What are We Watching this Weekend?

It is fucking grim out there. Nothing new in Boston of a "specialized" cast except for Ladies in Lavender. I might even take Madagascar over that pain.

With all the ringing endorsments of Sith I've gotten from fellow Reverse Shot folks, maybe I'll finally catch up with Clones, then go out and snicker through Lucas's latest/last? Or maybe I'll come up with a better use for two hours of my life.

Did anything interesting open in NYC? Or anywhere?

Weekly NY Times Title Game #5

A bit of a disappointment this week, but it must be done:

1. Escaping New York for a Real Jungle
2. A Cruel Choice for a Priest Manipulated by the Nazis
3. A Remake Files Down the Sharp Edges of a Prison Football Saga
4. Juggling Her Chinese Clan, Gay Lover, Pregnant Mom
5. A Band With the Courage of Its 'Insane' Convictions
6. An (Illegal) Artist Determined to Make His Presence Known
7. Bowling Strikes and Spares, While the Fans Drift Away


1. A League of Ordinary Gentlemen
2. The Ninth Day
3. Saving Face
4. Madgascar
5. The Yongest Yard
6. Fearless Freaks
7. Bomb the System


Moron Movies

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

But seriously, have you guys watched these?

Oddly available in every video store in North America circa 1992, even in this information-saturated internet age, it’s difficult to get straight answers on ‘Moron Movies.’ Len Cella, a gray, drab middle-aged man living an apparently very solitary life, acts, directs, and crews these flaccidly-punchlined, one-joke shorts. Forget Jandek; if you want to stare nakedly into the face of hermetic isolation, Len Cella will show you heretofore-unknown depths of human horror. A sample skit: a crude title card reads ‘How to Aggravate.’ Cella, most likely in a distressed white tee-shirt, appears on screen. He bangs trash can lids together with his feet, then says, in a dull, dead voice: “Does that aggravate you? Huh? Hahahahaha!” The closest he comes to a catchphrase is a deflated sounding, hands in the air “Jesus Christ!”

Apparently these first popped up on the Carson ‘Tonight Show’ in 1968, were a regular feature thereafter, then eventually surfaced on ‘TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes’ as ‘Len Cella’s Silly Cinema.’ Some sources suggest that Cella, a former house-painter, is a Philadelphia native, though if memory serves I’d concluded that ‘Moron Movies’ were filmed in Scranton--maybe that just seemed fitting. Philadelphia City Paper, covering the premiere of his opus ‘Crap’ (as recently as 2002!) identifies him as a native of Broomall, and then other sources identify the basement of the Lansdowne Theatre in Lansdowne, PA as his onetime home. At any rate, I guess I’m glad to learn that Len is still (so far as I can tell) alive and still doing…What he does.

Moron Movies, Lucas Variety

In best Harry Knowles buffoon-speak:

DUDE, I caught a SPECIAL not-so-ADVANCE screening last night of the new STAR WARS movie...Sith happened, man, and SITH HAPPENED big-time! To put all of your FEARS to rest, the new EPISODE 3 is EVERYTHING you've been DREAMING about since you were FIVE YEARS OLD....in other words, you can finally put away the C-3PO bed-sheets and replace the DARTH VADER night-table lamp with something from POTTERY BARN because it FINALLY came to an END!! Wipe a tear away, it ended on one hell of a kick-ass NOTE.

Believe it or not, the guy who looks like an N-Sync reject minus the SEX APPEAL did indeed BECOME the Dark Lord of the SITH, Natalie "Spread my legs for Daddy" Portman gave BIRTH to twins (guess what she named them? Luke and LEIA, natch!), and that creepily FEY, limp-wristed Clifton Webb-esque Emperor the SHIT out of YODA dark lord guy really beats! (I wrote that in Yoda-talk!)

Needless to say, we can ALL breathe easy, A.O. Scott was RITE...it's a masterPIECE.


Ok, I was going to just let that post go, and hope you would pick up on the sarcasm, which is admittedly laid on with a trowel...but I can't let this one rest. I did indeed take in a Wednesday night sold-out screening of STAR WARS: EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH (ha!) last night. The film, which is basically wretched and unwatchable from the first scene to the last, would have been hilarious if not for the sick, twisted feeling of melancholy that burdened my heart as I realized that surrounding me were undoubtedly some people who have waited for this moment their whole stunted lives. Lucas's treatment of his superfans, then, is contemptible. Obviously, I am not a STAR WARS fan, but yes I blah blah blah admit that EMPIRES STRIKES BACK is the best of the lot and yada yada flim flam floo who the fuck cares. However, to defend the last 3 pieces of trash specifically, by saying "They were always cartoonish" or "The actors were always cardboard" or "Space operas [ha!!!] are supposed to be grandiose and artificial," is such an act of willfull self-denial that it almost makes me well up with tears for some of my peers' lost childhoods.

Sad reality sinks in after about 30 seconds. The characters interact in a way that isn't even Hanna Barbera-level. Sorry to rain on everyone's "it's better than the first one" parade, but the manner in which all these blue-screen nobodies relate to one another is about a million and half galaxies far far away from Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, and even the (yes, i said it) kind of underrated Mark Hamill. What those films lacked in forward propulsion and narrative thrust and general smarts they sometimes made up for with a fairly heavy dose of irony, reflected in the rather knowing characterizations (God I can't believe I'm saying this....) of Leia or Han Solo. Like some detractors claim Lucas hasn't reduced his series to the level of video game (video games at least require audience participation rather than addled acquiescence); by not deepening or furthering his characters' fates or origins what he's done is create legions of crap-watching drones who now equate "classical narrative" with this garbage. All the requisite moments are half-heartedly plugged in at the last minute, and Anakin's transition to the dark lord master of the world is about as convincing as the Green Goblin's "I'm mad I didn't get a promotion so I'm gonna fly around on this surfboard and destroy the city" theatrics in the crappy Spider-Man.

Watching SITH, or the one with the line about sand being "coarse and hard and getting everywhere," or the PHANTOM MENACE is like watching an episode of Transformers——without the sophistication. What these last three films have done is simply eradicate any lingering feelings I may have had that the first three films were made for anyone older than five years old; their "themes" of power, evil, democracy, honor, etc. are about as well-defined as anything you would find on Saturday morning ABC. I refuse to believe that George Lucas any longer has anything but contempt for his own series and the fans that have enabled (forced) him to continue to shit upon whatever pathetic legacy he had in the first place.


Poster of the Week

My apologies (condolences?) to all Harry Potter fans, but Barry Levinson did it first and much better than Columbus (screenwriter here) ever could. Mercifully quidditch-free yes, but also one of the most goddamned perverse things one could ever hope to see: virgins wrapped in mummy tatters and boiled in oil, priests throwing themselves under horse carriages, adorable old men hallucinating that they've seen horned flying demons crawling into their coats and stabbing themselves to death with daggers. God bless the PG-13-petrified Eighties...

P.S.- Beware walking pastry

Mikey Likes It!

In case anyone was wondering where Mike D'Angelo went after leaving Time's Up New York--and I'm sure that's about, oh, none of you--he's still out there fucking things up for the rest of us. As a fitting epitaph for this year's Cannes, I offer this bit of genius. Boldly, the widely loved Mr. D'Angelo has made a daring choice for his own personal (hairy) Palme d'Or: yes, that's right, after sitting through the latest Dardennes, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Egoyan, and Haneke, he still would have awarded the top prize to Robert Rodriguez's Sin City, because, you see, "for sheer formal bravado, nothing else in Competition could match it." Then he mentions that Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne would receive the Grand Prix as consolation. I suppose one could make the argument that the two films would represent two extreme poles of filmmaking, aesthetically as well as emotionally, and that they're both indicative of cinema's capability to harness sensation in wildly differing ways. But then you could also easily say that one is worthless misogynist tripe wrapped up in clunky sub-Romero comic book cum-shots while another furthers one of the most sublime humanist oeuvres in recent cinema history. You be the judge.

Oh really, can I be the judge? Thanks dude. OK, D'Angelo should stop trying to justify his latent adolescent fanboy tendencies by decrying other "fanboy wankfests," and swearing it's not usually his sort of thing. Either wholly embrace your stash of Creme de la Face or Squirters Vol. 17 tapes hidden in those Arnaud Desplechin video sleeves or just shut the hell up.


The Best 100 Movies, Like, Ever?

Check out Time Magazine's list here. It's a curious lot featuring head scratchers like Finding Nemo, The Purple Rose of Cairo, and the indefensibly awful City of God. However, there's also Ikiru, Dodsworth, Kandahar and Mon oncle d'Amérique making this one of the odder "Best of" offerings, even if the whole exercise still seems largely pointless. But then, what's more useless: making the lists, or armchair quaterbacking their inclusions and exclusions?

Thank these two studz for their hard work. Posted by Hello


Lo and Behold: A New Hope

Just when I'd been convinced that everyone's favorite NY Times Blogstaff/Film Critics were completely comatose (Exhibit A: "Today and tomorrow are days to shop and to catch movies you've missed" - A.O. Scott), Manohla gets indignant and drops some genuine, if obvious insight:

"...the American media and the American movie industry are together failing both film culture and the movie audience. "


"Now, though, it seems that the mainstream press — the well-named entertainment media — is far more interested in all things George Lucas than in the newest foreign-language release or even the more provocative, "smaller," "challenging" American movies. (As far as I know, one of the best films I saw at this year's Sundance, "Police Beat," still doesn't have American distribution.) But I honestly believe that the audience is out there, as innumerable blogs, websites and regional film festivals prove."

The whole post is well worth a read. Even though criticizing mainstream/entertainment media in a blog read by people who most likely obsess over the problems of the entertainment/mainstream media on a daily basis and get the bulk of their news from alternative sources is little more than sounding off in an echo chamber, I like to see this kind of awareness in film writers. (Contrast with the war on hipster critics discussed below, or the entirety of the Slate movie club.) I still stand by my earlier statements on the NY Times blog, but at least the thing isn't a total wash.


Armond White vs. The Ghost Hipsters Part 17: Revenge of the Matt Zoller Seitz

Realizing that his shamelessly rambling, unedited once-a-week diatribes were insufficient to combat the plague of hipster criticism--a pernicious influence which poses a grave, Godless threat to our contemporary aesthetic culture--Armond White underwent a state-of-the-art operation some years ago in which DNA was extracted from his colon and used to create a loyal-to-the-end sidekick, Matt Zoller Seitz. The operation was something less than a complete success--Seitz inherited his "father's" penchant for repetitive, bludgeoning invective, but with none of daddy's (admittedly rare) flashes of insight. Nevertheless, here was a valuable hipster-fighting tool, a Robin to White's Batman, Bucky to his Captain America, Short Round to his Indiana Jones. Reading their lumps of ham-handed vitriol side-by-side in the NY Press, one can almost picture them riding into battle, Armond revving the motorcycle, Seitz holding on for dear life in the sidecar. And though Mr.White may hog his share of the spotlight here, Reverseblog would like to take a moment to revel in the subtler pleasures of Matt Zoller Seitz who, this week in the Press, served up the following doozies in his review of George Lucas' latest steaming CGI loaf:

"[Lucas'] knack for balancing menace, mayhem, slapstick and sentiment within a single sequence rivals Hitchcock, Spielberg and Kurosawa."

Oh, dear. He's off and running.

"...they edge physically closer to rivers of lava symbolizing the unchecked passions that made Anakin a candidate for corruption; by duel's end, the magma will disfigure Anakin's body just as his dark feelings disfigured his goodness."

(wipes aside tears of cynical, hipster laughter)

"Yet Lucas compensates with images of uncanny beauty and sadness. Only hipster critics would resist the director's loving shout-outs to E.T ., Gone with the Wind ,The Seventh Seal and Apocalypse Now..."

Ah, and there they are, finally. Hipster critics, so-called--The Empire against which Armond and Matt's rag-tag band of renegades are the our only hope. Some readers may ask: "Who are these hipster critics? I want names!" In brief, their numbers include anyone and everyone who doesn't kowtow to A.W.'s arbitrary, wobbly party line, which involves a lot of willfully outrageous, paradoxical voguing. Blockbusters are subversive! Indie darlings are conservative! The critically acclaimed is a dead-end, the critically ignored glows with Renoir-esque humanity! And the star of every review, even Seitz's, is Armond White, the only one who gets it right... Is this the highest calling of criticism, trying to brand any reader with a divisive opinion as a pretentious ponce with a major cool complex whose tastes render them a pariah? Reading White or Seitz, the premier highbrow apologists for multiplex schlock, I always remember a debate I had in my 8th grade band class.
"Green Day are the best punk band ever," some jackass kid insisted.
"No, they're shit," I correctly replied.
"But 'Dookie' sold like three million copies... What, do you think you're smarter than everyone else?"

"When Obi-Wan and Anakin lay into each other, their whirling light sabers flutter in the air like lethal neon butterflies."

"Lethal neon butterflies?" Matt, just come the fuck on.

Slim Pickings: What are We Watching this Weekend?

Boston's looking pretty grim, but I'm definitely going to make an effort to get to The Holy Girl. I had hoped to do a multiplex double bill of some sort as well, but I don't see anything that looks like it'd be remotely fun, and I could care less about Mad Hot Spellroom or whatever the hell this summer's kids in competition doc is called.

I'm tempted by Star Wars, but I haven't seen the second one (though is it really necessary?) and I'm afraid filmenthusiast will make fun of me.

Weekly: NY Times Title Game #4

Pretty boring this week, but it needs to be done:

1. Some Surprises in That Galaxy Far, Far Away
2. An 'Exorcist' Prequel for the Serious Crowd (they totally cheated on this one)
3. A Moviemaker Seen Through the Lens of His Son
4. He's an Aging Loser, Baby, but it Doesn't Kill Him
5. Roommates, When Dead, Know How to Keep Quiet
6. Children Trapped in Labor, With Few Reasons for Hope


1. 6ixtynin9
2. Dominion: Prequel to "The Exorcist"
3. Stolen Childhoods
4. Tell Them Who You Are
5. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
6. Second Best


Poster of the Week

We ALL remember this one, don't we? Don't we? Do we? Well, I sure as hell do. High-schooler and aspiring journalist Terri Griffiths (the criminally underrated and climactically de-robed Joyce Hyser) poses as a boy in order to win the schoolwide essay contest. Mild hilarity ensues. Hyser showed up only one more time before my eyes, in 1994's Michael J. Fox-Kirk Douglas dream-pairing "Greedy," but even her brief appearance sent me into paroxysms of glee. An easy shortcut was to call it a pubescent Tootsie; I'd argue it's more like an Eighties Woman of the Year, with Hyser a fine Hepburn substitute. Not to mention the always-reliable Clayton "The Relic" Rohner, as Hyser's dorky crush Rick Morehouse, perhaps even improving upon the Spencer Tracy template of sensual clumsiness. Coming soon: an appreciation of the recurrent Teutonic villain of Eighties High School films, William Zabka, here at his most fibrous.

Does this get your pulse racing?

If so, you are very probably retarded!

If J. Hoberman's "The Cool Kid" of Critcism, the World is Fucked.

Is anyone else getting tired of (or even reading) the NY Times Cannes Blog? At least Scott and Dargis, in their back-bending efforts to show their readers the "behind-the-scenes" action of the festival (didn't DePalma's Femme Fatale lesbo-heist say everything that needed to be said?) have dropped the critical veneer and revealed a little about themselves, coming off like nothing so much as a pair of socialites who happen to have a forum for their opinions. Yesterday's gem "How Is Cannes Like High School?" is pretty classic.

P.S. - Manohola, how can you claim to have been afraid to throw your hat in the ring on the Egoyan yet pump off this on Manderlay, which is also without distribution: "the film is every bit as boring as Dogville"?

Jiminy Glick in La La Wood

I hate to kick a great man when he's down--and surely Jiminy's blink-and-you'll-miss-it tenure in theaters is a downer to that last of the all-around showmen, Mr. Martin Short--but, really... Clifford, WTF?

An odd, unwieldy jumble of dire improvisations (I hope) wrapped around a hugely unengaging murder mystery. With an excess of truly unfunny bit players. And a shockingly prominent David Lynch impression. And sub-'UHF' movie parodies. To the film's credit I can say that it does fill in the blanks of Jiminy and Dixie Glick's much-discussed sex life, but that's probably not for all tastes.

And then it's only fair to note that the image of Glick lurking, forehead glossy, behind Kevin Kline, is probably enough to make this venture worthwhile. It's still probably better than, say, 'Star Wars.'


Dispatch from the Glorious Croisette!

Just kidding. I'm in a windowless office.

As our huge number of devoted followers must have realized, we haven't been posting any sort of daily dispatches from Cannes. The basic reason for this is that none of us are there. None of us were invited; meanwhile somewhere Rex Reed is swilling down his 3rd 11-a.m. martini, bemoaning other ethnicities, and then snoring through a screening of MANDERLAY. (which by the way, like DOGVILLE, ends again with a roll-out of violent American images accompanied by the tune of "Young Americans"...as my fellow RS editor said, "Again? Geez.") Meanwhile, we're slaving away at our real jobs, all while trying to churn out our own Cannes thoughts, though ours are distinctly back-tracked.

I may not be on the Croisette, but this morning, I did have a croissant. It's the truth. And hard to not somehow mention.

before I go, may I open another unending can of worms: 1989 Cannes Jury Prez Wim Wenders, coming off his "Wings of Desire" high, chastising Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing for political cowardice (he "didn't choose sides"), while awarding Sex, Lies, and Videotape the Palme d'Or instead. An embarassment for all concerned, especially for Wim Wenders...who incidentally made the very politically insightful (that was sarcasm) "The End of Violence," sort of a poor man's "The New Age" which was a poor man's "The Player" which was a poor man's "The Day of the Locust."


Morning, Woody!

Now, I don't mean to add to the almost headache-inducing (for fans AND non-fans) buzz that's been building for Match Point based on the amazingly laudatory responses the new Woody film has been getting from Cannes: But if there's one thing more enticing than the prospect of a new punchline-free Woody Allen movie that many critics have compared to Crimes and Misdemeanors, my personal favorite of his films, then it could only be this early-morning caffeine substitute , which startled me out of drowsy complacency.


Quote of the Week

This is a real gem from Manohla Dargis's Cannes diary:

"I'm leery of writing more because I don't think the film has distribution and I don't feel comfortable bringing the weight of this paper into the mix at this point."

She's talking about Atom Egoyan's new film Where the Truth Lies (notes from the press conference can be found here) with Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, and Alison Lohman.

Manohla, please stop. If you're worried about distribution deals and throwing the NY Times' influence around, then I guess you guys will have to start steadfastly refusing to review those films in the New York Film Festival and New Directors/New Films that arrive without a theatrical release plan. And you should probably end the stupid Cannes diary and pack it up, because I hear that lots of films come to the croisette unsold every year.

Or, you could try being a film critic, show that you give a fuck about the medium that supports you and tell people what you really think instead of pulling punches. As much as I believe the "review digest" sites like Rottentomatoes and Metacritic are starting to dilute the 10-tons of influence you're worried about tossing in the ring, you do still, sadly, write for the most important source for opinion on art films in the country. Use that power for good, not evil. You already called the film "interesting" and praised one of the lead performers two sentences earlier so the cat's pretty much out of the bag anyway.


What are we watching this weekend?

I missed 3-Iron last weekend, so I'll probably do that. And, since I haven't been annoyed by a movie since Palindromes, I imagine I'll give Crash a try.

Weekly: NY Times Title Game #3

The moment you've all been waiting for....

1. A Nightmare of a Mom vs. Her Son's Dreamboat
2. Squaring Off Against Dad With an Army of Little Kickers
3. Where the Rumba Is as Much a Part of School as Recess
4. Derailing a Drug Dealer's Retirement
5. Raised Like a Dog, Crouching Like a Tiger
6. Ex-Lovers Haunted by Myths and More
7. An Eerie Simulation of a Crime Scene. Or Is It?


1. Layer Cake
2. Monster-in-Law
3. Unleashed
4. Kicking and Screaming
5. Kings and Queen
6. Mindhunters
7. Mad Hot Ballroom

House of Wax is in Effect Y'all

"Horror movies tend to reflect the cultural climate in which they were created. German Expressionism rose out of the horror surrounding World War I. The science-fiction and horror movies of the '50s conveyed the suspicion and fear of the atomic age. In the '70s, horror movies reflected the anxiety and paranoia that followed Watergate, while the postmodern slasher movies of the '90s mirrored the jaded irony that characterized so much of that decade.

So what does the glut of recent horror remakes say about the culture as a whole? It's easy to assume that American studios have run out of ideas and are now reduced to cannibalizing their own past. House Of Wax reflects this trend in its purest form, but goes even further by ostensibly remaking 1953's 'House Of Wax' while actually remaking another horror classic. In terms of plotting, characters, setting, and tone, 'House Of Wax' is essentially a 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' knockoff, with the fetching Elisha Cuthbert taking over the screaming and running duties."
-Nathan Rabin, Onion A.V. Club

Copious LOLZ are really the only appropriate reaction to Mr. Rabin’s Cliff’s Notes sprint through a marathon of shopworn accepted truths, missing only “in the wake of 9/11” to cover all of his bases. In two paragraphs that practically scream “I’ve only watched the dozen horror movies deemed ‘Essential’ by some Premiere magazine Halloween list, yet consider myself a qualified genre critic,” Rabin neatly sums up the slack critical reaction to one of the best American horror outings in recent memory. It’s to be expected; since ‘House of Wax’ doesn’t take the time to remind viewers of its self-aware canniness, pelt us with genre in-jokes, or revel in retro trappings, there’s really no Pavlovian buzzer to make thick-headed critics sit up, pay attention, and write like they give a damn.

A propos of the remake whine, a typical grouse of insecure critics eager to prove their staunch dedication to “the real thing,” it’s worth noting that before 1953’s Vincent Price vehicle, Michael Curtiz had directed 1933’s ‘Mystery of the Wax Museum’ from the same material, originally a play by Charles Belden. And to call ‘Texas Chainsaw’ the proto-slasher is just… retarded. But then knowing any of that would require a sense of film history that doesn’t allow for such easy inflexible categories as old/authentic vs. new/synthetic, and an aesthetic sensitivity that doesn’t rely on single-sentence decade-by-decade summaries of film art. Plus a exhausting trip to imdb. More to the point: shut the fuck up Nate; you don’t know your horror movies, and you sound like an asshole to anyone who does.


Media Matters

The below passage was posted a few days ago by my favorite political blog dailykos who re-printed it from Steve Gilliard's News. I've been meaning to post it as I think the ideas Gilliard's dealing with coincide nicely with what I'd argue is a major component of the Reverse Shot project. He's referring in the first paragraph to the recent "runaway bride" incident:

"If CNN basically covers this story all Saturday, it's news. It's not a debate. It is news, and malaria isn't. Instead of wishing it wasn't news, we need to subvert it. We need to discuss it in wider terms, class, race, sex. We need to bring depth to the debate. I mean this story gets weirder by the day. But if you don't engage it, bring different perspectives to it, the media gets away clean again. When people say "you don't cover this story" people think "liberal whiner". If they want to talk about runaway brides, let's talk about runaway brides, but intelligently, questioning the sex roles of men and women and the economic cost and pressure in a large wedding. There is fertile ground for smart people, but they have to seize the target and change the debate.

One of the great tricks of conservative pundits was to talk about ANY topic. No matter what it was, they had an opinion, got face time and then book deals. They saw this as fertile ground to extend the debate. We have to engage these issues and bring new perspectives on them [...]

There's a sort of snobishness about news on the left. I don't watch TV, I only read the Guardian. Give me a fucking break. Most people think Angel comes after Guardian and when you don't watch TV, you might as well say pinko hippie. If you want to change minds, you have to speak their language and it's in things people care about.

If you don't have an opinion on the latest circus, your opinion on more serious matters will not count. You don't have to spend every day repeating Eonline, but you have to understand the culture, even the vulgar parts, to change it. If you do not engage the debate at hand, you will become irrelevant. Even if the debate is not a big deal in the end. Walking away, as we did so many times before, is no longer an option."

It's not enough for us to go toe to toe with the mainstream critical establishment and harangue them for letting terrific, difficult films get lost in the commercial shuffle. Doing so, while honorable, is merely a rearguard action. Critics at major papers excel at lowering the discourse around every film the lowest possible level with slight peaks in seriousness for those films they deem worthy. We do the opposite by taking all films seriously (at least semi-), and, perhaps most importantly, do it through a plurality of voices. That’s why we can have issues devoted to Linklater and Assayas, Spielberg and Tsai Ming-liang. That's why within a single symposium we can cover Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Despair, The Village, and Salesman. This broad scope affords more readers a frame of reference for our work, and chances are, if they like what they see in one article, they might check out another, and maybe even the film attached to it. Who knows what could happen from there?

I'm sure most of our blog readers "get" this about Reverse Shot already, but sometimes things like this bear repeating.

Poster of the Week

Remember when they used to do it right? Honestly, will the poster art for the new House of Wax or the latest Wes Craven shitpile haunt the dreams of the next generation of scaredy-cat kids like this one did to little old me while perusing the dusty shelves of Video Paradise? Doubtful. Elegant, freakish, and smart...and the movie still rocks. Robert Rodriguez's digital "comic book aesthetic" can take a gander at this Romero pioneer any day of the week and learn a thing or two.

baillie and marker

just got back from seeing chris marker's cuba si at the brooklyn academy of music. like a bolt of lightning, while watching the film i was struck by the profound similarities between the cinema of marker and the cinema of bruce baillie. deeper investigations along this line of thought will be forthcoming.

Back to Front Stupidity

“By the same token,” Solondz continues, “young people in college or just out of college go backpacking, they want to see the ‘real world,’ meet ‘real people’ and experience ‘real life.’ And they go into South America or Asia or Africa, and these families take them in, and they’re so generous, so wonderful, etc. But all you have to do is say, ‘I am gay’ or ‘I am a Jew,’ and then it’s like death. All of a sudden, the savagery comes out. And what I’m getting at in the films is this kind of reconciliation, that something you may love is at the same time married to something at which you shudder in revulsion and horror.” -- LA WEEKLY

God I hate this motherfucker. Could we claim Palindromes to be the most politically detrimental film since, say, oh, Mandingo? He wants to get this rise out of me, so I try my damndest to temper it. It's not the outrageousness of his shitty films that bothers me as much as those that lap it up. The 2001 New York Film Festival audience that was maniacally applauding his reductive and screechily self-defense tract "Storytelling" are nothing more than enablers...

The comment above is completely bereft of meaning and insight.

Broadcast from an Alternate Universe: Public Image, Ltd. on American Bandstand

This is Public Image, Ltd. on American Bandstand WTF?


What's with releases lately stealing titles verbatim from only slightly older movies? Like Paul Haggis copping David Cronenberg's "Crash" and the soon-to-be-released Will Ferrell flick appropriating Noah Baumbach's "Kicking and Screaming"? Is this some new trend meant to trick those with potentially good feelings towards those past films into seeing the new crap by trading on a sense of deja-vu?


Hey fellow "film-lovers"! It's time for a slightly jaundiced recap of the sundry, condescending studio crapola I've been avoiding since the calendar turned over to 2005. I recently realized that I haven't paid to see a new movie in the theater since "Million Dollar Baby." It's the truth. I've tried to justify it by telling myself, well, it's just the Spring dumping ground, anyway. But what's more sad to note, as I walk alone down the street, is that I seem to have chosen a profession at odds with my actual taste and experience. In other words, if I love movies so much how come I fucking hate movies so much? Ay, the rub of the cinephile.

So, in the spirit of a tremendously shitty year of nothing but abysmal studio dirty-whore-level crap, here's a list of some more garbage that I'll never ever see. Keep in mind, I even paid to see CAT IN THE HAT. These don't even attain that level of fascinating mind-raping carnage:

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN -- Yes, we have a great insightful review of it coming up in the next issue of RS; does that mean I'll ever put down ten dollars and fifty cents (!) to see more Ridley "No I'm not racist, I swear" Scott shit sandwiches? No, I think I'm done. HANNIBAL was the end.

THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY -- Wouldn't it be a little disingenuous of me to avoid the stupid books with their stupid covers all my childhood and then go and see Sam Rockwell and Mos Def try to act it out? Yes. It would.

A LOT LIKE LOVE -- Two incredibly ugly people. fucking hell, they're ugly. fuck. jesus. I'm not being sarcastic, for all those out there that have been brainwashed by Us Weekly into thinking that unibrowed buck-toothed women and fey, prone-to-screaming "pretty" boys are even remotely attractive.

SAHARA -- Clive Cussler or Matthew McConaughey? Which one is less of a turn-on? Oh wait, Penelope Cruz is in it too...? Oh, by the way, she recently "uglied up" for the Italian melodrama scorcher "Don't Move." That must have been real tough. (holy crap, what fresh hell is this? Steve Zahn is in it too?)

MADAGASCAR -- OOh, this one sounds different...an ugly, boxy computer-animated crapscapade (they all look like Volvo commercials to me) that anthropomorphizes a bunch of obnoxious zoo animals with celebrity voices. I bet they're all "sassy" and all do things like real people would! It probably ends with a hoe-down and a Smashmouth song. Shrek is crap, and the rest of the non-Pixars (and even some of those) are downright unwatchable. Never subversive, just full of dull pop culture references. This one looks like the worst offender. I want to blow up every CGI animated film headquarters, and then look down from my bomber and say, "No, really, it's for ADULTS!"

THE INTREPETER -- Sydney Pollack should be acting only. Preferably shirtless in red suspenders, like in Eyes Wide Shut.

THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS -- Is Evan Rachel Wood in it? Keri Russell? what about Lindsay Lohan, or that other stupid bitch with the hatchet face that is the sister of that shitty singer married to that flat-nosed worthless buff dude who sings like a more feminine version of Johnny Mathis?

THE DUKES OF HAZZARD -- I love nostalgia as much as the next all-American-patriotic meat-eating hetero male (wait, I'm none of those things, so I guess I won't see this piece of worthless crap, especially since I didn't even see the Starksy and Hutch thing with Stiller and that horrendous blonde hatchet-faced actor who's the brother of that moose-faced piece of limburger cheese from those Wes Anderson movies)

Now I'm getting sick just thinking of all these contemptible pointless ruinous anti-movies. I'm stopping here before a blow a gasket.

Riding the Bus With My Sister: Retard Histrionics Reach a New High/ Low

Not since Mickey Rooney slobbered his way to Emmy paydirt in 1981's haunting movie-of-the-week 'Bill' (and its overlooked follow-up, 'Bill: On His Own') has mankind received an affront so egregious; in brief: Rosie O'Donnell feigning Down's Syndrome by yelling out of the corner of her mouth in Angelica Huston's special-ed magnum opus 'Riding the Bus With My Sister.'

There are those who feel deep discomfort in cackling uncontrollably at such sights, as if there's some sort of implicit slight to retarded folks in doing so. But those of us who fully realize the towering obscenity of fading-profile celebrities showing off their nonexistant chops by "bravely" getting their 'tard on realize that the real insult is directed toward all of us, and perhaps the only defense we have left is to laugh.


BREAKING NEWS:Neve Campbell Supports Epilepsy Rights

(excerpted from www.imdb.com)
Scream star Neve Campbell is backing an epilepsy "Bill of Rights" to draw attention to the disease and inform people how to cope with it. Canadian-born Campbell, who is the celebrity face of the Epilepsy Foundation Of New York, adds, "My cousin Coleen and her mother, my aunt, have epilepsy and have been living with epilepsy throughout their lives, so it's something that's very close to my family. It is treatable... They're now experimenting with certain surgeries and stuff to try and help with it. "

Campbell also supports James Toback's right to keep making movies, and stuff.

Worst Tagline, Maybe Ever

"Sometimes, the desire to do good can lead to TEMPTATION!"

Of course, this isn't the voiceover script for some trashy Indecent Proposal update, but rather for Lucrecia Martel's new film The Holy Girl. To be fair, I haven't seen the film yet, but somehow...


What are we watching this weekend?

Forgot to post this yesterday. I'm somehow hoping to fit in 3-Iron, Turtles Can Fly, and Look at Me and get all my Reverse Shot articles done. Somehow I'm not particularly excited about any of these films, even though I've heard mostly good things. If I hadn't already seen Kingdom of Heaven, I'd probably be in the midst of its thudding pomposity rather than posting right now. Trust me, it's a real "treat."


Furtive Glances and Wistful Smiles: Reverse Shot Presents

What you've all been waiting for, and yes, it's finally here. For those who weren't able to make it, these are enough to make you drool with jealousy. Opening night of the first-ever Reverse Shot Presents festival at Makor on the Upper West Side on April 2, 2005. As great as it looked, it was even sexier!

Thanks to Stella Artois, Lee Daniel, and all the lovely people who turned out for the sold-out double feature of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset.

Do you dare scroll?


Ladies and gentlemen, your emcee for the evening.... Posted by Hello

Nicolas R. and Michael R.: An oddly serene portrait of a very volatile pair.... Posted by Hello

Nick and Kristi play catch-up..."what's it been, two, three years? My god, it's like we never parted." Posted by Hello

Marianna knows that Daniel has a Gorbachev-esque stain on his shirt....but she's pretending she doesn't. Posted by Hello

Ben smells something...Brad tastes something....Jaime desires something.....the guy on the left is just content to be. Posted by Hello

Coming out of the fog, out of the night, it's Reverse Shot...cinema will never be the same.

Neal remembers the good old days. Posted by Hello

Joanne no longer needs his love...and it shows. Posted by Hello

We had a good conversation.... Posted by Hello

We talked of senseless things, of fools and kings.... Posted by Hello

Stella!! Emerald-green Kristi meets her match. Posted by Hello

Nick, Jeff, and the Michaels contemplate the future of film Posted by Hello

Weekly: NY Times Title Game #2

If you didn't catch our first installment...below is a list of review titles from today's NY Times movie section. Below that is a list of the films they refer to. Match 'em up. No cheating.

1. An Epic Bloodletting Empowered by Faith
2. Bigotry as the Outer Side of Inner Angst
3. Paris Hilton and Friends, Pursued by Maniacs With a Fondness for Wax
4. Seeking Adult Answers in Two Scarred Boyhoods
5. Wartime's Collateral Damage
6. The World's Worst Interviewer Visits Toronto
7. Party On! It's a Civic Duty


1. Crash
2. Girl From Monday
3. Mysterious Skin
4. Kingdom of Heaven
5. Jiminy Glick in Lalawood
6. Brothers
7. House of Wax

Great prizes this week.



As longtime Reverse Shot readers know, a great deal of us are pretty steadfast fans of A.I. Artificial Intelligence, so much so that for a good two years after its woebegotten release, we were still finding new ways to dissect and enjoy it. Just when my obsession had come to some sort of reconciliation with my day-to-day activities, out comes this mother in the new issue of Bright Lights. Bravo to Stephen M. Gleister for making my obsessiveness about the film seem like a mere passing fancy in comparison.


in his review of palindromes in time out new york joshua rothkopf uses the term "reversible palindrome." since a palindrome is by definition reversible, this phrase could be accurately called redundant.

Hip to be Square: Armond White vs. The Ghost Hipsters Part 16

While idly wandering the internet on business hours I was lucky enough to discover the following bit from Reverse Shot's favorite critical punchline and probable Log Cabin Republican, NY Press film critic Armond White, here holding court on the three alternate videos for Kanye West's song 'Jesus Walks':

"West, Coodio and Chike boldly confront this secular, disbelieving culture. While joking, they assert the principles of faith and endurance against hip hop's usually profane standard. ("They said you could rap about anything except for Jesus/ That means guns, sex, lies, videotape/ But if I talk about God then my record won't get played. Huh?") As daring in its own way as Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ' was in confronting atheistic culture, this still-religious parody reminds the hip hop audience of the ennobling examples taken from Christian faith, sacrifice and martyrdom"

For those keeping track, Armond is positing that the College Dropout album (10 Grammy nominations, 440,000 copies sold in its first week alone) and 'The Passion of the Christ' (some $611 million worldwide box office) are in some way counter-cultural monuments, standing up to the author's favorite boogieman, the dominant cabal of godless nihilists, hipsters, nihilist hipsters, and godless nihilist hipster critics--all of which interchangably stand in as targets for his unfocused invective and sanctimonious humanism.

Armond's myopia never ceases to amaze; of course the "disbelieving culture" he's addressing is limited to the culturati crowd at the critic's screenings that he attends. But while Armond's puking up the calculated contrarian claptrap that's the Press' stock-in-trade, flyover America is happily snapping up their 'Passion' paraphenalia and bumping the thinking man's idiocy that is the The College Dropout. For my part, the memory of having to drive the four hours to Cleveland so I could see a fucking Claire Denis movie is a little too fresh for me to imagine that the lobby of Film Forum is the world.

How the proudly stupid title of Kanye West's product syncs up with the "Faith in education [that] makes 'Sounder' seem out of fashion today," which Mr. White praised only last week, is between Armond and his God. But Armond's constantly-reiterated insistence that hipsters--a hot paper target whose only uniformly agreed-upon feature is that they're, like, fake or something--are the greatest enemy that art and humanity currently face is not only misguided, but downright retarded. "Daring," Armond, is catching an ass-whupping for showing up on the first day of 8th grade with faggy goth makeup. Floating demographic softballs to Jesus' fan club or making innocuous soundtracks for community college parties? That's just pandering.

Stay tuned for information on the Reverse Shot Armond White retirement fund. Those so inclined can enjoy Armond's bold championing of lousy cash cows here.


indieWIRE Review: Mysterious Skin

Check it out here.

Movies I vividly remember watching as a little kid

Many of the following viewed at the Tri-County Loews or rented from Video Time on Springfield Pike in Cincinnati, OH:

Creepshow 2 (['The Raft' episode] 1987, Michael Gornick, USA)
Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend (1985, Bill L. Norton, USA)
Eliminators (1986, Peter Manoogian/ Carlos Aured, USA/ Spain)
Sleeping Beauty (1959, 1986 re-release, Clyde Geronimi, USA)
The Man with Two Brains (1983, Rob Reiner, USA)
Conan the Destroyer (1984, Robert Fleischer, USA)
Pray for Death (1985, Gordon Hessler, USA)
The Beastmaster (1982, Don Coscarelli, USA/ West Germany)
Jaws: The Revenge (1987, Joseph Sargent, USA)
The Groove Tube (1974, Ken Shapiro, USA)
Krull (1983, Peter Yates, UK)
Clash of the Titans (1981, Desmond Davis, UK)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987, Chuck Russell, USA)

It's worth noting that during most of the first 10 years of my life I remember having extreme difficulty understanding narrative logic, and would invariably become extremely confused and irritated during film viewings; as such, much of what tends to remain in memory from these formative screenings are the acts of shocking violence, the glimpses of nudity, and the image of Grace Jones. The more things change the more they stay the same.
Stay tuned for 'Video box art that I remember looking at when I was a little kid'


FUNNY HA HA Interview

An interview with Funny Ha Ha director Andrew Bujalski by Reverse Shot's very own Michael "Hank" Koresky can be read here.