April 11, 2007

Hey, That Giant Packet of French Fries Just Cut In Line

A little camera phone action from the press line at last night's premiere screening of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters. It seems sort of messed up that the stars of this blockbuster in the making had to wait in line to get in, but that they had the nerve to elbow their way in front of the Cinecultist was even more unbelievable.
Quick, get in the theater concession line for the free popcorn before Meatwad makes it through security. He seems like the kind of guy to boggart all of the snacks.

April 10, 2007

Monks Heart Hobbits

Cinecultist had heard from our friends over at Film Forum that Into Great Silence, the three hour nearly silent documentary about Carthusian monks, has been a huge hit for them but this week's Talk of the Town confirmed it. “We had to turn away a hundred people,” an employee told the New Yorker reporter. “It’s ridiculously popular.”

An even better bit in this piece than the always happy news of sell-out shows at FF was the detail that New York's only Carthusian monk Father Michael Holleran loves Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. When commenting on the noisiness of the city and the quest for spiritual enlightenment in our modern age, Father Holleran totally geeked out thusly: “The battle, like fighting the Balrog in the dwarf caves, is defeating the noise inside you,” he said.

Spiritual dude, that Balrog was totally awesome. I feel you, man. BTW, CC still has in the freezer our novelty sample of Chartreuse*, the emerald green liquor made by the Carthusian monks and named after their home region in France, which we received as a publicity tie-in at the press screening of Into Great Silence. Maybe we should bust it out next time Frodo et al is on TBS, just to give Father Holleran the shout out.

*Fun fact: Quentin Tarantino also like Chartreuse. He name checked it in his section of Grindhouse, as the drink o' choice for his bartender character in Death Proof.

April 9, 2007

Defending Verhoeven

This week in the New Yorker, Anthony Lane ripped Paul Verhoeven's Black Book a new one and Cinecultist finds ourselves in the unenviable position of feeling the need to defend Verhoeven. If you feel that chilly breeze wafting out of Hades don't be alarmed, that is indeed the feeling of Hell being frozen over with CC standing up for the Dutch schlockmeister auteur but frankly, it must be done. Black Book doesn't deserve the Lane treatment.

Here's the bullet point version of what problems Lane finds in Verhoeven's movie about a Dutch Jewish girl working for the Resistance in occupied Holland.

  • The villainous Gestapo head Ludwig Müntze (Sebastian Koch) isn't that menacing.

  • The double-crosser within the Resistance plot is lame.

  • Verhoeven's continuity skills (in one scene Rachel, our Jewish girl spy, is injured, in the next she's miraculously recovered) aren't so hot.

  • Life under Nazi occupation doesn't look so hard, everyone has plenty to eat and suitably slutty clothes (if you're a girl) to wear.

All in all, here's Lane's major beef: "This is trash pretending to serve the cause of history: a Dirty Dozen knockoff with one eye on Schindler’s List. Everything about it, from the earnest strivings of the musical score to the beery gropings of the Germans, has the whiff of soap opera."

However, this is where CC has to depart from Lane's caustic, but otherwise accurate, observations of Verhoeven's prettified version of Nazi Holland. Verhoeven's main purpose is to create melodrama. Even when he uses the tropes of a thriller, like in Basic Instinct, he wants to draw larger than life characters existing in the realm of grand scale storytelling. Except that his favorite kinds of characters also have a whiff of crass humanism to them--they like sex a little dirty or their drinks extra strong. There must be bawdiness in Verhoeven's movies, but it's all for the sake of fun, entertainment and hyperbole (see Showgirls's exuberant pole dancing or Starship Troopers's shower scenes as examples).

The totally brilliant thing about Black Book in Cinecultist's mind is that Verhoeven actually had the balls to bring his brand of melodrama to a Holocaust story, the ultimate sacred cow in Hollywood. Of course he had to publicly leave Hollywood behind to make that kind of movie, but as the production still above shows, Verhoeven isn't afraid to put some tasty gams on a Jewish girl and let her use them to taunt a few Third Reich soldiers. It's so salacious it can't help but make us think differently about this great tragedy. There were real people involved, who had sex drives and double crossed each other. The Resistance fighters could be as despicable as the Gestapo middle men were noble. Revolutionary, right?

Anthony Lane get off of your fucking snarky high horse. Black Book is an entertaining, sexy thriller that giggles as it snubs its nose in the face of taboo. Now, with that out of the way, Cinecultist is going to go put on a sweater. It's cold here in the Hell of our own making.

April 4, 2007

This Potter-aphile Totally Stumped

Cinecultist has been a longtime fan of the Harry Potter books and movies, receiving the first book as a gift long before the hype even began, but the 50 question ultimate Harry Potter quiz in this week's Entertainment Weekly was really hard. Even the excerpt with only 12 questions posted on the website is tough.

Like, do you remember the answer to this one?
Q: In Half-Blood Prince, the Amortentia potion smells like all but one of the following:
A) Something flowery
B) A Chocolate Frog
C) The woody smell of a broomstick
D) Treacle tart

Or, Q: With what character does Rowling share a birthday? (Answers after the jump...)

Jeez, to know the answers to those lickety-split, now that's a level of fandom that you just have to admire. Test the rest of your wizarding mettle by picking up the April 6 issue on newsstands.

[The gang's all here: Daniel Radcliffe, Matthew Lewis, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint in the forthcoming Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.]

- B) A Chocolate frog.
- Harry Potter.

April 3, 2007

CC's Just Not That Into...This Project

Dear Lord, just when we thought we'd sent Greg Behrendt and his totally overplayed advice concept He's Just Not That Into You back to the place where Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus went to die, the straight-talk trend has new legs. The Hollywood Reporter announced today that Ken Kwapis, the director behind such brilliance as The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and episodes of the US version of The Office, will be turning the book into a romantic comedy. The premise? "A hard-line advice guy fall for a woman who seeks him out because she can't figure out the men in her life." Wasn't this movie already made and called Hitch? Frankly, Cinecultist is having nightmares already that they'll cast someone who looks like the aging, wannabe rockabilly Behrendt. *Shudder* Talk about a serious rom com turn-off.

Posted by karen at 3:49 PM | coming soon, rom com | Comments (0)

April 2, 2007


Cinecultist read with interest Matt Dentler's (aka the programer for the SXSW Film Festival) impressions of Hot Fuzz which played down in Austin this weekend at a special cop/B movie fest. CC saw a preview of the cop comedy Fuzz last week and thought it was utterly hysterical, one of the best comedies, nay flicks, we've seen in ages. In fact, we disagree with Dentler to say that CC thought it was even funnier than the excellent Shaun of the Dead, a zombie spoof movie by the same creators.

What Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, the co-writers and director and star respectively, totally get about the genre is that cop movies are really about the love between two buddies. Straight man on man love is something that is expressed but not spoken about in mainstream films, particularly of this genre, and in a smart, delightful way Wright and Pegg bring it to the surface of their movie. They also figure out a way to be meta, yet not smug in their self-awareness. It's totally brilliant all around.

You can catch another preview of the movie (which comes out on April 20) at the Film Society as well as a conversation with Wright, Pegg and co-star Nick Frost on April 10. Should be a fun evening, especially for fans of cop movies and these hot Brits.

Posted by karen at 3:03 PM | Film Society, Hot Fuzz | Comments (0)