From Atlantis to Interzone


Cinematic Goal 2009: Directors
December 30, 2008, 7:41 pm
Filed under: Film

I’m not one to usually devote a month or any short period of time to exploring the work of a director, but I have decided that, in 2009, I want to explore the filmographies of the following directors at least somewhat, even if I only manage to see one film by them. Bare in mind that I have not seen a single feature film from any of these listed directors.

Robert Bresson
Carl Dreyer
Sergei Eisenstein
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
D.W. Griffith
Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Alejandro Jodorowsky
Buster Keaton
Guy Maddin
Tsai Ming-Liang
Kenji Mizoguchi
F.W. Murnau
François Ozon
Satyajit Ray
Carol Reed
Jean Renoir
Jacques Rivette
Eric Rohmer
Vittorio De Sica
Douglas Sirk
Andrei Tarkovsky
Jean Vigo
Luchino Visconti
William Wyler



There’s strange weather in the back of the room
December 28, 2008, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Lyrical Shenanigans

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And she’s pretty, Jesse’s spinning the tunes
Eyelashes, and some white leather boots
God, what have I been drinking?
I could be serious but I’m just kiddin’ around
I could be anything, anything but sticking around
Love is hell
Love is hell
Love is . . . hell
Is . . .hell



A Sexy Christmas Greeting
December 25, 2008, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Femmes

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The Best Non-Christmas Film Christmas Scenes
December 25, 2008, 2:34 am
Filed under: Animation, Film

Christmas is a time for TV schedulers to remind the public of the good old days when holiday-centred entertainment involved grinches learning the error of their ways, children poking their eyes out with BB guns and how wonderful a life it really is, as opposed to now where the cinematic Christmas diet consists of Tim Allen donning a fat suit every few years and the annual putrid festive comedy starring Vince Vaughn. There are quite a few good Christmas films amid all the crap over the years. Particularly festive examples such as A Christmas Story and The Shop Around the Corner still hold up very well. Some of my favourites, such as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Proposition and Eyes Wide Shut, simply use the holiday season for setting purposes.

That’s all well and jolly good, but what I want to talk about is high quality scenes concerning Christmas from films that are not actually set primarily around the holiday season. I’ve decided to share with you, my potentially enthusiastic audience, some of my favourite Christmas scenes from non-Christmas films. Let’s get merry!

American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000)
Not only does this Christmas party scene showcase Bale’s brilliant performance, it also contains the amusing image of yuppie psychopath Patrick Bateman wandering around with fake reindeer antlers. In addition to this, an important message is provided: women do not want breast implants for Christmas. That’s something I’ve certainly kept in mind over the years.

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The Incredible Hulk (Leterrier, 2008)
December 23, 2008, 8:01 pm
Filed under: Film

“Incredibly banal” sums it up quite well because this is one of the dullest action films in quite some time. After Ang Lee’s film I had my suspicions that this character just can’t work on film, and this follow-up/reworking confirms them. There just seems to be this inherent weightlessness to any CGI Hulk, as well as the character of Abomination, and so every scene with this transformed Bruce Banner is like watching a big uninteresting green shape bouncing around. This may be somewhat excusable if the rest of the film were remotely interesting but it isn’t. Banner’s psychological issues aren’t dealt with in any meaningful way and he really is quite a weak protagonist. I don’t think Edward Norton is bad in the role but for an actor known for portraying psychologically complex individuals I expected a little more to his performance. Likewise, I could say the same for Tim Roth, who seems to attempt to chew the scenery but gets stuck choking on the bad dialogue and poorly realised character he’s given. William Hurt has something of a dull voice, and this works for him in some roles, but in the role of a high ranking authority figure he completely fails to be at all menacing.

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Doomsday (Marshall, 2008)
December 23, 2008, 7:46 pm
Filed under: Film

There seems to be this current trend of filmmakers deliberately aping cult films of the past so as to achieve a similar status. Of course, those films achieved such cult status out of pure circumstance. There is no formula to gain such success and so such direct referencing as that present in Neil Marshall’s third film was bound to fail. It’s all well and good to respectfully homage your idols in your work but it’s another thing entirely to virtually swipe scenarios from other films and mix them up in an attempt to create a story. Some of the central villains, to name an example of what I’m referring to, don the same sort of look as the those of The Road Warrior and, bar their cannibalistic nature, are virtually the same characters. The film’s climactic chase sequence is also such a blatant rip-off of that film’s that it’s not even funny. Whoever decided that scene should have Frankie Goes to Hollywood‘s “Two Tribes” playing over it needs to be punished. Along with the complete lack of an original vision, the film suffers in that it’s just not remotely entertaining. Despite some frenetic editing, virtually all of the film falls flat, rendering it something of a chore to sit through. The only particularly strong emotional reaction that I had to it was being rather repulsed by the burning alive and consuming of one unfortunate character. It’s also a shame that Marshall assembled a cast of actually very talented people and gave them absolutely nothing to work with. To name two examples, Sweet Sixteen and A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints star Martin Compston is given the most thankless role imaginable and Malcolm McDowell is forced to provide some terribly written expository dialogue.

To finish off these brief thoughts, I’d like to refer to a good point made in Sight & Sound‘s review of the film. When John Carpenter named two characters in Escape from New York Romero and Cronenberg it felt like a respectful nod to his peers. When Marshall gives us two characters called Carpenter and Miller it only reminds us of their far superior films.



Screencap Challenge #2
December 19, 2008, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Film

Hopefully this one will be a tad more difficult.

1.

Answer: As Tears Go By (Polar Bear)

2.

Answer: The Warriors (Yayo)

3.

Answer: Army of Shadows (Yayo)

4.

Answer: Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Rouge)

5.

Answer: The Dead (Orpheline)

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