Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Quote: Se7en

"What sick ridiculous puppets we are / and what gross little stage we dance on / What fun we have dancing and fucking / Not a care in the world / Not knowing that we are nothing / We are not what was intended."

Se7en (1995)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tough Questions: To Dub or to Sub?

After finally watching the less than stellar new Godzilla film, I found myself in desperate need for some classic “man in a suit” monster brawlin’ and ordered some old favorites from Amazon (Godzilla vs. Monster Zero and War of the Gargantuas for the curious). But when they arrived I found myself faced with a classic dilemma: to dub or to sub?

Though some filmmakers like Pier Paolo Pasolini have sometimes overseen and approved the English version of a film, 99% of the time this is done by some low-level functionary at the foreign distribution company for whom this is “just another film” rather than a labor of love. As a cinephile, I know I’m supposed to always see films in their original language so that I am getting the filmmaker’s direct and unencumbered vision. But can there be exceptions to that rule?

Dubbed Godzilla movie marathons taped off TV were a permanent fixture of my adolescence and were frequently watched during the car rides to Boy Scout outings. Similarly, my childhood video store only had the original Funimation dub of Akira. Perhaps if I'd grown up with them subtitled I would hate the dubs, but that wasn't my childhood. As any psychologist will tell you, the experiences of adolescence can really stick with you. This is why I still know the names of all three of the titular 3 Ninjas. But why do I still watch the original 1954 Gojira subtitled?

And what about Italian films? Up until very recently, ALL Italian films were dubbed, even in their own language. Am I really losing anything when I watch a Leone or Argento film with the American voice cast? But then why don’t I watch Fellini or Antonioni films dubbed? Is that due to some sort of intellectual snobbery where “art” is elevated above “genre”? I love both types of films equally, so why make the distinction? Stone me if you will. I am an imperfect being.

How do you watch foreign films? Do you sometimes prefer the dub? Let us know in the comments.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rent This: Mad Love (1935)

I'm fascinated by films about obsession. I also love camp-fests and Peter Lorre, so Mad Love fits the bill brilliantly. Lorre plays Dr. Gogol, a doctor who is obsessed with Yvonne Orlac, an actress (Frances Drake), and goes to see her perform night after night. She's aware of his possessive interest in her and it makes her uncomfortable. When her pianist husband (Colin Clive) gets in a terrible accident and potentially damages his hands beyond repair, she knows Gogol is the only one capable of saving him. When the bandages come off,  his hands look unfamiliar to him. Whose hands are they? Why is Dr. Gogol hearing voices? Is the actress in even more danger than before?

This is such a bizarre and fun movie. The leads are all hamming it up, Dr. Gogol has a drunk housekeeper who steals the show, and the plot gets more and more twisted and strange. And at a lean 68 minutes and directed by The Mummy (1932) director Karl Freund, who can resist it? Add this to your list of spooky-fun movies for this time of year! Check out the trailer's a hoot!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Obvious Child (2014)

Going into this film, all of the press was about how this was “the abortion movie” and the "anti-Juno". All that hype had me prepared for a turgid and impassioned defense of a woman’s right to choose that would be scarce on laughs and border on preachy. Had this film not starred the amazing Jenny Slate I might have just waited for video. I’m really glad that I didn’t wait. Sure there’s an abortion in there, but this film is about so much more. It’s about relationships, it’s about family, it’s about friendship, and it’s about growing up. It’s also one of the best on-screen depictions of stand-up comedy that I have ever seen and absolutely laugh-out-loud hilarious. Just as a woman should never allow herself to be defined by the fact that she chose to have an abortion, this film boldly refuses to allow itself to be defined by the fact that its protagonist chooses to have an abortion. It’s a wonderful film that defies easy definition about a wonderful woman who isn't easy to define, and I love it for that!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Quote: The Black Cat

"Are we men or are we children? Of what use are all these melodramatic gestures? You say your soul was killed, that you have been dead all these years. And what of me? Did we not both die here in Marmaros 15 years ago? Are we any the less victims of the war than those whose bodies were torn asunder? Are we not both the living dead? And now you come to me, playing at being an avenging angel, childishly thirsting for my blood. We understand each other too well. We know too much of life. We shall play a little game, Vitus. A game of death, if you like..."

The Black Cat (1934)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Inception (2010)

Filmmakers have been obsessed with magicians and con artists since forever. Directors ranging from Orson Welles to David Mamet have remarked that they feel a sort of kinship with these various "professionals" who make a living by "putting one over" on an audience/mark. And in the end, that's what film is: a large, elaborate trick intended to make someone feel something without noticing all the moving parts that go into it. You're casting a spell over an audience and allowing them to share in a collective dream while also lightening their wallets the price of a ticket. The subtlest misstep and jig is up, the illusion is pierced.

Does Cobb's totem keep spinning or does it tip over? The mere fact that you care is really all that matters. It means that you have bought into the dream. The mission was a success.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Best Dressed Movie Vampires

Werewolves. Monsters. Mummies. Vampires. Which do you think has an upper hand when it comes to their sartorial mark on cinema? More than any other type of movie "monsters," vampires have style. They're glamorous. They're cool. They live forever, they can shape-shift, and for the most part, they look fabulous. Here are a few noteworthy and very fashionable movie vampires for your enjoyment and appreciation.

Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, Dracula (1931)
Let's give it up for the original debonair vampire! Even without his signature cape, that's one dapper fellow. 

Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt as Lestat and Louis, Interview With The Vampire (1994)
Let me take a minute to clarify that this list is purely about fashion, as this movie is kinda silly. But those vests! Those coats! The costumes in this are to die for.

Gary Oldman as Count Dracula, Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

I actually hate this movie, but I absolutely adore Oldman's costume in this scene. It takes talent to work an all-grey ensemble, and the details of his top hat and tinted glasses really complete the look. His red robe as old heart-headed Dracula is pretty awesome too.

Catherine Deneuve as Miriam, The Hunger (1983)
Look at that picture. No explanation necessary.

Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as Eve and Adam, Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
The robe above is actually what inspired this post. Swinton and Hiddleston look so COOL in this movie. We're used to vampires looking like they belong to the distant past, but these costumes take the rock and roll vibe of The Lost Boys (who I didn't feature here because they all look like a bunch of damn fools) and chic-it-the-hell-up. Who wouldn't want to be these two?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Gone Girl (2014)

When you think of David Fincher the first word to pop into your head is probably, "darkness". Both aesthetically and thematically that's an accurate description of his cinema. He knows what he likes, but more importantly he knows what we like. Let us not forget that his last two films in particular have been based on HUGE best sellers. Say what you will about the declining numbers in the publishing industry, a whole lot of people read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl. Those books are/were everywhere: airports, beaches, bathrooms, convenience stores, etc. I'm pretty sure that your parents and your grandparents have read them. I'm also pretty sure that they enjoyed each and every smutty/gory sentence just as they love all the various incarnations of CSI, Law & Order and NCIS. And let's not forget how eagerly they are awaiting the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. So who's the dark one again?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Quote: Scream

"There are certain RULES that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie. For instance, number one: you can never have sex. BIG NO NO! BIG NO NO! Sex equals death, okay? Number two: you can never drink or do drugs. The sin factor! It's a sin. It's an extension of number one. And number three: never, ever, ever under any circumstances say, 'I'll be right back.' Because you won't be back."

Scream (1996)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Touch Of Sin (2013)

Though set in a completely different country and time period, this film would make an interesting companion piece to I Am Cuba. In the earlier film you have four stories illustrating the rampant capitalist corruption, repression and exploitation that necessitated a revolution in Cuba. With this film you get four stories illustrating how the gradual incursion of capitalism into China's economy has lead to crime, disenfranchisement and ultra-violent rage. I'm sure that when the Nationalists were overthrown in 1949, many assumed that economic greed would suddenly become a relic of the past. But as this film acutely demonstrates, that was not the case. All systems get corrupted because all systems are run by greedy, petty, flawed human beings. Violence, misery and death permeate every frame of this film. I'm really surprised that this film was allowed to be made. Perhaps another revolution is on the way?