2003 Milk Plus Droogies

Best Picture
Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Director
Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Actor (tie)
Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean

Best Actor (tie)
Bill Murray, Lost in Translation

Best Actress
Uma Thurman, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Supporting Actor
David Hyde Pierce, Down With Love

Best Supporting Actress
Miranda Richardson, Spider

Best Screenplay
Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

Best Foreign Film

Best Cinematography
Harris Savides, Gerry

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The Blog:
Thursday, February 27, 2003

Odds and Ends

I haven’t found anything that has inspired me to write one of my mega-posts on one subject, but I think I can pull one off if I aggregate a couple of things that I have read about or seen lately:

* Well, it’s official, Buffy the Vampire Slayer will end it’s seven year run this May, which is something I have been expecting since the beginning of this season (and let me say, I’m still laughing my ass off thinking of some of the scenes from the last episode, “Storyteller.” “We are as Gods!”). It is one of my favorite shows, well, it’s currently my favorite show. Even though I’m a Johnny-come-lately to the world of the Buffyverse (I began watching the show during the middle of the sixth season; I’ve actually come pretty late to almost all of my favorite shows, Farscape in it’s fourth season, Angel in it’s third, 24 in it’s second; though I have watched Alias, Firefly, and Once and Again since the very beginning, and to the bitter, bitter end in the case of two of those shows), after viewing every episode, either on DVD or in syndication, I can honestly say that I have never been disappointed with any episodes of the show, and that it has been a good run. However, the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer means that I will be for sure losing two of my favorite shows at the end of this season, due to the demise of Farscape at the hands of those traitorous bastards at the Sci-Fi Network. And to make matters worse, regarding Farscape, since the cancellation came after the fourth season was finished filming, the series will probably end on a cliffhanger.

Compounding my televisual anxiety, was the fact that both Alias and Angel were/are currently on the bubble, ratings wise that is. But I was heartened to read (and I’m sure that allyn will enjoy this news) today that ABC has picked up a third season of Alias (though ABC generally cancels there good shows after the third season, assuming it gets past it’s first one, i.e. Once and Again). Also, 24 has been picked up by FOX for a third season, though there is no word whether Kiefer Sutherland will continue to star in the show. That leaves only Angel, and the decision regarding that show will be reached, apparently in May, though Joss Whedon has publicly stated that he wants to continue on with that show.

*I’m sure a lot of you guys have already read this story, which I first saw in my Saturday newspaper, but it looks like a class-action lawsuit has been filed against some Chicago-area theater chains for false advertising. It seems that some disgruntled moviegoers are angry with the advertisements that now run before most movies. Personally, while I was a little perturbed when advertisements first began to appear before movies, I quickly made my peace with them for four reasons: (1) Most of my local theaters that show commercials preceding the movie, begin them before the start time any ways, (2) any additional revenue stream for my local arthouses is worth the sacrifice, (3) aren’t trailers basically advertisements too (somehow, the legal arguments don’t extend to trailers), and (4) my local theaters have had the good taste to run funny and inventive commercials prior to their movies (well except for a locally produced ad for a local technical college, which is just a piece of crap).

*The only film I saw this past weekend was Michael Haneke’s 2000 film Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys, another anti-psychological tale of modern alienation (the movie begins with silent, sad-eyed deaf children playing a version of charades against a blank wall; at the end of this sequence we learn that the girl was trying to mime “sadness”), though I liked last year’s The Piano Teacher much more. Code Unknown has much more of an overt political slant, hinting that globalization has lead to dislocation, dehumanization, and alienation, not just among the Eastern European and African immigrants, but also among the Western European bourgeois. It’s almost hard to pick which photomontage was sadder: Georges pictures of war-torn Kosovo, or the blank faces of the Parisians riding the Metro, completely unaware of what is seemingly going on around them (a scene echoed when Juliet Binoche is accosted on the subway; she can barely relate to the Arab man who comes to her aid, and both lapse into uncomfortable silence).

Some of the plot strands were more interesting, notably those involving Julie Binoche’s character, as she auditions for plays and works on some ridiculous movie thriller (those reflexive scenes being some of the best in the movie), and her relationship with the photographer Georges, who seems afflicted by some sort of , well it may be cliché to say it, post-traumatic stress disorder. There relationship seems curiously distant, and there one scene of passion, in the back aisles of a supermarket, as they fight and then make-up, have a definite soap operaish air; for a movie with such generally restrained characters, they really went for the melodramatic gusto in this scene. The scenes with the immigrant Amadou, where also interesting, and I was interested in how Haneke staged the scenes of his mother confiding to her therapist/lawyer/witchdoctor and bemoaning Amadou’s flirtations with white girls. The other plot strands were less interesting to me, the Romanian immigrants, and especially the story of Georges’s father and Jean, and the farm (though it was chilling when his father just gives up and slaughters the bulls).

The film had a lot of thrilling camera work, especially the scene immediately following the deaf-children prologue, the long-take, roving camera which follows the characters up and down a Parisian boulevard. The most interesting element of the film for me was of course Haneke’s curious narrative technique of cutting away from a scene before it was finished, usually before the events of the scene have been resolved. This creates only fragments for the audience to view, so we never really get as close to the characters as we could, echoing the alienation of the characters in the movie.

*On a different note, I saw Old School last night (hey, it was only $3). It’s certainly no Animal House, or even Revenge of the Nerds; it really didn’t even have a plot, and what little it did, was largely ineptly staged (so much of it happened off-screen, it was ridiculous). It was fairly funny however, if you think of it more in terms of some loosely (very loosely) connected sketches; Will Ferrell was the best thing in the movie, as a party-hearty maniac with a serious case of arrested development. You know, I came to the realization that I really don’t like Vince Vaughn that much (I just found him annoying in the last film of his I saw, Made), but I did like him in his role as a world-class cynic in regards to marriage and kids, but one who still takes his marriage vows and parenting very, very seriously. Luke Wilson was kind of wasted in his role of a sad sack who gains a backbone (and nails 24’s Elisha Cuthbert in the first 15 minutes) as he leads his motley band of fraternity brothers against that evil, evil Dean. I did like the extra sadistic finale, where the two main “villains” of the piece get their ultimate, and fatal, comeuppance.

*And finally, the schedule for the 5th Annual Wisconsin Film Festival was released today, and being the anal movie geek that I am, I bought my ticket package right away at 11:30am, when the box office opened (man, they keep on expanding by adding more venues, you think they could spring for more than two box office lines for phone orders). Here’s my schedule, already written in stone (too bad I’ll be missing Roger Ebert’s visit, he’s presenting a restored print of A Hard Day’s Night):

March 27

* Corpus Callosum (d. Michael Snow) - The WFF will be featuring many of Canadian avant-garde directors Michael Snow’s work during the course of the festival; it was between this film and Wavelength, but given the strong praise that *Corpus Callosum has received, I opted for this one. I also plan on catching a symposium on Snow and his work that is being given earlier in the day.

Wisconsin Own Short Films - Experimental - Six avant-garde short films from Wisconsin filmmakers.

March 28

La Captive (d. Chantal Akerman) - A film inspired by the fifth volume of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past (hopefully I’ll like it more than the Ruiz version of Proust’s writings), she did make one of my favorite movies, Jeanne Dielmann.

Asurot/Detained - An Israeli documentary about three Palestinian widows who are caught up in the Occupation of Hebron.

Divine Intervention (d. Elia Suleiman) - I’ve been looking forward to this film; it will make a good double bill with the documentary that precedes it. I really enjoyed his earlier Chronicle of a Disappearance.

Teenage Hooker Became Killing Machine in DaeHakRoh - Come on! The title alone makes this worth seeing. I’m looking for some great Korean late-night fare akin to Attack the Gas Station!. Plus, Yun-fat has periodically mentioned this movie, which just has piqued my curiosity.

March 29

Devil on the Doorstep (d. Jian Wen) - I’ve heard a lot about it, I like Chinese films, I’m excited to start my 14 hour Saturday movie marathon with this film.

What Does a Lady Do With Her Rage - A documentary about Chicago artist Hollis Sigler, who has been living with breast cancer since 1985. Many of my favorite festival films of the past, like When Two Won’t Do, Man Hunt, and First Person Plural have been documentaries that I have pretty much randomly selected.

Mon-Rak Transistor - Might as well get on the Thai movie bandwagon before it plays itself out. I’ve been intrigued by descriptions of this film.

Blackboards - I loved Samira Makhmalbaf’s earlier film The Apple, so I’ve been looking forward to this film since the Cannes premiere.

Decay of Fiction - Hey Yun-fat, it better be good.

The Real Old Testament - Hopefully an interesting late night comedy, apparently the movie is like The Real World but with Biblical patriarchs.

March 30
Spellbound - The 2003 Academy Award nominated documentary about the children competing in the National Spelling Bee.

River and Tides - Another documentary about an artist. I saw this film profiled on Ebert and Roeper last weekend, so when I saw it on the schedule, I took a chance and picked it.

The Son (d. Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne) - A big fan of La Promesse and Rosetta, easy choice.

Ten (d. Abbas Kiarostami) - I was kind of worried about ending the festival with this film, but hell, here’s my chance to see the latest film by one of my favorite directors on the big screen. Can’t really pass that up (and ABC Africa will be showing later this Spring at the Cinematheque).