Random Thread for October

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My favorite month of the year.

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

56 responses »

  1. So I just saw a trailer for Cloud Atlas and at the bottom of the credits it said:
    “written for the screen and directed by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski”

    Why am I so fascinated by the placement of the names? So the brother and sister duo are no longer counted as one. Are they trying to separate themselves? Are they speaking on the level of writing input? Did Tykwer say ‘I want middle billing’? Why didn’t Andy go first? Did he have less to do with the writing? MAN….I wanna know this billing order and why.

  2. filmman,
    the Wachowskis did a Q&A at Fantastic Fest last week after the screening, and they addressed the topic jokingly by saying they’re now Wachowski Starship. They also gave hefty praise to Tykwer and credited him with 60% of the directing. I assume that’s an off the cuff comment and not reflective of reality.

    Regardless of who made what though the movie is an ambitious and affecting success.

  3. While I can’t stand McFarlane’s television series, he’ll probably be fine in a hosting role. At least the ceremony won’t seem like a weird, early 90’s dullsville throwback like last year.

  4. However well he does, he has to be the least-known host ever.

    Perhaps as a person, in the US, but the Family Guy brand is a much bigger thing abroad than Jon Stewart, for example.

    Great choice as host.

  5. Brian, saw honeycrisp apples on sale in the grocery. Remembering how much you praised them, I bought some. They are the best apples I’ve ever tasted. Thanks!

  6. Woohoo! That’s great.

    Ironically, the ones I’ve picked up this year have been a little subpar, I’ve been thinking – I’ve been wondering if the weird weather this past year in the midwest was a factor. They’re not quite as crisp and not quite as aromatic (usually they have a wonderful and fairly strong apple smell even before you bite into them), and they’re a little more tart than usual. Either that or I’m just imagining things, also a possibility. Regardless, it’s quite probable that the ones you got are from a different crop from a different area, so maybe yours are better than ours.

    At any rate, I’m glad you’re enjoying them. Even the subpar ones this year are better than other apples.

  7. Picked up some Jonagolds from a farm market on the Delaware. They taste like a cross between galas and macintosh. At least to me. Gotta try honeycrisp.

  8. Films eligible for Foreign Film Oscar announced. I’ve heard of Amour and The Intouchables, but no others. The most intriguing title is the Croatian film: The Vegetarian Cannibal. Have any of you seen any of these films? Nick–have you seen The Hypnotist?

  9. I’ve heard of a few others. Kim Ki-duk’s Pieta won at Berlin, I believe. Barfi!, from India, has been playing here in Chicago for a couple of weeks now. Beyond the Hills is Mungiu’s follow-up to 4 Months…, and premiered at Cannes. I think Petzold’s Barbara either has or soon will be playing a couple shows here in town. And a few others.

  10. With a new Tim Burton movie out, I thought maybe it was time for a look at his career in terms of IMDb ratings:

    Pee-wee’s Big Adventure 6.9
    Beetle Juice 7.4
    Batman 7.6
    Edward Scissorhands 8.0
    Batman Returns 7.0
    Ed Wood 8.0
    Mars Attacks! 6.3
    Sleepy Hollow 7.5
    Planet of the Apes 5.6
    Big Fish 8.0 (#238)
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 6.8
    Corpse Bride (co-director) 7.4
    Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street 7.5
    Alice in Wonderland 6.5
    Dark Shadows 6.4
    Frankenweenie 7.4

    Burton is a rare director with more than a dozen or so credits of whom I’ve seen all his movies (aside from Frankenweenie which I’ll see but haven’t yet), and I’m a little surprised that his recent work is as highly rated as it is. For example, I’d rather watch Mars Attacks! again than anything post-Big Fish other than Corpse Bride. And I’d rather watch Dark Shadows again than Charlie or Alice or Sweeney Todd, all rated higher.

    Actually, I thought Sweeney Todd was widely disliked but apparently that was a mistaken impression.

    I’m also surprised that Pee-wee’s Big Adventure isn’t rated higher, since I’ve rarely talked to anyone of my generation (who are the biggest block of voters for the film, demographically speaking) who doesn’t think of it fondly.

    Overall, though, his career looks pretty consistent viewed through this lens, even though it doesn’t seem all that consistent to me, personally. There’s only one outright dud (which I’d define as a sub-6 rating), and only one in the Top 250, and at the tail end of the list at that. Interesting exercise, in this case.

  11. I’d be interested to see what you thought of it. I imagine that the appeal of Pee-wee Herman is largely generational, but then again, even my parents (or at least my mom) saw the charm of the movie after getting over their initial resistance to Herman. The whole “basement in the Alamo” thing is still a family joke.

  12. I like Pee-Wee Herman; I used to laugh like a nut at Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. I wonder whether that can be sustained for a feature film. I’m sure I’ll catch up with it some day.

  13. I wonder whether that can be sustained for a feature film.

    Yes, but only one; Big Top Pee-wee was pretty dismal.

    Honestly, I like Big Adventure more than I ever liked the show. In fact, the first 10 minutes or so of the movie, when Pee-wee is at his most Pee-weeness, is the most difficult section of the movie for me. Once he gets out on the road (it’s a road movie, by the way), it’s all uphill from there.

    Also, it’s very recognizable as a Tim Burton movie.

  14. IMDb ratings are just a curiosity to me. I don’t think they’re a measure of inherent worth – I have my own opinions to provide that! – but I think they’re a reasonable measure of what the general public thinks about a movie.

  15. I quite liked ‘Mars Attacks!’ (saw it at the cinema) although I did agree with the criticisms the likes of Roger Ebert who said it seemed to think its very concept (and Tom Jones appearing) was automatically funny without having to work at it.

  16. I was really disappointed by Mars Attacks! I love ’50s flying saucer kitsch, so was really stoked for it, but there was really no script and the performances were roundly bad, especially Nicholson.

  17. I’m with Slim. I found Mars Attacks! extremely disappointing, boring & unfunny. I would actually rate it lower than Planet of the Apes, which is something I never care to see again.
    The only films of his I haven’t seen are Sweeney Todd and Dark Shadows, but I’m in no rush

    film Thanks for that link! That short is leaps & bounds better than the last short Toy Story effort – “Small Fry.”

  18. The only Burton film I would rate lower than Mars Attacks! is Alice in Wonderland, and it’s a pretty big drop-off, as that film was one of the worst I’ve seen in a theater, period.

  19. So we’re agreed about Alice, then.

    I thought Mars Attacks! was funny in a dopey, time-killing sort of way. I haven’t seen it for years, though – in fact, I’m not sure if I’ve seen it all the way through since its initial release. So maybe I wouldn’t enjoy it as much now.

    I see Sleepy Hollow has a pretty good rating, even though I think it’s sometimes overlooked. It makes Burton’s lack of skill as an action director pretty apparent, but it has a lot going for it, too. I really like Depp’s portrayal of Ichabod Crane, which has a lot more depth than any of the rather superficial sketches of characters that Depp has done for Burton since. And the film is maybe Burton’s greatest achievement in terms of art design and general atmospherics. It’s a gorgeous movie.

  20. In the great ‘blu-ray plasma’ resolution test, the Alexa (from The Avengers) stands up remarkably well, but the depth and deepness of the blacks and the highlights are like watching old analog television when you compare it to the blu ray IMAX footage from Dark Knight. The ‘lamborghini scene’ in Dark Knight is likely the best blu ray picture there will ever be.

  21. Coming to the party late, but ranking the Burton films I’ve seen:

    Ed Wood
    Edward Scissorhands
    Batman Returns
    Sleepy Hollow
    Beetlejuice
    Batman
    Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    Corpse Bride

  22. Have any of you seen any of these films? Nick–have you seen The Hypnotist?

    Haven’t seen movie, but did read the book. Book was good in parts, especially the beginning, but also meandered for long stretches. The film, like many Swedish thrillers these days, was also filmed as a tv-series. Supposed to be standard thriller fare. Will probably end up being a series of films, since the book now has sequels with the police officer Linna.

    I doubt it will get nominated, but you never know.

  23. Just realized Ben Stiller directed Reality Bites. Wonder why he never directed anything else.

  24. “Just realized Ben Stiller directed Reality Bites. Wonder why he never directed anything else.”

    I assume you’re joking, but is it because you’re inferring REALITY BITES is his best film as director?

  25. You guys laugh, but it’s Bush redux. From what he says to what he believes to everything, even his speeches to his supporters being exactly the same. He’s going to take the election through the voting machines his son owns and he’s going to sign everything Grover Norquist wants him to. He’s gonna get to fire people and run the country like a corporation. And those most hurt by it will hand him the keys.

  26. I told a tea partier that Obama is a moderate Republican and therefore he should be happy he’s in office. He got angry. I asked why he was angry. He said Obama is a socialist. I said ‘but corporations have record profits and the stock market went from 8900 to 13000. He shook his head. I said Obama has continued drone strikes and absolved Cheney (in the form of never attempting to prosecute two false wars waged on a credit card and destroying any evidence to be able to do so). He said I was nuts. I mentioned drone strikes and Osama Bin Laden. He said Republicans got Bin Laden. I mentioned NDAA and homeland security providing pentagon weapons to police and TSA VPR teams and he laughed again and said I was making it up. I said “Why don’t you believe he’s a Republican”? He said “Because he isn’t”. I said ‘Reagan raised taxes 11 times.’ He laughed and said ‘now I know you’re lying’. (It’s true, that fact isn’t completely honest, but it leads to the idea that Reagan wasn’t afraid to do what he needed to do with taxes, and that it made a lot of Republicans angry. After all, who the HELL is Grover Norquist and why are so many powerful people listening to him?).

  27. So after complaining about this year’s crop of honeycrisp apples, last night I bought some very nice-looking ones. And they’re wonderful. I don’t know what the deal was with the first bunch I bought this year but all is now right in the apple world.

  28. Had some really nice Honeycrisps the other day. I can’t wait for Autumn Glory to hit stores in the next month or so, they really are the best apples I’ve ever had. They should be in a greater number of stores this year.

  29. Speaking of Cloud Atlas, it’s only got a 43 so far on Metacritic. Lowest review is by Karina Longworth: “A manifesto in the form of an enormously budgeted quasi-sci-fi epic, Cloud Atlas is evidently personal, defiantly sincere, totally lacking in self-awareness, and borderline offensive in its gleeful endorsement of revenge violence against anyone who gets in the way of a good person’s self-actualization. The rest of the time, it’s just insipid, TV-esque in its limited visual imagination, and dramatically incoherent.”

  30. Probably not on the theatrical side (the highest grossing prequel still earned over 200M less than The Avengers) but very possibly from the merchandising side. Imagine the theme park aspect of this alone.

    Easily one of the biggest entertainment stories of the year. 3 new Star Wars movies, sans George Lucas…the possibilites are endless and potentially awesome.

    Also a big story brewing re: Microsoft purchasing Netflix but it’s not confirmed yet.

  31. Interesting that having ILM and Skywalker sound means Disney will have a hand in a majority of blockbuster-style films released by any studio. Plus the scraps from the video game & animation arm and all those “Droid” license fees. Probably going to be very lucrative for all involved

  32. I read a theory that Brad Bird (written by Damon Lindelof) top secret “1952” project at Disney is actually Star Wars VII. I don’t think the timing necessarily works, but it’s still an interesting guess.

    Definitely down with Bird on Star Wars. Lindelof’s script for Prometheus was terrible, but a strong producer might be able to keep some of his bad habits under control.

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