…has been in ‘terrible’ movies.
(Sorry for the hiatus, by the way.)
Adam McKay‘s Step Brothers came out in 2008. In the same year Jenkins, not to be mistaken with the guy from Third Eye Blind, had movies out like The Tale of Desperaux and was nominated for an Oscar in The Visitor. Despite the many “Six Feet Under” episodes he’s been in, Adam McKay’s Step Brothers is actually on the upper half of the movies that have better votes on his long CV on iMDb. someone out there who would call Hall Pass his Norbit, but I imagine more people think that his movie choices are getting better because of the Oscar boost.
But you know what, I actually enjoyed this movie that I saw for Easter with my family, flipping between this and the Game 4 between the Lakers and the Hornets. Jenkins plays a step/father to the titular step brothers, played by Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. This movie falls in the same sutured structure as Anchorman – although Anchorman does it better. Ferrell’s character clashes with person who takes things more seriously, a random epic back/side street fight involving Ferrell and secondary/tertiary antagonists, amicable dénouement between Ferrell and his foil. I do enjoy their antics, the two of them wearing Chewbacca masks, crashing their father’s boat, wearing racist costumes to detract a douche of a Realtor (Adam Scott) from making a sale and burying each other alive. Watching a comically rendered sex scene with my younger cousins was awkward.
This is the third movie for the past week that I’ve seen that involved dog poop, and the second involving eating it. I’m not sure if this dog poop marathon is better or worse than the movies I’ve seen earlier this year that had many close-ups of genitalia.
The Vacay Series is intended for AnomalousMaterial.com. I’ll continue the series there for movies with which I can actually say something about, unlike Step Brothers. The first on the series, is here.
[ETA: I’ve lately been obsessed with the Feller-Gasteyer-Gellar dinner sketch on SNL in 1997. Here he reminds me of Steve Martin in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I wish Ferrell would do a movie where he’s the straight man to someone else’s goof, but that’ll never happen.
- Exit ‘Anchorman 2’, Enter ‘Step Brothers 2’? (latinoreview.com)
‘…does he wear dresses?’
‘He doesn’t wear dresses. You’ll find out all the details when it’s your turn to see him.’
‘Don’t write this book, it’s a humiliating experience.’
‘It’s an honest account of our breakup.’
‘It’s not your house that’s haunted, it’s your son,’ an exorcist tells Renai and Josh Lambert (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson) about their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) in James Wan‘s Insidious, and what I want to tell every other parent I’ve ever met. The film makes audiences notice whatever is out-of-place within the house, the ghosts audacious enough to run around in the middle of the day, scaring poor musician/housewife Renai. The film’s problematic but its title is fitting. Its ghosts don’t lunge but stand, their unequivocal presence reminding our hot young couple that every space they inhabit is inherently never their own. The film raises those stakes, as the exorcist claims that other spirits want to inhabit Dalton’s body, the ownership of our bodies is thus as precarious as that of our homes.
Insidious swims through antiquity, from the suspicious furniture to the exorcists’ equipment, the latter’s light bulb-filled boards seemingly ransacked from Dr. Frankenstein’s lair. Its references range from Murnau, the Noh genre, new Spanish horror, and other people and genres you know better about. The first house they movie into had big panels and SPOILER claustrophobic red hallways, both reminding me of Suspiria, making me wish I studied architecture, even if there are too potentially many scary stories in a house so beautiful. 3/5
- “Movie Review: Insidious” and related posts (calitreview.com)
‘…naked woman on all fours with a dog collar around her neck, and a leash. And a man – ‘
‘And a man…’
‘A man’s arm extended out up to here holding on to the leash and pushing a black glove on her face to sniff it. You don’t find that offensive?’
I saw This is Spinal Tap at the Revue a long time ago with my mom. I couldn’t tell her what a love pump was.
Shane was the first movie my class watched when I took my first film class in university, the movie with the little annoying kid whose awkward phase didn’t seem as clear. But look who’s holding the film’s first gun! It’s Little Joey (Brandon de Wilde)! I’ll overthink this moment in the first scene as showing that past culture is indoctrinated to violence.
This scene is before the titular Shane (Alan Ladd, noir alum) shows up, and way before Joey’s mother (Jean Arthur) tries to shield the boy from the violence that the past generation still has to fight. This part also shows how potentially lush the land could be. I can’t remember ever seeing a leafy plant in a Western in a long time, and road buddy Westerns like True Grit or The Searchers might not count.
I actually won passes to Go Speed Racer Go! at a CINSSU Free Friday Film screening but I was in college and busy and lazy so I didn’t. Norman Wilner of NOW Magazine has talked trash about this movie for at least a week now, but judging from the trailer, and as a gay man, the art direction in Speed Racer doesn’t offend me. Yet.
Speed Racer is playing at the Toronto Underground Cinema at 7 at night as part of the Andrew Parker’s Defending the Indefensible series. Proceeds go to charity.
The first time I saw the similarities between The Last Temptation of Christ and Black Narcissus when the men drag Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey) down a pathway of a small hill the same way the beggar-maid gets whipped by Angu Ayah. The earlier film tackles female sexuality and its barbaric repression in a non-Christian society. How else, I suppose, can one portray the non-Christian than to depict the pre-Christian. Sister Clogah is enduring a similar uphill climb in showing the non-Christians rationality the same way Jesus (Willem Dafoe) has.
As a Catholic child, I’ve played the game when I wear a blanket and hey, I’m one of the apostles, which is what I assume is the approach of most film renditions of that era. But in this film I didn’t see Palestine, I saw India. This is probably the most exotic depiction of the Biblical era I’ve seen so far without counting the disco ethos of Norman Jewison’s Jesus Christ Superstar. Herod and his harem in The Passion of the Christ is by nature very orgiastic, but I feel like this whole film is bejweled, and not just by looking at Magdalene. There’s the myth that Israel kept insular despite its many conquerors, but it’s as if Scorsese approached that culture with more interaction with the outside world. Just look at the money changers bustling as if Jerusalem was a port city, or the free love Hare Krishna predecessors being baptized by John or the cosmopolitan groups making up Magdalene’s customers or Jesus’ disciples.
The film doesn’t make up any consistent portrayal of Jesus’ state of mind, putting his opinions under a shroud, but instead showed us that He was once a soul within body. His eyes become large as Lazarus attack hugs him. He’s convulsing on the floor as he feels others’ crucifixion or making love to Magdalene. He tries to escape being by sacrificing himself yet thinks about escaping sacrifice to become physical again. I’m still confused, but then I suppose being the Son of God might have led Him to make some leaps of logic. I don’t even remember His crucifixion, despite the violence in showing the nails driving into Jesus’ palms, being portrayed as gruesome as the Mel Gibson propaganda piece. It was as if He was in the transcendental state, able to meet the Last Temptation and see and live an alternate scenario.
Scorsese’s Magdalene turns from being a disgruntled whore to Jesus’ pity girlfriend to dead housewife. It’s nice to pretend that the King of Spain is a direct descendant of the alleged holy couple, but the real Magdalene may not have been a whore at all and preached His word in Ephesus until she died. Of course, the new Testament are written by people from what was then a helplessly patriarchal culture, so we’ll never know if Jesus was John Stuart Mill or Ludwig Wittgenstein. And true, she wouldn’t have had to preach in Ephesus if Jesus himself stopped teaching, and that the Last Temptation turns Jesus into an equally domestic figure as the love of His life.
Why does Scorsese and other ‘revisionist’ biblical storytellers have to give Him ‘dimension’ and nuance through her? In other words why are women merely advice columns, frail consorts or femmes fatale, all passive under male perspectives and labels? The only feminist Scorsese film I remember is The Age of Innocence, although the female characters’ corrective agency can itself be subverted. Durn.
I don’t get my movies in reputable places, so when I got my copy of Beauty and the Beast and started watching it, I thought it was colourful, suspiciously colourful. The film tells its prologue through a series of stained glass-like representations, my best shot is that of the haggard woman turning into a beautiful fairy. There’s something both pre-Raphaelite about her even if she also anachronistically looks like a 20-year old version of a “Powerpuff Girl,” her flared sleeves suggest a sweeping action just like the cartoons that would come a decade later.
This prologue is also the reverse Snow White, where young people who live by themselves have to be suspicious of old haggard women because they can kill or turn their victims into a half-bulldog, half-lion. The transfiguring women also bring objects that are physical manifestations of sexuality. While the stepmother’s apple overwhelms the daughter who’s too young, the rose can mean many things, reminding him that beauty, just like the rose, can be gradually destroyed by time, or by its own frailty. The haggard woman tires to offer the rose to the prince in exchange of shelter, as a way of saying that beauty can be used as currency and whatever else that implies. And of course, the stained glass medium, normally used for Christian imagery, is now depicting a fairy tale.
I don’t know why I assumed that the colours in this film would be duller. Maybe because the colours feel penciled in. I’d assume that watching this movie for the third time is what it’s like to see the Sistine Chapel after it’s been cleaned off of centuries worth of grime. It’s like seeing something as crisp as it would have been twenty years ago.
This is my second favourite shot. Instead of Belle’s mustard dress, I keep seeing blue throughout this movie. This shot also conveys the palace’s large space. It’s strange to see Belle and Beast within the vast palace, but when not when Gaston is looking for him. As if the couple is overwhelmed or understand that space while Gaston waltzes in without any decency. Speaking of which, I would like to congratulate Disney for being ahead of their time, since this movie’s villain comes from one of the most reviled groups of people for the past decade – juiceheads!
Since I like pictures, here’s a Busby Berkeley-esque musical interlude, the most uptight one getting to sing a few verses.
Gaston’s lynch mob for the Beast, looking Fantasia and all.
And Angela Lansbury. This post is part of Nathaniel R’s ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot‘ series.
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) converses with her father Erik Keller (Eric Bana) in Teutonic accents and commits to combat training from him in the forests somewhere in the immediate south of the Arctic. Telling her father that she’s ‘ready,’ and tiring of the isolation that Erik has inadvertently put her, she flicks a switch that emits a signal so her hunter, agent Marissa Viegler (Cate Blanchett), can ‘find her.’ He flees, she gets captured, she escapes and finds herself on a rocky desert and meets a British faux chavette her age named Sophie (Jessica Barden), who suddenly prattles on about God knows what.
I highlight this part of Hanna’s journey just to say that I love Jessica Barden, who seems like a cherub in the trailer but she plays a precocious character as she did in Tamara Drewe. And she almost steals the show from Ronan, as she talks about MIA and other topics in breakneck speed, without caring if Hanna can understand her. She’s the comic relief with her bodily non sequiturs. But when it comes down to it, watching the latter kill full-grown men, she stands paralyzed, teary-eyed, knowing that she cannot copy what her new-found friend is doing in front of her.
Both girls are worldly in their own way, Hanna through the encyclopedias and languages that her father teaches her, Sophie by actually visiting [laces and immersing herself through the culture. One complements the other. What, then, does the film say about teenage girls’ relationships with each other and the overwhelming possibilities of the outside world? Or the independent, free-love parenting that Sophie’s mother (Olivia Williams) tries as an experiment towards her daughter, who probably isn’t turning out to be what the former exactly wanted? Or the dangers of the outside world that they have to face?
But it doesn’t need to think about those things while it’s offering to show us parts of the world. Hanna breaks a Fake Marissa’s neck and takes out armed guards, escaping a CIA prison facility. She beats up guys on a pier while loaders are driving around her. CIA operatives surround Erik in a Berlin U-Bahn – he kills them all, the audience applauds. Hanna combines snowy forests, Northern African country and city, Germany’s inner-city and abandoned amusement parks. But director Joe Wright, a trickster with his long takes and spinning cameras, doesn’t shoot those locales and the actors filling them with any slow-paced art film pretension. There’s wilfulness in making’ this mainstream action film, these locations thus making the movie more real.
That doesn’t mean that the film is just 110-something minutes of limbs hitting bodies, as it shows the character’s pain and its psychological effect as the outside world, intentionally or otherwise, attacks. Hanna ironically becomes overwhelmed by the stimuli of household appliances of a cheap, Moroccan hotel. Marissa uses one of her electric toothbrushes until her teeth bleed.
Marisa hires an assassin (Tom Hollander) to find her, but when that doesn’t work, these fractured women – Marissa can also be seen as Hanna’s other mirror/double – eventually meet and know that their survival depends on ensuring the other’s death. 4/5
This unobstructed view of young Reynolds showed that he was pretty hot and he reminds me of Marlon Brando. The facial structure, the raw masculinity. Him with a bow and arrow is sexuality in cinema. Lewis is also probably Reynolds at his most subtle.
Bringing me to the alternate universes I was conjuring while watching Deliverance, which some people might consider as Reynolds’ silver medal instead of getting to star in The Godfather, Brando refusing to work with him because he was then a TV star. Which is funny because Brando, Reynolds and Voight relatively share the same facial structure while the Corleone brothers we have today, although arguably the greatest young cast of that time, look nothing like each other. But it seems more fitting to see him in out in the country than wearing 1950’s suits.
2. They put that in the middle?
This film seems revolutionary even in contrast to films after it, where the first two acts of the latter would be fillers when the main characters bicker or whatnot – and yes that does happen, Lewis telling Ed (Voight) tells him something foreshadowing – and the trauma happens in be the last one. Ed keeps noticing someone hiding behind the woods, he and Bobby (Ned Beatty) meeting them before the 40-minute mark, way earlier than I expected.
I want to talk about the urban-rural binary now. Bobby talks about the ‘hicks’ whereas I can imagine someone from Cape Cod using that term towards the road buddies. It’s also weird that out of the four of them, Beatty is the one cast as the urban elitist, and that the one who despises the backwoods the most is the one who’s arguably on the wrong end of this class war. I think of Beatty as the guy with the great soliloquy in Network while my friend Sarah sees him in this more notorious scene, film presences we can’t erase for another despite of his long CV.
The strangers intimidate them for more than five minutes, making me wonder what’s going to happen for the rest of the film? The rape scene is a big part of this film’s reputation, but instead of sadism it’s as if it’s more important for these characters to survive the journey.
3. Michael Barrett said ‘ in 1972…there was…garbage… [in] theatres between The Godfather and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.’ Correct, but this movie is one of two exceptions.
4. Deliverance is pretty. Yes, the film dips into the Gothic grotesque, like the mountain man biting a small tree trunk, the toothless man’s body hanging at the end of a cliff, Drew’s dislocated arm. Or the hand slowly rising up from the river, a staple from many horror films. But there are some scenes where the travelers are microscopic compared to the trees almost obscuring the view, just like it should in a place like that. Or the aftermath of the rape scene where small tree trunks cross the frame like intricate vines. Or a big rock formation looming as they become more defenseless against the strong rapids, reminding me of Hokusai. This movie is just so lush and green. Again, this movie has its reputation, but it’s also visually poetic, and I see it as a thing of beauty.
This post is for Nathaniel Rogers’ “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” series.
The second time I saw Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures was on the big screen, brought by CINSSU in the winter of 2008. Peter Kuplowsky introduced it, saying that this movie never gets shown in its proper format and getting it on 35 and screening it will do the film justice. Which makes my best shot above gloriously majestic. Peter Jackson doesn’t need to go the extra mile to show the girls’ fantasy world. This shot, instead, is all about inclusion, Jackson including Juliet (Kate Winslet) and Pauline Yvonne (Melanie Lynskey), making them as small as the unicorns on the right hand side. They’re immersed into the fantasy instead of being its voyeur, legitimizing the [ETA] Fourth World’s tangibility.
It’s a self-imposed challenge that if I haven’t written about the movie on my blog, I have to rewatch it. By 7:06 PM of the anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, I would have seen this movie a whopping four times. On Facebook, Chris D. Mischs called it an ‘ugly’ movie. This is the first time I have heard the movie being called that, and it let me cloud my mind. But I guess it’s a marvel that it took that fourth time for me to see its flaws, like the pans or zooms ending with either Juliet or Paul of them turning around to face the camera that makes the film less naturalistic. Or when Juliet exclaims ‘That’s great!’ while finding out that Pauline can break into the latter’s dad’s safe for their fare money. Which leads us to how this movie is about two hormonal teenagers who act without hesitation, and the queer politics involving them and their crime.
I did see positive aspects of the film. Its cinematic references, despite the obvious one from The Third Man to the subtle homages to Throne of Blood and the Sound of Music. How Winslet, although imperfect in this film, can seamlessly switch from one emotion to another. Or that yes, Lynskey and Sarah Peirse look the same but I never realized how much the actress who plays Juliet’s mom looks much like Winslet herself.
My second and third viewings made me assume that Juliet is the dominant person in the relationship, the one with the nice big mansion. Paul hangs on to her every word, subscribing to Juliet’s fantasies and crushes, but she does get to hold the reins too, like when she tells Juliet that her breath smells like onions. Juliet couldn’t have suggested to kill Paul’s mom (Peirse), Paul did. There’s even the moment when Juliet hesitates in the act but Paul looks at her as if to do her part. It’s the same ambivalence when I watched it those second and third times. My focus then was on Paul’s relationship with her mom. The second time, I sided with Mom, the third with Paul.
I first saw this film when I was ten or eleven, airing on a local channel. Winslet became more recognizable worldwide because of Titanic, and for some reason I remember her movies being played a lot back in the Philippines. The opening scene just shocked me. Kate wasn’t just the girl in Titanic, she was an actress.
I can’t remember any other time I’ve felt that in between then and now. I guess that means I’m easy to impress, put a little blood and screaming and I’m captivated. I’ve noticed that except for two movies, she’s always made great entrances. Whether she adds scenes that top the first one or not, I’d still remember how her character is introduced and rely on either the pathos or enthusiasm there. And good God can the girl cry.
How did this movie slip through the cracks of the Philippine censorship board? Back then I thought that everything in Hollywood spoon-fed me was great, but movies like this gave me a new criterion for what makes a great film, a criterion that I stood by until my second year in University – the more fucked up a movie is, the better. Which is obviously reductive, since I needed the few more viewing to appreciate its cinematography, pacing, acting and all of that.
It also felt rebellious as a boy who has yet to discover his sexuality to have seen two characters who cross the line without blatantly calling themselves that. I distinctly implanted the close-up of the psychiatrist’s teeth as he diagnoses Juliet and Paul with the condemning word ‘homosexuality,’ and back then I defended them as not homosexuals because I thought their intense and pure friendship shouldn’t bear that denigrating title, which reflects my innocence or ignorance on the subject itself and that they weren’t homosexuals because they didn’t look the part.
On Ingrid Randoja’s seminar last year
because I’m so cool, she noted this as one of canonical lesbian films in the gay 90’s. This and the one with Jennifer Tilly where she and her girlfriend kills someone too. Which again subverts my recent reading that it’s one of those ‘gays who KILL’ movies. I still don’t know how to feel about a movie that packages a stereotype differently. Despite the little flaws that I see now, watching this film is like the girls seeing the Fourth World. It’s something radical and I hope it’s not too much to thank Jackson and the actors for making a movie that shook my world.
The opening credits of Back to The Future is reminiscent of one of the first sequences of Little Children. Just because both movies relatively show the same objects during their first scenes doesn’t mean that Todd Field referenced Robert Zemeckis. Besides, Little Children chooses a montage while Back to the Future pans the length of Dr. Emmett Brown’s (Christopher Lloyd) counter top in a long take. But we like to play this game? What else do those movies have in common? Which characters stand for who? Knick-knacky tendencies of outsider characters from suburbia? I’ll get to suburbia later.
Watching this movie in my childhood, this probably got me starting to say…
I believe that Biff Tannen (Thomas J. Wilson) is partly at fault for my bad choices in men. On a trivia contest before the TIFF screening of this film, my friend Sarah answered that Billy Zane was in this movie. I couldn’t see him until catching that still.
Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) enters 1955 and is a little freaked out by the cleanliness of 1955 Hill Valley. He comes back and finds 1985 ‘great,’ as if having a reverse George Bailey moment because he doesn’t come back to perfection, he comes back to what is his. I’m projecting here, but we’ve been desensitized to the discomfort of seeing a homeless person or a porno theatre that I understand Marty’s slight comfort in seeing those things.
Peter Kuplowsky of TwitchFilm introduced Back to the Future and, paraphrasing, called it Reagan, pro-car propaganda but enjoyable and excellently made. Which makes me question myself in defending the film’s politics and its idealization of suburbia as the meeting point between the urban dirt and rural domesticity, that Marty justifies George (Crispin Glover) earning the right to be routinely mean to his wife’s (Lea Thompson) rapist because there’s a looming threat that it could be the other way around? It’s the fine-tuned innocent approach to this lack of innocence that makes this movie a little richer.
- Alternative Back to the Future Posters (neatorama.com)
Adapted from the John le Carre novel of the same name, the first five minutes of Martin Ritt‘s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold will convince us that it’s not like any other ‘caper’ spy films, giving us melancholy piano and woodwind music hovering above the barbed Berlin Wall in the mid 60’s. Protagonist Alec Leamas (Richard Burton), an agent does a lot of waiting, needing coffee to stay up watching the border. The film lets us watch Alec and lets us into his head, only hearing his footsteps in the night. His conversations with soldiers aren’t racked up with tense music. In a few seconds, an Allied spy gets shot while trying to bike across the border. We see Alec for a half second as he watches his colleague die, but the film won’t let us see his eyes well up or glimmer in anger and vengeance.
Like any spy, Alec embarks on some method acting. Control pulls him away from Berlin back into London, is assigned to act like an alcoholic delinquent – I can hear some of you snarking that that’s not a stretch for Burton, but hold on. The goal is to make the Socialist agents in London think that he wants to defect, and he then plants false information that would implicate the higher powers of East Berlin to destroy each other. While working at a library that no one suspiciously visits, Alec meets a Communist woman named Nan Perry (Claire Bloom) and he grows fond of someone whose belief system is the target of his operation. I liked watching him challenge her. It shocked me to see an atheist character given a sympathetic, nuanced light in 1965, imagining that her character would be portrayed in a radically different way had this been a more American production.
The film also lets us into the more mundane parts of espionage life, letting us into tedious, unglamorous instructions by a head librarian which is subtly funny. Or detailed conversations between agents and double agents, Alec’s lies are a hazy prop compared to what’s really happening. He maneuvers his way within characters who refreshingly don’t look like movie stars.
I’m not sure if it’s the hair and make-up department who does the wonders here, but Oskar Werner, who plays Alec’s target Fiedler, has such a confident presence in the film compared to his wimpier turns in his collaborations with Francois Truffaut like Jules et Jim and Fahrenheit 451. he’s masculine yet subtle, commanding even for someone heading to a trap. Burton isn’t perfect in this movie. He can’t punch, and his last soliloquy in the end relies of his staccato delivery that might as well be his crutch. Other than that, this is his most subtle which makes it his career best in his movies that I’ve seen. It’s in his quietest moments when we can see him in his most vulnerable place, conveying the most emotion while just sitting there listening to another person. He deserves that Oscar nomination, showing us the human side of secret agents.
MacGruber! It’s screening at the Underground, the critics are defending it, MacGruber! It’s tonight at seven, they are serious film critics, MacGruber! ‘s in this movie, MacGruber!
“Holy smokes, MacGruber! There’s no way out!”
“That’s not our only problem, MacGruber — your movie’s gonna bomb in fifteen seconds!”
“Alright, everyone keep it together! Okay, if we’re gonna get out of here — and we ARE gonna get out of here — we need to focus up!”
“TEN seconds! What do we do, MacGruber!”
“You got it, MacGruber!”
“Paulette! I need exactly FOUR ounces of defender Adam Nayman from Eye Weekly!”
“On the way, MacGruber!”
“Sasha! Hand me that Norman Wilner from Bear magazine.”
“Okay! Has anybody seen any giveaways for free passes for a secret movie?”
“MacGruber, are those critics drunk?”
(Sorry to write this seriouser part, but Criticize this via Andrew Parker tweeted that part of your $10 admission fee for this screening go to the Red Cross. We were able to raise $500ish dollars (Andrew knows the real numbers) from the (In)Defensible screening this month. I can’t come because I have a shift at the cheese factory but I will be there in spirit and please, if you’re in Toronto, watch this movie, help the Red Cross, have some fun.)
- MacGruber Review (screenrant.com)