30 January, 2011

Top Ten of All Time

Yesterday I was flipping through the channels and The Royal Tenenbaums happened to be on KTLA 5. At first I was surprised the movie was on TV during the day on the Sunday, because it's a goddamn good movie. I stuck with it for a few commercial breaks, I had other places to be, but in that time I remembered just how great that movie was. Everything about it works just so and it doesn't come off as annoying or played out in the way that a lot of other films try and fail to do (I won't name them, though I will say that I'd included some of Anderson's own movies on that list).

This whole thought process lead, naturally, to taxonomy. I was going to talk about The Royal Tenenbaums-- and maybe I should, I'll save that for a later date, I guess-- but instead I'm going to take the easy way out and make a list. It's my blog and I don't make any money for this, so, screw it, let me play in the sandbox how I want to.

So, what follows is my current top ten of all time list (in no particular order).

Terminator 2. 1991. Directed by James Cameron.

Yojimbo. 1961. Directed by Akria Kurosawa.

The Royal Tenenbaums. 2001. Directed by Wes Anderson.

There Will be Blood. 2007. Directed by P.T. Anderson (the good Paul Anderson).

The Big Lebowski. 1998. Directed by the Coen Brothers.

The Life and Death Colonel Blimp. 1943. Directed by Powell and Pressburger. (Also, while you can watch the full movie on You Tube, the quality is atrocious. It really deserves better. You deserve better.)

The Battle of Algiers. 1966. Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo.

Princess Mononoke. 1997. Directed by Hayao Miyazki.

Blade Runner. 1981. Directed by Ridley Scott.

Alien. 1979. Directed by Ridley Scott (hey, he made the list twice, good for him!).

Same time next year? Sure. Why not.

28 January, 2011

26 January, 2011


24 January, 2011

Now Here's a Movie

Reign of Fire is a fun movie, but Reign of Fire is not a good movie. Not by any means. Not unless you want to staple "Ironic Laughter" and "Bizarre Hair Choices" next to things like "Dramatic Tension" or "Story."

I could spend time doing a step by step analyis of why this movie doesn't work (it's ridiculous, it's the grayest movie this side of The Road, it's a fuckin' dragon movie) and what could make it better (don't make a dragon movie), but that isn't any fun. Reign of Fire is what it is-- a silly, over-the-top movie about pretty decent actors fighting nonsense. It's a great movie to get drunk to, for, or around.

Part of me thinks that Reign of Fire only got made because like I Spit on Your Grave, Snakes on a Plane, or Hot Tub Time Machine, somebody wrote a really funny title and tagline on a cocktail napkin and their personal honor forced them to complete an idea that sounded that good in miniature. It's what we film majors call the "Roger Corman Technique." If you have a title that good, you just have to make it. You just have to.

That isn't what I was thinking about during the movie. The whole time-- what I find the most amazing-- is watching all of these male actors that you know very well in 2011 act in this movie that's (mostly) below their pay grade. It's a silly, pointless genre movie (and dragon movies are a sub-genre, I hate to say it) and here's Batman, nd that madam who got her throat slit in Deadwood, and, hell, even Leonidas and Matthew McConaughey, and they're all pretty darn good-- I mean, except for Gerard Butler, because he's been saddled with the Voice of Reason Role and the only time he's worth a damn is as GERARD BUTLER THIS IS SPARTA, ESQ. Even Mr. Shirtless Himself is pretty good-- in fact, I'd say he's the best thing about the movie.

They're all pretty darn good.

While Christian Bale-- who is obviously the better actor, if a bigger asshole-- is stuck with this boring role as British Farmerboy/Dragonslayer, McConaughey is this bigger than life Southern tank driver with a death-wish (he's even got Jeff Bridges' hair in Iron Man). He's awesome. I would watch a whole movie with just that character in it. The whole rest of the movie is a boring, Caledonian version of The Road Warrior*, but it wouldn't work for one second without these characters.

Most straight up genre movies probably have to lean on their talent more than any other kind of film. I imagine that when you're filming an Oscar Wilde play or a David Mamet script (yes, I'm aware they do plays, shut up, shut up, shut up) acting isn't that much of a concern. You've got the script right there. Even if I was reciting Glengarry Glen Ross, it almost works because the words just sound good together. You don't need an Al Pacino to make that script work (though it doesn't hurt). You don't need him to carry the damn thing.

But, when you've got a fucking dragon movie, you've got to give the audience somebody they want to look at-- otherwise, they're going to realize they're watching a goddamn dragon movie. This can't be that much of a revelation to anyone (even to me, who is making this up as I go along, basically). Better movies can do without better actors. Dragon movies do not have that fat to shed. it needs every goddamn calorie.

You can basically sit on your ass if you've got a script from the Bard. At the very least, you're not losing money on pre-production.

I'm reminded of the movie Outland, which is something I've written about here before. I'm reminded of it, mostly because I was yelling at people about it on the internet last night and, basically, I will use any excuse to talk about my agenda, which is weird films that I want to pretend that I discovered.

Outland has a lot of good things going on with it. As it usually goes with me, though, I'm not going to waste my time talking about the wonderful aspects of something. I want to talk about its shortcoming.

It all works though, because it's got Sean Connery in it. He is an eminently trust-worthy actor. With few exceptions is a movie he is in (physically, which I'll get around to explaining) a complete waste of time. That movie isn't the same without Sean Connery-- and this is early '80's Sean Connery, not burnt-out, not even in it for the money anymore Sean Connery. He's match fit in this flick. There is a chance it could have worked without him. All I know is that he's in it and I believe him as an honest, down-to-earth cop and it works.

(Also, Peter Boyle works perfectly as an antagonist because, you don't ever need to look at Peter Boyle for more than five seconds to figure out that he's the bad guy in the room. He's the opposite of Connery in every way that he needs to be.)

Then again, maybe that's indicative of the film's flaws. The fact that Matthew McConannsdfnlsdfn is the best part of the movie perfectly encapsulates why Reign of Fire is more or less a crappy movie. He does an excellent job, given the material, but he is not an excellent actor. That is telling.

I can't judge, though, I gave the damn thing three out of five stars on Netflix, because when you get down to it, I am really sold by that movie's choice of facial hair. It's a blind spot I've got.

SUB-NOTE: Talking about dragon movies and Sean Connery, remember Dragonheart? What the fuck was that movie? I can't even remember if that movie was worth a damn or not-- I mean, I'm sure viewing it as a snooty college graduate in 2011 will do it no favors, but I'm not even sure if 12 year old James can be asked to give a shit about that movie. The only thing I really remember about it-- and, again, maybe that can be taken as a sample of movie as a whole-- is that it had some really cool toys attached to it.

Hahah! Oh man, yes. This takes me back.

Alright, upon doing some research** I've found that Sean Connery played the dragon "Draco" in the movie. How fucking lazy is that? They couldn't spend the rest of the afternoon trying to come up with a less obvious name for a dragon? It's like they just wrote that in to the first draft and then somebody had an early afternoon golf match and didn't bother to Find and Replace it.

Are there any good dragon movies? There must be. Shoot me a line if you can think of one.

SUB-SUB-NOTE: The guy I was named after is in the movie Dragon Wars: D-Wars. Jealous? You're jealous.

SUB-SUB-SUB-NOTE: Hey, the director of Reign of Fire directed The X-Files movie and a bunch of episodes. Alright. He gets a pass.

* I am well aware of the fact that London is nowhere near Caledonia, but if that movie wasn't shot in Scotland, I'll eat my hat.

** No, I don't have any better way to spend my time, thanks for bringing that up.

23 January, 2011

It Happened Again

Looks like someone decided to make a movie for me again. I really appreciate it when someone puts forth the effort like this just to please me. It means a lot, it really does.

19 January, 2011

Wednesday's For Dames

Here's the moment when you thank me for not making a jokes about pussies.

And on an unrelated note (for those keeping track), my upcoming blogging schedule is as such:
* Mother
* Seven Days in May
* The Winter Men

Should be fun.

18 January, 2011

A Continuation on a Theme

I realized just now that Nic Cage acts with his hair in the same way Sam Elliot acts with his mustache.

17 January, 2011

Another One for the Tombstone

"Work like a slave; command like a king; create like a god."
Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957).

(via Core 77.)

That Time That Guy Richie Decided to Get Back to Making Movies

It's good to see after the turgid, self-indulgent whatever-the-fuck-that-was of Revolver, the hideously unfunny Swept Away, and the pointless, cash-grab that was Rock n' Rolla, Guy Richie decided to make a movie again.

And, you know what? It's pretty good.

It's a fairly average tab-A into slot-B mystery-romp, where it differentiates itself from what would have been a run of the mill thriller is that it is set in Victorian London, which is always a fun place to look at (also a place more needing of shampoo than maybe even the city of Deadwood). On paper the treatment sounds like a turkey receipe, thankfully the reality is that, like so many films, it works much better in motion than it does as a static idea.

Plus, it reminds me of the Guy Richie I spent my junior high years obsessing about. In this movie, he's the fun Guy Richie that's full of camera tricks and Jason Statham and not the Thing That Married Madonna. Even though I like the slow, brooding London of a Masterpiece Theater episode, it's fun to see it handled like a high budget action blockbuster or a music video instead of a reassuring period piece engineered to lull dowagers into hibernation. It's a pleasant novelty, which is what a blockbuster like this should be, I guess, if nothing else. I love that time period and I love those aesthetics, so if only for that, I dug this movie.

Moving swiftly along, I want to talk about the guns in this movie, because, boy, this movie has some guns in it. While the whole of the movie doesn't really hold up as a collection of idiosyncrasies as I would like it to, it's got quite a few-- the first being the Victorian setting, the second being antique firearms, and the third being a drugged up bulldog named after a British general that fought in the First Anglo-Afghan War, which is a fixation I didn't know that I had until now.

And for fun, let us revel in Guy Richie's failures:

(As I understand it, when Revolver was coming out, Guy Richie said that he wasn't going to make anymore crime movies like Snatch or Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, and that he was only going to make bizarre, intellectual, art-housey films like this instead. Well, I think we all know what happened with that. Looking at it now it strikes me as an artist going as far as he possibly can with his talent, which is noble in its own way. In that way it also reminds me of Magnolia. Take with some salt, if you get the chance.)

And now, once more, with feeling:

16 January, 2011

Backlog Blog

Episode 2 of White Guys, Square Glasses came out yesterday. Give it a listen, why don't you?

Also, if you feel so inclined, review us on iTunes! That's the hardest I can shill for myself right now, so I think I'll move on to finishing that Sherlock Holmes entry.

. . . Actually, I've got one other thing to say, which is that I think I'm going to start up my own website. Should be fun. . . and about as unprofitable as the podcast will be, so we've got that to look forward to.

Movies, Babies, and Balloons

So, finally, after seven years of waiting, my sister finally decides to show her kids Raiders of the Lost Ark.

She worried a lot about it and-- Oh, wait, don't worry, this isn't really a blog post about how funny kids are at that age, am I right?-- I'm glad she finally got around to showing them it. I can understand the trepidation. You worry about whether a kid is ready to watch such and such a movie at such and such a time, which is a concept almost utterly foreign to me-- when I was five (two years younger than they are now) I had watched the Terminator movies, Predator, Alien, Aliens, and Total Recall, but, for whatever reason, had to beg-- BEG-- to see Jurassic Park in the theater. Showing kids something like Nazis melting is hard to gauge.

What is more frightening, and this is the fear I share, is that they aren't going to like it or that they aren't going to Love it. My sisters Anne and Amy share a lot of movies together-- Star Wars, Aliens, and Indiana Jones. It hurts if the kids don't get those movies, because they're so close to our heart. Getting rejected sucks and what is more is that you want other people to have these great experiences that you had.

I'm like a lot of people where I blanch when I hear that they've "Never seen Star Wars," because, first of all, they're probably fucking liars and I should wear their tongue as a necklace. What frightens us, though, when we hear mad bullshit like that is that they've gone their whole lives without understanding what the it's like to run through the Death Star's trench or to watch Obi Wan get cut down or to watch Greedo get shot or to watch Old Man Kenobi use his Force powers to trick that stormtrooper. It's unimaginable. All of that is a part of our childhoods. It's a part of what makes us US.

The Indiana Jones movies-- with the exception of the fourth movie-- holds the same place in my heart. What is it like to not have seen those movies? I imagine it's on par with being molested-- you're simply a lesser person for it.

Getting back to me and my sister, she held off on the movies because she wanted the time to be right. It's a noble endeavor, but it comes from fear. That fear is always going to be there, though. Kids not liking Indiana Jones or Star Wars is on par with your children enjoying the speech of the National Socialist Party. It's awful to think about.

We finally watched it though and despite a few hiccups with popcorn and drinks and forts and imagined maladies and attention, we had a good time. It was fun to experience that movie for the first time again, if only tangentially. I haven't seen that movie in far too long and it was fun to go through it again with someone who had never seen it-- even if we had to answer retarded questions every five minutes.

The funniest thing and probably the most surprising thing was having to explain to these kids who the Nazis were.

Think about that. Have you ever lived a day in your life that you can remember where you didn't know what Nazis were? Where, when you thought about that side of things, you weren't bothered by it? How amazing, how strange must that be to not know about what the Nazis were and what they did. When my niece asked me who they were, I just told them that they were bad guys-- bullies-- and that they were German and left it at that. She took it well enough, but later on in the movie, she wanted to know-- serious, this time-- if they were actually real. There isn't anything too profound I'm trying to say with this, I mean, this kid can barely read, let's not run away with ourselves here, but it's just funny that something as important as World War II and the Nazis is a whole other frontier for them. It's as amazing as not ever having seen Indiana Jones, I guess.

When I got back home PBS was showing on their Classic Art Showcase The Red Balloon. I've never watched this movie (and I realize that makes me a poorer person, sorry). In the ten minutes of it that I watched I was pretty impressed. My first impression was that my niece and nephew need to watch this and this would be a cool experience for them to have, this weird, French short film. My second thought, which is a thought that has only occurred to me upon writing this is that maybe kids need to be imbued with the basic concepts of film grammar and film theory. Not Lacon and not Arnheim or Godard or Ebert or whoever, but basic films so that they understand it. That can't be that crazy, right?

I'm reminded of an anecdote I heard during my Latin American Film class, which was that there was this South American director who wanted to make films for and about South American Indians. In order to show them what film was-- after all, the concept of running water to these people was a river-- he showed them film around him and that he liked. They didn't get it. They had no exposure to that kind of story telling. They had no exposure to that medium, this flat, probably black and white, dreamscape that was cinema. And he realized that if he wanted to make a movie about these people, it would have to use the same grammar and ideologies that they had. I don't know if he ever succeeded, I assume he did if I had ever heard about him, but maybe the same is true for children. Kids are probably more sophisticated media-wise than Indio-Americans, but they're being fed nothing but junk. Milie Cyrus (which is a name I refuse to know how to spell), the Jonas Brothers, Nick Toons, and all of this other meaningless crap. I can't imagine that adds to their cultural point of view.

So, maybe the difficulty with showing them movies is that they don't speak the same language. It's this foreign thing. They're used to simple, easy to follow, meaningless pap. They aren't used to submarines and Nazis and black people. Maybe that's my job in this case. Showing movies to children is important, because it's as big a part of our culture as, I don't know, liberty and voting and freedom. Not to put to grand of a point on the end of this stick, but art is as big of a part of what makes Americans who we are as anything else-- Hell, it's as big of a part of what makes us HUMAN as anything else.

So there's that.

15 January, 2011

Hell Yes!

13 January, 2011

Who the hell are these people?

I'm not a massive music guy. I might seem like I know anything about music, but that's only probably because I am this skinny ans wear glasses. The reality is that I am severely uninformed about music. I know what I like-- and I'd like to think it's fairly idiosyncratic-- but, the reality is that I'm about a step above the average KROQ listener.

I'm a luddite.

I know movies. I know comics. If pushed, I even know painting and authors, but music is this whole other front that I have no business talking about. I am not expert, but I know what I like.

One of the things I like is Under the Blacklight from Rilo Kiley.

For whatever reason the hipster community shat on this album and that bugs me. It's a good album. At the very least it has got a few solid singles. What's more is that it isn't mired in all of these depressing, semi-bisexual ballads like Fire for Foxes was (which is an album I like, but don't want to listen to very often*).

*Belle and Sebastian is the same exact way. They've got some incredible pop songs and some incredible dirges, but there's a small selection of those songs I actually want to listen to on a regular basis.

SUB NOTE: Both of these videos are pretty crappy, but I'll stand by that album and that band.

SUB-SUB NOTE: Apparently, when my sister was sobering up in NA in the mid-to-late-90's she was in rehab with Jenny Lewis. As I'm told she drove a Chevy Malibu to her meetings, which-- that's right-- is the same car that Vincent Vega drove in Pulp Fiction, as well as the same car my day still drive today.

Holy Hell

This beats the FUCK out of blogging about Sherlock Holmes.

I'll tell you what's wrong about all these people: They're too perfect. Since when is actual, physical sex about perfection? Not. Fucking. Ever. It's about "Ouch" and "Sorry" and "Hey, you wanna do this" and falling off of the bed and getting rug burns. So, kiss my ass, you amateur performance artists and your perfect chair sex world, because that isn't any world where actual people are actually fucking.

Sex is a Woodie Allen movie more than it's a Zack Snyder movie.

Also, Dear "Red Hot Chili Pussy," It isn't 'air sex' if there are two of you! That's like air guitar with a guitar! That's cheating! Fuck you! Fuck your mother!

Anyways, my air-fucking song would mos-def be to "Silver Lining" by Rilo Kiley. Fuck you if you're too hip to get down to that album. That's a fucking wonderful album.

12 January, 2011

"We finally really did it. You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell! "

Not quite nuclear war, but it'll do.

It's me and Joe's first podcast. Enjoy.

Isn't that something?

I know posting Carl Sagan videos is kind of cliched and easy, but. . .fuck it. This is pretty cool.

Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch to Live

As human beings we're naturally inclined to start seeing patterns in chaos. We're natural, born classifiers. We do it with just about everything. You can see it in how we order animals, how we list celestial bodies, and even the basic atomic structures. Hell, I doubt there's a single one of you reading this that doesn't have their CD collection organized in some way (mine is sorted autobiographically).

As a film major, I've been indoctrinated into doing this same exact thing, but in a much more annoying and much less useful manner. There's a whole theory about this kind of a thing-- the Auteur Theory is one of them, but I really don't want to get into that. Even though the Auteur Theory has been more or less debunked, I doubt there's a film dork around who doesn't start making connections between actors, directors, composers, film stock, or whatever as soon as he hears about a movie. It's what we do. It's a fault, I admit, but to err is to be human.

I just finished watching Kiki's Delivery Service about an hour ago and it got me thinking about something very specifically filmy. I watched another movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Ponyo (on the Cliff by the Sea) about a month or so ago and I guess that combined with this got me thinking about Miyazaki's female protagonists (I also have the Ponyo theme song stuck in my head again, but that's a whole other blog entry). I didn't plan on making a whole thesis on this idea, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I'm on to something.

(Kiki's Delivery Service is a perfectly fine film, with more than a few delightful moments. It isn't my favorite Hayao Miyazaki movie, but that's a bit like A Serious Man not being your favorite Coen Brother's movie, right?)

I'm right, damnit, and you're going to listen to me.

In a move rare to film, most of Miyazaki's movies are crammed full of strong, female characters and, what's more, they're often the main characters. Sure, they fall in love more often that a pure feminist outlook would enjoy, but, unlike most films with females as the leads, in his movies, finding love isn't their main goal in life and they're saving the day more often than men save them. Those are important and that's why I'm pointing this whole thing out.

In Kiki's case, there's a big fat pregnant woman that takes care of Kiki. She's unusual for a couple of reasons (being fat and being pregnant not withstanding), in that she A) Seems to run the bakery she works at without it ever been explicitly stated (and there's a lot of explicit statements going on in the American script for Miyazaki movies, for some damn reason) and B) Not only does her husband lack a name, but he never actually says a single word in the film.

(Of course, Kiki is the hero of the film, as well as the title character, but I figure that's a bit obvious. Though, as I'm going over this entry, I realize that while Kiki's Delivery Service doesn't have a bad guy in it, the most unlikable people in the film are also girl her age.)

The examples go on. Just off the top of my head, there's Spirited Away where the main character is a bratty little girl trapped in a holiday spa for spirits (which is run by a woman-- a bad witch, in this case). There's Ponyo (on the Cliff By the Sea), where, even though the main hero is a young boy, his adventure is caused by the titular little girl (who has an idiot for a dad and a goddess for a mother), and the parent that's most present and caring in the film is his mother. Then there's Nausicaa, which is another titular female character, who is a princess and the real hero of the film. Princess Mononoke, like Ponyo, is split between two characters-- Prince Ashitaka and Sai-- and while Ashitaka is the real protagonist of the film, Sai incites most of the film's conflict, along with the morally grey antagonist, Lady Eboshi, who runs an iron works where all of the employees are women (in fact the biggest badasses in the film are Sai, Eboshi, and Sai's adopted mother, everyone else is either in the way or tagging along).

I could go on, but I think I might have run out of movies where the female being the most important-- or strongest-- character. That's enough, isn't it?

It's not all of his movies, but it's enough to take notice and to start to imagine a pattern. And, let me ruminate on what I said higher up, how many other director's-- male or female, Japanese or whatever- where that is true? How many directors make movies where a little girl is the hero and its directed towards a general audience?

I'd reckon not very many.

I guess if you wanted to be some sour-grapes feminist you could argue that Miyazaki's film are inherently sexist because they're scripted and directed by a man and there's nothing a man can do, even when he's trying not to be--ESPECIALLY when he's trying not to be-- to not be a mysogynist in some way, because that is simply the structure of the phallocentric cockocracy. And, I don't even need to get started on the fact that Studio Ghibli's films feel the need to stick their female characters into fantastic scenarios like being a monster princess or married to a sailor instead of putting them in real situations like coaching Portia de Rossi on how to give birth while submerged in a tub. Real issues.

Of course, that bitch can go pound sand.

Miyazaki's films aren't exactly bell hooks essays, but they're amazing pieces of animation and unlike a piece by hooks, his movies actually have a chance at being seen and appreciated. Children need to see these kinds of movies and to let them know, even in the most gentle, hackneyed way sometimes, that, yes, as a girl you can go and do some amazing things. Now, could you please suck some blood out of your magic, wolf-mother's neck, she's been shot by a samurai and the shot is working its way to her heart.

SIDE NOTE: For the record, my Studio Ghibli films are in this order-- Princess Mononoke > Porco Rosso > Spirited Away > Ponyo> Kiki's Delivery Service > Nausicaa.

SUB-SIDE NOTE: Oh man, if I ever got to teach a class, I'm totally doing a lesson on feminist theory and Hayao Miyazaki.

SUB-SUBE SIDE NOTE: I posted the Japanese trailer because, at the expense of looking like a fucking weeaboo, it is an order less annoying than the American trailer. Upon looking up other clips from the movie I noticed that Disney ruined, RUINED the songs in the film. Instead of this cool, little, 1960's rhythm and blues song, it's been replaced by this slick, poppy dreck that doesn't fit into the movie at all. And it isn't as though it's a bad song! It's a really fun one! Leave it alone! I can understand adding dialogue for the dumb babies, but don't make them suffer through shitty music. That's too far, mate.

Vertical Blinds in Cinema

There's more than likely quite a number of well written and poignant essays on Double Indemnity, so I'll be brief (that's usually the conceit I use to be lazy).

Lately I've been on a noir/crime/thriller/whatever kick, so I've been trying to plow through as many classics as I can (I just broke the pattern by renting Kiki's Delivery Service, a Japanese cartoon about a witch who delivers mail). For whatever reason I thought this was a Hitchcock movie, when I found out that it wasn't, I wasn't disappointed though, since it's directed by Billy Wilder, co-written by Raymond Chandler, and is based off of the James M. Cain novel. That's a pretty lofty pedigree.

Luckily the movie is exactly as good as the credits would lead you to believe. The dialogue is top notch (if a bit cute, but it's film noir, so lay off), it's well acted, and beautifully shot (there's at least two or three really good scenes with venetian blinds in them, as you can see above). I don't have a whole lot else to say about the movie-- I mean, I could waste your time on it-- but it's Double Indemnity. It's one of the all-time, great pieces of film noir, if not one of the all-time, great pieces of cinema.

While it isn't my favorite Billy Wilder movie (which is Sunset Blvd, naturally), it's still awesome from beginning to end. I feel like a bit of a heel that I knew so little about it until last week.

A Wee Bit of Film Theory

A strong casting director who shares the director’s vision of the film is essential – sometimes you watch a film and can’t quite articulate why you don’t like it. A film can look beautiful, it can sound great, but if you’re watching two planks of wood bang their heads together it’s going to be crap.

--Des Hamilton on being a casting director.

(Via Vice.)

10 January, 2011

There Are No Clean Getaways

I could probably write a whole entry just on the talent present in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, but going on about how great the cast of a movie that only has Mickey Rooney, Johnathan Winters, and Spencer Tracy seems kind of obvious, so I'll skip it.

Instead I'm going to talk about the stunt work-- which I guess is equally obvious in what amounts to a chase movie, but fuck you, this is my blog, I can talk about what I like.

What's most impressive-- besides the fact that 95% of the stunts are done practically (which makes me wonder how many people actually did get put in a full body cast because of this movie), which is still impressive, even on our breakfast room's tiny screen-- in It's a Mad Etc. is probably the last movie ever filmed where ever single stunt car was made in America.

Think about that. While I'm not certain that all of the cars in the movie were made in America (some German products might have snuck in as the Kaiser is apt to do), but like almost all of the stunts involving a man with very good insurance, I'm pretty sure that all of the cars being driven around are built with about seventeen-tons more steel than they necessarily need to.

It's a rarity to see cars that bulky (and, as viewers we assume that heavy) hauling ass down the road or, as in the climax, the Pacific Coast Highway, which is nearly impossible to drive in one direction in Santa Monica, much less backwards, doing donuts, and synchronized with two other cars. I guess the 60's were just a much more different time than I thought they were.

Post-Script: I saw Rat Race before I saw this movie and as much as I want to rag on the remake, I do kind of have an affection for it. It had some pretty good jokes about Hitler and I can only judge a movie so harshly when it's got an extended riff on Nazi memorabilia museums. Oh, and John Cleese and Amy Smart and the squintyguy from Road Trip, who I all like for completely separate reasons (okay, it's because Road Trip was one of the first movies I ever saw that was about college guys getting laid and had full-blown shots of pubic hair, a novelty to 12 year old James-- And Amy Smart was adorable in Cranked and she was in Road Trip, as well, right? Double points for here-- Oh, and finally, John Cleese is John Cleese, do I really have to explain that one?).

Now, if you'll excuse me-- jug interlude.

Edit: This movie came out the same year that Kennedy got shot? Jeese.

08 January, 2011


The photo was taken by Leo Fuchs, a well-regarded photographer and probably best known for his images of celebrities and of film.

I actually saw his book on sale at Vroman's yesterday and I was disappointed to find out that the book was sixty-five bucks. Oh well. At least it looks like it's worth the price of admission.

(via A Conversation on Cool.)

A Failed Essay About "Come and See"

The following is an essay (an incompletely unedited essay, I realize) on the 1985 Russian film, Come and See.

(Just skimming over it, I realize that this is a very-- VERY-- film schooly approach to film, but I'm still pretty happy with the results. It certainly is not my best essay, but I'll put it up against a thousand other joyless criticisms on film. I might be an idiot, but at least I'm an ecstatic idiot.)

(Note: I have edited nothing in this essay. It is exactly the same as it was in late 2008. It probably should be fixed, but that strikes me as unfair and vain. I'm not so good of a writer that I have gained the ability to revise my own history. The following stands as my final essay for Cinema of Fascism, Communism, and Resistance, for better or for worse.)

Atrocity Exhibition:
Come and See A Subversion of Soviet History

(I could have done much better on the title. Lord know I have. I wrote an essay on Alien that's title was a joke about ejaculation. I earned $250 with that one. Obviously, my lesson was not learned.)

Come and See is a directed by Elem Klimov and was co-written by Ales Adamovich with the director. It was released in 1985, the fortieth anniversary of the ending of World War II (for the Soviet Union, anyways) and was a time which could accurately be seen as the dusk of the Soviet Union. During this time the USSR was embroiled in a vicious and costly war in Afghanistan and it would be another four years before the Soviets conceded the war to the Afghans. Another important action during this time were Mikhail Gorbachev’s duel policies, the perestroika, which sought to reform the state-run economy, and glasnost, the policy of “openness” of both the USSR’s citizenry and government. All of these events were a part of a sea change occurring in the Soviet Union that would end with the perforation of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Come and See was created at a time where history was visibly changing and, appropriately, it is a film that deliberately changes a vision of history. Klimov’s final film is an interpretation that radically subverts history while at the same time depicts it with atrocious realism.

The film doesn’t seem to directly or even allegorically reflect these events, but it more than likely did directly benefit from Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika. Without these moves towards reformation and openness it’s hard to imagine that a film which depicts the Great Patriotic War with so little romanticism or joy could be made. This film was made in a country where, not too long before, political dissenters can be thrown into prison and where the shelving of controversial movies was common place. In fact it’s hard to image a film that imagine that a film like this could be made anywhere.

The film’s point of view comes from that of a young, Belorussian teenager named Florian*. The narrative follows Florian as he is conscripted (or perhaps volunteers) into the Soviet partisans, who are at war with Hitler’s Germany. Over the course of the film the young Florian bares witness to the worst kinds of atrocities that World War II gave birth to. He is struck deaf temporarily, his entire family is murdered, his scavenger friends are killed one by one, he witnesses an entire village slaughtered by German soldiers, and eventually finds the walking wreckage of his friend Glasha who has been brutalized and rendered barren. Yet, the worst of all of these things comes in the last scene, where he accepts these horrors and joins into the faceless mob of Soviet partisans.

As a child, director Elem Klimov saw many of the same kind of horrors that Florian does. Klimov was born in the city Stalingrad, which was the sight of one of the longest and bloodiest battles in one of the longest and bloodiest wars in world history. Stalingrad (now Volgograd), like many Soviet cities and regions during World War II was the sight of a concerted effort by the German government to wipe out the Slavic race from the face of the earth.

(Since the interim period of my writing this essay, I've read a lot more into the Ostfront/Eastern Front/That Thing the Ruskies Did for Us. I kind of wish that guy could go back and edit this essay-- something I've refused to do here. I'd like to think it'd be a more well rounded essay, if not a better written essay, but I wish it'd just be more fun. That's my whole theory about film criticism. It should be EXCITING. It should be FUN. You should WANT TO READ THIS ESSAY. I know I don't do that with this essay. It's bean counting. It is me trying to pass a class. I'd like to think that I'm better than that, but I don't have proof. So, here I am, playing Mystery Science Theater 3000 to my own paper. Someone come and kill me, please.)

On the surface, Come and See, shares many characteristics with the Realist school of film-making. It’s Soviet characters consist only of the proletariat, the camera prefers to linger for certain scenes and moves around in long, eye-level takes instead of quick cuts. The entirety of the film also seems to have been shot on location, not in a studio, and there doesn’t seem to be any source of light present besides natural light. Many of the people that appear on screen are either amateurs (as with the case of Florian) or non-professionals (which would be a necessity for many scenes). While the film does have the appearance of a Realist film, it by no means should it be seen as a realistic film. Come and See is fraught with symbolism, montage, and clear departures from reality. The events in the film are steeped with the blood of history, but much of this particular vision comes from the mind of its director.

To view this as an entirely literal recreation of history would miss the point of the film. Even though Come and See does not flinch from the genocidal policies of the Nazi Party, it does play with the context of these events. It will show these scenes in all of their harrowing [glory], but the film often either precedes or follows these events with something that gives the scene an ironic or exaggerated slant.

This is enumerated in the first scene of the film. In this scene a middle-aged man threatens some children, who are in hiding, with a switch for digging for a rifle. The children do not respond to the man’s threats and having made no gains with the children, he departs. Immediately after he disappears, one of the kids he warned enters the scene with the same stick and starts making the same speech. The only difference is that this kid, with a voice far older than his body, is mocking the old man and his authority. The impressionist’s friend Florian laughs at the lampooning of the adult, and with it the rules and society the man is trying to impose. This scene then takes another reversal when the two children try to find a rifle so they can enter into the same world as the man they were just laughing at. This whole sequence lays out the tone for the film to follow. It introduces the film’s first contradicting images and it also introduces the film’s first satirizing of authority.

Florian’s survival is probably the most clearly ironic symbol in the entire film. The first time he comes under enemy attack he simultaneously escapes death in two ways. He escapes it once, by not being hit by the blasts of the Luftwaffe’s aerial bombardment, and he escapes it a second time, by not staying home with his mother and sisters. When Florian first joins the Soviet resistance, the conclusion his mother (and which the audience likely reaches) is that going off to war will not only kill him, but kill his family. It’s a perfectly logical conclusion to believe that fighting in a war is a higher risk job than staying at home, but death does not follow any pattern or logic in this film. In this movie death is a capricious character that can only be counted on to do the opposite of what you expect it to do. Florian goes on to defy death several more times by walking through a mine field (which kills two of his partisan partners) and avoiding machine gun fire (which kills the last of his partners as well as a cow). The teenager continues to throw himself into the line of fire time and time again and yet, he defies the odds every single time.

The last time Florian should have been done away with comes at the climax of the movie, the barn scene. When one man sticks his head out of the window he is instantly shot by a sub-machinegun, but when Florian sticks his head out, he is treated to a view of an entire army pointing their weapons at him. The Germans offer amnesty to all those inside without children, though they explicitly state that the “children have to stay.”

The occupants and the audience is unsure if this is a trick on the Nazi’s part. By all indications Florian takes them up on their offer and despite being a child (and the Germans having no real reason to spare a teenager like Florian), he is allowed to live. An entire village of innocent children and adults are put to the stake, save for the partisan Florian. His constant avoidance of death flies completely in the face of logical decision making and, even, mathematical probability. In the world of a history book, Florian would have been just another statistic.

The miraculous survival skills of Florian is foiled in the death of the German/Russian translator late in the film. Florian rarely ever actively saves himself. He only seems to avoid being killed through sheer coincidence. This isn’t true with the translator. Every time this captured soldier with a scarf sees an opportunity to distance himself from his Nazi bosses, he takes the opportunity. Of course by doing the smart and logical thing and by following orders he, in turn, damns himself. The irony is that Florian seems to drift through the movie on luck contravening bad decisions, where as the translator actually makes a solid argument for himself ends up being executed for his labors.

Even Florian’s name is completely out of place in this drama that is so full of death and despair. His name comes from the Latin word “flor,” which means flower, and his name, in full, means “flowering.” If there was a movie more diametrically opposed to flowering it would be Come and See. Again, only in a film would a child with the name of a flower bare witness to the attempted murder of an entire nation.

Another prime example of these contradictions occurs in the same sequence as the barn scene. For a few seconds, between flamethrowers firing off and children dying, Florian lays his eyes on a beautiful woman in a Mercedes eating a lobster. This brief shot isn’t supposed to literally demonstrate how luxuriously the Germans lived (in fact, the opposite was true, ineffective supply lines and the Soviet’s “scorched earth” strategy were two of the biggest reasons the Germans lost the Eastern Front), but rather it exists as a symbol of the atrocities the Nazis inflicted upon the peasantry of the Soviet Union. It also exists simply to amplify the disparity between the two side of this conflict. A dainty Aryan lady is, more or less, the exact opposite of proletariat elders and youths being burnt alive.

These contradicting and seemingly illogical images constantly reoccur in the film. These clashing images come from one of the oldest Russian film techniques and requires intention on the part of the filmmaker. These images by being placed against each other create a dialog with the audience and create an ambiguity. With a straight recital of history there wouldn’t be this same kind of leeway. Simply put, painted ladies eating lobster during a holocaust do not exist in the wild. Klimov’s film is not a recreation of history as it happened, but it is history as he wants to show it.

These juxtapositions undermine the traditional, authoritarian interpretations of history. This loose vision of 1943 forces the audience to determine where the truth lies. On the one hand it is an accepted fact that the German government was responsible for the deaths of millions of people and on the other hand, the way in which these Germans do it is so completely over the top that it would be funny in any other context.

Elem Klimov doesn’t portray these men as Germans or even as Nazis, he makes them into vampires and into frankensteins and into “cannibals” as a collaborator calls them. These men don’t just rape women, they drag them by the hair like cavemen and entire truckloads of soldiers chase after just one of them. They don’t just flood a crowd with grenades, they blow them up, set fire to them (with flamethrowers, bottles of gasoline, and pillows soaked in petrol), and they shoot them—all the while drinking, playing grab ass with each other, and putting their BMW motorcycles on autopilot.

Even those present during the carnage have a viewpoint not in keeping with reality. The German SS major, when questioned about the massacre in the barn states that “He would never hurt a fly” and that in this war “No one is responsible.” He says this even as his own men tell their captors that this “sick, old man” with a bush baby on his shoulder gave the orders to destroy the village. This major tells his partisan captors this with a straight face. He truly believes that he is innocent of these charges of murder and that he is completely uninvolved with what happened in the barn. The audience knows that he was present at the massacre and that he appeared to be the ranking officer when it burned. Yet, despite having the same set of information that he has, the major reaches a completely different conclusion from what the audience reaches (and what the partisans reach).

(Are you still reading? Good, thanks. Don't worry, there's only a bit more of torture of you. It's all grass after this. Also-- there is one thing I edited into this essay, which is the ending. The original file I had ended at the last paragraph and what I found there was completely different from the essay that got graded. There's a vain hope in me that the final version of this. . . thing is a decent paper, but that is probably just that-- as vain, decadent hope. If nothing, I'd like this to serve as an example regarding things you should not do in graded papers. You aren't dumb, whoever you are. You can do better. For me, it's been barely two years and I know I can!)

In the concluding scenes of the film Klimov states the fact that 658 Belorussian villages were destroyed by these invaders with a single title card that includes no numbers or analysis beyond those 658 villages. The purpose of this is to reassert one particular element of the story. This title card seems to say that, while much of the film came from the imagination of the film makers, the fact Soviet Russia suffered horrifically desecrated by the Nazi-led German government needs to be understood. This fact of the war should not be cast aside simply because the film played around with certain imagery. It says that if there is one thing to be believed in this movie is that this war cost a great deal of lives, though even that is left up to the audience to interpret. It gives the audience one region and one set of numbers and then it cuts them lose to research this history for themselves.

In 2001 Klimov described his film in this manner, “In Come and See, what I ended up filming was a lightened-up version of the truth. Had I included everything I know and shown the whole truth, even I could not have watched it.”*** The events in Come and See are not the reality of Belorussian in World War II, but it is a reality--a fantastic one. It is the reality that seeks to show as many atrocities as possible, while at the same time making a film that is still watchable. The primary means of making the movie palatable and creatively interpreting reality is by the use of contrapuntal images. What Come and See leaves the audience with is not history as told in an encyclopedia. Come and See is an atrocity exhibition, it is a universal history of human suffering that goes well beyond WWII. If Klimov had stuck to a strict, objective history of German war crimes, it wouldn't have the same impact or the same relevance.

(Jeepers H. Crackers, who the hell ends a paper with the word "relevance?" It's like ending sexual intercourse with fucking an ice chest. It's stupid, it's pointless, and I'm surprised that I recieved as got of a grade as I did. If I had the time or amibition, I'd petiton my professor to give me a lower grade.)

*As I think about this essay two years after I wrote it, I realized another irony: Florian is an incredibly Teutonic-- if not, at least, a classical, heroic-- name. It adds to the sort of fucked up, toss away irony that this movie is full of. I guess this all sort of adds to my general theory that Klimov is kind of fucking with us in a high-art sort of way.

**I kind of want to slap myself two years ago. It isn't necessary, but it might prevent me from becoming myself.

***Even tipsy, I realize that not having a CITATION PAGE is incredibly tacky. My professor Dr. Jerry Mosier called me on it at the time and he's absoluetly right. I've always written with my gut and added citations later (because I had to). I don't think that's a terrible way to write a piece of criticism, but living off of it-- as I am doing here-- makes me look like a tacky fucker-- which I am.

Have I Bothered You About Tom Petty Yet?

If I haven't had a sincere conversation about Tom Petty and/or the Heartbreakers yet, then we're probably fresh friends, because Tom Petty is a massive part of my emotional life. There isn't a step in one direction or the other that isn't informed by Wildflowers or Full Moon Fever or even Highway Companion. It's an important part of my life.

It matters to me-- and I'd like to think it should matter to you-- because Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers) are some of the most sincere musicians alive. They're talented and they mean it. There's not theatricality or postering with any of them. They want to make good songs. They want to make good rock songs. They want to make song that will hit you in the low parts and nurse you to full strength until the dawn and then disappear with the morning's mist. I love Joy Division and the Rolling Stones and Iggy Pop and Johnny Cash (which Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed back up on some of his best albums), but I don't know that any band hits me emotionally like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers do.

There's no bullshit with them.

Side Note: I'm drunk, and I've gone on about them before and I'll go on about them again, but it comes from a place in my heart, a well meaning place, that wants people to listen to good music, music that somehow cares about the people listening to it.

Tom Petty is a person who gives a fuck about the people listening to it. I love a lot of other bands, but I don't know that anyone else I love tonally would talk you down from a suicide. I'd like to believe that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are that person or, if failing that, The Traveling Wilburys.


Dune is a 1965 Hugo Award Winning Science Fiction novel. It went on to spawn five sequels and an unfortunate number of prequels as well as an innumerate amount of rip-offs and tributes. Since then there's been a film version of the novel (directed by an ashamed David Lynch, which, when I rented, for whatever reason was lead in by bootleg footage of a naked black woman sucking her own breast) and a Sci-Fi Channel miniseries.

None of the adaptations or sequels or tributes or prequels have ever equaled the original's impact, creativity, foresight, or wit, despite the amount of bootleg black titty.

Since 1965 there's been a number of failed adaptations. One of these adaptations-- perhaps the the most intriguing-- is Alejandro Jodorowsky's failed adaptation.

The following are his own words and the comic book artist Moebius' concept art.


There is a Hebraic legend which says: "the Messiah will not be a man but one day: the day when all the human beings will be illuminated "Kabbalistes speak about a conscience collective, cosmic, a species of méta-Universe. And here are what for me all the DUNE project was.

This night, I chooses to dine at a French restaurant and by chance I find a few steps from of our table is El Salvador Dalí who dines with his friend Amanda Lear, I say to him: "It is the objective chance". He answers me: "It is more than that. One will speak tomorrow!" the following day, I find him in the bar of the hotel San Régis.

Dalí agrees with much enthusiasm the idea to play the Emperor of the galaxy. He wants to film in Cadaquès and to use as throne a toilet made up of two intersected dolphins. The tails will form the feet and the two open mouths will be used one to receive the "wee", the other to receive the "excrement". Dalí thinks that it is of terrible bad taste to mix the "wee" and the "excrement".

The Dune project changed our life. When it was over, O'Bannon entered a psychiatric hospital. Afterwards, he returned to the fight with rage and wrote twelve scripts which were refused. The thirteenth one was Alien.

Like him, all those who took part in the rise and fall of the Dune project learned how to fall one and one thousand times with savage obstinacy until learning how to stand. I remember my old father who, while dying happy, said to me: "My son, in my life, I triumphed because I learned how to fail".

(images by Moebius via Quenched Consciousness.)

(words by Jodorowsky via Dune Info.)

06 January, 2011

My Boy Jack

I was flipping through TV the other day when I ran across the movie My Boy Jack. I decided to stick with it, even though I missed the first 20 minutes because, well, I'm supposed to be a movie guy, sitting through unexpected movies and occasionally boring movies is in the job description. And My Boy Jack is a little bit of both of these movies.

My first thought on finding this on TV was "Jeese, this movie looks like a bad British TV show," which, after a bit of searching, I found out that it is exactly that. It's a show that was filmed for British TV. I don't know if it ever got a theatrical release-- I doubt it sincerely-- but it kept on popping up on my Netflix queue as a recommendation. This is probably because of love of The Man Who Would be King and my unrepentant use of the word "wog" in polite conversation.

I am a simple man in many ways.

My main thought about "movies" like this is my wonderment regarding why they even bother to try and look like actual films. They don't have the budget for it and they don't have the equipment for it, so why even bother? This isn't a film. It isn't meant to be. Clearly. There's no shame in that, unless you step out of bounds and fail, which this movie does. The World War I battle scenes watch like Dr. Who Goes to the Ypres. It's jarringly unappealing.

In this case they certainly have the actors, but that doesn't make it a good movie by any means, it just makes it a good play-- which is all it really can be. There's plenty of works on television that are worthy pieces of art. They didn't seek to be films and while I don't know the intentions of the filmmakers, it looks like they wanted to make a movie and didn't do a very good job. Of course, pretending they wanted to make a solid piece of TV, they didn't exactly do that either.

There must be a fix for that kind of a thing. The example that pops into my mind most regularly is the film No Man's Land which takes place in Bosnia (or one of those Balkin countries that is now three Balkin countries). It was filmed on a shoe string and filmed a war on a shoe string. There weren't any bad CGI explosions or dramatic machinegunnings instead, it was mostly just three guys stuck in a bunker, talking for ninety minutes and it's utterly brilliant.

Why isn't My Boy Jack that film? It has the physique of that film. It clearly wants to be art, so why not just treat it like a cinematic play instead of whatever other mildly unworkable hybrid that it actually is?

Because I don't know.

I guess the good thing to come out of this whole business is the following:
A) It proved that Daniel Radcliffe can do "serious" work or, at least, work that doesn't involve being a wizard. Good for him.
B) It has the old whore from Sex in the City in it. It's good to see that she, like Mr. Radcliffe, can be something to this generation besides that one role she's famous for, ie: "That old whore from Sex in the City."
C) Hey, is that Carey Mulligan?
D) I guess the guy who played Kipling is pretty good, whoever the hell he is.

In summary, here's the ending scene, which I missed most of because I was making a sandwich in the other room. I'll post it so you won't ever feel tempted to watch this movie like I did:

Maybe I'm just a calloused asshole-- probably just a calloused asshole-- but My Boy Jack didn't quite do it for me. Oh well. I've seen worse things than this.

"This life is hard, it's harder if you're stupid."

No, I am not finished. Look, I'm gettin' old, you hear? I spent most of my life hanging around crummy joints with a buncha punks drinkin' the beer, eatin' the hash and the hot dogs and watchin' the other people go off to Florida while I'm sweatin' out how I'm gonna pay the plumber. I done time and I stood up but I can't take no more chances. Next time, it's gonna be me goin' to Florida.

The Friends of Eddie Coyle is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. I won't run overlong here, because I want to save my ramblings for a more worthwhile post, but, goddamn, is that a well written movie. It's got everything going for it. It's well acted, it's got one of the best heists I've ever seen, and it's got that 1970's charm that films just don't have any more. It's a messy, unrefined film and not in a way that a lot of bad movies are messy and ugly, this movie is planned that way. Crime isn't cute, it isn't well produced, it's a slog.

Nowadays everything is so clean and cut and perfect. A heist isn't worth a damn unless it's technically perfect. That's fine. What makes this movie great isn't anything obvious, it's in the characters, it's in the scenes.Crime is tough and the movie is tough in a way that only 1970's film techniques and Robert Mitchum can get across.

Anyways, it was worth blowing my costume shop wad on the Criterion DVD. Well worth it.

Bill Murray is a Better Man Than All of Us

Because apparently he likes to just show up to karaoke night and buy people drinks.

God bless 'im.

Oh Man

This is way cooler than what I was going to post before this.

05 January, 2011

You Only Live Twice

03 January, 2011

Pete Postlethwaite. Dead as Fuck.

1946-2011. He's hunting dinosaurs with the angels now.

02 January, 2011

Another Thin Man

Alright, I'm going to try to switch up my blog for this year. I've been meaning to do so for a while, but this whole brand fresh 2011 thing gives me an excuse to clean the slate. So, I'm going to try to write a paragraph or two about every movie I see-- assuming I don't have to cancel my Netflix again (which is highly likely, so if laziness doesn't hit me first, expect this whole endeavor to drop off by maybe June).

I've written about the original Thin Man movie here and on my portfolio blog (normally this is where I'd link my review of the original film, but apparently it's locked away on Issu dot com somewhere, so fuck it, just imagine brilliant writing and call it a day), so I won't bore you

It isn't as good as the original film, not by a long shot. Maybe that's because I'm a far more jaded person or maybe it's because the originality of the first has worn off, but it's still worth seeing, if only for the inevitable dinner scene-cum-baby party-cum-mystery solution scene, which I'd say is rather unique for a piece of film.

Besides the idiosyncratic bits of the movie, it's full of the normal repartee and drunkeness that you would expect from a William Powell noir/comedy.

I was going to rewatch Collateral again and watch the new Sherlock Holmes movie today, but certain things like frostbite and vodka got in my way. Fuck it. There's always tomorrow, isn't there?

SIDE BAR: I would wreck Myrna Loy with the force of a thousand suns, I tell you what. It's one thing to be full of spunk or attitude or pip or whatever your dead grandpa calls being a handful, but it's a whole 'nother thing to be an intelligent woman. Is she as good of a detective as Nick? Fuck no, but that's like saying Ilsa wasn't as good of a secret agent as Rick-- it just ain't fair. What she is, though, is an intelligent, ambitious woman that isn't hampered by things like babies, domesticity, or her station in 1930's America. She's a goddamn pip and that's why we love her. While writing a feminist essay on The Thin Man series would be a fruitless, joyless endeavor, there is something to be said about how beautiful that woman looks in a movie full of pretty women.

01 January, 2011

Bowie Makes it Better