Tuesday, February 28, 2006



Just go.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I just reenacted a Brokeback Mountain scene...

...for a series of "great film" spoof auditions the Brown Film Society is having people do. We're hosting the Ivy Film Festival, as we do every year, and there was an open call for random people to go in and read bad auditions for such films as The Silence of the Lambs, Closer and Brokeback Mountain.

It was hard to try not to play them straight... and also hard not to laugh at myself when I was either deadpanning or just overdoing it... especially since others were laughing. But whatever. They said it went really well. I guess I will see in April.

North Country is STILL ripping off Dogville

I remember when Nathaniel pointed out on his blog that the North Country poster design was a blatant ripoff of Dogville's. Well, the stealing continues. Here are the two DVD covers side by side:

Notice how the North Country people have not abandoned their blatant ripoff of the Dogville font and "heroine pose"... in fact, with the DVD covers, Kidman and Theron's stances are even more similar. Sigh.

Of course, even more bothersome is that North Country as a film steals from Dogville's "saintly put-upon heroine" motif, losing Von Trier's nuance and subversiveness in the transfer. That the poster so clearly reflects said theft is just icing on the clepto-cake.

btw, how great is it that I finally learned how to post pictures!? I will be doing more of this. It's fun.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Goodnight, and Good Luck...

...at some random NY theater, right after screening Ben-Hur.

Yeah, same day. That is a lot of movie. I just posted two reviews here tonight, and I'm not really up for another one, but anyway, yeah, I enjoyed it. It seemed a little slight, really, even though I knew it would only be 90 minutes. And while I was fine with it only being 90 minutes (I had just sat through 3.5 hours of Ben-Hur!), the short running time seemed to lessen the impact a bit. Like, how much could a film really do for me in only 1.5 hours?

Strathairn was great, and the ensemble work was terrific, but I can't muster up much enthusiasm for the film as a whole. It seemed like almost half of it was made of stock footage, and I felt at the end like I didn't get much out of actually viewing the film than I'd gotten already from just hearing about it. But them's the breaks when one waits till the last minute to see movies. There was just a kind of "been there, done that" feeling in it for me. Like I was just watching a history lesson, or a "stick it to McCarthy!" sermon. Which is fine. But hardly groundbreaking. It actually seemed like it might've been the 2 hour pilot to a TV show or something. A new news show, perhaps? Hmmm...

But regardless, it's a good film, and it's timely. Definitely worth a look.

My grade: B

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Ben-Hur at the Ziegfeld

I was in NYC this weekend visiting a friend, and it just so happened that the Ziegfeld theatre, which I'd heard some about through the esteemed Nathaniel R, was having a special run of screenings of "classics" (i.e. old epic-type films that have won academy awards). On Monday, they were showing Ben-Hur, so I decided I just had to have a look-see.

And I'm so glad I did. SO glad I saw this film on the big screen (I had never actually seen it before). It was 212 minutes with no intermission, but whatever, it was worth it. Grand, epic, and utterly lovely melodrama. Loved the music. Loved the drama. Loved the Heston (ironically playing a character rather opposite of how his persona seems today). Loved the gay subtext between Judah and his old friend at the beginning (The Celluloid Closet reveals, as I recall, that the other actor was in on "playing it gay" while Heston, as Judah, was not... maybe that's just a rumor, but I personally choose to believe it). Oh, and LOVED the chariot racing scene. Just terrific to see on the giant screen. A technical marvel for the '50s, and still quite impressive even now.

The only thing that bothered me was the end, when...


...Ben-Hur's mother and sister, having become "lepers", are magically cured, healthy and beautiful again, after witnessing Christ's crucifixion. That was a bit too fanstastical for my taste. Though in general, the Christ stuff was handled very... well... tastefully. It was all about love, and hope. THAT is what Christianity is about.

So yes, do see Ben-Hur, anyone who hasn't. It's awesome.

Grade (for what it's worth): A-

Crash into THIS, bitch.

OK, yeah, so I saw Crash at a special midnight screening at my local art theatre last saturday, and boy did I hate it (I wanted to post this review immediately afterward, but I was tired and had to leave for NYC the next morning).

It made me really, really upset. It was so f**king terrible. I guess I went in already thinking "so this is the movie that might upset Brokeback? Well, then, it'd better be good" so I went in with knives out from the start... which might explain why I had such a terrible visceral reaction against it. Or maybe I was just really tired (it was late) and impatient? But man, it was just BAD. SO BAD. The whole thing basically consists of thinly drawn characters having long discussions about how racist everyone is, and then engaging in implausible actions in order to prove that, YES, racism is EVERYWHERE. It was all long, drawn-out exhibition coupled with cheap melodrama. Really, so many wondrously ridiculous things happened in this movie back-to-back-to-back, it just made my head spin.


For instance, a couple of tough-looking black guys talk very articulately (after Sandra Bullock looks scared of them on the street) about how THEY are the victims in LA and that THEY should be scared, not her, after which they promptly remember that they have guns and then immediately steal her car (not that this kind of criminal psychology is baseless, but the way it plays out here is just laughable). Later, Sandra Bullock falls down a flight of stairs and suddenly becomes a better person for it (that is the crux of her arc, it really is). Also, Don Cheadle, while having sex with his hispanic girlfriend, ANSWERS THE PHONE and, upon discovering that it's his mother calling, explains that he has to go cause he's having sex with a Mexican girl, even though, as she explains afterward, she's not Mexican, her parents are from Puerto Rico and El Salvador, and he should know that, goddammit (you try and figure this scene out... there's so much wrong with it I don't even know where to start). And later, a little girl tragically steps in front of a bullet meant for her father, which would've been gut-wrenching except that she's miraculously OK afterward because it turns out she's his guardian angel or something (just... whatever). Oh yeah, and later, the two black car thieves run over a Chinese man, and one of them exclaims "A Chinaman's under the truck! A Chinaman's under the truck!"

Am I missing something here? Is this really great filmmaking? Is it? Anyway, if you're intrigued by all this, then see Crash. Cause really, it comes off even worse in the movie than it does in this description. I think here, it doesn't seem all that bad.


So yeah, by the end of this film, I'd basically learned two things:

1) Everyone is racist (yes, EVERYONE).


2) Paul Haggis is not a good filmmaker.

This is a big-fat "Issue Movie" with a capital I, and it never reads as much more than that. Although Terrence Howard was quite good. He was the only one in the cast I found watchable, despite the material (granted, his particular story probably made the most sense). Very talented, that one. I don't get the Dillon love, though. I saw nothing particularly special there. And I felt really bad for Don Cheadle, who I love, but some of the stuff he had to say was just... man... don't get me started.

Really, I'll barely be able to contain my rage when Paul Haggis inevitably takes the screenplay oscar away from Allen, Baumbach, Clooney, and Gaghan, particularly Baumbach, who really deserves this. And if Crash SOMEHOW manages to actually beat Brokeback to Best Picture, I will literally throw things at the television until it breaks (and it's not even my own TV on which I'm planning to watch the oscars... that is how much said win would enrage me).

Which brings me back to the title of this post: "Crash into THIS, bitch" (he says as he heaves a large, heavy object at the screen).

Disclamor: I realize that I am not intimately familiar with racism (the way I am with, say, homophobia). I am white. I have never been the target of such prejudice (except of course from "reverse racism" or whatever, but really, it's never been a big issue in my life... though of course, I'd be lying if I said a racist thought had never once crossed my mind). I also don't live in LA (though Miami is quite similar in many ways). So I know I am not predisposed to respond to Crash. But if I saw a whole movie about straight people all bitching about gay people, and gay people bitching about how much straight people hated them, written by someone who was clearly aiming to yell out, "You! In the audience! You're homophobic! Yeah, that's right, you! You're HOMOPHOBIC, and you don't even know it! But hey, you know what? Nobody's perfect", then I'd have hated that movie, too. Really. Probably moreso.

So, in conclusion:

Grade I want to give this movie based on my immediate, visceral reaction: D

Grade it probably deserves: C+ (generally mediocre, but helped out A LOT by the actors)

What I will do if Crash wins the best picture oscar: Again, literally throw things at my TV (wait, no, my FRIEND'S TV) until it breaks. I can see it happening now...

"Crash into this, bitch!"


Friday, February 17, 2006

wtf is up with Julianne Moore's career?

OK. This is getting out of control. Julianne needs to star in a good movie NOW. This is a totally random topic, but apparently Freedomland is pretty terrible (on the level of, say, Laws of Attraction, The Forgotten, and Prize Winner), and that makes 4 bad movies in a row. I haven't even bothered to see anything she's done since The Hours, and that is saying a lot for me. I suppose one could argue that if I'd seen these films, I might've liked them, but I know when to stay away. I don't have unlimited funds. And seeing Julianne Moore in bad movies is not exactly something I want to pay for. Utterly masochistic is what it is.

I never used to blame her for this recent tailspinning, but I feel I no longer have a choice. She didn't NEED to do all of these things. She has the choice to say no. Granted, Freedomland must've looked like a good idea back when Michael Winterbottom was involved, and she is still trying to get the funds for Savage Grace, but I am growing tired of waiting. It's hard to even like Julianne anymore when she hasn't done a movie worth seeing in over 3 years. If Savage Grace never gets made, and she continues to go this route, it will be a true tragedy. Though the stuff she has coming up looks somewhat better than what she's done lately. And it better be, cause she has a lot of making up to do to climb out of this hole she now finds herself in.

Come on, Juli. Make me proud. You didn't spend the '90s building your great rep for THIS. Get off your '50s furtinure, leave Caleb and Liv with Bart, and go make something of yourself. PLEASE.

Monday, February 06, 2006

You Tube has some of the funniest spoofs EVER

These two are totally worth a look. I was cracking up:

Memoirs of a Geisha Mad TV spoof:

Brokeback to the Future:

Watch and laugh. Please.