The House


Battlestar Galactica

Every season, Battlestar Galactica does a Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) episode, which delves into the character's motivations and her dark past. How much you like these episodes usually hinges on how much you like borderline melodrama and how much you like Sackhoff's performance, but I've tended to find them pretty reliable studies of a character that could feel been-there, done-that but has always had a kind of livewire confidence that makes her fascinating to watch. I'm sure there were a good number of fans as frustrated by "Someone to Watch Over Me," the final script from David Weddle and Bradley Thompson and the final directorial effort from Michael Nankin on the series, since it featured very few major plot revelations, which were all crammed into the last five minutes, and since it was, again, a leisurely character piece, but I thought it was pretty terrific and maybe the best of the show's "Starbuck episodes."

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: Aaron Douglas, battlestar galactica, edward james olmos, Grace Park, Kate Vernon, katee sackhoff, Mary McDonnell, Michael Hogan, recap, Rekha Sharma, roark critchlow, someone to watch over me, Tahmoh Penikett


Friday Night Lights

Most TV shows hit a few rough patches within a 20-24 episode season. This lull can happen right before or after the season's halfway point, but most often around the "teen" episodes. Some shows choose to instead go with fewer episodes per season, partially to eliminate the "fluff" that shows up when you're trying to stretch your plot over the course of a couple of dozen episodes. So you would think that Season 3 of Friday Night Lights, with only 13 episodes to fill, would be able to avoid these issues altogether. You'd be wrong. Despite having some of the more interesting situations and developments of the season, "Keeping Up Appearances" contains way too much filler to be effective. And it was all just so darn cutesy that I began to cringe after every "aww, how sweet" moment.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: friday night lights, keeping up appearances, recap


Review: Dillinger Is Dead

Dillinger Is Dead

Dillinger Is Dead opens with worker Glauco (Michel Piccoli) at the gas-mask factory. As someone stands in a poisonous gas chamber testing out his latest product, his co-worker announces he'd like to declaim a little essay he's written and starts orating about how the image before us "strangely evokes the conditions in which modern man lives." No one bats an eye. Dillinger unfolds in a post-Antonioni landscape; the nameless dread has become all too nameable, and everyone can speak at length about their own alienation. Yes, this is the kind of movie where women go to sleep in their eyeliner and sex is either desultory or denied. Anomie, meet your late-60s endpoint.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: Dillinger Is Dead, janus films, Marco Ferreri, michel piccoli


Lost

I'm sure ten million Lost fans have made this joke already, but "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" was essentially The Passion of John Locke (Terry O'Quinn). Not for nothing, apparently, did the last episode prominently focus on Jack's (Matthew Fox) role as the doubting Thomas of our little band of players.

But then, Locke, especially as played by O'Quinn, has always been the self-appointed messiah of the Island. He believes there's a destiny that everyone who crashed there is living up to. He's willing to make the ultimate sacrifice when he's told he has to and barely even questions it until the midpoint of this episode. And, really, all he wants to do is save everyone. Sure, everyone on Lost has a BIT of a savior complex, but Locke's comes with the kind of manic fury that one would need to really get things done. He was a broken man off-Island, but on the Island, he's been given everything he would ever want, so he becomes its chief witness and bearer of its testament. "Life and Death," written by Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof and directed by Jack Bender, is as much about removing that casual swagger and confidence from Locke and reducing him to a broken man again as it is playing out the beats that led to Locke attempting to kill himself. It's very similar to last week's "316," right down to the structural level, but I liked it quite a bit better for a variety of reasons. It's a fairly bold piece of television—and bold in a way Lost rarely has been in the past—for the way it focuses so singularly on one man's despair and for the way it refuses to be especially plotty outside of its opening and closing segments. It's a straight-up character piece, so it helps that the character being examined is possibly Lost's most fascinating (and well-played).

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: Alan Dale, carlton cuse, damon lindelof, evangeline lilly, jorge garcia, lost, malcolm david kelley, matthew fox, michael emerson, Naveen Andrews, recap, saïd taghmaoui, terry o'quinn, the life and death of jeremy bentham, Zuleikha Robinson


Bandaged

Bandaged is S&M filmmaker Maria Beatty's foray into the indie mainstream—if one could call a flick best described as Mädchen in Uniform meets The English Patient meets Eyes Without A Face "mainstream." Fittingly, none other than Abel Ferrara is serving as executive producer, though it just as easily could have been David Cronenberg since Beatty's stunningly visceral cocktail of sex and bodily terror would surely merit that auteur's seal of approval.

The plot revolves around young Lucille (Janna Lisa Dombrowsky), a beautiful blonde but unhappy young romantic with a passion for poetry and Oscar Wilde. Imprisoned in a sprawling mansion by her cold, scientific-minded father after her mother's death, Lucille decides to end it all right before her eighteenth birthday, but instead ends up with third degree burns on her face. Even more unlucky, her mad doctor daddy Arthur (Hans Piesbergen, who appropriately resembles David Bowie) happens to be a plastic surgeon, thus she can be healed at home with the help of his trusty assistant Ingrid (played by Martine Erhel in an Olympia Dukakis-type role). Into this family tragedy steps pretty brunette nurse Joan Genova (a stoic Susanne Sachsse) to insert some hot "mädchen" into Lucille's lonely life.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: bandaged, janna lisa dombrowsky, mari beatty, the guiding light


Big Love

So let's talk about God.

I mean, He's arguably the most important character in Big Love, even if we never directly see Him, even if we never are sure how He feels about the Henricksons. Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) is always so concerned about how the two of them are getting along that we are forced to take these sorts of things into account, even if we don't particularly believe in God in any way, shape or form. Bill's deteriorating relationship with his faith has provided a hidden spine to Big Love's third season, and it finally erupts in tonight's episode, in one of the all-time great television images to my mind.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: amanda seyfried, big love, bill paxton, brad dourif, chloë sevigny, come ye saints, Douglas Smith, ginnifer goodwin, Harry Dean Stanton, ian mcshane, jeanne tripplehorn, Melora Walters, ray mckinnon, recap, timothy olyphant, Tina Majorino


Richard Brody"Being in the neighborhood the other day, with nothing particular to do, I decided to call round to the New Yorker office to see if anything was up," Terry Southern wrote in the 1950's. He described the forced casual ambiance of that office that set him "all a-pique and impulsive," so that he asked to have the writer White fetched. When E.B. White appeared, Southern said simply, "J'accuse!" and then turned around to leave the building.

My meeting with New Yorker film editor and film listings writer Richard Brody involved no finger pointing. But Brody is the anomaly of current New Yorker film writing, which is, for the most part, more about the words used to describe the films than about the films themselves. Richard Brody writes, on the other hand, in service to cinema; his exciting writing style is a transcription of surrendering to the movie-going experience. In his succinct film summaries, he uses language emotionally to describe the experience of the film, not just how it looks when who does what where. "Rarely have love and madness seemed so fruitfully allied," he wrote of Preminger's Daisy Kenyon (setting off a domino-effect of reconsideration for that film in New York). I told him that I don't even know what that phrase means, exactly, but somehow it's exactly descriptive of that film's intensity. (I'm not sure I know either!" said Brody.)

But while personal flourishes shape his film listings, Brody's first book, a biography of Jean-Luc Godard called Everything Is Cinema, is remarkable for its rhythmic and organized structure. (The book also differs notably from his listings in size: an epic 700 pages versus 200 word perfect summaries.) The biography seamlessly weaves a description of each of Godard's films into a description of the technical and collaborative process of making it, and then also reveals the personal and artistic inspirations behind its development. It reads like a novel, a tragic love story. And, while the tone of Brody's book is more anonymous than his listings, more objective, it is distinctly personal, the kind of book that only someone with a deep and complicated relationship with cinema could write.

As the last few days of the encore screenings of Made in the U.S.A and Two or Three Things I Know About Her at Film Forum mark the end of that theater's celebration of Sixties Godard, in what was The Year of Godard in New York, I looked back at my conversation with Richard Brody to look at what we can still learn from Godard's work of the 1960's.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: everything is cinema, jean-luc godard, richard brody, the new yorker


Picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Directing: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Actor: Sean Penn, Milk
Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Actor in a Supporting Role: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Actress in a Supporting Role: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Original Screenplay: Milk
Adapted Screenplay: Slumdog Millionaire
Foreign Language Film: The Class
Documentary Feature: Man on Wire
Animated Feature Film: WALL-E
Documentary Short: Smile Pinki
Animated Short: La Maison en Petits Cubes
Live Action Short: Toyland
Film Editing: Slumdog Millionaire
Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire
Costume Design: The Duchess
Makeup: Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Score: Slumdog Millionaire
Song: "Jai Ho," Slumdog Millionaire
Sound Editing: Slumdog Millionaire
Sound Mixing: Slumdog Millionaire
Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.

  • print
  • email

TAGS: academy awards, man on wire, milk, slumdog millionaire, the dark knight, the reader, vicky cristina barcelona, wall-e


Slumdog Millionaire

Because it pushes that button. Because it makes them feel like sitting on trains. Because you know Sharon Stone texted Dev Patel: U R A Q T. Because it got them wondering why everyone got hustle on their mind. Because they like the sound of them knocking on the doors of their hummers. Because Bucky done gone. Because they shake their ass, making moves on a mover. Because Indian chicks, they get men laid. Because of gold and diamond gems and jades. Because of painted nails, sunsets on horizons. Because the price of living in a shanty town just seems very high. Because they're sick of all the shit that's keepin' them down. Because it got them to whistle, whistle, blow, blow.

Will Win: Slumdog Millionaire

Should Win: Not The Reader or Frost/Nixon

This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.

  • print
  • email

TAGS: academy awards, frost nixon, milk, slumdog millionaire, the curious case of benjamin button, the reader


Slumdog Millionaire

As the presence of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (which was snubbed in the other sound category) would attest, Sound Mixing is the category that far more obviously favors best picture players. It's Sound Editing that usually tips toward the Masters and Commanders, the Lords of the Rings, the Kings Kongs as though the entire category were one big tie-in with Visual Effects and Makeup. So if Slumdog Millionaire is the frontrunner (or, given the remote possibility that we're wrong, a very, very strong contender) in Sound Editing, there's absolutely no reason to think that it won't take this in a walk. If that's not enough to convince you, remember that previous winners in this category include Chicago, Ray, and Dreamgirls. Oscar loves a showtune, and Slumdog's clodhopping but exuberant train station throwdown is the closest thing this category has to a showstopper.

Will Win: Slumdog Millionaire

Should Win: WALL-E

This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.

  • print
  • email

TAGS: academy awards, slumdog millionaire, the curious case of benjamin button, the dark knight, wall-e, wanted







The HouseCategories



The HouseThe Attic

More »



Site by  Docent Solutions