Friday, November 30, 2012

'Sounds like my kind of gal, lemme know when you're done with her, huh?' - Movie Madams I've Actually Fallen For...



It's understandable when you watch a piece of fiction and understand, 'okay, yea this is fiction...'. I do it all the time, it's why I have yet to cry during a movie. But the works sometimes have to fight to make you feel for a character. Sometimes their efforts are a bit too effective.
They make you actually dig the character. Sometimes, the dames go for Edward Cullen.
... Why the fuck do they go for Edward Cullen?!
And it's not an 'attractive to their body or face' thing. It's a 'this character actually makes me romantically attracted to her' thing. It's silly, and it's usually reserved from many people, but hell, I ain't afraid to admit it. Everybody can have their movie fantasy on. Of course, the idea is that it's solely escapism for a moment and not reality. It's a great thing about this being the visual medium because it means there needs to be something that catches our visual fascination and so it goes to attract us more and more to the medium.
It also helps in appreciation of the writing of the character, the development of who the character becomes, something we have a larger and larger admiration for by the end of the show.

Hell, a lot of people love characters with quirks. The quirkier, the better. Ain't never gonna have enough quirk. Wes Anderson and the Coen Brothers are in good company.

If your show's hero is a sociopath or has a fez, you're in the clear forever.
Myself, I think most things that attract me in a female character is something that grounds me down to reality, reminds me of the life around me, so I can find more value once I'm out of the projected trance to go and dig deeper into the people around me for these factors that keep me sticking around with them.
These female characters, in a healthy manner, encourage this appreciation.
It's strange, yea, I know. But it's there.

So, I've noted the main women from TV series or movie that actually do have qualities in their character that, in one way or another, have made me sort of think 'hey, if this chick existed... I'd so take a shot!'

Veronica Mars (Kirsten Bell) 
Veronica Mars (Developed by Rob Thomas, 2004-2007)

Ah, why can't girls like Veronica Mars exist in real life? This is what happens everytime I see the show (which is frequent, it's a favorite of mine). I have to lament such a clearly made-up fantasy. Not that there aren't girls in real life who aren't witty, courageous, quick on their feet, into photography and have an attitude when they need it.
It's that they can't be Veronica Mars while doing it. She has something in her invention as a character that mixes the qualities so well. It's all the makings of the hard-boiled protagonist, packaged inside this completely adorable blonde. And of course we can't have a Phillip Marlowe in real life (I found the hard way). So if you're gonna dangle him to us, let's dangle with Kristen Bell of all people.
Who looks good almost all the time.
Looks definitely factor for me too.




Cha Yeong-mi (Bae Doona) 
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (Directed by Park Chan-wook, 2002)

This chick's anarchy stuff... is actually tolerable. Maybe it's because all the anarchists I personally know are guys and don't shut up about it, but her insanity... kind of turns me on.
Huh. 'Course she does help kidnap a child. That's sort of a turn off.

Speaking of rebellious figures against authority...


Natalie Portman 
Saturday Night Live - Season 31, Episode 13 (Directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller, 2005)

Well, I doubt the real Natalie Portman is like this and that's really depressing...
The idea of a girl as pretty as Natalie Portman having a persona that is a cross between Hesher and Lawrence Tierney and Henry Rollins with extra bourbon, hinted with the possibility of turning it into a Varg Vikernes situation at any moment, really really really really is attractive to me. It's like, hey, I know what I'm getting into, but at least the girl is hot.
This rap makes me feel how the 14-year-old girls feel when their favorite boy band goes on the stage.


Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly) 
Rear Window (Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)

I don't think I should need to explain, but just look at her. She's just perfect. She's brainy, she's outgoing. She herself looks like She kind of is too perfect, as Jeff states early in the film; like if you had her, you'd feel you don't deserve her. I mean, really most guys probably feel that way when they're with the one they love, but it's best represented here through Lisa.
I think the part that really brings her to my admiration is when she argues for staying with Jeff and she keep interrupting him and while he tries to shove his explanation in to the point where he has to shout 'shut up', she responds with 'Well, if your opinion is as rude as your manner, I'd rather not hear it.'
That's dames for ya, and we take it.
It's even better when the argument ends with her attempting to leave Jeff's life and when he realizes he hurt her feelings and asks when he'll see her again, she responds 'Not for a long time, at least, not until tomorrow night...'
I guess the real attraction to such a character is how realistic her relationship is with Jeff in my perspective and how Rear Window's dialogue and acting on Stewart and Kelly's part makes it seem extremely relatable.

Michelle Burroughs (Milla Jovovich) 
Dazed and Confused (Directed by Richard Linklater, 1993)

One smooth hippie chick. She doesn't really say much. And she's basically high most of her screentime. But, man, she's a sight. That and the fact that she is so chill and lax means little drama, probably. Whoot!

Molly Ringwald's character in any of her 1980s collaborations with John Hughes 
(Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club)

(Play 'Molly (Sixteen Candles)' by Sponge for full effect.)

This is a huge given and I'm certain I am not the only person in the world who totally feels this way. But the point of Molly Ringwald is that she was THE chick in high school. So, every guy wanted her character the moment she showed up and it was something that worked - a legendary teenage mythology of that one girl who is the center of your attention because she's just such an anomaly among the rest of the blonde beauties or the cheerleaders. She is the lesser-known adolescent equivalent of Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, all those classic chicks who'd show their face and all the soldiers would  have their pine-up the next day.
Well, the high school life is definitely a war (more literal if you went to mine - it was kind of like Yojimbo/Red Harvest there and I'm sure mine wasn't the only high school). And I'm certain every guy in the high school back in the day of John Hughes had some kind of picture of Molly in Pretty in Pink in their locker, maybe even if they had a girlfriend.
Perhaps the chick from Weird Science for some of the jocks. Carrie, if they were real psychos. Carrie's mom if they really really were real psychos.

Just for a little middle-school and elementary school bonus:
Little kid STinG really had a fondness for Topanga from the show Boy Meets World and Kimberly, the Pink Ranger from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. I know, right? If you ask me, I still don't know why. It was kind of crazy. Out of all the little shows I watched as a child, I was attracted instead to these characters. I'm still not getting why it wasn't Buffy, then.

I'm not gonna post pictures because I know you'd laugh at me.

Know what, fuck you. This ain't funny anymore.

Anybody got those movie crushes to a character they wanna share? 
Please, by all means, allow me to laugh at you on the comments section.
And sheckin' out the facebook page to keep up with posts 
and make silly conversations about movies that aren't important enough for a post.

Cinema: The Great Celluloid Fantasy...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

PROFESSOR RUSSELL JOHNSON'S "MY ANCESTORS CAME OVER ON THE MINNOW" THANKSGIVING/CHRISTMAS MOVIE QUIZ


Just in time for thanksgiving, I stumble upon this fun quiz from 2009. And just because I need something to do while I find movies I get inspired to review - I have inexplicably dropped three reviews suddenly from writer's block... Dawg, this movie blogging is hard - I will take a shot at this...


Feel free to join along. Suckas. Here's the original three-year-old post I found this on: Ta-Da! 


One more warning, I regret to inform that multiple spoilers be here. If you don't care, feel free, but if not, 

1) Second-favorite Coen Brothers movie. My favorite filmmakers... I'd probably go for No Country for Old Men as my second favorite - maybe at points, lean more to Barton Fink.

2) Movie seen only on home format that you would pay to see on the biggest movie screen possible? (Question submitted by Peter Nellhaus) Well, my obvious answer would be Blade Runner, but I would also like to take a shot at the epics being on the big screen above me - 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lawrence of Arabia, Gone with the Wind to name the ones I'd really like to see projected on a big screen - and, most of all, the real mucky trashy B-movie or grindhouse material in the crappiest big screen possible - I Spit on Your Grave, Cannibal Holocaust <- I do not feel in the mood to see these distasteful movies yet for obvious reason, but I will see them eventually so I'm going to do it fucking hardcore style -  Faster Pussycat! Kill Kill!, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Reefer Madness, The Blob, The Toxic Avenger, Vampyros Lesbos to name a few.

3) Japan or France? (Question submitted by Bob Westal) Japan takes the cake with all that Kurosawa has ever made. In addition, Battle Royale and Kamikaze Girls were quite out there for me. And Lost in Translation may be considered an American picture, but it is embedded in a mix of American and Japanese culture to provide the most effective cinematic culture shock possible for the viewer.

4) Favorite moment/line from a western.
'There are two types of people in this world. Those who have a gun and those who dig. You dig.' -Blondie (Clint Eastwood) in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

5) Of all the arts the movies draw upon to become what they are, which is the most important, or the one you value most? Hmm, very good. Photography is an art, right? If that doesn't count, I wish I could say painting, but I have yet to see a painting that inspired any shots of mine or posed for juxtaposition for shots I've seen in movies (even though I'm certain the greatest filmmakers do). Instead, I'd say music. Film scores entertain me, they inspire me, I score my own works whenever I possibly can and there is a great amount of movies that owe my swaying and involvement to their story to the music above everything else.





6) Most misunderstood movie of the 2000s (The Naughties?) Speed Racer (Wachowski/Wachowski, 2008) gets such a bad rep that I don't understand. Avoid the mostly name-dropping cast (John Goodman is actually a pretty good fit, though) and the stupidly shot fight scenes (which were still a fun marvel) and the movie becomes quite the ride. I remember seeing it in theaters was a really great experience (I'm not as familiar with the source material as your average American), I really felt for the scenarios involved and the cartoonish race sequences never lost my eye. It's even cheesy at points, and it's the type of cheese you expect from a children's cartoon and I enjoy it. It's hyper, it's stylized, it's colorful - Fanboys of digital, ADD and anime, Rejoice! This is your mutant baby.





7) Name a filmmaker/actor/actress/film you once unashamedly loved who has fallen furthest in your esteem.  

An actor that comes to mind is Nathan Fillion. I once admired anything he did - particularly Firefly, obviously. Captain Malcolm Reynolds is still a brilliant character to follow (even though my favorite character on the show was Adam Baldwin's Jayne). Then I see everything he's in and, probably due to his soap opera work, he comes off as extremely melodramatic in his serious roles other than Mal, to a point where it's obnoxious brooding. And then his more popular roles which kind of work are the real smart-alec same old harass girl until she sleeps with me roles - again, one of the dimensions of Mal (albeit shoehorned by Fox). The only other serious role I've seen him in that worked was his villain turn as Caleb on Buffy.
One movie is Space Jam. I usually retain huge nostalgic value for any movie I grew up on, but man, I can't find anything redeemable about that movie except for the soundtrack. The Looney Tunes aren't even Looney Tunes! They're helpless cartoon characters looking up to the commercialized Michael Jordan to save them with basketball.
Nah, sucka MCs, it's all about that SLAM! and welcome to the JAM!





8) Herbert Lom or Patrick Magee? A Clockwork Orange makes me lean more towards Magee.



9) Which is your least favorite David Lynch film (Submitted by Tony Dayoub) Damn, it's hard to pick a Lynch movie to talk negatively about, he's simply a master of blending cinematic technique and emotion. That said, I guess I'd go with Mulholland Dr. It's hard to make heads or tails of that movie for me, to find a footing in interpretation as opposed to say, Un Chien Andalou or Persona, and unfortunately that affects my viewing of it.

10) Gordon Willis or Conrad Hall? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom) Gordon Willis, who is probably one of the unsung reasons that Annie Hall, Manhattan Zelig and The Godfather saga are more than just dialogue and acting, but a real character in the style.

11) Second favorite Don Siegel movie. I have seen a grand total of NO Don Siegel movies. I'm working on it, holster that .45 Magnum.

12) Last movie you saw on DVD/Blu-ray? In theaters? On DVD? Through a Glass Darkly (Bergman, 1961). On Blu-Ray? Inception (Nolan, 2010 - So far the only movie I've seen on Blu-Ray. I know, shoot me.) In theaters? Skyfall (Mendes, 2012)

13) Which DVD in your private collection screams hardest to be replaced by a Blu-ray? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom) Oooooooh, that's a very tough one. Probably Lawrence of Arabia.

14) Eddie Deezen or Christopher Mintz-Plasse? Goddammit, I grew up with Mandark, but Role Models and Kick-Ass showed me there is more to Mintz-Plasse than his stereotype. He actually gives that nerdy stereotype dimension and grounding in an era where being a nerd is actually not grounds to get your head shoved down a toilet. I'm going with Chris.

15) Actor/actress who you feel automatically elevates whatever project they are in, or whom you would watch in virtually anything. Very hard pick, because almost all of my favorite actors have at least one movie I go eh towards. I think I'm leaning towards John Goodman. A surprising amount of range and versatility in him makes him always a joy to watch, but I haven't seen The Blues Brothers 2000 and to be honest, don't intend to. Everything else I forgive if he's in.

In addition, Michael Rooker is a greater choice for me. Slither, amazing. Replicant, tolerable. Henry and JFK, don't even get me started. The only reason I watch the Walking Dead, which I otherwise hate, is for him and Norman Reedus... although recently they neutered the hell out of Rooker's character, so...

16) Fight Club -- yes or no? Yes. No to most of its cult following, though. They kind of don't understand the movie when they start going out themselves starting Fight Clubs and starting revolutions based on the movie and it's kind of gotten to annoy me.

17) Teresa Wright or Olivia De Havilland? Oh my, Olivia De Havilland, what a beauty.


18) Favorite moment/line from a film noir. Oh my, that's another toughie that is tearing me apart. I think moment will go for the meeting between Harry and Holly in the ferris wheel in The Third Man, where Holly tries to plead for Anna but Harry will sacrifice a girl who still loves him with every reason not to. The scene where Holly finally cannot justify his friend and sees he's really just a bad person.

My favorite line? 'The stuff dreams are made of.' -Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) in John Huston's 1941 The Maltese Falcon

19) Best (or worst) death scene involving an obvious dummy substituting for a human or any otherunsuccessful special effect(s)—see the wonderful blogDestructible Man for inspiration. Well, The Great Train Robbery's death was just laughable, but when I think best, I think of Omar's sudden exposure and subsequent execution in Scarface as one of the many shots that impacted me as a young viewer, seeing that sudden violence and antipathy from Tony.

20) What's the least you've spent on a film and still regretted it? (Submitted by Lucas McNelly) A group my younger brother was friends with, in which I tagged along, went to see The Darkest Hour and I refused to pay for such a premise, so they snuck me in. I got less than my money's worth.

21) Van Johnson or Van Heflin? Wow, I am so behind on cinema, I ought to turn in my resignation in disgrace. I have not seen either of their films yet. That's right... I haven't yet seen Shane. Boo me.

22) Favorite Alan Rudolph film. Something tells me, looking at his filmography, I should be flogged significantly less for not having seen Rudolph's work than I ought to be for not having seen a Don Siegel film yet or Shane.

23) Name a documentary that you believe more people should see. Huh, that's actually tough to me too. I guess it depends on the situation. When you want real-life in the face, the tragedy of the world, I'd say go with Bus 174 or Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer. When you're a film buff, Easy Riders Raging Bulls. When you're a huge music fan, Some Kind of Monster, Anvil! The Story of Anvil or Iron Maiden - Flight 666: The Movie. If you want something that changes lives, anything by Errol Morris. A study on documentary techniques? Anything by Moore. Above all, a triumph of the spirit of man? Man on Wire.

24) In deference to this quiz’s professor, name a favorite film which revolves around someone becoming stranded. Huh, I haven't seen Cast Away completely, but images of what I have seen resonate in me. I need to see that soon so it can be a definitive answer. Until then, Back to the Future Part II (stranded through time) or The Terminal (stranded in an airport).

25) Is there a moment when your knowledge of film, or lack thereof, caused you an unusual degree of embarrassment and/or humiliation? If so, please share. I'm sure there was a better moment of humiliation or embarrassment, but I was once taking my brother's friends home before we would get home for school, and Paul McCartney's 'Live and Let Die' came on. They at first identified as a Beatles song, but I went ahead and corrected that it was Wings and then gave a huge detailed explanation about the song's inception as a Bond theme. Then it was just silence and some guy just said 'Or, it's just a Paul McCartney song.'

Aha, one for lack of knowledge (or more so lack of memory of juror numbers), I made a mistake on a bet for 100 dollars by naming the wrong number for Henry Fonda's character in 12 Angry Men. I owe my ex-roommate 100 dollars, but I'll keep trying to play it off until I eventually pay him.

26) Ann Sheridan or Geraldine Fitzgerald? (Submitted by Larry Aydlette) Geraldine, I tell ya.

27) Do you or any of your family members physically resemble movie actors or other notable figures in the film world? If so, who? It's only me but I see a bit of aged Chaplin in my dad.

28) Is there a movie you have purposely avoided seeing? If so, why? Cannibal Holocaust. When I'm ready, I'll see it, but until then, I'm not going to stomach watching that movie right now knowing that there were actual animal killings caught on camera. I can take A Serbian Film (However tasteless) and The Human Centipede because I know they're fake, but movies like Cannibal Holocaust, Faces of Death or Pink Flamingos, it's not just that they're real, but their nonchalant depiction of these real horrors are completely tasteless.


29) Movie with the most palpable or otherwise effective wintry atmosphere or ambience. Park Chan-Wook's Lady Vengeance, just straight up. I'm usually a sucker for rainy settings but that movie's winter just feels real and tangible and it fits.

30) Gerrit Graham or Jeffrey Jones? Jeffrey Jones ALLL THE WAY. Way too great at playing killjoys and snobs.





31) The best cinematic antidote to a cultural stereotype (sexual, political, regional, whatever). Be Black, Baby!!!! Thank you, Brian De Palma.





32) Second favorite John Wayne movie. You fucker, you did this because you knew everybody was going to pick The Searchers as number one. Well, I guess I'll go with Rio Bravo, that one's magnificent.

33) Favorite movie car chase. The Blues Brothers. I'd like to say the full movie because the full movie is just straight up amazing, but the main standout to me is the mall chase. The final chase is very epic, but it tries to play out as chaotic and is actually quite controlled (although all the odds are against the brothers). On the other hand, the mall is just straight insanity.


34) In the spirit of His Girl Friday, propose a gender-switched remake of a classic or not-so-classic film. (Submitted by Patrick Robbins) Chasing Amy. Not that I think it'll be as good, because the story is a lot deeper than a guy falls for a lesbian, but it's more frequent these days for girls to be attracted these days to a guy only to find out he's gay.

Or it's a more recurring joke.



35) Barbara Rhoades or Barbara Feldon? Barbara Rhoades. I mean, Feldon is cute, but Rhoades is kind of there as a  magnet for all guys.

36) Favorite Andre De Toth movie. House of Wax. I feel so mainstream.

37) If you could take one filmmaker's entire body of work and erase it from all time and memory, as if it had never happened, whose oeuvre would it be? (Submitted by Tom Sutpen) ZACK SNYDER!!!! Sure, we'd lose 300, but with the erasing of Dawn of the Dead, Watchmen, Legend of the Guardians and Sucker Punch, as well as the over doing of Snyder's style to avoid true cost in the name of real cinematic artwork, it's worth it.

I would very much like to say Tyler Perry, because he's just a terrible thing to happen to the Afro-American community, but I'm sure eventually everybody else wake up one day and say... hey, he enhances their stereotypes, not kills them. And he has no dimension. And he's not a good actor. And Madea's not funny. And we've all been fooled.
And then the Man will be taken down!



38) Name a film you actively hated when you first encountered it, only to see it again later in life and fall in love with it. SCARFACE!!!! Brian De Palma's 1983 masterpiece. When I first saw it, I thought it to be incredibly boring and slow and didn't enjoy it. Now, I come more and more to loving it as a character study, certainly one of my favorite movies now.

Although I still don't care much for it, I have warmed up more and more to Spider-Man 2.
And I am beginning to warm up a lot more and more to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as a comic adventure, rather than as a true cinematic achievement.

39) Max Ophuls or Marcel Ophuls? (Submitted by Tom Sutpen) Max, although his son has  many strengths to him as well and Hotel Terminus is quite a picture.

40) In which club would you most want an active membership, the Delta Tau Chi fraternity, the Cutters or the Warriors? And which member would you most resemble, either physically or in personality? Definitely not the Cutters. I remember when I was younger (and hadn't seen Animal House), I would've loved being a member of their frat, but of course, now I think I'm too uptight to be a party guy and many think so too.

So, I'd go with the Warriors, even though I'm not a gang guy too. They seem fit for Misfits and running across town to avoid certain death sounds like my previous nightly routine.

41) Your favorite movie cliché.  Every action movie has to have one explosion or Every noir has to have somebody get slapped in the face. I refuse to choose.

42) Vincente Minnelli or Stanley Donen? (Submitted by Bob Westal) One of these guys made Singin' in the Rain, so...

43) Favorite Christmas-themed horror movie or sequence. Mel Gibson punching the wacky out of Gary Busey during the climax of Lethal Weapon.

Who knew that was what was to become.
44) Favorite moment of self- or selfless sacrifice in a movie. Wow, that's tough. I think of many when I get to that. I think of the Seventh Seal's distraction of Death to save the family of performers. I think of The Exorcist's absolute fit of rage before heroically (and tragically) jumping out the window to avoid murdering a victimized young girl. I do remember the first self-sacrifice being a deal to me was Freddy vs. Jason where Freddy burns a teenage alive for refusing to spread fear of Freddy about.




I think I'd make it a three-way second place tie between The Departed, Donnie Darko and The Bride of Frankenstein. The Departed for being actually a fright for me because the moment the men got out of the elevator, I knew Martin Sheen's character was done for - the men had taken too much shit trying to find out the rat to be pleasant to him - and that's going to ruin DiCaprio's odds even if Sheen kept him from being made.
Donnie Darko because that's the culmination of all the movie's actions and it brings more normality to his life than anything else.
And the Bride of Frankenstein for that brilliant building up and manuever towards the switch as the Monster just states 'WE BELONG DEAD!'.

But, number one, is Casablanca. It is too obvious that the Nazis are setting Rick for dead now that he did what he had to for the woman he loves and for the Allied cause.  They're trying not to make it obvious, but this is World War II in occupied Morocco. This is the beginning of beautiful yet short-lived friendship, because there is nothing Renault can do.

45) If you were the cinematic Spanish Inquisition, which movie cult (or cult movie) would you decimate? (Submitted by Bob Westal) Modern zombie culture! ZOMBIE ZOMBIE ZOMBIE culture! They've taken it too far now, there's fanatics and then there's modern zombie fanatics. I mean, at least the people in the 60s, 70s and 80s had fun with it, they knew it was bullshit, but the zombie culture seems to live off of it being a possible real-life phenomenon, rather than just a fun bullshit plot point to raise a movie off of and have it ride on without worrying about quality. Ugh, they've Christopher Nolanified zombies and it sucks now!
The last great zombie picture was Planet Terror. Mark my words.
After them, I'd go on to the Fight Club cult of pricks who get masculine because of the movie, not realizing it makes fun of them.

46) Caroline Munro or Veronica Carlson? Veronica Carlson, man. Such a babe.




47) Favorite eye-patch wearing director. (Submitted by Patty Cozzalio) John Ford, of course. This quiz is doing a one of a kind job of making me feel real mainstream. Although, the afore-mentioned Andre de Toth deserves major props for making an incredible 3-D movie without depth perception.




48) Favorite ambiguous movie ending. (Original somewhat ambiguous submission---“Something about ambiguous movie endings!”-- by Jim Emerson, who may have some inspiration of his own to offer you.) Either La Haine (among the tensest 5 seconds in cinema and we don't know the outcome but we fear the answer), Akira ('I am Tetsuo!' - You're goddamned right) or, probably more than the others, The Shining, in giving us one final shot to mull over about in the scheme of the plot.




49) In giving thanks for the movies this year, what are you most thankful for? Practical effects and magnificent set design. Long may they live. While CGI is a necessary evil at points, there is nothing better to convince one audience that somethings happening on the screen by just as well having it perform just as much with the actors. When sets are great, they are a testament to the hard-work overcoming the easy quickshot of green screen.

Unfortunately, while great acting, scriptwork and direction will forever be a tenant of great cinema, these are the unsung heroes of movies and they're being more and more shunned by a primarily visual (and not primarily storytelling) medium. Keep 'em alive!
50) George Kennedy or Alan North? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom) George Kennedy. Lookitdat resume.


AND DAS EET!!! I FINISHED!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Gold Rush (Chaplin, 1925)

There's something to be said about the silent greats like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. They were visionaries who made due with what they had at the time, and the resulting filmography they provided us with was legendary. It might help the viewing, after such a building up of their works to my younger generation, growing up long after their time, that their characteristics are built on larger-than-life gestures or larger-than-life scenarios. To the cinema skeptic or the realist who does not bend to his imagination too much, it might seem melodramatic. To me, and I hope to viewers all over the world and all over time, it's kind of a dramatic tale made out of ordinary adventures - a celebration, a presentation of life as an epic, rather than just as a drudge.


The Tramp is without a doubt one of the most memorable characters of cinema. I love silent characters as a rule (In sound films, the silent character usually took my heart the most - Chomper from The Land Before Time or Ocula from Small Soldiers - And these were just when I was a child). Almost all of the modern day silents owe themselves to the Tramp - but his style and influence did not just mark over the modern silents who needed to know how to bring out emotion and character without using dialogue. It spanned over the romantics, the gentlemen, the dreamers, the victims, the jokesters - all of these common attributes were immortalized when we came to know and love the Tramp. And the costume is just defining of who he is, a reminder that he's had better times, his shoes and uncomfortable clothing a strict opposite of his upper-class mentality when he plays the gentleman. His adorably small mustache the clown paint to him, a call to his face so we can watch his sadness and his laughter.

Thanks to the Criterion Collection's release of The Gold Rush, I was finally able to view the best possible quality and restoration of the original 1925 silent version of the picture - nearly lost due to Chaplin's unfortunate discarding of the original print after he had made a more (to him) definitive version, making cuts of subplots and utilizing a new score and narration by Chaplin himself to describe the action and the feelings of the character.

While, the narration of the 1942 version has its humor, its beat, its vibe that I enjoyed, it also had the effect the narration of Blade Runner's theatrical cut had on me. Namely, it described stuff that was obvious on the screen. The spirit and the attitude of the narration (I love Chaplin's voice, don't get me wrong, it's absolutely lovely - I particularly am fond of the John Wayne-esque cadence of 'That kinda noise Jim don't tolerate...') kept it from becoming as much of a nuisance as Blade Runner's, but it was still distracting and could've been done without. I preferred the 1925 version...

I also understand that Chaplin had preferred to shoot in the actual outdoors, but had instead been forced to shoot on a set. Well, to be honest, the set happens to work best for me. While picturesque landscapes would've been a wonder on the screen, particularly with this very impressive restoration I was watching, the set in itself was a sort of character to the story: When it teeters during the climax at the rim of the cliff, it takes control of the show, not the Tramp. It holds its own during the gag of Black Larson (Tom Murray) trying to force Chaplin's character out, but the wind making it a stubborn effort that the Tramp really doesn't want to go through anyway. It's not in the outdoor snow of the Klondike that we see the Tramp's relationship grow with Big Jim (Mack Swain), but instead within the walls of the cabin of Black Larson. It even turns into a plot point for Big Jim's return to his 'mountain of gold' to rely on the location of the cabin.

'Girl, you somethin'. I wish I was just sayin' dat, but the pussy game ridiculous.'
(Yea, this is the type of half-assed captions I come up with at 4 in the morning. Forgive me.)
Speaking of characters, take a look at Georgia Hale. Not only quite attractive, she's a danger in her not understanding whether or not she truly reciprocates the Tramp's feelings for her. This was one of the subplots that took such a blow when Chaplin cut it out of the 1942 release. What the fuck, Chaplin? This must've been how all those hardcore fanboys felt when Greedo shot first. But moving on, her hypnotizing looks keep The Tramp dreaming for her love, one particular notable dream sequence being that of the famous dinner rolls dance.


I had witnessed a previous Chaplin dream sequence with the 1921 picture The Kid, a wonderful movie, but it felt unwelcome deep inside me, as it was not the reality of the situation put to the Tramp at the moment in the film. In The Gold Rush, it actually felt fitting. This was a meeting The Tramp looked forward to and the only true fulfillment of this wish, this anticipation, was in his fantasies. It's a very sad sequence, but it's still got the same spring that The Tramp keeps in his step when he moves about.

The Gold Rush is a movie of moments. Even if you don't care about the plot or are too distracted to pay attention (in which case, shame on yo ass) to it, there are moments which can't help but be stuck in your memory, just because they are made out of the magic that makes cinema such a wonderful device for storytelling. Even if you have only heard of the movie, you definitely know about the famous boot-eating scene, the slurping of the laces like spaghetti. The giant chicken the Tramp becomes in the eyes of a hallucinating and famished Big Jim, the incredible movement involved to match the Tramp and the Chicken and make them one. The opening sequence of travelers lining up through the mountains, and a bear giving some company to a map-reading Tramp.

If one gets access to the Criterion Collection release, I heavily recommend the featurette 'A Time of Innovation: Visual Effects in "The Gold Rush", a very great look at the techniques brought to the camera eye through the direction of Chaplin and the cinematography of Roland Totheroh. Pretty much most of the features on the DVD are worth it (as well as the mk2 release, even if the movie quality themselves are pretty unsatisfactory).

So, I kind of decided to outright reject my out of 10 style of rating now, cause I've come to the realization that I'm kind of bipolar when it comes to rating movies. Stupid obsessive compulsion. Still, the fact remains that this is a movie that is timeless and should be viewed by everyone at least once so go do it.

When one looks at the Tramp's full exploits from Chaplin's filmography, one can see that the man's kind of romanticism is not very much hopeless or blind. Maybe naive and easy to trick, but no. In a glass half-full sort of manner, one can instead look to him as hopeful, love of all kinds pushing him to extraordinary exploits. He's not only a social commentary in most respects of his films, but the personification of the everyman's wishes, sometimes failing and sometimes reaching the goal he wished to reach. While he reached a bitter end with Modern Times, cinema characterization doesn't forget its debt to the Tramp for being an early character to love, particularly at a time when it was about images more than stories.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beneath the Marquee - Double Feature Propositions and all...

... Well, that title was a lame way to incorporate a Red Hot Chili Peppers lyric.

Anyway, to force myself to make more posts during November (totally failed NaNoWriMo already), I'm going to do another post inspired by Lost in the Movies (formerly the Dancing Image). Pretty soon, I'm going to need to come up with my own topics, until then, I have that blog to inspire me. Please don't kill me, Joel Bocko and/or MovieMan.

Anyway, what I like to do frequently at my house whenever I'm back from college (or sometimes in any home or dorm area that has a big enough tv and will allow me to do so - school or break), is hold screenings. I like to hold screenings of my favorite movies to my friends. It's a habit that began with, being a  metalhead, inviting friends to my home for a showing The Big 4: Live from Sofia, Bulgaria, a screening that had a grand total audience of... 2.
I guess people really hate Metallica now.

And then I look at Lars' face and remember why...

But, eventually this audience grew, though. It's not a large number of people who show up to each screening (and I'd rather it not be), but more so people who can enjoy watching movies and a number enough to make it a sort of gathering and fun for others. It doesn't distract from what's on the screen, but it doesn't discourage commentary neither. I usually attempt to show movies that most of the audience present hadn't seen before. In fact, last year, among my dormmates, many of whom would see the movies at a nearby lounge at my insistence, began showcasing movies on their own time. I doubt it's my influence, but it was great to see such an interest in sharing their cinematic tastes.

To my knowledge, the movies I have screened are: Alien (Scott, 1979), Ghostbusters (Reitman, 1984), Re-Animator (Gordon, 1985), Aliens (Cameron, 1986), Akira (Otomo, 1988), Heathers (Lehmann, 1988), Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino, 1992), Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994), X-Men (Singer, 2000), Donnie Darko (Kelly, 2001), 28 Days Later... (Boyle, 2002), Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (Tarantino, 2003), X2 (Singer, 2003), Kill Bill, Vol. 2 (Tarantino, 2004), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Black, 2005), Hot Fuzz (Wright, 2007), In the Loop (Iannucci, 2009), Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino, 2009), The Big 4: Live from Sofia, Bulgaria (Wickham, 2010)

There may be more, I'm uncertain... However, I had always played around with the idea of doing multi movie screenings. I had done a Tarantino Day (which took up the ENTIRE day - providing a breakfast and dinner for the attendees and going to Sonic's for lunch). I had long dreamed of a neo-noir night, but there are so many I love that it's hard to choose, just three - let alone two. The same goes for horror and classic noir. I'd love love love love to show my friends the Vengeance trilogy by Chan Wook-Park, but I'd have to give complimentary blindfolds for their sensitivities. A lot of my friends would not be able to stomach the experience, I'm certain of it. I wanted to do a screening of Grindhouse - But I wanted to do it specifically in my garage, projected onto a sheet. I am unable to provide that experience yet, so it'll wait... one day...

In the meantime, I decided to play around with pairing specific movies in my extensive collection and came to  some interesting ones I liked. They had a small fraction of each movie's ingredients that connected them, and I liked to juxtapose polar opposites. I also tried as best as I could to consider running times, so if anybody wants to try these at home, they don't kill themselves but sitting on their ass for too long.
So, sheck out these eight double feature ideas...



Messy Break-Ups

Annie Hall (Allen, 1977) - Brick (Johnson, 2005)
I wish I could've come up with a wittier title, but I promise it's more than just a messy break-up. Everything the male lead attempts to do to patch up with their ex makes the situation from tolerable to worse. The problem with both leads is that they've had something towards them that forced the relationship to not work out: Alvy being a neurotic mess, while Brendan being a holier than thou bastard. As it turns out, Brendan brings his own ex to (literal) rock bottom early in his picture, which moves the main plot into motion. While Annie Hall is more a viewing of how one can get to a (metaphorical) rock bottom - between Alvy and Annie.



Sympathy for the Devil(s)
Natural Born Killers (Stone, 1994) - A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, 1971)
These two movies have more in common than their title suggests. These are the two movies that after watching I thought 'Wow, that was fucking great - Am I never going to see that movie again!'. Lo, and behold, both are now among my collection and my favorite movies. They assaulted my morals, they assaulted my thoughts on society and crime and how they work.

But, why group them together? Because they made sympathetic characters out of people who should not be sympathetic at all. Namely, they did it by showing how every other character in their respective movies are worse and just as capable to providing horror to others. Especially with two completely different methods of discomfort to the audience - Stone looking into the usage of pop culture bombardment, soundtrack sabotage and editing/jump cut/subliminal assault and Kubrick, in his Kubrickian fashion, touches on giving us images on the frame that suggest things we absolutely would not want suggested to our minds - and bringing us into the perspective of our narrator/protagonist, Alex.

(Un)Welcome Wagons
The Wicker Man (Hardy, 1973) - Yojimbo (Kurosawa, 1961)
I truly fear that Nicholas Cage gave The Wicker Man a bad name with his participation in the horrid remake. I don't think he's as bad an actor as people give him hate for, there's a lot of his performances which I personally enjoy. That said, the original Wicker Man is a great tale, a movie I'm certain Hot Fuzz was remaking. While Yojimbo has a badass action hero waltzing into a town entirely based on Hammett's Poisonville. The movies both feature a character entering town intending to do the best good, being serviced horribly and attempting to turn the town upside down on its head. The difference being namely in the protagonist, The Wicker Man's strict uptight headmaster-like official on business and Yojimbo's wandering nameless outsider, sitting and watching others tear the town apart themselves.
NOTE: Other movies I considered for this type of theme are High Plains Drifter (Eastwood, 1973) and the afore-mentioned Hot Fuzz (Wright, 2007).

The Beautiful Purgatories



Bram Stoker's Dracula (Coppola, 1992) - Blade Runner (Scott, 1982)
Alrighty, here's one that's going to be quite a joy to watch. It's going to be like looking at two separate paintings from different eras: One historic and one futuristic - two separate concepts to consider. And they are beauties to see, certainly a hint of the Eastern influence with both pictures. What is more notable is the themes that despite these amazingly wondrous (and practical effects-laden) worlds that the characters inhabit, they simply do not want to be there and its obvious. Bram Stoker's Dracula holds upon its head a question of heaven with Blade Runner holding a question of existence and purpose - Death being the Sword of Damocles that threatens to cut our ambition for answer short in both pictures.
I love movies that make you inhabit worlds. They cannot tell you how this world works, you just are forced to live into these moments. I rarely like it when a movie spells everything out for you. Half the enjoyment of the storytelling is having your own imagination participate in the construction. Since these two, easily among my top 20 movies, are guilty of forcing this onto the audience, it would really be a trip to showcase both movies together.

Standing Still While the World Turns 



La Haine (Kassovitz, 1995) - Do the Right Thing (Lee, 1989)

I know Mathieu Kassovitz is not encouraging of any comparison between La Haine and Do the Right Thing, but I'm sorry, it's there and it has to be seen. These are characters with revolution and history being made around them and all they can do is sit and talk among themselves and walk around but never really go anywhere while things are happening all over them, issues are rising that they are ignoring or using as a plaything. Both pictures end with a different ultimate reaction on the part of our characters, however. It's an interesting comparison.

NOTE: An apolitical yet fun version of this type of theme could be utilized via Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004), American Graffiti (Lucas, 1973), The Big Lebowski (Coen/Coen, 1998) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Zemeckis, 1988). The latter two could definitely be used for a mystery stylization - since the two leads are more wrapped up in their cases than what's going on in their country/town. Especially noted when what's going in L.A. happens to be a MacGuffin for Roger Rabbit.
I have not seen The Dreamers (Bertolucci, 2003), but it sounds like it'd fit as well.

Standing Together While the World Crumbles
The Host (Bong, 2006) - Akira (Otomo, 1988)
Inadvertently both Asian films, but the best, most entertaining examples I could come up with, we have the opposite of the previous theme. Sure, these characters could've just tried to keep their heads down and their ears pinned back, but they were forced to be involved when somebody close to them is brought into the government fiasco of the picture's focus. This certainly brings out the oncoming (and supernatural at both points) destruction of their setting and town - especially the deterioration of the mass mindset as the world around the characters goes into hysteria.
But these people stand strong, if only to rescue one of their own before succumbing to the pressure of the end of their world. It's made more strongly bound by the fact that these are groups that could (and should) easily dissolve. Ones an adolescent biker gang (with the inclusion of a revolutionary girl that the leader simply take a fancy to) and the other's the most dysfunctional family this side of the Bluths and the Tenenbaums.
If you really want to fuck up your audience's brain afterwards, showcase The End of Evangelion (Anno, 1997), an absolute abstract, no answer to it at all... Except that's one is more about failure.

The Eighth Passenger
Alien (Scott, 1979) - Serenity (Whedon, 2005)
I blame Joss Whedon for implanting this idea in my mind by naming Serenity as an attempt of the ship's crew trying to figure out if they're living in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves or Alien. Also, I blame this line for implanting it even harder from Serenity.

The Operative: 'That girl will rain destruction down on you and your ship. She is an albatross, Captain.'
Mal Reynolds: 'The way I remember it, albatross was a ship's good luck, 'til some idiot killed it.'



In both movies, there's a new burden for an already burdened ship to carry and its brought the eye of the 'evil' establishment and their interests shining a light on it. And it's the crew finding out what they can do about their situation brought upon by this new addition to their lives. Of course, River Tam is nowhere near as volatile and sinister as the Xenomorph, but she's certainly dangerous and frightening enough to the crew of Serenity. Also, note the familiarity of Serenity as opposed to the dark, frightening and uncertain horror of the Nostramus.


Oh yea, and is Serenity not scary enough to balance Alien? Wait for the Reavers...

The Absolute Western Good
The Untouchables (De Palma, 1987) - The Magnificent Seven (Sturges, 1960)
Enough villainy and ambiguous heroes. It's gotta be a straight up battle between good and evil and it has to be the American way. It has to be us knowing where the villains come from and knowing where to find the good guys at. The old days of chivalry. Of cowboys and of G-Men. The type of stuff that made me want to be a hero in my childhood (Of which Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen's presence was definitely appreciated - namely Brynner, though. He was so cool!).
And more so, forgive me for this (granted, I'm not even natural-born), but I want them to be just so goddamned fucking American, sometimes.
I want heroes who will never give up the fight even when the odds are down. I want heroes who always have the last line to shut you up, like Malone did. Heroes who will avenge their fallen friends like the Seven or Elliot Ness and Giuseppe Petri.
These two movies are the stuff of straight away good guys and bad guys. There could be better movies to maintain that, but I'm not seeing them yet.


Well, now I (and you readers) got a great amount of ideal screenings... One of these days...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

STinG Argues with Somebody Over Looper (Johnson, 2012) on Facebook

So, I do note I probably should've given it sometime while the movie was still circulating theaters, but I got lazy and this exchange and my viewing of Looper at the local movie theater was particularly around a moment of emotional stress. In one particularly strange and weird way that I'd rather not go into right now out of both embarrassment for the circumstances and embarrassment over talking about my personal feeling, the movie had saved my life. I feel slightly indebted to it. So, when I saw one person in my friend's list criticizing Looper, I jumped to its defense.

It also suggested the perfect meal when going into a diner. Hamburgers be damned now.
In all honesty, I don't find it a perfect movie. In fact, I found many flaws seeing the movie only once, imagine the ones I will find when I inevitably see it again. But, still the girl in question was ripping it a new asshole that it didn't particularly deserve. So, I came to Looper's rescue. In a sense, however, it makes up my review of Looper as it's mostly what I wanted to say about it. It just happened to be in a conversational manner and, I think, kind of unorganized. Regardless, I hope you enjoy.

There are two things I want to go over quickly before presenting the exchange (with a blocking on our photos, the girl's name and my last name). First is that I don't want anyone to think I think people are wrong because they don't like Looper. Odin forbid opinions are given. In fact, I usually encourage rebuttals to my opinion on any manner, I never consider myself learned enough to be infallible (you should see me talk about politics - I hate it because I'm just bad at it). As far as I'm concerned, the female in question may know a lot about cinematography and she may also be cool enough to converse with. I just got really into the heat of the moment. Very embarrassing for that moment to be a facebook comment war, though.

I will not apologize for thinking that 'liking Shia LaBeouf' negatively affects your taste in cinema, though. I absolutely positively will not.

The second is that she takes note erroneously in my 'bash[ing] Inception'. This is because the comment before the very first displayed is a representation where I sum up the 2010 Christopher Nolan movie in seven lines. So, yea, if you want a chuckle (maybe not an outright laugh), check that crazy stuff out too.

Alright... Here goes...


Ladies and Gentlemen, Cid...
I mean, Seth!

Did you just seriously compare JGL and Willis to Lohan?!


And that's where it ended. I had just noted on particular comment had not been expanded, so I post it here.

Anyway, that for the most part makes up my subjective review of Looper. There are a couple more notes I'd like to make. I do note how the telekinesis aspect of the picture does affect major events, but I feel like the movie could do without it. I can't put my finger on how, but the telekinesis was simply one layer too many in an already complicated movie.

Second, and this was more for my own weird thoughts I have, this is the second Rian Johnson movie where Noah Segan's character (Kid Blue) is essentially Joseph Gordon-Levit's character's bitch. The first being Brick, which I intend to review fairly soon. This does not matter because from all the works I've seen him in Segan is actually pretty talented, so it's great that Johnson sees the potential in him and continues to work with Segan.

NO! I'm not overcompensating for anything!
All said and done, I gave the movie an 8 out of 10 and continued on my own loop.

Anybody got opinions on the movie? Dislike or like it? Agree with me or agree with the female in question? Hit it up on the comments (I feel I ought to encourage more dialogue in regards to the post's subjects with the readers).
Thanks.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sorry, I've Been Busy as of Late... Here's a Really Great Youtube Music Video...

Okay, so I'm juggling my next review right now and its already 11 days into November without any post yet...

I'm very sorry, I'm gonna get on that as a soon as I can.
In the meantime, I found this epic fanvid on youtube of a song by one of Mike Patton's many amazing tracks with the very intense project, Mr. Bungle. I was searching around for live vids and I found this impressive work for a fan piece.

Apparently, this fan has made one of the better music videos I'd seen in a while, in league with Bungle's shocking content and really telling a wonderfully twisted story in a fantastic (both referring the awesomeness and the fantasy of the character) style. It's really a breath of fresh air since now most music videos seem to have devolved as 'candy commercials' of a sense. People seem to really have forgotten the true art form of a music video, what can come out of it can be more impressionable than a modern feature film. Foo Fighters are the only current band I know of are still holding out on this artistic part of the music video format, but even then, their videos, however fun, reek with commercial motivation, even the parody self-aware 'Big Me'. Beastie Boys, my favorite music video musicians, tried to bring it back with 'Make Some Noise/Fight for Your Right Revisited', but it ended up being somewhat overbloated and uninspired, a helpless cry for a grasp on the media of video one more time, maybe a late lesson to the master MCA, but all of the bad elements of pretension. It wasn't entirely a fun romp like 'Sabotage' and yet it wasn't a great deconstruction like 'Shake Your Rump'.
So, this guy... whoever he is... He saved the music video day for me. For now...

Yep, without further ado, 'Pink Cigarette'.


I'll be back soon.