Friday, August 18, 2006

Camera Obscura - A Deceitful Heart, Super News and SOAP!

Ahhhhh, Friday movie time. Best day of the week. Nothing is quite as satisfying as finally getting to see a movie made here in East Tennessee which actually hits it's mark so well and so expertly - even if the movie is a hell of a downer. I will admit that after watching it, I can understand why the state's film office and Knoxville's did not push hard for a local premiere. It's an ugly and difficult film, but loaded with talent and made with great fearlessness.

The movie is "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things," directed by Asia Argento, who also stars in the film with some great cameos from Winona Ryder and Peter Fonda. Argento shot most of the movie in 2004 in Knox and Jefferson counties ... and hey, isn't that Jefferson County Sheriff Davenport eyeing up Asia's skirt in that scene at the jail?? Yeah! It is!! Fine work there sheriff - really, you did your lines very well. And of course there's a brief scene at the Mouse's Ear South too. More on that later.

Some controversy over the writer of the source stories for the movie emerged this year as "J.T. Leroy" who claimed it was auto-biographical turned out to be writer Laura Albert. That aside, the material is a brutal and depressing journey through the horrific child abuse for young Jeremiah. Bounced from a foster home and into the arms of his drug-addicted mother and her madness, the story is far more realistic than anyone would like to admit. Kids do endure this type of horror. Argento never backs off just how bad and insane the world of a helpless child can be. So, no, this is not a movie to "entertain" you.

Argento also bravely plays a role where she is ugly, sick and twisted. I doubt if Hollywood would ever give her the "Charlize Theron Award" for playing an Ugly Monster, but her work is as good as Theron's. Her camera and her narrative style here is like the fragemented and psychological maze of young Jeremiah's mind. Local East TN landmarks are often in the background and you can watch the movie and say "Hey! I know where that is!"

Is it a good sign that seedy and grungy locations in Knox and Jefferson Counties help fill Argento's vision? One thing for sure, including the Mouse's Ear Strip Club is a small but vivid scene of just how low-rent and skanky a journey surrounds the poor Jeremiah.

This movie is not a Special News Report on child abuse and predators. It's a movie which plainly explores the horror and madness some children do experience. As critic Roger Ebert said "
I cannot recommend the film, or dismiss it. My two-star rating represents a compromise between admiration and horror."

Whew. Something a little less awful, Joe?? Please???

Okey Doke. As long as you remember to consider some of the facts in Argento's fiction.

If imitation is flattery, then I has been flattered by the minds behind Atomic Tumor today. And there are fine recommendations there. Check it out!

A writer who was able to tap into childhood and drag some redemption out of the horror was Roald Dahl and this week I finally saw "Charlie and The Chocolate Factory."

I'm one of the few who did not like the other movie "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" based on Dahl's book. For one, Tim Burton gets it - the movie is both dark but very funny and WIllie isn't right in the head for reasons from his own childhood. Best of all, no overly sweet songs. The lyrics Dahl wrote get souped up by composer Danny Elfman into a Missy Misdemeanor style hip-hop, some heavy metal, and even a 60s San Francisco rock medley. Very enertaining movie overall with a hearty recommendation.

Can Burton, Depp and Elfman make the music work for them as well in their announced production for the musical "Sweeney Todd"??

The silliness and the fantasy of Stan Lee's "So You Want To Be A Superhero?" on Sci-Fi Channel has been so entertaining this summer, even though Monkey Woman got the boot last week. The most entertainment is provided by seeing Stan do his stuff. Down to just three contestants now - Feedback, Major Victory and Fat Momma - I feel fairly safe in predicting a winner. I think it may be a close call, but I'm going with Major Victory. Or maybe Feedback. But not Fat Momma. But one of them. Feh. Maybe I should just watch to see what happens.

Make Mine Marvel!

According to Lee's Useless Super Hero Generator, I can be The Perplexing Lightning Utqsjbbu, oh yeah.... that's me. (snark)

Newscoma has the details that "Cracked" is Back! It's not Mad Magazine, but it was Cracked.
Jean-Pierre Melville's 1969 movie about the French Resistance gets a rave review here from Pith in the Wind on it's re-release.

Last week I finally got to see Melville's "The Samurai" (1967) which has been a very influential movie, especially for John Woo's "The Killer." And while raves are heaped on Melville's restrained hitman, I think Woo made it better. Woo turned Melville's symbolism into operatic action. And Woo has influenced nearly evey action movie Hollywood has made since.

The tubes of the internets have been humming a happy happy song about the tounge-in-cheek thriller "Snakes On A Plane" since fans demaned the movie retain its original title last year. It opens today. Expect big business. Or Samuel L. Jackson may get medival on yer ass. An entire timeline of the movie's journey from failure to megahype is here.

SOAP looks like the best drive-in movie of the year. Now if I could just force an internet tubes campaign to bring back the Drive-In.

UPDATE: A post by LA Barabbas reveals another in a string of confused identities which happens as he works withing the major studio systems in LA. It makes me realized I do need to go to Hollywood and follow the always lucky LAB around - I'm telling you, we could turn these events into either a movie or a contract.


  1. I miss drive-ins.

  2. Now, I was born in 1978... can somebody explain this drive... in?
    Is it a hotel?

  3. Ah, AT ... 1978 was in the Golden Era of the Drive-In. Pretty dang nifty invention where you could drive yer own vehicle right up to the screen, in the outdoors, and watch a movie or make-out with your date.
    In the mid to late 70s, Newport was Heaven on Earth with 3, coun em, 3 working drive-ins.
    Nothing like watching a movie in the summer time out in mosquito infested weeds. And eating stale hot popcorn.
    About two thirds of the way through the movies, the screen would go black and the movie was stopped. The announcer came on the loudspeakers and said "The Snack Bar is closing soon, so come order your favorite items now. As soon as you do, we'll restart the movie."
    It was kind of exciting to have the movie held hostage until more snacks got sold.
    For a sample of the experience, haul yer TV out to the back yard, sit in some lawnchairs or on the ground around 10 pm some night. Your kids will think its great. Or hate you.
    Stay until past midnight.
    Eat pizza.

  4. Fat Momma isn't going to win because she is still bitter about Tyveculus' elimination. Of course I was totally wrong about Monkey Woman, so who knows?

    I was born in 1977, and they still had a drive-in theater in Livonia I think it was, or Lima, until maybe the mid-80's. I saw one of the Police Academy movies at that drive-in. It was about awesome.

    Someday I'm going to buy me a lot and build a drive-in theater on it. It'll be a cash cow because everybody who has ever been to one misses going, and everybody who has never been to one always has to listen to the geezers talk about how great it was back in the day. Can't lose.

  5. Oh! I also wanted to mention that I picked up a Mad magazine for the first time in maybe fifteen years the other day. It's filled with ads!! William Gaines would be pissed. It's still funny as hell though.

  6. "everybody who has never been to one always has to listen to the geezers talk about how great it was back in the day."

    If had been other than a geezer at birth, or if I could move without my HoverRound, I'd come after ya fer that one ....

  7. oh and I too read some MAD recently. too many ads but still some good satire there. Gaines would never go for all that advertising.

  8. Cinemonkey3:26 PM

    Aren't there still a couple of drive-ins west of Knoxville? I smell roadtrip for you Tennessee people!

  9. yes, two - but they play first-run mainstream hooey. so i say "feh" to a road trip fer that.

    there is still one up in Elizabethton, but there aren't chains made strong enough to drag me up there again, nooooope. (i am a geezer, ya know)

  10. Cinemonkey5:21 PM

    Ain't SOaP first-run "mainstream" hooey?
    I'm pissed that the giant screen theatre down here decided to run Accepted instead. What hell?
    You can be a geezer.....I'm gunning for curmudgeon.

  11. Brother Mike5:24 PM

    Actually, there is a drive-in theatre in Maryville and another one in Kingston. The one in Maryville is out on the Walland Highway (US321), but I don't know the whereabouts of the one in Kingston.

    BTW, I noticed the change in your heading. Is there something you haven't told us about?

  12. yes, both of the drive-ins you mentioned usually show first run stuff.

    and yes, regarding the heading, there is a renewed sense of satire and outrage here at the COJP.

    and Cinemonkey - i said SOAP was a drive-in flick, but the studios do not send high-pofile flicks to a drive-in.

    and yes, that is confusing.

  13. Okay, Drive-ins were the glory days and they were. I remember them. I must be a curmudgeon too.
    The Killer by Woo is one of my favorite movies.

  14. well said, Newscoma.

    The Killer is a masterpeice of moviemaking, and I am both astonished and entertained every time I watch it. I should just do a Woo Day here (heh heh Woo Day)

    If I owned a drive-in, you better believe we'd have a John Woo festival! Hard Boiled and The Killer are the first two in that festival.

  15. I totally want to make it with Major Victory.

    Then I want to make it with you at the drive-in.

    As for Tim Burton's "Charlie & The Chocolate Factory," if I could edit out all the lame backstory about Willy Wonka's mean daddy, I would fucking love that movie.

    Finally, I am The Righteous Android Girl. My Power(s): Machine control, Water control. The Source of my Powers: Spiritual mutant. My Weapon: Girl Katana. My Transportation: Girl Buggy. Mmm-hmm. That's right.