Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday Night Cap 5/13/12 Reconsidering Tim Burton and Bobcat Goldthwait plus The Grey and The Road

Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this house of york

There are a good many critics after Tim Burton with knives drawn (perhaps I should have used a Julius Cesar Quote…). A good many of them really hate what he did to Dark Shadows. I haven’t seen it yet but I’m all ready to join those who are ready to burn him at the stake.

I’m not a fan of Dark Shadows as such but I’m left wondering how it is that such big fans of the series such as Burton, Depp and writer Seth Graham-Smith (Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter) could so radically miss the mark. Granted the show was funny for the wrong reason, but at least it was trying to be more than a juvenile yuck fest. Who did they make the movie for?

Looking at the film (or at least the trailers) I’m left pondering if left to his own devices whether or not Tim Burton is a great director.

Yes he’s turned in some great complete films, Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd, Alice, Big Fish, but he’s turned in some garish clunkers, Wonka, Dark Shadows (or so it seems), Corpse Bride and the rest of his out put is at best decidedly uneven with films of moments and of films with soaring ideas that kind of collapse on the screen.

Looking at the commercials and mass promotion of Shadows I find that I’m suddenly with the notion that perhaps, as much as I like his visual style the majority of his films are misses. While many are near hits with great moments, over all the films rarely are complete package.

(Though any weirdness with Dark Shadows could be blamed on Johnny Depp as well as anyone who's seen his very strange directorial debut, The Brave, can attest.)

On the other end of the spectrum Bobcat Goldthwait is being hailed as a suddenly discovered great filmmaker.


Weren’t the people now listing Shakes the Clown and, World's Greatest Dad and God Bless America as the work of an auteur ripping the films apart?

I admire Goldthwait's cockeyed view, even if I don’t always like his films. I greatly admire that he manages to get his films made at all even if I don’t like them. He certainly has a unique vision, but at what point was he anointed director of note by the world at large? Frankly I don't mind, but I'm left wondering at what point are all of those discovering Bobcat in retrospect, going to be jumping off the bus?

I guess the trick to be considered a great director is to make a one or two films critics like and then sell each new project as returning to that level even if it's not. Better if you can throw in occasional film worth seeing.

One of the high points of any film year, the New York Asian Film Festival has started to announce its titles for this year. Based upon what they’ve told us it looks to be another solid year. It looks to be a fun mix of old and new with a chance to see such old favorites as Five Fingers of Death and Old Boy mixed with potential future favorites like Takshi Miike’s Ace Attorney or the truly epic Seediq Bale (they are running the full four and a half plus hour version instead of the two and half hour one now in theaters). While I’m without a doubt a huge cheerleader for the festival I’m a tad apprehensive about what other goodies remain to be revealed. It’s not that I’m not liking the titles, rather its more that there seems to be a higher percentage of older and slightly older titles, which is fine, but I have a number of them on DVD so I’ll be hard pressed to want to go to the theater to see them. That of course may change. For now I just look forward to the next round of announcements.

I finally saw Liam Neeson in The Grey. This is the film where he and a bunch of oil rig workers survive plane crash only to find they are being hunted by a pack of wolves. Less the action packed film promised in the commercials , it still a nail biting thriller. I’m going to have a fuller review down the road, but for now know the film is one of the top films of 2012.

I saw Yam Laranas's The Road last night. This is a supenatural horror film from The Phillipines that was getting talked up in some circles as the next big thing in horror. The plot of the film has the three teens going for a drive and running into trouble that is both real and supernatural. When the police investigate they realize that there is a connection to events 12 years earlier.

A beautifully creepy horror film, it chugs along for it's first third setting up cliches and then knocking them down in order to create a real sense of unease. Then there is a moment where something happens and you suddenly realize how this is all going to play out out, and you know that you've kind of been here before. What was ghosts and monsters turns out to be psycho and ghosts. It would almost be forgivable except that as good as bits of this are, the pacing is so deadly that you want to scream "get on with it". Blame it on scripter Laranas who structured the script in three parts, one of which insists on telling you things we don't need to know, especially since they can be inferred from whats gone before.

A disappointing late night at "the movies" (I saw this streaming via Amazon)

Chocko went to the Monclair Film Festival and reported on the film Atomic States of America over at his usual haunt Planet Chocko Zine.

I went to see Jonathan Pryce Thursday Night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He’s starring in Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker. Pryce is fantastic. He’s so good that you realize what a treasure he is and how limiting his movie roles are. It’s one of those performances that will be talked about for years. As for the play, I’m kind of at a loss to explain it’s classic status. I’m a Pinter fan but until I had seen the play the other night I had never seen The Caretaker. To me it’s a long rambling play that seems more like a very dark Spike Milligan piece than Pinter. Or perhaps its like someone trying to be Pinter. While I can see why it rattle things 50 years ago when it first appeared, now its rather quaint. I think that had had Pryce not been as good as he is it would have been insufferable with three obtuse and not particularly well drawn characters.

Summer of Wong Kar Wai is playing at Manhattan’s China Institute. Information for the free screenings is here (Via Chocko)

The Museum of Art and Design is in the middle of their series of films by the Argentos, Dario and his daughter Asia. While some of their films are better than others but its worth seeing most of the films on the big screen since most play differently than they do on your TV screen. Details here

An "Avengers" Shirt from China

American Pooh vs Russian Pooh

25 wrong depictions of New York

Disney's Taxi Driver

(This week’s films are good, but far great horror films)

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