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Film Snobs 2012 (1) - the End of Mayan Cinema

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Jan 9, 2012, 6:54am Top

I went to see The Artist at the weekend. Is it a great film? Probably not. Is it an enjoyable film? Certainly, unless you can't accept silent movies. The story is hackneyed - silent film George Valentin star can't accept the onset of talkies and loses his fortune on making a silent film; meanwhile starlet Peppy Miller who Valentin helped to get into films is on the up-and-up; and then there is the love that binds them.
A loving homage to silent cinema down to using the editing style of the 1920s and keeping the over-the-top melodrama it succeeds as a film because it is not done cynically. The stars are excellent (Dujardine brushes up his OSS117 persona), the music fits nicely, and there is even a lovable comedic dog. Some of the critical appreciation and Oscar talk is definitely down to its freshness, somewhat ironic for a silent movie - there are no big stars, stunts, explosions, no reliance on the lowest common denominator, and such like. Depressingly, it also has a better screenplay than most of the films I've seen recently.

Jan 9, 2012, 8:46am Top

Looking forward to that one and "Tinker Tailor...". That's about it. Oh, and Aki Kaurismaki's "Le Havre".

Jan 9, 2012, 12:12pm Top

Bunged in an order for some DVDs over the weekend: two by Bergman, a Jancsó box set, Nosferatu by Murnau, and a Sergei Parajanov...

Edited: Jan 9, 2012, 12:50pm Top

Would like to see Michael Winterbottom's "The Trip" too. That looks like a hoot.


Jan 9, 2012, 1:54pm Top

Winterbottom's adaptation of Tristram Shandy starring Steve Coogan, Dylan Moran, and Gillian Anderson is wonderful. A great postmodern comedy that sprawls all over various genres and techniques from "historical cinema" to "behind-the-scenes documentary." There is also a bonus feature where Stephen Fry has a conversation with the curator of the Laurence Sterne House. All very intellectual and fun.

You should check out Coogan in "Hamlet 2." It's hilarious and a scathing indictment of Phoenix, Arizona's lack of culture.

Jan 9, 2012, 4:11pm Top

I have "Tristram Shandy" in my film collection--my wife's seen it and thought it superb. I'll get around to it one of these days...

Jan 9, 2012, 6:55pm Top

Oh, I've been watching "The Trip" on TV here, it's very good, I've always loved Coogan and Rob Brydon is great too.

A new Kaurismaki is a good thing.

Caught the latest Sherlock Holmes on the weekend. Very dumb, but I had fun because I wasn't expecting much beyond the pretty with some explosions.

This weekend, I'm hoping to get out to see "Arietty", the new Studio Ghibli, with the kids. They've been entranced by "Ponyo" of late, so hopefully that'll distract them when they realise that they really want to see "Hugo" instead (as do I, but I want to see it FIRST, sans children).

Then next week, "Tinker Tailor" opens. It's crazy movie time at the moment, ridiculous. Nothing all summer, and then everything in two weeks. Harrumph.

Edited: Jan 9, 2012, 7:44pm Top

In case anyone missed my brilliant contribution at the end of the previous thread:

Un Prophète- "After refusing to snitch, 18-year-old Arab Malik (Tahar Rahim) is thrown into a French prison, where the Corsican mafia rules with a firm fist."

I thought I was going to see the movie in installments but I was kind of surprised that I saw the whole thing in one sitting. It could've been shorter than 155 minutes, and I thought some of these City of God stylistic flourishes were unnecessary. The story though is good. Perfect Sunday afternoon movie.

Jan 9, 2012, 7:45pm Top

I saw it, and thought "gotta remember the name of that film" so glad to see it reiterated here!

Jan 9, 2012, 7:58pm Top

Von Trier's "Melancholia" is playing in Saskatoon this week but this is a really hectic time so we'll have to miss it. Unfortunately...

Jan 9, 2012, 11:31pm Top

#2 Have you seen the BBC miniseries version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with Alec Guinness as George Smiley?

Jan 9, 2012, 11:58pm Top

And Patrick Steward as Karla.

Jan 10, 2012, 8:48am Top

Loved the original "Tinker, Tailor" mini-series but have high hopes for the new movie.

I don't think there's a single American release I'm anticipating this year. Mark Kermode (film reviewer) has written that we'll only stop getting shit movies when we stop paying to see shit movies. Couldn't agree more--therefore I won't see any of the blockbusters, the ridiculous CGI-fests. Not for "entertainment" or "escapism" or to "put my brain in neutral" or any of the other asswipe, gutless reasons that people offer up when confronted for their lousy viewing choices.

If I won't read shit or eat shit, why would I WATCH it?

Jan 10, 2012, 9:03am Top

# 12 Yes, too bad it wasn't a speaking role.

#13 The cast of the new film is fantastic. But whenever I see a commercial I see things where it looks like they've tried to. . . I don't know, punch it up? Make it more exciting? Add a little James Bond/Jason Bourne flavor to it? I'll probably find that bothersome.

Edited: Jan 10, 2012, 11:11am Top

The reviews I've read of the new "Tinker, Tailor" all say it's slow-moving, devoid of much action, almost "too cerebral" for audiences. The anti-James Bond. The commercials/trailers always distort movies and I have no use for them. I read an article in THE NEW YORKER a couple of years ago about the people who hack together movie trailers and how loathed they are by the film-makers they're purporting to be hyping.

Jan 10, 2012, 11:07am Top

As for modern films, other than Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Artist, my interest is raised in an adaptation of On the Road that's in the works (and ironically filmed for the most part in Canada). That one's got Kristen Stewart as MaryLou and Viggo Mortensen as Burroughs. I don't remember any other names. Not sure if the result will be any good, but I will admit to being curious.

Jan 10, 2012, 2:21pm Top

# 15 I hope you're right. I guess I'd like to see HBO or Showtime or whoever take the three Karla novels and make three long mini-series with, if not everything in them, almost everything.

Jan 11, 2012, 9:26am Top

Hey, you Brit film-makers, you need to be making more of the same, asinine shit that comes out of Hollywood:


Note the response of the GREAT Ken Loach.

Jan 11, 2012, 12:42pm Top

Transformers and Twilight with all English accents? Sign me up.

Jan 11, 2012, 1:52pm Top

I thought Downton Abbey was Transformers with English accents?

Jan 11, 2012, 5:34pm Top

This made me think of not a few colleagues on this list:

Jan 13, 2012, 8:50pm Top

Mildred Pierce, a film noir crossed with family melodrama. It was good, even if the cast of characters set my teeth on edge.

Jan 14, 2012, 2:47pm Top

You don't like Eve Arden? For shame!

Jan 14, 2012, 2:55pm Top

Eve Arden was the exception.

Jan 14, 2012, 10:54pm Top

Kate Winslet stars in the recent TV adaptation. Then again, she can read the Newark phonebook and I'll be enthralled.

Jan 15, 2012, 6:28pm Top

Took the kids to see "The Secret World of Arrietty" on the weekend, the latest from Studio Ghibli. Had to see it at the local megaplex (yah! boo! sux!) because the independent was showing it in Japanese, and while Miss Boo can read pretty well now, it would have been a big ask for her to read subtitles. Not as amazing as previous Ghibli movies (we all loved "Ponyo", and "Spirited Away" is a favourite of Don's & mine), but it was a sweet movie and the kids liked it. And nary an explosion in sight.

Was talking up the books to the kids on the way out, I loved the Borrowers series when I was a kid. Wonder if I still have my copies somewhere...

Jan 16, 2012, 9:07am Top

Watched "Attack the Block" with my family last night. Good fun--not a great movie but definitely a cut above average.

Jan 16, 2012, 9:46am Top

Finally saw "Bridesmaids" last night. Pretty funny. I didn't expect it to be so full of class warfare and jabs at the rich. Unexpected in a runaway mainstream hit, although most people seem to talk about its Rabelaisian vulgarity.

Jan 16, 2012, 10:51pm Top

Cliff, I too watched "Attack the Block" last night. Was just commenting to Don that the violence was all occurring off camera when someone's throat was ripped out ON camera. But, once I got used to viewing it through my fingers and accepted that I'd only get half of the dialogue due to accents and slang (and the volume being on low due to kids complaining about the noise, YEESH), it was an excellent genre piece, without being paint-by-the-numbers at all. I kept on protesting that I had to go to bed, I'd only watch the first half and save the second for later, and the next thing I know I was there to the end, couldn't get away.

Karl, I enjoyed "Bridesmaids" too. The big shock for me was that actress from "Mike and Molly", which is such an ordinary show, was really fun in this. We watched the "line-a-rama" (I think they call it, where they edit together all the improvised stuff into one long stretch), and she was great. Shame she's stuck in "Mike and Molly", but I suppose one does need to earn money. Haven't laughed so much in ages, I did like the earthy humour. And the puppies.

Edited: Jan 16, 2012, 11:46pm Top

This weekend:
The Fighter-Didn't know what to expect. Actually enjoyed it. Christian Bale is brilliant.
Hugo-Syruppy but well made. Most of it anyway.

Jan 17, 2012, 12:56pm Top

OK, not proud of this but I watched Green Lantern - it wasn't as bad as some of the reviews stated but it wasn't particularly good either. I will only add that Blake Lively deserves a special mention for being truly appalling in the girlfriend role.

Also watched Trollhunter - a nice little Norwegian film about film students who end up making a documentary about a man who keeps trolls under control. Some good jokes but the trolls lacked any frightening aspect. I also couldn't help myself thinking that perhaps it is time to put the fake documentary to bed for a little while.

Jan 17, 2012, 1:08pm Top

31: I took the kids to see that as one of the kids was very attached to Green Lantern comic books and simply had to go. It was very stupid, but then again the entire genre does not cover itself in glory if you ask me.

Jan 17, 2012, 7:48pm Top

"Love and Death", a 1970s Woody Allen, on TCM last week. Holds up well and I like the utter independence of Diane Keaton.

Jan 21, 2012, 4:22pm Top

Die Hard. Whoo-hoo! Awesome.

Or is that an untenable opinion amongst discerning snobs?

Jan 21, 2012, 5:11pm Top

Watched Miklós Jancsó's "Red Psalm" last night. Odd, but strangely mesmerising. It depicts, more or less, a peasant uprising in Hungary around the turn of the twentieth century. There are no characters and there is no plot. Workers stroll around, either singing folk songs with socialist lyrics, or making speeches about socialism. Around them, soldiers, rural police, local aristocracy and priests also walk about and occasionally declaim, justifying the existing system. People get shot, but are then resurrected. A wound becomes a red rosette, which soon all the workers are wearing. It's not really a psalm at all, more of a country dance.

And I still have three more Jancsó films to watch...

Jan 21, 2012, 7:23pm Top

#34> Any opinion is tenable, so long as you're willing to argue intelligently about your choice, is the way I see this group.

Took the kids to see "The Muppets" yesterday which was good silly fun, lots of laughs for the parents in the audience too. My favourite bit was Dave Grohl's cameo, that was priceless.

And then we went out to see "Hugo", which I thought was marvellous, but I do have to agree with the comments that it was sentimental. Sometimes I don't mind a bit of syrup, and it wasn't too corny. Don had just finished The Invention of Hugo Cabret so knew what they changed for the movie (I read it too long ago now), and was slightly grumpy about the changes.

Jan 21, 2012, 11:33pm Top

34: I like Die Hard because of Alan Rickman, not because of Bruce Willis. He made Kevin Costner's Robin Hood trainwreck watchable.

About halfway through Fiddler on the Roof when the DVD player died. Luckily we are one HDMI-to-S video adapter away from an operable Blu-ray player.

Jan 23, 2012, 8:49pm Top

Watched the Australian western "The Proposition". Nick Cave wrote it and provided the soundtrack. Fine performances by the entire cast, especially Guy Pearce and Ray Winstone (always a favorite). Extremely nasty in parts, violence wise. Best western I've seen in ages (I'm a fan of the genre)...

Jan 24, 2012, 10:29am Top

Picked up "Exorcist II: The Heretic" from a bargain bin for the price of a cup of coffee.

Should've left it there.

I remembered it was terrible but after viewing it again last night I've decided this one rightfully belongs on one of those "All Time Golden Turkey" rosters. A major film, helmed by a veteran, well-regarded director (John Boorman) and it's an utter bomb almost from the first frame.


Jan 24, 2012, 2:08pm Top

That's the one with James Earl Jones and Richard Burton, right? Have you seen the third one with George C. Scott, Brad Dourif, and with Jason Miller returning?

Jan 24, 2012, 2:15pm Top

I always play a game when I watch TCM, trying to guess the movie if I come in halfway. Even if I haven't seen it quite often I can narrow it down by actor, setting, etc. Last night was one definitely from the 40s or late 30s, European setting but also clearly a Hollywood movie, very shadowy and elegant, couldn't place the star, kept thinking it was Jean Arthur, anyway, she had an illegitimate baby in a hospital in Vienna, there was a musician, too, and lots of train scenes. I finally decided it could only be something by Max Ophuls, and I was right, it was "Letter from an Unknown Woman," with Joan Fontaine. Wish now I'd seen all of it.

Jan 24, 2012, 6:42pm Top

#41: Yes and yes. The third one was appalling as well. The thing that bothers me about the sequels is that not only are they unnecessary, they're also not SCARY.

Jan 24, 2012, 7:01pm Top

I only saw the first one. It was shown to all Georgetown freshmen.

Jan 24, 2012, 7:40pm Top

#44> Obviously I don't know much about Georgetown. Why would "The Exorcist" be shown to all freshmen there?

There's been some awful dreck on TV of late, and Don does seem compelled to watch it. I was most annoyed when I looked up from my book the other night to discover he'd left the room, but left the TV still on with "Punisher: War Zone" screening. Truly appalling. And one of the "Jurassic Park" sequels the other day. I was cheering on the pterodactyls.

Watched half of "The Curse of the Golden Flower" last night. Recorded the second half to watch tonight. Fabulous stuff, I love that sort of over-the-top movie.

Jan 24, 2012, 8:40pm Top

45: it was partly filmed there, and a GU priest was the exorcist, or at least he had a role.

Jan 24, 2012, 9:41pm Top

#46> Thanks! I was thinking all sorts of strange things about it being part of your curriculum, and was wondering just what sort of University would include "The Exorcist" on its curriculum! My mind obviously took a step too far in completely the wrong direction. :)

Jan 25, 2012, 8:13am Top

"Tinker, Tailor..." starts this week in a little art theater in Saskatoon--off to see it early next week! This weekend is a bust because of final edits on my next novel but after that I plan to reward myself.

Jan 27, 2012, 3:31am Top

Watched Fellini's "8½" last night - it's been a bit of a foreign films week here - and enjoyed it a lot more than I'd expected to. I saw "La Dolce Vita" many years ago and didn't like it, and had imagined "8½" was not much different. But I found myself appreciating the meta-cinematic nature of it all, the lovely camera-work, and even the silly references to science fiction in the middle. I'd been planning to bung the DVD on eBay after I'd watched it, but now I plan to keep it.

Jan 27, 2012, 4:39am Top

Dear Group,

I seldom intrude onto this 'august' mob of snobs...but.

I recently rewatched (on blu-ray) the eastwood trilogy.
Damb it was fresh, and I don't really like westerns.
OK, some Hustons & Fords.

And never forget "Hoppalong Cassidy" :-)

Also watched 'Rambo I". Unlike Rambo II -> Rambo XXV11 (the simpsons I think) I also found it better than our memories distort old films through "snob" values...

Jan 27, 2012, 8:16am Top

I'm a big fan of westerns, though it's a genre that has fallen off the radar of late. Favorites are "Wild Bunch", "Two Mules for Sister Sara", "Outlaw Josey Wales"...yep, Clint had his good years. See if you can lay your hands on a film called "Stalking Moon", one of the great "unknown" westerns, sadly under-appreciated.

Jan 27, 2012, 10:13am Top

There's only one good western: Rio Bravo.

Jan 27, 2012, 12:36pm Top

Or The Searchers.

I had much the same reaction to 8 1/2 last time I saw it, also on tv. I was caught up by the beauty and strangeness of it again, years after being out of film school. I still shaking my head as to why Rob Marshall tried to remake it in the first place, never mind as a musical.

I actually have to agree a little about the first Rambo. I remember when the movie came out loathing everything it seemed to stand for -- Vietnam revisionism, Reagan-era politics. But if you actually watch the movie it isn't like that at all.

Jan 27, 2012, 12:50pm Top

Chris is constantly telling me that the first Rambo is actually really anti-war, but since I've never seen it... And then he had to go and make the second one.

Jan 27, 2012, 8:44pm Top

# 39: I watched The Proposition. That was a good movie. I like Ray Winstone (in the three movies I've seen him in).

Jan 28, 2012, 12:31am Top

"Elmer Gantry" tonight. Over-long, over-acted, over-earnest, over-rated. Burt Lancaster hams it up in every scene. Sherron fell asleep halfway through. 'Nuff said.

Edited: Jan 29, 2012, 6:40am Top

Watched Monsters - if anyone remembers it's the film the director "made" on his laptop. Decent enough effort but let down by non-existent script and some dodgy acting (due to lack of script?).

>52 iansales: - only one good western! Didn't they invent cinema to make westerns?

Jan 29, 2012, 7:47am Top

Isn't that a bit like saying they invented cows to make Big Macs?

Jan 29, 2012, 11:03am Top

58: Yes.

59: Yes.

Here's a treat: a terrible movie made from a terrible Janet Evanovich book:


Best line of the review:

There are so many holes in the plot, it’s almost unfair to single one out, but start with the fact that a cop makes bail for first-degree murder

Jan 29, 2012, 2:14pm Top

Documentary on W.G. Sebald


Looks like it's only being screened in England at the moment, but will appear in U.S. venues in April.

Jan 29, 2012, 10:28pm Top

Saw The Green Hornet ... **prepares to duck** It was OK. Never really followed the original TV show, so I didn't feel a whole lot in the Cinematic Desecration Department. Visually frenetic as per Michael Gondry, but since Gondry is famous for directing videos on MTV -- that bastion of individuality and non-cash-based relationships -- the calls of "sell-out" seem a tad perplexing. It is rare to find a former MTV video director who has a real talent for narrative film. David Fincher seems the only example that comes to mind.

I'm still a fan of the Jon Favreau-Robert Downey, Jr. Iron Man franchise.

Jan 29, 2012, 11:47pm Top

# 57: I kinda liked the movie, though Lancaster's Gantry was nothing like the Gantry of the novel. The best thing about the movie was Shirley Jones. . .

Jan 30, 2012, 12:37am Top

Watched "Inception" tonight--another over-rated Hollywood blockbuster. Too long, ponderous really--interminable chase sequences, shootouts that seemed to go on forever and DiCaprio looking over-earnest and intense as ever. Neat concept but the huge budget treatment and CGI just made it an annoyance after awhile.

Brought to mind a much more modest feature from the mid-80's called "Dreamscape" that I remember with fondness. Dennis Quaid and Kate Capshaw.

#63 Yeah., Mrs. Partridge was pretty hot in that film.

Edited: Jan 30, 2012, 1:03am Top

Dear Cliff,

I added "Stalking Moon" to my wish list on Amazon (yes, I know boo's and hiss'es) And I usually do buy my wish list!

But there is something about "Gregory Peck" (and "Bert Lancaster" by the way), I can NOT Stand.

I respect "Pecks" politics, blah blah blah...

But as a actor....WHY my disdain?
Too serious, too tall :-), no comedy roles? OK mention one!
Even "The Duke" tried comedy.

Guess, I just don't like him as a actor.

Irrational I know, but...

PS. I DO like "Jimmy Stewart".
PPS. And don't mention "Roman Holiday"

Jan 30, 2012, 9:22am Top

Gregory Peck was a movie star, not an actor (to quote "My Favorite Year") and, yeah, his range was pretty limited. But could anybody else have played Atticus Finch? Can't imagine.

"Stalking Moon" is a sleeper, took me completely by surprise. A number of the folks involved with the making of "To Kill A Mockingbird" also contributed to "Stalking Moon". So you know it's got chops...

Edited: Jan 30, 2012, 10:03am Top

66: But could anybody else have played Atticus Finch? Can't imagine.


Or Charles Laughton.

But who would Kim Jong-il cast? To find out, read his book on the cinematic arts:


Jan 30, 2012, 11:26am Top

>65 guido47: - The Million Pound Note and Designing Women. There are lots of actors/stars who can't do comedy - De Niro, Streep, Adam Sandler, etc, but it doesn't stop them, more's the pity.

Jan 30, 2012, 11:32am Top

68: I think I am more lowbrow when it comes to cinema than you guys. I think De Niro can do comedy. I liked Analyze This. And I have seen Streep in something funny (now what was it?) and she did fine as I remmeber. Ha ha, Adam Sandler can't do comedy, so what you are saying is he just plain can't act, since that's all he does. Boy, takes me a minute.

64: I also liked "Inception" though I found it hard to follow in places. I thought DiCaprio was OK in it, and I think he has gotten better as he's aged. I really disliked him when he was a young actor.

I am trying to get Chris to go to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I know he will like it because he is a big Le Carre fan. But he is resisting, it seems like he is just not that into movies these days. The other movie I have been wanting to see forever, it's probably already out on video, is Midnight in Paris.

Edited: Jan 30, 2012, 1:39pm Top

Watched The Crying Game last night. Saw it when it first came out nearly 20 years ago. Still pretty good. Miranda Richardson made a great Irish terrorist.

Jan 30, 2012, 4:21pm Top

Nah, Mickey Rourke made a great Irish terrorist in a Prayer for the Dying. . .

Jan 30, 2012, 4:37pm Top

I think De Niro's comedy chops are just in the realm of casting against type. I don't think he's inherently funny, but seeing him play a fool has its comedic moments because we're so used to him being terrifying.

"Hero" was on TV the other night, I'm enjoying the current crop of Chinese movies screening for Chinese New Year. I even got to see some of "Enter the Dragon", which I'd never seen before. And I was completely unaware that there was a subgenre of "megalomaniac invites fighters to his private island for fights to the death", but Don swears that "Enter the Dragon" was the first.

Jan 30, 2012, 8:09pm Top

70 & 71: You're both wrong. The greatest Irish terrorist is Ian Paisley

Feb 2, 2012, 1:15am Top

Drove in to Saskatoon to see "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy".

Kids, it was even BETTER than I thought it was going to be (and you know I had high hopes). Gary Oldman is smashing as George Smiley; it's a perfectly cast film, right down to the secretaries working at the Circus. Photography, production design first rate.

Don't miss this one, it's a gem.

Edited: Feb 2, 2012, 4:45pm Top

Hi Cliff,

How does this film compare with the TV series with Sir Alex?
And with the book?

I want a 500 word critique on my desk tomorrow, young cliff,
or 6 of the best...

Or was I thinking of the honourable schoolboy ... :-)

Feb 2, 2012, 4:49pm Top

Very faithful adaptation, obviously some abridging required and the plot gets a tad convoluted for non-LeCarre types. LeCarre co-produced so while it ain't slavishly imitative of the book, the movie very successfully captures the flavor of the novel and maintains exactly the right atmosphere and tone.

About ten minutes in, Gary Oldman made me forget all about the celebrated mini-series, including Guinness's magnificent portrayal of Smiley. Oldman is younger, crueler, more calculating and, I think, more nuanced. The cast is a "Who's Who" of British character actors and the entire venture is handled with class and dignity.

Edited: Feb 2, 2012, 6:09pm Top

I may have to quickly read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy this weekend so I can see the movie on the big screen before it closes! It was next in my TBR pile, I think it's time to swap around a bit...

ETA: Phew, the local cinema still has some evening screenings this week.

Feb 3, 2012, 7:07am Top

I have to shamefully admit that I have watched the film (and read the book) but have never seen the famous TV series (in my defence I wasn't born when it was aired). So do people think it is worth my while trying to get hold of a DVD copy of the series?

Feb 3, 2012, 7:22am Top

OK. several questions/queries here.

Why relive the "cold war" now?
I did "really" like Carre in the 70's & 80's,
but is there any sort of message for us today?

OK, got that SOL off, may I ask you for "another" La Carre
novel, which you feel could/should be turned into a film?

I did like the "honourable..."

A bit like "harry potter meets "spy" Oh, only a few pages".

Your thoughts?


Edited: Feb 3, 2012, 7:47am Top

Sorry #78,

I read your post after I had posted my rather fatuous post.

Yes, do get that rather ancient TV series, if you can find it

Evidently a quite different "smiley". Alex Guiness is rather good.

What can I say? Times and interpretations of times change.

(cliche 371, in the "THE BIG bOOK OF...")


Feb 3, 2012, 8:44am Top

An adaptation of LeCarre's THE PERFECT SPY would be something--that's his best novel, in my view.

Feb 3, 2012, 11:19am Top

I think it is important for people to think about the Cold War. It is interesting how little young people know about it, even though it happened so recently.

Feb 3, 2012, 11:41am Top

>81 CliffBurns: - A Perfect Spy was adapted by the BBC in 1987 - don't know if it is available anywhere though.

Feb 3, 2012, 11:48am Top

Didn't know that. Like a chance to see that one.

Edited: Feb 3, 2012, 3:32pm Top

Thanks you people?

As you know I am a secret "gazillionaire".
Oh yes I have money to just throw around...

'Cos of this thread I have just ordered (No, NOT wish listed,
ordered) everything on this page!



ETA. I justify it on the grounds that the Aussi dollar is that strong and the Pound is that weak.
My excuse and...

Feb 3, 2012, 3:39pm Top

85: your poor cats! They will go without catfood for a week!

Feb 3, 2012, 3:43pm Top

John Le Carre's A Perfect Spy; available through Netflix at this time.

Edited: Feb 3, 2012, 3:58pm Top

Shame on you anna,

They still have IAMS (at $38/bag/3Kg)
Hmm. That is more than I pay for my own meat.
Which they will not eat!

Anyone want 2 CATS?

But seriously, oodles of hours of "spys" for the equivalant
of a few months of Cat food.

Feb 3, 2012, 8:11pm Top

Note to self, IAMS is really expensive in Australia... cannot move unless I get rid of my three cats.

Feb 4, 2012, 12:51am Top

Watched last "X Files" movie this evening. Sherron fell asleep and I can't blame her. What a fookin' turkey. Wholly unconvincing, entirely too enamored with itself. Chris Carter ought to be ashamed. This one wouldn't have made a good episode, let alone padding it into a crappy feature.

Edited: Feb 4, 2012, 11:59am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Feb 4, 2012, 2:02pm Top

Feb 5, 2012, 10:00am Top

"Escape From Fort Bravo" last night. Not even William Holden (one of my faves) could save this one. A Western the world could have done without...

Feb 8, 2012, 12:30pm Top

We went out and saw the new Muppet movie. It was very, very, very silly. As is to be expected. We enjoyed it. I don't think it is fair, though, to characterize it as "class warfare".

Feb 8, 2012, 6:23pm Top

94: When has fairness ever been a hallmark of the conservative "mind"? Hit low, hit hard, hit often, check if dead, and poke around for loose change. That's usually my strategy. Even my tolerance has limits.

Feb 8, 2012, 6:55pm Top

95: Since When has fairness ever been a hallmark of the Liberal "mind"? Hit low, hit hard, hit often, check if dead, and poke around for loose change. That's usually their strategy.

But also cloak it in pious cant.

Hey, I'm a lefty, please don't hit me.

Feb 8, 2012, 9:54pm Top

96: Unfortunately most leftists I meet are so polite and accommodating, I usually can't tell the difference between them and a bowl of jello. The pious cant is also infuriating, especially if that cant is expelled from the mouth of someone like Joe Lieberman, while not liberal, is a ninth-rate sanctimonious hustler, of which there are plenty on both sides of the aisle in DC's fetid nepotistic swamp.

Me ... I'm usually the opposite when it comes to settling "for the lesser evil":


Feb 8, 2012, 10:24pm Top

OK choose.


Hey, this is a strictly scientific poll.

Feb 9, 2012, 9:47am Top

98: This has nothing to do with film.

Feb 9, 2012, 12:22pm Top

Anna, an article on the wizardry that went into the making of the latest "Muppets" film:


How do ya green screen a frog?

Feb 9, 2012, 6:27pm Top

Been browsing through 1001 Movies to See before you die, a nice overview with some really good concise write-ups. And plenty of films I never heard of.

Feb 9, 2012, 6:46pm Top

100: That was fascinating! Funny about how the weird "colours and fur and feathers" made green-screening (blue-screening in this case) harder.

Feb 9, 2012, 6:52pm Top

I'm a Muppet fan too, gal. Their "Christmas Carol" is right up there with the classic starring Alastair Sim. Looking forward to seeing the latest one...at some point.

Feb 10, 2012, 2:56pm Top

Finally was in the mood to watch Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Two hours of marital hell - not for all tastes. Amazing. It cut some of the fat from the playscript and substituted amazing cinematography and powerhouse performances. All the dialogue cut deeper as spoken by Taylor and Burton. The other two actors filled their roles excellently, but it was Taylor and Burton's show all the way. Wow.

Feb 10, 2012, 3:19pm Top

I have never been able to either read or watch that play all the way through. Whew.

Feb 10, 2012, 3:31pm Top

Brilliant film--Taylor and Burton put their movie star personas on hold and look what they came up with.

Edited: Mar 2, 2012, 12:51am Top

Just finished watching The Thin Red Line. Not sure what to think of it. Some of it sublime some of it heavy handed and self important. Also it feels like it reached the climax at the beginning and sustains that note for almost three hours. I do appreciate the boldness and the originality. The photography is gorgeous and the script has some beautiful beautiful lines. Some really unforgettable moments. I wouldn't mind watching it again some time.

Feb 13, 2012, 8:35am Top

My recollection of that flick is about the same. Pretentious war movie. Matter of fact, your comments could apply to every single Mallick film except, perhaps, his first effort, "Badlands".

Feb 13, 2012, 5:21pm Top

Enjoying The Muppet links above, thanks Anna & Cliff.

Got out last night to see "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", and, yes, it's brilliant. Loved the cast, loved the recreation of a very dark and gloomy 1970s London, thought it was an excellent adaptation. Got rid of a lot of unnecessary detail and streamlined the plot, but kept the story intact. I'd only finished the book a few days ago, and it was still uppermost in my mind, so I spent a lot of time comparing the two. Don's never read the book, but he loved it as well.

It's especially wonderful to see Gary Oldman NOT chew the scenery. He's been such a ham for so long.

Feb 13, 2012, 6:38pm Top

In honor of Whitney Huston: The Bodygaurd.

People love to savage the film, but I can't see why. The story was predictable, sure (bodygaurd hired to protect beautiful singer from murderous wackjob; his policy is never get involved, so of course he falls in love with her). The film's execution was what made it good. It was stylish without being stylised, Huston had a truly superb voice, Costner was nicely understated and the cast was filled in with a good set of character actors (Tony Pierce as the stalker Dan was exceptionally believable, and his face is going to haunt my dreams).

So it's not high art, but it's a quality film regardless.

Feb 14, 2012, 10:08am Top

110: At least Kevin Costner is neither a cynical man-fish or a heroic postman.

Saw The Aviator which was pretty good, although no stand-out by Scorsese standards. DiCaprio was good as Howard Hughes -- he seems to be starring as misunderstood 20th century historical monomaniacs (J. Edgar, etc.). A fascinating confluence of absolute corporate power, extreme ambition, and acute mental illness. And the overlong production period for "Hell's Angels" was tragicomic. Three years to make a movie? Good God!

Feb 14, 2012, 1:56pm Top

Good news, all your cineastes and film-lovers out there. A new "Transformers" movie is in the offing:


Feb 14, 2012, 8:30pm Top

Feb 15, 2012, 11:09am Top

112: Luckily Robot Chicken has a preview:


Feb 15, 2012, 1:35pm Top

"Iron Sky" has arrived!


Ian and I--both of us space and alternate history fans--have been keeping our eyes on this one.

Feb 15, 2012, 9:00pm Top

Udo Kier - wonderful.

Feb 17, 2012, 4:03pm Top

Charlie Chaplin's FBI and MI5 files have been declassified:


Seriously, it just doesn't pay to be an artist in the United States, at least one with open leftist sympathies and a thing for the ladies.

Feb 17, 2012, 6:04pm Top

117: Reminds me of something I read about Hemingway being spied on....


Edited: Feb 20, 2012, 2:51pm Top

Last couple of nights Sherron and I watched two movies:

"The Wolfman"--I'm not a big fan of director Joe Johnston and this film, while it starts out promisingly, soon starts to wallow in gore and overblown set pieces. Johnston is "Spielberg lite", with all the negative connotations that entails.

"True Grit"--what do you know, another remake that hits the mark. Loved the latest adaptation of TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY and the Coen Bros. take another lovable old chestnut and make it cry and sing. Even Matt Damon, whom I loathe like the New York Yankees, is passably good. But Jeff Bridges steals the show and gives the Duke a run for his money in terms of the definitive portrayal of that drunken, violent, incorrigible "one-eyed fat man".

Feb 20, 2012, 6:11pm Top

#119: I liked the remake more than the original, which is unusual for me. I liked Bridges better than Wayne; I liked Damon better than Campbell; and I liked Hailee Steinfeld much better than Kim Darby. I've wondered if someone did a remake of Rooster Cogburn, who would play the Katherine Hepburn role?

Feb 20, 2012, 8:13pm Top

I think Annette Bening might be pretty good as the old spinster.

Feb 22, 2012, 11:57pm Top

Watched Jean-Luc Godard's "Film Socialisme". Absolutely baffling. Godard is a trial at the best of times but even more so when he insists on printing subtitles in what he calls "Navajo English". Hard to assess this one. Annoying but quite lovely at times. Deliberately amateurish and painstakingly flawed. Inscrutable and maddening.

Feb 23, 2012, 1:53pm Top

122: Deliberately amateurish and painstakingly flawed. Inscrutable and maddening.

Wouldn't be Godard if it wasn't. Is this a more modern work? I'm still captivated by Breathless and Weekend The challenge is: How is Godard's modern work relevant to today's viewers? Like Michael Bay, is there anything beyond the reputation/notoriety?

Feb 23, 2012, 10:41pm Top

"Film Socialisme" is Godard's most recent work. Debuted at Cannes in 2011. Parts of it were filmed aboard the Concordia, the ocean liner that just ran aground off Italy.

I'd like to get my hands on an English translation of the script. Find out what, if anything, I was missing...

Feb 24, 2012, 8:53pm Top

Sherron sent me this:


For those of us who smile when we hear the name "Art Clokey".

Feb 26, 2012, 9:53am Top

Attended the Roxy Theater's annual "Silence is Golden" event last night. A snowstorm blowing in from the west but did that deter us? Nossir.

This year Saskatoon Symphony musicians accompanied the 1924 Douglas Fairbanks version of "Thief of Baghdad".

Amazing. I'd seen the movie before, on a thirty-two inch TV screen, and there's just no comparison. The sets are huge, this was a $2-million production way back when and the big budget is apparent in every frame. A fantastic night for my wife, sons and I--yeah, two teenagers mesmerized by a silent film. Gotta love it...

Feb 26, 2012, 1:41pm Top

"two teenagers mesmerized by a silent film"

You don't, and you won't, see those words strung together very often.

Feb 26, 2012, 2:32pm Top

'Tis true. The youngest is 16 and a film buff but my older lad needed more persuading. Afterward, he was a convert; we chatted about the film all the way home.

Feb 26, 2012, 6:15pm Top

Just watched "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" by Sergei Paradjanov. Can't go wrong with poetic cinema.

Feb 26, 2012, 6:28pm Top

128: It all went down when the talkies took over. What next? Horseless carriages and carbonated beverages?

Feb 26, 2012, 9:57pm Top

Saw the Coen Bros. remake of True Grit I enjoyed it immensely. Jeff Bridges plays a great sloppy drunk and it was fun to see Matt Damon as the constant butt of Rooster's jokes. Since I'm not a huge fan of John Wayne, I hardly consider the remake a work of cinematic blasphemy.

As far as cinematic blasphemy goes, the Rifftrax edition of Night of the Living Dead was pretty funny.

Feb 27, 2012, 7:14am Top

Watched the remake of Brighton Rock - too arty by half and moving it into the sixties didn't help either.

Also watched A Separation, the Iranian film which has just won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film - film-making on a small scale, felt more realistic than most documentaries I've seen recently, very worth watching.

Feb 27, 2012, 8:22am Top

Delighted to see "The Artist" do well at the Oscars last night. As I wrote on my film blog, there are faint glimmers of hope that maybe we'll see some relief from the overblown CGI orgies that have dominated Hollywood for so long.

Feb 27, 2012, 9:36am Top

I was a little disturbed that they seemed to have ripped off Bernard Herrmann's score for Vertigo (i.e. un-credited) and still landed the best composer Oscar.

Feb 27, 2012, 9:52am Top

Having a rough start to your day? Here's a little inspirational pick-me-up:


Feb 27, 2012, 9:55am Top

17 Film Adaptations of "Unadaptable" Books:


133: Glad Cliff has got his vindication. Also glad to see the Academy recognizing that the medium hasn't inherently improved since the 1920s. Then again, Angelina Jolie showed too much ankle and was booed. Huzzah and kudos! Then again, I think Boomer Nostalgia and the reactionary tendency of the Hipster Cooler-than-thou collided in awarding an Oscar to a silent film. Perhaps next year the Best Picture will go to a film strip or a flip book.

Feb 27, 2012, 10:05am Top

Only a partial vindication, chum. The fact that the Weinsteins are associated with "The Artist" somewhat taints its success (to me).

I despise those two (multiple expletives deleted).

I'd heard there was some controversy about the music for "The Artist". Hard to tell an homage from a rip-off at times. John Williams made a pot o' gold mining Holst's "The Planets", after all...

Feb 27, 2012, 10:18am Top

Watched Sergei Parajanov's "Shadow of Forgotten Ancestors" last night. Not quite as strange as his "The Colour of Pomengranates" but still very odd.

Feb 27, 2012, 2:27pm Top

#137 They used about 6 minutes of Herrmann's Suite D'Amour from Vertigo, that's quite an homage.

Feb 27, 2012, 2:30pm Top

That definitely qualifies as something rather more than an homage. Very odd.


Feb 27, 2012, 2:36pm Top

I am confused, did they get permission to use the Hermann music or not? If they did then what is the issue? Films use old music all the time - how many films have used Carmina Burana for example? They didn't pretend this music was written by someone else, right?

I have not seen the Artist, but I just don't really get the controversy.

Feb 27, 2012, 3:34pm Top

Apparently the music was used as a temp track during editing and the director decided to keep it in rather than use the credited composers music for the scene. The music is uncredited on IMDB and I did not see it credited on the SAG screener I have for the movie unless it was in really small print. Since Herrmann died in 1975 I assume the music is still under copyright and that they paid for this but I feel Herrmann should have been credited or credited more prominently.

Feb 27, 2012, 3:38pm Top

Ah, OK that also explains Kim Novak's extreme reaction. That I can understand.

Feb 27, 2012, 10:28pm Top

Alex Cox looking back on "Repo Man", Joe Strummer and battling with Hunter Thompson:


Thanks, Gord.

Feb 29, 2012, 5:25am Top

>143 anna_in_pdx: - Kim Novak has an extreme reaction to everything nowadays - saying she wanted to report a rape says it all really.

>144 CliffBurns: - Alex Cox is one of the great analysts of film, it's just a pity his own films don't always hit the mark (although he hasn't been helped having to deal with micro-budgets).

>142 justifiedsinner: - I doubt Herrmann's family got any money - the copyright ownership is probably with the studio.

Feb 29, 2012, 8:24am Top

Funny piece on bad movies:


Loved the description of the last "Transformers" film. Hi-larious...

Feb 29, 2012, 9:25am Top

>146 CliffBurns: - it is good to see that Adam Sandler is getting the recognition he deserves - a record 11 Razzie nominations. Of course the pertinent question is what Al Pacino thought he was doing appearing in Jack and Jill? We can only hope that he was either drunk or blackmailed into signing that contract.

Mar 2, 2012, 12:58am Top

Rushmore- Seems a little bit weaker the second time around. Still hilarious though. Love it. What a great character. And what a great soundtrack.
Dances With Wolves- Had never seen it. The photography must've looked great in the theater. Thats the best I can say. It was god awful. I'm in an American frontier period though.

Mar 2, 2012, 8:52am Top

Another short film by my youngest and his pal, Sean. They've got a decent camera and are trying out some new stuff, including the use of focus. If you get a chance, have a look at their latest and let 'em know what you think:


Mar 2, 2012, 11:24am Top

148: Now you will fully understand the references to "Avatar" as "Dances with Smurfs"

Edited: Mar 2, 2012, 11:35am Top

150: hehehe, hadn't heard that.

Edited: Mar 3, 2012, 1:02am Top

Watched "Winter's Bone" tonight with my family.

Very authentic feel to the movie, the characters seemed real, like they lived in the Missouri backwoods all their lives. Kind of an interesting movie because it's billed as a mystery but you pretty much know what happened and whodunit relatively early in the film. The tension and suspense comes from the interaction of primitive, violent, but close-knit people. A hundred and thirty years ago, these same clannish types gave shelter and support to Jesse James and other renegades, closed ranks and minded their own business.

It appears some things never change...

Mar 3, 2012, 6:16am Top

# 152: Daniel Woodrell writes some good stuff. He calls it "country noir". His novel Woe to Live On was made into the film Ride with the Devil.

Mar 3, 2012, 8:54am Top

I read another book by Woodrell years ago but it was formulaic, dull, not nearly as interesting as WINTER'S BONE. If I see more of his work around, I'll definitely give him another chance.

Mar 3, 2012, 11:07am Top

Loved "Winters Bone"

Last night it was The September Issue for me. Interesting subject but not an interesting documentary. There are some good moments but the narrative feels incomplete. Anna Wintour looks more sad than scary to me.

Mar 4, 2012, 11:06am Top

Another great source of online film criticism:


Mar 4, 2012, 11:09am Top

Yeah, that's a terrific site.

Mar 4, 2012, 1:41pm Top

Saw True Grit last night. I liked it and yet for some reason I feel that it should've been better. Haven't quite figured out why. In any case all the performances were excellent, in particular Jeff Bridges.

Mar 4, 2012, 5:01pm Top

158: Give it a little time. The "remake" status diminishes it at present, along with standing in the twangy shadow of cinematic caricature that was John Wayne

Many people had a "WTF?" reaction to The Big Lebowski when it came out -- right after their critically-acclaimed "important" film Fargo -- but now the Dude is a pop cultural icon.

I see it standing the test of time, as opposed to their remake of The Ladykillers or Intolerable Cruelty

Mar 4, 2012, 9:06pm Top

>159 kswolff:,

You may have a point there. My first reaction to The Big Lebowski was not that great. We'll see.

Mar 7, 2012, 7:23pm Top

Hey, Ian, check this out:


I know you're a big fan of Tarkovsky--will you be taking part in "Stalker Sunday"?

Edited: Mar 8, 2012, 10:43am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Mar 9, 2012, 7:58pm Top

Watching "Midgets vs Mascots," which is everything one would imagine it to be. A ribald mockumentary starring everyone from Ron Jeremy to Gary Coleman. Like watching "Jackass", only less urbane. But as far as a movie wallowing in bad taste, it does it well, which isn't easy.

Mar 11, 2012, 5:27pm Top

The man, the myth, the eye-patch -- Raoul Walsh:


He looks like Snake Plissken ready to dine at the Algonquin Round Table

Mar 12, 2012, 1:31pm Top

How many of you took note of the fact that Michael Chabon is one of the "creative team" (I used that term loosely, even ironically) behind Disney's "John Carter"?

Even Eli Glasner couldn't concoct many kind words about this turkey:


Chabon lending his name to the project is right up there with Neil Gaiman's participation in the dreadful, DREADFUL adaptation of "Beowulf". Downright baffling. Are these boys chronically short of bus fare or something? Finding it hard to make ends meet? Fer fuck's sake...

Mar 12, 2012, 1:41pm Top

Most of the complaints I've seen so far about John Carter are that it isn't faithful enough to the book - ie, that it doesn't portray the Apaches as primitive savages, or gives Dejah Thoris agency. Not criticisms you'd think it would be easy to defend...

Mar 12, 2012, 2:07pm Top

Rather than it's just another bombastic, over the top, ridiculous orgy of CGI, aimed at someone with a Grade Six education and primarily known for the hours they rack up on video games?

Mar 12, 2012, 8:09pm Top

167: The US Congress?

Saw Three Men in a Boat, starring Laurence Harvey. Great stuff. A kind of Edwardian Three Stooges, plus the costumes were just downright ridiculous.

Edited: Mar 14, 2012, 5:25pm Top

The press is saying it's a flop, but the people who've seen it say they enjoyed it. Seems to me someone somewhere is determined to kill the film.

Mar 14, 2012, 6:44pm Top

Maybe I'm judging it by the trailer but it looks as dumb as "Barbarella" to me...and not nearly as sexy.

Mar 14, 2012, 6:47pm Top

The closing lines of the NEW YORK TIMES review of "John Carter" (which is fairly supportive of the movie):

"This may be a sign of the times, and a problem of scale. “John Carter” tries to evoke, to reanimate, a fondly recalled universe of B-movies, pulp novels and boys’ adventure magazines. But it pursues this modest goal according to blockbuster logic, which buries the easy, scrappy pleasures of the old stuff in expensive excess. A bad movie should not look this good."


Mar 14, 2012, 7:41pm Top

172: Seems like Chabon didn't read Susan Sontag's "Notes on Camp." There's a correct way to excess and bad taste; maybe he didn't have John Waters or John Carpenter on his speed dial.

A movie that did do campy excess right -- complete with pulp mythology and larger-than-life heroes -- is Big Trouble in Little China

Mar 15, 2012, 10:14am Top

None of that damn fool CGI in this here film, furthermore "You kids get off my damn lawn!":


Edited: Mar 15, 2012, 12:37pm Top

Hollywood has been doing blockbuster budget B-movies for years - think of Mars Attacks, a spoof of B-movies that cost more than all the movies it was sending up combined.

>173 kswolff: - I've also found Big Trouble in Little China a little wearying, like a wooden Raiders of the Lost Ark (one of the few B-movie blockbusters that really work).

Mar 15, 2012, 1:24pm Top

Didn't like "Mars Attacks"--on the other hand, Burton did a BRILLIANT job on "Ed Wood" (talk about auteur of bad, cheap cinema).

If you're gonna spoof "B" and "D" movies, do it on the cheap side, with a whole lotta love:


...and one of my faves:


Mar 15, 2012, 1:49pm Top

Enjoyed the original Tremors but 3 sequels and a TV series really did kill the worm.

I know I've seen The Lost Skeleton of Cadarva and I remember enjoying it but I can't remember a single thing about it.

Mar 15, 2012, 1:50pm Top

Whoo-hoo, we can guess what YOU were imbibing just before firing that one into the DVD player...

Mar 15, 2012, 7:46pm Top

Now that everything is a big budget marketing behemoth, there's no place for micro-budget B-movies. The only real analogue I can think of is Troma and the SyFy geniuses behind Sharktopus and such. Troma really nails the balance between self-conscious wit and childlike naivete with its campy actioners. Come on, who doesn't love The Toxic Avenger? Lloyd Kaufman is the true heir to prolific shlockmeister Roger Corman

Mar 16, 2012, 5:06am Top

Watched Transformers 3: The Dark of the Moon last night and it's as offensively stupid as the other Transformers films. Not to mention that they got all the Moon stuff wrong. The Sea of Tranquillity is not on the far side of the Moon. And if apollo 11 had landed on the far side, how did they get a signal back to Earth? And when the Autobots go to the Moon, and land beside the Apollo 11 LM... it still has its ascent stage - and we know the astronauts got back because Buzz Aldrin has a cameo earlier in the film.

And then there's the offensive ethnic stereotypes, the odious politics, Shia Laboeuf's really annoying character, or the sexism whenever his girlfriend is in shot.

Edited: Mar 16, 2012, 8:00am Top

>179 kswolff: - I've always had a soft spot for Charles Band productions - series like Trancers, Dollman, Puppet Master, and Demonic Toys. This is a man who doesn't so much as flog a dead horse and make sure every part has been used, squeezing out every last penny.

On a completely different note, I watched Howl, the film based on Allen Ginsberg's poem and the obscenity trial that followed. Interesting stuff - it flirts between Ginsberg's initial reading of the poem, an interview he gave a couple of years later and the trial - between which the poem is read over animation. It felt less like a feature film that a very good episode of Arena (BBC arts programme) but that's no bad thing - it tried something different and more-or-less succeeded.

Mar 16, 2012, 8:23am Top

>178 CliffBurns: - when I went back to check the plot of the film I found out there was a sequel and the same director/company had done a haunted house spoof, Dark and Stormy Night, both duly downloaded. Now to find some time to watch them - not the kind of film the cares for.

Mar 16, 2012, 8:39am Top

I've seen Dark and Stormy Night. I reviewed it for VideoVista here. It's pretty bad.

Mar 16, 2012, 9:09am Top

>183 iansales: - isn't the basic problem in spoofing bad films that you often end up apeing them making your own bad film or you just try too hard and end up with something that is made with reference to a tick-box.

Mar 16, 2012, 10:37am Top

Time for a remake of Buckaroo Banzai?

Mar 16, 2012, 11:15am Top

>185 justifiedsinner: - why not make Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League, the sequel announced at the end of the first film.

Mar 16, 2012, 11:35am Top

Afraid Peter Weller's a bit long in the tooth.

Ian, why in Christ's name would you watch a "Transformers" movie? Sick curiosity? I can wrangle you a visit to a local farm the day they're having their annual pig slaughter. Or get you a job on a killing floor of an abattoir. Just say the word. When I saw the trailer, saw the ridiculous reference to the '69 landing I almost went ballistic. But this IS Michael Bay, after all. No wet rock is too revolting to overturn, no place so sacred that it can't be defiled by plastic movie tie-ins and McDonald's wrappers...

Mar 16, 2012, 2:10pm Top

It was a rental, and I must have put it on the rental list in a fit of stupidity or drunkenness. And forgotten I had.

Saw John Carter at the cinema. IMAX 3D. Enjoyed it. Looks great, not insulting stupid, and the plot hangs together. The "white man saves natives" narrative is problematical - but that's what the books are all about, so what could they do? Dejah Thoris is good - scientist and fighter, and JC acknowledges as much. It should have been a summer tentpole. I think Disney might be trying to tank it, but it's worth seeing.

Mar 16, 2012, 2:33pm Top

"white man saves natives"...as in, say, "Avatar"?

Mar 16, 2012, 2:36pm Top

A classic recent example - made doubly insulting by the white man being turned into a native first.

Edited: Mar 16, 2012, 2:41pm Top

No wonder some wags dubbed it "Dances With Smurfs".

I've got a couple of films on order I'm dying to see, including Rainer Werner Fassbinder's "World on a Wire", Michael Winterbottom's "The Trip" and von Trier's "Melancholia".

Mar 16, 2012, 3:22pm Top

Though it pains me to quote the Barenaked Ladies..."if I had a million dollars", I'd fly down to Frisco for this:


Mar 16, 2012, 3:41pm Top

I hated Melancholia. It looked lovely and the acting was top notch, but the planet on collision course was just complete bollocks from start to finish.

Mar 17, 2012, 8:40am Top

I wrote up my thoughts on the John Carter film - see here.

Mar 17, 2012, 12:07pm Top

#187 not to mention tied up doing his dissertation on Italian Renaissance art history.

Mar 20, 2012, 10:02am Top

Hey, Ian, a short film that's kind of a trial run for a longer, more expensive effort. Shall we keep watch for..."Archetype"?


Mar 20, 2012, 10:12am Top

Well, I usually trust Mark Kermode and...


Mar 20, 2012, 10:46am Top

>199 CliffBurns: - I read that earlier on the BBC and the report stated that even though Disney expects to lose $200m at the cinema the film will still make a profit once the DVD and TV sales are added on. The most depressing part of the story, for me, is the astronomic budgets involved - blockbusters now just seem to be financial snowballs; rolling on like juggernauts, collecting money as they go. Does any film need to have $350m spent on it? (I know the bible doesn't give us figures but I imagine God created the universe for less).

On a completely different scale of film-making, I watched Potiche at the weekend. Light-hearted comedy of sexual politics set in 1977 raised above its station by the presence of Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu.

Edited: Mar 20, 2012, 10:50am Top

Hollywood determines the success of a film solely on its opening weekend takings. So even if JC makes a mint in merchandising or sell-through, it will still be a flop.

As for Mark Kermode, he probably thinks Transformers 3 is a good film.

Mar 20, 2012, 10:57am Top


Yes, God created the universe for less than $350m, but there was a lot of inflation after the creation.

Mar 20, 2012, 11:19am Top

200: So even Hollywood is jumping on the Too Big to Fail bandwagon? Figures. Fits the ever-expanding Mr. Equator-like waistlines of the American populace.

Mar 20, 2012, 11:26am Top

Ian, it just seems like the whole "John Carter" movie was misconceived from the start. Why spend all that money on a pulp novel written in about ten days by an infamous hack? We derided "Battlefield Earth" and God knows how many other over-blown efforts over the years, I merely see "Carter" as the latest in a long line.

Chabon has been quoted as saying that during the writing of the film he channeled his "inner 11 year old". I wish he'd chosen a different project and written something inspired by channeling his "inner Pulitzer Prize winner". THAT might have been a movie worth seeing.

Mar 20, 2012, 11:34am Top

204: If he wants to channel his "inner Pulitzer Prize winner," why doesn't he just write a screenplay for Gravity's Rainbow? Now that's a rom-com I'd like to see!

Edited: Mar 20, 2012, 12:24pm Top

A lot of successful films have been made from crap source material. Some of those films have even been good. John Carter was intended to be a tentpole sf movie, and that's what it does. It's a better film than Avatar, and that was universally praised. I just don't understand why so much of the press is being negative about a film that is not actually that bad. A lot worse films than it - Star Trek XI, for example - had much better press.

Mar 20, 2012, 1:06pm Top

Ah. Now there ya got me. Worse films have fared far better. There is no possible way "John Carter" can be worse than "Star Trek XI". Not a fucking chance.

So what's going on? Is this an aberration...or mebbe have we reached a tipping point, audiences starting to yawn, tiring of the eye candy; could this possibly lead to a few less of these monstrosities, bleeding the coffers of studios, when far cheaper efforts are being produced by some of the new breed of film-makers raised on YouTube and DV photography...

Edited: Mar 20, 2012, 1:14pm Top

It almost feels like a conspiracy - as if Murdoch has it in for Disney. It's weird. Critics apparently hate it (though not all: I've heard Kim Newman liked it) but audiences seem to be enjoying it. Well, except for nutjob throwbacks like John C Wrong. Like his opinion counts.

But then, I was always convinced Oasis were a joke played on the public by the music press...

Mar 20, 2012, 1:57pm Top

>208 iansales: - and not a particularly funny one at that.

Mar 20, 2012, 10:29pm Top

From the conclusion of a BBC piece on infamous box office bombs--Andrew Stanton, director of "John Carter", may be part of the problem:

In an interview with Mark Lawson on Radio 4's Front Row earlier this month, Andrew Stanton said: "I've always worked with huge budgets, I mean the truth is, this is all I have ever known."

"Having said that, I've always ignored what the budget is. I've never felt any gain to be worrying about numbers." he added.

The pioneer of computer-generated animated films added that he was only interested in making a good film.

Edited: Mar 21, 2012, 8:52pm Top


Which might explain why so many movies look like f***ing video games these days.

Mar 21, 2012, 10:09pm Top

The links included in this post are literary and interesting - some even combine literature and film - worth checking out.

I passed it on, however, for the great cover of "John Carter of Mars"

Mar 22, 2012, 9:55am Top

"You want to buy a monkey?"


211: That's an inevitable fact, especially with big-budget blockbusters. I just wish there was, on the whole, better writing than an average Uwe Boll directed monstrosity. Not that the censorious, oppressive, let's-face-it-racist/sexist/homophobic studio system was a model of the New Jerusalem (if you think it is, wipe the thick wads of Nostalgia off your rose-colored glasses). My assertion is that there's less middle ground. It's either blockbuster marketing monolith and tiny independents -- even films that premier at Sundance aren't exactly outsiderish anymore. Nothing in between. Too Big to Fail vs. Too Small to Compete -- see also Banks, Investing, Politics, etc. It's in every aspect of modern life and it needs to stop. Luckily, most people are too willfully ignorant or too preternaturally stupid to know or care about such matters.

Mar 23, 2012, 11:26am Top

Watched Roman Polanski's "The Tenant" (1977) last night with my oldest son, who wanted to watch a "classic" horror film.

The movie still offers plenty of chills--and I've seen it six or seven times. Liam enjoyed it as well.

Edited: Mar 23, 2012, 12:13pm Top

Dear Cliff,

Can you go past "Romero".

I always remember a friends observation "...that's not real blood, that's Zombie blood..." after a vivid decapitation.

Oh. and she is fermale...
I was hiding my face and she was laughing.

Go figure.


ETA. I was thnking of george a romero not the one who came up in my initial touchstone.

Mar 23, 2012, 12:08pm Top

Saw a documentary. Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star. Hollywood was hell, that's all I can figure. Joan was a carwreck and staying out of her life was a good idea. She also appears to have been one of those great actors who never made a great film - the critical consensus points to Mildred Pierce, which was good, not great.

Mar 23, 2012, 12:25pm Top

Romero, like John Carpenter, has become a brand name. Zombies, decapitation, repeat ad nauseum. Too bad, because in both cases their early films revealed a zeal for storytelling and some genuinely fright-inducing moments.

I'm still a big fan of Romero's virtually unseen film "Martin" (try cueing that one up on "Netflix"--not a chance, dude). A small film, a character study with literally no gore and there are gleams of brilliance throughout...

Mar 23, 2012, 12:57pm Top

>217 CliffBurns: - totally agree, Martin is Romero's best film - one of the few original takes on vampires. It is also one of those legendary films - the original version was almost three hours long and in B&W but no copies of it exist.

Mar 23, 2012, 1:02pm Top

Hadn't heard of an extended version of "Martin", but quite happy with the shorter take. It's a creeeepy film. Watch it on a double bill with "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer".

Edited: Mar 23, 2012, 7:45pm Top

Useless thought, perhaps, but I always think of "Clint Eastwood" as the director, NOT the cowboy.
From what I've read, all his films come in within budget and on time, and don't seem to cost "squillions".

ETA. Spelling.

Mar 24, 2012, 1:48am Top

Dear Group,

Every one in Australia knows these ABC (Government TV)
Film Critics. I just thought I would share them with the rest of the world.



Mar 24, 2012, 9:21pm Top

Sun Ra. "Space is the Place" in its entirety. For absolutely nuttin'. I say no more:


Thanks, Gord.

I think...

Mar 25, 2012, 7:22am Top

Thirty films reviewed in exactly thirty words each. It can be done. See here.

Mar 25, 2012, 10:49am Top

See what the Twitter Age is doing to reviewing? Sigh.

Nice melange o' stuff. Keepin' it eclectic...

Mar 25, 2012, 1:36pm Top

I've been watching some old Harold Lloyd silents: "Girl Shy", "Kid Brother" and others.

Funny, poignant...and the stunts are absolutely mind-boggling. I know Lloyd sometimes employed a double but, holy mackerel, whoever it was in the most daring scenes was definitely taking his life in his hands, movie magic or no movie magic.

Mar 25, 2012, 11:41pm Top

Saw Hunger Games and was pretty impressed. I'd put it on par with the Golden Compass movie adaptation. Intriguing worldbuilding and a fascinating take on a dystopia. My only demerit is for the constant "shaky cam," which got annoying, since it made "seeing" the events rather difficult.

Mar 27, 2012, 3:58pm Top

I was not a big fan of the GC movie. It just lacked something or it didn't match up with the book, as I recall (they changed the ending, too.) I seem to be hearing the same thing from people I know who've seen The Hunger Games...good, but not great, not quite what they hoped for. I was planning to see it but now I'm not sure.

Mar 27, 2012, 4:10pm Top

227: I agree, at least partly. The challenge is to locate "that something" and tease it out in a critique. Having not read the Hunger Games books, I saw the movie in a fresh light. I don't like being in the "book vs. movie" nitpicky mode when I see a movie -- that ruined the first time I saw David Lynch's Dune, since the plot was radically altered from the book. My only problem with the HG movie was the perpetual "wiggly cam" that made it difficult to "see" what was happening. The only movie that did that well were the Bourne movies. But hey, it's the first installment, always room from improvement and character development ... and a far cry better than that Twilight idiocy.

Mar 27, 2012, 7:23pm Top

Finally watched a western again. Last time I saw one must have been The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and that was about four years ago. It's not even that I dislike the genre, though I do tend to think of that Philip Marlowe line "such a lot of guns around town and so few brains." That certainly fit today's offering....

Johnny Guitar: with Joan Crawford, lynch mobs and the most artificial sets imaginable. Visually, it was soaked in colour, much like Leave Her to Heaven. I don't like that style. Too distracting.

The story was pretty good with rabid backwoods locals trying to run off anyone they don't like. Surprisingly grim - all of the nice guys get killed off, leaving Joan (and her frightening lipstick) to deal with aforesaid mob, repressed psycho Mercedes McCambridge and a bunch of men with itchy trigger fingers too busy trading manly jibes amongst themselves to do anything useful. Weird, weird little film. It was better than it had any right to be.

Mar 27, 2012, 8:41pm Top

Well, good on you for giving westerns another shot. There are some good ones out there. Two recent flicks of note--"The Proposition" (starring Guy Pearce) and the new version of "True Grit". Both worthy. And if you ever get a chance to see "Two Mules for Sister Sara", the original "Stagecoach" or "The Stalking Moon", by all means, go for it...

Mar 28, 2012, 4:44am Top

229 - I always think of Johnny Guitar less of a western and more of your typical over-the-top Nicholas Ray melodrama.

Mar 28, 2012, 3:34pm Top

One of my favorites, "Night of the Hunter" was on last night. The river scenes are still incredibly beautiful.

Mar 28, 2012, 5:41pm Top


Mar 29, 2012, 11:30am Top

I know, I can never hear that hymn now without chills!

Mar 29, 2012, 12:40pm Top

230: Thanks for the recommendations. I now have a short list of westerns to fatten up my movie queue. I figure I'll also try The Ox-Bow Incident, High Noon and High Plains Drifter.

231: Johnny Guitar is to westerns what Rebel Without a Cause is to teen flicks....

Mar 29, 2012, 7:42pm Top

On that note, I'm continuing this in a new thread.

Group: Literary Snobs

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