Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Creol Pig, Where God is Political & Blog-a-thon Reminder

The crazy thing about the Internet, is you never know who will find you once you put yourself out into the world wide web. Of course, this is what causes young females to be tracked down by creepy pedophiles, and opens up new worlds of fraud that never existed before. Alas, not the point.

Recently I got an e-mail from Michelange Quay, a Haitian director who was interested in the upcoming Film + Faith Blog-a-thon. While he does not have a blog or intend on writing on the topic, Quay sent me the link to his religious-allusion-filled short film that was a finalist for the Palm D'Or at Cannes (2004). The film is called Évangile du cochon créole, L' (The Gospel of the Creol Pig).

You can watch the film yourself (here), but I warn you some visuals may cause not only a loss of appetite, but a sudden desire to become a vegetarian.

The short film uses the story of the life of a pig, from an early baptism all the way to the point of which it is eaten, becomes fecal-matter and is flushed away as a metaphor for the Haitian people, they're freedom, and they're poverty. The films and music are very beautifully done. The poetic nature of the film reminds me of Derek Walcott.

Michael Quay says his film "takes us back to the 3rd World, where God is political." The term where God is political probably warrants a handful of blog post...and if that terms inspires a post out of you, let me know, because it's very interesting on many levels.
I asked Quay what he meant by the comment, his response is interesting:
"I don't really know what I meant - it sounded good at the time! I suppose
that in Haiti people don't pray for closure, or for healing, but for daily
survival, life and death issues. And I guess that those knife-to -the-throat
survival needs are very linked into power, money, import, export and elections in
certian countries like Haiti. God and the gun are close friends in places where
continuity between governments is an exception. That's probably why so many
priests in Latin America got tortured as leftist guerillas over the years, and
why the Chinese Government purged the Falun Gongsect. Especially in poor
countries, it could be that the kingdom of heaven is indeed at hand!"

Check out Quay's video if you're interested, I'd love to know your thoughts on the short film and/or his comments.

Also, remember the Film + Faith blog-a-thon is coming up very soon (November 7-9, 2007). So far 40 participants have sent me their e-mail and asked to participate. Those participants include people employed by large churches to atheist, as well as religion bloggers to film bloggers.

If you are interested in participating, post anything you desire on the topic of film and faith between the dates listed, send me an e-mail with a link to your post, and I will collect a running list of the post that cover that topic during the blog-a-thon. I can't wait!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Joy of Candy

A seasoned reader of Strange Culture (or anyone who knows me) might be aware that when it comes to sweets, it's all about white cake with white frosting (see evidence here, here, here, & here).

But until Hershey's or Mars start mass producing petit fours for mass consumption, white cake just can't make the list of favorite snack size candies.

So in honor of Halloween, the most sugar driven holiday of them all...

My top 10 favorite candies available in "fun size":

1. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
2. Kit Kats
3. Twix
4. Reese's Pieces
5. Take 5 Bar
6. Mounds
7. Bottle Caps
8. Butterfinger
9. Junior Mints
10. Hot Tamales

(Rounding out the bottom of the list at number 124-136 is any thing with the word tootsie in it...tootsie roll, tootsie pop, tootsie roll bar..whatever...chocolate taffy is a nasty flavor for taffy)

What tops your list?

Supporting Actor Nods For Old Men?

Many movie plots do not have old men as their central protagonist, but often times old men get juicy supporting parts. Such is the case for many actors who have a shot at securing some of the "old men" spots in this years best supporting actor lineup. Who do you think will get in? Do you think any are extra-nominatable because the academy sees them "due" for a nomination or an award?

The potential "old men" to get nominated:

Hal Holbrook
Into The Wild
(82 years old)
no previous Oscar history

Max von Sydow
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
(78 years old)
1 Previous Oscar Nomination

Armin Mueller-Stahl
Eastern Promises
(77 years old)
1 Previous Oscar Nomination

Phillip Bosco
The Savages
(77 years old)
no Oscar history

Alan Rickman
Sweeney Todd
(Aged 61)
no Oscar history

Tom Wilkinson
Michael Clayton
(58 years old)
1 Previous Oscar Nomination

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Right, Wrong & Gone Baby Gone

First off...three cheers for Casey Affleck (and brother Ben's direction) in Gone Baby Gone.

Second off, Casey's character, Patrick Kenzie, crafted by author Dennis Lahane is an interesting main character for cinema.

He's interesting not because he's bold, brave, and under the radar but influential. No, what makes him interesting to me is he lives in a world of black and white, right and wrong, and certainly not in the world of relative morality.

(note, minor spoils may follow)

When Casey kills a child abuser, Casey's character is tormented by the fact that he has committed murder, and broken one of the ten commandments. He doesn't justify it by saying that the wrongs of the killed is worse that the wrongs of the killer. For Affleck there is no justification.

Ed Harris character, Detective Remy Bressant, is the perfect foil to show a moralistic relativity. Remy Bressant has frequently done off-the-records, off-the-books actions, and lived according to his own scales of good, evil, forgivable, and unforgivable, while Casey's McKenzie finds this thought process unsatisfactory.

In the film, this conflict between absolute truth and relativity plays out in a number of tough ways and in many ways everyone wants to bend the rules, except for this central character.

Ben Affleck's scripting is not as a morality play, but rather as a film that opens up these questions...even up until the final shots of the film.

The film leads people to ask, can you live in a world of right and wrong? And it not only leads you to ask what are the consequences in living this way, but it also forces you to ask, "what are the consequences of living in a world of relativity?"

Friday, October 26, 2007

Purple Jerseys & National Champtionships

The other day when talking about the Rockies in the World Series I was wondering if it was possible to wear a purple Jersey and win the national championship or title .

Jgons was the first to point out the LA Lakers have had incredible success with their purple colored jersey winning "27 Division Titles, 28 Conference & a womping 15 Championship Titles."

What other purple jersey teams have had a chance to claim themselves as the best?

In basketball, the Lakers might be it. The Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz have both won titles, but never a championship.

In college basketball Holy Cross won the championship in 1947 & CCNY in 1950 both wearing purple.

(The Washington Bucks have also won, but when they won they were wearing Red and Green, not their current purple uniforms)

What about football Superbowl wins. The Vikings in purple have gone 4 times, and never won. But in 2000 the Baltimore Ravens in their shade of purple did win the Superbowl.

In Division I college Athletics, the LSU Tigers won the title in 1958 & 2003. In 1935 (predating the current polling system) TCU and LSU shared the National title, and again in 1938 TCU was ranked number 1 by the associated press. The Washington Huskies won the football championship in 1960 and in 1991.

And even as far as the world series, I believe the Arizona Diamondbacks wore purple in 2001 when they won the World Series.

So farbeit for me to say that Purple is a color that can't win and do great things.

Go Rockies!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Colorado Rockies, Faith & The World Series

So...I don't usually talk about Baseball here, but after my last post, it's probably a good idea.

I wish I could post an audio file of the voicemail I received from my dad the night the Colorado Rockies officially made it into the world series. My dad was at the game (which ended very late) and left a message that was something to the extent of "whoa hoo. we're going to the world series...woo hoo. listen to this, listen to this..." at which point he held out the phone to the sound of cheering in LoDo in Denver.

So with that in mind, I am very sad that in game one of the world series the Rockies lost bad to the Red Sox 13-1.

Ando proposes that teams that wear purple may not be able to wear championships, looking back at the Minnesota Vikings inability to win any of their four SuperBowls. But as an alumni of a purple college & hopful for the Rockies in 2007 I saw "please don't let it be so."

In June 2006 I wrote about the faith of the Rockies (as covered in USA Today May 06, The Rockey Mountain News and Christianity Today). And I was surprised to see the LA Times requoting that article yesterday, wondering if people would tie in a faith element to the Rockies unbelievable post-season success.

LA Times writers, Dave Zirin & Tom Krattenmaker, are critical in the article of Matt Holliday's controversial play in the 13th-inning against San Diego that sent them into post-season. The LA Times article questions which is stronger in the lives of religious sports stars...the drive to win or the drive to do what's right. Ultimately the criticism is that the pull of sports is stronger than the pull of God in people like Holliday (and other Colorado sports figures like Bill McCartney, University of Colorado football coach and founder of Promise Keepers).

As Collin Hansen said in the Christianity Today article last year: "God does not promise that our good behavior will reap financial rewards—or wins. He does not promise to protect us from suffering—or injuries. He promises much more for his people—that justice will ultimately be done, that if we remain faithful, we will live with him and enjoy him forever."

Here's hoping that the Rockies come back fresh after Game 1 and win the World Series. Not for the glory and honor of God, because it certainly doesn't reflect on Him, but rather for the long-term health of my Father who will surely get very worked up during each and every game, and also for myself...I'd love to see the Rockies win, I have many fond memories of games at Mile High Stadium and Coors Field.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Four True Confessions

I have a true confession, and if you can't take it stop reading now. Frankly, I'm afraid you probably will never read this blog ever again, you will take me off your blog readers and you will no longer link to me. I accept the consequences.

1. My wife has begun watching DVD's of a show that once aired on the WB (now the CW, home of such classics as Sister, Sister & Reba). The show...the Gilmore Girls...and I regrettably watched some of it with her.
2. I have found myself accidentally watching episodes with her, and actually being entertained. Even at times accidentally saying phrases like "lets watch the Gilmore Girls."
3. My favorite characters are in fact the three Gilmore girls themselves, Rory, Lorelai, and Emily.
4. In fact, I find myself often relating to Lorelai...and that is the most embarrassing confession.

Follow Up: Flags of our Fathers vs. The Prestige

Last October, two of my most anticipated films of 2006 were released on the same day...The Prestige and Flags of Our Fathers.

In a post I pondered and asked which film would be viewed as the better film, the higher box office grosser, the more critically acclaimed, and the most award winning, and entertaining.

Now that a year has passed since there release I wanted to revisit this post. It's interesting, because even in the comments different commenters were excited about one or the other coming out.

Now it's time to answer those questions.

Box Office:
Flags of Our Fathers box office was disappointing relative to its $90 million production budget. It ended up grossing $33.6 million in the United States, and $32.3 million in World markets.

The Prestige with a $40 million production budget brought in $53 million in the US, and $56.5 million abroad.

winner: Prestige

With Flags of our Fathers, a good handful of little nominations here and there (art directors guild, BFCA, etc.). The film also received two academy award nominations for sound editing and sound mixing.

With The Prestige, also many little nominations (online film critics society, teen choice, empire awards, art directors guild) The film also received two academy award nominations for cinematography and art direction.

winner: tie

According to rottentomatoes, Flags scored a 73% (78% cream of the crop) in terms of critic ratings.

With the same rating scale, The Prestige scored a 75%, but top critics were not nearly as amused as the cream of the crop critics rankings place it at a 56%.

winner: Flags of our Fathers, by the nose of the critics.

The People:
Obviously, more people saw The Prestige in the theaters, and 85,000+ people have voted on giving the film a ranking of 8.4 out out of 10...currently placing it as the #88 all time movie according to voters and it's algorithm.

With Flags of our Fathers, only 21,000+ have registered a vote for the film...showing much fewer people have probably seen this film. It's ranking among viewers is 7.3 out of 10, and is not ranked in the top 250.

winner: The Prestige

My Choice:
While, I'd have to say I enjoyed The Prestige more and am more likely to recommend it or rewatch it, I also appreciate the work of Eastwood's companion films of Flags of our Fathers along with Letters from Iwo Jima. I think Flags is an important story about heroes, because these iconic war heroes in the movie weren't really heroes at all, it was what they represented not who they were or what they did. Now, that's an interesting film theme.

To me the winner of "best" between these two, as shown in my top 10 from last year is The Prestige.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton

Tony Gilroy who has masterfully told the Jason Bourne story in his Bourne screenplays, does an excellent job as novice director in Michael Clayton. Besides excellent story telling, Gilroy did an exceptional job of getting great performances out of his lead actors, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson.

Of all of these actors, Tom Wilkinson truly has the meaty part of Arthur Edens, the heavily-prescribed, psychologically deteriorating attorney with a conscience.

I appreciate Wilkinson character which suddenly feels the weight of "defending the wrong side" for years, and wanting the truth of guilt to be exposed even at the cost of him loosing his case. There is a reality to me of asking, what type of pain one might experience if one wakes up out of "the game" and begin to question your own actions.

What might be seen as nobility (or stupidity) is complicated by Wilkinson's character as the catalyst for his turn-about comes from the strange love/attraction of a young teen client of the prosecution who the attorney suddenly has feelings for, so much so that it warrants him getting naked and becoming a spectacle during a witness interview.

And I think this over-the-top character could have gone way wrong and not have worked had the wrong actor played this character. But Tom Wilkinson is the perfect actor, doing exceptional work in this role.

I can't see how Tom Wilkinson will not get nominated for an Oscar in the Supporting Actor category this year. I think the film itself, Michael Clayton, could be a film that slips into the Academies top five this year, depending on how some other films fair. But I certainly would not be surprised to Clooney, Swinton or Wilkinson receive nominations.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

If it's good enought for Hilary Swank it's good enough for me

Attending a wedding this weekend and ended up staying at a Radisson Hotel.

Radisson has recently added sleep number beds by select comfort to their rooms...having never slept on a sleep number is ask myself: "how do I choose a number."

I've seen many signs in the window of the select comfort stores and last night chose 35, Hilary Swank's sleep number.

It worked...if it's good enough for Hilary it's good enough for me.

(On a side note, how can Matthew McConaughey sleep on a 90???)

Friday, October 19, 2007

David Benioff...why do I recognize your name?

Over 9 months ago, I mentioned that Courtney Love had acquired rights to produce Heavier than Life, the Charles Cross book about the life of Kurt Cobain. (Also mentioning Ewan McGregor was an early rumor to plan Cobain).

Today I read that David Benioff has been hired by Universal to write the script.

Instantly I knew I knew the name but what had Benioff written?

Benioff has such a diverse (but small) body of work, with increasingly diverse projects over the next couple years. It makes you wonder if he's going to settle on any genre, or just float.

He currently has only seen three of his scripts hit the big screen: 25th Hour, Troy, & Stay, with his second Marc Forster pic coming out later this year, the anticipated Kite Runner.

In addition to this new announcement to write a Nirvana/Kurt Cobain biopic, Benioff is also the writer of Wolverine, the X-Men series spin-off, as well as Brothers a Jim Sheridan picture about a man who goes missing in Afghanistan.

In addition to all this diversity, Benioff is supposed to also be the executive producer for a big screen version of the sci-fi classing Ender's Game.

Where did this guy come from & how did he start getting such diverse and his caliber gigs?

Benioff, is also minor tabloid material as he and his wife Amanda Peet married a couple years ago (Benioff and Peet pictured above), and gave birth to their first child this past Februrary.

Where does he find the time?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Paul Newman as Luke (Cool Hand Luke)

Anybody here?

Hey, Old Man. You home tonight?

Can You spare a minute. It's about time we had a little talk.

I know I'm a pretty evil fellow... killed people in the war and got drunk... and chewed up municipal property and the like. I know I got no call to ask for much... but even so, You've got to admit You ain't dealt me no cards in a long time. It's beginning to look like You got things fixed so I can't never win out. Inside, outside, all of them... rules and regulations and bosses. You made me like I am. Now just where am I supposed to fit in?

Old Man, I gotta tell You. I started out pretty strong and fast. But it's beginning to get to me. When does it end? What do You got in mind for me? What do I do now? Right. All right.

On my knees, asking.

Yeah, that's what I thought. I guess I'm pretty tough to deal with, huh? A hard case.

Yeah. I guess I gotta find my own way.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Montgomery Clift at Court - Sympathy in film and in life

In two of Montgomery Clift's academy nominated roles he appears in court.

In 1951, as George Eastman, Clift's final scenes are in court in in A Place in the Sun (1951). I'm not really sure how people in the 50s viewed Clift's character, the movie, billed as a romance, really carries with it the dimensions of crime thriller to me. Eastman in court is a very sympathetic character. To me the magic of director George Stevens' film is that it marginalizes evil. Despite Eastman's premeditated crimes, you feel sympathy for Eastman because his relationship with Elizabeth Taylor's character seems so great and such future, but the relationship with Shelley Winters' character is so stale and hopeless. (This film makes a great argument against the potential woes of pre-marital sex as well).

In 1961 a Clift character will take the stand again. The movie is the amazing court film Judgement at Nuremberg (pictured top). In this Stanley Kramer film, Clift's character, Rudolph Petersen, is a prosecution witness in a case against the judges of Nazi Germany. Petersen takes the stand against the judges in a chilling 7 minute scene where he describes the Nazi courts decision to sterilize him based on him (and his mothers) feeble-mindedness. At first Clift seems strong as a witness, yet once the defense attorney (Maximilian Schell in his Oscar winning role) begins questioning the witness Clift turns a sympathetic corner and his characters embarrassment on the stand is heart wrenching in a different way.

I think that Clift was a unique actor because he obviously could play a romantic-heart-throb role, but he wasn't the brave and in control Cool Hand Luke type. Rather he was weak, and influencable. He was a softer-type of love interest. The type a girl gets excited about taking care of like an abandoned puppy or something.

In 1956 (between A Place in the Sun and Judgement at Nuremberg) Clift was in a very painful and disfiguring car accident, which began a downward spiral of alcohol and drug addictions that I have heard refereed to as "the longest suicide in Hollywood." The details and trials of Clift's life between the accident and his death in 1966 are so sad. Even to read about the effort that Stanley Kramer and crew had to put forth to help Clift get through his one scene in Judgement at Nuremberg really is sad as well.

If Montgomery Clift were still alive, it would be his 87th birthday. Read other post written today about Montgomery Clift as part of The Film Experience's Clift blog-a-thon.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mirren + Hackford + Pesci = Love Ranch

Ray director Taylor Hackford has finally talked his Oscar-winning wife Helen Mirren into doing a project she deems worthy of her time (note: she is going to be in National Treasure 2, so I'm not really sure why it was so hard for Hackford to talk her into a role?)

Variety reports that Hackford will be directing the movie Love Ranch which is about the first legal brothel in Nevada, the Mustang Ranch. The propritors of the ranch, Joe and Sally Conforte, will be portrayed by Oscar winners Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci (besides his role in The Good Shepherd in 2006, Pesci's last role was Lethal Weapon 4 in 1998).

New York Magazine writer Mark Jacobson will be writing the script. (Jacobson's article "The Return of Superfly" is the basis for the upcoming film American Gangster.)

Love Ranch will apparently deal largely with the story of the violence associated with the death of the Argentinian boxer Oscar Bonavena, who was killed by the Mustang Ranch bodyguard Ross Brymer.

It'll be very interesting to see who is chosen to play the role of Bonavena, being that it is a very baity-role and the strength of cast that has already been assemble seems to promise some strong talent. (Oscar Bonavena is pictured right).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

(Early) Golden Globe Comedy Actress Top 10

It's still early, and I certainly claim no expertise on predicting and guessing nominees in these types of things. But the Golden Globe nominations will be coming out in less than two months.

While I am mostly interested in the Academy Award season, it'll be interested to see who receives a Golden Globe Comedy/Musical nod because it's simply a unique award.

Compared to the potential for male-leads in comedies, it's certainly easier to guess what potential female candidates might be recognized.

With out further ado. My top 10 guesses for the nominees for the best comedy/musical actress for the upcoming Golden Globe ceremony.

1. Helena Bonham Carter - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
2. Keri Russell - Waitress
3. Ellen Page - Juno
4. Amy Adams - Enchanted
5. Nicole Kidman - Margot at the Wedding
6. Laura Linney - The Savages
7. Keira Knightley - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
8. Katherine Heigl - Knocked Up
9. Michelle Pfeiffer - Hairspray
10. Markéta Irglová - Once

Friday, October 12, 2007

Reel People: Denzel Washington is Melvin B. Tolson

The film is The Great Debaters, which not only stars Denzel Washington but is also directed by him.

Melvin Beaunorus Tolson was born in Missouri in 1898. Son of a Methodist minister his family moved around between Iowa and Missouri. In 1922 he married Ruth Southall while in college.He graduated with honors from Linoln University in Pennsylvania.

After graduating he and his wife moved to Marshall, Texas where Melvin B. Tolson would began teaching Speech and English at Wiley College. After a short leave to begin pursuing his masters degree at Columbia University in 1930, Tolson returned to Wiley College and not only taught but also worked with an award winning debate team. The crowning achievement of Tolson's debate team was their National Championship win in 1935, beating Harvard in the final debate.

Tolson was also known for his writing particularly his poetry. In 1947 he began teaching at Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma. That same year, Tolson's poetry became recognized more after becoming the poet laureate of Liberia. Tolson also served a 4-year term as Mayor of Langston in the 1950s as well.

Tolson's died of cancer surgery 1966 and was buried in Langston, but his legacy lives on through his writing, and the influence he had over the man students through out the years of teaching.

In addition to Denzel Washington, the film's cast also includes Oscar winner Forest Whitiker, Kimberly Elise, and young star Denzel Whitaker (who's actually named after Denzel Washington).

This biographical film, in conjunction with his portrayl of Frank Lucas in American Gangster, could certainly earn Washington some critical awards attention for his portrayl of this Real (Reel) Person.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

(Early) Golden Globe Comedy Actor Top 10 in a Not Funny Year

In less than two months Golden Globe nominations will be announced. And besides helping spring the critical award season into action, it'll be interesting to see what potential nominees for the Academy Awards begin to be identified.

After writing about all the violent films coming out this year, I began thinking about the Golden Globes. Why?

Because unlike most awards, they differentiate between actors in dramas vs. actors in comedies/musicals.

Yet, there is no Little Miss Sunshine or Dreamgirls that seems like the clearly cinematic comedy/musical. In fact, I'm sure some films that fall between drama and comedy will be differentiated as comedy.

I'm by no expect a golden globe expert, but I thought I'd try by luck at figuring out who might get shortlisted for a globe nomination in the best comedy/musical category.

1. Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
2. Johnny Depp - Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End
3. Ryan Gosling - Lars and The Real Girls
4. Phillip Seymore Hoffman - The Savages
5. Steve Carell - Dan in Real Life
6. Jack Black - Margot at the Wedding
7. Seth Rogen - Knocked Up
8. Dustin Hoffman - Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
9. John Travolta - Hairspray
10. Glen Hansard - Once

Monday, October 08, 2007

superpowers never possessed by a character on heroes (or by any other superhero/villain)

Thinking of Heroes: Origins and the introduction of new "heroes" in upcoming episodes of Heroes, I thought I'd contribute a list of powers never held by any known super hero or villain. Feel free to contribute your own.
  • ability to project television out of their eyes onto any surface
  • ability to mysteriously check out library books without a library card (LOTS of special effects!!!)
  • ability to touch things and instantly identify their official color names and pantone numbers
  • currency conversion teleportation (put the Pesos in your pocket and change them to Yens or Euros instantly)
  • mano-healingousis - broken fingernails and cuticles, don't worry if you have mano-healingousis (kind of like wolverine from x-men just,
  • everything anyone says is instantly translated into pig latin
  • ink refill fingers
  • ability to turn cellulite into dangerous grenade like weapons (actually that could powerful?
  • cactus needle arm hair
  • the ability to transform into a snoopy snow cone maker
  • the ability to turn yourself inside out. (why, I don't know?)
  • ability to heal other peoples motion sickness
  • Super-Spellcheck - no matter where you are everything that's spelled wrong has a red squiggly line under it
  • the ability to walk through nerf
  • the ability to block out the sound of other people chewing food
  • the ability to blink and change the channel on any television
  • the ability to command clothes to fold themselves

Friday, October 05, 2007

American Crime & The Girl Next Door: Why The Fascination?

Earlier this week the teach sent me an e-mail about the film The Girl Next Door, which was released in New York on Wednesday.

No, this is not a remake of the 2004 Emile Hirsh/Elisa Cutberth film with the same title.

No, this film is based on the Jack Ketchum novel, which is a based-on-a-true-crime story about the abuse, rape, torture, and murder Sylvia Likens, which was allowed and facilitated by her guardian Gertrude Baniszewski.

This is the exact same story which the upcoming film An American Crime (Catherine Keener & Ellen Page) is based on.

And I'm not sure how or why this topic has effected me, and the content of StrangeCulture over the last 4 months, but one has to wonder, why are films like this being made.

In the New York Times review, Neil Genzlinger says that director Gregory Wilson's film is so repellent that it "makes you wish you could rinse your brain in bleach, to wash all traces of it from your memory."

And I know I keep on bringing forth the evidence, but why is there interest in making a film like The Girl Next Door, or An American Crime?

Or what about the story of abuse and torture in this years film Hounddog?

Why is Julianne Moore attracted to a story of a sexual abusive mother in the real life story of Barbara Daly Baekeland?

Why are the award caliber films of 2007 filled with so much violence?

Why have their been such an onslaught of sexually driven torture films?

Will a film like Rendition answer and challenge thoughts on torture, or just show torture?

I just don't get it. What does this say about our society? Are we searching for answers? Do we enjoy these types of films? Is this mirror real life or allow us to escape? Why is this type of film so common this year?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Rififi part duex? (or If it ain't broke, why fix it?)

Thinking about the movie 3:10 to Yuma, many people will compare the new movie (Crowe & Bale) to the original 1957 version staring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin.

I'm not sure what I think about remakes.

Recently I watched a famous french film-noir classic called Rififi, and have heard there is plans to remake this 1950s film with Al Pacino in the lead role.

Rififi is an amazing film about 4 crooks and a perfectly planned jewelry heist. This film even predates the original Oceans 11, not to mention all the other jewelry heist movies that have followed.

There are so many things that made this film unique and original. The two unique things that really stood out were the lounge singing with the silhouette man in the background and the thirty virtually silent minutes of the film while the men were executing their heist.

Yet would a remake have these same scenes, filmed in the same way? Is the purpose of a remake simply to reintroduce a good story to a new audience?

I would think that a remake should be viewed as an improvement on the original, not a copy of something that's already well respected. But who knows maybe that's just the way I feel about it. But the idea of remaking something good seems like an uphill battle not worth fighting.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Initial 3:10 to Yuma Thoughts

Russell Crowe & Christian Bale are two amazing actors. So of course, there is reason to be excited for a western remake staring these two talented actors. Yet when I watched it last weekend, despite my anticipation the film seemed like it was missing the magic.

I can't figure out who to blame though. As stated already, the acting was good. The scenes, sets, story line, music, effects, camera all worked. But somehow not in a way that melded into anything memorable or meaningful.

Director James Mangold did some amazing things in the the film Walk the Line. And there were moments of magic when young Johnny Cash and Tommy Cash talked in their room, there was magic every time Reese Witherspoon was on screen, there was magic when Dallas Roberts as Sam Phillips was auditioning Johnny and his band, and I can pick out a handful of memorable scenes and moments.

Maybe it's not fair to compare 3:10 to Yuma & Walk the Line.

Yet, even as I am drawn to the character of Ben Wade and Dan Evans (Crowe & Bale) there isn't that same magic. I wonder if it's faithfulness to the western genre? I'm not quiet sure.