Friday, February 02, 2007

Camera Obscura - Cache;Spying Smiths on TV; Your Inner Sci-Fi Writer

I know the initial description of this movie may turn you off right off the bat. That will be your loss, because the movie is a haunting thriller that rewards with repeat viewings. I understand that some just won't get it or like it at all, but for those who want a movie with something truly extra, stick around. And as always, some movie news and other entertainment details that makes stopping here on Fridays habit-forming. Oh and of course, my deeply personal account of the 41st Super Bowl.

The main focus this week is on the movie "Cache," aka "Hidden". And it is foreign, so that means subtitles and it's set in France, so I'm sure some of you have said Nope to that movie already.

The award-winning 2005 feature deserves placement among some of the best, innovative and mind-bending movies of years past from directors like Hitchcock, Welles or Lynch and especially "Blow Up" by Michelangelo Antonioni. On the surface, this is a mystery movie, a whodunnit, but layer upon layer of mystery is here, all very patiently composed in long takes that command much attention. In other words, if you don't watch carefully, you'll miss much.

Created by Austrian director/writer Michael Haneke, the movie is about your perception and those of the characters too. Haneke's skillful mind-games start with the opening shot - a long static take of a street-view of the family home of Georges and Anne Laurent (Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche). But it isn't really the movie you're watching - you're watching what the Laurents are watching: an anonymously delivered videotape.

Yes, it's the set-up similar to Lynch's "Lost Highway", but it goes in much different directions. The family is under surveillance by someone, for reasons unknown, and the fear and paranoia grows quickly as they also receive anonymous, childish-looking drawings depicting cryptic images of violence. The object of the attention is obviously Georges, and the unknown observer knows many details of his life.

The story is not going to give you simple resolutions to the mysteries here. It's a brilliant work of subtle and powerful emotion, great beauty and some true terror -- if you allow yourself to follow the riddles. And at least one moment that appears from nowhere and truly throws you (and the lead character) for a loop. I'll gladly provide my interpretation of the mystery and the ending if you email me, but I'm not going to say more here! Highly recommended.


I've written before here about how I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the spy caper "Mr. and Mrs. Smith", and the cult following has lead to another surprise. A new TV series based on the characters from the movie. Already signed into the "Mrs. Smith" role - Jordanna Brewster. Some very good writing and directing will be required to keep this effort out of the garbage bin.

Speaking of changing the female leads, rumors say Katie Holmes is out as Batman's girlfriend in the upcoming sequel and Rachel McAdams is in.


I happened upon one of those online tests which aims to indentify you in terms of some fictional character or something -- but this was better. It determines which science-fiction writer you are most like. My result unveiled a writer I had never heard of, but now I do, so I'm looking for his books. His works were big influences on Arthur C. Clarke, C.S. Lewis and Stanislaw Lem. Sweet!!

I am:
Olaf Stapledon
Standing outside the science fiction "field", he wrote fictional explorations of the futures of whole species and galaxies.

Which science fiction writer are you?


I'm happy to see the 41st Super Bowl back in Miami at Dolphin Stadium. That's where I attended Super Bowl 23 in 1989 as the 49ers under Joe Montana took the win. I loved hearing the entire stadium chanting "Joe! Joe! Joe!" for obvious reasons.

My friends will tell you I never stop mentioning that during Super Bowl discussions. I got to hob-nob with all kinds of celebrities, held a can of beer for Senator Jack Kemp while he had his picture taken with a kid, and nearly knocked Donald Trump on his backside when I ran into him as I was running for a bathroom just before half-time.

That's all I have to say really -- just "Yeah, Super Bowl, been there, done that."

Oh fine, here, go check out the obligatory Super Bowl Blog.


  1. Anonymous1:26 AM

    Joe,I can't believe it,I'm Robert A.Heinlein. My idol.Thanks

  2. I'm Greg Benford. Pretty awesome.

    Also, Cache is in my Netflix queue. I couldn't remember why I'd put it there. So thanks for the recommendation to justify it.

  3. I've never heard of Olaf either. Mine was Isaac Asimov. Your baby, by the way, is oh so cute. I miss baby drool... now I just get to wipe my own off. hee hee!

  4. um, Kathy, um ... my "baby"???

  5. Joe has a baby?
    Did I miss something?