Monday, July 24, 2006

The Trim Bin #32

- I've repeatedly forgotten to mention editor Jim Emerson's ongoing Opening Shots Project in this space, and for that I'm sorry, as it's one of the most interesting film discussions happening right now. Emerson has invited readers to send in their own detailed descriptions of their favorite opening shots (first shot only - no sequences), and the results have included insightful write-ups about the openings of films like Aguirre the Wrath of God, 2001, and Altered States. My favorite so far has been Robert C. Cumbow's take on the tracking shot that begins Halloween; the entire film rests on the strength of that first shot, and Cumbow nails the method of its madness. I suspect I'll have to deal with the subject myself soon in the form of a top ten.

- Speaking of Halloween, I highly recommend that any fans of the series pick up the new documentary Halloween: 25 Years of Terror (yes, the titular math is sketchy - it was largely filmed at a 25th anniversary convention in 2003). The filmmakers have gotten a remarkable amount of detail and insight about the making of the entire series, from the indelible first film to the varying quality of the sequels. Interviewees include not only stars and directors, but also the many character actors, screenwriters, makeup effects men, composers, and bit players that contributed to the films over the years (including, of course, most of the stuntmen who wore the Shatner mask). Most valuable is the footage featuring the late Moustapha Akkad, who was to Halloween what the Broccolis are to Bond, except that Akkad had genuine affection for the series and its fans that went beyond the bottom line. Also included are interviews with filmmakers Edgar Wright and Rob Zombie - after hearing Zombie's comments on where the series went wrong (faceless characters, faceless killer), I'm confident that he's the man to make Halloween 9 a film worth seeing. The bits with the hardcore fans are wonderful, as I find myself both frightened by and sort of wanting to be them (particularly the cutesy-looking young woman who declares Michael Myers to be a "turn-on" before flashing the camera for no decipherable reason). The 2-disc set is jam-packed with extras, but there's one thing above all that makes Halloween: 25 Years of Terror a must-see:


- Anyone else following Kevin Smith's protracted smackdown of Joel Siegel following Siegel's vocal walkout of a press screening of Clerks II? Granted, Siegel's behavior was unprofessional, but when Smith confronted him on Opie and Anthony (what is this, 1995?), the critic apologized before taking several minutes of Smith's mean-spirited, self-righteous, and jarringly unfunny schtick. Now, just last week I was expressing my problems with the critical community. But there's a world of difference between me giving Jack a good-natured hard time on his blog about Superman Returns and if, say, Bryan Singer showed up and made fun of Jack's glasses or something. This kind of behavior is petty and vaguely sad, and makes the scene in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back where the titular characters fly around the country to beat the snot out of teenage internet critics a whole lot creepier. Also, note that Smith does little to actually defend Clerks II, focusing on ridiculing Siegel's mustache and penchant for puns while Opie and Anthony hoot and holler like the apes that they are. Well, yeah - that's what guys like Siegel exist for. It's not like anyone watches Good Morning America for the depth of content. I'll probably see Clerks II soon and I'll keep an open mind. Here's hoping that Smith doesn't send me human feces in a Sister Act box.

- Films watched this week:

Excalibur 10
Halloween: 25 Years of Terror 7
Wordplay 5
Lady in the Water 2
Halloween 5 4
River's Edge 9
The Watcher in the Woods 4


Dr. Criddle said...
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Dr. Criddle said...

If Bryan Singer showed up and made fun of my glasses, I'd poke him in the bum with a pointy stick. That'd teach him to cut James Karen out of his movie!

Joking aside, though, both Seigel and Smith were pretty immature in this case. Film critics are supposed to know better than to make a scene in the middle of a movie (and if you've ever seen a View Askew film before, you should be prepared for a little lowbrow toilet talk - you're not gonna be seeing "Children of Paradise") but Smith's Opie & Anthony schtick ("it's fine to not like my movie, but ha ha, you have a gay porn moustache!") is equally stupid. Maybe he's trying to create a "Brown Bunny"-esque controversy to sell more tickets? Because, I can only speak for myself, but nothing I've seen in terms of trailers/buzz/hoopla/whatever makes me actually want to see this thing.

Andrew Bemis said...

To be fair, a lot of movies don't have James Karen. Superman still has more James Karen than most. Of course, it could have benefited from more James Karen. And more cowbell.