Photo by Alan Green
Ollie Johnston, the last of Disney's 'Nine Old Men' -- the animators who helped create classics like 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' -- has died at the age of 95. Bob Mondello reports
Here's Todd McCarthy's review of 'Iron Man'. Anne Thompson says, "Downey's Iron Man may be the robust action fantasy hero movie fans have been waiting for, a contemporary complex male who isn't carved from the same block as archetypes Batman or Superman. While Iron Man comics fans are legion, this is a new modern movie hero who kicks ass. And he's not a nice guy."
Why can't they all be this good? Is someone working on that?
I think titles like '88 Minutes' are a bad thing. They're too literal, too like the on-the-nose titles from the 80s and 90s like, say, 'Total Force', or 'Blunt Instrument' (I made those up off the top of my head but they're actual titles from the 80s and 90s, turns out).
Why does Al Pacino always look like he needs a good night's sleep? Here's Stephanie Zacharek's review of '88 Minutes'. She says of Pacino: He wanders through '88 Minutes' in a baggy suit that looks slept-in, but he's the only thing in it that's remotely awake. Wait a minute. He's the only thing in the movie that looks remotely awake or the only thing in his baggy suit that looks...nevermind. But, really, to me he looks like he needs a week's worth of sleep -- in every movie he does these days.
I'd look sleepy too, I guess. It's just so been there, done that. If the plot is going to be such a retread, recommend a more direct, spelled-out title. How about 'A Movie Where The Protagonist (that's the main character) Finds Out He Has Just Eight-Eight (88) Minutes To Live But Outsmarts The Antagonist (that's the bad guy) And After Some Gunplay And Hot Sex With Really Young Women Lives To See The Credits Role'. That's better than '88 Minutes', don't you think.
Bob Mondello analyzes Judd Apatow's success, using the terms 'Apatovian' and 'Cuddly Raunch' to describe Apatow's work. Apatovian? The guy has a recognizable brand, to be sure, and I like the 'cuddly raunch' bit, but Apatovian sounds like an answer to a film school test question. I wouldn't go quite that far. Okay, okay...let's see -- Knocked Up is one of the most Apatovian movies I've ever seen. Told you -- it just doesn't work. It's too forced, just sits there. I vote for 'Juddesque'. That has a natural ring to it. I can live with Juddesque. Watch: Superbad is way more Juddesque than Talladega Nights could ever be. See, works. Juddesque. Be the first in your office to use it in conversation.
Photographer Cedric Delsaux has put together some cool imagery of Star Wars characters in everyday settings around Paris. Perhaps it's a sign of where we're headed that Delsaux's work is absurdist yet maintains a verite quality at the same time.
Here's Delsaux's site. (Photo by Cedric Delsaux)
One of the most talked about movie releases was 'Killer of Sheep', directed by Charles Burnett. People raved. I almost bought the DVD but opted for some Hollywood schlock instead -- don't know what I was thinking -- 'Killer of Sheep' is one of the best movies I've never seen.
Here's the trailer.
Here's Charles Burnett with Elvis Mitchell on The Treatment a few days ago.
This movie is not like anything I've ever seen. The trailer scorches the mind. Looking forward to it.
Terry Gross with Uma Thurman. How Gross gets these actors to open up is a wonder. They just seem to want to connect in ways you don't find in other interviews.
And, this tidbit on the math and technique of card counting featured in '21'. Apparently, it's as easy as 1 - 1 + 0 - 1 + 1 + 0 + 1...on and on for hours. Anyway, anybody can do it if they concentrate, and are crazy about winning money.
Laura Sydell re: Hannibal Lector. One of my favorite characters realized beautifully by Anthony Hopkins.
The piece, part of NPR's In Character series, is easy enough to listen to, but what I found most interesting are the comments of Helen Morrison, a psychiatrist who has made a study of serial killers which has resulted in a book, 'My Life Among the Serial Killers: Inside the Minds of the World's Most Notorious Murderers'.
According to Wikipedia's (hopefully accurate) appraisal of Morrison's work, these killers have a few things in common, including:
Serial killers do not possess a concrete personality; rather, their minds tend to be a collection of disparate roles and facades they shift at will.
Okay, that's not much of a shock. Got it.
While such killers are often charming in person, their charm wears off if one interrogates them for several hours without a break. This is caused by strain - because their charm and personality are artificial, they cannot keep it up forever.
Once their personality constructs break down, serial killers fall into a bestial state. In this state, they lack any trace of humanity, and are nothing but urges and, occasionally, anger.
Now that I find interesting. This, however, I had never even thought of as being a possibility:
By examining additional cases from a cross-cultural and cross-historical sample, she claims that when serial killers receive enough psychiatric help (professional or otherwise) to fully comprehend their actions, they invariably commit suicide.
Invariably? You mean, someone has tallied the numbers on this? There's a movie in this last thing.
Very much makes me want to read Morrison's work. So -- I went looking and found this excerpt (if you can call 196 pages an excerpt).
After a few pages this book goes on my 'must read' list.
'Iron Man' is shaping up to be not just a hit, but a good movie on top of that. Robert Downey Jr. is perfect for the role -- well-versed in the ways of the world (as a superhero must be), but still just a kid at heart. Should lend Iron Man the gravitas needed to be taken seriously without alienating the kids the movie will be meant for -- think Batman sans all the moping around.
Jon Favreau is getting knocked for his unproven ability to direct (he's done some TV but that's it), but check out the clip -- it's perfectly shot, works as exposition (it explains [non-verbally] how the suit enables Stark to fly), and one can only assume the timing of this plot point is right on. Looks like Favreau not only has the chops needed, he's got a natural affinity for the material -- and that can't be faked.
As for the intangibles, the 'learning to fly' clip had me hooked -- it's just plain good, plays real, and gets you to know and like the protagonist. All in all, pretty effective film-making.
Jackie Chan talks with Robert Siegel about his father being a spy, his martial arts training regimen, and making 'The Forbidden Kingdom' with Jet Li. Li and Chan are huge in martial arts movies and 'The Forbidden Kingdom' is their first movie together. For fans of the genre it's sort of like De Niro and Pacino in working together for the first time in 'Heat'.