Showing posts from January, 2008

Technically, doesn't a "preview" still count as a "view"?

"Hi! Glad to see you've made it to our little preview.

"I'd like to thank all of you for coming out in the rain to see us. You guys are in luck, because you are part of one of the first audiences that gets to see the upcoming brand-new, animated -- "

This is pretty close to the way that "Vicki," the MovieView representative seemingly in charge of Sunday afternoon's preview showing of ^%$#%$(#@^*, greeted us once we had been wanded, strip-searched, groped, patted and all but rogered to make sure no one was sneaking any recording devices (including cell phones), and then sent to our seats to await confirmation of the film we had been invited to see. Jen and I were about 99% sure of the film's title -- they didn't exactly hide the details that would have kept it a total secret -- and we were pretty certain everyone else there knew it as well. In fact, the people next to me were openly talking about it, so let's mark that on our scoresheet as…

Psychotronic Ketchup: The Burning (1981)

The Burning
Director: Tony Maylam // 1981
Cinema 4 Rating: 4

Here's a confusing one. This film really isn't as bad as it might seem, given that it is clearly a purposeful member of the post-Mrs. Voorhees "rush to slasher stardom" crowd, and when it sticks to that supposed intent, it delivers fairly well. In fact, there is a particular attack sequence that nearly one-ups, at least in body count and relative savagery, much of what had come before it on the big screen. (Yes... the raft scene.) It hits the marks expected within the genre: disfigured killer bent on revenge -- check! Framing device setting up killer's disfigurement and anger against all nubile teens in sumer camps -- check! Fatally stupid, horny teenagers wandering off on their own and then removing their clothes -- check! The film knows what it needs to do, and for the most part, does it.

That is, it does it when it gets around to it. The film, for a good lengthy while, often feels like a more sensitive s…

waking into a dream journal 01.29.08

this morning's brink-of-disaster teetering
no such thing
director: hal hartley // 2001
cinema 4 rating: 4

movies are not generally the realm of doodlers -- this film feels like a less-than-half thought out sketch scratched while its creator were on the film having a conversation about something absolutely removed from whatever was in its creator's head, and then said creator decided later to expand that sketch into a entire canvas -- hal hartley, the creator here, specializes in low-budget indie gems (there is no other word for them), but you have to become immersed in his scruffy style to truly appreciate each of their dryly humorous, rough-hewn facets -- he is responsible for at least a half-dozen films of this type (in memory of the late adrienne shelley, please check out h.h.'s trust and the unbelievable truth... if you love them, then you will be hooked on hartley for life; if not, you are either a hard nut to crack or an impatient boob) -- i want to give hartley a higher… thing you know, we landed smackdab on top of a witch...

"This was the thing that I was least worried about moving here," Jen declared to me once we had switched our DVR back to live TV after we had just finished watching what was the first of the evening's two brand new episodes (finally!) of Chuck, NBC's wacky, totally illogical but adorably super-spiffy spy comedy.

Strolling casually in a bottom-screen crawl on the local NBC affiliate was a tornado warning for southern Los Angeles County. A tornado warning. I had to agree with Jen. Moving here, I expected a much higher crime rate, insufferably hot weather, several of the biblical plagues (I've got my fingers crossed for frogs and toads, like in Magnolia), and of course, earthquakes. But I come from Alaska, and earthquakes are basically a thrill-ride there. But, tornadoes? Really? Jen said she expected a volcano to appear and erupt before she would ever hear of a tornado in this area. (Personally, I do not know how often such things occur around here, but now I am i…

waking into a dream journal 01.24.08

this morning's gothic fantasy rapture
northanger abbey
director: jon jones // pbs, masterpiece, 2007
cinema 4 rating: 7

early on in this new version of jane austen's first (but posthumously published novel) on the former masterpiece theatre (yes, i do watch jane austen flicks, and would do so even without jen kind of making me do it. i actually read all of her books growing up, along with those bronte chicks, none of whom (the brontes, i mean, jen can stand), it is said of the just-then-of-age catherine morland by her proud father, "look! our catherine has turned out rather well. she's quite a good-looking girl. why, she's almost pretty today!" -- ahem, i know this plays off the fact that cathy was supposedly rather indistinguished and plain growing up before she blossomed, but you'd think they would have noticed slightly before this point in time -- after all, she is played in the film by felicity jones -- here's the scoop on dear felicity: she is exactl…

Death in the Links (and It's Not the Title for a Golfing Mystery...)

I have a friend -- a very dear friend of just over a quarter century -- with whom I have very little correspondence anymore. I send the occasional email but get little response. Every once in a while, I receive an email from him pertaining to something within our group of friends back in my old stomping grounds; I will often respond, in that way that I do, with a snarky comment or two, but he hardly ever gets back to me regarding this bad behavior. Whether I have annoyed him or done something deeply to offend him at some point I am unaware of, and if I have, then it would be a surprise, for the behavior which caused it would be par for the course for me, because, as it states in the long-running contract that I signed with my dear old gang, this is exactly what I was hired to do: annoy and offend, but in a playful, friendly manner.I say I hardly ever hear from him, but I do receive a constant stream of a certain type of email from this friend of mine. If a celebrity dies, usually with…

waking into a dream journal 01.22.08

this morning's this morning's lack of this morning's lack of this morning's judgment
director: jeff and josh crook // 2006
cinema 4 rating: 3

this morning, i woke up in the middle of a dream where a constant stream of my friends from anchorage were coming by our manse in anaheim just to tell us what a mess our place was -- at the point that dion asked to use the facilities and was attacked by the massive pile of entertainment weeklies, travel & leisures, rolling stones and time magazines (apparently, we have become an unknowing slave to time warner, inc.), while i struggled to move dinosaur toy after dinosaur toy off the dining room table, and jen jumped to shampoo the rugs, my "real" self awoke in the middle of the oscar nominations -- and then i got up, post-noms, and plunged into a movie where a girl takes a ride she really shouldn't even consider for a second, gets killed and then somehow keeps reliving the moments leading up to her death -- o…

waking into a dream journal 01.21.08

this morning's collateral van damme-age (minus the jean claude...)
cyborg 2
director: michael schroeder // 1993
cinema 4 rating: 4

i remember hardly one moment of the original film in this series (is it really a series if the first film wasn't any good, and wasn't even really intended to be a series?), but i do remember seeing it in a theatre, which was a direct result of the van damme madness that swept the video world following bloodsport and kickboxer -- sure, the guy couldn't act and turned out to be, from most accounts, an ass -- but he was, at the time, kind of cool, had a cheesy/cool name, was certainly better looking than chuck norris, and could, on screen at least, kick major ass -- i and a small assortment of friends began a vigil for several years, going to any van damme film that hit the big screen, waiting for that moment when the plot would catch up to his accent, a process which sometimes involved the plot jumping through hoops and over roadblocks to try an…

waking into a dream journal 01.19.08

this morning's one last job before i retire for good (i swear it)
direct hit
director: joseph merhi
cinema 4 rating: 3

rated "r" -- i point this out because the plot of this s-t-v dreck involves a hit man protecting a stripper, and there is an early scene where a batch of everyday drooling idiots are watching two women numbingly grind their respective ways through what must be just another soul-crushing dance in just another strip bar -- the lead character is also, it is rumored within the script, a stripper -- she had a boyfriend who forced her to have sex with other men, including a well-connected politician, who pulls some strings with "the agency" (hmmm... wonder which one they mean...?) to have her whacked -- why? well, said politician is being blackmailed with photos of himself with the not-really-a-stripper, and he thinks she is doing the blackmailing -- the non-stripper will eventually fall in love with the hitman who is originally sent to whack her, and th…

waking into a dream journal 01.18.08

kill your idols
director: scott crary // 2004
cinema 4 rating: 6

it's nice that the boredoms are name-checked as being influenced by these early new york "no wave" bands like dna, teenage jesus and the jerks, suicide and james chance and the contortions -- i have stuff by all of them, and their work remains uniquely and strangely, for lack of a better word, innocent in its musical naivete and frontier-crashing boldness -- the film points out that, while it was a scene of some sort, it wasn't a purposefully arranged scene... it just happened, almost the opposite of warhol's "happenings," which were often quite staged -- i get the connection with sonic youth, but little is said by the previous generation about the group, but lunch and her compadres go to great length to castigate those of the current generation influenced by sonic youth (and, i imagine, mostly by accident by the "no wavers") -- in fact, despite the happy inclusion of this harsh sec…

The Shark Film Office: Open Water 2: Adrift (2006)

Open Water 2: Adrift
Director: Hans Horn // 2006
Cinema 4 Rating: 4
Shark appearance: quite surprisingly, in dialogue only -- and the constant implied threat that they may show up, which they never do...

I understand. Really, I do. I get the basic appeal when an Open Water or a Saw comes out, and the world flips out because, by and large, the genre films we had gotten for the brief period preceding the respective debuts of those films had been a soggy lot overall. Something slightly off-kilter from that with which we had been deluged seemed refreshing -- it's the reason why the world shat bricks when Blair Witch went "Boo!," giving half the audience the chills, and the other half motion sickness.

Me? Open Water was indeed a breath of fresh air... for a very short while. But then a pair of completely self-absorbed lead characters brought me to the early conclusion that mere death by exposure, hypothermia and drowning was simply too nice a way out for these people -- so, bring …

waking into a dream journal 01.17.08

this morning's craving for a pinky and leather tuscadero sandwich
grand theft auto
director: ron howard // 1977
cinema 4 rating: 4

i admire ron howard for his initiative -- i certainly wish i had his drive (no pun intended) and i also admire him for not just wanting to break free of his bonds on sitcom television and expand to theatrical films, but to get behind the camera as well -- initiative and drive aside, this is the work of a kid with a set of very expensive tinkertoys and hot wheels -- there has always been a little bit of the devil behind his comforting smile, which comes out occasionally in his work (richie cunningham's constant yearning to be a cooler guy than he appears... or is; narrating arrested development; tackling night shift as an early project, etc.) -- of course, even when beginning his feature film directing career, he is still enough of a family guy to co-write the script with his father rance (who has a dandy stunt moment here) and also cast his small-scree…

waking into a dream journal 01.16.08

this morning? gone over...
the edge of the world
director: michael powell // 1937
cinema 4 rating: 7

as much as i love the works of michael powell (and his partner in archery, emeric pressburger), i have been strangely slow about collecting their films -- thus far, only the red shoes and tales of hoffman have made it into my dvd collection -- shimmering, quiet and as beautifully craggy as the people who inhabit the island of its plotline -- a fragile glimpse at an even-then vanishing way of life: a small, remote village done in by the uncaring economics and changing morality of the modern world -- it can be seen in every frame how clearly powell fell in love with the terrain, even as it apparently became increasingly difficult to mount and maintain the production -- it may be the age of the print used on tcm (is it the same on the dvd? i will have to find out...), but much of the cinematography seems far more soft in focus than i initially expected -- it doesn't devastate with sweepin…

Spout Mavens Disc #7: Out of Balance: ExxonMobil's Impact on Climate Change (2007)

Cinema 4 Rating: 6

There has been much discussion lately about whether a film marked primarily with the label "documentary" has a certain responsibility to present a balanced detailing of the particulars surrounding a subject, representing opinions on both or multiple sides of a debatable issue. Certainly, Michael Moore is due a certain amount of blame for this discussion. His films are unfailingly one-sided, and yes, he does have a tendency to push things in his favor; some even go so far to say he creates situations to lead to such a result. I couldn't care less for two reasons. The first is that I am, without any doubt, squarely on his side on all of the issues upon which he has has planted his weighted camera lens, even if he is a bit of a tad of a not-even-sort of a dickhead. So, don't come crying to me if you feel he treated Charlton Heston in much the same manner that Heston chewed his merciless way through script after script over the years; if you take a very…

waking into a dream journal 01.15.08

this morning's "oh, yeah? sez who?"
mystery house
director: noel m. smith // 1938
cinema 4 rating: 5

i've said it before, and i shall reiterate, i am not really a mystery guy -- i don't mind them, and i did read a lot of agatha christie and doyle as a kid, but i've never really been all that concerned with plot and motives and whatnot -- jen can watch mysteries nonstop for days and be thoroughly entertained but i've always found them somewhat monotonous -- which is strange considering some of the admitted dreck i do find entertaining -- perhaps i relate to monsters and animals more for their inherent innocence, even when committing a terrible (from our angle) transgression against some other creature -- with people, i've always assumed that everyone is guilty of something -- it's never been "who done it?" with me, but rather "who didn't?" -- so, we have this little detective novelty from the late '30s, the age where everyon…

Recently Rated Movies #58: Warning - Watching This Movie May Lead to Literacy. Proceed with Caution.

OK, I have to admit that I watch far more movies than I have the free time to write about them here on the Pylon. And in order to have material to write about, I need to use some of that limited time to actually watch movies. Add in my job and the various pastimes in which I have buried myself, this leaves me little time to engage in the activity which I probably enjoy the most: reading. In fact, when faced with the awesome pile of books that I have sworn for the last few years that I would read, I generally throw out an "oh, well..." and dive into another movie instead.

This isn't to say that I do not read books at all. I almost always have about a half dozen books going at any time. The last time I didn't perform this juggling act was when the new and final Harry Potter came out, which I barreled through like a Jamaican bobsledder, showing little concern for the niceties of proper reading, knocking down the occasional unwary adjective out of my way, and all in a des…

waking into a dream journal 01.12.08

this morning's reason to be scared (but for entirely different reasons than the filmmakers intend...)
are you scared
director: someone who apparently doesn't know better // 2006
cinema 4 rating: 3

as down as i have been on the saw series thus far (i am not one of those taken with it at all, though the first one was a tad refreshing when i first, ahem, saw it), if this film is any indication of the declination of inspiration, i now wish the series had never gotten off the ground to begin with -- combines two of my least favorite modern things: torture porn and reality shows (which i actually consider to be one and the same), and then spews the result up in a chunder so completely (and expectedly) dull-witted as to make one wish they were actually in the drill-bit scene within the film to make the pain go away -- here's an idea: instead of enlisting generic teenie bimbos and himbos for one of these maniacal displays, how about having the killer put out a call for producers and t…

These Are My Friends...

"Speak to me, friend
Whisper - I'll listen
I know, I know
You've been locked out of sight all these years..."

Mr. Depp, as Mr. Todd, sings those words, but I may as well have in these past couple of weeks. Not as a tortured soul to a set of shining razors, thirsty and hellbent on blood-soaked revenge, mind you -- certainly, the context and relationship would change, but I could sing them all the same.

The friends to whom I would croon would be the pent-up denizens of a comic book collection that has lain dormant for over three years, and virtually ignored for several more. Some of my oldest friends, dating back to my earliest years in many cases, or representing some of my most formative cultural moments in others, or both. Sitting untouched since their reemergence into my life in October, they sat patient but anxious for my next move: that moment where I could no longer resist box after box of graphic pleasure; that moment where I would dive once more into the generally…

waking into a dream journal 01.09.08

this morning's 6-furlong surprise (surprise? it feels like 20...)
the return of october
director: joseph h. lewis // 1948
cinema 4 rating: 5

this almost seems like the sort of lost treasure which forms the chief reason i watch turner classic movies in the first place -- almost, but not quite -- i find this is described as a comedy, and it is written by melvin frank and norman panama, two old pros at the form (including one of my personal favorites, the court jester with the grand mr. kaye) -- and yet, it is never actually funny... in any real degree -- a reincarnation plot for those with a lot of time on their hands, and no real impetus to truly be entertained within that number of minutes -- tone is perfectly suited to pose as one of any number of similar disney plots from twenty years later -- just as pleasant, predictable, non-threatening and, ultimately, merely ok -- ingenue terry moore is spunky and committed in lead role as rich girl whose uncle dies and may or may not come back…