Thoughts on La Strada

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 9:28 PM By Simon

-A naive young (Giulietta Masina) is sold by her impoverished mother to the brutish strongman (Anthony Quinn) to replace her previously sold sister Rosa, now dead. The two go on the road as part of his show, which consists of puffing his chest until a chain breaks and some comedy stuff.

-Giulliette Masina is like the female Chaplin. Her character here, often going from silly and clownish to depressed and miserable, an abused stooge to Anthony Quinn's asshole one-man circus, and you just want to give her a hug, she's just so sad. She'll smile at the strangest times, this delirious smile that could either lead to a laugh or a cry.

-Anthony Quinn's character, as mentioned, is a douchebag. Although Masina is eager to help and learn, he still relies on outright cruelty to train her to be a good assistant, and rarely, if ever, treats her kindly. Quinn makes a good tough guy, though.

-A lighthearted tone even as situations get direly depressing, and a simple story that gets more complicated if you try to analyze it, as often will happen. Poetic, an vibe that it is incomplete, a lukewarmness, you'll laugh in the face of the movie's...not nihilism. Anti-optimism.

-Next time I get a pet, I'm naming it Il Matto.

-Seriously, go Il Matto.

Can South Park be cute?

6:04 PM By Simon

The answer is yes.

Oh, god, they're hideous!

3:26 PM By Simon

Tell me, guy who photoshopped this picture to such gross lengths: can we not agree that Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp have aged extremely well? Are we really at a stage where we have to airbrush publicity stills of movies starring very prolific actors because they're over 29?

Terribly sorry I've not written anything to sufficiently blow your minds, as I often do (ahem). I've been busy moping about the less-than-two-weeks-impending school year, in which I will continue my run of mediocre grades and slight social pariah. So yeah. In honor of such, I'm, like, talking about the best high school movies. So...suggestions, take it to the comments, yo.

(now, I know I did this one other time, and I forgot to actually write the post, but fuck you, I have a reason for this! Don't back sass me!)

I love this song

1:02 AM By Simon

Don't judge me.

Thoughts on The Red Riding Trilogy

Monday, August 30, 2010 7:22 PM By Simon

-A crime drama delving into murder, obsession, and corruption, spanning nine years. Stars, among others, Andrew Garfield, Sean Bean, David Morrissey, Patty Considine, and Mark Addy, and consisting of three parts (In the Year of Our Lord 1974/80/83) by three different directors (Julian Jarrold, James Marsh, Anand Tucker).

-The first part, 1974, follows a young reporter (Andrew Garfield) assigned the story of a young girl gone missing, then murdered, thinking he has an editorial on his hands when he uncovers other murders of that nature, but finds himself captive of a layers-deep conspiracy among the Yorkshire police.

-A grim piece, filmed in grainy 16 mm and color-schemed to dullness, even when people wear bright clothes. Nonetheless, Jarrold ruthlessly immerses you in this hopeless, cigarrette-stained 70s world, you can smell the cheap cologne and sweat in a bar, the burnt garbage of a destroyed gypsy camp, the sleazy cleanness (yeah...) of a nice house with lots of secrets.

-Providing the emotion of this film is Rebecca Hall, as the mother of one of the missing girls. Fragile and long past heartbroken, she regards even those she comes to trust with a weary cynicism, though you can see happiness she once must've exuded, making her character all the more tragic.

-Andrew Garfield is fine, great in places, though the only thing I wonder is how he will go to playing a high schooler in the Spider-Man reboot. I've seen this now, and apologetically adult role, and I'll always see him like that now, dammit.

-He does get beaten up a lot.

-The biggest credit to the supporting actors is that they blend into the background, essential to making the lead feel all the more isolated as he goes along. I think.

-A noir at it's finest.

-The second part, 1980, is, I think, the worst, just because it is so clinical and procedural, spending more time in the police station that out investigating. Paddy Considine is amazing here, though.

-The third part, 1983, wraps everything up, a redemption for three characters, two supporting or background for the first parts, one a new one with connection to these.

-The most interesting of these is the young male prostitute (Robert Sheehan) the first part, he has a small role, the flamboyant friend of Eddie (Andrew Garfield)'s friend Barry (Anthony Flanagan), who was murdered after already confessing his fears. He gives Eddie 'Barry's life's work', revealing the deep police corruption within the city, before skulking away and making a small, literally out-of-focus appearance in the very end. In the second part, he is noticeably more subdued, the pink streaks in his hair and flashy 70s clothes gone, a slightly mad, more so mournful look in his eye, tipping Paddy Considine's detective Hunter to the possibly police-staged copy-cat murder of his friend, a barmaid and prostitute. Both of his appearances in this one are quiet and revealing and over-the-top elusive. Right.

-The third part (because that paragraph is way too long), he plays one of three roles, narrating the story in rhyme. He now appears completely off his rocker, his (ahem) career as a hustler at a crossroads, and his part in the entire conspiracy finally revealed, going by train to a destination left to be revealed. Going any farther would be a spoiler, so, y'know, there's that. Just thought it was brilliantly staged and acted, his development throughout the almost-ten years of this story.

-In the third act, Mark Addy, playing a two-bit solicitor (layer) John Piggot, who's dad was a police officer named 'The Pig', and Maurice Jobson (David Morrissey), a bit character from the first two, detective shown to have a knowledge of all the shit that went down, and at times, a reluctant participant, now haunted by guilt.

-Um...yes. The ending was really very lovely, I'm glad they gave it some hope.

-Sorry this couldn't be better, but I'm fucking tired.

So Guess Where This Music's From

7:22 PM By Simon

And you get my approval or something.

Literal space opera (like one with singing) needs some money, so get on that

3:07 PM By Simon

Specifically, they need 'experienced grantwriters' to finish production on a thing called 'K'ai, Death of Dreams'. He, composer Richard DeCosta, put out an ad on Craigslist, released some of the music, and the synopsis:

K'ai is a young Uadaman (alien), and though sick and frail physically, has a mind, sharp and clear, has mastery over his dreams, and is in contact with an alien presence through them. He is, however, not special. He is not chosen. K'ai is quite simply the first to discover the truth about the origins of his race: The fact that they were created many thousands of years ago, for the purpose of slavery, and the first to put together the thousands of years old puzzle of how to escape their current spiritual capture. As slaves, K'ai's ancestors were treated cruelly by their masters, the Garx, who were viewed as gods.

Although initially the Uadaman made the lives of the Garx easier and richer, the slaves eventually became unruly and ultimately revolted. The Garx was decided that they were more trouble than help, and they were abandoned on the harsh, unforgiving planet on which they were created. Prutoztur, a guardian "god", and brother to their creator, Zroetur, was charged with keeping them from physical and spiritual escape, from the truth of their heritage, and more importantly, from discovering the true nature of their spiritual existence.

K'ai, many thousands of years later, becomes possessed with the idea of freeing his race from their spiritual bondage, and in exacting revenge on their creators and captors. K'ai is joined by several like-minded scientists, philosophers and mercenaries who roam the planet in a hijacked ship, in search of answers, and ultimately, escape. In his quest for freedom, K'ai ultimately learns that the only way his race can be truly free is to prevent reincarnation and birth altogether, and thus ends up becoming the catalyst for a cult of mass murderers seeking to ultimately kill every living creature on the planet, thus ensuring that no soul will ever again be captured.
I want to see this thing, so pass this bit o' news along. For more details, go to io9

Rod Serling long-lost interview Part 1

2:53 PM By Simon

Thoughts on Penelope

11:50 AM By Simon

-A girl (Christina Ricci), thanks to a generations-old family curse, is born with a pig snout and ears. Put into isolation for 20-something years, with her family sending her a constant barrage of suitors (hoping to break the curse), who all go running when they finally see her, she grows weary of the constant rejection and loneliness. And then comes Johnny (James McAvoy), a plant by Lemon (Peter Dinklage), a reporter who lose his eye in a quest to get a picture of Penelope when she was a baby, who...yeah.

-Why are people so horrified by Penelope, anyway? You can't see the years from under her hair, and the nose cannot take away from the fact that she's Christina fucking Ricci. If I saw her in the street, I wouldn't give a shit, because it's so fucking inconsequential. This is, like, the definition of Hollywood Homely.

-Richard E. Grant plays the kindly Dad. He is also awesome. As a general rule. And here.

-A cute, not really funny, but pleasant movie.

This is from Cracked

11:48 AM By Simon


Thoughts on The Girlfriend Experience

Saturday, August 28, 2010 9:19 PM By Simon

-An escort who specializes in 'the girlfriend experience'--providing feigned emotional intimacy with her clients on top of sexual, a literal companion--goes about her job and her boyfriend, a personal trainer, over the background of the 2008 economic crisis and election.

-Sasha Grey. She is a porn star. This has been the main gimmick the ads have pushed. It would imply that there's tons of sexay times to be had in this, which is just not true. She's naked once in the entire movie, and it is in an entirely non sexual context. Oh, sure, skimpy lingerie here and there, but for the most part, director Steven Soderberg (my latest director obsession) does not exploit the fact that she's an (ahem) adult actress. Getting that out of the way.

-Anyway, I'm mixed about her performance. Her line delivery can, at times, be brutally flat (such as when she has an argument with her boyfriend), and at others, she can excellently balance the coldness of her profession and the conflict that's going on in her own head. I could say that in this movie, she is cold and dull, unaided by some lifeless dialogue. But, when you think about it, it makes sense. She's an escort who's personal policy is to remain as emotionally distant as possible from her clients, a habit that falls into her personal life.

-Only someone who has had sex for money, in this case, a porn star, could've gotten that across. Let's face it, had they gotten a 'legitimate' actress for the role, someone--the actress, the director--would've turned it into a bitchy role, made the main character unlikeable, that or a typical 'woe-is-me-I'm-a-hooker-just-waiting-for-the-right-john-to-wisk-me-away-sob' character. Only once does she cry, and it is a striking scene, because by and large, her demeanor has been chilly and controlled, so when she finally does start belated emotions, you feel for her. You understand, completely, why emotional distance is necessary, something, again, I'm not sure could've been pulled off by anyone with less than personal experience.

-But then, Grey does a precarious balancing act between repressed emotional sincerity and narcissism.

-Anyway. The movie itself is a rather bleak look at human nature, but there is something strangely soulless about it. Grey does slightly elevate the dialogue, which is tedious and arbitrary (I guess the point, but whatever). The cinematography, glossy semi-shaky cam, makes the entire thing feel like a fashion shoot, alien and disconnected, but oh-so-pretty to look at.

-Another experimental Soderbergh movie that could've been great if it...I dunno. Good night.

Thoughts on The Big Sleep

7:21 PM By Simon

-I am torn about this movie: on the one hand, the plot is so convoluted not even the author of the book on which it was based (Raymond Chandler) could solve a particular death. Apparently, Lauren Bacall, in her autobiography, said that Bogart brought this up (basically, whether the chauffeur's death was a murder or a suicide), and 'everything stopped'. They asked Chandler, and he realized that he didn't know either. That's how damn confusing it was.

-But on the other hand, is that what we really care about? The plot? No, we're not watching The Big Sleep for it's intricate storytelling. We're watching for the dry, witty dialogue spat out from the side of the mouth, cohabitant with a cigarette. We're watching for saucy women being saucy, half-eviscerating their men with nothing more than a knowing glare. Men who neatly fall into the categories of 'anti-hero', 'enemy of anti-hero' or 'enemy of my enemy'. But most of all, we're watching for Bogie and Bacall's verbal sparring, their playful flirting and mutual suspicion. They own this movie, to be frank.

-I'm curious about this much-talked about Martha Vickers, who played Carmen, the 'nymphy' sister of Bacall's Vivien. Her scenes, for what's left of them, are fantastically acted, but I kind of want to see the ones that, supposedly, had her outshining Bacall. Her catchphrase in what made it to the theatrical cut, but the way, is basically 'You're cute'.

-I couldn't tell the men apart, okay? They all wore snazzy hats and suits, all spoke with the same hard-boiled sneer, all had the same basic build (except Bogart, of course. He is a tiny fella). All the supporting bad guys just blended together.

-Who the fuck killed the driver?

I have an anouncement

Friday, August 27, 2010 7:55 PM By Simon

In case you haven't noticed, my loves, I have an affinity for mustaches. Teddy is my Rock Star, as you can see on the cluttered ol' sidebar, my tagline welcomes the kind with open arms, and I have made no secret (to, uh, other people) that my fondness for Chuck Norris is purely superficial.

What I'm saying is, if you enjoy pictures like this:

You know you do

Then off you go to a magical land me and Sister have created. A land where, truly, the Facial Hair Afficianado can be himself (but not in a creepy way. Looking at you, Bill Sage). Hazzah!

The place, for those not feeling very clicky today (ahem), is Mustache Hall of Fame, The format isn't really done yet, and there's a noticeable lack of retinal appeal, and maybe every other appeal, but shut up. But tis ours.

So go! Go and marvel at the Stache!

(or not, I won't judge you)

Thoughts on Taboo

Thursday, August 26, 2010 5:44 PM By Simon

-At the start of the movie, the young and handsome Kanō Sōzaburō is admitted to the Shinsengumi (新撰組), an elite samurai police group led by Kondō Isami that seeks to defend the shogunate against reformist forces. He is a very skilled swordsman, but it is his appearance that makes many of the others in the (strictly male) group, both students and superiors, attracted to him, creating tension within the group of people vying for Kanō's affections.

-I'd say I hated this movie, but y'know, such a strong word. So I'm going to go with disliked very strongly.

-The performances are fine, guys. Ryuhei Matsuda, who plays Kano, is called androgynous even though he looks more girl than boy (if he cut his damn hair, on the other hand, but I suppose that is the point of his rather nefarious, though implied, intentions revealed later on), is good, especially since this is his first movie and he was, y'know, fifteen.

-How do teenage boys take roles like this? Do they get teased at school? At my school they'd probably get a load of shit.

-Beat Takeshi (acting name, guys, he doesn't direct) is fine, but I found his character annoying. The great majority of his dialogue and occasional narration (speaking of which, this voiceover thing was dropped in every once in awhile, and unnecessary) is him insisting that Kano and Tashiro (the other student brought into the dojo with Kano, and who kind of ambushes him in his sleep after, like, a month in, played by Tadanobu Asano) are 'lovers'. He says it so many times, and they so blatantly aren't (in the aforementioned ambushing, Kano threatens Tashiro with a dagger), it's just so silly.

-Has anyone else noticed that Kitano has a facial tick or something? Like, he's grimacing or winking or something, in everything he does, and I'm pretty sure it's involuntary, but, what's going on there?

-None of the other actors were very notable, to be honest.

-So, there was a much-ballyhooed (that's a word now. Deal with it) sodomy scene in this, and when I got to it, what's the big deal? Some thrusting under some covers, what the fuck ever.

-Anyway, why I didn't like the movie overall. The story was interesting, but poorly executed, and it took it's sweet time getting to the point. Director Nagisa Oshima slowly brings the movie from realistic to a fantasy-like enviroment, which is cool, but still. Boring and pointless and made for the sake of putting addressing the aspect of homosexuality among samurai, long ignored.

-Why is everyone saying that this was all homosexual 'subtext'? It's all they ever talked about, who Kano was doing (in fact, he was only doing one guy, and I'm pretty sure it was either rape or some kind of calculated maneuver on Kano's part) or how pretty he was or if so-and-so-or-I 'lean that way'. Some characters thrown in in the beginning, disappearing for half the movie, then showing up again and everyone acts like they've been really important to the story.

-It's just a mess. Could've been better, wasn't. Maybe I'm watching it wrong, but you know what? I don't wanna watch it again, so I guess we'll never know.

Thoughts on Memories

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 6:20 PM By Simon

-Three short anime films based on artist/director Katsuhiro Otomo's three manga short stories. Episode one, Magnetic Rose, follows a 2090-something era deep space salvage freighter, as it gets caught in the magnetic pull of a grandly-decked space station with an inhabitant that won't let them leave. Stink Bomb follows a young lab technician who, in an attempt to cure his flu, takes an experimental pill that causes him to emit a deadly odor, widespread panic ensuing. Cannon Fodder follows a day in the life of a father and son who live in a walled city perpetually at war, every building equipped with variously-sized cannons, always shooting at an enemy city that may or may not exist.

-I think these stories were put in the wrong order. I mean, you either (at least in my opinion) go in decreasing or increasing order of lightness or darkness.

-In order, the best I can describe each story is: a sci-fi, symphonic ghost/horror/love story/tragedy, a dark comedy/farce, and a dystopian quasi-steampunk tale.

-The first one: the best of the three, with actual adherence to space physics. Heartbreaking as the back stories of the two main characters (one of the ship crew, Heintz, and the inhabitant of the station) are revealed, their fates and that of the rest of the ship crew unraveling, a thrilling action/horror drama, and haunting, let's not forget haunting. Definitely the most intense, character-driven of the movie. Beautiful score and animation, especially the exterior shots of the station and ship.

-The second one: I'd call it the weakest episode by process of elimination. Certainly the most entertaining, and some scenes might've fallen into uber-serious, apocalyptic territory if not for the upbeat, (at times) Green Hornet-esque score. Interesting, detailed animation, a bit like Dr. Strangelove. I'd say that it was anti-American, as our representative for the crisis, the guy that requested the Japanese company make the pill that causes the destruction, is a flaming asshole, but then, the Japanese government/military is portrayed as incompetent, like, they try to kill the young man (and, therefore, the smell) by shooting guns of all creeds, bombs, missiles, what have you, and he doesn't get a mark on him. For example.

-The third one: the most visually inventive of the three, as the animation is drawn to resemble a complete long-shot, with no cuts and some amusing segues to different places. Story-wise, it's simple and surreal, with elements of 1984, viciously parodying 'the 20th century war machine', visually dedicated to the anonymous workers, who toil everyday keeping the cannons firing. Score orchestral and avant-garde-y.

-I wonder about nationalities here. Like the main character of Magnetic Rose , Heintz, who might be German (I mean, a space station crew has to be a tad multinational, right?). The Americans in Stink Bomb briefly talk in English, and you can tell, if you're an English speaker (which I assume is everyone reading this, anyway) that it's a couple Japanese voice actors speaking phonetically.

-As I said, animation good all around. I want the score on my iPod.

-Beautiful film, with completely different stories, and hey, no dubbing!

Thoughts on Bright Star

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 2:44 AM By Simon

-Because my brain hates reading sentences, it regularly sums up everything in one word, and sticks with it. I will share the word for this film with you, gentle civilians: dignified.

-Oh, sure, Paul Schneider is brilliantly boorish (boorishly brilliant?), albeit with a sketchy Scottish accent and what appears to be a sympathy pregnancy belt. And, yes, I'd normally be ripping on it as shameless Oscar bait, had it won any Oscars. But is it because it hadn't, because I love the cast, the cinematography, or that I'm just in a mood, that I don't hate this movie at all?

-Who else cried when Fanny (Abbie Cornish, who should've kicked Sandra Bullock's ass at the Oscars) got word of John Keat's (Ben Whishaw) death, one either too painful or too contrived to show on screen (he, in fact, never appears after leaving for Rome, save for a brief shot of him staring out a window all soulful and junk)? Her screaming and sobbing in hysterics, at a loss for breath and crying for her mother, juxtaposed immediately by her quietly sitting at a table, sewing. Things shouldn't be allowed to be so sad.

-Abbie Cornish, who manages to convey the instant love Fanny feels for John without making it trite or silly.

-Seriously, Ben Whishaw is so skinny, I worry. Here, he rivals the delicacy of the film itself (I'm almost afraid to criticise it, I fear it'll snap into dust at the mere whisper of a harsh word), every walk, every smile, every line spoken soft. But you can never get inside of his head (this is Fanny's point of view, after all), and that might be its fault.

-He and Fanny never pick a side of masculine or feminine roles in the chaste relationship. John is a feminine guy, intelligent but easily distracted, burdened but never showing it, while Fanny is a masculine girl, opinionated and fearless and in half-awe of Keats.

-Paul Schneider rocks. His and Fanny's verbal sparring are the highlights, surely.

-Never been a fan of Jane Campion, but I'll make an exception.

Thoughts on Together

Sunday, August 22, 2010 7:09 PM By Simon

-In the 70s, a small commune is is disrupted when their vaguely-defined leader's sister moves in with her kids, after leaving her violent husband.

-Stars, among others, the guy from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

-Subtitles went off screen a bit.

-Lovely movie. Episodically following the lives of these commune residents, including: Erik (Olle Sari), a zealous socialist, former banker's son, longing to be among the 'common man', but hopelessly naive, Goran (Gustaf Hammarsten), the sweet-natured, pushover patriarch, Elisabeth (Lisa Lindgren), her teenage daughter longing for normalcy and her young son desperate to stay in touch with his father (Michael Nyqvist), and so on.

-Not exploitive to what could've been soft porn (70s-era suburban commune is such an easy topic to roll with), instead (ahem) following the characters interact, try to work their shit out, or just be weird-ass hippies, who are never presented as straight-up heroes or villains--they all have flaws, and they all spew bullshit, but the closest director Lukas Moodysson comes to an outright stereotype or is Lena (Anja Lundqvist), Goran's narcissistic, selfish, immature girlfriend. Even Rolf, Elisabeth's husband who, initially set up as what might be generously described as a deadbeat, isn't that bad, just kind of a dumbass.

-No real way to get across the brilliant satire this is. Just watch it.

Thoughts on Do You Like Hitchcock?

5:45 PM By Simon

-A Hitchcock-obsessed film student who never actually goes to class finds himself in a Hitchcockian-like murder mystery, aping Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, Vertigo, et cetera.

-A made-for-TV movie with a shitload of nudity, but not much gore (only two onscreen deaths, one hilariously over-the-top, one going by in a blink).

-Entertaining, if formulaic, giallo movie. It's so weird, seeing all of Dario Argento's trademarks (except for the fantastical killings...these are rather tame and ordinary) in 2005...Italy?

-See, I can't tell the ethnicity of anything here. Most of the actors (including the dude from My Brother is an Only Child ) are Italian, but they have British accents, but they appear to be in Rome, based off the buildings and cars, and they pay in Euros, but they call elevators 'lifts', which I understand is an American thing...and then they watch a bit of Strangers on a Train, at least in audio, where the last line is now 'Hey, aren't you that famous golf player?' or something like that, and I'm all, hey, Farley Granger is a tennis player, that's not the last line at all!, and also, the voice is different, and now I'm wondering, maybe they just couldn't get the rights for the original dialogue, or something...

-Anyway. Acting surprisingly decent, considering it is: Argento, recent Argento, a TV movie, and a horror movie, none of which adds up to Oscar nominations.

-Who says 'Blue Velvet by David Lynch'? Is there some other Blue Velvet circulating the underground film scene, that you have to elaborate who, exactly, made the one you're talking about? That scene was so random.

-No character consistency, okay?

So many movies...

2:43 PM By Simon

Do you not realize just how many movies you can watch on Instant Netflix? And how many movies I still have, untouched, on DVD? And how many still on hold from my Library Days, and coming in from regular Netflix? And how Netflix is ruining my fucking life?

I'll be in my quarters. Contemplating.

Why An Absentee Mother Will Fuck You Up (Thoughts on A Tale of Two Sisters and Kikujiro)

Saturday, August 21, 2010 10:31 PM By Simon

It has been brought to my attention that I watch and write about many an Asian film. So it shouldn't surprise any of you that I've just watched two films by the two of the most prolific directors or South Korea and Japan, respectively, Kim Ji-woon and Takeshi Kitano. And I'm writing about them at the same time. Because I'm lazy.


But also because these two films are loosely connected in theme, namely, that the mother of the protagonists is dead or otherwise gone, and it influences the entire plot. This seems to be a pattern in the other movie I watched yesterday, Audition, and the opposite being true (having a mother around will also influence the plot, but ultimately, you'll be cool with it) in Mother. So I can now gather, for my inevitable bumming about the East, that if you don't have a devoted mother, things will not turn out well for you.

-Su Mi (Im Soo Jung), just released from a mental hospital after the death of her mother, returns to her home with her timid sister Su-Yeong (Moon Geun-young) and her father (Kim Kap-su), to meet with her new difficult stepmother and her mother's former nurse, Eun-joo (Yeom Jeong-ah). Strange things start happening in that old house, see.

-What I find interesting about this movie is that director Kim almost foreshadows the claustrophobia the house will soon present, by giving us one last look at the outside, as the two sisters go to lounge at a river outside. The camera pans to show off the fields of tall grass, the sky, everything.

-Anyway. This stars Im Soo Jung, who starred in Park Chan-wook's I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK, otherwise known as my Favorite Movie Ever. She is good, if a bit predictable (ahem), as the unstable Su Mi, who aggressively resents Eun-joo's presence, and remains cold towards her father, for reasons only implied until the end. Her relationship with her younger sister, however, is loving to the point of obsession (also for reasons revealed later). Im is, really, not given much to do, at least to my too-busy-reading-really-fast-subtitles eyes, by way of acting-acting. She is pretty fantastic for what could've been a very over-the-top performance.

-Also worth mentioning is Yeom Jeong-ah, as the wicked stepmother. Half the time, she is the expected menacing, and with Yeom's overall tinyness, she gets much credit for actual feeling threatening. The other half, she is even creepier, perky and easy to please. The now-infamous dinner scene, for example, where she zealously recounts an anecdote to her guests with such conviction and, dare I say, madness, she sends a woman into a seizure. This lady's got crazy eyes, okay?

-The rest of the cast, Moon's shy and helpless Su-yeong and Kim's put-upon Moo-hyeon, are fine, capable, but really take a backseat to Im and Yeom, although every time Su-yeong is on screen, you just want to give her a hug, she is so permanently in terror.

-As said. Claustrophobia. While there are definitely some Japanese horror influences, and they aren't necessarily a good thing, Two Sisters is absolutely terrifying in it's expert mix of ghost story and family melodrama, blurring the lines between them seamlessly, and you're left wondering which is scarier. The lighting moody and noir-ish, the score manic and terrifying, the editing equivalent to a staring contest, many POV shots and one scene where a revelation is so big the camera shakes violently with surprise, it seems.

-Wow. I just realized. I'm starting to write full-length reviews.

-Oh, well, tell Korean movies to stop rocking so hard.

-Go read an article about this for The New Cult Canon, which puts it much better than I do.

-Masao (Yusuke Sekiguchi), a sullen little kid on summer break, finds himself with nothing to do, and after finding an old letter from his long-lost mother, decides to seek her out. Intercepted by his guardian Grandmother's neighbor, she assigns her boorish, nasty, probable ex-Yakuza husband Kikujiro (Katano) to escort him on the trip, telling his grandmother they're going to the beach. After gambling away they're money and narrowly rescuing Masao from a child molester (after leaving him outside a restaurant, of course), Kikujiro promises to take him, relying on the help of kind strangers.

-Cute. That's the only way I can put it. Kitano, if you'll recall, is known for his violent, moralistic, expectantly compassionate gangster movies. Which is why seeing him make a movie so unabashedly sentimental, so lighthearted and bloodless (literally, if not figuratively) is so fucking weird. Of course, he's also known for destroying genres from the inside, so naturally, he makes what could've been another in the long line of gruff-man-and-lonely-kids-touch-each-other's-lives-in-unexpected-ways and makes it almost less obnoxiously twee.

-There are long bouts of idle play between Masao, Kikujiro, and the various strangers they pick up, Kikujiro's blatant assholery counterbalanced by Masao's Power of Pout, which all could be, probably is, self-indulgent and unfocused, but it generally fun to watch, especially the third act, where the two travellers, a young poet, and two doggedly nice bikers frolic at a campsite, where the main objective is to entertain Masao after an event that should be spoilerish. This time in the movie is the best, I think, the only part where I laughed at loud.

-Anyway. These bullets are getting awfully long. To sum: Kitano, I think, decided to make a movie he could take his kids to, and for the most part, he succeeds (even though most of this shit would never go down in an American film, at least one so lighthearted and almost plotless). Tones shift, hearts warm, bikers take the piss, unlikeable characters get tolerable, the core relationship is very nice. This is not the worst road movie you could watch, basically.

-Adieu, my patient compadres who did not skip the last few hundred paragraphs. You're dedication is rewarded with snacks. Later.

-If anyone has any reviews of either of these films, do link them down in the comments. They're just those type of movies you want to read reviews about, okay?

How To Sell A Movie, Advertisers of Notorious and/or Controversial Films, Lesson #1

12:59 AM By Simon

Don't put the fucking climax on the fucking poster.

C'mon, Tartan (Extreme?) Home Release/South Korean Distributors of Amazing Park Chan-wook Films! Thanks to these widely-distributed posters, I wasn't nearly as surprised/pertrubed as I could've been! Audition, yes, it was nasty, and made me find that ankle bracelet I made in 3rd grade just to assure my slightly traumatised brain that I did, in fact, have feet, but really, the only surprise about this movie (aside from, uh, the phone rang, and if you don't get that, then good for you) was that the whole Asami-isn't-that-nice-Mr.-Man was supposed to be a surprise.

As for you, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. You got no excuse. That's the original theatre poster, my man. Audition's advertising (ahem) facepalm can be chalked up to trying to sell on the film's already buzzed about notoriety in North America, but you. That's just bad judgement, putting the two main characters, who previously never meet in the film, together, in the same frame--nay, still--from the movie, looking all 'this is it, yo'. Way to ruin some perfectly good tension, you dicks. Not you, Park, you're alright.

But seriously, Japan/South Korea. You guys are the fucking masters of posters. I mean, lately. 21st century, definitely. Unless 2000 doesn't count. But still. You even make romantic comedies look awesome, with your hi-res, ultra-stylised photography, bright colors (even gray is eye-catching on Asian cinema posters), general intriguing poses and snapshots. But the nineties weren't a good time for you two, I can see. Tsk tsk.

Ah, well. The nineties wasn't that great a stylistic time for anyone, was it?


Seriously, I want every South Korean poster on my wall, they're all just so good. G'day.

The Expendables: A Case Study On Old Men Getting Their Ass Kicked and How It Might Be Our Fault by Danielle

Friday, August 20, 2010 7:48 PM By Simon

Look at that. You can just smell the America sweating off of him.

--There is so much to be said about The Expendables (or Sly Stallone's Mid Life Crisis), much of it sassy and critical, maybe even a little catty (look at that guy's arms! why can't those be my arms?) but, you guys, WTF is wrong with people? Who thought this was a good idea? Once more, what wise guy thought he could stuff a plot into this pile of suck? Are they letting mentally challenged twelve year olds produce movies now? Oh wait.

--Truly, I walked into this movie with as little expectations as I could muster without actually not seeing it. I expected cheese and manliness and funny faces and Jason Statham being awesome. And in it's most simplistic form, that's what I got.

--Really silly severing of limbs.

--There's this part at the end where I can't tell if it's meant to be joking or what, but there's NO JOKE a Casablanca-esque goodbye scene where Sly's all like, "I'll always be around" and I'm like *nose snort*.

--In the beginning they showed a trailer for Devil and, I kid you not, when M. Night Shananana's name appears everyone cracked up. I'd suggest getting your shit together, dear sir, or you don't want to know what's gonna be on your gravestone.

--For the record, Sister and I saw the very same trailer at Scott Pilgrim and were all like, "Ohhh...." audibly.

--Anyway, Mickey Rourke fo shiz gives the best performance of the night with his single emotional scene that packed more of a punch then this movie deserves to call it's own.

--Otherwise, everyone sucked. They sucked hard.

--I mean, I get it's a lot of dudes to give story arcs to but jesus most of these guys had like one line and fifteen minutes of screen time. Schwartzy Governator and McClaine were just cameos. Eric Roberts was an insult to the human race. Angel from Dexter had his little bit as a Made Up Latino Island Dictator but he never came across as dictatory, instead acting more as this rich American dude's bitch. Jet Lee was made a fool of, even though Kung Fu kicks Terry Cruise's shriveled balls any day.

--Gayest movie since Eclipse.


Danielle is here.

Death 4 Told

7:39 PM By Simon

Oh, children. Did you know that bloggers do things outside of blogging? I didn't. No until His Great White Dopeness announced that he had been in a movie. With actors. Some of whom have their own Wikipedia page (which is how you know you've made it)!

He held a giveaway for said movie, and I was all, hells yeah, bitches! And I was all *finalist*, but then Alex at Film Forager went and won it, and I hold no grudges, ha, but then I discovered that it was on Netflix! Which is awesome!

So here we go, my dears.

"The Doll's House"

A couple rents a house of suspicious size and affordability from a woman who was once the maid to the family living there, before they all, y'know, keeled over. Right off the bat: bad camerawork, which is to be expected from such low budgetness, music so loud it threatens to drown out the dialogue, which goes a little something like this: "I didn't know there was a plaground across the street." "There's a playground?" "Yeah, across the street." This dialogue is from the lead couple-thing, who have lived there a week at that point, and I find it highly suspect they didn't see a motherfucking playground until then.

Man of Couple is a writer, and in one scene inspects a hardcover copy of his book. Since I didn't get a good look at the title, I'm gonna assume it was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Therefore, this male person shall from here on out be known as JK.

So JK goes to a bar, where he meets Pete the Drunk. Who has a high voice and big eyes and he's played by His Dopeness, so it's cool, right?

Pete warns of peeping young Toby, and from there, the plot rides into the predictable, as they got haunted by said Toby, eight-year-old ghost who's a doll or a pumpkinhead or something. His first appearence, I'll give the movie, is nicely, if blandly, edited. The acting isn't very bad, just kind of indifferent. Dialogue stilted, plot poorly executed. Let's move on. Because that plot quickly resolved itself.


I think this is supposed to be one of thse character-based horror films, but holy shit, these characters suck. I mean, they're just awful. The actors show glimmers of not-sucking, but the characters are giant douchebags I want to punch in the face. Nothing good about this.

Also, knowing what the difference between wolves and dogs is not covered in biology, unless you take an animal biology class(-thing). And chemistry has nothing to do with pots, you dildos.

"World's Most Haunted"

The only one of these four that try anything original, following a camera crew filming a reality show in an abandoned mental asylum (ugh).

Some good stuff here and there, sure, but the dialogue is drowned out by sound effects, the acting is, at best, tolerable, and there's this one guy who, when asked if he think the asylum's haunted, replies something along the lines of "I don't know, but I do know that when I'm done with it, it will be." That makes no sense.

Also compressed story, although I like the quasi-Pontypool aspect near the end. Anyway.

"The Psychic"

Okay, so now we got Tom Savini for a minute, Alicia Goranson, and Margot Kidder, for some reason. There's some lovin' music that sounds directly recorded from a radio, ful frontal nudity, whatnot. Margot Kidder does best with what she's given, which is, y'know, shitty.

I'm dispirited. Farewell.

My DVD player's a filthy little whore

6:44 PM By Simon

Therefore, here is a (kind of) beautiful story about movies, by a dude named Tim Pratt.

Thoughts on Mother

Thursday, August 19, 2010 8:48 PM By Simon

-An unnamed woman (Kim Hye-ja), selling grain and illegal acupuncture in a small South Korean town, finds herself a makeshift detective when her mentally handicapped son Do-joon (Won Bin) is accused of murdering a high school girl.

-Kim Hye-ja is so unbelievably amazing. As a meek, doting woman with a fierce, almost unhealthy, love for her son, she has so much going on with her face alone. Superficially, it's somewhere between mild, desperate, and determined, as she gets deeper and deeper into the circumstances surrounding the girl's death, but there's a madness that director Bong Joon-ho zeroes in on, often lingering on her face as she interrogates a suspect or searches through a room, especially when she talks to her son in prison. As said son, Won Bin, who Wikipedia tells me is very famous in South Korea and Japan as a heartthrob, is (I hate this word, okay, but) superb, this very innocent guy with a hair-trigger temper, not nearly as naive as he comes off, yet completely dependent on the tolerance of strangers and the devotion of his mother, well-meaning and hapless and unsure if he's even done the things he's accused of.

-Fine supporting turn by Jin Goo as Jin-tae, Do-joon's ne'er-do-well friend who allies with the Mother to clear his name. There's also the actress who played the murdered girl, shown in flashback and bizarre reenactments, but IMDb is being a bitch about the name of said actress. So there's that.

-Bong Joon-ho keeps you disoriented from the first shot on, always in control even whe nthe plot isn't. His sense of mise-en-scene (shut up, I like that phrase) is impeccable, keeping the tone balancing precariously between humor and suspense, as the plot itself ponders over what is right and wrong, never judgemental. Some scenes are absolutely brilliant, from editing to staging to score (one I particularly like is about a twist, so, y'know).

-I love how it opens and ends with the Mother dancing. In the beginning, it's in a field of grass, her dancing tiredly and almost lazily to lovely music, waving her arms and frequently wiping her face in the mist of it, face switching from bright and delighted to unreadably emotionless, a scene that's put into horrifying context later on. In the end, she's on a bus, I won't say why, but it's so bittersweet and oddly triumphant, her exuberantly dancing among other old folk, getting lost in the tiny crowd and the glaring sunlight as the credits roll.

-I love the way Bong frames the more idiosyncratic characters of the story, the castaways of society. I can't put my finger on it...

-How he does the more suffocating moments of tension, while the Mother is caught in the room of a suspect while he and his girlfriend have sex, for example, are the best moments.

-I didn't get the end. Okay.

A Question for all you Non-Americans

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 2:55 PM By Simon

A line from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, my new love, got me thinking. When Julie Powers or that other guy who's name I forget, one of them is telling Scott about Ramona Flowers, and mentiones 'She's American.' Scott, all gooey eyed and shit, says, "Wow. American." Because I suck at vocal cues, I couldn't tell if this was more in reverence to her (probably) or the fact that she was American (unlikely). Also, that Canada doesn't have subspace travel, which we yankees totally fucking do, alright?

So I ask you: assuming for a minute that Scott meant the second infliction, how is America viewed in the eyes of you, Everyone Else? Yes, yes, I know, we're flaming assholes and whatnot, but let's put aside fury for a second. How is our overall reputation?

(I know what I'm inviting here, okay, but it's either here or a message board somewhere, because I don't know anyone of a not-majority-of-life-spent-in-US persuasion)

It's the Bat-Man, bitch

2:00 AM By Simon

Try not to feel too inadequete, Everyone Else.

My humble thoughts on the epic Black Swan trailer

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 11:52 PM By Simon

You've all seen it by now. The gorgeous cinematography. The Clint Mansell score, lots of strings, just the way scores should be (oh, shut up, percussions) (or, I hope that's his music. If they pull an Inception...). The make-y out-y-ness of Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman, two of my favorite young actresses (even though Kunis is still on probabtion for fucking Max Payne ). The ballerina-iness, a mostly ignored genre in recent years (I like to think it's no coincidence that Natalie Portman's been up for a Suspiria remake. If they must make one, they could do worse than her). Psychological horror by directors, not for-hire guys, is always the best kind, and this has Darren Aronofsky, bitches.

I present to you, my dears, some highlights.

This made me cringe. As this guy said, she's splintering. Oh, dear.

Why must all movies about the mental disintegration/torture of idealistic young women involve heartbreaking and uncomfortable (what might be, because I doubt Aronofsky would just throw in some random bit of fanservice. I mean, he must have some point to it, yes?) female masturbation? Mulholland Dr. did it, at the top of my head. That could be the only example. Never mind.

This is cool.

This freaks me the fuck out.

In conclusion, poor Natalie Portman.

Also in it, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder. I have something to live for again.

Tilda Swinton in The Limits of Control: Flashback, yo

11:38 PM By Simon

Awhile ago, I posted a thing about Tilda Swinton, namely, her role as Blonde in Limits of Control. The original article was back before anyone read this, and I'm feeling nostalgic, so feast your eyes, my pets:


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.


Unfortunately, this might be the 'smartest' thing I've ever written directly pertaining to a specific movie or performance. A shame, no doubt.

Thoughts on Coffee and Cigarettes

9:45 PM By Simon

-Somewhat connected series of vignettes, starring various celebrities as either definitely or ambiguously themselves, talking over cigarettes and coffee.

-I say somewhat because, aside from a few throwaway connections, everything is about subject matter. Some reaccuring themes include: Nikola Tesla (first mentioned in 'Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil' (starring the White Stripes! Woot!), then in 'Champagne', starring former prominent avant-garde figures Bill Rice and Taylor Mead, the latter of whom I vaguely recall reading of a movie by Andy Warhol, Taylor Mead's Ass, a cheeky response to a critic of Tarzan and Jane Regained...Sort Of, who said nobody wants to spend and hour and a half staring at Taylor Mead's ass...), an industrial-style drummer Iggy Pop suggests to Tom Waits, who may or may not be Lee, Cate Blanchett's cousin Shelly's boyfriend, the fact that yes, either coffee or cigarettes are bad for you, and/or they are not a healthy breakfast, do you want a sandwich?, drinking coffee before bed makes your dreams go faster.

-RZA wears a Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai ski cap. Awesome.

-These shorts vary from the quietly tragic ('No Problem'), to the mundane ('Renee'), to the weird ('Twins', starring Joie and Cinque Lee, who can either be credited here as themselves or as 'Good Twin' and 'Evil Twin'. Because there has to be one. Right, Danielle?).

-Iggy Pop! Tom Waits! The White Stripes! RZA (okay, I don't listen to the Wu-Tang Clan, but I like RZA)!

-'Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil' and 'Champagne' are the best, in my opinion. So random, yet fitting into the themes of both the actors/musicians, and/or the movie itself.


Thoughts on The Machine Girl

9:03 PM By Simon

Ami, a pacifistic Japanese schoolgirl, goes on a roaring rampage of revenge when her brother and his friend get killed by a group of bullie, led by a yakuza leader's son. Joining her are the parents of the friend, who give her a replacement arm when her own is cut off during her initial attempts.

-The cast here is prodimentely porn star, okay? There's Asami, a year younger the the titular character's actress, Minase Yashiro, yet, for some reason, plays the mother of a teenage boy. She's a famous AV Idol in Japan. Yashiro is a gravure model, which is a swimsuit model, I guess. Honoka, mother of Eval Bully and co-leader of the yakuza clan, is a former AV Idol. Basically, every female actress in this movie is of something to that nature. The men are either B-movie actors or don't have a Wikipedia page, and I can't be bothered to delve very far into IMDb. So you've been warned.

-Where did the opening scene go, I wonder? It's like the writer just completely forgot about it.

-I was surprised at the quality of this. I mean, yes, it was cheesy, over-the-top exploitation/gore advertised, but it's just a tiny bit better. The first half hour or so, when the brother is still in the picture, are pretty good, slow, but him and his ill-fated friend Takeshi are kind of amusing, and him and his sister are endearing to watch. After, the action is surprisingly creative, the effects laughably bad, but entertaining to watch. If you'll say anything about Yashiro, she plays Ami with absolute conviction, and for the most part gets the transition from sweet schoolgirl to homicidal killing machine (teehee) down almost seamlessly. Asami is...I'd say fine, but I think the language barrier would put me at a disadvantage, so let's just say she and the rest of the cast aren't so bad I can see without subtitles.

-Nonetheless, the repetitive scenes of limb severing and squirting arteries became boring by the final showdown, and Miki (Asami) and Ami's relationship detours were either going for emotional or softcore porno setup, either way, dragged.

-What's with everyone and machine gun limbs lately? I mean, I know they're so fucking awesome, but now they're influencing my fragile teen mind to cut off some limb I don't immediately need and raid a military base.


4:57 PM By Simon

What a day...


3:36 PM By Simon

Yes, life as gotten that awesome.

My sister's a cutie-pie

Monday, August 16, 2010 10:36 PM By Simon

And she wrote this lovely thing about 40 Days and 40 Nights. Y'know, the movie. And she's all socially aware and junk.

But beware: her grammar, spelling, and basic epistolary skill are atrocious. Seriously, I worry.

every summer since i was a wee lass, i've been going to camp. every day and every night, it was campcampcamp. this year, i thought i as free. liberated. and then i got a job. at subway. which is a really bad place to work at. and i thought i was doomed.

lucky for me, i got fired. actually, it's unlucky, because i dont know if ya'll are aware, but summer is long. and boring. especially when you live on a highway and everyone you don't hate the pants off of is on vacation. and no one other then subway is hiring fifteen year olds. so i end up watching a lot of netflix and, worse, doing my summer homework (more then a week before school starts! IS THIS HELL?). instinctively, i have also been staying up at all hours of the night, writing half-asses novels and doing the safety dance in my bedroom (with the door locked...and dead bolted...and super glued...) there is also much late-night television involved. and since i suck-ass at segaways, let's just get to it.

male rape is just as bad as female rape. this is often brushed aside, and i don't think it should. now, i tend to loathe the super-eage feminazis who are prowling their TV Guides, trying to find something sexist in the context of whichever show is popular at the moment. not that i dont support equality, but sometimes i feel like its just a giant witch hunt and giving feminists a bad name. i mean, by pointing out al the things they point out, they make it sound like woman are always on the weaker side of the violence spectrum (take the Love The Way You Lie debate...actually, this is getting rambly enough as it is). Anywhoozles, with all this feminism going on, everyone tends to forget that men can be just as victimized as women. which brings me to this film, 40 days and 40 nights.

its about this dude, Josh Harnett, who's taking a chastidy vow or whatever to get over his ex-gf. but he falls in love with this totally awesome chick, Shannyn Sossa-something (isn't she pretty? she's so pretty!) and it's all challenge and shit and generally the plot is cute and i liked it, for the most part. but then there's this one scene where some chick takes it upon herself to fuck our hero while he's sleeping and subsequently get pissed at him for it. and no one takes issue with this. NO ONE.

there is so much wrong with this.

let me say this, only once: just because a woman is pyschially weaker then a man and a man tends to want sex a lot more does not mean she can do whatever she wants to him. it's wrong and, um, illegal bitch. im not saying this film is really promoting male rape, im just saying it makes the issue more of a joke, even a cheap plot point, then a problem. and that's not okay.

If you think she's a funny lady, go see her blog, Opinionated? Me?. Which has more followers than me. Like, a lot more. Sigh.

The Saddest Music in the World

5:39 PM By Simon

I once read a comment on a site from a guy who asked "What's the difference between Guy Maddin and David Lynch, really?"

(This is the blog equivalent of a McGuffin, people)

While David Lynch heavily uses, one might say relies on, symbolism and Rule of Weird to get across his dubiously-existing messages of disenchantment, isolation, memory...something, Guy Maddin, for all his frenetic, Ye Olde-filmmaking style, disturbing imagery, deviance and misery abound, he tells a core coherent love story. Not that I'm an expert. Thus far, I've only seen My Winnipeg and this. And they've both been romances, turned on their heads, no doubt, but romances nonetheless. A love story between himself and his beloved Winnipeg, Canada, would be my best guess.


The Saddest Music in the World is about an arrogant prick named Chester Kent (Mark McKinney), failing Broadway producer during the Great Depression. He and his amnesiac, nymphomaniac concubine Narcissa (Maria de Medeiros) visit an old fortune teller, who predicts doom in Kent's future. Laughing, Chester and Narcissa take a train into Winnipeg, where Lady Helen Port-Huntley, legless former lover of Chester (Isabella Rossellini) announces a worldwide competition to find the saddest music in the world (hoping it would attract business sales of her eponymous beer, especially since US prohibition is predicted to fall). Soon, representitives from all around the world come pouring into Winnipeg. Among them are super-Canadian father of Chester, responsible for Helen's impairment, Fyodor (David Fox), and Roderick, Chester's brother, back from self-imposed Serbian exile with the heart of his dead son preserved by his own tears (in a pickle jar), and a missing wife.

As I said, Maddin's filmmaking style is bizarre and reminiscent of the 20s and 30s, black and white (the bits in color resembling two-strip Technicolor), grainy, slightly out-of-synch sound and expressionist backgrounds to make Caligari weep with joy. Vaseline wiped on the lens to make the image blur at the edges. Right. It may be bizarre, but it is never dull, and the plot is relatively simple (if you just look at actions). A comedy about sadness.

Chester is what he believes the perfect American: corny phrases riddled with over-enthusiastic gusto, bragging of how he's never felt sorrow, selfish and sociopathic. Roderick has mastered his perennial state of melancholy, keeping the jar in one pocket and a recording of his treasured song, the one he shared with his wife, in the other. It would surely win the competition, he says, but he would never play it again for anyone but his wife. Helen is a malicious, bitter business mogul who keeps a sextoy of her servant Teddy, who has a wife and two kids, and must have sex with her to keep his job. Fyodor, who, we'll keep it at, cut off the wrong leg, bears the responsibility for this, creates her a beer leg...

Narcissa is not very dissimilar to de Medeiros' most famous role, Fabienne in Pulp Fiction, naive (most likely attributed to her amnesia, granted), soft-spoken, scatter-brained, hooked up with a domineering professional showman, a kind-of cool name. But Narcissa has an overall sadness to her almost emotional obliviousness. She stars in many of Chester's lavish and gaudy musical numbers, but backstage she recounts a dream she had, implying the vague reappearing of her memory, which Chester brushes off. She giggles "You really don't understand me at all," so giddy in those few minutes it's hard to imagine any bitterness behind the words.

Right. Please ignore these random musings, I long since forgotten my point.

The performances, as should be expected, are fantastic. The actors perfectly capture the individual absurdities or their characters, the sadness of their lives, the self-absorption and malevolence in all of them.

It is also, of course, a versus country in the competition, acts from Spain to Mexico to Siam to the Ukraine perform their takes of the saddest music in the world. Much of the music serves as plot points, but they themselves never tell stories relevent to the plot itself. So take that as you will.

Filmed on a tiny set, with cardboard backgrounds and the works, it paints a glorified portrait of Winnipeg, as so many of maddin's films do, a bustling metropolis of the world.

Not easily digestible in the first take, The Saddest Music in the World is an (almost) avant-garde comedy on individual grief, an original, dizzying spectacular that has never gotten the attention it deserved.

PS Maddin is also disconcertingly normal in interviews.

Thoughts on A Town Called Panic

3:58 PM By Simon

Oh, this is delightful. Does it matter what the plot is?

-It's French. Or Belgian. Or that country that made the movie Who's Quentin?. Luxembourg, I think. Here's the trailer:

Go, fools. Go and view.


3:51 PM By Simon

Rooney Mara, aka Taggerty from Youth in Revolt, and other things, I'm sure, has been cast as Lisbeth Salander in the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. So fine. You get one, David Fincher.

This is an image of Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, starring Chicks I Don't Hate Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman. As you can see. From the picture. Up there.

Speaking of ballerinas (which is what Black Swan is about. In case you were wondering), Kristen Bell is going to play the obsessed mom of an aspiring one. Which is weird. Because she's only thirty. Seriously, Hollywood, that's just mean.

There's some other stuff, trailers and shit. Empire, The Playlist, you know the drill.

Things I Fucking Hate Right Now

3:45 PM By Simon

(I got a million movies to bitch about, but right now)

When you're ordering from a drive through, having already established what you wanted, only to have the person driving asking everyone what they want again, right when you get to the voice box thing.
As if eating fast food wasn't bad enough.

Wanting to get a movie on Netflix, only to find you've hit the 500 limit because your sister filled it with True Blood DVDs.
We get OnDemand now. Watch it there.

Constant reminders that school's starting again in, like, two weeks.
Thank you, fucking K-Mart.

Thoughts on Tokyo!

Sunday, August 15, 2010 7:07 PM By Simon

-So I was off chilling on the interwebs when I saw that Sugary Cynic had seen a movie called Tokyo!, and it was so weird that she had to communicate her thoughts through Haiku. Seeing the phrase 'sewer lebrachaun' and not to be one-upped, I watched the thing on Netflix.

-And it is weird. Like, cross between Etgar Keret and Kafka weird. Each of the three segments, directed by (in order) Michael Gondry, Leos Carax, and Bong Joon-ho, my new South Korean Love (until Park Chan-wook gets off his ass, anyway) (also, Phil on Film interviewed him, and I am so nerdily jealous, and how many followers do I have to get before I get to interview directors?), start off fairly ordinary, or at least having some basis in the world where we happen to live (the second one I remain cautiously optimistic about), before tumbling into the bizarre.

-The last one is considerably less weird than the second one, and the whole order of the short films is like a roller coaster, crawling up the surreal tracks, peaking, than falling until the amount of surreal is just barely noticeable. Or something. I suck at metaphors.

-Fun fact: 'merde' is French for 'shit'. Use this as you will.

-Also Fun Fact: Ayako Fujitani, who played Hiroko of the the first segment, Interior Design, is the daughter of Steven Seagal. She also writes books. Awesome.

-Have a nice day.

Count the Thrusts (what I learned from This Film Is Not Yet Rated)

6:40 PM By Simon

-The MPAA was established in 1922 to help parents discern what might be appropriate for their children to see, without the government having to resort to censorship.

-This system worked without question five minutes.

-Because now the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America, which I totally did a report on in eighth grade) could censor films, under the guise of 'suggestions for resubmission'.

-Most theatres and DVD rental places will not carry anything rated NC-17, which is basically all the cool stuff/gay stuff/female orgasm stuff.

-This, as it turns out, is the vast majority of anything made in the 21st century.

-How many thrusts are involved in a sex scene is the difference between a safe-for-public-advertisement R rating and a Direct-to-DVD-late-night-TV-spot NC-17 rating.

-NC-17, in case you didn't know, used to be an X rating.

-Gay sex scenes are treated much more harshly than straight sex scenes, which, y'know, duh.

-Among the many split-screen examples of this, they show a clip of Mysterious Skin. Also, Colin Firth trying to get some Bacon action in Where The Truth Lies.

-Lady Pubic Hair is a no-no, especially if it's Maria Bello's Pubic Hair.

-Before this movie, nobody knew who the rating board was.

-Now they do.

-Most of them are 40-something married parents of two. One of them has served 9 years on the board, rather than the supposed 5-year limit.

-Both the head of the appeals board and that lady's lawyer are persnickity.

-This film really is not rated, but before it was, it had an NC-17, because they showed clips of movies that got those movies their NC-17 rating. I love irony.

Thoughts on Franklyn

Saturday, August 14, 2010 10:45 PM By Simon

-Some weird-ass shit goes down, and I'm not sure how to describe it without spoiling it. Take it away, IMDb!

Preest is a masked vigilante detective, searching for his nemesis on the streets of Meanwhile City, a monolithic fantasy metropolis ruthlessly governed by faith and religious fervor. Esser is a broken man, searching for his wayward son amongst the rough streets of London's homeless. Milo is a heartbroken thirty-something desperately trying to find a way back to the purity of first love. Emilia is a beautiful art student; her suicidal art projects are becoming increasingly more complex and deadly.

-It has big aspirations, sure, but is so clumsy and self-serious, like it's trying to be Donnie Darko or something.

-Ryan Phillipe growls the opening narration in what is probably a Christian Bale-Batman reference (one character says exactly this) in a mask resembling a straight jacket. As we all know, Phillipe is on permanent Serious Face (I'm getting worried my mother was right about making faces, the way this dude goes about), and here is no different, perhaps somewhat lampooning Batman and the whole vigilante subgenre. He skulks around Meanwhile City, a steampunk world alternate to modern-day London (though, curiously, he only has an English accent in the latter), where there are more religions than people (it's the law: you can worship anything, as long as you;re worshipping something) and a be-top-hatted police squad roam.

-In my limited experience of Eva Green viewing, I don't think she's ever been better than in her first scene. Tis an opinion, calm yourselfs. Sam Riley is curiously blank, though. Which is unexceptable. Bernard Hill is probably the best of the cast, I think, bringing enough emotion to an otherwise very underdeveloped character.

-What my beef was, the big twist (which wasn't even really a twist, if you were paying attention) is supposed to be a big emotional payoff, or something to that effect, but we never spend enough time with Person In Question to really be surprised, or care.


-What was the point of Meanwhile City? I mean, I know it was supposed to be representative, parodic, and parallel to the real world, but it would've worked better if they had just focused on Phillipe's character, instead of going off into it's-not-about-you-it's-about-the-people-you-haven't-met-yet tangent. Each storyline depends on each other, so I can't say they all would've made lovely individual movies, but a little more focus on the tragedy that is Meanwhile City would've been nice.

-What. Was up. With the fucking janitor?

-Still. Gorgeous visuals.

I will never respect any of you again if you don't follow this link

4:16 PM By Simon

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Friday, August 13, 2010 7:46 PM By Simon

-What now? I have no Inception. I have no Scott Pilgrim. Machete is fast approaching. What's left for me this year? What is a loser to do?

-This movie kicked so much ass. Not uncommon this very year might I add. Sure, a lot of movies sucked, but like anyone expected them not to suck. Meanwhile, the movies that I've been geeking out about have been spectacular, and really, what more could you want? A few really good movies that you knew were going to rock, and a shitton of really bad movies that you knew were going to suck. This year, I know where we stand.

-Anyway. Kieran Culkin should be in more things, I say. He, as the dour gay roommate of our eponymous (anti?)hero, is sarcastic and awesome and gets the best one-liners, and he's, like, a total slut, but that's cool, because he literally turned a straight guy gay by staring at him.

-Is it wrong that I love the line "And I'm a little bi-furious!", as said by Mae Whitman?

-Is this trying to be a comic book movie or a video game movie? I like to think both.

-Seriously, best cast ever. If I could change anything, friend, I would give Alison Pill and Anna Kendrick more to do.

-Michael Cera is fine, but that might be because I have no qualms with his mumbling. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is pretty good, getting the whole sardonic mystery of Ramona down. Ellen Wong is so unbearably adorable you're almost rooting for Scott and Ramona to fail.

-"She has a head start! I didn't even know there was good music until two months ago!"

-Good day.

Thoughts on Two Girls and a Guy

6:26 PM By Simon
-A narcissistic actor (Robert Downey Jr.) is confronted by his two girlfriends (Heather Graham and Natasha Gregson Wagner) over his dating them both on the side, using his supposedly ill mother as an excuse.

-This is probably my favorite Robert Downey Jr. and Heather Graham performance.

-What keeps this from being an hour and a half of dull romantic entanglement--what could've been some slapsticky/douchey/lazy exchange of fits--is the honesty of the performances, and the dialogue, and the execution. There is no score, except for when the characters turn on a stereo, and almost all of it is in real time, making the huge loft that serves as the battleground for these three seem cramped and claustrophobic, as they idly chase each other around, moments of temporary truce seperating angry, sometimes vicious attacks. Allegiances don't shift so much as neutralize, and soon nobody is really mad anymore. It's interesting to watch the central three bounce around the apartment, every single emotion spitting out.

-Wagner's character, though, never felt like she belonged in the conflict. She gets maybe one scene alone with Downey Jr, and it could easily have been between a smitten teenager and her unrequited crush. The dynamics between Graham and Downey Jr, though, feel much more like a couple. I guess.

-Just a thing: I was switching between this on DVD and L.I.E. on Netflix, and it was an interesting juxtaposition. I'll write on the latter later, but seeing the sexual powerplay in TGAAG and L.I.E....they weren't similar, but y'know. Weirdly continuous, switching between one and the other.

Films That Defined Us

4:33 PM By Simon

So, see, Marc, proprietor of the illustrious blog Go, See, Talk has created hisself a new bloagthon. And I know, ya'll are thinking, 'For fuck's sake, not another one!', to which I reply, '[something dirty and insulting in Russian, or Hebrew, or something]'.

Anyway, I forgot that I had sent him a list, like, and hour within the time he sent out a mass email. And now I've found it! Esepcially for you! HAZZAH!

5) Pinochio
The first movie that ever scared the shit out of me. Of course, it was the donkey thing. It's always the donkey thing.

4) Kiki's Delivery Service
My first non-Digimon encounter with anime, even though it was the awful dubbed version (I didn't realize this, of course). As it would be, my only lasting memories of this more fanciful of the Studio Ghibli are Kiki riding around on her broom, and her lying in a bed asking if she was going to die. This first got me into anime and Asian cinema.

3) Sailor Moon Prequel I Forget The Name Of
You asked what shaped my childhood, and I am not known for my memory. I remember watching a DVD of this, and secretly hoping I'd end up a Sailor Senshi, get my own planet (though I'd probably have ended up with one of the moons or something). But it also set off my lifelong-so-far paranoia of cats.

2) Mysterious Skin
Arguably my introduction into indie films, I initially only watched it because of a sudden obsession with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Back when he was Cameron in 10 Things I Hate About You and Michelle Trachtenberg was the main character in Ice Princess, I Youtube(d) this expecting...I don't remember, I just know I couldn't watch another rerun of 3rd Rock From the Sun ever again.

1) Cannibal Holocaust
Um. This was more to do with the controversy than the movie itself. I got much props from my sixth grade Scoial Studies teacher for putting this as one of my favorite movies on one of them 'get to know you' sheets. Like, six real animal deaths (one of them was a spider, but whatever), and the stars had to parade themselves about a courtroom so the director wouldn't get arrested for making a snuff film. My twelve year old brain was in awe.

Celebrity Charity Events I'd Pay For

Thursday, August 12, 2010 5:25 PM By Simon

Morgan Freeman saying anything you want
Let's face it. Morgan Freeman's voice is to your ears what [insert delicious food] is to [insert desired orifice]. We all want to talk like him! Which is why I propose: a worldwide broadcast. A room dark but for a single spotlight on Morgan Freeman, sitting on a couch. For 24 hours, people from all around the world will bid. At the end of the hour, the highest bidder gets his prize: his pick for what Morgan Freeman has to say. Anything you want (not porn, because this is a family show)! I'd pay my entire life's savings to hear Morgan Freeman recite the lyrics of 'Alfie'.

Shane Meadows: This Is England and Somers Town

3:47 PM By Simon

This isn't, like, an examination of whatever, I just happened to watch these two movies back to back on the narcotic that is Netflix.

-Young skinheads in England, 1983, the height of the Falklands War.

-A little runt named Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), who's father died in Falklands, is welcomed into a group of apolitical skinheads, led by the sympathetic Woody (Joe Gilgun), who becomes a big brother figure to Shaun. So for the first half of the movie is basically the group fucking around deserted streets and buildings. This seems to be Meadows' specialty, making hanging out interesting. And it's cool then, because these aren't the type of British skinheads you'll see in TV movies, they're not going off on racist rants every five minutes, they're just teenagers with shaved heads and Doc Martins.

-Then, halfway mark, in comes ex-con Combo (Stephen Graham) and his be-mustached new meathead sidekick, just off a three-year stint for Woody. He is the type of skinhead you see in TV movies, all English nationalist and whatnot. His arrival soon splits the group in two, the ladies remaining mostly neutral while Woody, Milky (the only black one of the group, and whom Combo treats in a way I can't tell is veiled hostility, patronising, or genuine respect, at least at first), and some others, and everyone else sticking with Combo, including Shaun. It all gets very...

-It doesn't become two different movies, the same general air hanging-out-ness a thing? Now it is.

-The performances are great. Graham is incredible, playing the kind of guy who, when he has emotions, he has them hard. He is always on the brink of tantrum, his unstableness palpable to everyone but the person his hostility is directed at. Turgoose gives a lovely, raw performance, especially since he never acted before this, and his relationship with the group is pretty sweet--he's like everyone's baby brother, that kind of thing.

-The other actors, most of whom not given much to do, are good, mstly serving the sort of team dynamic more than anything.

-A beautiful film, and excellent soundtrack, funny and touching and all that.

-Two teenagers, runaway Tomo (England's Turgoose) and Polish immigrant Marek (Piotr Jagiello) haunt about the Somers Town area of London, with the vague goal of wooing a French waitress (Elisa Lasowski).

-Again, the typically plotless meanderings of Meadows' characters is made hypnotically interesting by the dialogue, the actors, he makes you care about the characters by practically inviting you to step through the screen and hang out with them. Tis interesting.

-The acting is good too, Turgoose playing what might be a more worldly Shaun, more aggressive, though still a hit with the older women (he has pinchable cheeks, see). Lasowski is good, with his limited knowledge of English (at least in the movie) making him seem all the more befuddled by his new friends antics. Or something.