Hostel, Wolf Creek, The Devil's Rejects, and Alejandre Aja's two films. I know it's sort of unpopular 'round these parts to like about half of them, but they managed to float my boat at the time, and I don't think my opinion of them has been lowered much.

dennis said...

I was probably being a bit glib. The only one of those that I actively disliked was The Hills Have Eyes. The Descent was probably in my top 20 for last year, and Wolf Creek and The Devil's Rejects in my top 20 for '05. The last decent theatrical horror release has probably been The Descent.

Anonymous said...

Uh-oh, the front page is fucked up. The link to the 28 Weeks Later... review leads to the Lucky You review instead.

Bill C said...

The rating was wrong, too. Both fixed.

rachel said...

I don't care how bad Georgia Rule: its existence gave us this.

James Allen said...

Good Colbert clip there, a rare case of him looking genuinely thrown for a loop. And it's 4 minutes with more laughs than the whole of Monster in Law. (Too bad you have to sit through a trailer of Delta Farce to get to it.)

Also, I agree with Walter that 28 Weeks Later is great, but must every film be shoved through the prism of the Iraq War to be truly enjoyed?

Anonymous said...

Do my eyes deceive me or was Film Freak Central just updated 2 days in a row?

Chris said...

Also, for the record, The Ex is *almost* a good movie, and the funniest I've seen in a while (not saying a lot, but saying something).

Anonymous said...

Walter, what are you thoughts on the so-called "shaky cam"? You don't really mention the camera work in 28 Weeks Later, but I noticed that it generally doesn't seem to bother you, The Bourne Supremacy being another example.