After watching The Commitmentsagain for the first time in an age, the cinetrix got to wondering: Must every Irish movie about plucky musicians that experiences some measure of global acclaim spawn a subsequent "real life" tour? Or is it a Glen Hansard-specific phenomenon?
A brief reminder to all you nice people that Benten brings out Kentucker Audley's sly, funny, fleet Team Picturetoday. You should buy copies for yourself, your family, your friends, your cowo--well, you get the point.
Yes, I consider the Benten boys my pals, but I'd be shilling regardless. In fact, back in the spring the cinetrix opted to support the arts by arranging a screening of Team Picture at her university. Kentucker and costar Tim were in the region showing the film at a couple of festivals and looking for additional dates. I was happy to oblige, exploiting my ability as faculty to secure on-campus space for free and guarantee a good turnout by dangling the coveted extra credit [at the end of the semester] to those of my students who attended. The 'Fesser and I even put up the boys at our place overnight. In return, we ended up seeing the world premiere of Ginger Sand, the epilogue to Team shot in Chicago by Joe Swanberg.
So you see, the least you can do is buy the movie.
A question from the 'Fesser: Can you think of any films in which the American South and Southerners are represented in the way in which Raiders of the Lost Ark, say, represents "the Orient" and "Orientals"? Chime in with your comments, s.v.p.
*Apologies for the fucked-up aspect ratio in the clip. Incidentally, anyone else ever heard the apocryphal story that the gun bit was improvised on set by noted pot-head H. Ford?**
**Pre-stardom the dude made his living doing carpentry. 'Nuff said.
So it turns out that there's an origin story behind those tees the IFC Center is shilling. A phone call from FOC Antonym yesterday revealed that the shirts were created by Phil of CineFile, the indie video store that, like headbanging hair metal, calls Los Angeles home. As it says on the CineFile site:
This summer, the cinetrix read. Books. I know, right?
For a variety of reasons [shitty economy, fear of pedagogical atrophy], I opted to take on a second course this semester, in addition to teaching my usual two sections of intro to film. All sophomores here are required to take a 200-level lit course, regardless of their major, so of the offerings on the books I opted to teach a section of the conveniently vague "20th and 21st century lit" class to a bunch of aspiring microbiologists and electrical engineers in the honors college. Whee!
As some of you might recall, my initial plan was to fill the syllabus with literary works that were later adapted into movies. That way we could talk about form, adaptation, and the challenges inherent in turning words into images. And I could also schedule some optional screenings, which cynically I hope will translate into good evaluations down the road. Bread and circuses, people.
But the subject and period still seemed unmanageably broad until midway through the summer, which is when I decided to focus on coming-of-age stories. [I thought it might be too hostile to actually call the class "Grow up," so that'll be our little secret, OK?] In addition to reading literature about movies--"Ave Maria," "Down in Front," "Big Red Son," "The Belle as Businessperson," and so on--the kiddies also will be subjected to WASP angst [Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, The Ice Storm and Girl, Interrupted], repressive religious environments [Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and Persepolis], and the collision of music and male arrested development [The Commitments and High Fidelity].
Those of youse who don't consider these texts to be lit-TRA-chure can kindly keep quiet and reread the line about aspiring microbiologists above. Everyone else, I'll keep you posted as the semester unfolds.
Oh, and I also wrote an instructor's resource manual for the second edition of Timothy Corrigan and Patricia White's textbook The Film Experience--or, as I like to call it, "1,001 Teaching Tips I Pulled Out of My Ass." As is the way with all things publishing, we're still working on page proofs long after we were supposed to be done. So the less said about that the better.
All of which may explain why I wasn't able to slip off to the movies until a couple weeks ago. About which, more TK. Right now I should probably reread Breakfast at--wait, you mean the George Peppard character is actually gay and Holly's kind of a prostitute?--Tiffany's.
IFFBoston continues to reign in blood like Slayer [that's good] during its offseason. To wit: Tonight sees yet another sneak preview screening at the Coolidge. This time it's Towelhead, with director Alan Ball and author Alicia Erian on hand for a Q&A.
Deets: Thursday, August 21 - 7pm
Coolidge Corner Theatre - 290 Harvard St, Brookline The price of admission is the cinetrix's favorite: FREE. But you need to print out a pass. And get there early.
Ed is back with a cinematic Eurorail pass. First stop, Espana.
Barcelona A missed opportunity for
Woody Allen. Overall it is disappointing, but if you're an Allen groupie
or someone who sees all his films because they usually provide some pleasure or
a memorable moment, catch this one.
As I sat on a bench
waiting for the audience to depart from an earlier show, an attractive,
well-dressed woman in her 50s approached me and said, "I did not identify
with anyone in the movie, and I really did not like it." How could she
identify with a movie that opens at a restaurant in Barcelona
where two young American women, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett
Johansson), are approached by an artist, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who
invites them to travel with him on a small plane to a resort town where the
three of them would engage in a ménage-a-trois?
The young women do
accompany Juan to the country where they meet his ex-wife, Maria Elena
(Penelope Cruz), who looks as though she might turn the event into a
menage-a-quatre. You'll have to see the film to find out what actually
The best performance
among the cast of distinguished actors is given by Rebecca Hall. The problem
with the story is that nothing is believable except for Vicky's
boyfriend, Doug (Chris Messina), who flew to Barcelona to marry
her. The movie is all froth, tinsel and far-fetched but at the same time
enjoyable to watch, particularly the scenes of Barcelona.
I visited that city when
I was mayor and was given a royal tour. Among my many memorable recollections
are eating fabulous seafood for which Barcelona is famous and
seeing the structures built by its most well-known architect, Gaudi, whose very
distinctive style is easily identifiable. While Allen takes us on an enjoyable
walking tour of that city, it is not as fantastic as the tour he took us on in
his 1979 film "Manhattan."
You can see this movie
and leave both pleased and disappointed. It could have been so much more as is
often the case when seeing a Woody Allen film.
HS said: Woody
Allen has been making films almost as long as the Rolling Stones have been
giving concerts. His first movie, "What's Up, Tiger Lily," came out
in 1966, while the Stones first toured America in 1964. Since
this is 2008, these cultural phenomena have had an impact on our psyches for
two generations. By now, we know what to expect.
I have seen a score
of Woody Allen movies, and they are almost always diverting, in different
ways. (Except for "Melinda, Melinda," which I couldn’t
understand.) "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is a visual feast. Unlike EIK, I have
never been there, but watching this beautifully-photographed film of artistic
and architectural treasures was the next best thing. There was a certain
negativism in the characters' self-absorption but that’s Woody
The three women are
very attractive, and Javier Bardem does not kill any of them. The plot is
outlandish, but so are the plots of most operas. You go to hear the music, not
to critique the unlikely scenarios. This movie is well worth seeing, but it is
unlikely to win major awards, unless the Spanish Tourist Office presents Oscars
on its own.
Oh, HK! You lovable kook! Next up, Hizzoner goes on a paragraph-long toilet tangent.
Transsiberian Regrettably, this is not as
good a film as it might have been. The subject matter is explosive with such
great potential. This is not the Orient Express with its opulence. The
Transsiberian travels across the same Siberia with its trackless (except for the train tracks)
forested areas, but on this train, poor people travel and the bathrooms do not
For Westerners like me, if
the bathrooms don't work, nothing else matters, no matter how good. To
digress, when I traveled to China in 1979, I was shocked that no matter how good
the hotel was – I'm not talking about the magnificent hotels in Hong Kong or the 5-star hotels of today
everywhere in China – the bathroom tile
floors were dirty. When I traveled to Moscow and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), the bathrooms were clean, but the food was
awful. When I traveled to East Berlin in 1961, the buildings on the major street,
Stalinallee, were literally crumbling with large concrete holes in the outer
skin of many buildings.
Now back to "Transsiberian." We meet four people – Roy (Woody
Harrelson), his wife, Jessie (Emily Mortimer), and lovers, Carlos (Eduardo
Noriega), a Spaniard and his 20-year-old American girlfriend, Abby (Kate Mara).
Roy and Jessie are coming back from Japan where they taught English classes. Carlos, we
learn, is a drug smuggler.
Woody Harrelson plays his
role creating a character who has many hillbilly mannerisms. His wife is very
sophisticated and appears to have a dark past and gets caught up with the
Spaniard, Carlos. Halfway through the movie enters Grinko (Ben Kingsley), a
Russian detective. I forgot to mention that the movie is set in the period
after the U.S.S.R. has broken up and Russia is its successor. Grinko is looking for drug
smugglers. The story includes an attempted rape, murder, a side trip to an
ancient abandoned church, stopovers at towns along the way, torture and other
surprises. Regrettably, it had too many unbelievable events occur.
Nevertheless, it is interesting, especially if you are interested in Russia. The two greatest movies for
me that give the feel of Russia and the U.S.S.R. are "Dr. Zivago" and "Reds." This flick pales in comparison, but will provide
sufficient information to your store of information on Russia to make it worthwhile.