Rightwing Film Geek

Una Giornata Particolare

No, I didn’t just get an Ettore Scola jones, though some friends of mine like him a lot.

This was an e-mail that a friend of mine at work received from Tammy Bruce, a libertarian lesbian and author of “The Death of Right and Wrong:”

“Wow, what a day. Jessica Lynch comes home, we nail [Saddam Hussein’s] two sadistic mutts, and the Eiffel Tower catches fire. I’ve been walking around with the silliest grin on my face all day long. ;-) “

July 22, 2003 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Advance word on Mel’s movie

There was a private screening in Washington last night for Mel Gibson’s THE PASSION. A few dozen conservative glitterati were there, and the first round of reviews is all positive. Gibson is showing the film around to build word-of-mouth before its planned release next year.

The film has come under attack for anti-Semitism and historical inaccuracy, including an article in the New Republic (not on the Web far as I can tell) for which I frankly didn’t much care — it takes higher Biblical criticism far more seriously than I think it should be, but [much more unforgivably] cites it as though it were as “scientific” or supersecessionist as Newton’s laws of gravity.

Though admitting she was bound by a secrecy deal, Kate O’Beirne of National Review said that “The movie is intense and riveting, and the time quickly passes as you are completely drawn into the events in biblical Jerusalem. Although Gibson hasn’t yet begun negotiating with distributors, it is intended for general, nationwide distribution … Some will unfairly use Gibson’s labor of love to create a controversy, which is wholly unjustified in the case of this masterful film, but hopefully Gibson realizes that this too shall pass.”

Matt Drudge was just as forthcoming, gushing on MSNBC’s Buchanan and Press show that: “this is the ultimate film. It’s magical. Best picture I have seen in quite some time, and even people like Jack Valenti were in the audience in tears at this screening … and speaking as a Jew, I thought it was a magical film.”

“Mel Gibson stood back at the end and took questions for about an hour, and he is — he told me he’s tired of Hollywood. That this is it. He’s going to do it. He’s going to do it his way, and this film, I tell you, is magic. It’s a miracle. It’s a miracle,” he said.

Matt dismissed the charges of anti-Semitism, saying “They haven’t seen the darn film and those of us, every single person in there, and I’m not talking about tears, I’m talking total tears.”

Jack Valenti, head of the MPAA agreed about the anti-Semitism charges, saying that “I don’t see what the controversy is all about. This is a compelling piece of art.”

Now, none of these people are film critics or cinephiles and there’s often an element of “gee whiz, I saw the movie early” from audiences in such screenings. I don’t actually have the best track record with Jesus movies (upon reflection this morning, I realized I can’t say there’s a single one I’ve really flipped for and I haven’t seen even seen the most notorious — Scorsese’s LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST. Still, it’s looking better and better that THE PASSION might be the one.

July 22, 2003 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Polish tripe

NORTHFORK (Michael and Mark Polish, USA, 2003)

Though I’m unsure of my mixed reaction to LE CORBEAU, the other film I saw at the weekend, NORTHFORK, will not be the cause of a guilty “did I miss something?” second viewing. The latest film by brother auteurs Michael and Mark Polish has all the faults of TWIN FALLS IDAHO, compounded. It’s another Polish exercise in overwrought, portentous, obvious symbolism, only worsened here by attempts at deadpan comedy. It eventually becomes clear that it’s about a dying child (who, I think, sees angels) abandoned by his parents while six functionaries in drab black overcoats and hats make sure that a town about to be flooded for a lake has been completely evacuated. They see recalcitrants like a shotgun-armed man with his foot nailed to the floor, and another man who’s built an ark and has two wives (it feels like the Polishes tried to visualize the Police song “King of Pain”).

NORTHFORK combines an aggressively downbeat palette (if there was a single primary color in this movie, I missed it — all blacks, whites and sepias shot in a late-afternoon winter light) and attempts at comedy. but NORTHFORK is also the kind of movie where six characters will meet and say hello to all the other five by name. It’s aggravating as hell to hear “John, James, Bill, Mike, Willis,” followed by “John, James, Mike, Willis, Spike” [or whatever the exact names are]. For only about the fifth time in my life, I actually talked at the screen during a public theater performance, at the line where “Willis” says something inexplicable and then another character says … [maybe if you don’t know the punchline and didn’t see it coming, you won’t be as aggravated as I was, and say to the screen “oh, come on.”] It just throws you out of a movie to hear a 1970s sitcom line repeated in a portentous 40s allegory. Or for a character to obsess over a ding in his perfect car. It’s like throwing a jester onstage during OEDIPUS REX (gawd do these siblings make me appreciate the Coen Brothers more), and the film just finally drowns in its own arch … archness.

July 22, 2003 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

To flat rejection: Nevermore

LE CORBEAU (Henri-Georges Clouzot, France, 1943)

I saw this French film on Turner Classic Movies late last week, and I must say I was a bit underwhelmed. The film is about a series of anonymous poison-pen letters to some people in “a typical French town” threatening to out them for past sins (Otto Preminger remade it as THE THIRTEENTH LETTER). But LE CORBEAU just never really took off for me. I never found it either particularly funny (and I have a dark-enough sense of humor that I felt I *should* be finding this funny) nor did I find it especially threatening or suspenseful (the French Hitchcock and all that). There were so many characters getting letters and talking about their suspicions about one another, that keping up with it made it more of a chore than a pleasurably acidic black farce. I also saw the end coming (i.e. the fate of the titular “Raven” and who meted out that fate).

But I probably need to see it again, perhaps with adjusted expectations, to be sure that I didn’t simply miss the point or plain lost track. One of my all-time favorite films is Renoir’s THE RULES OF THE GAME, made in France four years earlier. Now the two films could not be more different tonally — LE CORBEAU is ice-cold and cynical, while RULES generous and warm, but they have in common my not caring very much on first viewing, and for basically the same reason — there were so many comings-and-goings between so many characters that the films finally left poor little dumb me behind. Needless to say, RULES grew in my mind. Still, I’m now 0 for 2 on really being really sent by Clouzot’s 40s films (the other being QUAI DES ORFEVRES), and 2 for 2 on his 50s films (DIABOLIQUE and THE WAGES OF FEAR), and four films constitutes a trend in my opinion.

July 22, 2003 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment