Posts Tagged ‘Films’
Tags: all time, best of, cinema, Films, Roger Deakins, top
Tags: crime, cult classic, deception, erotic, erotic thriller, femme fatale, Films, manipulation, movies, noir, Passion, psychological, psychologry, review, reviews, seduction, sex, sexy, siren, temptress, thriller, Under The Radar
by Joe Giambrone
Spoilers may follow.
Recently watching Deception (2008), I was disappointed with the story, and then got to thinking about Bad Influence (1990) which is the same kind of story – done better. A mousy, shy guy is introduced to the wild life of debauchery, but there are ulterior motives. I had wanted to post on Bad Influence already and call it a Cult Classic. So then I got to thinking about a lot of other psychological thrillers that use the allure of sex as bait to hook the audience as well as the lead character, play with their desires and manipulate their perceptions of unfolding events.
Femme fatales are as old as Blue Angel (1930), and probably predate her. Some of the more memorable ones that stick in my mind are The Last Seduction (1994), Basic Instinct (1992) and Wild Things (1998).
These types of films often lose their way by the end, either in plotting or in their moral compass. The B list is littered with innumerable misfires that fell short somewhere along the path. It is very difficult to spin new twists that we haven’t seen before and have them remain plausible, meaningful, and keep to a theme that resonates.
My problems with Deception, besides its slow dragging pace, are mostly with its ending. Ewan McGregor has been played by a couple of grifters, and he’s framed for the murder of a blonde he’d fallen for, sorta. The body in the morgue isn’t hers but a look-alike. The real blonde is supposedly held hostage unless McGregor steals millions from his client and wires it to an account in Spain.
McGregor then realizes that his blonde is in on it too, a femme fatale. He sneakily arranges it that a partner’s signature be required to withdraw funds from the Spanish bank. McGregor shows up in Spain to claim half the money, going into partnership with the murderous grifter (Hugh Jackman) who framed him. There are two endings that can follow, the theatrical one and the deleted one on the dvd. Neither works.
In the deleted ending, McGregor takes half the money and rides off into the sunset. He’s basically given the murderous thug who framed him $10M, given up on the girl, and decided to disappear into wealthy obscurity. He’s certainly lost his moral compass and become one of them, to a degree. Was this the intended resolution of a story that had him battling to save a girl held hostage for so long? It’s a disconnected resolution, and was rejected by the studio.
The theatrical ending goes over the top. McGregor and Hugh Jackman stand outside the Spanish bank holding $10M each in suitcases. McGregor offers $5M for the location of the blonde who betrayed him – he’s still in love. Jackman says he’ll deal. They walk to the park. Jackman pulls out a pistol to kill McGregor. From nowhere, the blonde shoots Jackman dead. The blonde apologizes and runs off. McGregor leaves $20M lying there in the park by the dead guy and runs off to find the blonde. She says she can’t be with him and leaves. McGregor, no money, no identity ends up in a city plaza, and the blonde just happens to be in the same plaza at the same time. A smile. The end. Really?
Allowing that getting a fake passport that actually works these days is a tall order, especially in one day for a guy who knows nothing about crime, the girl also managed to get herself a firearm in Spain, secretly track the men and take out the armed and dangerous Jackman without the slightest hitch. It seems totally out of the blonde ingenue’s character and beyond belief. Then they just leave $20M for the cops. This was supposedly “dirty money” in the first place and no one is looking for it. Okay, McGregor chooses love over money, but the blonde isn’t really all that lovable, and she knows it. He doesn’t fight for her, and just lets her go, which is where a plausible end should have been. But then he miraculously stumbles upon her again while trekking through Europe? It’s easy to blow the finish, and studio pressures for happy endings can really mess up any sense of direction a film may have built up.
The draws in Deception and Bad Influence are wild sex encounters with strangers. Deception uses an elite call list to arrange hook ups. These are played quickly and coldly, lacking passion and rather voyeuristically. Bad Influence uses traveling one-night only rave styled sex parties. In both films, the devil’s salesman recruits the curious man to expand his horizons, edging him out of his cocoon.
I prefer Bad Influence over Deception for several reasons. Here, James Spader is a mid-level corporate shlub, and he comes upon Rob Lowe, who has the keys to Lucifer’s kingdom. The events are raw and faster paced. Lowe reveals himself as a sociopath by degrees. When Lowe murders a girl in Spader’s apartment his psychosis is delivered with shock, setting up a clear moral battle. Spader is outgunned and outwitted, and there is no grey area about who he is or what he’s doing. He’s not in it for the money, and he’s not playing games, as the evidence to frame him for murder is in Lowe’s hands. Definitely a more satisfying film with more passionate actors who really disappeared into their roles.
Tags: 10, Bad Santa, best of, December, Films, greatest, holiday, It's a Wonderful Life, list, movies, Netflix, picks, recommendations, santa, Scrooged, Top List, top ten
It’s supposed to be 117 degrees today, July 2nd. So why not? I’ll repost the link in December.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Some films last as classics because they’re old. Some because they’re mind-blowingly great. This one is the latter. Trust Frank Capra. It’s also free on the web for your viewing enjoyment right now.
Bill Murray does TV executive Ebenezer Scrooge! Pure Murray, pure Christmas – they would play this film every year at a Christmas Eve party I attended several times. You may want to consider it too.
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Well of course, as they often play this on the networks during holidays, and it has fond memories lodged in my childhood brain. Again, mind-blowingly great and adds an out of left field component to Christmas.
She has a Santa Claus fetish, so what can you do? An irreverent, often nasty tale of dumb crime, midgets and a messed-up little porker of a kid.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Danny Elfman, Halloween kidnaps Christmas, Tim Burton, this is legal lsd for kids.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Okay, for the under 10 crowd, I mean they gotta watch something.
Chevy Chase returns as hapless corporate cog Clark Griswold at the mercy of family, cheap ass bosses and the meanest movie squirrel ever filmed.
Friday After Next
Ice Cube returns with his same shtick, but this time in a Christmas story from the hood. Funny characters and Santa may be picking up rather than dropping off.
A Christmas Story
“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!” Quirky little indie kids tale that made the cut. Some odd observations of American culture in the 50s, and usually loved by all.
Monty Python’s Meaning of Life
“It’s Christmas in heaven, there’s great stuff on TV, the Sound of Music twice an hour and Jaws one, two and three.” Only play this if you want to freak the fuck out of everyone in attendance.
Trading Places has a hilarious Christmas moment when wasted Dan Ackroyd in a filthy Santa suit pilfers food and booze from a Christmas party. One of the all-time great drunken roars.
Tags: banking, career, corruption, death threats, Films, Glass-Steagall, interview, issues, Lies, Michael Moore, movement, opposition, Political, right wing, wall street
“It’s a total puppet show!”
Moore postures himself as an eternal independent, despite his actual record say, around 2004. Still, he calls out the “duopoly” and the crimes of Democrats as well, even back in Vietnam. Pretty good interview though, and Moore’s works on the health care and Wall Street crime sprees are valuable and needed. Moore also talks about the death threats and assaults, post Fahrenheit 9/11 and whether or not he would do it again. An important filmmaker no matter your opinion of him…
Tags: Documentaries, Films, free, Hulu, politics, US
More of a PSA, see here.
Tags: bbc, David Lynch, directing, director, extended, Films, interview, style
Okay geeks — BBC grills Lynch…
Tags: all time, animated, best, best of, best of list, Comedies, comedy, Films, funny, greatest, Highest Rated, live action, movies, Top 20, Top List
Wow, talk about your differences in taste. You’re going to appreciate this list if you peruse the bloated crap fests that are some of those other lists.
Top 20, In Order
The In Laws
A Fish Called Wanda
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas
This is Spinal Tap
Life of Brian
The Big Lebowski
Bringing Up Baby
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
A Knight’s Tale
I had quality picks to go another 5-10 at least. But let’s end it there.
Animated Comedies, For the Kids
A Bug’s Life
The Iron Giant
A Nightmare Before Christmas
Tags: all time, best, best of, best of list, extreme, Films, greatest, mind bending, movies, PolFilmBlog, pseychedelic, psychological, reviews, top, trailers, twisted, wtf
Included as many trailers as possible. Still images don’t cut it here.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
It’s not what you’re expecting. Tom Tykwer is a great director, and he’s on here twice.
Enter the Void
Gaspar Noe on more than good will. The Tibetan Book of the Dead brings psychedelic reincarnation into some kind of hallucinogenic existence.
Noe again, not for the faint of heart. Backwards storytelling, as in Memento … but leave grandma at home.
Mostly to fuck with your head. Has to be seen to be believed.
Trailers From Hell explains.
Pink Floyd’s The Wall
Not sure if this movie damaged my brain. Probably not. You’re okay. Go ahead: Trailer.
I love this film,and it could be Cronenberg’s best mind messing. Blew my mind when I saw it in the theater. What an ending.
The Naked Lunch
Not for everyone, this is getting downright disturbing.
The Skin I Live In
Needed to include this because it’s such a damned good movie, and bonus WTF factor.
Time travel anomalies, paradoxes?
Tetsuo the Iron Man
Like with Mulholland Drive, I swear there’s a logic there somewhere that can be articulated, given enough time and review. But I don’t think most people are going to agree.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Manages to stay fun, heartfelt and somehow even real.
Lynch finally got his insanity to work magic. Not sure how or why, but Naomi Watts goes a long way toward keeping this thing fascinating.
Tags: Baz Luhrmann, directing, Films, Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge, movies
Tags: abuse, apes, atrocity, chimps, cruelty, Darwin, evolution, experimentation, Films, ignorance, medical, wildlife
Pan Troglodytes’ New Status in Policy & in Films
by Jennifer Epps
Charles Darwin turned 204 this year, but his birthday didn’t make as big of a splash as Abe Lincoln’s (both were born February 12, 1809) because Darwin didn’t have a giant Hollywood epic movie playing in theatres. But those who champion what Darwin revealed, or who care about great apes and their intelligence, might want to look into the DVDs of several movies from recent years in honor of Earth Week.
All four great apes suffer when confined in captivity (over 3000 great apes are held in captivity in the U.S.); at the same time, they are disappearing from the wild due to poaching and habitat loss. Things are pretty serious for all of our great ape cousins, but it is our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, who have arguably had it the worst because in addition to other evils, they have been subjected to brutal experimentation in labs, abused by the entertainment industry, exploited by the pet trade, and even been sacrificed in space.
Fortunately, after many decades of struggle by their advocates, things are starting to look up for the chimpanzee, or Pan Troglodyte. At least it seems so judging by their gains in federal policy and public support, and the enlightened ways they have been depicted in several notable recent movies – an indicator of an improvement in how filmmakers think we see apes.
Chimps as Experimental Subjects
The U.S., the only developed country still using this species in invasive medical experiments, has now taken significant strides toward cutting down their use by labs. First, a December 2011 Institute of Medicine report commissioned by the National Institute of Health (NIH) concluded that ‘most current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research is unnecessary’. A committee of experts then set about scrutinizing all NIH-funded projects making use of chimps. Within 9 months, the NIH authorized the retirement of 113 government-owned chimpanzees, and began transferring them to sanctuaries. Moreover, in January of this year a NIH task force of scientists, the Health Working Group, deemed laboratories unable to meet the needs of chimpanzees and called for a halt to the breeding of chimpanzees and a gradual end to existing biomedical research grants for projects with chimps. They recommended the government retire 300 other chimps from its labs, suggesting just 50 chimps be retained for possible future experiments.
This is long-overdue progress and will have a real practical effect on the quality of life of these chimps. This is clearly evident from footage this spring of freshly released NIH research chimps seeing sunlight and the outdoors for the first time after decades of incarceration. However, if invasive research and the keeping of chimpanzees in laboratory facilities is inhumane, then it’s just as inhumane for the unfortunate 50 chimps who have to stay behind. And Stephen Rene Tello, the executive director of Texas-based sanctuary Primarily Primates, has other concerns, since the government is maintaining ownership of all the chimps. “What happens if someone decides they suddenly need chimpanzees for research again?” Tello fears: “they’ll send them right back to the labs.”
Meanwhile, research on chimps continues in the private sector. While the efforts of animal protection agencies have raised awareness, and a string of pharmaceutical companies such as Idenix Pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithKline, Novo Nordisk and Gilead Sciences, Inc. have promised not to use chimps in their research, there are still 950 chimps in labs in the U.S. being used as industrial test subjects.
Thankfully, a strong movement exists to persuade Congress to pass the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, a bill to ban the use of chimpanzees in invasive research (and save the Treasury $250 million dollars in a decade).
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a group that both opposes vivisection and advocates for human health (and whose legislative leader is Dennis Kucinich’s wife Elizabeth), is one of the organizations passionately campaigning for this bill, which has been introduced by allies in session after session. PCRM reports the encouraging news that the bill garnered record support in the 112th congress, with close to 200 co-sponsors in the House and Senate. Its supporters will be back to try again. The film world and Washington politics meet here, as James Franco, the headliner of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, also endorsed the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act in this PCRM video.
Chimps as Entertainers
The world of entertainment and policy intersect in another way where great apes are concerned. An international campaign is afoot to end the use of great apes as performers in entertainment (chimps and orangutans being the ones generally used) and it is spearheaded by tireless chimpanzee champion Jane Goodall, as well as by national animal advocacy groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The opposition stems in part from the fact that there is no way to police how the animals are trained – though the American Humane Association (AHA) monitors the treatment of animal performers while they’re on set, no-one assesses the techniques the trainers use in private to condition the animals to obey their commands. (And moreover, there are numerous criticisms of the integrity of the AHA’s monitoring operations, which have very limited authority and which are financed by the studios themselves.)
Plenty of incidents have been recorded of routine brutality toward ape actors, who begin their careers at very young ages, while they can still be dominated by human beings. The allegations of chimp abuse on the set of 2008’s Speed Racer are just the tip of the iceberg.
Primatologist Sarah Baeckler, who witnessed a culture of beatings of young performing chimps as a volunteer at Amazing Animal Actors ranch in Malibu, points out: “Healthy, young chimpanzees are playful, curious, energetic, and mischievous, but these traits don’t serve them well when training begins, so one of the things that chimpanzees in the entertainment industry have to endure is an initial ‘breaking of the spirit.’ In other words, they have to learn how NOT to act like normal chimpanzees.” Baeckler goes on to state that “abuse and physical violence are seemingly commonplace in this industry, and it’s not even a secret. In fact, it’s taught in a training school [Moorpark College’s Exotic Animal Training and Management program] that is currently producing many future animal trainers and zoo workers.” One indicator of how prevalent the abuse may be is the ubiquitousness of chimp performers ‘grin’ — far from being gleeful, that grimace on chimpanzees is an expression of fear.
When apes get older they are no longer manageable even by brutes (typically, an 8 year-old chimp is already too dangerous to keep), and so they are sent to live somewhere else, often a sub-par roadside zoo where their housing and care are inadequate and they are isolated and bored. (Decent, accredited zoos won’t accept them because apes in such zoos now live in group installations, and chimps reared among humans are at sea in the complicated dynamics of chimp society; they can’t protect themselves from the aggression of dominant chimps.)
If they are lucky enough to end up at an enlightened ape sanctuary, this places the burden for their care on the philanthropic animal-charity community. The trainers who profited off of them (and traumatized them) just go on to acquire other young chimps.
And there are even more far-reaching reasons to ban the use of ape actors.
A 2008 survey found that the public is less likely to think that chimpanzees are endangered compared to other great apes. This may well be partly because chimps are so familiar to viewers from their use in commercials, circuses, and on greeting cards. (The truth is all four types of great apes are endangered.)
A 2011 study by Ross et al. has shown the power of even simple imagery: participants who were shown photos of a chimp standing next to a human were 35.5% less likely to deem chimpanzees as endangered or declining than those who saw photos of chimps alone.
These images can also boost the pet trade: participants who viewed these photos of chimps coexisting with humans were 30% more likely to believe that a chimp would make a good pet. (Charla Nash, the Connecticut woman who was attacked by former-performer Travis in 2009, would beg to differ, since her encounter with the 200-pound male chimp resulted in her face and hands being ripped off; she is now blind, has had a full face transplant, and now has to live in a nursing home at age 57). )
Some celebrities have taken a stand against the use of ape actors in entertainment, like Angelica Huston, Alec Baldwin, Cameron Diaz, and Bob Barker. And public pressure campaigns have convinced numerous companies – including Capital One, Dodge, Pizza Factory, and Pfizer — to can chimp ads for good.
However, Career Builder has been for several years one of the most prolific employers of chimpanzee performers through its series of humorous, office-based, TV ads.
Even though the trainer of the chimps used in the ads has been excoriated for cruelty by animal activists –- and his first round of chimps has already been shuffled off to sanctuaries — Career Builder has taken a defiant stand for several years when faced with complaints against its ads. For example, Stephen Ross of Lincoln Park Zoo’s Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes in Chicago has submitted his objections to Career Builder every year since 2005 without receiving a reply. (This is in spite of the fact that a Duke University study found that the ads were not even very effective.)
But there may be some good news: in 2013 Career Builder refrained from buying air time during the Super Bowl, as they had so often done. It is still too early to tell whether they will stop using chimp performers.
PORTRAYAL ON FILM
And there is yet more good news, especially for those who care about film and its social impact. Listed below are five recent movies, straddling a range of genres, which depict chimps in enlightened ways which communicate that our evolutionary siblings are highly social, intelligent, and sensitive animals. Two of these movies are strong indictments against conducting medical research on chimpanzees, and none of these films utilize trained chimpanzees as performers. Instead they used performance capture, puppet animatronics, documentary file footage, patient nature photography, and claymation.
The filmmakers here often employ a shorthand which suggests that they believe the audience already has a high level of respect for chimpanzees, and that it is ready to believe in quite sophisticated simian abilities. This is very encouraging because it is surely an inevitable step from that belief to a conviction that chimpanzees deserve far better treatment from us.
Tags: Documentaries, Films, films for action, free, online, website
Free internet library of activist documentaries:
Warning — first (and second) impression is that they’ll post anything and everything, whether scientifically sound or not. Check it out and see what you find.
They may also have some radical anarchist material, which I certainly don’t endorse or agree with.
Tags: 2010, Documentaries, Films, Nominated, Oscar, Political, Shorts, terrorism
No, I’m not talking about the Facebook movie, but instead have a look at some of the shorts and documentaries. These look notable…
The Warriors of Qiugang
A rural Chinese village is being poisoned by an out of control industrial invasion. People are dying. The village will fight back. Powerful stuff.
See the trailers for all of these at the links provided.
A dramatic and terrifying revisiting of the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
Sun Come Up
An island nation is sinking, and the people must flee. The only place nearby is a dangerous land torn apart by civil war. Will their culture die out, and will they go extinct as a result of Global Warming?
A female veteran renounces war and killing. Some profound guilt is evidenced.
Looks like a fun satirical take on the old educational cartoons. In this case it’s pro-pollution, pro-industrialization.
Killing In the Name
This one: I don’t know about. In a world of hyped propaganda about terrorism, I’m not very receptive to yet another anti-Muslim extremism slanted product, produced and championed by westerners.
From the trailer, we see that Killing in the name of GOD completes the title. Whenever I see these I need to remind myself that western militaries are also killing, and are quite a bit more efficient about it. Magnitudes. Epochs ahead.
Trailers like this tend to presnt Muslim extremists as the greatest threat to the world in existence. Of course Donald Rumsfeld likened going after Al Qaeda to “swatting flies.”
I think, essentially what’s missing in these anti-Muslim hit pieces is the larger reality. The greatest Big Lie of the modern age here in America is that western, white people “terrorism” does not exist. By constantly pointing the finger outward, and at the strange outsideer enemies, the finger never gets turned back around.
While western militaries may not explicitly be “killing in the name of God,” (although individual motives could be debated) the terrorism of “homicide bombers”, and two thousand pound bombs, and five hundred pound bombs, and Mother of All Bombs, and uranium munitions, and hellfire missiles, and “Predator” and “Reaper” drones, and white phosphorous, and torture and more torture and yet more torture, and assassinations, and partnering with mass-murdering warlords and drug lords, and death squads all tend to “terrorize” a hell of a lot of people around the world.
But, hey, I thought “we” were supposed to be against terrorism?
If “their” terrorism is morally unacceptable… then so is yours.