March 3, 2008

Chop Shop and Ramin Bahrani

chopshop-Polanco-Gonzales.jpg

A few weeks ago, Cinecultist got the opportunity to chat with director Ramin Bahrani again, this time for Metromix. Ramin is a cool guy and always a fun interview—he let CC veer the conversation off into Ingmar Bergman exaltations and he humored our questions about his favorite neighborhood haunts. He also is obviously and deeply passionate about cinema which tells the unlikely, untold narrative, as is evident in his wonderful new movie Chop Shop about two teenagers living above an auto body shop in Willet's Point, Queens. Cinecultist has been, at least once, to all five boroughs of Manhattan but we were unfamiliar with this industrial part of the city near Shea Stadium. Bahrani opens a window to this part of New York and the people living their lives there. His camera doesn't judge. It just appears to observe, and the performances he elicits from his primarily first time cast are wonderfully natural.
The film is playing now at Film Forum through March 11, be sure to check it out.

February 10, 2008

Chatting with NYT's Break Through Amy Ryan

amyryan.jpg
Amy Ryan, flanked by John Ashton and Ed Harris, as Helene in Gone Baby Gone.

On Friday night the New York Times magazine hosted a conversation between editor Lynn Hirschberg and two of their featured subjects (and Oscar nominees) in this week's story on Breaking Through actresses Ellen Page and Amy Ryan, as well as Juno director Jason Reitman. After the fascinating hour and a half conversation, which featured discussions of their work in Juno and Gone Baby Gone as well as a cameo from portfolio photographer Ryan McGinley, Cinecultist had the opportunity to speak one on one with Amy in the green room. The critically lauded (she was nominated for two Tonys and now the best supporting Oscar nod) down-to-earth stage and screen actor couldn't have been nicer—she even complimented CC on our favorite earrings.

It’s so great to meet you because I’ve been talking about your performance ever since I saw it.
Oh, gosh. Thank you.

Something I thought that was interesting that you brought up in the talk tonight was that in your theater career, and then again in your movie career, you’ve had these breakthroughs and I wondered if there was anything that you thought was similar about these two moments?
It is similar to what Ellen was saying about when you read a script and it’s somewhat inexplicable, but your body is just propelling you forward [to do the project]. I think the common thread is that when I first read Uncle Vanya and actually Streetcar, these two plays, I thought 'I have to play these parts.' And when I read Capote, I knew this was a role I had to play, Marie Dewey. I just had to. It was the complexity of her being star struck in tandem with her neighbors just being murdered. What does that feel like, to be this person? I wanted to figure that out. And then with Helene [in Gone Baby Gone], how do you play a drug addict who is considering the fame and also wondering if her daughter is alive or dead, just trying to survive?

So it’s more about the chance to play a certain role rather than, 'Now the world will know me and I’ll have a chance to be famous?'
No, never had that. I remember when I was a kid seeing a play with a famous actress in it and I remember saying to my mom, ‘I hope I’m good before I’m famous.’ Because when you’re famous people will tell you you’re good.

I’m glad this has happened later in my life because I know I’m good at some things, but there’s going to be a lot of things that I know I’m shitty at. At least I know what I know now. Because I wasn’t as smart as Ellen, I keep having to remind myself of her age! She’s a phenomenal, grounded, intelligent person. Man, this girl is impressive. [Ed note. Up close Ellen Page is also very, very tiny. So much sardonic for such a little package.]

I know!
Because I didn’t have that, so I’m glad that it happened later in life.

And do you think being a New York actress, and being based here, is about that too?
For me it is. First of all there’s nothing like coming back home to New York where any other block you walk down, someone’s story is bigger than your own. You’re not the star. You’re not the center of attention. Everyone has a drama on each new block. Also after drama school I didn’t go back into training, I just started training by watching behavior in the streets and the subways. In that sense I need New York, I need that. I think it’s the balance of life.

Do you have a favorite place to watch movies in New York?
I watch movies on my wall now in my house, because I have a projector. But to go to the movies, nothing beats the Zeigfeld. You feel like you’ve stepped back in time. You feel like you have to get dressed up to go to the movies there. I also really appreciate—even though I do think the screens are too small—but I love a rainy day with no plans and you walk by the Angelika. They always have something interesting and worth seeing. I do wish their screens were a little bigger but that’s New York real estate.

Posted by karen at 10:34 PM | Amy Ryan, NYT, Oscar race | Comments (0)

February 6, 2007

You Can Never Have Too Much John Waters

Cinecultist's interview with director John Waters for Gothamist is up now. We were on the phone to discuss John's new compilation CD, A Date With John Waters which "drops" today. It was fun to talk with him, even though it was only briefly, and CC was extra pleased to find a way to bring up Michael Jackson. John's in ridiculously bad taste riff on Jackson in his concert film, This Filthy World alone makes it worth a viewing. It's literally jaw-droppingly funny.

Posted by karen at 10:45 AM | Gothamist, John Waters | Comments (0)

January 2, 2007

Tom Tykwer, the Film Fan

Director Tom Tykwer obviously loves girls with electric red hair, as evidenced by his movies Run Lola Run and the recently released, super creepy Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Last week, he also talked with indieWire about a subject closer to Cinecultist's heart, movie love.

"I am making movies because I still get so much out of watching them. And I very much enjoy discussing them. Discussing movies makes me understand people, ideas, illusions, emotions, myself, life, art, the world. So, the movies I am making, first and most of all, have to satisfy myself as an audience member."

His list of 30 favorite movies included in the interview could also be used as a handy Netflix suggestion list, the Tyk has some good taste in cinema.

Posted by karen at 5:33 PM |

November 15, 2006

CC, the Stars of 'Flannel Pajamas' and a Big Bowl Of Mussels

stuart-nicole-office.jpg

On Monday, Cinecultist had the pleasure of interviewing Justin Kirk and Julianne Nicholson while they ate lunch in a Tribeca restaurant. Our conversation is now up on Gothamist, and their movie, Flannel Pajamas is now out in New York theaters.

For being so good in such a sad, and intimate movie about how love can die, Justin and Julianne are a pretty silly pair (see our extended discussion of Justin biting Julianne's ass in the trailer). CC can see why they said they had such a great time on the set of this locally shot indie. During our talk, in addition to the movie discussion, we hear a little bit about their respective TV shows (Weeds and Law and Order: Criminal Intent) but unfortunately it slipped our mind to ask Justin the most important question: Where the heck is the 2-season DVD of his WB program, Jack and Jill? Cinecultist totally hearted that show because it was unbelievably cheesy. Plus, look at the careers most of the cast members like Jaime Pressly, Sarah Paulson, Amanda Peet and Ivan Sergei, have had! (We'll just ignore Simon Rex, 'kay?) Surely, this show deserves a home edition box set.

After you see Flannel Pajamas, you will realize the amazing restraint of the Cinecultist for not mentioning Justin Kirk's (very impressive) full frontal nudity scene to him while he was enjoying his pasta with mussels. We are a lady with tact.

Posted by karen at 9:27 PM |

August 28, 2006

Many Tasks, None of Them Easy

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Cinecultist should probably just go ahead and name today officially Factotum day, since we have a couple of linky links to point out regarding the Charles Bukowski movie. CC interview the flick's director, Bent Hamer while he was in town a few weeks ago for the movie's premiere and our chat is now available on Papermag.com.

Also, we reviewed the movie for the Movie Binge crew yesterday, in addition to Material Girls. This may not be a huge surprise to our many bright readers, but of the two subjects, Factotum is the superior movie. It may be glum in its naturalistic portrayals of life on the edge as only Bukowski can tell it, but it didn't make CC want to do bodily harm to ourselves while it was playing. Oh no, only the new Hilary Duff movie could do that. It was so bad we stopped watching and started contemplaing what way would be best make to gouge out our eyes with a blunt object. Maybe a spoon.

Posted by karen at 10:24 PM |

August 25, 2006

How To Make The Cinecultist Feel Like A Total Slacker

Talk with avant garde curator, critic, video diarist Jonas Mekas for Gothamist. We just hope when we're 84, we'll still be that much in the present and looking to the future. He's a complete inspiration.

Mekas's most recent work, A Letter From Greenpoint will screen tonight at 7:30 pm at the Museum of the Moving Image, along with an early short Williamsburg, Brooklyn. If you like your art films personal, thoughtful and a touch irreverent, Mekas is your guy.

Posted by karen at 5:39 PM |

July 17, 2006

Back and Forth On Film

Two interviews Cinecultist read today and enjoyed:

Actress, designer, mom and yoga studio founder Karen Allen was in town a few weeks ago for a Q&A post-Raiders of the Lost Ark screening at the Paris Theater. Tess Dawn Chan chatted with her for Papermag.com. Choice quotation -- TDC: So why do you think everyone has such a soft spot for Marion Ravenwood?

She's just a fantastic character. When I read the scenes they gave me to audition with and I saw they were introducing this girl who was living alone in a tavern in Nepal, making extra money by drinking off a table, I thought, wow. I mean, that's one of the all-time great introductions to a character. A lot of women have come up to me over the years and say, "I'd like to be just like her."

indieWire's Eugene Hernandez interviewed brothers and filmmakers, Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass today regarding their forthcoming indie, The Puffy Chair. Sounds like just the sort of tiny, creatively invigorating movie the Cinecultist loves. Choice quotation -- Did you go to film school? Or how did you learn about filmmaking? And any other insights you think might be interesting...

Jay Duplass: I went to film school at UT Austin. I learned a lot and that school's good for puking up all your bad movies early and quick. But ultimately, no one can teach you to be an artist. And it's rare that film school teachers are themselves successful filmmakers. Only way to do it is to afford yourself the opportunity to make movies, f'em up and then make more cuz art requires a lot of f'ing up.

Posted by karen at 6:11 PM |

January 6, 2006

Ultimate Death Match: Worst Movie of 2005 Edition

capn': i finally posted my top 10.
elysecritic: ah hah. i will go see...
elysecritic: i thought for some reason you liked Shark Boy.
capn': uh, no. it was god awful.
elysecritic: i don't know where that came from then.
capn': hmm, not sure.
elysecritic: if there was a ultimate death match between your worst (sharkboy) and my worst (diary of a mad black woman) who do you think would emerge victorious?
capn': oh man, probably the mad black women.
elysecritic: yeah. i think tyler perry might sit on the sharkboy. however, he would be in 3-D, so he'd have that going for him.
capn': good point.
capn': well, and i wonder if i'd like my movie more if I was a child
capn': who was slightly off
capn': and had a couple learning disabilities
elysecritic: and maybe i would've liked black woman if uh...i didn't understand how plot and character development and narrative are supposed to work.
elysecritic: woulda, coulda, shoulda

Posted by karen at 8:50 AM |

December 7, 2005

Interview With Author Ron Hogan

082125751X.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgRecently, Cinecultist conducted a brief IMversation with film historian and blogger, Ron Hogan to discuss his new book about '70s cinema, The Stewardess Is Flying The Plane! Quite the compendium of themes, stills and production details from that much lauded decade of American moviemaking, Hogan's book is a great resource for people with both a passing interest and a deep love for the era. Here we discuss the joys of movie research, Karen Black and why film blogging won't be overtaking tradition film criticism. Not yet, anyway.

cc: Maybe we should start with what led you to want to write a book like this, particularly about the '70s. Hasnt American cinema of the '70s got enough mystique as it is?

rh: Well, it has mystique, but very few people have actually done anything to explore that mystique. And when they do, they usually tackle a very small portion of the movie scene, whether it's Peter Biskind's treatment of a handful of "maverick" directors or recent documentaries that focus strictly on blaxplotiation or indie film. I really wanted to write about the WHOLE spectrum of what was going on in Hollywood during that decade--not just what the people who were setting the new pace were doing, but what the people who were following in their wake did.

cc: That's a pretty ambitious undertaking to start out with. Did you ever feel daunted by the scope of your project?

rh: Not really, but that might have something to do with the fact that my editor and I came up with the book's outline and most of the movie list with the help of a steady supply of vodka martinis. It's amazing how big a project you're willing to take on when you feel no pain! And then, after that, well, the research phase basically entailed watching a ton of movies. Which I'd probably do anyway, given my druthers, so if I can get somebody to PAY me to do it, I'm all set!

cc: But you must of done quite a bit of reading as well, since you seem so well versed in the history of the era, as well as the individuals films and their productions. Are their any particular other historians of the era that you found helpful or inspiring? Or frustrating?

rh: Oh, sure, there was definitely a lot of reading, and listening to the commentary tracks on DVDs. I don't agree with all of his conclusions, but David Frum's How We Got Hereis a pretty good start on the subject of the 1970s as the fulfillment of the '60s revolution.

cc: Is there a movie that you rediscovered while doing this project that you'd forgotten about but really think holds up? Also, maybe a movie that you think is completely over rated as a '70s classic?

rh: That second question's a lot easier: I don't get Last Tango In Paris, although I'm willing to concede that may simply be a matter of what was shocking for the early '70s being fairly conventional by today's standards. Another, more blatant example is Dont Look Now, which I consider to be a perfect example of why art-film directors shouldn't do drive-in movies. But for the first question... I'm not so sure that there were movies that I rediscovered, but there were plenty of films that I discovered for the first time. Like Space Is The Place, an absolutely mind blowing film starring jazz musician Sun Ra.

cc: I have to say I find Last Tango over rated as well. Butter in a sex scene? Is this supposed to be hot?

What about '70s stars, I was struck by seeing so many familiar faces only younger in the pictures from your book...A least favorite? Anyone you think really hasn't aged well or fulfilled the promise of their early work?

rh: Well, I wouldn't presume to pick anybody who screwed up their career, but there are SOME actors who for whatever reasons weren't able to follow through on the promise of their '70s career: my cover girl, Karen Black, being a prime example. In her case, that might just be the result of Hollywood's fetishization of young women. And there should be more Jim Kelly action films than there are, dammit. Black Belt Jones, Three the Hard Way, Enter The Dragon...there was more to be done there, I'm sure of it. (Oh, I know he DID more, but I find his drop-off in the early '80s totally uncalled for. There's no reason he shouldn't have had the kind of longevity Chuck Norris has had.)

cc: My familiarity with your writing before seeing the book was obviously from Beatrice.com, which is about the literary scene, but I know you call yourself a film historian. How did you get into that niche and do you find it at all hard to reconcile your interest in books with movies?

rh: My original academic training was in film studies, and I have a master's. I got into the book world--well, I've always been a reader, but I specifically got involved with the book scene when I went to work in a bookstore after grad school. That and freelance writing went hand in hand, eventually I became a book review editor for Amazon, and certainly Beatrice has always been a good outlet for me to write about books and writers... But I don't see anything to reconcile, really. I like books, I like movies, and I've spent enough time delving into each field to (hopefully) be able to sound off on them and appear to know what I'm talking about. I could do it with comic books, too. But I know my limitations!

cc: I guess for me, sometimes I find my English major background exponentially geeking out my Film Studies stuff -- getting into issues of adaptation and literary theory and then you start throwing around the Bakhtin and it all goes pear shaped. But seriously, I think lots of people are surprised when someone has strong interests in more than one area and can carry on complex discussions in them all. So I guess good for you, you smartie pants.

rh: *blush* Oh, thanks -- and as it happens, this book is miles apart from the sort of stuff I was writing in film school, which was all about biopics as a manifestation of cultural canon formation... *grin*

cc: And as for the ultimate geek activity: Any thoughts on the influence of blogging on film criticism? Is every film blogger trying to be the next Roger Ebert or A.O. Scott? Or Peter Bogdanovich even?

rh: Hmmm. I'm sure some of them are--we used to joke about that in grad school, actually, about how hard it would be if we seriously thought about trying to get film critic gigs, because those really do seem like positions that most critics leave only when they're taken out on a stretcher... I don't know that I see anybody trying to be a historian in the Bogdanovich mold, necessarily, but it wouldn't surprise me if a couple bloggers have David Thomson or Greil Marcus as role models. As for the influence of blogs on criticism... I don't know what it's like in the film crit world, but my experience writing about literary criticism is that the mainstream critics do know about the more prominent blogs, and some of them do seriously consider what we say. More, though, seem to think that it's cute that the kids are acting like grownups.

cc: I'm not sure if I have anything else. I think the book looks great. It's the kind of thing you should have open while adding to your Netflix queue just to spice up the average DVD watching experience. Throw in a few copies of Airport or Harold and Maude or The Brood (because I love David Cronenberg) into the mix of all those Arrested Development dvds.

rh: Absolutely! I would love it if people keep cracking this book open in their living rooms, trying to figure out what they haven't seen in thirty years -- or EVER, if they're our age -- and should add to their queues. I think that's a sign that a film book has really done its job... when it makes you want to see the films it talks about.

cc: Me too. More eclectic movie watching the better.

Posted by karen at 9:01 AM |

October 21, 2005

A Halloween Costume Is Born

Scene: Last night, via instant messenger. The Cinecultist has a brainstorm about this year's Halloween costume.

07252005_sympathy.jpgcc: hello? is this matty in asia?
matty: matty in asia!
cc: wow! how are you?!?
matty: good! doin' laundry.
cc: and on the internet at the same time?
matty: well, we're in robbie's dorm and it's running downstairs right now.
cc: ah. i was envisioning a wong kar wai-ish anonymous laundromat, mid-city. home for those with longing in their eyes and lots of dirty drawers. i think my hong kong fantasies are getting away from me.
matty: ha ha ha. i hope some of the pictures i'll put up this morning will fulfill your fanatasies.
cc: me too. it really is weird the way i look at the world through movie-tinted glasses. it's like my first level of reference. always.
matty: i saw sympathy for lady vengeance last night
cc: ooo. did you like?
matty: yeah. oldboy is a little better, but this was still excellent. did you see it at nyff?
cc: yes, i did. but i am a lazy git and haven't posted about it yet. i enjoyed it. i found the characterization a little uneven and a bit black & white for the usual park fare but i thought it was mostly stylish and slick.
matty: yeah, i can see that.
cc: i really loved all of the scenes in the prison. sweet.
matty: yeah, those were excellent. i was just going to mention them.
cc: i loved her red eye shadow. think i could do that for halloween? i'm trying to think of a costume still. like, all black, my new boots and red eye make up? maybe a black wig.
matty: he he. i'm not sure that the red eye shadow would be enough. you might need that crazy coat.
cc: but what if i just wore a long black coat? would it have to have a big collar do you think?
matty: well, i think you'll be lucky to have one person recognize you even if you have the perfect costume, so i think you're fine no matter what you wear. the movie doesn't come out in the u.s. until march [ed note: Feb. 17 to be exact], so it'll give people time to forget.
cc: that always happens to me. i always have hugely cerebral costumes that i have to explain all night. one year i was "art". don't ask. i'm such a dork.
matty: ha ha. in the two years i was corky st. clair and max fischer i had a total of 4 people recognize me. and they were good costumes.
cc: i could also get a gauze bandage wrapped around my hand like i'd cut off my own finger for the costume.
matty: i think it's a good costume, just be prepared for no one to recognize you.
cc: yeah. i know. sigh.

Posted by karen at 8:57 AM |

August 30, 2005

Wherein We Try To Get Out Of Posting Via IM Chat

But am tricked into writing a mini-review of Junebug anyhow despite our self-imposed, full stomach-related impediments.

Scene: 11:00 pm. An East Village walk-up. Conversation via instant messenger.

cinecultist: i ate too much dinner. i'm in food coma.
capndesign: haha. where'd you go?
cc: i should blog something but can't. Kitchen & Cocktails on Orchard. It had a good write up from Frank Bruni on Friday.
cd: and did you enjoy it?
cc: it was pretty yum. but as i said, i ate too much. i hate that.
cd: just puke it up.
cc: uh. no. ew.
cd: ok, fine, bad idea.
cc: i went to see junebug last night with jp.
cd: did you like?
cc: yes. see, if i had more to say i would post it on my blog. say something witty about movies and then i can post that.
cd: ah. should i see it?
cc: yes, it's a smart little movie. it may have been over hyped at this point, but i think that might be the problem for all films touted at sundance. it's very observed and contemplative. feels like a fall movie more than a summer one. funny and sweet and sad.
cd: hmm, maybe i'll wait until after labor day to see it. it'll seem more fall-y.
cc: that could be good. ben mckenzie is good in it. you'll hardly recognize that he's from the oc. and amy adams of course, steals the show. she's amazing.
cd: sounds great.
cc: it's as though she thought to herself on each scene "i could have one level of reaction to this. but i'll instead do twice as much and see what happens."
cd: now i just need to see 40 y.o virgin.
cc: yeah, i haven't seen that yet either.
cd: tomorrow night?
cc: hmmm. sure.

And...end scene.

Posted by karen at 11:28 PM |

August 8, 2005

A Conversation With Director, Henry-Alex Rubin

What follows is the first in hopefully an ongoing series of interviews, The Cinecultist Gets Drunk With Filmmakers. For our first installment, we sat down at the Bowery Bar on E. 4th Street with documentarian and fellow downtown New Yorker, Henry-Alex Rubin (left in the suit, in the image below) whose movie Murderball which he directed with Dana Adam Shapiro (right), won best documentary at this years Sundance Film Festival and is currently out in theaters.

henry_alex_rubin1.jpgUnfortunately, their uplifting, smart, hilarious little docu about quadriplegic rugby players is being trounced in the box office by a few migrating penguins. Weve got nothin against penguins, but this is a crying shame because Murderball is one of the most deftly crafted movies weve seen so far this year. Please rush out to see it, then talk loudly about it at as many cocktail parties as you can. Well, read the following conversation first, but then head out to the movie.

KW: So I guess the first thing to talk about, since the movie is already out, would be what are your thoughts on how its doing?

HAR: Box office?

KW: Yeah, box office.

HAR: Pretty miserably. I know no one believes me that I dont care, but I really dont. The emotional high point for me was a long time ago. It was when we finished the film and showed it to the guys and they loved the movie. And the second high point was people loved it at Sundance. Everything after that its been a little bit anti-climactic, quite frankly. It wouldve been great to become a millionaire but, whatever. Thats not why you make movies.

Murderball, KW: Certainly. Do you think the studio had expectations that the film would do a certain amount of money?

HAR: Definitely.

KW: Did they have conversations with you saying its next Capturing the Friedmans or?

HAR: It was a guarded hope, always. I cant impress this on you enough, of the three of us who made this movie, me, Dana and [producer] Jeff [Mandel], youre talking to the guy who cares the least. Who was the least involved in withI never check the box office. My agent will once in a while tell me how its doing. Honestly, I wish more people would go. But its hard to get people to go to a movie about cripples. I mean the bottom-line, Ive said that in almost every interview is that weve always had two strikes against us. One, that were a documentary but that stigma is going away. You can bust out. But two, its a movie about disabled people. I dont know. Speculating about why youre movie is doing well is not interesting. It really isnt, Karen. Lets twist the knife around.

KW: Sorry, no the reason why I wanted to bring this up at all is because I saw it this weekend and I thought it was wonderful. And it surprises me that more people arent going to see it.

HAR: All I know is that the guys in the movie really love the movie, and thats all that really matters to me. In fact lets call Igoe [one of the people featured in the film] right now and see what he has to say about it. A statement from Chris Igoe. [Henry pulls out his cellphone and starts dialing.]

KW: So that was something that I was going to ask you. Are you now buddies with the guys from the film? Because it seems like you are from interviews and the film itself.

HAR: Definitely. Chris, Zupan especially. Theyre some of my closest friends.

KW: When you set out to make a documentary, is there a part of you that feels like a journalist?

HAR: [speaking into his phone] Hey Christopher Igoe, how are you? Im sitting at a table with a journalist who just asked me why more people arent going to see our movie? So I thought you might have some interesting thoughts on the subject, so call back. All right. Mademoiselle.

KW: So when you make a documentary, do you feel that you are more of a journalist or more of a filmmaker?

HAR: The great thing about this movie is, that Dana really is a journalist. Hes hardcore. Hes been writing stories for years and years. He helped start Icon magazine, he was features editor at Spin. So a lot of that investigative work, I left to him. It was great. He would bring different story lines and ideas. But no, it was liberating.

KW: So there wasnt ever a moment for you while making that film that you thought, it shouldnt be too personal?

HAR: No, quite the opposite. The more you become friends with the guys, the more access you got and the more emotionally available you are to whats occurring. Inevitably the filming of the events becomes more moving to you. Everything becomes more touching because you love these guys. And then you end up wanting to translate that emotion that youre having up on screen for other people to have. You want them to be experiencing what youre experiencing. You want everyone else to love these guys.

KW: I definitely feel thats a part of the film that comes across very strongly. There are scenes that it seems that if the person behind the camera wasnt just another guy sitting around. There are quite a few scenes that are very intimate, very personal.

HAR: They forget you because they just think theres a friend in the room. But Im already on to the next project. That guy, Sean that you met [outside the bar, before the conversation began] is a captain in the army. Who has left the army and has become a writer. Were working on a movie. Its going to be about returning Iraq war veterans. Im in a completely different mindset. You make a movie and its like youve sent a kid away to school. You dont know it anymore. You dont recognize the clothes its wearing. Youre shocked when you hear people talking about it. When it brings home girlfriends, you dont recognize them. It has its ownit has nothing to do with me anymore. Its a stranger.

KW: So lets talk about movies.

HAR: Oh, that I can do.

KW: Lets talk about movies in New York, what are you favorite places to go to movies in New York?

HAR: There are two places. One is in the theater over in 33rd and 2nd Avenue. The Kips Bay movie theater. Love it. Always empty, big screens. Empty. Love it. Also, 68th Street. I like to sneak into movies, once I see one, I like to see another and you can do that at these two places very easily.

KW: So youre not a Film Forum person, youre not a Sunshine person?

HAR: No, I like action movies. I like war movies, action movies, cop movies. I like genre. I think most of the movies that come out today are really bad but my favorite movies are from the 60s and are all action movies. Like The Great Escape or Bullitt or Dirty Dozen, Badlands. These are my favorite movies. Deerhunter is probably one of my top favorite movies of all time. Top three.

KW: You also have that Blow-Up poster.

HAR: When did you see my Blow-Up poster? Oh right when you were in my room. [Ed note: This may sound sketchy, but CC innocently set up the tape recorder for an interview for our Day Job in Henrys apartment a few months prior, which is when we saw his poster.] That movie really filled me with the mystery of moviemaking. It was so mysterious. You grew up trying to figure that movie out. I saw that when I lived in France. I lived in FranceIm half-Frenchand I grew up in Paris for a number of years. Thats where I saw a lot of movies, at La Gobelins, its right on the edge of the 13th arrondissement. Its a row of theaters and theres a bunch of them playing revivals. And I would go there, when I was 15, 16, 17 years old. I remember seeing Blow-Up and loving it and not knowing why and being very frustrated by it. As frustrated as David Hemmings. I love good movies. Its not like I love the French. I hate the French. I am French, so I can hate them. I love their movies. They make the best gangster movies and the best thrillers. People like Clouzot and Melville. These movies are fucking great because theyre genre movies, so theres a plot and theres gunfights, which keeps me interested and theyre incredibly human. Theyre all about people and relationship, whereas the genre movies here in the US are not about people. I love very, very real movies. Blow-Up is not one of my favorite movies. Its been with me so long, that its gotten under my skin for at least 15 years now. Its become a part of my identity.

Posted by karen at 8:30 AM |

January 7, 2005

Another Director Talk on Gothamist

Cinecultist spoke today with director Niels Mueller for Gothamist* regarding his new movie, the Assassination of Richard Nixon which stars Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and Don Cheadle.

We were surprised by how incredibly affecting Penn's performance in this movie. Not that Penn isn't often really great, but it was unexpected how fully he inhabits this deluded loser. When he finally breaks down and hijacks the airplane with the intent to fly it into the White House, killing the supposed source of his problems, Richard Nixon, we can almost see how his passions led him to this conclusion. All the performances in this film are top flight, in particular Michael Wincott who plays Sam's Orthodox tire salesman brother. The scene between these two is one of the most arresting of the year. And you know that's saying a lot, in this Oscar hopeful season.

* We're hoping to do more of these interviews for Gothamist with film people, directors but perhaps also other film professionals. If you are one of these folks, or represent one with a new project coming up, please drop us a line so we can arrange a chat. Thanks!

Posted by karen at 3:17 PM |

December 20, 2004

It's All In The Tone

Last week, Cinecultist alluded to the geeked out children's lit conversations between ourselves and our friend Lisa Graff, a student in the New School graduate writing children's lit program. Now we bring to you, in lieu of a straight up review, our continuing chat with Lisa about Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events wherein we discuss adaptation issues, how Klaus should have been fat with glasses and our favorite children's movies when we were kids. BTW: The Neverending Story scared the bejeebers out of Lisa as a child, in case you were wondering.

elysecritic: The more advertisements I see [for Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events], the more I'm struck by how they're touting it as a Jim Carrey movie, like the Mask or something. Odd, don't you think?

lisa: YES. It really bugs. Even the covers of the new books have Jim's face plastered all over them. Like the books didn't sell enough copies before he showed up to promote them.

elysecritic : Do you think that's to spread out the market -- appeal to Lemony Snicket fans and Jim Carrey fans, or do you think it comes from a misunderstanding of the "point" of the books, as you see them?

lisa: hmm. Excellent question. Maybe a mixture of both. I think you could be right about trying to appeal to JC fans who wouldn't otherwise see a kiddy Snicket movie, but then the movie itself really revolved around Count Olaf, which I don't feel like the books did. Olaf's present in every book, and he's certainly the most colorful character, but the story's really all about the kids and how their cleverness gets them out of these tough spots.

elysecritic: I caught a few minutes this morning of "Roeper and Ebert" and that idiothead Roeper was saying, he thought it was boring how the structure revolved around the three kids meeting a new guardian, Olaf shows up, then they have to escape. He thought they could have varied the plot more! He also wanted it to be more upbeat. That's the point when I just turned it off so I wouldn't have to spit at the TV, but I think it's always interesting to see how someone like Roeper who does zero research on the movies he sees, in my opinion can like any ordinary viewer misunderstand a movie. In otherwords, would the movie have been perhaps less misunderstood if it were darker? Less sunny at the end, as a sop?

lisa: You should have spit on Roeper.

elysecritic: Someday, I'll get my chance.
elysecritic: He's not an adaptations man.
elysecritic: I don't think he reads, actually. That's my personal theory.

lisa: There were parts I thought that were WAY too cheerful. Vomit-inducing, even. But I think the tone of the books was so hard to carry through to the big screen. Some of the parts that were so funny in the books didn't carry through completely, and maybe that's because they came off a lot darker than they did in the book. I'm trying to think of examples, you'll have to give me a sec.

elysecritic: So, is Snicket unadaptable? Or was it a case of the wrong director, or producers who didn't deliver on the promise of the book? (Side note, I don't think anything is unadaptable actually. But I'd like to see a book that could stump a really visionary director, just to see if it's possible. as I said last night, books and movies are different things, but I think most books can be translated to the screen.)

lisa: I've been debating over that since yesterday, and I think maybe it was unadaptable to some extent. It's like if someone tried to make a movie out of Tristram Shandy, say. It would suck. And that's because the story is not really in the events or the "plot," but rather in the narration. It's like that in Snicket, because all of the humor is in the narration. Because Roeper's right, to some extent. The story is really repetitive. And that's only fun to read when you have this crazy narrator cracking you up every other line. I thought they did a pretty good job with Mr. Law on that front, but still, narration's just hard to pull off in a movie.

elysecritic: Entertainment Weekly thought Law was spot on as the narrator. And I'll say I liked him as well, in particular that it was his voice but not his sillouete at the typewriter. That might have been distracting. Instead, we just get his perfect voice and some other person's hands and profile. I found that quite smart on the filmmaker's part.

lisa: I agree. And I thought of an example of where the movie was much darker than the books (it helped that I pulled them off my shelf...). I think a really great example is when the kids find out their parents have died. It's a sad moment, obviously, but still somehow in the book there's humor there. For instance, right after Mr. Poe tells them their parents "have perished in a terrible fire," he explains, "Perished means 'killed.'" And then Klaus gets mad because Mr. Poe thinks he's an idiot who doesn't know what "perished" means. See? Darkness and humor at the same time.

elysecritic: That's a great bit. But do you think your love of the book ruined your movie going experience? As a person who hasn't read them, though I've heard lots about them from you, I didn't know that moment could have been there, so I didn't miss it. Does a slavish devotion to a books details (ie. Harry Potter I & II) hamper a movie's ability to tell it's own kind of story?

lisa: Hmm. Another interesting point. I don't know. I think loving a book can mess up what you think of a movie, because as you pointed out, you know what's missing or added and you're constantly comparing. But I didn't really feel that way with the Harry Potter movies. I think I noticed most of the changes, but they were all so true to the story (and I could see how they were necessary to make the movie better) that none of them bothered me. I think with Snicket the changes upset me because they didn't seem to represent the books. The tone was off, and I'm a huge fan of the tone. It's what makes these books so great. So even the things I thought were really funny in the movie (like Sunny's subtitled witticisms) still kind of perturbed me because they wouldn't have been in the book.

elysecritic: That makes sense. Do you want to say some words about the casting? I know you felt strongly about that. Generally, I found the kids amiable and I enjoyed the adults in minor roles like Meryl Streep, Cedric ("Whatchyou doin' here Olaf, man?") the Entertainer, Luis Guzman, Jane tk her last name, etc.

lisa: Meryl Streep was perfect. Can't say enough great things about her as Aunt Josephine (or in general). Baby Sunny was the cutest thing on earth, and even though that goes against my perception of her as this ornery biting-machine from the books, I think that worked for the movie. I was SO not digging that Liam kid who played Klaus. Not that his acting was bad, but it just wasn't the Klaus I've come to love. In the books, he's not a moody kid. Or emotional and weepy. None of them are. When things go wrong, they're all business about fixing things, and Klaus fixes things by reading. None of this oh weepy me, my parents don't love me, let me soliloquize by the window now. No. It's all about the READING, and that's what's funny -- that we know they're in terrible danger and yet here's this kid who's going to read his way out of it.

elysecritic: You mentioned earlier, your love of the book's tone. Did you find the production design compelling, in terms of delivering on tone? If nothing else, I liked the way the thing looked. In particular, I found the closing credits quite arresting. It almost made me wish the whole thing had been done in Edward Gorey-esque cut outs, although maybe an animated Lemony Snicket would have been too precious, now that I think about it. But I did like the faux-Victorian English look of the sets and costumes, though the movie seems to not be placing the story in any particular place or time, despite the distinctive look.

lisa: You're right about the end credits. I think they were my favorite part, which is slightly sad, but kind of not, because they were seriously fantastic. I was taken aback by the slightly goth look of the movie at first, but I think it did do a lot to set the tone as being kind of out-there weird. The books aren't set in any real time or place, and that would definitely be a difficult thing to work with in making a movie. I think their decisions were probably good ones. But I felt like they let the sets and costumes run the show a lot of the time, and down-played the wackiness of the situations the kids were in. Like, don't they notice that Aunt Josephine's house is built on freakin' stilts?? Let them have a moment of reflection on that one, so the "look" and the story can interact a bit, you know?

elysecritic: Yes, I see that. Though, all of those odd details are taken in stride by these kids, which I thought you were implying was their modus operundi?

lisa: Hmm. Yet another good point. I must think upon that.

elysecritic: You didn't realize I don't dwell in the "dude that was awesome" reaction when I get down to it, eh?

lisa: Having had nothing to base your opinion of the movie on, did you think it was more funny, or more dark? I remember you said you liked the movie but you felt like it wasn't truly spectacular. What do you think it was missing?

elysecritic: Overall? I'm not sure what was missing. It just wasn't inspired, I guess. I expected more magic coming from the screen. Not hocus pocus exactly, just movie magic like the third Harry Potter. I feel that Alfonso Cuaron raised the bar on kiddie movies this year. Him and Brad Bird, of the Incredibles.

lisa: Excellent movies, both of them. AND kid-friendly. That's hard to do.

elysecritic: Children's films can be thrilling entertainment, even for adults. I remember how jazzed I was as a kid by certain movies, Dark Crystal, Mary Poppins, The Neverending Story, the Muppet movies when I was little. I don't know that all of those examples still hold up, advances in technology etc, but I think they are what could be.

lisa: Okay, The Neverending Story scared the bejeebers out of me as a child, but other than that I'm with you. And I think kid's don't need the technology. They're getting way more sophisticated, sure, but still it's all about the story. I think it's just like grown-up movies. We're willing to forgive some hokey fake punches here and there, or UFOs on strings, if the story is really intriguing. Of course, having technology AND a good story is even better.

elysecritic: True. Any final thoughts?

lisa: Excellent end credits.

elysecritic: Indeed. I don't know that I would recommend the movie per se, especially to discerning kid viewers, but there were parts I liked well enough. Not a complete disappointment. Faint praise, I know but hey, at least it didn't suck as much as the Fat Albert movie looks like it's going to. Talk about trampling on my childhood... How could Cosby? How could he? Well. That's a rant for another time.

lisa: Word.

Posted by karen at 10:10 PM |

March 4, 2004

When Film Met Fashion...

We first met in a crowded bar in the East Village at a Gothamist/601am Happy Hour. We were both carrying clutch purses. That's how Cinecultist knew she'd found a kindred spirit in Meghan Stier, aka Megastyles and the online editor of fashion bible, The Daily. The night after the Oscars, Megastyles and Cinecultist sat down over IM while watching the Fashion Police -- Joan and Melissa Rivers cutting up the stars on E! -- to discuss Charlize's tan, Uma's stylist's immanent firing and why fashion and film go together like peanut butter and chocolate.

Cinecultist: boy, I forgot how much Joans voice makes my skin crawl and this music may give me seizures. I love it already!
Megastyles: oh there's a little Joan in everyone. Love it. Shes like the Mommy Dearest I never had. She actually looks ok, if she doesn't turn to the side.
CC: What is up with her Botox? That is some serious face frozen action there.
MS: She needs the Botox to keep her cheek implants from moving. What's Thanksgiving like at that house? Does Leon come over?
CC: A nightmare I'm sure.
MS: Does Joan slap Melissa if she reaches for pie? Oh Charlize.
CC: Can no one pronounce her name?
MS: Rivals Angelina as "most beautiful woman in the world."
CC: She does look great. Everybody hates Uma's dress.
MS: Some stylist hates Uma.
CC: How could that have seemed like a good idea?
MS: Maybe she was thinking, like, couture artsy? Might have worked with much less clothing.

CC: Diane Keaton there's no need to still dress in men's wear. It was your signature in the '70s. Move on baby.
MS: People don't get it so now they have to accept it. Still sick of it. Nicole *yawn* Holly Hunter! J'adore!
CC: Lovely. Sexy. Meow. How do you feel about Zac Posen, in three words or less?
MS: Ok, Kelly Lynch (who wore one of his designs) insisted on saying "po-Zen" at the awards. Three words? Ov-er-rated. You?
CC: Fair 'nough. Infant terrible, overit.
MS: Zac Posen is for elves and wood fairies.
CC: Angelina was my favorite look. She's scary and hot.
MS: I love her in anything. Did you know her designer did that horrible Toni Braxton toilet-paper dress?
CC: So the big question is, do any of these looks seem familiar to you from the runways? That's been the big pre-Oscar news, how the change in the ceremony messed up everyone's schedules.
MS: no, nothing looks familiar really. All the big girls, Charlize, Nicole, etc. Im sure had their dresses custom made. The big thing was there was supposed to be so much color, but the end result was really muted, neutral tones Joan really is so much better than the actual Oscars.
CC: I was surprised how everyone seemed to be in white or beige. Look at that Joan -- she can't even wink!
MS: yes -- I was expecting more blues, aquas, and yellows. Ack! I can't stand Jennifer Garner. None of the dresses work because she's...a man!
CC: I like when she's kicking ass on Alias, but her body is sort of strange.
MS: I think it's great she's so athletic, but she usually wears such floaty waify dresses that don't go with her body. This one actually did. She looked better than usual.
CC: Do we care about men in their suits?
MS: No.
CC: Good, what a relief. That look on Marcia [Gay Harden] freaked me out. Bad hair nightmares for weeks.
MS: I know, but what can you do? Shes got contractions on the brain, not couture. She gets a free pass.
CC: Sigh. I guess so. She just looked so beautiful when she won for Pollack.
MS: She really did. Shes beautiful in a very handsome way. Oh blah, Sofia Coppola.
CC: Of course Sofia wore Marc (Jacobs). Did we expect any thing else? Sofia's still my girl though.
MS: Really? Whats the appeal? Part of me thinks I don't like because Im secretly envious of all the free Marc she gets.
CC: I don't know. The expectations as a kid were so low (scary robot performance in Peggy Sue Got Married, the Godfather II debacle, etc.) but as she grew up, she blossomed. She always looks quirky-smart-interesting.
MS: Overall, how were the Oscars, fashion-aside? From a cinematic point of view.
CC: Predictable. There were no big surprises from the nominations to the awards. I like it when there's something shocking and unexpected and then we get to see some actor or filmmakers give some exuberant acceptance.
MS: Monique Lhullier is the new red carpet designer to watch.
CC: Jamie Lee is growing old very gracefully.
MS: Diane Lane is doing it better though...
CC: Diane Lane is always amazing looking.
MS: Women of all ages would kill to look like that. I have to say; the nice thing about Joan is that she never mocks what people say on the red carpet, only what they wear. Like, if you spit while you talked or something, she wouldn't make fun of you. As long as you looked hot.
CC: It's the only place where Joan holds back. She knows she can't really throw stones when it comes to wit. So whose look was all the buzz at your office?
MS: Everyone loved Nicole, but I really thought Charlize was the standout. Theres no comparison, right? And, it turns out I am the only person in America who likes Rene pre-Bridget Jones.
CC: Charlize used to be a model. She knows how to work it. Oh no, you liked her as the skeleton woman? Talk about giving me nightmares. Rene looks great right now. I wish she would stay just like this. Love it girlfriend. Love your chipmunk cheeks!
MS: What can I say? Rene works the ano-chic look. But she's no Lara Flynn-Boyle. Thank god. Julia Roberts: so great looking.
CC: So great. Scarlett is doing that Mena Suvari, look ma Ive won critical accolades now I must dress like I'm 35 years old! thing.
MS: I don't get Scarlett Johansson. Can you explain her to me?
CC: She's a child. She's a woman. She wears pink panties. Guys like that kind of thing.
MS: I always wonder how they choose the special guest on these shows. Like, where's "The Fashion Guy?"
CC: Who is that exactly?
MS: He's this fashion guru but nobody really knows what he's done. Hes like a VH1 talking head that goes by "The Fashion Guy."
CC: Like he's self nominated? I am a guy. I know fashion. Deal with it.
MS: Yes.
CC: That's awesome! He is his own pr machine.
MS: I know, and look how far it got him. Hes a regular Joan guest.
CC: All the way to E!
MS: We should all be so lucky. [Enter Judge Henry Roth from Style Court] Oh please, who is this joker. Style Court is the worst show on TV.
CC: He's the style judge. He has a degree in style.
MS: A legal degree. Leon is right about Liv: the hair was a killer.
CC: Liv Tyler's hair was like a bad joke from Edward Scissorhands.
MS: Hey, this is kind of like the Oscars fashion Queer Eye. I feel like Thom and Carson are going to burst into my apartment.
CC: This is like QVC. Can I purchase all of this jewelry Joan and Melissa are showing us at a convenient 800 number?
MS: Yes you actually can. Joan is QVC all the way.
CC: She's shameless. And that's why you got to love her. [Joan and Melissa discuss their accessories that they wore on the night before] That's the thing I find the most odd about fashion mag coverage of the Oscars. As though you could capture the look of the celebs on the red carpet with your knock off accessories and the right up swept do. They employ people to dress them. If I employed people to dress me, I would look like a million bucks too.
MS: Half of it is just lighting and good makeup.
CC: Unless I employed Uma's stylist. Is that person fired for that look, do you think?
MS: He's very unemployed today. Fired and skewered with stilettos by the fashion mob. Not pretty.
CC: Someone gave Johnny Depp a haircut, that person deserves an award. Much better than his usual crazy guy look.
MS: *applause* Melissas outfit confuses me. Shes all black tie from the waist up, denim from the waist down. But like, Sunday afternoon denim, not Friday night denim.
CC: She's mixing it up. She's being all downtown. She's wearing a ring that she made Vera Wang take off on the runway and give to her on the spot. She's that annoying girl from junior high who always borrowed your hairbrush during gym class and you had to disinfect it afterwards.
MS: And then you hate yourself for giving in.
CC: Would she have a career if her Mom werent such a catty bitch? Is Joan really even a comedian any more?
MS: She'd never make it anywhere but the red carpet, but then again, where else does she want to be?
CC: Nowhere, which makes me want to cry.
MS: Oh, best and worst dressed! Charlize: too orange? I didn't mind the tan.
CC: She all around a little much for me. I keep catching her on TV in terrible, terrible movies and I hate her a little bit more every time. Sweet November. Devil's Advocate. *Shudder*
MS: Question: what did people say to Uma's face when they saw her? What could you say? "Look at youuuuu."? Ok Cinecultist, let's have a star rating for Joan and Melissa, scale of 1 to 5.
CC: They crack me up, even as I know they are the Horsemen for the Apocalypse. Five stars. Stupid, good fun.
MS: Agreed. 5 stars.
CC: Megastyles, fashion and movies -- why do they go together like peanut butter and chocolate?
MS: Because when you put them together, you forget about everything else. Its the ultimate distraction. Do I know what's going on in Haiti right now?
CC: Something about Aristide. And Colin Powell. And troops. But I do know that Hollywood glamour is back in a big way!
MS: Glitter! Sparkle! Glamour! It's back. Again.

Posted by karen at 7:45 AM |

December 9, 2003

Correspondence From Cinema Studies Academia Elite

From: Lauren
Date: Tue Dec 9, 2003
To: Cinecultist (and various other CS scholar-types)
Subject: Pointless question

gwenclitjpg.jpg

Okay so is it just me or does Gwyneth's head look like a giant clitoris in this picture?

Sorry, but I had to ask.

Lots of Love,
Lau

[We wish you many years of marital bliss Gwynie & Chris! --Ed.]

Posted by karen at 9:13 PM |

November 10, 2003

When Geekery Abounds

After a screening of the final installment of the Matrix movies, Matrix Revolutions at the IMAX theater (where the screen is "bigger than God") at Lincoln Center, Cinecultist sat down with our friend Matt to discuss the movies. A first time contributor to the site, Matt's cinema studies credentials are minimum (he owns only 2 DVDs!) but with his anime/kung fu genre expertise, and that job of his in computer programming all make him an excellent representative of the Wachowski's target audience. We talked about geekdom, Hong Kong cinema influences and how Monica Bellucci in that white latex dress could convert even the avowed hetero Cinecultist to a fanboy's fantasy lifestyle.

Karen: So, I really enjoyed that website link to Pointlesswa
steoftime.com's Matrix Resolutions recaps
you sent me, that was some
hard core geekery. Is it sad that I liked it so much?
Matt: I don't know, Karen. Maybe you learned something about your self?
Karen: What would that be Matt? That I'm a not so secret geek? That all my friends are geeks? That I'm living the geek life? What does this say about the Matrix and my relationship to this series? That I'm predisposed to love it?
Matt: If it walks like duck, and talks a like a duck, and goes to lots of movies about ducks -- you see where I'm going with this.
Karen: Although to be fair, I'm not the only one. Variety reports that it did $204.1 million worldwide in 5 days, some new record. I must not alone in my intense but disavowed geekdom. Those Wachowski brothers will now be able to afford to become women and then men again and then something else entirely. Cats perhaps.

Have you read anything about the simultaneous release across time zones thing? I think that was a brilliant p.r. move on their part.
Matt: That's serious anti-piracy.
Karen: I heard some dialogue about the piracy issue, but actually I think it's something more than that - a worldwide blitz to make the premiere not New York or Los Angeles centric.
Matt: Makes sense. My guess is it will happen more and more for big movies, to go worldwide more or less at once. (To screen the movie at the same hour in all time zones is kinda dorky, though.)
Karen: It seems like the smart choice and uber-dork. Have you heard anything about that video game or the Animatrix? There was an unbelievable pre pre pre hype between each of the installments of the series.
Matt: I played the game, part of it. I watched the Animatrix. The Animatrix bits are worth while. There are 9, I think, by six or seven different studios/directors. I believe they're all Japanese animation studios and the styles vary widely, which is interesting.
Karen: It fills in the back story, right?
Matt: Two or three of the shorts do. The others sort of extrapolate from the matrix universe. Not necessarily in consistent ways. Which is fine. The backstory involves how humans and machines had their original falling out with each other. "Blacking out the sky", etc. but not so much. in Revolutions, the sky is scorched, and the machines rule the surface
of the earth. Assuming the "real" world is really real.
Karen: that sounds sort of interesting. God, I can't believe I just said that. I am so far gone, aren't I? Is there more stuff with some of the periphery characters? Like Jada Pinkett Smith?
Matt: She is the heroine of the video game. You choose whether to control her, or her sidekick Ghost, through the missions.
Karen: Is there more Monica Belluci? Do we get to, for instance, have her kick people's asses in that white latex dress? In which case, I might consider investing in this computer game thing.
Matt: If only. Maybe in the porn parody of the movies.
Karen: Man O, man. You know that I don't bandy about this distinction but I think I might have to say that Monica could convert me. To the dark side. She's amazing.
Matt: I'm all for girls gettin' with girls. Being male, and such.
Karen: I know. I've heard. Anyhow. So best parts, then worst parts? Of the movie, not lesbianism.
Matt: Best parts: the club scene was OK... err...scratch that. The damn French guy talked too much and the gunfight in the "coat room" was just a reprise of the lobby gunfight from the first movie except with circus freaks, so that was dumb. Were there any good fights?
Karen: Best part for me (besides the brief Monica appearance): The final showdown in the rain, especially the slow motion sequence in the warehouse. The black outline of the obvious stunt doubles looked pretty great.
Matt: I liked that sequence -- but when they were flying around and stuff, that was dumb.
Karen: But just as dumb as the scene in Reloaded where they're fighting and then Keanu just flies off, for no reason other than because he can. But as I was saying after the movie, there's something sort of unsatisfactory in the way they're so evenly matched, Agent Smith and Neo. It could've gone either way.
Matt: Well, that fight was a draw, so he escaped. Of course, he didn't have to fight in the first place. I think the idea was that were opposites, thus equal, thus neither can really win.
Karen: Not to say that flying as a motif isn't common in Hong Kong magical martial arts films. Everyone flies in those but there it seems "reasonable" for some reason. I'm thinking of Heroic Trio, or Green Snake, a film directed by Tsui Hark (Once Upon a Time in China) that I've seen that's about magical characters who are spirits and kick ass. Both Maggie Cheung movies.
Matt: You just out-geeked me, go you! Dork!
Karen: Both worth seeing. Or even in Dragon Inn, an oldie but goodie, the characters fly in that, up into the rafters of the inn as they're kicking ass with swords. Worst parts of Revolutions: the ham-fisted dialogue. Dear me, it was dreadful. So would you recommend Revolutions to your geek friends who didn't attend this weekend?
Matt: I'll tell them it's not that bad.
Karen: That's what I'll say too. Better than Reloaded, not as good as the Matrix. The sad downward cycle for all trilogies in my opinion.
Matt: Maybe not better than Reloaded, I'd say.
Karen: Note to all filmmakers of franchises: Stop at the first one! We'll all be happier for it.
Matt: Right-o. Speaking of stopping, want to set odds on another sequel?
Karen: Oh, Absolutely. Some sort of sequel, for sure. Making money breeds wanting to make more money. It's the American way.
Matt: Money talks. And when they do, I'll likely be there opening weekend. Doing the geeky duty. Dork duty.
Karen: Good for you, represent. It's like what I told my Dad when the last Star Wars came out. I know it's going to be bad, but I can't not go. You have to go. Something compels you. Now if we could just identify that drive, figure out a way to sell it and go to Hollywood, we could be millionaires many times over.
Matt: It is your Destiny.

Posted by karen at 11:07 AM |

October 1, 2003

House of the Babies

casaladies.jpWork is hard to find for good actresses, so say the usual detractors. But directors like John Sayles, who's meditative movies feel more like plays with their emphasis on character development and room for lengthy monologues, defy this convention. Cinecultist caught his newest, Casa de los Babys, over the weekend and then sat down with one of the editors at Filmington.com, Doug French to discuss it over IM. First, we had to look up trenchant ("vigorously effective and articulate; also caustic") because Filmington prides itself on trenchant movie banter but once we had that sorted, CC enjoyed discussing the Sayles style, his excellect cast and how he's the cauliflower of directors with Doug. We've reprinted the conversation below.

DOUG
When you think of the most enviable careers in the independent film community, John Sayles has to leap to mind. He can be called in to script-doctor studio stuff like THE ALAMO yet receive utter autonomy on his writer/director jags. Here to review his latest effort, CASA DE LOS BABYS, is guest reviewer Karen Wilson, the driving force over at Cinecultist.com. Welcome aboard.

KAREN
Thanks so much for having me. Its nice to be here, thinking of trenchant banter that equals the Filmington standards.

DOUG
You picked a great film for your debut, because BABYS, the story of six infertile American women trapped in an unnamed South American country waiting for the opportunity to adopt a child, begs for a feminine insight that is all too rare around here. So heres your first question: Can a man write for a woman?

KAREN
I suppose if anyone can, it might be Sayles, who seems to write Characters, with a very decided capital C. He also demand Performances from his actors, and in this case, hes chosen a pretty able group of women from old guarders like Lili Taylor, Marcia Gay Harden and Mary Steenburgen to a more up-and-coming actress like Maggie Gyllenhaal. Basically, these actresses could inhabit a paper bag and make it believable.

DOUG
Dont forget Daryl Hannah, who lends a quiet dignity to her role as the statuesque fitness freak/New Age masseuse. And of all the wattage among Sayless stars, the lesser-known Irish actress Susan Lynch whom Sayles cast in 1994s THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH provides what is easily the films most breathtaking scene.

KAREN
I agree on Susan Lynch, shes completely arresting. But I purposely left out Hannah because shes not the sort of actress from whom I would have automatically expected a superlative performance. But here, Sayless sparse dialogue and lingering on facial expressions seem to work for her, allowing her a performance that I didnt expect.

DOUG
Sayles gives each of the six actresses equal time to flesh out her character, so we can piece together how each woman ended up in the titular hotel, where hopeful mothers bide their time while the corrupt system shuffles its papers. The only cipher is Hardens Nan, an officious and condescending harridan with what could be a disturbing past.

KAREN
Of all of the characters, save Lili Taylors edgy and slightly bitter Manhattan book editor, I liked Nan the best. She freaked me out with her intensity and single-minded drive to have a baby, and I found her American entitlement scary but also extremely topical. Shes pathological a sociopath, as Taylors character points out but, in a way, you could call her quest for motherhood successful. And she begs you to judge her: Will she be a good mother? Should we trust her with a baby? All questions that normal biology doesnt really allow us to ask. Shes tricky to understand, but very real. I guess thats what I responded to.

DOUG
It also helps that Sayles puts the neuroses of these women in the context of their temporary adoptive culture by adding insights into the lives of several natives. It clues us into the poverty and despair, as well as the seething resentment toward los yanquis, who buy their babies and vamoose. Another swift allegorical dig at American imperialism, perhaps?

KAREN
True certainly, but a little didactic. In general, the movie lacked the complexity and shades of grey I remember finding fascinating about LONE STAR and SUNSHINE STATE, both movies about community conflicts that dont have obvious good or bad guys. In BABYS, the plot seemed to languish a bit, even for a Sayles movie, and it didnt have the drive to solve something or really reveal a twist. Perhaps that had something to do with the subject matter.

DOUG
That lack of complexity may stem from BABYSs uncharacteristically lean 95 minutes, but Sayles retains that wonderful sense of ambiguity. Can you call someone a bad guy just because he looks out for his own interests? The action was sluggish at times, too, but the languishing seemed perfectly appropriate, since the women themselves had been marooned in the hotel, apart from their families and support systems, for months.

KAREN
I guess I would have liked more interconnection between the images of the street children and their desperate lives, or the maids and the American women. It sort of merged parts of LOS OLVIDADOS (Luis Buuels 1950 surreal film about Mexican street children) with parts of 1939s THE WOMEN (the all-female cast comedy about love and divorce). BABYS didnt quite gel for me. As much as it provoked me to think about the subject matter, I found it sort of boring. I just dont think we can expect Sayles to be for the real mainstream moviegoer.

DOUG
As you mentioned, Sayles is an Eat Your Vegetables type of filmmaker who provokes discussion of the most unsavory nature of humanity and does not provide for easy answers. For this reason, the uncharacteristically stilted and contrived dialogue in the opening scenes was particularly unsettling. It was too expository too overly written to ring true. Yet BABYS made a sturdy recovery and kept my wife and me talking the whole way home. Always a good sign.

KAREN
Surely. Hes the cauliflower of directors he looks sort of bland on the plate, but you know hes good for you, and youre always happy you tried him. But I think Sayles is a perfect example of the stratification between art house cinema and mainstream movies. He expects more of his viewers, particularly for them not to care if theyre a bit bored for the sake of character or performance, and while we should hope that movies challenge, not everyone wants this experience. Sometimes I find the movies that make me think the most, or provoke the most discussion are not ones that I like, per se. I didnt find BABYS likeable, but I did think it interesting.

DOUG
I might have echoed that sentiment before I became a parent, but now that Ive met so many people who have struggled with both fertility and adoption, the pain of these women especially Hannah and Lynch was devastating. I cared for them, yet I also pondered their suitability as parents. So if you have even tangential familiarity with the subject matter, you better bring a wad of non-eponymous facial tissues.

KAREN
I also found their longing for children moving, but more from a sociological than a personal point of view.

DOUG
Well, Sayles usually provides something for everyone, whether we want our humanity analyzed or heartstrings plucked.

KAREN
Yup. And he gives hope to those of us who like to see good actresses getting the opportunity to do good work.

filmington.com Copyright 2003. All rights reserved.

Posted by karen at 7:51 AM |

September 11, 2003

A Little Monsterous

partyshoes.jpg'80s New York and its downtown party culture carries a certain mystic, especially for those of us who love Gotham but weren't there to experience its gritty creativity. Micheal Alig, the infamous club promoter, is one of the central figures of that scene and the new movie, Party Monster, starring former child uber star Macauley Culkin, Seth Green and Chloe Sevigney, attempts to both paint his larger than life and cut him down to size. Last Saturday CC, CCC and the lovely Chris caught a screening in Chelsea and while we know that toddler in the theater shouldn't have been watching this movie, for the rest of you we're still unsure. CC and CCC sat down over IM to discuss the performances, the costumes and why movies with gay characters really should have more same-sex encounters of a sexual nature. Like more than none.

Karen: so then. Are you a party monster now? Are you a club kid?
Josh: I hope not. Or else I may become a clubbed kid. Heh heh. Clubbed kid.
Karen: I could kind of see you in those big shoes and the flashy make up.
Josh: that was actually my favorite part of the movie (other than Macaulays butt). Though some things, like the troll outfit, were too ugly. If you're going to dress fabulously, dress fabulously.

Karen: but it was amazing to see Seth Green trying to talk, in a normal voice, with that bright green proboscis.
Josh: yes, and oh so clever to have him be himself while in costume. The mask can only come off when the person is costumed, eh? OMG.
Karen: what was that great line? "If you've got a hump, just throw some glitter on it and go dancing."
Josh: maybe this movie is a giant allegory for the Internet.
Karen: perhaps. Itd be cool if we could actually think that it could approach being deep enough to be a metaphor. But I fear, it's too salacious and dumb a movie for that.
Josh: at some point, I thought they showed us an actual picture of James St. James or Michael Alig, which I thought was great.
Karen: I just can't really buy that the movie was really so profound as all this hypothesizing.
Josh: Im fairly sure it wasn't. Happy accident?
Karen: maybe.
Josh: that's why I sort of didn't hate it as much as I really should have.
Karen: yes. I can see that.
Josh: Macaulays acting was so so so fake and theatrical, that I thought it almost worked for the movie, since it was all fake and theatrical and the such.
Karen: was it better that way though? Not being more full of its own importance than the subject matter would be?
Josh: and if that's just Mac acting, then it fits his character better, too. Since Seth Green as James St. James did a better job.
Karen: its that whole question of intent, which can be tough to pin down. Yes, I liked Seth Green out of the two leads better as well.
Josh: I wonder if the documentary the directors made was better.
Karen: what's this?
Josh: I hope it wasn't as formulaic as this movie was.
Party Monster, the documentary. Directed by the same guys about the same subject and better, apparently.
Karen: Id like to see that now, just for comparison's sake.
Josh: you'd think that would make the film better, as well. But, alas and alack, these wee lasses lack the talent needed.
Karen: perhaps they should have edited it all together, ala American Splendor with fiction and fact intermingling into something else entirely.
Josh: yes. As it were, shooting it on DV didn't help.
Karen: seriously. Im really beginning to hate DV.
Josh: "ooh, let's shoot it on video to give it a grittier look!"
Karen: or cause they're cheap.
Josh: "oh, yes, then the realness of this highly stylized situation will create quite the funny effect"
Karen: yeah. But again, more thought put into the intent than the filmmakers did?
Josh: Im going to say yes. Lets just assume that this whole movie was some sort of crazy accident.
Karen: let's.
Josh: the largest accident of all time. Jesus! Apparently they didn't even give all the right facts.
Karen: really? Like what?
Josh:this New York Times article says that a part of Angel's body washed up on shore, causing the accomplice to confess.
And they left out Michaels obsession with horror films, which would explain the horror show parties he put on.
Karen: yes, it would. All the fake gore and whatnot.
Josh: indeed. You know, the movie could have at least given us more sex.
Karen: what'd you think of the depiction of homosexuality, or lack there of?
Josh: what homosexuality, Karen?
Karen: it is the other interesting topic of the movie. You know. What your people are into.
Josh: yes.
Karen: the mos. Momomomomomo.
Josh: my people, the Christians. Whats a gay's mother called? Momma. Ha. Ha. Anyway, yes, more hot gay sex. I mean, the completely left out sex of any kind.
Karen: or at least kissing, for fuck sake. All those people should have been having crazy amount of sex with one another.
Josh: I figure they were just too high to get it up
Karen: they can show the snorting of the drugs every two seconds, but not the groping at least. Drugs and violence they can show.
Josh: yes. We want real porn. Not pornography of drugs. Holy crap though, Marilyn Manson was one writing mess of awesomeness.
Karen: as I mentioned, I didn't recognize him/remember youd mentioned he had a role until the credits, but he was great. A total train wreck.
Josh: A train wreck of awesomeness?
Karen: exactly.
Josh: how much more should we continue? All this talk is making my mouth taste like bad movie.
Karen: any final thoughts? Worth our time? I was intrigued. I feel satiated now. I think that's enough. Party Monster wasn't good exactly, but a curiosity.
Josh: yeah. I don't think I hated it. But I don't think Ill remember it years later. Lets just say that Seth Green might deserve some props.
Karen: he should be in more stuff. Hes good people. Go redheads!
Josh: yes, Godspeed to the redheads.

Posted by karen at 8:03 AM |

July 22, 2003

What The Hell's Wusha?

bad boys.jpg While waiting in line for the bathroom after a screening of Bad Boys II on Saturday night, CC received a voicemail from the recently returned to Manhattan PCC that sounded something like this: "Hey, give me a call later. I'm going to see Bad Boys II tonight, but I'll be home after that." Yes, that's right. We went to see the same damn movie, on the same damn night, 40 minutes apart, in the same theater, and didn't even plan it beforehand or anything. The cinecultist mind is that much in sync. Then, we sat down on the IM to discuss our findings, hashing out the overblown length, overblown Bay ego and all those overblown explosions.

[SPOILER ALERT: If you care about not knowing plot details pre-initial viewing, save reading the conversation until after watching the movie. Although, if you're persnickety about plot in a Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay movie, we may have to bodily remove you from this site.]

Karen: so then. Bad Boys.
Jordan: Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?
Karen: Go willingly. Go willingly. I like that Will Smith. Hell always be my fresh prince. But you know I have a thing for the Black standup comedians in movies. Hence, my deep love for Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy flicks.
Jordan: I like Will, but not Chris or Eddie.
Karen: and I do sort of find Martin to be personally offensive, though I found his schtick funny in the film. Though, what the hell is Wusha?
Jordan: exactly. Something between him and Joey Pants (Pantoliano).
Karen: can we pause to exclaim over how much better any movie is if it has Joey Pants in it? Although, I was happy to see him keep his head on his body, as opposed to the last time we saw him on the Sopranos last year. When it ended up in a bowling bag.
Jordan: yes, Joey with his head is the best. The Matrix: Reloaded suffered without JP.
Karen: seriously. I thought so too.

Ilana informed me that most of the original cast returned for this sequel. Which I guess means either they really like working with (director) Michael Bay. Or they all got fatty checks.
Jordan: Id say the latter. From what Ive read, Michael Bay is not the most pleasant of people. But what do I know?
Karen: well, you do read the source for this kind of info -- the news page on IMDB.
Jordan: mmmmmmhmmmmmm.The ONLY source.
Karen: so I trust you if you say folks aren't usually Michael fans
in the workplace. We can't speak to his home life or anything.
Jordan: exactly.
Karen: did you think the movie a tad long though? Do action movies need to be over 2 hours long? It seems to be quite the trend this summer.
Jordan: I think it was a bit long. I think most of the action sequences, except the massive freeway scene, which was amazing, could have been trimmed.
Karen: yeah. I think in the through the Cuban cocaine village bit they used the same through the clothesline shot over and over again. And I also found the car chase scene really superlative. Better than the much touted Matrix 2 one.
Jordan: I agree, though I think the motorcycle portion of the Matrix chase scene was excellent.
Karen: but cars flying off a big rig totally trounce some ghost guys flying into random cars. I think Im all cgi-ed out. I need something more "real."
Jordan: yes, cars whizzing off trucks was great fun.
Karen: not that I think Bad Boys is really real. You know, but I can suspend my disbelief a little more without all the talk of The One, &c...
Jordan: it makes me never want to be on a freeway again.
Karen: that's why I left California and Washington states. That freeway traffic is brutal. Even without fireballs exploding around you. But all the action scenes really lacked any people interaction. As though, Miami doesn't actually contain people in cars on the freeway who might be hurt or something. Its an uber-masculine world where no one pauses for the ramifications of their Schadenfreud (aka desire to blow shit up).
Jordan: I guess I wasn't bothered or put off by that. None of the Lethal Weapon films or the Die Hard series really deal with people interaction, other than the obligatory captain yelling about property damage.
Karen: they're all much more worried about being reimbursed for the damage to their cars, rather than any injured people.
Jordan: I think that's just part of the action movie genre.
Karen: perhaps. I think its very this type of action. Bruckheimers over the top style.
Jordan: I partially disagree. I think it was happening long before JB started blowing stuff up.
Karen: example?
Jordan: Lethal Weapons 1-4. Die Hard 1-3.
Karen: I think Bruckie took something latent in the style and then amplified it to the screaming explosion extravaganza that we think of as action now.
Jordan: I think JB just has a larger budget.
Karen: its been awhile since Ive seen those. And I know you've been on a Bruce kick lately but I just don't think they're quite at jb's decibel level.
Jordan: regardless of my newfound appreciation for Bruce, I don't think JB should get a lot of credit for this so-called amplification of style. I really think he had a bigger budget and could therefore expand on what was already being done. I don't think there was a whole lot of creative thought behind it. And I suppose Im an old-school action girl at heart.
Karen: I do think the dynamic between Will and Martin's characters is straight out of Lethal Weapon. One more family oriented, more feminine, more cautious. The other wild, sexy, violent. And the love that grows between them and the jokes about their relationship being "more than friends."
Jordan: Yes, I agree. Though, the fact that they are the same race puts a twist in the traditional buddy cop genre.
Karen: definitely. And they movie plays that up, especially with the KKK opening sequence.
Jordan: exactly.
Karen: generally, I'd say I was pleased with how much I enjoyed it. Bad Boys II: Fun evening at the movie. Cant think about it too much but lots of jokes and good explosions. CC likes stuff that goes boom. It is official. The summer has melted my brain
Jordan: don't worry; it will solidify with the upcoming batch of 'real' movies in the fall.
Karen: thank god.

Posted by karen at 11:34 AM |

June 26, 2003

Hulk Consensus = Just Plain Crazy

Cinecultist sat down over IM to discuss the summer blockbuster the Hulk and the consensus was not good for this newest installment in the Stan Lee/Marvel Comics to screen franchise despite its 62 million dollar gross thus far. We discussed the film's lackluster acting, irritating comic book editing style and the confusion over the Hulk's gravity defying pants.

hulkpants.jpg

Karen: How much did you dislike the Hulk?
Jordan: SO MUCH
Karen: Wow, all caps.
Jordan: Really, I despised it. Yes, caps were called for.
Karen: I thought it was pretty damn bad too. But, perplexingly so.
Jordan: Yes, I really wanted it to be decent. I liked Ang Lee's framing technique...for about half an hour. And then I was irritated.
Karen: Yeah, K and I couldn't figure out if we thought that was good or not. Interesting but irritating sort of like, we got the idea that it was supposed to be comic book-esque but distracting nonetheless.
Jordan: I think it was the best thing about the film, but it still irritated me.
Karen: Id read they spent a lot of time shooting all these angles to get the coverage necessary. But they should have worked on the script instead. (James) Schamus [the scriptwriter and producer] shame on you!

Jordan: Yes, I agree. The dialogue was painful to listen to. Some of the camera work was pretty amazing, and the dissolves were, for the most part, excellent.
Karen: Yeah, I suppose. But I thought it was a little forced in the "Zen-like" qualities of the Hulk. Lets pause for a moment to contemplate the lichen. What was up with that?
Jordan: And what was with Jennifer C.? Did she allergies? People are NOT that weepy all the time --- ummm, connection with nature? Evolution? Self-sustaining? (I think lichens can exist without anything else, they somehow sustain themselves.)
Karen: Some of the scenes she wept from the wrong place. Like they'd put drops in her. I don't think people cry out the corners of their eyes. Tears are supposed to well up and then fall over the cheeks.
Jordan: Yeah, I agree. She has beautiful eyes, but they didn't need to be all teary every second.
Karen: I spent the last 20 minutes trying to figure out what makeup they used on her. Eyeliner of some sort, but couldn't determine the color conclusively. White maybe, or pale blue? Something.
Jordan: It was very odd. And her hair seemed to change lengths and texture.
Karen: But can we try to decipher the plot here? Or is it just not worth it?
Jordan: Lets try.
Karen:You go. Im still at a loss. Something about absorbing ambient energy... Eh?
Jordan: Do we want themes or what happened/plot?
Karen: Whatever. Im still flabbergasted at the impenetrability.
Jordan: Okay, so crazy Nick wanted to improve on human DNA, somehow make it more resistant to trauma etc. so he experiments on himself, gets his wife pregnant and passes on his Hulk-ness to little Bruce. He gets fired, sets a bomb/explosion thing, goes home, tries to kill Bruce, and ends up turning into the Hulk himself and actually killing his wife when she saves Bruce. Off crazy Nick goes to jail. Bruce grows up. Becomes a scientist. Working with gamma radiation and nanomeds (microscopic medicine?) to try and make cell regeneration work. Doesnt really work. Gets accidentally zapped with the radiation, which make his weird, fucked up DNA "active"...or something. Then Jennifer starts to cry and Bruce looks dense.
Karen: I like your explanation of when it all falls apart. Ok, I think I got all that. Its just when they try to stop the Hulk but he's unstoppable and then what happens to crazy Nick as the rock man Hulk that I don't get
Jordan: Dont really understand exactly what branch of the military Sam Elliot was in.
Cavalry? What the hell is that?
Karen: Yeah, that sequence, with the helicopters and the ravine, was like King Kong gone very wrong. And why weren't there environmentalists protesting over the senseless disintegration of what surely was a preserved space? Sam Elliot was in the crazy branch of the military, all kinds of crackers in that movie.
Jordan: Okay, here's how I see it: crazy Nick also has fucked up DNA, but his isn't as stable as Bruces. So, when he zaps himself with radiation, he doesn't become the Hulk, rather some strange, energy-sucking entity whose cells merges and turn into whatever he comes into contact with (metal, rocks, water). He wants to suck up Bruces Hulk-ness/energy so HE can be the Hulk. I think. And yes, that was a national park they leveled. My mum's been there. He seems like he would be a good mate for Mystique in X-Men.
Karen: See, your mom should have had a picket sign or something out there. But am I wrong in saying that all of this has no narrative logic whatsoever? Like it leaves the realm of sort of plausible and goes somewhere else entirely?
Jordan: Oh, absolutely. Its a complete blank.
Karen: And that we weren't to expect that? I mean X-Men is far fetched and so is Spiderman but on different plains, no?
Jordan: Well, Spiderman was implausible, but somehow you got sucked in and believed that if a spider bit Tobey, he would eventually become spidery
Karen: Right. It made sense. In comic book world.
Karen: I think it's all this posturing about being scientists that fouls me up. I expect them to be unfailingly reasonable.
Jordan: And Spiderman had definite good guys and bad guys, also a must in comic-book land. I mean, was the Hulk good? Bad? Confused?
Karen: I dont know.
Jordan: I did like the opening science sequence... It was pretty to watch, even though it made no sense.
Karen: Yes. The whole beginning of the film was very tight. But there was this element too to the films themes that was pure psychobabble. Like the repressed man just needs to get on the couch to be cured.
Jordan: God, yes. Shall we discuss the acting? Or lack thereof? I wanted to slap Eric Bana. He was so bland and boring. I can read lines better than that.
Karen: But Bana has a nice ass, as we could see. Very shiny.
Jordan: I think they just picked him up off the street after he was arrested for smoking crack.
Karen: His jaw is square too. Does that count for anything? Guess not.
Jordan: No. He's a bit big and beefy for me, more along the lines of Vin Diesel. He looks dumb as toast.
Karen: Now that's dumb
Jordan: And, except for A Beautiful Mind, I like Jennifer. What was she thinking?
Karen: I don't know.
Karen: Shes pretty but...wow. Talk about phoning it in.
Jordan: I understand wanting to work with Ang Lee, but for god's sake, wait for a better film, woman!
Karen: Now Nick, on the other hand. Was there any scenery he didn't chomp on? What was he exactly? A baboon of some sort?
Jordan: He was crazy.
Karen: My friend S described him as "Norma Desmond" like. I think its apt.
Jordan: Yes, I can see that.
Karen: But that hairdo -- serious crazy hair.
Jordan: But he was perfect for the part...very mad scientist-esque. I mean, the part sucked, but he did sufficiently nuts.
Karen: But I fear that it's not much of a stretch for him, you know what I mean?
Jordan: Sadly, yes.
Karen: Crackers.
Jordan: I think Nick is one of those people I wouldn't want to meet on the street. I think I would be hauling ass the other way. He creeps me out.
Karen:Seriously. Sam Elliot was also completely whack.
Jordan:Yes, yes he was.
Karen: All that growling, it was almost noisier than 2 Fast 2 Furious' cars revving.
Jordan: But he's always growly. Remember the Big Lebowski? Though I agree, his growling was highlighted
Karen:Yeah, but this is a different level of growling. Deeper. Crazier.
Jordan:Crazy cavalry growlin'?
Karen:Something. What else? Im at a loss. Or should I say lost. In the movie I mean.
Jordan: Well, it was god-awful long, at least it felt that way.
Karen: Dude, way way way too long. 40 minutes, at least, too long.
Jordan: 138 minutes?!!! Thats crazy.
Karen: Thats long for Scorsese or something. PT Anderson territory here.
Jordan: Exactly.
Karen: I think basically our assessment here is Hulk=CRAZY, in caps.
Jordan: Yes, good assessment. Do you think it was worse than Alex & Emma, or can we not compare?
Karen: Different realms of suckage.
Jordan: Yeah, I agree.
Karen: At least Hulk tried. Which almost made it worse.
Jordan: So true.
Karen: Like, Ang meant to make a good movie but somehow the experiment went horribly awry.
Jordan: Did you know he turned down T3 to make this?
Karen: While Rob Reiner just thought we were dumb and would just sit there and take that level of abuse.
Jordan: Good point.
Karen: So, T3 looks like its going to suck ass too. Im not looking forward to it. And its ass sucking.
Jordan: True. I like Nick Stahl, though.
Karen: Hes your type of paleness. Needs some serious SPF? Jordans kind of fellow. Have we abandoned all hope on sorting out the Hulk? Is it unsortable?
Jordan: Unsortable.
Karen: Kaboom, don't mind the plot holes folks, we'll just have some nuclear explosions to distract you...
Jordan: Destroy some Natl parks; show some bare Australian ass to distract you.
Karen: We were talking a lot about the pants issue today at work, but I think that's the least of the movie's issues.
Jordan: But an intriguing one. They just defied reason.
Karen: Are they on, are they off? Do they expand? Are they made of some sort of spandex? Do they dissolve?
Jordan: I was so confused.
Karen: The whole lack of caring about the Hulks perspective in relation to everything around him reminded me a lot of King Kong too. Which you can understand explains why the surrealists loved King Kong. But for Hulk that doesn't really work. How big is he exactly?
Jordan: I think he grew. When they shot him.
Karen: Also, what was up with Mr. Sweet Home Alabama? Also crackers?
Jordan: And his streaky hair! He was cute in SHA.
Karen: Does he like Jenny C? Whats his vendetta about? Is he also a scientist?
Jordan: I think he's military. I think he has a crush-from-afar on Jenny C.
Karen: Why doesn't the beating from the Hulk slow him down more? Does he really think he's getting that pokey thing into the Hulk's head? Logic-less.
Jordan: The hair streaking bleached some brain cells.
Karen: *Snicker* Ok, enough. I wash my hands of the Hulk.
Jordan: Me too.
Karen: We tried.
Jordan: Yup. As the Grinch would say, we puzzled and puzzled until our puzzlers were sore.
Karen: Word.

Posted by karen at 5:58 PM |