miami vice

saw this yesterday with high expectations, because the miami herald gave it a resounding review, and one imagines the miami herald should know. but the miami herald, to which we are constantly cancelling our subscription in disgust and resuming it in desperation, knows nothing, least of all whether a movie allegedly about miami has anything at all to do with, er, miami. Continue reading miami vice

Ken Russell – Fall of the Louse of Usher

I’ve wondered for a couple of days whether to write about this film. I’m fascinated by Russell mostly because it’s interesting to see what happens to a director that had a very specific artistic vision that falls way out of favor with the public and film financers.

Since leaving Hollywood, Russell has taken his strong interest in classical music and literature and erotica and managed to keep busy directing British and Candian TV specials and documentaries, including one I’m keen to see on the origins of British folk songs. But for a guy whose highly stylized features were in vogue for a number of years, (1969’s Women in Love to 1991’s Whore), I have to wonder if he’s content not to direct features any more.

So I was excited to find a copy of Russell’s take on all things Poe from a couple of years ago: The Fall of the Louse of Usher, written, directed, shot, and edited by the man, as well as playing one of the main roles. Continue reading Ken Russell – Fall of the Louse of Usher

Gugly filmmaking

I watched Gigli the other night. I remember liking Beverly Hills Cop and was only mildly annoyed with Scent of a Woman. I still think Midnight Run is a terrific film, mostly because Charles Grodin is absolute @%!*ing godhead. But what the hell went wrong with Martin Brent when he made this piece of shit? I can understand the lousy script, the dumb conceit of using a handicapped boy to help make believable the lead’s transformation from lout to likeable, the lame performances. But the thing that made me scream was the fact that everything had to be in close-up or medium close-up. Everything. I say this because I knew, from the outset, that I would not like this film. But I didn’t expect to be infuriated by something like shot-selection.

I can’t imagine many or any of you have seen this film, but maybe you can answer the larger question: have there been films (recent or no) that have bothered you not because of lousy acting or a bad script, but because of the direction? Specifically the type of shots the director has chosen, or the camera set-ups?

Time again for short takes: the why bother? version

To save others from what I endured:

Don’t Meet the Fockers. Even with Dustin Hoffman’s enthusiasm, an exercise in apathy. Imagine if Bresson made a Hollywood comedy, then got drunk and let his monkey direct.

Stay away from R-Point, which is a war-slash-ghost movie from Korea. A troop ends up in the middle of no-man’s-land, and so do viewers. There’s no good violence–nothing lopped off, only a few stray bullets and carefully-sprinkled blood (yawn)–and the pallid female ghost with long unwashed hair, required for all horror films made in Asia these days, doesn’t even hunch over or crawl on the floor.

utter crap

as distinct from enjoyable crap (though, of course, what is enjoyable for jeff is utter crap for everyone else).

in this category falls virus–a film from 1999 that i watched last night courtesy ondemand’s free movie listings. a russian ship is taken over by an alien “electrical lifeform” which then starts splicing humans and machines together–to what end is not clear. hijinks ensue when william baldwin, jamie lee curtis and donald sutherland and some others show up on a salvage ship and power the ship/lifeform up again. there is very little pleasure to be had in this film–though some of the machine/human splicings are cool in a cronenbergian kind of way and donald sutherland’s performance, which i think was powered by a giant dose of nyquil, is also oddly compelling. (someone told me recently that sutherland apparently has a terrible gambling problem and so essentially takes any role that pays–i’m not sure if that’s true but it certainly explains a lot.) if you’re drawn to films that feature bad writing, cheesy special effects, horrible performances and donald sutherland on nyquil then virus is for you.

real quickie on The Family Stone

this is not a movie worthy of discussion in a serious, intelligent forum such as this, so i’ll just say that a) we went to see it because there was absolutely nothing in south miami to see except munich, and simon wouldn’t see munich (don’t ask) and b) it is really not that funny for a christmas comedy. but i want to point out that rachel macadams, who was in the totally kick-ass and superbly paced red eye, is great. her comic talent belies her good-girl looks. i also want to register that i’m sick and tired of mothers dying of (breast) cancer. i do realize that fathers’ dying wouldn’t get the same tear-jerking effect (why don’t people love their fathers as much as they do their mothers?), but LET WOMEN LIVE, for goodnessakes! anyway, i spent most of the movie trying to figure out the birth order of the stone siblings and i can honestly say that i think i’ve got it down.

Jiminy Glick in LaLawood

I’m honestly a little amazed that no one has mentioned this film yet – let alone seen it. I mean, you people obviously aren’t afraid to watch shitty films as evidenced by discussions on Catwoman, Fantastic Four, and Two-Lane Blacktop. Also, I know there are big fans of SCTV here. Bruns I think is a big Martin Short fan, and I think Reynolds is as admiring of Clifford as I am.

Also, the Jiminy Glick show on Comedy Central was consistently funny. Watching A-listers like Tom Hanks and Seinfeld stare in amazement as Glick brings up incredibly obscure points about their lives and then stuffs his face with donuts and candy – It made for good TV. Continue reading Jiminy Glick in LaLawood


there was some discussion of this film in the “oscar bait” comments, but i believe it deserves a topic of its own. thanks to hbo ondemand i was able to watch this without having to endure the sneers of the terminally hip check-out kids at netflix (okay, vidiots, santa monica flashback). it is, as chris, commenter joshua, and every critic who reviewed it have noted, an extremely crappy movie. and from what i can tell, a very expensive piece of crap. so, is it worth talking about? perhaps if we’re bored we could try to tease out the bizarre narrative of female empowerment that runs through it–and which might be symptomatic of what has become of feminism in the american mainstream: through your crap shall we know ye.

anyone? chris?

the high wanking men of wome

did we have a discussion already of hbo’s “rome”? well, it’s crap anyway, and the fact that i’ve watched all the episodes to date speaks only to the utter tedium that is my life. and now i’m posting about it. somebody help me. it is badly written, the performances are overly serious, and it has the worst opening credits sequence of all time. so, why do i watch? i mentioned the utter tedium thing; plus it is on hbo ondemand and watching it helps justify the price i pay for digital cable; and i’m a sucker for finding out how stories end (and damn you, whoever it was that got me into watching stupid “lost” as well!). i wait for jeff to tell me why i should like this more. and for notlaughing schmucko and angryrabbit to mock me–ach, i remember the halcyon days of this blog when we had commenters with real names (like lesbian anime girl).

alexander, director’s cut, even

watched this in two instalments at the end of the week. this is appallingly bad. so bad that it isn’t even fun to watch in order to make fun of its badness. whatever his faults as a filmmaker, you could always say of stone that he made compelling films. not anymore. or maybe this is what happens to compelling filmmakers when they get to make their pet projects (see also scorcese and the aviator). interesting and familiar political rhetoric: alexander is out to conquer the world because he wants to unify it, dissolve differences and make everyone free; unlike his generals and soldiers he alone has respect for the asian people (though curiously this does not get in the way of considering their practices and rulers barbaric). everybody deserves to be made free by force so that they can be more like us. the look of the film is equally tired. he seems to have taken many courses of orientalism 101–not the critique of it, but “how to”.

the actors are all staggeringly bad. rosario dawson got good reviews for her performance–i presume this is because she showed her breasts. not even a passing glimpse at his penis redeems farrell. jolie may be under the impression that she is chewing scenery in a fun way–she is not. the only one who is is val kilmer, and he may be the only one who emerges with his dignity intact. anthony hopkins plays anthony hopkins. someone should make a film with him and morgan freeman.