Friday, June 15, 2012

FORGET IT, JANEK. IT'S LV-223: PART ONE: We Were Wrong, We Were So Wrong!

Before I tell you what I did love, let me tell you what I did not love about Ridley Scott's Non ALIEN prequel/ALIEN prequel, PROMETHEUS.

1: Too many little dramas. In ALIEN, Dallas and Ripley are clearly involved on an intimate level. But no one ever has to say shit about it. It hits us that much harder when Ripley and us lose Dallas. Because we know. No one had to fucking spell it out for us. That's called subtext. I call it awesome. The love story in PROMETHEUS is completely unnecessary. It serves no purpose beyond date night at the movies. It's trite. Certainly didn't need a "love scene'. They got it right with the characters of Vickers and Janek. Place, time, a look and a joke. But the Shaw/Holloway romance is dead weight. Sorry. And one too many father daughter stories for one ALIEN prequel. Jeez Louise.

2: Cheesy dream watching scene. Of a quality that reminds me of the lamest fucking multimedia projects at community college...This heavy handed exposition that is not needed and would have had some actual power to it if it were only brought up as it was later by David and he explains flat out what he watched and learned from her dreams. Talk about hitting me over the head with a message. How about hitting me over the head with something *I* can believe in. Like the story in the trailer for the film. That's what I chose to believe in. Sheesh, Ridley & Damon.

3: Not telling a soul that an octovagina alien is locked in a room on board the ship. particularly 15 minutes after someone just burned your boyfriend to crispy Spam for having the a "bug" and made a big deal out of the fact that nothing of "unknown origin" is coming on board. And yes, as it is revealed at the end to be a big fuckin deal. Felt very, very odd.

4: Buddy subplot, "The Bet". Who fucking cares? Are these guys supposed to live up to some kind of Harry Dean Yaphet Kotto standard? Well, they're fine actors, but no Harry Dean or Yaphet Kotto by a damn sight. Who fucking cares about your bet. Not interesting or believable bromance at all. Every minute of it felt forced. Like they won the parts unintentionally at the bottom of a cereal box. And yo, Benedict Wong! You died right on the first space ship (Sunshine). And absolutely did not fucking buy their fucking elation to kamikaze themselves. Now if they were established at first not to get along and be more gruff as their captain was, would've packed more of a punch to kamikaze at the end. Possibly could have moved me to tears.

5: Terms and phrases like "Weapons of mass destruction" need to stop showing up in films. Particularly sci-fi.

6: Too much Xenomorph indication and not enough elaboration.

7: Did not need the last scene.

8: Lacked the wonderful sense of realism that made ALIEN so powerful. Expanding on a film's "Universe" is about tone and feel more than just a familiar horse shoe space ship.

After all this, I find it strange saying that I think the problem is maybe that some other parts of the film were cut possibly? There are cuts in the story that felt...jarring on a narrative front.

The bad bottom line is this: Too much time and emphasis on useless shit and not nearly enough time involved in what the films trailers, website, and entire marketing campaign promised. And I am not talking about aliens. I didn't give a shit about aliens. I'm talking about the world in which the movies ALIEN and PROMETHEUS are supposed to co-exist in. I wanted 2 plus hours of this:

And it's not quite what I got. But what I did get wasn't all bad...stay tuned...

Friday, June 24, 2011




Remembering Minghella Two Years Later: A Two Hour Media Masterclass

It's been over two years since writer, director, producer, actor, and Commander of the British Empire, Anthony Minghella died. As far as the world of film goes, I feel a vacancy. A loss of potential greatness. An unfinished work. An unrealized vision. For me personally, his work was hit and miss, but seldom had it anything to do with Minghella's writing or directing. No one ever talks about him. Some forget he died and other forget who he was. It's sad. He could have only made The English Patient and I would have always remembered him. Many look back at that film as an overly romantic melodrama and even associate it as a big studio picture, but Minghella practically collected coinage on the street to get that movie made. It was very much independent considering the scope of the vision. I still watch the film and really, not only does it have lasting power it gets better. It's far from melodrama and if it's overly romantic then so is life itself. To me, The English Patient is a brutally and beautifully made film that will keep Minghella alive always in the world and history of cinema.

If you are lucky enough to find it, there was an old VHS Commentary Version of the film featuring Minghella. The current DVD release only features a commentary track from the great Walter Murch (also recommended). Both commentaries are excellent, but the Minghella is rare. So if you haven't heard it or can't find it (or possibly don't even give a shit, which is your loss) I would suggest checking out this excellent treasure below. A nearly two hour media masterclass with Minghella conducted several years before his death. He talks at length about his start, his work in theater, film, with actors, dealing with studios and going your own way. Watch while you can, before it become as The English Patient commentary or Minghella himself has. Forgotten.

Anthony Minghella Media Master Class

Saturday, February 12, 2011


The most recent injustice's done to Iranian director Jafar Panahi is weighing heavy on the hearts and minds of many. In ways....words, I am sorry to say, cannot describe. And I am reminded of a work in progress about exiled Iranian actor, producer, director Berhouz Vossoughi. As little as I know about Iranian cinema, it was really Vossoughi and Panahi who brought it to my attention. About a decade ago, Vossoughi made an appearance at the College Of Marin campus in Kentfield, California and that's when I first heard of him or Iranian New Wave, frankly Iranian cinema all together. Around the same time, I was consuming movies at a high volume while working at a video store, I caught Panahi's 'The Circle'. Or I should say it caught me, immediately with it's strong visual sense and it's uncompromising ability to unfold an unrelenting tale of injustice to women. It definitely opened a door to me of new cinematic influence.

Meanwhile, my search for Vossoughi's films continued...

After half a century in international cinema Behrouz Vossoughi should certainly be better known in general and particularly among cinephiles. In his homeland of Iran he is legendary. Perhaps to some only as a pre-Revolutionary relic. But legendary, none the less. After a brief appearance and no luck in tracking down many of his films it began to seem as though he had in fact vanished into total obscurity, but then, in the early part of the last decade during the Annual San Francisco International Film Festival, an 'Unvanquished' award was being given to Iranian auteur director Abbas Kiarostami, who in turn, to the audience surprise, presented it to Vossoughi. Vossoughi, who was in the audience was at the time at least, a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area living in exile for some years from his homeland. In fact, Vossoughi has been in exile, one way or another, seemingly his whole life.

Growing up with a religious father in 50's Iran and the oldest of five sons he had to keep his acting craft clandestine. He began to learn his craft from dubbing films. Watching scenes repeatedly and analysis of performances. By '61 he was in front of the camera. He continued to work steadily, but he was searching for something else. A revolution in Iranian cinema, a New Wave. And in '69 independently produced 'Ghaisar' (Caesar). Ushering in the Iranian New Wave with such director's as Masoud Kimiai and Dariush Mehrjui. Armed with new vision and the influence of French new wave and Italian neorealism, the face of film would change in Iran, forever.



The week after the festival Vossoughi was hailed as 'The DeNiro Of Iran'(I see him more as a Toshiro Mifune, Charles Bronson sort). No doubt earned from not just his brilliant acting, but the fact that he would alter his physique. Vossoughi had a self taught method that compelled him to embody the most complicated characters and would spend countless weeks developing a role. For his role in 'Sooteh Delan' (Broken Hearts) he slept in a mental hospital during his weeks of preparation for the role. He disguised himself among drug addicts and took to the streets in prep for 'Gavaznha' (The Deer).


Many of these films I am still yet to see, but I did manage to eventually track down and see 'Tangsir'. The rather epic film from Iranian director Amir Naderi. With Naderi behind the camera, Tangsir has a strong individual and yet identifiable Iranian voice and in front of it, the indelible face of Behrouz Vossoughi. Inspired by the legendary Zar Mohammad, who waged a one-man war against four swindlers and provoked wide spread popular sentiment against tyranny, Tangsir is the seemingly familiar tale of a wronged man seeking revenge. The friend I saw Tangsir with at the time made many comparison's to John Boorman's 'Point Blank' and Martin Scorsese's 'Taxi Driver'. I too could see the parallel's he was making from a social and criminal point of view, but I saw something much deeper in Tangsir's seemingly straight forward revenge plot. Reminding me more of the American and Italian Westerns with it's Desolate, beautiful, and brutal landscape. Massive L E T T E R B O X E D Cinemascope. Earthy, rich color palette. But even more so, it reminded me of the Japanese westerns. There is an aspect of Seven Samurai and The 47 Ronin to Tangsir This wasn't simply about money and revenge. This was about honor. It still is.

Kiarostami had the festivals attention. Vossoughi rose from the audience and Kiarostami explained to them,

"This is an award for all the years he's worked in the cinema in Iran, and all the years he's awaited work here in this country. And I look forward to his return to the cinema."

I too await a true return for Vossoughi. And now sadly, the release and return of Jafar Panahi as well.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


1. KICKASS Dir. Matthew Vaughn
A Few Words: Finally, a superhero film for real superheros......I MEAN! NOT THAT I'M...No one's revealing a hero's identity, I mean I,I,I,I,I,I, I'm certainly not a real superhero, hahahahahaha!!!!! That's just ridiculous....(sigh) yeah, wouldn't that just be funny. Awe jeez.

2. LET ME IN Dir. Matt Reeves
A Few Words: Anyone who knows me, knows my general....dislike... of remakes. With strict exceptions of course (The Thing). And I will sadly admit I was dead set on hating this film. Because I love the original, which was not even a year old when they announced the remake. It was a perfect film. Why? I haven't done a book comparison yet. I was about to read the book when this was announced and decided to wait. Now that I have seen this I will read the book. But I have to say, I really like this film. I really fuckin' liked the differences this had to the original. The cast is just perfect. And like the original, it has a great score and awesome fucking soundtrack! Another thing that probably gave me a personal connection was the period and Americana. I was growing up around this time, hearing the music, experiencing difficult growing pains, taking interest in weird girls who smell funny (still am), and 'Now&Laters' candy. So many of these elements are also things that hooked me about the original, which captured the 80's almost frightfully perfect. Reeve's version get's close enough and the addition of 80's Americana helps. All of these things handled as they are, I must admit, really kinda hooked me quick. My desert island choice between the two? A Beta dupe of both films back to back. P.S. ~ Best use of "Burning For You" by Blue Oyster Cult...EVER!!!

3. MACHETE Dir. Robert Rodriguez
A Few Words: Come I really have to say anything about this one other than it truly deserves better than just an "honorable mention". Let's face it, it's a little masterpiece.

4. PREDATORS Dir. Nimrod Antal
A Few Words: Rodriguez serving up more awesomeness out of the Grindhouse kitchen! (More film/cooking schools!!!) The other two gang members of my 'Grindhouse Trio' gave me perfect and enthusiastic recommendations to see this and they were not wrong! This was a fucking hellava good time! Brody and Braga owned this shit. It had a few major flaws, but at least it was nowhere near a 2 hour mistake on the whole. The filmmakers brought it back home.

5. THE TOWN Dir. Ben Affleck
A Few Words: You fucking good movie. It was. Great performances all around. know...when they got to the big shoot out? That felt...drawn out. And the drawing out of it felt...fucking...forced. Like they were TRYING to create a sort of 'HEAT' shootout. Wasn't feeling it. And the ending...(shrug, Deniro face) You know? But otherwise...really good. 'Gone Baby Gone' was waaaaay better though. You know? P.S. ~ RIP Pete Postlethwaite. You were BRILLIANT in this film!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Favorite Films Of 2010 : A List of Top Picks with Trailers

I didn't get to see everything I wanted to yet this year. When I get around to Documentary and animation I will compose separate lists for them. Still yet to see 'The King's Speech' 'The Fighter''Scott Pilgrim' 'Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives' 'Enter The Void' and countless others, so don't be too surprised if you don't see them here. I will put together a Top 5 'What I Missed In 2010' list when I get caught up on some films. As well as giving my honorable mentions a bit more than just an honorable mention. But some folks have been asking me for a list since New Years, you go....

15. VALHALLA RISING Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn
A Few Words: A truly brilliant screen actor can carry an entire film without uttering a single fucking word. Mads Mikkelson does just that in this film. Beautiful cinematography in an otherwise brutal story about a place and time between heaven and hell that may have once been earth. WARNING: This movie is inspired by an acid trip, so don't take any when you watch it. The film itself is already dosed.

14. TRUE GRIT Dir. Joel Coen
A Few Words:'s the Coen Brothers. The usual perfection. Plus, like last year, best last shot, best last line. P.S. ~ Brolin and Barry Pepper's teeth.

13. SHUTTER ISLAND Dir. Martin Scorsese
A Few Words: Watch it again.

12. I AM LOVE Dir. Luca Guadagnino
A Few Words: There is essentially nothing very new or fresh about the plot or the themes of this film. But the cast, direction, cinematography, editing, color palette, the score, you name it...on a technical level, the craft and performance deliveries were flawless. Sit close, turn up the volume loud and just experience a magnificently assembles melodrama that it's hard not to look at. P.S. ~ Tilda Swinton is a Goddess.

11. EVERYONE ELSE Dir. Maren Ade
A Few Words: Is it me, or is Germany and Austria making the best fucking films these days...

10. THE AMERICAN Dir. Anton Corbijn
A Few Words: Another great 70's vibed character driven thriller. Relying on visuals and character, making old themes heavy again. And NOT bitching out in the end! Another solid one that deserves to be higher on the list. But this is favorites, not bests.

9. INCEPTION Dir. Christopher Nolan
A Few Words: First off; I am NOT calling this movie 'Kubrickian'. I'm not. But....if, mind you, IF, Stanley Kubrick were alive do know this would be his favorite film of the year at least, right? Well, it would. But it's my 9th.

8. THE SOCIAL NETWORK Dir. David Fincher
A Few Words: Not an easy subject to turn into an interesting compelling story. Nor once written easy to translate from the page to the screen. And between Sorkin and Fincher they absolutely did it. They took something that could be extremely dated someday and founf the themes that made it a timeless story and that's what makes and will continue to make it hold up.

7. FISH TANK Dir. Andrea Arnold
A Few Words: Unlike any coming of age story ever before. While this stands a character driven coming-of-age drama it has also all at once the elements of unrelenting suspense thriller. You really have no fucking idea! Another one of the most solid of the year.

6. A PROPHET Dir. Jacques Audiard
A Few Words: Holy shit!!! Just...just....just watch it.

5. BLUE VALENTINE Dir. Derek Cianfrance
A Few Words: "You Don't Know What Love Is"

4. THE GHOST WRITER Dir. Roman Polanski
A Few Words: Say what you will about the guy, but he's a cinematic master! For more see my 'Spirit Of 77' blog.

3. RED RIDING: 1974 Dir. Julian Jarrold
A Few Words: The most authentic 70's film since....the 70's.

2. WINTER'S BONE Dir. Debra Granick
A Few Words: This years great detective story. Perfect storytelling, the most solid film of the year. And I hate saying things like this, but it's Les Blank meets Chinatown.

1. BLACK SWAN Dir. Darren Aronofsky
A Few Words: This film possessed all the facets of what the pursuit of much of today's cinema should be about. Clearly influenced, yet just as clearly original. Inspired, but reimagined. Guerilla, yet eloquent. Heavily thematic, boldly imaginative. And on a cinematic technical level, well fuck...the ONLY good example of GREAT hand held camera work in the last decade or more. The best use of sound in film all year that I have seen/heard. Providing character insight and emotion as well as foreshadowing. This combined with the editing along with one of the better uses of visual effects in sometime, all the while remaining a character driven, psychological story and I'd say Black Swan was one of the few films I'd seen in a while that had a perfect polygamist marriage of various periods and genres of cinema. So of won't win an Oscar and it's gonna get belittled like all great films are in their infancy. For now, it will remain an ugly duckling...who sadly will die off through award season because her audience fell in love with the wrong movie...

BONUS PICK Special love to the film 'FLAME AND CITRON' which got lost between the 2009 and 2010 best of lists. Highly recommended!




Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Revelations Of Romy Schneider

I have a new blog dedicated to the life, beauty, and artistry of Romy Schneider caled THE ROMY. Find it through my blog list on the side bar.