Friday, February 26, 2010

Short, brief, Friday hilarity.

I think this is Russian.

I know it's hilarious.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why are horror films still so gendered?

Sat down in the luxurious Metreon Theater (I kid this place is like a living Playstation, with snot-nosed kids and all still intact) in SF yesterday morning to watch the debut film of Breck Eisner, The Crazies.  Due to embargo, you'll have to wait 'till tomorrow to read my review, but I'll say this - it's a great, gory, tense bit of horror that had me on edge for all two hours.

That said, I was, have been, shocked at how the film manages to avoid the trappings of cheap characters produced only to have their heads pitchforked off, but still managed to craft a bevy a female characters seemingly pulled directly from the 1950s.  Judy Dutton (Radha Mitchell) is a well written character, she's likable and flawed and at times a strong, smart and funny and on and on, but throughout the film the character is forced time after time in to damsel in distress situations.  She's tied up, she's threatened with a shotgun, she's nearly pulled through the window of a car, and each and every time (sans the last few moments of the film) she always turns, voluntarily or involuntarily to her wiry sheriff husband David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant). 

Again and again, David Dutton, town sheriff and all-around good guy is brought in to a situation where he has to put himself at risk to save his darling wife.  Even more shocking are the moments when his "emotional" and "head-strong" spouse is spouting off and David has to "calm her down."  It's strange, bad-taste leaving, and wonder why we as as a society able to build cyber-worlds still can't craft a female character in an action film that doesn't fall in to the arms of her male compatriot whenever shit gets rough.  Sure, Judy Dutton has some comeuppance moments, but they're played as just that, new additions to her character.  David Dutton doesn't have to worry about ever having to "get tough" when things get dangerous, oh no, he's a man, so he's hardwired to kill, kick ass and protect the feeble. 
This isn't just something I've seen lately in film either.  This is a widespread epidemic that just won't go away.  Did anyone else watch the Super Bro Bowl?  Or at least the seven hours of commercials that surrounded the eleven minutes of actually played football?  Oh you did?  So you also noticed that every single ad featured burly men drinking beer and their scantily clad wives scurrying about the kitchen or the yard or wherever?  Thought so.  And the Super Bowl isn't the event, it's the catalyst.  We're still pumping out films, television shows, and commercials (hell, books as well I'm sure) that are referring to the gender norms of forty years ago.  In a time when we sexuality as a whole is in total upswing, we're still, as Americans, broadcasting the idea that men are big burly tough guys and women are they big-breasted, small-waisted, good-in-the-kitchen side-kicks. 

And this, this just makes my head hurt.


Criterion Counsel: Wow, it's been so long since I've even peeked at the film, I'm going to need to start from frame one.  No worries though, I've got a nice big chunk of time tomorrow and the next day and I'm finishing at least one of Jacque Tati's little masterpieces. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

TRAILER: Animal Kingdom

Doesn't this film look amazing?

I spent a good twenty minutes last week interviewing Joel Edgerton, a star and producer of the film and all-around nice guy.

I'm interviewing his brother and director of The Square Nash Edgerton on Thursday, and then winding the results in to an enormous brotherly bit of interview.

Get ready for it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

QUICK NOTES: Drag Me To Hell, d. Sam Raimi

I'm trying to up the ante in terms of the films I watch in general right now and as much as I'd love to write huge, Sanders-sized reviews about each and all, well I just can't. Thus, I'm retooling Quick Notes in to just exactly what their moniker begs: quick reviews of all the films I'm watching. I'll be doing my full reviews of new movies, and films that I love still, I just want to write about as much film as possible and this seems the very best way.

Think we can all handle that?

Lets get started then.


The Film: Drag Me To Hell
The Director: Sam Raimi

The Hype:

You know, everyone's been saying that this is Sam Raimi's return to form. That the abysmal (literally terrible) Spider-Man 3 freed Raimi from his long lease on shittiness, and that Drag Me To Hell was his re-immersion in to the gooey gore of his beloved Evil Dead series.

The Truth:

I blame Allison Lohman for all of my dislike for this film. It's a pretty decent little adventure-horror flick. Christine Brown (Allison Lohman) gets cursed by a gypsy and she has three days to figure out how to expel the curse or the Lamia will, ahem, drag her to Hell. There's a lot of upchucked liquids in the film, a lot of creepy practical effects, and pretty healthy dosage of Allison Lohman getting smashed in to things, which all allude to a Sam Raimi film, but something is certainly lacking.

I've never been able to understand why people are so obsessed with Allison Lohman. I find her extremely one-note, and that one note is typically a sort of bland, naivete. In Drag Me To Hell she's cardboard, flat and unemotional and this is a film about campy-emotions. Big chills and big thrills and with Lohman in the driving seat, they just don't work.

Final Thoughts:

I'm hoping this is Raimi ramping up, recovering even, from the big studio pie-fingering of the Spider-Man films. That this is just a taste of what's to come and in the years to follow we'll be seeing some truly classic horror films from Mr. Raimi.

The Wide World: 2.19.2010

It's late on a Friday and you know what that means: a short post full of links.

Honestly, it's been a pretty great day for me as a writer. If you checked in yesterday I posted a look at the Marx's Brother's 1933 classic Duck Soup in response to a favorite writer's of mine column The Basics (which you can read all about HERE). And you know what? He posted a link to my review on his site. It's in THIS column, and it's barely a head-nod, but hell, makes me feel all a-titter in my insides.

While we're on the topic of, well, me, my review of Martin Scorcese's excellent new film Shutter Island is up at Side One: Track One right now. You can check it out HERE.

Oh yeah, and I wrote this short piece on the abysmal turd-bomb that is The Good Guy, a film you've blessedly never heard of. Check out my short dismissal of it HERE.

I love Roger Ebert, he was a driving force in my original passion for film. I knew he'd had cancer and surgeries and all sorts of terrible things happen, but I hadn't known the full spectrum until THIS brilliant bit of profile that ran in Esquire this week. You must read it HERE.

That's all I got today. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


If you love film, and you love good writing, I hope to goodness you've been paying attention to the massive output of work that Drew McWeeny (original Moriarity of Ain't It Cool News fame, and now a massively productive columnist and editor over at HitFix) has shoveled in to the public sphere over the course of the last ten years or so. I can't remember when I started reading McWeeny, but each and every article he writes is a must read, regardless of what the film is. He's a bastion of film knowledge and manages to bring both humor, personality and a sense of himself to each and every piece he composes. On top of that, every piece isn't just a separate read on its own (though all of them are excellent in that regards as well) but a poke, a stab, a peek at the general culture of film as it exists today. Drew McWeeny has always inspired my own writing, and his ability to watch the amount of films that he does is baffling to me.

Praise gushed (something I've been meaning to do for years), I write about McWeeny for a reason. He's started a, how you might say conversation with William Goss of Cinematical, entitled "The Basics". Here's what it is: McWeeny will throw out a film that he considers a must see for any film fan, a film that Goss (a film lover in my own vein, versed but not encyclopedic) will watch and respond to. What McWeeny hopes is that in discussing these classic films he'll not only give readers an assortment of films to peruse in their own time, but also start a conversation about these important pieces of culture.

I think it's a fucking fantastic idea, I've decided that invited or not, I'm going to follow along. McWeeny chose Duck Soup (the 1933 Marx Brothers film) as his first film, and oh how it shames me to admit that I've never dipped my wick in the Marx Brother's candle. I've always meant to I just never have.

Before you read my response to the film catch up with Drew McWeeny's post HERE, and then read William Goss' excellent response HERE.

The Marx Brothers are fucking insane. I swear after dunking my head in to the fictional political state of Freedonia and its satirical leader Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx), I'm bloody well certain that Groucho, Harpo, and Chico Marx are all certified lunatics (I exclude Zeppo, because, well from his looks and abilities he might be adopted). The humor at play in the comedic sibling's 1933 political satire Duck Soup isn't refined or subtle, oh no, there is a manic, almost surreal quality to laughs generated in this film that feel like a whirlpool at times.

The film begins with the make-believe land of Freedonia poor and in need of a new leader. And who better to lead this destitute nation than the wise-cracking, cigar-chomping figure of the one, the only Rufus T. Firefly. What occurs in this 74-minute film is a lambasting of not just the government of 1930s America, but government in general. In its satire this film is timeless, a savage bit of pugilism that just shucks and jives, punching until you don't think there's anything left to hit.

If anything I'd describe the film's humor (as there really isn't anything to the film but the torrent of humor, the plot is merely a shaky outline for the Marxs Brothers to inject their insanity) as the best sort of downward spiral. As a modern day film viewer, one used to plots and meaningful conversations, I found Groucho's non-stop patter to be off-putting at first. I kept wondering, why are people singing? Why would anyone elect this man in to office? What in the hell is going on in this film? But as you keep watching and the jokes just keep coming, and Harpo and Chico suddenly cutting pockets and burning hats, you can't help but enjoy the madness. And when the film wraps on a ten minute banjo dance-off, you blink your eyes and shake your head and wonder just what the fuck happened ... and that, I imagine, is exactly what these masters of comedy intended.

What's interesting about this film to me is the way it swings with no gloves on. The humor isn't always friendly or politically correct or hell, logical (a live dog comes out of the tattoo on Harpo's chest, indeed), but that character of humor never falters. The film is always quick and downright mean, and when it ends you feel a dirty chuckle still resonating in your chest.

I have a special place for the absolute insanity of Harpo Marx, as I was completely stunned at his broad sense of physical comedy each and every time he stepped on screen. His scenes with the lemonade stand owner are as funny as anything I've ever seen, and I absolutely believe that if you met this gentleman in real life you'd leave your meeting with scissor-shorn pockets, a burning hat and a look of absolute confusion sprawled across your face.

Absolutely excited to continue on this Basics kick. I love a recommendation.


Criterion Counsel: I tell you it's been busy and Jacques Tati is just sitting there waiting, staring at me with his silent French eyes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


The Film: The Scarlet Empress (109)
The Director: Josef von Sternberg (The Blue Angel, Blonde Venus)

What Is It: The type of period piece you just don't see anymore. Huge, I mean enormous, set pieces, gauzy lady bits, historical revisionism ... and on and on. This is a true period piece in the vein of Cleopatra.

A Lil' Bit Of History: Josef von Sternberg was a king in the days of black and white, a master of opulence that managed to blend history with Hollywood. Wildly in love with his muse, Marlene Dietrich, Sternberg made six films with her, each time capitalizing on the idea of a woman using her sexual wiles and intelligence to gain power. Though their collaboration, The Blue Angel was what shot her in to stardom, this film is oft times considered an overlooked classic.

The Expectation: As I've mentioned many, many times before, these old 1930s flicks have a tendency to zonk me in to comatose states. I very much believed that this film, the story of Catherine II's (Marlene Dietrich) scandalous rise to Russian royalty, would a be a blowdart to the neck.

The Experience: The Criterion Conquistador and I sat down to watch this, my trepidations firmly in tact, and I ended up skipping a free show to finish it out. One big gulp of Russian royalty and I was hooked.

1. It's been a while.

I watched this movie maybe three weeks ago and I've been sitting on my thoughts on the film for just as long. Not for any good reason either, I just haven't been able to muster the time or energy to write a cohesive sounding piece on it. Thus, I'm sort of wading through the grey parts of my brain right now to try and remember exactly what I was thinking when I watched the film, and let me tell you, it's a kind of a stretch.

2. Marlene Dietrich lives up to her "star."

At the beginning of this film both Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich perform an impressive task: creating the illusion that a massive star like Dietrich is a brainless, big-eyed child. This is performed by cutting nearly all of Dietrich's lines, but her wide-eyed expression and childlike clothes make her look like a stupid doll, exactly what the film needs - a doddling child that the audience, and the royalty of Russia think they can play like a fool. As the film unfurls though, Catherine II becomes a force to be reckoned with, and her youthful naivete is a stark contrast. Ms. Dietrich, I owe your corpse an apology, you are quite an actress.

3. A fast-talking bit of period piece.

You'd expect this film to be chock full of antiquated language and drawn out boring conversations, but this is a clearly a child of the 1930s. Each and every character feels as if it was raised on the streets of Brooklyn, never having stepped in to the highest classes of Russia. You'd think it'd be jarring and awkward, but no, the speedy chatter of the characters helps to play in to the strategies and games playing out on screen. If the dialogue was slow and ponderous than the film would be equally ponderous. Luckily, it's neither.

4. Wow, the Hays Code missed out on this one.

This film snuck right past the censors. Perhaps it's the historical context or the fact that Dietrich and Sternberg were murdering the box office at the time, but this film breaks rule after rule after rule with seemingly no consequence. Not only is there nudity (though it may be of the nipple-less variety), it's torturous nudity. There's a strong focus on sexuality in the film (late night trysts, overtly sexual conversations, etc.) and no one seemed to give a shit. When Catherine II and Count Alexi (John Lodge) are tumbling about in the hay, hands fast and loose, the definition of "lover" quickly coming to the fore, you have to know, somebody in the Hays Code production office was getting a brown envelope full of money.

5. Full of great character actors.

Empress Elizabeth (Louise Dresser), Count Alexei (John Lodge), Grand Duke Peter (Sam Jaffe) - each of these impressive actors is given a juicy role to chew in to and all do so with aplomb. Sam Jaffe, you shouldn't be allowed schools. John Lodge, I imagine you were quite the lady killer in your time. Louise Dresser, you define the term "nag."


Criterion Counsel: I was so excited about the Jacque Tati films, and after thirty minutes of near silent, surreal slapstick, I'm a bit skeptical. We're thirty minutes in and I don't see completion rearing its head any time soon.

I'm a poor Quester.

I am. Busy with life and new found film endeavors.

I'll be back soon, Criterion films stacked to the nose.

Until then, I posted a review of The Wolfman over at Side One: Track One.

Read it right HERE.

Comments, critiques, opinions - I want them all.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Things are going to change.

I guess it's time for a change.

I quit a job last week. After three years of selling myself as a PR representative/blogmaster, I hit a three hundred foot wall of brick and just couldn't see any way around it. So I threw in the towel and went home.

Thus, as I only work three days a week slinging joe to the caffeine deprived of the world, I am now faced with what just to do with four, almost five, entire extra days off each and every week. As if by magic, as these thoughts of loneliness and inactivity and long walks in the greyness of the afternoon begin to increase in size and fear, a little bird dropped down on my shoulder and told me I should start writing about film.

Film, sweet film, my passion my love, that I've relegated to the sidelines for the last three to five years of my life. Yes, you little bird all ruffled and dewy from the rain, film is what I should writing about.

Thus, I reached out to the very few folks I know populating the critical side of film and asked, "How do I do this?" And quite quickly and impressively, a slew of publicists and aides and assistants were battering my door with offers to see films early, to interview and to review.

And you know what? I'm running with it. This week alone I've already seen two screeners (with a third tomorrow), I've interviewed an actor/screenwriter that was just cast in the remake of John Carpenter's The Thing, and this is just the start. In the weeks to come I'm saying yes to every single opportunity, film-related that I can possibly say yes to. I will go to every event, see every movie, talk to anyone regardless of what film they're apart of. I'm going to throw myself head first in to this world of film criticism.

So what does that mean for you, my Criterion Quest faithful? It just means that on top of my current ruminations on the wide world of Criterion I'm going to be discussing with you my quest to become a part of the circle of people that talks about film. That discusses and reviews and generally adds to the culture of film that I love so much. I'm going to keep my reviews and my interviews and my general dalliances as possible fodder for other sites, but on this site I'm going to talk about the actual experience of being a newbie in this wild world. What are screeners like? Other critics? Audiences? Interviews? What's the other side like? What are festivals like?

If you can't tell, I'm excited. Sweaty and half-clothed, just ready for the film onslaught to begin.

Hope you're excited too.

Friday, February 5, 2010

It's Friday! Read a book?

Robert Altman was one of the greats of cinema. He died last year and we're all the worser for it. The Criterion Collection has celebrated his films on a variety of occasions, and their releases have been some of the great. From the well known (Short Cuts (265) to the obscure Secret Honor (257)) they've produced some amazing releases paying due to this fantastically prolific and talented man.

Mitchell Zuckoff produced a series of interviews with Robert Altman in the later years of his life. These interviews, completely vacant of personal touches, were the only things Altman would allow to be considered "his biography." Collected here for the first time in book form, I'm slavering to give this a shot.

My film professor in college, Robert Sickels, had a hankering for Altman like no other, and I remember an anecdote of his that still makes me laugh: at the end of every day Robert Altman would refuse to call it a day, instead he'd pull a production assistant aside, order up a bottle of Cutty Sark and disappear in to his trailer. Everyone would just know.

This book looks amazing. Let me just finish the stack of five I recently bought and then I'll pick this one up.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I've decided to name my new column "Expectorating." "Why?" You might ask. It started out that I wanted to name the new column something that had to do with expectations and what each of these gems of films promised as I came closer to them. The first term that popped in to my head was "Expectations", but upon writing it I felt more akin to a crystal-piled New Age convention. It turns out that there aren't that many words in the dictionary that "expectation" is a part of, so when I stumbled up expectorate, I was excited to say the least. Expectorate, sounds like expectation, looks like expectation, it certainly must have something to do with expectations.

Alex and are I driving somewhere and I'm proudly running through my new column's name and she turns to me and says, "Expectorate means to spit." There is a slight debate about what the term might mean, and then, as usual, I turn out to be completely clueless.

But guess what? I'm keeping it. I love the idea that expectorate means to expel, to spit, to get something not just off your chest, but out of your chest. I'm an opinionated chap on occasion and if this little ditty of a column seems to be a symbolic form of hacking up phlegm, I don't mind that.

Thus, get out your hankies, it's expectoration time.

The Film: The Scarlet Empress (109)
The Director: Josef von Sternberg. An Austrian-American with an enormous, oft times over-the-top personality that was once threatened to be thrown off a pier by Robert Mitchum. Had a long tempestuous relationship with 20s and 30s star Marlene Dietrich.

The Synopsis: A mighty bit of 30s period piece featuring a lavishly dressed Marlene Dietrich, thousands of extras and I'm quite sure of 104 minutes of nappy time for No-No.

My Prior Experience: I've heard the name many many times and am pretty sure I've seen at least a part of The Blue Angel, but aside from that, I'm a dedicated newcomer to this whole Austrian-American period piece.

My Expectation: I'm expecting a nap. Seriously, his biography describes the public's response to his film as "inert." Inert sounds like a pleasant slumber. The clothes are supposed to be amazing, so I'm sure my Criterion Companion will need to wipe the drool from her mouth on more than a few occasions.


Criterion Counsel: Not even a peek yet. The DVD looks pretty though. Was busy yesterday catching up on, well, new, positively riveting bits of noir and sci-fi. Sorry, Austrian period piece, just not cutting it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I. Just. Keep. Churning. Along.

And it is a great pleasure to crawl from the pool of shit that is The Rock (108) into the next five films in this crazy Quest 'o' mine. It's a big old batch of Euro this go-around, dominated strongly by French surreal comic Jacques Tati. Never seen any of the exploits of M. Hulot, but hot damn if I'm not licking my sunbaked lips with anticipation.

Criterion films scene 108, Criterion films to watch, currently, 402.

Must. Keep. Watching.

#109. The Scarlet Empress dir. Josef von Sternberg

I've expressed my worry many times over, that near-silent films of the 1930s are like potent sleeping pills to me. This one's set in Russia in the 19th century though and is supposed to feature "lavish sex and deceit." Sex and deceit always keep me wide awake, so maybe this'll be the new precedent. Also, director von Sternberg was obsessed with his lead, Marlena Dietrich, and obsession always leads to fascinating film.

#110. M. Hulot's Holiday dir. Jacques Tati
#111. Mon Ocle
#112. Playtime

Criterion threw together a three film run of films by the renowned actor and director Jacques Tati that focuses on his famed character M. Hulot. Each of the films, released across two decades, features the incorrigible Hulot getting himself in to some sort of slapstick situation amongst the rich and famous. I'm most excited about entry number two that finds Hulot stuck inside a Jetson's like home where technology goes hilariously awry.

#113. Big Deal on Madonna Street

1950s Italian crime-caper ... satire? Mmmmmm ... sounds brilliant. The 1950s are a goldmine of film and whenever the Criterion Collection, and it often times does, dips its pretty little head in to those waters, well, I get a little sweaty on my back. It's not weird, it's natural.

This is an interesting batch of films for me as they're all well known bits of European filmmaking that I've never touched upon in my perusal of cinema. Sometimes these work out, sometimes I find myself sprawled on my floor in a puddle of my own drool.


Criterion Counsel: The Scarlet Empress (109) she's still just sitting there, mouth all pout-filled, waiting for a watching, I just haven't found a moment to enjoy yet. Soon my lady, soon.

Monday, February 1, 2010

THE ROCK (108)

The Film: The Rock (108)
The Director: Michael Bay (Armageddon (40))

What It Is: A big, stupid action film about an F.B.I. chemist (Nicolas Cage) and the only man to ever escape Alcatraz (Sean Connery) sneaking back on to Alcatraz to stop a team of trained Marines from chemical-attacking San Francisco. Yup, that's what this film is about.

The Expectation: Pretty low. I've seen this film so many times and, as I've said before, the older I got the less I could stomach it. After watching Armageddon (40) again almost two years ago and being stunned in to slumber by how bad it was, I can't say that a revisit to this Cage/Connery duet was anything to keep me awake at night.

The Experience: My Criterion Companion and I had a fairly difficult time plowing through this bloated beast. We'd turn it on and invariably one of us would fall asleep, thus when we returned to the film we'd find ourselves having to back track (not a good thing when you're watching an actioneer from the mid-90s). After four days we finally plopped ourselves down, taped our eyelids back, and drug ourselves through it.

Film Still

1. You sometimes have to question Criterion.

I know seems strange coming from the mouth of such a diehard devotee, but Jesus, this film is crap. When I tell people about the Criterion Quest - people that care, people that dig in and do a little research to find out just what I'm trying to do here - the most asked question is this, "Why is The Rock (108) on the list?" I've tried in the past to argue that Michael Bay's stomach-churning visual onslaught helped to form the horrendous visual onslaughts we now call "big budget pictures". I've tried to argue that in the cardboard characters and cheesy explosions that this film is filled with there's a kernel of merit, a smidgen of good, that perhaps the more brainy film geeks that populate the offices of Criterion could better surmise. But sadly, those words turn to ash in my memories mouth, 'cause this is just a shitty film. No doubt about it, this is a stock actioneer and from what I can discern it was merely a way to draw less adventurous film lovers in to the fold of Criterion. A quick way to make a few bucks in a potentially dire time for the old Criterion Collection. That's all I can think, the only way I can rationalize the appearance of this film in such a collection of at least interesting pictures.

2. You can never trust Nicolas Cage.

He was, possibly is a good actor, but his need for cash and the headline of a big picture has eroded this man's reputation down to the point where a film featuring Nicolas Cage and his beleaguered hairline is not one I'll often see. If you want evidence of where his perilous fall from acting grace occurred, look no further than this film. Nicolas Cage is used here in the exact sort of way we've all become accustomed. He's zany, but not in a good way. Instead his zany antics are mixed with a sort of hyperactive tough guy and the results are jarring and uncomfortable. When Nicolas Cage tells Sean Connery "Cut the chit-chat, a-hole!" I almost turned the film off. With his hair follicles bristling, I was nothing but disturbed at his outburst, knowing that Mr. Cage would be better off reading Spider-Man comics in his dungeon lair than hollering expletives at a septuagenerian Connery.

3. Sean Connery, I don't know.

If this was the beginning of Nic Cage's fall from grace, this is Sean Connery's final flair as a superstar. Before this Connery had floundered in films like A Good Man In Africa and Medicine Man, but here Michael Bay casts him right as a smooth talking, SAS killer just tough enough to outsmart some truly dangerous men. And the audience loved it. The Rock (108) was a big old hit and promptly gave Connery a final lease on his acting life. Which he then squandered on a succession of films that included The Avengers, Playing By Heart, Entrapment, Finding Forrester, and finally, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Perhaps out of all the terrible aspects of this film, there is one silver lining: Connery got another moment in the spotlight.

4. Ed Harris, not bad.

You got to love Ed Harris, c'mon! He's Ed Harris. He's got piercing blue eyes and a chiseled jaw and chews scenery with the best of them. Throw him in camouflage and give him some dicey moral quandaries and you've got yourself an Oscar nominated role. Thus, Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel was downright perfect for him. Cold, cruel, calculating, but tinged with a sense of morality? It just reeks of Ed Harris.

5. San Francisco badly portrayed.

Good God people of Hollywood, I promise you, SF is such a better city than trolley cars, Pier 39, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. There is a bustling, hustling, diverse sprawl of European-style city going on in this big Bay of ours and I'm ashamed that you folk continue to plumb those standard depths. Jesus, film a fucking movie in The Mission, or The Castro, or The Tenderloin, or ... Jesus, just film one goddamn picture that doesn't feature the international orange of the Golden Gate Bridge. Please.

6. Michael Bay, wow.

I saw Transformers a while back and couldn't believe that the man who directed The Rock (108) had also defecated the likes of that picture in to the mainstream. Then you go back and you watch this and you're literally offended by the misogynistic horse shit so readily tossed about in this film and then you realize, "Oh wait, Michael Bay has always been and always will be a terrible director too hung up on visual style to do anything but crank out two hour fight scenes occasionally peppered with horrid dialogue and tepid romance." You'll say that, I promise.

Final Thoughts: If you've seen it once, I'd skip it the second time folks, not worth a minute of your time. Criterion, I waggle my finger at you.


Criterion Counsel: The Scarlet Empress (109), a two hour period piece from the 1930s has arrived at the house, but I'm wary of it. So I'll just sit and stare at it for a few more days. Then hop myself up on caffeine and see if I can keep my eyes open for it.