Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Still Here...


just recuperating from Spring Break, which ends today.

Meanwhile, some links for your general edification:

Via Vadim Rizov at The Independent Eye, a call to arms about the arrest of the great Iranian director Jafar Panahi. The Siren followed the links to the donation page and kicked in some money, and she suggests you do the same, if you haven't already. Direct donation link is right here. The maker of The White Balloon and The Circle deserves at least that much.

At Noir of the Week, the fabulous Sheila O'Malley writes up The Killer That Stalked New York and demonstrates how to start a review with a wallop: "We know right off the bat that the blonde woman getting off the train in Grand Central Station is a bad dame." Dear Sheila, we can only hope that people think the same thing about us as we're getting off the subway.

Rupert Alistair posts about Dragonwyck, the uneven but endearing Old Dark House entry from Joseph Mankiewicz. The Siren saw that one recently and was struck once more by the way murderous, drug-addicted, genealogically obsessed Vincent Price is still obviously the only guy in the movie worth sleeping with.

Ivan is back at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear (hip, hip, hooray!) and posting away, including this fond tribute to John Forsythe.

The Siren has read a lot of reviews of Shutter Island, but David Cairns has her favorite right here. Why? Well, look at the quote he starts out with.

Though it is only peripherally about movies, and movie gossip at that, the Siren still recommends this Lance Mannion post to anyone who yearns to see someone plunge a stiletto into the gasbag known as David Brooks.

Update: Siren favorite Dennis Cozzalio wins her heart by submitting half his answers to his own Christmas quiz...in April, with the words "there's tardy, and then there's tardy, and then there's jaw-dropping, passive-aggressive procrastination of a spectacular fashion." Well, Dennis, you've set the bar pretty high here, but the Siren still thinks she can beat you.

If anyone else has a link to tout (aside from the porn spammers, natch) please post in comments.

45 comments:

Catherine Grant said...

Thanks a lot for your links, Siren. Just wanted to take advantage of your kind invitation to tout the latest links post at Film Studies For Free Studies of censorship and cinema: in solidarity with Jafar Panahi, to which I was happily able to add the donation link you have above. Thanks for that.

The Siren said...

Catherine, thanks very much! I had been aware of Panahi's arrest but had back-burnered making a donation. Vadim's post was the impetus I needed; I hope yours serves to steer others the same way.

Richard said...

Dragonwyck is much better than "uneven but endearing."
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/movies/2010/01/dragonwyck.html

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/events/revivals/2008/09/22/080922gomo_GOAT_movies_brody

The Siren said...

Richard, I am honored and happy to see you here and am posting a clickable link for those who want to see your case for Dragonwyck. I do rather love it but it always struck me as flawed, despite an atmosphere that's the absolute business and an overall air of depravity that's, well, endearing.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Lubitsch was going to direct Dragonwyck -- but became ill and unable to do it. (I think he passed away around this time.) It's a pretty solid gothic, with Tierney lovely as always and Uncle Vinnie sinister-yet-sweet as always.

D Cairns said...

Thanks hugely for linking! And if people keep their eyes peeled, there'll be a surprise revelation on my site tomorrow. Not often I have actual "scoops" of this kind...

The Siren said...

I think my main problem with Dragonwyck is Glenn Langan, who is such a nonpresence that I just now had to go to IMDB to remember his name...and I saw this thing maybe two months ago. His lack of sex appeal knocks everything out of whack. Tierney has more chemistry with Huston, who's playing her father.

It doesn't say Lubitsch to me at all in its present form but the idea of a Dragonwyck from him is certainly worth mulling.

Mr. Cairns, I will look forward to the announcement with great pleasure. I believe I have an inkling already but your secret is safe with me. :)

Trish said...

I loved The Killer That Stalked New York. I especially appreciate the credit sequence, with it's silhouette of a woman on the prowl. A little bit misleading but very entertaining at the same time.

The Siren said...

Yes, anthropomorphizing smallpox as a sinister blonde is an interesting concept, especially to a redhead. :D

surly hack said...

Hello, Siren. Over at my blog, Limerwrecks, I'm posting an entire month of film limericks, with weeks on Red Scare films, 3-D, Noir, as well as noir icon Lawrence Tierney.

http://limoday.blogspot.com/

The Siren said...

Surly! Speaking of "still here" - how are you? I will definitely check it out. Blogrolling you too...mad at myself for not doing it before.

Richard said...

Dear Siren, Thanks for posting the clickable link. I agree that Glenn Langan doesn't have much of a presence, but it's enough to know how the role is written. Beside, it's important that the lord of the manor is alluring; that he should be more so than the doctor just makes the story even more substantial.

Buttermilk Sky said...

I enjoyed the comment by Lance Mannion. If you want to see Brooks taken to the woodshed on a regular basis, I recommend

doghouseriley.blogspot.com

(Noir fans will appreciate his nom de blog.)

Arthur S. said...

Great that you are still here...I am not since I have exams to prepare for. Then I'll get back to blogging.

As for links, on facebook I posted a link to a video excerpt at criterion's website of an interview between two seriously cool cinephiles, Pedro Costa and Jean-Pierre Gorin,
http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1427-pedro-costa-and-jean-pierre-gorin

Even more interesting is John Bailey's blog. The DP behind Schrader's ''Mishima'' talks about the on-set photographer on early Godard and Truffaut films and he has some stills to offer too,
http://www.ascmag.com/blog/2010/03/22/raymond-cauchetier%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Cnew-wave%E2%80%9D-%E2%80%94-part-one/

D Cairns said...

I don't think this one is the news you were expecting, Siren!

http://dcairns.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/the-big-vox-scoop/

Sheila O'Malley said...

Thanks for the link, Siren!!

Speaking of Panahi - his "Offside" played at BAM at the end of last month, as part of their "Muslim Voices" series - and it's a real favorite of mine. I hadn't seen it on the big screen since its original release, so it was great to go see it again - although rather eerie, knowing of his imprisonment.

The Siren said...

Hi guys! Thanks for all the good reading material (and David's voice, uh, scoop). I'm adding one myself, just in case anyone missed it: Matt Zoller Seitz's superb Dennis Hopper tribute.

Yojimboen said...

“The Critic is Dead.
Film at Eleven!”

(Film is dead, tape at eleven!)
(Tape is dead, digital at… 24/7!)

A.O. Scott’s critique on the death of his trade.

The Guardian’s critique of that critique.

The Siren said...

Y., I thought the problem wasn't that we were dead, but rather that we are multiplying and now the onetime gentlemen's club has gotten all touristy and shit.

Yojimboen said...

As ever, your velvet ballpeen hammer strikes the nail squarely on its head.

(More or less the gist of Guardian piece.)

Richard said...

Arthur S., for more about Raymond Cauchetier, there's a selection of his work in the Winter 2009 issue of Aperture and on-line at The New Yorker:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/movies/2010/03/catching-a-wave.html

Vanwall said...

Arthur -

My son studied under Gorin at UCSD for his film degree - very interesting man, with a lot of history himself.

TS said...

That still of Moira Shearer...you know, I bought a DVD of The Red Shoes, which I had never seen before, on a whim, to watch with the stepdaughter on our latest visit a couple of months ago. On her request, we ended up watching it 2.5 times. I think there would have been more viewings, but sadly holidays do not extend depending on how much you're enjoying them.

And I was very happy to read Lance Mannion's superb answer to that exceptionally stupid David Brooks column, which, unlike the rest of his insipid, half-baked columns, I actually remembered, because it managed to be doltish enough to make me read it twice, looking for something sensible without finding it. Thanks for the link, doll.

Stephen said...

I was glad to see a critic as underwhelmed with "Shutter Island" as I was. My main problem with the movie has to do with its set-up: If this place is for the most dangerous criminal psychopaths, then the plot twist at the end makes no sense. And also, while it was nicely put together, it didn't seem to have much of a point - which seems to me essential in a Scorsese film.

symbot said...

Siren -

Newish reader, attracted to your blog for your obvious adoration for film (sans cynicism, making you a superior critic, IMO)... and also for your willingness to engage in the intellectual discussion without falling into a cinema obscurist rut.

Wanted to throw my own link out there... Benefit of the Doubt, where I'm spending this month focusing on films (classic and upcoming) about renegade and outlaw heroes. Not that it's a hard theme to come across, but it makes for a month of fun movies.

surly hack said...

Siren- I'm well, thanks. I guess I've become a lurker here, popping in for a read now and then, overwhelmed at the prospect of being the 93rd comment...

Btw, if you still haven't seen John Brahm's Guest in the House you're welcome to my slightly beat up video copy of this Old Dark House/Freudian melodrama.

Yojimboen said...

Bless you Surly for citing Guest in the House! It’s a one-of-a-kind absolute delight. I always thought it was the perfect noir version of You Can’t Take It With You. From the onset it’s clear every character’s going to be performing in a different movie. Ruth Warrick still looks miffed at being dumped by Charles Foster Kane; Margaret Hamilton is on the hunt for Dorothy and Toto while Percy Kilbride looks lost without Marjorie Main. Ralph Bellamy plays a pin-up sketch artist (I think) but in reality he plays… well, Ralph Bellamy; and, whodathunkit, the majestic, angelic Aline McMahon winds up playing Mrs. Danvers to the life.

Reportedly, John Brahm had uncredited help from Andre de Toth and Lewis Milestone. A curious admixture of styles, but perhaps fitting for a story in which you’re never quite sure who’s gaslighting whom.

But the joy of joys is Anne Baxter, at times wafting more airily than Blanche Dubois, other times like Ms J. Fontaine in Suspicion; but all the while sharpening her knives, waxing her skis, lacing up her Adidas for a full-frontal assault on the Sarah Siddons committee.
(The cherry on top? Baxter’s character is even named… Evelyn).

Enough. Judge for yourselves.

Here’s the entire movie.

DavidEhrenstein said...

The Killer That Stalked New York

DavidEhrenstein said...

I quite agree with you about Shutter Island, Stephen. Enjoyable yet disappointing.

The Siren said...

David, I agree with that 3-word assessment too, although Scorsese movies have a track record of growing on me over time.

One thing I loved, though: DiCaprio's acting in the final few scenes. So good it made me remember why he used to be considered the best young actor in America.

Yojimboen said...

I agree, dear lady, DiCaprio may be the best actor of his generation. It’s annoying that good looks often get in the way of clear-headedly assessing talent – I think Brad Pitt and George Clooney are very highly skilled at their profession. However…

While I thank you for the link to David Cairns’s sage analysis of Shutter Island, I again accept we’ll never agree about Scorcese (and I accept I’m very much in the minority).
My disregard for him is partly due to my inability - or unwillingness - to buy the whole “Marty” mythology, and partly due to the fact I simply haven’t unreservedly liked any of his films.
(To be fair to myself, I’ve seen all of them, I do keep trying to like him. I really do.)

But there are times when I look around me at otherwise intelligent people who insist that this (IMO, repeat IMO) rather indifferent film-maker has earned a place in the Pantheon of World Cinema, and wonder if I’m the only person in the world who recognizes Gangs of New York for the unutterable tripe it is.

I’ve said in these pages in the past that while I admire Mr. Scorcese’s inestimable work in film preservation – in that regard he is nothing less than a national treasure – I just wish he didn’t make films. Thus it was no small measure of reassurance to note that David Cairns has also observed
(if I may quote):
“I’ll certainly continue to see his films, but it feels more like his directing is a secondary career compared to his invaluable work in film restoration.”

Noel Vera said...

Granted Scorsese is not doing essential work feature-filmmakingwise, I submit that he's doing better mainstream work than, say, Tarantino. And in the meantime, his documentaries aren't bad at all.

And apropos of all that, I thought Polanski's The Ghost Writer was pretty good.

DavidEhrenstein said...

"Marty" (or rather Marty) is not a mythological figure. he puts on hsi pants one leg at a time -- unlike James Cameron who's lowered into them.

Yojimboen said...

Good one, David!

Did I accuse MS of being personally mythological? I hope not. I've known him since 1969, eaten with him a few times; he's a warm, generous, decent guy with an unquestionable and unquenchable love for cinema. I just happen not to care for his films. No big whoop.

BTW, I left a message for you over at The Auteurs.

Arthur S. said...

---------------
...and wonder if I’m the only person in the world who recognizes Gangs of New York for the unutterable tripe it is.
----------------

Well you aren't. GoNY recieved mixed reviews when it came out(like almost all great Scorsese films including RAGING BULL) and it is still highly problematic and contentious and not fully understood or appreciated(but then it was unloaded to screens in post 9/11 America, when it is a pre-9/11 film). It wasn't the blockbuster that the Brothers Weinstein wanted as it barely made back the big budget and it was too punk for Oscar prestige. In short a movie that left everybody, including its director, dissatisfied. In France of course, Jean-Michel Frodon recognized it as being possibly his most important film and in England, Salman Rushdie wrote a great piece about how it anticipated 21st century political insanity.

I've noticed that where at the end of the 90s, people called Scorsese the director of the decade(which he was, it being his most prolific and consistent period), in this decade there's this big backlash against him. It started with that absurd article William Goldman wrote saying that GoNY was shilling for Oscars(when it was a kind of film that the Oscars would never associate with in a million years, Leo DiCaprio notwithstanding) and now people saying that Scorsese has become a media-created mythology. Most film-makers who work as long as Scorsese has, go through lean patches, at the very least he hasn't made cheap indifferent work like the movies John Huston made in-between his personal films.

DavidEhrenstein said...

I've known him since 1964.

Marty's "lean patches" (and I think this is one) would be dizzing heights of cinematic mastery for most people.

Yojimboen said...

Wow, X., good thing I didn't tell them how little I think of De Niro!

Yojimboen said...

Seriously, David, I have no argument with your last premise, Martin Scorcese at his worst is streets ahead of many other directors at their best – but again, no big whoop; you admire his work, I don’t care for it.

Trish said...

Count me in as a fan of GoNY, although it's one of the dreariest-looking films ever made at Cinecitta. Surely New York was never that ugly...

That said, the Archers-influenced interiors look wonderful. Frankly, the movie is a near masterpiece, save for the hack job of the last hour, and the self-conscious work of Leo Di Caprio. Daniel Day-Lewis and Liam Neeson are a great cinematic pairing. As a film GoNY is far more worthy than the loathsome, disgusting and thoroughly unwatchable Goodfellas.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Actually New York WAS that ugly. read the book the movie is based on. People really lived in caves way downtown back then.

The Siren said...

One of the best things to do is our fair city is to wander around downtown with a copy of Low Life by Luc Sante.

I love Goodfellas, one of the few Mafia movies with the nerve to show how worthless they really are.

gmoke said...

"'Marty' (or rather Marty) is not a mythological figure. he puts on hsi pants one leg at a time -- unlike James Cameron who's lowered into them."

No, no, no. James Cameron is not lowered into his pants. His pants are elevated to cover his august body.

When I saw "Khundun" at a preview sponsored by the local Tibetan community, I thought it was close to a perfect film. Have not seen it all the way through since then, in part because I didn't want to spoil that memory, but the scenes I've seen still work and the last 20 minutes or so with Philip Glass' music building and building and building (and not giving me a crushing headache as one of his concerts did) was bravura film-making.

But you're entitled to your opinion if it didn't move you at all, at all.

Arthur S. said...

I actually think the set design of the film is possibly Dante Ferreti's masterpiece, it's just incredibly detailed. Daniel Day-Lewis mentioned that he loved the sets enough to sit there between shots and soak in the place. The thing about Scorsese is that he has a sensual appreciation for the dirty earthy places they lived in. Like TAXI DRIVER shows New York in the 70s as a hell-on-earth extravaganza on the order of the Venice section of THE TALES OF HOFFMANN but it's also sexy and alive. Must be the Catholic thing.

I like GoodFellas but consider GANGS OF NEW YORK a superior film, even if it is less compromised and less formally assured. For me "GoodFellas" is to "Casino" what "Kagemusha" is to "Ran", a dry run for things to come. The irony of that film is that working in the mafia means harder work and lesser pay than a regular job but these guys are in it for the perks and image that they are not like regular guys. ''Casino'' on the other hand is something entirely different, earlier gangster movies were a metaphor for the capitalist drive of social mobility, in this film, the mob isn't a metaphor it is actually a competitor in the system for a brief while. In terms of sets, CASINO is the ugliest and the gaudiest but it goes with the territory.

Vanwall said...

Personally, if I want to see the ugly bottom and underside of a big city in decay, in this case NYC of the early 1970s, with the utter nihilism of the dog-eat-dog crime world, I'll watch "Across 110th Street", just about as violent and hopeless as any film ever made, but gawd, what a decayed reality they wandered thru - and much of it not as sets, but the real thing. The ugly obverse of the sublimely and naturally beautiful "The Duellists". The almost unknown Barry Shear rose from the rank of pedestrian TV director for this one, and the surreal "Wild in the Streets".

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