Against The Hype

movies, criticism and their pleasures

Archive for August, 2009

Links Roundup: More Basterds

August 30, 2009 By: Colin Low Category: Link Roundups

Nat and KateyThe Film Experience: Vodcast with the talking heads of Nat Rogers and Katey Rich on Inglourious Basterds. Also: Nat’s 25 fave actors mini-blogathon

Cinephilia: Hilariously mean skit of Brad Pitt getting the phone call for his role in Basterds (with well-observed sideswipes at Angelina Jolie and Tim Burton).

Scanners: Jim Emerson reviews Basterds through the lenses of its auteur Quentin Tarantino’s perspectives on story, character, emotion, dialogue and the movies. He also directs us to a Village Voice interview with Quentin (thx).

Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule: A massive conversation on Basterds. Continued in parts two, three and four

Slog posts a wry, understated theatre marquee for Basterds. “Understated” because, well, it’s almost a truism (thx):

Basterds Marquee

The Film Doctor: Insightful 14-point analysis of Basterds

Antagony & Ecstasy: Tim Brayton backs up the theory that Basterds is a movie about WWII movies:

A direct riposte to the predictable howls of outrage from people wondering when the hell Tarantino is going to grow up and start addressing the real world, anyway, the film as much as argues, “what movie was ever about the real world? And with that in mind, why can’t I just go balls-out crazy?” Besides, he already demonstrated in Pulp Fiction that movies and television have replaced the real world as our model for reality; to call something “real” actually means that it’s reminiscent of “realist” films.

Spinning off Basterds‘ historically inaccurate conceit, Tim further lists ten good movies that make for bad history lessons. He also highlights the screenwriting pleasures of 1983 slasher flick Sleepaway Camp

Meanwhile, Quentin Tarantino praises fellow auteur Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, comparing their mutual inspirations to Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift’s (thx):

Other “Basterds”…

Classic film actress Lauren Bacall delivers a Twitter smackdown on Twilight (thx):

Yes, I saw Twilight – my granddaughter made me watch it, she said it was the greatest vampire film ever. After the “film” was over I wanted to smack her across her head with my shoe, but I did not want a book called Grannie Dearest written on me when I die. So instead I gave her a DVD of Murnau’s 1922 masterpiece Nosferatu and told her, “Now that’s a vampire film!” And that goes for all of you! Watch Nosferatu instead!


Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule rants about the unoriginal marketing and premise of “scifi thriller” Surrogates, contrasting it with 1973’s Westworld

The New York Times expounds on the easy pleasures of the Final Destination movies, ending up comparing them to Bergman:

Their first innovation is the casting of Death itself as the antagonist, which turns out to be quite pleasing from a design perspective. These are remarkably streamlined, clutter-free movies, unencumbered by the need to identify the killer or his motivation, let alone explain why he appears to die at the end of one film only to be revived at the start of the next. There is no supernatural or psychological back story and — a rarity in this most charged of genres —no sociopolitical subtext to speak of. At most, for those so inclined, the movies function as memento mori, posing cosmic questions about fate and mortality. The arc of any “Final Destination” film — a futile, movielong negotiation with Death — echoes that of the Bergman classic “The Seventh Seal.”

Shooting Down Pictures: Liveblog of Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence

The Auteurs: Panel discussion on the future of movie criticism in the blog-and-Twitter era. On a more optimistic note, Film Studies for Free offers an extensive collection of free online scholarship on movie criticism.

…and Blogathons

Live Tweets du #Cinema is holding a live-tweet on Orson Welles’ The Batman on Sept 5, 6pm – 7:30pm PST

The House Next Door is holding a week-long blogathon on Pixar on Oct 4-10, 2009. Can’t wait

Links Roundup: Inglourious Basterds

August 23, 2009 By: Colin Low Category: Link Roundups

Hans LandaSunset Gun: Kim Morgan and Quentin Tarantino discuss Inglourious Basterds and their shared love of movies. Most of the allusions whoosh over my head, but I love that they’re there, and I can’t wait to know more.

The New York Times: Profile on Christoph Waltz, the little-known Austrian actor who won the Best Supporting Actor prize at this year’s Cannes for his portrayal of Col. Hans Landa, the villain of Inglourious Basterds.

Asked when he knew he wanted to act, he had a ready rejoinder: “Still don’t.”

“The basic reason why anyone wants to become an actor is arrested development,” he continued. “Which is great when you’re 18. Becoming an actor is like becoming a father. It’s not hard to become one. Making a life of it is the challenge.”

If he wants it, Mr. Waltz could probably go on to a lucrative career playing Euro-villains in Hollywood thrillers. But as he put it, “I’m open to working anywhere, but not on anything.”

And here’s a QT interview with David Letterman back in 1997, nearing the release of Jackie Brown (via Kris Tapley). Observe how temperate he used to be:

The L Magazine: Matt Zoller Seitz and Keith Uhlich’s essay (with accompanying video) on the appeal of QT’s “profane, rococo dialogue”:

It once struck me as wildly hit-or-miss – either brilliantly florid and theatrical (sometimes revelatory) or else redundant and navel-gazing, dragging the filmmaker’s characters into a quagmire of telling when the films could have been showing instead (Tarantino is very, very good at showing). I’m taking the second part of that characterization back.

Scanners: Overheard after the apocalyptic 2012 trailer:

I’m tired of watching the world end.

Links Roundup: Cary Grant, Dogme 09.8

August 16, 2009 By: Colin Low Category: Link Roundups

Cary GrantThe House Next Door: Sheila O’Malley profiles Cary Grant as conscious shaper of his leading-man persona, and picks his five career-best performances. See also Pauline Kael’s old essay on Grant, The Man from Dream City.

Scanners: In 1995, a group of Danish directors (among whom Lars Von Trier was the most notorious) came up with the Dogme 95 Manifesto, limiting the use of special effects and post-production techniques to refocus the film-making discipline on narrative and acting. Fourteen years later, Jim Emerson updates it with his Dogme 09.8 Manifesto, suggesting ten limitations that modern movies need to get back on track:

  1. Get a tripod.
  2. Location-recorded sound isn’t the finished product.
  3. Shoot the movie so that it can be assembled in as few well-planned shots as possible.
  4. No more than three consecutive shots should last less than one second apiece.
  5. If you can tell it’s CGI, don’t use it.
  6. Don’t fall back on overused scenes, subjects, images and superficial action.
  7. Don’t scramble chronology just to make dull material less linear.
  8. Know your genre and filmmaking conventions.
  9. Fit the format to the film.
  10. Remember that every single thing in your movie reflects a decision.

Links Roundup: Pregnancies, Michael Mann

August 09, 2009 By: Colin Low Category: Link Roundups

The Film Experience: Nathaniel Rogers’ top ten pregnant movie characters. Personally I’d disqualify Holly from Hannah and Her Sisters and Rosemary from Rosemary’s Baby since their movies don’t involve them walking about with oversized bellies.

The House Next Door: Conversation between Jason Bellamy and Ed Howard covering Michael Mann’s career up to Public Enemies

Links Roundup: Stephanie Zacharek, Monsters, Production Code

August 02, 2009 By: Colin Low Category: Link Roundups

Stephanie ZacharekSergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule: An interview with Stephanie Zacharek, Salon‘s senior film critic.

Scanners: Wonderful insight on why monster flicks are no longer scary:

Now we no longer populate these movies with humans but with fodder. We’ve learned how to show the Monster but forgotten how to show people, and they become increasingly flimsy, predictable and mawkish — to stare at them too long is to get bored while waiting for them to be eaten. Instead we fetishize the Monster, and in staring at it too long, it loses its power too — everything has its depth stripped away, nothing means anything, and we’ve diffused or at least ignored our fears by shining a flashlight on every menacing shadow in the room. These movies have lost the capacity to connect to any real fear, and instead only appeal to our infantile desire to break our toys against each other.

GreenCine Daily: The intriguing history of the birth of the Production Code