It’s too bad Michael Haneke films are so hard to watch. His latest anti-blockbuster The White Ribbon, is a superb and daring film, but will be seen by relatively few. Beautiful (shot in crisp black and white) and oblique, The White Ribbon is unflinching in its portrayal of Germany before the First World War. Continue reading
Archive for January, 2010
Tyson is like Kurt & Courtney: if you’re interested in the subject, you’ll be able to watch the film, despite the style and quality of the filmmaking.
The word I would use for director James Toback’s TYSON is busy. And that’s an understatement. During the Tyson interviews – there are no interviews with anyone else but Tyson, except in stock footage, and even then there is Tyson commentary running underneath – there are as many as four Mike Tyson frames onscreen, playing at once. If he rambles at all, a new frame moves in and continues the thought, while the former dominant frame, still onscreen, albeit smaller, continues to play and you can hear him softly over the new, bigger frame. This sounds confusing, and it is. Likewise, there is a recurring theme of multi-frame close-ups of Tyson’s face: an eyeball, his lips, his cheekbone and tattoo – all at once – and under that, we hear a flood of words, mostly adjectives, which Tyson uses to describe himself, or something else, like what attracts him in a woman, or whatever the case may be. It’s a little much, and I don’t think it quite works. All this stuff – the hyper-editing, the many images onscreen – seems to me like function over style. It comes off as a style, but I think it was one of a few ways to deal with the wealth of rambling footage of Tyson. Apparently, according to my father who heard it on “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross, the cameras were set up prior to the interviews, so Tyson is actually alone when the recording begins. It makes sense since the movie is like an autobiography, completely in Tyson’s head. The only glimpse of how others see him is in the stock footage, and even that is very heavily edited, so as to serve Tyson’s narrative. When I read Malcolm X’s biography, my favorite part was the afterword by Alex Haley, X’s biographer, because I finally got a break, and saw X from the outside. Now, you could easily argue that both Malcolm X and Mike Tyson have been seen from the outside a lot, and what is curious is to see their lives, respectively, from inside their skulls. But I need a little of both. Somehow, the inside and the outside of a person gives a balanced perspective, adds to a portrait, at least a non-fictional portrait; I want to hear what others have to say about you and I want to hear it from you. And to literally hear it from someone else’s mouth, not just Tyson telling me what someone else said about him. Capiche? Continue reading
Looking back on the past 30 years of his career, it’s hard to imagine Sean Connery actually made this movie. Featuring scantily clad female dictators, giant talking statues flying through space, and a post-scientific hippie burnout theology, I’m sure he looks back on this as the youthful indiscretion of his filmmaking career, much as I regret the time I chugged milk until I threw up or tried to cough up french fries through my sinuses. That being said, Zardoz reflects a paranoia about the End of The World Due to Irresponsible Human Industry that has seen a huge resurgence in popularity these days, as we consider our power to destroy ourselves, and the need to rebuild humanity. Hopefully when it happens we won’t all be forced to don his bikini-brief costume.
Now that I have upgraded to a digital recorder and cable television, I still find myself gravitating towards network daytime, specifically Judge Judy. Throughout the daytime spectrum, you can find a wide variety of hosts. There are those, like Oprah and her spawn Dr. Oz, who sugarcoat their lifestyle pep talks with a lot of handholding. Judy, however, is more my type. She is the idiot assassin and her scoldings, ritualistic and funny, are the best thing on daytime.
The Book of Eli, the newest movie from ghetto (filmmaking) celebrities the Hughes Brothers, is better than any January film has any right to be. As you are probably well aware, January is generally understood as a cinematic graveyard, a time during which all films theatrically released are expected to die short, unpleasant deaths. This is due to the fact that Oscar gambits come to a close at the beginning of the New Year – any film released after December 31st won’t be considered for the previous year’s Academy Awards. Hence, though Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones wasn’t released nationally until January 15th, it played in Los Angeles and New York starting in mid-December, so that it could hopefully garner the desirable Oscar nod. Those films that are released theatrically on a national scale during January are expected to be entirely off the cultural and Academy radar by the time the next round of nominations are picked. Continue reading
As horrific as most post-apocalyptic movie settings are, they can represent a peculiar escapism for the viewer. Sure, in the future, you may have to battle mohawked bandits and dress like a hobo, but the problems of today have been replaced by the problems of an existential samurai. Continue reading
Okay I admit it’s not a great feeling staying up to four in the morning with your guy friend watching the first Ninja Turtles movie. It evokes thoughts like What have I become? or Is this really my life? Irregardless it’s an excellent movie! It’s crazy that it stands the test of time, but it does. Continue reading