Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Aug. 19-25: The Basterds are upon us

In theaters

This week it’s all about Quentin Tarantino, as his long-gestating, long-anticipated Inglourious Basterds arrives on the scene. Speculation runs high. Is this going to be a “great” film, another of the filmmaker’s trashy pop-culture masterpieces? Or is this going to be the mess that a lot of early reports have claimed? And even if it is a mess, will it be a glorious mess or just a plain old mess?

Whatever it is, Tarantino is certainly copping an attitude with his new baby and taking a page from the Clint Eastwood/Steven Spielberg playbook by insisting that the film be released—at least as much as possible—on 35mm and not on digital. You may recall that Eastwood pulled this on Flags of Our Fathers (2006) and Spielberg demanded at least one 35mm print of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) be available at digital venues where such was possible. (Of course, after Flags underperformed, no such further demands came from Eastwood.)

The idea is that 35mm delivers a better picture. This is one of those debatable points that is hardly supported by the evidence of your eyes. Now, tech heads will argue specs and several other points—all the while overlooking the fact that every film made these days has been digitized for purposes of effects and editing and only then turned back into film. But the demonstrable fact is that digital neither scratches, nor fades, and is, if anything, sharper than a print. Digital is also more consistent, which is to say that lab errors and variable quality prints aren’t a consideration. I haven’t been able to find out Tarantino’s reasoning—maybe he wants the film to scratch and wear to better capture that drive-in-movie feel—but from my perspective, it’s senseless affectation.

Regardless of this technical issue, Inglourious Basterds is the movie to beat this week—only nothing is likely to do that, since its competition is the kid flick Shorts from Tarantino buddy Robert Rodriguez and a comedy called Post Grad that’s flying so low it’s practically off the radar. Locally, we can add The Cove, which is a pretty powerful documentary with a strong 94 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But it is a documentary, which limits its draw right there.

Personally, I’m delighted to see something with a bit of controversy come along by way of Inglourious Basterds—the very title of which got one theater chain’s knickers in a twist, to the degree that they refused to put up the posters in the belief that the title might offend the tender sensibilities of their patrons. (I like to fantasize that said chain was alarmed by the poor spelling and not that word, but I know that’s not the case.) There’s also the additional excitement of how much—like possibly their very existence—the Weinsteins have riding on this movie.

At the same time, there are still good films playing in area theaters: (500) Days of Summer, District 9, Ponyo, Julie & Julia and even Up are still to be found on local screens. We certainly have no want of options.

New on DVD

This is pretty grim. Hannah Montana: The Movie tops the list of mainstream releases on DVD this week. That’s the sort of news that could drive you to buy the miserable remake of Last House on the Left simply in response, but I’d advise against it. A much better idea is the Icons of Sci-Fi Toho Collection, a three-for-one collection of Ishiro Honda movies: The H-Man (1958), Battle in Outer Space (1959) and Mothra (1961). The set would be worth it for The H-Man alone, which is one of Honda’s best movies—and which has never been available in its proper wide-screen format till now.

Also worth noting is that Akira Kurosawa’s Kagemusha (1980) comes out on Blu-ray, as does Jacques Tati’s Playtime (1967). There’s also—on plain old DVD—an extended (142-minute) version of John Cassavete’s Husbands (1970). This is good news for those who can get into Cassavete’s more-or-less improvisational cinema-talk fests. I confess I am not among those, but don’t let that stop you, since this one’s supposed to be his best.

Notable TV screenings

Turner Classic Movies continues its Summer Under the Stars series, which pays off in a couple of days of dividends at least. On the other hand, it’s certainly worth noting that Dunston Checks In has, yes, once again checked in at Fox Movie Channel. There’s a certain comfort in consistency, I suppose.

Miriam Hopkins Thursday, Aug. 20, starting at 6 a.m., TCM

Miriam Hopkins isn’t an actress who is to everyone’s liking, but I’ve always found her at least interesting—and on more than a few occasions a lot more than that. I’m pleased to see TCM turn over an entire 24 hours to her. The daytime crop isn’t much—though you might want to check out Old Acquaintance (1943) where she squares off against Bette Davis (who disliked Hopkins with a passion). The film—shown at 2 p.m.—offers Hopkins at her most irritating. But that’s OK, because she’s supposed to be irritating here. It’s worth sitting through if only to get to the scene where a fed-up Davis gives her a good shaking. An extremely satisfying moment.

The real treats come in the evening starting at 8 with a triple feature of The Smiling Lieutenant (1931), Trouble in Paradise (1932) and Design for Living (1933). These are the films—three of them anyway—that ought to have been part of TCM’s Ernst Lubitsch tribute back when they did their Great Directors series. This particular trio represents Lubitsch at the very height of his filmmaking power—and they’re terrific showcases for Hopkins, too.

For years The Smiling Lieutenant was considered a lost film, which in turn caused it to be downgraded as lesser Lubitsch. (Let’s call this rationalization.) When we finally got to see it, it turned out to be at least very close to Lubitsch’s best film—or so I will continue to claim. It’s first and foremost a Maurice Chevalier vehicle. He plays the title character—a genial womanizer (well, he’s Chevalier) in the Austrian army who becomes involved in an affair with a pretty violinist (Claudette Colbert) in an all-girl orchestra. That’s fine, except a bit of flirting with her is mistaken for flirting with a rather plain visiting princess (Hopkins)—and the only way out is for Chevalier to marry her. Of course, the marriage is a disaster, because he still loves the violinist—something Colbert ultimately sets to rights by turning Hopkins into a sexy little thing.

It’s constantly stylish and funny—with an unusual taste of the bittersweet about it. The problem is that it’s a musical and the songs aren’t all that hot. That’s something of a downside with a musical. In fact, it’s the only of Chevalier’s films of the era that doesn’t appear to have produced a tie-in single recording. Actually, “Jazz Up Your Lingerie” (the song Colbert uses to help transform Hopkins) is pretty good. The others aren’t bad, but they’re fairly undistinguished. Still, lyricist Clifford Grey deserves some kind of medal for rhyming “liver” and “quiver” in “Breakfast Table Love”—and possibly a military funeral to go with it.

Trouble in Paradise follows and is about as close to a perfect movie as you’re going to get. Here Hopkins plays a fairly petty thief (and accomplished pickpocket) who teams up with Herbert Marshall’s more accomplished thief (he describes himself as “the man who walked into the Bank of Monte Carlo and walked out with the Bank of Monte Carlo”). Of course, they also fall in love—a situation that becomes threatened when they set out to fleece a wealthy and beautiful perfume manufacturer (Kay Francis).

Every line is sharp and clever. Every camera move and composition is sophisticated and witty. And every performance is on the money, from the three leads to Edward Everett Horton, Charlie Ruggles, C. Aubrey Smith and even Robert Greig as the butler. The odd thing is that there are only two songs: a title song sung by Donald Novis over the credits and a radio jingle for the perfume company. Still, it’s the most musical film Lubitsch ever made, and that’s only partly due to what was then called its “interpolated” score by W. Franke Harling. It’s mostly just the approach. There is—if you look hard enough—the visible shadow of a microphone in one shot.That’s the sort of thing you have to look for to find a flaw.

Nearly as good—and affording Hopkins her best role of all—is Design for Living, an adaptation of the Noel Coward play that screenwriter Ben Hecht bragged retained only one of Coward’s lines. That might cheese Coward fans, but the rest of us don’t much care because of the splendid things he put in their place and Lubitsch’s typically stylish direction. This round Hopkins has no female competition, but stars with Gary Cooper and Fredric March as one third of what is really nothing more than a ménage à trois. The film skirts this by the trio having a “gentlemen’s agreement” that foreswears sex. Of course, this doesn’t work, and Hopkins ends up with both men whenever she’s alone with either. (And, yes, there’s subtext for days.) Even for a pre-code film, this is surprisingly sophisticated material.

Fredric March Monday, Aug. 24, starting at 6 a.m., TCM

Fredric March is an actor who isn’t as appreciated these days as he ought to be, so it’s nice to see him get a day under the TCM stars. He certainly deserves one. Personally, I’d have liked to see The Royal Family of Broadway (1930) with his brilliant impersonation of John Barrymore, and I live in hope that TCM will finally get around to ponying up to Universal to get Laughter (1930), one of the most sophisticated of all early talkies. Still, we do get a nice mix here.

The day starts with one of the most interesting—and little seen—of the films: Rouben Mamoulian’s We Live Again (1934). This is a Sam Goldwyn production from the period where Goldwyn was trying to turn Anna Sten into his very own Garbo. Sten wasn’t bad, but the public wasn’t buying it. This Tolstoy-based film—with a screenplay by a gaggle of writers, including Maxwell Anderson and Preston Sturges—is almost certainly her best. March is excellent as the nobleman who seduces peasant-girl Sten and is redeemed by his love for her. It’s an intriguing, somewhat odd film for Mamoulian. While it’s clearly his work in a number of ways, it also seems heavily influenced by both James Whale and Josef von Sternberg in terms of its stylization—not to mention an opening that looks like it might be out of a Soviet agricultural paen of the era.

For me, it’s the centerpiece of the day, but that’s mostly because it’s the rarest item on the list. There’s plenty of prime March to be found throughout the day and night, including A Star Is Born (1937), Mamoulian’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) and Anna Karenina (1935). I think the real question is—where is Death Takes a Holiday (1934)?

 

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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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63 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Aug. 19-25: The Basterds are upon us

  1. Dread P. Roberts

    On the other hand, it’s certainly worth noting that Dunston Checks In has, yes, once again checked in at Fox Movie Channel.

    Hell yeah! I had my fingers crossed for this week. Could we get a date and time? I need to plan my boys night out in advance.

  2. steph

    I hope Basterds bombs. Never understood the appeal of Tarantino and due to overexposure, I’m sick of Brad Pitt.

    However I suspect it will do well.

  3. This is pretty grim. Hannah Montana: The Movie tops the list of mainstream releases on DVD this week.

    There’s WAY more out there than this!

    There is an explosion of television shows out today, headlined with the Orbit favorite DEXTER SEASON 3. Also out is the “so trashy its great” GOSSIP GIRL SEASON 2, the critically acclaimed SONS OF ANARCHY (Ron Pearlman!), SIMPSONS SEA 12, DIRTY SEXY MONEY SEA 2 and ELI STONE SEA 2.

    From the director of the incredible TUVALU comes his latest, ABSURDISTAN. More foreign films include the Shaw Brothers classic 5 DEADLY VENOMS and the Iranian FISH FALL IN LOVE.

    James Toback’s TYSON is probably our biggest non-tv release for the week. More odds and ends is a decent Sci-Fi channel flick WYVERN, INGLORIOUS BASTARDS 2 (w/Miles O’Keefe!), the unnecessary LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, the interesting Jennifer Lynch thriller SURVEILLANCE and the documentary ANGRY MONK.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Hell yeah! I had my fingers crossed for this week. Could we get a date and time? I need to plan my boys night out in advance.

    This could be tricky — it’s on at 4 p.m. this afternoon (Wed).

  5. Ken Hanke

    I hope Basterds bombs. Never understood the appeal of Tarantino and due to overexposure, I’m sick of Brad Pitt.

    I’m kind of ambivalent about both — and I don’t have any particular desire to see this bomb. I’ve tended to find Tarantino overrated, but I really like the Kill Bill films. I disliked Reservoir Dogs intensely, though, and thought Pulp Fiction interestingly written, indifferently made and way overrated. The less said about Death Proof the better. This, however, looks fascinating — in a pop culture/trash manner, which is the only way to take Tarantino for me. The actual biggest drawback for me is the presence of Eli Roth.

  6. Carrie

    Hey Ken! Was it me or did you just talk about a movie you haven’t seen? Is that a “review”? Strange.

    Orbit DVD: Why do you hate the Weinstiens.. curious:)

  7. Ken Hanke

    About BASTERDS. I like Tarantino but hate the Weinstein Brothers so much. I want this to fail, and fail big. They’ve gambled the farm on this one, and if it’s a bomb, they might be done.

    I’ve never quite known exactly why you hate the Weinsteins, but you could easily get your wish with this one. I don’t know that I’d want my future banked on movies by Tarantino and Rob Zombie. The latter appears to be a hell of a nice guy, but that has no bearing on the success or failure of Halloween 2. And the trailer looks like Zombie is back to the stylistic flourishes of House of 1000 Corpses. One clip — the little girl asking Michael Myers,”Are you a giant?” — suggests that Zombie’s got his classic horror fan geek on again, since that’s straight out of Ghost of Frankenstein (1942). These things actually make me more interested in the film, but I’m not sure they’re box office savvy.

  8. Ken Hanke

    Hey Ken! Was it me or did you just talk about a movie you haven’t seen? Is that a “review”? Strange.

    I talk about a lot of movies I haven’t seen, but that’s by no stretch of the imagination a review, nor should it be taken as one.

  9. Dread P. Roberts

    This could be tricky—it’s on at 4 p.m. this afternoon (Wed)

    Fiddlesticks!

  10. Stephanie Perkins

    [Huh. There’s another Steph here. I feel compelled to go full-name again.]

    I’m definitely curious about Basterds, but I’ll wait for your review before venturing into a theater.

    And this? “I like to fantasize that said chain was alarmed by the poor spelling and not that word, but I know that’s not the case.”

    Me too. Meeeee toooooooo.

    Also, Reservoir Dogs is my favorite. Pulp Fiction, I feel the same way you do. And Kill Bill? That’s where I’m wishy-washy.

    Oh, but Death Proof — I loved the final scene, but I scratched my head/snoozed through the rest of it.

  11. Stephanie Perkins

    [Huh. There’s another Steph here. I feel compelled to go full-name again.]

    I’m definitely curious about Basterds, but I’ll wait for your review before venturing into a theater.

    And this? “I like to fantasize that said chain was alarmed by the poor spelling and not that word, but I know that’s not the case.”

    Me too. Meeeee toooooooo.

    Also, Reservoir Dogs is my favorite. Pulp Fiction, I feel the same way you do. And Kill Bill? That’s where I’m wishy-washy.

    Oh, but Death Proof — I loved the final scene, but I scratched my head/snoozed through the rest of it.

  12. Ken Hanke

    [Huh. There’s another Steph here. I feel compelled to go full-name again.]

    It’s probably wiser. Even I was confused for a moment — and I can get somewhat behind the scenes and sort of check these things.

    I’m definitely curious about Basterds, but I’ll wait for your review before venturing into a theater

    I’ll be venturing tomorrow night…

    Me too. Meeeee toooooooo

    Well, I am given to understand that the film is supposed to appear on marquees simply as “Inglourious B.” to avoid undue offense.

  13. lisi russell

    In the British papers, Tarantino just announced he plans to retire at 60 at the latest. Most directors never retire, and I doubt he will either. I liked Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction and he strikes me as a likeable guy, but overall I think Spike Lee does that life-as-a-series-of-vivid-primary-colour-moments-thing better.

  14. Arrana

    This article mentions the movie The Cove, saying only that it is a documentary. This is a very important film to see. If you’ve read any reviews, or seen the trailer, it’s more like a really good action adventure with some mystery and suspense, beautiful cinematography, and yes, a very powerful message about the inhumane dolphin trade and slaughter in Japan. Reports are that audiences are standing up cheering at the end of the movie, and the onscreen violence is kept to a minimum. I urge everyone with a conscience to see this film. You can get more information at http://www.thecovemovie.com.

  15. Ken Hanke

    I think Spike Lee does that life-as-a-series-of-vivid-primary-colour-moments-thing better.

    Well, I think Lee probably has a little more to say than Tarantino.

  16. Ken Hanke

    This article mentions the movie The Cove, saying only that it is a documentary.

    Perhaps that’s because there’s a full review of it in the movie section. And regardless of how it’s done, it is a documentary. And that means it’s not going to be the “big” money-maker this weekend.

    Reports are that audiences are standing up cheering at the end of the movie, and the onscreen violence is kept to a minimum.

    Reports are? So are you saying that you haven’t personally seen the film? I mean if you had, you might have seen whether or nor audiences are doing this. Certainly you’d know whether or not the violence is kept to a minimum.

  17. I’ve never quite known exactly why you hate the Weinsteins, but you could easily get your wish with this one.

    I respect the Weinsteins for what they have done to get films seen that would have been ignored or not even made. However, how they got there and how they kept their empire going I do not like. They are also known to bully theater owners into higher percentages, build a filmmaker up only to tear them down, drastically cut films (esp. foreign) because we Americans would not “get it” and use their influence to get Oscar nominations for sub-par movies and performances. Most recently they signed an “exclusive” deal with Blockbuster. I can get the movies as well, but just in a more roundabout way. I did not like them before the exclusive deal, and I really don’t like them now.

    After they sold Mirimax, they thought that they could work their magic again, but so far they have been wrong. Their stock has been languishing at a few pennies for months and months, and I couldn’t be happier.

    Tarantino’s films have always been modest hits, but until now the budgets were pretty low. This film cost 70 million to make plus who knows how much in advertising. I doubt it will make it’s money back.

    And the trailer looks like Zombie is back to the stylistic flourishes of House of 1000 Corpses.

    To be honest, if he continues on with his white trash obsession, I can care less about this. I’m more interested in a Rob Zombie comic book adaptation that we are getting next month.

  18. Ken Hanke

    They are also known to bully theater owners into higher percentages

    Oh, you mean like Disney.

    build a filmmaker up only to tear them down

    This isn’t particularly unheard of in Hollywood, but to whom did they do this?

    drastically cut films (esp. foreign) because we Americans would not “get it”

    Which makes them like just about every other mogul, but which is also countered with the fact that in many cases these truncated versions are the only reason some films saw any kind of release in the first place.

    use their influence to get Oscar nominations for sub-par movies and performances.

    Again, this makes them different how? I’m not really defending them, but they seem no worse to me than any other studio execs.

    Tarantino’s films have always been modest hits, but until now the budgets were pretty low. This film cost 70 million to make plus who knows how much in advertising. I doubt it will make it’s money back.

    Bingo! This is what people — and by people I mean people who take movies seriously — don’t understand in their rush to label Tarantino the genius of cinema. His movies are not and probably aren’t going to blockbusters. They’re too personal, too quirky, too esoteric for that. That’s not uncommon with “important” filmmakers. Personal filmmaking is very rarely all that popular. But sinking $70 million into such a film is just a little bit nuts.

    To be honest, if he continues on with his white trash obsession, I can care less about this. I’m more interested in a Rob Zombie comic book adaptation that we are getting next month.

    The white trash thing doesn’t bother me — though it’s a little or a lot Tobe Hooper — but I can’t say I’m expecting much out of this. Doesn’t mean I’m not interested. Is El Superbeasto coming out? Now, that intrigues me.

  19. Which makes them like just about every other mogul, but which is also countered with the fact that in many cases these truncated versions are the only reason some films saw any kind of release in the first place.

    Exactly. For a company that supposed to champion smaller, more personal films, they sure do a lot of mucking. Do you think that truncated versions are worthy of mass consumption?

    This isn’t particularly unheard of in Hollywood, but to whom did they do this?

    Ok, I can think of one, and I’m not sure about his talent (Troy Duffy). But talk to Terry Gilliam, Jim Jarmusch, Billy Bob Thorton, Kevin Smith, or Studio Ghibli about them. The PRINCESS MONONOKE story is particularly funny.

    Oh, you mean like Disney.

    Who needs that percentage more, a chain that Disney will muscle or a small arts theater that the Weinsteins see as easy pickins?

    Again, this makes them different how? I’m not really defending them, but they seem no worse to me than any other studio execs.

    If I read the Times article correctly, they started that trend. Of course other studios will follow.

    Is El Superbeasto coming out? Now, that intrigues me.

    Yep. Want a copy?

  20. Ken Hanke

    Exactly. For a company that supposed to champion smaller, more personal films, they sure do a lot of mucking. Do you think that truncated versions are worthy of mass consumption?

    Only in the sense that it’s better than no consumption, especially now when an un-Weinsteined version is almost certainly going to become available ultimately. Again, though, this is not new — studios have a long history of recutting films. They didn’t invent this. That doesn’t excuse it, but it doesn’t make them especially evil.

    Who needs that percentage more, a chain that Disney will muscle or a small arts theater that the Weinsteins see as easy pickins?

    That’s kind of a false dichotomy, though, because one of the things Miramax did was to get the art film out (or back out) of the art house and into regular theaters.

    If I read the Times article correctly, they started that trend.

    Check out the history of guys like Louis B. Mayer and Harry Cohn and Adolph Zukor and Walt Disney. This stuff is as old as the movies — and Mayer makes the Weinsteins look like altar boys.

    Yep. Want a copy?

    Yes.

  21. Steven

    [b]headlined with the Orbit favorite DEXTER SEASON 3.[/b]

    Best show on television, at the moment. I’m greatly anticipating the fourth season. The presence of John Lithgow as the serial killer makes me beyond excited.

  22. Tonberry

    I’ve tended to find Tarantino overrated, but I really like the Kill Bill films. I disliked Reservoir Dogs intensely, though, and thought Pulp Fiction interestingly written, indifferently made and way overrated. The less said about Death Proof the better.

    Shame, no mention of “Jackie Brown.”

  23. Ken Hanke

    Shame, no mention of “Jackie Brown.”

    Has something to do with my never having seen it.

  24. Shame, no mention of “Jackie Brown.”

    Has something to do with my never having seen it.

    I’ll mention it. It’s his best film.

  25. Tonberry

    It’s his best film.

    I’ll second that. Through “Jackie Brown” my life was enlightened by Bobby Womack and The Delfonics.

  26. Ken Hanke

    Well, now we know that — for the moment — Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino’s biggest hit in terms of opening. Does it have legs? A separate question, though applause has been reported at the end of the film, which suggests it might. Still…if this thing has a $70 million price tag, it has to gross about $140 million before it starts turning a profit. (District 9, on the other hand is already in the black, owing to its smaller budget.)

    I’m surprised no one has reported on it. I just finished writing a long review of it. Apart from that — and saying that you should go see it — I will say no more for the moment.

  27. lisi russell

    Glad to hear it’s so good,now that you’ve seen it. And re the Weinstein Brothers, I have noticed this wholesale hatred of them by directors I respect. Apparently they get into some heavy-handed tussles about whose film any film is, and are ruthless. But I will say on a personal note, Bob was one of the most gracious, sentimental (in a good way) people I have ever met, when I met him and hung out with him for a half hour without knowing who he was. As soon as people recognized him as Bob, he felt compelled to “act tough” – such is show biz.

  28. I’m surprised no one has reported on it. I just finished writing a long review of it. Apart from that—and saying that you should go see it—I will say no more for the moment.

    Once again, I think it will be a good take for a Tarantino film, but only in the $70 to $100 million dollar range. I can’t imagine him expanding his base with this one. With dvd, it will probably break even, but probably not worth the gamble the Weinsteins have staked on it.

    If there’s a little bit of the ILSA films in it, then I will definitely be there.

  29. Ken Hanke

    As soon as people recognized him as Bob, he felt compelled to “act tough” – such is show biz.

    Isn’t that kind of inherent with most famous people — a natural fear of being seen as soft?

  30. Ken Hanke

    Once again, I think it will be a good take for a Tarantino film, but only in the $70 to $100 million dollar range. I can’t imagine him expanding his base with this one.

    Well, if it can cross $100 million in the States and add $70 million worldwide, then DVD sales might put it where they want it. And he may expand his base with this because of the WWII setting. This is based merely on personal, limited observation, but there seem to be an unusually large number of older viewers at this than I can imagine going to his earlier movies.

    In any case — and don’t sell these things short even though they aren’t the same as cold hard cash — the Weinsteins have a success d’estime with this (and they need that, too) and a no. one at the box office opening weekend. Their post-Miramax titles have not gotten this kind of critical reception.

    If there’s a little bit of the ILSA films in it, then I will definitely be there.

    It’s so long since I saw one of those that I can’t say. I do not think you’ll be disappointed in what is in it in any case,

  31. Ken Hanke

    I’m curious to see BASTERDS for the Cat People sequence alone

    Not sure I’d refer to it quite that way — unless you simply mean the song. (I see no connection to Schrader’s movie, but I’ve spent 27 years trying to block it from my mind.) I believe, however, you will find more of interest than just that.

  32. Not sure I’d refer to it quite that way—unless you simply mean the song.
    I do. A bit of Bowie goes a long way in my enjoyment of a film.

    I believe, however, you will find more of interest than just that.
    I’m sure I shall. I generally find Tarantino at least interesting, and usually pretty entertaining, although a bit too in love with the sound of his own dialogue. I’m sympathetic to the suggestion that he needs someone standing over him with a stopwatch and a pair of scissors saying ‘No! Go back into the editing room and don’t come out until it’s two hours of shorter.’

  33. Ken Hanke

    A bit of Bowie goes a long way in my enjoyment of a film

    I bet I could test that by making you watch the Ben Stiller version of The Heartbreak Kid.

    I’m sympathetic to the suggestion that he needs someone standing over him with a stopwatch and a pair of scissors saying ‘No! Go back into the editing room and don’t come out until it’s two hours of shorter.’

    For me, it depends. You couldn’t cut enough out of Death Proof to make it really good. On the other hand, I’m not bothered by the Kill Bill length. This one is kind of like baby bear’s bed in terms of length, I think.

  34. I bet I could test that by making you watch the Ben Stiller version of The Heartbreak Kid.
    Just try it, mistah! My escape will make the road runner look like Stephen Hawking! Which Bowie tracks ended up in that movie?

  35. Ken Hanke

    Just try it, mistah! My escape will make the road runner look like Stephen Hawking! Which Bowie tracks ended up in that movie?

    I was thinking of the Ludovico Treatment for this. If memory serves, “Queen Bitch,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Ashes to Ashes” and “Suffragette City” were in it. Maybe “Under Pressure.” (Stiller is supposed to be a Bowie fan is the excuse.)

  36. “Under Pressure”
    So overused it barely counts. It is to Bowie as ‘Highway to Hell’ is to AC/DC.
    “Ashes to Ashes”
    Should be embargoed from all further placement in film or tv, aside from in the tv show of the same name.
    “Queen Bitch” “Suffragette City”
    Oh, so the Farrelly Brothers think they’re Wes Anderson now, do they?

    I’m still waiting for someone to make really creative use of “Let’s Dance” someday.

  37. Tonberry

    I eagerly await your review of “Inglourious Basterds, so my comments are more appropriate. But I do want to say, it is one of those movies that as soon as it ended, I immediately wanted to see it again.

  38. Ken Hanke

    So overused it barely counts. It is to Bowie as ‘Highway to Hell’ is to AC/DC.

    Except that “Under Pressure” is actually good.

    Should be embargoed from all further placement in film or tv, aside from in the tv show of the same name.

    Should be embargoed from TV altogether.

    Oh, so the Farrelly Brothers think they’re Wes Anderson now, do they?

    Apparently. I’m pretty sure “Queen Bitch” has shown up a couple other places post-Life Aquatic.

    I’m still waiting for someone to make really creative use of “Let’s Dance” someday

    I’m trying to decide if I think that possible.

  39. Ken Hanke

    But I do want to say, it is one of those movies that as soon as it ended, I immediately wanted to see it again.

    I’ll say this much — I’ve seen the “last act” three times now and it more than holds up.

  40. I’m trying to decide if I think that possible.
    Oh, it is. I’m sure Ken Russell could do it, and if doesn’t get around to it, I will.

  41. In any case—and don’t sell these things short even though they aren’t the same as cold hard cash—the Weinsteins have a success d’estime with this (and they need that, too) and a no. one at the box office opening weekend. Their post-Miramax titles have not gotten this kind of critical reception.

    Also remember that this is a co-production deal with Universal… both need a hit right now. Looking at how much DISTRICT 9 divebombed after opening weekend, I expect the same.

    It’s so long since I saw one of those that I can’t say. I do not think you’ll be disappointed in what is in it in any case

    Ah, you know me too well…

    With many people that I respect saying “instant classic” I can’t wait to see it!

  42. Ken Hanke

    Looking at how much DISTRICT 9 divebombed after opening weekend, I expect the same.

    Actually, District 9 didn’t divebomb. It’s holding up better than most films in its genre.

    Basterds has another possible advantage — its only competition for next weekend are Halloween II and The Final Destination, which are only in part the same audience.

    With many people that I respect saying “instant classic”

    Anyone who uses the term “instant classic” loses respect with me.

  43. Anyone who uses the term “instant classic” loses respect with me.

    That may be, but many people have already seen it two or three already!

  44. Ken Hanke

    That may be, but many people have already seen it two or three already!

    I know at least one person who saw Death Race three times. For that matter, I’ve seen Basterds nearly three times myself (which is to say I’ve only seen it from beginning to end once at this point). Still doesn’t make it a classic. There’s simply no such thing as an “instant classic” — unless classic has simply ceased having any meaning, and I suspect it has.

  45. I know at least one person who saw Death Race three times. For that matter, I’ve seen Basterds nearly three times myself (which is to say I’ve only seen it from beginning to end once at this point). Still doesn’t make it a classic. There’s simply no such thing as an “instant classic”—unless classic has simply ceased having any meaning, and I suspect it has.

    I must say that I agree with you, but such a response by viewers have definitely made me more interested.

    This might be a good topic for a Screening Room?

  46. Ken Hanke

    This might be a good topic for a Screening Room?

    Maybe. I’m not sure that I haven’t railed enough about things like “instant classic,” but possibly something could be done with it.

  47. Dread P. Roberts

    There’s simply no such thing as an “instant classic”—unless classic has simply ceased having any meaning, and I suspect it has.

    While I agree that there is no such thing as an “instant classic” (this is basically an oxymoron), I respectfully disagree that the word “classic” has lost all meaning. This seems like a similar sort of word debate as what has previously been discussed over the word “visionary”. I believe that the misuse of these words, as well as many others, can be blamed in large part on advertising. It’s all about finding a ‘catchy’ word that will grab peoples attention quickly, and make them interested. But the intriguing part of this is how the misuse, for advertising sake, can cause the misuse to spread into everyday conversation, due to some sort of subconscious embedding. Now, with that said, I should also point out that I believe this would happen with or without the evil advertising media, it merely speeds up the process through mass exposure. The process I’m referring to is the undeniable evolution of language. Like it or not, right or wrong, the meaning of words inevitably change over time. In my opinion that does NOT mean the word is completely meaningless. The word(s) may never change for the individual who is bothered by the misuse, but the next generation will probably be a little less bothered than the previous, until finally the change has become the social standard. I don’t know if this is a good (appropriate?) example or not, but look at the change of the use of the word(s) “gay” or “fag”. Now these might just be slang, and therefore the change is probably more quickly considered acceptable, but that doesn’t change the fact that in the company of most people if you say, “I feel gay”, then they wont instantly think that you’re just feeling happy. In the case of the word “classic”, it is obviously being used in reference to something that is judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind, but rather as another way of saying something like “extraordinary”. You see, one can only say “extraordinary” so many time before it begins to loose it’s flavor; and so the advertiser is left to use another word. Oftentimes the best option is to put a twist on a word, even if that means making up an oxymoron, thus the word “instant classic” is born. [If it adds to my credibility on the subject matter, I might add that I do have a college degree, as well as experience, in advertising. That way you know I’m not just ‘blowing smoke’.]

  48. Ken Hanke

    The process I’m referring to is the undeniable evolution of language. Like it or not, right or wrong, the meaning of words inevitably change over time. In my opinion that does NOT mean the word is completely meaningless.

    How about valueless then? When a word starts being thrown around willy and nilly, it no longer has the same power. If every movie — to keep it in some kind of context — is called a classic, then being a classic no longer has any value.

    I understand what you’re getting at, and I understand the evolution of language concept (though not all language evolves in this manner). But I’m curmudgeon enough and cantankerous enough to find much of this less evolution than debasement. That’s just me, but I refuse to accept such things as “based off” for “based on,” “called out” for “called in,” “instant classic” as a viable critical term, or that a thing that takes us all the way back to last Tuesday qualifies as “classic.”

  49. Dread P. Roberts

    How about valueless then?

    I can stand by that, but, to me, the debasing of the word doesn’t change the value of the real classics that are already set in stone.

    If every movie—to keep it in some kind of context—is called a classic, then being a classic no longer has any value.

    To be fair, it isn’t every movie that is (or ever will be) labeled as a classic, but rather only the movies that a person thinks is so extraordinary that they don’t see how anyone could possibly NOT find some sort of merit in the thing, whether they like it or not. Now, as I said before, I definitely DO agree with you-and share your irritation-over the misuse of the word “classic”. It is wrong in my opinion, too. I understand that the inherent flaw with all of this is that it does take quite some time for a movie to reach any sort of level of general consensus, where people agree over the greatness of the thing. Sorry, but I don’t think your refusal to accept this change (or debasement) is enough on it’s own to qualify you as cantankerous. You’ll have to demonstrate a little more effort; maybe burn some posters with the word “instant classic” on them – on second thought, that’s probably just delinquent rebellion. Perhaps you could just utter bah humbug and sneer whenever these words are used; that would be more legal.

  50. Ken Hanke

    I can stand by that, but, to me, the debasing of the word doesn’t change the value of the real classics that are already set in stone

    No argument there.

    To be fair, it isn’t every movie that is (or ever will be) labeled as a classic, but rather only the movies that a person thinks is so extraordinary that they don’t see how anyone could possibly NOT find some sort of merit in the thing, whether they like it or not.

    You’d be surprised how low that bar can go. Well, maybe you wouldn’t. At the same time, I’ll admit age ain’t everything — as witness the original Friday the 13th being called a classic when the remake/rethinking/rehashing/reslicing-and-dicing came out.

    Perhaps you could just utter bah humbug and sneer whenever these words are used; that would be more legal.

    I think I may just actively campaign for reviving the use of “eftsoons” in normal discourse.

  51. You’d be surprised how low that bar can go. Well, maybe you wouldn’t. At the same time, I’ll admit age ain’t everything—as witness the original Friday the 13th being called a classic when the remake/rethinking/rehashing/reslicing-and-dicing came out.

    Well, compared to the remake it IS a classic, but I’m sure Sean Cunningham would agree with you.

    Maybe. I’m not sure that I haven’t railed enough about things like “instant classic,” but possibly something could be done with it.

    I’m still waiting for your Harry Alan Towers remembrance.

  52. lisi russell

    A column by you on Harry Alan Towers would be great! What a great character. Might even get Ken Russell to use Let’s Dance in a movie (see Jeremy Dylan above.) Maybe in the Jimi Hendrix movie we are told he is rumoured to be making.

    Instant classic is a very annoying term, though I appreciate Dread’s etymological contribution. Now,what the heck is “eftsoons? I like it and want to use it immediately. Is it anything like “fantods”? (The state of being weak from hunger.)

  53. Ken Hanke

    A column by you on Harry Alan Towers would be great! What a great character.

    Yes, but by and large what awful movies! I am somewhat disinclined to sit through many of them again, which would seem a requirement for such an article.

    Might even get Ken Russell to use Let’s Dance in a movie (see Jeremy Dylan above.) Maybe in the Jimi Hendrix movie we are told he is rumoured to be making.

    It never ceases to amaze me all the movies T’other Ken is making — that he knows nothing about. The apocryphal film I most regret being unmade is The Birdman of CBGB’s that was announced in Creem magazine about 1975 — complete with a photo of Roger Daltrey feeding a sparrow. According to the magazine, Daltrey played a character who was kidnapped by the Ramones and forced to feed their pet sparrow, Lou. There was, it said, a fantasy sequence that would show a naked Daltrey running along the docks of NY while longshoremen fired radioactive birdseed at him. Now, you and I know we’d both pay good money to see this movie.

    Speaking of Russell oddities — there is a photo in a book called The Making of the Goodies’ Disaster Movie that shows Ken on the set of The Devils in full Ursuline nun’s habit. If one were to look very carefully, would one find a Sister Ken somewhere in the convent of St. Ursula?

    Now,what the heck is “eftsoons? I like it and want to use it immediately.

    You’ll find it in the first verse of Rime of the Ancient Mariner — “Eftsoons his hand dropped he.” It’s an archaic word meaning soon afterwards.

  54. Yes, but by and large what awful movies! I am somewhat disinclined to sit through many of them again, which would seem a requirement for such an article.

    I actually had enough to make a nice little section for him. EDGE OF SANITY still holds up thanks to Perkins’ over the top performance.

    You’ll find it in the first verse of Rime of the Ancient Mariner—“Eftsoons his hand dropped he.” It’s an archaic word meaning soon afterwards.

    Dang, I thought this was another word for boobs.

  55. Ken Hanke

    I actually had enough to make a nice little section for him. EDGE OF SANITY still holds up thanks to Perkins’ over the top performance.

    The production design’s not bad either, if you want to get down to it.

    Dang, I thought this was another word for boobs.

    That’s your problem, Marc. You’re just too damned intellectual.

  56. Steve

    “I’m still waiting for someone to make really creative use of “Let’s Dance” someday

    I’m trying to decide if I think that possible.”

    I think that would be cool used in a good fight scene, actually. Surprised it hasn’t been done already.

  57. Justin Souther

    The apocryphal film I most regret being unmade is The Birdman of CBGB’s that was announced in Creem magazine about 1975—complete with a photo of Roger Daltrey feeding a sparrow. According to the magazine, Daltrey played a character who was kidnapped by the Ramones and forced to feed their pet sparrow, Lou. There was, it said, a fantasy sequence that would show a naked Daltrey running along the docks of NY while longshoremen fired radioactive birdseed at him. Now, you and I know we’d both pay good money to see this movie.

    I’ll second this. Is it too late to start a petition to get this made?

  58. Ken Hanke

    I’ll second this. Is it too late to start a petition to get this made?

    In the main, I agree with this concept, but — and mindful of the fact that he’s held up better than most of us (not that Justin or Jeremy are in the “held up” age group) — does anyone want to see naked 2009 Roger run along a dock?

  59. Ken Hanke

    Jeremy, you left out the fact that KR needs to make this movie on your petition. That’s kind of a salient detail.

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