Saturday, December 30, 2006
Now, I ain't claiming to be a fancy pants seen-it-all babbler - I'm just a writer who works at a movie theater and blogs about what I'm interested in so no big summation of the year's offerings here.
I mean it's pointless to make a top ten list of the year's best at this point - many lauded big-time studio features (like LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, CHILDREN OF MEN, THE GOOD SHEPHERD, etc.) aren't gonna be in my area 'til January or later so I'm just gonna blab some blurbs 'bout a bunch o' flicks I have seen since my last post.
THE QUEEN (Dir. Stephen Frears)
Definitely one of the year's best and most likely the definitive 'walking on eggshells' movie. Helen Mirren's dead-on portrayal of her Majesty's reaction (or at first non-reaction) to former Princess Diana's death and Tony Blair's (Michael Sheen) touching and funny attempts to smooth it all over with the peeved-off public all plays perfectly. Not a wasted moment - this deserves every Oscar it will get.
SHUT UP & SING (Dir. Barbara Kopple, Cecilia Peck)
Like THE QUEEN this is very much about public relations. As I'm fairly sure my readers know The Dixie Chicks made history when Natalie Maines made a fiercely anti-Bush comment between songs at a London concert at the dawn of the Iraq war. The snowballing firestorm (I don't care if that's a glaring contradiction) that ensued makes up the bulk of this documentary. Less a cinematic statement on the state of free speech in America than truly a sharp music doc 'bout a band dealing with backlash from a controversial quote and how that affects their touring and recording - the bit that has Bush's response from a Tom Brokow interview - "They shouldn't have their feelings hurt just because some people don't want to buy their records when they speak out... Freedom is a two-way street." Maines' reply: "what a dumbfuck. He's a dumbfuck," That bit alone makes this whole deal essential viewing.
BLOOD DIAMOND (Dir. Edward Zwick)
This thriller about the blood diamond trade in West Africa is way too long with awfully written dialogue throughout ("In America, it's bling bling. But out here it's bling bang"). The scenes between Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly are TV-movie bad. Still there's some great photography and intriguing story elements - it's just unfortunate that when the dust settles it is just a big noisy empty piece of bling bang.
Next time out - DVD reviews and more when filmbabble enters a brand new year! This post is dedicated to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, who passed away on Christmas day.
RIP JB 1933-2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Usually I avoid when movies are shown on broadcast television because they're edited-for-time full-screen versions - I mean it's almost like they don't count. But sometimes when I come upon a movie I like when changing channels I've found they are sometimes worth watching for the re-dubbing of profane lines.
SCARFACE above, and THE EXORCIST are famous for their creative hilarious for-all-audiences re-toolings. Not content to just use 'freak' or 'freaking' the censors picked every other f-word (frozen, fruitful, foolish, etc.) in the dictionary to cover all the 'fucks' in a recent airing of FARGO. It's quite a different movie when you see Steve Buscemi yelling "you foolish people!" after being shot in the face you know? These are some other funny examples:
THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998) Original line : "You see what happens Larry, when you fuck a stranger in the ass?" - Walter (John Goodman) Edited line : “You see what happens Larry when you find a stranger in the Alps?”
Also : "This is what happens when you pump a stranger's gas!" and “What the frog?” – Barry (Jack Black) HIGH FIDELITY (2000)
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (1998) “Froggin’ ashpole” - Ted (Ben Stiller) to Pat (Matt Dillon)
PLATOON (1986) “Come on maggot farmer, move!” - Pvt. Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen)
SCARFACE (1983) Original Line: "How'd you get that scar? Eating pussy?" - Immigration Officer (Garnett Smith) Edited Line: “how’d you get that scar? Eating Pineapple?” (also “pudding”)
THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995) Original Line: : "Hand me the keys you fucking cock sucker" - spoken by all 5 suspects (Kevin Pollack, Stephen Baldwin, Benicio Del Toro, Gabriel Byrne, and Kevin Spacey) in the police line up. Edited Line: "Hand me the keys you fairy godmother."
DIE HARD (1988) Original Line: "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!" - John McClane (Bruce Willis) Edited Line: "Yippie-kye-ay, Mister Falcon!"
LETHAL WEAPON (1987) 2 lines both spoken by one of the candidates for MAN OF THE YEAR 2006 - Mel Gibson as lovable suicidal cop Martin Riggs : "We bury the funsters!” and "I'm a real cop, this is a real badge and this is a real firing gun!"
GOODFELLAS (1990) Original Line : "You're a fuckin' mumblin', stutterin' little fuck" Tommy (Joe Pesci) Edited Line : "You're a friggin' mumblin', stutterin' little fink."
THE EXORCIST (1973) Original Line: "Your mother sucks cocks in Hell!"- Regan (Linda Blair) possessed by Pazuzu (voice - Mercedes MacCambridge) Edited Line: "Your mother sews socks that smell!"
PULP FICTION (1994) Original Line : "I got my eyes wide fuckin' open!" - Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) Edited Line: "I got my eyes wide focused open!"
ROBOCOP (1987) "You're gonna be a real mothercrasher!" - Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer)
Send your favorite 'edited for TV' lines to: Boopbloop7@gmail.com
So if Peter O'Toole was pulled over and arrested for drunk driving would his mug shot look an better or worse than the poster for his latest film?
And all I want to know about this movie is - does it have a montage?
Friday, November 24, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Sometime in the last year I bought the Criterion Collection special edition of SHORT CUTS (1993) (my personal Altman favorite) but only in the last week did I sample the bonus material. In addition to the bonus disc of docs, deleted scenes and typical bells and whistle whatnot it came with a reprint of the 160 page book of the Raymond Carver short stories that the film was based on and was published when the film was first released. I had been saving the book for...I don't know what but I actually read it and rewatched the movie now being able to pinpoint the sources and enjoyed it more than ever."Movies Now More Than Ever" - Slogan for Griffin Mill's (Tim Robbins) Studio in THE PLAYER (1992) After watching the rest of the various extras - docs, deleted scenes, etc I lent the disc and the book to a literary-minded friend who works with me at the theater at the end of last week. No great cosmic significance here, just interesting to me that I had absorbed and passed on one of Altman's greatest works just days before his passing. It's sad but fitting that PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION was Altman's last movie. Its sad obviously because there will be no more films - seasons will come and go without his large cast revues and the circling cameras, overlapping dialogue, and insightful interplay. It's fitting because he said in interviews that PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION was a film about death - the end of an era. Many other directors have adopted some of his techniques (though his stuff is in a satirically sillier vein Christopher Guest has been often compared to Altman - more on that and his new movie FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION in a future post) but nobody has really come close to what he did. So the man has retired but the extensive body of work he has left us with that I for one know will be discovering and re-discovering the rest of my days. He was right on the money when he once said : "Filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes." More later...
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
The #1 movie-film in America right now with an approval rating of 96% on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer (you know, the site that tallies up all the major reviews) BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN is really burning it up this season.
It does has a lot of funny moments though I personally feel much of the material would be better seen in individual YouTube clips, because even at just 84 minutes the guys routine wears a bit.
Peering in on the sold out shows at my local hometown theater where I work part-time, a drop-off in riotous laughter is strongly evident in the last third of the movie. One sequence in particular I could have done without, a nude wrestling match between BORAT (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his morbidly obese manager (Ken Davitian) that starts over a squabble in a fancy-pants hotel room and spills out into the lobby, so that the shocked public can witness of course.
Thankfully black bars were inserted to cover the naughty bits. That's definitely he scene where my laughter dropped off.
Being the second most hyped movie of the year (the first being SNAKES ON A PLANE) I was surprised at the critical reaction.
It's getting a lot of incredibly favorable notices remarking on the supposed sharpness of the satire and the telling socio-political statements it makes. Some examples:
"The brilliance of BORAT is that its comedy is as pitiless as its social satire and just as brainy" - Manohla Dargis (New York Times)
"He makes us squirm until we laugh and laugh until we squirm, holding a mirror to our darkest fears and prejudices." - Bob Townsend (Alanta Journal-Constitution)
"Evil comedy, a new genre, has arrived. The bar has been raised and is flying over everyone's head." - Victoria Alexander (FILMSINREVIEW.COM)
This is a bit much.
I mean, it does live up to the hype much more than SNAKES and it does have plenty of genuine laughs, but come on! It says more about how lame comedies have become in the last several years if this is being lauded so highly. As for all the variations on the labeling of BORAT as an "equal opportunity offender" that critics have been tirelessly making, I was offended like Jerry Seinfeld would be "as a comedian" at how easy cheap and obvious some of the lines were - for example:
Borat Sagdiyev: This is Natalya. (He Kisses her passionately) She is my sister. She is number-four prostitute in whole of Kazakhstan. (Natalya holds up a trophy and smiles) Niiice!
Yep, now that's top-line-state-of-the-art-grade-A comedy!
Monday, October 23, 2006
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
You could not come up with 2 concert films that are more different from each other than NEIL YOUNG : HEART OF GOLD and AWESOME! I FUCKIN' SHOT THAT!
Jonathan Demme's work documenting Young's 2005 Ryman Auditorium performance is straight-forward and polished much like the music it presents. I'm far from a hardcore Young fan - I have I guess what you'd call the essential discs ("Harvest", "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere", "After The Gold Rush", "Rust Never Sleeps", etc.). have seen him live a few times, but over the years have drifted away from his newer releases because of too many same-sounding songs.
A few songs into the show - that complaint melts away.
With a large band of ace players (including Emmyloo Harris, Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham, and wife Pegi Young) Neil plays the Prairie Wind album in its entirety then a smattering of crowd pleasing hits (like the title song especially) and it all sounds sweet to these ears. The DVD has some cool extras most notably a clip of Young on The Johnny Cash Show in 1970. Man, they need to release that show in full!
AWESOME! I FUCKIN' SHOT THAT! throws out the traditional approach and goes for the jugular - 50 fans are given Hi-8 and digital-video cameras to a Madison Square Garden Beastie Boys show and Adam Yauch's alter ego Nathaniel Hornblower edits together all their footage into one of the most rowdy, renograde, in your face concert films ever. One of the camera people even films his trip to the bathroom!
Whatever your opinion of the Beasties' music this film is a lot of fun to watch - the split screens, the fast cutting, the wide range of angles, and the sense that the whole arena was pumping and pounding. It does drag a bit at times - the trance instrumental set wasn't as exciting as other bits, but this inventive and punchy concert flick definitely deserves the right to, you know...party.
The best music documentary since Scorcese's NO DIRECTION HOME : BOB DYLAN in my book (or more accurately on my blog) is definitely THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON. Funny, disturbing, and never dull - the story of bipolar Beatles-obsessed quirky songwriting Devil-fearing Johnston is told by his extensive archive of home made films, audio-cassette diaries, magic marker drawings, and interviews with family and friends.
The overwhelming amount available of Johnston's self documentation pours out of the movie and into the bonus features on the DVD - it takes quite a bit to get through all of it but it is worth every second.