“The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile, but that it is indifferent. But if we come to terms with this indifference, then our existence as a species can have genuine meaning. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.” A well-known director (not Eli Roth) said this. Sometimes you come across a line like this and it just hits the right chord.
God, this sounds delicious! A restored 4K version of Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb will be digitally projected at Landmark’s new complex at L.A.’s Westside Pavilion, beginning on Friday, 6.15. There are few things more beautiful to the naked movieoing eye than exquisite, scratch-free, razor-sharp monochrome films, especially those from the ’50s and early ’60s when black-and-white delivered its greatest visual splendor. Technologically, I mean.
Sony’s restoration guy Grover Crisp has told the Hollywood Reporter‘s Carolyn Giardina that the 4K Strangelove will be “the closest you can get with current technology to showing the film as if you are seeing it in 1964 right off the camera neg.”
Giardina’s piece explains that 4K resolution contains four times more picture information than 2K, the standard for digital cinema, and that Sony is the only manufacturer that offers theaters a 4K projection system. Crisp said that 4K restoration work is being planned for such additional classics as From Here to Eternity and Easy Rider. Hey, what about Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder?
At what point do moral reactions to torture porn flicks overcome standard dispassionate critique-y assessments (i.e., the “ooh, yeah!” Tarantino aesthetic that generally avoids moral considerations, regarding all manner of depicted behavior solely in terms of high-style visual provocation) and under-30 male moviegoers stand up and shout back at the screen, “This isn’t just vile and degrading on Roth’s part — there’s something seriously wrong with us for watching this crap!”? Or is such a reaction beyond this demographic?
Because of the success of Eli Roth‘s earlier Hostel, movies showing attractive youths being put through through agonizing torture prior to being killed is now considered shruggingly de rigeur, and with the release of Hostel, Part II two days from now, I’m wondering if there’s a line of any kind out there, or whether we’ve passed in a moral-spiritual realm in which lines have basically ceased to exist.
Hostel was about torturing guys, but something darker and more primal is being tapped into, it seems, with Hostel, Part II‘s focus on young female victims. Is there any way to say that these scenes aren’t driven by rage currents dwelling inside Roth and his fans, and is it unfair to call these currents sociopathic on some level? The standard assessment is that some kind of metaphorical sexual release factor has been provided by bloody slasher films all along (which is why they’ve always been big with the young date crowd). I doubt if torture porn flicks would make money if they weren’t sexually arousing on some level, but I shudder when I ask myself why certain guys get stiffies over this stuff.
Young women have been getting killed in horrific and grotesque ways since the beginning of the predator-slasher flicks (starting with John Carpenter‘s Halloween) in the late ’70s, and Roth knows he has to raise the bar or risk being dismissed and waved off by genre aficionados. But what are these films really about? And what do they say about the fans who go to them time and again? I know there are some readers who will think me old-school and fuddy-duddyish for asking this, but is there anything that viewers won’t stand for?
One line that will never be crossed is dog torture. If Roth were to show any howling canine getting hung upside down and slowly cut to death and then disemboweled, his career would come to a screeching halt. I don’t know about cats. I used to know guys in my pre-pubescent youth who would half-chuckle at the idea of swinging a cat around by its tail and slamming it into a wall.
A few days ago Film Ick‘s Brendon Connelly slammed Deadline Hollywood Daily‘s Nikki Finke over Finke’s calling Roth’s Hostel, Part II as “disgusting” without Finke (apparently) having seen it.
And now David Poland has admitted having watched a bootleg DVD of Hostel, Part II, and has recoiled big-time, slamming Roth for his depraved-puppy wallowings and saying he’d avoid shaking his hand should he happen to run into him.
He calls the Heather Matrazzo torture scene (n which she’s “hung upside down, naked, bound and gagged) ” the most disgusting, degrading, misogynistic, soulless shit I have ever seen in a movie that is going to be released widely in this country.”
He describes the scene thusly: “A beautiful European woman comes in, disrobes, lays in [a bathtub below the victim], and starts toying with the screaming Matarazzo with a long-handled sickle. She starts to draw blood and also starts getting off on it. She eventually removes the gag so Matarazzo can beg more pathetically and then cuts her throat, bathing and luxuriating in the blood as it pores over here.
“At that moment, for me, this was no longer just about a stupid, masturbatory, poorly directed shit piece of horror porn. Eli Roth became a little less human to me. He hung an actress, however willing, upside down and naked, gagged and bound, screaming, as nothing but a piece of objectified meat as Roth’s camera moves her breasts in and out of frame like some sort of sick porn tease.
“This is not the first time a director has done something horrible to an actress, but as the scene dragged on, I felt as though I was watching Ms. Matarazzo being raped on a spiritual level. This director did not identify with her as a human in the scene — she is just the target for a bloody gag.
“And then, like the truly sick punk he is, he made a woman do the dirty work in the scene. All said and done, the only person in the film who actually ends up sexually gratified by torture is a woman. There are others who seem to be going there. But this is the one fully executed torture/murder in the film. And just for fun, the woman gets to be naked too.
“I never did respect Roth’s work,” Poland concludes. “Now, if he and I crossed paths, I would refuse to shake his hand. I would extinguish the fire if he was burning, using something quicker than urine, but I’m not sure that I wouldn’t consider it karmic payback for him.”
Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson “isn’t a moral authority on anything, he just plays one on television. He isn’t famous for anything he ever did in politics. These days he is just someone else in America famous for being famous, even as a supporting actor,” N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica wrote today.
I didn’t watch last night’s Republican candidates debate, but as I read Lupica’s article I realized with some embarassment that for the flimsiest of reasons I feel slightly more comfortable with Thompson as a Republican presidential candidate (even though he hasn’t announced) than I am with Rudy Giuliani, John McCain or Mitt Romney.
As lame as it sounds, I feel less rattled about Thompson than the other guys. If, that is, a Republican candidate was absolutely fated to win the ’08 Presidential election (which almost certainly won’t happen…right?) and I had to choose the least problematic contender.
There’s something about Thompson that’s vaguely soothing. That deep baritone voice and easy-going County Sheriff speaking style that made him a favorite on Law and Order, and which provided steady acting work in films like Marie, A True Story (in which he played himself), Die Hard II, Cape Fear, In The Line of Fire and The Hunt for Red October. It’s dopey, but this is my honest gut reaction.
“Maybe it was inevitable that somebody would try to run straight from a long-running series all the way to the White House,” Lupica notes. “Or maybe Thompson thinks he’s ready to lead the free world because he plays President Ulysses S. Grant in the current television adaptation of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
“This all started a half-century ago when we had a President, Jack Kennedy, who looked and lived and carried himself like a Hollywood leading man. Then 20 years later came Ronald Reagan, who went from acting to governor of California and finally to the White House. Now there are people who have urged Martin Sheen to run for some kind of office because his heart seemed to be in the right place on The West Wing and he did a good job delivering Aaron Sorkin‘s speeches.”
Yesterday a British film writer named Tom Teodorczuk, former Arts Correspondent for the London Evening Standard and currently living in Manhattan, sent me this flattering three-month-old London Evening Standard piece about the best online film sites, written by Nick Curtis. The only pause came from Curtis’s mentioning Variety as the best online source for industry “gossip.”
I read an item in the London Times yesterday on the plane from Frankfurt to JFK, about a 61 year-old Croatian man named Tomislav K. who died last Saturday morning while sitting in a seat on a moving tram in Zagreb, and how his body wasn’t noticed until he (it) had cruised around town for roughly six hours.
The same thing happened to a 55 year-old guy named Edy Haryanto on or about April 27th in Jakarta, Indonesia, the only difference being that he travelled around for “at least half a day” before being noticed, according to this MSNBC story.
My first response when I read about Tomislav K. was, of course, that early scene between Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx in Michael Mann’s Collateral, which went precisely as follows::
Max: “First time in L.A.?”
Vincent: “No. Tell you the truth, whenever I’m here I can’t wait to leave. It’s too sprawled out, disconnected. You know? That’s me. You like it?”
Max: “It’s my home.”
Vincent: “Six hours he’s riding the subway before anybody notices his corpse doing laps around L.A., people on and off sitting next to him. Nobody notices.”
I just found it a bit startling that the anonymous Collateral corpse and the dead Croatian guy both cruised for the exact same time period. No biggie, but still…
I searched around and found a 4.30.07 post on Digg.com from a guy named “thecash,” to wit:
“I hate to point something morbid like this out, but this sort of thing happens quite a bit on trains and buses.
“I used to work for a passenger train service, and a large part of our summer business came from the elderly. Seeing how the entire ride is anywhere from 12 to 13 hours, it’s very possible for an older passenger traveling alone to pass away in the middle of the ride and not be noticed until the train pulled into it’s last stop around 11pm. People sleep on that train all the time, especially when the weather gets bad.
“It’s not something they mention in the brochures, but there are usually four fatalities every year onboard the passenger service cars. That number has dropped a lot since the company started carrying AED’s [note: Automated External Defibrillators] onboard, but sometimes when it’s a person’s time to go, there isn’t anything that can be done about it. We kept big bags in the luggage car just for this purpose.”
New York‘s “Gossipmonger” reports that Sicko director Michael Moore has “lost 30 pounds eating whole grains and sleeping more.” Okay, good to hear…but about a week and a half ago I was standing near the entrance of Cannes’ Majestic Hotel when Moore was getting into a van to be driven to Nice Airport, and my first thought was that he needed to do was cut down on the tonnage. Which I hope he does.
“The artful [Hollywood] journalist dodgers walk the line. They keep their best sources without burning them, give a little here, take a little there and get the true story across without making too many friends — or too many enemies.” — Variety columnist Anne Thompson on the departure of Sharon Waxman from the N.Y. Times Hollywood coverage beat, effective July 1st.
I’m sorry to see Sharon move on. I like her personally, enjoyed her pieces (that visit to a San Fernando Valley porn operation was hilarious), and wish her the best. I can understand Waxman feeling burned out and wanting to flex her journalistic muscles in other directions. (She’s going to write a book about “antiquities looting.”) Of course, political currents were a nudging factor in her departure.
“To my mind, Waxman’s days on that beat were numbered from the day Michael Cieply morphed from N.Y. Times movie editor to Hollywood correspondent. As her editor, Cieply could contain and protect Waxman. He’s an experienced Hollywood player who understands the entertainment beat’s intricate politics and knows how to massage a story’s language. On her own, Waxman tended to stomp through the Hollywood minefield, heedless of any explosions she might set off.”
More than a few regrets over being on the wrong side of the pond while the final Sopranos episodes unfold. Especially with the latest doings — Christophuh dead, Silvio shot and at death’s door, fat Bobby dead (blown away in a toy-train store)…the only top crew guy left standing is Paulie Walnuts. Plus Tony and family having bolted the McManse and gone into hiding. HE is back in NYC tomorrow (i.e., Tuesday) night, with a lot of view-on-demand catchup work to do.
New York‘s “Vulture” duo, Melissa Maerz and Dan Kois, are reporting that Lionsgate marketing exec and part-time photographer Tim Palen will be publishing Guts: The Art of Marketing Horror Films in July. (No mention of it on Amazon.com) Described as “a collection of his creepiest work,” the book will include a “pornographic, absolutely not-safe-for-work portrait” of Hostel 2 director Eli Roth.
“The rediscovery and rejuvenation of Richard Yates‘s 1961 novel Revolutionary Road is due in large part to its continuing emotional and moral resonance for an early 21st-century readership,” Jane Morris wrote some time ago on the Amazon.com.uk website. The film version, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet under director Sam Mendes, will be released on 12.18.07 by DreamWorks.
pic stolen from justjared.com.
“April and Frank Wheeler are a young, ostensibly thriving couple living with their two children in a prosperous Connecticut suburb” — filming was done in Darien, Connecticut — “in the mid-1950s. However, like the characters in John Updike’s similarly themed Couples, the self-assured exterior masks a creeping frustration at their inability to feel fulfilled in their relationships or careers.
“Frank is mired in a well-paying but boring office job and April is a housewife still mourning the demise of her hoped-for acting career. Determined to identify themselves as superior to the mediocre sprawl of suburbanites who surround them, they decide to move to France where they will be better able to develop their true artistic sensibilities, free of the consumerist demands of capitalist America. As their relationship deteriorates into an endless cycle of squabbling, jealousy and recriminations, their trip and their dreams of self-fulfillment are thrown into jeopardy.
“Yates’s incisive, moving, and often very funny prose weaves a tale that is at once a fascinating period piece and a prescient anticipation of the way we live now. Many of the cultural motifs seem quaintly dated–the early-evening cocktails, Frank’s illicit lunch breaks with his secretary, the way Frank isn’t averse to knocking April around when she speaks out of turn–and yet the quiet desperation at thwarted dreams reverberates as much now as it did years ago. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s The Great Gatsby, this novel conveys, with brilliant erudition, the exacting cost of chasing the American dream.”