Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday break

I've kept good on my promise to post every three days but I'm going to take a week off while in New York. I'll be getting some new inspiration for posts. Hopefully.

I'll be back on January 1st and plan on keeping up the every 3rd day effort into 2009. Upcoming posts include The Delman, more Danish films, reviews of Cloverfield and Let the Right One In and the much anticipated posting of the 2008 stats. I know people want to see those stats!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

David Lynch interview

David Lynch was interviewed by Deborah Solomon for the New York Times; published on November 23, 2008, this is a portion of that interview.

Solomon: How do you feel about someone watching your films--Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive--on a laptop?
Lynch: More and more people are seeing films on computers--lousy sound, lousy picture--and they think they've seen the film, but they really haven't.

Solomon: Because the small screen emphasizes plot over visuals?
Lynch: It's a pathetic horror story.

Solomon: On the other hand, you do appear on countless computer screens ever day, giving a weather report from your home in Los Angeles, on your Web site.
Lynch: Peope are kind of interested in weather. It's not artistic. It's just me sitting there in my painting studio.

Solomon: Who films you?
Lynch: It's a camera that comes down out of the ceiling.

Solomon: Do you see yourself as an American Surrealist?
Lynch: Dennis Hopper called me that, and that is the way he sees it. It's more than just Surrealism to me.

Solomon
: I think of you as someone who transported the noir sensibility from the city into a Norman Rockwell setting. What do you think of his paintings?
Lynch: I love his work. It's like Edward Hopper. They see a certain thing, and they catch it.

...I posted this just for the great DL photo...and he loathes watching films on computers...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hanging out with Preston Sturges in New York

I'll be in New York for the last week of 2008. Obviously movies will be on the agenda along with other cultural endeavors and favorite restaurants. Dedicated readers know I love screwball comedies from the 1930s/40s and the absolute master of the genre is Preston Sturges. You can imagine my excitement when I found out there will be a Sturges fest at the Film Forum the entire week I'm in Manhattan.

It looks like most of Sturges' films will be shown. Film prints. I will be laughing and soaking up my beloved screwball with such films from him as The Great McGinty, Christmas In July, The Lady Eve (an all-time favorite of mine), Sullivan's Travels, The Palm Beach Story, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero. Sure, I've seen them before but to see a print and to watch them in the darkened theatre as the film flickers through the light--well, I can't miss that or I'll forever kick myself. It looks like I have found something to occupy a chunk of my time on my trip and Preston Sturges will be my much loved companion and guide.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I Heart Audrey Tautou

No brainer. Who doesn't have a thing for the woman who played Amelie? Well, I do. If you don't or aren't familiar with Audrey Tautou--then you need to get into your Netflix queue real quick and start adding movies. Although Amelie is the pinnacle, Tautou has not just been a one film actress as she's carved out a prominent role for herself in French cinema.

Let me brag for a second and talk about how I was a fan of Tautou before the aforementioned Amelie came out. She had a supporting role in the film Venus Beauty Institute in 1999 and while it wasn't a large role, Tautou gave a fresh performance that had me wondering who this dark-eyed Frenchwoman was and hoping I'd see her in films in the future.

Two years later and Tautou and director Jean Pierre Jeunot created one of the quirkiest, most romantic films (and film characters) of all time--Amelie. And yes, I said of all time. I love this movie. Every time I watch it I get a warm, "I'm just glad to be alive!" feeling that makes radiate happiness and hope for tomorrow (not a frequent attitude in my pessimistic nature for those reading who don't know me). Tautou as Amelie is one of the best casting decisions in the last few decades. I've read that Emily Watson almost got the part and while she might have been okay, there would have been serious issues with her in this role. Tautou is just so natural and appropriate in the role of Amelie that it would have been a shame had someone else gotten the role.

Since Amelie Tautou's done a bunch of films I've seen enjoyed. I love French cinema so it's no surprise she pops up a lot in classy French farce like God Is Great and I'm Not, He Loves Me...He Loves Me Not and Priceless. Cedric Klapisch's ensemble diptych The Spanish Apartment and The Russian Dolls are both worth watching as is 2004's reteaming with Jeunot for A Very Long Engagement. After writing this I need to finally watch The Da Vinci Code just so I won't miss any of her films. Tautou is playing Coco Chanel in a big biopic in 2009 so she might garner a lot of attention for that promising role.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Movie tickets #3

Monday, December 08, 2008

You Can't Take It With You

The work of director Frank Capra left behind a film term born from his movies--"Capraesque." Such films as It's A Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are the archetype of a Capra film. A regular guy (it seems Jimmy Stewart is that ultimate regular guy as he's in both the mentioned films + You Can't Take It With You) redeems self with friends/community/love interest after prevailing from some sort of test. Capra films are known for the big emotional payoffs at the end. Some people love that, others don't.

The "Capra" sub-genre, whether it's a film by Capra himself or a person inspired by him, are not movies I usually enjoy. While the films do pull at the heartstrings it often feels these films try too hard to pierce the heart. I don't mind dropping a few tears here and there when watching a movie (check my "tearjerker" stats when I post the 2008 stats in January!) but if there is one thing I ask when watching something--do not manipulate me. Too often that's what a "Capra" film feels like to me.

You Can't Take It With You was a Pulitzer prize winning play in 1936 by George S. Kaufman and Moss Heart (great name). Capra's film adaptation followed two years later and although the source material is not Capra--this has his touches all over it. The surprising thing for me is just how much I loved this story as it unfolded as I'm always slightly leery at the start of a Capra film. There's a sweet romance, social statements and a wild assortment of comedic characters who make the film a lot of fun. The people are just so likable and the cast is top notch--it's impossible to not root for them (damn Capra!).

You Can't Take It With You won two Oscars and was nominated for five others and is centered around the romance of Alice (Jean Arthur) and Tony (Stewart). He's from a very wealthy, snobby family while she's from a rambunctious, eccentric family. The two families meet and it results in explosions (literally. Alice's family enjoys making their own fireworks in the basement among other oddball behavior).

This being the 1930s there are lots of things Capra has to say about the economic depression that still gripped the nation at this time (having not read/seen the play, not sure how much some of the social elements were in it before adapted to film). There's pointed barbs regarding banks (every decent person's villain at this time), the poor, the heartlessness of the wealthy and class elitism. The gulf between the haves and the have nots is not impossible to overcome in this world though (Capra!) but you'd have to be a complete nimrod to miss the messages amid the comedy.

You Can't Take It With You is one of my favorite Capra films--the screwball classic It Happened One Night is one of my favorite films ever so this can't come close to passing that one. It's still a great film though. It's funny, romantic, heartfelt, quirky, not dated at all and gives you a full dose of "Capraisms" (for better or worse). This time I thoroughly enjoyed the sub-genre of Capra. Skip the December cliche that is It's A Wonderful Life and watch You Can't Take It With You instead.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Prize for quiz hi-score

There might only be five people who attempt the quiz but the hi-score is going to get a prize...the latest t-shirt for Circle Cinema in the size of your choice. If you bend the rules--that's between you and your ethics. Any ties will be decided by a random tie breaker decided by me at the deadline.

The deadline for taking the quiz will be December 15th to give lazy readers a chance to check in and take the quiz. So, if you haven't taken the quiz yet--send me your answers and you might have yourself a nice new t-shirt before the year is out.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Movie quiz

My friend David works for the Tulsa City Library and from time to time is involved in hiring for the media center. He creates a quiz to test knowledge in a variety of cultural areas to separate the applicants from one another. This 24 question quiz is the latest hand out he delivered for a recent job opening. I wish I would have interviews for employment that included questions about Kubrick or Kurosawa! For the record, I scored a 22 out of 24. I'm still kicking myself for not thinking out question #9! Inexcusable error from me!

Take the quiz, be honest, don't go on the internets and e-mail me your answers (unpavedroad@yahoo.com) and I'll post your results in the comments box. Do it.

1. The 1925 film Battleship Potemkin was directed by A) Andrei Tarkovsky B) Sergei Eisenstein C) Warner Herzog

2. Clark Gable’s co-star in It Happened One Night was A) Claudette Colbert B) Rita Hayworth C) Vivien Leigh

3. Who won an Academy Award last year for her performance in the movie The Queen?

4. The 1915 film Birth of A Nation was directed by A) Orson Welles B) George Cukor C) D.W. Griffith

5. Katherine Hepburn’s co-star in the 1957 movie Desk Set was A) Cary Grant B) Spencer Tracy C) Burt Lancaster

6. Which film’s plot revolved around a bank robbery? A) The Deer Hunter B) Dog Day Afternoon C)
12 Monkeys

7. Give me the first name of one of the characters played by Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, or Cynthia Nixon in Sex and the City: The Movie.

8. Which of these documentaries was NOT directed by Errol Morris? A) The Thin Blue Line B) The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara C) No End in Sight

9. Who was the lead actor in A Place in the Sun? A) William Holden B) Montgomery Clift C) Robert Mitchum

10. The Martin Scorsese film Shine a Light is a documentary about what rock band? A) The Rolling Stones B) The Who C) Led Zeppelin

11. Who won a Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Truman Capote in the movie Capote?

12. What movie does this line come from: “Get busy living, or get busy dying”?

13. Who played Salieri in the 1984 film Amadeus? A) Ben Kingsley B) F. Murray Abraham C) Jeremy Irons

14. Name two films directed by Stanley Kubrick.

15. Which of these films is considered to be part of the French New Wave? A) The 400 Blows B) 8 1/2 C) 2046

16. The 1973 film The Exorcist was directed by A) William Friedkin B) John Carpenter C) Brian DePalma

17. Which of these films was NOT directed by Akira Kurosawa? A) Seven Samurai B) Ran C) A Story of Floating Weeds

18. With what country is the term “anime” most closely associated?

19. Which of the following colors is one of the colors in Kryzsztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy? A) pink B) green C) blue

20. From what movie does this line come: “We’ll always have Paris.”

21. Which film was NOT directed by Steven Spielberg? A) Poltergeist B) Empire of the Sun C) Duel

22. What 1957 Ingmar Bergman film starred Max von Sydow as a knight who plays chess with Death? A) Through a Glass Darkly B) The Seventh Seal C) Winter Light

23. Which actress was in all of the following films: Children of Men, Far from Heaven, and the Shipping News? A) Jodie Foster B) Catherine Zeta-Jones C) Julianne Moore

24. Which of these documentaries was NOT directed by Spike Lee? A) When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts B) Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills C) 4 Little Girls

Monday, December 01, 2008

November movies

During my recent Ghost Town review I mentioned my fondness for the romantic comedy genre--November is proof of that. I saw ten films that would fit into that category (although the Danish film Kick 'N Rush would be more in the drama even though it has some biting humor to it) including the most mainstream style romantic comedy of them all--27 Dresses. It doesn't get more formulaic Hollywood than that.

I saw one of the worst films I'll watch all year in November--the overwrought, pretentious mess of Big Time. I only suffered through it because I'm into Mia Sara and hadn't seen this film that is basically an ode to her. Terrible film unfortunately. Only her magnificent eyebrows saved this from getting a dreaded one star! Happy-Go-Lucky will likely find itself in my top ten for new releases for the year.

Funny Face---1957---usa ****
A Yank at Oxford---1938---usa ****
Happy-Go-Lucky---2008---england ****
The Heartbreak Kid---2007---usa ***
Kick 'N Rush---2003---denmark ***1/2
Dark Blue Almost Black---2006---spain ***
The Who at Kilburn 1977---2008---england *****!
Ghost Town---2008---usa ****
Trouble the Water---2008---usa ***
Old Men In New Cars---2002---denmark ***1/2
Nerdcore Rising---2008---usa ***1/2
Big Time---1989---usa *1/2
Zack and Miri Make a Porno---2008---usa ***
Standing Still---2006---usa **1/2
27 Dresses---2007---usa **1/2
No Man of Her Own---1932---usa **1/2
You Can't Take It With You---1938---usa *****!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Who at Kilburn 1977

I don't write much about music or books here but both of those things are big passions--I often joke that my "holy trinity" is film, books and music. Well, after watching The Who at Kilburn 1977 I've decided to merge two interests for this post.

The Who at Kilburn 1977 (great, succinct title) is a concert film of the legendary live band after a hiatus of over a year (bands didn't really disappear for long periods of time three decades ago--they made music and toured, a lot). The concert was filmed on 35mm with multiple cameras and parts of the gig were used in the Who film The Kids are All Right. The film is gorgeous and it sounds absolutely amazing. The Who at Kilburn 1977 captures The Who in all their blistering, stubborn glory and is a great introduction to the power of live performance.

The Who were an incredible band. A unit of four shared parts with each member bringing their own individuality to the band to make them possibly the best band in the world during their peak. Watching The Who in 1977 perform live (as it was for audiences who saw them the previous decade) was a visceral experience. The band unleashes a torrent of raw rock n roll that is tight, unhinged, in your face, melodic, anthemic, tortured and unflinching. The Who were a gang; The Who at Kilburn 1977 is witness to that musical gang as they deliver a devastating set of songs to the North London crowd.

Let's meet The Who: Pete Townsend, guitarist, songwriter, windmills, scissor kicks, seething at audience/amps/self (at one point challenges any "gits" to come on stage--no one does). Roger Daltrey, tight jean wearing street fighter, swings mic better than Will Rogers could trick lasso, sings his guts out. John Entwistle, quick fingered bassist, the most underrated member of band, delivers an incredible, blistering stare into the lens at one point during the concert that might be my favorite moment of the show. Keith Moon, aw Keith, the jester, the madman drumming his arse off in his unique style, Moon was in his slide down but this show has his powerful drumming and eccentricities that have made him a beloved figure in rock history.

Put that unit of four together and they are absolutely unstoppable. I could listen to "Baba O'Riley" or "Won't Get Fooled Again" for about three straight hours. Other gems include "Substitute," "Pinball Wizard," "My Life," and "My Generation." The Who at Kilburn 1977 is as good a musical document to a band's raw power as you will ever see. Recommended.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ghost Town

Ghost Town is a smart and beguiling film in a genre that desperately needs films with those qualities--the romantic comedy. I know this is always a surprise to some friends of mine but I love romantic comedies. It's actually one of my favorite genres when they are done right. The problem is most Hollywood romantic comedies now are terrible. Ghost Town is a welcome and pleasant addition to the genre.

A brief description of the plot will send out red flags of warning to people who don't like romantic comedies. An anti-people dentist (Ricky Gervais) starts to interact with ghosts all over New York City. The ghosts want him to help with their unsolved issues with loved ones left behind so they can then move on to the after world. Gervais' character not only dislikes people he doesn't care for the intruding ghosts either. That is until he meets the wife of one of the bothersome ghosts (played by Greg Kinnear).

Sounds a bit precious I know. It's not. Gervais makes a wonderful curmudgeon and he's not your typical leading man in a film like this that it raises his and the film's like ability. Gervais has a supreme gift of comic timing and comedic acting (the English shows The Office and Extras were his creations) that he employs either subtlety or with overt physicality. The man is just flat out funny. The female lead is played by Tea Leoni and she is an actress I've always felt has been underused by Hollywood. Leoni would fit in wonderfully in my beloved era of 1930s screwball comedies so it's always a joy for me to see her in a comedy.

Gervais and Leoni don't have the current sort of "hot people" chemistry that Hollywood concocts for its audiences. They have the more old fashioned kind of mismatched chemistry that makes great old black and white romantic comedies so timeless. I'd much rather see talented odd pairings like this as they trade smart dialogue than watch plastic, no talent hacks stumble through terrible, cliche ridden scripts Hollywood pumps out with no effort these days. Don't believe me? Check out the releases around Valentine's Day and compare those films with this one. No comparison.

Ghost Town is a fun, brainy and refreshing film in a genre that really needs a hearty dose of refreshing.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Three films by Anders Thomas Jensen

The Danes seem like a quirky bunch. It seems every time I watch a film from Denmark it always has this odd undercurrent running through it (I have read that they have been judged the "happiest" country, whatever that means and however it is that is determined). If you judge them based on the work of director Anders Thomas Jensen then quirky is definitely the case. Jensen's three most recent films are off kilter and interesting with Flickering Lights, The Green Butchers and Adam's Apples.

Jensen's Flickering Lights from 2000 is a wonderfully titled comedy-drama about some not so bright criminals who go on the lam to escape from big city thugs in some remote Danish location. Combine the out of their element group with eccentric locals and the criminals are baffled by their surroundings in life changing ways. Flickering Lights is chock full of a favorite topic of Jensen's--men in unfamiliar places that leads to disorienting levels of humor for them and us.

I saw The Green Butchers in Seattle in 2003 and I remember enjoying this dark comedy about but
chers who find a very tasty meat product--human! Like other Jensen films there are a lot of offbeat people in the cast. It's a funny film yet it is played so dry and deadpan that the laughter comes from the uncomfortable places where you are unsure of your empathy for these people (it is a film about butchers serving human meat after all). It's the kind of film where you like these characters despite yourself. I tend to like films with that kind of attitude.

The same thing applies to the third of CineRobot's Jensen mini-fest--Adam's Apples. Adam is the most unlikable of any of Jensen's collection of characters. He's a Nazi skinhead just out of prison who moves into a church doubling for a halfway house in rural Denmark. Adam only wants to corrupt the uber-optimistic priest into renouncing God. Adam is tempted to go back to his violent ways while he wreaks abuse on the other misfits at the church. Not very likable, right?

Jensen does something interesting with Adam that other filmmakers attempt (but often fail at)--he uses Adam's possible redemption as the main positive trait to draw us to him as events unfold. Adam's comic bewilderment at some of the things said and done at the church as he slowly begins to change is pretty entertaining (he lashes out with fists, the boot or harsh words but it's still kind of funny in a dark, Danish way).

If you are in the mood for some Scandinavian comedy check out Anders Thomas Jensen and one of these three films he wrote and directed. He has also written a bunch of screenplays including dark gems Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself and After the Wedding. I think I'd kind of like to visit Denmark based on the work of Jensen alone--and that world's "happiest" country tag they've been given. Copenhagen anyone?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Brothers of the Brush 2009

It's that time again for all men to challenge their fellow beard growers to see who has the strongest levels of testosterone coursing through their veins. The Brothers of the Brush beard growing competition will pit beards against each other in five separate categories--from fullest to most unique to best effort and two others.

The competition takes place in Tulsa, Oklahoma and lasts from December 1st, 2008 to February 8th, 2009. That's one week longer than the 2007 event. Participants get a red t-shirt with the 2009 logo on it (pictured), an '09 button, membership into the brotherhood, a free movie and general merriment. Winners in one of the five categories get over $100 in prizes!

If you live outside the area and want to support the brotherhood by ordering a t-shirt that is very doable. E-mail me the size and I'll let you know the cost
etc etc etc.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The painful wait for Synecdoche, New York

How much longer will I have to wait to see this film? Each Friday I check the local listings to see if it has made it to Tulsa yet. So far I'm still waiting.

Synecdoche, New York is the latest mind puzzler from Charlie Kaufman (his first as a director) and involves a plot so strange and convoluted it would be a waste of our time to go into it. I actually am trying to avoid the film as much as possible just so it can "surprise" me when I see it. Great cast, bizarre story lines, challenging cinema--I better get to see this before I go to New York in six weeks.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Movie tickets #2

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Heart Keith Carradine

Talk about an under appreciated and underused actor--it's Keith Carradine. Keith, a member of the acting clan that includes dad (John), brothers (David and Robert) and daughter (Martha Plimpton), has had some fine movie moments in the 1970s and early 1980s but never became a "star" star. After a series of terrific films as leads or as a member of strong ensemble casts, his career saw him slipping into the netherworld of bad movies and forgettable TV roles.

It's actually two recent TV roles that has brought Carradine back to my attention and made me realize just how much I like him as an actor. The first was when he sauntered into the first season of HBO's Deadwood (a show I loved and dearly miss!) as Wild Bill Hickock (photo #2). Sporting a huge 'stache and a deadly intensity--Carradine's performance blew me away and he stole every single scene he was in which is really saying something as Deadwood was heavy on the testosterone and stellar performances. Only in four episodes, Carradine should have gotten an Emmy nomination for his stunning performance--it is that good.

TV show number two was a role on season two of Showtime's Dexter. Carradine plays a much different character than Hickock as an FBI agent attempting to capture the cop/serial killer Dexter. Carradine's Agent Lundy is a smart, confident, wry, no-nonsense yet warm character that Carradine makes believable, like able and sort of quirky. It's a terrific, subdued performance with a
lot of depth and charm. Carradine is an ace in the hole for shows like these that rely on ensemble casts who need an unselfish, generous addition to the cast.

In 1980 Carradine was in one of my favorite westerns of all time--The Long Riders. I saw this on a Sunday afternoon in some defunct theatre in Tulsa. I was already into the legend of the James/Younger Gang, this Walter Hill film full of real life brothers is about as entertaining as a modern western can be (complete with some great exploding bullets-Carradine actually takes a slug to the jaw while playing Jim Younger!).

Carradine has been in lots of other things worth seeing. He starred in some of Robert Altman's best films in the 1970s--McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Thieves Like Us and Nashville (a film role where he nabbed an Oscar for best song-photo #3). Also worthy films from the '70s were
Emperor of the North (reviewed July '06 CineRobot archives), The Duellists (directed by Ridley Scott) and Pretty Baby (directed by Louis Malle). Hill's previously mentioned The Long Riders and a re-teaming with Carradine for 1981's Southern Comfort would be the last hurrah for Carradine before he became mostly lost in a void of bad movies and poor TV--although he did have some success on Broadway and won a Tony nomination in 1991 for playing Will Rogers.

What a shame. After being embraced by such directors as Altman, Scott, Malle and Hill in the 1970s/80s, the string of lacking roles must have been difficult. It looks as though there are a few interesting film roles coming in 2009 (I just found out he's in the lead of a Broadway drama called Mindgame that I'm going to check out when in NY in December) so I'm hopeful Carradine can be "rediscovered" and get some good character roles.

Friday, November 07, 2008

In Search of a Midnight Kiss

The new lo-fi romantic comedy In Search of a Midnight Kiss has its moments among the missteps. It's a two steps forward and one step back kind of film. I wanted to really like this thanks to my romantic leanings but a few of its flaws hold it back--it's just okay and kind of a pale imitation of another talky, romantic film released a few years ago.

A couple of lonely, slightly broken people hook up via Craig's List so they don't have to be alone on New Year's Eve. I know people use Craig's List or Myspace for this kind of thing but it has always baffled me. I don't see the appeal meeting people through wires of technology and the use of texting and e-mails for communication. I also don't get the idea of having to have someone near to kiss at the strike of midnight. If I'm alone that night, I'd rather just be alone. Maybe I'm the oddball in this day and age?

But not these two people. They arrange a meeting and it's awkward but since these two are desperate they might actually like one another. Being desperate doesn't mean you can't find a connection or love while lost in that haze of recklessness (even if it is via Craig's List!). Slowly the pair start to let down the walls and start to like each other--thanks in part to a wonderful sequence in an old, empty movie theatre. It isn't surprising as the film is more formula than it thinks it is.

The frustrating thing about In Search of a Midnight Kiss are the odd character leaps that come out of nowhere a few times. Left turns are one thing but they have to make sense as the film unfolds. They come off as over scripted with a screenwriter trying to hard in this movie. The film is compared to Before Sunrise/Before Sunset (same producers) and it does have some characters walking around talking about their lives. That's true. It isn't as intelligent or as romantic as the dialogue in those two films and the acting is nowhere near as polished from the leads so that kind of comparison only makes me long for those two films from director Richard Linklater.

I'm heading to New York for a week at the end of the year. I will be there on New Year's Eve. Alone. Should I get my Craig's List profile up and running? Should I take some new photos of myself in front of a mirror and add it to my Myspace profile? The clock is going to strike a new year and it looks like I'll be going it alone--now feeling either lonely or desperate thanks to In Search of a Midnight Kiss. Not really.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Czech Dream

There's very little I enjoy more in this world than a well orchestrated hoax. The larger the scale, the more I admire it. Original hoaxes that make it into the mass public are even rarer and and harder to pull off in this day of saturated and wide reaching media (although maybe it's easier because there are so many outlets?). Czech Dream is a funny and interesting documentary based around such a thing: a hoax directed at the general public.

Vit Klusak and Filip Remunda are two young filmmakers about to finish their studies at a Prague film school. For their last project they get a grant from the Ministry of Czech Culture and plot to pull off a hoax that ties in the subjects of consumerism, greed and the seductive power of advertising. Everything is filmed, from the planning of the hoax to the aftermath.

The pair, with the help of a sympathetic ad agency, create logos, commercials for TV and radio, splatter print ads and fliers all over Prague for a fictitious store called "Czech Dream." It's a supermarket (although they call it a "hypermarket" in the Czech Republic) on the outskirts of Prague. The main problem for those who show up at the grand opening ready to buy stuff (some come with order to buy everything from pickles to bread to electronic equipment)--there is NO store!

Ads blanket the city telling people to not come, to not spend money and to just stay away. The public just think it's a clever form of anti-advertising and it just draws them to the opening with more curiosity. They show up by the thousands. After they've walked (some people actually run toward the "building") to the front door they get a shock--there is no front door but a fake storefront in an empty field. Most of the Czechs shown are pretty irate at being duped as are the media when they get wind of the hoax.

Some of the victims look through their cloud of confusion to realize this stunt is an anti- consumerist statement against the Czech obsession for stores such as these. In 2008, advertising is so effective and sly that it can persuade the populace to show up despite clear directives to stay away. The frightening thing is this isn't just a Czech thing as this kind of hoax could have happened all over the world. People are gullible and hungry for the latest gadget at a cheap price and they are willing to show up at the crack of dawn and run through a field to get at that deal. Unfortunately for those people in Czech Dream, the store they are looking for is not real and they will instead be in a social commentary documentary that's very entertaining.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

October movies

I watched Halloween last night--the first half of the Circle's Halloween + Halloween II double feature--and how I love that film. The last twenty minutes are amazing! The terror of pursuit, the John Carpenter soundtrack, the screams, wonderful, wonderful.

Religulous
---2008---usa ***1/2
Miracle of St. Anna
---2008---usa **
The Foot Fist Way
---2007---usa ****
Love Crazy
---1941---usa ***1/2
Appaloosa
---2008---usa ****
Swindled
---2004---spain ***1/2
Fools For Scandal
---1938---usa ***
Czech Dream
---2003---czech republic ***1/2
Dans Paris
---2007---france ***
Flickering Lights
---2000---denmark ***
The Horse's Mouth---1958---england ***
In Search of a Midnight Kiss--2008---usa ***
Halloween---1978---usa *****!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Title change or marketing over sensitivity?

Has anyone else noticed that the title of the soon to be released film Zack and Miri Make A Porno has been slashed in half for the ads? When I saw this trailer a few weeks ago the entire title was in the ad but I bet you can guess what three words have been cut out of the ads I've seen in the past week. If you said "make a porno" as the missing words then you are correct.

I'm confused. In this day and age is the phrase "make a porno" after two people's names really all that offensive? The plain and dull title of the ads now (just Zack and Miri) is not a good second choice and I'm sure it wouldn't be the title if "make a porno" wasn't the intended title. The original title is not only better, it pretty much sums up the premise is only six words--something that few film titles rarely do.

Based on the trailer the film seems to be about Zack (Seth Rogan) and friend Miri (Elizabeth Banks) who are down on economic luck. To reverse these hard times they decide to make a porno. That story is VERY clear in the TV ads I've seen. If the trailer on TV talks about making a porno and shows actual comic scenes from the said porno--why in the world can you not market the movie Zack and Miri Make A Porno?! Ridiculous.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Watching Star Wars with an 8 and 6 year old

Recently I wrote a piece on the Boman Twin in Tulsa and mentioned seeing Star Wars there in 1977 when I was a fairly young kid. Like the experiences of millions of others and this film--it was a magical moment in my childhood. I was completely enraptured by the film's story and the adventure and "otherworld" qualities as I sat near the front row (the closer to the front the better when I was a kid).

While I enjoyed the two sequels (I still have not seen the three recent prequels and don't plan to mostly because I can't stand George Lucas) they did not have the same power over me. I developed a fondness for other sci-fi instead--the world of Star Trek offered me more substance and ideas so I ran with the Federation. Later on I took to more adult sci-fi such as Blade Runner and the Alien franchise or sci-fi literature. Star Wars just seemed about toys to me the older I got.

I hadn't seen Star Wars since the early 1980s when I re-watched it with a friend's 8 and 6 year old (see photo of "MattVader" and "Jacob Fett"). These two boys are both obsessed with the entire universe that is Star Wars. It is a remarkable film that taps into so many things boys like--adventure, villains, heroes, good v. evil, space ships, alien creatures both lovable and strange, talking robots, hot princesses, laser shootouts, danger, suspense and narrow escapes. Star Wars concocts a spell on young kids and its hard for them to resist as Lucas just goes direct into their DNA with this movie.

Sure, Star Wars is still about merchandiseing with all the toys, video games and endless barrage of product tie-ins. The worst evidence of this is when the R2D2 post office boxes were in cities to promote the anniversary of the film. Ugh. Lucas can not say no when it comes to whoring out the Star Wars world as this is one money making franchise and he needs as much money as he can get evidently. But, the first installment, Star Wars, found my DNA in 1977 and it found it again in 2008. It also found the coded wiring of the 8 and 6 year olds who watched it with me. Any film that can do that deserves its reputation as "magical" no matter how much Lucas and co. have ruined it since it came out.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Appaloosa

I love westerns! I wish I could see four or five new westerns every year. I'd even accept a good TV western instead of in a theatre. Westerns are such a classic "American" genre and the good new ones seem to be popular so I'm not sure why there can't be more. They are too old fashioned I suppose but that's one of the things I like best about them. These days, if it didn't come from a comic book or graphic novel or is some franchise of sequels--Hollywood wants nothing to do with it. I'd take an "old fashioned" western such as Appaloosa over Batman and that ilk any day of the week.

Appaloosa, set in New Mexico territory in 1882, is an amiable little film that offers up subtle delights from start to finish. Directed by Ed Harris, who also stars alongside Viggo Mortensen, Appaloosa takes a lot of the traditional elements from westerns but uses them with a deft touch so the film feels comfortable in the formula.

The story is familiar--a rogue rancher (Jeremy Irons) kills a town's lawmen. New guns are needed. Enter Virgil (Harris) and Everett (Mortensen). Bloodletting occurs. There's a woman of course (Renee Zellweger in all her sour faced, sucking on a lemon glory). There's gunfights, stare downs, Indians, lovable whores, quick draws, smoke belching trains, horses, winchesters, James Gammon and his wonderful gravel voice, jail cells, more shootouts--it's a western after all.

One of the best things about Appaloosa is the dialogue and level of performances of the lead actors (aside from "sourface" as she drives me crazy). There's lots of little moments between characters and in these moments there is a sly level of humor that doesn't exist in the few westerns that come out now. New westerns take themselves very seriously but the characters in Appaloosa have a wry sense of humor and it makes them warmer and more well rounded as characters.

Appaloosa won't break any new molds for the western genre but I don't think that was the goal for Harris and co. It's a satisfying film I enjoyed many levels. Mostly, I'm just happy to see a quality western in a theatre. Hopefully I'll get to see an increase to two of them in 2009.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Movie tickets #1

Friday, October 17, 2008

Love Crazy

Physical comedy, romantic hijinks, quick dialogue, silly antics, William Powell, Myrna Loy, large doses of screwball. Any film that has those elements will be no surprise that I'll be fond of it and those are all present in the 1941 film Love Crazy. It's a sweet and funny picture and one of those films from the studio era that just makes you feel good as you watch it.

The Irelands are about to celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary. All is lovey-dovey at the start of the night. Trouble comes when you add a mother-in-law and a flirtatious old flame. By the end of the night four years might be the limit of their time together.

One thing that makes Love Crazy such a charmer is the leads--William Powell and Myrna Loy. The pair obviously have a screen chemistry together as they co-starred in the great Thin Man series and other films together. That ease and comfort is evident on screen. The duo have a natural rapport that money can't buy when it comes to on screen partnering--you either have it or you don't. Powell and Loy have it.

Loy is classy as usual but Powell gets most of the juicy material. Sporting his trademark pencil 'stache, Powell gets to unleash all his comedy moves (he's got a lot of them including some bits of business including pretending to be insane and going in drag) while also getting to do some suave, leading man scenes. Powell is hard to top.

Love Crazy is a formula picture but like a lot of formula from this time--that's not really a bad thing. When the formula is this light, energetic and fun I'll take another dose of studio system by the numbers any day of the week.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Heart Woody Harrelson

Who would have thought the actor playing the bumpkin from Indiana on the legendary TV sitcom Cheers would have have such a lengthy and diverse career? That actor was Woody Harrelson and no one would have guessed his mostly one-note character of Woody Boyd would lead to an Oscar nomination (The People Vs. Larry Flynt), comedies, dramas and even environmentally friendly documentaries. But that's precisely what has happened with Harrelson.

One skill that Harrelson possesses that was evident on Cheers is his gift of comic timing. The use of pauses, line delivery, double takes and so on is something some actors can do and others can not. These little things are most visible in comedies where timing is important to mining laughs. Harrelson draws upon his earnestness and honesty when in dramas to give quality performances in those as well.

Harrelson's most obvious trait is his likability. Most of the people he plays have a plain spoken directness that make the characters likable (aside from Mickey Knox in Natural Born Killers--although even that was a pretty likable guy who just liked to kill people). Even though he's had a long career with roles in comedy, drama, support or leading, he's still kind of under appreciated or underrated as an actor.

Harrelson is also a bit of an activist for the environment and other subjects that have led to his arrest a few times for his beliefs. He's embraced a raw food diet as well and some of these interests feature in the 2003 documentary Go Further which follows Harrelson and friends on a bio-fueled bus, riding bikes, dissing meat and their journey to spread the message. While I don't agree with Harrelson in all his convictions (especially that crazy raw food thing!) I admire the passion he has for non-acting pursuits that might take him away from his "career."

Here are some Harrelson films I like that show the wide range of comedy and drama that he's done over the years. In some of the them he's the lead and in others he is a supporting character. White Men Can't Jump, The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Doc Hollywood, No Country for Old Men, Natural Born Killers, Prairy Home Companion, Kingpin, The Hi-Lo Country and Welcome to Sarajevo. If you haven't seen some of these or paid attention to the performances of Harrelson over the years--I think you might be pleasantly surprised by him as an actor and a screen presence.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Boman Twin

As a kid, nothing was more fun for me than driving to Tulsa to watch a movie. It was almost an hour's drive to make it to Tulsa from our house in rural Mayes County and of all the movie theatres we came to regularly, the Boman Twin was my favorite and the one where I saw a lot of classic, memorable films.

Built in 1966, as the name says, this was a two screen theatre. The thing that I loved most about the Boman Twin was its layout (see my crude drawing!). You
entered to face a long concession area that served the two houses. What was really cool about the Boman's houses is they were both mammoth and built into the ground. You'd enter on ground level and make your descent down into your assigned room. As I kid I just loved walking down into the ground to see a movie.

I saw some incredible films at the Boman Twin.
Trust me, any theatre where you watch Star Wars in 1977 leaves a deep mark carved into your childhood film geek memory. Five years later I saw E.T. with my friend Jeff and sat near the front row crying my eyes out (and trying to disguise that fact from Jeff!). My dad took me to see Friday the 13th part 3 in 3-D and I wore the red and blue glasses as Jason Vorhees killed a bunch of people almost "literally" in front of my eyes. Dad also took me to see Raging Bull at the Boman (my dad and I would have serious issues through the years but I'll always be indebted to him for things like that) and I got my first taste of Marty and De Niro. The next day during recess at Roosevelt Elementary I tried to tell my buddies about this crazy and violent movie I got to see that none of them were allowed to watch. Thanks dad. It wasn't all mindblowing films at the Boman though as one of the last things I saw there was Spaceballs.

After the Boman closed it was vacant for awhile and later turned into one of those laser tag places. I never went. I drive by it every so often and its now a furniture store and a used record shop. Each time I pass I think of walking down that aisle and how large the room was and some of the great films I got to see at one of my favorite Tulsa theatres.

***Photo courtesy of Beryl Ford Collection + Rotary Club of Tulsa + Tulsa Historical Society***

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Every third day/film + memory

If you've noticed dear readers, there's been a lot of posts recently on CineRobot. My trip to Seattle has unlocked a myriad of ideas to write regarding film. Also helping--I bought some amazing NAVA notebooks and some incredible Japanese pens (Copic Multiliner SP .3 for the paper + pen geeks out there!) and it's very pleasurable filling pages with ink letter stains. Expect a frequency of posts in the range of every third day for the rest of the year. Seriously.

One topic I'm planning on embracing in the future are memories regarding film. After my post on the Allred Theatre I started thinking about all the little (or big) memories I have concerning films, theatres and things that happened to me while watching movies. Certain films and the experience of watching that film are often burned into my mind. I plan on sharing those memories with you dear readers, along with reviews of new/old films and the occasional rant (likely about the behavior of my fellow theatregoers).

Check back every three days and hold me to these vows!

Monday, October 06, 2008

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

I've always had a deep fascination with Communist countries under the umbrella of the Soviet Union. Romania. Poland. Hungary. Bulgaria. Etc. From reading books or watching films from that part of Europe I imagine lots of shades of gray. I imagine a lot of concrete architecture as well. And of course, there's the layers of gloom and paranoia that looms over the populace. Doesn't sound all that thrilling but I've never stopped being drawn to that part of the world no matter how depressing the subject might appear.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is my kind of film. Romania. 1980s. A desperate woman seeks to procure an extremely illegal underground abortion with the help of her friend. The pair begin a gripping quest that not only puts them at risk for harsh Romanian prison time but it could cost them their lives as well.

I loved this relentlessly powerful movie. Directed by Christian Mungiu, the level of claustrophobia is so tense it's hard to watch at times. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is compelling and emotionally exhausting and one of the most harrowing films I've seen recently. Those are good things. Combine those things with the Eastern European setting and I'm completely riveted.

The film works on multiple levels--as social commentary as well as a heart stopping thriller. I felt such an empathy for these women and their plight that I became lost in their disastrous situation. The fact that abuse, prison, bodily harm or death was close at hand at every turn only ratcheted up the anxiousness to a higher level.

I guess a lot of folks would be bothered by the abortion element in the film. Mungiu does not shy away from that aspect as the film has some frank discussion and graphic moments that are pretty sharp and hard to watch. That being said, I didn't find this an "abortion" film (one of those incendiary topics often best not talked about with people who disagree with you) as much as it is a film about freedom. The abortion is just the napalm catalyst to show what it's like to live in a police state like Romania was during this period in its history.

Call me crazy, but even after watching a film like this where there are no freedoms in the face of an all controlling government and living is extremely difficult, I still kind find these places from this era romantic and captivating. I wish I could have visited (by the time I made it to Hungary/ Poland etc. in 1995, the Westernization was already flooding their borders in waves) or even lived among its people. I'll just have to make do with bleak, powerful films like 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days to transfer me to places like this I can only imagine.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Paul Newman: 1925-2008

What can I write about the recently gone Paul Newman that someone more elequent than me hasn't already said? Newman was special. He was one of the most talented actors of his era whose on screen charisma swarmed over audiences like humidity in the Deep South. He was the rarest of Hollywood stars--he aged gracefully, naturally and seemed like a gentleman and a decent human being with his Newman's Own products and the fact he was married to Joanne Woodward for over fifty years. A decade in a "Hollywood" marriage is an eternity so to be married for five decades is a stunning achievement.

And oh yeah, the man was in a few films that I love you may recall. Think about Newman's performances in films such as The Hustler, Hud, Hombre, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, Slap Shot, Absence of Malice, The Verdict, The Color of Money, The Hudsucker Proxy, Twilight and Road to Perdition. Those films span over FOUR decades of legendary films. The loss of Paul Newman means we've lost one of the great icons of film history.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September movies

As promised, I saw more movies than I did in August. It wasn't difficult as that was such a low amount. The month started off with the mostly terrible I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry but later had four ***** films, which is a lot for me in one month. I happen to be a fan of Sandler's goofy film persona (maybe its because he's a bulldog lover too?) but when he does a bad film, it's truly wretched. Twelve foreign movies too (some of that was the influence of going to Seattle + Scarecrow Video) which for some reason makes me really satisfied.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry---2007---usa *
Goin' Back to T-Town---1993---usa ***1/2
Step Brothers---2008---usa ***
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days---2007---romania *****!
Transsiberian---2008---spain or usa? ***
Eye In the Sky---2005---hong kong ****
I Served the King of England---2007---czech republic ***1/2
Nada+---2001---cuba ***
Takeshis---2005---japan ***
Hamlet 2---2008---usa ***1/2
Burn After Reading---2008---usa ***1/2
This Is Spinal Tap---1983---usa *****!
Closely Watched Trains---1967---czech republic *****!
End of August at the Hotel Ozone---1966---czech republic ***1/2
Transylvania---2006---france ***
Producing Adults---2005---finland ***
The Machine Girl---2007---japan ***1/2
Django---1966---italy ***1/2
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan---1982---usa *****!
Adam's Apples---2006---denmark ***1/2

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Once--revisited live on stage

Last year one of my favorite movies was the Irish romantic drama with songs Once. I think it ended up at number two on my year end list. Well, a batch songs performed in the film were done by the stars (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova) and came out before the film was made. The pair then recorded a few more that were used only in Once. You may recall that the duo won an Oscar for best song and have been touring as The Swell Season based on the popularity of the music and the film. Luckily for me and my friend LW, they made a stop at the historic Brady Theatre in Tulsa and we got to see them from row three.

They played for nearly two hours and covered lots of movie moments--Falling Slowly, Lies, The Hill--and unveiled four or five very strong new songs which makes me hope that they will have a new album out soon. Their music is just honest song craft, no gimmicks or phony hipsterisms. It's music with lots of heart and full of beautiful harmonies that never feels inauthentic. In this day and age that's a high compliment. Plus, Glen is a funny, witty Irishman and I've even got more of a "crush" on Marketa after getting to see this show.

Walking back to my car in downtown Tulsa after seeing them perform, my own heart just felt content and happy thanks to a movie I love (Once) and the duo who made the film so special with their music .

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Heart Sean Young

Let's get it right out in the open and be done with it--Sean Young is loony. At least that's her reputation now after all kinds of highly publicized events that have helped to derail her career. If it wasn't dust ups with directors it was volatile affairs with co-stars or showing up dressed in a homemade catsuit thinking you are auditioning when no audition was scheduled and then getting forcibly removed from the studio. Her most infamous embarrassment was the James Woods fiasco that involved all kinds of bizarre claims and counterclaims (and lawsuits). Even earlier in 2008 Young was ejected from the Directors Guild of America awards for a bit of drunken heckling (she entered rehab soon after). Young is a wild one!

Okay, that's done. Let's talk about Sean Young the actress in some films of hers I like. In May I re watched Blade Runner while in Lisbon and one of the things that struck me was just how much I adored Sean Young in her films from the 1980s. She was perfectly cast as the android love interest in Ridley Scott's landmark sci-fi noir. I can't think of a better suited actress in the early 1980s who could combine the needed qualities of sexiness and coldness that she does in Blade Runner as Young just seems like an android to me.

When I got back to Tulsa I watched another Young film from the end of the '80s in Cousins. I'm fond of this romantic comedy despite its flaws and probably Young's last hurrah before she went the way of crazy behavior, b-films straight to video and one off TV appearances. Young's role in Cousins is as warm and friendly as performance in Blade Runner was cold and distant.

1987 was Young's most visible year as she appeared in two popular, well received films: Wall Street and No Way Out. Her role in Wall Street was rife with turmoil as she battled director Oliver Stone repeatedly over whether or not she should be playing the Daryl Hannah role (Stone later admitted that Young was right). In No Way Out she was the dangerous femme fatale and was in one of the steamier love scenes of the era as she and Kevin Costner got after it in the back of a limo.

One other thing that Young has going for her in my book--maybe the greatest eyebrows in film history. I sort of have this thing for eyebrows on women and Sean Young c. 1980s sits near the top of the pedestal. She's got some unbelievable eyebrows and those and no amount of erratic behavior can change that!

I have to admit, I haven't seen a single Young movie since Cousins in 1989 so my fondness for her strictly based on 1980s films such as Stripes (she was the MP that Bill Murray woos with a spatula!), Blade Runner, Dune and her '87 double feature mentioned earlier. I doubt I see anything else too as her reputation (and behavior) has her permanently stamped in the realm of "troublemaker."


Monday, September 22, 2008

Czech film frenzy!

I've gone on a Czech film bender since heading to Seattle as I've watched three of them: I Served the King of England, Closely Watched Trains and End of August at the Hotel Ozone. Shall we get into some Czech film discussion? I think so.

First up was the 2007 film I Served the King of England that was the official Oscar entry for the Czechs last year and was directed by one of the country's more prominent directors in Jiri Menzel. Set in WW2, I Served the King of England is a ribald, energetic, satirical comedy set around one man's misadventures with jobs, women and the ever shifting political climate around him. Sometimes subtle, other times overt in its message, Menzel has crafted a charmer that deftly balances the line between the comic and the somber.

Closely Watched Trains, another film directed by Jiri Menzel, is firmly rooted in the mid to late 1960s Czech New Wave. I'm a huge fan of Milos Forman's films from this era and Closely Watched Trains fits right in with the best of what those Czech filmmakers were creating. Unlike Forman, Menzel never left the country and made more films, some of which were banned by the government from being shown. I'd seen Closely Watched Trains on the shelf a number of times while at Scarecrow Video but had never watched it until now. Boy, was it worth the wait.

There's a similarity between Menzel's earlier mentioned I Served the King of England and Closely Watched Trains. Both are set in or near WW2 and both have a central male character who is lost in the obtuse haze of youth that leads to misunderstandings and confusions. Closely Watched Trains is the superior film (it won the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1966) and set at a local provincial train station. A young man begins his career as a railwayman while also forming new bonds with workers and attempts to woo a cute brunette with awkward results. Closely Watched Trains is a wonderful, thoughtful and well made film that is highly recommended.

My third Czech film in my frenzy is the ultra bleak End of August at the Hotel Ozone from director Jan Schmidt in 1967. Set years into the future after a nuclear bomb event around the world, a group of hardened women (men have seemed to have died off for some reason) struggle to survive one day to the next. These women, possibly the last humans in civilization, are savages. The only thing that matters to them is the moment of "now" as they move across the landscape hunting for other survivors, items that they need or amusement. Cheery stuff? No, but it is a haunting and powerful film nonetheless.

I've often thought if there is one thing lacking on CineRobot it's the need for more Czech films discussed or reviewed. I can sleep easier tonight knowing I can check that one off my list.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Transylvania

Director Tony Gatlif's latest is chock full of all the elements of his films that make him a long term favorite: rural Transylvanian locations that reek of off the map authenticity, non-professional actors mingling with professional, gypsies, the struggle for life, the grasping for love and lots and lots of music. Add all of those things and Transylvania is a another slice of raw cinema from Gatlif.

Asia Argento plays a Parisian who goes to Transylvania with her sister to hunt down a boyfriend who left her suddenly in France. She's off the deep end in love, he's not. When she finds out his true feelings she loses it. We're talking running through the woods screaming like a wounded banshee kind of losing it. Argento is an actress who likes to emotionally freak out on screen (I covered her acting style a few months ago) so I'm sure she had no problem tapping into that side of her self. At times, this isn't a lot of fun to witness but at least the music that supports her breakdown is amazing.

Like every other Gatlif film, music, specifically gypsy or Rom music, plays a central role in the movie. Transylvania has some incredible songs in it. We get fast, wild, joyous fifteen piece stompers to slow, dirges of soul sick achers. The songs truly convey every emotional mountain or valley the human heart experiences and pulls the film up to another level rather than just being a gloomy downer.

Actually, I would have liked even more music and less of Argento doing her usual "un-acting." Her antics come close to spoiling the film for me. Transylvania is saved by its purity of music, setting and the cast of non-pros. There's something about the music that just gets to me with its exuberance and melancholy. Those are things that can rescue any Gatlif film from the dangerous touch of Asia Argento.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Double digits

You will be happy to know that after my embarrassing display of movie watching in August (I saw only eight films!) I am well into double digits for September. I humbly apologize for slacking off in August.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I've come into this theatre just to talk on the phone

I sometimes write about my theatre going dismay at the behavior of others--okay, it's more often rants involving my anger and annoyance at these idiots I have to suffer. Well, let's add a new wrinkle to the rudeness--theatre as private phone booth.

A friend and I were taking in a late night screening of Transiberian and all was well. The film had about fifteen minutes left when I hear a loud voice talking in the entryway before the talker became visible as two young women came into the room and moved above us. I thought to myself that was strange to enter the movie at this point but thought they might be talking to someone in the theatre telling them where to locate them. I was wrong.

Transiberian was in "final showdown" mode so the noise on screen initially blanketed the voices I could hear every so often behind me. I still heard those voices though and I turned to MB and asked, "Can you hear those people?" She could too. After a few more bursts of talking I stood up and turned to get a good look at the offenders. Lo and behold BOTH of them were on their phones at the same time!

Amid the current trends of texting at every opportunity and the talkers that I've experienced in movie theatres--never had I seen two more blatant talkers who seemed to enter the theatre ONLY to have conversations on their cell phones. These two dimwits didn't take a call during the film, that is expected as normal these days. No, they did something even more discourteous-- they came into the theatre with fifteen minutes left to make calls.

A woman sitting above us went to get theatre staff (instead of confronting the noisemakers) and soon someone was escorting them out. The funny thing was, one of the women did not stop her conversation as she brazenly kept on loudly blathering away down the aisle and out the door. It was an amazing display of uncivilized behavior. The depths of public conduct among our populace is hard to fathom but this is the new low point for me. The sad thing is I'm sure the bar will drop even lower in the future.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My obligatory seattle scarecrow video post


I'm in Seattle and that means one thing: my traditional Scarecrow Video post. Long-term readers will know that this place is truly one of my favorite places on EARTH! It's a mecca for cinema lovers. My DNA is wired to be able to come in, navigate the shelves and find something wonderful. 

As you can see in photo two, the foreign section is a mindblower. This is only about 2/3 of the section. If you want to see films from Finland or Portugal or Chile or India or Mexico or practically anyplace in the world--this is the section for you. It helps to have a multi-region DVD player to fully discover the foreign section as lots of the films in stock are direct from other countries. I had to leave my multi-region player in Seattle when I moved home because I'm not going to use it in Oklahoma that's for sure. 

The other two photos show how the shelves are arranged by director. While there are traditional sections such as comedy or drama, the main floor of the video store is dedicated to the director and there are dozens of shelves with films from directors from around the world--the obscure and the very well known. One of my favorites is the Preston Sturges shelf and if you know you "Sokurov" is on the 1st photo (without consulting IMDB), then you are worthy of entering the director's area with your head held high in confidence. 

There you have it. My annual Scarecrow post. I've rented a Cuban film, a Japanese film and am going to rent another Czech film for the jet ride home. I'm also renting Tony Gatlif's latest to watch when I get home and then mailing it back to The Hidden Staircase for her to return for me. 

Friday, September 12, 2008

Neptune marquee

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I made it over to the Neptune last night to see Hamlet 2 (a raunchy, random send up of the high school musical) and got a nice photo of the light blue marquee when we left. I love the long trident that goes through the entire name and turns into the "E" at the end. Great theatre!