Let me join the chorus in saying that a cultural era passes
with the death of Norman Mailer, a time when writers (and filmmakers and
artists in general) were regarded as something heroic and iconic and not just purveyors
of products and backdrops for corporate advertising. Also, I’m personally
pissed off because I was looking forward to the next two installments of
Mailer’s Hitler trilogy that began with the publication this year of “The
Castle in the Forest
Josh Brolin plays some really tough guys in his two new movies
“American Gangster” and “No Country for Old Men,” and after a confusing
encounter in the hotel lobby when I did a double take and he may or may not
have misinterpreted it, I wasn’t about to begin the conversation by saying that
I saw him one night in the parking lot of a fish and chips place on Martha’s
Vineyard with Diane Lane clinging to his arm.
As I’ve mentioned before, whenever I wax a little political
or philosophical in discussing films like, oh, "300"
or any of The Lord of the Rings movies or any other movie in which crypto
fascist fanboys can act out their sad little gotterdammerung fantasies, I am
always reminded , “It’s only a movie” (among other usually unflattering or
otherwise anatomically dubious
For those countless Michael Haneke fans who have been
putting off attending screenings of his films at the Harvard Film Archive and
the Museum of Fine Arts, don’t wait any longer. There
are a couple more shows scheduled at the MFA this weekend. Dismayed by the poor turnout for the series.
one programmer who chose to remain anonymous said he despaired of the current audience
for serious cinema in Boston, let alone the United States
Many of those who meet Austrian
filmmaker Michael Haneke in person are surprised at how jolly and gracious he
is given the cold-blooded brutality and perversity of his films. Myself, I was
surprised to see how much he resembled Lloyd Schwartz, Pulitzer Prize winning Phoenix classical music
critic and a jolly and gracious fellow himself.
As I was
pondering what to go as to the many Halloween parties I haven’t been invited to,
it occurred to me -- this is how we can save the democratic system. Instead
of another one of those boring, repetetive and frankly embarassing “debates,” why
not have the candidates dress up as their favorite movie monster and let the
voters pick the scariest? I have some suggestionsto start them
At this point
I began to suspect that maybe these dropped calls were not entirely accidental.
Maybe he was getting defensive or even angry. Judging from his response when I
finally called back, the comparison to “In the Mood for Love” seemed to touch a
nerve. However, when I got into more sensitive areas, like whether the hard
core sex in the film might drive first time actress Wei Tang into the loony
bin, as was the case with Maria Schneider in “Last Tango in Paris,” there were
no more disruptions (the static was still pretty bad and, let’s face it, the
guy’s English isn’t as fluent as his filmmaking).
interviewed Ang Lee about his new film “Lust, Caution,” an adaptation of a
short story by the revered Chinese auther Eileen Chang He was on a cell phone,
riding or maybe even driving through New
York while talking to me. This is an arrangement I
don’t recommend. The reception was frequently garbled — maybe on both ends,
because Lee’s answers were sometimes — and every ten minutes or so cut off.
ago I made the mistake of playing pundit when “Time” magazine asked me for my opinion on Ridley Scott’s “Thelma
and Louise.” “Ten years from now,” I intoned, “it will be seen as a turning point.”
So much for prophecy. And they never asked my opinion about anything ever
So I was
encouraged a couple of weeks ago when
Judith Warner in her “New York Times” blog “Domestic Disturbances”
I find it
kind of serendipitous that the release of “The Assassination of Jesse James by
the Coward Robert Ford” takes place in the midst of the growing controversy
about the Jena Six. As you probably know, several thousand people have marched
in that small Louisiana
town protesting the draconian punishments meted out to African-American high
school students goaded by racial harassment (including a noose hung from a
tree) into assaulting a white classmate.
As the media gratefully takes a pass on Iraq, the election or anything else
of depressing substance for the golden opportunity for endless inanity presented by the new OJ case, the
success of the upcoming spate of War on Terror related movies seems in doubt. After all, don’t people go to the movies to escape the troubles of
the world rather than be confronted with them? And when the news itself
doesn’t even want to think of all that bad stuff, what chance does “In The
Valley of Elah” (which I think is a crock, but that’s not my point) have
against, say, “Good Luck Chuck?”
the Cronenberg interview, a few notes on synchronicity, Soviet motorcycles,
nepotism, Martin Amis and some gratuitous references to Russian literature.
PK: Have you
had that happen before in other films, where the theme or some other elements
of the film suddenly became reflected in real life.
studio films in a row, is Cronenberg selling out? It’s not the kind of question
you want to ask even when he’s three hundred miles away on the phone. Note
above how I failed to follow up on asking him whether his films have influenced the trend of the “Saws” and “Hostels” (chances
are, however, that his answer would be “no.
Terror can be good for you, or so might argue David Cronenberg.
He should know, having made some of the most terrifying films of the last
thirty years or so, such as “Shivers/They Came From Within” (1975), “Rabid” (1977) , “Scanners” (1981), “Videodrome” (1983), "The Fly"(1986),
"eXistenZ" (1999). He’s moonlighted lately
in the gangster genre with his last two films, "A History of Violence "(2005) and
"Eastern Promises," in the gangster genre (though Cronenberg has said the former
is more of a Western).