Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Other Shoe Dept.

Quel suprise.

UPDATE: Armond White on Wolverine, Star Trek.


Christian Lindke said...

I don't know how one gets "Brick Mansion" out of "District B13," but I'm happy that someone has decided to make an American version of the film. Not that I didn't really enjoy the original, I did -- it was one of the influences that made CASINO ROYALE so good -- but to have a wider audience see it will be good too.


Tulkinghorn said...

I raised at least one eyebrow when I described myself as a 'film-hater', but this is exactly what I mean.

An English-language 'remake' of a Gallicized version of an American novel..... What a waste of time.

As for getting a wider audience for "District B13".... If it involves morons making it worse, in what way does that constitute getting a 'wider audience'?

It's thinking like that that keeps us from EVER seeing the new John Woo movie. Until McG remakes it, of course. Bringing it to a 'wider audience.'

Generic said...

As someone who has spent most of his adult life writing about movies, how am I expected to respond to this?

Tulkinghorn said...

You have moved your concerns completely away from the movies that I've come to hate --- unless you have a sneaking fondness for Kate Hudson or her middle-aged counterpart, Diane Keaton.

The balance of purity and corruption that was such a part of the movies that I loved as a kid has shifted decidedly away from purity. And generational marketing has meant that the movies that were mere drive-in throwaways in 1965 now make $87,000,000 in three days and demand to be taken seriously.

I used to follow movies like some people follow baseball.... Not any more. Doesn't mean that I don't like movies, really. Just means that I don't care about the medium much.

And really don't care if a French movie I liked gets remade by some jerk.

(On the other hand... Sallis's Driver will make a great fucking movie. I fact, my CAT could make a great fucking move out of Driver.)

Generic said...

"Driver" is already a movie. But how will they shoot:

The pizza smelled good.

Barnes didn't.

Neil Marshal is no slouch, though. He may be able to come up with something.

If I were Kael writing today I would priobably argue that Judd Apatow and almost nobody else has made moviegoing worthwhile recently. (She was an Adam Sandler fan.)

Generic said...

And not to beat a dead horse...

Christian Lindke said...

I have tied myself up in an effort to prevent me from jumping through the internets and committing murder...bloody murder.

Because, you know, those entertainment vehicles like Viva Las Vegas and anything starring Fabian (with the exception of North to Alaska) had such a great balance of "purity and corruption" -- whatever that means.

I would also argue whether or not Wolverine demands to have itself taken seriously.

Generic said...

Choice of weapons, gentlemen?

I love "Viva Las Vegas," though it was actually in "Bye Bye Birdie" that Ann-Margret taught me the meaning of life.

Tulkinghorn's snorting and earth-pawing would bother me more if I thought he actually meant more than about 1/10 of it.

Tulkinghorn said...

At a budget of $130,000,000, for which price you could have made about 40 of the 100 episodes to date of "Lost", I'm betting that there wasn't a lot of playfulness or risk-taking or even good humor around the set of 'Wolverine.'

The result? Another movie with an impenetrable digital carapace. And no, I haven't seen it, having suffered through the first two emotionally, verbally, and viscerally vapid X-Men movies.

A $130,000,000 jeux d'esprit? Not bloody likely.

And that's the whole point. Used to be there was one 'Ben Hur' a year. Now there are about 15, and they are no better than their stilted static boring predecessors.

That's the balance these days between purity and corruption... Taking risks is impossible, light heartedness is unlikely, and nobody wants to not make money -- except the people who get paid in hip cred, and they are the worst of all.

What this place needs is a Godard or Scorsese to blow it to shards.

Generic said...

I argued to Anne recently that the industry isnow almost entirely devoted to White Elephant movies--though of course I would include Dark Knight in that category (in spades, with all that lumbering "moral seriousness") and exclude Iron Man, which is just playful enough to get by. (Downey termitizes everything he's in.)

Tulkinghorn said...


Girlish Spock (Zachery Quinto) and pin-up Kirk (Chris Pine) embody new-style masculine-prettiness. They resemble the Little Archie comics, or the Tiny Toons serial depicting Warner Bros. cartoon characters as kids.

Christian Lindke said...

Movies like Heaven's Gate killed the possibility for the profitable "expensive literary film." Movies like Star Wars guaranteed the cycle of the "serial cum blockbuster."

Most people go to the films to escape and to be entertained, and to be honest they always have. The fact that Ben Hur managed to entertain and have literary merit made it a rarity even in its own time. The vast majority of classic films lack any true "artistic" merit, from a certain rigid aesthetic position that might make Schiller proud (but would drive Aristophanes crazy).

Let's look at some of my all-time favorite films:

Safety Last as literature, it's crap. As entertainment, it's sublime.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence...okay this one has a great deal of literary merit, but visually this film suffers.

Rio Bravo ... witty dialogue and a couple of cool cats don't make up for a predictable narrative or the inclusion of a "teen idol" to boost ticket sales.

Jason and the Argonauts .. the acting in this film is mockable.

Ace in the Hole...dark, visually unimpressive, and could be made inexpensively today.

Let's not even get into how often Hitch ruins any verisimilitude with some optical effect or deficient set design.

SF/Fantasy requires a much larger budget than Breech, and also requires a much less sophisticated story.

The art of film is about educating and delighting people. The blockbuster is just about delighting them, and I would argue usually pulls it off. But these films aren't attempting to be the next Ben Hur, they aren't asking to be "taken seriously." They are asking to be enjoyed. These aren't where the cinema is failing us.

The cinema is failing us in its art films. Filmmakers seem so obsessed with the "education" part of the equation that they entirely ignore the "delight" variable. From Battlestar Galactica (you could make 70 episodes of BSG for the price of Star Trek), with BSGs predictable post-modern bullshit -- followed swiftly by a "we're all decendants of 'eve' bullshit ending -- to self important political pieces like Milk filmmakers have abandoned any sense of a holistic approach to film making.

As for critics who want to write comparisons of the new Star Trek to Asimov, Verne, Shakespeare, or John Ford, their fucking idiots. It isn't the blockbuster director's fault.

Leave me my serials (Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Star Trek, X-Men, Speed Racer) and review them within their context. The plot holes in Star Trek are massive, but then they have been since Next Generation.

Expect more from those films from which more ought be expected. Get mad at films like Three Days of the Condor for its implausible ending, or Revolutionary Road for its banality, but venting your anger at Star Trek and Wolverine qua Star Trek and Wolverine for lacking depth is like yelling at Aristophanes for using fart jokes in The Clouds.

It's bizarre. The critics are the windmills to be tilted, especially those who defend horror films as "art" or action films as "commentary on our times."

As for Tulk's comments regarding the first 2 X-men films, apparently he hasn't seen the third, which is a failure even by the standards by which it ought be judged.

My recommendation is that Tulkinghorn watch more Krod Mandoon and less Battlestar Galactica. Or at least hang out less with people who can say with any seriousness that BSG is "well written." Bullshit. It's trivial, banal, narcissistic, faux philosophic, trite, emo drivel. I'll watch Space Above and Beyond (which is often mind numbingly dumb) a million times over before I'll watch another BSG episode.

As for your dismissiveness of Tiny Toons, one does not know where to begin regarding how wrong minded you are. You absolutely must be sent to the cartoon re-education camps.

Though I agree that Quinto is a little feminine, I disagree re: Pine, though I don't recall Cary Grant being all that masculine outside of Father Goose -- so the effeminate Hollywood lead is nothing new, even if it is something that ought be properly criticized.

I'm not sick of the expensive blockbuster. I'm sick of the "suburbia is a nightmare existence" film.

No it isn't. You want to know what a fucking nightmare existence is?

It's coming home from school, while your whole family lives in one room of a three bedroom apartment in the urban Bay Area, to find that the person who owns the apartment is freaking out high on freebase cocaine. This asshole has your mother by her throat and your father has just broken off a wooden beam from a room divider and attempted to brain the guy, who remains unfazed...though bloody.

A nightmare existence is being thankful to God that though it didn't kill the guy, it at least redirected his rage toward your father long enough for the police to arrive. And when the police do arrive? You and your family are the ones who are evicted as there was only paraphernalia lying around and no drugs. So you go live in a motel for a couple weeks, and then live in someone's camper trailer for a couple of months.

The "suburbia as hell on earth" is the windmill I'll tilt at all day. Suburbia was respite from horror. Find something more worth your ire than the fact that there are too many special effects, and not enough "soul," in today's blockbusters.

Tulkinghorn said...

A lot here to unpack, but there is one thing on which you and I are in complete agreement -- and that is that movies about the shallowness of middle class American life are completely insufferable. I despised "American Beauty" for that reason and for other reasons that I can't discuss in public) and wouldn't see that movie made from the Richard Ford novel (the DiCaprio/Winslet one) at any price -- although I'm reliably informed that the book, at least, implicitly makes the point that the suburban haters are shallow for that reason.

Also: the quote in my last post is from Armond White, not me. I liked Tiny Toons, too. David tells me that he loved Little Archie, which somehow doesn't terribly surprise me.

As for my thoughts about the rest: it has to do with some pretty incoherent thoughts about joy(not enjoyment)and the sense of wonder. I may never get them down, but this has brought them to the front...