February 07, 2008

March of the Marionettes

Seen this year's special Hollywood issue of VANITY FAIR yet? I'm tempted to pick it up for the photo spread featuring tableau recreations of Hitchcock films, with various A- and B-list movie stars striking retro glamorous poses.

Naomi Watts is, perhaps inevitably, Marnie:

You can view them all for free here, at least until the magazine's legal staff returns from lunch. The one problem I have with this portfolio is that while these actors make for serviceable mannequins, aside from Naomi, almost none of these casting choices would work in live-action. James McAvoy filling in for Robert Walker? Renee Zellweger for Kim Novak? Seth Rogen for...Cary Grant?!?!

I'd probably go see the Robert Downey/Gwyneth Paltrow To Catch a Thief, though. It couldn't be much worse than the original (which Walter just reviewed--brilliantly--here).

46 comments:

Ian Pugh said...

Casting James McAvoy as Guy Haines is such a natural choice that I wonder if they reversed the roles at the last minute just to fuck with us.

And, while I work through a few early-'90s rom-coms, I have to nominate Nicolas Cage as Dr. Ben McKenna, the man who knew too much.

Dave G said...

I'll buy Naomi and Scarlett; if he were still alive--Hitch would have cast them both a couple times already. Jodie and Renee--not so much. Kevin Costner aint money--but he should probably be here somewhere.

Bill C said...

Yeah, I can even kind of see him using Charlize, too. Sharon Stone should probably be Tallulah Bankhead instead of Julie Christie.

Andy said...

Jennifer Jason Leigh in one of my favorite music videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsXLugzVhCI&feature=related

Rick said...

Enough with the indie-folk rock, and emotional punk bands trying to prove they are not confined to the limitations of a genre (sadly, a lot of those ones are migrating to indie-folk rock scene, and when people get bored of banjos, what is the next trend?). Faith No More was an intensely original band, and Mike Patton has the actual range that people in the current indie rock/emo-punk scene desperately pretend to have. And Patton also has a great appreciation for film. Check out the list of renditions of film themes his band Fantomas performed on their album The Director's Cut:

1. The Godfather
2. Der Golem
3. Experiment In Terror
4. One Step Beyond
5. Night Of The Hunter (Remix)
6. Cape Fear
7. Rosemary's Baby
8. The Devil Rides Out (Remix)
9. Spider Baby
10. The Omen (Ave Satani)
11. Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer
12. Vendetta
13. Untitled
14. Investigation Of A Citizen Above Suspicion Listen
15. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
16. Charade

Bill C said...

FYI, the 2007 Annual finally went on sale at Amazon. We make more money if you buy it through Lulu but I know some feel more comfortable getting it from a retailer.

dennis said...

I just received the 2007 Annual I purchased through Lulu, and I have to say that I'm elated with Walter's review for The Abandoned. I was amazed by how carelessly the critical community dismissed it, when I thought it was one of the more striking horror movies as of late. A horror community that casually rejects something as elegant as this in favor of garbage like Leslie Vernon and Black Sheep is one that I'm simply not in touch with anymore, if I ever was.

Bill C said...

Thanks Dennis, et al; the feedback on the current Annual has been really encouraging. In retrospect, I think it might be the best one we've put out. If anyone who owns a copy is so inclined to rank and/or review it at its Lulu or Amazon pages, you'd have our eternal gratitude. (Which, when coupled with a subway token, gets you on the subway.)

Also, be sure to keep an eye on the mothersite for an increasingly rare Sunday Feature.

justin said...

Am I crazy, or does anyone else feel these Harry Potter movies just come across as the same thing over and over. I can scarcely tell them apart, especially given how bewildering over-complicated the Potter mythos is, and how Harry seems to suffer through the same character arc in each one. It's telling to me that Walter has referred to two separate entries as "the Empire Strikes Back of the series." Anyway, they can be entertaining, but Rowling is a terrible writer, if these movies are anything to go by.

Bill C said...

I find I can tell the movies apart by remembering who played the teacher of the Dark Arts. Admittedly, I haven't understood the plot of any of them, but that's nothing knew: I could never follow James Bond movies, either.

Walter_Chaw said...

Christ. Roy Scheider. This one really hurts.

rachel said...

Fuck fuck fuck.

Dave G said...

What a RIP roll it's going to be at the Oscars this year, sigh.

Sure these are hardly obscure 'round these parts, but after you watch Hooper and Brody paddle to shore one more time...do yourself a favour and rent up Sorcerer and Frankenheimers' 52 Pick Up, great stuff.

RIP Roy.

Bill C said...

Walter said it all: this one hurts.

I'm so glad that 52 Pick-Up, which people used to talk about in terms they now reserve for torture porn, seems to have been redeemed by the passage of time. A quintessential Scheider turn, and probably the best action movie ever to come out of the Chuck Norris puppy mill known as Cannon Pictures.

Jefferson said...

Scheider was great stuff. I barely remember him in The French Connection, but once he moved to center stage -- Jaws, 52 Pick-up (as stated, awesome), 2010 ... Christ, even SeaQuest -- he became one of the greats. He could just as easily be your dad or your best pal. His character was always the guy who was just barely on the outside of hipness. He never precisely knew what was going on at first, but once he found his feet, you just knew he was going to pull it out and get it done. Great memories.

jacksommersby said...

Coincidentally, I rewatched Scheider in The French Connection a couple of days ago, and Jaws the weekend before last. In most of his films, he was the perfect Everyman: effortlessly appealing and commanding on the silver screen. Was he a great actor? I don't think so, but his meat-and-potato performances always anchored his films with viable dramatic underpinnings -- there was very little foliage separating him from his audience.

I'm glad that 2010 and 52 Pick-Up have been mentioned (both very underrated films). Also, for those who haven't seen it, the little-known black comedy The Fourth War is a real pleasure, with both Scheider and director John Frankenheimer doing simply splendid work. And here's a real jewel from All That Jazz...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNcl0L7eJUY

I remember what Pauline Kael said about his Oscar-nominated performance there: that it went beyond impersonation, as if his body had been taken over by Fosse's soul.

jacksommersby said...

Oh, Walter -- I was rereading your Marathon Man review because of Scheider, when this bit stood out to me...

Magic (made into a mediocre film starring Anthony Hopkins)

...because your review for Magic awarded the film 3 1/2 stars. Just curious.

Walter_Chaw said...

Yep - I'm full of those, I fear. I didn't think much of Magic at the time of writing Marathon Man and then, when presented with the opportunity to look at Magic again upon its release, was surprised by how much I'd missed. Would love one day to do a list of mea culpas. (With Princess Bride, it went the other way.) It'd be as long as my arm.

Throw me in as an appreciator of 7-ups as well in the Scheider-ography. 52 Pick-Up is astounding. If I ever get it up to do that Frankenheimer book I've been wanting to do for years, now. . . Well. Me and Coleridge, right? Good at the lists.

jacksommersby said...

What I loved the most about Scheider is that he never called attention to his acting -- you now, "acting" with a capital A. He built his performances from the inside out and vivified them enough to strongly register on screen without calling undue attention to them, which, as most of us film lovers know, is so quite rare in a day and age when inferior actors italicize every damn setence of dialogue they spew. He was a class-act minus self-admiration.

DVA118 said...

Great reading your Marathon Man review, Walter (if I may presume a first name address). I love that film, as it was part of my film education/awakening - watching VHS rentals of older films from the local library with my father after I got home from the night shift at a restaurant in my teens. And Scheider was a big part of that. I remember commenting at the time how amazing it was that in Marathon Man, a sinewy guy like him could be so much more of a bad ass than the over sized thugs of most 80s/90s action films. Great film. Cheers.

jer fairall said...

52 Pick Up and, of course, Jaws were staples of my unhealthy childhood diet of cable TV, but other than that I'm ashamed to have seen so little of Scheider, though The French Connection and Marathon Man have been sitting in my rental queue for a while now.

All That Jazz hasn't, but I have to say that the YouTube clip that Jack posted was awesome. Like, if the whole movie were just that ten minutes, I'd award it four stars and want to own it. I've ignored all things Fosse on the probably-stupid grounds that I don't like musicals, and this film in particular because I've always found 8 1/2 impenetrable and variations on it (Woody Allen's not-at-all underrated Stardust Memories followed Fosse's film into theaters about a year later) insufferable. But this warrants serious investigation. Thanks, then, to Jack for hipping me to something potentially brilliant.

Bill C said...

Jer, seriously, for the love of God see All That Jazz. It's incredible, indelible, and not at all impenetrable. (Jesus, I sound like Cole Porter or something.)

Walter_Chaw said...

Thirds on All That Jazz. Really one of the greats. And Scheider in it? Holy shit. Seldom seen a more tightrope performance in a film that's, consequently, unbelievably intimate and transparent. It's delovely.

Alex Jackson said...

Geekily fitting in as many past Best Picture winners and nominees that I can before the Oscars. Intended to get All That Jazz sent next, but for some reason I'm doing a Michael Caine double feature instead: Alfie and The Cider House Rules. Don't know what I was thinking there.

James Allen said...

"Show me the way to go home, I'm tired and I want to go to bed."

I think someone summed it up above when they called Scheider a great "everyman," imbuing his characters with a sense of humanity that "everyman" action stars today don't have (like Ben Affleck... snore). Hell, he even gave the lousy Jaws 2 a hell of a lot more sincerity than it could have possibly deserved.

I also agree wholeheartedly about his performance in All That Jazz which goes very far in steering the film away from being a Fellini-esque Fosse ego trip. If ever there was such a thing as perfect casting (or in the case of all All That Jazz, maybe serendipity, as Fosse wanted to do the part himself but was convinced otherwise. Just imagine that) this was it.

I'd also like to say a word about a film of his not mentioned so far, the fun Blue Thunder, a techno action exploitation film (for want of a better description) that Scheider made more that it was with his performance.

"That's Cochrane, F.E., US Army."
"Cochrane, F.E. What's the "F.E." stand for?"
"Fuck Everybody."
-Murphy (Schedier) and Lymangood (Daniel Stern) in Blue Thunder

Jefferson said...

Walter, if you ever do your Frankenheimer book, be sure to include Steve Martin's anecdote about how Frankenheimer first stole his girlfriend (Dalton Trumbo's daughter) in the '60s, and then tried to steal his wife (Victoria Tennant) during the filming of The Holcroft Covenant in the '80s.

Martin's last word on the subject, in Born Standing Up: "John Frankenheimer died recently, although I should point out that it was not I who killed him."

Bill C said...

Hey! Someone else read "Born Standing Up"! I love that book; read it over the holidays.

jacksommersby said...

For those who don't know, Richard Dreyfuss was originally cast as Joe Gideon in All That Jazz but left over creative differences with Fosse. Dreyfuss then recommended his Jaws pal Scheider, and the rest is history.

Walter_Chaw said...

Now Kon Ichikawa. Un-fucking-believable. You know, I just watched Fires on the Plain again a couple of months ago. He was 92, yeah, but it's feeling pretty heavy.

Berandor said...

I just got a paypal refund and used it to buy the Annual. Soon, I will have read the review of Silent Hill...

Would you mind me doing a bookcrossing of the book at a later date (in Germany, but you never know where it might end up)?

Bill C said...

What's a bookcrossing, out of curiosity?

James said...

So, is Walter now the Armond White of the horror genre? Between The Abandoned, TCM: The Beginning, The Woods, and Silent Hill, I'm beginning to think so.

Anyway, his review for the TCM prequel really confounds me. He is reading so much into its undercooked political subtext that the review sounds self-consciously contrarian. I mean c'mon, it makes Leatherface a victim of childhood neglect and abuse with a backstory as reductive as the one Zombie cooked up for Michael in the new Halloween. Otherwise, besides assorted attempts at establishing an origin story for the family that play as unimaginative and overtly literal, it's virtually the same movie as the remake. It even ends with one of the most whorish jumpscare cliches in the books!

I wish I could see it as you do, Walter.

Dave Gibson said...

Bookcrossing is the practice of leaving a book in a public place for someone else to pick up, read, and leave in another place for someone else to find--and so it goes...

theoldboy said...

I'm going to start leaving copies of Gravity's Rainbow on park benches. They will call me The Pynchon Fairy, and I will rule the world of men.

Jeez, I do need to get a copy of the annual. I really want to read that Silent Hill review, because that movie will not leave me alone even if my conscious mind dismisses it as an act of well-intentioned, beautifully photographed retardation.

Bill C said...

By all means, Berandor, bookcross the shit out of it. If only there were a way to track its journey, I'd be keen to know where it winds up.

James said...

And while I'm complaining, I'm surprised that in the review for TCM: The Beginning, Walter didn't so much as bring up how half the movie is just set-up for minor details in the remake. Watch the father become a sheriff, watch him get his teeth knocked out, watch him use plastic wrap, watch the other dude get his legs cut off, etc. etc. This is terrible writing. Sorry if I'm being redundant, but your review for this (at best) mediocre movie is really frustrating!

Walter_Chaw said...

the movie is just set-up for minor details in the remake

Is it? Didn't notice that. What I did notice was a real strong sense of sadness and hopelessness. I disagree, obviously, that the military subtext was ill-developed. Of the films that try to Haggis-ize Iraq/Vietnam the last couple of years, I found TCM:TB to be remarkably on topic and emotionally true.

So what're the complaints against Cerda's The Abandoned, Lucky McKee's The Woods, and Gans' Silent Hill?

jacksommersby said...

Friedkin has some interesting stuff to say about Scheider:

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20178001,00.html

Berandor said...

Well, at bookcrossing.com you can register the book you're leaving behind with a code, and if the finder goes online and registers the book as found, then you can track its journey. So far, the three books I left in a train have not been registered, though. So don't get your hopes up :-)

James said...

I actually like those other movies to varying degrees. My Armond White comment was more of an observation for how remarkably against the grain you're going with your responses to all those movies, given that few "respectable" critics so much as gave them the time of day (which is why I sorta wish they were on the site, though I understand why you'd all like to keep them as selling points for the book).

Regarding Silent Hill, I agree that it was gorgeous (the score is amazing too, lifted as it is from the games), but I have to say that it strikes me as overwritten. The material with Sean Bean should have been cut in half, and all that exposition at the end is a drag, especially given that it still fails to make much sense of the story.

You know Walter, I bet you'd really dig The Dark, directed by John Fawcett (Ginger Snaps) and starring Maria Bello and Sean Bean. It shares themes with Silent Hill, it looks like a million bucks, and it's surprisingly scary.

Berandor said...

James: You're wrong. In Silent Hill, the storyline with Sean Bean should have been excised completely.

theoldboy said...

The Sean Bean storyline was actually suggested by studio execs who thought the movie was too exclusively female-centric.

I guess my problem with Silent Hill is that there's not enough of a human element, something that the games do tend to have and the movie just seems to assume is there. It's a movie that really doesn't give a shit, that makes a bunch of deliberately audacious decisions that sounded a lot better on paper. It's alienating, but not alienating in the right way, it feels like it presumes that you care from the outset. It screws with narrative structure but doesn't reshape it into anything legitimately interesting. The movie is so well shot and stylish that it isn't very scary or intense at all, just kind of cold and since it isn't convincingly scripted or acted in a way that achieves a liberating, dreamlike ponderousness, it just feels like a premier example of the "avant-retarde."

Plus they switches around the game's elliptical story to the point where it makes less sense than it did and doesn't feel nonsensical in the right way.

Anonymous said...

http://www.coedmagazine.com/entertainment/5811

looks familiar

Bill C said...

Since ours is already a rip-off I can't really get mad at them, but it does seem kind of pricky. Maybe it's coincidence, or maybe we should be flattered.

theoldboy said...

I never thought I could read a long list of movies and be completely uninterested in seeing all but two or three of them.

DJR said...

I finally caught up with Gone Baby Gone on DVD, and I love Walter's review. The writing may be overly gummed up with plot machinations that I imagine won't play too well upon repeat viewings, but I felt like there was a lot there boiling beneath the surface, which this review really helped me parse.

Anyway, Walter writes about the final image lingering in his mind for days, and I was wondering what any of your thoughts are on it? I was struck by how Affleck framed them within the foreground television, and I wonder if it is somehow implicating the media, which came up here and there with a reference to CSI making police work difficult and how the local Boston media seems to lacquer the kidnapping and its aftermath.