Friday, February 27, 2009

Storytime with Lars

Lars von Trier isn't known for giving his characters an easy way out, or his viewers an easy way in. All the same he's a master storyteller, capable of twisting emotions out of the most tightly constructed and savage of plot turns. These chapters from his immaculate and bleak Breaking the Waves sum up the film's expansive yet simple plot perfectly, as they sum up much of Lars von Trier's work. There's hope, beauty, glorious possibility... followed by that subtle sting of emotional desecration. Pull up a seat, kids.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Obscure Beauty: Pedro Almodóvar (Vol. II)

This little love-fest is late for Valentine's Day, but I hope the softcore content makes up for that.

Volume I here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Don't Tempt Me... Again

The 20 Most Tempting Titles of 2009

(#16-20 here)

(Warning: Not sold temptingly.)

(11) King Shot
Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Executive Producer: David Lynch
Starring: Nick Nolte, Marilyn Manson, Asia Argento, Udo Kier, David Hess

If you look at that roster and feel nothing, you're at the wrong blog, mister.
That's a whole lot of crazy on one crew sheet, and more than enough to make one hell of an interesting movie -- or at the very least a compelling disaster. Looks like cult cinema is about to give birth to a bastard child, and I can't think of anyone better to raise it than Jodorowsky and Lynch; two of the finest of fantastic filmmakers. Their work is supremely cinematic, audacious, ominous and wholly consuming... and little bit fucked up in the very best way. That last bit pretty much sums up that entire cast as well.

This concept art promises.. fun?

(12) The Countess
Director: Julie Delpy
Starring: Julie Delpy, William Hurt, Anamaria Marinca

I love me some Julie Delpy walking around European cities and talking. I'm not averse her to her ritualistically bathing in the blood of virgins either, as apparently she's prone to do now and again. Delpy's so multi-talented that she's playing the lead villainess, directing herself, and scoring the entire film. I'd say she should start her own cosmetics line, but you know those prices would be outrageous...

Countess Bathory had such a ritual in 16th-centur
y Hungary, but such a small price for attaining that youthful glow. It all seems the making for a sinister and salacious costume drama, with some real talent on all sides of the camera... oddly enough all in the form of Julie Delpy.

Maybe she's born with it, but it's not Maybelline.

(13) 17 Photos of Isabel
Director: Don Roos
Starring: Natalie Portman, Lisa Kudrow

Last time I wrote about this "difficult stepchild drama" (the gist of the plot), I was saying "Enough!" to Jennifer Lopez in the lead opposite the great director of The Opposite of Sex and Happy Endings, Don Roos, and my beloved Lisa Kudrow! Turns out Natalie Portman's since taken over in the lead and the world breathes a little lighter today. The title also changed from Love and Other Impossible Pursuits to the chick-lit stylings of 17 Photos of Isabel. Write down that title in your diary next to your drawings of unicorns in love.

Here's one of the first photos of Isabel so far:

Not sure I care to see sixteen more if they're all like that...

(14) Giallo
Director: Dario Argento
Starring: Adrien Brody, Emmanuelle Seigner

My dreams for the final part of his eerie and majestic Three Mothers Trilogy were dashed against the cheaply constructed rocks, but I have an undying love for Dario Argento no matter my ambivalence to his recent efforts. I'm hoping that this one's less a rush job and more of a return to the genre he helped define, as the title would indicate. If The Third Mother gave us anything it was a reminder that Argento will always shatter silly notions of good taste. This plot's "jaundiced psycho on a model hunt" looks to have all the right setup with a promising old-school edge.

But this trailer is stale and bland on dry toast...

Oh well. More in the vein of The Card Player -- which is to say nothing particularly bad, just nothing spectacular either. Argento will still crack this list next year and probably the year after that. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have Dario's career.

(15) The Informers
Director: Gregor Jordan
Co-writer: Bret Easton Ellis
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Winona Ryder, Chris Isaak, Kim Basinger, Brad Renfro

The works of Bret Easton Ellis have a sardonic, ambiguous edge which should score lots of points with you if you're socially detached, bitter, jaded, sarcastic or rude. Since you're still on this site, I'm guessing you're all of those things and should check this movie out. Hey, I'm just the informer...

Plus, how great and bizarre is that cast? Mickey Rourke fresh off his winning lead as The Wrestler, Winona Ryder gracefully and graciously crawling out of the woodwork, and the deceased Brad Renfro (The Client, Apt Pupil, Bully) in his final appearance. This is also Bret Easton Ellis's first time trying his hand at his own novel's adaptation in the wake of two fantastic ones by other authors (American Psycho, The Rules of Attraction). Hopefully he keeps it that much truer to the book's desiccating, eerie and hilariously detached mood.

Or it could turn out something like this:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sex is More Fun with a Strange Person

I'm overstimulated. I recently found a copy of Bill Plympton's I Married a Strange Person! (1997), which is so smart, silly and sexually succinct, it's an underrated comic gem. Post-Valentine's Day, give into your urge for wacky sex with a Strange Person.

Chance Encounters:


Fantasy Role Play:

Sex with a Strange Person is good for your health. You have to get your Omega-3 somehow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Meta Nightmare

Before I could say, "This movie sucks!" It did.

(Ironically culled from A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Desire Antonio Banderas. It's the Law.

"It's not your fault if you don't love me,
and it's not my fault if I love you."

That's sort of the basics of the Law of Desire, and exactly my feelings toward Antonio Banderas in that movie. It's also a very simple law proposed by Pedro Almodóvar in Spain of 1987 that has long since gone ignored in its home country, but I plan to use my full jurisdiction and enforce it here at Club Silencio.

And by the statutes of The Law of Desire for Antonio Banderas, he is required to do for us the following:

  • Antonio Banderas must give wake up calls.

  • Antonio Banderas must dress exactly like us.

  • Antonio Banderas must show us his yo-yo.

  • Antonio Banderas must surprise us outside of Burger King.

  • Antonio Banderas must caulk the tub.

As with any law, there are consequences to those who choose to break it:

Antonio Banderas will not be held responsible if you or a loved one is harmed in said pursuit of lawlessness.

Desiring Antonio Banderas saves lives.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Don't Tempt Me

The 20 Most Tempting Titles of 2009


(And for others 2009 temptations check out the countdown happening at Film Experience. Not because I'm participating in it, but because it's probably a lot more informative than anything you'll find here.)

(16) Margaret
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Starring: Matt Damon, Anna Paquin, Matthew Broderick, Mark Ruffalo, Kieran Culkin

You can't really rely on You Can Count On Me director Kenneth Lonergan. That indie masterpiece debut came all the way back in 2000 and the man hasn't given us a film since. Those are some big shoes to fill a big decade later, but thankfully they're his own shoes so the possibilities are endless.

Lonergan's got Broderick and Ruffalo along for the ride once again. They're joined by Anna Paquin for this tale of a girl's unlucky rendezvous with fate after witnessing a car accident brings her life to a screeching halt. I'm hoping Lonergan's script feels as lived in as it should after all those years in preparation, and if that first film's success is any indication, we'll be getting some really resonant and affecting human drama.

Is everyone on set fucking Matt Damon?
(Top: Bourne Ultimatum, Bottom: Margaret)

Fun (related) Fact: Apparently you can hire any Culkin kid for any event. This time Lonergan's hired Kieran Culkin, instead of lil' Rory Culkin. But that does mean Rory's free for your kid's Bris. Macaulay's probably just at home alone.

(17) Drag Me to Hell
Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long

Sam Raimi may have done fanboys well with his Spiderman films, but what about the horror buffs of his gory glory days? Well...(holding back tears) maybe he hasn't forgotten about us...

His latest sounds like a senseless, slapstick slaughterhouse to bring back all the fondest memories of the Evil Dead series. If this one's a success we'll probably see a lot more progress on Evil Dead 4, but it sounds like a great genre entry even without that humble attachment. For one thing it's not a remake and it's not playing on the level of "torture porn" (that phrase is so gratuitously overexposed it's painful). Besides, horror as a whole really needs to find the fun again. Fun like tree rape and corpses filled with milk and creamed corn.

The story is that Ali Lohman has to break a psychic's evil curse after she gives her a bad deal on a bank loan. People react differently in this economy...

(18) Inglourious Basterds
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Brad Pitt (mmm), Eli Roth (...), Maggie Cheung (!), Mike Myers (?)

Given the recent overflow of war movies, Tarantino's might seem less relevant than some, but it will definitely have more explicit violence, camera tricks and Maggie Cheung! This also cements the fact that Brad Pitt has to be the closest thing to a celebrity Jesus. Everyone loves him, including the continent of Africa. Everyone's attracted to him no matter how much they deny it, and he still backs up that whole delicious package with some well-chosen roles and performances. That and he's all over US Weekly.

The synopsis:
"In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a group of Jewish-American soldiers known as "The Basterds" are chosen specifically to spread fear throughout the Third Reich by scalping and brutally killing Nazis. The Basterds soon cross paths with a French-Jewish teenage girl who runs a movie theater in Paris which is targeted by the soldiers."

A movie theater in Paris? Naturally Tarantino found some way to make self-aware cinema references throughout his war epic, and that's why we love him. He consistently makes memorable cinema that loves memorable cinema. The long gestation on this project speaks of maybe some more personal Tarantino touches and probably some stunning spectacle. How will he top Kill Bill's House of Blue Leaves or Death Proof's rip-roaring car crash? The man's work is impeccable, and until he casts himself in the lead, we'll be just about square.

Jim Sheridan
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman

Brothers feud when one goes missing in Afghanistan and the other takes up with his wife. A purple heart won't heal that wound! Sounds a little Legends of the Fall but with, most importantly, Jake Gyllenhaal having sex with things. That's more than enough to merit a spot on this list, and it's far more enticing than his whole excursion to Persia -- not that I won't be along for that trip and every available photo op.

War movies can be a snore, but with Jake and Tobey, I'll be awake for every open-shirt musket wound. They still use muskets, right?

(20) Lovely, Still
Director: Nik Fackler
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Martin Landau, Elizabeth Banks, Adam Scott

If I'm just being honest... I was on set for this one during filming, and most importantly had Ellen Burstyn take my hand and acknowledge my actual being! I also got to watch her dazzle and dig into character right before my very eyes, and I can tell you first hand that this nuanced performance should be one to watch for and give a second viewing. And you know me, I'm not one to put actors on a pedestal... other than when I do it daily as a blog.

"I have something I've wanted to ask you since the moment we met... Do you prefer paper or plastic?"

This small scale fable follows an elderly grocery sacker (Landau) and his first brush with romance just in time for the holidays. How about a collective "aww..." On any level it should be nice having any new Christmas film not involve dueling neighbors or Tim Allen. It's guaranteed sweetness with a few surprises along the way -- and has Ellen Burstyn ever shaken your hand and called you "Adam?" Didn't think so.

Fun (bitter) fact: Originally the supporting cast was said to be comprised of Paul Rudd and Winona Ryder! I would have orgasmically imploded on that set and thus they were replaced with Adam Scott and Elizabeth Banks. They're lovely too... but still.