wes anderson

i started writing this as a response to mike in the “i heart huckabees” conversation but decided it merited its own thread:

anderson’s best movie is “bottle rocket”–the ne plus ultra of uncloaked, goofy sincerity. i love all his movies but none of them (or any of the later characters) move me the way anthony and dignan did. he needs to get out of his rut and write a new movie–everything since has been a new take on “bottle rocket” with the pleasures of a repertory company and a higher art direction budget taking the place of growth as a writer. though i must admit that he’s gotten better at writing women: inez in “bottle rocket” barely spoke, and olivia williams’ character in “rushmore” pretty much just raised her eyebrows–then again maybe its just angelica huston.

Bloodsucking Freaks, or… films you walked out of

Jeff left “Pet Sematary,” ignoring the fine fine work of Ed Gwynn as the Pepperidge Farm guy.

What films have caused you to get up and leave the theater? I admit that “Bloodsucking Freaks” was actually too sadistic even for me to bear, but I also admit that I simply turned off the video. And that’s not good enough: it’s easy to eject the tape, drop the dvd back in its netflixy pouch. Screw that: what did you pay hard-earned cash for, only to feel so aggrieved or aggravated that you up and walked out?

Me: Rustler’s Rhapsody. I can’t recall why the hell I thought I should see this in the first place.

Fassbinder, Herzog, & Wenders … oh my!

Okay all you high priests of cinema:

I’m working with a student on an independent project on New German Cinema. I, foolishly, thought at first that would mean stuff like Tykwer and … well, new German cinema. But no, she tells me, it’s WF, WH, and WW (see subject heading).

Couple questions for you: Continue reading Fassbinder, Herzog, & Wenders … oh my!

what does scorcese have to do?

at our oscar gathering the consensus was that his best shot will be to make a holocaust movie about a black paraplegic who survives the camps and then single-handedly de-segregates alabama (jamie foxx wins best supporting actor as martin luther king). that or maybe a mussolini biopic.

not that any of us (at the gathering) have actually seen “the aviator”.

and oh, in your face, rwanda!

i like huckabees

just finished watching. why did this get savaged by so many people? i thought it was pretty good. in fact until the 1 hour 10 minute mark i thought it was really, really good. then it got stupid for a while, but the last 10 minutes were pretty good again. it is a genuinely quirky film, one that comes by its quirks honestly, through asking questions it sincerely means (even if the answers don’t end up being very interesting)–unlike, say, via formal whiz-bangery like so much charlie kaufman. (actually this film reminded me of my favorite kaufman written film, “human nature”.) and some really good performances too: jason schwartzmann (looking like someone shrank luke wilson) and mark wahlberg in particular.

anyone else seen it? i recommend it.


I keep waiting for this show to stumble but 17 hours in and I’m still hooked by the unusual depth of characterization as well as the series’ ability to maintain dramatic tension and narrative ambiguity. What first seemed to be a potentially hokey amalgamation of Land of the Lost, Lord of the Flies, and Gilligan’s Island has transformed itself into a potent post-9/11 story of human redemption. With its cast of Koreans, Australians, Iraquis and Americans, a crazy French lady and some polar bears; LOST may be the best hour of network television since . . . well, Freaks and Geeks (24’s “wham bam thank you mam” aesthetics and the convoluted machinations of Alias’ Rimbaldi plot do not measure up). Will it, however, be able to sustain itself into a second and third season, or will it flame out spectacularly like Twin Peaks?

Goodbye, Dragon Inn

I watched Tsai Ming-liang’s 2003 release last night. Anybody into this fellow’s films (a Chinese-Malaysian filmmaker who has lived and worked in Taiwan since his early twenties)? Goodbye, Dragon Inn was stunningly frustrating yet captivating all the same. There are basically two narratives that drive the action. Set in what once was a regal now dilapidated Taipei movie palace (a concrete mausoleum full of ghosts or maybe those mysterious men in the belly of the building are simply cruising for sex, I’m not sure), the film captures the theatre’s final screening before closing its doors and jumps back and forth between the handful of audience members and staff in the cavernous theatre with the 1966 King Hu kung-fu epic Dragon Inn being projected on the screen.

Continue reading Goodbye, Dragon Inn

Oscar Odds Update

On the theory that the “academy” likes to be broad-minded and internationally-inclined, I would take as longshots Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo from Hotel Rwanda. particularly Okonedo since it is better to be broad-minded in a major but lesser category. Nobody’s seen it, but you know when genocide’s in the air, that great ACTING can’t be far behind. At 33-1 I am taking Winslet over Swank, since all the others are….er, foreign or something. Finding Neverland is 100 to 1 for Best Picture. nice odds but the academy takes a resolute and brave position against pedophilia. will the academy heal the wound between movies and TV by granting Alan Alda a best supporting actor? tantalizing, but he would have to beat both a black man in a heart-tugging role and a “breakout” actor in a little indie hit, two formidably ideological choices for the academy. The Incredibles is a lock. If I could afford to bet $10,000, I could make a nice $700 or so. plus I have a weird crush on Elasti-Girl. The Aviator will win both best picture and best director…finally “making it up” to martin scorsese for Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Gangs of New York. the topic is “safer”–no wife-beating, greasy Italians, funny- horrific violence or people saying “tuppenny fuck” and slicing up dead pigs–and it’s an epic treatment of a hollywood figure (for extra academy “self-regard” points). I expect a cut, if you take any of my recommendations. but, of course, I had expected to make a killing off Queen Latifah in Chicago when that overstuffed couch Zeta-Jones won best supporting actress! damn her and her creepy husband Lee Majors! any side bets on “Most Embarrasing Speech” or “Nearly Dead but Acclaimed Foreign Director Who Will Win Lifetime Achievement Award after Being Snubbed for Four Decades?” Will the academy have a sense of humor and give “Best Make-Up” to Passion of the Christ? it’s interesting how the Jews killed Our Lord and founded Hollywood. Discuss.

Continue reading Oscar Odds Update


watched this a couple of nights ago on mike’s recommendation. a strange little film. i liked it (i think sunhee did too) but i’m not entirely sure why. in many ways it is deeply conventional but it seems to also tweak those conventions (kikujiro pretty much remains an abusive cipher till the end, no one is really transformed). i would recommend it to people but i am simultaneously bemused by its winning the golden lion or hyaena or whatever at the berlin film festival, or whichever major festival it won the top award at–surely there must have been better movies that year.

mike, you should add this film to your onoging “irresponsibility” thesis.