Friday, November 30, 2007

Detroit Opera House

I was wrong, the Detroit Opera House is the largest theatre in the mid-west.

The King of Broadway

I’m seeing the musical The Lion King tomorrow night at the Detroit Opera House. It’s the first time I’ve seen anything there and it’s the largest theatre in the state of Michigan.

The Detroit Free Press reviewed last night's opening performance.

Sweeney Has Come

Sweeney Todd screened last night three times for the media, once in New York and twice in Los Angeles. The early “reactions” have been extremely positive. Here is a sampling of the best:

Tom O'Neil, Gold Derby:

"An embargo surrounding this film prohibits us journos from reviewing it, but we're permitted to discuss it in general terms, so let's try to tread that fine line so I can inform you about the most important movie of 2007. Certainly, it's the best I've seen all year, although, of course, I'm a bit biased as a diehard fan of the Broadway show.

Everybody whose opinion I pooled after the screening tonight said they thought the movie and Johnny Depp were brilliant. And everybody thought it was outrageously bloody and grisly. Many said they didn't think it could win best picture because of that. Yes, there was widespread belief that it'll be nommed for best pic, director and actor — maybe even best actress (Helena Bonham Carter), too — and that MAYBE Johnny could win, but not the film. Not because it doesn't deserve it. But because of all the blood, they say.

But is that true? Hold your derby horses, naysayers! Didn't lots of Oscarologists say "The Departed" was too violent to win last year? Didn't "Silence of the Lambs" break the taboo against horror flicks winning? Hey, are we all such a nation of wimps that we'll let a little blood — OK, a lot of it — get in the way of the year's best picture winning best picture?

After tonight's screening, I asked a number of journos the same questions: Do you think "Sweeney Todd" is going to have huge megabuzz and a high Cool Factor when it comes out? Yes, they all agreed. Is it going to be one of those Gotta-See Pix? Unanimous answer: yes.

If that's true — and it clearly is — then those factors may be enough to help it float the blood biz. And, frankly, the red stuff is handled in such an outlandish, cartoonish way that it often doesn't feel real.

But the movie does. In fact, it makes viewers feel so deeply in profound emotional and psychological ways, that it will haunt you, on many levels, long afterward. Director Tim Burton has created a masterpiece for the ages. If namby-pamby Oscar voters are too squeamish to give it the best picture award it deserves, Sweeney Todd would be entirely justified to give them all a close shave."

Jeffery Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere:

"I went to last night's screening of Sweeney Todd (Dreamamount, 11.21) with a guarded attitude. Here we go, another flush of the downward Burton swirl, get ready for it. The man has been in a kind of losing-it mode since Planet of the Apes and he's had his with it. And then it began, and less than two minutes in I knew it was exceptional and perhaps more than that.

Ten minutes later I was feeling something growing within me. Surprise turned to admiration turned to amazement. I felt filled up, delighted. I couldn't believe it...a Tim Burton film that reverses the decline! Call me a changed man. Call Burton a changed man. Sweeney Todd is his best film since...Beetlejuice?

I have to leave for LAX and a flight to Boston in less than an hour, but I have to get at least some of this down.

All my life I've loved -- worshipped -- what Stephen Sondheim's music can do for the human heart. Blend this with a tragic, grand guignol metaphor about how we're all caught up with some issue of the past -- needing on some level to pay the world back for the hurt and the woundings. Add to this Burton's exquisite visual panache and precision, the drop-dead beautiful, near monochromatic color, the ravishing production design and...pardon me for sounding like a pushover, but this movie pushes over.

At times it melted me like a candle. I was lifted, moved. I was never not aroused. Every frame is a painting.

Johnny Depp is fantastic as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street -- he has to be a Best Actor candidate as of this moment. It grieves me to admit this, but bully-boy David Poland predicted that Depp's Todd would be a major contender early last year. Helena Bonham Carter can't sing very well but she's great anyway. Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Jamie Campbell Bower (a major new arrival), Jayne Wisener, Sascha Baron Cohen...everyone fills the bill."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

By a Nose

Are people still talking about Nicole Kidman’s Oscar winning role as Virginia Woolfe in The Hours? I didn’t think so.

What a ridiculous performance in a pretty dreadful movie. Not once watching the movie do I ever believe I’m watching Virginia Woolfe. What I see is Nicole Kidman strutting around the screen wearing a big rubber nose on her face. Oh, how brave of her! The illusion is broken folks… and it isn’t coming back. She would have been better off forgetting the prosthetic nose and just playing the role without a physical attribute and try to create some sort of emotional truth. Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t look anything like Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, but at least his performance, which I consider to be petty good makes you believe he could be Johnny Cash. He doesn’t reply on some gimmick, which the nose is...
... and she still doesn't even look like Virginia Woolfe!

My Top Ten of the Year So Far...

1. Hairspray (Adam Shankman)

2. Zodiac (David Fincher)

3. The King of Kong (Seth Gordon)

4. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg)

5. Ratatouille (Brad Bird)

6. Waitress (Adrienne Shelly)

7. Away From Her (Sarah Polley)

8. The Bourne Ultimatum (Peter Greengrass)

9. The Devil Came on Horseback (Ricki Stern & Anne Sundberg)

10. The Hoax (Lasse Hallström)

There are still a ton of movies to see.

"It's a silly place"

Zack Snyder’s 300 is one of the great howlers of 2007. No film has provided me this much laughter in a long time. The first time I saw the film I was practically on the floor in hysterics. The prologue, the sex scenes, the dancing oracle, the deformed creature, the unintentional homoeroticism! It’s all too much for one viewer to handle…

I know this flickering hard-on is beloved to many, but I just fail to see it’s greatness. I’ve tried real hard during several screenings to see what everyone else sees, but I can not. Admittedly I’m jealous.

A Coversation with Irvin Malcolm

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Night

A lazy, lazy Friday night... no Real Time with Bill Maher tonight due tot he on-going WGA strike. I'll guess I just have to watch Hairspray again on DVD.

I can hear the bells.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Baker

Where can you get this one-sheet?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gold Rush

Here are my current Oscar predictions:


Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
No Country for Old Men
Into the Wild


Joel & Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men
Joe Wright - Atonement
P.T. Anderson - There Will be Blood
Tim Burton - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Ridley Scott - American Gangster


Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will be Blood
Denzel Washington - American Gangster
Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
George Clooney - Michael Clayton
James McAvoy - Atonement


Marion Cotillard - La Vie en Rose
Julie Christie - Away from Her
Amy Adams - Enchanted
Ellen Page - Juno
Keira Knightley - Atonement


Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men
Hal Holbrook - Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton
Casey Affleck - The Assignation of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
John Travolta - Hairspray


Cate Blanchett - I’m Not There
Kelly McDonald - No Country for Old Men
Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
Leslie Mann - Knocked Up
Ruby Dee - American Gangster

Monday, November 19, 2007

Attend the Tale

I want this movie to come out now!

Eat Hearty

My friend Ramses agrees with me.

Days of Heaven

I remember renting Days of Heaven a long time ago from my local rental house and when I got home to play it, the sound was completely fucked up on the VHS tape. It didn’t matter. I found the plot easy to follow. The film contains very little dialogue and the gorgeous images simply spoke for themselves.

I wish I could hug this film.

No American film has rivaled Days of Heaven’s beauty since 1978. Most modern films use filters and are digitally color corrected so they appear slick and glossy and look like every other motion picture. Rarely now does a filmmaker rely on his film stock and lighting.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cinéma du Look

Diva makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, yet it still manages to be rather brilliant. Jean-Jacques Beineix's film has something do with bootleg audio recordings of an opera star, blackmail, and police corruption, but that’s all a McGuffin for stylish chase scenes and show-off camera work.

The film is so busy with nonsense that it’s marvelous look at.

Black Saturday

I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever see Michigan beat Ohio State again in my lifetime.

Go Blue!


Friday, November 16, 2007

Redacted Still Sucks

I’m glad I’m not alone with opinion on Brian DePalma’s Redacted. Jeffrey Wells nails it with his review posted earlier today:

"Brian DePalma's Redacted pretends to be a video verite account of some horrid homicidal behavior on the part of some U.S. troops (based on an actual incident) with a third-act stab at depicting the moral penalty for such deeds. I saw it as a sloppy film about a group of badly directed actors playing soldiers, and the hell of being surrounded by pretension gone wrong. I've never seen a worst-acted film by a major-league director in my life. DePalma has no ear -- no ear whatsoever -- and those who see Redacted will suffer because of this.

It's basically about a grunt who sees himself as a future director (Izzy Diaz) incessantly taping his deeply irritating buddies talking about their pathetic lives and viewpoints, and basically watching these guys (a couple of whom are disgustingly overweight) be gross, common and deeply uninteresting. On top of DePalma making us listen to loop after loop after loop of George Friderich Handel's Sarabande (this music is owned by Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon -- what was DePalma thinking?).

I'm in full agreement with David Denby's comment, which is that Redacted is "hell to sit through." It's the atrocious acting that gives it this quality. It made me do the usual thing I do when I'm trying to get through a rough sit -- leaning forward, tapping left foot, hands over face, quiet groans, singing my favorite songs to myself, etc."

Noah Forrest also wrote a very good piece about the film for Movie City News.

I’m pleased that Redacted is finally being exposed as the piece of shit that it is. These reviews have also reminded me what a joke Brian DePalma's last film The Black Dahlia was… and that film contained my beloved Scar-Jo!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

'Johanna' from Burton's Sweeney Todd

Johnny Depp knocks it out of the park!

Cinema is King Goes to the Oscars

Cinema is King's Ramses Flores has posted his Oscar predictions.

I think he's dead on about the Coens winning Best Director.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Redacted Sucks

Is there a director more hit and miss than Brian De Palma? I watched a screener of his latest Redacted this afternoon and it’s lives up to it’s reputation as a truly awful motion picture.

Redacted is based on a real event that happened in Samarra, Iraq in 2006. A fifteen year old Iraqi girl was raped and killed along with a majority of her family by a group of U.S soldiers. Redacted is not the film to tell this story. Every acting choice by the actors rings incredibly false. To show that these young men are out for blood, De Palma has them practically drooling, grabbing their crotches, and spewing racial epitaphs in every scene. These guys are beyond mongoloids. Certainly it took mongoloids to commit such an horrendous act, but I doubt they resembled the 1972 Oakland Raiders.

Brian De Palma’s use of amateur actors kills any chance for Redacted to be taken seriously. Virtually every actor in the movie delivers their lines with a jittery, stream of conscious delivery that you often see in a high school drama class doing improvisations. Also add a layer of the worst Eminem imitation you’ve ever seen.

Redacted contains more stereotypes that The Dirty Dozen. It’s as if Brian De Palma hasn’t been around another human-being in years. You have the fat, raciest redneck who camouflages himself in the stars and bars. You have the wacky Latino who speaks like Speedy Gonzalez. You have the weak, whining, bookwork liberal who stands above the fray and sees the truth… grab me barf bag so I can hurl. You have to be with these people for the whole movie! They do everything according to their stereotype. If you’re looking for any sort of deviation from the playbook, you’re watching the wrong movie.

Bill O’Reilly is wrong about Redacted. The film is not anti-military or anti-American. It’s anti-good.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dan vs. Joel & Ethan Coen

Blood Simple ***1/2

Raising Arizona ***1/2

Miller’s Crossing ****

Barton Fink ***

The Hudsucker Proxy **1/2

Fargo ****

The Big Lebowski ****

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? ***1/2

The Man Who Wasn’t There ***

Intolerable Cruelty ***

The Ladykillers *1/2

Fucking Lions...

Ok, so I was a little off with my football prediction... Fucking Lions...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Domestic Disturbance

Doug Liman’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a pretty good action film. I watched it late last night when I was bored out of my skull. I was surprised to see that it didn’t fare too well on Rotten Tomatoes and Netflix’s user ratings. Sure the film is nothing but eye candy and elaborately staged action sequences, but isn’t that what film is really all about? Jean-Luc Godard once said that all you need to make a good movie is a girl and a gun.

Also, you have to give credit to Liman and screenwriter Simon Kinberg for taking the allegory of broken marriages and domestic violence to the logical extreme.

And has Angelina Jolie ever looked more attractive on film? The woman seems to be specially created for the movies.


There is going to be a bunch of sad people in Arizona today.

The Detroit Lions will destroy the Arizona Cardinals today by a margin of 100 points. Anything less will be a major disappointment. We have the manpower to achieve this.

In Jon Kitna we trust.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Spall as Pierrepoint

Timothy Spall is truly amazing in Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman. He plays Albert Pierrepoint, an executioner who executed over 600 criminals by hanging including high profile Nazis at the end of World War II. Watching Spall as Pierrepoint slowing changing his mind about capital punishment is rather exhilarating in an odd way.

Vitamin E

My friend Evan has re-launched his blog Vitamin E.

Evan’s been gong through a rough time as of late. He got thrown out of his apartment and had to move in with his old man.

Myself and my friend Ricky went over to Evan’s new home for a dinner party. To be frank, the “dinner” actually consisted of a case of Red Stripe beer, a loaf of mini rye bread, a hunk of cheddar cheese, and a prostitute named Skylar that Evan’s Dad (Mr. D) knew from his previous job as a night security guard for Michigan Sugar.

Evan was promising us a fun night full of laughs and good stories. What we actually got was a nightmare full of sexual humiliation and thinly veiled racism, which was unfortunately mostly directed at Ricky. The night pretty much consisted of Mr. D challenging his son’s sexual orientation and trying to force his son to have sex with Skylar in the living room in front of us.

“Fuck her! Fuck Her! Wooooo! She wants to!”

Evan has a smirk on had face assuming this was a joke, “Dad, I don’t want to do this!” he nervously laughed.

“Holy shit! Maybe I should brought you over a dude… huh Little Miss Jackie? Little Miss Jackie! Little Miss Jackie!”

This is when Mr. D put down his very stiff drink and grabbed Evan’s shirt collar, “Either you drop the shtick and grab you dick, or I swear to God I will fucking unload in your fucking face…”

Evan started to tear up, “I want to go home…ok… I think I want to go home

“Wooooo Wooooo!”

“Stop it! Please!”

“What do you got, whiskey dick?”

“I don’t love her enough to do that to her. Hell, I don’t even know that girl!”

“If you don’t start pounding that capital ‘V’ in the next minute, I will fucking invade your asshole with the high hard hat. I don’t give a fuck about life. I don’t give a fuck about you. I don’t give a fuck about Skylar. You can get it doggy-style or you can get it laying on your side. Those are your only choices. This is my house and I get to say. You have the nerve to pull that hot shot shit around me… I'll break every bone in your goddamn body. You understand me? Yeah, you're in for a change, mister, a whole other ball game!”

“Everything is going too fast! Stop!”

“Wooooo! Wooooo!”

Evan was uncontrollably sobbing. Evan’s Dad was determined to get his son laid. The whole saga came to end when Mr. D got distracted by Ricky playing on his cell phone. He became incredibly paranoid that Ricky was calling his work to get him in trouble for some reason. I also must add that a video camera was rolling the whole time.

Later in the night when the sexual charades was coming to a end, I asked to use the restroom, and Mr. D said, "Sure, it's right around the corner there." Once I went in the restroom, Mr. D locked me in there for like 45 minutes. There was doo doo, feces thrown all over the walls, the floor, the ceiling, and it stunk so bad. Then Mr. D came by the window outside and made the sarcastic remark, "Smell… does it smell good enough for you in there? How do you like the smell? Is it good?" I just simply replied, "It's alright. It's okay." I just sat there, and waited until he got bored and let me out.

When I exited the bathroom, you could tell that Mr. D was physically aroused, possibly from what he just did to me. He was massaging it with a relaxed motion with his right hand as I quickly walked past him. Evan noticed it as well and yelled, “Dad, your boner!” His dad then got right up in face while grabbing his swollen member and screamed, “Stupid, worthless, no good, God damned, freeloading, son of a bitch, retarded, bigmouth, know it all, asshole, jerk!”.

Evan replied sarcastically, “ You forgot ugly, lazy and disrespectful…”

Evan’s dad then reared back his hand and slapped Evan’s face with incredible force, knocking his nose to the left side of his face. Evan hit the floor with a massive thud and blood began to spray everywhere. Mr. D roared with homicidal rage, “Shut up bitch! Go fix me a turkey pot pie!”. Then out of nowhere to our absolute bewilderment, in an act of hypoactive sexual desire disorder, Mr. D pulled down his pants and defecated onto his son’s face. The site of an unconscious Evan at his most defenseless covered in his father’s human waste was horrifying. Mr. D then proceeded to call out Skylar from the bathroom who was in there freebasing crack cocaine to look at his dastardly deed.

Me and Ricky watched all of this atrocity from the kitchen. We were petrified that the violence would soon come to us. We contemplated for several minutes whether to call the police or not. We chose not to solely for the fact that the 911 operator wouldn’t believe us.

With his pants still around his ankles and his , Mr. D stormed around the house cross-eyed from massive amounts of alcohol and amphetamines yelping, “What? No one’s going to fuck this broad? Fine, I’ll fuck her! My nuts are going to be up to guts!”

Mr. D then began to engaged in full-blown anal sex with Skylar right there in front of us, all while proclaiming that he was going to give her the super strain of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome that he picked up while he was a truck driver in Zambia for Nabisco Foods.
Skylar didn’t really look like she was into but that didn’t detour Evan’s Dad. He finished an hour later after taking numerous stops to catch his breath and to freebase a little crack cocaine from Skylar‘s bodacious stash. He made all of us watch.

I hate to report that the last freebase break went horribly wrong for Mr. D. Apparently he over heated the glass pipe and it exploded in his face. Ricky has this whacked-out theory that he intently did this to prove a point. What that point is I don’t know. What I do know is that a majority of Mr. D’s face had melted away leaving him with a skull like appearance. The living room looked like a bloodbath, and there was glass everywhere, it was even embedded inches into the walls. Ricky and I made the decision not to offer him a ride to the hospital… not that he was looking for one to begin with.

The very last portion of the night featured Mr. D, who’s face now was massively hemorrhaging from a narcotics mishap just moments before, berating his son for purchasing a rock polisher machine earlier in the week. Apparently Evan had gotten two hundred dollars for his birthday from his grandmother, and his Dad wanted him to invest the money into a 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps baseball card. Evan instead bought a rock polisher machine because he was looking to get into a new hobby this winter. You know, something you can do inside.
“Why don’t you lay off the kid”, said a brave Skylar

“Yeah Dad, this rock polisher is a great investment! Rocks look so cool once their all polished up. ”

As fast as lightening, Mr. D, who is now in the later stages of dementia by blood loss, smashes Skylar in the face with an empty beer bottle. He then grabs the bloody, nude, and hysterically screaming Skylar by the hair and throws her out the door.

Mr. D turns to Evan and says, “That’s someone I love, and you I don't even like. You fuck with the bull you get the horns!”

While son and father continued to argue about the ethics of tossing a prostitute out like a rummy, Me and Ricky made our escape. I’ll tell you what, you’ve never seen two people leave an apartment as fast as we did last night.

What a terrible, terrible night.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Monday, November 5, 2007

New Sweeney Todd Theatre Stand-Up

No Country For Old Men

According to the deafening buzz, No Country For Old Men is a return to form for the Coen brothers. I’m salivating at the chance to see this supposed masterpiece from these two national treasures.

The Coen brothers last two films arrived with a thud in the film community. I think I’m in the minority for my admiration for Intolerable Cruelty and with the exception of the inspired performance by Tom Hanks. their remake of The Ladykillers was disappointing.

Here is Peter Travers’ review for No Country For Old Men.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Cría Cuervos

Cria Cuervos is the best film I’ve seen this year. It’s a 1976 Spanish film by Carlos Saura, a filmmaker I’m not all that familiar with but soon will be. I rented it from Netflix a few months back based on a recommendation from a friend. I’m glad I took it.

The film stars Ana Torrent, who you may remember as the young girl from The Spirit of the Beehive. Her character in Cria Cuervos is the kind of child that’s all internal, always lost in thought, and has a wondering imagination. She becomes obsessed with the idea of death when she witnesses her father pass away as he is having a tryst with his mistress. I know this sound like a strange departure point for a movie, but you just have to go with it.

Ana, along with her two siblings move in with her aunt and grandmother after the funeral. From this point on, the picture becomes a mediation on various themes. The one theme that really fascinated me was memory.

Because the film unfolds in memory as the grown up Ana played by an awkwardly dubbed Geraldine Chaplin recounts her childhood, the film makes no effort in distinguishing between reality and fantasy. Cria Cuervos correctly demonstrates that memory is deceiving. Memory is the ability to retrieve past information, but there is no guarantee that your retrieving reliable information. Our brains are like editing machines. We cut out the boring parts, re-dub dialogue, and tighten-up the pace.

As an adult searching through bins of nostalgia and moments from the past, I, myself can’t exactly recall what was real life and what was simple childhood fantasy. Did I fall off the monkey bars during recess at school? Did I really throw water balloons at cars as I hid in a ditch? I seem to remember doing these things… but then again I can’t be sure.

Memories are the only personal thing we really have left when we get older… real or imagined…

… and that’s why I loved Cria Cuervos?

Everything about the film is top tier, especially the use of music. See the film.

No Place Like London

So far the early reviews for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street have been ecstatic. I had a friend who saw it a few weeks ago at an advanced screening and she absolutely loved it.

"I’m sure you’ve already heard from others, but – key points in a nutshell:

-1 hr 50 mins, not including end credits (they only showed the front credits).

-No ghosts, only music from the ballad.

-Full-throttle musical – believe it or not, you don’t really miss the things that are missing. It’s almost more of a musical than the stage musical! When they sing they REALLY sing, and I’m probably exaggerating, but it seemed like over 80% sung. The music is very powerful throughout. Depp is excellent. Carter has a strong accent. Anthony and Tobias almost steal the show.

-It is almost exactly like the screenplay, minus the ghosts and minus the beginning/end pool of blood thing.

-About 60 people in the audience, with very positive reactions (a few negative)... but the audience isn’t a “random sample”.

-Very disturbingly violent and gory – it’s actually a “musical-horror” movie. We knew it would be a unique film, but it is radically unique because it’s also hilarious. Sure to get widely varying reviews."