Maybe the newspaper movie, which I mentioned a few postings back
as a "Dead End Trends," has got some life in it after all. I've been reminded
that there is indeed a third film that falls into that category in addition to
"State of Play"
and "The Soloist" -- Rod Lurie's "Nothing But the Truth"
-- thus fulfilling the hallowed "rule of
three" that distinguishes a meaningless "trend" from a meaningless coincidence.
As expected, Jody Hill's unconstrained black comedy "Observe
and Report" has
in particular concerning a scene in which Seth Rogen's unstable mall cop
character has sex with a woman played by Anna Faris who is semi-conscious and
wasted. The scene, say the outraged critics, condones and encourages date rape,
exploiting it for cheap laughs.
Having worked a few years as a security guard myself (and given the state of print journalism, might someday again; I can always put it on my resume), I can attest to the authenticity of Jody Hill's black comedy about the profession, "Observe and Report." So we already had a lot in common when we started our conversation (which was conducted before the Anna Faris date-rape scene became a media firestorm, although I did ask him about it).
Okay, now it's starting to get on my nerves. Not only has Ramin Bahrani been declared a founder of a new film movement by A.O. Scott and declared "the new great American director" by Roger Ebert, he just won a Guggenheim Fellowship. Why don't we just give him the Nobel Prize and be done with it? O the other hand, it probably couldn't happen to a nicer or more talented guy.
PK: You've said that if Buñuel was going to make "Los Olvidados"
today he'd make it in Willets Point.
PK: Is it three films you've made or four?
RB: "The Strangers" is a medium length film. It's like 60 some
minutes, I think with the credits it's like 71. It was basically a thesis film.
I was just finishing Columbia University and it was done in an Arts organization in
Iran and it was kind of like
I could go to Iran,
live there and through this arts organization make a film.
It used to be that someone had to make a bunch of films over several decades to earn a career retrospective. Now three seems to do the trick. As noted earlier "Adventureland" director Greg Mattola just had one at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City. Now Ramin Bahrani will be similarly celebrated this weekend when he appears at the Harvard Film Archive which will be screening his three features (there is a fourth called "Strangers" that won't be on the program, but that is on the short side) "Man Push Cart," "Chop Shop" and "Goodbye Solo."
This is a little last minute, but you should not miss the opportunity to meet and listen to Mira Nair, the director of such films as "Salaam Bombay," "Mississippi Masala," "Monsoon Wedding" and "The Namesake," to mention a few. Not only is she a fine filmmaker but she is also a knowledgeable, intelligent and witty speaker, as I have witnessed first hand.
As part of my job I’m supposed to spot patterns of themes, subjects, motifs and whatnot in movies and relate them to what’s going on in the culture at large. The Zeitgeist. The Big Picture. The rule of thumb is: two similar films is a coincidence, three is a trend. Needless to say a lot of these apparent trends go nowhere or mean nothing.
Is all of comedy destined to be variations on 80s classics
like “Porky’s” and “Revenge of the Nerds?” Are they merely falling in the noble
tradition of such coming of age classics as Truffaut’s “The 400 Blows” and
Fellini’s “I Vitelloni” but with vomit takes
and fart jokes? Those are just a couple of questions I didn’t ask, and probably
just as well.
So here’s a guy who’s made three films since 1997 and
already he’s got a career retrospective at
the Museum of the Moving Image in New
York! Maybe it has something to do with the fact that
his second film. the Seth Rogen
cowritten/Judd Apatow produced raunchy teenaged comedy “Superbad” made over $120 million in the US alone and is now quoted by
movie geeks everywhere.
Since there can be no Armageddon without the Antichrist, it’s a
little unnerving that a new image from the mysterious Lars Von Trier project of
the same name has just popped up. The film stars a still fit Willem Dafoe
as a psychiatrist who retreats with his wife, played by Charlotte Gainsborough, to a cabin in the woods after the death of their child.
(I’m hoping that this item is not as error-riddled as the
previous. My apologies to Adam Roffman, Bobcat Goldthwait and Abba.)
Now that I’ve got your attention about worthy local film
happenings, you might want to head over to Waltham tomorrow to Brandeis University
where Jewishfilm2009, the fine film festival annually organized by the National
Center for Jewish Film, opens with the infuriating and frightening documentary
“Waiting for Armageddon” by Franco
Sacchi, Kate Davis and David Heilbroner (all three of whom will attend the
screening, introduced by Professor Jonathan Sarna of Brandeis).
I never really understood the films of Alexander Sokurov
until last night at the Chlotrudis Awards ceremony
when the Chlotrudis players performed a musical number backing a montage of
the director’s film “Aleksandra”
and set to the tune of Abba’s “Fernando.”
The film was one of the group’s nominees for Best Buried Treasure, and although
it didn’t win (Margaret Brown’s “The Order of Myths” won the “Trudy” in this
category), it did, in my opinion, get the best introduction in this very
The last awards ceremony of 2008, the Chlotrudis Awards this
Sunday at the Brattle Theatre, is in
many ways the best. And I say that only in part because I am participating in
it (I’m giving out the Best Director Award).
For 15 years now The Chlotrudis Society,
a bunch of local cinephiles tired of seeing crappy movies get center stage,
have given out their awards to the best films and performances of the year.
Much of the following may be an exercise in irony. Or is it? I mean, when you talk about the band Rush and Lou Ferigno
there’s got to be some irony involved, right? And a sitcom about catering?
Actually, that sounds like it could be a funny idea. Finally, why John Hamburg
is the Alfred Hitchcock of dumb comedies.