"Of course there’s a great pleasure in the act of polarization. You know you’ve touched people very deep if people can love or hate you for the same reason. But it’s never comfortable when people hate you, yet at the same time, you have to understand and respect the psyche and how it works. But I like the creativity of polarization because it means opposite ends, that’s almost what the films are: extremes."It’s almost like you know how a film can just evoke you into having a good time. To have a good time, there are so many other options, why would you choose this over something else? Being violated, either in a good way or a bad way, it leaves a very strong aftermath."
Reminder, Refn at the Lightbox starts this week.
I attended David Bordwell’s talk at the BLB last week; was rather terrified and excited to learn that the Lightbox has a “senior manager of adult learning” – and would like very much to know how one gets that job. Bordwell was in the house to discuss his ideas on how cinema transforms the martial arts, which is an interesting way to put it – the tools of cinema do, of course, extend and enhance the capabilities of the performers to allow them to do things we accept as part of some mutually-agreed-upon magical reality version of real-life martial arts technique.Read more
Stepped out of the game for what was going to be a minute and turned into four months - four months in which I never visited the Lightbox, rarely went to the movies at all, and sat on the sidelines while the whole world flipped on its back like a drunken sea turtle. And then I went to New Zealand, and had one of the best moviegoing experiences of my whole life. And then I came back, and then the Substream died and then Ebert died, and absent an outlet or even a clear sense of what I’m doing, I’m a writer sorely in need of a content strategy; until then, though, there’s always the blog, and Watched, and here we are.Read more
Matt Price drops by the Lightbox to drop some learnin’ on ya about the career of John Williams, up for the Oscar for Best Original Score for LINCOLN. He’s a Very Important Dude In Film History.
It turns out I’ve done a bad job of recording some of my experiences down at the Lightbox - I’m fairly sure I wrote ten pages of notes at the Doug Trumbull talk two years ago, but never bothered to do anything meaningful with them for either my journal or my blog, and now my vague recollection is just one of a very clever man who was a little too interested in finding real UFOs. I certainly didn’t record any relevant thoughts at all when Peter Bogdanovich introduced Citizen Kane, or Guillermo Del Toro introduced Suspiria – the latter a real shame, as his discussion there was so rich and impressive. I wrote some things about the Coppola conversation (heh), and left a promissory note about the Herzog/Morris conversation which I never circled back to redeem. It’s time to do better.Read more
I saw The Birds the week before last, and had Hitchcock bearing down on me, so I figured I’d better hunker down and watch The Girl – though now, more than anything, I just want to watch Marnie, and am kicking myself for not seeing it at the Lightbox last year. (Though: really, Lightbox: why not a return engagement, given Bond fever? Seems like a missed opportunity.) The Girl isn’t a particularly great film, as can be generally expected whenever the brief is to make a Hitchcockian biopic about a Hitchcock subject. (Wait’ll someone gets it into his head to do the definitive Steven Spielberg biopic.) I’m also not a huge fan of Sienna Miller, who plays Tippi Hedren, though I must admit the film develops a lurid sense of grotty pleasure as it goes along – the best word I could use to describe The Girl is “unseemly.” It’s hardly high suspense, but decent trash, perverse enough to stick. “The gulls are the people, you see,” Toby Jones’ Hitchcock says with exactly the right congestion of wattle-flesh in his frog-like purr, “and she is the bird.” The film does an able job of presenting HItchcock as a loathsome creature, and then wondering what it would feel like to have sexual desires peering out from within his blubberous bulk. Cheap shot, but marginally effective.Read more
My lady is off circling the globe in search of documentaries for YOU fine people, so I’ve taken it upon myself to try to drive to the bottom of the slushpile - that inevitable stack of DVDs that accumulates over time, which one has purchased, but not yet watched. I started with Harold & Maude, which I’ve seen once before but wanted to revisit immediately, and was released by Criterion earlier this year. It’s the film that Wes Anderson has been patiently trying to make throughout his entire career, and it is one of the rare films that is downright painful to watch – because each and every scene so completely overachieves what you expect of it at the outset that the film as a whole makes one feel quite completely incompetent, creatively speaking. I can’t imagine a better-written script; but then, I can’t imagine a better-exploited script, either, with every supporting performance arriving note-perfectly, and each visual gag, from the very large (Harold’s death scenes) to the abjectly trivial provoking a large-scale guffaw. The… tentativeness… with which Harold puts his head into the giant wooden vagina! How does one even conceive that?!Read more