Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Going to New York City in a few days, will start scanning some new additions to the gallery when I get back.

I've seen a few current movies as of late. I haven't been seeing too many films lately since I'm busy editing a lot and seeing the revivals at the Brattle Theater is generally far more satisfying than setting foot in a cinemaplex, however, I saw The Wolf Man a month or so ago and actually liked it. It was basically a modern, multi-million dollar exploitation film with beautiful cinematography that looks like a Hammer flick and delivers what it advertises in spades. It has a wonderful sick sense of humor and grotesque quality akin to Story of Ricky or Dead Alive as Benicio Del Toro's fuzzy werewolf runs around ripping people limb to limb and tearing out stomachs and things like that. Yes, its dumb, low brow and rather shallow, but no more so than many of the gory horror films made in the 70s and 80s that people canonize today while they poo-poo films like this one or Eli Roth's films simultaneously. Whiny pricks like these (whom you find posting on movie message boards a lot) are generally the same buffoons who complain about cellphone users in theaters but look back with misty eyes at the grindhouse when you inhaled more smoke than a chimney, risked getting shanked if you sat down in the wrong place and had to watch your step to avoid stepping in used condoms and spent heroin needles.
Also, saw Scorsese's Shutter Island. The film was gorgeously shot: Robert Richardson is probably the best DP-working today. May Tarantino continue to employ him in every film he ever makes. However, there is something mundane and underwhelming about it. It's a good three-starer, a nicely nightmarish flick and you can see a lot of influence drawn from Scorsese's beloved Val Lewton and Mario Bava (especially Kill, Baby Kill) as well as especially Stanley Kubrick with The Shining, but I dunno, it just lacks something. The only movie Scorsese has made in the last decade I've loved is Gangs of New York. Everything else he's made, even the oft-lauded Departed, is very middle of the road and lacks the power of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, Goodfellas, etc. Shutter Island is more of that. It cinematically works better than Cape Fear but it lacks a certain strength that film has. Maybe he needs to ditch Leonardo and start working with Robert DeNiro again. I will give the film huge props though because it manages to pull off what Marty's buddy Brian DePalma tried but failed miserably with Raising Cain (a film from the disjointed perspective of a madman). A lot of filmmakers try to do this and fall flat on their faces but Scorsese handles it well and the level of suspense is at least decent.
Since I'm heading to see the Tim Burton exhibit when in NYC, I finally decided to see Alice in Wonderland in "Disney Digital 3-D". I was a little afraid to see it because I was worried it might "influence" Alison, but it honestly makes me want to do it even more gritty and original now. It's Burton's most soulless film since Planet of the Apes. I thought he was back on the right track with Sweeney Todd, but here he plummets into the depths of utterly commercial filmmaking once more. The 3-D was cool but feeling like you're falling down the rabbit hole with Alice doesn't make up for a gross lack of interest in the story. The film had some things I liked about it and actually started off pretty well, but it ultimately left me very cold and seeing Johnny Depp dancing to hip-hop-like music or whatever as the Mad Hatter made me just want to hysterically scream like a woman in a T.F. Mou flick. Burton's vision of Wonderland is like the exact polar opposite of mine: his is utterly unreal whereas I want to make a film that looks earthy and handcrafted. That was what made Peter Jackson's Middle Earth so wonderful in my mind. I predicted from the trailer that this would look just like what you would expect a Alice in Wonderland film directed by Tim Burton to look like and I was right. It looks at times more like the product of an "Instamatic hit film machine" than actual human beings. It was the same film as Labyrinth really but that film was made almost 25 years ago and is so much fresher and superior.

But for an experience that delivered everything that Tim Burton did not, I must heap much praise upon The Runaways. This film rocks: it's exhilarating, kinetic and driven by its characters. It also explores the sexuality of adolescents (a subject I never grow tired of) in a brazen, honest manner more akin to a European arthouse flick than a stupid American teen sex comedy starring a bunch of 25 year olds. I always knew Dakota Fanning could act, she's kind of the Jodie Foster of today in how she takes on controversial roles and takes them pretty far. She plays Cherie Currie as a true "Cherry Bomb": a blond-haired blue-eyed nitroglycerin cocktail, a raging ball of hormones mixed with enough innocence, naivety and immaturity to spell her downfall. Shockingly, Kristen Stewart, who usually is as enthusiastic in her performances as a doctor prescribing laxatives, actually gives a great, very convincing performance as Joan Jett. She plays the role of a tough-as-nails rocker chick way better than that of an innocent, naive ingenue in those atrocious gay glittery vampire flicks she's in. Michael Shannon is an actor who is quickly rising up the ranks, let me tell you, his role in Revolutionary Road was a particularly memorable one and here he really wows as the batshit insane record producer Kim Fowley. Picture the manic constant enthusiasm and eccentric personality of Quentin Tarantino mixed with the perversion and fashion sense of Gary Glitter topped off with Phil Spector's sociopathic nature and God-complex (ala the character Swan from Phantom of the Paradise) and you have this guy.

The Runaways is a great film and a very appealing one to my sensibilities. It's character driven, all about the creative drive and fully expressing one's individuality, real, kinetic and always on the go (like its characters) but also has a bit of an exploitation film quality and doesn't hesitate to, like Kim Fowley himself saw an opportunity to do back in 1975 with the real Runaways, use sex and sleaze (and Dakota Fanning in assorted stages of undress) to titillate its audience. That's not water that's dripping off the cherry in the poster, you know. I saw Alice and Runways on the same day and oddly they're not dissimilar: both are films about young women who break out of the standard molds set for them in their respective time period, but with Alice its utterly superficial and just tossed in there to make it a Tim Burton film. The Runaways deals with it in a more realistic fashion and shows that diving into it without thinking, as all young people inevitably do with varying degrees, can have consequences.

And I'm thinking seriously about whether I should put a commentary track on the Conversations with T.F. Mou DVD. On the one hand, I was just thinking and realize that the film has a lot of idiosyncrasies in terms of the backstory, how it was made, how I'm editing it, the sources of footage, etc, so I could easily compile a track if people want it. However, on the other hand, I initially thought that film at least should speak for itself since given that it's a documentary it's already sort of a commentary and still wonder about this. Was initally going to make a 10 or so minute video introduction where I'd more quickly explore all that. Your opinions are welcome in the poll below and comments.


Anonymous said...

Wow. You are so utterly clueless and self-involved, it's almost incomprehensible.

J.L. Carrozza said...

Good, at least I get real things done, unlike harpies such as yourself who sit at their computers all day and give people shit. I'm glad to be self involved, since my brand of doing things is an awesome one that I will stand before until the day I die. And it's better to be self involved than to live your life trying to please the selfishness of others. So let's see how far your head will fit up your rectal cavity.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, God forbid that Jules actually try to make something of himself and dare to express his individuality! GASP! Why you go haunt some other area of da interwebs, you insignificant little apparition.