How To Be

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 5:07 PM By Simon


"After a number of personal setbacks, including a struggling musical career and a recently ended relationship with a girlfriend, Art (Robert Pattinson) moves back home with his cold and neglectful parents (played by Rebecca Pidgeon and Michael Irving). Art decides to use inheritance money to pay for Canadian therapist, Dr. Levi Ellington (Powell Jones) to come to his home in England and help Art get his life back to normal, about which his parents are less than thrilled. Despite his unsupportive parents, Art attempts with his new life coach and two slightly unbalanced friends Nikki (Mike Pearce) and Ronnie (Johnny White) to find a balance in his life, true happiness, and a good relationship with his parents".

I know. Dude from Twilight does not a good movie make. But, good news, this was made before Twilight. Because, yeah, people from that dreaded series did have decent careers before, and (I think) could have good ones after.

But, I'd like to point this out. Despite it's pre-Twilight copyright, it's like someone made this movie just to stick it to Edward Cullen. Because, aside from a few variables, this character, Art, is received exactly as how Edward Cullen would in the real world. He's not a vampire, he's a shy, mumbling, twitchy, awkward dude who's sulkiness can easily be mistaken for deep. In fact, his girlfriend, in the midst of breaking up with him in the beginning, puts it spot-on:

"When we first met, you seemed so elusive, and brooding, and intense. An enigmatic poet. What I took to be deep and mysterious has just turned out to be really sad and unhappy."

When I first heard of this movie, I was thinking it'd be another one of those pretty-boy-dolled-up-to-be-'geeky' type of things. But Pattinson sells it. He's the type of guy that could conceivably be both a TigerBeat heartthrob and an awkward loser. His face is handsome in a certain angle, odd in another. And, again, to my suprise, he's good in it. He unabashingly and totally plays Art's neurosis, tics, self-absorbtion, all the things that make him look uncomfortable in his own skin, the self-pity and manchildness and thickheadedness. He's, dare I say, amazing, in a way. I actually find him more convincing here, in this kind of role, than the contrived, 'dark' Twilight thing.

The supporting actors, too, are very good. For comic relief are his two slightly demented best friends, who always tell him he's got a problem, when they are just as bad as he. Mike Pearce as Nikki, the former nerd from his school who's now a manic "ladies' man", and Johnny White as Ronnie, a dominating, loudmouthed, dreaming bit of an asshole who's apartment is paid for by his dad. Rebecca Pidgeon, his belittling, cold mother who's catchphrase appears to be "Honestly, sometimes I wonder about you", and Michael Irving, his distant, uninterested father, are completely and unnecassarily unsupportive of Art, and yet, you can't blame them. He's, to put it mildly, a case. You go from being sick of the guy to feeling sorry for him, he's such a sadsack. Everybody around him, especially Pigeon, perfectly display such wariness of the guy.

Powell Jones, the Canadian self-help guru is entirely creepy.

My problem, though, is that the movie doesn't appear to be going anywhere. We have one absurd situation after another, fueled at once by Dr. Ellington's questionable advice and form quotes, partially by Art's pathetic attempts at reconciliation with his girlfriend, parents, friends, all ending up alienating them further, and partially by his desperate stabs at finding meaning in his life. But none of them lead anywhere. Like it's main character, it wanders aimlessly, mumbles it's point at inaudible levels, doesn't know what to do with itself, caught midway through, realizes it's actually a movie now, and gets stagefright. How else to put it? It's funny, sometimes laugh-out-loud so, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes confounding. It dances on the line between valid 'quarter-life crisis' comedy and self-congratulatingly quirky Brit indie.

Some of the characters...maybe all of them...are two-dimensional, barely an excuse given about their behaviour which serves only to be ridiculous.

Overall? Funny, might be grating to some, but if you want to feel better about your life, I'd watch it.

Identify The Spoilers

1:50 PM By Simon

Over at Scare Sarah, I find this:


Inspired, I ask you to identify which spoilers go where:




(Beware)





"It wasn't black magic, it was science!"

"He was a mental patient, C_______ was his doctor."

"She was recruited by the CIA."

"Satan is gay."

"He kills F_____."

"They die in a hail of bullets."

"They get shot by hicks."

"He gets shot by hicks."

"S_______ was dead the entire time."

Yeah, those suck. Guess away.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Video!

12:12 PM By Simon

As we all know, JGL's awesome. So awesome, in fact, he made this short video with Channing Tatum. Because Youtube's a cruel mistress, here's My New Plaid Pants with some embeded action.

Thoughts on Easy Rider

10:38 AM By Simon



Am I the only one finding it difficult to buy Dennis Hopper as a stoned hippie?

LL Cool J Refuses Fox Show, Fox Responds

10:32 AM By Simon

In the funniest way possible without posting it on Facebook:

"Real American Stories” features uplifting tales about overcoming adversity and we believe Mr. Smith’s interview fit that criteria. However, as it appears that Mr. Smith does not want to be associated with a program that could serve as an inspiration to others, we are cutting his interview from the special and wish him the best with his fledgling acting career."


(via)

Seriously, that's just great.

News

7:49 AM By Simon

Rupert Grint and Robert Sheehan in Cherrybomb.



You know those creepy-as-shit E-Trade talking-baby commercials? The ones Lindsay Lohan through a bitchfit over? They're getting a movie.

Sheldon Turner, screenwriter for Up in the Air, is making his directorial debut. Says Empire: "The story is that of a man betrayed and framed by his mentor and sent to prison (we're guessing he wasn't a mentor in crochet or bridge or something). On release, he is determined to get revenge on his old partner - not entirely surprisingly - but since the latter has gone clean and started a new life, he's not so keen on the idea".

Stephen Dorff, who will always be Nekkid Dude Stealing Screentime From Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Shadowboxer to me (okay, fine. I'll give him SFW), has joined War of the Gods. Yay?

Oh, shit. I hoped you all liked the Goldie Hawn vehicle Private Benjamin, because Anna Faris is in the remake.

Stephenie Meyer is writing a Twilight novella about a throwaway character in that third book I skimmed.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RHEA PERLMAN!

The Playlist has details on Steven Soderbergh's 'Contagion', including who's playing who.

Hey, anyone wanna buy an old maybe-Terrence Malick script about mental illness called 'The English-Speaker' on eBay? Again, the Playlist has the answers.

Tomorrow, When The War Began, based off the cult-classic John Marsden Red Dawn in Australia, has a trailer. Don't try Youtube.

Errol Morris, Oscar-winning director of Fog of War, is doing a new documentary on Joyce McKinney, who, in the 70s, kidnapped English Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson, chained him to a bed, and forced him to have sex with her. She jumped bail, only got in absentia one year in prison because, then, England didn't have any laws about this particular subject. In the 80s, she was accused of stalking the poor dude, now with a wife and kids, and in 2008, tried to clone her dog in Korea. So, yeah. No official title yet...

EDIT: Thankyou, Anomalous Material, for reminding me-

Andy Samberg and Zachary Quinto cast for Anna Faris/Chris Pine romcom What's Your Number.

Tom Hanks announces huge-ass cast for 'Larry Crowne': Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Cedric the Entertainer, Rami Malek, George Takei, Dale Dye, Peter Scolari, Bryan Cranston, Wilmer Valderrama, Taraji P. Henson, Malcolm Barret, Bob Stephenson, Jon Seda, Maria Canals Barrera, and Holmes Osborne.

Marion Cotillard and Rachel McAdams cast in Woody Allen's untitled new comedy.

Exit Through the Gift Shop: A Banksy Film has a trailer.

Thoughts on Natalie Portman in Leon (The Professional)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010 4:27 PM By Simon



Particularly, the scene where she comes home from food shopping to find her entire family gunned down by Gary Oldman and his marauding gang of Rasta Cops. Maintaining her calm, she steadily walks past her door, where her asshole father's blood leaks out into the hall, down to the end, where Leon, who she had been getting milk for, lives. She knocks on the door, desperately asking to be let in, so that even though you know that there's still another hour and a half of the movie, and that she's not gonna die right then, you feel fucking scared for.

Dude, she was twelve when she filmed it. What were you doing when you were twelve?

More Links (because life's got me down)

10:18 AM By Simon

Criterion COnfessions talks Pedro Costa.

Antagony & Ecstasy gives a good review of Chloe.

Thoughts on Red Eye

Monday, March 29, 2010 6:48 PM By Simon



Godammit, Cillian Murphy, stop being so despicable!

And, to Rachel McAdams, Queen of Damaged Cuteness, no less? What the fuck!?!

Links/a bit of news

4:38 PM By Simon

This blog is seriously the funniest thing I've ever read ever.

The Plalist details on Lou Reed's directorial debut Red Shirley.

Y: The Last Man finally gets some action. And now, with Shia LaFoof out of the picture, Joseph Gordon-Levitt can take his rightful place. We all believe in you, Joe.

The Self-Styled Siren watches movies with her mom.

McSweeney's 'A Teenager Navigating Religion' column.

Angelina Jolie might star in the probably-Tim Burton film 'Maleficient'. Interesting...

Encore Entertainment gives his ode to Joan Allen in The Upside of Anger, and then to American Beauty (and Annette Bening)

ben's radical film reviews reviews Bitch Slap.

Last Blog on the Left reviews The Fourth Kind.

You know what's worse than the dentist?

4:10 PM By Simon


Jack shit, that's what.

Have a happy Spring Break.

Fuck You, Monday

1:04 PM By Simon

Holy shit, happy birthday, Bud Cort!

12:44 PM By Simon

On: Biopics

Sunday, March 28, 2010 7:31 PM By Simon

Biopics, as of the past two decades, have been nothing but Oscar fodder, followed by the dreaded bait. And, one can tell when a film is made from conception to make easy awards for a studio to boast.

This is not to say that these sorts of films are bad. Just that they're made for the wrong reasons. A combination of Academy Award fillers and showcases for a star's excellent mimicry skills.

One way to spot these sorts--this is not a rule, merely a pattern--is the title. If you have a title that may feature an in-joke, a reference, some sort of thought, chances are higher that it was conceived as a movie, not a platform. Again, this is not a rule. See, for example, 24 Hour Party People.



Here, the title is a reference to a song by the Happy Mondays, one of the primary bands featured in the film. This is not a straightforward biopic, this is a self-aware monster, a chaotic, loud, entertaining thing that doesn't aim for prestige, but to tell the story of Factory Records, the biggest record label in London. It never strays away from it's principle setting, it never has a moment of breakdowns, or powerhouse, or any sort of acting triumph--even what would be considered the lead actor, Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson, is by his (the character's) own admission not the protaganist...he's just a friendly face to guide you through the anarchic world of three very different bands, and to let you know you're still in the same movie. This was a film made to tell a story in as interesting a way as possible.



And then, you have the worst case scenerio of biopic filmmaking. Mira Nair's Amelia--blatant wannabe Oscar bait, right from the title. A lazy, unsubtle name slapped onto a lazy, unsubtle film. I, in case I haven't said it already, hate when a biopic just puts the first and/or last name of it's hero in the title. It says nothing about the actual movie either way, it just screams what it's about. I get it, not everybody is hung up on titles, but at least put a bit of thought into it.

Starring Hilary Swank in a perfectly okay performance that does nothing to get under the skin of her character, nothing but a half-assed impersonation and a mild look of hopeful wonder in her eyes. It's obvious, to me, that she was taking for granted her love from the Academy. She was expecting this to be her third Oscar, and didn't bother making an effort.

The film itself, just as half-assed, with beautiful cinematography and not much else. A by-the-books biopic at a time when they are reviled, and for good reason.

Of course, it's unfair to compare these two very different films, on subject matter alone. I would compare the former to The Runaways, one similarly making an effort to capture the essence of the music it represents, the real-life people, and maybe not succeeding. And, I would compare the latter to, maybe, Capote, based on the eponymous writer that may be Oscar bait, but damn good Oscar bait, but also the Infamous, a film on the same subject, just as good, one year latter, my own exception to Sandra Bullock. The latter of the latter, yeah, it shows that if you're gonna do awards fodder, you might as well do it right, and earn your inevitable Oscar.

Then, there's the league of their own, biopics that write themselves, that bask in the absurdity of the situation. The upcoming I Love You, Phillip Morris seems to be this, and Ed Wood, The People Vs. Larry Flint. There are the ones that use it's subject as an excuse to go mental, surreal us to glorious death, such as Kafka. Ones that are stylish and artful tearjerkers, like Schindler's List. Ones that preach and turn the story into a cautionary tale, like The Basketball Diaries or Dangerous Minds. Some, To Die For and Total Eclipse, seek humanization and entertainment in the illicit and the debauched, either towards whichever you want. There are so many different categories of these, I'll admit, almost all undefinable in the classic sense.

Just keep in mind, people will make a movie about anyone, anything, and anytime. So, just to be safe, make your will very particular. Good night, folks.

The Problem With Letters to Juliet

2:11 PM By Simon

When I went to see The Runaways, I was of the misfortune to have to sit and watch trailers to Twilight, Cyrus for the fifteenth fucking time, and this, the incredibly fruity looking Letters to Juliet.



Aside from my initial disappointment in Amanda Seyfried, who I find he adorable, and her top 5 favorite movies comendable (here), doing another throwaway romance, I found myself suddenly interest in Gael Garcia Bernal. As we all know, this guy is awesome. He plays the boyfriend of Seyfried, from what I can gather, and it seems like they're in a constant battle to outcute each other. It's a very indecisive war, I say.

But, what's this? Halfway into the trailer, we see our brave hero Sophie begin to bat those eyes of hers at the son of our plot device, Vanessa Redgrave. He is played by some dude named Chris Egan. He, in case you couldn't tell, is extremely blonde. Amanda, too, is extremely blonde. And, he is pulling her away from Bernal! My god, can you imagine all that blonde!?!

I ask you, ladies and gay men, and maybe straight men with some issues: Who would you rather have, Gael Garcia Bernal, or Dude from Home and Away?

(happy fucking boring Sundays, folks)

Links

8:59 AM By Simon

Todd Alcott theorizes on A Serious Man, to effect.

Neil Cameron counts from A-Z on awesome things.

Journalistic Skepticism talks The Departed.

Movies and Other Things wants to know what movies he should watch.

Anomalous Material reviews Law Abiding Citizen.

The Mad Hatter, via Kid in the Front Row, has a crisis over the validity of writing reviews for blogs, and when you just go to movies to review them.

Encore Entertainment looks at the prospects of the distinguished ladies of our time.

Lost in the Movies reviews Greenberg.

The Dark of the Matinee reviews Chloe.

dark eye socket briefly talks 70s Euro-vampire flick Fascination.

Cinema Directives talks Up in the Air, and The Invention of Lying.

You know what sucks about Sundays? I have both the time and patience to do this kind of shit. Happy travels.

Hot Tub Time Machine and The Runaways

8:36 AM By Simon



Oh, what to say? It's stupid. Very, very (very, very, very...) stupid. Most likely the result of a studio wondering how they could get together three of Hollywood's weirdest comic relief in one movie, and which big-name star they could get to star. Absolutely the weirdest, stupidest, funniest thing you will see until the next Judd Apatow movie comes out.

Time travel jokes and tropes litter this loosely-scripted comedy, fucking jokes, hair jokes, 80s jokes, holy-shit-the-guy-from-the-Daily-Show-is-fucking-my-mother/sister gags, Chevy Chase being annoyingly cryptic and unhelpful (in a hilarious way), John Cusack, ironically the poster boy for the 80s, trying his damndest to be the straightest man in a group made up of comic second bananas, and just maybe succeeding. In the vein of Snakes on a Plane, it gets to the point. Lots of commie jokes, lots of infidelity jokes, guys who look amazingly like the actors playing their younger selfs in mirror cameos. Holy shit, this movie is weird. It's a good way to spend a Saturday, seeing this movie.



Here's a different movie all together. As always, a music biopic directed by a former music video director, in this case, Floria Sigismondi, and it plays out like a music video. On paper, having the chick from Twilight and America's Sweetest Little Victim (and the other chick from Twilight) play two parts of the biggest band for feminism is kind of...dumb. But in action, it works. Cherie Currie, Dakota Fanning, both the movie's and the band's sex kitten, their jail(fucking)bait, starts as a naive 15-year-old ingenue, and develops into a prima donna junkie, selfish and lost and unbalanced.

Kristen Stewart, our breakout star, as Joan Jett, had some better luck in the biographical department. Joan Jett, part 1, had been a producer of the movie, and hung out on set. She had a direct reference for her mimicry, and it shows. She is absolutely incredible as Jett, representing the band's raw rock n'roll energy, their need to play and be taken as more than the soft-core porn gimmick Currie represents. Yet, while she is incredible, their are times when you know it's Stewart...despite their resemblence, and her amazing bouts of performance, Stewart's lazy lull, her mumbling, will show up at the wrong times.

As for the movie itself, it, too, parallels to the actual band. Both were a brilliant combination of raw, anarchic music and carefully-coordinated commercialism. They know how to get their message across while still appealing to the masses. They know when to switch from lyrics and riffs to catchy choruses and borderline-kiddie porn lesbian sex scenes. It captures the seventies perfectly, down to the sunglasses and the cigarette brands, to the bleeched, grainy lens filter.

What I did not like, though, was the glossing over of The Runaways' impact on music. The first successful all-girl rock band, it breaks some fucking barriers. But it is barely given a passing reference of how big they're gonna be in the beginning, a montage of magazine headlines, and them carayzay Japanese fangirls. The rest of the band, the ones who aren't Jett and Currie, remember?, barely get any lines, except for Stella Maeve's cofounding Sandy West, the drummer (it's always the drummer), who we get a lot of before Currie joins, and one scene where Scout Taylor-Compton's Lita Ford goes off on Currie in a recording session. Alia Shawkat's fictional bassist Robin, representing Jackie Fox and a plethora of other bassists the band went through, is given maybe two throwaway lines and a bikini scene at the crappy hotel pool. This may be justified, as their really is no character there, and they wanted to keep it as true as possible, but still.

Michael Shannon, my love, plays the tyrannical and flamboyant producer/manager Kim Fowley as just that: tyrannical and flamboyant. Never reaching past a combination of evil band manager and glittery comic relief, helping the under-18 girls to stardom and verbally abusing them to breakups. He's a skeevy worm of a dude, but calculating and smart when it comes to press and selling these jailbait he finds himself assembling. Right down to the scene where he and Joan come up with the catch to "Cherry Bomb" in their rehearsel trailer, with Cherrie waiting outside, as
an audition song for her, he is the commercial to their music, he is what keeps them relevent. He's a twisted sort of genius, this guy.

Now, it tries very hard to be edgy, and is one of the better music biopics, but it often falls into the rock n'roll cliches. From the aforementioned Japanese fangirls chasing them around town, to the drug-fueled binges and orgies, to the ODs, to the violent, throw-shit-at-the-wall recording booth breakup, to the success of one (Jett) and fall of the other (Currie)...and it all happens in a year. The end glosses over Jett's success with the superior Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Currie's quieter success (everyone else just sort of disappears). Nonetheless, it's an almost-fitting dedication to the one-note band that made rock history.

I'm taking a day off

Saturday, March 27, 2010 7:02 PM By Simon

But, rest assured, I leave you in the faithful hands of lolcat.







Most Badass Movie Chicks

5:59 PM By Simon

There are always the unspoken heroines of cinema...not the obvious Kill Bill veins, but the ones who kill with their wits, their sarcasm, their boredom, or their coolness. So, what I should rephrase as, is 'awesome'.

Bonnie Parker, Bonnie and Clyde



She is our first frame of the film, a closeup of her lying naked on her bed with a look of disdain and frustration on her face. As played by Faye Dunnaway, she may start out as a novice, naive, maybe a bit bumbling, thrill-seeking girlfriend, but by the end, she's a smart, sharp, weary, and cool bank robber who can easily match up to Warren Beatty's Clyde. Course, anyone would look cool next to Estelle Parsons' hysterical Blanche Burrow.

Modesty Blaise, Modesty Blaise



She, a former crime boss turned British Intelligence agent recruited to prevent a diamond robbery, is the spawn of a comic strip/novel series (first heard of by me in several Vincent Vega toilet scenes). Played by Italian actress Monica Vitti, I fell in love with this lady flipping through the channels, to a scene where she was leading a man on, undercover, eating an apple and rolling her eyes while his back was turned. She is a perfectly (am I saying this too much?) cool, and, better yet, aided by her right-hand Cockney dude Willie Garvin (Terrence Stamp playing my second favorite Willie, first always going to Willie Parker...but enough of this shit).

Hedwig/Hansel Schmidt, Hedwig and the Angry Inch



So, not technically a chick (the surgery didn't go well, hence the title), but awesome all the same. A German "slip of a girlyboy" (John Cameron Mitchell), in a loving relationaship with philosophy and rock music, but trapped in East Berlin pre-1989, he takes his mother's name and tries to get a sex change so that he and an American soldier can marry in West Berlin, but it is botched, and the soldier ditches him in Kansas for a man. From there, she forms a rock band of Korean army wives, and meets shy Christian teenager Tommy (Michael Pitt). This entire movie, as The Sister would put it, is made of awesome, thanks to the flamboyant, witty, and confident main character. No matter what shit is thrown at her (which is a lot), she never falters in her quest for adoring crowds and gigs not on chairs in fast-food restaurants.

Shosanna Dreyfuss, Inglourious Basterds



We all saw this coming, if we cared to think about it...this lady, while not sniping at Nazis from hilltops as originally written by Tarantino, still plays her quiet, low-key, furious vengeance against the Germans with pursed lips, French arrogance, and an unbelievable amount of stone-cold badassery.

Hm...that's it for now. Did I miss any?

Thoughts on La Femme Nikita

1:08 PM By Simon


You know what I just realized? I may be a bit late to the game here, but this entire movie is Manic Pixie Dream Girl from her point of view. I mean, if this had been from Marco (her supermarket casier boyfriend)'s point of view, it would've started when she came barreling down the aisles, cart loaded with food. What he wouldn't have known was that she had had the most money she'd had in years, and was positively giddy at her newfound release and freedom. It would've seemed like she was a free spirit or something. Her real profession would've been the twist that came in this MPDG dramatic romantic comedy.

So, I'm inclined to ask: What does this say about every other Manic Pixie Dream Girl?

Am I now to assume that Elizabethtown's Claire is a cult member on recruit duties? Is Gigantic's Harriet an undercover assassin for the CIA? Is Garden State's Sam a drug-addicted Irish prostitute? How far does this thing go?

Pitch: Coming of Age

8:43 AM By Simon

Title: Rhymes With Duck
Pitch: A hipster loner (Michael Cera) pines after the girl of his dreams (Kristen Stewart), who doesn't know he's alive. But, with the help of his best friend (Jesse Eisenberg) and the wise school janitor (Morgan Freeman), can he win her heart?

(here)

Of: Quentin Tarantino

Friday, March 26, 2010 3:25 PM By Simon



Okay, so you all are vaguely aware of how much I love this guy, right? I mean, sure, he's a twitchy, awkward, borderline-obnoxious dude, but he loves movies, which I something I can get behind.

Let's think for a minute. Say what you will about Kill Bill, or Inglorious Basterds, or even Jackie Brown, but you must admit this: he will never phone a movie in, he will never half-ass it, his love of cinema practically bleeds through the reel. Every aspect is carefully detailed to the bloopers. In my opinion, he has never made a bad movie, precisely because he knows when to go off into cartoonish violence, and when to go to quiet dialogue and meaningful looks. He is the border between loud and thoughtful, action and indie. He is the only guy that can get the same crowd that loved Transformers into the same room as the ones who loved Brokeback Mountain (or maybe not). He can offend you with his gore and cursing and violence, but you will not leave the theatre. He is that guy.

I don't know if you've noticed this, but...he almost never has sex scenes in his movies. You might be tricked by the sleazy, lingering shots of ladybits (and feet) in Death Proof, Jackie Brown. But, not one real sex scene. And, I hypothesize: He has the worshipping lust of women not unfamiliar with twelve-year-old boys. The shots, for example, in Death Proof...opening, we have extreme closeup of women running around holding their bits (I couldn't really tell), followed by shots of another woman's ass. Yet, they never really feel dangerous or intrusive. Just the harmless stares of an adolescent boy, in my eyes. Say what you must, but on top of this, Tarantino seems to have either a boner or a god-worship for warrior women. Beatrixx Kiddo, Elle Driver, Shoshanna Dreyfuss, O-Ren Ishii, to some extents, Bridget von Hammersmarck, Jackie Brown, and Mia Wallace, they are all badasses chicks, and they all define a film type usually reserved for men: vengeance (Shoshanna and Beatrixx), psychopathic jealousy (Elle Driver), cool-headed professionalism/brutality (O-Ren), entitled heroism/betrayel (depending on what side you're on, Bridget v.H.), love and desperation (Jackie Brown), or plain-ass coolness (Mia Wallace). While some could argue that any role but the distressed, useless girlfriend is a step up for women, it takes a twisted sort of respect to take them to Tarantino's levels of empowerment, where, no matter what situation, the women are cooler, smarter, and tougher than the men.

That's aside from his hero-worship of actors in general. He can get a good performance out of Generic Blonde from National Treasure, man. He revitilizes careers (Travolta, you disappoint me).

But then, his dialogue can walk the line of mundane. But in this dialogue, he let's us see that not all hitmen talk nonstop about their target. Sometimes, they talk about cheeseburgers.

He is the king of the losers. Whatever he likes, it's cool in his universe. Blaxpoitation flicks, 50s diners, etc. Here, we have John Travolta as a badass. There you go.

Got this from Amiresque.

Because I'm bored....

3:22 PM By Simon










Guess what movie these are from.

Bad News

2:20 PM By Simon

Well, as we all know, when the Movie gods give us, they also fuck us over. They are passive-aggressive that way.

Orson Welles is being brought back to life for the voiceover on a sure-to-be-shitty CGI-ified kiddie movie.

Both Eastern Promises and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are getting sequels. All continuing where they left off, except so far, Sundance is MIA.

In probably the weirdest pairing since my fantasy Carl Barat-John Lennon duet, Tracy Morgan and Juliette Binoche have joined the cast of a movie. That being, the same movie. Directed by A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints director/writer Diot Montiel, called 'Son of No One', it (naturally) is set to star Channing Tatum "as a young cop assigned to the working class neighborhood where he grew up. He soon finds an old secret has begun to resurface and threatens to destroy his family". Binoche plays a reporter while Morgan is replacing Terrence Howard in the role of Vinnie, a friend of Tatum's. Al Pacino, Ray Liotta and Katie Holmes also star.

(hey, remember when everyone saw "...Saints" and were abuzz with all the promise Tatum showed? We all thought, yo, that dude's gonna blow the fuck up one day. We even gave him a Spirit. I miss those days...)

A World War II (The Revenge) drama based off of Ian Fleming's exploits in an elite forces unit is set to star Danny Dyer and Sean Bean.

In linkage, Final Girl lists her favorite things.

Life During Wartime has a lovely poster.



Wikipedia vs. Predator.

Michael Bay is spot on in his criticsm of post-production 3D-conversion. For once, the man speaks the truth. Here we be.

Monkey See Blog on film criticsm. A good piece, I think.

A pretty good motion poster for The Other Guys, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Since I can't do anything with it, here's a link.

Character poster for The Losers, a comic book movie that doesn't try to be all gritty and shit. Here's my favorite.



Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, and John Krasinski may all be on for a romantic comedy called 'Something Borrowed', about " Manhattan attorney (Goodwin) who becomes involved with her best friend's fiance following her 30th birthday".

Best title for an in-development film by a French director named Arnaud Desplechin? 'Psychotherapy Of A Plains Indian'.

Tahar Rahim, fresh off of A Prophet, is now up for Emir Kusturica's Palestinian comedy, 'Cool Water'. The film will see Rahim play one of two brothers who try to smuggle the body of their recently deceased father from Jerusalem to Ramallah while trying to avoid Israeli police and Russian mobsters. In related news, Arizona Dream is finally getting released.

The trailer for David Michôd's eagerly awaited new crime drama Animal Kingdom is released. Here's The Playlist with the Happening.

Happy Friday.

And then, he shared with me these wise words...

Thursday, March 25, 2010 7:42 PM By Simon

AMAZING NEWS!

1:37 PM By Simon

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, my second most anticipated movie of All Time (right behind Inception) has a TRAILER! ZOMfuckingG!
Here be linked, because the studio is not fun.

Lars von Trier's new midnight dreary, 'Melancholia', gets funding and some (teaser?) art.

(via)

Despicable Me has a further inaccesable trailer (full length), here be link.

Empire has a clip of the new Julianne Moore flick, Shelter.

Paul WS Anderson is making Buck Rogers a movie. Which I thought someone already did, but I guess not.

Tom Cruise in a rodeo love story with Reese Witherspoon, 'Paper Wings'.

Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer might be working on an unnamed, un...summarized action comedy.

Diablo Cody is writing a script called 'Young Adult', being produced by Mandate Pictures and John Malkovich’s Mr Mudd production company. The movie will follow "a divorced thirtysomething young adult writer who heads back to her hometown in the hopes of winning back her ex-boyfriend, who is now married and a father".

Robert Culp of I Spy TV series has died.

Woody Allen's next flick, 'You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger', has a synopsis:
"A little romance, some sex, some treachery and apart from that, a few laughs. The lives of a group of people whose passions, ambitions and anxieties force them all into assorted troubles that run the gamut from ludicrous to dangerous."
However vague and annoying that is, here's some pictures.



Wolfgang Peterson is attached, apparently last summer, to the live-action remake of Paprika.

The Rum Diary might premiere at Cannes.

Alan Resnais' new flcik, Wild Grass gets a trailer. Which I will totally find a link to.

David Chase's rpcoming rock n' roll, coming of age drama may have a name...'The Twilight Zones'. Oh...well. That's pretty awful. My opinion, but geez.

Tomothy Dalton ('here come the fuzz', as he's known to me) and Steven Berkoff join 'The Tourist'.

Over here, we may be getting a toss of Ocean's Eleven and Children of Men called 'The Vault'. Enjoy.

Carey Mulligan confirmed for My Fair Lady, after Keira Knightly ditched for 'The Talking Cure' and Noah Baumbach's 'The Emperor's Children'. Hugh Grant still iffy.

Most Overlooked Movies Part 4

Wednesday, March 24, 2010 4:46 PM By Simon


Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Starring Tim Roth, Gary Oldman, and Richard Dreyfuss as The Player, it is probably the best piece of fan fiction ever. Based off the play by Tom Stoppard, who also directed. It is the story of Hamlet, but from the hopelessly befuddled point of view of the two minor characters, childhood friends (of Hamlet) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Summoned by the King to try and bring Hamlet out of his funk, they go on a confused philisophical roadtrip that ends with the title. And, then, it features Gary Oldman in one of his few non-villainous, adorable roles. Absolutely funny, if you can get past the chipmunk-fast British dialogue. No trailer, but here's an especially funny scene.


Reprise

Directed by Joachim Trier, starring Anders Danielsen Lie, Espen Klouman-Høiner and Viktoria Winge. The tale of two young friends, btoh aspiring writers. One, Erik, has a manuscript rejected. The other, Phillip, is published, becomes an overnight celebrity (in their native Norway, I assume), and meets a girl named Kari, but soon suffers a mental breakdown. A funny, heartbreaking, and sweet, if shaded in European melancholy, Norwegian film.

What movie makes you feel like this?

1:18 PM By Simon

The Greatest Thing To Come Out of Chatroulette

12:39 PM By Simon

Things Stuck In My Head

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 5:23 PM By Simon

The Libertines "The Man Who Would Be King"


The British TV show Misfits and it's main-ish character, Nathan


Jefferson Airplane, "White Rabbit"


And Teddy

Brief Thoughts on Four Brothers

4:33 PM By Simon

You win, Danielle. He is pretty.

My Life in Film

3:13 PM By Simon

Gender: The Lady from Shanghai
Describe Yourself: Lovely and Amazing
How Do You Feel Right Now: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Where Do You Live: subUrbia
What's the Weather Like There: Day of the Dead
Where Would You Like To Go Right Now: Slaves of New York or In Bruges
What's Your Biggest Fear: Conversations With Other Women
Your Life Is A Film, Give It A Name: Fuck (it's a movie, look it up)
What Will You Be Doing Today: Trainspotting
Give Us A Piece of Advice: Shortcuts

Blow-Up

News!

2:32 PM By Simon

American Idiot is certainly making the multimedia rounds. From the current Broadway musical, a movie is in the works, produced by Tom Hanks' production company.

Luc Besson's directing again, with the trailer for Adele Blanc-Sec. Can't find it, though.

Emma Stone In Demand has been offered the lead role in historical drama 'The Help', about "a young aspiring writer (Stone, if she signs) interviewing a maid, who speaks openly about her experiences. Her comments have major repercussions across the South, and alter the seemingly set-in-stone code of behaviour between the maids and their employers."

In further news about books I've actually read, Little Brother, the exellent speculative fiction YA novel about the repercussions of a terrorist attack on San Francisco, from the point of view of three teenaged hackers, by Cory Doctorow, has been optioned for an adaption. By Transformers producer Don Murphy.

Happy birthdays, Akira Kurosawa (RIP) and Michael Hanake! As you were!

Trailer for a new Showtime show starring Laura Linney and Gabourey Sidibe. Behold.


Also, in what might be Al Pacino's redemption, a Milk-esque trailer for You Don't Know Jack, an HBO biopic about Jack Kevorkian. Yeah, that one.


Nick Frost for 'Attack the Block', a sci-fi actioner about 'a teen gang facing alien monsters'. Directed by Joe Cornish, and also starring Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones and Simon Howard.

Apparently, if you ever want to direct anything, you have to do it in 3D.

Emily Blunt can be seen in new pictures for her upcoming movies 'Gulliver's Travels' and 'The Adjustment Bureau'. Here. Sorry, but my images button has been fucked lately.

Juno Temple, who has a small role in Greenburgh and the upcoming (I hope) Mr. Nobody, has signed up for 2 new indies, "Dirty Girl" where she plays the lead role of "a notorious high school slut who runs away with her closeted gay class partner to drive from Oklahoma to California to find the father she's never met." (To also have William H. Macy and Milla Jovovich) And "Goodnight Moon", not the book, with Bridge to Terabithia chick Annasophia Robb, that "centers on two young girls who find themselves in trouble after they run away to Los Angeles." Elgin James writes and directs in his debut.

Diablo Cody, while not adapting 'Sweet Valley High' movies, is developing a 'Serious and Fucked Up' female stalker movie, about an antihero woman who's stalking her high-school sweetheart. Now, I don't hate Cody as much as other people. And I like that someone is finally giving women some good, twisted shit to do. The last movies in recent memory in this ballpark were All About Steve and maybe Obsessed. Shitty comedy and melodramatic erotic-thrillers do not feminism make, okay?

Chris Evans will be playing Captain America, because instead of sharing the big-budget blockbusters, Hollywood wisecracking skinny-buff nerds must hog all the superheroes to themselves. How rude.

Hey, I found the Adele Blanc-Sec trailer!

Thoughts on Tilda Swinton in Limits of Control

2:01 PM By Simon



I am a casual worshipper of Tilda Swinton. I'm not so diehard as other film enthusiasts, but she is a factor I will take into account when I go to see a movie. I appreciate her androgeny, the fact that she is the only actress who could star in Orlando, who could play Gabriel in Constantine, without it being ridiculous. I like her ability to be a cruel, cold shrew and a warm, loving woman and a drug-addicted mess in five different places. I love her posh Britishness.

In Limits of Control, she plays one of the many contacts to the anonymous hitman (Isaach de Bankolé), bearing a trinket of mysterious clues for him at a cafe.
But, she distinguishes herself in both her stride and appearence. Hardly inconspicuous in a cowboy hat, overcoat, and huge sunglasses, she half walks, half scurries down the street, glancing over her shoulder. She introduces herself as everyone else does, "You don't speak Spanish, right?", you know the drill. Then she sits down, and talks about movies.

I like really old films. You can really see what the world looked like; thirty,
fifty, a hundred years ago. You know the clothes, the telephones, the trains,
the way people smoke cigarettes, the little details of life.

The best films are like dreams you're never sure you've really had. I have this image in my head of a room full of sand and a bird flies towards me and dips its wing into the sand. And I honestly have no idea whether this image came from a dream or a film.

Sometimes I like it in films when people just sit there, not saying anything.



Then, the two just sit there, not saying anything. It's the self-referencing here that almost redeems this movie, I guess.

She goes on to say:

Have you seen The Lady From Shanghai? Orson Welles.
That one makes no sense. Rita Hayworth is a blonde, I think it's the only film she was ever blond in. It's like a game: deception, glamor, a shootout with shattered mirrors.
...
She dies in the end.


Now, in her penultimate speech, she skips to the meta-path. Because, like Hayworth in Shanghai, this is the only movie she's blonde in. This leads me to think of that last line, 'she dies in the end'. Because later, we'll see her, from the POV of the Lone Man, in the same garb as their encounter, on an old-fashioned Spanish film poster, translated to 'In A Lonely Place'. Not a minute later, we see her getting dragged into a car by some men, never to be seen again. With this line, she both foreshadows and confirms her own fate.

News

Monday, March 22, 2010 1:27 PM By Simon

Rachel McAdams is tapped for the remake of The Orphanage. Also, she and Saoirse Ronan might be up for the two leads in the Michael Douglas-also-starring adaption of We Have Always Lived In The Castle. Seeing how this is one of my designated Favorite Books Ever, I do not mind this at all.

Ewan McGregor, in his continuous effort to piss me off, has joined the upcoming Madonna-directed (probable) bomb W.E., where he will play King Edward VIII, with Vera Farmiga and Abbie Cornish.

They are making a movie, maybe, of the British show Skins. Might be featuring every castmember that isn't dead. Okay?

Olivia Wilde will probably be a Bond girl in 'Bond 23'.

John Malkovich and Frances McDormand, for some reason, have joined the cast of Transformers 3. And then, the Coen Brothers let out a sob.

Penelope Cruz will be playing Blackbeard's daughter in 'Pirates 4'. Now, I'm all for Johnny and Penelope back together again, but can't they do it on Lars von Trier's 'Melancholia', which, Charlotte Gainsburgh recently signed up for.

Will Ferrall is doing a drama called 'Everything Must Go', about a relapsing alcoholic. Rebbeca Hall, unsung hero of Vicky Christina Barcelona, has joined.

Happy fucking Monday...

Brief Book Reviews

Sunday, March 21, 2010 12:51 PM By Simon


They Is Us: A Cautionary Horror Story
Author: Tama Janowitz

Of Janowitz, I've only read Slaves of New York, and it was so long ago I can't even remember if I liked it or not. So, I went in here blind.

"They Is Us is the story of one broken family semi-surviving in an imploding world of pollution, genetic engineering, technology and uncontrolled commercialisation. Murielle, mother of two, has just dumped her second husband Slawa, all beer belly and high heels. Her younger daughter Julie takes a summer job at an animal laboratory where genetically modified hybrids are created and used for research. Pink- and blue-feathered rabbits, fist-size flies and masturbating pigs with human organs who "plead with their terrible saucer eyes" suffer in their cages or die slowly in refuse bins, and Julie is unable to resist rescuing the discarded mutants to hide them in her basement."

This book really is a cautionary horror story. Only in The Road have I seen such a terribly depressing future, but in a wildly different fashion. While, yes, it is speckled with darkdark humor, the interactions between the characters alone--everyone treats each other with contempt, disinterest, or anger. Where a select upper class get to live in a secluded development of wealth, comfort, and completely non-synthetic food, and everyone else is left out to dry in their nuclear-waste infested swamps. I won't get into it, but if we got everyone in America to read this book, they would never look at their trash can the same way again.

Poppy Shakespeare by Claire Allan

A very British book about a woman named N, who's spent 13 years as a day patient of the Dorothy Fish, a mental hospital. One day, in comes Poppy Shakespeare, a 34-year-old single mom in snakeskin boots who insists she isn't mentally ill. As soon as you get used to the twisted first-person narration of N, you'll find a very funny, maybe frustrating, but really good book about the flaws in the mental health system (of Britain). Made into a Channel 4 movie starring Naomie Harris (Selena! Calypso!) as Poppy and Anna Maxwell Martin as N.

Interstellar Pig by William Seater

Teenaged Barney is dragged by his parents to their beach house, but he just wants to read his sci-fi novels. Then come Zena, Manny, and Joe, three strange and exotic neighbors who are very interested in his beach house, and addicted to a space board game called Interstellar Pig. A lovely, engrossing, interesting, and funny YA sci-fi novel, with a sequel called Parasite Pig.

EEK! EEK!

12:28 PM By Simon

FUTURAMA! EEK!

Repo Men

9:56 AM By Simon

Director: Miguel Sapochnik

Starring: Jude Law, Forrest Whitaker

Synopsis: "In the future humans have extended and improved our lives through highly sophisticated and expensive mechanical organs created by a company called "The Union". The dark side of these medical breakthroughs is that if you don't pay your bill, "The Union" sends its highly skilled repo men to take back its property... with no concern for your comfort or survival. Former soldier Remy is one of the best organ repo men in the business. But when he suffers a cardiac failure on the job, he awakens to find himself fitted with the company's top-of-the-line heart-replacement... as well as a hefty debt. But a side effect of the procedure is that his heart's no longer in the job. When he can't make the payments, The Union sends its toughest enforcer, Remy's former partner Jake, to track him down."

There was a woman in the theatre I went to see Repo Men in. As it would turn out, she thought the movie was about car repossession. The Parental corrected her, and she spent much of the opening credits mulling over whether to duck into another movie, as she didn't think she'd like the gore aspect. This, of course, has nothing to do with anything, but I found it amusing. So.

This movie, for all it's flaws (of many), is much smarter than it's wide release would imply. Not to say that wide release makes a movie stupid, but wide release for a big-budget sci-fi thriller permanantely coated in blue lens cap certainly does not suggest a good track record. That's why I was so surprised by the underlying ideas of the whole thing. In fact, for the first half hour, it was a great social satire.

But then it blew up. I mean literally, it started it's descent into standard sci-fi-thriller territory, and just stopped making sense. Remy, Our Hero, has been sent into a coma by a faulty defib. It requires him to get a heart transplant, courtesy of Eval Slimebag Liev Schreiber, his boss at The Union. Except, of course, despite all the money the dude makes for them, he still gets the 'You owe it to yourself', impossibly inflated bill treatment.

Then, he gets dragged by his partner Jake to a slum I'll call Repo City, because it appears to be a place where all people hopelessly overdue on their payments hide out, and where Repo Men stop by to get extra commissions. Anyway, Jake tells Remy to stay there until he can pay for his bill that month, then he gets beat up by some dude, then wakes up and finds a woman we had previously seen singing in a bar, half-crazy or high or something, but anyway, he brings her to a motel and waits for her to come out of it. According to Wikipedia, she is his former wife, which would explain some things, but...

Look, I'm not going to give you a synopsis detailing all I think is absolutely illogical. But there's a lot. It's like someone decided to cut some flashbacks that were desperately needed.

The performances are absolutely fine. Jude Law gets to keep his accent for once (but it does bring up some questions on how he could've grown up with the American Forest Whitaker), and is perfectly deadpan in his narration (which turns out to be him writing a memoir-type thing on an old keyboard, as seen in the opening, called Repossession Mambo, which was the original name for this book/movie...), but brings nothing but a darkly humorous/anguished face to his character. Forest Whitaker plays madcap slightly better, as where Remy is apathetic about his macabre business, Jake is absolutely gleeful towards it. Alice Braga, as the bar singer/girlfriend with maybe eleven body parts up for repossession, is just fine too, and slightly better than a damsel in distress. Liev Schreiber is a slimy corporate fuck, Carice Van Houten is the cold, if justified, wife of Jude Law, and mother of his son, Nicholas Cage's son from Knowing.

Here, it makes no secret of it's homages to other movies--most notably, Oldboy, in a scene near the end where Remy fights off knife-wielding businessmen down a hallway, complete with a hammer.

This distopian future is summed up in the beginning, with a news broadcast announcing a prepared invasion of Nigera, "--that's in Africa". It's our world, but shinier, shittier, and a bit stupider.

Also of note, holy shit, was this a ripoff of Repo! The Genetic Opera. I mean, really.

It wasn't completely bad, and mixes in bloody knifefights with some interesting ideas on corporations and their invasion, some good satire...but overall, it could've been more coherent.

Oh, right...total shitfaced ending.

PS There are small roles from two castmembers of My Favorite Shows Ever, Ivy from Dollhouse and Shirley from Community. And, naturally, Ivy plays a funny role and Shirley plays a serious one. That's worth the ticket price, I think.

Could It Be?

Friday, March 19, 2010 3:13 PM By Simon

It would appear that, after back-to-back pairings with the directors' directors, Quentin Tarantino and Michael Gondry, Christoph Waltz will be directing a movie of his very own. It'll be called 'Up and Down', a German romantic comedy about a ruthless gameshow hostess who accidentally falls for one of the contestants. Why am I not putting ironic quotes around that synopsis? It's Christoph Waltz, that's why, and also, fuck you. He will never do wrong again!

Snarking: Now An Olympic Sport

Thursday, March 18, 2010 1:39 PM By Simon

That really has nothing to do with anything, I just wanted to say it.

Anyways, you all know Victor Gischler? He supporting a thing called "Support an Author and a Publisher", which I find just fine. Seeing as how I have no money, I leave this information to you, the readers. All ten of you. Work your magic.

Oh, yeah. And here's Four Lions trailer.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 1:21 PM By Simon

http://www.empireonline.com/news/story.asp?NID=27323

Brief Thoughts on Les Miserables

1:16 PM By Simon

Because in Hollywood, period piece plus foreign country plus pretty people equals vaguely British-sounding accents in 19th century France.

News

Monday, March 15, 2010 3:00 PM By Simon

Peter Graves, Captain from Airplane!, is dead. So I gotta say, goddamn. Why do you take all the good ones!?!

Bale as Superman? Phillipe for Captain America? Pshaw.

Judy Greer, while not being adorable, has signed onto the new Alexander Payne film, called 'The Descendents'. Also, other people, but I can't get excited about that.

David Fincher, who I like immensely, will be doing (maybe) both an adaption of the book The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, with Carey Mulligan (maybe) up for the lead, who is a pretty awesome character, yeah. And a movie on infamous chess player Bobby Fischer, to be played (maybe) by Tobey Maguire.

Lots of casting for Conan the Barbarian, but really, who gives a shit?

The trailer for the direct-to-DVD Cillian Murphy/Ellen Page/Susan Surandon flick Peacock. I actually wanna see this, because Cillian Murphy is always awesome when he's cross-dressing.



Enter The Void has a trailer, and it gave me a minor epileptic seizure. That means it's working!



Emma Stone, aka Wichita, will be in the new Steve Carrell comedy, 'Crazy, Stupid Love', but the role is potentially spoiler-ish, evidently.

Kristen Stewart in a Julianne Moore-starring maybe-apocalypse film 'Backwoods'.

Lee Daniels has a Martin Luther King Jr. for his civil rights flick 'Selma'. He be David Oyelowo.

Sigourney Weaver in 'The Fang Club', which she'll also be directing. Now, do we need more sparkle-vampire-saturated entertainment media?

Chris Evans, who I don't mind much, will be in a health-care satire 'Puncture'.

People want Gus Van Sant and/or Sofia Coppola for one of those Twilight movies, whichever one hasn't been made yet. ...

Behold, an epic of epic epicness.

Most Overlooked Movies Part 3

Sunday, March 14, 2010 1:51 PM By Simon

Dance of the Dead

I caught it on free OnDemand a few months ago, and I tell you, it's funny. Plus, jacked up psycho-zombies!

Sneakers

This was unearthed during my Belated River Phoenix Mourning Phase. While, yes, the score is unneccassarily loud, epic, and horror-movie-esque for some reason, and the hacker angle, while one of the few types of the 90s to be completely accurate in it's lingo, is instantely dated, it's just so cute.

Have a Lazy Sunday kids. Flooding will make damn sure of that.

The Limits of Control

Saturday, March 13, 2010 8:33 PM By Simon

Director: Jim Jarmusch

Starring: Isaach De Bankolé, Paz de la Huerta, Tilda Swinton, Gael Garcia Bernal, Bill Murray, Hiam Abbass, John Hurt, Youki Kudoh, Jean-François Stévenin, Luis Tosar, Alex Descas

Synopsis: A lone man goes about Spain, gathering information from a variety of contacts for a mysterious mission.

Yes, well...what to say? CHances are, if you're reading a movie blog, you've seen at least one Jim Jarmusch film. He's like Jack Kerouac in the literary crowd--you at least keep a poster of his lying around to seem cool to people who come around. He's just one of those inaccessable directors you can watch a million times over and still have only your surface instincts and internet message boards to guide you closer towards a coherent theory of what the fuck's going on.

With that in mind, I have to say that of his latest, Limits of Control is the trippiest, weirdest, most obscure of a long filmography or trippy, weird, and obscure. This is a Your Mileage May Vary thing.



We follow a man, played by regular Jarmusch staple Bankolé, who is credited simply as Lone Man. We do not know who he is, what his past is, his motivations, nothing. He's, of course, the silent type--his entire job, at first, appears to sit around, drinking two expressoes in seperate cups, and make people feel uncomfortable.

He meets his contacts one by one, each introducing themselves by asking if the man speaks Spanish. He says no, they sit down (as it is usually at an outdoor cafe, where he droly sips his aforementioned expressoes), start talking about whatever ("Are you interested in _______, by any chance?"), before being reminded of their purpose by the man taking out his matchbox--the one handed to him by a previous encounter--and trading it with a new one. That person will tell him who to meet next, by one-word description only, and where, and leave. The new matchbox will have a scrap of paper, with a code written on it. The man will take it out, read it, presumeably memorize it, crumble it up, and down it with his second expresso. Make sense?

It becomes a practice in repetition after a while. And, because of the repition, because they are so similar, these encounters, one starts to dissect the words, try to make sense out of them. For instance, I found myself thinking, after the third of fourth time, that the question about Spanish--which is always asked in Spanish--might juyst be a code word, to make sure the contact has the right person. It's just one of those films that can have multiple meanings, but never a right answer...even if the director outright told you what it meant, you'd just stick to your theory.



But really, their is no story...the pacing is so slow, with long bouts of absolute silence, not uncommon in a Jarmusch film, but still. We'll spend two minutes watching the man do his morning yoga. Shit like that. We'll also hear the same phrases repeated over and over, in various contexts--"He who thinks he is bigger than the rest must go to the cemetery. There he will see what life really is: a handful of dirt", "Diamonds are a girl's best friend," etc.



It's beautiful, though. Say what you will about the film itself, but you can't deny, Christopher Doyle is a brilliant cinematographer. The landscapes, the camera shaking a bit as it follows a car through the streets, it's just gorgeous. And, of course, you have to give it a hand for it's ambition. The music, for all the anticlimax of the film itself, makes you think you're watching a thriller. Sweeping, swelling, lots of violins.

The acting is great, but then again, it's almost never the acting that's the problem. De Bankolé makes this character, a literal blank slate with no written or obvious emotion, keeps him from being a cold robot with curt nods, but understanding eyes, instead of directly answering a question. He has few lines, and few bodily movements, so it all lies in his face, the tics and flinches, that keep him from being a complete non-presence, and De Bankole does it well.

The supporting players--almost everyone gets one scene, all contacts with their matches. Probably my favorite is the woman credited as Nude, played by Paz de la Huerta. She first pops up at the Lone Man's hotel room in Madrid, completely naked except for her thick librarian glasses. She asks him if he likes her ass, and after a moment, he says yes. It's pretty funny on Bankole's part...he keeps from filling the caricature role of a stoic, serious man being confronted with sex, somehow. and, anyway, she invites him for sex, and he says, not while he's on a job. It's just a funny scene, and even funnier cutaway, where she, Nude, is hugging onto him while he lies in bed, dressed and completely mellow about the whole thing.

And, what I was saying...there's Tilda Swinton, in a platinum blonde wig, snakeskin boots, and a cowboy hat, as a woman interested in old movies, and talks to the typically silent Lone Man about Welles and Hitchcock films. John Hurt as Guitar, one of the last meetings, a man who talks about Bohemians (both the Prague and contemporary kind) before giving him an old guitar to be passed off to the Mexican, played by Gael Garcia Bernal...he is one of two (the other being Nude) who require material compensation for their information.



Right, right, where was I going with this? The problem with this movie, I think, is not the pace or the inaccessable dialogue...it's the pure self-indulgence Jarmusch has fallen into. While you'd never call him a mainstream director, he's always kept onto the notion of a story, an ongoing series of events you might generously call a plot. Here, he's completely gone off the rails, not quite going avant-garde (thank god, it never falls into Un chien andelou territory) but pretty damn close. Pretension, I think, has always been the temporary downfall of great directors...Richard Kelly, Gus Van Sant, David Lynch, even Danny Boyle went off in Sunshine. But Jarmusch has always been this side of pretensious bullshit...he started off in that pool, and pretty much stayed there. Maybe his most mainstream ventures have been in the 90s, Dead Man and Ghost Dog. He seemed to find a nice plateau in these recent years...Broken Flowers, Coffee and Cigarettes. But now, with Limits of Control, he became the obscure minimalist of his Stranger Than Paradise heyday.



His most political film, especially at the end. An extremely international cast (Ivorian, Spanish, British, Palastinian, Japanese, French, Creole and Mexican actors), all working, it seems, against the American (Bill Murray).

I could go on and on, describing in detail every single character and meeting, what they mean, theories on what the codes mean, who the man is, who the Blonde is, what does she have to do with the Nude, what happens to them both...it's just that type of movie. But I won't, because I've bitched about it enough. I don't know if i'd recommend it to anyone but a small and select group of Jarmusch apologists and people who liked Inland Empire. The DVD box boasts a "stylish and sexy [...] thriller", which really is a reprehensible lie. Because, while the plot was the perfect setup for some action-packed star vehicle, it was written by Jim Jarmusch. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, his best work. Or his worst. I'd have to say that, I don't know what to think of it.