Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Intersection of Hollywood and Greenberg

Club Silencio should be back up and running this week. Traveling cross country and arriving in Hollywood with no internet to speak of beside Starbucks wi-fi brewed next to the passed out homeless and production types telling me they've, "penned something very Chekov, but more avant garde." I have truly arrived.

In the meantime share mine and Roger Greenberg's disdain for commercialized coffee over at Film Experience, where I express some thoughts on Noah Baumbach's latest. It's more of a review than a self-addressed letter of outrage - as is Greenberg's style - and it helps that the film is a sweetly sour treat not deserving of the criticism. It's also the perfect film to see upon arriving in L.A., embittered by traffic whilst warmed by the sun. I'm as aimless as Greenberg and just as unmotivated. And I don't even know where to begin on building a doghouse.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Death Rattled Retro Posters!

The rotting dead get fresh!

They may be cold, but they keep it hot!

For the next week I'll be in cross-country travel mode so posting will be... dead. Frisky, but most certainly dead.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mass for Cinephile Shut-Ins: Part Four

Let us commune over all this vague pre-publicity so as to garner faith and hope for a bright cinematic future. And let us also pass invalid judgment.

This is Part Four.

Human scientific experiments at their most prim and proper.

directed by: Mark Romanek
written by: Alex Garland, Kazuo Ishiguro (novel)
starring: Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Sally Hawkins, Charlotte Rampling

Basically: Friends reunite to unravel a shared dark past at their private boarding school.

And We Should Care Because: The summary suggests English period drama of an ordinary kind, when the plot is actually steeped in scholarly sci-fi. Based on a novel by The Remains of the Day author Kazuo Ishiguro, threads of the story involve tea, scones, cloning and dystopias. Wisely the school seems to have cloned a choice British cast in the likes of Knightley, Hawkins, Rampling, and fresh-faced breakthrough Carey Mulligan. Director Mark Romanek's career consists largely of music videos, outside of his 2002 freak show set during Robin Williams dark period. Not the scarring era of Patch Adams, RV, License to Wed and Old Dogs, but the characteristically dark period that included Death to Smoochy, Insomnia, and Romanek's own One Hour Photo. The meld of an ace female cast, sinister schoolgirl undercurrents, and a notable visual stylist, could make for a posh, pleasant surprise.

Status: Curious

Walking and Talking,
and waiting for old people to die off.

directed and written by: Nicole Holofcener
starring: Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, Rebecca Hall, Oliver Platt, Kevin Corrigan

Basically: A couple stirs confrontation as they eye the antiques of an elderly woman in their New York apartment building.

And We Should Care Because: Nicole Holofcener's films are so adept at delving into specific characteristic quirks, without those detrimental indie quirks. Lovely & Amazing is perhaps her most acclaimed title, and an apt description of Holofcener's charming, but still scathing, works. Alongside longtime muse and perfect sardonic vessel, Catherine Keener, Holofcener will once again seek to dissect human flaws, flawlessly. Advanced word from Sundance has given fans reason to demand, "Please, Give," with critics citing the writer/director's consistent talent for making small moments ring of immensely poignant truths.

Status: Can't Miss

The Origin of Grief-Stricken Love

directed by: John Cameron Mitchell
written by: David Lindsay-Abaire
starring: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest

Basically: A couple unravels upon the death of their four-year-old son.

And We Should Care Because: John Cameron Mitchell is a reputable auteur after two dynamic and distinctive works: the trans rock spectacular Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and the neurotic sex spectacular Shortbus. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning stage play by David Lindsay-Abaire, the tonal shift seems inevitably darker than Cameron Mitchell's past works, but he has already shown himself to be gifted at balancing even his bawdiest moments with some touching backstory. For what reads like a conventional drama, the cast and crew promises anything but. Nicole Kidman graciously ties herself to another edgy indie director - the type of career choice that consistently gives her the best material. And we know by now that a grieving Kidman is a great Kidman. Aaron Eckhart and Dianne Wiest lend their own spark to what easily sounds like one of the highlight dramas of the year. I'm so ready to love taking the plunge down this rabbit hole of despair.

Status: Can't Miss

Being a celebrity is about sex, drugs,
and paying child support.

directed and written by: Sofia Coppola
starring: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Benicio Del Toro, Chris Pontius

Basically: Troubled actor Johnny Marco receives a wake up call from his 11-year-old daughter while holed up at LA's infamous Chateau Marmont.

And We Should Care Because: One of the most fascinating directors working today - female or otherwise - Sofia Coppola finds such startling grace in her relaxed, atmospheric tone poems on film. Her last, the unjustly ignored and utterly sublime Marie Antoinette, had Coppola taking on a project of historically grand scale with a personal, ethereal touch. Somewhere reads like it could very well find itself in a similarly detached headspace as the many lethargic and longing characters Coppola has confronted throughout her career. She's keeping it interesting with oft-ignored actor Stephen Dorff playing bad-boy Johnny Marco, and a compellingly cast Chris Pontius of MTV's Jackass as one of Johnny's pals. Stellar French band Phoenix (the lead of whom is married to Coppola) is also lending their talents to the soundtrack.

Status: Can't Miss

Bite your tongue.
Then bite mine.

directed by: David Cronenberg
written by: Christopher Hampton (play)
starring: Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley

Basically: Carl Jung finds therapeutic and romantic success while using Sigmund Freud's "talking cure" approach on a disturbed female patient. Freud names Jung his successor only to find discord and a division of thought.

And We Should Care Because: All that male goodness under the guidance of mastermind David Cronenberg? My mind is officially blown Scanners-style. The collaborations between Mortensen and Cronenberg have already yielded two jaw dropping performances in two knockout films. The inclusion of Club Silencio favorite, the equally jaw dropping Michael Fassbender, could only be topped if Cronenberg were to make a sequel to the bathhouse scene in Eastern Promises. What can I say, I'm Rabid with a case of sexually parasitic Shivers. The mental minefield premise seems right up Cronenberg's alley. He's never one to disappoint when it comes the psychological, sexual, and everything dark and delicious in the Interzone.

Status: Can't Miss

Part Five soon.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Eat My Retro Posters!

Terror at a slow simmer!
Horrors unthawed and reheated!

Bad taste, decoratively garnished.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Oscar's Blind Side

My two picks for the biggest Blind Side omissions from this year's Oscar ceremony. Sandra Bullock's passing them by, but if she goes below 50 mph, she'll explode!

Best Actor:
Michael Fassbender
(Hunger / Fish Tank)

Responsible for one of the most tantalizing monologues of the year in Hunger, Michael Fassbender is also responsible for the most tantalizing man flesh of the year in Fish Tank. Both equally admirable and award worthy. One film details the horrors inflicted on the body, the other the body's insurmountable pleasures.

Beyond his obvious external beauty though is a masterfully confident performer. Hunger strips Fassbender bare, his body and mind made frail for a cause. The brutal physicality of the role is met with a startling internal grace, turning the sustained single shots into captivating and moving reveals. While wasting away before our eyes, the depths of his character are fully nourished.

Fish Tank then is just as startling, merging that inherent sex object quality with a father figure conflict. His encounters with the young Mia are equal parts erotic and unsettling as we experience her desires for her mom's new boytoy first hand, and yet we feel the detached darkness subtly creep in with each curious glance and questionable touch. Removing someone's shoes has never seemed so layered and lustful. His character's turns could make him horribly villainous, yet Fassbender stirs an inner judgement and disgrace that keeps him from being painted as simplistically. If Michael Fassbender is a sculptural man, he manages to chip away at all the right parts.

Best Actress:
Tilda Swinton

Channeling Gena Rowlands if mob maven Gloria had taken to child abduction rather than childcare. Her olive-dropped swirl of moral suspect is filled to the brim in Tilda Swinton's boozy, mesmerizing creation. Julia is a woman bent on destroying herself and everyone around her, destined for a life lived in brown paper bags and back seats, until a child enters her life. Same story we've seen a million times, and yet Julia first abducts the child and binds him to the motel radiator outside of Mexico. For every noble effort there's some nefarious counterpoint and Swinton builds Julia's inevitable soul without orchestration - even if Swinton's detailing plays like some kind of tipsy symphony.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

House of 1000 Retro Posters!

I've Got Double-Vision:



Remember that part when the demon Pumpkinhead pushed Lance Henriksen aside and used a straight razor to slash a woman's face that was already being devoured from the inside?!

...Yeah, me neither.

Jayne Kennedy is one bad Muther who's Fighting Mad.
She might also be a paper doll.

Ghost children are always impeding traffic:

For Your Displeasure:

(Road Games)

Hey buddy, stay in your lane!

(Naked Sun)

Don't get caught in the naked sun without it!


"Terror is a one letter word."

Terror is also a two word sentence:
Starring Twiggy.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mass for Cinephile Shut-Ins: Part Three

Let us commune over all this vague pre-publicity so as to garner faith and hope for a bright cinematic future. And let us also pass invalid judgment.

This is Part Three.

The secret word of the day is: dysfunction.

directed and written by: Todd Solondz
starring: Charlotte Rampling, Allison Janney, Paul Reubens, Shirley Henderson, Ciaran Hinds, Ally Sheedy

Basically: Following the events of 1998's Happiness, family man and pedophile Bill is released from prison and faced with the monumental task of forgiveness.

And We Should Care Because: Todd Solondz knows that misery loves company, and that we the company love laughing uncomfortably alongside it. His last feature Palindromes was similarly a "pseudo-sequel" to his breakthrough Welcome to the Dollhouse, and still managed to take its own oddball and disturbing (ie. hysterical) routes. A new ensemble takes up the varied roles from Happiness, such as Ciaran Hinds re-imagining the part that Dylan Baker made infamous as the dad who subscribes to "family first" ideals and "Teen Beat" magazine. Advanced word has been mixed, but somewhat more favorable than Palindromes and his vastly underrated Storytelling. Though it seems more devoted Solondz fans find plenty to laugh at and feel bad about later, calling it a notable meditation on family and forgiveness.

Status: Can't Miss

Jake Gyllenhaal IS a drug
that fights erectile dysfunction.

directed by: Edward Zwick
written by: Marshall Herskowitz, Edward Zwick, Charles Randolph, Jamie Reidy (novel)
starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Hank Azaria, Oliver Platt

Basically: The competitive world of pharmaceuticals brings together a salesman for erectile dysfunction with a woman suffering Parkinson's disease and her Prozac-peddling man on the side.

And We Should Care Because: It's a Brokeback Mountain reunion for Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway in this story of power plays in the bedroom and the world of prescription drugs (they never were mutually exclusive). This comedic satire is based on Jamie Reidy's memoir "The Hard Sell" and looks to take on a deceitful industry with a lighter touch, although director Ed Zwick was behind the political thriller and wedding industry nightmare, Blood Diamond. In fact before partners Zwick and Marshall Herskowitz took to pill-popping tales of political hire, they were behind TV classics thirtysomething and My So-Called Life, so it's fair to assume they can handle both sides of the comedy/drama balance (you know Jordan Catalano would be prescribed Adderall if that show were now in production). Beyond that the talk show circuit has given Jake Gyllenhaal many a fruitful discussion of wearing "cock socks" on set, which should test many a Viagra prescription.

Status: Curious

A sunny disposition and other impossible pursuits.

directed by: Don Roos
written by: Don Roos, Ayelet Waldman (novel)
starring: Natalie Portman, Lisa Kudrow, Lauren Ambrose, Scott Cohen

Basically: A troublesome bond with her stepson helps a woman overcome a traumatic loss.

And We Should Care Because: When I last wrote on this film it had the chick-lit diary title 17 Photos of Isabel, and before that Jennifer Lopez was set to star. Dire news that was making this project almost impossible to pursue. Thankfully things seem to be coming together for the latest from writer/director Don Roos, mastermind behind The Opposite of Sex and the always undervalued Happy Endings. Lopez has been graciously replaced with Natalie Portman, Lauren Ambrose is lending her charms, and the true muse of Don Roos, Lisa Kudrow, should guarantee plenty of sardonic strength and support. The film's tone, based on Ayelet Waldman's novel, looks to be more melodramatic and teary-eyed than usual for Roos, possibly playing more to the moods of his plane crash romance, Bounce. It might not be worth all this pursuit, but I still love Lisa Kudrow.

Status: Curious

Money can't buy happiness,
but surely a criminal defense lawyer.

directed by: Gil Cates Jr.
written by: Kent Sublette
starring: Colin Hanks, Ari Graynor, Ann-Margret, Jeffrey Tambor

Basically: A serial killer's luck cashes in when he wins the lottery and finally has an in with the girl of his dreams.

And We Should Care Because: So I worked on the (amazing) crew. So I made the wrong kind of tea for Ann-Margret. So promoting this film seems like a cheap, false ploy. Not so! I'm lucky enough to really believe that the film has all the potential in the world, with a uniquely sick, sweet and satirical tone, and a cast more than ready for the challenge. Colin Hanks seems perfect for the part -- he is suspiciously normal with a dark comic streak. And Ari Graynor (Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, Whip It, Youth in Revolt) is more than deserving of a showcase with the screentime to match her stellar comedic chops. Then there's the likes of legendary and lovable Ann-Margret as Hank's mother, and Jeffrey Tambor's more serious side. All great people to boot. Don't take my word for it, but your odds are infinitely better than winning the lottery.

Status: Can't Miss

First Michelle Williams lost her dog, Lucy.
Now she's lost the entire Oregon Trail.

directed by: Kelly Reichardt
written by: Jon Raymond
starring: Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Bruce Greenwood, Shirley Henderson

Basically: Three families attempt crossing the Cascade Mountains in 1845 with the help of their guide, Stephen Meeks, whose shortcuts leads them onto a path of desolation, until they meet a Native American wanderer.

And We Should Care Because: Kelly Reichardt's last feature, Wendy and Lucy, used sparseness and subtlety to gain surprising emotional heft, also displaying the nuanced talents of Michelle Williams in the lead. Old Joy likewise found in Reichardt a talent for blending vivid, real world environments with impactful character arcs. This period piece set upon the Oregon Trail similarly takes on a tale of drifters, and of human nature at a cross with the natural landscape. She has a skill for crafting small, personal films that bring about remarkable implications of much greater scale (Wendy and Lucy's lost dog walks with the immense weight of homelessness, poverty and a wayward American dream). Let Kelly Reichardt be our guide. Guaranteed there will be no desolate shortcuts.

Status: Can't Miss

No souls left to take after
the Twilight franchise...

directed and written by: Wes Craven
starring: Shareeka Epps, Max Thieriot, Nick Lashaway, Denzel Whitaker

Basically: A town's legendary serial killer vows to return and kill the seven children born on the day of his death. Sixteen years later the murders commence. Is one of the children responsible, or has the killer made his supernatural return?

And We Should Care Because: Wes Craven's last attempt to write and direct yielded the savvy series highlight and Freddy reinvention, Wes Craven's New Nightmare -- an underrated display of Craven's talent for witty and innovative premise with a signature dark streak. Since then Craven has receded to directorial gigs to the smashing success of Scream and the dismal failures of the studio-hacked, ironically named Cursed, and inevitably declining sequels like Scream 3. True to Craven's career though he's made a genre classic for every mediocre effort, but his auteur works are often his most memorable (The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street). His premise here recalls both his Nightmare glory days and... Shocker. Things could fall either way. Anybody want to bet these kids use boobytraps to fight their killer? It worked for Nancy Thompson, the Collingwood parents and the Carter Clan. Let's hope it gives us what the Nightmare remake inevitably won't: genuine horror that's genuinely creative.

Status: Curious

Part Four soon!