Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Ninth Annual White Elephant Film Blogathon

And we're off! I'll be updating the roster below throughout the day and then add some closing thoughts. [UPDATE 6/2/14: thoughts have been closed, pull quotes have been added. See below.]

Since I'm hosting this year, I'm going to delay posting my own entry until tomorrow so as not to steal the thunder of the other contributors. Speaking of which:

- Anna Maurya keeps on moving with Francis Ford Coppola's TWIXT!
"... strange small town called Swann Valley, the kind of place that gets its own narrated introduction by Tom Waits (no really!)."

- Jason Alley pays a visit to FEMALE PRISONER #701: SCORPION!
"The first scene in the movie to make me sit up and go 'Whoa, what the hell IS THIS?' involves a door, a shard of glass, the color blue, and some very dramatic makeup..."

- Dennis Cozzalio hangs with the BROTHERHOOD OF DEATH!
"But then there’s a murderous deputy with a hairbrush mustache that would put Wilford Brimley to shame, the wild-eyed local Grand Wizard, who just happens to be the town district attorney—his post-raid speech to the faithful must have had Charles Laughton frantically trying to reach his lawyers from beyond the grave— and various uniformed and sheeted minions of terror who exist mainly to get blown up real good."

- Paul Clark makes THE PERFECT GETAWAY!
"They're the kind of couple one sometimes meets while traveling- almost oppressively friendly, somewhat clingy, full of tales and prone to showing off."

- Heather Seebach keeps an eye on THE BABY
"What follows is a battle between Ann and the Wadsworth family for custody of Baby. By battle, I don't mean courtroom drama but a ridiculous sequence of events involving a swinging 70s party (for a toddler) and an attempted kidnapping/murder, followed by actual kidnapping and murder."
- Stacia Kissick Jones endures THE DUNWICH HORROR!
"'What if we decided to really dig deep into the whole courtship part of Rosemary’s Baby, and also include some almost nudity?' is what someone surely said at some point during pre-production."

- Christianne Benedict heralds the RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES!
"Oh, yeah. George Clooney. He's in this. I wonder if he still puts it on his CV, not that George Clooney needs a CV anymore." 

- David Blakeslee sheds a little POST TENEBRAS LUX!
"... an artist has every reason to expect that his heartfelt expressions will be written off as trivial wankery if he persists in hewing so close to his personal experience as the source of his material. That’s especially true if he has yet to give the general public little reason to be curious about his autobiography."

- Bill Ryan's entry is rated WebC-17 for FULL FRONTAL Soderbergh!
"The fact that she has control over the situation after having been debased is made plausible by Duchovny not being ostentatious with his character's guilt, and by McCormack not screaming her throat raw.  She's suddenly the disappointed adult."

- Jamie Grijalba plays the TRIANGLE (a video review)!

- Michael May has a eur-EEGAH moment!
"I've pretty much continued to foist terrible films on other people (this year it was 1981's TARZAN THE APE MAN starring Bo Derek), but I'll probably change that next year. EEEGAH has taught me a lesson."

- Kenji Fujishima whips up a batch of SATAN'S BREW!
"It’s as if Fassbinder, for this one shining moment, decided to throw everything that was occupying his mind against a wall, just to see what resulted."

- Don Marks... uh... he... uh... TARZAN THE APE MAN!
"... insipid, excruciatingly drawn out does-he/she-like-me romance notable primarily for the occasional appearance of Bo Derek's breasts..."

- Kevin Cecil stalks the BLACKFACE KILLER!
"The guy may not have money, but at least he’s got ideas."

- Andrew Bemis finally opens his eyes and voraciously demands light with a howl of rage (RED LIGHTS)!
"... an ending that can't decide between Elmer Gantry-esque cynicism or wide-eyed Shyamalan-ian wonder."
- Craig Phillips wonders about THE NEW KIDS!
"... one of the most entertaining and memorably sleazy group of cretinous bullies you'll find in any high school movie ever, with several lummoxes, a slow chubby kid, at least one creep, and the picked-on little brother (it's never entirely clear which if any of these kids are related, but they seem inbred even if not with each other)."
- All the way from Down Under, Roderick Heath witnesses an AMERICATHON!
"There is perhaps no form of bad film more troubling than the bad comedy. ... When someone makes a bad horror film or scifi film, the viewer has the privilege of enjoying the disparity between intent and result—they can laugh at it. Whereas bad comedy is bad precisely because you cannot laugh at it. This failure inspires instead a sense of personal desperation."

- Josh Bell goes UNDERGROUND with some ACES!
"... manages to be both sexist and racist, in addition to completely nonsensical ... This is the kind of movie that features two different fast-motion montages set to 'wacky' fiddle music."
- Craig Lindsey takes a spin with a GIRL ON A MOTORCYCLE
"... a must for anyone who ever wanted to see Faithfull in her willowy, lip-pursing heyday ..."

- Patrick Miller feels an AFTERSHOCK!
"... just tedious enough to keep it from being compellingly inept ..."

- Steven Carlson smells THE GLOVE: LETHAL TERMINATOR!
"... during the fight with the butcher, there’s about a thirty-second period where we’re left to stare at Saxon’s ass as he lays on the ground because I presume nobody thought to get the scene from another angle."

- Recently published author Adam Nayman is one heck of a HELLROLLER!
"I don’t know what movies it could be usefully compared to, but I wouldn’t want to see them in any case... this isn't just a 'low' movie; it's positively subterranean ..."

- Josh Ralske CAN'T STOP THE MUSIC! He really can't, you guys!
"If the point of the White Elephant Blogathon is to stymie your fellow critics, I lose and you win, chooser of CAN'T STOP THE MUSIC."

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Foolish and Beastly

Once again, it's time for the White Elephant Film Blogathon. Last year, when Paul Clark asked for volunteers to take over hosting duties for the big event, I drew the short straw. So here is where we find ourselves.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

State of the Internet

Happy 2014 everyone! The above sums up the type of writing I hope to bring to this blog in the coming months. Terser, less informed, and more off-the-cuff. It's exactly on the way I would write. It's going to be a great year, "once dust settles!"

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Visable God

"Money is an abominable idol. It is everywhere. The only things that matter are invisible. Why are we here? What are life and death?"
- Robert Bresson, in conversation with Michel Ciment

"(I saw) L’ARGENT, which was beyond awful. A cynical old man’s movie with every stylistic trope that would provide perfect evidence to back the case of all those who might claim to detest 'Art Movies.' Especially French ones."
- [NAME REDACTED], in an email to me

As previously documented, Robert Bresson is -- if I must choose only one -- my favorite director. Mainly, I think he's the one who has the most to teach anyone who wants to use moving images to tell stories. Over the course of his career, he whittled filmmaking down to its most basic (and deceptively simple) elements. While I think A MAN ESCAPED is both the most representative and accessible of Bresson's films and techniques, Bresson's swansong -- 1983's L'ARGENT -- may just be the apotheosis of his style. In fact, as my friend argued above, a case can be made for L'ARGENT being close to a Bressonian self-parody. While a plausible case for this can be mounted, I heartily disagree.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Making Out With Pan

There's this moment in Michelangelo Antonioni's LA NOTTE (recently out on Bluray) where a woman attending a lavish, la dolce vita fete gets carried away in the middle of a downpour and starts making out with a statue of Pan. [You're going to have to take my word for it (or, better yet, see the film; it's a good one) because I lack the technical sophistication to pull a frame from a Bluray.] I bring it up because it's a nice little moment. An obvious one, perhaps -- the wealthy debaucheress paying tribute to the god of wild abandon -- but still a hint at what Antonioni's up to in the film.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Barnes and Noble Criterion Sale Ultimate Decision Maker!

As with yesterday's little exercise, I'm giving you a list of films to buy in the sale during the Criterion 50% off promotion they're running. Sure, you could stream them on Hulu or get them from the library. But - as I continue to discover - the best thing about owning a DVD or a book is that you don't actually have to watch or read the thing you own. Ownership implies consumption! Buy these, put them on your shelves, impress your guests, horde them until you shirk this mortal coil, and enjoy the sleep of the just!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Barnes & Noble 50% Off Criterion/Eclipse-mas Holiday Gift Guide-a-thon Part One!

Since we've already established that I'm essentially a shill for the Criterion Collection, I figured I'd throw together a couple quick lists of recommendations for the ongoing 50% off Barnes & Noble sale. I tend to use these things to pick up pricey boxed sets, so I'm going to lead off with my top five top picks from Criterion's recent Eclipse line releases (tomorrow I'll highlight five of my favorite recent Blus from the mainline label).