Friday, February 22, 2008

Camera Obscura - Oscar Weekend; Return of Akira and Repo Man

I read an article recently where some film critic was bemoaning the hideous-ugly depressing nature of movies nominated this year for an Oscar award. As if, for instance, last year's winner "The Departed" was a slapstick comedy of errors. Which, okay, it sort of was.

Best-picture Oscars seldom if ever go to light-hearted fare. Praise for Art from a Business point of view is going to take itself Seriously. So it goes. I usually find the show itself interesting from various technical perspectives - the staging, the lighting, the attempt to make a somewhat dull awards ceremony into a visual event.

I do hope to see the Coen brothers take home many prizes for "No Country For Old Men". Since their first film, "Blood Simple" and onward they have created an impressive body of work as director and writers. Their scripts are truly astonishing prose on their own and their visual style seldom over-indulges so the viewer says "ahhhh, nice" - instead there is a tremendous subtle and understated brilliance. It's part of the reason their films are so easy to watch again and again.

Plus, the source for their film is Cormac McCarthy's novel, and McCarthy is far overdue for recognition as one of the best living American authors.

There is a madness to movie-making. You have to be a little crazy to leap into the ill-suited collision of Art and Business. And yet anyone armed with a camera and some creativity can make a movie. That's pretty much the storyline in the new movie opening this weekend from Michel Gondry, "Be Kind, Rewind". After accidentally destroying their stock of movies for rent, the guys who run the store start remaking every movie they can and offer those for rent instead.

Gondry's odd visual and verbal style, such as "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", is deeply self-referential. He makes movies about how we as individuals create a narrative, a movie, of our own lives.

That's why it doesn't matter what film wins an award - we have our own favorites, movies we made into Best Pictures, because for some reason we connect to them and they become expressions of ourselves.


First, a big shout out and thanks to Newscoma who pointed out a great movie blog, Cinebeats. It is ultra-groovy as it digs thru stacks and stacks of seldom-seen classic movies from the '60s and '70s. Their 4-part list of the Best DVD releases of 2007 is an excellent guide to must-have movies.


After 20 years of cult fame, the Japanese anime classic "Akira" will turn into a live-action film, produced by and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. He'll play the role of Kaneda and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets the juicy role of Tetsuo. The sci-fi storyline has elements ranging from "Rebel Without A Cause" to "Carrie" and much more.

The anime movie is forever entrenched as a groundbreaking and jaw-dropping animated film, which has had a huge influence on American films since it's release. If you have never seen it, you have missed one of the most impressive pictures of the last 40 years. So see it.

Now I don't think making it live-action will improve it one bit. Some stronger acting, yes, but there is no way the original could ever be topped.


"World War Z", an "oral history of the zombie war" is getting a script from J. Michael Straczynski and is being produced by Brad Pitt's film company. The Max Brooks novel of a zombie apocalypse (noting worse than that!) is sort of like what would happen if Ken Burns did a documentary take on a George Romero-style war. Wonder if the movie will have that sad fiddle music?


More proof of my geeky, nerdy love of odd films - I was happy to read that the great '80s punkish sic-fi movie "Repo Man" is getting a sequel. Director/writer Alex Cox, however, has made the sequel as a graphic novel (that's fancy talk for big ol' comic book).

Our hero Otto, who disappeared with the aliens at the end of the movie, now uses the name of Waldo and returns to Earth after spending some ten years on Mars.

The title to look for: "Waldo's Hawaiian Holiday".


Good-bye and fond farewell to the Gill-Man.

Ben Chapman, who was the man in the monster suit in "The Creature From The Black Lagoon" died yesterday. I'll never forget when my family went to Florida one summer and we stopped at a place called Silver Springs. Once our guide told us this was the location for the Black Lagoon movie I was totally terrified and happy all at once. I could see and understand just how a camera angle and a good location can make movie magic.

Godspeed to the Gill-Man.

1 comment:

  1. james5:56 PM

    the "creature" movies always scared the p-whiz out of me as a kid.Same with "The Day The Earth Stood Still".On saturdays we had "Theater X" and "Shock Theater" to watch these nad other greats.Another good one ,I can't remember the title to,it had these little invisible,radioactive brains that wrapped theirselves aroud peoples necks and sucked their brains out.I slept with one eye open for a few nights. BRRR.