Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Movie-going malaise

Yes, I’ve got it. Call it the movie-going malaise. The cinematic blues. The crummy picture collywobbles. Whatever you call it, it ain’t pretty. No, I’m not burned out on the movies. Far from it. In the past few weeks, I’ve watched: Abel Gance’s J’Accuse (1919) (all nearly three hours of it); Ernst Lubitsch’s Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938); Victor Saville’s Evergreen (1934); Frank Tuttle’s Waikiki Wedding (1937); F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise (1927); Josef von Sternberg’s Shanghai Express (1932); Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989); and David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch (1991). And these were movies I didn’t have to watch. To this, you can add in the fact that I’ve picked up David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986) and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985) and Tideland (2005). And there’s a copy of Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) just sitting here waiting for reappraisal.

I’ve seen new movies I’ve liked, including last week’s Iron Man and Flawless. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Counterfeiters on any list of recent viewings.

But there’s something missing. That little extra kick isn’t quite there. Discounting the usual run of last year’s releases that just penetrated the hinterlands this year, the only movies from 2008 on that list of titles I fully intend to buy the minute they become available are Be Kind Rewind, The Band’s Visit and In Bruges. Worse, there’s the question of just what there is to look forward to — and this is where it gets really grim.

Most people look at the trailers prior to movies and think, “That looks interesting” or “That might be good” or “That looks awful” or “I’d rather drink my own urine than see that” (usually reserved for the works of Uwe Boll) or “Who’d go see that?” The answer to that last is simple for me — either I will, or Justin Souther will (depending on the level of sadism I can live with). For you, they’re just trailers. For me, they’re more like some often unfortunate crystal ball predicting my future in widescreen color and six channel Dolby sound.

OK, so I hold out some vague hope that this week’s Speed Racer might at least be visually striking, while the very idea of David Mamet making a martial arts picture — Redbelt — starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (perhaps my favorite actor of current film) and Tim Allen (definitely not my favorite actor from any era) intrigues me. The less said about the prospect of What Happens in Vegas… the better, except to note that I won’t be seeing it. (Tee hee hee, he giggled sadistically.) I positively loathed The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) and am not exactly looking forward to its sequel, Prince Caspian.

I’m probably one of four people living (there were five, I understand, but the fifth passed away suddenly), who has close to zero interest in Indiana Jones and the Impossibly Long Title. And do we really need a big screen version of Sex and the City? Could The Strangers look any less interesting or more derivative if they tried? Oh, but there’s Adam Sandler in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, isn’t there? And Kung-Fu Panda.

More comic book movies are on their way, of course. Next up is yet another version of The Incredible Hulk — this one from Louis Leterrier, who gave us The Transporter and its sequel, and starring Edward Norton. What kind of casting is that? Does it matter? The CGI looks appalling, and anyway, I actually kind of liked Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003). Worse, Norton (who took a hand in “improving” the Frida (2002) screenplay, thereby helping to make that Julie Taymor’s least interesting film) was involved in the writing.

Of course, there’s more enticing comic-bookery afoot with Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy II the following month. And while the first film was a big “so what?” for me, the trailer for this looks better, which is to say that it has a similar look to Pan’s Labyrinth. Does it look enough better to get me past the depressing news that del Toro has signed away four years of his creativity to make two Hobbit movies? Not really, no, especially when that presumably moves such tasty looking projects as his film of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness to 2012 or beyond. Or will he simply follow Peter Jackson’s example and remake Son of Kong as a follow-up? Don’t get me wrong, I liked Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, even if the only one I felt truly compelled to see more than twice was the first one. But I’m kind of Tolkiened out, and can’t help but think that del Toro’s unique gifts could be better applied elsewhere.

Yes, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight holds promise, and I have no doubt that it will be good. If nothing else, the late Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker looks absolutely fantastic. But in all honesty, I’m otherwise having a hard time getting that worked up about another Batman movie. I’ll be delighted if Nolan and company can change my mind — and they just might.

Of course, somewhere along the way, there’s room for a new M. Night Shyamalan picture, The Happening. Yeah, I know I found some merit in Lady in the Water (2006), even while admitting its flaws, but I haven’t forgiven him for The Village (2004) or suckering me into temporary insanity and causing me to give Signs (2002) that inexplicably positive review that haunts me to this day. And can I be the only person who finds the trailer for this latest funny? The business where somebody comes down with the “mysterious disease” and we hear the sound of a body falling after the trailer cuts away to a title card is very droll.

Get Smart is admittedly well-cast (The Rock to one side), but another TV show going to the big screen? Why? And let’s face it, Adam Sandler’s pet director Peter Segal (The Longest Yard) at the helm is cause for pause — or cause to send you in search of the TV series. Personally, I can’t wait for the new Mike Myers picture, The Love Guru, to come out, but only because that will mean the trailer will go away, and petitions from Hindu organizations asking me to boycott the movie will stop landing in my in-box every two days. (Good Lord, I just got another one — and I’m not kidding.) Except that no one is protesting it, I have similar feelings about the prospect of the Disney-Pixar WALL-E. That trailer, with the world’s longest lead-in to the song “Brazil” (Terry Gilliam envy?), is just too cute for me.

While Timur Bekmambetov has made a cottage industry of the Night Watch series in Russia, the films have failed to make much of a dent (at least theatrically) here, but what are we to make of Wanted? It’s based on a comic book (does no one read, oh, I don’t know, actual books anymore?). It has a not uninteresting cast — James McAvy, Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie, Terrence Stamp — but the trailer looks like non-stop action of the Matrix rip-off variety.

Peter Berg’s Hancock will be a hit because everything Will Smith attaches himself to is, whether or not it deserves it. But am I enthused? No. Brian Robbins — the man who gave us The Shaggy Dog (2006) and Norbit (2007) back to back — returns with another Eddie Murphy comedy, Meet Dave. This one has Murphy playing a space-ship run by tiny aliens. (That’s what it says.) Obviously, it’s for people who can’t get enough of The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002). What about Space Chimps? Doesn’t the title kind of say it all?

Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and Stellan Skarsgard are an imposing collection of talent, but have you seen the trailer for the filmization of Mamma Mia!? Ye gods. In two-and-a-half minutes it answered my question from last week’s Screening Room — why do people hate musicals? Yes, the ABBA songs are catchy (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert proved that 14 years ago), but the musical numbers as depicted in the trailer are almost exactly the sort of thing that could send viewers in search of a torture porn flick as an antidote. I’m hoping the trailer doesn’t do the film justice.

The Will Ferrell machine grinds on with Step Brothers. Didn’t we just get rid of Semi-Pro? And what’s this? The Longshots — another family comedy with Ice Cube. Barbershop (2002) seems like ancient history. It’s the kind of thing that makes The X-Files: I Want to Believe look actually promising, except that nobody really seems to know anything about The X-Files, which may be a good thing. Even after it’s been here and gone, I’m guessing most people still won’t know anything about Henry Poole Is Here — the track record for movies starring Luke Wilson is far from whelming.

August looks a little better, if we charitably overlook the prospect of College (exactly what it sounds like), Babylon A.D. (the return of Vin Diesel!), House Bunny (from the director of Strange Wilderness!), Bangkok Dangerous (Nicolas Cage in a greasy wig as a hitman!), The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (this needed a sequel?) and Wild Child (can Emma Roberts become a star?). Griffin Dunne’s The Accidental Husband might be OK, if things like Made of Honor haven’t caused you to lose all faith in romantic comedies. The Apatow crowd will probably take delight in the stoner comedy Pineapple Express directed by David Gordon Green, but I can’t work up enthusiasm for the pairing of Seth Rogen and James Franco. The prospect of a third Brendan Fraser Mummy picture is only ho-hum-worthy in itself, but it becomes an essay in stark terror when you realize the director, Rob Cohen, gave us Stealth (2005) and xXx (2002).

My personal favorite bet for the end of summer is Ryuhei Kitamura’s The Midnight Meat Train from the Clive Barker story of the same name. I really don’t even care if the movie’s any good. The title alone sells me — and the title and trailer were the highlight of sitting through Good Luck Chuck (2007). The trailer is too much a jumble of images, interspersed with some unintentionally campy dialogue, to tell a lot about the picture, but some of those fleeting glimpses are downright freaky looking (in a good way). Regardless, this may just be the greatest title ever.

OK, so maybe it’s not that grim, but the prospects still feel like a mix of “yes, it is that grim” and the “maybe it’ll surprise me” range, meaning there’s a basic lack of real excitement here. And that could be offset if the fall/winter season looked good, but right now I’m not seeing anything other than Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener) Blindness that really enthuses me. The problem is that folks like Wes Anderson, David O. Russell, Pedro Almodovar, Alfonso Cuaron, Neil Jordan, Tim Burton, etc. are all slated for movies in 2009. We’ve had our Michel Gondry (Be Kind Rewind) for the year. Julie Taymor doesn’t even seem to have anything in the works. It’s dispiriting.

Maybe there are surprises in store, something completely out of nowhere just lurking in the shadows. I certainly hope so. In the meantime, there’s Midnight Meat Train.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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30 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Movie-going malaise

  1. “Julie Taymor doesn’t even seem to have anything in the works”

    Thank god.

    Seth Rogen and James Franco worked quite well years ago in the tv show FREAKS AND GEEKS, which is considered to be one of the best series in recent memory.

    I’ve been so busy lately that I had no idea that there’s an adaptation of MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN coming out. Barker has rarely been well adapted, so I have high hopes for this one too.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Seth Rogen and James Franco worked quite well years ago in the tv show FREAKS AND GEEKS, which is considered to be one of the best series in recent memory.

    Considered by whom? But that’s beside the point. Here’s my beef — apart from not liking either actor very much — you’re glad that Taymor isn’t making anything, which is your right. But the difference between Taymor and something from the Apatow Factory is this: with Taymor, you can predict something of the style, but Titus, Frida and Across the Universe are very different films. With the Apatow (so far, it really hasn’t mattered who the director is) film you’re pretty certain — like 99% — that you’re going to get another celebration of the slacker/stoner mindset that will end up with the pushing-middle-age hero finally moving away from being stuck at 17. The variant on this — Superbad and Drillbit Taylor — moves that theme to subplot level, but it’s still pretty much the same one-note event.

  3. bobaloo

    The Accidental Husband might be OK

    I disagree with some of your opinions in this article, but none more so than this. You saw the trailer, yes?

  4. Maybe this quote will keep you going…

    “Moviehole reports that there is a small chance that the modern cult-classic POOTIE TANG may get a sequel. Here’s what Chris Rock has to say about it: “We keep talking about it. I don’t know, man. Start a club. Get some people to sign a petition. It’s weird. There are some people who love Pootie Tang and then there are other people who hate Pootie Tang with a passion and want to destroy Mr. Tang. But I would love to do another Pootie Tang. I live to do another Pootie Tang. So it could happen.” Sepotown!”

  5. Ken Hanke

    You saw the trailer, yes?

    Actually, when I wrote those pretty non-committal words, no, I hadn’t. I was basing it on the cast (well, part of it) and director. I saw the trailer on Thursday and I’m decidedly less encouraged. Still, I’m not sure it fills me with the same level of dread as Meet Dave, Mamma Mia or You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.

  6. “Considered by whom? But that’s beside the point. Here’s my beef—apart from not liking either actor very much—you’re glad that Taymor isn’t making anything, which is your right.”

    FREAKS AND GEEKS has a 9.6 out of 10 rating on imdb, which is unheard of.

    Actually, I do like Taymor’s films except for ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, which I thought was a huge misstep for her.

    Also, we have the same opinions on Apatow. I didn’t like KNOCKED UP at all, and the only thing I found funny about SUPERBAD was the McLovin subplot, which should have been the focus of the film. With PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, I am mainly rooting for David Gordon Green, one of the better directors working today. Watch some FREAKS AND GEEKS, and you will see chemistry between Rogen and Franco.

  7. Ken Hanke

    FREAKS AND GEEKS has a 9.6 out of 10 rating on imdb, which is unheard of.

    And utterly meaningless. All IMDb voting is irrelevant because it’s so padded and controlled by fanboys and shills. We’re talking about a website where movies are thrust into the “top 250” a week or so before they’re even released. This is not conducive to making me take it all that seriously — nor is the fact that most of the people going to that page and rating that show are going to be fans of the show.

    With PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, I am mainly rooting for David Gordon Green, one of the better directors working today.

    I don’t think I could go that far. I might go as far as “one of the more interesting low-budget directors working today,” but I’ve yet to see a film of his that I thought was really great. And from the trailer, I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to be the one to change that. It looks like a basic stoner comedy with a thrill comedy plot. In its favor is the fact that Green kept Tim Orr as his cinematographer, and much that has been good in Green’s films strikes me as being due to Orr. (If memory serves, those amazing time-lapse shots inside the ruins of the old Sayles Bleachery in All the Real Girls were entirely Orr’s doing and concept.)

  8. “And utterly meaningless. All IMDb voting is irrelevant because it’s so padded and controlled by fanboys and shills. We’re talking about a website where movies are thrust into the “top 250” a week or so before they’re even released. This is not conducive to making me take it all that seriously—nor is the fact that most of the people going to that page and rating that show are going to be fans of the show.”

    I guess your right. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE somehow managed to eek out a 7.7 rating :) Unfortunately there’s no rottentomatoes for dvd releases, but I think if you research some reviews for FREAKS AND GEEKS, you will find them consistent with the fanboys.

    I use imdb plus rottentomatoes when I decide on how many copies to order of a film. I do knock imdb’s point system down a few pegs, as well as a film that too many critics fawn over. A lot of movies are critic proof and a lot of critical favorites are turn offs to the public at large.

  9. Ken Hanke

    I guess your right. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE somehow managed to eek out a 7.7 rating

    It’s the nature of the beast. Apart from people who go out of their way to go to titles they hated just to register their disaproval, the folks who visit a particular title are going to be fans of that title. And they tend to rate things defensively high in an attempt to counter the bad ratings, etc.

    A lot of movies are critic proof and a lot of critical favorites are turn offs to the public at large.

    Are they turn-offs because they’re critical favorites or simply because no one but a critic is apt to like, say, a Romanian angst abortion drama? I can certainly understand that concept. Then again, the public at large shelled out a couple hundred million bucks to see Alvin and the Chipmunks — something that doesn’t say much for the public at large.

  10. “Are they turn-offs because they’re critical favorites or simply because no one but a critic is apt to like, say, a Romanian angst abortion drama?”

    For this reason I’m very appreciative of your reviews Ken. I ordered too much of the last Cannes winner. Great movie, great director, great cast (with our boy Cillian Murphy no less). NO ONE rented it. I learned my lesson and just bringing in a couple copies of 4 MONTHS.

    “Then again, the public at large shelled out a couple hundred million bucks to see Alvin and the Chipmunks—something that doesn’t say much for the public at large.”

    In Alvin’s case, a popular favorite, but critical disaster, I ordered light, and turned out having exactly the number of copies that I needed.

  11. Vince Lugo

    Ken: At the risk of overhyping it, I have to tell you, you need to see Speed Racer. In all my film studies classes, there was a lot of discussion about the language of cinema. Speed Racer has invented an entirely new language. The W Brothers do things here with editing and visual effects that would have been unheard of even five years ago. Some see incoherency, I see a revolution. The only fitting analogy I can think of is Star Wars. When that film was released in 1977, it changed the way movies were made and nothing has been the same since. I predict that Speed Racer will do the same. This is a huge moment in cinematic history and it saddens me that so many critics have failed to see that and to me at least they have lost much of their credibility.

  12. Ken Hanke

    Hey don’t forget The Fall. That one looks stunning.

    And it might well be, but I haven’t heard a single word about it opening locally. It’ll probably depend on how it does in limited release this weekend. It’s being handled by Roadside, I think, which means it’s almost certainly a Fine Arts prospect.

  13. Justin Souther

    “Hey don’t forget The Fall. That one looks stunning.”

    I just watched the trailer for that (a friend of mine mentioned it earlier tonight) and it certainly looks sharp, the only question I have is if the story can hold up. I mean, one of the screenwriters wrote FREEJACK.

    And after watching WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS earlier this afternoon, and sitting through the trailers, I got a stark look into my future, with movies like THE HOUSE BUNNY and THE LOVE GURU. The only thing that had even a modicum of potential was HAMLET 2.

    I come to expect bad movies these days, but there’s nothing out there that even slightly excites me. Hopefully this just means I’ll end up with more that a few pleasant surprises.

  14. Ken Hanke

    For this reason I’m very appreciative of your reviews Ken. I ordered too much of the last Cannes winner. Great movie, great director, great cast (with our boy Cillian Murphy no less). NO ONE rented it. I learned my lesson and just bringing in a couple copies of 4 MONTHS.

    I don’t think it helps that The Wind That Shakes the Barley is a pretty awful title. Then again, Ken Loach has always tended to make movies that critics love and nobody else much cares about. My own feelings about Loach are fairly tepid, but on this one, you can put me down on the list of people who never saw it.

  15. Ken Hanke

    I got a stark look into my future, with movies like THE HOUSE BUNNY and THE LOVE GURU.

    I will vow here and now to undertake at least one — if not both — of these titles. And considering that I already agreed that you were Will Ferrelled enough for one year, I’ll be taking Step Brothers, too. Now, tell me I don’t have your best interests at heart.

  16. “I will vow here and now to undertake at least one—if not both—of these titles.”

    All of WNC will be eagerly awaiting your review of THE LOVE GURU. God help us if you like it.

  17. Justin Souther

    “Now, tell me I don’t have your best interests at heart.”

    I’ll tell you you don’t want me quitting or running in front of a bus.

  18. Ken Hanke

    I’ll tell you you don’t want me quitting or running in front of a bus.

    After The Love Guru I might slip you five bucks to shove me in front of a bus.

  19. Ken Hanke

    Ken: At the risk of overhyping it, I have to tell you, you need to see Speed Racer. In all my film studies classes, there was a lot of discussion about the language of cinema. Speed Racer has invented an entirely new language.

    I have seen it and — without making my review for Wednesday superfluous — I don’t entirely disagree with you, though I think you somewhat overstate the case. I wouldn’t say that it invents an entirely new language of film, but it extends aspects of the existing one. Some of what it does is almost a direct extension of things Marc Forster did in 2005 with Stay, which, unfortunately, almost no one bothered to see. Other things have roots as far back (at least) as Rene Clair’s Dadaist Entr’acte from 1924 or thereabouts. I’m not trying to sell what the Wachowskis did short, merely saying it’s perhaps not the break it appears.

    The only fitting analogy I can think of is Star Wars. When that film was released in 1977, it changed the way movies were made and nothing has been the same since.

    Now, this I do disagree with. Artistically and creatively, Star Wars changed nothing. It made effects-driven movies a hot item, sure, and it changed the way movies were marketed and viewed by the studios. These things, I would argue, were a huge backward step for film, not an advancement. The movie changed things, but not from anything even remotely connected with altering, expanding or splitting away from the language of film. Strip it of its special effects and it’s rudimentary, old-fashioned filmmaking with a pretty simple plot and a nickel’s worth of faux philosophy. Sure, it changed film by finishing off that which Spielberg started with Jaws by moving the focus of the studios almost entirely to the blockbuster mentality, but what actual stylistic accomplishment did the film make? What is the film’s actual legacy in terms of influence? What from it has been assimilated into the language of film?

    I’m not looking at Star Wars here from the perspective of business or cultural phenomenon — merely in terms of what it did or didn’t do artistically. Let’s see, it took a plot not far removed from a 1930s serial and dressed it up a bit, but not much. It even attempted to duplicate the look and feel of a 1930s serial. And what is particularly noteworthy about the way in which the film was structured or shot? I’m not seeing it. I’m seeing a revolution — and not one I find desirable — but not in any creative sense.

    On the other hand, I would agree that the Wachowski’s have indeed done something different in terms of creativity. I have far more respect for and interest in Speed Racer than Star Wars — though not without reservations.

    I predict that Speed Racer will do the same. This is a huge moment in cinematic history and it saddens me that so many critics have failed to see that and to me at least they have lost much of their credibility.

    I’d say this is improbable — at least directly. Someone will take what the film has done and adapt it to different ends, but unless a miracle occurs, the Wachowskis have already lost the battle where it matters most — they’ve made a blockbuster that’s not busting and blocks. On its opening weekend, Speed Racer couldn’t even get near toppling Iron Man. Worse, it only barely outdistanced What Happens in Vegas… — and it’s so close to that film’s gross that it might come in lower by the time the actual returns are counted on Monday. That leaves them with a stylistically revolutionary $100 million (approx.) film (pre-advertising costs) with an opening gross about $20 million, which roughly translates into 55% of that take going to the studio. This does not bode well.

  20. Two quick points…. I agree wholeheartedly about the underated nature of Ang Lee’s The HULK. In a way, the problem with The HULK as a big screen character is that he’s too human to come off well in CGI. I mean, Gollum came off well, but he’s subhuman, more monster than man. The HULK is as well, but starts as a real man which leaves the beholder to have to truly suspend disbelief beyond any other attempts at Monster CGI like King Kong or Jar Jar Binks or whoever.

    And secondly, I have very high hopes for The Dark Knight as well. Movies have become irrelevant to me at this point, except as visual candy escapism, and I guess I am prime audience for the Hollywood that realizes I just want to blank out and relive my childhood when I can bring myself to endure 2 hours of anything anymore. I say, bring on Transformers 2 with Devastor, bring on GI Joe, bring on the V remake.

    Nice writing in the orignal piece above…and in the print weekly.

  21. Ken Hanke

    Moviehole reports that there is a small chance that the modern cult-classic POOTIE TANG may get a sequel.

    Life has meaning once more.

    Sorry I am late getting to this, but I was minus electricity from Sunday evening till late last night. But trust me, I was thinking about the prospect of Pootie Tang 2 all the time…well, maybe not all the time, but a portion of it.

  22. Justin Souther

    How wrong of me is it that I’d be more curious about seeing a POOTIE TANG sequel than 95% of what’s in theaters right now?

  23. Ken Hanke

    Nice writing in the orignal piece above…and in the print weekly.

    Thank you, and I tend to suspect that you’re pretty much on target as concerns the problem with the Hulk. Of course, at least part of the problem with the Ang Lee film was an ending that went on and on and on, combined with a really ill-advised attempt to duplicate the comic’s idea of a continent-leaping Hulk. That might look OK on the page, but it plays mighty silly.

  24. Ken Hanke

    How wrong of me is it that I’d be more curious about seeing a POOTIE TANG sequel than 95% of what’s in theaters right now?

    Well, I don’t think it’s a punishable offense at least.

    I hate to sound curmudgeonly and “back in my day” about this, but compare what’s out there now to Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday (1940), which we watched last night — as did Louis from these pages. There’s more speed, drive and just plain life — not to mention creativity — in that movie’s 90 minutes than in just about anything playing currently. Now, why is that? There’s no clear reason why that should be. And I guess that’s not really a “back in my day” statement, since, despite rumors to the contrary, I wasn’t around in 1940. And, no, I’m not putting forth one of those “they don’t make ’em like they used to” arguments — for the simple reason that the movies that hold up like this are the work of people who were engaged in the process of deliberately not “making ’em like they used to.”

  25. Louis

    Ohhh the speed…ohhh the drive. “His Girl Friday” is a masterful piece of filmmaking. I dare say there’s more dialogue–funny, entertaining writing–in its 90+ minutes than all the other movies currently playing in the multiplex, combined. And, as Ken is so quick to point out, despite all the enjoyable advancements in home-theater viewing, nothing competes with seeing movies on the big screen. I noticed jewelry (upon further thought, perhaps Grant’s pinky-worn wedding ring was an ever-so-subtle way of clueing us in that Burns hadn’t ever gotten over his wife-ex-wife-soon-to-be-wife?) and flashing neon lights in the 68-year-old background that I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have noticed on the nicest of today’s flat-panel televisions. As a result, now I’ve got to check into the never-before-reported resemblance between Susan Sarandon and Rosalind Russell (at least with her hat on)??? All in all, a real treat. One I thoroughly got a kick out of.

  26. Ken Hanke

    For years I had a 16mm print of His Girl Friday (I may still have it, come to think of it), so I’m more used to seeing it large than many films. As a result, I don’t think I had any big screen revelations from seeing it again. At the same time, I had a 16mm print of The Black Cat (1934) and it was only recently — on seeing it full-sized — that I’d noticed the tear running down Lugosi’s face when he sees his wife suspended in the glass coffin. (Of course, not all 16mm prints were created equal.)

  27. Ken Hanke

    I haven’t seen it yet. Stranger still, I bought the DVD (it didn’t play here) and have no idea what I did with it.

  28. irelephant

    Could be a blessing. It was alternately brilliantly beautiful and harrowingly difficult. I’ve always really liked Terry Gilliam’s movies, but Tideland had an equal mixture of the things I love about him and the things I didn’t know I hated about him. If I were to give it a star rating, I’d give it four and a half simply for audacity.

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