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a stupefyingly fascinating thing to watch.
remember to watch this godard film all the way through to get its full effect. don't be a jerk and cop out on it. that's too easy. commit yourself to this film. it's greatly rewarding. sometimes the screen is totally blank (black) for fairly long stretches. the political polemic may or may not be suited to your own point of view. whichever the case, it is a brave and totally unique film. there is no other that has a look and feel quite like it. i might say that it's my favorite godard film (it certainly is his purest), but that would be too easy. i like most of his films for very different reasons. just don't be afraid of this one. and watch it in a darkened room!
- bobby cormier
Fearless Frank (1967)
Fearless Frank !!!
i LOVE this movie. I LOVE it! i saw it in the 1980s, which contradicts other reviewers info here. but i saw it, not in the movie theaters and not on television, but in film school. the school of visual arts had the foresight at that time, to show and old film, at that time, to a bunch of lunatic film students and everyone cheered and went nuts. now, this film isn't for everyone. and i don't think i'm better or worse than anyone else who's seen this. but we'd been trained to recognize "camp" and "campy" production values for their own sake. this's a spirited romp. with an ultimately downbeat message. voight is great. monique van vooren is wonderful (always wonderful to see an underrated actress used so well) and the oddball cameos are... odd. the improvised dialog (hell, improvised shooting in chi-town) make this a must-see for fans of casavettes. think "shadows", comically unhinged. yeah, it's amateurish at times. yeah, those holes show right through. but watch this either in your 'teens or twenties, or if you can't do that, stoned might help. or if you have a non-uptight sense of the daring and outlandish, this should work for you. if you're looking for seamless, state of the art, same-ness by today's eyeball knockout special effects standards, don't even bother. you just won't get it and end up being angry for your wasted time. otherwise, check it out!
Paris Trout (1991)
Paris Trout...nearly flawless, completely abhorrent and amazing
put the kids and some of the adults to bed. hopper, hershey and harris are amazing. this is a truly brutal story. and reading some of the other reviews here, i was shocked to realize it was based on a true story. hopper is about as brutal of an innocent as you'll ever see portrayed on film. he just doesn't get it. he has no back-story that would indicate that his character is truly as repugnant and as destructive as a character could be. meanwhile we are all fed clues as to his time and his place in that time that would indicate why he has an innocence of mind that would drive him conversely to do the horrible things that he does. he believes he is above the law because he is a product of a person who would believe that way. he brutalizes his wife and, most distressingly, murders people who he has always believed that it was his right to lord over. the murder scene of the mother and her young girl are riveting(acting)and incredibly shocking. when Paris incredulously finds that the law is against him, he descends gradually into a period of psychosis that he never recovers from because everything inside of him tells him that he has done no wrong and that he is being conspired against. his paranoia makes him place glass on the floors of his bedroom to detect footprints. and, for my money, hopper's best scene (a simple, intense and short one) is when he opens his kitchen cabinet and says, "FOOD in CANS!" i won't go into more details of the story because of other reviews here. and i won't tell the ending. what i will say is that hopper's performance here is probably the most transcendent of his long career. -bobby cormier
Gentle Giants (1995)
saw this in a theater by happenstance and WOW!
i was going to see the NYC premier of the Brian Wilson documentary "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" in the mid-90's and i'd heard that Brian Wilson was in town and might be there. so, like any good little new york hipster i hurried down to the theater in the west village that was hosting this. i loved the main feature but was particularly struck with an unannounced short documentary that played before the feature. it was Bruce Weber's "Gentle Giants". lots of loving shots of labrador dogs. lots of shots of beefcake of old. but what struck me right between the balls were the lovely shots of Guy Madison in "Since You Went Away". i'd remembered seeing this film on a "4'o'clock Movie" on television after school at about the age of 8. my pre-pubescent head had gone ZING! at the sight of Guy. i didn't know what i wanted to do with him, but i think it involved wrestling around. "Gentle Giants" happened to be THAT evocative for me. it might just be that way for other viewers too. and even if that's not so, it's a surely entertaining little film full of beefcake eye-candy. and it has a wonderful dewy-eyed nostalgia for male beauty of eras past. - bobby cormier
The Last Movie (1971)
thank you again mr. hopper
while i realize this film will not be entertaining to everyone, i think it should be given a chance by people who are not AFRAID to think while watching one. a few simple facts: film is an art. art can be abstracted and when it is, it requires more thought or "work" from the viewer. art does not need to be simply linear. art doesn't always need to pander. when art is abstracted and does not pander, it is not automatically "pretentious" or "self indulgent". these last two phrases are things that i've often read or heard in reference to this film. hell, a few people used to enjoy saying these sorts of things about this film in film school! i enjoy reading negative comments on films of this type in much the same was that i enjoy going to THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART and hanging back a distance from the paintings and listening to people going by and making comments like, "THAT'S not art!" or, "ANYONE could have done THAT. even my five year old!" i suspect that deep down, these people are being SERIOUSLY ENTERTAINED. dennis hopper's "the last movie" has a very basic and clever plot that is abstracted. a lot of people enjoy (wholeheartedly) not liking this film. i enjoy it immensely. i have watched this many times and have gotten new layers of meaning and have been able to realize new points of view of "seeing" it many times. i'm not afraid of it. i also watch "modern times" and "the magnificent ambersons" and "love streams" and a few others repeatedly for much the same reason. i've used this film a couple of times in an admittedly cold, sociological test on people i've been in a new relationship with. at least twice, i've coaxed a new boyfriend into watching "the last movie". if they can hang with it and are willing to think about the film, that's a good sign for me of a new relationship possibly working out. in fact, the longest relationship i've had was with a guy who, after watching this, said, "i want to see it again!" it was a couple of minutes later that i realized that he wanted me to immediately rewind it and watch it again right then. that may be a weird way to test a relationship, but i've found it has worked out well for me and the other person. there are all ways of seeing and "the last movie" is one, or maybe several of them.
The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
mind warp cinema at 24 visions per second
yeah, i went to film school & had this screened twice for me to write a paper on. yeah, there was a lecture beforehand detailing all the legendary controversy... this film, despite its being hacked to bits by studio hacks against welles' wishes (& probably pleas; it's unpleasant to think of) is still an incredible thing to try to wrap your mind around. in its hacked-up form: what remains is still astonishing. some of the shot-to-shot transitions..., i've watched them slowly frame by frame many times. many, many times. & the attention payed to subliminal, brilliant detail in these transitions is astounding! if we ever could see what MIGHT have been... well, that's the story with so much of orson's work.
Kerouac, the Movie (1985)
this one's not the best of its kind
this is quite an interesting thing to see because you just can't miss given the fascinating subject. however, if you want to see a better-done and more insightful documentary on the same subject, see "what happened to kerouac?" instead. this film is less hard-hitting and tries to play up some of the sadder aspects of kerouac's life by doing a kind of wistful routine. peter coyote's narration is abysmal. his readings of kerouac's writing unfortunately take up a lot of the screen time here. what were they thinking? maybe they thought he had some credibility 'cause he was one of the original san francisco diggers. doesn't make sense. he render's kerouac's prose & poetry lifeless with a wimpy and sighing style. if you've ever heard kerouac read his own stuff, which you get plenty of in "what happened to kerouac", you'd never want to hear anyone else read it again. i give it a 6 out of 10 merely because, as always, the interviews with jack's contemporaries that were still left alive when this thing was hobbled together, are riveting and priceless.
The Nutty Professor (1963)
who is buddy love?
over the decades there has been a huge amount of conjecture about just who the buddy love character is meant to be skewering. the conventional wisdom has been that it is either a scathing indictment of Jerry's former partner Dean Martin or else that it is meant to be a very unflattering commentary on Frank Sinatra. i think that there MAY be elements of truth in both of those analyses. after all, an artist (& especially a writer) sketches characters from an amalgam of several people he or she has known or at least met, most of the time. but i think that this character is meant to be a "scathing indictment" on Lewis himself. he himself admitted as much in his autobiography. now, i'm not apt to blindly believe everything Lewis says or writes about himself, but i think this is a VERY plausible explanation. over the years, many of you may have noticed just how grating Lewis can be in his private/public life. like when he appears "as himself" on TV talk shows or gives interviews or quotes about himself to the press. one of these things that particularly comes to mind for me was a quote that was printed (& reprinted & reprinted & reprinted) many years ago. he was asked why he thought so much of the American public seemed to dislike him & his reply was something like, "because i'm a successful, internationally famous, multifaceted, multi-talented genius." i'm paraphrasing there because i don't have the EXACT quote on hand. but i sure remember it pretty well, as do a lot of other people. this quote, of course, only added a lot of fuel-to-the-fire for people who already disliked him a great deal. if Lewis can be believed about the buddy love character being based on the darker aspects of himself that he saw IN HIMSELF, then Lewis is not MERELY an ego-driven, megalomaniacal, narcissist (although a very talented one) but is also a real person sensitive enough to take a hard look at his own shortcomings as a human being & is brave enough to put that all up there on the big screen for anyone to see. -bobby cormier
why is everyone obsessing about Brian Wilson?
this is a very interesting & well done documentary about a very interesting man to say the least. his thoughts & inventions & his life were far-flung. sometimes it was the KGB that was flinging him around! this one can be filed under the "truth is stranger than fiction" section. there is a really interesting recent biography about Leon Theremin called, i think, "ether music & espionage". i read it about a year ago when it had been recently published & if you liked this documentary, you might be interested in all of the pain-staking detail in the book. the Martin doc. itself is almost perfect. the only thing i thought was really gratuitous here was Todd Rundgren (sp?) who was obviously just tacked-on for his name. the rest is all really fascinating. no filler. maybe it could have been cut very slightly tighter for those whose attention spans need a constant barrage. if you can find it, get the second edition of the VHS of this that includes the scene with Dr. Samuel Hoffman demonstrating the theremin on the mickey mouse club as a wide-eyed Bobby Burgess looks on. Clara Rockmore was obviously a force to be reckoned with! Robert Moog is astute & fascinating & humble, as usual. some of the "characters" here are REAL CHARACTERS, to say the least. but their inclusion in this film is, i think, appropriate to the subject matter. even Jerry Lewis. how come everyone's hung-up on this Brian Wilson thing? i watched this with a friend who is a college professor & is well versed in music & metaphysics and we both understood everything Mr. Wilson was trying to get across!
-bobby cormier (of the not famous HeatLamp electronic band)
THE psychedelic masterpiece
for me, the psychedelic equivalent of Citizen Kane must either be Wonderwall or else Conrad Rooks' Chappaqua. this film must be THE psychedelic masterpiece. it comes with incredible credentials. just check the credits. i was recently watching it with james t. rao (from the band Orange Cake Mix) & he said, "wow, this must be the BEST psychedelic film!" & we've watched almost EVERY film of this genre. don't take LSD & watch the film. or DO take LSD & watch the film. you'll find very little difference. the plot is touching & sentimental but with an edge. the "message" of this wonderful art film is complex & multi-layered & manifold. watch it a few times & see new things each time. "it's the lanolin that does it." the color is gorgeous. the DVD extras are incredible & include the director's first film (a short).