Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ah yes, AFI...

Got accepted to AFI yesterday for grad school in the Directing discipline. Here comes L.A.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Burned Money Vol. 1

Thought I'd start listing cool stuff I've gotten recently and my thoughts on them if any. Probably won't keep up with this, but it'll be an addition to the Random Inspiration posts when possible. Just trying to create a dialogue here, people.

Robocop CC: Love me some Paul Verhoeven. Total Recall, Starship Troopers, and the best of all, Robocop. Violent for no damned reason. Pitch-black satire. Oddly effective stop motion. Never thought I'd get a copy of this on Criterion, but patience wins friends.

Silence of the Lambs CC: "I'd fuck me."

The Ten Commandments: I have very few film traditions, and this is one. DeMille's Ten Commandments on easter (for some odd reason, memories of watching this at my grandparents? Don't know why we were over there during the school year? Did they give time off around then?), The Quiet Man on St. Paddy's (Brian and Mom), war movies on Memorial Day (AMC/Brian again), and the History channel proving Jesus is a lie on Christmas (They must really hate Jesus, because I swear they do this every year).

Exodus: Never seen this, but love Paul Newman, so there you go. Also, fits into my passover celebrations? Maybe? Jews?

The Rock CC: Companion piece to my Armageddon Criterion. Michael Bay is pretty awesome, Bad Boys 2 being my personal fave, but I haven't seen Pearl Harbor. Can I really be a true fan?

Editor's Note: Pearl Harbor is on cable right now and I am watching it. Did I waste one of God's movie favors on a Michael Bay film? End Editor's Note.

Capote: In Cold Blood happens to be one of my favorite books, and I thought they did a great job with this. Mixing a biopic and the book all up into a big gooey mess. Works for me. Watched half of this at Mike Moghaddam's house a couple of weeks ago when couch bumming for the AFI interview.

Psycho: One of Hitchcock's better films. Cool because it was made on the cheap and was able to do whatever it wanted. DVD looks like it's got a cool doc on the making of.

Walking Dead Vol. 8: These have been pretty good. Some cheesy dialogue and then they'll hit you with a ridiculous cliffhanger. Got to admire making you buy the next volume despite not really wanting to. I've got a post in me some day about the positive / negative of trades and single issues of comics. Someday.

Captain America (Brubaker) 43-48: Awesome. They killed off the main character, and he hasn't been in his own comic for a year or two now, and it's still one of the best comics out. Brubaker is the best writer working in comics today.

Random Inspiration 3

The Road/No Country for Old Men.

I read Blood Meridian about a year ago, and was blown away by it. The language McCarthy uses is biblical. These two didn't disappoint either. The Road is one of the best books I've ever read. Reminded me of Old Man and the Sea, and for more than just the Father / Son relationship. I'm promptly going to go and read everything he's written now. Oh, and the Coens nailed the adaptation. The book's goes a bit farther at the end, but they totally nailed it. Textbook adaptation.

All things Parker.

You know how you'll see a movie or read a book or whatever and think: "This is just like everything else" and then you find out that everything else stole from this property throughout the years, picking it clean like a filthy pack of buzzards? That's what the Parker novels are. I equated them at my grad school interview to The Lord of the Rings. They've influenced so many things afterwards that everything in them seem trite. But they're not. They're the best. (Though Lord of the Rings still does suck. Just for different reasons.)

I've been reading crime fiction for most of my life. It's hands down my favorite genre of movies and books. And I've heard for years that this is a great series of books, but they've been out of print and hard to find for a while. Well I finally got them and read them and I am a changed man. These books are the efficient professional at work x1000. They're like Howard Hawks movies on crack. And you'll probably read the first couple in a day or two. They read so fast because Parker never stops.

This caused me to catch back up with an old favorite, Point Blank. Based (loosely) on the The Hunter, Point Blank involves one of the toughest men in film kicking the shit out of anyone for $90,000. And shot like a '60s european art film. Sheer brilliance. Definitely a case of not strictly adhering to the source material for an adaptation, but making your own thing a work of art that stands on its own merits. In some ways more admirable than a perfect adaptation.

Funny Games.

This started out really strong and then ventured into breaking the four wall for whatever reason. I know they were trying to make a point about media and whatever, but:

1. Stop doing this. It's an old as fuck "point" to make and we get it.

2. Breaking the fourth wall is a narrative cop-out. It feels like something that shocked people in 1912. But so did cotton candy and cars and weightlifters and whatever else.

They ruined an interesting film. At one point the main kid holding the family hostage looks into the camera and for a second I got excited because I thought it was an awesome choice to pull the audience into the situation and that next they'd cut to a shot of the father having to make the decision about who in his family was going to die and that the kid looking into the camera was actually him looking at the father while also slyly putting the question to us in the audience subtly through the first-person technique without actually pulling the audience out the the narrative and making them stop and ask themselves "Wait, is he breaking the fourth wall? What a narrative cop-out. This movie sucks and I'm totally pulled out of the story and don't give a shit about it anymore."


Watched the documentary on Mike Tyson that I missed when I was at Cannes last year (no big deal), and it really made me nostalgic. What a fucking beast. And that goddamned game. So hard! Tyson was the fucking boogey man when I was a kid, and while some people criticized the doc for being kind of light on him, I thought they got more revealing stuff in their interviews from him because he seemed to let his guard down a bit. Which makes sense that taking this route would work better than trying to crucify him. Very interesting look at an awesome man.

Rope Burns.

Now I've got to go read Rope Burns again to follow up Tyson. Another one of my favorite books, and the most honest tribute to the boxing world that we're likely to get. The good and the bad, but basically the truth of what drives people internally to be the best. I think that's the coolest part of boxing, that you can physically qualify who worked the hardest and who was ultimately the smartest person striving to be the best in their world by watching them punch each other to the ground.

Jules Dassin.

Picked up Rififi used (at Book Nook of course. Shop independent.) because I'd heard of it and it looked pretty cool, and was blown away by it. Dassin's films are timeless in that they feel effortlessly modern. He was definitely ahead of his time and pushed the envelope with crime stuff that would play well to 16 year-olds in the multiplex today. Violent as shit, great dialogue, camera work, the whole thing. There's a 30 minute heist sequence in the middle of Rififi that has no dialogue or music, as the guys breaking in are trying to be QUIET, that works so well it made me tear up. And luckily the week we got into NYC there was a Dassin marathon at a revival house in the city. So I got to see Brute Force at a theater. We'd had a couple of drinks before hand waiting for the thing to start, so I kind of nodded off for a second or two in the middle, but we were in a faggy East Village theater that had a cafe for a concession stand so I got a coffee and enjoyed the rest of it. Oh, and Dassin was blacklisted by HUAC, which adds that much more coolness to him. Basically, fuck you Elia Kazan.