(cinema) Midnight in Paris, d. Woody Allen, 2011. A few years Woody Allen got to old to play himself. Being a septuagenarian and casting himself as the male romantic lead against the likes of Marion Cotillard would seem as unseemly as, well, as Woody Allen’s real life romantic life perhaps. Anyway, the guy playing the Woody Allen character in Midnight in Paris is Owen Wilson and his Allen-esque comic delivery is an adequate replacement. Although, I prefer my neurotic nebbishes a bit more Jewy. With all the attention drawn to this movie, including Academy Award nominations for best picture, director and screenplay, one might draw the conclusion that Woody Allen has returned to making great films. I don’t know about that. The character in the movie is a writer who travels back in time to Paris in the 1920s, meets F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway and other artistic heroes of the era. What he learns is that everybody thinks the era before their’s was better. I didn’t find this revelation all that profound. Nor did I think the comedy was consistently side-splitting. There are many intended to be funny scenes that come off completely flat. Midnight in Paris, like Woody Allen himself is likeable but too awkward to love. ๏ ๏ …(television) Alcatraz. Last week I reviewed the new J.J. Abrams vehicle and determined that I would watch one more episode to see if it was going to go with its mysterious premise or go with its boring cop-show gimmick. This week’s episode got no closer to investigating where all these prisoners went for 50 years and I got bored. Alcatraz is closed for me. Skip it…. Golden Girls, AND MAMA MAKES THREE, S3-Ep.20. Sofia is lonely and Dorothy is sorry when her mother starts attending all of Dorothy’s dates with a new beau. Sofia’s obliviousness to the imposition she becomes is inconsistent with her character as is Dorothy’s inability to tell her mother to get lost. But the episode is, overall, really funny. Watch it.
Posts tagged ‘directors’
(television) Project Runway All Stars, A NIGHT AT THE OPERA. Design a gown that will only be worn to the opera. This is the sort of challenge I watch the show for. Ambitious, fantasy gowns where the designers can show both their modern creativity and nod to formality. It’s a much more interesting challenge to me than make a dress out of only things sold at Radio Shack. The opera episode was great too because the competition was truly all star; there were at least six designs which could have been a winner. But first, the judges definitely got all the losers right. One trend across the competition seemed to be a lack of knowledge about what a night at the opera looks like, manifest in high waisted hoop skirts. She’s going to the opera in 2012, not playing the part of Violetta in La Traviata. In the case of designer Sweet P’s losing gown it was a hoop skirt with a summer free festival color palette. Her girl looked like Violetta smokes hash at a Joni Mitchell concert. At the better end I liked Rami and Mondo’s designs best and neither of them made the final judging. Some of middle-of-pack finishing gowns may have been deliberately left out of the final. Are the producers keeping the show fresh by holding back their ringers while the also-rans play out their role, which is to be cannon fodder? This may sound cynical but I’m beginning to question the veracity of reality shows… (cinema) Tree Of Life, d. Terrence Malick, 2011. This movie got a lot of attention last year and deservedly for being an amazing achievement. Frankly I’m surprised that something so abstruse and non-plot driven garnered so much attention. The late Andrei Tarkovsky made films that were just as lyrical and ambitious but nobody ever heard of him. Lars Van Trier makes films that are perplexing and unorthodox and nobody goes to see them. Perhaps at least part of the draw into Tree of Life is Brad Pitt and the reputation of the ascetic director. Terrence Malick has only directed five feature films over nearly forty years, most of them great. It turns out the middle-class family depicted in Tree is at least partially autobiographical. These are memories of Malick’s own childhood in a film he’s apparently been making since 1973. It’s highly personal but it’s also universal. In fact Malick depicts both the beginning of the universe and the end of it as bookends around the mundane experiences of his family. I thought the creation of the universe, special effects sequences were amazing (real photography techniques, not CGI). The family stuff I didn’t respond to as strongly. If I can get personal on you, the ontological questions, what is the meaning of suffering, is God responsible stuff didn’t evoke in me the kind of response I think was intended. It just made me think “Look, there’s no God, get over it.” But Tree of Life is an epic poem spoken though film and it’s extraordinary.
The Brown Shoe Diaries Halloween Movie Club. Track down today’s movie and post your comments. Good? Lame? Scary? Not scary? Bring it.
Today’s recommended features are:
Jeeper Creepers (2001)
Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003)
I finally watched both of the Jeepers Creepers movies for the fist time after seeing a post that including them among The Most Unintentionally Gay Horror Movies [link]. I have to admit both were great, though not because they were unintentionally gay. In fact, calling Jeepers Creepers unintentionally gay would be like saying the Kennedy assasinations were the result of unfortunate accidental gun discharges. The serial of these films is most assuredly about a man-eating monster who favors the flavor of men.
In Jeepers Creepers a young brother and sister couple are driving home on break from college on a desolate country road. Darry is bringing his laundry home to mother, who we are told dotes on him. Trish is taking time off from her boyfriend to pepper little brother with jibes about his full masculinity and the suggestion that maybe people “know something you don’t.” They cross paths with a menacing truck driver, who has the vanity license plate BEATNGU. They witness the guy dumping sheet-wrapped bodies down a drainage pipe. The kids sneak back to investigate the pipe and Darry daringly crawls in. At the bottom he uncovers the body of a naked young man who has had his torso dissected and resown. Further into the cavern Darry finds hundreds of dismembered corpses sewn into the walls like a quilt. Darry and Trish drive to a roadside diner where they contact the police. In the meantime, the killer has been tracking the couple. Darry had used a pair of his dirty underwear, unintentionally died pink in the laundry, to tie down the broken trunk of their car, and this served as an unintentional baiting device. The killer breaks into the car to enjoyably sniff the laundry and confirm that Darry has something he wants. A policeman arrives and is escorting the couple’s car home when the patrol car is attacked and the kids get their first good look at The Creeper. Despite attempting to disguise himself with a wide brim hat and a tattered black duster, The Creeper is a tall moth-like monster with scales on his skin, and wings. He is a creature who looks somewhere between Japanese kaiju horror monster Mothra and Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider. In a demonstration of sadisitc homoeroticism, The Creeper decapitates the male police offficer with a home-forged hachet, and bites the tongue out of the severed head. Darry and Trish escape to a police station where a local psychic, who has also been following them in her visions, catches up to notify them of what she’s learned from the dreams. The Creeper, who aparently emerges from dormancy every 23 years for a 23 day feeding period, sniffs out people for specific body parts that he desires and eats. She also implies that Darry, despite his denial, already knows what the monster wants of him. I won’t spoil the movie, but suffice it to say that the end is more proof of The Creeper’s specific interest in male bodies and homoerotic voyerism . I read this as an allusion to the idea of gay men may fetishizing male body parts, that they want to build a fantasy male from the combined parts of different men.
We get another clue what The Creeper has desire for in the beginning of Jeepers Creepers 2 when he swoops into a cornfield and flys away with an attractive, toe-headed teenage boy. Nearby a school bus is transporting a boys high school basketball team, and a few of their cheer girls, down the same country highway a few days after the incidents of the first Jeepers movie. Where Jeepers 1 was a stand alone horror story, Jeepers 2 begins more similarly to what I would consider a copycat teen slasher movie: a lost group of teen characters are hunted and methodically killed according to an implicit order of punishment for boorish behavior and/or fornication. Here, The Creeper disables the school bus on an isolated road and kills all the adult chaparones to enhance a sense of helplessness and fear on behalf of the teens. We learned in the first movie that fear emanates some scent The Creeper uses to identify which victims present the most desirable body parts. In a scene I can only describe as out of the ordinary, The Creeper, while hanging upside down in the bus window points through the crowded alies of the bus at each of the teens he intends to consume, like picking live catch from a restaurant aquarium. If the implication in the fact that each of his menu selections are male is still unclear, he advertizes his interest in the last boy with a disgusting, erotic sweep of his steaming tounge. As The Creeper begins to tear apart the bus and pick off his selected male victims, the teens argue over whether they are safer on or off the bus, and whether they should take the doubtful step of dividing themselves into groups as The Creeper’s chosen and unchosen. Ultimately this debate is of little value as when the kids make a run for it, The Creeper finds his marked boys and wings away with them anyway. What they fear most is unavoidable.
To my surprise this teen horror movie turns far from the copycat rythm as the teenagers spend much of the time defending themselves not only from the attacks of the monster, but from the prejeudices of their peers. In the midst of crisis some kids show the character to see the importance of being a team, other fall into patterns of self-preservation and bigotry. There are unsubtle opinions raised about race, social status, and explicitly in the other boy’s suspicion of the “gay” kid. The high school sports journalist Izzy, is frequently accused of being gay, “Izzy or isn’t he?” As in the first Jeepers film, homosexuality left in question is ultimately more important than getting a definitive answer. Where analysis of teen horror film often proposes a subtext of adolescent anxieties about sex, procreation, and marriage, Jeepers Creepers is a unique mainstream discourse in male anxiety about suppressed homosexual feelings. If you are a regular boy and a gay monster, after smelling all your peers, selects you, what does that say about you? Does the monster know something you don’t? In the story the alleged real gay boy is actually overlooked by the The Creeper and survives to act heroically. The Creeper is not only an eroticised homosexual killer, he violently demonstrates the terror of a sexual monster within, the fear of what happens to men who are tempted by underlying homosexual desire.
Its worth noting that despite being a different kind of text for a horror movie, the classic feminist critique of an ever present male gaze continues to stare longingly. It’s just looking in the mirror now. The Trish character in the first movie and the cheer girls on the bus still have little agency in these stories. She is now just a bystander as opposed to the obect of male fetishism. As a selection for the Halloween Movie Club, there are other reasons to like the Jeepers movies besides the feminist critique and the homoerotic text. Both movies are sharply written, genuinely suspensful, and well acted.
Finally there is public information available about the film director having spent time in jail for child molestation before these movies were ever made. I think knowing that may be prejudical to first time viewing although it opens the discussion to some other interesting analogies. I recommend watching the movies before looking deeper into the director’s biography.
Jeepers Creepers (2001, d. Victor Salva)
Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003, d. Victor Salva)
Clownhouse (1989, d. Victor Salva)
Just back from an unsettling night at the circus, and home alone, three young brothers are terrorized by three escaped mental patients dressed as circus clowns. This movie is about confronting childhood fears, identity questions, and sexual anxiety. Taking it more logically, I didn’t understand why the clowns wanted to get into the house or why they thought disguising themselves in white face and hoop-waist pants would make them inconspicuous.
This movie became notorious years after its release when one of the young cast members came forward that the director had molested him during production. Somebody who wants to pick it apart will find a lot of analogous behavior between the scary clowns and the decision by the director to frequently show the tween boys in their underpants. It left me feeling a little dirty. But to anybody who pervs on that, I say. “Bon appetite, Short Eyes!”