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Archive for the ‘Movies In General’ Category

On Polanski

From Kate Harding at Salon.com:

The point is that drugging and raping a child, then leaving the country before you can be sentenced for it, is behavior our society should not — and at least in theory, does not — tolerate, no matter how famous, wealthy or well-connected you are, no matter how old you were when you finally got caught, no matter what your victim says about it now, no matter how mature she looked at 13, no matter how pushy her mother was, and no matter how many really swell movies you’ve made.

Harding’s piece is excellent.   Two thumbs up.

Polanski drugged and raped a thirteen year old girl.   I keep seeing people saying Polanski merely had sex with an underage girl.   That’s the charge that Polanski entered a guilty plea for, but it leaves a lot of pertinent information out.   Sex implies consent.   This young woman was unwilling and did not consent.  She had a right to autonomy over her own body, a right Polanski violated.  

Roman Polanski had horrific things happen to him, but this does not excuse his rape of a child.   There are allegations of misconduct by the judge and prosecutor in the case.   I find it odd that Polanski was willing to submit to the legal system when it benefitted him, but when the judge threatened to throw out his plea bargain, something afforded to a judge under the legal system, Polanski turned tail and ran.  I find this even more odd considering that there are legal options open to defendants who suspect misconduct among attorneys and judges in cases, something a lawyer who would be hired by Polanski – that is, a lawyer worth his salt and then some – should have been able to navigate with ease.   Never mind that before he fled the country, Polanski was informed that the judge could reject the plea deal and potentially deport him if the judge saw fit.   (You can read the hearing transcript over at The Smoking Gun.)

Roman Polanski hid out in Europe for years, filming in countries that would not extradite him, evading arrest even after he was placed on Interpol wanted lists.   He was well aware of his fugitive status and continued to openly evade extradition, even though US officials were trying to arrest him.

If this were not Roman Polanski, would we even be having this discussion?   I am not asking for Roman Polanski’s head on a platter.   I’m not saying we should have him strung up in Mussolini-esque fashion.   I’m truly puzzled by the fact that there are people out there not only in the film community but in the “real world” who believe that Polanski should maybe come back to the US and receive sentencing for a crime he pled guilty to and bear responsibility for his actions in fleeing the United States.

If I may float a few points:

Genius does not preclude responsibility of a citizen to be held accountable for their actions.

Genius does not permit one to harm others.

A victim of terrible crimes can also become a victimizer.

And Roman Polanski does not get a pass for refusing to play by the rules in a venue where he was already getting breaks simply because he’s made some genius films.

Geniuses are not exempt from being equal under the law.

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Penned by Tarantino, shot and edited by Rodriguez.   (Rodriguez does so much stuff on his own films that I’m shocked he’s not responsible for craft services in addition to the ninety million things he does.)

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Seth and Richie Gekko have some serious problems.   Richie busted Seth out of prison and on their way to safe haven in Mexico, they’ve killed more than a handful of civilians and cops.    Seth is the professional, pragmatic brother while Richie’s little more than a nutjob and a rapist, leaving big brother Seth to mop up the mess.   The Fuller family is traveling around the States in a RV, mourning the loss of the wife and mother of the group, when they inadvertently cross paths with the Gekko brothers.   Never one to pass up an opportunity, Seth uses the family as cover to get into Mexico and forces the family to stay overnight with him in a biker bar located in the middle of nowhere.    It is there that the real scary stuff begins, seeing as how the bar staff has the tiny little problem of vampirism.

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From Dusk ‘Till Dawn wasn’t the first script Tarantino wrote that had been directed by someone else; the script for Natural Born Killers fell to Oliver Stone, who made his version of Natural Born Killers, something Tarantino disowns.   From Dusk ‘Till Dawn was in the hands of Robert Rodriguez, a close friend and Tarantino was on set playing Richie Gekko.   The funny thing is that certain aspects of From Dusk ‘Till Dawn, such as the newscaster grinning as she counts up the bodies lining the Gekko Brothers’ path to freedom, still smack of Natural Born Killers.

Seth Gekko is in no easy situation.   In a bar full of violent truckers, bikers and insane strippers, he has to corral his psycho younger brother who has his eye on young Kate and keep a lid on the nervous family who wants nothing more than to get away from the two brothers.   Richie is the first victim of the vampires; he’s killed by a stripper named Satanico Pandemonium.   Fun times.   The rest of the bar almost nearly follows suit; it’s two bikers named Sex Machine (played by none other than Tom Savini) and Frost who survive the carnage along with Seth and the Fuller family.

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To celebrate the release of the long awaited Inglourious Basterds on Friday,  I had planned to do a whole week of Tarantino flicks (and still do), only to have some sort of nasty shoulder problem flare up Sunday and continue through Tuesday.   So we’re picking up today and I’ll be picking up the rest of the slack through the week, provided I can find all my copies of Tarantino flicks.

I’m starting out with Pulp Fiction, not Reservoir Dogs, which chronologically makes no sense.   Pulp Fiction, though, was the first Tarantino film I ever saw.   I was eight and my parents rented it.   We made it through about fifteen seconds of the Royale with Cheese scene before my parents shut it off.   They were horrified and returned it shortly thereafter, never to be brought up again.   (The subject of Quentin Tarantino to my parents is one massive eyeroll, I think).   Another eight years later or so, I would finally watch the whole thing.

To an eight year old, I think those first five or six minutes of Pulp Fiction were about the coolest thing you could see.

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Watching Pulp Fiction for me still brings back strange thrills of being young and feeling like maybe you were watching something you weren’t supposed to watch, even though I know better since I’m a grown woman now.   Instead of dissecting and analyzing Pulp Fiction since thousands of others have done so more thoroughly and better than I could ever do, I’m just going to reminisce a bit.

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It’s hard to believe that we are in the fifteenth anniversary of  Pulp Fiction’s release.  It can’t have been fifteen years, can it?   Nothing seems quite right about it.

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Then again, nothing about Tarantino’s second movie feels quite right.   It’s like the movie itself exists in a reality connected to ours with a few threads clipped away.   The choppy timeline only serves up more disorientation.   Traditional product placement is replaced with now easily recognizable Tarantino staples like Red Apple cigarettes and Jack Rabbit Slim’s (which is on its own like a retro diner ground through a bad acid trip, if you ask me).

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*Note: Best wishes to Roger Ebert, who I sincerely hope gets a good voice as discussed here, not for the film and general community’s benefit but so that such an articulate, witty man can communicate without frustrations to his loved ones and friends.   Bless him.
Also, I know that I am preaching to the choir here, but bear with me.
A few days ago, Roger Ebert posted a journal entry titled “The gathering Dark Age”, inspired by a blog entry from Patrick Goldstein.  Goldstein’s piece describes how The Hurt Locker, a critically acclaimed film from Kathryn Bigelow, is not doing that well amongst folks in my age range (18-30, I’ll say, for argument’s sake) even with stellar word of mouth.   (Word of mouth has long been touted, according to Ebert, as something that will help drive box office totals up and up.)   Ebert laments this fact and then goes on to state that my generation exhibits a decline in education and intelligent thought.   I am reluctant to disagree.
Ebert also points out that studio marketing and publicists have leashed the real thoughts of actors and actresses; the studio hype machine has lead to boring and predictable marketing that is a dog-and-pony show.
You can read Ebert’s entry here.   Something about it stuck in my grey matter for days and I kept coming back to his thoughts over and over again.   I thought I would write about it here, if only to see the discussion that may surface over it.  I am certainly no peer of Roger Ebert’s, but what I felt and thought about this subject spanned far more than a simple comment left on Ebert’s journal.
Some may have heard about “The Hurt Locker,” but simply lack the nerve to suggest a movie choice that involves a departure from groupthink.
With regard to Ebert’s critique of my generation’s failure to come out for The Hurt Locker, I don’t know if that’s the best movie to use as an example.  Iraq war movies have not done stellar box office in the past, so I find myself surprised that The Hurt Locker has done as well as it has.    Secondly, I do think you have to take into account that a chunk of that 18 – 30 demographic has loved ones fighting in that war.   Watching something like The Hurt Locker may be too uncomfortable and too close to home for some folks.   The nostalgia of certain properties like G.I. Joe and Transformers is small but not discounted, I don’t think, since the subject of Transformers killing at the box office is brought up.   With a major recession in play, I also believe that people are going to trend towards more lighthearted, ‘simpler’ fare.
That being said, none of that is a great explanation for why The Hurt Locker is failing to draw in some of my peers.   I don’t like swallowing any of those explanations, though they’re valid for some folks.   By my own logic, (500) Days of Summer should be trampling over the competition at the box office … and it isn’t.
Ebert’s warning that my generation is headed into dire straits is not unfounded.   We are a generation that is, in my opinion, less educated and less knowledgeable than the generations that came before us.   Those of us in our twenties cannot abdicate personal responsibilities because our education system taught us only to take exit tests; we may have to – as a generation – spend less time watching the exploits of those two nitwits Heidi and Spencer Pratt and read some books or go to a museum.   Those of you reading this are probably one of those ‘educated’ types, so I’m going to say that it’s difficult to change another person unless they want to change.  At the moment, most people my age see nothing wrong with not at least attempting to be an educated, articulate person.
Do I hold out any hope for this?  Not really.
It is not just the teenagers and the twentysomethings.  My advice to anyone who wants to see a cultural decline in general and in film – go work a few weeks in a suburban video rental store.  Watch what the forty to sixty-ish age people are renting.  There is a reason your local Blockbuster gets three hundred copies of The DaVinci Code in; if people aren’t clutching their pearls at that scandalous movie’s subject matter, that’s what they want to watch.   It’s not the teenagers renting that crap (they’re renting seasons of The Hills or whatever reality show’s on MTV these days).  Ignorance is something that I see being taught, not randomly accepted by my generation.
We, as a society, have become lazy.   I will hold myself accountable for my own personal laziness, as I am no saint incapable of such a thing.    My generation is particularly visible in this regard.   As a culture, we export American movies to the rest of the world but refuse to watch their cinematic endeavors because reading subtitles is hard. God forbid we learn another language.
This, I think, is why the remake is popular.  It’s a win for the studios and a win for the public.  The studios churn them out probably faster than they can original properties, viewers get a sense of nostalgia (or are ignorant enough of the original, like The Taking of Pelham 123, that it feels new) and everyone’s happy.   Lazy.
We watch big budget blockbusters because they are comforting and because change is scary and unfamiliar.   We only want to watch what’s advertised on TV or what film’s got the prettiest poster.
It is going to take effort to revive interest in good movies.  It will require effort on everyone’s part which is why it will take a good, long time for the pendulum to swing back to the less lazy side, because this requires work and thought.   Good movies require some involvement on the viewer’s part, some sort of emotional investment, thought process or question that the viewer is left pondering.    Movies like Transformers do not.   That is part of their appeal.
I myself am guilty of a bad movie fetish.   I am willing to admit my own hypocrisy here because there’s not really a leg to stand on with that issue when you love Predator as much as I do.   But I acknowledge that there’s a different feeling I get, a different level of brain activity I experience when I watch something like The 400 Blows versus Predator.   They are two different levels of liking, two different planes of my brain.  Movies are like food; you don’t want to eat one meal for the rest of your life, and so it goes with movies.   Predator is fast food.  The 400 Blows is some gourmet, four star, high end stuff.   Every movie has a time and a place, but the awareness in our culture that the two are not similar just because they are both movies, that perhaps you may involve your brain in a different way for the two seems to get lost in the shuffle.  More and more we are losing the cultural connotations of movies so that when Transformers beats out The Hurt Locker in dollars and cents, when we see more advertisements on TV and more fawning pull quotes on the DVD box, this somehow adds up to not necessarily a depiction of the movie’s quality but we have given so much space in our brains to the more talked-about film that we gravitate toward that.   This is only allowing ourselves to cede some small measure of thought to hype and advertising instead of working a bit to discover which is the better movie.
As long as we are willing to be told instead of willing to do some small part of investigation on our parts as a whole – and not just as teenagers and thirty year olds and retirees or whatnot, but as people – then we will continue to get the kind of cinematic “experiences” that studios know will produce a bigger bottom line.
There will always be a market for the bad movie, the drive-in flick that we seem to have evolved into the “popcorn flick”, but quite a few people have forgotten that sometimes it’s not the destination, but the getting there that’s the most fun… the process of learning, of educating oneself, the broadening of horizons and the opening of the mind… that can be so much fun.
Are we forgetting that?

*Note: Best wishes to Roger Ebert, who I sincerely hope gets a good voice as discussed here, not for the film and general community’s benefit but so that such an articulate, witty man can communicate without frustrations to his loved ones and friends.   Bless him.

Also, I know that I am preaching to the choir here, but bear with me.

A few days ago, Roger Ebert posted a journal entry titled “The gathering Dark Age”, inspired by a blog entry from Patrick Goldstein.  Goldstein’s piece describes how The Hurt Locker, a critically acclaimed film from Kathryn Bigelow, is not doing that well amongst folks in my age range (18-30, I’ll say, for argument’s sake) even with stellar word of mouth.   (Word of mouth has long been touted, according to Ebert, as something that will help drive box office totals up and up.)   Ebert laments this fact and then goes on to state that my generation exhibits a decline in education and intelligent thought.   I am reluctant to disagree.

Ebert also points out that studio marketing and publicists have leashed the real thoughts of actors and actresses; the studio hype machine has lead to boring and predictable marketing that is a dog-and-pony show.

You can read Ebert’s entry here.   Something about it stuck in my grey matter for days and I kept coming back to his thoughts over and over again.   I thought I would write about it here, if only to see the discussion that may surface over it.  I am certainly no peer of Roger Ebert’s, but what I felt and thought about this subject spanned far more than a simple comment left on Ebert’s journal.

Some may have heard about “The Hurt Locker,” but simply lack the nerve to suggest a movie choice that involves a departure from groupthink.

With regard to Ebert’s critique of my generation’s failure to come out for The Hurt Locker, I don’t know if that’s the best movie to use as an example.  Iraq war movies have not done stellar box office in the past, so I find myself surprised that The Hurt Locker has done as well as it has.    Secondly, I do think you have to take into account that a chunk of that 18 – 30 demographic has loved ones fighting in that war.   Watching something like The Hurt Locker may be too uncomfortable and too close to home for some folks.   The nostalgia of certain properties like G.I. Joe and Transformers is small but not discounted, I don’t think, since the subject of Transformers killing at the box office is brought up.   With a major recession in play, I also believe that people are going to trend towards more lighthearted, ‘simpler’ fare.

That being said, none of that is a great explanation for why The Hurt Locker is failing to draw in some of my peers.   I don’t like swallowing any of those explanations, though they’re valid for some folks.   By my own logic, (500) Days of Summer should be trampling over the competition at the box office … and it isn’t.

(more…)

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“For the love of God, tell people on your site not to go see this movie.   If it spares one person from the piece of shit that movie is, then it is worth it.  I have done my good deed to humanity.  It is awful.   You should not see it.   You should not rent it.   You should not buy it on DVD.   AVOID IT.   In fact, they ought to put that quote on the DVD box and send me a check for informing the public of that MOVIE CRIME.”

Want to know how it ends?   Behind the cut.

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… I give you the Marvel/DC Harry Potter parody!

Peter Parker as Harry Potter!

Batgirl as Hermione!

Deadpool as Ron Weasley!

THE HULK AS HAGRID!

I AM DEAD FROM LAUGHING.

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And maybe, tying my own shoes.

I love (the idea of) movie shirts but I can never buy any because mainly a lot of them are stupid looking.   The few that aren’t, though, one must wonder what folks think about what they run into you.  Here are a bevy of shirts for your perusal with multiple choice options after each t-shirt, all designed to answer the same question:  What does this t-shirt say about me?

Now … which to buy?

SHIRT #1

Predator T-Shirt

A)  I am a twelve year old boy;

B)  For all intensive purposes, I’m emotionally a twelve year old boy;

C) I TOTALLY DARE YOU TO HAVE AN ARGUMENT WITH ME ABOUT PREDATOR 2.

SHIRT #2

Red Dawn T-Shirt

A) I totally remember that Patrick Swayze was in a movie besides Dirty Dancing and when Jennifer Grey had her old nose!

B) I bought this shirt on the clearance rack at Hot Topic.

C)  WOLVERINEEEEEEEEEES!

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