May 17, 2007

Thursday's Friday Talkback

If you're wondering about the spotty transmissions of late, I broke my freakin' arm. Between this and the hernia operation, I hope I've finally shed the cosmic "kick me" sign, though it'll still be a couple of weeks before I'm out of the sling and substantially contributing to the site again. Could be worse, of course--could be "The Office" heartbreaker Jenna Fischer, who recently, gulp, broke her back. Apparently she'll make a full recovery, but nevertheless: get well soon, Pam!

Anyway, we haven't had a proper talkback in a while, so here's a sampling of some recent reviews bound to jumpstart the conversation around here, including a sneak peek at Walter's review of Shrek the Turd--er, Third. There is also this, the trailer for the latest Un Film de Michael Bay, which brings to mind Joe Dante's reason for turning down Batman: because he didn't believe in Batman, he believed in the Joker. From the looks of things, they hired a Decepticon to direct Transformers.

Next week marks a special occasion for FFC; more on that soon.

46 comments:

rachel said...

Just wondering: why does ffc not credit the actors of animated films? It's especially frustrating for something like Shrek, where a list would be appropriate as a roster of shame.

Heard about the J.Fisch thing; awful. Hope she gets better at light speeds. Heard it was the fault of high heels. Seriously, I don't know why they're still around, high heels are something medieval.

Finally saw Hott Fuzz, thought it was brilliant. My friends kept complaining about the slow build-up and the strangeness tone; I suspect that if you haven't seen Wicker Man the first part of the film is just less enjoyable. Anyway, I'm still hanging my hopes that I'll get to see Don't in a theater one day.

Has anyone seen Away from Her?

Finally, for anyone who hasn't caught it: *wink*

Anonymous said...

I posted this in the comments section to the previous post, but I might as well copy it over here:

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

Anonymous said...

The Duck review link still doesn't go anywhere near Duck - sad!

Keith Uhlich said...

I'm sending good vibes your way, Bill. Get well soon.

Bill C said...

Thanks, Keith!

For what it's worth, we stopped listing voiceover performers mainly because when it came to the Miyazakis and other foreign animations, were we to list the original cast or Suzanne Pleshette, et al? Plus, I just personally hate validating that DreamWorks supergroup mentality.

Anyone catch "The Office" season finale? As side-splitting as the show is, I'm starting to think it's TV's best drama since "Deadwood".

Benaiah said...

I almost cried at the end. Jenna Fischer, Steve Carrell and John Krasinski are simply amazing actors. Jenna's last scene of the episode was so incredibly emotive that I was charging like nothing I have felt since the last time I did certain drugs. At this point though, they are going to have to take the show in a new direction, I have no interest in Jim and Pam having relationship troubles and breaking up. The Turk and Carla steady march to adulthood is all I can buy at this point.

Rick said...

FYI on rifftrax.com they added Star Wars - Episode II. I bought Troll 2 because I already owned the DVD, looks like I will have to tape Episode II off of HBO (something I never though would happen). And the Troll 2 MP3 was well worth it, for those who suspected doing that movie would be an empty gesture. Though they are on a one-step-ahead-of-Michael-Ian-Black level of clever but empty commentary, I still find it funny. Though their blatant homophobia and unfair attacks on people's physical appearances can be a little too mean-spirited at times( and now seem even more angry, possibly because rifftrax can't be much of a success). But come on, Episode II? I have to see what they do to that one!

Bill, do you think that the American version of "The Office" has now surpassed the British version because the British one was one-dimensional and endlessly cynical? I think while it was close, this season of the American version may have put it over the top.

corym said...

I'm sure many of you have seen this already, but it looks like the first real image of Nolan's Joker is here.

That's a pretty dark design. The Dark Knight might turn out to be a pretty hard PG-13.

Dexter Morgan said...

"corym said...
I'm sure many of you have seen this already, but it looks like the first real image of Nolan's Joker is here.

That's a pretty dark design. The Dark Knight might turn out to be a pretty hard PG-13."


It looks sort of like Angelina Jolie. Very dark and scary.

corym said...

Looks like the Joker site has changed. Now it's nothing but a black screen that reveals a bunch of HA HA HA's if you highlight everything.

AICN still has the picture up here.

Ian Pugh said...

True, Cory, but if you copy and paste the entire message and filter out all of the "HA"s you get "See you in December".

I wonder if this whole viral marketing ploy is an indication that the Clown Prince of Crime will also be taking on a few more Riddler-esque qualities.

And, of course, by the look of things you'll get no points for guessing who'll be responsible for the dear Mr. Dent's on-the-job accident.

corym said...

Ian

In the comics, Joker did have some Riddler-esque qualities. He liked taunting his enemies and dropping hints about what he was going to do.

So, what does everyone think of the look? It's a departure, but they get high points for a Joker that actually looks really creepy. I can't wait to see how Ledger is going to play the role.

AVN said...

Funny, the blog doesn't seem to link to the home page of FilmFreakCentral.com. Surely it must be one of the film sites of interest."

Bill C said...

Well, y'know, for starters, there's no such site as FilmFreakCentral.com. For another thing, the prominent subheader above refers to this blog as "The Official Blog of FilmFreakCentral.net," so I figure listing ourselves under the FSoI would be overkill. Maybe I'm wrong.

Rick: More "Office" spiel to come some day when I am a 2-handed typist again.

Digging the Joker makeup.

ryan said...

To quote a certain 1989 superhero yarn, "LOVE that Joker!". Seriously, I love the look that they have come up with. It holds on to the essentials of the classic design and adds some really interesting (and thankfully gruesome) twists. Also, Nolan has mentioned that the main influence for the character will be Alan Moore's The Killing Joke as well as The Joker's first two appearances in the comics, in which he constantly taunted both Batman and Gotham as a whole with a variety of methods.

Also, The Office season finale met every one of my expectations and then some. As much as I love the show, I had my doubts as to how they could top last season's "Casino Night", but damn, they nailed it.

jenkins said...

As someone who works in medicine i find it especially creepy that you can see where the extended smile was stitched together in the scar tissue. A "realistic" portrayal. And, of course, I use the term loosely.

Anonymous said...

Let's Watch A Girl Get Beaten To Death

Rick said...

Is anyone watching "On the Lot"?

Holy shit. This show is pissing me off. Did they seriously use the word "legends" (without irony) to describe Brett Ratner and Garry Marshall? And Ratner drilling people on the importance of confidence in pitching (which has what to do with filmmaking?) Just judge their tacky digital films and get this shit over with.

theoldboy said...

Watching between my fingers. On the Lot serves essentially the same purpose in American culture as American Idol, though I doubt it will find similar broad success as instead of shining a light on how deluded and untalented the American people are, it illuminates the shallowness, egotism, and the largely non-artistic aspirations of this generation of filmmakers-- the widest yet, and in that the DV curse, the downside of democratized digital moviemaking, is starting to make its presence known. I suspect both the show and the movement to which its largely pathetic contestants belong will be best summed up by the moment when one losing contestant utters the phrase "Unleash the thunder," though I have yet to figure out exactly how.

Walter_Chaw said...

Saw PotC 3 - and it's good enough to be characterized as a "missed opportunity" instead of a pile of shit a la PotC 2. The pre-credit sequence alone merits a look. Alas, it's almost three fucking hours long.

In answer to the "shaky cam" query up above: though I know I deal in them on occasion, I'm leery of making generalities about any single technique - I think that when it's used in some action flicks that it's confusing and irritating (like in Spidey 3 for instance, a film in a series of films wherein I like just about everything except the action sequences) - but in something like Narc where it's really, really abused, I think it does a tremendous amount for establishing a pace.

In 28 Weeks Later, the juxtaposition between the serene clarity of the God's eye views with the epileptic fog of ground's eye conflict felt just right to me. Paul Greengrass: another example of a "shaky cam" master.

Of all the "big" flicks left this summer, I'm most looking forward to Ratatouille and Bourne Ultimatum.

Alex Jackson said...

On the Lot serves essentially the same purpose in American culture as American Idol, though I doubt it will find similar broad success as instead of shining a light on how deluded and untalented the American people are, it illuminates the shallowness, egotism, and the largely non-artistic aspirations of this generation of filmmakers

If we're being honest, most aspiring filmmakers are more Bret Ratner than, say, Wes Anderson.

rachel said...

Speaking of shitty aspiring filmmakers, feel free to watch my first completed video project.

I'll leave it to you all to determine where I fall on the Ratner/Anderson spectrum.

Alex Jackson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex Jackson said...

Heaven knows we haven't been the best of friends Rachel and understand that this is coming from somebody who was hoping to take you down a few pegs.

But Roman: A Suitable Case for Treatment is really good. Scary good. BETTER than Sofia Coppola's Lick the Star or David Gordon Green's Physical Pinball or Martin Scorsese's student shorts if you ask me. As soon as I get the chance, I'm putting it on my Four Star list.

Especially Lick the Star, actually. I don't know what you think of Sofia Coppola, but you remind me a bit of her. It's not just in the unabashed femininity but in how these girls are ill-equipped--emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually to assume an avatar role. This is darker though. The more I think about how the characters in the book must be responding to having their story told by these giggling deities; the more creeped out I get.

For all we talk about something like Spider Man 3 being a parable about the War in Iraq, this is one that matters. Just reflect that our country and our way of life is being introduced to the rest of the world by heavily armed 18 to 20 year olds.

I really think that I'm seeing something here. Magic Position is fantastic too. That was really a rush, I feel nervous and happy after that.

You really need to keep doing this Rachel. When you get out of school you need to write a feature, find the funding, and give us something new. Whatever it is you have it and the future of the cinema is far too important to leave in the hands of those assholes that praise Brett Ratner as a "legend".

Cap said...

Can I beg for a review of upcoming Hostel Part II when/if it's screened for critics?

jer fairall said...

Rachel: Send them Roman: A Suitable Case For Treatment. It's at least as good as most of the stuff I've seen on their DVDs so far. Great work.

jer fairall said...

BTW, fantastic American Beauty/Forrest Gump piece, Walter. I always took the former to be watered-down Solondz; sure, Spacey is fantastic but c'mon! That scene where he catches his wife making out with Peter Gallagher in the drive thru as one of his co-workers yells "Bus-ted!" This got a fucking Oscar for writing?!

Dunno what it is about Gump, though. That film is like a designer drug. Appalling for all of the reasons you cite, but so attractive and watchable that I can't help getting sucked into it whenever I come across it. A toxic message in a fantastically beautiful package? Sure. But the packaging has to be worth something, no?

Dennis said...

Hey FFCers, are there any worthwhile Lucio Fulci movies? I have a friend who wants me to watch his stuff, but I'm apprehensive. I noticed Chaw mention off-handedly in one of his reviews that Four of the Apocalypse and Don't Torture a Duckling rock, but otherwise everything reviewed on the site is panned. Can anyone recommend any of his movies, and I wonder what Chaw likes about those ones in particular?

Shrug said...

I know a guy who knows a guy who was kicked off of "On the Lot" on the first episode. The claim goes that he hated being on the show and decided to make the worst possible pitch (dogs eating people?) he could to get kicked off.

Then he went home and found out that a short feature he made had been accepted to a film festival.

Si said...

Enjoyed that American Beauty/Gump review too, Walter. Funny that Beauty asks you to "look closer" - the closer you look, the less genuine and more calculated the film itself is.

Looking forward to your take on Pirates 3...

Alex Jackson said...

I didn't think that Don't Torture a Duckling was all that great. No poetry to it, the violence was laughably elaborate and the red herrings were ridiculous. Good enough place to start though.

I thought that Zombie was atrocious. Conquest was about as good as Don't Torture a Duckling, but see it only if you are feeling particularly adventurous. New York Ripper has a very good reputation, but I haven't seen it yet.

Bill C said...

Fulci is not really worth chasing down, his reknown attained largely by association (with Argento, et al). I kinda like The Beyond and keep hearing good things about The Psychic, but by and large when his movies aren't extravagantly stupid (see: the zombie-shark wrestling match of Zombie, or virtually any scene from The Black Cat), they're incredibly dull.

Vikram said...

Seeing Rachel's work (very cool) and speaking of young filmmakers, here is a link to an article. about Francis Ford Coppola speaking to film students before the release of his new movie Youth Without Youth.

Check out this excerpt:

Coppola urged the student filmmakers to aim for careers focused on small, personal projects like the ones that have reinvigorated him. He also encouraged them to write his longtime friend George Lucas, "who is far more talented than anyone knows," to push him to make the experimental films he intended to create before "Star Wars."

Hilarious, no?

Alex Jackson said...

On American Beauty/Forrest Gump; I actually like American Beauty more but find Forrest Gump more justifiable.

I don't know what to say about American Beauty other than that the obsessions with firearms, floating plastic bags, fucking cheerleaders, and suffering through the milkfed blues struck a strong chord with me at the time (age 17 in 1999) and I can't completely excise that from the rest of my being. Plus, it's a wonderfully made film. Though it would have improved quite a bit if Lester just went ahead and fucked the girl. That was chickenshit that he stopped, fucking her would have legitimized the film's attempts toward moral ambiguity.

Forrest Gump I like because of the Jenny subplot. That's a useful anti-hippy picture, I think. The sexually abused girl attempting to find substenance in the bankrupt sixties counterculture. My entry-point into the picture is localized somewhere along there, I have to explore it more. Robin Wright is brilliant at playing damaged besides.

I think "rosebud" is a reference to Marion Davis' clitoris by the way.

theoldboy said...

I love The Beyond, and have some weird affection for House By The Cemetary that I don't think I can pin down. Zombie didn't do much for me, just sort of bored me while intermittently amusing me, although regardless of its extravagant stupidity it takes some sort of low genius to concieve of the zombie-shark battle. Ultimately, Fulci is the Hustler to Argento's Playboy. There is an appeal and art to Fulci's tastelessness and narrative incompetence. He has a decent idea of where to put the camera, less of an idea of how to use it and comes up with some striking imagery and inventive carnage amidst the frequent tedium, tedium which can probably immediately be alleviated if the films are approached entirely as camp enterprises. I haven't seen Don't Torture A Duckling or New York Ripper, the latter mostly out of queasiness.

Anonymous said...

Alright Alex, I just watched The Omen remake, and I need to know... why did you include it on your top 10 last year as a runner up? I'd love to read to your reasoning.

Rick said...

Tonight, I watched "On the Lot" again. And the only reasoning behind me doing this is because I do not feel like I deserve to be happy.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I watch Lost for the same reason! The finale for that was pretty much the worst 2 hours of TV ever.

Cap said...

Hey Bill, got a question for you - over on Rottentomatoes you've got one of the only Fresh reviews for the Crichton-adaptation Sphere, but the link goes to nothiing and searching FFC finds nothing - have you got a review of it somewhere?

Alex Jackson said...

Alright Alex, I just watched The Omen remake, and I need to know... why did you include it on your top 10 last year as a runner up? I'd love to read to your reasoning.

Well, I hadn't seen Children of Men at the time and I forced myself to come up with ten runner ups. Had I seen Children of Men that might have been worked onto the top ten and The Omen wouldn't have been on there.

I did like the film though. The dream sequences were extremely well-done and genuinely frightening. I love that bit in the white room.

Plus, although I hadn't seen the original at the time I could tell that it was essentially a shot-by-shot remake like Gus Van Sant's Psycho. This was very effective though in emphasizing the deterministic quality of the apocalyptic plot and the pessimistic conclusion.

The main way that it differs from the original is actually in the dream sequences which are important in fleshing out the mother character and emphasizing her perspective. I love how the film gives us a mother who is terrified to realize that she despises her own child. All the moms in the movies have always sacrificed for their children and put their children above everything else (i.e. Silent Hill and The Descent) that it was nice to see one that just couldn't hack it.

Anonymous said...

I don't really see how the dream sequence flesh out the character, but okay.

And yes, that's an interesting idea about a mother trying to cope with a son who doesn't appear to love her and she can't love in return, but I don't think it is really explored in any way beyond the surface, sadly.

Bill C said...

Wow, not sure why RT ever considered my SPHERE review "fresh." Deleted it from the site because it was a pathetic piece, but suffice it to say as a fan of the book that movie pissed me off to no end. I think I gave it * out of four.

Walter_Chaw said...

Interested to hear how the child figures into The Descent overly - I saw the pic more as a series of birth experiences for the mother as a means of physical/emotional transformation. The child - even in the original cut - appears more symbolic in a grand sense than particular. If that makes any sense.

I think of films like Mimic as good examples of the mother abhorring the offspring - even Don't Look Now with the father's initial (wise) rejection of the child. Ray Bradbury did the theme with "Small Assassin" back in the fifties - and then there's the It's Alive series. Also: how about the maternally ambiguous end of Alien: Resurrection? A few moments in that picture, in fact, like the bit where Ripley torches her clones. Revulsion, at least, to some parthenogenesized offspring.

I do like that Rosemary takes care of the little bastard at the end of her movie, though.

As for The Omen remake: lots of really cool set-pieces - ditto the all-white bathroom and the red-flash (lots of red, to no good end, but there you have it), but I missed the older guy/younger gal dynamic of the original. Reminded me (the original) of the sad resignation to cuckolding suffered by George Sander in Village of the Damned.

dennis said...

The Omen remake often reminded me of a sub-Final Destination with one soul-deadening stretch where almost nothing interesting occurs in the final third, given that we basically know where everything he headed, even if we haven't seen the original. It sure did look purdy though.

As for Fulci, I just watched The Four of the Apocalypse and rather liked it, cheesy folk soundtrack and all, even if there was clearly some Christian symbolic stuff going on that was going over my head. Sometimes watching movies as an atheist who is generally uninformed on religion can suck.

Si said...

Just seen Pirates 3, Walter, and... yeah, I pretty much agree with you. Definitely way too long, too many good actors wasted, and Keira's over-emphasis of every syllable grates. But the film does have its moments.

It was a bit like Pirates 2(which really wasn't anywhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be) in that it had pieces of worthwhile stuff scattered in an overlong sea of dross. But there was more worthwhile stuff this time round.

rachel said...

At the risk of replying to a dead thread (fitting, with all this Pirates stuff), I wanna thank everyone for the positive feedback. Especially you, Alex (Although you should know-- in regards to the bit you deleted-- I don't actually bear you any ill will. For what it's worth.)

Thanks also, for bringing up that connection to the Iraq War. I wasn't thinking about that, but that really illuminates the work for me.

I haven't seen Lick the Stars (I thought that I was actually ripping off Richard Serra), but I like Suicides and LiT. I think that the stuff I'm working on is a little more nervous.

As for the future: I'm working on a screenplay right now and am trying my best to be a filmmaker. However, I don't really know what my chances are, just because I don't know if I'll ever be a confident person that can inspire others.