Thursday, December 04, 2014
A self-affirmation of America’s political role as global policeman.
A self-affirmation of America’s political role as global policeman.
The Uses of Disenchantment in the film that is set after but made before Monsters University.
The Law of the Sea
Davy Jones administers the trade in the souls of men.
Pearls Before Swine
An action-adventure movie based on a kids ride at a theme park is hiding a real national treasure.
More Than This
Knight and Day delivers all the profundity that Inception only promises.
Explaining the Madness
A new theory to help the viewer unravel the cult classic.
Perennial hopeful-yet-melancholic Lloyd Cole has a new album out, Antidepressant, which is worth noting to Metaphilm fans for the song, Woman In A Bar, which is a fine tribute to both Lost In Translation as well as Girl With A Pearl Earring. Opening lyrics:
Idealized vision of a woman through a smoke-filled,
twentieth-century screenplay, advancing,
Toward protagonist with paperback and beard,
manifestly failing, to disappear.
Now that the children are asleep, you want to play,
But you’re so lazy…
She walks into the bar,
There you are.
Still life watercolour Woman In A Window…
Other films seem to be referenced, which your publisher has not seen, and then later in the song, Cole admits what his true obsession was all along:
No longer angry,
No longer young,
No longer driven to distraction,
Not even by Scarlett Johansson.
”Movies are not good at giving answers. Movies are great at asking questions. Movies that do that are lasting.” —Fantastic Four and X-Men Producer Ralph Winter, in an interview with Christianity Today. (The rest of the interview is worth reading; breaks through several stereotypes.)
In Jonathan Lethem’s imminent new arrival, The Disappointment Artist, the author includes an essay describing his glorious and melancholic achievement, at age 13, in 1977, of how he saw Star Wars 21 times. A beautiful meditation by all accounts, made all the more rich by the inclusion of this line that reveals Lethem to be a default Metaphilm phan: “I still go to the movies alone, all the time. In the absenting of self which results—so different from the quality of solitude at my writing desk—this seems to me as near as I come in my life to any reverent or worshipful or meditational practice.” Be sure to also read “Two or Three Things I Dunno About Cassavetes”—further evidence that a film’s value (especially a complex or troubling film) is greatly enhanced by thoughtful writing. Lethem offers many fine words about many fine film images, and Metaphilm readers won’t want to miss them.
Andy Ihnatko, computer columnist and humorist, has a great blog post on the trials of explaining Shallow Hal to his mother. “I was about to sigh the sigh of the ages and patiently re-explain the premise yet again, when I realized that she had, in fact, spotted a logical inconsistency in the film. And I couldn’t simply acknowledge that.” So easy to sympathize. (The title’s great too—“Now do Brazil!”).
About a third of the way into I Am Charlotte Simmons, the new novel by the always-readable Tom Wolfe, I’m getting that deja vu feeling. Not only because “Dupont College” is a thinly veiled Swarthmore College (“in Chester, PA, 40 miles southwest of Philadelphia” is how he locates it, although Dupont has the Big East sports teams aspect that Swarthmore never had), but also because Wolfe is pulling a bit of the old Walker Percy in this one in tone and judgment, and especially in getting metacultural in his Moviegoer-ish film interpretation. Here, for example, is Wolfe’s take on the real meaning of Frat House movies:
“His strong suit was humor, irony, insouciance, and being coolly-gross, Animal House-style. In the American lit classes, they were always talking about The Catcher In The Rye, but Holden Caulfield was a whining, neurotic wuss. For his, Hoyt’s generation it was Animal House. He must have watched it ten times himself . . . The part where Belushi smacks his cheeks and says, ‘I’m a zit’ . . . awesome . . . and Dumb and Dumber and Swingers and Tommy Boy and The Usual Suspects, Old School . . . He’d loved those movies. He’d laughed his head off . . . gross, coolly gross . . . but did anybody else in this [frat] house get the serious point that made all that so awesome? Probably not. It was actually all about being a man in the age of the wuss.”
Speaking of Ebert, a great quote from his review of I, Robot: “As for the robots, they function like the giant insects in Starship Troopers, as video game targets. You can’t even be mad at them, since they’re only programs. Although, come to think of it, you can be mad at programs; Microsoft Word has inspired me to rage far beyond anything these robots engender.” Hear, hear.
A speech by emerging movie mogul and Regal Cinemas owner Phil Anschutz, on why he does what he does: “Speaking purely as a businessman, it is of utmost importance for a business to try to figure out a way to make goods and products that people actually want to buy. And . . . I don’t think Hollywood understands this very well, because they keep making the same old movies—the same kinds they have been making for years—despite the fact that so many Americans are tired of seeing them. Why can’t movies return to being something that we can go and see with our children and our grandchildren without being embarrassed or on the edge of our seats? When I said that Hollywood can be insular, this is in part what I meant. I don’t think they understand the market and the mood of a large segment of the movie-going audience today. I think this is one of the main reasons, by the way, that people don’t go to movies like they used to.” Seems largely sensible. And it’s always nice to have ideals. Now let’s hope he will live up to them. (Imprimis, via Rocky Mountain News)
“Here’s criticism’s trade secret: you can find meaning in anything if you look hard enough. Contemplate a work of art and patterns inevitably emerge, echoes, resonances, allusions which can be brought out and amplified through exegesis, the interpretive conceit by which a critic simultaneously deconstructs and rebuilds, unveils and augments another writer’s metaphors, another writer’s vision. Part attention to detail, part science, part Vulcan mind meld, exegesis allows a critic to enter and extend the context of a work of art . . .” (Dale Peck, Maisonneuve, March 2004). He’s talking books, but we probably resemble this remark. Hopefully we are more amusing than the narcissistic (duh) baby boomer who is the foil for this pleasantly misanthropic attack.
—James Lileks, on Mystic River.
“A good movie can take you out of your dull funk and the hopelessness that so often goes with slipping into a theatre; a good movie can make you feel alive again, in contact , not just lost in another city. Good movies make you care, make you believe in possibilities again. If somewhere in the Hollywood-entertainment world someone has managed to break through with something that speaks to you, then it isn’t all corruption. The movie doesn’t have to be great; it can be stupid and empty and you can still have the joy of a good performance, or the joy in just a good line. An actor’s scowl, a subversive gesture, a dirty remark that someone tosses off with a mock-innocent face and the world makes a little bit of sense.” —Pauline Kael
The Despecialized Star Wars
Summary Bug Creates Unintended Cinematic Beauties
See it live
Sizzling Bacon is HERE at Long Last
24 Things You Might Not Know About Fight Club
Tree of Life and the Lamb of God
Filming In Tongues
Martin Scorsese’s parents were aliterate
This Again—At A Theater Near You
Bollywood Directors and the “Cut To Switzerland”
The Constant Traveler
Save the Movies from Save The Cat!
Propaganda, A Primer
It may actually be long After Midnight
Dirty Wars playing, then disappearing, at a theater near you
Luke’s Change: An Inside Job
What Does Hollywood Have to Do with Jerusalem?
There are only fourteen books worth reading each year
Why Are Foreign Films So… Foreign?
Tree of Life Shooting Locations in Smithville, Texas