Thursday, September 29, 2011
In the name of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Rooney
So I’ve been your friendly neighborhood columnist here at PORTEmaus for several months now. And I have to say, aside from the numerous restraining orders I’ve had to take out against the numerous 50+ year old groupies I’ve accumulated as a result of my peabody-esque entries, It’s been an amazing experience. You see, initially I was just your average columnist with an opinion. That is until I attempted to classify my position here. That’s when it hit me. And I coined quite possibly the best phrase of all time.....with the word PORTEmaus in it:
“I’m the Andy Rooney of this PORTEmaus sh*t!”
It wasn’t long before I was getting calls from the CBS cafeteria about a tab that was getting completely out of hand. Calls from “Bushy Brows Weekly” wanting to award me with the “Bushy Brow Lifetime Achievement Award”. And of course the women. Let’s just say I now have to avoid Post Offices, bank lobbies, and supermarket pharmacies as to not create a menopausal mob.
Anyhow, if you get your news from Yahoo like this reporter, you’ve probably heard:
Yeah. The Roonski is calling it quits. While he didn’t cite a reason from what I could gather, I would think this could be health related. If that’s the case, I would say retiring is sealing his fate. Why you ask? A wise man once said:
“The good die young.....but Pricks live FOREVER!” -Lewis Black
“That’s why every day you should go in your front yard and scream at the children in your neighborhood ‘Get out of here you little shits!!’ and it will be better than taking vitamins!”
Without Andy’s long established creative outlet to bitch about the mundane events of life he will slowly become less angry and thus slowly slip away.
But then again, maybe he’s earned his ‘final ride into the sunset’. In either case, I want to thank the man whom I’ve watched since a child complain about dumb shit and somehow always made my dad chuckle. Maybe that what inspires me to do what I do. Make Gonzi Supreme Sr. Chuckle.
Thanks Andy. Thanks Pop. And no Mrs. Thompson...I will not come and live under your bosom and quote Mr. Rooney on command.
Another DVD from the Year Punk Broke...
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Weekly Wish List 9/27 Another two weeks of cinematic joy.
Bridesmaids - Paul Feig
The house of Apatow brings its first comedy with a female centric cast. Twincess and I watched this recently and I must say I had heard it was funny, but I was surprised at to how hilarious this movie is. Like any movie from the Apatow crowd, the film mixes plenty of raunchy gross out immature humor with a huge does of heart and sincerity. Kristen Wiig does a rather commendable job, with Melissa McCarthy really blowing everyone away.
Le Beau Serge - Claude Chabrol
Chabrol's first film and one of the first films of the French New Wave. It seems almost criminal to not watch this with Les Cousins, which features the same actors in flipped roles. Here we have a successful young man returning to his village to find his best friend who is an alcoholic who detests his life. Chabrol really mastered the art of the sophisticated thriller, examining human relationships and exploring the dark side in everyone. Its really amazing to see how it all began. If you enjoy this one be sure to check out Le Boucher as well.
The Phantom Carriage - Victor Sjostrom
I've never heard of this, but Criterion deemed it important for a nice release. Apparently this film inspired Bergman in a lot of ways. This is the tale of the last person to die at midnight, who is then tasked with taking all the souls to the afterlife. He is to do this for a year without rest. This is one of those movies that sounds like it will turn out to be an amazing discovery. I can't wait to check this one out, if any of you out there have seen it let me know what you think.
Ben-Hur - William Wyler
Simply put, no one makes epics anymore. Kubrick, Wyler, and Lean made masterpieces of cinema that managed to span extreme stretches of time while being completely engrossing the entire time. People try, but I don't think anyone has managed to capture that magic of film that an epic represents in this modern time. Here we have an insanely awesome collectors set full of features, but were really here to see that chariot race in HD right?
For me, this is what role I think of when I think of Heston. Really I shouldn't have to say anymore. This is Ben-Hur, a classic film that deserves to be watched by everyone.
One Last Thought - October is going to be coverage of the New York Film Festival, and a strong Horror focus. Twincess and I getting closer and closer to Halloween watch one horror movie a night. Those of you in the mood for something disturbing should check this out.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Fall Network TV: Are these dreams a reality?
I wrote a piece earlier this year about the diminishing landscape of quality tv present on broadcast networks. You can read that here. Fox in an unprecedented move, slashed all but its steady mainstays. Every scripted show not bringing in strong numbers was sent to the scrap heap to join Lonestar, Kidnapped, and Drive. It would seem that the big four have realized how grim the horizon was looking for them, opting for strong overhauls of their scripted comedies and dramas. With Lost, 24, and Law & Order gone, along with the CSI franchise finally beginning to bleed viewers it's up in the air who is going to come in and save network tv from AMC and HBO. Modern Family two years ago is trying(quite successfully) to save the dying art of the family sitcom, while Glee(inconsistently) attempts to bring new genres to the forefront of American pop culture. That's only two shows and while shows like Community manage to give us creativity and laughs by the handful, it still fails to escape its niche audience.
So now we are here at the beginning of the Fall season. Shows are beginning to premiere and I wanted to take a look at a few of the high profile gambles that the networks are hoping become the next phenomenon. First up today I want to look at Terra Nova, the time travel and dinosaur family adventure drama from Steven Spielberg, and Person of Interest, the post 9/11 cloak and dagger procedural about a genius billionaire and his ex CIA operative as they utilize the lack of privacy in our modern age to track crimes before they happen from JJ Abrams and Jonathan Nolan.
Let's begin with Terra Nova. The future is a dystopian mega city a la Blade Runner, families are regulated to two kids and from what I could tell, everyone lived under fear of the police and government. Jason O'Mara gets locked away for having a third child and striking an officer, his wife breaks him out so they all can go to Terra Nova, a new colony 85 million years in the past which people can time travel to. Upon arriving there are huge centipedes, a whole batch of "others", and some dinosaurs for good measure, oh and some family strife.
All the stories of troubled production and delays and over priced this and that....seem to have creedence. The show is a mess of over ambition and poor storytelling. First off, I don't think the creators understood how to work in television, rather it seems like they were trying to make a movie. The pilot gives no sense as to what the show will be, aside from one expository conversation to the next were treated to mysteries that are thrown at our face. Constantly the dialogue is like this "what's that?" "Oh that's X its responsible for making Y happen....be sure not to tell Z he has a history with X" Repeat. When its not expository the dialogue lacks any sort of life and wit that would make this a truly compelling show.
The one saving grace was Stephen Lang and Jason O'Mara, they bring some charisma and charm to an otherwise limp cast. I was afraid Lang was just going to be his character from Avatar again, but for now he seems to be on the right side. They are entertaining enough that they manage to sell their situations. The stuff with the dinosaurs is pretty incredible in terms of content, but I'm a sucker for dinos no matter what. The problem is half the time the dinos looks straight out of a video game. I could go on and on but you get the point. This is an expensive mess of a show that I want to enjoy but for now it just lives in its mediocrity. Hopefully this season can pull it in and give us a compelling story.
Person of Interest is a whole other story. This is a story of an ex CIA agent propositioned by a genius billionaire to help stop crimes before they occur. The story is a great commentary on the lack of privacy in the world as well as the necessity for protection and what it costs in terms of privacy as well as the role of responsibility. This is a great pilot that manages to introduce the concept and its main players without ever feeling forced. Why? Aside from the brilliant writing, its obvious the producers understood how television worked. Serialized programming needs to have a plan, and it also needs to not play its cards all at once.
The best example of this is Taraji P Henson. She is billed as third main, but here she is barely seen and has only a brief encounter with our hero. By the end of the episode we get an idea that she will be investigating him, but not much more. We know there will be more to her character but rather than spelling out her whole arc to us the producers give us just enough to speculate on at the water cooler the next day.
Alright back to the show. The pilot keeps the paranoia pretty high by all involved, even cutting to the various security cameras and microphones that are always watching and listening. This begs the question of who is really on the other side and do they have are best interest at heart. A theme that is perfectly represented in the main crux of the show as the names Ben Linus gets are simply numbers, he does not know if they are the victim or perpetrator. As of now Ben Linus seems to have good intentions, but he is kept mysterious and vague throughout. Caviezel obviously lost the love of his life, but this is only shown in brief cuts, a story which I'm sure will develop over time. Again this is TV done right, the A story is the driving force of the episode while the B story deals with the overall mythology of the show. Not to mention the action in the show is top notch, Caviezel brings his Jason Bourne out as he dispatches the bad guys with simplicity and believability.
One last thought - spoiler alert I will be back looking at two female centric shows as a companion piece hopefully up later this week.
Put Another Log on the Fire of Crazy That is PETA
While, I am a card carrying lefty and supporter of animal rights, however, I cannot (in good conscience) support such stupidity. Seriously, way to sound like a crazy homeless person on a street corner. Positions such as this are like multiple practices fire alarms in a week... Such things reduce preparedness or in this case, reduce the interest or support of the public for your cause. Way to go... Stick to what you do best, splashing wealthy women wearing fur with paint. Let the youths enjoy their felt Panda hats or risk losing your relevance within America society.
New Tune Tuesday 9.27.11: Nevermind, it's just Nirvana, Johnny Winter, Wilco, Blink 182...
- 1CD - Re-mastered album only
- 2CD- Re-Mastered album, B-Sides, Smart Studio Sessions, Boombox rehearsals, BBC sessions
- 4LP - Pretty much the 2CD version in vinyl form with some lovely packaging.
- 4CD/1DVD - All of the 2CD set plus the original Butch Vig mixes of the album, the full Paramount concert on CD as well as the concert on DVD, this one with a few bonuses. oh, and a Deluxe hardbound book. There's only 10,000 of these in the US, my number is 3,822 BTW.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Movie Night Special Edition: New York Film Festival PREVIEW
I am less than a week out from going to my very first film festival. I hope it is the first of many, next year I plan on getting to Fantastic Fest(which is going on right now) as well as coming back to NYFF. SXSW looks like it will have to wait another year due to some scheduling conflicts. To say I am excited is a gross understatement. This has been something I have wanted to do since my love of film started back in high school, and to be so close to experiencing two weeks of intense cinematic injection its always on my mind. Twincess is the one who made this happen, and I am ever so grateful to her supporting my passion. Film is such an important part of my life that this milestone means so much to me and to be able to share my first experience with her makes it that much more valuable of an experience. Now I wish all of you could come and enjoy the various cinematic gems(well I suppose quality will be determined after viewing) so I am offering up my alternative list to my schedule at the New York Film Festival, along with some brief thoughts on the film. Enjoy and if you manage to check these films out then leave a comment below and let me know.
Miss Bala - Gerardo Naranjo
This is the first film I will be seeing and the one that Twincess will come and see with me. Naranjo is poised to be the next big thing coming out of Mexico. Mexico has some amazing talent, having given us Cuaron and Inarritu in the past decade. This film has already been chosen as the official entry from Mexico for the Best Foreign Film Oscar.
Naranjo doesn't have a long list of films. I suggest you check out I'm Gonna Explode, which is his previous film. You see the seeds of greatness being planted in that film, and to hear that Miss Bala is the film where he comes into his own makes me so excited. I'm Gonna Explode will give you a tease of this new talent and then hopefully you all will have a chance to check out Miss Bala soon.
A Dangerous Method - David Cronenberg
Third collaboration with Viggo and part 1 of Fassbender's double header at the NYFF. This film chronicles the relation between Freud and Jung and the manner in which their two styles began creating a distance between them and the patient in the middle of it all.
I love Cronenberg, and if you haven't experienced this master of adult drama and sci fi then you owe it to yourself to begin a journey into the weird and absurdly sensual. Any of his films would be great, but as an alternative to this tale of two scientists beginning as colleagues and ending up adversaries I suggest Dead Ringers. Arguably his best movie, this is a tale of twin surgeons played to perfection by Jeremy Irons. Their descent into madness as their experimentation in human anatomy goes way too far, a true masterpiece of the thriller genre and everything De Palma wishes he could do.
Le Havre - Aki Kaurismaki
This is a story of a defeated older man and a boy refugee that gives spark to this man's twilight. Featuring New Wave legend Jean Pierre Leaud?...I am extremely excited to see this.
Kaurismaki has a great set out under the "eclipse" label from criterion. He is known for his deadpan, subtle comedies that probe everyday life in France. He has been compared to Renoir, and while that praise is a bit extreme, the witty and tragically comic view on France is surely inspired by the master of Poetic Realism. I've only seen one other film by Kaurismaki, but anything from this set would be a great alternative.
Melancholia - Lars Von Trier
The end of the world as only a true nihilist like Trier could make. This is Trier bringing the suffering of humanity and placing a family's struggles against the backdrop of impending doom. Supposedly a career defining performance for Dunst. I'm always open minded, but I can't picture Dunst being anything but "ok."
Trier has a controversial library to choose, I can't think of a single film of his that doesn't split people down the middle. In a way I think that's pretty impressive. He manages to make films the generate strong emotional responses either positive or negative. Just look at Manny's views on Anti-Christ. Stylistically, this film seems to contain the same stark and crisp cinematography that he used in Anti Christ, but for my alternative I suggest The Idiots. This was made during his foray into Dogme 95, and tells the story of a group of people who live together in the country and attempt to find clarity and happiness through pretending to have severe mental retardation. If the premise doesn't give it away the film shows this makeshift family as it struggles to stay together given their ridiculous lifestyle.
Shame - Steve McQueen
Fassbender part 2, and the second collaboration with McQueen. Fassbender plays a sex addict in New York whose life is turned upside down when his estranged sister comes to live with him. Early Oscar talk for Fassbender has this movie shooting up in hype the past few weeks. McQueen is carving out a great career so far and has found a perfect partner with Fassbender.
What other alternative could there be but the pairs last collaboration Hunger. Fassbender plays an IRA prison inmate who goes on a hunger strike in order to raise awareness about poor conditions. That plot description does nothing to explain the raw brutality that is Hunger. McQueen has crafted a challenging experience for the viewer, not because of gore or shock, but because of how real the pain seen on screen is and how horrible these situations are. This is a prison film unlike any I've ever seen, it is not about gangs inside or living in fear of being attacked by other inmates. These are men living in their own filth and fighting back the only way they can. Fassbender gives a fearless performance going through hell for a cause. McQueen's centerpiece to the film is a simple two shot in which Fassbender speaks to a priest before the strike begins. It is a ballsy far from entertaining piece in which two actors get to shine. Great alternative and the beginning of a great( I hope) relationship between director and actor.
The Student - Santiago Mitre
A political thriller set in the university system in Argentina as a student gets involved with campus activists and radical teacher. Mitre is primarily a screenwriter and this is first foray into feature directing. As such I don't have a strong recommendation for this one. As an alternative I say take a look at Nine Queens. This is an Argentinian thriller that tells the tale of two conmen trying to pull off a con featuring a stolen set of rare stamps. Throughout the film we are taking through the culture of Argentina as we see the way crime weaves its way into society.
The Skin I Live In - Pedro Almodovar
The first collaboration between Almodovar and Banderas in over a decade. This time they dance around horror and scifi as Banderas is a surgeon who is pioneering new techniques in skin grafting, hiding the fact that he's secretly been testing his theories on a young lady he's kept as a prisoner in his mansion. I'm sure the whole thing will have a sharp wit and some strong sexual overtones. Almodovar is the master at comedy and emotional drama with healthy dose of sex thrown in.
While Talk to Her is by far my favorite of his films, I am going to suggest you take a look at Tie Me Up Tie Me Down, which is his last work with Banderas. Banderas plays a mental patient recently escaped, who kidnaps a porn star trying to be a serious actress only to hold her hostage and attempt to make her love him. This is a twisted hilarious take on the romantic comedy as Almodovar plays up the humor and absurdity of modern love with great enthusiasm. Not his best work, but Almodovar is always better than normal Hollywood fare.
The Artist - Michel Hazanivicius
Teaming up again with Jean Dujardin, this time making an homage the silent movie era. Dujardin is a star of the silent movie, fearing his fire will fade as the talkies take over. His accidental meeting of a young dancer, causes her career to take off as his fame diminishes more and more. The film has garnered raves at every festival its been at and Dujardin is said to be a contender in the best actor race.
Hazanivicius is best known for his OSS 117 movies, in which Dujardin plays a bumbling secret agent. Much like The Artist, these films pay homage to a classic genre, this time the super spy genre. Part James Bond, part Danger Diabolik, the OSS movies are smart and fun. Hazanivicius obviously loves cinema and you can say how well he is versed on the spy genre, so I can only imagine the type of passion he brings to silent film with The Artist. Watching the OSS films you can see just how charming Dujardin can be, he puts so much energy into each scene giving a very phsyical performance and constantly wearing a huge smile across his face. The OSS movies are great entertainment especially if you like the spy genre, they are silly and harmless and a great introduction to the type of tone Hazanivicius works with. The Artist seems to have taken that care free and energetic tone, and tones down the farce a bit to create a true silent film that works as its own, as well as an homage to the classics.
Policeman - Nadav Lapid
First time feature about a group of elite police men and young anarchists. The film is being honored for showing both sides of the story and making a strong statement about the ever growing gap in social class. I'm going to be honest here, this is the one in which I have no idea what to expect. With no trailer to give me a sense of the film all I have is the description. With that I would suggest you check out Elite Squad by Jose Padhilla.
Padhilla is the guy who is going to be bringing us Robocop(word is he wants Fassbender to step into the shoes of Burroughs), he also has recently released the third part to his Elite Squad series. These films tell the store of (gasp) an Elite Squad of police in Rio de Janeiro, as two new idealist recruits join up and quickly find out that corruption runs deep in this dangerous city. Different part of the world, but both seem to deal with police and questioning who's really in the wrong? or if there is even anyone right?
That's it for my suggestions to create your own New York Film Festival. Hope you have fun going through these films, and you can be sure I will be updating you as I begin my first film festival experience. I can't wait to report back to you with my thoughts on these films.
One last thought - try as I might, I couldn't get into Carnage, or The Descendants...I'm still excited.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Fall Preview UPDATE Drive
Gosling is the nameless hero of the story and he brings all the quiet intensity that he's known for. There is so much soul behind his eyes, that you know with a glance that this isn't a man you want to mess with. His performance is pretty minimal when it comes to dialogue and Gosling does an astounding job with such a monotone delivery that the moment his voice begins to shake at a key point in the film it carries so much emotional weight. I think Gosling is an extremely talented actor with a decent range, this is much more in line with his early work in The Believer and I can't wait to see what he does in the political thriller with Clooney next month.
The whole cast turns in great supporting roles. Everyone in the film seems destined for tragedy, and they all are trying their best to escape the ever looming darkness. Mulligan is a simple role, but she gives her character enough sadness under the surface that we can see how worried she is when her husband comes home. She alread knows that him out of the picture is the only way she can live the life she wants with her son. Oscar Isaacs has a small role as the returning husband, being dragged back into one more heist despite his sincere desire to go straight for his family. Cranston does his thing as a mentor of sorts to Gosling, attemping to make some honest cash in the racing circuit. But Brooks is the real star of the supporting cast. He is terrifying, and once you see what he's capable of you see he is really the only true competition for Gosling. The guy moves through the film with ease and like every other character(except Perlman, who's content chewing away) he doesn't want to lead a dishonest life, but that's what his life is. He kills with such ease you know he's done it for years, and he's tired of it. He is absolutely not happy the choices he has to make to fix the problems in his life. Brooks is always great, but I have never seen him do a performance like this.
Aside from the great performances Refn directs this film with so much power and style. THIS is a great example of style being used to further the narrative, it is never distracting or overbearing. Rather it blends seamlessly with the film, he uses deep focus and three shots to reinforce the various relationships in the film. Its an old fashioned technique that Hollywood seems to all but forgotten. I guarantee you Ratner cares not about his mise en scene.
I want to look at a brief scene which is a pivotal point in the film where Gosling turns to look at the camera and shit is about to hit the fan. Light flashes across his face, then he backs Away and his face becomes covered in shadows, thus begins a journey to the dark side in order to protect Mulligan. She spends the whole film in playful colors and soft light, even after this point above the only time where Gosling steps out of the shadows is when he's near her. The whole effect is subtle, but it adds so much to the film and the mystique of his character.
This is not a guns blazing action film. This is a stylish, rough, brutal and smart crime drama. This is a great example of modern tragedy as everyone gets pulled into situations they didn't want. No one in the film is innocent, but everyone is trying to run away. Gosling spends the film being the best at getting away from the scene and fixing up cars so he could do that. It's a successful metaphor that could be analyzed in great detail. I don't want to go too much further into the film, because it is such a joy to see the film unfold. Refn has added another great film to his career. This is an exciting talent that if he continues down this road he will be an amazing force in cinema.