July 24, 2008

Double Dare

A tip of the hat to Tim Lucas for drawing attention to this at his blog: the British film periodical SIGHT & SOUND recently polled 52 critics or programmers on their idea of a great double-bill and put the results online as a downloadable .PDF. Lucas himself picked Eyes Without a Face and The Manster but admits that in hindsight he wishes he'd chosen A Tale of Two Sisters and The Double Life of Veronique.

I've had some pretty heady double-bills in my day, some by default of my rental choices (Jungle Fever and Barton Fink? Surprisingly complementary--and they both feature John Turturro), some thanks to the auteur-minded programming of rep cinemas (a wearying Roman Polanski twofer of Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby), some by serendipity (with a few hours to kill before a screening of Crumb, I ducked into a Chinatown theatre just in time for a showing of John Woo's Bullet in the Head).

Anyway, the article got me thinking that this hypothetical doesn't have to be the exclusive domain of these cats, many of whom, for what it's worth, will be unfamiliar to readers on this side of the pond. Some of their choices are frankly so unimaginative (The Searchers & Rio Bravo--c'mon, man, try harder than that!) that I suspect we can do as well or better. Let's hear it, then: I give you the keys to a movie theatre and carte blanche to program your own double-bill--what do you choose? And, I guess, why?


prashin said...

Because I'm completely encapsulated by it right now:

The Dark Knight and Fight Club

Both are about protagonist's realization of Ubermensch within themselves during the course of the film, and the ultimate rejection of the agent of chaos.

Some others:

The Big Sleep and The Big Lebowski

In that order, that would be funny as shit.

Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Same film rally, one is an extension of malignant male homosexuality and the other is that malignant male heterosexuality.

High Plains Drifter and Unforgiven

I always thought of the latter as a sequel.

Punch-drunk Love and 3-Iron

Tonally and thematically similar.

Orphanage and Grifters

Fairly oblique Oedipus-ian tales.

Days of Heaven and Out of the Blue

Linda Manz special.

MASH and Buffalo Soldiers

Same shit, different wars.

Fuck I have to stop this now. Those are pretty off the top of the head, lame picks. I could do better with time, I reckon.

prashin said...

Also how about:

Winter Lights and Bringing out the Dead

Pixote and Come and See

brandoncurtis said...

Clean and Down to the Bone

Bill C said...

You reminded me, prashin, that one of my fantasy double-bills is SLING BLADE and PSYCHO II. Both are about allegedly rehabilitated murderers re-entering an unforgiving society that gradually drives them insane again. Would show them in that order, too, because I like the idea of following a heavy pic with a genre piece--good palate-cleanser.

Walter should have some good ideas for this, since he's actually done some programming.

Seattle Jeff said...

The Postman and Battlefield Earth

Anonymous said...

Napoleon Dynamite and Batman Returns

O'JohnLandis said...

Roger Dodger and Murmur of the Heart - I love them both a lot and think the pairing is just about perfect.

Bill's choice is very good, though. I just don't like Sling Blade nearly as much as Psycho 2. Still, the analysis is correct and Psycho 2 might be the best of all true sequels. Maybe History of Violence instead of Sling Blade? Hmm, still working on this one.


Prashin, not to be a dick, but how about Oedipal?

And the funny thing about my choice is that I had worked it out before I noticed the term "Oedipus-ian."

Paul Clarke said...

Robert Wise's The Haunting and Brad Anderson's Session 9, because they both feature a 'haunted' place and take a psychological approach to their horrors.

King Kong and The Valley of Gwangi, because I love stop-motion f/x and the latter is based on a story outline by Willis O'Brien.

Less imaginatively, I would recreate some of the Hammer Horror double features such as Dracula, Prince of Darkness and The Reptile.

Stephen Reese said...

Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and Road House.

- Master Tile Samples

jer fairall said...

Sorry to hijack such a cool thread, but I wanted to pimp out this feature that's going on over at the site I write for:


Open to outside contributors--I think they're trying to make a big deal of it, what with Romero's participation and all. I think some people here could come up with some really interesting stuff.

Ian Pugh said...

Just a few I've had in my head for a while:

The Dead Pool and Tenebrae--unapologetically self-reflexive tales about serial killers, informed by popular entertainment, attempting to enforce a twisted sense of morality.

Mr. Freedom and The Dark Knight. Agree with Michael Atkinson that the Klein picture belongs on a double-bill of some kind, and while Team America is an obvious choice (given that they're probably the least subtle films ever made), I'd love to stick it up with Nolan's film to see how the sparks would fly. Gung-ho, scorched-earth superhero placed against cynical, chaotic villain--sure, why not?

And I'll stand by The Wizard and Girls Just Want to Have Fun--because the '80s were apparently goddamned crazy.

Alex Jackson said...

Um, Kids and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. I love the Lord of the Rings films, but I guess this would be an anti-Lord of the Rings double-feature positioning it as a soulless Hollywood epic when, you know, we need some kind of genuine spiritual element in our lives so we may reject the premise that we are little more but mindless meat puppets floating through existence.

Similiar, but I think with perhaps a subtler and more sophisticated sense of irony would be pairing Andy Warhol's Flesh with The Empire Strikes Back. Haven't seen Trash yet as it is on Netflix's "Instant View" which encourages me to procrastinate, but by all reports it sounds like it might have too much plot to work as appropriately as contrast.

Which also reminds of a belief I have about George Lucas. To appreciate his first three truly great films, it's best to see them in the context of the 1960s instead of the 70s. So pair TXH 1138, American Grafitti, or Star Wars with Knife in the Water, Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby, The Wild Bunch, Masculine/Feminin, Contempt, Band of Outsiders, Weekend, Belle Du Jour, Goldfinger, Night of the Living Dead, Medium Cool, Marat/Sade, Battle of Algiers, or The Birds. You know, an anarchic pop cinema that is still essentially pop. Somehow think that it would be most benefitial to watch the Lucas film first though.

Justin said...

2001 around 9 and then the 80s dub of Akira around midnight.

Bemis said...

The best double feature I ever attended was Dawn of the Dead and Strange Behavior.

Has anyone else noticed Walter's "best American movie since The Godfather Part II" blurb repeatedly used as an example of the overhyping of The Dark Knight? The idea of Walter as an example of critical conformity tickles me.

renfield said...

Tarkovsky's Stalker followed by Wages of Fear...

renfield said...

note: Walt's not the only critic to throw down the Godfather comparison. A brief scroll through Rottentomatoes blurbs reveals as much, though who's to say how many of them were merely echoing the sentiment...

The Power That Preserves said...

perfect blue & mulholland drive

aguirre & no country

dogville & a history of violence

DJR said...

Best movie since The Godfather II. Utterly laughable. When did Walter turn into such a fanboy, reviewing movies through the prism of childish nihilism and celebrating obvious, over-literalized audience pandering? TDK isn't half as bleak as he makes it out to be, nor is it particularly exciting, affecting, or thought-provoking. Nolan lays it all out for us like we're children. Kudos to Fernando M. Croce for taking the movie to task while nearly everyone succumbs to hype. http://www.cinepassion.org/Archives/DarkKnight.html

Bill C said...

And here I thought this thread would help wean us off the Bat-talk. Thanks a lot, renfield!

ren said...

bemis started it...

Bill C said...

Whoops, so he did. Thanks a lot, bemis.

Rick said...

Calling Walter a fanboy is not accurate, just because he has some heart left, unlike some people. I'm tired of the buzzkills laying it out on The Dark Knight, trying to prove to the world they are above the film's "simple" concepts. Ok, we get it. You guys ARE really smart. (and possibly not as smart as you think you are). You win. That is a lifetime without the capability of having fun, consisting of endless, joyless exercises in elevating your intellectual status above the riffraff.

prashin said...

Independent of TDK (lets not go there), what the fuck is so wrong about being a fanboy? I see it quite often being thrown around as an insult, and I never understand why the fuck would you even bother watching a film, any film, if you weren't a fanboy? I watch films because they provide me intellectual and emotional gratification, I can do without the former but without the latter, the whole activity semms pointless.

Bemis said...

Agreed, Prashin. There's a lot of self-loathing implied in the use of the term "fanboy." Anyway, sorry everybody.

prashin said...

This is how that Croce guy whu djr linked defined "fanboys":

It's bad enough when rabid fanboys become so prissy about the film's "awesomeness" that they fuse into one huge, fat-assed Comic Book Guy declaring "Worst critic ever!" at any questioning review...

Need I say more?

Alex Jackson said...

Yeah, I disliked the Croce review also. There are likely unresolved Freudian undertones to this, but it's difficult me to respect a review that is only two paragraphs long. That's all he has to say on the subject? And I'm really annoyed by the idea that the complexity of a text, not moral or emotional complexity just how difficult it is to decipher, is somehow an indicator of its quality. He doesn't seem to be attacking the film for it's values. Its darkness is apparently only jejune because he announces it such (or because one isn't made to put in as much sheer manpower to understand it as they would a "mature" film). Also I get the feeling that he already made up his mind ahead of time and was already closed off to seeing a "comic book movie" (any comic book movie) as an important work of art.

But with that said, I definitely agree with his comment about fanboys. People really have to be able to endure criticism of things that they love. Getting enraged at the slightest offense evinces a real insecurity and just indicates that they have hit a soft spot.

This review has more bile than substance though and does nothing to inform my opinion toward The Dark Knight. As far as negative reviews of The Dark Knight go, this guy ranks far below White and Zacharek.

prashin said...

Just wanted to quote an example of exactly what is wrong with that review:

The Dark Knight is middling as a summer blockbuster, zero as art, and more than a bit alarming as a phenomenon. Christopher Nolan is a director who in six films hasn't stumbled upon a single human emotion...

Now where is the evidence for any of this? I mean, this can be used as a prototype to diss any movie. Just say whatever insults comes to one's mind without any context, emperical evidence or elucidation and one or the other idiot who stumbles upon it and happens to agree will canonize it as the model review. The major problem is you never end up changing someone's mind or even inserting some doubt into their opinion. That is one thing I have always admired about Alex's criticism, that even when I disagree, as I often do, I always end up thinking about exactly why that is and considering his opinion as valid. Other than Bad Boys 2 of course, that's just bloody ridiculous. I would definitely put White and Zacharek on a higher shelf from this guy too, again because there is context to their argument, however the problem I have had with the two for a long time now and it pushed past the saturation point after I read their review of TDK is that I always feel like they attempt to insert a faux-context to their polemic criticism rather than context emerging naturally from within their disparate perspective. Y'know those people, who criticize in a calculated fashion for the sake of itself, in order to attract attention or stay employed or whatever the motivation might be. I absolutely have no issue with criticism of my opinion, in fact it is something that must be celebrated as evidence for human pluralism and is a key driving force for rolling along our intellectual evolution and understanding, but it is one of of my pet peeves when I feel like someone is doing it for the sake of boosting their narcissistic index. It is destructive and anarchic towards the whole idea of having a debate. Y'know, that's what Joker would do in a debate. He would say things out of context or with context but no conviction, so that no one else can have it and everyone goes home pissed off.

O'JohnLandis said...

Holy shit, people. I don't even agree with Croce's review and here I am, forced to defend it. I mean, did No Country really just need a few more laughs? But...

It's concise, clear, and reasonable. Prashin's quote of exactly what's wrong is oddly chosen, as Croce pretty carefully explains what he means. To answer your question, the evidence immediately follows. If you want to attack him, maybe ask him why it's inappropriate for Batman to say, "You're the symbol of hope I could never be." Croce might be guilty of lazy theory and he might simply be wrong about the film, but the review is fine.

...but it's difficult for me to respect a review that is only two paragraphs long.

No shit.

prashin said...

Maybe I'm not reading this right o'john, but where is the evidence or hell, even context for this:

Christopher Nolan is a director who in six films hasn't stumbled upon a single human emotion

He just throws it out there. Maybe its the fact that we probably saw two completely different films, but I'd like to know why he would say that? There are obvious emotions of loss, anger, fear, anxiety, love, remorse, contempt, disgust, anticipation, sadness, narcissism, hatred, guilt, pride etc etc etc. I can give exact instances where these emotions are successfully evoked both, within characters and the audience. And that is just for this film. I think similar arguments can be made for all other Nolan films, as evidenced by either or both the audience response or the critical acclaim of his films. Now we can argue whether what the rate of this success is, and he could be saying that Nolan is not successful at that at all; but fuck give me something to work with. Some really articulate, succinct reviews can be written in two paragraphs; you can see FFC's capsule reviews as an example. But to just say something and not back it up is not only lazy but also incompetent, and thus can be dismissed.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the abhorred quotation: "Christopher Nolan is a director who in six films hasn't stumbled upon a single human emotion."

Whether the review justifies this claim or not, I don't think it's difficult to see why someone might harbor this thought. Most if not all of Nolan's films have subordinated the characters to the algebra of his elaborate narrative conceits. In Nolan's defense, his characterizations tend to self-consciously examine the pathos of men who know themselves to be caught up in the logic of a fatal game. The "man in the box" of The Prestige is the type of the Nolan hero for better or worse. The "human emotion," if one consents to call it that, springs from the recognition of artificial conditions. TDK is probably the closest Nolan has come to making his method organic to the world of his film, save for a few passages that make the Joker a little too clever, a little too omniscient.

Meanwhile, my double-feature would be Stalker and Children of Men, for apocalyptic wastelands and mind-blowing long-take shenanigans.

-Dan C.

Anonymous said...

Walter Chaw is my favorite critic, and I count on his word above all others. With my limited time to see as many films in the theater as I used to, he helps me eliminate the crap. That being said, I feel it is unfortunate that he chose to call "TDK" the best American film since "The Godfather, Part II". Such a declaration needs the passage of time to support it. "TDK" is marvelous, and certainly the frontrunner for best film of 2008. However, am I ready to place it above "Taxi Driver", "Apocalypse Now", "Blue Velvet" and last year's one/two punch of "NCfOM" & "TWBB". HELL NO! Still love ya Walt, but I don't expect that kind of hyperbole from you.

Matthew said...

Ikiru and About Schmidt

Croce's argument is weak, but I thought A.O. Scott's piece about the inherent limitations of the superhero genre last week was pretty insightful. It doesn't bash Dark Knight, it just says that the movie does the most possible with a genre that seems doomed forever to spell out its themes rather than embodying them.

Jefferson said...

I've always had an originals vs. remakes fetish, and my movie theater would act as my outlet:

The Thing from Another World (1951)
The Thing (1982)

The Vanishing (1988)
The Vanishing (1993)

The Big Clock (1948)
No Way Out (1987)

Ringu (1998)
The Ring (2002)

Planet of the Apes (1968)
Planet of the Apes (2001)

Dracula (1931)
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)

Insomnia (1997)
Insomnia (2002)

Abre los Ojos(1997)
Vanilla Sky (2001)

Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

La Cage Aux Folles (1978)
The Birdcage (1996)

La Femme Nikita (1990)
Point of No Return (1993)

High Noon (1952)
Outland (1981)

TDK, viewed in light of Godfather II, fails. The idea of the film as opera is far, far better deployed in Coppola's piece, mostly because we don't need the characters to explain to us that, yes, Michael has entirely betrayed one family for another. Nolan spends his last 35 minutes telling us exactly what each act by each character MEANS on the larger canvas of the world. Had Batman and Jim Gordon been singing to teach other, it might actually have worked, rather than undermining itself. But in Godfather II, no one needed to sing a note.

aflickering said...

citizen kane & there will be blood

jacksommersby said...

McCabe & Mrs. Miller and Heaven's Gate.

(Both are photographed by the world's best cinematographer, Vilmos Zsigmond, but from the very first in Altman's film you can see everything going right while everything in Cimino's goes wrong from the get-go.)

prashin said...

Heaven's Gate gets a bad rep. Its self-indulgent, no doubt, but it could've been a truly great film with with a good pair of scissors and some sense knocked into the creative minds involved.

prashin said...

Which reminds me, Heaven's Gate would make a spectacular double-bill with Shane. No? The former is pretty much a meta version of the latter.

Tempus Fugit said...

I'm late to the party, but I'll throw in my TRIPLE-bill. And before you think I'm just putting these together to seem like a smartass, know that I only decided to watch them tonight, in this order, for no apparent reason. They just made me think of this thread.

Freeway, Jaws and Darkman.

Well, I was entertained.

Andrew_Crockett said...

I had my first Fassbinder experience tonight with 'The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant'--for my double I'd put Herzog's 'Woyzeck' on second.

Carstensen/Kinski, infidelity, defeat/revenge...

yes, it would work!

jacksommersby said...

Well, Heaven's Gate did in fact go under the scissors after its disastrous New York screening after Cimino pulled it and re-edited it in Canada. About an hour and fifteen minutes was cut out, and a voiceover by Kristofferson was added. The thing is, though, this shorter version has never been released on home video, though there is a fifteen-minute clip at YouTube that has a smidgen of the narration.

As for the original cut (well, that's excluding Cimino's initial 5-hour-12-minute cut that the studio refused to release), I still stand by it as...


...the worst film ever made.

Bill C said...

I wish they'd do a BLADE RUNNER-type box set with all the different cuts of HEAVEN'S GATE. Apparently the 5hr version is not just unreleasable because of length, but also because there are large swatches where the sound is unsalvageably bad.

Jefferson said...

Bill, it's just now occurring to me to ask ... is that avatar from Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia? And does it reflect some soul-deep fatigue?

prashin said...

After reading your review Jack, with which I strongly disagree in parts and agree with the rest; I was thinking how many of these charges you made could also be leveled against Deer Hunter which i for one consider a modern classic. A few examples:

...vast widescreen images seem to emasculate the characters before they can even open their mouths, and when they speak, it's sometimes inaudible, often times gibberish.

...Not being able to predict what the characters will do next is less a testament to canny unorthodox writing than blatant dissociative scripting.

...but it lacks true introspection and fails to resonate because he's stupidly put a tired love story front and center

...The compositions are meticulous and exact, but even when there's a truly wondrous shot to take in (like when the indoor light changes in relation to a passing cloud overhead) it's oddly inexpressive due to the vapidity of a story that hasn't a smidgen of immediacy or narrative drive.

I think your opinion of Deer Hunter would help me better understand your abhorrence of Heaven's Gate. Because I can certainly understand why Cimino's style would alienate an audience. I mean, hell, the movie started with a wedding scene that lasted an hour and you barely got to see anyone's face.

Bill C said...

Jefferson: Yup. And yup, pretty much.

jacksommersby said...

First, Ian's "Tootsie" review did something I couldn't have thought possible -- he made me look at a film I've always considered a classic in a totally different light where I surprisingly agreed with many of his points. Put this review in the time capsule, guys. (Along with other FFC reviews, of course)

Second, Bill, in Stephen Bach's "Final Cut" (the best book ever about the behind-the-scenes look at a film), he wrote how this guy seated next to him during the New York premiere kept going, "What did he say?", which left Bach aghast in light of the expensive 6-track Dolby mix the studio payed for. The guy wasn't hard of hearing, either, for Bach himself couldn't make out certain sentences. To be fair, though, there are only 2 times in the almost-4-hour film where the dialogue was muddled, and both times there were either noisy horse carriages or a locomotive in the background. (It reminds me of Robert Zemeckis in the "Used Cars" commentary that the studio couldn't believe the dailies of a dialogue scene having been shot in a bowling alley!) Also worth noting that in both scenes it's Kristofferson's dialogue that's inaudible, which isn't exactly surprising in that he's never been one for forceful dialogue delivery.

Third, Prashin, I do think "The Deer Hunter" is a good but not great film. I certainly like it better than Andrew Sarris, who wrote that sitting through it was like staring at a boneless elephant in your living room for 3 hours. (Note: I've never been a big fan of Sarris, whose fragile sensibilities were -- call the waaaaahmbulance! -- offended by the original "The Hitcher".) I think the first two-thirds are very good while the last-third was right out of Movieland: Michael being able to get back into Vietnam during the Fall of Saigon; finding Nick with hardly little effort once there; the sheer improbablility of Nick being that lucky to have survived that long playing RR; the lucky-so-far Nick's last RR turn blowing his brains out right after agreeing to leave with Michael. (Oh, and a tip for anyone stupid enough to try RR -- don't slap the cylinder in until it stops, for the weight of the bullet will cause that chamber to drop near the bottom.) As for the excerpts from my "Gate" review possibly applying to "Deer", too, let's see:

...vast widescreen images seem to emasculate the characters before they can even open their mouths, and when they speak, it's sometimes inaudible, often times gibberish.

No, because all of the dialogue is clearly heard and is perfectly fine being that Deric Washburn, not Cimino, wrote most of it.

Also no, because most of the compositions aren't as grandeur as those in "Gate". You know how looking down on people from a skyscraper makes them look like ants? In "Gate", that's what they looked like, and it wasn't even from that high a view; in "Deer", yes, there's that great grandeur shot during the first hunt with Michael on the left side of the frame and that mountain alp with clouds around to the right, but that's perfect because this is the level where Michael the great hunter, who's as close to a modern Hawkeye as you can get and who isn't satisfied with the small everyday things that sate other people, feels he belongs. Yes, he gets along with his buddies fine, but there's a part of him deep inside that longs for something more that they can't provide; being atop that mountain solidifies his sense of invulnerability where he's at a metaphysical level above everybody else, so it makes perfect sense that he can't shoot that deer after returning home, because after witnessing human deaths in Vietnam, those deaths have punctured his sense of invulnerability, and he doesn't know how to relate to people whose level he's finally forced to live on.

Not being able to predict what the characters will do next is less a testament to canny unorthodox writing than blatant dissociative scripting.

Just because I don't believe that Nick would have lasted as long playing RR doesn't mean that I can't identify with his reason for doing so -- like Walken's mercenary in "The Dogs of War", he's had the soul burned out of him and this is the only thing that he can find that turns him on. And De Niro's trek to find him is plausible, too -- I just don't think it's plausible that he would've succeeded so easily. The rest of the characters's actions are also plausible. (And thank goodness there's not a character like John Hurt's in "Gate", forever sipping from a flask and spouting nonsensical philosophies like something out of third-rate Chekhov.)

but it lacks true introspection and fails to resonate because he's stupidly put a tired love story front and center

Well, there's no central love story in "Deer". Yes, there's Michael and Linda, but their relationship is more to the side; and I liked that Michael didn't -- in a going-for-an-Oscar scene -- spill out his emotions to her. When the two of them are in bed together just lying there, I thought it was quite beautiful because they came off as genuinely uncertain and nervous, thinking it might be love but not confident enough to fully address it.

The compositions are meticulous and exact, but even when there's a truly wondrous shot to take in (like when the indoor light changes in relation to a passing cloud overhead) it's oddly inexpressive due to the vapidity of a story that hasn't a smidgen of immediacy or narrative drive

The best way to describe this is that the visuals of "Gate" play out like those in a wax museum, and I don't necessarily mean that as an insult, because I've seen some pretty enthralling sights at wax museums; it's just that the images don't have any graphic power -- they just lay there and lay there and lay there without any contextual substance giving them any weight. In "Deer", I never thought the visuals -- also lensed by maestro Vilmos Zsigmond -- were there just to be there; in fact, Zsigmond's lighting of those Saigon alleys at night with the glowing red in the background perfectly emanated a sense of Hell.

Finally, this may surprise you but I used to own the "Gate" LaserDisc and also the DVD (though I'm waiting for an anamorphic transfer). Why? Because it's essential for any film lover because it details in every possible way that money alone can't buy a good film. It's a classic study of what not to do if you're hell-bent on making an "epic" for the sole sake of making one. In "Final Cut", Bach detailed how Cimino outwitted the execs when they arrived on location furious about the overbudget by showing them a fifteen-minute compilation of certain shots with no dialogue, which impressed the hell out of them, with one of them going so far as to describe what he'd seen as the kind of film David Lean would have made if he'd made a Western. Of course, Cimino didn't show them fifteen minutes of continual footage, from the end of one scene to another. He knew how to manipulate the brass, and, as it turned out, the brass were so gullible that even a whiner like Cimino managed to get his way, including getting UA to bankroll the useless prologue and epilogue even though the film was astronomically overbudget.

prashin said...


Firstly thanks for the elaborate explanation. I can see where you're coming from. I guess I didn't mind a lot of stuff you mentioned as much as you did. I do dis agree with some points like dialogues are clearly audible at all times in Deer Hunter. There are many instance especially in the factory scene in the beginning and during the wedding scene where you can't make out what anyone is saying because of murky sound and extensive overlapping. Also pound-for-pound you would find maybe only slightly less long distance shots in DH as you would in HG, or so I would think from memory. Cimino was trying to evoke a sense of false nostalgia in HG by sepia-toning the entire film like photographs from late 19th-century. Thats why edges were murky at times like the photographs. I'm not going to debate whether this was entirely successful, but he was doing it for a good reason.

Because it's essential for any film lover because it details in every possible way that money alone can't buy a good film.

See this is the part that slightly bothers me. I would compare this to another said "disaster", Gigli, which I feel in normal course of events would've been ignored as another Ben Affleck dud, had it not been for the who Bennifer saga. Similar situation is there with Heaven's Gate where I just don't know how much flak is deserved for the film itself, and the amount that is loaded on it for sinking a studio! I mean, take the case of Apocalypse Now and how incredibly out of proportion the whole "Brando ruined it" theory is taken seriously. And all that based on the myth that Coppola hated it, when all he did was misspoke, or atleast was misinterpreted. Media thrives on conflicts and people are ready with their daggers when they small blood, and I just don't think either Heaven's Gate or Gigli are the worst films ever made. I mean fuck, have you seen Crash or Bad Boys 2 or Soul Plane or Norbit?!

Alex Jackson said...

Two tangetal notes. For some reason I think the elephant quote is from Jonathan Rosenbaum. I read it in the tacky but invaluable book of quotations The Critics Were Wrong, but haven't been able to find my copy to confirm or deny the Andrew Sarris authorship.

In any event, I'm not much a fan of Sarris either. In my mind, he's largely responsible for turning film criticism into a pseudo-science instead of an art form. I don't doubt his love of cinema, I just don't think he has an ounce of creativity in him. Even his famed auteur theory was essentially stolen from the French!

And also, as Prashin loves reminding everybody, I'm a big fan of Crash and Bad Boys 2. Not a big fan of Norbit to say the least, though like Crash and Bad Boys 2 it is precisely the sort of "bad" movie that you should see for yourself.

For worst movies of all time, I'd put a vote in for Assignment Terror, Monster High, Patch Adams, and Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold. In recent years, hard to get lower than Superhero Movie or Hollywood Homicide. Those aren't bad movies that reward curiosity. They are just pure pain.

Ian Pugh said...

I don't really get why Tootsie is so beloved, but then it took me a while to figure out why I listened to Donovan so much in college. (I did not, for the record, smoke pot.)

James Allen said...

Tootsie was a funny sitcom-y film (it was co-written by Larry Gelbart, natch) that audiences seemed to take a liking to at the time. I honestly never really thought of it any more than that. The cross dressing wasn't exactly anything new (but ohmygodohmygod, it was Dustin Freakin' Hoffman wearing a dress!! What courage!), and it didn't seem to have the nerve to be really racy. It was nice to see Hoffman poking fun at his uptight actor persona, which, as you said Ian, was the best thing it had going for it.

I can't remember hearing it brought up all that much in around 20 years until list-o-mania hit and it was suddenly one of the greatest comedies of all time. To each his own, I suppose, but to give it any credit for skewering gender stereotypes is laughable at best. And at the very least Michael should have suffered some incredible humiliation at the end, at least, if not more, than what he inflicted on everyone else. The ending was a bit soft, to put it mildly. For such a "crazy" comedy it needed a good kicker at the end.

However, as sitcom-y films go, it was pretty funny, and I would give it 3-stars myself. Then again, since I haven't seen the film in so long, I wonder if I would give it less. It wouldn't be the first time I went back to an 80's film I "loved" only to say to myself, "what was I thinking?"

Oh yeah, a double bill:

Putting aside my favorite drive-in double feature (yes, these films were actually paired up): Love at First Bite and The Island of Dr. Moreau (the Michael York version, Barbra Carerra was sexy, wasn't she?) I offer the following:

Singin' In the Rain and Moulin Rouge!
-Two very differnt "inside show biz" musicals.

Scorpio and The Bourne Ultimatum
-Old vs. new/frenetic approach to the spy genre.

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
-Two affectionate, and of course sharply different, tributes to noir.

You get the idea of how I'm approaching things.

Good day, all.

prashin said...

And also, as Prashin loves reminding everybody, I'm a big fan of Crash and Bad Boys 2

Point conceded Alex, I have annoyingly mentioned that repeatedly in the past. To be fair, not in this case though. Those are the only two films in recent past that have made me physically angry when I was walking out of the theater. There are many stupid and innocuous films that come out every year that I largely ignore as products of incompetence, but then there are these ones that I classify as dangerous, that not only promote mainstream acceptance but actually propagate socially damaging and ugly behaviors as idealistic. Its like Jerry Springer Show without Jerry Springer and the cheesy quote he does in the dying seconds.

Not a big fan of Sarris either, he is like a nutrition label, it'll give you all info about the food other than what it tastes like.

Bill C said...

James: I love that DEAD MEN/KISS KISS idea so much I plan to steal it should the opportunity arise.

James Allen said...

Bill: Jolly good! Glad to be of help. I just saw Dead Men the other day and it always gives me a good feeling inside (something warm and squishy.)

And Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is just a hysterical high wire act. It could've easily collapsed under the weight of its own meta-ness, but Downey kept it afloat. (I love mixed metaphors.)

Alex Jackson said...

Ian's comment about how the film shows a man being better at being a woman than any actual woman deals Tootsie a fatal arterial blow that it cannot recover from. Also, I was pretty bothered by that bullshit excuse of Dorothy having some kind of "morals clause". And how come in these cross-dressing movies, the cross-dresser is always afraid of people thinking that their alter ego is gay? It seems that would solve a lot of their problems and possibly improve the ruse besides.

That "falling in love" montage where Hoffman falls in love with Lange as she is acting maternal really got to me though. It is simplistic, but I guess I just haven't seen many love stories where they love their partner so much they want to get married, buy a house in the suburbs, make babies, and grow old together. Love in the movies rarely has that specific combination of the ordinary and the profound. Kind of wish it was surrounded by something a little heavier and substantive.

Just saw Marie Antoinette (2006 again, btw. Would go good with Marat/Sade, not just in that the former is before the revolution and the latter is after; but they share a certain something that gets me really excited about the possibilities of the cinema.

renfield said...

So, uh, did anybody see the new X-Files? Dismissed because of the dialogue atrocities exhibited in the trailers? Is it really as bad as it looks?

And isn't KK,BB the embarrassing effort of a has-been screenwriter about 6 years behind the hyperrealism curve? That interrupting narrator shit is tired as hell, and played with such misplaced bravado. I had to double check the db to make sure this was really a 2005 release...the Kilmer fag jokes are cool, I guess...

Bill G said...

In addition to X-Files 2, will there be a review for Tropic Thunder? Mummy 3? Midnight Meat Train?

The Master Of Unlocking said...

If we're still on the double bill thing....

The American Friend followed up by Strangers On A Train. Two of the classiest depictions of a sociopath I can think of.

By the by...The American Friend was on sale at the MTV website. Not interesting in and of itself, but when added to your cart, you get a recommendation for Tila Tequila's Shot At Love. I don't want to meet the man who has those two items in his cart.

prashin said...

Ian's comment about how the film shows a man being better at being a woman than any actual woman deals Tootsie a fatal arterial blow that it cannot recover from.

Wasn't the point that they needed "manly", i.e. dominating and aggressive woman for the role; and that is why he was so good at it and got selected over other women. Still on shaky ground, but has an internal logic to it .

Jefferson said...

Of all the great insights in your Heaven's Gate/Deer Hunter comment, Jack, the coolest part is that now I know how to win at Russian roulette.

Rick said...

That interrupting narrator shit is tired as hell

Not with Downney Jr. delivering it. I mean, he made Iron Man worth seeing.

Alex Jackson said...

So, uh, did anybody see the new X-Files? Dismissed because of the dialogue atrocities exhibited in the trailers? Is it really as bad as it looks?

It's OK. Kind of embarassing when a serious film depicts Catholic priests as pedophiles (I'm not trying to be anti-anti-Catholic here, but I mean seriously, give us a break already) and it's also kind of embarassing when a serious film employs the science fiction elements of The Brain That Wouldn't Die. But still, I found myself appreciating the simple fact that it's a film for an adult audience and it moves a bit slower than the usual summer blockbuster. Somewhere between the faint praise and the faint criticism there is a really strange dig at George W. that got a giggle out of me even in realizing that it was pretty easy.

I wouldn't go if you have no sympathy for the material though and I somehow suspect that Walter would have torn this one a new asshole if he got his claws on it.

Bill C said...

Bill G, et al: no MUMMY 3 review this week, alas, but Walter did just turn in a real barn-burner that should make up for the recent dip in theatrical reviews.

Bemis said...

Another double bill that occurred to me last night: Taxi Driver and Wellcome to the Dollhouse.

Anonymous said...

I'm an X-Files fan and I thought the new film was an atrocity. A genuine atrocity. The dig at Dubya was a low point, it effectively said nothing at all. The leaden speeches are so bereft of meaning or interest that I was irritated from beginning to end.

The real tragedy is what happened to Mulder and Scully, a duo famous, even primarily known for their romantic tension. I didn't realize they had hooked up on the show, that happened long after I stopped caring. This is partially why I didn't realize until halfway through that they were actually living together, in a relationship. They're so cold and distant -- even when I saw them sleeping in the same bed, I thought we were just looking at a random one-night stand. When did these characters become so boring?


Mike A said...

The new X-Files pretty much attempts to shove every ripped-from-the-headlines story about the Christian faith's recent battles with law (and science into one movie. In that context, a dig at W. Bush (and, by extention, his faith-based policies) is appropriate. So appropriate, really, that it feels a touch too obvious.

That's how I'd describe the whole movie. It's so low-key and literalminded that the reality of the church/state conflict is stranger and more perplexing than anything in the movie itself. Hasn't the point of the X-files always been to paint that conflict in lurid tabloid extremes? Had the role of God been played by some sort of outrageous yeti demon, it would have improved the picture a ton.

As for a double feature, The Dark Knight has pretty much convinced me to re-evaluate 28 Weeks Later as a comic book movie. I hadn't really considered the 28 franchise's graphic novel tie-ins relevant until Dark Knight came out with an extremely similar visual philosophy, and identical lessons about how totalitarianism speeds the onset of chaos (be it personified through zombies or jokers).

If Don's flight from the cabin is the evil twin of Nolan's ferry sequence, then it follows that 28 Weeks Later is the "what if" Dark Knight sequel where Batman allows his tactics to become a societal institution.