December 31, 2003

Guest Blogging

Just a notice to inform our faithful readers that Cinecultist et al. will be doing some guest blogging over on Cultivated Stupidity for the next few weeks while our Josh is overseas. As though we have nothing better to do AND our own blog writes itself you know... Anyhoo, it's a nice excuse for us to write on non-cinema culture topics, so if you are not certain we actually can write on non-cinema topics, here's your proof of our well-roundedness.

Our first rant is on Jonathan Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude -- a book that's getting loads of good press and surely will be made into a movie sometime in the near future. Damn, can't get away from those movie topics.

Also, be sure to check out the CS top 10ish movie list because it's in haiku.

Posted by karen at 12:12 PM |

December 30, 2003

Freaky Good Remake

Another holiday vacay activity that Cinecultist always enjoys is cozying up with the CC sisters for a few videos. Though with ages ranging from 26, 23 and 10, it can sometimes be difficult to decided on a DVD the three of us will all want to sit through ("Little House on the Prairie!" "CSI, Second Season!"). Fortunately, CC's littlest sister Jordan received in her stocking a copy of the new Freaky Friday remake with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan which we could all agree we wanted to see.

A fan of the Jodie Foster original, CC had her doubts about this Lindsay Lohan chick (previously of the Parent Trap remake -- sacrelige!) stepping into the role as Anna, the petulent teen in need of some empathy training. But actually she's quite cute as the uptight Mom, and not in a bland Hilary Duff sort of way, as well as being able to hold her own against Curtis's amazing rebelious teen in a middle-aged woman's body. Although we will warn you that the scene where Chad Michael Murray (He's greasy! He's dreamy! He's the WB's Great White Hope!) wooes Curtis over coffee with indie rock talk is not for the faint of heart. Shades of Mrs. Robinson that some find appealing but sort of makes CC squirm. All in all, good family fun and worth a rental.

[Ed. Note -- Creepy, Lindsay of also watched this movie with her 10 year old sister while on vacation. And she also likes Lohan over Duff. Double creepy, dude. Blogging synchronicity at work.]

Posted by karen at 8:17 AM |

December 29, 2003

Fishing For Inspiration

daffodilsewan.jpgPardon the horrid analogy, but Cinecultist was caught up in the Tim Burton's Big Fish end of the year awards-hype like a mammoth catfish on a homemade fishing line. There's something about the phrase, "Tim Burton's Masterpiece" intoned on the television commercials that will lure CC into theater every time based purely on fond memories of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood and Sleepy Hollow alone. We won't say that our Burton itch wasn't scratched by parts of Big Fish, but in the end CC expected a more typically dark twist than this sweetly Oedipal story delivered.

Told primarily in flashback/tall tale, Big Fish brings to technicolor life the experiences of another Ed, this time Edward Bloom (Albert Finney/Ewan McGregor) as told to his son Will (played as an adult by Billy Crudup) throughout his life but painfully resented for their exaggeration as a grown-up. Visually, the movie soars when allowed to play in these fantasy sequences as Burton and his production team concoct stunning, elaborate sets pieces for them. In particular, the part where WWII combatant Ed lands in an Asian vaudeville show complete with barking ventriloquist is delightfully witty as well as gorgeous.

But all of this loving attention to surface detail leaves a few holes in back-story and character development. As the investigation by Will plot sets out to debunk some of Ed's stories with real life truths, the story could have plumbed some darker depths regarding his father's double life and the escapist impulses of a life-long story teller, but doesn't. Instead Burton chooses to linger his camera on the patiently hagged-uped face of his real-life girlfriend Helena Bonham Carter (look honey, this time I didn't make you look like a monkey!) and sticks us with a heart-warming ending when we're not looking. Some people might find their cockles warmed and their strings tugged by this kind of father-son bonding junk, but Cinecultist wonders if those people are a true Burton acolyte like they say. CC thinks we'll hold off on dubbing Big Fish an "instant classic" but it is still worth a holiday time viewing if your schedule allows.

Posted by karen at 10:20 PM |

December 27, 2003

Geekin' Out In The 'Burbs

Back in Nor Cal for the holidays with the fam, the Cinecultist headed out to the suburban cineplex for a post-Christmas screening of the Lord of the Ring: Return of the King with our favorite Tolkien geek, CC's Dad. We had actually held off seeing the film at midnight on its release with some of our NYC-based geeks, so that we could continue our tradition of seeing the epic installments with the pater familias. Someone who's read the books numerous times over the years even listening to the entire trilogy on audio tape while commuting, CCD knows the stories inside out and thus makes for quite the educated screening partner and he admires the genius of director/visionary Peter Jackson nearly as much as CC.

Sign Number One that CC has been attending the movies too long in over-priced Manhattan: when we went to go purchase the tickets on Fandango we were shocked to be reminded that the 'burbs features both matinees and $6.25 ticket prices for said matinees. Cinecultist literally thought it was a typo or a glitch in the website's calculations. Arriving at the Century 12 in Redwood City, we also were overawed at the size of the parking lot in comparison to the smaller sized lines inside. In New York nearly everyone (or at least it seems this way) is at the theaters on a holiday afternoon, while in the Bay Area everyone seemed to be at the mall. Or more specifically, the Gap, the madhouse of sweater piles CC had visited earlier in the afternoon.

But anyhow, the movie. The opinion of the final installment, already slated for the top of the list this year even before viewing it, is that it rocks, of course. Examined as an 11 hour movie, it's a fearsome accomplishment. Jackson continues to out do himself, visually and emotionally, as he brings to life this deeply textured universe on screen. The battle scenes in particular blew CC away, the vastness of the fields, the intricacies of the props and the intensity of the actors in their elaborate costumes. Viggo Mortenson is wonderful, Orlando Bloom is all dreamy blondeness with kick-ass fighting skills again, and of course, Andy Selkirk as Gollum is one of the most evocative portrayals of a literary figure brought to life that could be imagined. However, the most stand-out performance had to come from Sean "Rudy" Astin whose Sam Wise Gamgee makes for a completely heartfelt platonic bond that can't help but be truly moving. And not just a little bit homosexual, although CC will leave that analysis to the experts at CS and DYFL?.

Inspired by the slang-tastic Uncle Grambo and an odd little segment we heard on NPR on the way to the movie, Cinecultist invokes a new slang word we've decided to adopt calling the Lord of the Rings completely Poppins*.

*As in entirely perfect in every way.

Posted by karen at 9:53 PM |

December 25, 2003

Another Voice, Another List

Now that the end of the semester has finally arrived, PCC wishes to contribute her proverbial two-cents to the year-end best-of list. Of course, this list most likely will change as soon as it's written, but fluid lists are more fun. Here are PCC's top ten films of 2003*:

1. Mystic River (Clint Eastwood)
2. 21 Grams (Alejandro González Iñárritu )
3. Whale Rider (Niki Caro)
4. Swimming Pool (François Ozon )
5. Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay)
6. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
7. Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton)
8. Spellbound (Jeffrey Blitz)
9. The Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (Gore Verbinski)
10. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Peter Jackson)

*This list has been compiled without seeing the following films, some of which might very well out-rank the ones above: Big Fish, In America, The Fog of War and Triplets of Bellville

Posted by jordan at 3:21 PM |

December 24, 2003

We Wish You Much Holiday Hokum

wondlife2bw.jpgNothing says holiday cheer like hokie Christmas movies such as the perenial fav pictured right. Cinecultist wishes you all (in a non-demoninational way, of course) the most sappy and sentimental of seasons. Or be like CC a few years ago and get drunk on margaritas while watching White Christmas, or whatever suits your fancy.

[Ed. Note -- while we are now officially on holiday here at CC HQ, we shall try to update you with holiday movie reviews as time and gorging on peppermint candy canes allows. Cheers!]

Posted by karen at 10:26 AM |

December 22, 2003

Film Critics Like Porn

It's all about being self-reflexive, baby, the whole "critic" thing. When you spend so much time analyzing how others watch, you can't help but put yourself and your voyeuristic tendencies under the same scrutiny. But falling under the seriously too much information category, David Denby film critic for the New Yorker reveals his fascination with porn in his new memoir, American Sucker. The thing that amuses Cinecultist, though it does strike a little close to home, is the way Denby so easily lapses into pseudo-scholarly inquiry language when discussing how he likes to stay home and "click." The intellectualizing part, of course, not the other thing. This is a family blog, after all.

"I had no desire to “chat”; I wanted only to gaze. After a while, as I spilled from site to site, I felt not that I was controlling and discovering porn on the ‘Net but that it was discovering me. It was seeking me out, reading me, and it found out things about me that I didn’t know. I continued to review movies, I had dinner with friends, took care of the boys when it was my turn. I fed the cat, read the Times and the Journal, but I felt, at times, as if I were breaking into fragments. I had this appetite and that one, but what held them together?

[link via Gawker and]

Posted by karen at 8:08 AM |

December 19, 2003

The List : Version 2004

As promised last week for those who haven't gone through a complete list overload already, Cinecultist brings to you the Top Ten movies of the year (in our not-so humble opinion), *with links to our previous reviews as available*.

[Ed. note -- A word to the wise first though, CC has a hard time with this sort of thing. Not the arbitrariness really, nor the picking-an-opinion-and-defending-it-to-the-death thing, just the part about remembering what our opinion was exactly. CC generated the following list for an end of the year Reverse Shot issue (forethcoming in January-ish), but literally hours after we'd done it, we couldn't remember half the titles on our list for the purpose of a conversation about said list (Sorry Rick, here you go.). So the moral of the story is, either Cinecultist has a terrible memory or these types of lists are sort of silly.]

1. Lost in Translation
2. Shattered Glass
3. Lord of the Ring: Return of the King (probably, CC still has to see it.) [Review now available.]
4. I Capture the Castle
5. The Man Without a Past
6. Lilya 4Ever
7. The Pirates of the Caribbean
8. School of Rock
9. X2
10. My Life Without Me

Posted by karen at 7:55 AM |

December 18, 2003

On The Road To The Oscars

Later today, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will announce their nominations for the 2004 Golden Globes, generally considered to be the first major step to determining the makeup of the Academy Awards line-up.

We'll have more commentary in this space after seeing the full list but for now, click over to the tribute page to Michael Douglas, this year's receipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award. There's something so freaking creepy about that guy, even if you remove the robotic evilness of his wife CZJ from the equation. Maybe it's that group picture from Fatal Attraction showing him posing with the wife played Ann Archer and Glenn Close, the lover. Or perhaps the one where he looks like he wants to lick Sharon Stone's face. Ick-ick-ick.

UPDATE: The Reuter's recap is now available on Yahoo, and Cinecultist can't really say we're surprised with any of the nominees, except maybe Evan Rachel Wood for Thirteen. We didn't know that buzz got beyond the IFC channel circuit. Basically, our theory is that the HFPA is a bunch of Hollywood-happy hacks who spend their days humming "That's Entertainment!" and thumbing through the critics pages of People magazine. They're the Larry Kings of the awards season, they just love everything. And yet they're wildly influential. So maybe this year we'll see Oscar number 2 for Billy Bob Thorton for his performance in Bad Santa and a 4 category sweep for Seabiscuit. The saints preserve us.

Posted by karen at 8:04 AM |

December 17, 2003

So Over, So Played

Movies are a great medium and all, but when it comes to being a barometer of the cultural zeitgest, they are always a touch behind. Inherently, by the time a trend gets pitched as a part of a feature, the feature gets made and then released, that trend is probably already so over it's not funny (see XXX and X-treme sports). Not that movies are the only media killing the cool buzz (see the New York Times Style and magazine sections), to even talk about the trend usually means it's over too.

Cinecultist was thinking about this phenomenom in the last week or so as we watched Honey in the theaters and Style Wars on DVD. Admitedly, one is a fiction film and the other a documentary, but both are trying to capture the energy of New York hip hop culture on screen and both come off as completely square in the process. This is not say they are not entertaining movies, but they aren't cultural windows offering a real look at the trend to their audience. Neither film skimps on the cameos either, most notably Crazy Legs in Style Wars and Missy Elliot in Honey who keeps yelling in a oddly sexual way, "I need Honey Daniels!" So what goes wrong then? It's the voice over of The Man, both literal and figurative, that kills the buzz here. To be told what is cool makes it instantly uncool and there's no way around it. And trust Cinecultist, we know from cool.

Posted by karen at 8:00 AM |

December 16, 2003

'Tis The Season For Shunning

There are winners but mostly there are losers. Or at least, those who are passed over. And then we laugh in their faces. As IndieWire covertly seems to be pointing out in their coverage of the New York Critics Circle's awards is that the real story is in who they left out, not who they included. Lost In Translation, okay sure, we all want to live a life of alienated passionate detachment while wearing the Marc Jacobs fall line, old news. But Clint and Sean and Tom and such being shunned? Juicy news. In addition, this news regarding the critical praise being heaped on Return of the King makes Cinecultist wonder if this is going to be the year for a Geek Best Picture? It has been said they will inherit the earth, maybe that first step is in dominating the Academy. Thought provoking indeed.

Posted by karen at 10:59 AM |

December 15, 2003

The Dark Side of Dahl

chocolate.jpgWhen it's rainy and snowy and slushy on a Sunday afternoon, movies on television can be your bestest friend. As the film adaptation of Cheaper By the Dozen with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt approaches theaters, Cinecultist has had favorite childhood books translated to the big screen on the brain. Yesterday, TNT played back to back two Roald Dahl classics turned pretty darn good movies that CC treasured as a kid, Matilda (1996) and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) and CC got to thinking about Dahl's imagination on screen.

Dahl, and by extension movies based on his books, are really best when they're darkest. The treacle-laden ending of Matilda where she finds a family with her teacher, sorta made CC want to puke from the sweetness overload. Which is why we were so pleased with our reviewing of the first hour of the Chocolate Factory, a dark and cynical build-up to the zaniness of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. CC mostly just remember Oompah Loompahs and the part where the little girl turns into a blueberry, but the first hour recounting how the world goes nuts for the Golden Tickets is quite clever and suspenseful. Charlie is so clearly the main character and yet various circumstances do not make his finding the Golden Ticket a foregone conclusion. The film is also filled with details that jab at popular culture in a very cutting way. Newscasters relay breaking news about the contest as though it were the most arresting thing occuring on the globe and one vignette shows a woman weighing a box of Wonka bars versus her husband's life.

Also, the image of the four grandparents all in the same bed end to end is so odd and yet unexpectedly sweet, it's a delightful rendering of Dahl's imagination. We can only have such high hopes for the Tim Burton remake in the works.

Posted by karen at 8:08 AM |

December 12, 2003

Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance

Available now at their site and in select New York locations, the new issue of Reverse Shot devoted to Musicals and extensive reviews of New York Film Festival submissions (many of which are now in the theaters). The symposium focuses on modern musicals with essays on Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Everyone Says I Love You and South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut to name just a few.

Coming Soon: Cinecultist takes a look at the year's releases and breaks it down into a list with ten items on said list. Dear Lord, we're so creative around here it hurts. Who would've thought it would be so fun to write arbitrary lists? We know you await our assessment with bated-breath.

Posted by karen at 8:06 AM |

December 11, 2003

The Devil Made CC Do It

Cinecultist likes to play a little auteurist forensic game. Tracing back through a director's history, we can begin to think that a particular film may be a literal crime on human nature after a career of very pleasing law-abiding behaviour on screen. The match up of director Ang Lee with writer James Schamus has resulted in so many top notch flicks (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Sense and Sensibility, the Ice Storm, the Wedding Banquet, Eat Drink Man Woman) that when they made the oddly stinker-tastic the Hulk this year, we wondered what was up.

Since Ang has blocked our calls lately and we can no longer ring him up to say, "Ang, dude, what happened with the Hulk? Did you direct Nick Nolte to chew the scenery like that?" We thought we'd take a look at one of his other famously flop-alicious film, Ride With the Devil. Consensus? Ang and James have no excuse for Hulk, even Devil is a fascinating movie.

If you need refreshing, Tobey Maguire and Skeet Ulrich are good ol' Southern boys fighting for the Rebel cause during the Civil War, riding through the countryside shooting people. Skeet meets pop princess Jewel, Tobey befriends a Black Man (Jeffrey Wright currently in Angels in America on HBO rockin' a hard core beard here), they sack Lawrence, KS etc.

The intriguing thing is the way that Ang and James make these crazy, violent racists sort of likeable as the main characters even as they spout seriously un PC epithets all over the place. The brain says it makes complete sense for the context but it's still surprising and a tad shocking. Despite this, the film is worth a viewing for this one gorgeous crane shot as the rebels surge over a pale green hill into Lawrence. Also of note here, Jonathon Rhys Meyers as a the swishiest, creepiest rabble rouser ever. What exactly does he want to do to Tobey with that double barrel gun? Just don't say we didn't warn you about the 2 plus hour running time.

Posted by karen at 8:08 AM |

December 9, 2003

Correspondence From Cinema Studies Academia Elite

From: Lauren
Date: Tue Dec 9, 2003
To: Cinecultist (and various other CS scholar-types)
Subject: Pointless question


Okay so is it just me or does Gwyneth's head look like a giant clitoris in this picture?

Sorry, but I had to ask.

Lots of Love,

[We wish you many years of marital bliss Gwynie & Chris! --Ed.]

Posted by karen at 9:13 PM |

Make Your Opinion Heard

Corey Feldman needs your help. He's started a grass-roots campaign to garner fan support for a sequel to his 1985 kiddie adventure movie the Goonies. From his website, of course, he is soliciting e-mails hopefully up to 100,000 to get the attention of Warner Bros. for the project. According to a short article in Entertainment Weekly's News & Notes section this week, director Richard Donner has confirmed that he and Steven Spielberg have a script idea in mind for the follow-up that includes "the oringial cast + new teens + peril."

Cinecultist does not necessarily endorse said campaign with this posting, nor have we submitted our own e-mail [full disclosure and all] but the concept of fan desires leading directly to studio decisions is such a strange little thing, we had to pass this along. Studios seem to like to think they make movies with fans in mind (see the disgusting proliferation of sequels this past summer) but this whole thing with fans soliciting for studio support as though it were a democracy not a business seems to be ass-backward to CC. Anyhow, bon chance Corey we wish you well in the revitalization of your career through a rehash of your childhood triumphs.

Posted by karen at 8:06 AM |

December 8, 2003

Angels In Our Midst

aiaascension.jpgDear children, Cinecultist awoke Sunday morning with a raging case of HPH, Holiday Party Hangover and here it is only the first weekend of December. Not a good sign, not a good omen for the weekends to come. How does one go about eleviating the symptoms of HPH? With aspirin, brunch and movies, movies, movies of course!

CC applied said remedy STAT and we will now report on the most moving aspect of the cure, Mike Nichols' filmed version of Tony Kushner's award winning play Angels in America aired on HBO. The first part of the six hour miniseries played this past Sunday and the second three hour installment will be on next week. What a phenominal piece of work this movie is. Although we can understand how the project could polarize viewers as it seems to be doing on the HBO message boards. A story that seems to be about a very narrow topic, characters in '80s America coping with AIDS and homosexuality, only transcends when you let your personal politics fade away to hear the text's commentary on humanity. One might think this would be more difficult outside the live theater parameters but that's not the case here.

In a movie filled with all-star acting performances by some of the best performers working today, for Cinecultist it was all about Meryl. Ms. Streep is the kind of actor who just gets better over the years and her ability to inhabit a character completely works well for her here as she (and some of the other actors) play multiple roles.

If you missed the first part of Angels in America, HBO will be reairing the three hours all this week, as well as breaking it down into more manageable 1 hour hunks starting in January. And even if you don't have the premium cable channel, it is pretty certain they will release the film on DVD at some point, as sales of their other shows have done gangbusters. We taped it too, and it seems that CC already has a waiting list for loans the VHS tapes.

Posted by karen at 8:09 AM |

December 5, 2003

Thoughts For The Weekend

honey.jpgApprarently, no one told Jessica Alba's hip hop choreographer character Honey that midriff baring tops are so over. But Cinecultist doesn't really think that fashion faux pas is really going to stop movie goers from attending Honey as it opens this weekend. Especially not a certain Uncle Grambo who's been counting down to the release all week.

By the way, Tom Cruise as a sushi-eating, sword-wielding samurai will also hit screens. But there's been so much crazy PR on this flick, we almost hate to mention it. Just a query before you all rush off to boost its grosses, why is that the last of any ethnic minority is always some White Guy? That last of the Mohicans, the dances with wolves guy, etc. Suspicious.

Posted by karen at 8:03 AM |

December 4, 2003

Gossip Mongering

How to pep up the doldrums of a cold Thursday in December? With meaningless gossip from LaLa land of course! Here Cinecultist goes a-mongering (always fun for the Google keyword search results)...

• Gwyneth and Chris will be proud parents soon, according to World Entertainment News Network, the schills on Bouncing blonde babies for the It-just-this-side-of-indie-culture couple are in store and CC couldn't be happier for them. Except for the whole damnation in out of wedlock procreation thing, as CultivatedStupidity points out. Tough that.

• Uma and Ethan are doing Christmas together for the kids, also according to Imdb yesterday. CC can't believe we're mentioning them again, because those Googlers are fascinated with Ethan's infidelities and wrecked havoc on our site traffic last time we mentioned them, but there you are. Happy holidays to be had for the Hawkes. Hopefully.

• In further shocking news, Lenny Kravitz admits to friends that he's just using AFI-honored actress Nicole Kidman for her fame. According to the Post, Len "is spending a lot of time with her partly because her fame helps raise his profile and sell records." How fuckin' romantic.

A sort of gossip related aside, the sale of New York magazine has CC a little nervous. We need our weekly Deborah Schoeneman and Lizzie Spiers fixes for their Intelligencer and the Kicker columns, so when the mag moves, please please keep them around. We kinda have girl-crushes on them and their ascerbic writing. All the bitchy that's fit to print. Awesome.

Posted by karen at 8:27 AM |

One More List to Add to the Growing Pile

Here is the complete list of IFP Award nominees. An interesting mix, to be sure, but isn't that the point of IFP?

Posted by jordan at 1:48 AM |

And the Race is On!

MR1.jpgThe National Board of Review, the first leg in the long race towards the Oscars, named Clint Eastwood's Mystic River as its top film of the year, with Best Actor honors going to Sean Penn for his performance in Eastwood's film as well as in 21 Grams. Since Cinecultist makes no qualms about having certain filmic biases, PCC will come right out and say it: Give Sean Penn an Oscar. Please. And now, back to some unbiased reporting. Diane Keaton picked up the Best Actress nod for her performance in the new Nancy Meyer's comedy Something's Gotta Give, while Alec Baldwin and Patricia Clarkson received the Best Supporting acting honors for their work in The Cooler and The Station Agent/Pieces of April, respectively. For other honored films and special awards, see the link above. Let the Oscar parade begin!

Posted by jordan at 1:42 AM |

December 3, 2003

Against Better Judgement

Imagine the scene: EXT. Outside a bustling movie theater on 3rd Avenue in downtown Manhattan - NIGHT. Two girls stand on the sidewalk arguing. One (our Cinecultist, 26) insisting she will buy a ticket to see Timeline, a movie about archeologists and time travel to 14th century France based on a best seller by Michael Crichton. The Other (Ilana, 24) disparaging her choice vehemently tries to extract a promise from Cinecultist that she will not spend her hard earned money on this flick. The two walk to the corner of the street, part amicably despite their difference in opinion and Cinecultist turns back to the theater, $10 bill fluttering in her hot little hand.

timeline.jpgThough it had earlier this year been the opinion of this blog that overloading on Summer Action Flicks was causing CC's brain to dribble out the ears, we realized Saturday that in the face of the Holiday Season a dose of junkie action and Paul Walker were needed to balance things out. Hence the above scene with the original PW fanatic, who we couldn't talk into attending Timeline with us. CC won't lie to you -- Timeline is not a good movie. PW has spent far too long enrolled in the Keanu Reeves School of Acting, dude. Frances O'Connor and her "smart girl" boring brown hair grate on the nerves to the point of distraction. Historical anomaly is more common than those greek flame-tipped arrows zipping threw the sky. Actually, it was the battle scenes which Cinecultist found the most interesting in the movie. Look kids, it's a working catapult and a group of soldiers with their shields forming a phalanx, neat-o! In the end, it is hard not to respect the sheer dollars fueled into productions like these that not only feed all those soldier extras but clothe them and organize them into fighting formations for the camera.

However after the neat-o-effect wears off, Timeline must be assigned to the dustbin of really terrible time travel movies inhabited by such travesties as Stargate, Back to the Future II, Highlander and Clockstoppers. Makes a cinecultist long for a La Jetee, or Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure at least.

Posted by karen at 8:06 AM |

December 2, 2003

Who's Filling The (Sun)Dance Card

Not that we're planning a trip to Park City, Utah any time soon but for the curious, reported on the Sundance Film Festival preliminary line-up yesterday and the full one today. We heard it from first, but as they want nearly $300 bucks from us for a subscription (yeah, right! don't they know this a not-for-profit film blog?), we're linking to good ol' IndieWire for the buzz. 2,426 independent cinema lovers wanted to see their works showcased in this "America's Most Important Festival" (okey dokey, whatever you say), which is up considerably from last year.

Though it must be frusterating to those rejected (another year at the Kwikee Mart for you, Mr. Smith-wannabe) it still sounds like good news for innovation in film. Jacob Kornbluth's new film is in the list, which CC would like to see at some point having enjoyed Haiku Tunnel, a underrated love story for the life of a temp. Now would be a good time to attend Park City (if some pub wants to send us, hint hint) because though it's not as decidedly uncommercial as Telluride tries to be, it's not quite the circus Cannes seems to be now -- paparazzi and silicone with no real cinema at its heart. Bobby Redford seems to be trying to keep it real with Sundance, despite the best intentions of his promoters/backers. CC still thinks the fest must help some struggling artists come into their own, and we'll continue to do so -- until we get some ranting e-mails from former workshop participants.

A bit closer to home, today marks the beginning of a festival at BAMcinématek devoted to Russian director Boris Barnet, "The Extraordinary Mr. Barnet," (Dec. 2—18). An actor and director of comedy who worked in the silent era and in sound from the 1920s through the mid-'60s when he took his own life, Barnet is one of those filmmakers who you may not have heard of now, but with the wider circulation of restored prints of his works at festivals like this one, he's up in coming in cinema studies circles. And CC says this not just because we enjoy making absolute statements about the direction of CS, but the likes of opinion maker scholars such as our boy Tom Gunning and David Bordwell say so.

Posted by karen at 8:05 AM |

December 1, 2003

What About Catherine?

julesjim.jpgIt would be easy assume that Cinecultist's singular taste sprung free-form from the head of Zeus or something. But even CC has to build on the filmography, over time ticking off the classics, finally watching some films that even we're surprised we've never seen. François Truffaut's Jules et Jim is one such movie that had been on the Cinecultist Netflix queue for a while now and we finally sat down to watch this weekend.

Although now that we've seen it, what might Cinecultist say about it? As a classic of the French New Wave, there's no shortage of criticism on it and no small amount of fetishization by worshippers of the European art cinema cannon. If you haven't seen it, CC can't really tell you to run out and watch it, because you probably already know you should. Even to post the above still from the film is besides the point, you've seen this image before and are familiar with this picture standing for a particularly joyous moment recorded on film. All of this makes CC begin to question whether it's even possible to have a real personal communion with these types of movies after all that's been said and thought about them before. Other than to say, "everyone is right, that's a pretty good movie." So there you are, Jules and Jim a pretty good movie. All the hype about Truffy? Well deserved. You heard it here first folks, remember that.

Posted by karen at 8:17 AM |