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.