friday classic film blogging

Do the Right Thing. (1989). Directed and written by Spike Lee. Starring Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson, Giancarlo Esposito, Spike Lee, Bill Nunn, John Turturro.

With obligatory shots of him sitting courtside at Madison Square Garden or presiding over Academy Award ceremonies along with all the other tinseltown greybeards every spring, it's hard remember it to now, but Spike Lee was once one of America's most controversial cinematic personalities. An eighth-grade Dex very vividly recalls an episode of "Nightline" that Spike was dragged onto to "explain" Do the Right Thing to some ass-kissing black media studies professor and another simpering journalist; the moment was illustrative of a consistent, very modern theme among people who make their living in television and media - that they reamin eternally confused and outraged over the idea black people in America may have one or two things to be upset about, or that they dare express an opinion about it.

Do the Right Thing might've been the last "Spike Lee" movie, before his work began a less consistent, less impactful slide that I think can be marked by the awful final ten minutes of an otherwise sterling Malcolm X (1992). It's not perfect, by any means - again, Spike shows an inability to end his films, or to even accept the ambiguity a lot of the stories he tells have, and many of the characters and situations are really poorly realized (witness Edson's and Lee's argument over the best pitcher in the MLB - really Spike? Really?), and it's hard to watch him try and act sometimes too - but it has an electricity that I've only seen in some of Scorsese's best - it's a living piece of art. Do the Right Thing shows that once upon a time, Spike Lee was way, way up there, making movies bigger than the Oscars or "Nightline." I remember Spike Lee and Do the Right Thing more than I remember Reagan, and that's probably all that needs to be said about it.


david lynch thursday!

In heaven, everything is fine...

...you got your good thing, and I got mine...


Ten recent reviews

Sorry, I've been slacking. Here's some for today, and I've got a backlog of more, just haven't gotten around to writing and publishing. Soon.

Nayak (dir. Satyajit Ray, 1966)
A superstar of Indian cinema with a drinking problem takes a train ride. Along the way he meets a up-and-coming reporter and is uncharacteristically open is discussions with her, offering up information about his life and past that she could use in a scathing article, should she choose. That's the basic plot, though the film is structured around flashbacks and dreams that flesh out the character (and the running time). It's not my favorite Ray film - has less to say about humanity in general than about the characters involved. However, it does play a nice relationship between the two principals and the other surrounding folks in their interactions with them. And in terms of the writing, the acting, the shooting (though the DVD I saw wasn't a particularly good transfer) - it's all well made across the board. And I suppose the actor looking back on the events of his life can be taken in the meta- as an idea we could potentially all learn from - seemingly small events add up over time to the sum total of your character, your being. But that's taking it a little further than I think the film itself actually goes. A good film, not a great one (and as with several other Ray films, inexplicably packaged as part of a Bollywood series).

The Unforgiven (dir. John Huston, 1960)
The film suffers from an ambiguous and inconsistent attitude toward racism, most likely due to studio cuts and interference. But it still makes it an ultimately frustrating viewing experience, especially with the knowledge that the original version is alleged to have taken a much stronger stance against the racist attitudes that permeate the film before it was ordered to have been softened - a real turnaround in the final chapter rather than simply reinforcing many of the attitudes that have been presented by the Indian attack that closes things. But it's a fascinating look nonetheless, even if not totally successful, as a young woman (Audrey Hepburn) who lives with her white frontier family is accused of being an Indian, a charge which ends up dividing her family and ostracizing them from the community at large, whose ugliest side is shown as the search for the truth of her heritage is underway. A shame that John Saxon's role as a Mexican bronco buster was largely left on the cutting room floor - woulda fleshed out Burt Lancaster's role significantly and helped make his attitudes - and those of the film - clearer.

Fat City (dir. John Huston, 1972)
She: "You're the only sonuvabitch worth a shit in this place."
He: "I appreciate that."
I think that this exchange gets to the heart of the central relationship in this film. Susan Tyrell is, as her boyfriend says, a "juicehead," and pretty hard to take with her incessant whining that still somehow manages to be endearing. Seems like the only reason Stacy Keach's character stays there is because she enables him to keep going as a functional alcoholic - and like the only real reason she keeps him around is because boyfriend #1 is out of the picture. Despite the secondary story, I don't think it's really about boxing, more about one guy trying to pick himself up out of the gutter. Typical of Huston to have a film centered on societal outsiders and their relations to some sort of normalcy, though Jeff Bridges's up-and-comer is the only marker we have for any kind of normal life and his marriage - not quite shotgun, but not too far either - seems more contrived and forced than Tyrell and Keach's relationship, which at least derives from a common interest in drinking. It's got no future though, no room for development. Keach tries to clean up and Tyrell's got no interest in doing so - and resents the fact that he's trying to take her along with him. The whole thing's got a weird energy. There's no big climactic fight, no relationships work out the way they might in other hands than Huston's. Even Keach's boxing victory doesn't seem to mean anything to him: "Did I win?" he has to ask. If the movie doesn't exactly provide the sort of stirring Rocky-styled victories over adversity one might expect, neither does it wallow in the foibles, in the misery of its characters. It's not easy to read on one viewing, so it's probable that I'll be coming back to this before too long.

Force of Evil (dir. Abraham Polonsky, 1948)
John Garfield is great as the sleazy lawyer, protecting the numbers racket in New York City and pretending he's doing some good while things get more and more fucked up. It's not noir, exactly, not with all the daylight and no private dick and no femme fatale, but it's influenced by the depth of ickiness that noir can achieve nonetheless. It's presented here as institutionalized though - corruption running to even the highest offices of the city - rather than the the private depravity of individuals, so maybe it's more your basic crime picture, though the seediness that overruns everything and the way you can feel things going horribly wrong way before the characters do is a page straight out of the noir handbook. And though our central and most sinister character slides deep into the darkness thinking he's doing good in a roundabout way, he's really not and we can see it a mile off even if he can't. Not sure how much the dialogue/little twist of the end of the film satisfies for me the tone that the film started with and worked with up until the end, but I guess with a downer of an ending like this one it pretty much earns it.

Matewan (dir. John Sayles, 1987)
I think I'll have to go about a reassessment of Sayles some time soon. I enjoyed Brother From Another Planet back in the day - quite a progressive work, that one, a real triumph of ideas over budgetary limitations. But when I saw some of his stuff on a larger canvas - Eight Men Out, say, or especially City of Hope - I was not blown away. Made me sorta lose interest in him though the burgeoning indie community was always ga-ga over him, and over this film in particular. So I avoided it for - well, 21 years, to be exact, but now I have no idea why, because I think it's worth all the plaudits it's received. Lots of characters to keep up with, all pretty sharply drawn, though the bad guys are pretty stock.On the other hand, I have no doubt that it's a pretty fair representation of what those kind of muscle men were really like in that time - and later too, seeing as the same type turns up in real life in Harlan County U.S.A., a film that was probably a heavy influence on this one. In brief, it's a brilliantly rendered dramatic account of a real life battle between unionized coal miners and the company men they had to fight in the 1920's. Pretty great all on all counts, totally in sympathy with the workers (me too, so I got no gripe with the politics), and the brutality of the ending is no less shocking for knowing that it's coming. The shit is tense from the second the credits end and never lets up - even scenes with humor and human warmth still carry an undercurrent of menace knowing the circumstances under which they're taking place. Compare and contrast with Barbara Kopple's documentary for your next film school assignment and 4 great hours of film about labor struggles.

Eyes Without A Face (dir. Georges Franju, 1960) -
Gah! As an idea - brilliant surgeon pioneering a new skin grafting technique murders young women to transplant their faces onto his disfigured daughter's face - this could go either way. It could easily have become a total piece of schlock, but for the seriousness with which the participants undertook the project. And then, there's that ghastly scene that even nearly 50 years later and with every graphic advance horror filmmaking has had over the years still made me cringe and cover my face and make the sound I started this review with. But it's a fun little macabre story that's given real gravity by the father-daughter dynamic that powers it much more than the creepy murders - daughter's performance is so good that you can feel the her pain and just enough of the vanity that wants things to work out for her regardless, even through the blank mask she wears for most of the film. Reminds me in a way of Peeping Tom, a totally fucked up dynamic that you're drawn into with some sympathy even while you watch in horror at what's going on on-screen. Not as psychologically acute as Michael Powell's film, maybe, but pretty great regardless.

Look Back in Anger (dir. Tony Richardson, 1958) -
"Anybody who doesn't like jazz has no real feeling for music or for people." - R. Burton
Despite this great line in the film, Richard Burton's character is way less sensitive or likable than it might imply. He (the character, presumably not Burton himself), turns his contempt for the upper class into a contempt for women and for traditional society at large. While there are glimpses of him being a caring, thoughtful individual - as when he tries to encourage an Indian at a market stall to stand up against the racism of other local merchants or in the solitary tender scene with his wife - so much of the film is spent on him railing against first his wife and her place in society, then her girlfriend and hers that glimpses of the warm human being he might be underneath all the gruff and bluster is smothered in the negativity that ends up being all he expresses. While there's no doubt he's had his hard times, it's tough to sympathize with him very far, which in turn makes the film somewhat difficult (for me) to watch. He deserves for his wife to walk out on him, treating her the way he does, as a symbol of class and not a human being. Tony Richardson keeps things visually interesting throughout - the film presents a gorgeously moody ambiance of a cold, rainy London that suits the sour mood that the characters are so often in - but it doesn't help make things go down any easier. I'm not so sure that these Angry Young Men of British Cinema aren't just so many spoiled brats. Much easier to ridicule and hold contempt for the upper class when you're of it. And while there are some valid points brought up as to the emptiness of things, the need for new ways of doing things, it's hard for me to see the AYM path as a particularly well-illuminated way through the problems they decry.

Mamma Roma (dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1962) -
While I understand that Pasolini regretted his choice of the dynamic Anna Magnani in the title role here - her professional flash allegedly detracts from the realism of the character he was trying to create - I think she does a fine job with it, making it easy to sympathize with her as she fights to make a real life for herself and her son. True to Pasolini's form, she fails of course, but it's the struggle to keep things together while her son drifts away from her that makes up the bulk of the film. Maybe the vision he had in his head would've been even better - it's possible that a woman from the poor sector could've made the upwardly mobile aspirations of Mamma Roma come from her heart rather than her actor's training. But the film remains a pretty powerful portrayal of Italy's lower classes, and in particular the figure of Mamma Roma and her struggles with family, with class issues, with trying to stay afloat in a world where everything's stacked against her.

Dallas 362 (dir. Scott Caan, 2003) -
Troubled youth story told from the side of the youth and not the horror of the parents at the youth's behavior. Also in some ways a coming of age for a 20-something working his way through those troubled times. It moves easily between what could be a maudlin rumination on a broken family or an unhealthy friendship and a therapy session and also what could easily turn into another flashy L.A. crime picture. I guess it's to its credit that it never really follows any of the accepted patterns, but it's also to its detriment in that it doesn't feel fully committed to the stories. I guess it's tough for first-time writer director Scott Caan to take his semi-autobiographical material and cut himself enough distance from it to tell it clearly - just casting himself as the fucked up friend opposite his proxy Shawn Hatosy doesn't quite do it. That said, just because it doesn't choose one story and run with it doesn't mean it's bereft of interest. Visually it can get annoying in that quick cut, shaky cam, non-diegetic sound effected way of so many contemporary Hollywood action and horror films, but it settles itself down in the family scenes, especially in those between Hatosy and Jeff Goldblum, and puts something real across. If anything, I wish it had chosen this path to pursue, though that could've turned deadly boring. It's smart enough, it's got humor, I just wish it knew exactly what kind of ride it wanted to take you on.

Isle of the Dead (dir. Mark Robson, 1945) -
Again, a fantastic Boris Karloff performance grounds a solid Val Lewton vehicle. This one's about a group quarantined to an island to keep the plague from spreading. But is it actually amongst their own group, or is an evil spirit dwelling in one of the group and killing the others? That's the question the characters face, and while the sophisticated science-backed, modern Western world citizens scoff at the supposedly backwards traditional belief system that's pushing that idea (and hence, paranoia) among the group, it's typical of Lewton's films that he gives those characters equal credence, not just in the confines of the story, where the problem very well may be caused by an evil spirit, just as it may have been a Cat-Woman, Leopard-Man, or Caribbean Plantation zombie elsewhere, but in the broader sense in which there's a parity between different characters' belief systems and they're given respect. They're never painted as wholly evil or superstitious - nobody in his films is all good or all bad, and superstition is granted a significant amount of power, even when "reality" proves it unfounded - which it rarely is given enough weight to do in the face of the otherworldly and supernatural. In short, it's again an approach that undercuts the supposed superiority of Western knowledge, of science, and approaches other characters and cultures with a respect that's rare in most films, especially those of the horror/suspense variety, where the "other" is almost always the source of evil.

the true spirit of thanksgiving means jason statham, godard, and vince vaughn: denver premieres for 11/28

They are los- uh, wizards.

Our man Pike Bishop is on the scene for films opening this week in the Mile High:

Milk- A biopic about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to city office in the state of California. Elected first as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and then later as City Supervisor, Milk fought for civil rights for the GLBT community and in so doing became and inspiration and a motivator of a movement that is still, 30 years latter, fighting for its basic civil rights. The film is directed by Gus Van Sant and stars Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, Diego Luna and James Franco. If this film looks a little too much like Oscar-bait to you, go check out the fantastic 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk that covers the same material without the guaranteed holiday ham. As a side note: Harris Savides, the cinematographer of Milk, is taking a second swing at recreating the look and feel of San Francisco in the 1970s albeit in a less stylized manner than in his previous film, Zodiac.

Australia- Baz Luhrmann capped off a pseudo-trilogy in 2001 with Moulin Rouge that also included the films Strictly Ballroom and Romeo+Juliet. Apparently Luhrmann, like Lars von Trier, likes to develop movies in threes because his new film Australia is supposedly the first part of a trilogy of epics. It sounds like the structure of the film is framed like Titanic in that the first half is a falling-in-love story while the second half is a disaster movie. The movie includes the following: a cattle drive, a surprise Japanese attack, a grand finale child rescue/exodus, and some tut-tuting of Australia’s treatment of the indigenous Australians. It stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.

Vivre Sa Vie- Godard turns Anna Karina into a whore in 12 scenes. If you like Godard before he started pontificating, then give this film a try. A splash of Brecht, a shot of verite, Karina in a bob and a little Dryer to wash it all down, makes this movie a pleasant enough aperitif before his latter, more bloated affairs. It is showing in a new 35mm print at the Starz FilmCenter.

Ballast- This won the directing and cinematography awards at the Sundance Festival this year. It looks to be shot with hand held camera, but some of the shots in the trailer are amazing looking. This film is getting a lot of buzz from the critics and the first time director, Lance Hammer is getting his fair share of acclaim. The synopsis from the official site reads:

In the cold, winter light of a rural Mississippi Delta township, a man’s suicide radically transforms three characters? lives and throws off-balance what has long been a static arrangement among them. Marlee is a single mother struggling to scratch a living for herself and James, her 12-year-old son, who has begun to stumble under drug and violence pressures. So when the opportunity to seek safe harbor at a new home arises, she grabs it, though the property is shared by Lawrence, a man with whom Marlee has feuded bitterly since James’s birth. With circumstances thrusting them into proximity, a subtle interdependence and common purpose emerge for Marlee and Lawrence as they navigate grief, test new waters, and tentatively move forward.

Ballast is playing at the Starz FilmCenter.

Four Christmases- Man-child Vince Vaughn finds himself in a strained relationship again, and yes it’s for laughs again. This time he has to go visit four sets of parents having four different Christmas get-togethers to get enough high-lair-e-us material to last 90 minutes. This stuff almost writes itself. Directed by Seth Gordon whose last film was the documentary King of Kong.

Let the Right One In- A Vampire and her boy. Dex and I have different takes on this movie. Go see what you think of it. It begins its run at the Starz FilmCenter tonight. If nothing else, I can guarantee it’ll be better than Twilight.

Transporter 3- More transporting.

We Are Wizards- I’m speechless. Watch the trailer and die a little inside.


get yr release on

I believe that young lady is California dreamin'.

Afro-Cuba: Yesterday and Today
Bottle Rocket (Criterion Collection directed by Wes Anderson)

Chungking Express (Criterion Collection directed by Wong Kar-Wai) – Wong Kar-Wai's supposedly lightweight break from the rigors of completing Ashes of Time has proved to be as good as anything else in his catalog, if considerably less complex. More lively than the highly touted In the Mood for Love, easier to follow than anything he's done, and just as stylistically rich and obsessed with lonely longings and a past that won't let you go as anything he's ever made. (Patrick)

Hancock (2008)

Ron Howard: Spotlight Collection (8 DVD box set) – If I may quote the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant...ahem: "What? What? What?!!" (Dex)

Lady With the Dog
David Lynch: Lime Green set (9 DVD box set)
A Man Named Pearl
Meet Dave
Over the GW
Pink Panther: Ultimate Collection (box set)
The Price of Sugar
Space Chimps
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (Criterion Collection directed by Martin Ritt)

Still Life - Directed by Jia Zhangke, the leading presence from the "Sixth Generation" of Chinese directors (Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, and Tian Zhuangzhuang were the "Fifth Generation"), Still Life is a beautiful film filled with humor, compassion and a real understanding of the human desire to continue despite obstacles: as the construction of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze river looms over the lives of townsfolk who must leave their homes for the dam to see completion, a coal miner returns looking for his estranged wife, only to find a patch of grass sticking out of the water where his town used to be. A secondary story reverses those dynamics with a woman searching for her husband; yet after reuniting, they decide that too much time has passed. All the while, building up around these two stories, the viewer gets to see the social ramifications of Capitalist expansion as rural communities are being rapidly replaced by the industrialized progress that is building modern China. (Pike Bishop)

Johan Van der Keuken: Complete Collection Vol. 4
Visits: Hungry Ghost Anthology
Zeiram Duology


i'd say you were in your rights to bite

She is human - well, she was, anyway - and needs to be loved, just like everybody else does.

A confession: an hour into Let The Right One In (Lat den ratte komme in), Swede director Tomas Alfredson's gorgeous, meticulously-crafted adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist's screenplay of his book about vampirism and disillusionment, I grew a little restless. And then a little bored.

This is not to say that Let The Right One In - the title's adapted from the Morrissey tune, "Let the Right One Slip In" - is a bad film. It's very good, in fact - I'd go so far as to say it's the most perfectly realized vampire flick I've seen since Kathryn Bigelow gathered up Aliens alumns Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, and Jenette Goldstein for 1987's Near Dark, and the cast - particularly Oscar (Kare Hedebrant), whose fumbling discovery of manhood the story orbits around, and the hypnotic Eli (Lia Leandersson), the girl who's "been twelve for a long time" - is simply wonderful. So, yes, good film, very good. But what had me shifting in my seat was the realization that this movie was not for me, or at least, someone in his early thirties.

Ten, fifteen years ago, I would've been mad for this flick (instead of merely entertained), though I'm sure I wouldn't have understood why: the underlying theme of LTROI is that love - in particular, the romance of love, falling in love - is, to coin a phrase, wasted on the old. While it's a bold point to make, it's also completely immature, and it left me feeling a little cold to the events and the characters on-screen - a bit like tweenies Oscar and Eli, the movie's rather closed off to the rest of us, somewhat self-absorbed, and dispassionate, which is weird considering it's a movie about a boy who falls in love for a little (little-ish) girl who sucks blood. The overall result is something just (only just) this side of a horror movie for people who don't generally like horror movies and otherwise, it's tailor-made for lovelorn nerds (like I was ten or fifteen years ago).


friday classic film blogging

Don't Look Back. (1967.) Written and directed by D.A. Pennebaker. Starring Bob Dylan, Albert Grossman, Bob Neuwirth, Joan Baez, Alan Price, Tito Burns, Donovan, with an appearance by Alan Ginsberg.


david lynch thursday!

In heaven, everything is fine...

...you got your good thing, and I got mine...


yonder lies the castle of my fodda

The boy with the ice cream face smooches on Piper Laurie.

Michael Korda over @ The Daily Beast takes a look at Tony Curtis' memoir, and doesn't like what he sees...

get yr release on

This Tuesday's releases are so very!

Today's DVD releases:

Abraham Lincoln/The Struggle (directed by D.W. Griffith)
Arizona Sky
Atomic CafĂ© (2 DVD collector’s edition)
The Avenging Conscience (directed by D.W. Griffith)
Blind Woman of Sorrento
Butch Jamie
Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
Chomsky Sessions
Dog Tags
Encounters at the End of the World (directed by Werner Herzog)
Executive Koala
Fanfan La Tulipe (Criterion Collection directed by Christian-Jacque)
Forgotten Noir: Vol. 4 (box set)
Gay Bed & Breakfast of Terror
Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Goya (1971)
D.W. Griffith: Father of Film
Griffith Masterworks 2 (box set includes: Way Down East / D.W. Griffith: Father of Film / The Avenging Conscience / Abraham Lincoln / The Struggle / Sally of the Sawdust)
Happiness of the Katakuris (directed by Takashi Miike)
Hard Head: The Films of Mounir Fatmi
Heathers (deluxe Locker gift edition)
Here Is Always Somewhere Else
Derek Jarman Collection (box set includes: Sebastiane / The Tempest / War Requiem / Derek)
The Last Emperor (Criterion Collection single disc edition directed by Bernardo Bertolucci)
Malcolm X Speaks
Manhattan Kansas
Mister Lonely (directed by Harmony Korine)
Monty Python’s Holy Trinity (6 DVD box set includes: Monty Python and the Holy Grail / Monty Python's Life of Brian / Monty Python's the Meaning of Life)
Paris Je T’Aime (2 DVD deluxe version)
Rug Cop
Sally of the Sawdust (directed by D.W. Griffith)
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
Splatter Disco
Thomas Pynchon - A Journey Into the Mind of Pynchon
3-Day Weekend
300 (3 DVD deluxe set)
Tomie Beginning/Tomie Revenge
Tropic Thunder
Up the Yangtze
The Warrior
Way Down East (directed by D.W. Griffith)
Wild Horse Redemption
The World Sinks Except Japan
Zombie Diaries


blogscales: the last winter, hellboy 2: the golden army, zebraman, star wars: the clone wars

Computer-generated Portman: a thing of beauty and a treasure to keep, or technology gone mad?

The Last Winter (2006) - I've been searching for a word or phrase to describe what Larry Fessenden does in the last ten minutes of his careful, spooky tale of environmental collapse in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: is 'ruin' the right way to put it? How about 'cop-out'? Or plain old 'cowardice'?

Up to those last couple of scenes of The Last Winter, Fessenden gives us what could be the first real horror movie for the age of nature - what Thomas Homer-Dixon describes as the time when we really remember that when there's trouble in nature, there's trouble for us, too - and a potential new genre classic, with echoes of Carpenter's steady, expert control in The Thing (1982), the even-better-cause-you-can't-see-em thrills of The Haunting (1963), the masterful Long Weekend (1978), and An Inconvenient Truth (2006) - bundled up with a great cast led by James LeGros and Ron Perlman, excellent cinematography, and above all, a whip-smart story...and then he chucks it all out the window for the computer-animated equivalent of a monster in a rubber suit and googly eyes. In fact, a character actually stands and points it out to us. One scene doth not a movie make, but the climax of the movie's probably among those scenes that can. Fessenden's movie ends up being more a frustrating puzzle because of some decisions he made rather than the story he told - indeed, you end up wondering about all the movie you just watched because the reveal was just this side of Troma. And it's a shame, a real shame. The Last Winter could've been a contender.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) - Minus John Hurt's paranormal dad - neither a mutant or bland homo sapien, his presence was the gentle hidden hand of the first Hellboy (2004) film - The Golden Army is little more than a ho-hum interlude between origin story and a sure-to-be-three, lapsing into long stretches of whining from Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and Ron Perlman's Hellboy, punctuated by an occasional sexy stare from a bored Selma Blair. A couple of sojurns to fairyland stand out, and there seems to be an attempt at some eco-messaging, but the former's just indulgence and the latter's too little, too late. I thoroughly enjoyed watching these characters live their weird superhero lives the first time around, and hoped this would be del Toro Unchained; instead, it's Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) meets Labryinth (1986), two great tastes which do not taste great together. Yuck.

Zebraman (2005) - A superhero flick for kids from the director Audition (1999) and Gozu (2003) should've been some work of terrible genius. Instead, Japan's man of many genres sets up with some light satire and a warmly comic main character - an alienated, ineffectual teacher and father who spends his every spare moment dreaming about a minor television superhero from his youth, Zebraman, finally decides to become his childhood hero - and clocks out midway through his own movie, leaving us with chop-socky leftovers.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) - Yeah, I fuckin' watched this shit: fuckin' clone army, fuckin' Ahsoka Tano, fuckin' Jabba the Hutt's uncle. Fuck yeah, I fuckin' watched it. Watched the whole fuckin' thing...what, are you perfect, motherfuckers? Are you all some sort of cinema saints? No, you're not, so go fuck yourselves.


friday classic film blogging

Bob Roberts. (1992.) Directed and written by Tim Robbins. Starring Robbins, Giancarlo Esposito, Fred Ward, Alan Rickman, Ray Wise, Brian Murray, Gore Vidal.


the denver projection booth presents: the 2008 denver film festival in ten minutes

This post will kick your ass like an autistic Thai pre-teen on a sugar high.

Yes indeedy-doo: everything you need to know about what's really worth your scratch at this year's Denver Film Festival in ten minutes (or however long it takes you to read this, slowpoke), courtesy of Cap Hill movie madman and Booth commenter Pike Bishop.

1. Chocolate – An autistic girl picks up martial arts skills from Tony Jaa movies and goes out on an ass-kicking spree to get local businesses to pay the debts they owe her mother. This movie really has that late 80s/early 90s Hong Kong sense of kinetic action down. I think it is far more entertaining than either Ong Bak or Tum Yom Goong. If Dynamite Warrior is the Thai version of a Jet Li wire-fu extravaganza, then this can be seen as the Thai Rumble in the Bronx.

2. An Evening with Don Hertzfeldt Some of the older shorts plus his new long player I'm so proud of you. Don Hertzfeldt will also be in attendance.

3. Idiots and Angels – Bill Plympton's stuff might not be for you, but check out the description and trailer as I think it might be tempting. As a bonus, it looks like Tom Waits adds a song or two.

4. The Class – A film looking at the tensions inherent in a modern, multi-cultural France through the workings of a middle school classroom. I've seen Time Out by this director and liked it quite a bit. It is about a man who loses his job but refuses to admit it to the people around him, much less himself. He then continues with the rituals that surround a job (get up, shower, leave home, return in the evening, etc.) all the while not having a job to go to. As this continues, his dislocation in the world becomes more and more severe, leaving him with only the fabricated existence of this detached self to live and work for. It is an interesting film about man and his methods of self-definition. Another movie directed by Cantet is Human Resources which I have not seen but have long been interested in. It is about man who returns to his provincial home after business school to work as management in the factory his father has worked at for thirty years. He is then asked to make lay-offs of which his father is one. It then becomes a labor vs. management, father vs. son drama. The director, Cantet, seems to be attracted to pointing out the political through the personal without reveling in sentimentalism. The new one looks good. It won the Palm d'or at Cannes.

5. Three Monkeys - Nuri Bilge Ceylan, first and foremost, has a great cinematic eye. Many times in his films a shot will come across the screen that is literally breath taking. At the same time though, what the characters on the screen are doing to each other can be offsetting in its cruelty. It might look like Antonioni but it feels like Bergman. I really liked Uzak (Distant) and to a lesser extant (marginally), Iklimler (Climates). I've heard that this is Nuri Bilge Ceylan's first foray into genre style filmmaking in that it resembles a psychological thriller. As a side note, this film won Ceylan the director's prize at Cannes.

Other notable titles:

Gomorrah - The ins and outs of mafia life in Naples. This hit such a nerve with the mafia that they put out a hit on the film's writer and say he'll be dead by Christmas.

Waltz with Bashir - An animated doc about a man struggling with post war trauma after the 1982 Lebanese/Israeli war. It looks like Heavy Metal and Sounds like NPR.

Wendy and Lucy - By the same folks who did Old Joy (2006). People who liked that one seem to like this one. You can also see what Will Oldham has been up to lately as he is in both Old Joy and this.

The Wrestler - I have not liked anything I have seen by Aronofsky. I doubt this will change my mind. The word is that Mickey Rourke is in top form if that means anything to you.

Cherry Blossoms - Yet another Homage to Ozu by a European director (and the second French one this year. The other being 35 Rhums by Clair Denis). Apparently this is a riff on Tokyo Story.

Donkey Punch - Looks like a middling post-Hostel exercise of stupid kids on vacation doing stupid things. Kids on vacation end up in a tight spot when one makes the mistake of actually trying the fabled "Donkey Punch" on his lady friend. It’s all fun and games until someone breaks their neck.

Eden Log - French Sci-fi. Le Matrix or Le Cube, if you like. Futuristic Existentialism at the bottom of a deep, dark hole.

Not Quite Hollywood - A doc about Australian Exploitation cinema of the 70s. The DVD company Synapse is putting out a ton of the films talked about in this Doc. Hopefully soon someone will put out The Man From Hong Kong. George Lazenby and Jimmy Wang Yu (The One-Armed Swordsman) in an all fight/no fat Australian Bruce-sploitation is absolute bliss.

Surveillance- Jennifer Lynch's follow up to Boxing Helena. It looks like "Twin Peaks" meets "CSI" meets No Country for Old Men.

Tokyo! - An omnibus film by Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind), Carax (Pola X), and Bong (The Host).

(Dex sez: If I can throw my two cents in, I've seen bits of Chocolate and loved it, and the book "Gomorrah" was a Nation notable a couple of years ago I've been hankering to read. Also, I have no idea what a donkey punch is. People should be nice to donkeys, I think. They look like they lead rough lives.)

david lynch thursday!

...now it's dark...

Angelo Badalamenti - Into The Night (Vocal By Julee Cruise)
Found at bee mp3 search engine


get yr release on

She probably doesn't like the word "firestarter" in this one, either.

Today's DVD releases:

And the Earth Did Not Swallow Him
Blood and Bones (starring "Beat" Takeshi Kitano)
The Boys in the Band (directed by William Friedkin)
Camp de Thiaroye
The General (1927) (Ultimate Collector’s edition)
God & Gays
Hanoi Hilton
Harry Potter: Years 1-5 (box set)
Hellboy 2: Golden Army
Holiday Affair
Hollywood Musicals Collection (61-DVD deluxe box set, special order only!)
It Happened on 5th Avenue
JFK (ultimate collector’s edition)
Liberty Kid
Little Fugitive (1953)
Lone Ranger: 75th Anniversary Collection
Love Song (starring Catherine Deneuve)
Love Songs (2007)
Madame Bovary (1991)
Paramount Centennial Collection (box set)
Planet B-Boy
Quo Vadis (special edition)
Roman Holiday (Paramount Centennial Collection)
Roberto Rossellini: Director’s Series (2 DVD set includes: Era notte a Roma (Escape By Night), Dove' la liberta..? (Where is Freedom?)
Sabrina (Paramount Centennial Collection)
Shaun the Sheep: Off the Baa
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Still Life
Sukiyaki Western Django
Sunset Boulevard (Paramount Centennial Collection)
Warner Brothers & the Homefront Collection (box set)
Why Be Good? Sexuality and Censorship in Early Cinema
Working Class Rock Star
Yo-Yo Sexy Girl Cop


friday classic film blogging

Waiting for Guffman. (1996.) Directed by Christopher Guest. Written by Guest and Eugene Levy. Starring Guest, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey, Bob Balaban, Michael Hitchcock.


david lynch thursday!

The Amputee. (1974.) Written and directed by David Lynch. Starring Catherine Coulson and Lynch.


please vote today...

Above: the Booth imagines what a McCain-Palin
administration might look like using the power of cinema!

...if you haven't already.

get yr release on

How strange - a picture of Natalie Portman!?
And from Star Wars?
Prithee, what nerdiness lurks at the heart of this post on today's DVD releases?!

Today's DVD releases:

The Awful Truth/Born Yesterday/His Girl Friday (3-on-1)
Budd Boetticher Box Set (5 DVD set)
The Bourne Trilogy (box set)
A Christmas Story (Ultimate Collector’s edition)
Get Smart (2008)
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (Criterion Collection)
Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)
Gregory Peck Film Collection (box set)
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (reissue)
Red Balloon/White Mane (Criterion Collection 2–on–1 set)
Shrek the Halls
Star Wars Trilogy (6 DVD box set)
Star Wars Prequel Trilogy (6 DVD box set)
Treading Water
Unlucky Monkey
Waterworld (2 DVD extended edition)
What We Do Is Secret (The Germs story)
A Woman Under the Influence (Criterion Collection)


do the queue

Emily Mortimer has all the movies in her queue in that bag right there.

I am all thesis all the time, but I still have time for a little of teh cinema. My queue is Transsiberian (2008), a TCM Underground cut from a couple of weeks ago, The World's Greatest Sinner (1962 - scored by Frank Zappa, Pat!), and the HBO-produced retelling of the stolen 2000 election, Recount.

Whatcha got?