August 31, 2007

The Trench

Somebody talk to me about Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid in socio-political context because I think I just saw its millennial doppelganger in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Fresh from a nice chat about Andrey Zvyagintsev’s The Return at Beaver Creek’s beautiful Vilar Center, I’m dying to see his new one, Banishment, based on a writing by William Saroyan and premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The trailer looks like more of the same which is, of course, not a bad thing at all. Heard today, too, that Burn After Reading, the new Coen Bros. spy flick starring Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, and Malkovich has started production.

Owen Wilson tries to kill himself? That’s some bad juju there. Now Steve Coogan and Courtney Love are in the fray – the latter accusing the former of getting Wilson into some heavy shit. Whatever happened, it reminded me a lot of The Royal Tenenbaums and, from there, The Darjeeling Express - when brother Luke’s character shaves his hair and opens his wrists to the tune of the late Elliot Smith’s “Needle in the Hay”. The singer, incidentally, dead by auto-inflicted steak knife to the chest.

(Another odd non-synchronicity, some guy working at the University of Colorado’s student center slit a student’s throat out of nowhere and then started stabbing himself in his chest until police tasered him. It’s the goddamnest thing.)

Saw Rob Zombie’s Halloween tonight. Um. . . it’s more interesting in the context of an emerging auteur’s work? Let’s go with that.

Got a last second gig to host a screening of The Third Man on Saturday, projected from a 16mm source, at Denver’s Starz Filmcenter as part of their “Tattered Cover Film Series”. Admission is free, but it’s always a sellout so get there early if you’re coming. That afternoon, at 1:00pm, screening Bonnie & Clyde as part of Gilpin County’s “American New Wave” series. Admission? Also free.

Finished the first seasons of “Rome” and “Dexter” and the last season of “Deadwood” – two are great, one sucks. Here’s a hint: Showtime series are uniformly awful. Imagine if “Dexter” had been written by David Milch instead.

In other news, Elias Merhige has a new film out. A short film that you can watch for free here: Just found out that his Begotten is out of print. Shame, that.


Jared said...

It's a shame that Shadow of the Vampire and Suspect Zero didn't find more of an audience so that he could get funding to release another theatrical feature. Suspect Zero had a really lousy theatrical release, also the horrible title. I think if it came out after Thank You For Smoking it would've been a minor hit.

It's a shame that Dexter isn't better than it is because Michael C. Hall definitely is capable of that. HBO I think thrives based on their impressive roster of directors and ability to develop interesting shows. Showtime thrives on taking the good concepts from HBO and other networks and changing them just enough not to get sued. Sort of weak that John From Cincinatti didn't get a fair shot, it needed some tweaking (acting lessons for the surfer kid, something that a lot of detractors made too big of a deal out of) because it had the makings of a new Twin Peaks. I found Rome to be almost unwatchable, one of HBO's worst shows. Like the Caligula movie with Malcolm McDowell with higher production values and a boring, austere tone. (he honor of "All time worst" goes to The Comeback, who greenlit that?. Peter Krause has a show coming out on ABC with Donald Sutherland, may be interesting. Rainn Wilson is the best thing about the U.S. office. I saw the Nicholas Cage The Wicker Man because of all the youtube shenanigans around it and just felt sorry for poor Frances Conroy. I hope she finds something good soon, maybe a part on True Blood?

Was going to watch Halloween again this week but watched The Exorcist instead. I'm sort of perplexed at the classification of it as a horror movie because I hadn't seen it since I was really little (thought it was boring and didn't pay much attention to it) and now I think it's a fascinating movie but it's not scary in the slightest. Jason Miller is so incredible that I have no idea how he wasn't in more things after that - intense doesn't even begin to describe him. Sort of perplexed at how Renny Harlin turned a brief line about Merrin's past into....that.

anonymous said...

I am dragging my friends to the Halloween remake today despite Final Girl's objections; the Devil's Rejects was just so god damn good I have to give him some more money. Am I totally off here or did Devil's seem like what Grindhouse would have been if it weren't so self-aware... a n actual modern exploit flick. Also, pertaining to the last thread, I am having to go with HD over BluRay for financial reasons... I am a gamer too, and a 360 of PS3 is a no-brainer.

dennis said...

Elias Merhige could probably make another film if he wanted. He's probably too pretentious to take the J.T. Petty route and direct a no-budget direct-to-video sequel, but if he did. I'm sure he could still make it his own and perhaps establish the foundation for a return back to bigger productions.

Joan said...

Looking forward to your reviews of Rome and Deadwood, although I'm just finishing up season 2 of the latter now. I gave it a try when it was new, but all the profanity put me off. This time I've decided to ignore it as much as possible (although at least once an episode I actually laugh at some ornately profane pronouncement), and have been completely drawn in by the characters. Swearengen is just... brilliant, and everyone else nearly as good.

I wished that Rome could've had a few more seasons, because I found it compulsively watchable, gorgeous and heartbreaking and funny. Which is not to say that it was perfect, because it wasn't. But it was a lot better than just about everything else on.

Meanwhile, I'm stunned that there's absolutely nothing out in the (wide-release) theaters (that's all I have access to) now that's really worth seeing -- is there? And checking the lists of opening films, nothing's looking all that compelling for the fall, either. Am I wrong?

Anonymous said...

You're being too easy on Halloween '07, Walter. This is such a poorly written and executed movie. Even Zombie's thematic intentions are hopelessly muddled. What is the deal with his attraction to cartoonish white trash milieus? He deflates what worked about the original, and has nothing clever or even somewhat interesting to add.

Jeffrey Allen Rydell said...

"Saw Rob Zombie’s Halloween tonight. Um. . . it’s more interesting in the context of an emerging auteur’s work? Let’s go with that."

Least you're honest. Your review of HALLOWEEN struck me as somebody stuck arguing a position he no longer really believes.

Anonymous said... Halloween no good? It has a lot stacked up against it but fucked if I know a more interesting American director who makes movies like this. I am getting sick of the subtitles, man. Horror should have its finger on the neck pulse of contemporary society, and damned if we aren't living in interesting times. Its all fucked and movies should be too. Any recommendations? Or do we have to sit through His Dark Materials with the atheism sucked out by a bunch of assholes with shrinking dicks when faced with the Billy Grahams of the world?

O'JohnLandis said...

Is there a way to actually remove the ability to make anonymous posts? Surely our elected representatives and moral leaders can take a few precious moments out of their gay secret lives to force people to create an account, or at least sign their fucking names. If you're not on the record, chances are you aren't a part of the conversation, don't know how to become a part of the conversation, and most importantly, want no part of conversation.

The post above mine is in no way the stupidest thing that's been written around these parts, but it's a mess, and it just doesn't fit: it's an IMDb post with swear words. Things are different here. I think. What's the point of asking rhetorical questions if people can't give you rhetorical answers?

Or do we have to sit through His Dark Materials with the atheism sucked out by a bunch of assholes with shrinking dicks when faced with the Billy Grahams of the world?

You do not have to sit through it, no. Your dick is safe.

And now, a brief discussion of video game consoles and their list prices! YAY!

Assuming you're the same person who picked Xbox 360 HD-DVD over PS3 Blu-ray, a math lesson:

1 Xbox 360 = $350 (though you'll probably want the Elite which = $450)
1 Play-and-Charge Kit = $20 (unless you like using batteries)
1 Wireless Network Adapter = $100
1 Xbox 360 HD-DVD add-on = $180
1 Xbox Live Gold subscription = $50

for a total of:
$700 (or $800)


1 60GB PS3 = $500

Even if you dump everything besides the console and the add-on, it's still more expensive than the PS3. And the PS3 is a better Blu-ray player than the 360's add-on is an HD-DVD player.

Pick the 360 because you like BioShock and don't own a sexy PC? I can understand that. But the "can you believe how expensive the PS3 is" argument is just so lazy. Yeah, Microsoft is a hippie in a Che Guevara shirt handing out free (and broken) video game consoles to the unwashed proletariat next to monolithic Sony...

davea said...

How convenient that the HD format issue is now coupled with gaming consoles, so we can finally discuss two holy wars in one thread. The possibilities are endless.

Fortunately, there are still companies like LG who just want to make money. The new GGW-H20N (currently shown at the IFA in Berlin) will be around 400EUR - still way too expensive, but I can wait another year or two.

Question: Does it make any sense to watch John from Cincinnati's first season now that it has been canceled? Is there any conclusion in the end or will I be haunted by some stupid cliffhanger the rest of my life?

BTW, Rome was fantastic, can't wait for the second season (although I've only read lukewarm reviews so far). I liked Dexter - good (if just for Michael C. Hall), but not great. A far cry from HBO shows like Deadwood, sure, but what isn't?

Ryland Walker Knight said...

The Jesse James movie is not very good. It sure thinks it is, though.

And Halloween is almost good, or good in spurts, but it's kinda trashy in a bad way, unlike _Devil's Rejects_.

Rick said...

I was reading EW today, and it seems one of the writers named the relationships-of-selfish-whiny-overpriviledged-white-people genre the "malaisionship" genre.

I personally prefer the more simple contribution from O'JohnLandis: "Relationshit"

Can someone watch Californication and tell me how bad it is? I can not stand Duchovny anymore. I am going to declare that I would love to punch him in his smug face, because regarding substantial posts, I tend to walk the line of IMDB and Filmfreak blogger. (Hmm, maybe I am more of an Aint it cool news kind of guy....FIRST!)

Anyone here looking forward to Southland Tales? Is there any chance of it being a hidden (shelved) gem like Idiocracy?

dennis said...

I can't wait to see Southland Tales, if only to verify whether or not Kelly really warranted the fervor there once was over Donnie Darko in the indie world. I loved it at the time, but after listening to his commentary and then hearing about how much he bastardized the movie for his Director's Cut (because he was tired of people misinterpreting his half-baked mythology), I've been afraid to watch it again. I suspect that Southland Tales is going to resemble Domino, only without the stylistic approach Tony Scott took to that material (which arguably lent it further depth, in a purposefully chaotic way).

permazorch said...

Please, jump on this broomstick, because, lady, your ride's here! What I mean to say is: Fuck. You.

Any sucker who argues either side of the HD-DVD/Blu-Ray kerfuffle is a serious tool. The A.I. (Anonymous Idiot) option is lame, true, but give a sucker a break.

Rick said...

Speaking of Idiocracy, I would have LOVED to see a Bill or Walter full review for that movie. Same with the fore mentioned Begotten, a film I just watched a few months ago.

O'JohnLandis said...

I don't think "malaisonship" is bad, exactly. It would work well if you needed to label the genre without suggesting that the genre is inherently awful. I just don't know why you'd want to do that.

(I don't mind the esoterica: my suggestion of a name for the characters in these types of movies was "infidelettantes," after all.)


I got a fuck you. That's the first on this blog, as far as I know. I said, "I don't know if you belong here." He said, "Fuck. You."


Anonymous said...

I am not trying to offend anyone, or waste your time. My name is Stuart and if you want to insult me by name, fair enough. Halloween sucked, it had a couple good moments but would have been much better off as an original work... not a "reimagining". And as a good indication of my PC's ability to play Bioshock,etc, I cannot publish sourced comments. But christ, John, its the fucking blog comment section of a film review site. Get off your fucking soapbox...its not sacred. Sorry if the swears offend you.

Seattle Jeff said...

I just noticed Idiocracy in Bill's top 10.

I was stunned.

I think it's an example of when a great idea does not make a good movie.

The reason it went straight to DVD is that it wasn't good enough to be released in theaters.

[If you want to argue with the logic in the above paragraph, insert Daddy Day Camp-type movie here]

Anyway, I really, really wanted to like Idiocracy, but I didn't laugh much at all (and not at all once they needed water)...great idea poorly executed.

Rick said...

I think the ideas driving Idiocracy are so strong, that it is one of the few cases a film overcomes its botched execution. And in addition to it being off stride, I do not think you laughed much because most of the humor was pretty grim and depressing.

James Allen said...


I'm not as shocked that someone used the words "fuck you" but that someone used the word "kerfuffle." Golly gee whiz, I must say.

Seattle Jeff said...

Just started watching Rome Season it.

Was wondering if anybody's caught Mad Men...I find it absolutely addicting and it's portrayal of 1960 America with everyone sexist, racist, smoking, and drunk driving absolutely creepy in a wonderful way.

And Stuart, don't get all worked up about O'Johnlandis. He adds a fantastic layer to the message board. He's cantankerously passionate.

Rick said...

I just got back from The Ten ( please don't kill me), and the majority of the audience seemed to be like this.

Walter_Chaw said...

Welcome, Stuart.

Profanity welcome - encouraged even - though not, generally, when directed at other guests. Use your best judgment.

Bless O'JL for stirring the pot.

Agreed, by the by, that Halloween would've been much better as just some Zombie project. Had exactly the same thought exiting the theater, in fact. Sort of wished that he'd just done his own thing (I liked the exclusively Zombie parts, after all, the kid walking around with the out-sized Shatner mask is a genius image) - but two things: I hope that the film's financially successful enough to buy him a few more movies - and I hope that when we talk about this film in the future, we're able to place it into a larger context of his expanded body of work. It's crazy-talk, and premature, but I like Zombie a lot and, more, I respect what he's doing.

So while it's not entirely inaccurate that I'm arguing something esoteric more than tangible: I'm trying to put the chit on the game horse.

Ryland Walker Knight said...

Oh I'm certain we'll have plenty more Zombie flicks. He works cheap and his name is a branding tool enough. What's lame is that there will be no more _John From Cincinnati_. But not because the first season's ending was unsatisfying: if you watch all ten episodes I am certain -- providing you are buying into it, and you are staying with it to that ending -- that you will feel the sun shine and the wave crash at the end. There's real magic there. Wish I'd remembered to write this earlier, "davea". Cheers.

Rick said...

$31M is pretty good for this time of year.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Me, I would call Carpenter's version of the story the one that explores the inescapable tides of change. It being one of the five or ten films that got me into movies in the first place, I rewatched the '78 Halloween in preparation for Zombie's remake. I always regarded Carpenter's "Shape" as a force of nature, but not having seen the film for a few years, I was surprised by how complicated it is beyond the obvious readings. In determining the layman's philosophy of horror concerning punishment for hedonism, Halloween is, predictably, a fairly lousy place to start. After all, Laurie has sexual desires and smokes the magic herb along with Annie--her reluctance in doing so not a matter of unwillingness so much as it is one of shame. Perhaps it's borrowing popular interpretations of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but call dowdy Laurie a throwback to the '50s, indulging in the a lot of the same vices as her friends while attempting to maintain an image of chaste morality--with Myers being the ersatz Father Time, forcing her to accept the new social norms by first tearing apart her denial of death.

As for Zombie's version--while I certainly see the complaints concerning the reverence to the original (the Bob/Lynda setpiece is, indeed, a practical mirror image for little reason) and certainly agree with the read that Myers becomes the twisted, self-righteous protector; "enjoyment," per se, requires acceptance of its attempts at intellectual independence, particularly in how it turns the bogeyman into an obsessed, mortal madman. In that sense, then, I think that Zombie is more interested in translating conceptual fears--deconstructing that which we perceive as untouchable. Consider how he very nearly transforms "(Don't Fear) The Reaper"--treated as an all-too-brief warning for things to come in Carpenter's film--into Myers' personal Profondo Rosso lullaby. Really enjoyed McDowell's performance as well; I was fascinated by the portrayal of the traditional doomsayer/avenger Loomis as someone weak and ineffectual--an intellectual opportunist and a fairly lousy shot to boot. With Loomis' superficial psychological treatment and Myers' abusive upbringing in mind, what the film is saying about the responsibility of the sane to prevent mental illness and, failing that, to protect/shield sane society from the mentally ill--and the failure to accomplish that--is something that I'm still trying to parse.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
O'JohnLandis said...

What's the deal with all the deleted comments, Ian?

Anonymous said...

Sorry for that slice of empty comment detritus, folks. I'm a bit wiped out from a major relocation and Halloween had me thinking faster than my keyboard would allow.

permazorch said...

My apologies for the Fuck. You.

I have an immense grudge against both HD formats currently warring. So much so, that my blood boils just thinking about it.

I've yet to post anonymously, but I can certainly understand that it is often convenient, and sometimes necessary for the poster. I took umbrage at what seemed to be excessive snot. Normally, I wouldn't have commented (and certainly not so profanely), but the addition of the topic of HD/Blu-Ray overrode any sense of decorum.

I'm sorry.

Douglas Redding

Paul S. said...

I just wanted to point out the absurdity of this:

"1 Xbox 360 = $350 (though you'll probably want the Elite which = $450)
1 Play-and-Charge Kit = $20 (unless you like using batteries)
1 Wireless Network Adapter = $100
1 Xbox 360 HD-DVD add-on = $180
1 Xbox Live Gold subscription = $50

for a total of:
$700 (or $800)

That's and invalid argument and an incorrect analogy. I don't buy a videogame console to go online, watch movies in HD, etc. If I want to play Bioshock on my 360 (or most ANY other game), I don't need any of those doodads, so my price comes out to $350 (or $250 if you want to include the $100 rebate I got from MicroCenter). But that's only if you like videogames, since the 360 has a lot of great ones, with a lot more just around the corner. If you like cool specs and fancy peripherals, then the PS3 is for you.

BTW, I don't want to turn this into a console-bashing post, as I feel that I'm (and we're) above that, and I really hoped the PS3's games would turn out a lot better than they have (who really wants bad games?). But from it's launch up to Lair, for a videogame console, it's been nothing but one big disappointment after another. Maybe 2008...

Shrug said...

Ordinarily I don't complain about these things. You talk about what you have to talk about in order to review the film appropriately, I reason.

But, re: 3:10 To Yuma:

Fuck, spoilers.


Walter_Chaw said...

I've thought about this a lot and I've read a lot of film criticism and at the end of the day, I'm not doing consumer reportage. It'd probably be better if you saw the film before reading the review because, in all honesty? I don't think, if there's something to be said about a film, that I can say them and still be this cagey little fucker, pretending that I care if you know what happens. Thing of it is, too, that until you watch the movie, you don't really know if I've spoiled anything.

And then there's the problem of if it's a spoiler if I say that the ship sinks in Titanic? Or that Hamlet dies at the end of "Hamlet"? Or the body count in a remake of a film that's been available for consumption for fifty years. Can I still spoil a movie that's five decades old? What if I told you what Rosebud is - or who Luke's dad is? This whole "spoiler warning" thing, given as a courtesy, I understand, still feels like a corruption imposed on us by publicists.

Me? I've never minded knowing who lives and dies going into a film. ("The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford". . . should the title have carried a spoiler warning?) A "spoiler" has no meaning to me, really. How can the experience of seeing a film be spoiled before you see the film?

It speaks to me of this conceit that the only way we experience pleasure is narratively. How fucking retarded is that? I mean, c'mon dudes, is that really the only - even the primary - way that film is experienced by us? It seems like chimp-level shit, to talk about who-what-when. 2001 is about a trip to Jupiter. Moby Dick is a whaling history of New England. Blade Runner is a love story between two robots. It's like that thing that they show in movie theaters in lieu of trivia now: the alternate movie titles thing.

What I'm saying is, if you want spoiler-free consumer reportage, you have something like 200 other places to go.

Shrug said...

I agree with you, for the most part, and definitely understand where you're coming from. Ordinarily I don't hesitate to read "spoilers" either, but I can't help but wonder if what you described, even if I was able to infer its likelihood beforehand, might not have a stronger impact if I hadn't explicitly known it was coming in this take on this story. Now I'll never know.

I do come here for thoughtful criticism, not just a SEE THIS MOVIE THUMBS UP HURRRR, and as I said in my original comment I always reason you talk about whatever you need to etc. This instance probably jumped out at me because I chose to dodge what I imagine was this same bit of information earlier in the day.

Patrick Pricken said...

It's a curious thing with spoilers. The general kind (who lives, who dies) may not really spoil the experience.

However, whenever I watch »Don't Look Now«, I am still gripped by the finale when the little girl turns around and..., well I won't spoil it. And the thing is, at that moment I sort of relive the first time I saw that, when I had no idea what was coming.

If someone had told me beforehand, »Oh, by the way, the little girl is a dwarf killer woman« (spoiler), would I have regarded that moment as one of the creepiest film moments I know?

O'JohnLandis said...

There is rarely a way to write proper criticism without spoilers. Upset about the lack of a spoiler warning? If you were afraid something might influence your ability to properly enjoy the film, isn't a spoiler as likely to do that as a detailed description of tone, metaphor, similarities, and most importantly, how good it is? And I don't know about you, but even when there are spoiler warnings, my eye has a habit of noticing the spoilers on the page or screen without wanting to.

As for the video game thing, I REALLY didn't want to get into a video game discussion here, but this argument seems like ugly, mindless groupthink. I'll counter with the "no such thing as too many paragraphs" style:

Some people are jumping on the Xbox 360 bandwagon because it's cheaper.

In addition, they often feel a need to mock the PS3 for being inordinately expensive.

I find this odd, because in order to get an analogue of everything available with the PS3, the Xbox 360 actually becomes more expensive, as indicated in my breakdown, which you oddly pulled out of an HD optical discussion to call absurd and invalid when you really wanted to talk about the quality of games. Well, ok then.

(And in case you think I'm acting out of insecurity about my purchasing decisions, I own a PS3, an Xbox 360, and a Wii. The Wii is by far the worst, but a Wii + alcohol + people you're attracted to = good times. Even if I tend to dislike certain companies, I'm system ecumenical.)

Xbox 360 has been out about a year longer than the PS3 and it currently has more good games. (About 6-3?)

Yes, you can pay $350 or so (if you don't want to play online, or wirelessly online, or wirelessly online with rechargeable batteries) and get a system that plays more good games right now.

And yes, Lair is a Sony exclusive that probably isn't very good, which is both interesting and relevant because Microsoft hasn't ever published anything bad...

But the odd thing with your invocation of the "it's cheaper and there are more good games" philosophy is you're using it wrong.

You could get a PS2 AND plenty of great games for $350. Or a PS1. Or a Super Nintendo.

Or if you're really interested in quality and quantity for the money, with one broadband connection and one month, you could download ten emulators and every game ever released for NES, SNES, Sega Master, PC Engine, Genesis, N64, Dreamcast, Saturn, two kinds of Game Boys, and PS1. FOR FREE.

Paul, do you see yet how your argument reduces itself to absurdity?

KEY POINT: It's supposed to explain not buying current consoles. It's not supposed to rationalize picking one current console with marginally better software over another.

Bottom line: we buy new consoles for potential. When we do so, we're saying, "This has the capacity to be the next PS1 or the next Genesis. This is a good investment." And a lot of that has to do with specs. The PS3 specs are only marginally better than the Xbox 360 specs, but the PS3 value and potential are so high that your specific argument is specifically ludicrous.

Be forward-looking and don’t listen to idiots.

By the way, I'd rather you bash consoles than make smug, pointless, embarrassingly precious statements like:

But that's only if you like videogames, since the 360 has a lot of great ones, with a lot more just around the corner. If you like cool specs and fancy peripherals, then the PS3 is for you.

Yeah, people pick PS3 because they're prejudiced against the color green. I vastly prefer "fuck you" to middle-school-level condescension. "Fuck you" is sincere.

Oh, and you seem to be rooting for Microsoft while using a computer. That's like a guy in prison rooting for anal rape and abusive guards because that way he at least knows how his life is going to suck.

Patrick Pricken said...

Oh, and you seem to be rooting for Microsoft while using a computer. That's like a guy in prison rooting for anal rape and abusive guards because that way he at least knows how his life is going to suck.

Ça, je ne comprends pas. Care to explain? 1) Is "computer" really the important thing here, without knowing whether Linux or Apple are involved? 2) Why does rooting for Microsoft and using a computer exclude one another? If the Xbox360 was the better console (like the Xbox was to PS2), shouldn't that be the decisive factor, not which megacorp produced it?

Anonymous said...

As per spoilers: I agree with Mr. Chaw. I would add that the spoiler-spoiled are always reciprocally determining: "narrative"-based films angle to be unspoiled simply because of the ghastly view that we go through 119 minutes of "accidents" for the sake of 1 minute of revelation. Of course, in classic retrograde movement of the true, we are bid this revelation on the condition we accept it had always been there tying the accidents together, we just didn't know it until the end.
Now, there is something extraordinarily cynical about films made this way, since narrative movies try to convince us of a certain kind of feeling or knowledge (at the end, we're either supposed to pat ourselves on the back for being intelligent, sensitive, or for having given up both).

It's not only because these movies privilege narrative, but because this very privilege devalues the medium itself. Film is meant to be seen, not described or "told." To use film as a means of translation, in the sense of requiring a supplement images and dialogue can't provide of themselves, makes it no better than a moving magazine.

I think of "Birth" as a good example of a film whose ending really can't be "spoiled" in the normal sense. Certainly you can say what happened, but who is going to find that adequate?

Just as when we're forced to say, "you'd have to have been there," cinema requires that it has to be "seen" there.... n'est-ce pas?

Oh, is the devil. But I enjoy my old x-box because it doesn't use windows.

Paul S. said...

First off, I obviously agree with Walt and the ridiculousness of this current trend of oversensitivity to spoilers. Maybe it's due to so many shitty movies who's only hook is some twist - "whoa! you mean internal affairs was on to them the whole time? and he was actually a woman? ZOMG WTF! that's awesome because I totally didn't expect that!!1!1!!"
Whatever the reason, it's lazy, dishonest and keeps film discussion in a remedial basement.

As for O'John, I mostly agree with you, except for these:
"But the odd thing with your invocation of the "it's cheaper and there are more good games" philosophy is you're using it wrong.
You could get a PS2 AND plenty of great games for $350. Or a PS1. Or a Super Nintendo.

You totally twisted my analogy - I obviously meant new, current generation games - and there are many games which the PS3 and the 360 share - and many of which run better on the 360, though due more to being developed for the lowest-common-denominator than anything else. So in this case, why pay more to play the same games?

Also -
"Bottom line: we buy new consoles for potential."

Nope. Not me, anyways. I buy a new console based on what on can play NOW. Sure, future releases (sequels, etc.) play a part in it. But why buy a console now with little to no games for it, when you can buy it later when a) there are more/better games available and b) it'll very likely be at a lower price?

BTW, "Shoot 'Em Up" looks like good dumb fun, oh, and Bellucci - any FFC review?

Ryan said...

Re: spoilers - fuck off. I DO care about knowing who will live and die and what will occur across the film's narrative, rather than just caring how it will unfold and what the meaning behind it all is. I loathe those assholes who read scripts before seeing films, or watch the complete-making-of documentaries before seeing films. Now, I can't comment on this 3:10 to Yuma thing, wont reach here for months, so I guess my input here is invalid, but I just wanted to cut in and say that there's a difference between saying that Remy and Linguini are going to win over the food critic by the end of Ratatouille, and revealing that he's Tyler Durden the whole time. You don't care who will live or die? Hooray, pretentious! Regardless, for spoilers of the Tyler variety, the "Spoiler Warning in Effect" is a common courtesy.

Now, the 360 rant. The 360 is a piece of shit. For some reason, everything about it sucks ass. I can't get my head around it. Over 1/3 of them are destroyed due to shitty hardware. All of the good games are ruined in some way (Dead Rising - hooray, shitty time limits! Worms XBLA - hooray, shitty control scheme and completely broken weapons system! Gears of War - can't be ruined by anything because it's a piece of shit to begin with!) Anything decent on it, gamewise, you can grab better on PC or a different console. You have to pay for the fucking online?! What the fuck is that? The HD-DVD add on is a piece of shit. HD-DVD is dead. It has lost. Back to the gaming front, the controller is a useless piece of shit. The D-pad rarely works, the analog stick registers horribly, somehow EVERYTHING about this wretched system is useless. It's staying power is going to run out very soon, and I am glad - I hate it. How can fuckheads support a console which was pumped out with known massive hardware flaws just to get out the door quicker to make more money? Meanwhile, the warranty period for the Red Ring of Death balls up has been extended, bonanza - and now people are announcing that they're getting the same destroyed consoles, but without the RROD, and Microsoft will not cover it. 360 supporters are dumb. They probably liked Transformers, voted for Bush, and desire children. Especially if they're related to said children.

Paul S. said...

That was so coherent and so eloquently stated, that you not only changed my mind but changed the way I think.

Jefferson said...

Blade Runner is a love story between two robots.


( ... kidding ...)

Ryan said...

Yeah, yeah. When the thing has been in the public sphere for longer than a year, it's a fucking sled. I can deal with that. But, fuck, the local critic here, who has the job over me, spoiled Million Dollar Baby in the opening sentence of his review, in the national newspaper. I fucking hated that film, but fuck, that's pathetic amateurish shit. Not how one writes a fucking film review.

Carl Walker said...

I actually liked Ryan's comment, but oh yes, it was all one paragraph so he must be an idiot right? Sheesh people, I actually teach college English (sometimes remedial, even) and it gets far worse than that.

As for spoilers, well, I personally think that the trailers are too spoiler-happy, so clearly I am one of those philistines you all are ranting against. I also tend to read Walter's reviews, "Spoiler Warning" tag or not, either after I've seen the film, or after I've decided that I'll never see it.

The downside to this is that, on Friday, I tend to click a review like 3:10 to Yuma, note the rating, and then hope that it's the kind of three-star that I agree with him about, rather than the other kind (not to mention, that it's not that kind of half-hearted, "it doesn't suck that bad," three-star review that he occasionally does. Yeah, I could go look somewhere else for my spoiler-free consumer reporting, but, considering how often you go on (and I agree with you) about how there's no other good criticism out there, that basically means that when you tell me to do that, you're telling me to go fuck myself, right?

So, yeah, Walter, tell me what happens in The Pacifier if you like (warning optional, even), because I'm only reading that review as a form of reportage on our "culture," as it were. As for the movies you actually liked, I know that if you started being concentious about "what happens" and stopped trascending narrative or whatever, it wouldn't be your criticism anymore, so I'm not actually asking you to change anything. I would just like to say, that, yeah, it is a bit frustrating sometimes. God forbid.

Seattle Jeff said...

Just don't give me any spoilers about Rome Season 2...I think Mark Antony might hook up with this Egyptian chick, but I'm not sure and I don't want it ruined!!

Shrug said...


The Egyptian chick dies.

Jefferson said...

I was once accused of spoiling The Return of the King because I mentioned, on a forum much like this one, that in the book, Frodo heads off to the Grey Havens at the end. And I think the precise response was, as above, AHH!! FUCK! SHIT! SPOILER! I didn't know it was possible to spoil Tolkien for anybody.

Short solution: If you don't want a movie spoiled, don't go surfing for independent online resources about that movie. I guarantee you'll keep your innocence.

rachel said...

Here's the thing :it's easy to mock people who are bothered by spoilers. They've got a type of virginity, and adults who are virgins are inherently comical or pathetic (in that, they think the experience should be special). They write SPOILERS in big letters, meant to be easily visible, but conveying hysteria. They haven't yet read that important book or seen that seminal movie; that means they're incurious and ignorant. (You haven't read LORD OF THE RINGS yet? What a dipshit! How old are you?) Worry about spoilers also implies that one expects to see the movie without being able to predict every plot point, of actually being swept up by a development: again, stupider than dirt. And of course, Hollywood holds the narrative as the principle cinematic pleasure, and Hollywood is evil, so anybody worried about narrative is clearly in their pernicious grip.

Oh, how unlike the patron saints of cinema they are! Those who've seen and read everything on one hand; on the other, those who wave their hands when you begin to talk: "Oh, you can spoil the movie for me. I wasn't planning on seeing it, anyway."