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dolor, switchblade romance and high tension are the same movie. they just had two different names one for america, and high tension is the literal translation of the french title (haute tension). and don't worry about bringing it up. it doesn't bother me a bit. it's just a misleading, dishonest movie, and i hate it with a passion, so it was intentional.

i rather like draughtsman's contract and belly of an architect, they aren't my faves, greenaway wise, but i thing there is something interesting there. i don't know if you know much about greenaway, but he was trained as a classical painter, he kind of fell into film, so his approach is much more compositional and symbolic than most directors, he likes to make some of his shots tableaus that are references to drawings, paintings and buildings. his work is the most fun since you can grab almost any shot, and with a little research figure out what paintings he was fitting in to the film. it's a game that he likes to play in his films, (so much so that in the first 15 minutes of rembrandt's j'accuse, he slaps the face of the audience and not only tells the audience they are visually illiterate, then goes on to prove it. ) i suspect if you liked prospero's books, then you'd like his latter/latest films that come after that. pillow book is kind of a more contemporary use of the video techniques he used in prospero. the baby of macon, tuluse suitcases, and j'accuse, all use the same techniques, and are very visually dense. the cool thing about his recent work is that you kind of have to throw out the normal film vocabulary. he's got his own language now, and you have to work to catch part of what he's doing. personally i like it, but it's a bit too rich, and i miss when he was interested in telling a conventional story, without all the distancing techniques. brechtian techniques are great when you are emotionally involved, but lately it's impossible to really connect emotionally with what is going on. his stuff is all too academic/anticeptic for me, all and all i think somewhere between zed and prospero is my favorite period. prospero is his baby steps in the direction he's headed now.

his funnest film: drowning by numbers on the big screen. (and only on the big screen)
most compelling:cook/ thief/ wife/ lover
dreamy: prospero's books. i'm a sucker for strange takes on shakespeare too, and i adore the tempest. speaking of which, did you ever see the one that had cassevetes in it?

i have to say, he is one of those filmmakers that it's fun to watch evolve. j'accuse had some of the same devices as his first film, the falls.
anna k
Tonight I'll be watching In My Skin, a French film from 2002. It looks unnerving and disturbing, just how I like my horror films.
i saw three films:

hansel and gretel. horribly disappointing. a muddled mess. it's like the director changed his mind every 20 minutes.
c'est le poop., May 29, 2009
By cine cita
a muddled mess. i usually ADORE korean films, especially horror, i was hoping for tale of two sisters, but this was a cross between the orphanage and who knows what. i thought since the director had worked with joon bong-ho (siff faves memories of murder, the host), this was a sure thing. nope. it's as if the director changed his mind every 20 minutes. c'est le poop!

a woman's way. about a transexual hooker who strikes up a friendship with a neighbor, fresh out of prison looking for his son. so good, so sweet. i saw it with mr t, and we both adored it. i had a huge crush on the leads, the tranny and the man, they have great chemistry inspite of their fucked up situation. easily one of my top 3 movies about transgendered life with all about my mother and ma vie en rose. a lovely, lovely film.
how to fall in love with a movie in one easy step., May 30, 2009
By cine cita
if you are even slightly interested, go see this movie. you fall in love with the two leads-- and the film-- even in their fucked up situation they find themselves in. this would be a good companion piece to almovadar's all about my mother. it's sweet, but not saccharine, and just a wonderful, delightful film. my favorite so far from this years siff-- suprizing since i usually prefer horror/action and asian films.

deadgirl. a paint by the numbers hollywood structure movie with a shocking, "extreme" premise: two teenage boys stumble upon a shackled deadgirl-- a zombie, and one decides to make her his sex slave. this is one fucked up movie. it runs with said premise, but doesn't have much to say, other than "boys/men prefer objectifying and raping mindless feral women." whoopie. multiple rape scenes, and plenty of violence, including exploding entrails.
deadgirl:brain dead, May 30, 2009
By cine cita
as a general rule i love extreme cinema-- particularlly the kind that stands up to good semiotic shake down. seeing films like inside, trouble every day, in my skin, and irreversible, if anything make me eager to see the next horror film that will kick my ass, turn my stomach and spark my braincells. i was hoping deadgirl would be the american entry into the sort of audacious new wave horror that europe has been making, gory, to be sure, but smart and tightly constructed as a fighter jet....but deadgirl falls short of the mark. i appreciate them making a film that pushes the boundries, but what makes the new shock cinema so good is that it's got something to say, and isn't interested in hollywood paint-by-numbers-structure. deadgirl in contrast takes it's ballsy premise, and runs with it, but there are no surprises even the title of this review can be phoned in: deadgirl:brain dead.

i'll post my capsules from the siff website, which lets people review films, later today(it's 3:30 am and my first movie is at 11 am).

tomorrows movies: the garden and headless woman.

ETA:anna--- if you get a chance see a movie for me--- the director's cut of bette blue is coming to nyc. i don't know if you've seen it before, but i remember loving it. it's the film that launched beatrice dalle's career. it's directed by the guy who directed the diving bell and the butterfly, diva and mortal transfer. love to know what you think.
what did you think about in my skin, anna?

more siff films:
the garden was absolutely heartbreaking. it's a documentary ostensibly about the south central community garden-- a swath of 13 acres in the heart of the inner city. but as it unravels it becomes about so much more--- it's about the recent cultural history and animosity between blacks and latinos in LA, starting with the rodney king riots. after the riots, the city bought the property for the garden via imminent domain as a means of community mitigation for the king verdicts, paying 5 mil. since the original beating, south central has become a predomninately latino community, and latinos took almost all of the garden lots, growing food, but also i bit of animosity among the blacks who negotiated the settlement, that festered, and grew, until a black activist and a black city council woman did a back room deal to sell the garden back to the original jewish owner some 20 years later for a song, what follows is the struggle to keep the garden from being destroyed, and the undercurrent of race in los angeles politics. detailed, with clear, smart editing and exposition, the garden is a must see for anyone who wants to understand how race issues complicates things in an inner city. what is unfortunate is that they didn't (or couldn't ) get the mayor to talk about the garden. he gets short shrift in the film for cultural ignorance and not helping more, but i think it's obvious that had he come down on the side of the latinos that would have inflamed the black community, and he understood that. or maybe i'm giving him too much credit.

headless woman was very interesting. i liked it it is the most subtle kinds of film making. about an upper middle class Argentinian woman who suspects she may have hit either a dog or a kid on a desolate road. very little is explicitly shown, but everything is implied, the woman is initially coddled to the point that she barely speaks after the accident. there are servants to feed her, dress her, call cabs to take her to doctors appointments, and even rewind videos for her. when it becomes clear that she probably did kill a child, her friends work to cover it up. the director does all of this in a way that is so quiet, so creeping it is almost as if nothing is happening. we are shown odd, oblique, inconsequential moments with almost imperceivable story movement. what's also of note is how the lead is framed-- often visually headless, every thing above the neck decapitated by the top of the screen, or covered with clothing, or lost behind door frames to her right or left. what we are left with is a strangely creepy feeling about how all of Argentinian society at all levels protects the affluent at the poor's expense.

a couple days on after deadgirl, i have come to the conclusion that it is simply the most misogynistic film i've seen. i'm also convinced that the directors at least, are a bunch of smug idiots who haven't a clue about the hateful film they've made. they pat themselves on the back for having made a 'shocking film.' i've been reading some of their interviews, which only go to confirm my view. i'll post a more detailed reading of the film later.
QUOTE(girltrouble @ May 29 2009, 07:07 PM) *
i have to say, he is one of those filmmakers that it's fun to watch evolve. j'accuse had some of the same devices as his first film, the falls.

The Falls is one of my favourite films. Although made in the 70s, it wouldn't look out of place split into 70+ short videos uploaded at random all over the web as part of a internet game. I watch chapters of it on shuffle on my iPhone.

In Vertical Features Remake - a short, is even funnier - Greenaway gets to have his cake and eat it when it comes to pretentious art films of the 70s. It features an early appear appearance of Tulse Luper...

beck it's interesting, there is a short little blurb in this month's film comment about the falls. they do a thing about critics changing their minds about films, and j. romney talks about greenaway's films in general and the falls specifically. he seems to think that the falls would hold up better than his 80's films. personally i liked the falls, but it was a bit dry, and too long to wait for a payoff. but then, i think his recent films, while interesting are dry as well. that said, nothing wrong with dry. for years the conversation was one of my favorite films, and half the times i've watched it, i've fallen asleep. but i cannot deny it's formal pleasures. i love formalist films, they are what makes my little heart go pitter-pat. when it comes to greenaway, i have to side with his more mainstream films. they seem the perfect balance: visually dazzling with out being overwhelming; cerebral but involving; and entertaining but having some depth.

speaking of this month's film comment (i can't afford to buy it, but i was so intrigued by their take on the hurt locker, i simply couldn't resist, amy taubin talks about changing her mind on a chantal ackerman film as well as a film, and filmaker we've discussed here, lucritia martel's the headless woman. the thing the films have in common, for a start, is that they are about women who do something terrible. there is more of course, both are directed by women, who have similar, but very unusual directing styles, focusing on small, subtle moments. tobin talks a little bit about the akerman film, but says she is going to do a more lengthy piece on the martel film.
I hear you, anna: 3-Iron's performaces just *stay* with you.

Last week I watched Lars and the Real Girl while Shenomad was out of town. She had already seen it and didn't like it much. I did. Loved how canadian it was, and the way the townspeople saw the whole situation as a normal eccentricity. I also watched the first half of The Business of Being Born, which was enough for me to send a link to it to all my pals.

I just read about Picture Me (here:, and I really want to see it--anything that confirms my revulsion at the fashion industry is cool beans.
Anna, I'd also like to hear your thoughts about In My Skin. I saw it in the theatre a few years ago, and some people left because they felt ill due to the subject matter. It's a film that I liked, but don't have any desire to see again.
I'm being lazy here and only commenting on the existence of a new Kathryn Bigelow film, yay! From your review GT it doesn't look as if it has as much depth as Strange Days (odd given the subject matter) but I have long thought Bigelow was underrated (not to say just entertaining) so I am keen now to see the The Hurt Locker. Also the Three Kings comparison bodes well. Thanks for the heads up! Hope you're enjoying the festival!

Greenaway... yes his films are sumptuous, but they demand more from a spectator than currently I am able to give... smile.gif

Tommy, I saw that article too and am curious to see the film...
syb, that's exactly how i feel about greenaway films. they are... 'too rich' for me. i like and appreciate them, but i feel stuffed to the gills afterwards, and it's only slightly pleasurable.

yeah, syb, the hurt locker is much lighter than strange days. it's almost pointedly apolitical, which usually i would take umbrage with--we're talking about war, after all. but the subject matter sort of warrants it: it's about 3 guys who are on EOD-- the bomb/ied squad in iraq-- a particularlly myopic field. they are there to keep both civilians and americans from getting killed by a bomb. as such, they are as close to an active neutral party as you can get from a military point of view. it's more about the suspense that comes with that job and it's motivation. no backstory (thank god. i'm sick of origin stories), and the people are almost the same at the end of the movie as they are at the start, but the tension is fantastic. it's pretty interesting, with many of her tropes: seduction of violence and or masculinity/machismo.

have you seen bigelow's student film, the set up, syb? i'm dying to. it's 20 minutes of 2 guys beating the shit out of each other in an alley w/ voice over readings of cultural theory from marshall blonsky and sylvere lotringer.

i just saw a lovely little film i'd been meaning to see for years while laid up on my back, called spider forest. it's an asian horror/suspense/mystery/ghost story. it's about a guy who sees a murder in a forest then gets hit by a car, so his memory is unstable. i'll admit, the end is pretty predictable: is he the murderer? of course, but like tale of two sisters, it's difficult to tell what exactly is going on. a more imprtant question is, was there actually a murder at all? what i love is the way the story is told; full of doubles, symbolism, and a story that keeps collapsing and folding in on itself. subsequently spider forest gets into allegory, myth (personal or otherwise) territory. which, is a very good thing. it speaks to the directors ability to tell a story of depth. in the end this is a story about the fragility of memory, and the pain of loss and abandonment.

siff films:
in the end, i liked hooked, although i wouldn't see it again. it reminded me of polanski's first film, knife in the water. the set up is simple, a couple goes out of town for a picnic, on the way they accidentally hit a prostitute. the romanian country, it seems, is littered with them. she comes to, and immediately starts driving a wedge between the couple. it's character studies 101: romantic triangles, and while the acting is quite good, the camera work is horrible. from the first scene we jump from one person's pov to another randomly. add shaky cam, and you have a film that is just irritating. it's a shame, because everything else is firing on all cylinders. one of the things that separates good directors is deft use of camera. the camera work in hooked is just sloppy. i don't mind pov, but the trick is to use it sparingly.

the blurb about this russian film is that it's like a darker harry potter. all the componants are there: young orphan who accidentally becomes part of a sorcery cabal. but where harry potter is americanized (read hollywood scrubbed and clean), krabat is dirty. the actors rarely have a face that looks like it's seen a washcloth in days, and that's a good thing. this is a film that is not afraid to get it's hands dirty. great, special effects and an interesting story not meant for a sequel (WTF?!) the only thing that didn't work was krabat's starter mustache when he starts to grow up. that never looks good on anyone.
Has anyone seen The Spirit of the Beehive? It is a Spanish film from 1973 that is supposed to be gorgeous, although quite depressing. Kind of like Pan's Labyrinth (which never fails to make me cry).
Am also really keen to watch (the original) Grey Gardens...."Little" Edie came up with some amazing outfits. That would be great to live in a run-down old house with tons of cats.... Jealous!
i think spirit of the beehive is dolor's favorite film, 13, she'll be around any day now. she has a wide orbit, and is gone for stretches and then comes back.

as for grey gardens, it's a very strange film, although i've never seen any of the recent "spinoff" projects, like the drew barrimore biopic (which makes no sense to me) or the musical. but you end up really liking these strange women...and saying "staunch charactah" alot.

siff film:
my suicide
how do you review a movie about suicide, just after one of the actors in it, may have died having killed himself? it's a good question. while not the central character, david caradine is one of the pivotal people in the film, a death poet called vargas, who delivers the movie's rather ironically optimistic message. it's hard for me to fault any film so full of film references, particularlly one that uses the actual song from m.a.s.h. (not the instrumental), suicide is painless, to such great effect. sadly, as much as i like suicide, the film references, are a bit tiresome and shallow, mostly centered on scorsese or deniro films, or the matrix. we do get a few films like cool hand luke, but mostly it's stuff that is easily identifiable by today's youth. the lead actor does a good job with impressions of christopher walken and travis bickle (of course) as well as some of the more weighty material. the problem is after the initial energy of it's premise-- a kid decides his final project for video class is to make a film culminating with death-- my suicide falls back on a lot of cliches. it's too bad, this film has a lot going for it. the first part of the film is bristling with energy and ideas, and seems to be charting the sort of subversive trajectory as fight club's anarchist subtexts, but somewhere along the way it settles for a bland american dream, when it could have been so much more.
great to get these capsule reviews of the film festival!

Reading about Greenaway got me to finally look up which film I saw of his in the early 1990s. I remembered almost nothing of plot, but every so often, something reminds me of its time lapse videos of decay. A Zed and Two Noughts, I now know the title is.

I came in here to highly recommend the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated, about the honest-to-God cabal of people who decide which films get PG-13, R, NC-17, etc. The filmmaker had to hire a PI to track down the names of the people on the ratings board. It's funny and appalling, the whole process. The upshot is, non-hetero sex, female masturbation or orgasms, any position other than missionary or girl on top gets NC-17, but male masturbation, mainstream hetero sex, violence against women only gets R. Interviews with the directors of Team America, Clerks, Boys Don't Cry, among others.
i've seen this film anarch, and i thought it quite good too. ifc has it in it's repertory, so if you have that cable channel you can see it for free. but i love the documentaries they show. they do a good job in that department.

siff review:
ETA: just saw sexykiller-- one of siff's midnight movies. the funniest fucking horror movie since sean of the dead. part slasher, part sci-fi and part zombie movie, and sooooo funny i might see it again tonight as my last siff movie. i'll post more about it later-- today (sunday) is the last day of siff (!) it's almost 3am, and i have to be back at the theater at 10 am. squeeeee! so freaking happy!

every little step
wait, a meta musical documentary? wtf? it all starts to make sense if the musical in question is a chorus line, a musical that is about actors auditioning for parts in a musical's chorus line (what else?). then add that every little step is about actors auditioning for the revival of a chorus line, with interviews of the original cast and the current director, choreographer and producer, well, ubermeta sounds about right. the lovely thing about this film is if you know nothing about the musical, you get a good sense of what it's about , the songs involved, and the history of it. if you happen to love the musical, then it's everything you've ever want to know about it, and more. heartbreaking, funny, sad, awkward, and most of all, really, really good, this is the movie for anyone who's ever gone to an audition, and knows that hurt or anyone who loves musicals.

at this point i have to admit, i am not even close to unbiased about this film: 1, it deals with queer issues, 2, i adore a chorus line, and... 3, (and probably most importantly) a girl who i went to school with has a lot of screen time in the film, and ends up being one of the two women up for one of the main roles...

a very strange documentary about internet love. it's a true story about a man who IMs and falls in love with a 18 year old girl over the internets. except there is a problem. he's been lying. he's in his late 40's, married with kids--not the 20yo marine he claims he was. one thing leads to another and the girl discovers his secret. angry, she decides to get revenge by seducing one of his friends at work. the end result is that someone gets murdered, although none of the guys ever meet the girl, turns out she is not all she's cracked up to be either.... thb is well made enough. it doesn't need to be a finely crafted piece, it only needs to hold on to the suspense, and it does that admirably, with some funny and cringe worthy moments.
Hi Thirteen,

Yes, the Spirit of the Beehive is the cat's meow.
It is:
set in history (the end of the Spanish civil war, while WWII is still raging)
visually beautiful
so poignant (makes me cry...)
and thematically complex. I can't think of any movie which is as complex as it is... not in the sense of puzzle solving & plots twists... but because it deals with so many issues... which all touch upon each other.

Speaking of cinematic excellence, I've just re-viewed both Renoir's Rules of the Game and then Citizen Kane. There is so much to say about both of them!!

I'll probably return to talk about .... "rosebud..."

Now on the Florida gulf coast, where Kane built his Xanadu... in the desert...(?!)
But there is no desert here.

yr dolor

PS While Spirit is a down movie, set in a very down time of human history, the final scene when Anna declares herself to the night, the train, the world, "Soy Anna..." is positive. You'll see this scene if you go to my profile. While Anna seems to be behind bars and alone ("dolor!"), she asserts herself.
hi dolor! wub.gif visit us more often, please! wub.gif
The situation of the aging retired Kane in Xanadu, which is unfinished, never will be finished, filled with all this imported stuff that he has still not installed... reminded me of Synecdoche NY, a recent extremely pessimistic and ambitious movie (like Cit Kane), where you have a similar situation of another ambitious grasping male, who is attempting to pull off something ultimate, which will amaze common folk, a great play about mortality & death (the ultimate topic, he supposes...), that also embraces all of Manhattan (!), which is now being recreated in a massive hangar...

Yet his own mortality and the collapse of his powers (which is the theme with which the movie begins) are catching up with him... He has not paced himself properly. Moreover he's being sucked into his own collapsing play, subsumed and emasculated by it, thus less and less on top of the situation, his creation, his ambition. And so you end up with a similar sorry contrast between one single isolated mortal man, who is heading downhill into oblivion, death, toodling around (on a golf cart!) in his hollow unfinished temple.. wandering around, confused... His grandiose life's work... has turned into a tomb.
Last night I watched Elizabeth I. Helen Mirren is always so damn good!
so crushed out on her, kari! wink.gif

i saw a very curious movie last night, kiyoshi kirosawa's retribution. while i liked it, it was flawed. the translation was terrifically awkward. it was very formal/artificial with stilted dialog. doing some research, the japanese word for the title has only one translation-- the word "shreik" very, very different, with different connotations. think about kirosawa's films is that they are about the images and ideas. kirosawa was pretty much the godfather of asian horror, having influenced the writers and directors of both the ring and the grudge, as their professor at film school. while he's always been something of a genre director, he has always been restless. charisma was billed as an 'environmental thriller' whatever that is. in cure, his serial killer killed by hypnotizing people to kill for him. in pulse, the virus is passed via the internet, and infection was a flesh eating disease that turns you into a black stain on the wall, then a ghost. even when working outside of horror, he kept his themes of alienation, loss of identity, societal decay. he loved using doubles, going so far as to write a whole movie around the concept called, (what else?) doppelganger. while i hated doppel, i loved bright future-- an utterly non horror movie. retribution the shreik is itself an exercise in quotation. the munch painting of course, but the film seems to quote, not just his other films, but itself as well. in concept it's part police procedural, and serial killer mystery like cure, and societal plague/ghost story like pulse. the strange thing is that the film seems to borrow props from other scenes, parts of one crime scene appear in the detective's apartment, and people seem to be quotations from other people in the film it's as if everything is borrowed. it starts out pretty stock, a detective seems to think that he might have committed the murder he's working on, but we are shown that he's not. it seems to be something that takes over people, but they all kill people by drowning them in sea water. it's a bit hard to explain, but even when we do find out who or why people are getting murdered, it's never quite simple. the detective, in the meantime the detective is being haunted by a ghost. and it's in the ghost scenes that kirosawa really shines, instead of cgi, he opts for a more theatrical approach, lighting cues, people appearing in mirrors, barely visible in windows, and lurking in backgrounds and corners. the thing i love about it is that it keeps with the asian ghost idea of the dead being among us, we just can't see them. in a lot of ways, kirosawa reminds me of polanski; with the framing cutting off faces and bodies. there are scenes quoted from repulsion, and i LOVE this-- rear projection like cocteau's orpheus, or zentropa, or vertigo. usually i prefer concrete symbolism, but kirosawa seems to be doing something strange. i'm not sure i completely get it, and i'd have to say i think the film is not successful, but there is something interesting there.
anna k
I watched In My Skin tonight. It was good, but very disturbing and sad. It's a French horror film about a woman who cuts her leg accidentally on some metal thing, and it's a deep cut, but when it's healing, she's fascinated by it and pulls out the stiches, and cuts herself some more. She gets into this self-love thing with her body, cutting herself, and blood, a euphoric pain/pleasure thing that sends her into her own sick world, like into her own delusion or sickness. It's hard to watch in some scenes, but definetly a memorable film.
Ok so i'm thinking this is the best place to share this. I watched a few really striking international short films tonight, and one out of France called 'Berni's Doll', an animated movie with no dialogue, really stood out. The movie surrounds this little man called Berni, who works a dead end job in a cat food factory and has a generally depressing and lonely existence, until he views an advertisement on TV about a company selling female body parts, and he decides to invest in an African torso. Basically his relationship with this torso developes and he becomes more sexually satisfied and eventually buys the torso other limbs, so she can fulfill househould chores and become more of a companion. Meanwhile his productivity at work increases and his life seems generally more fulfilling. The ending is really great, and kind of what i was hoping would happen, although the sense of empathy you have with Berni is really interesting.
Definately worth checking out if you have 10 minutes to spare.

Here's the link to stream;
anna k
I watched Spring Breakdown, a movie starring Parker Posey, Rachel Dratch, and Amy Poehler as friends who were nerds in college, and get the chance to party, spring-break style. It was entertaining, but not great. Fine as a rental, but I like all three of those ladies, as well as Amber Tamblyn, who played a teen girl Parker had to supervise for her boss.
Cocky know-it-all Trouble Gal wrote:

"i LOVE this-- rear projection like cocteau's orpheus, or zentropa, or vertigo..."

And I LOVED reading that.
ha! me too. i find it almost impossible not to like about a film that uses rear projection-- it's so low tech, but there is something... mesmerizing about it. orphee, will always be one of my favorite films because it's sfx, still worked beautifullly. unlike say, king kong, it didn't feel at all dated it added to the unreality of the movie.

and am i really a cocky know-it-all? wait. don't answer that. wink.gif
Thirteen wants to see...

A bout de souffle (Breathless)
Let the Right One In
Happy-Go-Lucky (though I am not sure how much cheerfulness I can take)
My Life to Live
37.2 Degrees in the Morning

Has anyone seen these films?
Revolutionary Road: Since I am familiar with, have been caught up in that kind of ghastly intense lacerating fighting... this gave the movie a real gravitas, and often made it simply too painful to watch. I had to pause it, and walk away...

So far none of the reviews and comments on this movie, that I've come upon, which discuss its location in the fifties have noted the most relevant aspect: the case that poor April (because this is pre-feminism) does not recognize that she needs and deserves something to build a life around on top of marriage, house, mothering. After her would-be career as an actress evaporates, this the great problem that descends upon her. Paris is the initial solution. When that shuts down, she's lost... But she does not understand this... not clearly. As she would today, we can hope.
Dolor, absolutely agree with you on Revolutionary Road. At the same time, my sister and I felt it could apply today in the emphasis/insistence on conventional goals and nuclear family life, which is of course horrifying.

Following a discussion with GT elsewhere about horror and 'monstrosity' (referencing B Creed)... it has been argued that some sci-fi cinema in particular usefully explores a kind of hierarchy of otherness, where the existence of robots and aliens expands the degrees of otherness from the normative white male hero. Bladerunner presents such a hierarchy, from Decker (although, of course, he's complicated because we're not sure what he is) through the male replicants, especially the uber alpha male Roy, to the female replicants, especially Pris who visually comes across as freakish compared to Rachel and Zora.

Ridley Scott's Alien presents Ripley as the heroine instead of the white male captain Dallas, in that she is ultimately a survivor. She has to battle the prejudices of the captain and other white men on board ship though, including Ash(which turns out to be complicated); within the hierarchy she is presented as other but transcends this positioning. In the end, only she, the cat and the (male) alien make it to the end of the film. All three are other to the white male position, yet they survive for longer.

This hierarchy of otherness is further complicated in Cameron's Aliens, where two further significant women enter the hierarchy: the hard-ass female soldier (whose name I am blanking on, sorry) and the little girl. This is where we first come across the queen alien with her monstrous body and equally monstrous capacity to breed. We also see the 'vaginal' interior of the ship in more detail which represents a further aspect of the (now female) alien.

The above are starting points from the top of my head and from memory only... there's a lot to be said for the Terminator films in terms of hierarchy of otherness, as well...
Hey thirteen!

I saw Let the Right One In & REALLY enjoyed it. It's a very sweet story embedded in a horror film.

I also saw Happy Go Lucky & despised it. The lead actress drove me crazy.
Didn't Let The Right On In have the wrong subtitles?

I also despised Happy Go Lucky. It's a shame, b/c I love Mike Leigh.
hmmm. i am intrigued by the idea of a other hierarchy, (or HOO), being an "other" of course. but then i tend to root for underdogs, villains, and anyone-who's-not-the-white-male. and that last one, particularlly if they are the lead. i think hollywood needs to be disabused of this idea that people can't identify with anyone but a white male.

i would think that hierarchy would extend to horror (like aliens), and i wonder how that might work in a strictly non-sci-fi setting, like the film inside, with it's two female leads, and being male is an apriori death sentence, or the more pedestrian dyke noir, bound.

or something like the fly, where it, (and i suspect much of chronenberg's body horror), is about becoming the other, or in the case of videodrome, not just going from subject to (if i understand the concept, as living/dead object) abject ?

as for aliens, the female soldier is vasquez, the child, newt. i <3 vasquez, not so much with the newt. i'd love to see how many cameron/hurd/bigelow films revolve around that HOO, i'm thinking about gale anne hurd's aeon flux* with the sort of female trinity: flux/handler/sithandra(with her monsterously handy body), and how in the film she wins over the goodchilds (as opposed to the cartoons which are a mobius strip).

*btw, side note: aeon flux/girl fight director, karyn kusama has teamed up with writer du jour, diablo cody for a horror movie starring sex symbol du jour, megan fox, called jennifer's body.
GT, I think that certain films definitely invite a reading which incorporates a hierarchy of otherness. Bound certainly does, where as I recall the two protagonists are (lesbian) women who outsmart two somewhat dim men (it's been a while, correct me if I'm wrong about the details). Aeon Flux too, for similar reasons (haven't seen Inside, sorry).

I agree with you that Cronenberg's body horror achieves something similar, e.g. in The Fly, where Seth morphs from a geeky white male to an other creature and the protagonist becomes Geena Davis' character. Even where Cronenberg goes 'mainstream', as in A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, he at least problematises an 'ideal' of the successful/functioning white male with the central characters.

I think Bigelow is interesting because she too (in different ways) complicates a white masculinity, especially in Point Break but also in Strange Days. (Btw, Fred Pfeil gives good analysis on film and US masculinity in 'White Guys: Studies in Postmodern Domination and Difference', 1995.)

Vasquez! Thank you! I liked her too and thought she was much more interesting than the introduction of Newt, which just seemed like a device to make Ripley warmer/maternal (and therefore more accessible--yuk). In any case, we see how well that works out for her at the start of Alien 3, which is one of the bleakest beginnings in mainstream film IMO.

What the Terminator films do is present a hierarchy moving outward from the (human) white male, who in T1 is clearly the least powerful of the protagonists, with Sarah C and Arnie kicking easily more ass. T2 widens that hierarchy further, with the young John, Sarah, the 'good' Terminator and the black govt scientist (the awesome Joe Morton) all representing forms of otherness. This hierarchy is then made even more interesting and complex in the Sarah Connor Chronicles where gender is even more of a focus.

The mention of Joe Morton reminds me of Sayles' Brother From Another Planet, which is awesome but can be read in relation to H.O.O. too--it's just a useful approach that I find applies to so many films which I have been drawn to.
oh no, it's very useful-- especially if you are interested in how gender/sex and/or surfaces work in film. how funny that i never noticed it but there is that narrative transfer/shift in the fly from seth/brundlefly to geena davis in the later half. it would be interesting to look at cronenberg's films in ways that ignore the body horror aspect. but it's so distracting. wink.gif but i think of spider with a very troubled/inconsistent white male. interesting!!!!

bigelow is always interesting in my book. she's one of those utterly mainstream directors that slips things in. the hurt locker seemed to be all about how myopic men are. sure, there's a war going on, but, i gotta get my kicks! it's a strange film and almost has amnesia. it's as if one mission is done, it evaporates. there is very little history other than the now, which is pointed up by the ending-- essentially a new birth, with ss. james stepping out of the birth of an aircraft, his time clock starting from scratch. almost starting the film over-- he is Sisyphus, doomed (even tho he likes it) to spend his life defusing bombs, with no idea of an outside world, until he becomes guy pierce's character.

you've made me think of a film that is exactly what we are talking about as far as objectification. hell it's title even points it out, and it is so visually specific in being about the other as unknown object /objectification is bunuel's "that obscure object of desire" with it's two actresses playing the same woman. unlike other films (russell's salome's last dance comes to mind, or the bride of frankenstein), where one actress might play multiple roles, it's obviously a distancing device/mask comment on how we play roles. bunuel's conchita is the polar opposite-- the object that refuses to be objectified/controled/understood/owned by the subject. it's the taming of the shrew, but the shrew won't get with the program which is paralleled with all the terrorist acts that occur. and like shrew, ultimately he can only humiliate her to feel in control. the difference is in obscure she never submits. it's been years since i've seen TOOoD, but i would love to see it again with an eye towards the abject and HOO.

question: what is the difference between a filmic object and a filmic abject? why is there a need for abject? object seems to work, perhaps there is something i'm missing....

thank you, btw, syb. i'm working on something right now, and this is helping me quite a bit. wub.gif
'Abject' or a position of being abject, is more a descriptor than a replacement for the narrative object. For example, in Alien 3 and especially Alien Resurrection, Ripley herself becomes abject, as invaded by the alien she herself becomes part alien, therefore moving substantially further away from a normative (human) subject. In a nutshell. The wikipedia entry uses 'abjectifies' which I don't necessarily think is quite right; my (again, attenuated) understanding is there can be a state of being abject or of abjection, but I'm not sure if using it as a verb/process works. I could easily be wrong though.

I have to defer to Kristeva to explain it better; dense but useful:

(Also, this is a decent example of how Kristeva's concept can be used in analysis:

I hope this conversation isn't alienating (ha)... for me, these theories really enhanced my appreciation of horror films. In fact, vampire films are fascinating in terms of representing the 'other' too... but at the same time I would never say you have to know some theory to truly understand films. Films should be self-sufficient, enjoyable on their own terms.
oh, i agree with you on not needing to know theory to appreciate film, but i do see the value in being able to understand them. sadly i think too many film reviewers just restate the plot, or star worship. they teach the viewer nothing about how to understand film on a deeper level. it's no wonder than on any given film when you talk about symbolism or the film's construction, people say, you're reading too much into it, and look at you like you are from mars. i'm inclined to agree with greenaway. we are living in the most visual era, but have the most visually illiterate populace.

as for alienating, don't worry about it. that's why we have the popcorn movie thread -- that's for the popcorn view of films, this thread is about looking at film from a more cerebral point of view. wink.gif

(eta: second link is not working wink.gif)
Squeeeeeeeeeeee!! I just saw a trailer for Alice In Wonderland! It was embedded on another site so I don't know the url but I'm sure y'all can find it on youtube or something. I can't wait for this movie!
I just saw "Moon" on Sunday. Wow. Movie of the year for me so far! And best Sci Fi movie in a loooong time
they're pulling the alice promos all over the net, luckily..... watch it here
i have heard nothing but good things about moon angie. i'm bummed i missed it when it was at the film festival. :/
anna k
angie, I've heard good things about Moon, too. I have a little crush on Sam Rockwell, and it looks like a modern-day Twilight Zone episode. I wanted to see it a couple of weeks ago while visiting my parents, but my mom wasn't interested.
It really was awesome. Unfortunately I can't say anything more about it without saying too much. I thought the whole thing was done well, the feel and look of the movie was pretty old-school, there was some CGI but it was actually used well. The actors were great for their roles, Sam Rockwell was awesome! I would highly recommend it. But you're right, it isn't much of a "mom" movie.
Going to see 500 Days of Summer at 11:20....I hope it doesn't disappoint!
anna k
Angie, I saw Moon tonight, and it was stunning. The set design made it look so real, and Sam Rockwell was fantastic. I was a little confused sometimes with the plot, but my friend would explain it to me. It's a great sci-fi film, a throwback to Alien and Solaris, and pretty unique.
I think I'm going to see Moon this evening. My boyfriend has been comparing it to Sunshine (not in plot, but in SF merit), though he's also been muttering that they could have done more with it.

I'm on the prowl for more Mae West movies after seeing her in My Little Chickadee. This lady is fantastic, I never knew!
Watching that movie I felt like she was almost always speaking directly to the camera even though she never addresses the 4th wall directly. Actually it's more like she has this self-aware sex-appeal and amusement going on, and like Bettie Page, she's always looking directly at you through the camera even when she's not. Like she's letting you in on a private joke. Could be vaudeville training too.
I saw Funny People and I personally thought that it was fantastic.
I saw 500 Days of Summer and Julie & Julia recently! I loved 500 Days it because it was sooo good, and hated it because it was sooo real. Julie & Julia was adorable..the Julia parts need to be their own movie, I could watch it for hours!
Finally saw Moon! LOVED it. The story was so interesting, mysterious, and creepy. Sam Rockwell did a bang up job. Excellent. I'm so glad we were able to catch it on the big screen, I think it might not be as stunning on a TV screen.
oh god, girl logic, mae west is AWESOME. she's one of my favorite feminist icons. she was an early supporter of both gay and women's rights in the late 20's. she wrote her own material, wrote plays, and discovered archibald leech, aka, cary grant. she wrote a couple of plays that she went to jail for, one of which was about gay issues, and are pretty fantastic, btw. she wrote screenplays, radio, and recorded music as well. she is fantastic.

as for sunshine... booooo! hated it. it was 2001/event horizon redux.
QUOTE(girltrouble @ Aug 12 2009, 01:45 AM) *
oh god, girl logic, mae west is AWESOME. she's one of my favorite feminist icons. she was an early supporter of both gay and women's rights in the late 20's. she wrote her own material, wrote plays, and discovered archibald leech, aka, cary grant. she wrote a couple of plays that she went to jail for, one of which was about gay issues, and are pretty fantastic, btw. she wrote screenplays, radio, and recorded music as well. she is fantastic.
as for sunshine... booooo! hated it. it was 2001/event horizon redux.

Now I'm going to have to rent some mae west movies. The ones I have seen have been fantastic though.

I didn't like sunshine either, but now will probably go see Moon.
I'm still recommending Moon to everyone I know. Love it!

We just rented the Great Buck Howard, based on the life story of the "Amazing Kresken." I'd never heard of it. It's wasn't mindblowing or anything, but definitely entertaining, and John Malkovich was pretty hilarious. Also Steve Zahn had a short role in it and I always find him so endearingly funny. smile.gif
saw district 9 last night. i liked it but it felt like a hodgepodge of other sci-fi movies.
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