Formerly "Dave's Blog About Movies and Such"

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Louie - "Something Is Wrong"

In the routine that made me a life-long fan of Louis CK, the once struggling comedian discussed being so broke that the bank started charging him money for having no money. It was bits such as this, in fact, that garnered Louis most of his earliest, most ardent supporters. The appeal was obvious: he was a struggling everyman whose biting social observations rang true for any of us who have ever had "to raise ten bucks just to be broke." He was one guy I really wanted to see make it big.

But part of me worried that such success would cause him to lose touch, to lose his relatability, to start phoning it in. I can now see, however, how unfounded these fears were. It should have come as no surprise that someone as clever as Louis would be able to effortlessly navigate the transition. Now that he's successful, Louis no longer plays up the struggling everyman aspect of his earlier persona; he knows it would ring false. As he acknowledged in his recent Live at the Beacon Theater special, "I'm not like you. I'm not, I'm not. All the things you do, I do a better version of all those things." In a hilariously self-deprecating manner, he now acknowledges that he has enough money to waste it foolishly.

Louis is a man who can now—in one of the best sequences of the third season premier of Louie—casually plunk down $7500 on a midlife crisis motorcycle. Just because (well, and also because in a hilarious earlier scene a construction crew destroyed his car...also, just because); and then joyride through New York. Which, by the way, how much has Louis grown as a filmmaker. I've always admired the man's chops, but, goddamn, the New York motorcycle ride sequence was absolutely stunning.

And speaking of artistic growth, I admire the ballsiness of beginning the season with the end of a six month relationship that we are only now aware has been existing. Of course, as we all know, Louie is a show without structure—or at least not a conventional one—so such a story is not completely out of the norm. Characters who would be central to the structure of other shows, flit in and out of this fictional universe. Part of the appeal of Louie is that it hits the reset button after each story; it's more a series of short films than a TV series.

And that's certainly the case with Louis' fictional relationship with Gaby Hoffman's character. With elegant efficiency, Louis displays the pointlessness that would have been the chronicling of the entire affair. We don't need to see the previous six months of their relationship to understand the dynamic. They are in tune enough at this point that she can read his subtle body language/facial expressions and realize that the wishy-washy wimp is silently, passive-aggressively breaking up with her. Or is he? He hesitates enough that it's obvious even he doesn't know. It's just easier to stay than stop.

I'm interested to see how the rest of the season will play out—not in terms of continuing story-lines, obviously, because Louie thankfully never bothers with that shit, but in terms of structure. I think Louis is finding a nice groove. Over the course of the series it seems that he has become less interested in the sorts of multi-sketch episodes he used to rely on more. Although I definitely like those episodes, I find that my favorites have been the single story pieces (Bully, God, Eddie, Niece). All in all, an excellent start to the season.

Friday, June 29, 2012

It's Here!

So the best show currently on TV, Louie, had its 3rd Season premiere last night. I don't have cable, so I couldn't watch it; but if these episodes become available on itunes like they have in the past, I will watch the premiere and review it for y'all tomorrow.

In the meantime, enjoy this 3rd Season teaser:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blank City (2010)

dir. Celine Danhier

Every artistic period in the history of New York was the most important the city had seen. Every artistic movement was the first to to truly capture the soul of the city. Every generation of newcomers arrived in the city just before the era peaked. Every group came just as the era declined. Every artistic movement was the first pure people's movement, unsullied by commercial concerns. Every era learned an important lesson about sacrificing art for commercial gain. The same is true for every city that has ever existed.

Watching Celine Danhier's captivating documentary on New York's No Wave film movement of the late seventies-early eighties, Blank City I experienced quite a sense of deja vu. The story told here was one I'd experienced ad infinitum, involving various artistic movements in various locations, in damn near every doc I'd ever seen on artistic movements. I thought there had to be a common thread. And there was. The artists featured here—as well as those of [insert your favorite artistic movement for your favorite city]—all experienced their best years when they were in their late teens to late twenties. In other words, being young is awesome.

And I couldn't agree more. Yes, we all look with nostalgia on the past. Even when those years consisted of wasted potential. Case in point: me. This specific time in my life was a dead end. I did naught but drink and maybe, occasionally, write a little bit. Still, these were some of my favorite years. Why? I suspect part of it is nostalgia for being young, but I think there's a bigger reason. This is a transitional period, a time of new-found independence. It is during these years when we must finally fend for ourselves. Our personalities are becoming slightly less malleable; we're beginning to come to grips with who we are. In other words, these are some of the most important years in defining who we are to be in the ensuing how many years we will exist.

And so Blank City made me nostalgic for, not only the past of the No Wave movement (one I never experienced firsthand), but also for my specific past. For, you see, one of the biggest motivations for my moving to New York (aside from the public transportation system—I have no desire to drive) was a romanticization of this era in New York's artistic life. I had no idea what I would get out of it, but I knew I had to move here. And this time in my life would prove to be, not only the most important one in determining who I was to be, but also my particular artistic bent. And all I did was live vicariously through another group's artistic flowering.

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dueling Trailers: Infernal Affairs (2002) and The Departed (2006)

Here's another dueling trailer post. As mentioned before, I do not discuss the movies themselves in these entries, merely the way they're advertised (and, if I'm being perfectly honest, I sadly have not yet seen Infernal Affairs). Also, because my American brain is just a little too American-centric, I always discuss the American trailers for the films. Anyway, with that in mind, here are the trailers to Infernal Affairs and Scorsese's remake The Departed.

Infernal Affairs (2002)
dir. Wai-keung Lau and Alan Mak

Shit, we've got a no-English-speaking movie we gotta sell to a we-don't-like-to-read-subtitles public. Let's play up the accolades. All the critics loved this movie. We'll put up a list of all the awards. Oh, but wait, we don't folks to think this is just some artsy movie—those don't sell. Mention the cops and robbers plot; Americans love that shit. But we can't have snippets of dialogue; again subtitles Americans no like. We'll get an American narrator.

So step right up folks, we've got a hard-boiled crime picture that the critics also like, but not so much that it's artsy, and there's violence and...what was that about a foreign language and subtitles? We didn't say anything about a foreign language and subtitles. Who said anything about a foreign language and subtitles.

[Infernal Affairs trailer:]

The Departed (2006)
dir. Martin Scorsese

By this point in his career, Scorsese was more than just a well-known commodity, he was synonymous with everything that was right about cinema in general and gangster movies in particular. And so, when advertising any of his movies, studios knew enough to play up Scorsese's involvement. Hence this trailer's opening: a dark silhoutte walks across what appears to be an auto shop and pontificates on the right and wrong side of the law. Intercut with this are images of Leo in prison and Damon in uniform. And, oh yeah, did I mention "Gimme Shelter?" Oh shit, is this another Scorsese gangster picture? Sure enough, it is. Sweet awesomeness.

By the way, it's no accident that the final title image in the trailer bears more than a passing resemblance to the poster for Scorsese's breakout picture, Mean Streets.

[The Departed trailer:]

Movie Theme Song Wednesday: The Hanging Tree (1959)

dir. Delmer Daves

"The Hanging Tree" - Marty Robbins

To see it as used in the movie, click here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 50 - The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, and Ridley Scott

dir. Ridley Scott

In the accompaniment to our Prometheus episode, Roger and I discuss the career of Ridley Scott, and then critique his Hannibal as well as Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs. You can listen to the episode here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962)

dir. Robert Enrico

[And here’s another one of my Netflix Experiment movies. For those who haven’t read recent entries on the subject, I am no longer checking my Netflix queue—just accepting what gets sent my way. Basically, it means I’m finally getting around to watching the hundreds of flicks I put on my list ages ago but put off watching. Incidentally, today’s experiment movie, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, just happens to be one of the few shorts I’ve covered here.]

As you know from a previous post, I ain’t exactly a hard-on about going into a movie fresh. Indeed, many times, considering the complexity of the plot, it can be downright advantageous to know the ins and outs of a story beforehand—more brain power can be devoted to musing on the photography, themes, performances, direction, what have you; rather than deciphering what’s going on in the plot. Yes, I understand that most readers are tsk-tsking in disapproval right now; but at worst, I consider this situation a mixed bag. Where you lose in the surprise factor, you gain in appreciating the depth (or lack thereof) of the picture as a whole. Hell, even with books, I find that I tend to enjoy them more if I take a break and read a summary of the entire plot before continuing: I’m much better able to focus on the quality of the writing.

But wait, I know you must be asking, what of the stories with “oh shit, I can’t believe that just happened” twist endings? Well, even those aren’t much of an issue for me. If the story is told in a compelling enough manner, I’ll enjoy the ride even if I already know the destination. We all rewatch movies, don’t we? It’s not like we forget the endings in between viewings. No, if a movie is good enough, we return to it just to spend time in the presence of its company.

And so what, you are now asking, does this have to do with today’s review of the short An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge? (By the way, why am I assuming you guys are such an inquisitive bunch today?) Well, I bring this up because Robert Enrico, when adapting Ambrose Bierce’s classic short story, was given the advantage (some might say curse) of filming material that damn near every American was familiar with, not only from High School English classes, but also through innumerable imitations. Hell, The Twilight Zone owed such a debt to this story’s dark, tragic twist ending that it ended up playing Enrico’s short adaptation of Bierce’s story as a Twilight Zone episode.

So, seeing as most people knew the outcome already (Civil war soldier escapes a hanging and flees back to his his mind, in the seconds before his body actually falls from the bridge from which he is being hanged. Oh yeah, SPOILER), Enrico had to up his directing game to truly make a mark. And he does so with flying colors.

Does knowing beforehand that the bulk of this story takes place in the main character’s soon-to-be-dead mind hinder the short? It depends on the viewer, I suppose. I marveled at the way Enrico was able to imply the dreamlike without ever making it explicit. Throughout much of the escape, the camera glides a little too perfectly, a little too fluidly. Everything happens just right—the way it must in this man’s mind to achieve the perfect kind of escape. And of the final mind-encounter with the wife, Enrico teased for a seeming eternity the length of time it took the soldier and his beloved to run toward each other. Enrico smartly filmed with a long lens, from a distance, the wife’s slow run, making it seem as if she were simply running in place: a phenomenon all too familiar to anyone who has ever had a dream of running to or from yeah, everyone would understand this.

Again, nothing new here, but one helluva ride.

Dave's Rating:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Writing Advice from Elmore Leonard

From The Atlantic this week comes this great little interview with Elmore Leonard with some sound advice for writers. One take away for me: I'm gonna start waking up at five every morning before work and write for two hours.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Trailer Time: Taken 2: Electric Torture-aloo (2012)

dir. Olivier Megaton

First of all, my apologies if anyone has already taken the joke I made in the title of this post. Secondly, for some reason, Taken is one of the few movies my podcast/writing partner Roger and I have argued over (incidentally, we also argued over Prometheus in a recent podcast, which you can listen to here). I have no idea why I took Taken seriously enough to actually get angry over its content when I first saw it (you can read my old review here); it is no different than any of the eighties trash movies I love. Maybe I was just in a bad mood when I watched the movie. Anyway, my old review is what it is.

Watching the trailer to Taken 2, I feel extra silly that I was serious last time around. I am reminded just how over-the-top trashy the first movie was. It looks like this sequel will take everything ludicrous about the first movie and crank that shit to eleven: more of the same plus more. So basically it'll be like The Hangover 2—but with an out-of-shape elderly man beating people to death.

[The trailer:]

Thursday, June 21, 2012

These Amazing Shadows (2011)

dir. Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton

Ted Turner is one of the most important figures in the history of film preservation. Yes, that's right. And no I ain't talking about the wonderful asset to movie lovers that is his channel TCM. I am speaking, of course, about his decision in the eighties to colorize damn near every black and white movie he could get his hands on. Now—

Hold on, stop shouting me down; let me finish. There's a point here. You see, we movie lovers are a meek bunch. It takes quite a lot to get as all riled up. And the metaphorical rubbing of his dick all over America's shared heritage that was Turner's contemptuous disregard for Classic cinema was just such an act. After Turner defiled so many of our cherished movies, film lovers screamed, 'enough is enough.'

Much hand-wringing commenced and Congressional hearings were held, which eventually lead to the founding of the National Film Registry—a group of films selected for preservation in the Library of Congress. 25 movies are selected each year based on the criteria of cultural, historical, or aesthetic significance (Of course, this means that most of my favorite trash films are likely never to see inclusion in this group).

These Amazing Shadows is the story of the National Film Registry. More accurately, it is a clip show in which various movie lovers explain what film means to them. But as far as clip shows go, this one ain't bad. Even if you don't care for the talking heads—which I do—you at least get to see clips of many of your favorite movies (I'm assuming here). And hey, isn't that enough.

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Trailer Time: Tomorrow Night (1998/Never Released/Soon to be Released)

dir Louis CK

[There's no poster for this unreleased movie, so here's Louis.]

I really gotta stop sucking Louis CK's dick. It's getting downright unseemly. But still, when I heard that he directed a feature length movie, Tomorrow Night, way back before Pootie Tang, I had to dig around for it. Unfortunately, Tomorrow Night was never released after it played the festival circuit. According to Louis, he has the only copy of the movie. And as far as I can tell, he has no plans on releasing it. Who knows—maybe it bears all the amateurish signs of a first feature and he's embarrassed by it. So, I don't fault him for not releasing this; but still, it's a goddamn shame I'll probably never get to see it. Based on the trailer, whatever this movie is, it looks delightfully strange as fuck.

Ok, I just checked Louis' website and he does plan on releasing the movie through his site soon. I guess that means I should rewrite the first paragraph, but fuck it. Anyway, I can't wait to plop down the $5 it will likely cost for this.

[The trailer:]

Movie Theme Song Wednesday: Alfie (1966)

dir. Lewis Gilbert

"Alfie" - Cilla Black

"Alfie" - Cher

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Note on the Prometheus Podcast Episode

OK, so Roger called me in a panic because he just found a video review of Prometheus that had two of the same jokes that he used in the podcast. So, we decided to acknowledge this video by Red Letter Media, and let people know we didn't realize these two jokes had already been made. If we had known about this video before the podcast had posted, I would have edited the jokes out. But the podcast is out now, so it is what it is. Mostly, I wanted to post this Red Letter Media video because I think it's pretty durn funny. And they made a lot of points Roger and I didn't even think of when we recorded. Enjoy.

New The Master Trailer

It just keeps getting better. Yes, here is another teaser for Paul Thomas Anderson's upcoming ___________ film The Master. As I've mentioned numerous times (including this podcast episode), Anderson is one of my favorite filmmakers working today. So, this is definitely my most anticipated film of the year. It certainly helps that the teasers Anderson has been putting out are fan-fucking-tastic. With this newest teaser, we finally get a taste of Philip Seymour Hoffman's turn as the slimy founder of the fictionalized version of ___________. Damn, I admire Anderson's balls for helming this project.

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 49 - Prometheus

dir. Ridley Scott

In our first debate episode Roger and I discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Ridley Scott's much-anticipated sci-fi picture Prometheus. You can listen to the episode here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cage of Evil (1960)

dir. Edward L. Cahn

Just to avoid any confusion, let me first get this out of the way, Cage of Evil is not in fact a movie in which multiple evil Nicolas Cage clones enter a steel cage and fight each other to the death ("Eight Cages enter; one Cage leaves...the cage"). That movie exists only in my brain.

["If you even think of bringing bees into the Cage cage, I will violate your soul. Nic Cage!"]

No this disappointingly Cage-free movie tells the story of cop Scott Harper, a man who turns crooked on account of he's got the hots for a heist leader's moll. So he and the gal make plans to snatch the sap's stolen diamonds and turn rabbit. Where the title comes from I've got no fucking clue.

By the way, how does Inspector Melrose, Scott's chief—and Cage of Evil's speaking-as-if-doing-play-by-play-on-the-world's-dullest-watching-paint-dry-competition-show narrator—feel about the man's exploits? Well, after Scott gets his ass lit up down Mexico way (Spoiler Alert: that's the ending and stuff), and then uses his last ounce of criminal strength to reach for the out-of-reach diamonds that fell from his criminal pocket...

["I'll just die if I don't got some stones in my hand."]

Melrose states, "That's the way Scott Harper died, his hand reaching out for something he could never have, something he wasn't meant to have. I wish he could have known that...before it was too late."

So yeah, kids, the next time you think it's cool to mock your sworn duty to the badge by getting mixed up with some crazy, crooked dame just so you can make some scratch and flee to Mexico with her, just remember: you'll get shot by Mexican customs officers. So yeah, say no to doing all that. By the way, Cage of Evil, subtlety called, it wants its nothing back.

So, no review here; just random brain farts.

Dave's Rating:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dueling Trailers: The Hustler (1961) and The Color of Money (1986)

I can't believe I've ever done only one of these dueling trailer posts—and a year ago at that. It should have become a running feature by now. Well, no time like the present to start. And I guess it's fitting that, since in my previous entry I discussed the trailers for the original Cape Fear and Scorsese's remake, I am now discussing the trailers for The Hustler and Scorsese's sequel, The Color of Money. By the way, seeing as I haven't seen either of these movies in ages, I will comment only on the trailers, not the films themselves.

The Hustler (1961)
dir. Robert Rossen

Break. A pool game is started. As the balls scatter across the table, the title wobbles into view. Got it—this movie's about a pool hustler. And then the jazzy score kicks in, accompanied by modernist drawings: pool cue and balls; legs approaching each other; a man smoking; the title again, this time over a clock. And then repeat, again and again, faster and faster; until the title burrows its way into your brain. What's that movie again? Oh yeah, Gabbo—er, I mean, The Hustler. By the time the trailer actually gets to movie footage, it's got us hooked; we'll buy whatever it's selling. It's a Madison Avenue trailer that couldn't be any more of its time.

[The Hustler trailer:]

The Color of Money (1986)
dir. Martin Scorsese

And now the eighties. Fuck concept, we've got stars. Before any footage, before the title is introduced, the ubiquitous deep-throated eighties trailer narrator bombastically announces, as their last names fly at us from the darkness, "Paul Newman, Tom Cruise—in a Martin Scorsese picture." And then pool, and Cruise. Lots of each. Oh yeah, there's Paul Newman, talking about how badass Cruise is at pool. All the while, bouncy, eighties, synthy, "we're gonna have fun" music plays. I wanna hang out with those stars. Can I buy a ticket right now? It's got us hooked.

[The Color of Money trailer:]

Friday, June 15, 2012

Inspiration Time

Sorry for the lack of a real post today, but I've been a little busy with other writing type stuff. I'm not neglecting you folks; I'm just trying to balance shit. In the meantime, as I get amped up for all of my writing, I thought I'd share with you a couple pieces of bravura filmmaking that never fail to inspire me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pulling John (2009)

dir. Vassiliki Khonsari and Sevan Matossian

Did you realize, the world over, arm wrestling is not only considered a sport but it is also celebrated? [citation needed] Not only that, the sport's longest-running champion, John Brzenk, is a superstar elsewhere. But back in America, his home country, he works as an airfield mechanic to make ends meet.

All this time I so heartily mocked Sylvester Stallone's snooze-fest Over the Top, I took it as a given that Sly fabricated the whole arm-wrestling mania at the center of the picture. Really? People excited about the non-sport of arm wrestling? What's next? An action movie about bocce ball? But it looks like I was wrong. Who knew that there are actually worldwide tournaments for this event?

I guess my assumptions are just all fucked, led askew by native biases. After all, is arm wrestling any less athletic than the standing in a field of grass and waiting for a small ball to fly your way sport that is baseball? Watching Pulling John's athletes train has forced me to rethink my assumptions. These guys are every bit—if not more—athletically trained and talented as any over-compensated popular sports celebrity you can name. But arm wrestling's stars are so passionate about it they'll pursue this activity with little prospect of reward.

I suppose my biggest complaint with this sport is one that, paradoxically, gives me greater respect for the guys that pursue it: arm-wrestling matches are short and stationary as fuck—the complete opposite of a compelling spectator sport. But the fact that these guys spend years training for events that last nary more than a couple minutes is oddly fascinating. As I said before, so much passion, so much hard work, so little reward.

As of the movie, Pulling John is a standard sports doc—thrilling and suspenseful in all the right places. My only complaint is the John Brzenk reading scripted lines at gun point voice-over narration. But beyond that, an entertaining watch. Once again a documentary has forced me to care about something I recently mocked/gave less than two shits about.

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating:

Movie Theme Song Wednesday: Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)

dir. Robert Aldrich

"Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte" - Patti Page

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 48 - 50s Westerns, Mutant Calves, and Unfrozen Samurai Warriors (Oh My!)

dir. J. Larry Carroll

We were supposed to discuss the unfrozen samurai warrior movie Ghost Warrior, but Roger didn't do his homework. Instead we discussed the movies we watched during the week. And you know what—we also discussed Ghost Warrior, because fuck it. You can listen to the episode here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hot Damn, I Can't Wait

Breaking Bad Season 5 promo.

Blind Spot Series: An American in Paris (1951)

dir. Vincente Minnelli

[This post is part of my Blind Spot Series, in which I watch, for the first time, famous movies I should have seen long ago. And seeing as the movies in this series are generally well known and regarded, I don't necessarily discuss their plots or thoroughly critique them. These movies have already been analyzed to death; so anything I could bring to the table would be superfluous at best. What follows is merely my reaction to watching An American in Paris for the first time.]

Just a few pages into Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier, I'm already floored by the man's mastery of prose. With this book, Ford said to the world, "You wanna see what I fucking got? Do you? For reals? Well I'm gonna show ya'; but brace yourself, cause I ain't holding back." The way he so effortlessly navigated through a sentence, turning the written word into his bitch, is incredibly disheartening: no matter how I try I will never match his work. Nevertheless, The Good Soldier has further inspired me to create. Which always happens when I take in great art—even art that doesn't necessarily appeal to my specific sensibilities.

So I suppose it's fitting that I watched Vincente Minnelli's An American in Paris the same day I started reading Ford's book. But before I get up in this movie's guts, I just gotta get something off my chest: People fucking baffle me. One complaint I've heard over the years, more than a few times, in regard to Musicals is: "How can people watch that crap? People just breaking out into song—it's so unrealistic; no one does that." This is the equivalent of grousing on the lack of verisimilitude in a zombie movie. Musicals don't attempt to mimic real life. They aren't docu-dramas; they're...well, they're movies about people spontaneously breaking into song and dance. Artifice is the point; that is the aim.

Which is why, incidentally, I've never been moved by a Musical. My admiration for these movies has always been academic rather than emotional. As soon as a movie veers from the world of reality, which musicals so purposefully do, I am set adrift. There is nothing left to emotionally ground me, to connect me to the material. But that doesn't mean I'm not awed by these movies. (Note: I'm not trying to say it's impossible to be moved by a Musical. They just don't touch me that way. No, not even The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.) If you've listened to my podcast episode on The Raid, you know that I admire beautiful technique; I love watching professionally trained folks excel at the skill they spent years honing. So for me, the beautifully choreographed, exquisitely constructed musical numbers in An American in Paris—especially the stunning sixteen minute ballet climax—are no more or less thrilling than the kung fu choreography of a movie like The Raid.

So yeah, I get it if you don't like Musicals; they're not for everybody. I'm not saying that you have to like Musicals—everyone has personal preferences—I'm saying that you have to approach them with an understanding of what they are attempting to do. If you complain that Musicals are like really boring and stupid and stuff because there's no story, just a bunch of singing and dancing, and then you gleefully watch a movie that is just a ninety minute series of car crashes; then your argument is invalid. Your real complaint is that singing and dancing don't appeal to you. Which, fair enough.

Of course, the reverse is also true: anyone who loves and admires Musicals, anyone who sings the praises of An American in Paris and its aforementioned virtuoso sixteen minute dance climax needs to stop complaining about mindless action movies. To me, they're one and the same. Let's be honest, what is An American in Paris' climax if not Minnelli masturbating onto the screen? 'Folks, this is where the narrative stops. I'm just gonna pull out all the stops, assemble the greatest dancers Hollywood can buy, choreograph them to glide through a meticulously designed sound-stage, and let my fluid camera effortlessly capture the whole thing.'

If this were an action movie, this section would be the explosion filled show-stopping orgy of destruction. If this were porn, this section would, it'd probably be bukkake—an endless, uninterrupted series of money shots.

[In lieu of a bukkake picture, here's Ernest Borgnine's melty demon face from The Devil's Rain.]

As I said, neither action movies nor Musicals have ever moved me, but, when done well, they have always left me mesmerized. And what Minelli did here is goddamn inspiring. But again, it's all a matter of personal taste: some people like this stuff, others don't. Just don't make an irrelevant complaint about it.

(Side note: I generally try to avoid the sort of distracting, irrelevant, low-brow focus on performers' appearances endemic to so much amateur online movie criticism; but Jesus Christ, Leslie Caron was hot as fuck. I was a huge fan of Father Goose when I was a kid; and I'd be lying if I said the prospect of seeing her hot mug weren't one of the reasons I always watched the flick when it played on TV.)

Dave's Rating:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Trailer Time: Bury Me an Angel (1972)

dir. Barbara Peeters

"A howling hellcat humping a hot steel hog, on a roaring rampage of revenge."
-Trailer Narrator

So many biker movies, so little time. Every time I think I've got these movies licked, whenever I think I've seen most there is to see, I go to youtube, watch an endless series of trailers, and remind myself that I'll never get through all of them. Sure, I think, I'll find one to put on my list; invariably, however, I am inundated with must-watch trash. If only I could live two lifetimes, so that I could devote the second one to watching all these movies. Suffice to say, I really wanna check out Bury Me an Angel.

[The trailer:]

Friday, June 8, 2012

Spot That Trailer Music

I never do any of those posts that ask readers questions, so I figured I'd give it a shot. As you all know, trailers frequently repurpose the scores of older movies to sell their new wares, many times to great effect. And so, in this post I want you to spot the older score used in each trailer. You get points for getting this stuff right and whatnot. And what do the points get you? Not a goddamn thing.

[The Warriors trailer:]

[The Two Towers trailer:]

[Matchstick Men trailer:]

[Kill Bill Vol. 2 trailer:]

[Shaun of the Dead trailer (Ok, of the examples I included, this one has the briefest use of a previous score. Hint: it's at the very end of the trailer.):]

Thursday, June 7, 2012

After the Cameras Stopped: Amelie (2001)

Note: Before anyone gets the wrong idea, let me state emphatically: I love Amelie. This movie is my Prozac. Whenever I'm feeling down or particularly troubled by a disturbing movie, all I have to do is pop this in. Within seconds I'm put at ease. So yeah, this post isn't meant as an attack on the movie—just my attempt at humor.

Amelie (2001)
dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet

The Story: Awkward Amelie can't connect with people. Frustrated by her social anxiety, she decides to make others' lives better. Through a series of ninja-esque good deeds (silent but heartwarming), she brightens the lives of those around her. After becoming smitten by a porn store employee, she concocts a series of games to entice the lad. But she can never draw the inner strength to actually introduce herself. Fortunately, the lad soon discovers her identity, tracks her down to her apartment, and magic happens: they embrace, make kissy face, ride off together, and live happily ever after.

What Happened After the Cameras Stopped: The two find happiness in each other. For a time. But he eventually grows tired of her quirks. What was once charming has now grown annoying. She, having lived alone with her own meticulous routine for so long, never quite adjusts to relationship life: whereas she used to answer to no one but herself, she now has to plan around the boyfriend. Although they never have what could properly be deemed an argument, they do decide it would be best if they split. Within six months they amicably end the relationship.

Also, they both die alone.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

As We Go Through Life, We All Walk Along the Wire

If you haven't guessed by now, I've kinda got a thing for The Wire—and by got a thing for The Wire, I mean this is the greatest TV show of all time. Don't even think of disagreeing with me. Because you are wrong.

And so, anytime anything Wire related comes up, I just gotta post about it. Which brings me to this hilarious parody: The Wire: The Musical. Oh my God, there's so much to love here, the way this video so faithfully mimics awful community theater productions, the numerous Wire references ("I hate 40 degree days"); but mostly I love how enthusiastic Michael K. Williams is in this piece. It's downright infectious.

Movie Theme Song Wednesday: Never on Sunday (1960)

dir. Jules Dassin

"Never on Sunday" - Melina Mercouri

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

KL5-FILM Podcast Episode 47 - Masturbation Advice, Scarface, and Clint Eastwood (also, Tightrope)

dir. Richard Tuggle

Roger and I cover a wide range of topics, including, but not limited to: masturbation, Scarface, Al Pacino, Oliver Stone, and Clint Eastwood. Oh, also we discuss the ostensible topic of today's episode, Tightrope. You can listen to the episode here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Bullet for Joey (1955)

dir. Lewis Allen

Montreal: bargain city of light; city of we can't afford Europe so we'll—wait, there was a noir that took place in discount France? Yep, Red-baiting A Bullet for Joey, posits a world in which this city acts as the battle-ground for the future of liberty. All roads leading either to the destruction or triumph of democracy begin in Canada?

George Raft stars as Joe Victor, the sensitive teacher of a school for blind orphans. This timid fellow develops a crush on coworker Sheryl, who— I'm sorry, I couldn't keep saying that with a straight face. No, Raft is a two-bit hood in this picture; he kills people for money. And because of his crime cred, he gets roped into helping the Reds treat lady Liberty to a little chin music. Not that he is aware of their intentions. He simply gets asked to ensnare Canada's leading nuclear scientist—which, how pointless: whatever best they got is only ever gonna be, at best, second best (wow, why am I so mean to Canada today?)—and Joe says yes. Gee, what could a shadowy organization, taking orders from a mysterious leader, want with a nuclear scientist?

It is only when crusading investigator Raoul Leduc (Edward G. Robinson) gets kidnapped by the organization that Joe is alerted to the Reds' true intentions. By the way, this movie should be called, Don't Listen to Robinson When He Asks You to Do Something, Because You'll Get Your Ass Goddamn Killed. Not only does Joe get his ass killed after agreeing to help Raoul, but Raoul's partner also gets his ass done in, when Raoul asks him to stall the baddies. I think there's a much more interesting story buried in this picture, one that could be elaborated on in a sequel of sorts...or a piece of erotic fan fiction

Nowhere near the top of my film Noir pantheon, nor Red-baiting pantheon, A Bullet for Joey nevertheless has much to recommend it, not least of which is the snappy dialogue. When Joe barges in unannounced on his moll/shill used to lure the atomic scientist, Joyce Geary (Audrey Totter), she gruffly asks, “Your knuckles sore?”


“Then go out and bang them on the door.”

And speaking of the Joyce, I love the way this film contrasts her with supposed ugly duckling Yvonne Temblay (Toni Gerry). A Bullet for Joey traffics in the age-old trope of hiring hot actresses to play unattractive folks. As is always the case, they simply dowdy Yvonne up, the traditional Hollywood way—glasses + hair in bun = unfuckable. The supposed bombshell Joyce, on the other hand, has the sort of weathered visage indicative of a person who spent her best years addicted to booze, smokes, and regret.

All in all, an entertaining little hangover picture. No, I ain't gonna sing it's praises to the mountaintops, but A Bullet for Joey is a not bad way to spend an hour and a half.

Dave's Rating:

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Trailer Time: The Imposter (2012)

dir. Bart Layton

I can't find a release date for The Imposter, but it's definitely something I wanna check out. Thank you to Roger, my writing/podcast partner, for alerting me to this documentary.

[The trailer:]

Friday, June 1, 2012

After the Cameras Stopped: Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

dir. Robert Benton

The Story: Wife leaves husband. Husband stuck with kid. Wife comes back. Custody battle. Wife wins kid. Wife changes mind. Husband gets kid.

[The final Scene:]

What Happened After the Cameras Stopped: On her way up to see kid, wife has a realization. She rushes back down to the lobby and into the welcoming embrace of husband. The two have a great conversation. It is, in fact, the best conversation they've had in years. They can't remember the last time they were this happy. Yes they can—before they had kid.

Husband says, "You're right. Everything was fine until kid was born."

"You and I work. It's kid that's the problem."

"Well, you know what we have to do."

The two, arm-in-arm, head up to husband's apartment. Upon entering, husband calls to the other room, "Kid come in here. There's something important your mother and I have to discuss with you."

"Is it something I did?"

In unison husband and wife respond "yes," and then giggle to each other. When kid enters the room, husband motions him over to the couch. "Sit down, kid."

"Am I in trouble?"

"No; and neither, anymore, is our marriage. Now kid, you've probably noticed that your mother and I haven't been living together for over a year and a half now. I'm sure you have a lot of questions and concerns about this, but please know that your mother and I still love...each other very much. We don't want you to think that this divorce was our fault."

"No, kid. The blame lies squarely on your shoulders. If you hadn't come along, we'd still be happy, we'd still be married. But we've now realized that we don't have to let you stand in our way anymore. We're gonna make another go of it.

"So, we'll all be living together again?"

"Not quite," replies father. "I mean, your mother and I will be happy again."

"What about me?"

"That's the best part—you won't be here," replies mother.

"But where'll I go; what'll I do?"

"The circus."

"Yay, I love the circus."

Saying their last goodbye to kid, husband and wife walk away from kid's new home, a circus cage. After taking in the scene one last time, witnessing all that the freak-show has to offer, husband once again admires the craftsmanship in the lovingly detailed sign posted above kid's cage: The Marriage Destroyer.