"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Vern Reviews The DEATH PROOF DVD!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.

Since this showed up at my house, I’ve screened it three times. I hate that they are not putting out GRINDHOUSE together, but I really like the international cut of DEATH PROOF, and I know that sooner or later, I’ll be able to own the same thing I saw in theaters this spring. It’s just not right now, and I guess that’s just the way it fucking goes.

Vern’s got a typically strong write-up of the disc for you today, and it was nearly as much fun to read this as it was to watch the disc:

For me GRINDHOUSE was one of the great theatrical experiences of 2007. A rare modern instance of filmatists trying to put on a real show, and giving you more than your money’s worth. Two movies for the price of one, plus fake trailers – an affordable night or afternoon out. Yeah, I read about how it failed to make money for the Weinsteins, but guess what? That’s what happens when you spend decades buying other people’s movies so you can cut them, dub them, retitle them, sit them on a shelf for years, and then only allow them to be rented at Blockbuster. When you spend that long doing that many cruel and unusual things eventually your bi-yearly good deed will fail for you too. Because you are an asshole.

Death ProofSo in that sense GRINDHOUSE is even better than you realize at first glance. It’s a good time at the movies AND it lost money for some assholes. Two birds with one stone, in the form of two movies.

Down to business: I was one of the people who thought Rodriguez’s PLANET TERROR was kind of a fun fake movie but Tarantino’s DEATH PROOF was a good actual movie. I liked it. So that’s where I’m coming from reviewing the new DEATH PROOF dvd out today. A guy who bought the dvd because he likes the movie.

That’s right, the DEATH PROOF dvd. As opposed to the GRINDHOUSE dvd that would contain the original double feature as shown to packed houses on the outer edges of the United States. You may say wait a minute, why are these bloodsuckers releasing the two movies on dvd separately? No longer a double feature? Without even including the trailers? And as if we are so stupid that we don’t know they’re gonna release it as a double feature later?

These are all valid points and clearly those snakehearted fuckers are doing it for the money. But by accident there is a certain logic to it. Think of it this way. There have been many double features throughout time, it has rarely been a permanent state. I remember in the late ’80s for example seeing a double feature of I’M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA and THE FLY 2. For real. So to me that’s how those movies were meant to be seen, but you can’t buy them on one DVD. A double feature is a fleeting moment in time, a limited time offer, like a Christo installation, a snow sculpture, or the “eggnog” milkshake that becomes “tom and jerry” when it’s not winter. You appreciate it when it comes around but you can’t have Christmas every day. Unless you work in one of those year round Christmas stores. In which case I hope you get paid well you poor bastard.

Also, I gotta be honest, there’s not much of a chance I would sit and watch the whole double feature again. I saw it twice in theaters but on home video how often are you gonna watch two movies in a row that are pre-programmed for you by the Weinsteins? Not often. I do like those double feature dvds with the trailers that Dark Sky puts out, but those I don’t watch the whole thing in one sitting either.

So I really can’t be too upset about it personally. Your mileage may vary. (That is not some car pun because of the movie being about cars, I am just using a common idiom.) In order to justify the separation this is the longer European cut with the “missing reel” lapdance scene and other additions. I don’t know how the fuck they’re gonna do it with PLANET TERROR since you would never want the “missing reel” to be in there, and the movie is probaly a little too long as it is. But with DEATH PROOF it seems kind of like a movie that had a bunch of different releases and you’re seeing a version with parts you never knew were cut out before.

So you got the lapdance scene, that’s self-explanatory. (if you need it explained, what happens is she gives him a lapdance.) The other most noticeable addition is a long black and white sequence at a convenience store before Rosario, Kim and Lucy McClane pick up Zoe at the airport. Nicky Katt from THE LIMEY plays the clerk. The highlight is when Stuntman Mike pretends to drop his keys so he can lick Rosario’s foot. I was surprised it was Kurt Russell’s character that did that, you’d think Tarantino’s character Warren the bartender would’ve been the one to do it. It would make no sense for him to be out there in Tennessee stalking girls in a minimart parking lot, but I’m sure he could’ve figured something out. But he didn’t, he had Stuntman Mike do it for the sake of the story. Way to take one for the team Tarantino.

I liked seeing this scene, but I didn’t really think it needed to be in the movie. I especially didn’t see any reason for it to be in black and white, that just seemed like screwin off. It’s a good deleted scene but it doesn’t add enough to justify how much it slows things down. On the other hand, it does make the ending make a little more sense. Knowing how long this guy has been stalking them makes it a little more believable that they would want to kill him.

There are other scenes that aren’t new but are longer. One little thing that really changes the way the story unfolds is in the first half there’s a scene where Stuntman Mike is in his car laughing sinisterly and looking at the photos of his “girlfriends.” It kind of reminds me of MANIAC or one of those other early ’80s stalker movies. I liked in the theatrical cut that there really wasn’t an acknowledgment that he was evil until he turned left when Rose MacGowan wanted to turn right. You’d seen his car looking ominous but that could’ve always been a trick, he could turn out to be the guy who protects the girls from the slasher. In this “Extended and Unrated” cut you know that can’t happen because you see him cackling and collecting spy photos early on. The cat is out of the bag.

My favorite addition for this cut is in the Earl McGraw scene in the middle, the bridge between the two halves of the movie where he explains the concept that car crashes are “the only way that degenerate sonofabitch can shoot his goo.” The scene is a little longer and includes a part where he brings up the possibility of investigating Stuntman Mike, dogging him like Dr. Loomis, but he decides against it. I won’t give away the joke, but there’s some good new lines, it’s always good to see that character.

I know you’re supposed to want to see the longer, uncut version, but sometimes shorter is better. DAWN OF THE DEAD for example, the long one from Cannes is nice but I go for the theatrical cut. History repeats itself here, I liked the shorter version better. It was more efficient. The long one doesn’t ruin it though. I still like it.

The transfer looks real nice, whatever the process he’s using to make it look like a cheap ’70s movie at the beginning, it looks even better on here. If you like the movie like I do the extras are pretty good too, definitely better than on those KILL BILL dvds. (hey bloodsuckers, when you gonna double dip us on those?) The best is a feature on “The Legendary Drivers of DEATH PROOF.” One particular shot they talk about involves 3 generations of stunt drivers plus Zoe Bell on the hood of the car. In context it’s a cool shot but not one that would necessarily jump out at you, so it’s cool to see them explain the significance of it to the stunt drivers.

There’s also one called “The Guys of DEATH PROOF,” which talks about some of these actors you forget are even in the movie since you pay more attention to the girls, and should be ashamed of yourself. I heard Eli Roth interviewed a while back and he told the story of filming the scene where he makes fun of Stuntman Mike (“he cut himself falling out of his time machine”) and it’s funny because they actually show footage of it happening and everything is pretty much exactly how Roth told the story, including Russell throwing nachos at him and Roth proclaiming THE THING his favorite movie of all time.

The extra I was most excited for was “Quentin’s Greatest Collaborator: Sally Menke.” Unfortunately it’s not a real thorough study or retrospective on her editing. But it is kind of amusing. It starts with Tarantino singing Menke’s praises and ends with a long montage of takes where the DEATH PROOF actors turn to the camera and say “Hi Sally.” The best is Zoe Bell saying it from the hood of the VANISHING POINT Charger.

As usual for Tarantino, no commentary. Guess he’s not much of a talker. Real shy. It’s not an overwhelming amount of extras, and they have the balls to list the trailer for DOUBLE DARE (really good Zoe Bell-featuring documentary about stuntwomen) as a special feature. But it’s a good dvd. If you like the movie.

And alot of you hate the movie. I know when the double feature came out, DEATH PROOF was by far the least popular in the talkbacks. I didn’t take alot of you seriously because you were calling the characters bitches and cunts, but there were plenty of reasonable people who didn’t like it. And at least one of you asked me to explain why, exactly, I did like it.

I may be a charming fella but I’m not gonna be able to talk anybody into liking it. I will say a few things though on its behalf. (And before you say this review is too long, fuck you, you got eyes, you knew what you were getting into, and I thoughtfully divided it into three parts so you’d have plenty of chances to take the coward’s way out.) One of the complaints I heard was that it supposedly didn’t fit the “grindhouse” theme it was advertised under. I disagree. I took it as a tribute to movies like TWO LANE BLACKTOP, artier independent car movies marketed with their exploitation elements. (This cover even fits that, they show off the female curves and the box is made to look beat up and “grindhouse” but it also has the logo for “Festival de Cannes Official Selection.”) Those arty car movies tend to be dry and quiet though, this is kind of in the other direction, lots of talking before the car chase at the end.

And it’s true, especially watching it the third time around, alot of that talking is not as funny or interesting as what they’re talking about in the other Tarantino movies. That’s a fair criticism. Jungle Julia especially starts to seem a little too full of herself with her soliloquy about Butterfly and her poem and lapdance situation.

But people that hate it don’t acknowledge how the dialogue does its job under the radar. In the first half these discussions set up all the slasher movie expectations – we learn that our heroines smoke weed and drink booze, they like boys, they flaunt their sexuality, they’re going to a cabin, and Butterfly refrains from going all the way with her date. Visually, Tarantino emphasizes that she should be the “final girl” who survives at the end. She’s the only one who notices him following them, the only one afraid of him. So it seems like they should go out to the cabin and be picked off one by one until Butterfly pulls it together and, say, runs over Mike while yelling that poem menacingly.

Instead he kills them all in one crash, running down the whole slasher movie formula. Whoops, start over.

Then there’s the bridge with Earl McGraw which is like the end of PSYCHO, the explanation of the psychology of the character. (That’s the comparison that came to mind when I saw it, and Tarantino uses it in the extras on the DVD. dude, I’m totally on the same page as Tarantino, I must really GET IT! That’s the problem, you guys just don’t GET IT like I do. People who GET IT get it, why can’ t you?)

In the second half the conversations are more important because they’re setting up what’s really gonna happen instead of what you’re supposed to think is gonna happen. For example, there’s a funny conversation that establishes that Kim has a gun, and that she’s happy to use it. That she believes in killing someone who tries to harm her. And there’s the story about Zoe falling into the ditch that establishes the spectacular car chase scene that’s pretty much the reason for the movie.

The car gets to star in the poster, but to me Zoe Bell is the star of DEATH PROOF. She’s the main thing that makes it special. I have no doubt that if she looked like some Bratz doll and was on the O.C. even you “haterz” would be sacrificing animals at her altar. Instead she looks like a normal person. But she’s not a normal person. She’s Xena flying through the air on fire, she’s Beatrix Kiddo running up that handrail in the House of Blue Leaves, she’s Zoe the Cat falling in the ditch and not getting hurt, she’s fucking DEATH PROOF, as much the reason for the title as Stuntman Mike’s car is. I think what Tarantino did was brilliant, to take this likable woman and turn her into an actress to create the weird circumstance of now seeing this same woman who we have been hanging out with actually, for real, put in this death-defying situation. The car chase is great, the crashes are great, the old school way it’s all staged and filmed is great, the organic has-CGI-even-been-invented-yet?-feel is great– but it’s Zoe, in the middle, on the hood, clinging on for dear life, and then later picking up a metal rod and jumping on the side of the car, ready to beat the hell out of Stuntman Mike and his death proof car – that’s DEATH PROOF.

Okay, maybe you don’t like it. Can we at least agree on MACHETE? You motherfuckers want our money, you need to hurry up and make MACHETE!

peace in the middle east and etc.,

Vern

Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/34089

View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 18th, 2007 at 5:49 am and is filed under AICN, Crime, Horror, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

75 Responses to “Vern Reviews The DEATH PROOF DVD!”

  1. This sight seems to attract somewhat level-headed types as compared to other movie sights, so I guess I’ll dump this on y’all and maybe I can get a suitable response.

    Perhaps it’s just a vocal minority or a gaggle of trolls but there seems to be a lot of hatred toward Tarantino lately. It doesn’t make sense to me that people are just hoping for Inglourious Basterds to fail and the same ratio of interneters are taking a “wait and see” stance towards something like Transformers.

    I guess there’s some people that don’t like Death Proof and although I personally think the movie is great, I do remember a time when Tarantino’s movies were anticipated and Bay’s movies were somewhat of a joke. The tables turned somehow and I don’t quite get it.

    I wonder if some of it has to do with Eli Roth? Which, again, I don’t get that either. I read the script for Inglourious Basterds and I couldn’t think of anyone better to play Donnie Donowitz. Eli Roth, I could see going around with a baseball bat going ape shit on some Nazis just as easily as he could take a morning shit. People also seem to have a problem with his acting in Death Proof which baffles me because I though he pulled off “douchebag trying to get laid” guy pretty well. Not to mention that QT has a strong history of pitch perfect casting, so again, I fail to see what all the hate is about. Moreso, I fail to see why some interneters refuse to give Tarantino the benifit of the doubt.

    Maybe I didn’t get the e-mail of Tarantino clubbing blind orphans that’s apparently been going around, and even if I had, after watching the greatness that is Reservior Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, Still Killin’ Bill, and Grindhouse (I liked Death Proof AND Planet Terror! It’s hard for some to believe, but it IS possible to like one without hating the other.) I’d probably still be willing to give him a pass.

    Does everyone really feel this way about him, or is it just a vocal minority as theorized above? I guess in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter, but for my own selfish reasons, I’d like to see more movies from Tarantino and if his movies are going to continue to bomb it’s only a matter of time until he’s working at a video store again. At the very least, we’ll have to wait ten years or so until he can somehow get funding to make another movie and that would make me sad.

  2. I wasn’t blown away by DEATH PROOF. Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it – reckoned that both it and PLANET TERROR could have been cut down to 60/70minutes each and neither film would have suffered. I still have relatively high hopes for I GLORY’S BASTARD though. A colleague of mine saw it in Cannes and thought it was a lot of fun, if overlong (he reckoned it was better than the KILL BILLs). But supposedly that edit was rushed for the festival and is still going to be worked on before the release.

    I’m looking forward to it, though. Tarantino’s work has never been less than entertaining.

  3. I don’t really get it either, but I’m leaning toward vocal minority. The very few people I know personally who dislike his movies are nerdy about Philipino exploitation films and shit like that and resent him making reference to their obscure movies or don’t like the idea of faking a “grindhouse” movie because they would rather watch the real ones and pretend they are not bored by them. But even some of those guys eventually get won over by his movies.

    The people I see in talkbacks and shit are just nutballs clinging onto limp arguments leftover from when RESERVOIR DOGS came out. They don’t understand that EVERYONE FUCKING KNOWS Tarantino is paying homage to other movies, that he is actually the one who talks about it the most and that society for the most part has moved on past that particular artistic debate.

    Of course, like any writer with a distinct style you start to notice patterns repeat themselves in his dialogue and that can get tiresome, especially if you never liked his stylized approach to dialogue in the first place (and after so many people badly imitated some of his tricks). So I think that’s another reason why people might hate his movies.

    And I think also there’s the matter of him having been elevated (15 years ago at this point) as the king of all film geeks according to the media. So there is a sense of competition with him, they gotta prove they know better.

    And there’s a phenomenon where the most hateful talkbackers are attracted to things that are obviously great so that they can make ludicrous statements about them being bad. It’s like a dog purposely shitting on the carpet to get attention. For example you will find dudes popping up saying that MAD MAX isn’t very good or DIE HARD doesn’t stand the test of time or HALLOWEEN isn’t very good anymore or whatever (never backing up any of those things with reasons). So of course it’s gonna be enjoyable to pick out one of the more uniquely talented working directors and shit all over them. It’s a challenge.

    I don’t know, I got different theories, but it befuddles me too. I think he has one of the best track records of any currently working director.

  4. It seems like the hate really kicked up a notch when Vol.1 was coming out. The ads that stated “THE 4TH FILM FROM QUENTIN TARANTINO” rubbed some people the wrong way. No one I know though. Its the same people that go into a rage about deviations from source material like no magic crystals for Juggernaut,flames on Optimus, or no squid in WATCHMEN. In other words,people just needing to hate something. To other people those KILL BILL ads were exiting because we love the guy and it seemed forever since JACKIE BROWN. Like Vern said though, you tend not to meet these people much or at all. Just loud fanboys.

  5. That’s good to hear that it’s not as widespread as the internets make it out to be. Between what I read on message boards and Grindhouse not doing well it doesn’t surprise me that stuff like Wild Hogs does well while Zodiac makes about $5.36 opening weekend. Kinda sad.

    It also sucks that we can’t get a decent Grindhouse DVD, yet there’s about 20 variations of Fantastic 4 DVD/Blu-ray 18-disc-director’s-cut-collector’s-editions. I can’t help but think that if the so called movie geeks would actually root for and support the more talented filmmakers and push their negativity on something a little more deserving things might change.

    I wonder if the people who hate him because he made a “grindhouse” movie realize that part of the reason that a lot of those movies are available now is because Tarantino continually talks about those movies and homages them and therefore creating a demand from guys like me and I’m sure many others who might not had heard of them otherwise?

    If Grindhouse was a hit, just think of all the boring Philipino exploitation movies that would be released as a result. They may have even eventually made a Philipino Grindhouse at one point, then you could practically swim in them I would imagine. But instead it bombed, and all we’re left with is a sea of Full Screen Transformers DVDs in the $5 bin at Wal-Mart.

  6. I would blame the lack of a real Grindhouse DVD on the god damn Weinsteins. Their whole way of life is basically buying shit up and then doing the most horrible job they can releasing it. I think they might even be some kind of nihilists deliberately doing this shit just to fuck with people. Or maybe satanists. It is not possible that they could just be incompetent boobs, they would eventually get it right on accident more than they have managed to.

    They release rentals exclusively to Blockbuster, making it hard for people who don’t rent there to find them, and damaging independent video stores. They buy up Asian movies and sit on them forever, or release them cut with generic titles. They’ve been releasing movies from all different eras and Asian countries as “Dragon Dynasty” with numbers on them, as if HARD BOILED and BORN TO FIGHT are part of the same series. With HARD BOILED they just transcribed the dub to use for subtitles instead of translating the actual dialogue.

    Tarantino has a great deal with them where he can basically do whatever he wants, but part of me hopes he has a falling out with them and move on. Without him I think their company would go out of business and they’d have to work as used car salesmen or something more appropriate to their ethics and talents.

  7. Watching this movie a day after the Friday the 13th reboot it actually becomes apparent how brilliant this movie is. The ways he takes the exact kind of slasher formula we’ve seen a thousand times and plays around with it while remaining inside the same subgenre as Jason and Michael. It’s an impressive feat, and the fact that it also has at least 2 all time classic car sequences is just a plus.

    And if nothing else, he gave us Kurt Russell the badass back, if only for half a movie.

    Could it be a budget thing that’s got people turning on him? With RESERVOIR and PULP he was this rebel outsider somehow tricking movie stars and studios to help him implode these formulas and stories that had been circling around Hollywood for decades. Now he’s got release dates and budgets locked down before he rolls frame one, and he’s sort of a fixture of the industry. I guess there’s some memo floating around out there from the 90’s where he vows to never work with such people and promises violent death to any one who would. We must just have missed it.

  8. Death Proof was a great flick. Enjoyed it a lot. Cinematography was so wonderful, many great moments and Tarantino made those chicks look superhot! Haven’t seen that Vanishing Point-movie yet. It must be great.

  9. having just seen inglourious basterds, i decided to give this another shot. the first half remains dull as hell in my opinion and results in much cringing, and vanessa ferlito having her face shredded by a car tyre is maybe the ugliest thing i have seen in a movie. did anyone else find that bit bizarrely hateful or am i just being lame? and then, out of nowhere, the earl mcgraw character is maybe the best writing QT has done, and the amazing zoe bell rides to the rescue of the whole damn enterprise. it’s a weird movie.

  10. Just catching up on archive reviews, but Vern you make a great point about why the Grindhouse films should exist on their own. I never considered that real double features are random pairings, not permanent. And you’re right, I probably wouldn’t ever watch 3.5 hours of Grindhouse in its entirety again.

    Hard to remember Weinstein first got their start picking great foreign films for distribution, even saving ones like Cinema Paradiso with their cuts. But the Asian stuff made no sense. Sitting on Shaolin Soccer and Hero for years?

  11. Vern – I would say that Halloween, while good, is not as great as everybody says it is. (At least, it doesn’t hold a candle to “The Thing”.) And I can back it up with reasons – namely, that all the babysitters in the movie seem like irritating non-characters, Donald Pleasance’s character doesn’t really do anything for me, and I hate the ending (woo, he just disappears like he’s done about five times before, how utterly thrilling!)

    Love the soundtrack and, and some of the set-pieces were extremely well done though – the closet and the dog in particular spring to mind. The guy playing Michael Myers did a fantastic job of making “the shape” as creepy as possible, which is probably why the film succeeded as well as it did in most people’s minds. I give it a lot of credit for starting one heck of a modern horror trend. I just don’t think it was ever all it was cracked up to be. (Also see: the original “Friday 13th”.)

    I will reiterate what I said in another thread about “Death Proof” – I had problems with the first group of girls. Some of the dialogue between Jungle Julie and her friends felt almost like a parody of Tarantino, rather than Tarantino himself (reminded me most of a little-known movie called “Suicide Kings” that starred Christopher Walken, which was very good in most places but somewhat spoilt by a subplot involving two mobsters, one played by Denis Leary, driving around spouting sub-Tarantino-esque nonsense about “fish boots”.) I didn’t believe in or like the first group of girls. The moment Zoe Bell and her friends came on the scene is the moment it became a great movie for me.

  12. It would probly be easier just to list the beloved classics that you don’t have a crazy opinion about then to just keep writing a new one of these every day. Just kidding bud. But you are, obviously, completely wrong. I think you and I can at least agree on that.

    No, I’m not gonna argue with you about HALLOWEEN on the comments for DEATH PROOF, but I will at least mention that you’re not giving the ending a chance. It’s not that he just “disappears”. Take a look at that last set of shots. The body is gone but now he’s everywhere.

  13. I actually don’t care much for Halloween either. I recognize its role in starting the ’80s slasher genre, but it’s just slow to me. But my favorite Carpenter is Memoirs of an Invisible Man (which is the one he disowns, and everybody hates). I got the “invisible before he turned invisible” message and think the effects are beautiful.

    But just so I’m not booted off this board, if we’re talking REAL Carpenter, it’s They Live for me, then maybe Big Trouble. Dare I say I like Starman a lot too. Does that count?

  14. Sorry, dude. The correct answer was The Thing, then They Live, then Big Trouble. You were right to question Starman, but it’s okay. It’s finally been forgiven for being the E.T. ripoff Carpenter made to atone for being a big ol’ Watergate-era meanie in the middle of Spielberg’s eighties.

  15. I’m not going to go so far as to say people who don’t like HALLOWEEN don’t understand horror movies, but complaining that the film is “slow” (the number one criticism I’ve seen on these boards) is both inaccurate AND somehow completely misses the point of the film.

    1) It’s a 90 minute film about a serial killer hacking up lusty teenagers. Anyone who thinks the movie is slow probably should watch JEANNE DIELMAN or WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES or ANDREI RUBLEV to understand better what it means for a film to be “slow.”

    2) Even if it IS slow, why is that automatically a bad thing (see my examples above for good “slow” movies).

    3) The film builds all of its suspense and atmosphere through its deliberate pace. Speed it up, and you’d end up with just another generic slasher movie.

    I think maybe the problem is that people aren’t used to having to pay close attention to slasher movies, something HALLOWEEN asks of its audience. I’ve seen people complain about how too much of it is just about a group of teenager girls standing around talking, but I don’t think that they noticed that the point of those scenes is that Michael is following them the whole time, watching from the shadows. The girls’ conversations aren’t always the most compelling, but that’s because they aren’t the focus of those scenes, the stalking is. The movie builds its power through the voyeurism, and the build up of smaller, unsettling details: Michael’s car driving past Loomis unnoticed, Michael following the little boy home, all the far away shots of Michael watching people from behind obstructions and across streets, etc.

    Of course, I’m sure there are a million legitimate reasons not to like the film. I just continue to not understand the “slow” thing.

    Also, to back Vern up here, the ending is amazing. Yes, we’ve seen a million movies where the killer turns out to still be alive. But that’s not the ending. The ending is those final shots of the other locations from the movies with audio of Michael breathing layered over them. Michael could be anywhere, only we’ll never know for sure, because the movie ends. (Until, of course, the sequel came along to ruin the sublime ambiguity).

  16. Mr. M, thank you for correcting me. I’ll be sure not to like They Live more than The Thing anymore.

    Dan, I didn’t mean to indicate slow = bad. Just that as creative as I feel slasher movies became, it’s hard for me to care about the basics. I know it was the first one and no one knew what was going to happen, but now I do and it doesn’t quite go anywhere for me. Been at least 10 years since I’ve seen it. I could probably watch it again with my grown-up post-divorce perspective and this guideline and have a totally different experience. I do like H20 a lot. Laurie thinks she’s crazy, she sees Michael coming, tries to get over her past trauma, but oh yeah, he really is back and coming for her!

  17. Fred,

    “I know it was the first one and no one knew what was going to happen, but now I do and it doesn’t quite go anywhere for me.”

    See, I think your problem might be that you’re looking for a strong narrative, which HALLOWEEN doesn’t have (or, in my opinion, need). The movie is about atmosphere and suspense, and most of all about admiring Carpenter’s fluidity with the language of cinema. In fact, it may be the tightest and most elegant expression of his style. Only THE THING gives it a true run for its money. (Again, in terms of of style/cinematic skill. Story, themes, social criticism, etc, are arguable much stronger in THEY LIVE and some of his other masterpieces).

    If you ever give HALLOWEEN another shot, don’t worry so much about if its telling you a fresh story. Sit back and admire Carpenter’s visuals, editing and music, his use of lighting/shadows, background vs. foreground, POV shots, etc etc and so on to build admirable amounts of tension and mystery.

  18. Dan and Vern – I like the direction of Halloween. I like a lot of the cinematography. I LOVE the sound design and the soundtrack. I have no problem with the pacing (unlike FTopel). I don’t like the characters, and that’s a big blow for me. I’m not ripping it to shreds, but I don’t think it’s an all-time classic either. Having said that, next time I watch it (and I probably will), I’ll watch the ending again, because what Vern said hadn’t occurred to me.

    Not sure what “classics” I’ve ripped into lately. I don’t love “Jaws” (although I do like it), I don’t love “Alien” (although I do like that one as well). “Lord of the Rings”? I thought we could all at least agree that that on its own merits that film(s) were neither the slo-mo snoozefest that its detractors painted it as, nor the “best movie ever” that its supporters seemed to genuinely regard it as.

    The films I’ve ripped into the most recently have been “Munich”, “The Mist”, “Casino Royale” and “Hero” (and I pointed out good things about all four of them). I know two of them got Oscar nods, but does anybody seriously consider any of those three films worthy of being called “all-time classics”? I seriously hope not.

    “Vertigo”? I’m not even going to discuss it here. If I wrote everything I’d thought about the cult of Vertigo, it would take up several pages. I won’t put you through that. Definitely this is one “classic” that I don’t think deserves its reputation though.

    “The Abyss”? I enjoyed it when I was in my early teens, was genuinely surprised how unwatchable it was just a few years ago. Look, I liked “Bad Boys” and “Batman Forever” when I first saw them as well, and I was a teenager then as well. I’d like to think my taste has improved since then. It’s easily the worst of Cameron’s films that I’ve seen, and I’ve seen “Titanic” and “True Lies” (although not “Avatar”). Everybody who disagrees with this can put it down to me not “getting” the film, thereby saving yourselves repeating the debate that took place in “The Abyss”‘s talkback ad nauseum.

    Mafia films. I can’t watch them. Totally subjective, nothing to do with the quality of the film. “The Godfather” may genuinely be the best film ever made. I don’t know and will never find out. The moment I see an old black Sedan driven by gentlemen wearing black suits and too much hair gel, I switch off. Some people can’t watch Westerns, I can’t watch mafia movies. I find nothing relatable in them. I have zero interest in what they’re trying to portray. I simply don’t care. If I’m missing out on a classic because of that, then fine. Nothing can be loved by everyone.

    Vern, has it occurred to you how many films we totally agree on? Going through your review list, I have:

    – 2 Fast 2 Furious
    – Dark Knight
    – Batman Begins (ok I thought the driving sequence was probably the worst part of the movie, but other than that I pretty much agreed with you wholesale)
    – American Beauty
    – Any which way but loose
    – Best of the Best
    – Orphan
    – Blood and Bone
    – Blood Simple
    – Bowling for Columbine
    – Collateral
    – Death Proof (mostly)
    – The Devil’s Rejects
    – Drag me to Hell…

    …And many, many more.

    I still think you went too easy on “Transformers” though.

  19. “It would probly be easier just to list the beloved classics that you don’t have a crazy opinion about then to just keep writing a new one of these every day.”

    I just had a bonafide LOL and spat out a mouthful of coffee. Sometimes I think Paul comes from a different planet, but it’s gotten to the point where it’s kinda endearing. Keep on keeping on, Paul.

  20. Yeah, there isn’t much Paul could say at this point that would shock me.

    “I’m sorry, I think boobs and blowjobs are overrated. And you know what else is shockingly mediocre? Kittens.”

  21. “Sometimes I think Paul comes from a different planet.”

    Fuck. Rumbled.

    And I think my opinions on boobs, if not blowjobs, have already been adequately covered in this forum, thank you very much.

  22. For the record I’m definitely pro-blowjob, although full intercourse is, subjectively speaking, more satisfying to me.

  23. Slores are awesome.

  24. Haha, sorry Paul. I don’t mean any offense. I do enjoy your posts and you always back up your opinions with reasons, even if those reasons sometimes leave me scratching my head. And we have agreed on many things I believe, including boobs and blowjobs. I spoke up because HALLOWEEN happens to be one of my favorite movies and would probably make my top 5 greatest horror movies of all time list though so you’re kinda on hallowed (hah!) ground here bud.

  25. Although you haven’t backed up your VERTIGO slams with reasons.

  26. Gwai Lo – True, and I’m not even going to try on that one. That’s one smashed idol too many methinks. :-)

    And don’t worry, I know you (and Vern) don’t mean any offence! None taken, believe me.

  27. One thing I’ve noticed is how weirdly similar Death Proof is to a movie called Smooth Talk, starring Laura Dern, which was also probably also the inspiration for the scene between Juliette Lewis and Robert De Niro in Cape Fear. In particular, the early scenes, where Treat Williams (playing a character somewhat like a younger version of Stunt Man Mike) lurks around, stalking Laura Dern and her friends. It also reminds me a little bit of Howard Hawks/Christian Nyby’s The Thing, where you’re expecting one thing (a monster movie), and it ends up mostly being about hanging out. I can see why some people hated it, but, personally, I enjoy that type of thing.

  28. One of these days, Paul, I want to read your twenty pages on why VERTIGO’s a piece of shit.

    One of these days!

  29. Dan, you make another good point about atmosphere. It’s actually been pointed out to me that I tend not to like films that are all atmosphere. Guess I’m a story guy. However, then there are cases like Casino Royale, where it’s really the atmosphere I’m into and I could watch 5 hours of that.

    I mean, a slow build is fine. 2001 is awesome. Jaws is that. I guess again, those are worlds where I’m interested in the atmopshere. Oh, and Unbreakable! I guess I should stick with the “been a while since I saw Halloween” defense.

  30. Did anyone else realize that Rosario Dawson’s character was a mother? There’s exactly one line that refers to this, the one where Zoe Bell and Traci Thoms tell her she shouldn’t come with them because she’s ‘a mum.’ I honestly have never noticed that before, the line always kind of passed me by. Did anyone else realize this? I wonder what the point was, I mean it is literally just that one line, there’s not one other mention of her having a kid in any other part of the movie.

  31. Good ear. I never caught that and I’ve seen Death Proof at least 20 times.

    I just assumed that their thinking was that since they’re stunt-women that they’ll be able to take care of themselves in case something happened and she would be a liability.

    Now I’ll have to watch it another 20 times to see what else I missed. I do want to know what the deal is with Stuntman Mike acknowledging the audience. It’s my favorite moment in the movie but I don’t quite “get it”.

  32. Wait, when does Stuntman Mike acknowledge the audience?

  33. It’s the part when everyone is leaving the bar and he looks at the camera and smiles before he get’s in his car.

  34. The original Paul

    October 14th, 2010 at 8:26 am

    M Casey – ok then, here we go. Here’s why I think “Vertigo”, while by no means terrible, is the most overrated movie in history. I’m going to try and break this up so it doesn’t look like a total wall-of-text like my “Tournament” review.

    So what you have in “Vertigo” is a film with some great and some appalling direction (the bits in the tower stick in my mind as being way below Hitchcock’s normal standard), some great and some bad cinematography, and a simply great soundtrack. (Yeah, Bernard Hermann is a personal idol of mine.) The trouble comes with the story and characters.

    *

    1) Jimmy Stewart plays essentially two characters, and is miscast for both. If you look at the script it essentially requires him to play two contradictory characters. At times he’s a young, naive, lovestruck kid who’s got in way over his head. At other times he’s a world-weary, cynical, emotionally fragile old man. For BOTH parts, he’s completely miscast.

    It’s a long time since I’ve seen the film, but the thing that struck me most about his character was that he never seems to take his tie off. To even stand a chance of pulling off this character, the actor needs to look emotionally shattered. Stewart looks as though the biggest thing he has to worry about is brushing the lint off his suit.

    *

    2) Kim Novak… she plays no character. Zero. She does nothing except what the man of the hour – first Tom Helmore, then Jimmy Stewart – wants her to do. She doesn’t seem to have a moral compass, or morals at all. She shows no remorse, no emotion at all really.

    Mind you, it’s ok to have a character who represents a certain part of the protagonist’s psyche – Suzy Amis did a great job of this with Gabriel Byrne in “The Usual Suspects”, for example. But bear in mind here that Suzy Amis was in the movie for about five minutes. Kim Novak is the female lead.

    *

    3) Tom Helmore. I have no problem with his character getting away with what he’s done (heck, my recent posts on “movie justice” would show that) but he does play what should be the most interesting character in the film. This character has literally nothing to do except provide exposition. Also, I don’t mind if he’s brought to justice or not, but I’d like SOMETHING to happen to him. It’s almost as if he’s forgotten. As the antagonist he has very little personality and no menace. Part of this comes from the movie being a “mystery”, which leads me onto my next point. And it’s the one that causes me the most problems.

    *

    4) The movie treats the audience like idiots. More so than any other really respected movie than I can think of.

    So it’s set up as a mystery. I think it still wouldn’t have worked if it had been played as a “straight” drama (like “Rear Window” for example). But the screenwriter tries to treat this as a mystery, and it never works as such. I’m not going to say that only a moron wouldn’t solve it – I think someone who’d never read any of the previous forty years or so of crime fiction and had never seen a movie, period, would have problems – but otherwise, the detective plot just doesn’t cut it.

    I mean, Jimmy Stewart is introduced to a young beautiful rich woman he’s never met before, by a man who hires him to protect her from “suicide”. I just don’t see how anybody couldn’t put two and two together in the first fifteen minutes here. The husband’s going to fake his wife’s suicide using the woman who’s helping him. It really is that obvious. Heck, the method he’s going to use is pretty much given away in the opening sequence.

    I say that with forty years’ worth of hindsight, but even then it must have been obvious. This is just after the golden age of detective fiction, are people who are watching Hitchcock’s movies back then really supposed to not spot this?

    *

    5) The net result of 1, 2, 3 and 4 is that there’s no tension. The story could really only go two ways – Stewart either stops the murder plot, or he doesn’t – and the film makes it VERY clear that Option A ain’t going to happen. The result of this is that there’s zero suspense in terms of the story. It’s obvious from the first fifteen what’s going to happen up until the last few seconds of the film.

    That wouldn’t matter if we enjoyed watching the characters take that journey – after all, knowing the endings didn’t spoil “Ben Hur” or “Titanic” (although others may disagree on those two films!) All I can say is that I didn’t enjoy it. The three main characters are all completely dysfunctional: Stewart is completely unbelievable, Novak isn’t playing a character at all, and Helmore is a non-entity whose character is left unresolved.

    *

    I think “Vertigo” has style but no substance. It lacks both a heart and a brain. I could point out the myriad of ways the plot makes no sense, but this wouldn’t matter if the movie’s other flaws didn’t exist. Was ANY of what the Joker did in “The Dark Knight” plausible, if looked at objectively? Or, to use a less critically-acclaimed example, could anybody really anticipate twenty-six moves in advance as Jigsaw did in the “Saw” series? And yet that lack of plausibility doesn’t matter so much when watching these movies.

    This one though… the plot is dumb as hell, managing to be obvious from the start while still making zero sense. But that wouldn’t sink the movie on its own. Many critics who have put “Vertigo” on its pedestal do so by using psychological terminology to discuss the characters. Without wanting to disrespect a lot of people who have seen a great many more movies than I have, I think the fact that they do this shows how much they’ve missed the point. It’s easy to psycho-analyze “Vertigo” because its characters can’t really be judged in any other way. They aren’t personalities, they’re case-studies.

    And that’s the case against Vertigo.

    *

    (For the record, I LOVE “The Birds” and “North by Northwest” and count them among my favorite movies. I think “Dial M for Murder”, “The Lady Vanishes”, “Rope”, “Lifeboat”, “Rear Window”, at least the first third or so of “Psycho”, “Rear Window” and many of his other films are classic or almost-classic suspense movies and thrillers. I have nothing against Hitchcock as a director. I just think that Vertigo is given far, far more credit than it deserves.)

  35. hamslime – I had always thought that moment with Stuntman Mike was a) put in as a Godard homage (or an homage to some other director who likes to break the fourth wall) and b) put in as a moment of complicity with the audience. Both he and the audience know exactly what is going to happen next and he’s just smiling because, “Yep, all the talking is finally over and I’m about to get down to business. Enjoy.”

  36. I kinda thought it might have something to do with the second one but honestly I never put much thought into it, I just really liked that part.

    Since you brought him up, what’s a good Goddard movie? (What’s the movie that is going to hook me and make me want to seek out the rest of his movies? For example: I LOVE David Lynch but if Inland Empire was the first movie of his I saw I doubt I would have watched anymore of his movies) I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of them.

  37. My own personal favorite Godard film is probably VIVRE SA VIE. BAND OF OUTSIDERS would also be a good one to start with. That’s the one Tarantino named his production company after, as you are likely already aware. I think BREATHLESS or PIERROT LE FOU would also make for good starting points. I would definitely stick with the early stuff first unless you are really into dense political essays. I’ve seen some of his recent films and I think I’m about two or three Ph.Ds away from getting them.

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  39. grimgrinningchris

    July 3rd, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Approximately!!!

  40. Good God, those Ain’t-It-Cool-talkbacks are hilarious. People giving you shit for liking Death Proof and giving you shit for disliking Transformers in the same sentence. On guy bitching that Tarantino turned down the chance to direct an episode of Heroes. One guy admitting that The Phantom Menace is one of his top ten all-time favorites, but giving you shit for liking Death Proof. Six years later, most of the the Transformers fanboys have finally come around to admitting that the movies suck, nobody remembers Heroes, and QT is just coming off his second Oscar. I think you won this particular battle, Vern.

  41. man, HEROES, what a strange phenomena that show was, I remember everyone absolutely flipping their shit over that show in it’s first season and then POOF, interest in it disappeared seemingly as fast as it began

  42. although Wikipedia is telling me that it actually lasted 4 seasons, huh? how’d that happen? who the hell was still watching it?

  43. Thanks for pointing me to that, Brian. My favorite one was the sarcastic comment “Alright! Even more scenes with women talking!” Kinda sums it up.

  44. I liked the guy who spent post after post arguing that the quality of a movie can be objectively measured as a function of it’s box office take and that the poorly-performing movies he himself thought were awesome were, in fact, terrible.

  45. Oh yeah, HEROES (sorry for turning this a little bit into Nerd Shit). Everybody LOVED the first season, but I was pretty annoyed by it, because every seriously god damn great episode was followed by at least two or three where absolutely nothing happens. They didn’t even bother with giving us a great cliffhanger at the end of each episode, like all the other boring, but for any reason incredibly popular story arc shows normally do.

    I skipped seasons 2 & 3, but then returned for season 4, because Robert Knepper played the main villain. When I asked my mother, who kept watching the show every season, what I missed, she just told me: “Nothing.”

  46. Oh man. HEROES. That puppy didn’t have a sophomore slump. It had a fucking sophomore nosedive.

    DEATH PROOF remains a bad film.

  47. HEROES, along with HOUSE, were the shows that taught me that the internet fucking LOVES it’s Goddamned TV shows when I first arrived in 2006

    I was shocked actually, because I naively assumed most young people thought the way I did and I’ve never been too into television, in fact when I used to think of TV I thought it was primarily police procedural shows and medical dramas, IE shows for old people, why would young people care? (I was wise enough to know that LOST was popular at least)

    but boy was I totally wrong, imagine my surprise when I learned that a medical drama called HOUSE (which I had never even heard of before prior to the net, yes really) was a hit with the kids on the net and judging by their reaction to HEROES you would have almost thought the show was the biggest thing since sliced bread, The Beatles and STAR WARS

    and then just a few years later MAD MEN and BREAKING BAD (which the internet is currently having a fucking meltdown over) premiered and the rest is history

    and as someone who doesn’t watch any of those shows, boy do I feel left out, it figures that the medium I payed the least attention to would be the one that gets the most unanimous praise in the modern day

  48. Griff: Television is mostly a vast wasteland of commercials padded out with police procedurals and reality shows, but over the last couple of decades the audience has fractured enough to allow some art to accidentally slip through. I can only imagine how annoying it must be to put up with all the BREAKING BAD shit, but I get why people are excited to talk about it. It really is that good.

  49. “I can only imagine how annoying it must be to put up with all the BREAKING BAD shit”

    brother, you have no idea

  50. The Undefeated Gaul

    September 24th, 2013 at 1:06 am

    Yeah, TV has never been better. In fact, if you were to stop watching movies and just switch completely over to TV I think at the end of a year you’d be left with a much bigger feeling of satisfaction at time well spent. TV even does action well these days. There’s not been many action movies out the last few years that could match the thrills of the Spartacus TV show for example.

    Seriously, it baffles me that not more people watch that show. Especially those who are into action/badassity/great drama, that shit is right up your alley if you would just give it a chance past the first 3 (admittedly unimpressive) eps.

  51. STRIKE BACK, anyone? The show delivers more and better filmed action sequences than most movies these days and still manages to give their characters some depth.

  52. The Undefeated Gaul

    September 24th, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Good call, pegsman. Strike Back is good shit, I especially like their habit of casting Game Of Thrones actors as their main villains. Also, that theme song is damn catchy!

  53. I’m kind of on the fence about this so-called Golden Age of TV we got going on. Production values, acting talent, and writing chops have never been higher, so why don’t I actually give a shit about most of the prestige dramas that everyone else loves? MAD MEN, WALKING DEAD, GAME OF THRONES, BREAKING BAD, all of them. They’re good shows, but I wouldn’t really care if I never saw another second of any of them. Most of the time, I crap out after a season or two because I’m just not interested in getting dragged along the meandering monorail of misery that these shows seem to think equals entertainment.

    The way I look at it, a TV show is a substantial investment of time. A show that runs for six seasons will require more hours than I get to spend with most of my friends and family over that period of time. So why do I want to spend that time with awful people who don’t make me laugh?

    I’m kind of old school, I guess, because I think TV should be escapism. I got a real life full of strife and struggle, I don’t need one on TV, too. TV should be about spending time with characters I love, not assholes behaving horribly. I got a little rule of thumb: If after watching a season of your show, I don’t know the names of more than 50% of your main characters, you get dropped. I don’t care how good the cinematography is or how many Oscar nominees you got in the supporting cast. I don’t want to merely admire the talent you have assembled. I want to fucking love every second I get to spend with these people. If you can’t deliver that, I’m out.

  54. And that’s where TV shows beat movies every time nowadays, Mr Majestyk. They have good acting, interesting stories, three dimensional charcters and drama with some real depth. Movies now are just people in capes flying around fighting space vampires. Sure they’re entertaining for about two hours, but where’s the new THE GODFATHER, THE WILD BUNCH, SCARFACE or APOCALYPSE NOW? That’s right. On TV.

  55. I do like a lot of TV, but it’s generally in comedy. TV is where I get my laffs. I don’t watch a lot of comedic films because the humor I like is mostly character-based, which is hard to pull off in 90 minutes. A TV show has time to let the characters develop and for the writers to figure out what works for them. Make me laugh and you’re halfway to making me love you, so I naturally gravitate more toward shows like PARKS & REC, COMMUNITY, and NEW GIRL than to shows that aim to bum me out. That’s now how you win my loyalty.

    I disagree about your comparisons to classic films, though. Those are works of cinema, a visual art form that tells its story through iconic imagery and expressive action. TV is still mostly just people explaining things to each other in closeups and over-the-shoulders, but with newfangled color correction and shakycam thrown in to make it look modern. You like it for its theatrical qualities (writing and acting), not its cinematic ones. Which is fine. Those are good things, and emphasizing them pares down the drama to its barest elements, without all the bells and whistles. But I like the bells and whistles. Without them, drama feels a lot like homework to me.

  56. Look at a TV series like a book. Reading a book will definitely take much longer than watching a movie, doesn’t matter how long that movie is. But you can stop reading after a chapter and then come back for more the next day and take your time until you finished it. Just keep reading whenever you have time and feel like it.

    About “assholes behaving horribly” and “escapism”: Yeah, that’s more a matter of taste, I guess. I tend to watch more comedies than drama because of that, but even there I reached way too many times the limit of “That’s some funny shit happening to these guys!”. (If you ask me, BRIDESMAIDS is one of the most depressing “funniest movie of the year”s that I have ever seen, just because of all the unfair suffering that Kristen Wiig’s character had to endure.)

    On the other hand: Like that old writing rule says, a protagonist doesn’t have to be likeable, as long as his story is a good one and that’s something where BREAKING BAD definitely succeeds.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: THE LATEST EPISODE IS RUNNING OVER HERE IN A FEW HOURS, WHICH IS WHY I ONLY VISITED VEEEEEEEERY FEW PLACES ON THE WWW SINCE SUNDAY EVENING, JUST TO NOT GET SPOILED. SO PLEASE: NO SPOILERS!

    But I know where you are coming from in terms of escapism and shit. BREAKING BAD may look like a truly devastating show, but is so full of dark humor and seriously hilarious moments, that even the darkest episodes won’t make you think about suicide. I think the most shizophrenic series in that regard is (or was, since they seemed to fix that problem during last season) DOCTOR WHO. A show that is so bizarr, shrill and hilarious, with a protagonist who pretty much never stops talking and constantly says and does the weirdest things, but then they had for a while in nearly every single episode a moment or more, where a symphathetic guest character dies a horrible death and they spend the next 10 minutes with crying or the whole tone of the episode is so dark and depressing that you wonder why you kept watching in the first place and pray for the next moment when the Doctor makes a completely random observation or something like that.

    But if you look at my list of current favourite TV shows, you will find lots of stuff like NCIS (LA), CASTLE, ELEMENTARY or PSYCH. Pretty much light hearted fluff, that often gets snubbed by critics for being, well…light hearted fluff. But that’s why I like them! Especially the NCIS shows know how to get the maximum entertainment value out of the chemistry between the characters and the resulting banter. And because they avoid any bigger story arcs (if they do one, it’s mostly a few episodes per season, wrapped into lots of standalone stories), you don’t really need to be invested. It IS just something that you waste an hour per week on and have fun with it.

    Also season 3 of GAME OF THRONES started here recently and I realized what the goddamn biggest flaw of this show is: The first 5, 6 or more episodes per season are usually just an endless string of random scenes, that make it very difficult to be invested. (Granted, in season 1 this was less the case, thanks to fewer characters and subplots than in the following seasons) But on the other hand, all that random stuff comes always together in a beautiful way by the end of the season, which makes it pretty worthwile.

  57. I got about six episodes into GAME OF THRONES and liked it okay, then took a break for a few weeks and realized I had no desire to go back. The internet has already gleefully informed me that everyone dies anyway, so why should I care?

  58. Oh, and I do look at a TV series like reading a book. I read books by plowing through them over the course of a few days. If a book takes me several weeks to get through because I only read a few pages here and there, that means I didn’t like the book very much. It’s the same way with TV. If I get to the end of an episode without desperately wanting to watch the next one, I don’t actually enjoy the show and I should probably watch something else.

  59. Just like they did in all the great movies of the past.

  60. Damn, you double posted too fast, Mister. I agree on this one. That’s why I like to buy or “tape” TV shows and watch all the episodes in a couple of days or a week.

  61. So what? Then just record a whole season of your show and watch it within a few days, like you would read a book.

    I personally tend to give each new series at least one season, because it happened so many times that a show starts bad, but then finds itself after a few episodes or at least near the season ending. (Although I really had to stop after a few episodes of AMERICAN HORROR STORY. That show was even for me too random, not to mention that his frantic filming style gave me a headache.)

  62. CJ, that’s how I watch TV. I don’t have cable, so I only watch full seasons when they come on Netflix or Hulu. That’s the point: If the entire run of a series is available to me at the push of a button, and I’m not compelled as if by biological imperative to keep watching every episode until there are no more, then I give up. It doesn’t mean the show is bad, it just means I don’t care about the characters or what happens next. Which is arguably even worse, because there are plenty of bad shows (DEXTER, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, COMMUNITY SEASON 4) that I’ll keep watching for one or the other of those reasons. The show can be a work of pure undiluted brilliance, but if it’s not compulsive viewing, I give up on it. Life is too short.

  63. I am enjoying the fuck out of RAY DONOVAN these days. It does get gloomy on occasion, but the characters are just so damn watchable.

    The cast is friggin’ legendary: Jon Voight, Elliot Gould, James fucking Woods. On top of that they have the most underrated actor working today, Eddie Marsan.

    And damn, Liev Schreiber plays badass like few others.

  64. How come that I have never heard of that show before? Sounds awesome! (Although I’m pretty indifferent about Liev Schreiber.)

  65. Early GAME OF THRONES was really rough going in the way it would just randomly string together a bunch of unrelated scenes and call it a day. I think the show has gotten better about tying episodes together with an overarcing theme, but it’s still got that novelistic quality where you are bouncing around all over the place and the point of it all only becomes clear in retrospect. I like that about it, though.

    SPARTACUS was fucking great. It started out as a cheesy 300 rip-off but ended up something else entirely. Been meaning to watch STRIKE BACK. BANSHEE is another series that does TV action pretty well (overdoes the shaky-cam sometimes) but the constant cheesy sex scenes get kind of embarrassing.

    I just watched the pilot of SLEEPY HOLLOW and I don’t know what the fuck. Ichabod Crane is a time-travelling badass and the headless horseman is one of the four horses of the apocalypse and there’s a priest who shoots chains around with magic spells and there’s secrets hidden in George Washington’s bible. Also at one point the headless horseman shoots up a graveyard with a machine gun. It’s weird.

    Maj: I don’t know how you could find BREAKING BAD depressing. It goes to some dark places but it’s also suspenseful, pulpy and really fucking funny. Plus it’s filled with awesome Scott-Spiegel-style show-offy camerawork.

    Like yourself I get my laffs from TV, and the same shows to boot. There’s a new sitcom from the makers of PARKS AND REC called BROOKLYN NINE-NINE you might like. Need a few more episodes to form an opinion on it but it has a great cast (assuming you don’t hate Andy Samberg) and a lot of potential.

  66. Crustacean: Of the shows I mentioned, BREAKING BAD is definitely my favorite. It’s less depressing than intense. I watched the first season and enjoyed it, but I just haven’t had the desire to jump back in because I’m rarely in the mood for something heavy when I want to watch a TV show. TV is comfort food, so I prefer it light and fluffy. I’ll finish it eventually, though, after all of the episodes are streaming.

    I will definitely check out BROOKLYN NINE-NINE when it hits Netflix. It seems up my alley.

  67. BREAKING BAD is probably the best TV show I’ve ever invested myself in. It’s gotten just about everything right that I want from not just TV, but movies, music, books, etc, etc. There is a lot of hyperbole around it, but this is one of the few cases where it’s mostly correct I feel. I’m dreading and/or living for nothing else but the finale this Sunday, it’ll be sad to see it go but I have a feeling I’ll be satisfied upon the conclusion.

    There have been four new dramas I really liked this year, and I think will in their own way continue on this golden age. I really liked HOUSE OF CARDS, binged the whole season in a weekend (and later watched the original UK one, which I recommend to fans of the US one). I’m glad Fincher got the Emmy Sunday, he rightfully deserved it for the work he did helping create it’s style. But the best new show this year I feel has got to be HANNIBAL. It came quite out of left field for me, and I wasn’t expecting much but I was sucked in about 10-15 minutes into it. Just a force, on every level. I’m also digging BROADCHURCH and THE BRIDGE to a lesser degree, but stuff worth watching I feel.

    I heartily 2nd the recommendation for BROOKLYN NINE-NINE. That and the new Michael J. Fox show (because Larry David is right, everybody loves him) are the two comedies I’m most interested in.

  68. The first two episodes of HANNIBAL recently hit a free VOD portal over here. (Previously it was available on a not-free VOD portal. VOD is just starting to get off the ground here and one TV network likes to test some of their more difficult shows [SPARTACUS, SONS OF ANARCHY, HANNIBAL…] by putting them on their YouTube rip-off site first. But successful!) I like it, but don’t love it yet although it definitely is great in terms of acting and cinematography.

  69. knox – I could not agree with you more on Eddie Marsen. I have never seen him even flirt with phoning in a performance. He made the crushingly disappointing final two episodes of SOUTHCLIFFE (the first two episodes of which are the best thing I have seen all year irrespective of screen size) palatable. I remember I first caught him in DEATHWATCH years ago and did not anticipate or expect the kind of nuanced, commited and full blooded performance that he gave in that film to exist in a movie of its pedigree. I’ve been following him ever since and, excepting that brief spike in recognition he received for HAPPY GO LUCKY, just feel that he has never accrued the kind of audience or critical appreciation I believe he deserves.

    I’m sorry for derailing this thread even further off topic but I couldn’t resist commenting on how solid and interesting and consistent that guy’s performances have been over the last 10 or so years.

  70. *Marsan, sorry. He is marginalised and misunderstood even by me.

  71. Yeah, I’ve said this before, but he deserved every damn acting award known to man for his turn in HAPPY GO LUCKY.

  72. These spambots need to get with the program. “Site” smh

  73. Hey, at least his fish tank filters are the best!

  74. I ve never experienced that the content is running off the screen. That sounds like a bad acid trip.

  75. Vern ahead of the curve as usual. So great to read his judgement of the Weinsteins’ character a good decade before it became the consensus. Also, this review is still very funny and accurate.

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