Monday, July 19, 2010

"Respect the Link. Tame the Blog. Tame It!"

Flow TV a structural analysis on Glee, why some episodes don't work and others do.
Examiner Would Tom Cruise's career be different today had he won the Oscar?
Pullquote You can draw a line from Prince through Laurel Canyon and on to The Kids Are All Right.
Just a Cineast looks at Olivia de Havilland's first released movie Alibi Ike, 75 years ago.

Socialite's Life
I hadn't heard this rumor about Taylor Lautner taking on Hugh Jackman's role in X-Men First Class and now I want to die a little inside. See also: every post where I lament franchise actors playing in multiple franchises. Don't mix up my film worlds!
Cinematical interviews the great cinematographer Wally Pfister from Inception
Twitch Film Christopher Nolan's little seen first film Following is now available on demand.
Dear Old Hollywood visits the sites visited by one Joan Crawford in Possessed. I always wish that someone would do them with NYC movies. Don't say "do it yourself." You don't wanna know the depths of my inability to know which way is up let alone north south east west.
Film Business Asia Gong Li & Andy Lau to star in remake of Mel Gibson movie What Women Want.
i09 reminds people of flops promoted heavily at past Comic Cons. A bit of reality to preface the annual uber-hype fest.
Chateau Thombeau "Is it Wong?"
Awards Daily The NY Post endorses homophobia in a piece on The Kids Are All Right

another thinkpiece on Inception
Roger Ebert linked to his latest piece from Twitter with a "you are allowed to dislike "Inception". While my initial reaction was to scoff 'Uh, thanks (?) for giving people permission.' I realize that a lot of the same mob who demand agreement from every critic (missing the point of criticism by 100%) worship Ebert as a God so I'm glad he wrote this article. It's a good one with lots of civility. I shan't scoff at the 'permission' given.

It's so weird that Christopher Nolan films always put me in this position.
  • Truth: I have never disliked a Nolan film. I think they're all good... "thumbs up" in Ebert parlance. Yay for consistency!
  • Weird Secondary Truth & Conundrum: The reviews of Nolan films always make me crazy. After each release and the attendant flurry of raves, I always end up disliking his films more than I did while watching them. In each and every case, the hysterical praise makes me feel uncharitable towards [insert film title] that I liked a lot. More than perhaps any other acclaimed filmmaker, I feel that people don't actually discuss the merits of his movies so much as shoot big blurb loads on them, bukkake style. Yuck!
via Twitch we can see the teaser for the Tran Anh-Hung's adaptation of the modern classic Norwegian Wood starring Rinko Kikuchi. The official site is also up.

We need to read the novel soon, having heard only awestruck love vows to it. But the film looks pretty from these teasing glimpses.


BeRightBack said...

Well, I hate the novel, actually. I think it's winsomely misogynist hooey that displays all of Murakami's worst tendencies and few of his best. But all my students, especially but not exclusively the boys, love love love it so what do I know (also, it might make a better movie than book for me, since it will provide a little bit of necessary distance from the protagonist, who irritates the shit out of me).

Alison Flynn said...

I liked Norwegian Wood but I don't consider it his best novel.

Kafka on the Shore, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle and A Wild Sheep Chase are excellent.

Kyle said...

Truth: I dislike Following and am very meh on Insomnia...perhaps I need to give them another shot someday.

PTA is still my film king :-)

Dean said...

I feel like everyone who watches Inception should read this. It made me appreciate the film much more and gave answers to alot of the issues I had after seeing it.

Josh said...

"Weird Secondary Truth & Conundrum: The reviews of Nolan films always make me crazy."

Really? Even going back to Memento, Batman Begins, The Prestige?

Honestly, I didn't see the Inception response coming at all. I thought the hysterical hype/anti-hype around The Dark Knight was a Batman fanboy thing. But I don't remember the reaction to Batman Begins, The Prestige, or his earlier films being at this level of intensity - or, y'know, stupidity.


Josh -- its' true that it's escalating every time. But even back in the Memento days i wanted to shout CALM DOWN! consider that 5 of his 7 movies are in the top 250 of all time at IMDB and you'll know the extent of the craziness. He's like THE director of the new millenium's fanboy culture (which has obviously replaced film criticism as everyone's idea of film criticism)

and now that he's being called 'the director of the past decade' like people like PT Anderson and Pedro Almodovar never existed. I'm just losing my mind!

koch said...

After reading the article on tom cruise, i actually felt bad for him. Many may disagree with me, but i really believe he is a topnotch actor.

I really thought he should have won the Oscar Best Supporting Actor award for "Magnolia", not Michael Caine.

anna said...

You probably already know this, but just in case I'll tell you anyway: Jane Fonda has a blog!!
I only stumbled across it, because she just finished filming a movie with Daniel Brühl, whom I'm quite a fan of, and she posted quite a bit about it (lots of pictures, too). I LOVE this picture of the two of them. Btw, the film, "Et si on vivait tous ensemble?", also stars Geraldine Chaplin and Pierre Richard. How lucky is Daniel Brühl?

Dale said...

Or Christopher Nolan's praise is completely justified and has been for a long time. Dismiss me as a rabid fanboy all you want, I don't care. But lessening your positive impressions of his work b/c of rabid public reception is pretty shallow and dumb. Why would you care in the first place? I sure as hell wouldn't, but I am just a rabid fanboy and all. Needless to say that I thought that "Inception" was brilliant and will probably be in my top ten films of this year. I have a gut feeling that not a whole lot will top it.

Ian said...

That Examiner article might place too much emphasis on what an Oscar really means for a career. The Scientology stuff would have still happened, the break-up with Kidman and Cruz before finding "love" with Katie Holmes would have still happened, then Oprah-gate, the Matt Lauer episode, and on and on. Oscar can't cure crazy. But I would have given the Oscar to Cruise in a heartbeat for "Jerry Maguire" at the time. Still might now. "Shine" hasn't aged well at all.

The Pretentious Know it All said...

I was having a conversation today with about 7 co-workers re: Inception and my comparatively tepid reaction to the film. I also tried to draw a comparison to Synechdoche, New York --stubborn maleness, problems with viewing women in narrow terms, attempting to construct your own reality...of sorts (it's tenuous, but it's there). I was met with eyerolls because not one of them had seen the film and they were annoyed I was even bringing it up/daring to question Nolan's genius...

I guess my problem with the Nolan fanboys and their ilk is this: It seems like (and this is a blanket statement that might anger people) they are quick to assign the title "masterpiece" but they are (8 times out of 10 in my experience) very narrow and limited not only in the types of movies they watch, but also in their willingness to watch different types of movies. That's why the outrage bothers me so much. It's like "I'm not allowed to exhibit reservation about the films you love, when you're not even willing to at least try something different?" It seems very myopic.

Incidentally, it's kind of funny that I moved out of my old apartment the weekend Inception opened. It had been building, but my ex-roomie's effusive "blinders-up" reaction to the movie was the last straw in terms of me having any respect for him.

Sorry about the length.


DALE -- i'm only trying to be honest about my reaction. None of us view movies in a cultural vacuum. It's an endless source of frustration to me that people always pretend that they do. The people who admit that they are affected (whether positively or negatively) by hype, marketing, reviews, general consensus, opinions of close friends, and other external factors always open themselves up to attack, as I did, but that's a shame because ALL people are affected by these things.

but as always i'm glad people find a lot to enjoy in his work. I just wish that people would go a bit easier on the superlatives. I mean once you've proclaimed someone a genius and the best filmmaker of the past ten years and all this other nonsense. what is there left to say. If he makes a better film than Inception next (and I suspect he will since it has some problems) what will there be left to say "he's better than Hitchcock and Welles and Spielberg combined!"


Ian -- i was so angry about Shine back then. Don't even get me started. I wanted Cruise to win that year. And though he wasn't my personal favorite in 1999 that still would have been a very deserved Oscar that year.

Josh said...

"consider that 5 of his 7 movies are in the top 250 of all time at IMDB and you'll know the extent of the craziness."

Wow, that's very interesting. I guess I just missed the wave building.

Liz said...

"I mean once you've proclaimed someone a genius and the best filmmaker of the past ten years and all this other nonsense. what is there left to say."

Nat, I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but how is this different than, say, your "Actresses of the Aughts" countdown? By declaring Nicole Kidman (whom I adore, btw, so definitely not a comment on her), the number one actress of the last five years, aren't you basically saying the same thing? And I know I've see Paul Thomas Anderson and others called geniuses on here (totally deserved), so it's not like that doesn't happen either.

Again, if you want to say "I disagree with what you say about Christopher Nolan," that's A-OK. But making it seem like there's something fundamentally wrong with thinking the things about Nolan (or anyone) you've listed...I'm sorry, I just see a double standard. Some of us can love Nolan's work and love Ingmar Bergman and Billy Wilder too.

Arkaan said...

I sorta see where Nathaniel is coming from.

We're in an age where films can have hype, backlash and backlash to the backlash before they actually get distributed. We're having films that the entire nature of the way they're talked about is dictated by how awesome the marketing campaign was. It's a frustratingly limited view of what should be a diverse cinematic terrain. The outpouring of love for Nolan doesn't bother me. I enjoy his films quite a lot. Hell, calling him the director of the decade is actually reasonable (moreso than calling PT Anderson to be honest, even if Nolan hasn't made a film as could as There Will Be Blood)

That said, I don't he's quite at the level of this comment

I feel that people don't actually discuss the merits of his movies so much as shoot big blurb loads on them, bukkake style

Or certainly not any more so than any other blockbuster director (see PIXAR - I thought the discussion of Ratatouille and UP! was depressingly trite). I just think it's part of the whole "death of American culture" thing where the average gets praised to the skies (District 9, Star Trek) anyway.

Rotten Tomatoes, Box Office as quality indicator etc are all part of the same phenomenon, imo.

Volvagia said...

Yeah. How can you call someone a director of the decade with only 2 films? I say they need at least 4. (With that criterium, I have to give it to The Coens. They didn't start off strong, but that 1-2-3 shot at the end was a masterly showcase of the three styles that influenced them. 1. The taut southern thriller mode of No Country (Huston) 2. A modern farce with a great star-cast (Classic comedy, specifically Verdoux or Kind Hearts and Coronets) and 3. Human focused comedy with a more obscure cast and mystical touches (Bill Forsyth).

Kyle said...

Frankly, what I feel is being missed here is this...whether you (and by that I mean whoever is reading) enjoyed the film or not, or like Nolan's style of film-making, or think he's way over/under-rated, whatever...we really need to applaud Warner Bros. for dumping money into a project that could have been a big loser for them.
Yes, this guy made them a billion dollars and should be rewarded thusly, but often do you really see that kind of investment from a major movie studio in this kind of economic climate? or even in better times?

What scares me is...if the Box office reaction falls hard next week, will that be all the signs the big studios will need to say "Well, we tried to give you original stuff, we guess what you guys wanted more Marmaduke and Alice in Wonderland"

I think this is the kind of film making and major studio product we should be seeing regularly, not Sex and the City 5 or Wolverine Origins 2 or whatever.

Kyle said...


Nolan knocked out 5 films in the

Volvagia said...

I think the culture loves Nolan now because he's the closest thing we have to a filmmaker not giving the audience utter garbage...even if this new one is over explained. As for aging well...I think The Dark Knight may stand up as his one GREAT FILM last decade, but The Prestige and Batman Begins could very well shrink in the cultural estimation each passing year, while A Serious Man and Burn After Reading are exactly the kind of films that grow on people.

Volvagia said...

To clarify: 4 or more films, with two that could stand not just as GREAT, but as MASTERPIECES. Nolan has Memento for his one, but Following and The Prestige are definitely going to fade. As for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight? The latter may, possibly, age that well, but the former? I wouldn't place your bets. So Kubrick for the Sixties, Woody Allen for the 70s, Rob Reiner for the 80s, The Coens for the 90s and The 00s as well.

Volvagia said...

Jane Fonda did a movie with Daniel Bruhl!? If this is true, does anyone else smell Oscar or am I delusional?

John O'Neil said...

I agree with a lot of the points made here.

I think the reason Nolan is so revered has to do with the fact that he's one of the few auteurs working in the Hollywood system.

If you don't live in a major city, you won't get to see a David Lynch film, or a PTA film, until well after the fact. Nolan's films are the most widely seen. So, obviously he'll have more movies on the IMDB 250 than other auteurs (not that such lists have any real meaning).

Still, the hyperbole is dangerous. As a fan of Nolan's work, it's concerning to me. I'd rather people dissect him films in a meaningful way than trivialize his work with empty praise.

Kyle said...

Rob Reiner for the 80s? I guess you weren't as into Marty Scorcese eh?

Fair enough. But I can't give you the Coens in the aughts though over Nolan, they had FAR too many mis-fires (yes, including Burn After Reading) The stature of Batman Begins will probably be measured by the third installment and how well it wraps the trilogy up. Can it hold together as a series of three movies? We'll see...
The Prestige isn't fading quite like you'd paint it, but we all see things differently.


Liz -- i get what you're saying. i guess the difference FOR ME -- and i realize this is a very personal reaction -- is that when you read raves of his work, it sounds very much like press notes. I guess it's how i felt when there was that brief wave of calling Zach Snyder a "visionary" because he successfully copied other people's visions for 300 and Watchmen. It just reads like adjective frenzies with no real meaning.

I do think Nolan is interesting and, again, I like his films. I just can't connect at all with the praise because it sounds *exactly* like hype... like the type of praise you get with a marketing department rather than with a living breathing thinking critic.

i dunno. i'm just thinking aloud.

arkaan -- yeah, it's that cycle. it just makes everything so hard in terms of purity. What is anyone reacting to anymore? I feel like it's really hard for it to be the movie itself.

John -- good point. the distribution structures in america these days sort of condemn adult-oriented filmmakers to being "arthouse" when 10/20 years ago they'd just be interesting mainstream filmmakers. If Francis Ford Coppola were making his 70s pictures today they'd be limited releases that only people in the big cities cared about. apocalypse now would be this thing that only cineastes cared about. sad.

Kyle -- AGREED. i'm happy that original stories from intersting filmmakers are rewarded with good box ofifce.

cal roth said...

Rush was awful, but didn't make Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire a viable choice for Best Actor. Come on, Cruise can smile and be a star as much as he wants, but that performance doesn't stand a chance against Ralph Fiennes' in The English Patient.

Volvagia said...


The King of Comedy - MASTERPIECE
After Hours - ? (Not likely to be a masterpiece)
The Colour of Money - ? (But everyone says it's bad when they talk about it.)
The Last Temptation of Christ - ? (Not likely to be a masterpiece)

Rob Reiner:

This is Spinal Tap - MASTERPIECE
The Sure Thing - ?
The Princess Bride - MASTERPIECE
When Harry Met Sally - VERY GOOD

Kyle said...

Volvagia -
Have you actually seen The Last Temptation of Christ? It's amazing, and probably the only biblical-based film I personally can appreciate. And if you haven't actually seen The Color of Money you may want to withhold judgement until you do so.

Dale said...

I never said Nolan was the best director of the past ten years or anything like that. Wouldn't say anything like that. But I have no problems saying that "Inception" was a brilliant film. No problem saying that "The Dark Knight" was robbed in best picture. And it's not me being "myopic" either. I watch enough films of all kinds to know quality when I see it. Don't be so pretentious all the time.


Dale -- I didn't say that you said that.

I was speaking generally about things I'm reading around the web not about what anybody said here in the comments. although i'm not sure how my opinion that people are too quick to shout masterpiece equates with being pretentious?

anyway, strength in numbers: most people agree with you that The Dark Knight was robbed.

pomme said...

Inception's marketing is very good even my dad was in the first show today and it's pretty bizarre because he's not Sci-fi fan and he disliked "matrix" and "shutter island"

On my dad's opinion,(and i totally agree with him),"inception" is clearly overrated because it's very cold(except a moving Cillian "bruce wayne" murphy), the underdevelopped characters and the lack of mistery:Nolan is only a great technician here