I've gone on and on and on about how great horror movies are and how I still can't bring myself to watch any of them. I remember trying to watch The Strangers, getting feelings of godawful anxiety, and turning it off because god dammit I was an adult and didn't have to put up with anything that made me uncomfortable. So it really, really sucks that I will never bring myself to watch either version of Michael Heneke's Funny Games. Not only because Boardwalk Empire has made me a fan of Michael Pitt, and not only because the idea of a director remaking his own film shot-for-shot a few years later sounds amazing, but mainly because the movie is constantly violating the fourth wall to include and implicate the audience in the horrors going on around -- and, more importantly, for -- them. Here's a few choice cuts. There's no violence, but the first scene has a dead dog in it, so heads up:
The idea that the innocent family in the movie is terrorized, tortured and murdered for the audience's pleasure and the audience's pleasure alone is brought right up to the audience on a silver platter. The most infamous scene, and one of the hardest fourth wall breaks in a non-comedy, follows. If you don't want to watch it: one of the antagonists is killed when the wife of the tortured family grabs suddenly grabs a shotgun and kills him. The other antagonist finds a remote control, rewinds the film, and grabs the gun right before she does. Needless to say, this scene contains gore and the rest of the mise en scene of a home invasion flick:
The boys who are torturing this family are doing it for us, and they will use our techniques as the audience of a film when their techniques are not enough. The victims aren't given a chance to fight back against the flow of violence even when they succeed. Nothing prevents this movie from going to its inevitable and desired conclusion and the cycle starts again with a new family at the end. Goddamn if I didn't wish I had the temerity to watch this damn movie.
Back before the popularity of cable, Netflix, P2P and all that good stuff, they showed feature films on network television. I'm going to assume this is either blindingly obvious to most of you reading this, but I'm pretty sure at least one or two of you was born well after cable became prohibitively expensive. Anyway, the first October after my family moved to America -- and sometime after I figured out what Halloween was by straining myself silly reading a magazine article in English -- I saw these commercials aired on WPIX, Channel 11 (or as I heard it for months: "shellaveleva.) Happy Halloween y'all.
The fine folks over at Everything is a Remix have dropped another doozy on us. Grant Morrison has claimed that you can re-arrange the panels of Invisibles #1 to storyboard the movie. Many of these connections are rather tenuous, but, hell the ones that aren't are dead-on.
I was watching Ghostbusters 2 the other day when I saw something delightful: the Statue of Liberty was controlled using a hacked NES Advantage:
...and, why not, here's a Boards of Canada's "Statue of Liberty" off a Few Old Tunes Vol. 2.
I've been waiting for this to pop back up on YouTube for a while. It's an excerpt from a four-hour-long documentary on the Nightmare on Elm Street Series called Never Sleep Again. Now, I'm not a fan of the series or horror films in general, but this clip is hilarious. I don't want to spoil any of it, but the general result of the interviews is that from a bit of subtext in the script, a bunch of people managed to make a film with explicit gay themes without having any idea they were doing so. This set of interviews is basically just seven minutes of a bunch of dudes looking back on their naivete regarding what were supposed to be the sub-textual homosexual themes of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge. The funniest part is at the very end, so if you're not into it, at least watch this part.
In 1991, SF author Terry Bisson wrote a short story called "They're Made Out of Meat." The plot, as much as there is one, revolves around two aliens' inability to comprehend the fact that human beings are, in fact, made out of meat. In 2006, Stephen O'Regan made a short film
I can recall pretty well the days before Flash-based streaming video, but I'd rather not. So instead I will recall the days when Flash-based streaming video was brand-spanking new, all those six long years ago. One of the first short films I remember watching was (Academy Award-nominated director) Tetsuya Nakashima's super sentai parody, Rolling Bomber Special. Recently the Short of the Week project uploaded a better-quality version than the one that had been hanging around since 2005. This translation also has some great subtitling effects.
I was on a nostalgia kick last night and, as these things usually go, it ended with my watching about a half-dozen cartoons intros on YouTube. Going further and further back in time to my childhood, I looked up one of my favorite cartoons from back before I even understood enough English to grasp the dialogue. Howie Mandell's Bobby's World wasn't the greatest cartoon of the 90s, but it ran for nearly a decade and I caught a fair amount of it growing up. However, the disconnect between my watching this cartoon and my education in film means I didn't notice one very important thing until last night. Let's see if you get the "oh, shit!" moment I had last night. Here's a hint: it becomes the most blatant at around 0:25 in:
Here's the big solution:
Now, I could be wrong, but unlike, say, anything from the Fox stable -- Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, et. al. -- Bobby's World was not particularly known for its smirky adult moments, so a reference to The Shining, of all films, is all the more surprising and delightful.
Also, because someone was willing to put a lot more time and effort into this connection, you can see the cartoon's music overdubbed onto the film's video here. The creator disabled embedding, so you'll have to follow the link through but it's worth it.
I've been watching History's ufology/ancient astronaut series Ancient Aliens -- the show where every "expert" interviewed has a book called ______ of the Gods -- and it has just been the most entertaining thing. Mainly because every interview plays out almost exactly like this:
I could never get my friends to watch movies from the 1940s. Mainly because every time we sat down to watch a movie we were beat from school, or work, or hanging out all day to the extent that following the rapid-fire dialogue in, for instance, a Howard Hawks or Preston Sturges film was just too much to work through. Take, for instance, this scene from 1940s classic His Girl Friday, starring Rosalind Russell as a hardcore journalist and Cary Grant as her editor and ex-husband.
Family Guy did a dead-on parody of this style of filmmaking with their Fast Talking, High Trousers:
So, what else is there to do with a movie like that but excise the dialogue and see what remains. That idea was the genesis of 2005's Between The Lines edit of His Girl Friday. It's eight minutes long, pared down from 92, and nothing but looks, breaths, noises and wordless vocalizations. It achieves a great rhythm, evident especially during the phone "conversation", at the five minute mark. It might not make too much sense if you haven't seen the original, but it's up all over the place.