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Showing posts from February, 2011

Fealty to the Wretched

The King’s Speech is lovely. Some of my colleagues have, disparagingly, called it middlebrow, but I guess that depends on where your particular brow happens to be located.In a world more perfect than the one we live in, my favorite movie of the year, Sofia Coppola’s extraordinary, steel-rod-delicate Somewhere would be on this list. It’s not a movie about a rich, spoiled, “Why should we care about him?” movie star; it’s a story about a human being who’s lost his way. Apparently, that’s just not as interesting as watching Paris fold over on itself. (Stephanie Zacharek, “Stephanie Zacharek’s Oscar Picks: Middlebrow Schmiddlebrow,” Movieline, 25 Feb. 2011)"King's Speech" makes not only aesthetes but rights-of-man folk nothing but self-indulgent, self-serving parasites. It makes the duty-to-country crowd just plain right, and those who aren't quite prepared to cowtow to what's ordained -- specifically, King George, in planning to marry out of love, and in cutting dow…

Great movies we appreciate but also rightly mock

Happy Oscar week, you third-class stowaways. Quoth the thespian Bill Paxton, “Are you ready to go back to Titanic?” The point is you’re not. It’s 2011 and we’re still 192 years away from comprehending Titanic’s world-paralyzing success, its Best Picture win, and Jack Dawson’s hack drawing skills. He’s just never going to get into Oberlin at that rate. You won’t find explanation for James Cameron’s sorcery here, but near, far, wherever you are — you will remember and recoil at the royal badness of Titanic. (Louis Virtel, “Bad Movies We Love, Oscar Week Edition: Titanic,”Movieline, 23 Feb. 2011) - - - - -
I have never understood why people liked this movie. James Cameron has never been the greatest at dialog, but this was by far the worst script he's written. You know it's bad when Billy Zane plays a one-dimensional character that would actually have been more complex and nuanced if they had given him a mustache to twirl. And I never understood the concept of a rich woman falling…

Knifing the f*cker back in return

Seeing two 3-D movies in a row is pretty much my idea of torture, and a colleague and I came very close to decamping to see The Touch (with my beloved Elliot Gould), which is being shown as part of the festival’s Ingmar Bergman retrospective. In the end, persuaded by a few enthusiastic colleagues, we — with much eye-rolling and many deprecating remarks — opted to check out Wim Wenders’ Pina. I’m glad we did.[….]
I’d always avoided Bausch, assuming it was all bony dancers in drab skintone leotards, miserably acting out the angst of mankind, or whatever. I now know how wrong I was. Some of Bausch’s ideas may not result in anyone’s idea of conventional (whatever that is) beauty: She might scatter the floor with peat moss, which would mingle with the sweat clinging to the dancers’ dresses, resulting in damp, mother-earth stains; a man in a tutu, being pushed along slowly on a railway handcar, appears to be carrying some pretty heavy-duty German sorrow and guilt on his shoulders.But Wenders…

The Factory System

When you see an article titled “The Day the Movies Died,” you can probably expect a boatload of negativity. That said, Mark Harris’ polemic in this month’s GQ on the state of Hollywood is pretty even-handed. After all, it blames the upcoming string of lame comic book movies and sequels on the one group you might not have expected: Us, the people who do most of the hand-wringing. “We can complain until we’re hoarse that Hollywood abandoned us by ceasing to make the kinds of movies we want to see, but it’s just as true that we abandoned Hollywood,” Harris writes. “Studios make movies for people who go to the movies, and the fact is, we don’t go anymore. […] Put simply, we’d rather stay home, and movies are made for people who’d rather go out.” The moral? If you like movies, start supporting the good ones and ignoring the bad ones. [GQ] (Christopher Rosen, “Only You Can Save Movies, and 7 Other Stories You’ll Be Talking About Today,” Movieline, 18 Feb. 2011)Anyone who reads Movieline wo…

Grabbing hold

Filmmaker, writer, performance artist, what-have-you Miranda July ambled onto the scene in 2005 with her debut film, Me and You and Everyone We Know, which became a surprise arthouse sort-of smash. Since then, July has published a book of short stories, created art projects for the Venice Biennale, and put together a performance piece. She’s working hard at becoming the Woody Allen of the “Meh” Generation, and she’s getting closer, and not for the better, with her new picture The Future, which premiered at Sundance and is one of the competition films at the Berlinale.In The Future, a youngish couple (they’re in their mid-30s), stalled out in their careers and their relationship, decide to adopt a sick cat that will require constant care. It’s never spelled out exactly why these two — they’re named Sophie and Jason, and they’re played by July and Hamish Linklater — have decided to embark on this shaky adventure. Is it a trial run for a baby? Or just a joint project that they hope will …

Over John Dewey's dead body

Heads up, Harvey! Incoming fire at 10 o’clock! Don’t let the Academy get anywhere near this hot potato: A writer at Big Hollywood has finally said what needed to be said about the vexed stutterer whose dramatic, heart-wrenching travails have touched the hearts of awards voters everywhere: Who the hell feels sorry for the King of England?Take it away, Ned Rice:
My main problem with The King’s Speech is that the character we’re supposed to identify with, the down-trodden-schmuck-who-can’t-catch-a-break-but-we-root-for-him-anyway-because-for-all-his-faults-he’s-got-a-heart-of-gold just happens to be…THE KING OF ENGLAND! That’s right: in order to enjoy this film I’m supposed to feel sympathy for a man who, almost by definition, is an unsympathetic character. Like a Frank Capra film about the riches-to-mega-riches life of Donald Trump, this movie simply doesn’t make any sense to me despite fine performances by Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter.
I had the same problem with …

The inconvenient '60s: sorry guys, they happened

Judging by the trailer, the eight-part miniseries The Kennedys, which has endured nearly as much bad luck as its titular family, is even worse than you’ve heard. Which is saying a lot considering how much has already been said about the project — starring Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes as the fabled first couple in Camelot — that the History Channel, Showtime, FX and and Starz all flat-out refused to air.
[. . .]
But Katie Holmes. Poor, poor Katie Holmes. Attempting to play Jackie Kennedy was a losing battle from the start and here, Holmes is able to look elegant and poised. The problem appears to be when she opens her mouth. In some parts of the trailer, she delivers a back alley acting class rendition of Upper Class Massachusetts and in other parts, she speaks with no accent at all — relying on that lop-sided grin and constant blinking that Anne Hathaway parodied so effectively on Saturday Night Live. (Julie Miller, “Katie Holmes’ Performance Is the Biggest National Tragedy In This Ke…

Worrisome flips more than flops for scripts

In the interest of scientific exploration, I offer a few random dialogue samples from the 3-D cavediveapalooza survival adventure Sanctum: “Life’s not a dress rehearsal — you gotta seize the day!” “The exit! Shit!” “Where’s my mask? Goddammit!” “I am not wearing the wetsuit of a dead person!” “You spend your lives wrapped in cotton wool! You want to play at being adventurous? Yeah, this is it!” And last but not least, the ever-popular “We’ve got to get out of here — now!”Sanctum wasn’t directed by James Cameron — he’s merely an executive producer — but the script is pure Cameron gibberooni, the kind of language that would embarrass a ’40s comic-strip character if he found it penciled into one of his voice balloons. (Stephanie Zacharek, “Sanctum Wasn’t Directed by James Cameron, But It’s Dumb Enough to Seem So,” Movieline, 3 Feb. 2011)For what it's worth, I really like this bit of dialogue from "Avatar":GRACE: 
Alright, look -- I don't have the answers 
yet, I'm…

"The King's Speech"

"The King's Speech" should be a film I like. Being a Dewey democrat, that is, I should applaud that a film respecting of aristocracy spends so much effort showcasing what democratic, truly mutual relationships are like -- and apparently arguing them as superior to others. People need and deserve to be treated with respect. People deserve our efforts at fully understanding them; they need and deserve to be constantly listened and attended to. They need to be encouraged to enjoy doing what they like to do, to resist doing what they hate doing -- so long of course as this doesn't mean their staying with comfort zones born of deprival. No one person is really superior to any other -- whether you be King or other. This is what the film teaches. Or does it? At the end I admit that the sense of this film as mostly in the democrat's camp, was perhaps more alien to it than I thought and wished it to be. What perhaps we most get from the film, is that FOR THE KING…

Discussing "The Social Network": film about the maker of facebook

"Immoral", Patrick? What word is left for people who steal and rape if you're gonna call a group "immoral" for disagreeing with you on film quality. Jesus. (Daniella Isaacs, response to post, Mike Ryan, “Armond White Responds to Lisa Schwarzbaum’s NYFCC Complaints by Calling Her Racist,” Movieline, 20 January 2011)
I think it's high quality, Daniella, but I do think it immoral -- meaning that I think it's a film aiming for high acclaim that couldn't really care less for those without the talent to reach a kind of co-equality with entrenched Mayflower-descendent types: the bulk of most joe and jane facebook users out there. I think it "argues" that we really ought to be keying in on these people, be fascinated by them, because, despite their debauch, they CAN work significant wonders, while the rest of you out there enjoy the genuine magic but only to come up with your own flat notes of nothing. When people are at real risk of losing unde…