Well and Truly Screwed

As most of you know, I've been a fan of Film Noir for going on 30 years now. I've poured over most of the classics and still derive great pleasure from watching some poor schmuck make the slightest error in judgment and then find himself unable to extricate himself from the inevitable results (Kadas comes to mind for some reason here). The best of the classic cycle found the central character dead, doomed or dying (the three “D”s as I like to call them), but it was actually a fairly rare occurrence in most '40s and '50s Noirs for the protagonist to pay the ultimate price. There were exceptions of course (Ace in the Hole, Double Indemnity, Pushover and few others) and it was these early films in the Noir canon that hooked me. The later French Noirs of Jean-Pierre Melville (and others) pushed the genre into bleaker territory and still stand as amongst the most accomplished and satisfying films I've seen.

In subsequent years, films with noirish plot lines have cycled in and out of popular film making and have been given the “Neo” moniker to delineate them from the earlier classic period. There have been a few standouts, but for the most part they've paled in comparison to the originals. Even though the origins of Film Noir stem from a uniquely American perspective, Hollywood hasn't been able to expand on the genre in recent decades. Perhaps this stems from the fact that present day America rarely examines its failings and instead concentrates on endlessly trumped up flag waving and goofball escapist entertainment. It has morphed into a country that abhors doubt and sees any criticism as undermining the American way of life, regardless of its intent. The classic Noir period found American film makers exploring the inherent human weaknesses in all of us and the ramifications, both social and personal, that those weaknesses provoked. It was Freudian introspection on a pop culture level, something that's almost impossible to imagine today. Interestingly, the purveyors and champions of the early Film Noir period were predominantly European directors transplanted by world conflict to Hollywood and perhaps it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the best examples of Neo-Noirs continue to come from Europe.

All this is a precursor to provide some framework for a particularly effective 2007 Danish film I watched tonight called Just Another Love Story (Kærlighed på film). I'd never heard of it until Joe mentioned it earlier today and while I'm not sure if it's a great film, it's certainly a very good one. As I watched, I found myself thinking about Godard's famous adage “All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun” and how that idea was melded with some very slick technical prowess to come up with a wonderfully engaging Neo-Noir that felt both contemporary and traditional. The story is wonderfully twisted with a solid mystery at its core, but what makes it particularly effective is the terrific cast and a shifting time-line that opens with a dying man lying on wet sidewalk with blood draining away from some mortal wound in the rain (thoughts of Kadas again). The “look” of the film ranges from creepy Lynchian to stylized Asian crime drama, but at its heart this is about as Noir as Neo gets and a terrific updating of oft-reworked but rarely-improved-upon genre.
A must see for Kris & Joe and recommended to anyone looking for a solid thriller with some style.



New This Week at the FBE! (June 30/09)

A whole bunch of cool stuff this week:

Cat People - Paul Schrader directs, Natassja Kinski stars in this oversexed revamp of the Jacques Tourneur classic.
Alice's House
Colors of a Creative Culture - Brazilian street art cornucopia!
Angel Face - Preminger. Mitchum. Simmons. Noir. Rent now.
Man Walking on Snow - Contemplative modern Japanese family drama.
Just Another Love Story - slick looking Danish modern noir.
Momma's Man
Preludes: Selected Works of Peter Mettler - collects Balifilm, Scissere and Eastern Avenue, three short(ish) works by the fascinating director/photographer.
The Strange One
They Call Me Bruce? - reissue of long-loved comedy/kung-fu classic
Love on the Dole
Kaidan - Ringu director Hideo Nakata mines classical Japanese ghost romances for inspiration. Ugetsu 2?
Monsterquest season 3 - exactly what the title implies - filmmakers seek out supposedly real monters. Looks cool.
Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit - if the title doesn't sell it for you, nothing will. Modern kaiju classic in the making gets topical.
IT Crowd season 2
Eastbound and Down - absolutely hilarious new HBO series about a fallen baseball player climbing his way back to the bigs.
Tokyo! - triptych from Bong Joon-Ho, Leos Carax and Michel Gondry about the titular city.
Doctor Who season 3 & 4 - after shipping these back and forth between the two stores virtually every week for the past 6 months, I got sick of carrying them across town on my bike, so caved and dropped the $90 per season that these command. Hope no one breaks a disc...and yes, we aso have seasons 1 & 2.
RiP: A Remix Manifesto - an intriguing look at music sampling and copyright law.

And on Blu....


Ashes & Diamonds – Wadja (1958)

A new Criterion release of this classic that has been on my list of “to-watch” movies for a while. I’m not sure where I heard about it, but I know it is a noteworthy work, and Criterion describes it as “one of the most important Polish films of all time.”

The story is set on the last day of WWII, and Poland is in the middle of an identity crisis, with mixing influences of Nazi Germany, the West and communism. The main characters are actually anti-communist revolutionaries trying to assassinate a government figure. If you are a history buff, I’m sure this would be a great watch for you, but I found it pretty slow. Perhaps it’s our collective post-modern ADHD that makes films like this hard to get through. Perhaps it’s a boring movie. I can’t really tell.

A major difficulty for me was that I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. We aren’t really given much of where they came from, though they have all had pretty violent & desperate lives. We are also not given a “side” to join with, everyone seems to be grasping at either a dying political ideology or an immature one. This is, no doubt, intentional, but makes it hard to understand the characters’ motivations. Perhaps this is another vestige of a contemporary need to have Hollywood-style “good guys” and “bad guys” Perhaps it’s a bad movie.

The real feeling that I got from this was that it is an film adaptation of a novel (it is—by Andrzejewski) and that there is a huge story that is trying to be squeezed into 110 minutes. This is why we don’t get a clear picture of what is motivating the characters and who’s who. This is why the politics seem shallow and ambiguous. Maybe reading the novel first would be a better idea.

Clone Wars

Every month or so I receive an email from the fine, fine folks at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, and invariably each one includes some kind of giveaway contest whereby I drop my name and email into a virtual hat from which 10 lucky winners are selected to receive any number of prizes, from DVDs to movie tickets. Anyways, I always enter (it takes 30 seconds), and have even won a few times in the distant past. However, I was informed Wednesday that I had won a pair of tix to this past Thursday evening's sneak preview of Moon (2009). Kris had shown me the trailer for this one about a month ago and and I've been anxiously awaiting its release ever since. I picked up my tix from TADFF director and founder Adam Lopez in the lobby of the Varsity, and, after staring into the fish tank for a few minutes, entered the cinema...

Moon, directed by Duncan Jones (yes, that Duncan Jones......!?!?), is an existential sci-fi/subtle comedy/thriller starring the universally loved Sam Rockwell in what is essentially a one-man show. Aside from HALesque (one of several obvious visual and aural nods to 2001) voice work from Kevin Spacey (has there ever been an actor more suited to monotone robot voice-over than he?), and a few piped in recorded e-videos, it's all Rockwell, all the time. And as it mostly all takes place within the confines of a space station on - you guessed it - the moon, I had the sense that this would be wonderful material for the stage. The moon itself operates as an abstract idea, and someone could certainly adapt the surroundings to the jungle, the arctic, or underwater. Or to take the idea even further - and I guess this is what the filmmaker was going for - it could even take place in the dense urban jungle, for Moon is essentially a film about loneliness, and a bit about what it means to be a human, errr, being.

After a somewhat shocking mid-movie reveal (which I thought was going to be the film's natural conclusion), there is a distinct shifting of gears and the film moves into unexpected territory. At first, I scoffed at what I thought was a clumsy storytelling device, but as the second half of the film unfolds, it really blossoms into something entirely different, a meditation on mortality and morality, and it began to make much more sense to me. Apologies for the vagueness, but to talk specifically about the plot would not only be incredibly confusing but also a disservice to your own viewing.

Cycling home after the film, I sort of pushed the celluloid experience into the back of my mind. But since then, I can't stop thinking about what I saw: a deceptively simple story presenting many more questions than it provided answers, always a good thing. Check it out.


New This Week at the FBE (June 23/09)

Wow, BIG week:

Iron Maiden: Flight 666 - Sam Dunn (with Scott McFadyen) follows up his previous two forays into documenting the rise of metal with an insightful look into what is arguably the world's best-known metal group. You might even see the director browsing in the FBW.
Wallander season 1 - Kenneth Branagh's take on the original Swedish detective series.
Murdoch Mysteries season 1 - science and crime-solving cross paths in this mystery show set in the late 19th c.
What's Up, Tiger Lily? - One of Woody's wackier ones gets a non-upgraded re-release.
Legend of the Bog - It's got dreamy Nora-Jane Noone, so automatically gets a pass in my book.
My Dinner With Andre - Finally back in print thanks to Criterion?!? Inconceivable!

And showing up on Blu-Ray:
The Seventh Seal - prequel to The Secret of Roan Inish gets a beautiful Blu-Ray package.

And, as usual, all the big new releases are here too.


New movies Graham is excited about:

Dead Snow
Last Ride
District 9
Moscow Belgium
Big Man Japan

Clean, Shaven (1993) – Lodge Kerrigan (dir)

This was a random pick while I was shelving movies...looked interesting, so I took it home. It has actually taken me a while to crack the box on it though, it looked really heavy and I needed to build myself up to it. Anyway, it was a little heavy, but mostly pretty dull, unfortunately.

The film follows a schizophrenic man who is in search of his estranged daughter and murdering other little girls along the way. There is an additional sub-plot of an almost equally tortured detective hunting him down. A number of comments on IMDB say that the film is a realistic and “sympathetic” portrayal of schizophrenia, but I am not so sure. Schizophrenia, from my understanding, is a pretty terrifying and alienating illness. Though Clean, Shaven does capture these elements, the viewer still ends up feeling more scared of the character than scared for him. Not all schizophrenics, not even the majority of them, are kid killers. Though there is a glimmer of kindness behind the crazy shown through his devotion to his daughter, we’re still not sure if the devotion is one that stems from love and loss or from a desire to chop her up into little kid-bits.

Though there are some incredible and haunting scenic shots in the film, a lot of it had a very “student-film” vibe to it (or, even worse, a “Canadian film” vibe—though it was American). Really stilted acting from most of the supporting cast. There were also plenty of “thriller” genre tropes (creepy kids, abandoned warehouses, tortured detectives) and I don’t think there was a single scene free of “spooky” ambient soundtrack, which gets pretty fucking tiring after a while. On the plus side, both Peter Greene (as the schizo) and Jennifer Macdonald (as the daughter) are fantastic in their roles. The cinematography is also pretty spectacular. Anyway, worth a watch if Confessions of a Shopaholic is rented out or something.


My final few moments.....?

I leave everything to Donna, Nick & Gwynne.


An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962)

I finally got around to watching this fantastic short film after hearing about it for years and much urging from Sporge.

Filmed in France in 1962, the look of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (La riviere du hibou) is more akin to that of a D.W. Griffith effort. In fact, knowing nothing of the film beforehand, I was under the impression that it was the product of early American cinema. However, once the movie began, I began to notice some very strange camera techniques. The use of sound in bizarre ways completes the surreal feel of the film. Then there is the repeating theme, "Living Man", which punctuates the absurdly tragic outcome of the prisoner....wait, prisoner? Let me go back a step here...

The film is based on a story by American satirist, ex-Civil War soldier, and later, Pancho Villa's right hand man, Ambrose Bierce, in which a treasonous member of a Union regiment is set up to be hanged at the titular span. As the man falls, however, the rope breaks, and after a series of close brushes with death, he is on the road to freedom, and back into the arms of his sweetheart...or is he? To say more would be a disservice to the film's unique structure, visual tone and sound design. Truly a virtuoso work that draws as much from Griffith as it does from the French and Spanish surrealists.

Don't make the same mistake I did - watch it now - you can probably even find it online somewhere. If you can, see the original, although the Twilight Zone-edited, Rod Serling-narrated version will do just fine. You'll get more out of this film's 25 short but dreamlike minutes than you will from watching another rerun of Two and a Half Men.

"It rises!"

I'm pretty sure we need to get this, even if the only people that watch it are me and Kendall.


New this week at the FBE! (June 16/09)

Critter Quest - look closer...Kris laughed, but I actually want to watch this.
Fidel Castro: Lider Maximo - or, "How to be a Hipster-friendly Revolutionary for Dummies". 48 whole minutes dedicated to the life of Castro.
Castle Ghosts of the British Isles - oooooohhhhoooooohhh
Necessities of Life - Atanarjuat-esque Quebecois/Inuit co-production
Bergman Island - Criterion-issued interview compilation with the Swedish director. As you'd expect, it's a barrel of laughs.
Let's Make Money
Diary of Anne Frank (50th anniversary reissue)
His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th - 30 years of Friday the 13th
Friday the 13th - Michael Bay-produced, Marcus "I don't have an original boner in my body" Nispel-directed "reboot" of the series. Well, it can't get much worse than Freddy vs Jason...
Napoleon Collection (includes Napoleon's Obsession: The Quest for Egypt, Napoleon's Lost Fleet, The Napoleon Murder Mystery)
Last Year at Marienbad - Resnais/Robbe-Grillet classic gets the Criterion treatment (also on Blu-Ray).
Time Warp season 1 - trip the super slo-mo light fantastic.
Snow Angels - American art-cinema wunderkind David Gordon Green's latest. Colour me interested (if only for the director)...
Hansel & Gretel - dark adult Korean fantastic fairytale from the beautiful people at Montreal's Evokative Films.

And some new and notable Blu-Ray releases:
Fletch - listen to the amazing theme song playing in the shop while you browse
Dr. Strangelove


A double Mike Hammer bill today starting with a Black Vault copy of My Gun is Quick (1957) starring Robert Bray. Released 2 years after Kiss Me Deadly (perhaps the quintessential version of Mickey Spillane's Hammer character), the el cheapo My Gun is Quick has some charms of it's own, not the least of which is some terrific L.A. location shooting. Bray may not hold a candle to Ralph Meeker's portrayal in the earlier film, but he captures the dogged determination, toughness and basic haggard goodness of Mike Hammer pretty well. Spillane's stories are brash, intricate and detailed and they do a fairly good job telling one here. This is a very low budget and virtually unknown film but it's worthy of a look if only to see a nearly forgotten adaptation of a very famous character.

The second Hammer film we watched – rewatched in this case, I've seen it a couple of times before – was The Girl Hunters (1962). This is a bit of a personal favourite, a tough as nails and rather nasty adaptation of Spillane's novel on the same name with the added weirdness of having Spillane himself act in the lead role. I can't think of another example of this happening. The writer of the novel playing his lead character? Some have argued the Spillane was a pretty lousy writer but he was definitely a worse actor. Oddly, his portrayal works in its own weird way. After a particularly nasty fight toward the end of the picture, Hammer actually nails the unconscious loser's hand to a barn floor with a giant spike to keep him there.

Mike Hammer was a bit of a return to the “shoot first, and shoot second” school of antiheroes that were a little passe by the time Spillane wrote his first Hammer novel. Suave and sophisticated private dicks in the Phillip Marlowe mold had taken hold but that didn't stop Hammer from becoming an overnight success. The closest thing to a decent adaptation is Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly, a film everyone must see at some point. These two pale by comparison but I still enjoyed the hell out of them.



Take Notice.

Uncertain of what I felt like watching tonight, I grabbed the first disk of Burn Notice Season 1 tonight because I thought Guy Pearce was in it. He's not, it's just a dude that looks like him. The pleasant surprise however is even without Pearce, Burn Notice is a blast. It's light without being too fluffy, sports a terrific cast including the always excellent Bruce Campbell (ignoring My Name is Bruce) in a funny supporting role and has wall-to-wall hotties. There's a tad too much stuttering camera nonsense in the cross-fades but notwithstanding this minor complaint, Burn Notice is a surprisingly engaging show. The pilot sets up the longer story arc – a spy gets burned (fired for those unfamiliar with the dark world of espionage) and wakes up in Miami under FBI surveillance, broke and with only a handful of assets (friends). He can't leave and doesn't know who burned him. The individual episodes are built around finding work that suits our burn victim's unique talents and kill set. It's 2 parts Rockford Files, 1 part Jason Bourne with a sprinkle of MacGyver meets Miami Vice and very addictive. Recommended.



New this week at the Film Buff West! (June 9/09)

Over at the Film Buff West, we picked up He's Just Not That Into You, a terrific little insult to thinking women everywhere. We also got the real-time Woodstock DVD re-release but misplaced disks 1& 2 of the regular DVD and lost the entire Blu-Ray fringy boxset. They're around somewhere but I'll be damned if I can find them. Jola doesn't recall seeing them. On a brighter note, I bought a replacement It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Seasons 1& 2, only to discover that Kadas didn't steal out west end copy afterall and it has mysteriously reappeared on the shelf (Thanks for returning it Kris). All the garbage & recycling that the west end staffers tossed out on the sidewalk last night in a giant heap didn't get picked up because it wasn't sorted. The slushie machine blew up and soaked the cabinet below and all its contents in sticky goo Sunday night (sound familiar Joe?). I finally got around to resurfacing The Business of Being Born, but the woman who wanted it went into labour on Sunday and had the baby anyways. Waste of my time. I tried, unsuccessfully, to buy a a safe for the FBE but Staples only had a Fisher Price plastic cashbox and an $1100 Swiss-made bank vault in stock. Our top and smartest FBW employee - the free co-op student Gwynne - has been AWOL since last Thursday and the remaining staff are paralysed. The FBW is in free-fall as a result.

Our top renters are Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Bride Wars. I bought a $15,000US DVD resurfacing machine because no one can seem to rent a movie without leaving it out on the coffee table for the youngsters or the dog to fuck with. It should be here by Friday. I haven't seen Graham in a month. I'm afraid to talk to Kadas in case he bursts into tears and sends his little yapping hitman Scratch to pee on my house again. Ironically, Jules is searching for a replacement mophead, or so I'm told. God only knows what (or who) he'll come back with. Am I the only one that sees the humour in that?

The Pink Panther II comes out next week. We ordered 8 copies because I'm a whore.



New this week at the Film Buff East! (June 9/09)

It can be pretty overwhelming stepping into a video store if you aren't a film geek, up-to-the minute on every DVD release. In fact, I think some people just gravitate to the latest Hollywood new release because they are confused and not entirely sure what is new and notable. At the Film Buff East, we strive to have a well-balanced and finely curated collection that caters less to the Friday night brain dead crowd (though we still have that stuff) and more to the film fan willing to take risks, to challenge himself, to possibly turn something on inside himself, instead of shutting it off.

Anyway, I've been thinking of doing this for awhile now, but have finally kinda/sorta figured out a way of going about it: I'm going to try to list the DVD releases that we get into the shop every week (or so), mostly leaving out the big titles that everyone knows are coming out, and focusing on lesser known gems. The lists may be simply that - a list, or the films may come with capsule review/summary, depending on how much time I have. The goal is to make picking an "unknown" film a little less intimidating, and will gently nudge people away from the default copy of He's Just Not That Into You and towards something perhaps a bit more thought/soul provoking. They won't all be new films (though many will be); they will all be new to DVD or new to the shop. I've cheated a bit on this first entry and added a couple interesting things that slipped under the radar from last week as well.

New to DVD (June 9/09):

Nightwatching - Peter Greenaway's Rembrandt epic didn't garner the best reviews, but is bound to be visually sumptuous. I, for one, am interested (for whatever that's worth).
Lost Song
Cherry Blossoms
Nurse. Fighter. Boy.
Woodstock - 2 discs, four hours, more unwashed, unshaven bodies than you'll ever want to see, and enough background info so that you can tell everyone "I was there!" (also on Blu-Ray).
GFE: The Girlfriend Experience - NOT the Steven Soderbergh/Sasha Grey Experience
2012: Science or Superstition - Mayan calendar doomsday madness!
Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress, and the Tangerine
Last Holiday - Criterion re-issue of the Henry Hass directed, Alec Guinness-starring classic.
Direct Your Own Damn Movie! - Lloyd Kaufman tells you how!
Mississippi Chicken
Of Time and the City - Terence Davies' inventive and visually compelling ode to Liverpool.

Check back every Monday(ish) for the coming week's releases.


Pontypool Pontypool Pontypool Pontypool Pontypool Pontypool Pontypool Pontypool

Bruce MacDonalds' latest picture, Pontypool, is a unique take on the zombie horror genre. Even though Bruce MacDonald himself says that this film does not feature zombies, no, he insists this film in fact features hordes of "conversationalists".

Now when i say hordes, i really mean horde singular. See this is a zombie flick (i don't care what Bruce says, hordes of unresponsive human beings trying to eat other responsive human beings? dem's called zombies) that doesn't really feature all that many zombies, nor does it have that much gore. Which makes it all the better when the film shows you the goods.

Pontypool is set in the small town of Pontypool, Ontario, on a seemingly uneventful winter morning. We follow our protagonist, disgruntled morning radio host Grant Mazzy, as he reports on the weather and the news from the city's only radio station. With him are his assistant Laurel Ann and producer Sydney Briar, the film follows the three as the days events unfold.

Besides the opening shot of Mazzy on his drive over to the station, the entire film unfolds within the small space of the radio station. The film draws us in as we find ourselves anticipating the eventual zombie outbreak. Within that time MacDonald gives us some up close and personal time with the characters. When the shit finally hits the fan we genuinely care for the characters which makes the impact of the film that much stronger.

What made the film stick out in my mind was that the most disturbing scenes i remember from the film were not actually in the film at all. Since the films events are completely contained within the radio station which is isolated from the horror outside, the only information were given of the dire events transpiring is that of towns people calling into the radio station. These eye witness accounts paint vivid pictures in your imagination that i personally found to be more horrifying than actually getting to see what was being described.

The one thing that completely sets this film apart from your run of the mill zombie story is that what is infecting the greater population isn't some viral outbreak from monkeys. Nor has the dead risen to eat the brains of the living. Here it is actual language that is infecting people. Hidden within the English language is a certain string of words that, once heard, infects you. The infected have a hard time expressing themselves, as they can only repeat words that they've heard last. They repeat words as a sort of way of trying to get out the infected words. To repeat language so much until it stops making sense. Well, i don't want to give too much away but really interesting stuff, and the idea is fleshed out enough to be believable.

This one will be coming out in a few weeks and i recommend it, as a great Canadaian picture and a unique take on zombies. It's hard to really recommend this for horror buffs as the use of ones own imagination to dream up the gore rather than seeing it on screen can be discouraging for some. I have to say that immediately after viewing i wasn't too ecstatic about it but, i've watched three films since seeing Pontypool and i can't get the flick out of my head.

Oh, and i must mention that Stephen McHattie as Grant Mazzy is fantastic. A solid performance from a great perfomer, if you've seen his work in The Fountain then you know what i mean. Solid all around and you'll have his voice stuck in your head for days.

alright kids, until next time this is Dropkick dropping out.
and remember, Sydney Briar is alive Sydney Briar is alive Sydney Briar is alive Sydney Briar is alive Sydney Briar is alive Sydney Briar is alive Sydney Briar is alive Sydney Briar is alive Sydney Briar is alive....


Der amerikanische Freund (1977)

Another "new to the film buff" older film. Wim Wenders, and, to be honest, I think the first Wenders I have seen. It goes a little something like this...

There's an art fraud dealer (Dennis Hopper) and a art fraudist (frauder?). They're selling paintings in Germany that are done by a dead painter, but really done by the guy who is faking that he is that painter (or is that painter and faking that he's dead). The dealer meets a guy. A German guy. The German guy doesn't like him much because he makes money from art. Or makes money from fake art. Hard to say. The German guy is a framer and painting restorer. But he's sick. Really sick. Or maybe not really all that sick. Somebody asks Dennis Hopper to kill some guy, but he says no. He gets a print framed by the sick(ish) framer guy who's freaked out 'coz people's telling him he's REALLY sick. They're friends now. The doctor says he's not so sick, really. Then the other guy asks the (maybe) not-so-sick framer guy to kill the guy he wanted the other guy (his friend now) to kill. He says he's REALLY sick, so why not kill somebody? He gets a different doctor to say he's REALLY sick. So he kills the guy they said to kill. Then they don't give him all the money so he goes to kill another guy. Dennis Hopper gets upset with the guy getting his friend to kill everybody, so he helps the framer kill the next few guys. Then everybody gets sad. Then the art dealer and the framer kill a whole bunch more people, including the guy who got them to kill all the other people. There's an ambulance. The ambulance explodes. The (I guess REALLY sick) guy abandons his art dealer friend and then he dies.

If the above plot clarification doesn't attract you...it is a very beautifully shot film. Made me want to go to Germany! Dennis Hopper stinks a bit, but the German actor is great. Plus, hands-down, the coolest kid's bedroom on earth as a prominent feature.


Picking up months later on Kris's Gran Torino take, I settled down to watch Clint's latest project tonight, a little uncertain of what to expect. Eastwood has been playing around with his iconic persona since Unforgiven and Gran Torino seems like an extension of this exercise. I'm not sure I agree that this is Eastwood acting in top form. I think he was better in Million Dollar Baby but he presents a solid enough lead here to build a competent story around.

I found Gran Torino similar to Unforgiven in more than few ways. This is a film that closes out the Dirty Harry character in the same way that Unforgiven bookended his man-with-no-name western hero. A minor complaint might be that the film suffers by piling it on a bit thick during Walt's overcoming prejudice transformation, but all in all it was a pretty entertaining film. One part buddy picture, one part redemption flick and one part vigilante film, Eastwood manages to pull together the right bits of each.

I thought it interesting that the final scene was fashioned after a particularly classic Dirty Harry moment. I half expected Eastwood to growl, “Do you feel lucky punk? Well do ya?” What really happens is very well constructed and not just a little surprising. Not bad for somebody who turned 79 last week.



Lynch Interview Project

Check out Lynch's newest output on his website - a team is heading around the US interviewing people they find. From what it looks like they are only talking to broken down, shattered dream americans, old and craggy, etc. Fitting right in this category is the first interview with 'Jess', who is waiting for his trailer to come out of the shop. A new episode (interview) every 3 days is the promise, starting today. Enjoy folks -