Friday, August 24, 2012

My Skuriels Ballot, or, Murder Your Darlings

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I participated in the Skuriels earlier this summer. The Skuriels are an alternative to the recent Sight and Sound poll. Here's my ballot of twenty movies that I think are the best ever made (or at least favorites on the day I made the ballot). The usual list-making caveats apply. Soooo....

This is in no particular order.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dancing Between the Raindrops

This was written for the Skuriels, an alternative exercise in canon-making run by the folks behind the Muriel and Skandie awards. This was conceived as an alternative to the recently released Sight and Sound poll, about which I have nothing to say. My ballot of twenty movies contained only one film that made the cut for the top 15. This is the film in question.

Singin' In the Rain (1952, directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly) is likely my favorite movie. I say "likely" because I don't know that I have a favorite movie, but if I did, this would be it. I've had a hard year, beset by self-doubt and depression, and I've watched the film twice during that period, both times as a panacea to what ails me. Like no other movie ever made, it makes me happy. The thing is, I can't quantify that, really. I can't point to this element or that and say "this makes me happy," when the exact same element in another movie does not make me happy. I mean, I can say that Gene Kelly's smile in this movie makes me giddy (because it totally does, hubba hubba), but why doesn't his smile in, say, Cover Girl or Inherit the Wind have the same effect? I don't know. There's some kind of weird alchemy at work in this film, and I don't know how to write about it, really. But I'll try. I'll try.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The October Challenge and The Return of the Fantastic Fest Fundraiser

It's been kind of a lean month here at stately Krell Laboratories. The summer movie season has slowed to a crawl. My main source of new movies, my local art house, has devoted their screens to a very small number of movies this last month and a half and I've written about all of them. I've soured so much on the multiplex experience that I'm being pickier about it than I've been maybe ever. So my blogging has dwindled a bit this month. Things are going to pick up next month.

First off, The October Challenge is just around the corner. I'll be wrangling the various participants from around the web again this year in addition to attempting the challenge myself. If you'd like to participate, leave me a comment with your blog's address so I can add you to my list of participants. Here's this year's banner:

Please feel free to use these however you like, or use one of the previous year's banners, which you can find here.

Second, I'm attempting once again to go to Fantastic Fest in Austin this year, and to this end, I'm holding another fundraiser. The terms of the fundraiser are pretty much the same as last year. For anyone who supports this fundraiser with a $15 donation, I will send that person a sketch card of anything they want. It can be a movie star, a comic book character, a D&D character, whatever their heart's desire. Sketch cards will be on 3x5 pieces of bristol board, in ink, along the lines of this drawing of Johnny Cash (which is still available from my Etsy store by the way, waiting for some lucky buyer):

Or this redneck cannibal patriarch:

You can, of course, still donate below the $15 threshold, and I will still love you all eternally.

Speaking of Etsy. I still have Ms. 45 prints available there, as well as a handful of other art pieces. Buying from my store will also get me to Fantastic Fest.

What will I do at Fantastic Fest? Why, blog, of course. I'll write about everything I see there. So if that's something you'd like to read, please consider supporting me.

Here's the donation button. Make sure you tell me what you want in your sketch when you donate.

Thanks to everyone who supported my failed fundraiser last year, and thanks in advance to everyone who will support me this year. Special thanks go to my friend, Melissa, who is making the trip possible in the first place. You're the best.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Childhood's End

I was probably not the best audience for Beasts of The Southern Wild (2012, directed by Benh Zeitlin). I've been dealing with my first really prolonged period of depression in almost a decade and the last thing I needed to see is a movie that reminds me that the world is winding down. That its vision of a post-capitalist apocalypse is filtered through the eyes of a six year old child only makes me want to sit that child down so I can tell her, "Sorry about the dungheap we've left for you. Hope you can make a life out of it. The odds aren't in your favor. Good luck." I also wasn't in the mood for yet another indie film that mistakes a tripod for selling out. Just because your camera wanders all over the frame looking for a composition doesn't mean that your film has any degree of gritty realism. It just means that it looks un-directed. This movie has mythological monsters in it, for fuck's sake! Hold the camera still for a minute! Anyway, handheld cameras give me a headache these days. I almost yearn for the days when art films used long static takes with not much motion in them.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Touchy Feely

It's nice to see that the French can do Hollywood schmaltz. I mean, most of the French films that make it to our shores are decidedly anti-Hollywood (or have traditionally been so), but that doesn't mean they don't make "the feel-good movie of the year!" occasionally. Such a film is The Intouchables (2011, directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano), a big hit in Europe last year and brought to America by the Weinsteins. It's popular enough to come in at number eighty on the ever confounding IMDb top 250 films. It's a film that seriously wants to uplift the audience, make them laugh, and wonder at the joy of humanity. More than that, it's a buddy comedy! It's a "wonza movie." Wonza tough, street-smart immigrant. Wonza rich quadriplegic who is choking on his silver spoon. Hijinks!

It's actually a pretty terrible movie, though I'd be lying if I said that I didn't have a good time when I was watching it, because I did.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Déjà Vu All Over Again

It's an irony not lost on me that the remake of Total Recall (2012, directed by Len Wiseman) hit theaters on the weekend the Curiosity spacecraft landed on Mars. Ironic, I say, because the new Total Recall abandons the Martian setting of the original film and represents the withdrawing horizons of both the Hollywood and American imaginations. The Curiosity probe is the kind of bold undertaking that Americans used to pride themselves in taking, the kind of undertaking that is becoming an infrequent event as corporate bean counters and no-tax zealots take over the country. What is the value of Curiosity (Or curiosity) if it doesn't add to the bottom line at the end of the quarter? Total Recall is a film that withdraws to a limited and jaundiced vision of humanity's future. It may not be wrong (though it engages in some spectacular scientific illiteracies), but it's like an era is closed. No more do sci fi films exist on the frontiers. There are no frontiers any more. There are only ever constricting limits to human endeavor.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Time Waits for No One

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012, directed by Colin Trevorrow) is a film I wish I liked better than I do. I mean, it has a charming premise and all, but it's so drenched in the lazy conventions of quirky indie comedies that I just want to grab it by the lapels, lift it up, and shout in its face in order to jolt it awake. I think my filmgoing companion had the right of it. When this movie wound to its end and its time machine finally showed up on screen, and after the credits rolled, he said to me: "I think I preferred a Delorean." Alas...