• Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

The pace holds steady….

The September Issue. R.J. Cutler’s documentary version of The Devil Wears Prada, a revealing inside look at the putting-together of the year’s fattest issue of Vogue, what turns out to be history’s fattest issue ever. The bleeding and sweating, the fighting and dying, over the tiniest details will retain a degree of fascination no matter how trivial the details. (E.g., cover girl Sienna Miller’s teeth, hair, etc. How does she dare show her face in public?) From a certain angle, the more trivial, the more fascinating. Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, Meryl Streep’s counterpart, is touted as “the single most important figure in the fashion industry” and “the most powerful woman in the United States,” yet she remains, with or without sunglasses, somewhat remote and inscrutable — behind a severe, face-hiding bob, like curtains closing on her nose — while never receding into Streepian caricature. Her long-time and less-groomed associate, Creative Director Grace Coddington, confides much more to the camera, and rallies much more sympathy to her causes.

Earth Days. Latest in a rash of fires lit on screen for the environmental movement. Documentarist Robert Stone, stepping back for the long view, gathers his fuel from the origins of the movement, the publication in 1962 of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the mobilization that led up to the first Earth Day in 1970, the gaining momentum that ran into the stiff resistance of the Reagan Administration. The like-minded, solemn, humorless talking heads — Stewart Udall, Stewart Brand, Paul Ehrlich, Dennis Meadows, Denis Hayes, Stephanie Mills, Hunter Lovins, Pete McCloskey, Rusty Schweickart — are more flatteringly photographed than the average talking head, and the archive clips are frequently touching, whether the Madison Avenue pipedreams of an affluent and efficient post-WWII America or the raw news footage of shaggy-haired idealists from the Vietnam era. The faithful will get their fix.

Jerichow. The Reading Gaslamp last week had the makings of a Nina Hoss film festival, positioning this newer showcase under the same roof with the already situated A Woman in Berlin. The sunken-cheeked willowy blonde, no longer starving under Russian occupation at the end of the Second World War, is now the modern-day wife of a suspicious and abusive Turkish-born snack-bar entrepreneur, in Christian Petzold’s German translation of James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice. Of course James Cain held no patent on deadly love triangles, and indeed the cucumber harvest here brings to mind Elmore Leonard’s facsimile, The Big Bounce — not the dreadful movie remake of five years ago but the underappreciated adaptation of forty ago. (Excellent, educational shots, in the bargain, of the pickle pickers stretched out prone on the slow-moving mechanical rig, a couple of feet above the ground.) The third side of the triangle is a stone-faced loner and Afghanistan army vet played by Benno Fürmann, hired away from the cucumber crop to chauffeur the Turk after the latter’s license gets lifted for drunk driving, exposing the hireling to the daily allure of his employer’s wife, a good-looking albeit unglamorous and unconniving femme fatale. This unpretentious bare-bones rehash, too elemental for copyright infringement, justifies itself not by the altered ironic ending (a bit too ironic for belief) but by the filmmaker’s precise, understated, no-waste style, with dexterous use of subjective cameras from differing points of view.

9. If you’ve been waiting for the Rob Marshall musical remake of Fellini’s 8½, be warned that this isn’t it. (That would be Nine — not an Arabic numeral but letters of the Latin alphabet.) This — not to be confused, either, with District 9, though no great harm if it were to be so confused — is a post-apocalyptic computer cartoon by Shane Acker, set in a rusty, dusty, color-deprived future. “But life,” intones the rumbling narrator at the outset, “must go on,” even if only in the form of Lilliputian cloth-doll automatons hounded by Brobdingnagian mechanized cutlery. The realistic graphic style recalls the stop-motion Coraline earlier this year in its endless devotion to tactility — the gunnysack skin of the automatons, the grainy wood, the weathered metal — and since the line between live action and computer animation continues to narrow and to blur, it would be no problem to populate the very same terrain with flesh-and-blood people instead of their disembodied voices (Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Christopher Plummer, Jennifer Connelly, Martin Landau). The engulfing visual experience provides sufficient distraction from, or compensation for, the rudimentary conflict of rebels against machines.

Extract. Mike Judge, the Office Space man, never mind the Beavis and Butt-head man, goes blue-collar at a food flavoring factory, where his fund of observations of workers on the job proves skimpier. The owner and central character comes close to a complete cipher, although Jason Bateman’s flat-tire facial expressions serve as an adequate cover. Around him are more players than Judge can juggle — Kristen Wiig, Mila Kunis, Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons, Clifton Collins, Jr., Gene Simmons, others — but at least two of them look likely to survive as memorable: the dim-witted, frosted-haired junior gigolo (Dustin Milligan) and, even likelier, the obtuse intrusive neighbor (David Koechner), guarding the adjacent driveway no less zealously than Cerberus the gate of Hades, incapable of cutting the conversation short, picking up the pace, or hearing the pleas of his prey: “Well, I’m not going to keep you long.”

My One and Only. The coming-of-age of George Hamilton (the septuagenarian executive co-producer), in the guise of dark-haired but short-nosed Logan Lerman, installed behind the wheel of a new El Dorado, to ferry his precociously out-and-proud gay brother (Mark Rendall) and his addlepated Southern-belle mother (Renée Zellweger, speaking under her breathy breath, her mouth never far from a pucker) in her flight from her faithless second husband, a travelling bandleader, and into countless encounters with other varieties of swinish manhood, en route from New York to Los Angeles in 1953. False, lifeless resuscitation of the period, so dully lit and colored (under director Richard Loncraine) as to make you pine for Fifties Technicolor. To project The Big Heat at a drive-in in Cinemascope(!) may not be a big thing, but it’s an indication.

Play the Game. Grandpa and grandson in parallel amorous pursuits, swapping tips, trading secrets. Marc Fienberg’s Amateur Hour and Three-Quarters, his first feature film, amounts to a terrible mortification for anyone on screen or in front of it, not least of all Andy Griffith, required to react to a hard-on and a blow job and then to recount these to his younger-generation confidant: “Have you ever heard of a Black Market drug called Viagra?” and “I felt like a damn Popsicle.” He must need the work. Badly.

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

More from SDReader

More from the web

Comments

Alias_Jabez_Goethe Sept. 9, 2009 @ 6:08 p.m.

Now Jerichow sounds like one I'd be willing to rouse myself for. Not so for The September Issue. Or the Andy Griffith penis movie (I just re-watched A Face in the Crowd two days ago, so that news flash really hits me at how very far we've sunk as a culture).

Hey, I noticed for the first time today that on Jonathan Rosenbaum's website, in his Farber tribute, he has that same passage that's in his book about criticism ('Placing movies'): "Among his many disciples are Greg Ford, J. Hoberman, Donald Phelps, myself, Ronnie Scheib, and Duncan Shepard. (The latter followed Farber all the way out to San Diego from New York, where he reviews movies for the San Diego Reader.)" --And still spells it "Shepard" instead of Shepherd! He appears to be the only fellow movie writer who can't spell Duncan's name right. Which is funny, because he attacked the Coen brothers' intelligence by claiming -in an early draft of Barton Fink that he supposedly read- that they didn't spell some words right! I guess that's why he considers them "immature" (to say nothing of their "adolescent smarminess"!) ? So does anyone know if Rosenbum has anything against "Shepard", or is it only his typical ignorance writing?

0

Josh Board Sept. 15, 2009 @ 10:35 a.m.

Well, September Issue may be "revealing" but it was also kind of boring. Perhaps the first documentary I've ever seen that I've said that about.

0

John Rubio Sept. 16, 2009 @ 8:16 a.m.

Why are you posting these "deals" here? Isn't there enough advertising in the margins?

0

CuddleFish Sept. 16, 2009 @ 9:07 a.m.

Yay, johnrubio! It's like those people who "blog" out of downtown, you can only tell they're real estate agents drumming up biz. What a waste of space.

0

SDaniels Sept. 16, 2009 @ 2:48 p.m.

"The coming-of-age of George Hamilton (the septuagenarian executive co-producer)"

Hee hee. The Reader said "septuagenarian" twice in two days. Go, Orange George!

johnr and fish: Maybe if we protest enough, those home loan "bloggers" will be removed. I agree that there are ENOUGH ads in the margins.

0

Alias_Jabez_Goethe Sept. 16, 2009 @ 4:48 p.m.

3 "Comment removed by website administrator." Darn, I was too late to see what the deal was!

Well here's a couple differet deals for yous: Jane Campion's new film BRIGHT STAR ("The drama based on the three-year romance between 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, which was cut short by Keats' untimely death at age 25." but possible bad omen: Tarantino said "it was Campion's best film!!") is listed to be released thusly... Cannes Film Festival: 15 May 2009 United States: 18 September 2009 Israel: October 2009 United Kingdom: 6 November 2009 Bet that means October in the sticks (trans.: here). Eastwood's INVICTUS isn't comeing till December. The Coen's A SERIOUS MAN however can be seen by 2 October 2009. -?-Also, Walter Hill fans with cable might do well to check out 'Madso's War', which may appear on Spike [sic] network or somewhere, maybe as a pilot for a projected series (shot in Boston). I'm a Hill completest, so if anyone can record it, reach me at p_greagh@fastmail.net. I don't know when it aires but if you e-mail me I'll send you a shiney silver star or video of BAD INFLUENCE for the effort.

0

SDaniels Sept. 16, 2009 @ 6:09 p.m.

Goethe, I'd say "Sweetie" was Campion's best. What say you?

0

Alias_Jabez_Goethe Sept. 18, 2009 @ 5:07 p.m.

My favorite Campion is PASSIONLESS MOMENTS, then PORTRAIT, then SWEETIE, then A GIRL'S OWN STORY, and the only one I haven't seen is the full-length mini-series version of AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE. I like everything she does, alot.

0

Josh Board Sept. 19, 2009 @ 10:49 a.m.

Tarantino actually has good taste in movies. I just wish he could translate that love, into making great films, instead of the crap he usually puts out.

Not a big fan of Campion. Piano is okay, though.

0

CuddleFish Sept. 19, 2009 @ 11:28 a.m.

Tarantino actually has good taste in movies. I just wish he could translate that love, into making great films, instead of the crap he usually puts out.


Tarantino is the genius of the film world. His Pulp Fiction has to be the greatest movie (flawed, not perfect) ever made. And the Kill Bill movies, amazing.

0

PatricParamedic Sept. 19, 2009 @ 1:36 p.m.

Joshboard -

You are so right it hurts. Q Tarentino's continual line of trashy poop fiction films appeal to the banal of a frightening fan-base.

I have no problem with people saying they are entertained by his stuff. But I develope a fretful itch when anybody thinks there's much intelligence involved. It's crude humor at best.

0

CuddleFish Sept. 19, 2009 @ 2:30 p.m.

I wouldn't call myself a "fan" of Tarantino, and I can not abide the goriness of his films, or any film for that matter, but I recognize greatness when I see it. Pulp Fiction is what movies were invented for.

0

SurfPuppy619 Sept. 19, 2009 @ 3:43 p.m.

Tarantino actually has good taste in movies. I just wish he could translate that love, into making great films, instead of the crap he usually puts out.

By JoshBoard

Tarantino is the genius of the film world. His Pulp Fiction has to be the greatest movie (flawed, not perfect) ever made. And the Kill Bill movies, amazing.

By Fish

You are so right it hurts. Q Tarentino's continual line of trashy poop fiction films appeal to the banal of a frightening fan-base.

By PatricParamedic

I can not abide the goriness of his films, or any film for that matter, but I recognize greatness when I see it. Pulp Fiction is what movies were invented for.

By Fish

WOW, all of these comments pretty much sums up my take on Tarentinoat ONE point in time.

In 94 when I saw "Pulp Fiction" I wanted to walk out-the gratuitous violence and the blood and gore were just so over the top-I bashed the film to everyone for over a year.

BUT then the show came out on TV and I watched it again, and I saw things in the film I never noticed in the theater. I paid attention to the dialogue and the interactions of Travolta and Jackson-especially Jackson (why Travolta was nominated and not Jackson is a great mystery).

Long story short-I have done a full 180 on "Pulp Fiction", and it is without a doubt the best written screenplay for film I have ever seen. When Jackson goes off on his rant at the end in the restaurant when he doesn't kill "Pumpkin" (Tim Roth) it is incredible- the lines Jackson speaks, and his acting, are amazing. When they talk about bacon and swine a few minutes before this- also classic dialogue.

Anyway- "Pulp Fiction" went from being a show I thought was awful to being one of the best shows ever made.

“Kill Bill” is a beautiful work of cinematography, pure visual delight-and very impressive from a technical and entertainment point of view-but it is not as good as "Pulp Fiction".

0

CuddleFish Sept. 19, 2009 @ 4:29 p.m.

In 94 when I saw "Pulp Fiction" I wanted to walk out-the gratuitous violence and the blood and gore were just so over the top-I bashed the film to everyone for over a year.


But you see the violence, blood, and gore aren't gratuitous. That's Tarantino's genius. Where everyone else uses film in the conventional sense, Tarantino makes movies. Without making too much of it, but maybe it took someone like him to fulfill that potential, with all that abandon, glee, innocence, passion. I don't think there will ever be another movie that does that like Pulp Fiction. Adam only saw Eve naked the first time once.

0

Joe Poutous Sept. 19, 2009 @ 4:47 p.m.

I'm going to see Inglorious Bastards tonight... can't wait.

0

Josh Board Sept. 20, 2009 @ 1:30 a.m.

Tell us what you think of Inglorious Basterds. Such a great opening scene, before it turns into QT just turning it into garbage. Even a scene that has director Eli Roth bashing in a Nazi head with a baseball bat, isn't that interesting, because it borrows from a few other films. QT has to chill out on that a bit.

And how many movies is he going to employ the same technique he used with Reservoir Dogs and so many other films, where everyone pulls a gun out at once? He did this also in True Romance (a great scene and underrated movie), and also that scene mentioned above in the diner in Pulp Fiction. Speaking of which, I have no problem praising that movie. It was great. I loved it.

But with QT, it's almost the same problem I have with praise thrown upon the Coen Brothers. They've done brilliant movies. But they also gave us two crappy ones: The Man Who Wasn't There and Intolerable Cruelty, a comedy that wasn't funny. Nothing worse in film than that. At least in a drama, if it's bad, you'll have a few scenes you can appreciate for certain reasons.

Even "No Country For Old Men" was just an average film that critics overrated. I think you need a better track record before you are called a genius: Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchock, Stanley Kubrick, etc etc etc.

And on a side note: Pulp Fiction won an Oscar for Best Screenplay, so it did get its props for the writing. As for why Travolta may have gotten the nomination and not Jackson, when in fact, Jacksons acting is better if you really break down the range he had to go thru (being calm after he "sees the light"; and being angry at other times); Travolta just had to play the stoned/cool/mellow dude. I think it's the fact that this was a "comeback" role for Travolta (much like Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler, although everyone seems to forget he "came back" in Sin City, to much critical praise, a few years earlier).

0

Joe Poutous Sept. 20, 2009 @ 7:46 a.m.

I loved Inglorious Bastards. Great plot twists. Brad Pitt was the perfect choice for the part of Aldo the Apache.

Cristopher Waltz played a great villain. Despicable. Perfect.

I want to see it again.

0

SurfPuppy619 Sept. 20, 2009 @ 8:30 a.m.

But you see the violence, blood, and gore aren't gratuitous. That's Tarantino's genius.

By Fish

I will respectfully disagree with you-I think the same movie would be just as good without shooting someone in the head in the back of a car............it is the writing, the dialogue that makes the differenc in a Tarantino movie.

In any event, the parts of "Pulp Fiction" I did not like in 94 are no problem for me now and the movie is one of the best I have ever seen........ I also like how Tarantino will shoot his movies out of sequence.......makes the movie more interesting to try to figure out the little nuances in continuity.

0

SurfPuppy619 Sept. 20, 2009 @ 8:38 a.m.

As for why Travolta may have gotten the nomination and not Jackson, when in fact, Jacksons acting is better if you really break down the range he had to go thru (being calm after he "sees the light";

By JoshBoard 1

Sorry JB, Travolta was nothing special in "Pulp Fiction", while Jackson was without a doubt the heart and soul of the film.

Jackson's character Jules embarked on a life changing, spritual journey that came across like a sledge hammer......Vincent Vega-just a druggie with no real purpose in life. The film centered around Jules and his journey.

Jackson had the best lines and did the best acting-if ANYONE should have got the nod on an Oscar nomination it should have been Jackson.

Travolta got the Oscar nod because he was a washed up superstar who was given a shot at a major comeback in an all-star film.

0

Joe Poutous Sept. 20, 2009 @ 9:19 a.m.

Honestly - do you guys actually give a ratsass what the Academy thinks about movies or actors?

It's all politics and asskissing. I like movies if they are good. I like actors if they entertain me.

Yeah - Tarentino's movies are formulaic. But it works for me. I like the formula.

I guess I'm a simple guy. - Joe

0

Josh Board Sept. 23, 2009 @ 9:10 a.m.

Surf...did you completely misunderstand what I was saying? I never said Travolta DESERVED the Oscar nomination. I merely explained WHY he GOT the Oscar nomination. I even thought I explained why I thought Jackson had more acting range in his character than Travolta.

Yes, the Cristopher Waltz Nazi character in Basterds was the best thing about it. Almost made the movie worth watching.

But going back to Pulp Fiction, not only is the shooting in the head in the car a bit much, but that scene was done poorly. I'll never forget watching it in the theatre for the first time, and Travolta is having an argument with Jackson about whether they survived the hail of gunfire because it was an "act of God" and Jackson must have a purpose for living.

They're going back and forth, and Travolta decides to ask their "passenger" in the backseat. He turns around, with gun in hand. And they hit a speed bump or something, and the gun goes off.

Well, I initially thought Travolta was pointing the gun at him, as if to say -- you'll be agreeing with me on this one.

I do agree with Tarantino about the premise of that scene being interesting. Shooting someone accidentally. And then needing to cover your tracks. And quick.

0

monaghan Sept. 24, 2009 @ 6:20 p.m.

I thought Quentin Tarantino's "Basterds" was funny, as well as too-cute and self-indulgent with all the old film analogies and homages. Brad Pitt and his accent were ridiculous. The much-feared scalping was fakey and so was the brain-bashing bat-wielding by an American Jewish baseball fanatic. But the fantasy of Jews triumphing over the murderous Nazi leadership in a movie theater at the hands of a black man and a Jewish girl survivor with flammable movie reels as the agent was pretty spectacular, both as an action sequence and as an idea. Tarantino is an amusing and original nut.

0

Josh Board Sept. 30, 2009 @ 4:21 p.m.

Monaghan...I couldn't agree more with the very last line of what you wrote here.

The problem with the baseball bashing scene was a perfect example. It borrowed from previous films, and didn't make it better.

Now, in Pulp Fiction, he borrowed from a lot of movies for various scenes. But he made them better, and had his original Tarantino touches, which was nice. In Basterds, I didn't feel this was the case.

I think Pitts accent was a tad ridiculous, but I think it was supposed to be (well, when he's attempting to speak Italian it was, anyway).

My problem with a film like this is...it had the potential to be amazing. The way I felt Jackie Brown was. But imagine if Jackie Brown went from having a REAL story about a woman arrested for drugs, the FBI wanting her boss (samuel jackson), and her love interest with the bailbonds guy.

Now, instead of having these characters talk like real people, he had a bunch of bizarre things, like an airplane coming in from Mexico that gets hijacked by a Nazi...and Jackie Brown has to drop her tray of drinks (she's a flight attendant), and kick butt like one of the women from Kill Bill.

Well, the action movie fans that just love a good car chase, might love a scene like this. But it takes away from an interesting character that's already developed. An older woman, who doesn't have a lot going in her life, and faces possibly jail time, unless she rats out (and wears a wire), to nab her boss.

QT has to realize that in film, often less is more.

0

Alias_Jabez_Goethe Sept. 30, 2009 @ 4:32 p.m.

Board: "Now, in Pulp Fiction, he borrowed from a lot of movies for various scenes. But he made them better..."

Oh yeah? Name one example.

0

Sign in to comment

Join our
newsletter list

Enter to win $25 at Broken Yolk Cafe

Each newsletter subscription
means another chance to win!

Close