29 May 2007

Day and a half late, $1.50 short, or Is This How We Say Goodbye?

The Cannes Film Festival closed the other day, announced its awards yesterday, and I'm just now (due to severe computer troubles) getting around to posting the winners. This year's Palme d'Or went to 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, a somber, stripped-to-the-bones Romanian feature from Christian Mungiu. The rest of the awards are as follows:

Palme d'Or: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile) - dir. Cristian Mungiu - Romania

Grand Prix (or second place, if you will): The Mourning Forest - dir. Naomi Kawase - Japan/France

Jury Prize (tie): Persepolis - dir. Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud - France and Silent Night (Luz silenciosa) - dir. Carlos Reygadas - Mexico/France

Best Director: Julian Schnabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le scaphandre et le papillon)

Best Actor: Konstantin Lavronenko for The Banishment

Best Actress: Jeon Do-yeon for Secret Sunshine

Best Screenplay: Fatih Akin for The Edge of Heaven (Yasamin kiyisinda)

60th Festival Special Award: Paranoid Park - dir. Gus Van Sant - USA/France

According to Toni Collette, jury member this year, the special award for Gus Van Sant was for recognition of Paranoid Park itself and his body of work as a whole. She stated that the entire jury was in agreement with this. The jury this year really went for the smaller films over the biggies, like the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men, Wong Kar-wai's My Blueberry Nights, or Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. No awards either for Catherine Breillat's Une vieille maitresse. For US distribution, IFC Films has picked up Paranoid Park and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. Sony has acquired the Jury Prize-winning animated film Persepolis, and Tartan will likely pick up Reygadas' film (as they have his previous two). Miramax has No Country for Old Men set for November, just in time for Oscar consideration, especially as many are regarding this Coen brothers film as one of their finest. Miramax will also be releasing The Diving Bell and the Butterfly in early 2008 (groan). No word set on distribution for Breillat's, Tarr's, or Ki-duk's, but The Weinstein Company already had their hands all over My Blueberry Nights, so expect that (along with many of the others) this fall or sometime next year.

27 May 2007


The Cannes Film Festival has ended, and tomorrow (or later today), we'll find out who took home the top honors in a year where the Americans seem to have really taken the festival by storm.

22 May 2007

Some days you just shouldn't open your e-mails

Dark Horizons is reporting that a studio called First Sun has acquired rights to remake Dario Argento's Suspiria, with talks of David Gordon Green, director of George Washington and All the Real Girls, and Scott Heim, author of Mysterious Skin, to adapt it. I really don't know what to say about this.

In other bizarre news, check here to see what Michael Haneke has planned for once he finishes the Funny Games remake.

21 May 2007

...from Her

Girls on Film #2: Sarah Polley

Though she's been acting since she was but a wee lass, I've never really thought of Sarah Polley as a "child." After a small role in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, she had a regular role on the Canadian television program Road to Avonlea, but it was her role, as Bruce Greenwood's niece and "baby-sitter" in Exotica, that garnered my attention. Though excellent in her small scenes, her relationship with Atom Egoyan would truly blossom in The Sweet Hereafter, where Polley heartbreakingly plays the eldest survivor of a bus accident in Egoyan's adaptation of Russell Banks' novel of the same name. It's from the first time I ever saw a still from the film in my Entertainment Weekly that I fell in love with her.

My crush would only grow with time, as she opted for more challenging work than might have been expected of a starlet with her promise. Polley has built a career around working with interesting directors from Michael Winterbottom (The Claim) to Hal Hartley (No Such Thing) to Wim Wenders (Don't Come Knocking) to David Cronenberg (eXistenZ). Even her Hollywood turns were a lot more special than they needed to be, with Doug Liman's Go and the remake of Dawn of the Dead. In 2006, she directed her first feature, Away from Her, with Julie Christie, whom she acted opposite in both No Such Thing and The Secret Life of Words. The film has gotten probably the strongest acclaim of any other film this year, and I can't wait to see it. Polley, similarly to Isabelle Huppert, always (even at a young age) appeared as a fully developed woman, wise beyond her years, yet with a humbleness and envious curiosity.

See: The Secret Life of Words - dir. Isabel Coixet - 2005 - Spain, Dawn of the Dead - dir. Zack Snyder - 2004 - USA, My Life Without Me - dir. Isabel Coixet - 2003 - Spain, The Claim - dir. Michael Winterbottom - 2000 - UK/Canada/France, Go - dir. Doug Liman - 1999 - USA, Last Night - dir. Don McKellar - 1998 - Canada, The Sweet Hereafter - dir. Atom Egoyan - 1997 - Canada, or Exotica - dir. Atom Egoyan - 1994 - Canada

Filmography (Other, Notable): Beowulf & Grendel (2005), Don't Come Knocking (2005), The Event (2003), The Weight of Water (2000), The Life Before This (1999), eXistenZ (1999) Guinevere (1999), White Lies (1998), The Hanging Garden (1997), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

Cannes News

For once in a long, long time, Julianne Moore fans can rejoice. Though her work in Tom Kalin's Savage Grace is not in the runs to get her a Best Actress nod at the fest, critics have stated that it's her finest, juiciest performance in years. For those who just couldn't get enough Julianne after her performances in [Safe], Magnolia, and Far from Heaven, you can know wipe your minds clean of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio and Trust the Man. The film is the second feature from Kalin, who previously directed Swoon... and if she can shimmer with brilliance under the direction of one homo (Todd Haynes), why not another?

On a more disappointing note, critics have not been kind to Andrei Zvyagintsev's follow-up to The Return, entitled The Banishment. The word "morose" and "humorless" were thrown around a bunch, but I hardly consider these to be criticisms... so we'll have to wait until it comes to the US to decide.

In other news, Michael Moore's Sicko has been getting stronger acclaim than his previous Palme d'Or-winning doc Fahrenheit 9/11 (which I, honestly, wasn't wild about). Olivier Assayas' English-language Boarding Gate, which premiered at a midnight screening, was savaged -- though we all know those French critics can be a bit harsh. Christophe Honoré's musical Les chansons d'amour, with Louis Garrel, Ludivine Sagnier, and Chiarra Mastroianni, has also gotten some pretty poor reviews, but I still can't understand why anyone keeps thinking that the Ma mère director will ever make a good film is beyond me... though doesn't the photo of Mastroianni with an umbrella make you wish this was just as good as her mother's turn in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg? Kim Ki-duk's Breath and Hou Hsiao-hsien's The Flight of the Red Balloon (his first French-language film, with Juliette Binoche) have gotten solid, but unenthusiastic praise, so it looks like the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men is the front-runner for the Palme d'Or so far, which would make it their third top prize honor, after Barton Fink and Fargo.

There's about a week left, so expect more updates as I receive them. There's still excitement remaining from the likes of Catherine Breillat, Carlos Reygadas, Abel Ferrara, Asia Argento, Tilda Swinton, Béla Tarr, Alexander Sokourov, Angelina Jolie, Harmony Korine, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, and... of course... Quentin Tarantino and his Death Proof ladies. PS: I love how youthful and hot the ladies of the jury (Sarah Polley, Toni Collette, Maggie Cheung, Maria de Mederios) look in comparison to the old frumpy men (Stephen Frears, Abderramane Sissako, Michel Piccoli, Marco Bellocchio, and Orhan Pamuk) on board. To be a true film fanatic, you gotta be a hot, young woman or an old fart with an extra chin or two. That's what I gather from this photo.

18 May 2007

Can you hear the drums, Fernando?; or Your Cinematic Guide to all things ABBA

With Mamma Mia!, the ABBA musical, in pre-production stages, I thought I might take this time to celebrate the finest ABBA moments onscreen. Despite being an avid fan of the Swedish pop superstars, I have never endured Mamma Mia! onstage, as the theatre interests me little and horrid testimonials from my friends have steered me clear. This doesn’t however mean anything negative toward Benny, Björn, Agnetha, or Anni-Frid. Unintentionally, they have created some wonderful moments in cinema history, so why don’t we share in the great ABBA memories?

The most memorable use of ABBA has to be in P.J. Hogan’s sublime Muriel’s Wedding, starring Toni Collette as the title character, a sad, overweight girl with dreams of a perfect wedding and ABBA music. Other than perhaps ABBA: The Movie, Muriel’s Wedding features the most effective use of the group’s music, from Muriel and Rhonda’s (Rachel Griffiths) stellar lip-synching to “Waterloo” to Muriel being escorted down the aisle to “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do.” Naturally, ABBA’s most famous tune, “Dancing Queen,” plays during several critical moments of the film, perfectly setting the scene for Muriel’s unhappiness and subsequent liberty. You’ll never forget the heart-tugging speech Muriel gives to Rhonda once the two leave Porpoise Spit for Sydney: “Since I’ve met you and moved to Sydney, I haven’t listened to one ABBA song. That’s because my life is as good as an ABBA song. It’s as good as ‘Dancing Queen.’” Try not to be moved, and try not to envy someone who’s life is as good as “Dancing Queen.”

ABBA songs featured: “Dancing Queen,” “Waterloo,” “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do,” “Fernando,” and “Mamma Mia.”

Sticking with Australia (as well as actor Bill Hunter who plays Muriel’s father), ABBA also has a very significant role in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. In the internationally successful film, the threat of ABBA dance numbers is always hovering above Priscilla, the name given to the Swedish (go figure) tour bus three drag queens purchase to make their way north for a cabaret show. Bernadette (Terence Stamp), fed up with the shallow nature of conversation between her traveling companions Mitzi (Hugo Weaving) and Felicia (Guy Pearce), shouts a list of topics of conversation she will not partake in, citing ABBA as the prime offender. (She’s no fun, obviously.) When Mitzi finally reconnects with her son, he comments on how excited he would be to see his dad perform the ABBA show. Mitzi doesn’t fail his son, nor the audience, when he and Felicia, leaving Bernadette behind, perform “Mamma Mia” back in Sydney. Those Aussies just can’t get enough of infectious Swedish pop music.

ABBA songs featured: “Mamma Mia” and “Fernando”

ABBA is no less popular in the native Sweden, as shown in Lukas Moodysson’s Together (Tillsammans). Set in the mid-1970s in a hippy commune, the film portrays various characters and their respective lessons learned about tolerance. Though critically acclaimed, I think Together is easily Moodysson’s weakest film, an effective period film, though painfully shallow. In any case, the film ends with the entire commune coming out of the house and rejoicing while listening to, naturally, ABBA.

ABBA songs featured: The Internet Movie Database only reports “SOS,” though I remember there being several songs used throughout the film.

Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam, also one of his weakest films, is set in the 1970s, when ABBA was taking the world by storm. Though hardly memorable as a film or for its use of ABBA music, Lee includes two ABBA diddies for good measure. The rest of the soundtrack, which features The Talking Heads and Grace Jones, is considerably more note-worthy than the film itself.

ABBA songs featured: “Fernando” and “Dancing Queen”

On television in the UK, the series Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge comes highly recommended. As Alan Parker, Steve Coogan, who also co-wrote the show, plays a talk show host with a not-so-small obsession with ABBA. Two fine examples of such: Not only is “Knowing Me, Knowing You” the theme song for the show, but Parker introduces his guests with the line, “Knowing e, Alan Parker, knowing you, [name of guest].” Parker also, hilariously, took inspiration from the group in naming his son Fernando. Classic.

Though I haven’t seen the film, there is a Swedish film entitled House of Angels (Änglagård), about a city girl who returns to the country to claim the inheritance of her grandmother’s house. The music of ABBA is featured so prominently in this 1992 comedy that the film’s working title was actually Mamma Mia.

ABBA songs featured: “Mamma Mia,” “Chiquitita,” and “Fernando”

Who can forget ABBA’s own Hard Day’s Night, ABBA: The Movie? Well, many people, I assume, but it’s still probably the only decent film that Lasse Halström has ever made. The soundtrack features many ABBA tunes that haven’t (yet) made their way to film, like “Thank You for the Music,” “The Name of the Game,” and “Money, Money, Money.”

Though (thankfully) never created into a film (although there have been videos released), Benny and Björn made a musical, post-ABBA, entitled Chess, which features probably one of the worst songs of the 1980’s, “One Night in Bangkok” (though that song doesn‘t hold a candle to anything Starship released during the decade). The play opened in 1988 on Broadway and quickly closed due to scathing reviews.

ABBA began making music videos during the very early years of this phenomenon, so they have hardly stood the test of time. However, one can not deny the strange influence from fellow Swede Ingmar Bergman in the framing of a number of videos, particularly “Mamma Mia,” which showcases their signature white pantsuits. The profile of Agnetha with Anni-Frid facing the camera is textbook Bergman, featured most prominently in both Persona, with Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson, and The Silence, with Ingrid Thulin and Gunnel Lindblom. You might joke at the comparison of Bergman to ABBA, but there’s no denying the visual influence on a handful of their music videos. For a real laugh, check out the video for “The Name of the Game,” in which the girls sing, “What’s the name of the game?” while playing Sorry, the board game, with Benny and Björn. I really doubt getting all four of your pawns “home” was what they had in mind when writing the song.

Other films of note that featured music from ABBA:
Man of the House with Tommy Lee Jones (“Dancing Queen”)
Hardcore, from Greece (“Dancing Queen”)
Head over Heels with (yuck) Freddie Prinze Jr. (“Take a Chance on Me”)
Miss Congeniality (“Dancing Queen”)
Dick (“Dancing Queen”)
Man of the Year, the mockumentary about the gay Playgirl model (“The Visitors”)
Spetters, from Paul Verhoeven (“Eagle”)

And, finally, how about a few things you may not know about ABBA’s influence on the music world (thanks to wikipedia):

Admitted devotees of the group (some of which have covered their music) include Kurt Cobain, Evan Dando of the Lemonheads, Sinéad O’Connor, Michael Stipe of R.E.M., Courtney Love, Stephin Merrit and all the other members of The Magnetic Fields, the members of Ash, Madonna, Noel Gallagher of Oasis, Kylie Minogue (of course), the members of Erasure (of course, squared), and Elvis Costello.

Only two performers have ever been allowed to sample ABBA: The Fugees and Madonna. For the song “Rumble in the Jungle,” which was made for the documentary When We Were Kings, Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Pras sampled “The Name of the Game.” It was the first time Benny and Björn allowed for their music to be used as a sample. Madonna did the same with “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” for “Hung Up” off her last album, Confessions on a Dance Floor.

I hope you know can consider yourself educated on the beautiful symbiosis between ABBA and the world of cinema.

She's lost...

Much to my surprise, I read that the Ian Curtis biopic, Control, will also be premiering at Cannes this year. It opened the Director's Fortnight to positive reviews and appears to not be the disaster it was initially conceived as (starring Jude Law (boo!) as the tragic singer of Joy Division). The film stars Sam Riley, a newcomer, as Curtis and Samantha Morton as his wife. I was also initially upset that Sean Harris, who played Curtis to an amazing likeness in 24 Hour Party People, was not cast, but based on the stills and the press, Control might not be as frightening as we, Joy Division fans, had once thought.

16 May 2007

My Blueberry Nights

Rachel Weisz has never looked better than when photographed by Wong Kar-wai and cinematographer Darius Khondji. Not even her own husband (Darren Aronofsky with The Fountain) could make her look as good as the still above. Click here for more gorgeous stills from Kar-wai's My Blueberry Nights which should be opening in Cannes any minute now.

14 May 2007

Webster University Film Series: Summer 2007

For those of you in Saint Louis, I thought I'd give a heads-up to the films playing at the Webster University Film Series this summer (though you can find the complete listing here). Alexandra Lipsitz's documentary Air Guitar Nation played this past weekend, but coming next weekend is Cam Archer's ambitious Wild Tigers I Have Known, with Fairuza Balk and with nods to Derek Jarman, Kenneth Anger, and Araki's Mysterious Skin. The Ralph Nader documentary, An Unreasonable Man, will be screening the following week. On the 1st of June, the documentary, The Cats of Mirikitani, which Mike Steinberg, director of the series, has been raving about, will be screening all weekend. They will also be showing 35mm prints of Jodorowsky's El topo and The Holy Mountain later that month, as well as the beastiality doc, Zoo (or, better known among my friends, They Fuck Horses, Don't They?). July will show two of Peter Greenaway's early films, The Draughtsman's Contract and (my personal favorite) A Zed and Two Noughts. Expect reviews of most of these films on Playback's website, which I will, naturally, link from this blog.

12 May 2007


After watching Jean-Pierre Melville's brilliant Army of Shadows, I was reminded of how much I love the late French actress Simone Signoret. With a bit of reading, I found a quote of hers that I enjoyed and thought I'd share.

"I collect all the reviews of the films I turned down. And when they're bad - I have to smile."

09 May 2007


These may simply be Internet rumors, but apparently despite the box office failure of Grindhouse, we still may be in store for a Grindhouse 2, this time with Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) and Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) pulling the double-bill. As you probably know, both directors contributed, along with Rob Zombie, fake trailers between Planet Terror and Death Proof, in perhaps the finest moments of the whole shebang. I have to admit a bit of excitement at this, possibly because both Roth and Wright are too young at filmmaking to even touch the narcissism and self-indulgence of Tarantino. Also, keep your fingers crossed that the Weinsteins actually know how to market this on their second time around.

08 May 2007

Wandering, Hearing, Feeling

Old Joy - dir. Kelly Reichardt - 2006 - USA

A heterosexual Brokeback Mountain? Sideways for realists? These are just a few comparisons I’ve heard made toward Old Joy, Kelly Reichardt’s second feature-length film after appearing briefly in Hal Hartley’s The Unbelievable Truth and working as a costume designer on Todd Haynes’ Poison. Neither comparison does her film justice, as the film is never particularly “heterosexual” and is far more wonderful than any comparison to the painfully overrated Sideways. Two men escape their differing personal lives to rekindle their friendship on a two-day camping trip. Mark (Daniel London) is about to become a father; he hasn’t seen his friend Kurt (Will Oldham) in what seems to be a long time. Their life paths appear to have taken separate directions, but, organized by Kurt, they embark on their nature excursion. Old Joy is hardly the “get lost to find yourself” film you’re afraid it might become (Sideways), but instead a powerfully acute depiction of personal relations. In an all-to-brief seventy-six minutes, Reichardt leaves you wanting more, and that’s her particular strength, other than creating a fully-alive atmosphere. Old Joy is snippets of conversation, shadows of backstory, and richly textured emotions that seem too much to fill up the running time. But, like most great films, Old Joy resonates with mystery and, especially, intrigue and stands as one of the finest cinematic experiences I’ve endured.

The Secret Life of Words (La vida secreta de las palabras) - dir. Isabel Coixet - 2005 - Spain

You have to hand it to a director that, unlike so many of their peers, strays away from the falseness of beautiful imagery and composition. In her second film, Coixet paints her film in monochromatic colors, unflattering lighting, and ugly set decoration. Though never forcibly unsightly as a number of films I can think of (particularly Gary Oldman’s Nil by Mouth, though I have no idea what made me think of it), Coixet knows exactly what she means to convey with The Secret Life of Words. Though dialogue is key (and “words” is in the title), it doesn’t serve as the distraction one might think. Instead, The Secret Life of Words becomes a film of expressions, both between characters and within the frame itself. The film takes place in what we’re lead to believe is the loneliest place on earth, an oil rig in the middle of the ocean. Hanna (Sarah Polley), to cure the boredom of her month-long vacation from working in a factory, assumes the role of a nurse by chance, caring for Josef (Tim Robbins), who was temporarily blinded and badly burned during a fire on the rig. Hanna, deaf and closed-off, predictably sheds her armor with Josef late in the film, but the relationship between her and Josef isn’t the sole focus of the film. Coixet attempts, and often succeeds, at creating this landscape of desolation, from the two leads to the other, remaining members on the rig, including Simon (Javier Cámara) as the cook who hides his own sadness with the guise of culture and jovialness. Ultimately, The Secret Life of Words isn’t nearly as emotionally gratifying as Coixet intended, though in her second venture as director (her first was My Life Without Me, also with Polley, and also produced by the Almodóvar brothers), she continues to show promise, creating a detailed world and provoking the same sort of unexpected feelings that one of her producers has become known for.

El Calentito - dir. Chus Gutiérrez - 2005 - Spain

I suppose it’s sort of difficult to discuss contemporary Spanish cinema without a small mention of Pedro Almodóvar. El Calentito owes much to Almodóvar’s Labyrinth of Passion, a depiction of post-Franco youth run wild in Spain, so much so that it even includes a directly lifted scene from the film with the director himself on stage. Naturally, with such inspiration, the film contains some signatures of Almodóvar: strong females, hot lesbians, punk music (which was more prevalent in his earlier films), and (of course) transvestites. In the early months of 1981, a college-bound virgin (Verónica Sánchez) finds herself naked and hung-over at the pad of Carmen (Ruth Díaz) and Leo (Macarena Gómez), two hot punk gals in a band called Las Sioux. After being dumped by her date and ending up drunk, likely for the first time, in the bathroom of the titular bar, she repays the girls with filling in for the estranged third of Las Sioux in a meeting with a record producer in hot pursuit of a punk girl band. Considerably more interesting than a coming-of-age tale of the newly-liberated Spanish youth, El Calentito works in its time setting, perfectly capturing the youth-gone-wild punk spirit. As we’ve learned from the works of New Queer Cinema, the bonds of family become the only thing that these characters can hold onto in a way to combat the political and social forces outside. El Calentito, the bar, serves as the “living room” for this family of angry youth and disgruntled trannies. When the horrors of the real-life coup that attempted to take over the Spanish government falls on the date of Las Sioux’s big concert (what luck!), the film loses some of its spirit in trying too hard. But, how can you not forgive a film that ends with three girls ripping off their leather nun habits and writing on their bare chests, “Libertad!”?

I’m going to end this post, unintentionally focusing on three female directors, with pointing you away from a few films:

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus - dir. Steven Sheinberg - 2006 - USA

I truly hope that Steven Shainberg’s horrendous, laughable “portrait” of famed photographer Diane Arbus, played cluelessly by Nicole Kidman, will do for Secretary what Terry Zwigoff's Art School Confidential has done for Ghost World with many of my closest confidants. In other words, maybe after seeing this mess, people will go back to Secretary with a more critical eye and see it as the lousy film that it is.

Don’t Look for Me (Such mich nicht) - dir. Tilman Zens - 2004 - Germany

A major blemish on the esteemed reputation of Home Vision Entertainment, this German dud follows the final hit of a hired killer (Lea Mornar, who looks like the lovechild of Patricia Arquette and Robin Tunney) which, naturally, doesn’t go as smoothly as it should. Rent Shadowboxer instead, please.

Loving Couples (Älskande par) - dir. Mai Zetterling - 1964 - Sweden

Damn me for giving Zetterling another chance after The Girls. Loving Couples manages to be even worse, another annoyingly calculated portrait of three women, expecting a child, and flashing back to their childhood.

Problem Child - dir. Dennis Dugan - 1990 - USA

In an attempt to watch a bunch of films we remembered (not particularly fondly) from our childhood, my coworker and I made the mistake of popping this into the VCR, only to find ourselves in utter horror at this insipid, mean-spirited, and absolutely laughless garbage that actually grossed $53 million at the box office seventeen years ago. I want to say, “boy, have the times changed,” but they really haven’t (hello, Wild Hogs). I can’t think of many films where I’ve wished such extreme harm against every single person involved (except John Ritter, whose premature death makes me wonder…) The piece of fuck director, Dugan, has since went on to give us such classics as Saving Silverman, The Benchwarmers, and Big Daddy. I feel dirty just thinking about this trash.

06 May 2007

Penny for your thoughts? How about 20,000 of them?

Yes, the quote that titles this blog is from The Brady Bunch movie -- and, I'm sorry, but it's a guilty pleasure of mine. Christine Taylor has brilliant comic timing, though she's never used properly, and I can't think of any other film based on a TV show that I hate which actually amused me (um, well, yes, I can... Miami Vice... scratch that). PS: What Carol Brady (Shelley Long) doesn't realize is that 20,000 pennies would equal $200, not $20,000 which is needed to save their house from foreclosure... just a minor blemish.

MTV should be shot for including the film 300 in a category that recognizes the "best" of anything in their Movie Award nominations. Granted, who gives a fuck? But my hatred for the film 300 runs so deep, even this irks me.

Why do people (particularly black people) find men in drag... or more specifically, men dressed as fat women... amusing? Christ, it's barely funny any more in Some Like It Hot, and that's a recognized "classic." Now we have to have Norbit, Mrs. Doubtfire, any fucking Tyler Perry abortion, White Chicks, Big Momma's House 13, To Wong Foo, the Hairspray remake (mind you, no John Waters films are included in this blasting) and probably a bunch that were recently green-lit. Mrs. Doubtfire earns some minor respect in my book, solely for Arrested Development's brilliant parody of it.

Dear filmmakers (and TV producers),
If you feel the urge to put any incarnation of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" in your film, slap yourself. This applies to you: Amy Berg (Deliver Us from Evil), anyone involved in Shrek, Andrew Niccol (Lord of War), Hans Weingartner (The Edukators), Julien Schnabel (Basquait), and the producers of that ridiculously successful show House. The song no longer emits any serious emotional response from the audience except for a groan.

Back on the subject of music, Yo La Tengo should score every film out there. With three amazing scores in just two years, they have a perfect understanding of the relation between visuals and music. See: Shortbus, Old Joy, and Junebug for reference.

Christians are scary. See: Danielson: A Family Movie (or, Make Joyful Noise Here) or Deliver Us from Evil for just two cinematic examples of such.

In addition to Christians being scary, I’m scared of Dakota Fanning. Though I think the name The Dakota Fanning Rape Conspiracy is a wonderful band name (I trademarked it, so don’t try to steal it from me), I don’t know what to make of her. She seems to always be “acting” to ludicrous extents--extents that are completely distancing from the audience. She’s not a human; she’s some sort of alien or acting robot. Granted, I am basing this solely on my “I’m-bored-on-a-Saturday afternoon” watching of Uptown Girls on TV, but I’ve been told that she’s not much different elsewhere.

I’m sick of hearing about this being the summer of “threequels.” That’s not a word, fuck off.

With this year’s Cannes film festival coming very soon, I wonder how long it will take for the Palme d’Or winner to make it stateside. Other than Fahrenheit 9/11, which had a release date before it even premiered at Cannes, most of the past winners have taken over a year, including the Dardennes’ L’enfant and Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes the Barley, which will be on DVD in July, a year and two months after it's big win.

Is there a “respected” Oscar winner out there who has had their name involved in more shitty film projects than Nicole Kidman? (I say “respected,” because Cuba Gooding Jr., Mira Sorvino, Marisa Tomei, and Angelina Jolie don’t count.) Though I think she needs to stay away from the Botox, I can admit that she was wonderful in The Hours, The Others, and To Die For, but look at the rest of her films. Some of them may have sounded worthwhile in the pre-production stages only to get fucked in the end (see Fur, The Human Stain, Eyes Wide Shut, and Birth), but some of them were just destined to suck (see Bewitched, The Stepford Wives, The Interpreter, Batman Forever, and Practical Magic). With all these failures, she doesn’t seem to be touched by it, perhaps because everyone forgets about her shittier projects.

I wish Steve Carrel would stick to lower-key comedy like Little Miss Sunshine; his performance in that film will keep him forever in my fondest memories, even if I dislike everything else he does.

Why do directors want to work with Kirsten Dunst? She’s only given one worthy performance in her life and she was like 10 when that happened (Interview with the Vampire, if you’ve forgotten). Ms. Dunst has managed to woo “hip” directors like Sofia Coppola, Michel Gondry, and Sam Raimi to cast her in their films (in Sofia’s case, twice!). Her performances lack any interest or, worst of all, soul, and yet I still have to hear about her. If the rumors of Kiki playing Debbie Harry in a biopic are true, God help us all.

Also on the subject of actresses, how come Jordan Ladd seems to be showing up in… everything (at least everything on my American cinema radar)? I once only remembered her as the sex-crazed Alyssa who warned her friends about the coming of the rapture (not the Siouxsie and the Banshees album, mind you) in Nowhere. Now, she’s in Grindhouse, Inland Empire, Cabin Fever, and--of course--Hostel 2. Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoy her, and though I hate her mother (Cheryl Ladd), she inadvertently gave the world the glory that is Rose McGowan by vetoing Jordan’s involvement in The Doom Generation. McGowan replaced her as Amy Blue last minute, and the rest is history.

Quentin Tarantino has an unhealthy foot fetish. Expect a blog with numerous photo examples of such soon. Someone else has already spotted this.

And, if you haven't yet seen Kelly Reichardt's Old Joy, it has officially taken Mutual Appreciation's spot of the best film of 2006, only six months late. It's a rapturous experience that I can't say I've had in a long, long time.