Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Scene between an Idealistic Medical Doctor and Divinely Retributed Pedophilic Ex-Priest

FATHER JOE: Oh. It's you.

SCULLY: I hope I'm not dropping in at an inconvenient time. I know you've probably had a busy day munching on tile or eating grapes with your eyes closed.

FATHER JOE: Oh... You bitch!

SCULLY: OK I'm sorry. Please, I actually need to have a word with you.

SCULLY: I'm sorry. I'm sorry, you just sicken me so much, you cheap piece of Papal shit.
FATHER JOE: Sit down. Just sit down.

SCULLY (VO): Don't sit next to me, don't sit next to me, don't sit next to me.

SCULLY (VO): Oh yuck, he smells like a mixture of stale half-drunk water bottles, candy cane incense, crushed Tylenol, and discarded plastic Depo-Provera syringes.

FATHER JOE: My eyeglasses... are they too "New York Boheme" for me?

SCULLY: Don't try to ingratiate yourself to me, you cracked-tongued chinchilla waxer.

SCULLY: Just kill yourself. Just get it over with. I give you full permission to go and jump into a hole in the lake.

FATHER JOE: You whore!

FATHER JOE: OK, that's it. Get out. GET your GINGER ass OUT of my dingy, water-stained and sepia, gypsum board prison! You hear me?

SCULLY: Oh I hear you! See you in Hell, pervert... from Heaven!

FATHER JOE: Fuck you and whatever stick's up your saggy asshole! If I never see this aging hooker's face again in my lifetime, it'll be too soon. And she's out of here, thank the Lord! Suffer be the fucking children!

SCULLY: Bitch pedo say what? I am a fucking mother-and-a-half, you impenitent cocksucker, so you better wipe that smug remorse off that pervy, decrepit face of yours.

SCULLY: OKAY, THAT'S IT! TIME TO PLAY SLAP THE BITCH.

FATHER JOE: I can yell! I CAN YELL, TOO, YOU KNOW!

SCULLY: Yell your pansy-ass head off, doesn't change the fact I'm gonna give you such a wailing right now.

FATHER JOE: AHHHH! OK, OK, I AM GOING TO! I WILL! I PLAN TO! AHHHHHHH!

SCULLY: WAAAGGGHHH! WRAAAGGGHHH!

FATHER JOE: RAAAAGGGGHHHH!

SCULLY: RRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!

FATHER JOE: RAAAAAHHHHHGGGGGGHHHHAAAAAA!

SCULLY: RAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHAAARAGGGGHHH!

FATHER JOE: RARGARGARARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

SCULLY: RAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!

SCULLY: OH SHIT!

[SCENE]

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Images from the 1st Half of DEATH PROOF

This movie is so tender it hurts, and I mean it. This film has incredible tenderness contained in it, perhaps unrivaled in any comparable film. These choice images by themselves, of course, don't do justice to the bittersweet reel of this film's staggeringly compassionate whirl and rotation.





Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Ascent (Larisa Shepitko, 1977)


Very much an art movie, but nevertheless also exciting, funny, and lively. Primordial and unevolved elements of the cinematic buddy comedy show up here and work in amusing juxtaposition with the bleak precision of the film's Christ allegory.

The character of Sotnikov is brilliantly conceived. He takes on the Christ role not because he is, as was the Son of God, the pro-actively saintly or most undeniably purposed of mortal man, but because he is the most passively meek and mildest of hypochondriac man - one who responds with willing credulity to his compatriot politics instead of transcending them; one who enjoys the balm of resignation, who relaxes himself by diminishing his consciousness to a pin-prick of perception and thus reminding himself how ephemeral and involuntary his existence is; one who becomes a martyr because it seems the best way to fit in the war-torn world he inhabits. And the film entreats the question, if the real J.C. did all the courageous stuff he did, just hoping to impress someone?

The Ascent - 9/10

Sunday, September 28, 2008

'Barbie' is Melanie Daniels

This was brought to my attention not too long ago...

Out this October at a $45 retail price.

Oh the perceivable irony in seeing America's cultural icon of insouciant comfort and objectified invulnerability willingly sabotaging itself with the 'cock's baleful brand of sadomasochistic victimization... which, in the film, is intent on tearing down (apparently since he's not tearing up; yeah I said it) an icon of those very attitudes.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Diary of the Dead (George A. Romero, 2007)


**MILD SPOILERS**

It was a pleasant surprise watching this and realizing the film's not working under the same conceit of raw "found footage" like Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project. It is in fact edited, working under the premise that a main character has edited together their footage into the film you are now seeing. It is a mockumentary of sorts. Spliced throughout is footage from an assortment of modern-day video imaging devices. The film is part zombie movie, part non-fiction "essay film," by way of an undergrad student trying her best at a Chris Marker account of the Zombie Apocalypse.

The film is at times clumsy and goofy, and in the end it doesn't quite build to a satisfying whole, but it does cohere, miraculously, even while Romero pulls out all the stops to cram in all his musings about the contemporary world in this one film. Many times it is quite inspired and effective: political impudence is yoked under one single line, the inevitability (and arbitrariness) of social frisson withheld in a single scene (when the all-white lead cast run in with an all-black commune), critiques of characters communicated through one single set-piece... all impressively deft. And even with the handheld camera schtick, Romero finds ingenious ways to offer us striking, expressionistic imagery, like in one surreal scene where the director lead character's horror movie is finally brought to life, his juvenile notion of genre filmmaking finally coming to sleazy fruition, with the cute blonde finally, after being stuck wearing it for the entirety of the film, getting her virginal white anachronism of a dress ripped off.

The last scene of the film is also rather evocatively Chris Marker-esque in its narratively unconnected particularity. It's hard to know what to make of it, because for one, it is, on the surface, rather mundane nihilism that's straight out of his previous four 'Dead' movies. One might roll his eyes at it. But it works far, far better when you see it less as Romero saying "My, humans are quite the transgressive creatures" for his 5th time, but as "the last thing Jason uploaded" - it asks us what horrors (as a culture characterized by progressive information dissemination but for some reason not by actual progress) are we so determined to expose ourselves to - must we have to witness and take up burden of - in order to feel "plugged in" to the world around us, so full of it as it is.

'Diary of the Dead' - 7/10

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Company (Robert Altman, 2003) **Major Spoilers**


The moment the first end credit faded in onto the screen, I didn't know what to do. I floundered and billowed. A cognizable grimace entered into my face. If my roommates were not sleeping, they would have thought I had just witnessed something obscene and offensive, like what "2girls1cup" entails. A progression of the following emotions - realization, titillation, bewilderment, disgust, contempt, annoyance - swept through my visage in such a flurry it resulted in the malformed chimera of a facial expression I just detailed, while a whispered scoff, the kind a scorned valley girl would make, contorted my mouth in slow motion so that it more and more seemed like a groan of utter distaste. I didn't know what the hell I just watched. I plastered a smirk across my face, forcing it on, pretending as if someone (oh no, not me, of course!) had just been played a practical joke on and I was in on it. After I guffawed and floundered some more like a guy indignant after being ass handed by his girlfriend, I removed the DVD from the disc drive in lithe, flamboyant movements, as if I were patting the disc on the back: "Good one, The Company DVD, you really put one over on me!" Then I placed it in its case and put it firmly on my desk with an audible slam, feeling as if I were sentencing it to three days of harsh grounding. "Go to your DVD box and stay there!" Usually I am never conscientious enough to immediately remove a movie from my laptop's disc drive and put it away right after I finish it. But I needed motions to go through. And I still had that damned smirk across my face, trying to convince myself I got Altman's joke, that I wasn't put off by it, and I don't really have to think about the movie any more. It was done. Not that I was relieved about that! Psh.

I get the "documentary-like" exactitude and premeditated lack of any dramatic inflection - that the film is a steady look at the will, strength, discipline, and power in this, say, "athletic art," in which the skill of the body and the art of expression are combined... but is it just me or is there something sinister and insidious about the film? It might be just me. The Neve Campbell and James Franco characters creeped the hell out of me. Their stoic conviction, their clear-headed preoccupation: they are complete non-characters. It was fascinating the non-developments the film chose to do with these two characters. It presented possible threads for emotional analyses - a jittery mother, isolated crying, the ambiguous satisfactions of the chef profession, a dance company's pervasive atmosphere of whispered backbiting - but they just drift and accumulate, never to be picked up again and embellished. The ending totally threw me for a loop because I was waiting, very very anxiously, for Campbell and/or Franco to do something abnormal or fucked up, and I was certain it would happen... but then it ends on a positive note with them, with the big twist being the fact that they are perfectly well-adjusted. It does not compromise its matter-of-fact portrait of these characters, no matter how freakishly self-possessed and existentially accounted-for they are, and in the end, Altman pulls what is in fact the most subversive twist by asserting the dignity of their commonality: Campbell isn't a diva, or a perfect girl, or a victim, or a maniac - that is, a character fit for a movie - but a character as mundane so as to be fit for a documentary about dance, the art of dance alone, and the ideal investment in it... and so we follow a dancer that is doing in life exactly what she needs to be doing (with the usual give and take of life - such as needing a lonely cry, or dealing with an odd mother). Narratives play games with characters, and would exploit those moments like her isolated crying or her jittery mother. Altman's film is in wonder of those real-world people who don't need the drama.

An enigmatic and strange movie, and one to praise unequivocally. It's pretty much two hours of dance, not everyone's cup of tea, including myself, but it is nevertheless completely enthralling. Robert Altman, no doubt about it, is truly incomparable as a director. No one could have directed this movie and made it as fascinating and mysterious as it is. The dances do go on, but any complaints of the sort are in no way a legitimate fault of the film. Most of the time they are absolutely mesmerizing.

Now back to the trauma...

James Franco can get the fuck out. His character here might just be the most blankly frightening character I have ever confronted. When Campbell is preparing to cook breakfast for him and he's like, "Ehhhhh, no. Let me do it," and he starts cutting and sauteeing vegetables, all I could think is "HOLY SHIT what the fuck is this guy up to!?!?!" I was waiting for him to reveal himself a secret dancer who wants to sleep with Neve Campbell his way to the top (not a bad idea, until he ends up with Malcolm McDowell). But, that plot development not coming into realization (of course, it being stupid), Altman really sticks it to those who craved some sort of undermining of such pure, unadultered adult professionalism. Dance and cooking appear to be the ultimate professions - spiritual and physical, creative and empowering in equal measures. Many, I'm sure, like myself, would love the purposed, contented confidence that Campbell and Franco have for their professions in this film, and this film so admiringly rubs it in our faces.

'The Company' - 9/10

Monday, January 28, 2008

SHORT TAKES: Red Road (2007), Hot Fuzz (2007), & Magnolia (1999)

Red Road *spoilers*
dir. Andrea Arnold
The grading went as such: the first three-quarters, in which it functions as a mystery and pursues a path that leads one to believe it will become a dark character study, were excellent. It probes the inequalities she creates for herself with the people she observes, then with her ensuing obsession with a mystery character. With their sexually charged (and very explicit) meeting, the film seems to be a subversive study on the sheer range of degrees of decency. A solid 8/10. But the ultimate direction the story heads is rather ordinary and struck me as really ho-hum. Down to a 7/10. But then, I realized the film is admirable in its adult treatment of sad realities and the bathetic truth beneath even the darkest of mysteries, the most luridly indecent of people, or the sexiest of fantasies - the first half's kitchen-sink foreplay (a Repressed Female Security Guard/On-Camera Bad Boy role-play, or, alternatively, "Big-Brother-plays-rough") giving way to the human-interest drama of the second half.

So I gave it an extra .5 and it ended up at 7.5/10.
'Red Road' - 7.5/10

Hot Fuzz *minor spolers*
dir. Edgar Wright
Very funny, but unfortunately not entirely due to the unbridled brilliance and sharpness of the material. I would say most of my enjoyment of the film came from the charisma, line deliveries, and comic timing of the performances. Nevertheless, the film is sharp enough and in fact strikes a potently (and hilariously) subversive political chord in its favoring of thoughtless anarchism over senseless conservatism. Figuring out what the third act will consist of is a moment of unadulterated glee. Too bad the promise of the third act is more gratifying than the actual act itself, for it sort of declines in inventiveness as the antics go on. The ending is sort of a piffle. I would've liked to have seen Die Hard big in the climax.

'Hot Fuzz' - 7/10

Magnolia *minor spoilers*
dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
Very insular and solipsistic, like much of Paul Thomas Anderson's films. This one, though, has an especially melodramatic streak and eccentric personality, its haphazard collection of emotions makes it seem kind of all over the place and begs the beggar's question: what's it all, ultimately, about? One can say the shattered expectations of an array of arrested developments, maybe... or people trying to rise above their vapidity. Or a portrait of the emotionally self-serving and the whirlpool they set off with their miserable complacency. Or maybe broken people finding one another again? I left the most trite one for last because the film seems like a bunch of these emotional threads thrown together with the barest sense of a throughline. It does pull it off... but barely, although that in itself is something to admire. Really, the film is much ado about nothing, but I think it realizes that and it is most effective when it wallows in the general void its characters represent, which is luckily most of the time. Anderson's visual eccentricity works to make the film withdraw into its own [in this case, frightened] cocoon, which works with the film's array of frightened characters. And since there are dozens of characters, with more interaction and interplay taking place here than in Anderson's recent There Will Be Blood, this film has the benefit of having much more verve and personality than that film. Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, and Phillip Baker Hall provide the most harrowingly unhappy characters. Reilly is really very good here and his portrayal of a desperately simple man seems a tricky one to pull off, it most prominently walking the line between sad and funny. Moore's scene in the pharmacy stands out as one of the most effective, in-your-face moments of scenery-chewing in the film, thanks to Anderson's unwavering camera. Phillip Baker Hall's Johnny Gator provides the film's most daring dramatic revelation, his character so quickly switching from being sympathetic to becoming immolated as the film's exemplar of emotional selfishness.

'Magnolia' - 7.5/10

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (Takashi Miike, 2006) **Minor Spoilers**

Miike's Off-Broadway play: "You see, the crates represent prison seats..."

Miike goes on to show that he might as well be working in theater with his precise use of lighting, staging, and mise en scene to create his aesthetic effect. BBLJA is a densely metaphoric work, generally saying something about alienated male youths coming of age (and existence) in an ageless, unloving environment, and it does it well at first, with its cryptic tale and abstract design. Unfortunately, by the end, it fails to go anywhere, and, while artistic and ambitious, ends up not as persuasive as it should be.

When the investigation begins on the film's central, slowly-revealed crime, the screenplay becomes relatively - and disappointingly - straight-forward, and its approach to its array of characters suddenly becomes somewhat reductive and flippant - although a certain sense of flippancy is a penchant of Miike's and perhaps a badge of his uncompromised sensibilities. Nevertheless, we want to learn more about both main characters' psyches, but with one's death, the film takes on the need to look backward, which halts the rooting of new thematic ground and instead gives us half-baked exposition, such as the revelation of the character Shiro's connection to the warden (played by Audition's Ryo Ishibashi).

The intrusion of the symbolic landmarks of the spaceship and pyramid are incredibly evocative, their first appearances especially expressionistic in how they literally intrude upon the enclosed space of the prison. The incongruity between these two symbols of faith in a "heaven" - heaven not being dichotomized between these two very loaded symbolic identifications (a spaceship [scientific] vs. a pyramid [religious]) - reflects the promotion of liberal, open-minded emotional understandings between the most disparate sensibilities which the film seems to be making.

The late scenes of the two men venturing outside to observe the spaceship and pyramid were hopeful signs of the film reaching some emotional conclusion, but the film instead seems to degrade into a mere collection of cinematic puns on a burgeoning but repressed potential homosexual relationship, a relationship whose textures should have struck me as fully delineated by the film's conclusions, but instead seem relegated to the background of the film's various subplots and convolutions.

The film is a unique and striking film, though, and probably deserves multiple viewings to fully understand and appreciate.

'Big Bang Love, Juvenile A' - 6.5/10