Saturday, August 30, 2008

End of Summer Answers

I'm proud to get this done in less than the usual three weeks! Here it is - Dennis Cozzalio's latest quiz - Dr. Smith’s Lost in the Space at the End of Summer Movie Quiz. I'm also posting it there - but I want it here, because some of these questions (as always) might draw me back for more...

And away we go:

1) Your favorite musical moment in a movie
- This is simple - Night and Day in Gay Divorcee. If "musical moment" is meant to mean specifically to exclude "musical number", then I think I might vote for the moment in Something Wild, as Charley and Lulu head for home, when the Feelies song on the soundtrack, Slipping (into Something), slips into something and out of something else - it's after the end of the second verse, the guitars have done their intro and started to intertwine and the drums do a little hitch and the song starts speeding up - the song heads off for the guitar solos, and the film turns into a Ray Liotta picture.

2) Ray Milland or Dana Andrews
- Andrews I think

3) Favorite Sidney Lumet movie
- It turns out that Before the Devil Knows You're Dead was the first I had ever seen. I could not believe that either, and had to look up a bunch of films - Tootsie, say - to prove he did not direct them. It is also possible I have seen Dog Day Afternoon, though I don't remember ever sitting through it start to finish. Though if you add up the clips I might end up having seen the whole thing... I have read 12 Angry Men, though. And - wait! wait! I have seen Fail Safe! way back in college. I don't remember anything about it except that Henry Fonda was in it and New York gets it.

4) Biggest surprise of the just-past summer movie season
- Did anything surprise me? Speed Racer? I certainly enjoyed it, which didn't seem likely before I saw it... The biggest surprise MIGHT be that I have no interest at all in seeing The Dark Knight. Nothing about it seems worth knowing about. I'd rather see Batman and Robin again than see it the first time. I'll probably like it, modestly, when I see it, but I couldn't care less if I do. That attitude does surprise me.

5) Gene Tierney or Rita Hayworth
- Rita

6) What’s the last movie you saw on DVD? In theaters?
- This changes all the time. The answer when I started was King Kong on DVD; The Girl Who Leapt Through Time in a theater. It looks like I am going to finish it with the answers, The Boy With Green Hair on DVD, and (I'm sure Dennis will approve), Once Upon a Time in the West.

7) Irwin Allen’s finest hour?
- No clue. Airplane?

8) What were the films where you would rather see the movie promised by the poster than the one that was actually made?
- This is the kind of question that drives me crazy. I can't think of a good answer - but I will. I se enough posters like that - I just can't think of them on command. I'm completely stumped.

9) Chow Yun-Fat or Tony Leung
- It’s a question of peak vs. longevity - or depth vs. breadth. Chow has a perfect sweet spot - in those John Woo films and most of his films (actioners, a couple comedies, and quite a few in between) from the late 80s early 90s, he is unbeatable. But he hasn't done much since, and less worth caring about, while Leung, who was always a fine actor, has kept on going. He's had a long, varied, downright majestic career when you think about it, covering a much wider range of roles, types of films, everything, than just about anyone, anywhere. Program pictures to Hou Hsiao Hsien, and all the time seeming committed to the work he's doing. So maybe he can't match Chow at his charismatic best, but he's kept his career moving, taken more chances, done more to advance serious and challenging filmmakers, and done all of it well. In this, he's less like Chow Yun Fat than like Leslie Cheung, though Cheung was better than either of the at anything any of the three tried. But that's another matter.

10) Most pretentious movie ever
- This is tough - I would have to define pretentiousness to answer it well. So I will stay obvious - Bertolucci is the grand champion - and The Last Emperor is the worst kind of bloated nothing. Felt like they shot it in real time. Yuck.

11) Favorite Russ Meyer movie
- Boring answer, but, Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!

12) Name the movie that you feel best reflects yourself, a movie you would recommend to an acquaintance that most accurately says, “This is me.”
- In some moods, Rushmore - though all rather plowed under by the demands of a Paying Job. Or maybe Waking Life - with its sense of a world of consciousness existing alongside the world of the world. In fact - Waking Life is probably about right.

13) Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo
- “It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily.” I can't say there's any contest, really.

14) Best movie snack? Most vile movie snack?
- I don’t eat at the movies, so this is not easy. Milk Duds are a vile concoction, I'll say that. A good bucket of popcorn has its place....

15) Current movie star who would be most comfortable in the classic Hollywood studio system.
- George Clooney seems obvious; Tony Leung probably has, as much as anyone - Hong Kong still is (or was, through the 90s) pretty darned close to the old Hollywood system.

16) Fitzcarraldo—yes or no?
- Hell yeah.

17) Your assignment is to book the ultimate triple bill to inaugurate your own revival theater. What three movies will we see on opening night?
- This is beautiful - this is one of those questions that’s almost worth a post itself. What would I show, if I won the lottery and bought a theater and could show any three films? Rushmore, the Maltese Falcon and It's a Wonderful Life. I might try to resist it, but I doubt I could.

18) What’s the name of your theater? (The all-time greatest answer to this question was once provided by Larry Aydlette, whose repertory cinema, the Demarest, is, I hope, still packing them in…)
- All right - another one I could brood about for a month... probably could do worst than "Playtime"...

19) Favorite Leo McCarey movie
- Duck Soup of course. Though since that is really a Marx Brothers film - Make Way for Tomorrow (or The Awful Truth? this question is a lot harder - after the Marx Brothers - than it used to be, now that I’ve seen bunch of these films.) (Hey! The Awful Truth 24 Times A Second! how's that for a movie theater name?)

20) Most impressive debut performance by an actor/actress.
- James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause? Orson Welles in Citizen Kane? Bruno S in The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser? IMDB ruins my hope that Full Metal Jacket was Vincent D'Onofrio's first film... alas!

21) Biggest disappointment of the just-past summer movie season
- I didn't see any high profile releases, at least since Speed Racer. Smaller films - The Tracey Fragments turned out to be pretty bland, for all the hype and promise, though it's almost too mall to complain about... Maybe Mr. Lonely, which kept promising things and delivering incoherence and sentimentality....

22) Michelle Yeoh or Maggie Cheung
- Cheung Man-yuk. This is even less of a contest than the first actress show down. (Though again - neither one holds up to Brigitte Lin, who’d give Marlene a run for it.)

23) 2008 inductee into the Academy of the Overrated
- Nobody's bugged me this year. And I haven't seen the films that are getting all the (probably) undeserved praise - Batman, etc. So - until someone drags me to see the Batman film, and I am confirmed in my suspicions about it, I have nothing really.

24) 2008 inductee into the Academy of the Underrated
- You know what? I am feeling perverse: the Joel Schumacher Batmans. The scripts probably are as bad as they get credit for, but I'll take that campy overacting and over directing over - well - over Batman Begins, no question. So there.

25) Fritz the Cat—yes or no?
- Haven’t seen the movie, but, yes, in general.

26) Trevor Howard or Richard Todd
- Probably Howard, though I'm rather hot to see the Robin Hood film Todd was in...

27) Antonioni once said, “I began taking liberties a long time ago; now it is standard practice for most directors to ignore the rules.” What filmmaker working today most fruitfully ignores the rules? What does ignoring the rules of cinema mean in 2008?
- I don't know what the rules of cinema are - "rules" sounds so rigid, like it's possible to make mistakes making films. "Conventions" maybe... either way, there probably comes a point in the development of an art form where it ceases to have right and wrong ways of doing things, and just competing sets of rules (or conventions, or whatever.) That point has probably passed for film - anything you do, however strange by the standards of one type of film, will make sense within some other branch of filmmaking.... All that said - I don't know if anyone else really looks like Luc Moullet, to this day. He pays as little attention to the things that do approach being rules - treat the world you make as if it were real; try to either achieve technical competence or hide technical limitations; or make self-conscious art of them - as anyone. So I'll say Luc Moullet.

28) Favorite William Castle movie
- Goodness. I don't think I've even accidentally seen one of his films, unless you count Rosemary's Baby. Probably the kind of director I'll decide to take in a bunch somewhere along the line. Maybe now... in compensation, I'll say that The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus might be the most underrated LP of all time. Which has nothing to do with Castle that I know of except a reference to a title...

29) Favorite ethnographically oriented movie
- I'm not altogether sure what counts. Killer of Sheep might be the answer - Several Friends might be even better, as it's even more directly focused on a specific group of people just living their lives.

30) What’s the movie coming up in 2008 you’re most looking forward to? Why?
- For wide release, it's probably the Coen brothers film; for more specialized releases - not sure what's coming. There's an Edward Yang retrospective coming to Harvard in September - that's bigger than anything else I know of.

31) What deceased director would you want to resurrect in order that she/he might make one more film?
- Edward Yang is a good bet.

32) What director would you like to see, if not literally entombed, then at least go silent creatively?
- Woody Allen and Whit Stillman should switch career tracks.

33) Your first movie star crush
- This is one I will remember somewhere along the line - I will see something and go - holy cow, I was a wreck for her in 19[redacted]! What I'm coming up with right now are Talia Shire or Debra Winger but that can't be right. Though I certainly felt unwholesome things for Ms. Winger.... TV Star crushes are another matter - Barbara Feldon and, as my brothers continue to mock me for, Lady Elaine Fairchild. Pop culture crushes are something else entirely.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back to School Linkage

And again at the turning of the seasons comes another of Dennis Cozzalio's oh so excellent quizzes - Professor Zachary Smith's Lost in the Space at the end of the Summer Quiz. These are not things to be entered into lightly, though there are 16 answers up already since yesterday (as of this posting.) But no, this can't be rushed...

Elsewhere - Girish lauds Manny Farber.

Moviezzz urges critics to see more foreign movies. He's also been reading Haruki Murakami - my own gateway drug to Japanese literature, and probably Japanese movies. Not to mention a comment on the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention - in connection with the Chicago 10 DVD. I should Probably watch that film - given the attention paid to 1968 in France by filmmakers, it's interesting to wonder what came out of 1968 in the states - Medium Cool, which is a hell of a start.

Things are going a bit better for the country these days, at least as far as the Democratic National Convention goes. I haven't said much about politics here lately - I don't know what I am supposed to say. I can think of no excuse on earth not to vote for anyone the Democrats nominated - and don't see much point in quibbling about who they nominated - as long as they win. Bush has nigh on demolished this country - and completely demolished the Republican party. In 2000, I could see John McCain as president without feeling all that distraught about it - now? he's spent 8 years groveling t some of the worst people in American political history, and now represents nothing but more of the same, with possibly a bit less raw stupid at the top. Plenty of dishonesty and raw privilege though...

But that aside: not only is it a great relief to have one of the major parties nominate a Black man for president (narrowly beating a White woman in the primaries), and that (both of them, really) a sign(s) that we are, in small ways, still capable of doing things right - better than we used to anyway... But this is the first time since, probably, Gary Hart that I have felt that someone with a reasonable chance of being president is someone I would, on balance, like to see as the president. Kerry, Gore (in 2000 at least) both Clintons, Dukakis, any of the other major contenders - Bradley, Brown, Edwards - were all people I'd settle for. (And back in the day, I voted for Jesse Jackson, without thinking he had much chance - but hoping he'd get some pull at the convention. But I don't think I'd have wanted him as president.) But Obama - runs on programs I can support (mostly); and seems like someone who can get people to follow him. That counts - presidents ought to have charisma - they ought to be able to command respect and admiration, even from their foes. I can see him doing that, and putting it to good use.

So that's my political speech for the year. (Far cry from 4 years ago - all politics, all the time!) And I guess it brings us to the obligatory music video - probably a boring choice, half the internet's going to be linking to it, but hey, it's good enough for the Dems, so - the O'Jays, with Love Train:

[And let me add: it's the O'Jays! why shouldn't half the internet link to it?]

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Seventh Art and the Eighth Wonder of the World

For the movies about movies blogathon, at Goatdog blog. King Kong! (and a bit of Busby Berkeley.)

King Kong is a movie that is explicitly about movies. It's also pretty explicitly autobiographical, both in the characters populating the film (Carl Denham being a dead ringer for Merian C. Cooper and all), and in the development and structure of the film itself. The film planned in the story of the film is the film we're watching, pretty much. In fact, King Kong is about both movies and movie making directly, and metaphorically - it is a figure for movies in general. That's not unusual in films, and especially not in the early 1930s, a period with a good deal of technological and social change. What is unusual about King Kong is how explicit it is, especially its direct comments about spectacle, sex, the market, and so on. It's especially unusual in a film as enthusiastic about films as this one is.

Films that are or contain figures of film tend not to be so direct. Usually, they use another art form - books, the stage, music - to stands for film. (Or, taking a recent example - cooking, in Ratatouille.) Denham's show in NY, displaying Kong, works that way - it's a pretty direct analogue to the film we're watching, no pretending otherwise - but it is not, itself, cinema. What makes King Kong different is how everything else in the film that points to cinema does so without any disguise. The story is about a man who sets out to make a film: adventure! Spectacle! Sex! Drama! Beauty and the Beast! Denham and company come right out and say it - and they aren’t sentimental about it. They say it, they plan for it, they rehearse it, and then life (in the film) comes along and does it, more or less to cue. And with fine eye for spectacle - the natives stake out Ann Darrow just like a master showman would - and indeed Denham repeats the staging almost exactly in his show in NY.

Repeats Kong's defeats, too...

And of course King Kong the movie is, from start to finish, built around cinema - it’s designed to look good as a film; it’s conceived around the technology of film. And revels in it - the stop motion animation, the elaborate mattes and models and process shots. It's set up to look right on screen. They aren't trying to hide these things - they are presenting us with an amazing spectacle, and expect us to marvel in it, all of it. The planning, the formal properties of the film, are made more explicit by being prepared by Denham's talk. His attempts to film on the island, his attempts to stage-manage the villagers or the fights with Kong, etc., set up the formal structure of the rest of the film - the parallel imagery on the island and in NY (the wall on the island serving as stage and curtain, that recurs in the second half; the parallels in how Ann and Kong are staked out for display; the parallel battles on Kong's mountain and the empire state building, complete with dangerous birds. Even details like the several scenes in both parts of the film of Kong fishing around caves/apartments for people.) The depiction of the act of making a film sets you up to wonder at the artistry of the story proper when it gets going.

It's reminiscent of one of the other outstanding figures of cinema of the period - Warner Brothers' musicals, especially Busby Berkeley's parts. Berkeley’s numbers are almost parables for the shift from stage to screen. Their placement in the films (in 42nd Street, at least), and their overall structure, almost always enacts the shift from stage to screen. The numbers usually follow that pattern - starting on something like a real stage, then opening up toward film. First (usually) by shooting them from impossible places (the flies, through the floor), but eventually abandoning all sense of the spatial unity and integrity of the stage. The space in “42nd Street” (the song) or “By a Waterfall” or “Shanghai Lil” is pure cinematic space - much of it designed explicitly for the camera (and for editing), certainly constructing the three dimensional space of film. Interestingly, while this abandons the "real" space of the theater, it moves toward a "real" space of films - itself referring to the "real" space of, um - reality.

This is a bit like what King Kong does. The first section sets up the idea of the film Denham is going to make - they land on the island, he tries to start filming, but things go wrong: and then very wrong, and instead of making an adventure film, he has to live one. Which, of course, is almost exactly the film he planned all along (and certainly the one Cooper and Schoedsack were planning - and Denham "is" Cooper....) - though since his film plans fell through, he puts on his show the old fashioned way, on stage. This, perhaps, ties us back to the Warner's films. Of those films, Footlight Parade comes closest to matching King Kong's explicitness about the role of cinema. It comes closest to acknowledging the historical circumstances that these films reflect, the historical move from stage to screen. Jimmy Cagney stages musical preludes for movies - already, movies have replaced shows: now, they are starting to squeeze him. Largely, of course, because films like this have managed to recreate a good chunk of the spectacle of the stage. And of course - as Cagney holds off history a bit longer, he does it by staging “preludes” that are, of course, dazzling films.

Though one of the things this has in common with King Kong is the way they treat film as a part of a grander world of spectacle. Films, stage musicals, giant apes, are all attractions - all things put on for the amazement of the audience. Cooper and Schoedsack were no stranger to this - they made documentaries to show to lecture groups; they made films to be the Eight Wonder of the World! Cooper's later ventures, Cinerama, notably, work almost exactly like Denham's Kong exhibition - a grand event, demonstrating the wonders of something new. That's not far from what those Warner Brother's musicals were doing (or what Warner's did in the 20s, with sound films) - setting out to show that film was every bit the spectacle that theater could be. It's an approach that runs through King Kong - the way it was marketed, the way it is structured (with its overture and shows in shows and so on) - and the way it was made. Willis O'Brien's animation tests were central to the whole conceit. It's a film about spectacle - about story and everything else as an attraction. Presentationalist through and through, and quite delighted in it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Another Links Post

Here are some things to have caught my eye - and things to look forward to.

Don't forget - starting tomorrow, it's a Movies about Movies blogathon, at the Goatdog blog.

UPDATE: Goatdog's main blogathon page.

Elsewhere - Ted Pigeon looks back at the films of 2007.

Bioscope looks at the history of Kinemacolor - part of its series on color (since they're British, I guess that's colour), and other things.

Screengrab takes a look at the 20 best animated films.

Spoutblog looks at some underrated fictional music.

East Bay View lists his favorite jazz records since 1970 - and before 1970. It's making me think about my own interest in jazz. I have an odd history with jazz - didn't listen to it much at all until the early 90s, though what I did hear I liked, though I didn't quite get - then - I went to New Orleans n the fall of 91, spend a couple nights wandering around Bourbon street mostly popping in and out of jazz bars, came home and decided to listen to Louis Armstrong and was, more or less immediately, completely converted. I listened to jazz, and almost nothing but, for the next five years - almost systematically, though tending to radiate out from Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker and Coltrane, moving forward through time - until, mid-90s, I'd reached fusion. Sonny Sharrock and Electric Miles and John McLaughlin - and that led back to rock... to Richard Thompson, specifically, but then, to everything else. Since then, jazz has mostly been on the back burner, except for where it meets avant garde guitar players... Saw Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue this weekend - documentary about Miles Davis and electric jazz, with his performance at the Isle of Wight the centerpiece: boy oh boy, but I like that stuff... I don't know where this comment is going really, but it might lead to a video...

It might lead to a meme - Samurai Frog offers up an iTunes game - iTunes as magic 8 ball, really. Basically:

1. Put your iTunes/ music player on Shuffle
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. You must put down the song name no matter what.

That might lead somewhere too.

Though not before noting - fafblog's The Medium Lobster has a new gig!

And now? Since I've stopped doing the Friday Random Tens, I haven't posted much of anything about music. Alas! Miles and company can rectify that - this being a performance of "Ife" from 1973. Broken in two - part one:

And Part Two, which is where things really get me: right now, my jazz world really revolves around Pete Cosey, who lets it rip on 12-strong here....

And good night - and see you at the movies about movies blogathon!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Manny Farber

One of the world's great film critics - some would say, the greatest - has died - Manny Farber. Greencine, as usual, has all the links.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Link Day Links

Wednesday upon us, so with nothing much to say, let's post some interesting bits...

There's this - the story of Shanta Rao Dutt, film Pioneer - maybe. Via Bioscope, a blog I've started reading only lately, and find quite wonderful.

Or this - films in films Christopher Campbell at Spoutblog wants to see. Me too, for quite a few of them.

UPDATE: I want to add a similar project Andrew Osborne at Screengrab posts a series devoted to the best movies about movies. I've written a longer post on it at the Film & Discussion blog, but I want to note it here too - it fits too well with the previous two items.

Or - a blogathon announcement - James Bond blogathon, at Lazy Eye Cinema, November 5-7. Should be good.

And - welcome back, Edward Copeland - here's hoping his health problems are on the mend. I've missed him.

And of course, another week, another interesting post from Girish - this one on Creative Geography. Extended, as usual, in comments...

Meanwhile: I haven't been watching the Olympics - with football season starting? I jest, of course - though if that game got much worse, we wouldn't be joking about Youilis kicking a field goal, we'd have been making cracks about hitting a three pointer. You gotta love the Rangers - in that game and the previous one, they combined to score 32 runs on 40 hits - and split. Counting the 9-0 and 9-1 losses to Baltimore over the weekend and tonight's 8-4 loss, they've given up 52 runs in 5 games - scoring 37, even with the shut out.... Great fun. I should be more concerned with the Boston bullpen - taking a good shellacking last night, and one of the few who didn't fuel the flames coming in tonight and offering up a quick three run homer... but the main starters and the end of the pen are so good (Lester dominant again tonight), and the offense still so potent that things look pretty good for the local 9. Even with guys hurt we're catching the breaks - we lose Lowell, but Tampa loses Langoria and Crawford - all this just as Ellsbury starts hitting again, Jed Lowrie comes up and looks like the real thing (leading all SS in RBI since the all star break - couple more tonight) - it's good.

So - that's it for tonight. Some film stuff to read, and Baseball - what else can you ask? (I should write up some of the films I've seen lately - nice weekend of films, though I did miss one I wanted to see - Kon Ichikawa's last film - thanks to a monsoon; I did see an excellent documentary on Ichikawa, directed by Shunji Iwai; along with Man on Wire, Boom, the La Chinoise DVD and some William S. Hart. Maybe over the weekend - there are a couple more playing in town. Mourning Forest, say. We'll see.)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Double Bills to Double Your Fun!

There's a lot of talk going around about double features. Diablo Cody's week at the New Beverly Cinema set off a swarm of posts - a meme, red in tooth and claw, circling the internet in the usual manner... And Sight and Sound, probably not inspired by Diablo or Piper, though who can say, offers up their own set of double features (that's PDF, I'll have you know), chosen by a host of critics and film people. Girish expands, and the comment section buzzes with suggestions and, lately, math.

There's nothing for it but to combine these - or, really, to do the meme, though taking off from the Sight and Sound list. Specifically, Brad Stevens' suggestion of a pairing of Celine and Julie Go Boating and Inland Empire. Ryland Walker Knight is also moved by the matchup. It's good. I was surprised to find I hadn't brought up the comparison in any of my Rivette posts last year - nor my Inland Empire "explanation"*. I knew I wrote about them - turns out, it was part of a draft for those Rivette posts linked above, and left on the cutting room floor. Or blogger's abandoned drafts. It's not all that profound - in fact, I think there are more overt references to Celine and Julie in Mulholland Drive than Inland Empire - the way one woman finds another sleeping on her doorstep (so to speak), the girl detective plot, etc... But there are plenty of parallels between any of these films - the way they combines multiple stories, sometimes at the same level, sometimes splitting the levels - the way they moves in and out of these stories stylistically, and so on. Though in some ways they are inverted, Rivette and Lynch: with Lynch, everything that gets into the film is given the weight of “reality” (within the fiction) - that is, Laura Dern’s journeys through god knows how many plots and ontological orders in Inland Empire are all played as if what you see, what she sees, at any given moment, is completely and inescapably real. With Rivette, you get the exact opposite - the sense instead that everything you see, everything the characters see, do, experience is always a game, a play, a joke - though Rivette is quite flexible about this.

Anyway: the point of all that is that you can, sort of, look at Lynch's films as a kind of disguised remake of the Rivette film. And that suggests a film festival! So - a dozen films, arranged in pairs - linked pairs: twisted (or not) remakes, or separated twins...

1. So start right there: Celine and Julie Go Boating and Mulholland Drive.

2. The Wizard of Oz & Stalker - that's what Stalker is, right? three men go into a zone looking to be granted wishes. This moves from black and white to color. They hallucinate, pass through various threats... find out it's all a bit of a joke, though whatever changes changes inside them. Right? (It's been ages since I've seen Stalker: I think the parallels are better than that even.) So there.

3. Vanda's Room & En Construccion - two films shot more or less simultaneously in Lisbon and Barcelona with similar ambitions and technical conditions (Costa shooting more or less alone with digital video; Guerin shooting on film, but as part of a film school project, that made it possible to shoot for free, with a minimal crew, and to spend a long time in the place they were shooting, as Costa did.) And coming out with similar stories, about the destruction of old neighborhoods and their replacement with new - all of it (both films) anchored by charismatic tough drug addicted women...

4. Play Time & Alphaville - day and night in 60s new Paris.

5. Cat People & Tropical Malady - it's as though Weerasthukal combines Cat People with I Walked With a Zombie, combining the inner divisions of the first with the spatial divisions of the second - the divided character and the two places, house and jungle... why not? A film that masters the Lewton/Tourneur use of suggestion, and deep ambiguity...

6. California Dreamin' (Endless) and Darjeeling Limited - not remakes of course since they were made about the same time - but two films about Americans on trains in strange countries - they become almost mirrors: Anderson’s Americans see everything around them as a means to their own salvation - while Nemescu's lot sees the Americans as their salvation, a chance to work out something of their own. Though there's a bit of that in Darjeeling Limited as well - both films, for example, have local women using American men to get out of something, while letting the American think he's using her... Anyway - a double bill I'd love to see, and that's the real point...

I suppose there are plenty more like this - but this is a week of films I would love to see. So - that's all anyone can ask, right? And as I mentioned in Girish's comments, there are so many ways to approach something like this - like - real double features I've seen, whether intentional (programmed by someone) or accidental - like the day I saw Letters from Iwo Jima and Jeanne La Poucelle (all 6 plus hours of it) more or less back to back...

* Take THAT, Parallel Universe Film Guide! They haven't actually added Inland Empire, but when they do, if they don't call it, "You Think You're So Smart Explaining the Last One, Try Explaining This!" they could call it, "I Love Lamps!" I would.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Creepy Suburban Doings Right Under Your Nose*

Via Screengrab, I have discovered another world, lingering just the other side of the movie screen - a Parallel Universe! with its own film guide and everything. I may never leave.... who wouldn't want to see Alienation with an F/Stop? or the classic rom-com, All in All, I'd Rather Marry the Rich Handsome One? not to mention the surrealist masterpiece, Venomous Stink of the Hoi Polloi.

There's plenty of fun to be had figuring out the references, though even when they're obvious, they're a hoot - take the works of the famed Rave brothers - Slack Jawed Yokels on Parade; Slack-Jawed Yokels in Minnesota; Slack-Jawed Yokels Picaresque and Slack-Jawed Yokels Feelin' Philosophical - it's mean, but what can you say? And can you improve on All Men Are Scum Sucking Pigs in summing up Mizoguchi?

* From the auteur of You Explain It...