Don’t Look Now

tn_dontlooknow“DON’T LOOK NOW but Nicolas Roeg has made an eerie meditation on fate, death, mourning and love!” That would’ve been my quote for the newspaper ad if I was doing this back then. I do quotes, you know. Too bad I’m late on this one, I think I would’ve had alot to offer their marketing team.

Well, it’s like I heard. This isn’t really the type of movie I necessarily want to watch every Halloween, but it’s a good one and a nice change of pace from the other horror movies I was watching last month. It has psychic premonitions, ghosts, a murder and some creepy shit. But it’s more art movie than horror. And that’s fine – maybe better, because there aren’t many movies like this.

mp_dontlooknowDonald Sutherland and Julie Christie play a couple whose daughter drowns. Then they go to Venice so Sutherland can restore an old church. And it’s fucked up because their daughter drowned and now they’re surrounded by water. They happen to meet an old blind lady who says she has “second sight” and that she can see their daughter with them, happy. She says enough to convince Christie and it makes her feel better. But later the psychic tries to warn Sutherland that he has to leave Venice or he’s in danger. Then some weird shit happens and what not.

I like that it unfolds very casually, like real life, not like a plot. It has great atmosphere, not even just in a horror movie way, but in capturing Venice. It’s dirty and old but romantic. And sometimes there are bodies in the water.

The movie is put together almost like a puzzle, sometimes skipping around in time (a long, intense sex scene is intercut with them getting dressed afterwards) and there are all kinds of images that seem to be reflections of things that will happen later – like omens, clues, echoes or maybe just coincidences. And it plays on some deep down fears – what if your kid falls in a lake and you can’t get to her in time, what if you think your wife disappeared but you can’t prove it, what if something falls on you when you’re hanging from scaffolding working on a mosaic in an old church? Holy shit, you guys who’ve seen this know what I’m talking about. That’s not really horror, it could be action. But that’s a hell of a scary scene.

Even the dilemma of “do I believe in this?” is a strong one. I mean, he could be superstitious and abandon his whole life or he could just be reasonable and ignore it. You and I would make the same decision.

But what I think works best is the way it captures a loving relationship. This really seems like a real couple, they have a strong chemistry, they seem very used to each other and know how each other tick. (Also the sex scene is so graphic for the time that people used to believe they were really fucking.) I like how Sutherland obviously thinks his wife’s belief in this psychic shit is ridiculous, but he goes along with it because he knows it makes her feel better. Then eventually he gets too stressed and snaps at her about it, yells that their daughter is dead, and you can’t contact her. (Ironically he doesn’t believe in this psychic business, but he’s the one who sensed their daughter was in trouble.)

I’m not gonna drag this one out, I don’t have anything real smart to say. Also there’s a creepy dwarf.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009 at 8:19 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

68 Responses to “Don’t Look Now”

  1. “DON’T LOOK NOW but Nicolas Roeg has made an eerie meditation on fate, death, mourning and love!”

    I laughed

  2. This was the first movie I watched for Halloween this year. Good flick, but it was probably a bad idea, considering how very few movies I watched after it. I slacked off this month. Sorry internet.

  3. Hey Vern, have you seen the UK horror flick called “The Children”? Can’t guarantee you will like it, but I think you’ll definitely have something to say about it one way or another…

  4. Hey Vern, if you liked this, you might take a look at Roeg’s film with Donald Cammell PERFORMANCE. It’s a very weird film which pretty much marks the exact point where the idealism of the late 60s gave way to the hedonism and nihilism of the 70s. Like DON’T LOOK NOW, it’s a film with an absolutely unique character which borders on horror more in tone than in any specific plot element (interestingly, it also greatly influenced the kind of gangster characters which later appeared in Tarantino and Ritchie type films. It starts out as a gangster film and ends up as a kind of existential, horrifying, drug-addled plummet into loss of identity, hedonistic depravity, and general dark weirdness. Try to pitch that one to an exec today!). Supposedly, actor James Fox ended production as psychologically destroyed in real life as his character is in the film, and watching his, um, performance, I can well believe that it’s true (he only did one more film after that until 1984). Donald Cammell is a crazy, interesting figure who also made the pretty great DEMON SEED and WHITE OF THE EYE — might be worth looking into if you aren’t familiar with his stuff.

  5. Man, Don’t Look Now was maybe the first film to give me nightmares. The ending still creeps me out as hell, and no matter how beautiful the city’s supposed to be, I won’t walk around Venice at night.

  6. MOTHERfuckers. Fuck all you cunts here. I fucking just watched this and I cried like a baby during that ending. FUCK ME ARE YOU FUCKING DEAD???. How much it fucking hurts to see people call this THIS movie pointless. Man, fucking horrors, I works 10-14 hours a day as a sump pump operator so i accept im probably fucked myself more than most in ruining these genres but this movie – this sex scene – were in a different genre, not action but fucking humanist.

    Any cunt who didn’t frucking feel this hanging-off-a-scaffolding is not someone who I would want to know. FUCK ME, I watched it a second time at end and astill cried like a baby. This is straight after watching Fighting and then Trick ‘R Treat mind you. Two better than average movies and good – blessedly good, experiences for me on a day off, before DLN. Thanks Vern – this is why you fucking matter to me and why I fucked hate your community that in all reality I am part of since i read every fucking cunt losers comments till today when I’m seriously pissed off. 266+ comments for horror movie suggestions pumping egos but 5 comments for this mvoie review. I stopped watching JC at Dr. Zhivago but this review gave me back JC prompting me to try. Not to give Vern bonus shit either but fuck me, just to say 5 comments – fuck this place. Fucking that was the most genuinely powerful dwarf scene in history and here it get two lots of “it was probably a bad idea” FUCK YOU CUNTS AND FUCK EVERY CUNT WHO DIDNT COMMENT. FUCKING DEAD SHIT FUCKERS.

  7. “the most genuinely powerful dwarf scene in history”

    amen, brother. amen.

  8. One_Guy_from_Andromeda

    November 4th, 2009 at 4:32 am

    God, i love your site Vern! It’s pretty much some of the best stuff the internet has to offer!
    “Don’t look now” is an old favourite of mine, not much to add except that the german title is superior in my opinion: “Wenn die Gondeln Trauer tragen” (When the Gondolas wear mourning) – well, maybe that sounds better in german…

  9. I second The Children reccomendation, watch it Vern

  10. Man, you gotta learn to talk to people frankbooth. Ranting like that makes you sound like a dick. It’s just a movie man, fuck, have a beer and calm down bud. Everyone here likes the dwarf just as much as you, and we all skipped a beat at the scaffolding k. You’re a smart guy, I’m sure you can figure out a way to communicate without offending all these faggots.

  11. Please tell me frankbooth is fucking with us via screen name trickery. Because otherwise, I kind of just had my world rocked.

  12. “Heineken? Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!”.

  13. Glad to see you review one of my very favorite movies. I’m still afraid of little people in red.

  14. So, I guess frankbooth likes to watch horror movies and burry his face in huge piles of cocaine on his day off.

  15. dwarf comments ??

    did i miss a little something ??

    Still good choice Vern, a very somber and sad themed film. I have to agree with the Performance comments as well, one crazy messed up film that just gets nuttier as it trips through its ‘plot’

  16. Chris Marie Green

    November 4th, 2009 at 8:37 am

    First PSYCHO and now a review for DON’T LOOK NOW? It’s been a great couple of weeks.

    This is also a movie I love, but I *will never* watch it again. And it’s not because I don’t love it. I do. It just upsets the crap out of me that much. When I first watched it, I was half asleep and I woke up during the dwarf scene. Imagine, waking up to that sight and not really understanding what was happening. Of course, I had to watch the movie a second time, just to chase away the disconnected nightmare, but I think I made things worse. I hate that the husband didn’t respect his instincts, even though, as Vern said, any one of us would probably say “phooey” to the psychic stuff. He should’ve read THE GIFT OF FEAR. It tells us that if we’re walking in a parking structure and we hear footsteps behind us, it’s okay to run. In fact, you probably should.

    If I ever did watch this again, I’d see it in a double feature with THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS, which is another mind-frak of a Venice movie that makes me want to scream at it…but in a good horror way.

  17. I’m pretty sure that was the real Frank Booth.

  18. Roeg movies always make me feel weird. This one, and “Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession”–even normal everyday type scenes just feel strange, off-kilter in some hard to pinpoint and not really healthy way, like his camera can pick up some airborne disease floating around and silently infecting things & people that others can’t. He really is a fascinating filmmaker but an acquired taste for sure. I’ve only tried to watch “The Man Who Fell to Earth” once, and I was too wasted to follow it at the time, but that one felt out there too. Anyway, the ending of “Don’t Look Now” just left me feeling creeped out and bad and while I can’t really say I enjoyed feeling that way, it was certainly an effective movie.

  19. And oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to watch “Performance” ever since I read about it in the recent book on the Stones’ making “Exile on Main St.” I guess it slipped past me that it was also a Roeg pic, so now I’m not so sure. I’m sure there will be some hot stuff of Keith Richards’s babymama but also some weird & disturbing things like Theresa Russell’s trachetomy in “Bad Timing.”

  20. I’ve pestered Vern about it before, but I’d love to see a review of Roeg’s EUREKA, starring Gene Hackman, Rutger Hauer, Theresa Russell (as well as smaller roles for Joe Pesci and Mickey Rourke) and is about a single-minded gold-prospector who strikes it rich in the Alaskan wilderness only to fall foul of mobsters on a Caribbean island during the second world war. It’s, put politely, fucking bonkers.

    Not nearly as good as DON’T LOOK NOW, though. God, that’s some good filmatism. Roeg has slipped a bit in recent years, though. Haven’t seen his last one (an Irish horror called PUFFBALL) but the word on it was pretty bad.

  21. Or hell, Roeg’s kids horror flick THE WITCHES.

    But after EUREKA.

  22. DON’T LOOK NOW was based on a story by Daphne Du Maurier, a source that we all know Hitchcock adapted to great effect on more than one occasion.

    Later in life, Du Maurier developed a pretty effective style of suspense writing. One story in particular, “The Blue Lenses,” would make a fantastic film, given the right director. “The Apple Tree” would be another good one.

    Maybe I’m being naive, but I take great comfort knowing that these two stories are probably the last works Michael Bay and his Platinum Ruins would ever get around to canibalizing.

  23. “Maybe I’m being naive, but I take great comfort knowing that these two stories are probably the last works Michael Bay and his Platinum Ruins would ever get around to canibalizing.”
    But what about the subject of this review? They could call it DON’T LOOK NOW (BUT MEGAN FOX IS TOTALLY LEANING OVER THAT PEW WITH HER ASS IN THE AIR, DUDE)?

  24. Stu: I like to think that the combination of DON’T LOOK NOW’s artisitic integrity and low commercial profile has kept it off of Bay’s radar. I suspect that he doesn’t even know it exists. I also like to think that, if Bay and his Platinum Goons ever did out DON’T LOOK NOW into the dvd machine, the awesomeness of the film would melt their heads like in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.

    If he had even one functioning brain cell (there’s no proof that he does), Bay’s next collaboration with Fox would have to be a craptacular remake of DEMON SEED. Fox being chased by a racist farting toaster just might be worth

  25. Hold the phone, the Nicholas Roeg that directed Don’t Look Now is the same guy that made The Witches? Holy Shit, I didn’t know that. Jesus, turn that movie off before the last three minutes, and it might just be the single best Roald Dahl movie ever. I mean, Angelica Huston and that Jim Henson makeup, are you kidding me?

  26. The scene in THE WITCHES where the child disappears into a painting is great, and the child actors are quite good. Not to mention Angelica Huston. In my book, any movie with Angelica Huston gets a bonus star in its rating.

    There’s also that creepy scene in the TWIN PEAKS movie where Laura Palmer steps into a painting. That might be my favorite part of that movie.

  27. Have you guys already forgotten the infamous JCVD review commenter? This was my cover of his comment. Not as good as the original, but covers seldom are. It was supposed to have a lounge/country flavor, if you couldn’t tell.

    Sorry for the world-rocking, Brendan. Hope you didn’t get motion sick.

    Okay, forget I said anything. Let’s all just move on.

    Don’t Look Now! Great movie! You should see it if you haven’t. Seriously creepy and disturbing, unlike 99 percent of horror films, which are just fun or gross or whatever.

    Hour of the Wolf is another good art-horror, if you don’t mind everybody talking like the chef from the Muppets. You do have to read the words if you don’t speak Muppet, and that sort of thing disturbs the younger viewers sometimes. (Plus it’s in ack-blay and ite-way. Shhhh.) Reputedly a David Lynch favorite. Aggressive children, sexy naked corpses on slabs, bird-men…good, weird nightmare stuff.

  28. …while we’re on the subject, I have a question for the 30-and-unders: do you prefer digital Muppets? Do the cloth ones make you sleepy?

    (Also, I really wish just one person would say “I got your dumb joke, Frank.” Then I wouldn’t feel like such a heel. But don’t lie.)

    The truth is, I haven’t been the same since that college kid hiding in the closet shot me in the head. That’s my excuse for everything. It’s why I fold the towels wrong and don’t close drawers all the way. My girlfriend HATES that.

  29. Jareth, did you know Platinum Dunes has been trying to do THE BIRDS? Maybe that’s why you brought them up in relation to Du Maurier, I couldn’t tell for sure.

    At one point it was gonna be directed by Martin Campbell and star Naomi Watts, which is a better pedigree than they usually get. But supposedly they were gonna explain that the problem was caused by “the environment.” It’s so funny/infuriating, because they obviously have no clue at all what THE BIRDS is about or what makes it scary. They literally think it is a gore movie about birds attacking your head. The other two Platinum Dunes producers besides Michael Bay did some kind of set visit junket with online types (here’s one account: http://www.horrorsquad.com/2009/06/15/the-platinum-dunes-boys-talk-friday-2-the-birds-and-a-lot/)
    and they seemed to be stalling on the movie because there weren’t enough ways for birds to attack:

    BF: That’s huge. And the limitations that birds… What do they do? They peck and poke.

    AF: And poop.

    BF: Right, so there’s not a lot of variety as to what can happen.

    If you read that interview they complain about how people say they’re in it for the money, but they really aren’t, they love horror, etc. So I guess you gotta take their word for it but so far they still haven’t made a movie that doesn’t seems like it was made by people who were trying to do a good job.

    Anyway, I think a Platinum Dunes DON’T LOOK NOW is unlikely, but not out of the question. Theirs would have alot more dwarf in it.

  30. Frank – it’s just that your AU_Armageddon imitation was accurate enough that it really threw us off. I actually checked the ip addresses to verify that you were different people. Give AU credit though, he got it and joked back at you.

  31. As an under 30 I will attest that cloth muppets are better. Also, nowadays kids shows use really cheap, shitty computer animation, instead of the also cheap, but at least classy 2D animation they used to have. Pity the younglings of today.

  32. Ha! I had forgotten that, Frank, but now I remember and yes, a very close cover. I had really assumed Mode_7’s explanation was essentially correct. Thanks for the explanation.

    And cloth muppets rule. Since both Henson and Jerry Jule died, though, no one these days seems to really know what to do with them.

  33. Vern: You’ve hinted at something in your post that I think is crucial to understanding Michael Bay: he’s illiterate.

    I’m willing to suggest that the idea of adapting a prose work doesn’t enter into Bay’s thinking. I don’t think he’s capable of understanding the mechanics of the written word beyond their expository function, and I doubt he could grasp the filmic potential in the written word. An “adaptation” for Bay means one thing: adapting something from visual media.

    And I would argue that even in the realm of visual media Bay’s literacy is more profoundly limited than any other working director. He is only able to perceive the potential of a filmed work at a basic visually conceptual level. His understanding of THE BIRDS is limited to the mechanics of the birds themselves, not the human psychology or fear, not dramatic tension, and certainly not the staging of coherent action. It’s as if his ability to conceptualize subtext was surgically removed.

    Rather that say that Platinum Dunes loves horror, I’d venture to say that they love thrills, which is entirely different. Horror steadfastly refuses to stop at the body, which is the only site Bay is capable of articulating.

    You can see his team grappling with these limitations in the quotes you provided. On the surface, a still image of Naomi Watts in the Tippi Hedren role makes a certain amount of sense, particularly the telephone booth scene. But they stumble when they try to tease out a larger narrative from the actual bird attacks. Without subtext or mood, bird attacks are silly; no plot could dignify the undertaking. To their credit, they understand this, but nothing in Bay’s background as a car commercial maker has equiped him to construct a compelling narrative that would solve their technical problem. Everything we take for granted in an adept director – mood, tone, atmosphere, theme – is a language that Bay cannot speak.

    Imagine what Jodorowsky could do with two simple words: bird horror. The possibilities are endless.

    The truth is, I don’t think Bay would make it through a viewing of DON’T LOOK NOW. Nothing in his films suggests to me that he could read a film that doesn’t show him potential money shots.

    Having said that, I’ll admit that the most recent Bay film I saw was THE ISLAND, so maybe I’m wrong. But nothing I’ve read about TRANSFORMERS suggests that he’s improved since that film.

  34. Sorry guys, but I found the dwarf scene utterly laughable. It soured the memory of what had been an excellent film of moods and nuances up to that point.

  35. Hey Jareth your post just reminded me that I read an article on one of the movie sites (I think Moriarty’s blog but don’t quote me. Or do, I couldn’t care less so long as the check cashes) that Jodorowsky finally got the funding and matireals ready to shoot his new movie. So there is a new Alejandro Jodorowsky film in active production as we speak.

    And to the Platinum Dunes noise, y’know what I would love? If they became something like the AIP of modern horror movies. Shit they’re halfway there, they just need to start making actual, y’know, good movies. If they were buying up obscure, cheap, crappy horror movies and doing them with production values, and quality casts and crews would anyone have any objections? The problem is they take classic, beloved properties that have been executed as good as they possibly could, and then dumped on them.

  36. Brendan: I think you’ve hit on the essential similarity between Bay and AIP – it’s a money-making excerise targeted at a youth audience. Art isn’t really a factor.

    Here’s where I think the difference lies: maybe I’m romanticising the “ARKOFF formula,” but the results seem to suggest that there’s an element of “anything goes,” at least as far as novelty and controversy goes. But Bay and his products are defined by their strict limitations. It’s as if any movie he touches has been focus-grouped down to most basic ingredients to qualify it as a film.

    If he was a techo dj, the only guiding value Bay would put into his music would be beats per minute.

    I know that AIP also welcomed in some real visionaries of trash cinema, and weren’t afraid to turn them lose. It’s just a hunch, but I think Bay is more comfortable with yes men.

    Now I agree with you – I’d love another AIP. But I don’t know if Bay is up to the job.

  37. Bay is a comfort certainity in that he will NEVER be up to the job. What exactly as an artist has he grown in these 14-15 years he’s been shooting movies or done interestingly? The one time he tried to break out of his mold was his “war drama” PEARL HARBOR…and that failed. Spectacularly. Really I bet Bay truely thought that was his Oscar ticket right there. Opps for you Baynito Michaelini.

    Besides, what was cool about AIP was that yeah they made alot of garbage. Yet their basic attitude (and Corman’s) was simple: We want a quota of # of titties, explosions, violent kills, whatever. How you reach them, is up to you as long as you make your shoebox budget and not overshoot. Recycling film is cool too.

    So under that guideline of said distributor just wanting something cheap they can get a quickie buck out of on a drive-in weekend, look at the good shit we got from those film brat film school students that AIP/Corman scooped up for cheap.

    The 30s gangster nostalgia homages in Larry Cohen’s BLACK CAESAR and John Milius’ DILLINGER, Ron Howard’s fun fluffy car wreck orgy GRAND THEFT AUTO*, the still badass DEATH RACE 2000, the best pirahna monster movie ever in PIRAHNA, etc.

    Especially liked Corman’s Poe pictures with Vince fucking Price. A pseduo-attempt at an American Hammer Films there.

  38. Holy shit, Vern. You just reviewed my favorite horror movie of all time. I’m not worthy! And I think you are way too hard on yourself saying you don’t have anything real smart to say. That, or you’re just a genius of film criticism throwing a little bullshit modesty our way. Whatever. The important thing is that you are exactly right about this film. It is all about the unease and uncertainty, the painfully-real love of this couple threatened by all these vague and haunting visions.

    The director of photography on this film was also the DP on Candyman! How cool is that? I love what that guy can do with crumbling old buildings.

    When I first saw Don’t Look Now, I was lucky enough to see it in a cinema in NYC. Afterwards, when I hit the sidewalk, I had this terrible haunted feeling like I was going to get killed at any moment. Like a taxi jumping the curb or something. And I was sure everything would go quiet just before it happened, just like in the scaffold scene.

    Years later, I was able to finally visit Venice. And I was probably one of the few tourists there who was thrilled to find it’s just as creepy, crumbling, and haunted-looking as the movie made it out to be. Then, when killing time in a bookstore, my eyes were drawn to one of the few books there in English: Daphne Du Maurier’s Don’t Look Now and other stories! Of course, I HAD to buy it.

    Anyway, thanks Vern. Keep ’em coming.

  39. Nic Roeg’s a funny one – when I was a teenager I was completely bowled over by his films. This one, Performance, Walkabout (not just for naked jenny Agutter) and others were just so out there and unusual, so fucking unpredictable and experimental that I watched them over and over

    When I got into my stupid cynical twenties I grew away from them, thought the experimentation was naive and dated (like the scene in Walkabout where the boy is cutting up the animal and it suddenly cuts to a butcher chopping up meat ) and that I was too good for it or some silly shit

    Now I’m in my thirties I’ve come back to them, realised how goddamn talented this guy is and how revolutionary his films are.

    I mean, Christ if this guy was American he’d be a fucking national treasure, us Brits just go “Oh him” and forget about him

    And the Witches! Apart from the bullshit ending which infuriated me when I was a kid, it’s the closest anyone has come to putting Roald Dahl’s beautiful violent insanity onscreen

  40. “Give AU credit though, he got it and joked back at you.”

    He did, at that. I didn’t even make the connection until you pointed it out — thought it was some regular giving earnest advice. I can recycle the dude’s comments, but I can’t remember his name. Bullet in the head!

    He does show more self-awareness than you might expect, maybe as a consequence of not being drunk today. Nobody’s perfect.

    “I had really assumed Mode_7’s explanation was essentially correct.”

    I wouldn’t rule it out entirely, Mr. S.

    “It’s as if his ability to conceptualize subtext was surgically removed.”

    That’s a bingo, Jareth! Somebody’s on the ball today. Bravo. (Is it cliche and obnoxious to say “that’s a bingo” yet? That one didn’t catch on the way I expected it to. I really thought it would be the new “I drink your milkshake.”)

    Finally, thank you all for being surprised and dismayed when I acted like an asshole. (And for being aware of my existence enough to have any expectations at all of me, for that matter.) That touches me deep down in my heart, fuckers.

  41. frankbooth: If it’s coming from you, I’ll take any catchphrase you choose and wear it proudly. “Here’s to your fuck, Frank.”

    kuryakin: It always seemed to me that a true artist is often undervalued at home, like how the French have given David Lynch the keys to the kingdom while INLAND EMPIRE couldn’t find an American backer. Up here in Canada, the closest thing we have to a cinematic genius is Guy Maddin, and he spent decades scraping together funding and working the midnight movie circuit before making even the slightest dent in the consciousness of our art critics and festival honchos. Even now I suspect that Maddin is respected here at home only because he’s so well regarded elsewhere; they figure if Tom Waits is bugnuts crazy about Maddin, maybe they better at least pretend to like him. Canadians are insecure that way.

    RAA: I figure the only measure Michael Bay has set for himself as a filmmaker is financial.

    I think PEARL HARBOUR failed because you cannot tell that particular story without providing actual content, an area in which Bay has never demonstrated any competence. Bay’s idea of sociopolitical context and human emotion begin and end in the wardrobe and make-up department.

  42. Dear Vern,

    Re: Don’t Look Now: I agree.

    Re: The Birds – when I first moved to LA and was looking for a job, I was combing the trades every day and I saw that one production company was going to remake “The Birds.” So I hand-wrote a note that said “Don’t remake the fucking Birds,” put it in an envelope, and mailed it off. They wound up not remaking it. Probably not because of my note, but still. I felt like I’d done a good deed.

    Dear Cosh,

    Re: Dwarf being laughable: I will completely ignore everything you say from now on.


  43. Jareth: I think you are forgetting a Canadian by the name of DAVID FUCKING CRONENBERG. When you think about it holy shit, there are very few directors who have been making consistently good and original movies since the ’70s. And in many ways right now he’s better than he’s ever been.

    I don’t know, maybe he doesn’t make his movies in Canada anymore so you’re not counting him? I would still claim him if he came from my country. Plus, Guy Maddin made a movie here in Seattle. He’s a traitor too.

    Daniel: Good job on the note to the The Birds people. I accidentally did something similar, I wrote a review of the Texas Chainsaw prequel and at the end I implored the director not to do the remake of Friday the 13th he was supposed to do next. It never occurred to me that he would read it, but he later sent me a very humble email about the review, and when he mentioned working on a new movie he said “don’t worry, it’s not Friday the 13th.” Later I heard from someone else that he turned down huge sums of money from that gig because he wanted to do a low budget independent movie that meant more to him (The Killing Room, out on DVD recently). I always respect people who turn down a bunch of money because they don’t want to do something. He could be the Dave Chappelle of horror remakes.

  44. Vern: Man, is my face red about Cronenberg. Talk about an oversight. That’s like an American failing to recognize Jarmusch, one of the giants in my book. And I’ve got no excuse: Cronenberg and I call the same city home. Jeez.

    We Canadians tend to see Cronenberg in the same way we see Leonard Cohen: he belongs to the world now. I think there’s a kind of collective disbelief that Canada could have produced something so good. And there’s the weirdness: when you claim Cronenberg as your own, you accept responsibility for all those things he did to Debbie Harry.

    At the end of the day, I have to say that mainstream Canadians may know Cronenberg’s name, but very few outside hardcore filma fans and gore hounds have seen much of his work. And in his early years he was ignored much the way Maddin was.

    But yeah, I’ll totally claim Cronenberg for Canada. I’ll plant the flag on his body myself.

    Did you ever see Cronenberg’s performance in LAST NIGHT? Christ he was good in that film.

    And I don’t blame Maddin for making that film in Seattle. The artist collective that brought him in has a lot of integrity, and they let Maddin do his thing. It’s not as if anyone in Canada was throwing money at him to make a feature. If you haven’t seen the film he made down there, BRAND UPON THE BRAIN, it’s one of his best. Highly recommended.

    I should add: I don’t define art first and formost by its nation of origin. The good stuff transcends those distinctions.

  45. No, but I saw his performance in NIGHTBREED. And uh…I uh…forgot what I was gonna say.

  46. And let’s not forget his star-making turn in Jason X as “Guy Who Wants To Study Jason But Gets Impaled.”

  47. He definitely showed promise in his supporting turn as “Guy who is surprised by the vagina maggots” in the Fly.

  48. His role in NIGHTBREED made me want to resurrect him and worship him as a god. not sure if I’m the only one or what.

  49. Platinium Dumbs, an outfit totally devoted to fuck up and destroy classic american horror, one remake at a time.

  50. Cronenberg is like Scorsese, directors who are also pretty good actors, and who should do more acting jobs.

  51. Like Werner Herzog. You ever see Incident At Loch Ness? It was not the most believable mockumentary I’ve ever seen, but his performance was dead on. He not only had great comic timing, but he was believably heroic and noble as well. Give this man a vigilante picture to star in!

  52. And let’s not forget Cronenberg’s masterful performance as “Man at Lake” in TO DIE FOR or his typecast-breaking turn as “Director” in TRIAL BY JURY.

    But seriously, Cronenberg fans really have to see LAST NIGHT, not just for his performance but because it’s a really good film.

  53. On the subject of directors who act… I came across this the other day while watching old Siskel & Ebert episodes. Sorry, I’d do a proper link but I’m link retarded.


    Skip to 1:09 or just watch the whole thing. I could be wrong but that sounds an awful lot like David Fincher doing *Spoiler* Kevin Spacey’s lines.

  54. Holy shit! I didn’t even do anything and the link appeared magically. I guess I’m not as link retarded as I thought.

  55. Actually Mr. M is right, Herzog is genuinely great in INCIDENT, which remains one of the oddest films I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s so straight-faced that it took me forever to figure out it was even supposed to be a comedy, but then it turns into a horror film at the end, and I can’t tell if it’s supposed to be one more meta-joke or what. It can’t possibly think we’re going to buy the fakumentary as real, but I’ll be darned if I know why else it’s filmed that way. Not unenjoyable, but very, very odd. Herzog and Zak Penn are a great comedy duo, though — I’d watch that sitcom.

  56. Cronenberg gets killed by Jason in Jason X. I know this because I actually watched Jason X.

  57. Herzog is great. That short film where he eats his shoe is classic. He’s among the last of a dying breed.

  58. Gwai Lo – are you a better person from the experience?

  59. Jareth – Only Herzog could make me want to watch a Nic Cage remake of the classic BAD LIEUTENANT.

    His soul is dancing!

  60. RRA – The few reviews I’ve read so far suggest that the new BAD LIEUTENANT is actually pretty good. If it’s true, I suspect that no small part of that will be due to Herzog, but I’m one of those people who, against my own better judgement, haven’t written off Cage.

    I don’t know if this is flogging a dead horse, but I really have to wonder about Nicolas Cage. When a director hires him, do they wonder which Cage will show up? WICKER MAN Cage or ADAPTATION Cage? I saw MATCHSTICK MEN recently and his performance was as good in that as it was in LEAVING LAS VEGAS (neither are what I would call his best work, but still respectable). Is it the director who brings out the best in Cage? Because it’s not the decade in which he’s working. He’s got equal measures of shit and genius in every decade he’s worked.

    When I saw KNOWING I just couldn’t believe that it was the same guy from RAISING ARIZONA and WILD AT HEART. How does someone like Willem Defoe make it through so many god awful movies with a dignified performance under his belt yet Cage just seems to totally melt down under the wrong conditions?

    And when you see him interviewed, he’s this soft-spoken, thoughtful guy. Jesus. The riddle of Cage continues to boggle my brain.

    By the way, there should be an understanding among journalists that from this point onward everyone will adopt Vern’s usage of Cage’s proper name: Oscar winner and poor crazy bastard Nicolas Cage. Every mention of his name should have that qualifier.

  61. Jareth – I think Nic Cage is one of those guys who when motivated (i.e. gives a shit) and gets his ass kicked by a good director…he’s great.

    But most of his recent output, its action trope coasting on that mocked movie persona of his best laughable in his Bruckheimer jobs. Others, like the misguided NEXT and WICKER MAN and even the recent ASTRO BOY….they’re just paychecks.

    Because the guy is in trouble with the IRS. He owes them reportedly $6 million because (allegedly) his manager fucked him and ran off with his money.

    Now I didn’t see LORD OF WAR and THE WEATHER MAN, which I have friends who tell me that he tries to bother in those pictures. He was good in MATCHSTICK MEN though. Got a good cast around him, a good director in Ridley Scott, and shit actors just love to play a good full-of-shit conman.

    Same reason why actors love to play the villain or the Devil or whatever. They’re some of the best parts.

    I haven’t written Nicolas Coppola off yet, but fuck recently he just….seems to not give a shit, and trying to avoid prison. He don’t want to be the white Wesley Snipes.

  62. I think Oscar Winner and Poor Crazy Bastard Nicholas Cage is just bored by a lot of what he does. At least Dafoe, as much shit as he’s been in, the movies are usually at least interesting in a batshit crazy kind of way. I wish he would do more supporting roles, so that way he could show up, do something nuts for a little while and then go home, dignity intact. Like Buscemi does from time to time.

  63. LORD OF WAR is worth watching for some interesting visuals, some good character work around Cage and a pretty good performance by Cage himself. But the script is really flawed. They put some good words in Cage’s mouth from time to time, and he delivers them well with a surprisingly restrained take on his smart-ass schtick, but the plot is a heavy-handed exercise that isn’t even close to being redeemed by its good intentions.

    It’s interesting to compare Cage’s performance in LORD OF WAR to that in KNOWING. Although the KNOWING guy is supposed to be more sympathetic, Cage is barely convincing as his own reanimated corpse; there’s just nothing there, even in that scene where burning bodies are running out of the crashed airplane. Cage’s character in LORD OF WAR has some of the same dead-inside baggage as the KNOWING guy is supposed to have, but Cage makes the smart choice in LORD OF WAR of animating some of the tics that might come with amorality.

    I guess I keep thinking of De Niro. I haven’t enjoyed a De Niro performance since WAG THE DOG and JACKIE BROWN, but even in the weak films you can tell that there’s something alive in those eyes. Not the case with Cage.

    I didn’t know the actual numbers on Cage’s IRS problems. He’s in an interesting position because many of his shit movies make money, and somehow he isn’t a figure of public ridicule, so it’ll take some truly bad choices to fall into Snipes’ hell. Maybe under the circumstances the best we can expect is a five or six year run of garbage between stuff like ADAPTATION and BAD LIEUTENANT.

  64. Brendan – You totally rule for using Oscar Winner and Poor Crazy Bastard Nicholas Cage’s proper name.

  65. I actually think there are three Oscar Winner and Poor Crazy Bastard Nicolas Coppolas:

    1.Sadsack boring motherfucker who underplays everything because somebody told him he should do that once. Probably his uncle.

    2. Crazy-ass trying-to-out-Crispin-Glover-Crispin-Glover motherfucker.

    3. Actually great actor.

    You can usually tell which movies are going to get which Nic, but sometimes he surprises you by giving you two for one. That’s why Wicker Man is such a camp classic. It starts out 1. so that you’re totally unprepared for when he morphs into 2. and dropkicks Leelee Sobieski. If he could have somehow transformed into 3. for the “Oh no, not the bees! Not the bees!” scene we’d be talking one for the ages here.

  66. don’t look now but here’s a screencap of Donald Sutherland’s O face that made me laugh

    think that’ll make an appearance in any of the HUNGER GAMES sequels?

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