Category Archives: Miscellany

e-Cahiers, Hidden Iraq, and Movie Locations on Google Earth

Sweeeeeet. The “e” stands for “electronic” as well as for “English”. Mais oui. Now I don’t have to keep typing sentences into translate.google.com and hitting just to figure out what those crazy French critics at Cahiers du Cinéma are on about this month …. Google Video has Iraq: The Hidden Story, an utterly engrossing hour-long piece from Channel 4 on the difficulties television journalists are having getting the real story out of Iraq — as well as the general squeamishness of television producers in the U.K. and the U.S. when it comes to airing graphic war-zone footage (some of which is included here, so be warned) that could influence public opinion of the current military escapades in the Middle East …. If you’re like me (and you have a decent computer and a fast Internet connection), you’ve already loaded up and become mesmerized by the globetrotting wonders of the Google Earth software. Well, Google Earth became a huge time sink for me over the Presidents Day weekend as I found this old post at WFMU’s Beware of the Blog in which DJ Mark Allen discusses various film locations that can be viewed from a satellite’s eye using the system. I was most fascinated by the overhead images of the park from Blow-Up, but he has instructions for finding locations from La Dolce Vita, Heathers and even Friday the 13th. A category search for film locations at Google Earth Hacks turned up more time-wasting goodies, including the houses from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Poltergeist. (I am a child of the 80s. I can’t help it.) The dudes who wrote Deja Vu totally had a copy of Google Earth loaded up — I actually started getting frustrated that the system wouldn’t let me move forward and backward in time.

Eating cake.

I don’t know why it’s set to New Order’s “Age of Consent”, but I found a quick-and-dirty early promo trailer for a movie I had no idea was about to exist — Marie-Antoinette, directed by Sofia Coppola and starring (no, really!) Kirsten Dunst as Marie and Jason Schwartzman as Louis XVI. Best bit? Dunst gets naked.

Nobody’s naked in the trailer for Spike Lee’s Inside Man, but it looks like it could be good anyway.

Isn’t it nice that they’re making horror movies again? Having thoroughly enjoyed Cabin Fever, I’m looking forward to Hostel, even though Lion’s Gate seems to be promoting it as some kind of Saw wannabe.


Animated GIFs as 3D photos. I love this shit.


Something to make every multiplex screening better: Coca-Cola Blāk is an invigorating and stimulating blend that has a perfect balance of the effervescent taste sensation of Coca-Cola and natural flavors, with real coffee. Take that, Pepsi bitches.

Miscellaneous

Via Mobius comes news that the downtown Manhattan Film Forum

is spending money on new, presumably more comfy, seats. This is great

news — even if your ass is smaller than mine — considering that Film

Forum commonly shows hard-to-see stuff on the scale of the forthcoming

six-hour-long The Best of Youth. It also reminds me that I need to get off my ass and see Notre Musique

this week.

Memo to movie theater employees: If you’re starting

clean-up work while movie-nerd types are still in their seats watching

the credits roll, kindly SHUT THE FUCK UP until they’re done. Thanks.

Notice a lot of recent press lately about how the FCC is cracking

down on “indecency” over broadcast television and radio? Read about how

enforcement has been spurred by record highs in complaints about said

“indecent” material from the heartland? Well, according to the FCC’s own estimate,

more than 99 percent of those complaints — which totalled nearly a

quarter of a million last year — have come from a single source: the

Parents Television Council. Mouthpieces for the group say it shouldn’t

matter that all the complaints come from the same place as long as they

highlight actual indecency on the airwaves, an argument that

conveniently neglects to take into account the fact that decisions on

the “indecency” of a given broadcast hinge in part on “contemporary community standards”.

If it’s only a tiny, tiny proportion of the “community” as a whole

that’s complaining about any given broadcast, what does that say about

the relative “decency” of that broadcast? What should rankle wannabe

moral guardians the most is the fact that ordinary Americans want to watch Married by America

and listen to Howard Stern; most of them probably didn’t mind a split

second of quality time with Janet Jackson’s boobie, and I have yet to

hear compelling evidence that a naked tit is somehow more damaging to

America’s precious youngsters than is a three-hour gridiron match-up

permeated by grunting aggression and punctuated by bone-cracking

violence.

Gift-giving note: those terrific “Director’s Series” DVDs

from Palm Pictures are now available in convenient boxed-set form,

with an extra disc featuring more recent material not included in the

original releases. (This latter development had me cursing under my

breath in the aisle at Best Buy until I checked out the contents of

that fourth disc and convinced myself that the only must-have is the

Spike Jonze video for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Y Control,” which is

already available as a bonus on that group’s swell concert DVD, Tell Me Which Rockers to Swallow.)

Also, Palm has announced release dates for the next four (!) discs in

the Directors Series, which I’m hoping will include a Mark Romanek

volume before such a thing becomes obsolete — the great video for

“Hurt” was released as a DVD double-pack in specially labeled copies of

Johnny Cash’s last Rick Rubin-produced album, “Little Trouble Girl” was

released on Sonic Youth’s Corporate Ghost DVD, and “Closer” is available on the new Dual Disc (one CD, one DVD) reissue of The Downward Spiral,

which also includes surround-sound versions of the album in its

entirety in both Dolby Digital and DVD-Audio formats.

Speaking of

Romanek, you can check out a superior two-minute version of his

iPod-themed commercial for U2’s “Vertigo” (wait, I mean his U2-themed

commercial for Apple’s iPod) by opening up iTunes and going to the main

U2 page.

Yes, new reviews are coming. I’m working on them. More

later.

Radio Silence

The extended silence you may have noticed at this site was me spending time in Hollywood and in Colorado. I answered some email and at least toyed with the idea of posting some Weblog entries, but wound up not having enough free time to think straight. I considered going to see Simone (or is that more properly spelled S1m0ne?) at some point, but didn’t get to that, either. I don’t much like this writer/director Andrew Niccol’s work, see, but I am interested in keeping track of what he’s up to. But, geez, did anybody like his new one?

240_nipples.jpg

I was amused to learn that Spider-Man was the feature on my westward flight from New York to California. I didn’t plug into the audio, but instead took in the visuals while I listened to assorted MP3s. I was pleased to note that, yep, the A- I gave it seems to hold up under scrutiny. This is a goofy, giddy superhero movie, and the purest embodiment of exactly what I hope to see in a summer blockbuster. The trick in this case is, I think, that the film was storyboarded extensively, with the result that the images play out in distinctly comic-book fashion. My main cavil is still the too-frequent replacement of Tobey Maguire by obnoxious CGI, but even some of the whiz-bang graphics have an exuberant appeal this time around, in a bet-you-didn’t-think-we’d-ever-be-able-to-show-you-that way. I did notice that, while the film’s frequent bursts of violence — including a final-reel impalement! — seem to have been left more or less alone by the airline censors, Kirsten Dunst’s naked-beneath-her-clothes nipples had been digitally removed from the scene where Spidey rescues her from a group of thugs. Good lord, the lengths to which people go to strip even the hint of sexuality from anything that they might have to watch with their children. (Ever wonder if the folks who run sites like Screenit.com get any particular jollies from their exhaustive cataloguing of explicit content? Here’s how they describe the scene in question: “Mary Jane shows some cleavage in various outfits in various scenes. In one scene, she’s caught in the rain and her wet top reveals that she’s not wearing a bra (the shape of her nipples can be seen).” Sounds pretty hot to me.) Makes me long for the good old days of PG-rated Swamp Thing and topless Adrienne Barbeau.

Since getting home, I have taken the time to check out the new Kino DVD of Code Unknown. I didn’t exactly avoid this one when it was playing in New York, but I didn’t make any effort to put myself in proximity to a theater showing it, either. This was due, I think, to my deep-seated irritation with Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, a film I felt was trying to hector me, start to finish. All that makes me a chump because, boy howdy, is this a terrific movie. I hope to write something about it. For now, I’ll just say it’s a shame Kino couldn’t do better than this version of the film. I suspect that the DVD is transcoded from a PAL master, partly because the details are kind of fuzzy and also because the frames flicker in weird ways when I try to step through them. In one scene that Juliette Binoche plays in long shot, her face is just a big pink spot at the center of the screen. I wondered if she was wearing a stocking mask, for all the detail I could(n’t) make out. At the very least, this should have been anamorphic widescreen instead of plain letterbox. But if you turn up the volume (a six-channel sound system will definitely help) and turn out all the lights, I suspect that even this version of Code Unknown works the way it’s supposed to.

Why HBO shows the same crap over and over …

Here’s an interesting thread at Mobius about a movie guide that was published by HBO and gave its very lowest rating to stuff like 8 ½, The Exterminating Angel and Rules of the Game while showering Crocodile Dundee and Rocky with five-star hosannas. Turns out that, if you read the fine print, HBO claims to have come up with these star ratings by surveying viewers of HBO and Cinemax! So you’re really getting a look into the mindset of your typical cable-TV viewer, circa the mid-1980s. No wonder the movie channels all run to the lowbrow these days. At any rate, I got the first hints of a serious film education from sitting up late at night watching HBO and Cinemax in my bedroom. From the Life of the Marionettes may have been the first foreign film I ever saw. Either that or The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. Anyway, enough about me. Here’s the real nugget—according to Mark Ferguson, it looks like HBO Latino is running La Comunidad, the most recent horror movie by Alex de la Iglesia, whose El día de la bestia and Muertos de risa are both great fun. The thing is, this one is still undistributed in the U.S. I guess it doesn’t have subtitles, but if you speak Spanish you may want to tune in.

Some unexpected news — the BBFC, which was noted once upon a time for decreeing that certain extremely violent horror movies were “video nasties” that could not be legally released in the U.K., has gone soft on the subject of slasher flicks. Jason X, which required edits in order to get an R rating in the U.S., passed uncut with a 15. Sure seems like a new direction for the Brits. In not entirely unrelated news, some poor schlep in Dallas was just sentenced to six months in jail for selling a comic book. First they come for the comic books, next they’ll came for Fat Girl and Sex and Lucia (the latter of which you already can’t advertise in Seattle’s daily newspapers).

I’m listening to a fairly amazing piece of work right now — Freelance Hellraiser’s “Star Wars vs. Hatiris,” which seamlessly meshes “Throne Room and Finale” from the John Williams movie score with something (apparently) called “Space Invader” by someone called Hatiris. No, it’s not as good as the one where he mixes Christina Aguilera and The Strokes and comes up with something far more significant than either. But it’s still quite something. It’s on The Best Bootlegs in the World Ever, available at your nearest dodgy record shop. I suppose it’s fair game to download it, too.

Back to the subject of DVD, it’s probably worth pointing out for anyone who doesn’t know that Miramax’s new version of Heavenly Creatures, due September 24, will be the longer version that was shown in Australia and New Zealand, rather than the shorter version that was edited (with Peter Jackson’s blessing, so the story goes) by Miramax for the rest of the world. This is good news for sure, though you’ve got to figure that enough material exists somewhere for a super-special edition of this title, one of my favorite films of the last decade—Peter Jackson was the guy, after all, who released a four-hour laserdisc documentary about The Frighteners . I want to see Kate Winslet‘s screen tests!

And, hey, who says Miramax is out of ideas? The geniuses there have cut a deal that will have Coors sponsoring premieres of Miramax films. In return, Characters will be draining cans of Coors in 15 films over the next three years, including A View From the Top and Duplex, according to the AP. (Hey — somebody has to drink that shit.) Miramax joins Nascar, the NFL, Dr. Dre and Kid Rock in the Coors camp. Nice!