A few years ago, a young first-time director named Antonio Campos showed his directorial debut Afterschool at the Nashville Film Festival. Those who saw the movie that night were clearly witnessing the start of a remarkable career — the movie was shot with a formal rigor few veterans could match, using frames within frames and icily poised compositions to evoke the teenage characters' media-stoked alienation. Campos even stuck around after his screening, chatting enthusiastically with viewers about Michael Haneke and David Cronenberg movies.
His second feature, Simon Killer, shows tonight and tomorrow night at The Belcourt. (I really like the theater's move of devoting a couple of weeknight slots to movies of note that haven't played here, thus minimizing the theater's risk yet giving local moviegoers a shot at seeing them on the big screen. I understand the same thing is happening in a few weeks with Beyond the Hills, the second feature by 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days director Cristian Mungiu.) Michael Sicinski wrote about it in the current Scene, and his piece suggests the movie deserves much better than the largely dismissive reviews it received on the festival circuit:
While I suppose it must be said that Campos' latest film Simon Killer isn't as accomplished as his debut, it's also equally vital to note that its shortcomings are a direct result of its ambition. Rather than simply refine his ample strengths (or worse, abandon them for some industry payday), Campos took on new challenges, and if the results are that Simon Killer is a flawed, imperfect film, then so be it. It's also a formally assured one, and never less than riveting.
[Join Ettes leader Coco Hames as she moves through the Janus Films Essential Art House DVD box set one film at a time.]
THE FALLEN IDOL directed by CAROL REED (1948)
Running time: 95 minutes
If you're into the tight, menacing vibe of Carol Reed's most famous film, The Third Man, I'll go ahead and guarantee you'll enjoy The Fallen Idol. It's the first of three films Reed did with author Graham Greene (1959's Our Man From Havana rounding out the trilogy). It's sillier and more obvious than either The Third Man or Reed's other great film from this period, 1947's Odd Man Out, but that's the fun of it.
An adaptation of Greene's short story "The Basement Room," The Fallen Idol features li'l Bobby Henrey (who, no, wasn't really in anything else ...) playing Phillipe, the son of a French ambassador living in London, and his relationship with his caretaker and butler, Baines (Ralph Richardson). Baines seems a good guy, and Phillipe looks up to him. But people aren't always what they seem, especially when the viewpoint belongs to an idealistic 9-year-old boy. I'd say "gaze," but that belongs to us, the audience, whom this film plays to more than anything.
With his parents often gone, Phillipe identifies and idolizes the man of the house. However, Baines is carrying on with another, younger woman, and his wife is wise to his misdeeds. Phillipe is confused, and absorbs the brunt of Mrs. Baines' punishment until ... something happens? That Baines did or did not do? There is a police inquiry? Justice is tested? Innocence is lost? Phillipe remains confused.
I've read some things extolling The Fallen Idol's virtues as a noir classic and precursor to some serious cinema, so it might just be me — but the little boy playing Phillipe is really distracting! Some say, oh, it's a boy acting just his age, that's just how a real 9-year-old boy would react! Maybe! But it pulls me away from the story and even the visuals, making it seem like a black-box theater play, which is fine, but less captivating than history might suggest it to be.
Being as sniffish as I could possibly be, I don't see that being a precursor to a classic film makes something a classic film — but like I said, I'm being mean. The Fallen Idol is a fun, beautiful, direct, and satisfying film, but if there's a child-centric book-to-stage-to-cinema movie of the era I prefer, it's The Bad Seed — man, that's a good one.
More often than not, nostalgia is a pretty crappy way of gauging any sort of entertainment. We’ve seen it countless times — heralded dreck is lifted to the throne of the cult kingdom, forever to reign in dorm rooms and midnight screenings across the globe.
Let’s zero in on film and television specials. When you think of a nostalgic cult classic, the typical time frame ranges anywhere from the mid-'70s to around 1995 — use the Star Wars Holiday Special and Clueless as your bookends. (Yes, we’re ignoring the stuff that Mystery Science Theater 3000 usually covers.) Around that time frame, countless pieces of oddball history made their way into the novelty hall of fame.
You just feel safer in a room full of Trekkies. A diverse crowd, it is, but one that shares at least a few of the same ideals. Progressives, fans of justice, equality, and weird stuff. Imaginative folk who take the horrors and cruelties of modern life personally and just want to have some hope on a cosmic scale. Trekkies are on the whole good people, and they give a shit. About most things. The world is a messed up and terrifying place, and your chances of being murdered in a room full of Trekkies is significantly lower than in a room full of most others.
Which is why Star Trek Into Darkness, the second in a new incarnation of the series, is going to be an interesting social experiment. Your classic Trekkies are a reliable variable — but what about the audiences who are just in for this week's summer blockbuster? The way summer movies work these days, there's a certain obligatory feeling to event movies. Once you've seen Iron Man 3 and The Great Gatsby, what do you do to kill time until Furious 6? You go see the new Star Trek film — it's what's there. That's certainly how Paramount wants it: it has shaped the film to appeal to the global marketplace, sanding down any of those rough edges that kept previous Trek films from reaching their full economic potential outside of the U.S.
The reconceived Captain Kirk is exactly how this new Trek wants to be seen — impetuous, edgy, reckless, anti-authoritarian, sexy, cool, unbound by canon or history ... but also capable in ways that the stodgy powers-that-be simply aren't. It is a testament to Chris Pine's charm that his Jim Kirk isn't a lad mag cliché or simply a pale Shatnerian echo, and it's that willingness to commit that helps anchor this crew.
But Kirk's cowboyism requires a specific balance, and Zachary Quinto's Spock is a unique achievement as well, making each conversation into a journey, of a mind finding its way along a new path. Quinto's youth makes all the difference in the world in this iteration of Kirk/Spock. That balance is also a suitable representation of the conflict between real-deal Trekkies and casual moviegoers/studio execs/exhibitors.
Seeing a movie in the late afternoon has never been a popular option. I like the old-fashioned "dinner-and-a-movie" combo on my Friday evenings. But Carmike Cinemas has an offer on the table that might change that storied lineup.
The theater chain is offering $5.50 adult tickets from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., which they dub the “Super Bargain Matinee” price.
This doesn’t include 3-D, but it shouldn’t matter because you shouldn’t see 3-D movies because most 3-D is awful and way too expensive.
I’ve lived in Bellevue for quite some time, and the Bellevue 8 was usually the go-to location to screen the ’90s classics. A younger Cory would catch the matinee of Toy Story or the evening performance of The Rugrats Movie. It’s a house of nostalgia that I still frequent (most recently, Gatsby. Yes, I saw Gatsby at the same theater I saw Toy Story. That’s pretty cool, folks.).
In just in the past two years or so, the theater chain started the Super Bargain Matinee price, a deal which has come in handy in more than one way.
Last summer, I ventured out into the summer heat to check out the fairy tale revision Snow White and the Huntsman. Fortunately, I went to the 4ish show at the Bellevue 8, which only cost my wallet the $5.50 bargain charge (may have been $5 at the time … finish the story grandpa!).
Where: The Belcourt
When: Saturday at 12:20 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m.
Continuing in the celebration of Universal’s centennial anniversary, Belcourt attendees will hop aboard the Orca this weekend with Brody, Hooper and Quint to go shark hunting, as Steven Spielberg’s 1975 game-changer Jaws is set for a two-day run.
While I, embarrassingly, took my first voyage with the classic last summer (kids these days, am I right?), I’ve always enjoyed hearing my grandmother recount tales of her first trip to see the film at the old Green Hills theater (once a bookstore, now a Trader Joe's) .
After she and her husband slid in at the last moment to get a seat up front, she remembers the infamous scene where a scuba diving Hooper comes across a severed head at Ben Gardner’s boat, Jack-in-the-Box style. After jumping out of her own seat, my grandmother says that the reaction from the audience was like nothing she’d ever experienced in a theater before.
The Source Family, opening tonight at The Belcourt, has the makings of a cult sensation — in more ways than one. Even before we saw the jaw-dropping trailer above, Sean L. Maloney's review in this week's Scene had us making "Fandango" our new mantra:
Bearded dudes, long-haired chicks, yoga, health food, loud guitars, plenty of dope — you'd be forgiven for thinking The Source Family is a documentary about East Nashville. But this is a different moment in youth culture, a moment when the American mystic tradition collided head on with Eastern religions and the hedonist gospel of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. This is a moment when a postmodern pastiche of spirituality was the vanguard rather than the norm, when square modes of thought were being shucked off, when American youth culture briefly looked like it was going to radicalize the mainstream. This is the moment that Maria Demopoulous and Jodi Wille's amazing account preserves, from early innocence to eventual corruption.
Cinephiles will immediately recognize The Source, the iconic Sunset Strip health food restaurant that served as both headquarters and primary income source for Father Yod (government name: Jim Baker) and his followers. The Source was a Swinging '60s Hollywood hot spot that morphed into a reliable hippie joke for the wiseguy '70s — think Woody Allen's "plate of mashed yeast" in Annie Hall, or the waitress who "auditions" for Ben Gazzara in John Cassavetes' The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. Its founders, The Source Family, were the quintessential hippie cult, archetypal New Agers whose pursuit of enlightenment was both easily mocked and enviously naïve — the optimistic far extreme of the peace-and-love spectrum.
Compiled from the extensive photo, film and audio collection of Family archivist Isis the Aquarian — including you-gotta-hear-this recordings of Ya Ho Wa 13, the Family's legendary free-psych house band — The Source Family balances nostalgia and skepticism, looking back at an idealistic time with affection but an honest eye for the darkness that bubbles under the surface of any would-be utopia. The epic story the movie tells is of Boomers lost in the wilderness, wandering postwar America looking for answers that couldn't be found in the traditions of Western society. It was a time of upheaval, and The Source Family captures the humanity, the conflict and confusion, that pushes lost souls to embrace the machinations of a self-anointed prophet — in this case, a former "America's strongest boy," judo champion and confessed killer. ...
Was there any local analogue to The Source Family? Murfreesboro has the legend of the enlightened visitors who sought to buy the grubby Davis Food Mart near MTSU because they claimed it was the geographical dead center of the universe.
Shot in just seven days for a measly $100,000, the 1987 Canadian heavy-metal horror classic Rock ’n’ Roll Nightmare seems to have had the bulk of its budget earmarked for star Jon Mikl Thor’s hairspray, mascara and body oil requirements. But hey, who needs fancy pants special effects when you’ve got rock’n’roll on your side? Starring the only bodybuilding champion/heavy metal singer to win the Mr. Canada and Mr. USA titles, Thor “The Rock Warrior” has been cranking out music for 40 years that some might say proves the Chick Comics classic "Angels?" correct on every point.
But listen not to those naysayers! Accept the challenge, and enter the battleground this weekend at the Cult Fiction Underground at Logue’s Black Raven Emporium as they bring this epic struggle of good and evil to the grindhouse screen. Showtimes are tonight and tomorrow at 8 & 10 p.m. Nashville’s own mad master of fright and RAWK, Doctor Gangrene, will be hosting tonight's showing. Leather codpieces optional.
“You picked a side after 9/11. I didn’t have to. It was picked for me.” So explains the protagonist in Mira Nair’s new political/psychological thriller The Reluctant Fundamentalist, about a man whose world was changed in a day. Narrated in flashbacks, The Reluctant Fundamentalist shows Pakistani native Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed) as an up-and-coming Wall Street whiz kid who loves his adopted country, including the ruthless winner-take-all mentality his job requires. Then 9/11 happens; he’s subjected to knee-jerk bigotry at work and humiliating strip searches at the airport, and begins to question where his loyalties lie.
As the film opens, he’s a professor in Lahore, suspected of anti-American leanings. We watch him tell his story to a journalist; the stakes are high, since he’s implicated in the kidnapping of an American colleague. While the film, adapted from the novel by Mohsin Hamid, occasionally veers into didacticism, its did-he-or-didn’t-he plot is gripping, and Ahmed gives a subtle and compelling performance. The movie, co-starring Liev Schreiber, Kate Hudson and Kiefer Sutherland, opens tonight at The Belcourt.
Some of the film fanatics we respect most have been telling us to keep an eye out for Gimme the Loot, Adam Leon's comedy about two scuffling Bronx graffiti artists mounting an elaborate quest to tag Citi Field's iconic "big apple," which arrives bearing no less an endorsement than Jonathan Demme's. It plays just one more day — today — at The Belcourt, and in the new Scene Craig D. Lindsey tells why you shouldn't miss it:
For his very low-budget ($200,000!) debut, writer-director Adam Leon makes a spirited slice-of-life teen comedy with predominantly minority characters — something that's damn near amazing in itself. Considering the fact that Leon is white, his view of inner-city youth as small-time crooks could be seen as stereotypical or even condescending (just as Beasts of the Southern Wild director Benh Zeitlin caught flak last year for making a movie about poor black folk, when he's white as cotton). Then again, the movie's title comes from the Notorious B.I.G.'s seminal ode to armed robbery. It's almost as if Leon is pointing out that if Biggie can tell a story about growing up black and poor in New York to the point of straight jacking somebody, why can't he?
If anything, Leon goes about making a film that appears more authentic than most coming-of-age films. Mostly set on New York's mean streets, Leon goes apeshit with the exterior shots, assembling a multicultural vision of the Big Apple so bristling and vibrant that you can lose yourself in it. Since many of us have gotten our knowledge of New York from Woody Allen movies, Seinfeld and the Sex and the City juggernaut, it's easy to forget that New York is more than just Manhattan. It's Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and all the other boroughs. It's pizza parlors, bodegas and cigar shops that never have vanilla dutches. It's water towers — or, as they're commonly known, "ghetto swimming pools." It's the continually raging war between Mets and Yankees fans.
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That comment was so May 22.
Hello and welcome to 3 years ago
My brother had a pair of those pentagram earrings. They went missing sometime around 1989,…