April 02, 2010

Friday Talk-Back

An act of optimism, perhaps, here hopefully the invitation with many happy returns of a Friday Talkback thread.

Talk about our new release reviews of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Clash of the Titans...

Or Bryant's fabbo review of the original Clash of the Titans...


Talk about the week's deaths, arrests, startling revelations, and other errata...

All topics fair within reason. And did I mention that if you're in the Denver area next Tuesday you should swing by the Denver Public Library around 6p to see me introduce and discuss afterwards a screening of Malick's Badlands?

You can talk about Badlands, too, if you want.

25 comments:

DaveA said...

Lost's season 3 was absolutely horrible because it's so damn lazy. While I'd never say the first two seasons were actually great, at least I had the feeling they tried to produce something entertaining, but were harmed by the debt to produce 23 episodes, which lead to the glacial pacing of the show. The shortening of the seasons was the best thing that could happen, and I think Lost actually improved a bit after that horrible season. It seems they're finally willing to embrace the pulpy nature of the show. Maybe it's just the fond memories I have of playing Myst...

Clash of the titans: Can anybody explain what's going on with Liam Neeson? I mean, Taken wasn't actually that horrible, given that Luc Besson was involved, but now Clash and the next thing is A-Team?

Patrick said...

After having first listened to the audiobook, I kind of enjoyed The girl with the dragon tattoo – I'd have given it 2 stars, and the lead actress is a good choice for the main character. Of course, the first book is the one that still might pass as a crime novel and not some pulpy wish-fulfillment, and it still has its lengths and is not at all as deep as it seems to be – meaning, of course, it's programmed for great success.

On the topic of writers and dreary films, Nicholas Sparks not only said Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian" was horrible, no, he actually compared himself to Shakespeare, Austen and Hemingway. I mean, Nicholas fucking Sparks. The bane of good taste. What the fuck allows him to pass judgement on any writer – even fan fiction should be out of bounds for him. And he does so in an interview together with the star of his latest masterpiece, Miley fucking Cyrus.

Jefferson Robbins said...

I'm sorry to read, in Walter's Lost S3 review, that he's "tired of discussing race in mainstream entertainment." I grant you it's been sisyphean, and as a critic he's taken epic lumps for voicing what readers (and other critics) don't want to hear, so I understand the fatigue. But I hope that the barrage won't silence Walter and FFC generally on calling out Paleolithic racial politics when it comes into focus. Frankly, I'm sure it won't.

DaveA: I don't know which projects Neeson already had in the pipe when his wife Natasha Richardson died (although I know he was shooting Chloe at the time), but I wonder if that loss hasn't left him short on the desire for an actorly challenge. There's so much you have to muster to create a really great character from a demanding script, and I'm sure a death in the family can dry up the will to deeply engage with one's own soul for the delectation of others. But he's still got to earn a living.

The Nicholas Sparks feature outs him as a man with no inner life, no sense of perspective ("No one is doing what I do"), no handle on what the literary terms he's using really mean: "drama," "melodrama," "Greek tragedy." I would say he should be embarrassed, but his books already betray a severe shame deficit, so ...

Jefferson Robbins said...

Oh, and w/r/t race and Clash of the Titans 2010, did anybody notice how the unintelligible Arab magician ended his time on the screen?

Duncan said...

Walter! Where's the 'Greenberg' review? Is it being stored away for next year's book?

Justin B-H said...

Has anyone seen How to Train Your Dragon? I assume we won't be getting an FFC review, and I'm torn whether to see it - on one hand it's by Dreamworks, but it's directed by the team behind Lilo and Stitch..

Patrick said...

Re: Alice in Wonderland

I might agree with that review if not for the fact that to have a film with so many great female characters and a heroine to boot is, despite it being feminism 101 and despite Alice having the typical young male hero plot, freaking much too rare anyways. So I was too busy going hell yes to Alice wearing the armor.

Of course, that was before Depp danced. *cringe*

Alex Jackson said...

Walter's put me off from wanting to see Alice in Wonderland any time soon. That's sounds so boring making her a warrior princess. Having female protagonists should open up alternative kinds of narratives, it shouldn't have to be the hero of a thousand faces with a vagina. I mean I'm not offended. I don't feel threatened nor do I feel women are continuing to be misrepresented or oppressed in being put in stories like this. I'm just saying that it's boring.

I really like Alice in Wonderland. Really dig the Jan Svankmajer version and the Disney version also.

Reminds me. You guys seen this? In high school, I really liked British Literature (Alice in Wonderland, Hamlet, Beowulf, Canterbury Tales, Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm were on the curriculum but I read them on my own time) and really didn't get too much out of American Literature (The Great Gatsby and The Adventures of Huck Finn, couldn't remember anything else). I'm not sure that I would revise my opinion these ten years later except I can better understand why some people might actually prefer the Americans.

Perennial argument, it just seems to me that if you aren't free to hate on the classics you aren't free to really love them either.

Just sent in my review of Big Love Season 2 by the way and yes, I'm embarassed at how slow I get write.

Alex Jackson said...

Hey, about liking the British classics better than the American classics. I'm thinking that the British books are a lot more movie-like than the American ones.

The Americans use the device of the unreliable narrator quite more (Gatsby, Huck Finn, but also Catcher in the Rye and Lolita. Probably a lot more American classics that you can think of) and the appeal of the American novels relies a lot more in the use of language and the style.

The British classics on the other hand are more subject matter based and image-based and more sensational. I mean Beowulf is monsters and decapitations and Canturbury Tales is fart jokes right?

I'm not very literary and so maybe I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about. Would be curious to have Walter weigh in on all this.

renfield said...

A trailer for Jean-Pierre Jeunet's new film:

http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi2588476441/

I want to say "return to form!" (Form in this case being midway between Delicatessen and Amelie).

Anonymous said...

"I'm just saying that it's boring. "

And you haven't even seen it. Trust me, Alex, it's VERY boring. VERY, VERY boring. I didn't think I could ever find Burton boring, but then: Alice in Wonderland.

Outlaw Vern, genius that he is, notes that the film uses the phrase "frabjous day" from the Jabberwocky poem and turns it into a holiday to make it make sense -- as he says, the film is actively trying to make sense out of nonsense. This is the worst possible use of the source material, and it is, if not Burton's worst film, certainly his least interesting.

Alex Jackson said...

Just stumbled upon this "lost" Pauline Kael review of the third greatest film of all-time. Made me tremendously happy.

Patrick said...

So Bill said,

@Patrick: Dude, ANTICHRIST is not hard to watch. Well, it is, but not for any 'homework'-type reasons.

Hoo-boy. I finally sat down and watched it. It may not have been for homework-type reasons, but hard to watch is an understatement. Wow.

Bill C said...

@Patrick: I was thinking back to that movie a lot today--perhaps not coincidentally, during a dentist appointment.

I was also thinking that Lars von Trier has had more movies in my last ten Top 10 lists than any other filmmaker, and wondering why I don't therefore value him more, think of him immediately when asked to name my favourite filmmakers, or ever breathlessly anticipate his next film.

Anybody here have a filmmaker or actor whose work you revere, but for some reason you just don't feel very passionate about? Is there a name for this phenomenon?

Be that as it may, ANTICHRIST is one that stuck, and I can't wait for the Criterion Blu-ray.

Daniel said...

@Bill C I've never truly disliked a Coen Bros movie. That being said, I can't say that their films awaken much passion inside me.

Alex Jackson said...

@Bill C I've never truly disliked a Coen Bros movie. That being said, I can't say that their films awaken much passion inside me.

Yes!! I was just about to say the Coens! Watching those barringer82 montages on Youtube a while back, it occurred to me that while somebody like David Fincher or Paul Thomas Anderson have motifs, the Coens just repeat themselves.

Still though, pick almost any Coen film at random and I'll watch it with you. A Coen Brothers film festival wouldn't yield very much that's useful, but they make great single servings.

Patrick said...

I thought I disliked half of the Coen's films, but every time I happen to rewatch one I didn't like the first time, I'm okay with the second time around. Won't try it with the Man who wasn't there, though – I was too bored with that.

Bill: I can certainly see myself thinking about Antichrist a few weeks or months down the road. I don't think I'll simply forget all of it. I can see people like Vern rolling their eyes at the "artiness" of it, bit I was drawn in, and then it was disconcerting, painful, a visceral experience. I think it broke my mind a little, but in a good way.

I propose "Appreciation" or maybe "intellectual appreciation" for the phenomenon you describe. Though I can't think of any director where that would fit right now. I mean, historically, Hitchcock or Kurosawa might fit the bill. I have Rashomon and Seven Samurai at home, and despite loving them, I haven't rushed out to see more; in fact, I've had "Red Beard" at home for some time now without feeling the need to definitely watch it right now. (but I guess I'll do that tonight, now that I remember). Perhaps David Mamet (as writer) or Michael Mann, though I hated Miami Vice and that might play a role, too.

Alex Jackson said...

Just saw Roger Ebert's review of Mother:

This is a new South Korean film by Bong Joon-ho, his first after "The Host" (2006). That was a popular thriller about a giant squid, created by toxic waste, who dragged away a victim. Her family members learn she's still alive, but can't get the authorities to listen.

Emphasis my own.

Patrick said...

Not sure what you're talking about there. It had fins like a squid, legs like a squid, and a tail like a squid.

(also, tentacles)

Alex Jackson said...

For the record, here is what I would call a giant squid.

And here is the
Host monster
.

Me thinks that Ebert got all his information from the one-sheet.

Dan said...

I would describe The Host beast as an ambulant, amphibious tadpole.

Anonymous said...

Just read the review of the Natural on the main site. I would have sworn it was one of Chaw's until I saw Bill's name at the bottom. Regardless, I very much enjoyed it.

Bill C said...

I'll take that as a compliment, Anon, though Walter may not.

Daniel said...

Enjoyed the review also, Bill.
Out of curiosity, does anyone here read the sports guy's ESPN articles? He's one of the smuggest, most groan inducing columnists out there.

Patrick said...

I just saw "Shutter Island". Proposition: the film should have begun with either a scene among the doctors when Ben Kingsley argued for his experiment, or even with diCaprios final question, and then unrolled with the audience fully knowing what was going on.