LIVE BLOG 82nd Annual Oscar Nominations announcement

oscarshello everybody welcome to my first ever LIVE BLOG, I am watching E and there is alot to be said about this all new wave speed slimming ssystem. It is the most effective total body slimming system ever due to cardio, strength, speed slimming intervals.the reason why is the afterburn effect, it keeps burtning fat even as you sleep or drive. what i am getting at is they’re not announcing the thing yet

wait here it goes. did that guy just say viva rock vegas was gonna win? I’m tired

here they go. that’s ann whatsisidck from havoc

Hurt locker. what, blompkamp? i’m confused. not sure about these ones. hmmm, very interesting. ah, fascinating. something something, avatar. very farmiga from orphan, No surprise. wait, up in the air? that’s outside the box

ten nominees this year, changes the whole dynamicals. i’m hearing words. none of them are port of call. none of them are squeakquel. oh, district 9 again. well, that’s weird. butnothing too embarrassing.

big upsets this year: i don’t see terminator 2 in there, I don’t see wesley snipes. i think it is a little too early for me though

hope i will do many more liveblogginf for the futur thanks gan

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169 Responses to “LIVE BLOG 82nd Annual Oscar Nominations announcement”

  1. Alright, way to go Woody Harleson.

    Oh and fuck you TRANSFORMERS 2, not even getting a FX Oscar nod.

    Also, props to District 9 for Best Picture. And Adapted Script. Good job guys.

  2. are you drunk Vern? are just sleepy?

  3. “hope i will do many more liveblogginf for the futur thanks gan”

    The English language just slapped the shit outta Vern

  4. No Port of Call. No Black Dynamite.

    Get some shuteye Vern.

  5. did no one get the joke? or were you all just going along with it, and now i am the joke?

  6. Hahahaha. Awesome.

    Keep the live blogs coming, Vern.

  7. p.s. no love for spike jonze and WTWTA :( not that i expected it to win any oscars, but i thought maybe some consolation nominations, for screenplay, cinematography, effects, directing and even picture now with the new ten noms format. i have no awareness of what the critical buzz for WTWTA in the lead up to the noms announcement, but it did feature prominently on lots of year-end best of lists, didn’t it? i just saw it the other day, and spike directed the living shit out of that movie. oh well, what do i know?

  8. I don’t think District 9 deserves a nomination. There, I said it. I think Star Trek is a better movie.

  9. As much as I absolutely loved the new Star Trek I still realize it is an extremely flawed movie in parts, where District 9 is a legitimate sci-fi masterpiece.

  10. DISTRICT 9! FUCK YEAH! It will win absolutely nothing, but who gives a shit, a 30 million, South African sci-fi parable with laser guns and exploding human beings got nominate for BEST FUCKING PICTURE! YES! Only thing that could’ve made it better was if Sharlto got an acting nom, but let’s not dwell on that. FUCKING AWESOME, CONGRATS TEAM 9 OR WHATEVER YOU CALL YOURSELVES!

    (apologies about the caps, I’m really happy)

  11. Thanks for staying up and covering that for us!

    Here’s hoping Avatar will win not a single award outside of technical brilliance (which it resoundly deserves).

  12. legitimate sci-fi masterpiece? I’ve heard that a few times and I honestly don’t know where people are coming from. I didn’t find it particularly groundbreaking, or even super entertaining. It didn’t even work too well when taken as as an apartheid allegory, which I’m not sure it was intended to be in the first place.

    Children of Men was a masterpiece, District 9 just seemed pretty decent; but to each his own, I guess.

  13. Mode 7 – why do you think STAR TREK is better?

  14. I vote Basterds for best picture, but I have a feeling it’s either gonna be Up or Avatar. Partly because the academy wants to bring extra attention to the 3D technology for various reasons.

  15. Children of Men was indeed a masterpiece and maybe even my personal favorite film of the decade, so we can at least agree on something.

    I stand by my statement though, District 9 is phenomenal it’s entire running time. It’s up there with Children of Men, Sunshine and Moon as one of this generation of filmmakers amazing contributions to my DVD collection.

  16. RRA

    I just know I had a way better time watching it. Not the deepest answer I know, but then I didn’t find either movie particularly deep. At least Star Trek wasn’t pretending to be anything more than it was. I’ve got plenty of respect for Blompkamp and what he achieved with District 9, but Star Trek is gonna spend a lot more time in my DVD player.

  17. I don’t know, I’m pretty indifferent about the nominees this year. I even go so far and say that the most interesting category is Cinematography! We got “Avatar”, which is more than 75% computer animated, so I’m not sure if it really should be there, “The Hurt Locker”, which looks fucking ugly, thanks to its use of Shaky Cam, “Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince”, which looks okay, but not impressive enough to earn an Oscar nod, and “Das Weiße Band”, which is a foreign movie and it doesn’t happen very often that foreign movies get Oscar nominations outside of the “Best Foreign Movie” category. Unfortunately “Terminator: Salvation” didn’t get one. I guess Bale was right…

  18. I just noticed that “Drag Me To Hell” doesn’t get a Sound FX nomination. The Oscars are SO dead to me!

  19. I’m not a fan of the Academy Awards, and nothing in this year’s nominations does anything but confirm my dislike for the whole event, but there were a couple of things that stood out to me this year:

    Matt Damon nominated for INVICTUS but not THE INFORMANT? What?

    A SERIOUS MAN is the only “best picture” that I would say I liked. I was indifferent to UP IN THE AIR and HURT LOCKER, and disliked the rest.

    Glad PARNASUS was recognized for costumes and art design.

    At least Woody Harrelson got recognized for something. I don’t remember if his role in WAG THE DOG was nominated (it should have been) but he’s really reliable. Good job, Woody.

    POLICE ADJECTIVE wasn’t just my favorite foreign film from last year, but my favorite film of the year period. Not surprised to see it absent from the list.

    Also there should be an award for Best Real Time Nomination Announcement Blog. And it should go to Vern. Hilarious stuff, pal.

  20. Mode 7 & Dieselboy – Absolutely correct. CHILDREN OF MEN is indeed in a masters class of it’s own. Best movie of the decade, indeed. But I’m still excited for DISTRICT 9. I enjoyed the hell out of that picture.

    Mode 7 – I think you’re right on that 3D spotlight. A big push for that business model. A lot of industry people consider it the future of making money.

  21. Mode_7 – glad to see someone else isn’t feeling District 9. I wanted to love it, but it just didn’t do it for me. After the great setup and concept, we’re reduced to sub-Bourne “man on the run” nonsense and a “transformation” plot that never really happens until the final scene. (Seriously, turning into an alien didn’t let him “see how the other side lives” or any of that shit people say- it just gave him the ability to fire big guns – this might as well be the plot of Judge Dredd for crying out loud!)

    All the shit that internet dudes would nitpick to death -one-sided characters, setup for a sequel, cute kid alien, desk clerk good guy being able to out-shoot trained Mercs (and no, it wasn’t because he had a better gun), ridiculously tacked-on MechSuit battle- somehow got a pass. Not sure if it was because of the gore or it being “the little movie that could” – but i felt under different circumstances the same movie would have been shat on.

    Don’t get me wrong – the FX were eye-popping, the shootouts were the best shot and edited in years, and Sharlto Copely was amazing. He definitely deserved an Oscar nod. The movie, not so much.

  22. I feel for you, Vern.. No one should have to get up that early.

  23. “I just know I had a way better time watching it”

    Mode 7 – If thats what you wanted, why didn’t you just watch STAR WARS again? I mean jeez I liked TREK too, but my biggest complaint must be the STAR WARS shit those nerd filmmakers insisted upon.

    Believe it or not, sci-fi doesn’t revolve totally around George Lucas.

  24. Loved Hurt Locker as much as any movie I’ve seen in the theater in five years, hope it wins, but don’t see it.

    Hurt Locker was seen by around a million to a million and a half people in theaters, while Avatar got many, many times more than that and still counting. I know its grosses have been pumped up by IMAX and 3D premiums and repeat business but it’s such a hugely popular movie that any quibbling about its totals is just that, quibbling.

    I think the Academy will go the safe route and give the director Oscar to Bigelow, making her the first woman winner ever, and then picture to Avatar, which will in effect produce a kind of co-Best picture for 2009, one hugely popular financially and that got showered with critical worship.

    Some are already saying that the fact that Hurt Locker got acting and writing noms and Avatar didn’t is huge, because those are two key voting blocs, or something like that…I’d like to see it but I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

    Bridges / Waltz / Bullock / Mo’Nique / Bigelow / Avatar are my picks for the big ones.

  25. Sign me up for the “underwhelmed by District 9” club. It was fresh, creative filmmaking on a relatively cheap budget, and certainly deserves some praise for that, but I had the same problems as others here. It just devolved into a chase picture with what seemed to be about fifty false endings and I seriously got tired of seeing the alien weapons turn people into goo. It wasn’t gross, it just happened too much that it started to seem silly.

  26. I’ve actually seen 8 out of 10 of the best picture nominees, that’s pretty good for me. I think it’s between Avatar and Hurt Locker with an outside chance of Up In the Air. But who knows. I never saw Crash coming in a million years, so what do I know?

    Good point Gary, I knew when I was looking at the list that there was something sorely missing from the FX category, but I couldn’t remember what it was. It was Where the Wild Things Are. Of course Avatar’s gotta take it, but Wild Things deserved acknowledgment.

    I like the second dissing of Transformers effects, though. The first one was nominated but lost to that movie where Nicole Kidman rides around on a polar bear. I don’t know why they did that, but to me it says that just having the most expensive and technologically advanced effects doesn’t mean you have the best executed ones. I guess you could say the same thing for when The Matrix beat The Phantom Menace (unless I’m imagining that, I think that happened).

    Believe it or not, in his Oscar predictions Roger Ebert mentioned Bad Lieutenant as a dark horse contender for a best picture nomination. I don’t know where he got that idea but that would’ve put a smile on my face for two weeks if it happened.

  27. Wow , I completely forgot this is the Oscars night ! And the live blog idea is awesome ! I was just now watching the news and , Bang! , the nominations ! I still have to see Avatar , because here in Italy it came out January 15 and I’ve been busy , but I’ve seen Basterds , District 9 and the Hurt Locker . Unfortunately , I can’t see the ceremony because I don’t have pay per view , so I will read it here ! Good one , Vern !

  28. Based on the movies I’ve seen I will root for The Hurt Locker and District 9 in best movie , for Renner best actor and for Waltz in supporting role .

    I bet that , if Avatar wins best picture , Cameron will say ” I’m the king of the Galaxy!”. Or , even better , “Master of the Universe!”.

  29. I was wondering , can any of you guys see the ceremony in streaming , in your country ? I still have some time to figure out a way to actually watch it , before march 7 , but I’m sure it will not be on TV here in Italy .

  30. I watched the nominations broadcast this morning and there were a few moments of suspense when they got to the Best Pictures. I thought we might see Star Trek in there for a second and I was trying to imagine a world where a Star Trek movie, which I’ve been seeing off and on for around 30 years now, would be an actual Best Picture nominee (I think I’ve seen almost all of them now–and the last two completely sucked). That would be insane.

    I liked the new Star Trek, it was fun, and I thought the cast was really good. It did a great job of “rebooting” a franchise that had grown stale but that still has untapped potential.

    But it wasn’t a great movie. It was just a space shoot-’em-up–they pretty much whiffed on the whole “seek out new life and new civilizations” thing.

    I guess a lot of the other movies in the series have done that also, it just seemed a little more obvious this time around.

    Even though the Academy Awards have done a lot of nutty things in the past, I think a Best Picture nomination for a Star Trek movie was just one step too far, and it’s probably better that way.

  31. What I liked about STAR TREK, in spite of the SW shit and a few scenes where the writers obviously didn’t put alot of thought into….what I liked the cast and their chemistry.

    The rest, been there done that.

  32. My favorite thing about this blogging is the way it opens up new technology to Vern. This is almost as good as the time he tweeted from the comic con.

    With any luck, in a few months Cheetos Presents: Outlaw Vern will be a reality.

  33. Who are the nominees for Most UnCaged! Performance?

  34. Maybe we should have an OutlawVern awards process. Create some categories, put together some nominees and vote on winners.

  35. Brendan – yes! It would be much easier to do than the Badass awards, what with the new comments section and all.

  36. How would this be tallied? Would we amass a list of 5 to 10 nominees and have everyone vote on their favorite? Or would we have everyone post, say, their top 10 list and calculate which movies were the most popular?

  37. Brendan : Yes ! That’s a good idea , some sort of alternative to the Oscars , like DTV Awards , or at least a DTV category . But maybe with some completely new categories like ” Best Bearded Henchman ” or “Best Use of an AK47” . And I’m NOT joking or using sarcasm , I really want to see this!

  38. Badass Performance of the Year
    Action Sequence of the Year
    Best Badass Move
    Best Film

  39. RRA

    I’m not sure what your point is, you seem to be complaining that I hold being entertained up as a hallmark of a good movie. I dunno what George Lucas has to do with anything either.

  40. Mode 7 – It’s one thing to be enteratined. There is a reason why.

    But to be enteratined, but not know why? That doesn’t exactly make STAR TREK for you all that unique then, now does it?

  41. someone’ll tell me who won everything the day after. i can’t watch this crap anymore.
    Where the Wild Things Are deserved an effects nod.
    Also surprised that The Road is nowhere to be found.

  42. RRA

    Who said it was unique? I ain’t trying to argue Trek is some kind of game changing masterpiece of cinema, but it was a lot of fun. There were some cool action set-pieces, nice character moments and a solid (not completely hole-free) plot. It is what it is.

    District 9 on the other hand starts out well but never really delivers on it’s own premise, and totally loses it’s way towards the end. It also seems to think it has something to say but I’m not altogether sure what that is.

  43. That’s all I wanted. Thanks.

    Now was that hard?

  44. Actually yeah, it was. I had to type all that on my damn phone cos my broadband’s out. :D

  45. Everyone I’ve spoken to about AVATAR, even the people who really liked it, have admitted that the script is mediocre. Is box office revenue now the biggest deciding factor for Oscar greatness? TRANSFORMERS 3, best picture 2012! That theory about using the awards to push 3D technology sounds just cynical enough to be true.

    I thought DISTRICT 9 was way better than STAR TREK. STAR TREK had a great cast, funny dialog and fun space battles, but DISTRICT 9 actually had something to say, even if the metaphor wasn’t perfect. That’s pretty ironic since clumsy social metaphors are supposed to be STAR TREK’s thing.

    I think WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE deserved a bit of recognition, though. I can’t believe that film was actually funded and released to theatres. (I mean that in a good way.)

    THE BLIND SIDE was an awful, self-congratulatorial, pandering piece of rubbish that took a very interesting true story about an athlete and turned into a Sandra Bullock vehicle, thus it’s the least surprising nomination of all.

  46. I think the Star Wars prequels had way more to say about Bush’s America and the war on terror than District 9 said about apartheid, but I don’t hear anyone saying Attack of the Clones should be given a free pass.

  47. CrustaceanHate,

    No doubt DISTRICT 9 attempted to say more than the new STAR TREK movie, in terms of social or political relevance, but I have to ask: what exactly DID it say? People keep acting like it has some deeper resonance, but personally I can’t see where it communicated much at all. So I’d like to hear a fan such as yourself elaborate more on its message. I mean this in all sincerity, I’m not trying to be snarky, I would like to read a well-thought explanation of the film’s message and how it conveys it.

    Because everything I see is muddled. Is it about apartheid? Probably, but does it say anything deeper than the stunningly obvious “apatheid was bad”? Is it about immigration? Also likely, but is there anything clever about making the immigrants space aliens? That’s a pretty obvious metaphor, ALIEN NATION did it 20 years ago and it wasn’t very clever than either. Is it about racism? Vern made a good point in his review about the way the media portrays minorities and/or poor, subjugated people. I can see DISTRICT 9 making a statement on that in its pseudo-documentary sections, but then doesn’t it invalidate its own message by making all the black characters evil, exaggerated, superstitious gang members? And does making Christopher Johnson kind of smart a giving him a son really flesh him out into a great character and prove that the prawns aren’t the bottom-feeders that everyone assumes they are? Especially when he’s given no other personality traits, and the rest of the prawns are depicted as helpless losers too inept to use their own weaponry to defend themselves?

  48. The message can only be that black people may be bloodthirsty, catfood eating whoremongers but we must treat them well because they have lots of guns. Guns that a few of them are smart enough to operate.

  49. PS apologies for all the spelling/grammar/syntax errors in the post above. I shot it off really quickly before I went out.

  50. The Outlaw Vern awards should also have a category for



    Grammies leave me cold.

  51. ….or was that emmies?

  52. Avatar and Precious for best pic? Christ that hurts. Why doesn’t the academy just come to my house and piss all over my shoes while they’re at it? If either of them win the Oscars are dead to me. For good this time.

  53. Having long ago (10 years or so, I guess) given up on the idea that the Academy Award for Best Picture always goes to the “best” or “most deserving” film, I think this is a pretty good crop of nominees. They’ve got big budget blockbusters, star vehicles, and smaller movies all in there.

    The biggest surprise to me was leaving “(500) Days of Summer” out of the picture race. I’m not going to argue that was a great film, and it certainly shouldn’t have been a serious contender, but I did like it, it had a few good scenes and not really any bad ones, and I thought it was pretty popular. It really seemed like the kind of movie the Academy would nominate in years past in an attempt to prove they were hip, kind of like “Little Miss Sunshine” or “Juno.” I guess they did that with other movies this year and “Summer” got squeezed out. Oh well.

  54. Dan P, agree with everything you said on “District 9.”

    It kind of reminded me of one of those old Star Trek (speaking of that) shows where the crew beams down to a planet where two alien tribes are at war and Kirk had to decide whether to help one side or stay out. Look! It’s Vietnam in space! Deep…

    Only I don’t think it even went that far. I think “District 9” did a good job of looking like it had a message without really having one. I think the filmmakers may have even fooled themselves.

  55. An observation someone made on another forum about “Up” being nominated for best picture. It’s the only animated movie in that catagory, so doesn’t it make the actual nominations for Best Animated Picture pretty redundant, since it’s even more obvious it’ll win now?

  56. Regarding “Up”: IIRC Pixar was lobbying for “WALL-E” to get a Best Picture nom last year, so perhaps this year with the expanded field, the Academy figured it was time to give hugely acclaimed films from “non-traditional” genres like animation a nod or two. I suppose “District 9” snagged a nom for the same reason; the Oscar Best Pic field has not been too kind to sci-fi films in the past, either. To me it’s sort of like when the NCAA basketball tournament field gets expanded: teams (movies) from non-major conferences (film genres) get a shot along with the proven contenders.

    Personally, I think “WALL-E” was slightly superior to “UP”, but that was ’08, not ’09, so oh well. I am a little surprised that “Ponyo” didn’t get a Best Animated Feature nom, as Miyazaki films have generally been go-ahead contenders for that award in the past, but the animation field this year is pretty strong, so I can see why “Ponyo” would have been left out (it’s not one of Miyazaki’s best efforts IMO…it’s good, but it’s not “Spirited Away” or whatnot).

  57. Loved District 9

  58. Zeez: I think we’ve already established that the Mega-Acting award will be called the UnCaged Award of Excellence.

    Tom: Do you think that the inclusion of THE ROAD and WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE would have improved this year’s nominations? Or how about this line of reasoning: does it hurt the credibility of the list to have excluded these films?

  59. Badass Performance of the Year – Tom Hardy, BRONSON
    Action Sequence of the Year – Something from DISTRICT 9 or THE HURT LOCKER
    Best Badass Move – Nicolas Cage shaving behind door in old folks home, THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL – NEW ORLEANS
    Best Film – UNE PROPHETE
    UnCaged Award of Excellence – Nicolas Cage, THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL – NEW ORLEANS

  60. Jareth – you liked POLICE, ADJECTIVE? Man alive, was that movie fucking DULL. I actually laughed out loud in the theater when it cut to the police report, then slowly panned down as the main character read out a deadpan account of the boring, event-less shit we just watched. The second (was there a third? can’t remember) time the movie did this I was no longer amused, just irritated. I know that the dullness and the monotony was part of the point the movie was making about bureaucracy and policework, and I have a high tolerance for slow movies from Eastern Europe, but in this one I don’t recall a story being told at all. It might as well have been about someone mowing a lawn for two hours, only to be told that what they defined as a lawn is slightly incorrect and they missed a patch. I usually think Devin Faraci is a pompous ass-hat but go check out his review on chud.com, this is one instance where he expressed my opinion for me pretty flawlessly.

  61. Gwai Lo: It’s difficult for me to argue against anything you say in your post. I know POLICE ADJECTIVE isn’t especially profound. But then neither was PARIS, TEXAS, and that’s another hard-to-defend, boring favorite of mine.

    In fairness, I consider 2009 a really bad year for films. LIMITS OF CONTROL would be near the top of my 2009 list, but I won’t pretend that it’s top-tier Jarmusch. I actually pretend that CHOCOLATE was released in 2009, not 2008, just to salvage the year.

  62. Really? I tend to come out of every year thinking it was a good year for movies, especially since I started to get into a pace that has me seeing about 150 releases by the time the Oscars roll around. My very very favorites of the year were:



    Haven’t seen THE LIMITS OF CONTROL or CHOCOLATE yet.

  63. Im rooting for UP. its great the Academy finally put one of Pixars films into the best movie categorie. Its well deserved. I ve only seen six of the nominees, but i really think its a better movie than avatar, up in the air, district 9 or the others i`ve seen. The academy probably wont give it to them the first time they weren`t rated only in animated films.

  64. Very funny. Don’t really have anything else to say except this highly informative live blog made me laugh a lot.

    Good one, Vern.

  65. I gotta take issue with the dude spouting Sunshine as a best sci-fi. Good sci-fi for 2 acts then stupid slasher/monster flick. The terribly bagged out Pandorum of 2009 is a much better sci-fi (as well as horror/thriller) but all the way through.

    academy is a joke but still i watch and still excitied and still I stupidly cried to not see Watchmen – that intro… those characters… the comedien… the blue cock guy talking away to the pipes music and then nothing… rorschach… and his quotes, fuck me… did i mention that intro, best in the history of film… the shades of morality, man i am very busy but i find time to watch watchmen director cut once per fortnight like 16 viewings in now its perfect. hurt locker was good, i cant undercut avatar fx myself… just saying give zack some love you fucking peasants.

  66. AU_Armageddon,

    Personally, SUNSHINE’s abrupt shift into slasher movie mode is one of my favorite things about it.

    A while back on some thread here, I think we were talking about movies that make abrupt shifts in tone partway through. I didn’t think to bring it up then but SUNSHINE is a good example.

  67. Jareth-Hopefully with the Arrested Development movie coming out this year you’ll have a better opinion of 2010.

    Armageddon-you are coming off far more sober than usual and I agree that Watchmen got the shaft. Maybe they didn’t base their nominations off his far superior directors cut. Why they left out the scene of Hollis Masons fight to the death is beyond me.

  68. Jareth,
    Can’t really comment on “The Road” or “Wild Things” improving this list of nominees because I didn’t see either one. I just couldn’t work up the interest in them because I couldn’t imagine either improving on their source material, or showing me anything that I was just dying to see (“Watchmen” already tried & failed to do that in 2009) but I do know that both movies have their passionate supporters.

    The list is usually going to try to strike a balance between critical legitimacy and commercial value; when it was still just five pictures there was usually at least one megawatt-blockbuster in there. There’s probably a point to be made about art vs. commerce in a capitalist society but typing on this iPhone is getting to be a drag.

    You could probably sub “Road” for “District 9” and “Wild Things” for, say, “Up,” especially since “Up” is also an animation nominee…but then the pro-D9 and “Up” crowds would be pissed.

    Even with ten pictures there’s going to be some who gripes, some of them legitimate. It’s the nature of the beast in these subjective judgements.

    The most egregious example in recent years to me is how on earth “Into the Wild” didn’t at least get a Best Picture nomination…thought that was insane and still do.

  69. Sobriety is price of sleep. I dun mind abrubt switches – dusk til dawn, blazing saddles, happy feet, that red eye trailer – all gems. Sunshine’s just felt stupid and i left the cinema on a downer.

    Fair point re any director’s cuts, but i do gotta say, i wish someone could explain to me (like im a 6 year old) why people dun like watchmen. And not just dislike – not like they giving it a 6.5 or something, they really dun like it. It’s so smart and surreal and beautiful and dark and bright and clever and fucking why do so many people hate it? I dun have capacity to appreciate why it dint even get nomination for best director vs any of those… well hurt locker directing makes good fight, but seriously I cant conceive where the contest lies even when taking theatrical vs directors cut into consideration. Academy politics or whatever I could grasp if thats all it is, though that dun explain so many people in general exisitng who hate it.

  70. Gwai Lo: That’s a cool list, and it makes me re-evalute my opinion of how crappy 2009 was. There are a lot of films on your list that are only opening in Canada now, and I’m looking forward to seeing many of them. If you have a minute, tell me what you think of I KILLED MY MOTHER. I plan on seeing it this weekend.

    And let’s not forget: 2009 was the year of the Combakula. So it has that going for it.

    Tom: Fair enough. THE ROAD doesn’t improve on the source matieral, and I wouldn’t urge fans of the novel to rush out to see it. Fans of Viggo, on the other hand, just have to see the film.

    WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is an interesting interpretation of the book, interesting enough in my opinion to warrant a view. But I know people who just hate it outright.

    dieselboy: I’m a bit uneasy about an ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT movie. There are so many ways it could go wrong. But yeah, I’ll be there opening day, probably wearing my Buster Bluth “Hey Brother” t-shirt.

  71. AU, I’m not sure I’m the guy to answer your question, since I didn’t hate WATCHMEN. I just didn’t like it very much. I loved it for the first hour or so, but it wore out its welcome after that. The only character I liked was Rorshach, and that was because he was the only one who ever actually tried to accomplish anything for most of the movie. The rest just sat around and whined, so by the time the plot finally came together, I simply didn’t give a shit. They killed my city (again) and I was beyond caring. I don’t blame Snyder, though. I didn’t really like the comic book, either. I always felt it was a really boring story about unlikeable people taking place in a fascinating world.

  72. Gwai Lo: I forgot to mention: CHOCOLATE is awesome. You may find the story corny, but, as
    Vern describes in his review, the set pieces more than compensate. I like to think that Vern doesn’t
    throw around phrases like “instant classic.”

  73. I’d say that 2009 was a pretty nice year for movies, although not always in the places one would expect. I divide em into “Great” “Worthy” and “Watchable”


    Top 5 Personal:


    THE UNBORN, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, TERMINATOR SALVATION, SURVEILLANCE (if viewed as a comedy), BRUNO, GI JOE (If viewed as a comedy), JULIE AND JULIA (mostly Julia), HALOWEEN II (barely),JENNIFER’S BODY, SURROGATES, INVENTION OF LYING (first half great, second half weak), THE FOURTH KIND, MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS, 2012 (delivers what it promises), FANTASTIC MR. FOX (lots of people liked it, I found it mostly insufferable with a few scant moments of legit greatness), NINJA ASS, INVICTUS, SHERLOCK HOLMES (and then, only because RDJ is watchable in anything, even total shit like the SOLOIST)

    “Didn’t See But Might Make The List if I did”
    Paper Hearts, Ponyo, Grace, I sell THe Dead, It Might Get Loud, no impact man, Bronson, an Education, the Box, the messenger, Pirate Radio, The Blind Side (doubt it), Me and Orson Wells, Up in the Air, Lovely Bones, A Single Man (seriously, if you want me to start seeing films like Single Man or An Education, you’re going to have to work a little harder on the title) Crazy Heart, The Last Station, The White Ribbon, THe Secret of Kell, Best Worst Movie, A Prophet, Sin Nombre. And I guess I didn’t see one single foreign film this whole year in theaters, what an asshole I am. Oh wait, THIRST, thank god. And ANTICHRIST, kind of.

  74. Have you guys seen the girl from CHOCOLATE’s new movie, RAGING PHOENIX? There are no set-pieces as mind-blowing as the one on the side of the building in CHOCOLATE, but the movie has a lot more wacky shit going on, as well as a wider variety of fighting styles. It’s definitely one of the best “drunken thai kung fu breakdancers vs. ladyboy kidnappers who live in an underground cavern and occasionally wear razor-sharp pogo stilts for no reason” movies I’ve ever seen.

  75. Yeah, I am having no trouble thinking of good movies I saw this year, and a higher than average amount of movies I would classify as great. I’m somewhat discerning when it comes to dubbing a movie great, but I no shit for real loved:


    That’s just off the top of my head, I’m sure there’s a few I’m forgetting, plus I’m still playing catchup on a bunch of great sounding movies that I’ve missed so far (A SINGLE MAN, POLICE ADJECTIVE, SUMMER HOURS) and some not great sounding ones that may still surprise me (PRECIOUS). So I’m cool with 2009.

  76. Oh yeah, HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. I really fucking wanted to see that, but as far as I ever knew it never came anywhere near me. Dan, do I remember right that you’re in the Baltimore/Washington area? If so, where’d you see that one?

  77. Mr. Majestyk: Thanks for the heads up on RAGING PHOENIX. Did you see it on video or in a theater?

  78. I got it on the same kind of weird import mostly-sold-at-porn-stores DVD on which Vern watched B13:U. I don’t know how available these types of DVDs are outside of major metropolitan areas, but I’m sure the interwebs will have it.

  79. Subtlety,

    I just came out this week. I watched the blu-ray last night with my girlfriend. Both the most fun I had and the most tense I felt during a horror movie all year.

  80. *”It,” not “I”. I fail at typing.

  81. Yeah, I was wondering if your girlfriend had a problem with you coming out last week. But I guess if she’s still willing to watch horror movies with you then everything must be cool.

  82. Even weirder it makes it sound like I recorded my outing and had it pressed to blu-ray and then my girlfriend and I watched it. Like maybe that’s how I broke the news to her, I pre-recorded it and then played it to her in 1080p.

  83. Like in Ed Wood where he had his girlfriend read the script of GLEN OR GLENDA to confess that he was a crossdresser.

  84. Kind of an Ed-Wood ‘hey, read this script for Glen or Glenda and tell me what you think’ kinda thing, huh? Hey, that could work.

    I had no idea HOUSE OF THE DEVIL was out yet, I shall watch it forthwith.

  85. Another question for you, Mr. Majestyk: I just read that the antagonist in RAGING PHOENIX is played by Asian Pacific Women’s Bodybuilding Champion Roongtawan Jindasing. How does she compare to the antagonist of CHOCOLATE (a guy I liked but who reminded me of a Thai approximation of Gene Simmons ie. menacing but not physical)?

  86. what the fuck you asshole stay out of my head and quit typing faster than me

  87. Mr. Subtlety: A few days ago Cinematical did a review of the oldschool VHS version of HOUSE OF
    THE DEVIL that was distributed as an homage to 1970s/80s horror movies.

    Here’s the link:

  88. Subtlety and Majestyk,

    You know, because of the similarity in the names and sometimes opinions, I’ve suspected for a long time that there might be some sort of “William Wilson” thing going on with you two. Now with this ED WOOD incident, I’m convinced of it.

  89. That was a woman? For real? I just assumed it was a ladyboy because it’s a Thai movie and I think there was a class action lawsuit or something that said that there must be at least one (1) ladyboy in every Thai movie. But then again there was another one so I guess RAGING PHOENIX still made it’s quota.

    I’d say the female bodybuilder was more memorable since I’m not sure I actually remember the villain from CHOCOLATE all that well. He was just some asshole triad in a suit, right? Wait, didn’t he blow off his own toe to remind himself not to forgive that chick who cheated on him with that Thai dude? That was pretty badass. But when you’ve got androgynous bodybuilders flipping around putting knees in people’s faces you’re dealing with a whole nother level of memorability, so I gotta give it to the RAGING PHOENIX chick.

  90. If you’re looking for a meaning in DISTRICT 9, don’t think of it as an apartheid metaphor… maybe it is, but it’s much better if you look at it as a giant slam against the media. Should you ever watch it again, pay close attention to the way the documentary part of the movie is shown, and how much of the news is complete propaganda. It might not be earth-shattering insight or anything but it is real. And it moves what was a somewhat ho-hum sci-fi story into something really good. I don’t think the movie deserves a Best Picture but I smiled when I heard it was nominated.

  91. I reserve the right to use my spare key to enter Mr. Subtlety’s brain whenever I see fit. I promise to wipe my feet first but that’s as far as I’ll go.

  92. I didn’t hate “Watchmen,” I just found it completely superfluous to the source. It didn’t give me one single thing that I didn’t get from reading the original material. It was actually TOO faithful to the graphic novel if you ask me–there were entire scenes lifted wholesale from the page, including dialogue, points of view, flow, etc., and just having these images in motion after years on the page wasn’t enough of a kick to make it worthwhile to me.

    I would be interested to get the impressions of someone with no prior knowledge of the graphic novel. I’m far from the worlds biggest Watchmen nut, but I have read it a few times.

  93. M. Casey,

    I can definitely see what you’re saying about DISTRICT 9 being a media critique. Vern brought that up in his review as well. But like I sort of mentioned before, doesn’t Blomkamp’s broad depiction of both the aliens and the black people during the “objective” portions of the film kinda negate his anti-media position?

    I have a lot of problems with DISTRICT 9, but I understand what people found entertaining about it, even if I didn’t see it the same way. What I still don’t quite get is the praise for its politics/depth, which is taken almost as a given in most items I read about the film, but almost never elaborated upon.

  94. Dan,

    Oh, did Vern say all this already? Damn, I thought I was smart… guess I just internalized his review. :)

    But as far as the depiction of the aliens and black people go:

    If we’re just talking about the Nigerians, I don’t think it’s too broad of a portrayal; it just goes to show you that humanity doesn’t learn from any of its mistakes. Just because you get shit on today doesn’t mean you won’t be overjoyed once you get the chance to shit on someone tomorrow. Rings true to me.

    And as far as the aliens being portrayed as more or less welfare cheats, that isn’t necessarily too big a problem for the movie. We should expect a beaten-down people to act beaten-down. The question is, should be then portray them in the media as being worthless or undeserving? Heck, we already see parts of this kind of narrative taking shape with regard to the Haitians (check out Matt Taibbi’s critique of a the NYT’s David Brooks editorial for proof).

    There’s no doubt that some of the deaths from the earthquake were self-inflicted in a sense due to lax construction controls but that doesn’t mean we should get rid of our sympathies for the Haitians as Brooks would have us. The prawns are indeed pathetic but that doesn’t mean they deserve the way they’re portrayed in the media.

  95. Dan and M Casey — to me, DISTRICT 9 is about the process of racism. It’s not a 1:1 apartheid parable, but the S African locale is important because in the wake of apartheid, you’d think that people would see more clearly what they’re doing. But that’s the insidious thing about racism — it seems so justified when you’re doing it. It seems so clear that whoever you’re trying to villainize IS inferior. And the cool thing about the movie is that the way it uspools, you see Van Der Meer’s perspective first. You see what he sees, and even though you probably draw the line before he does, it really does seem like the aliens are kind of dirty, shiftless, etc. You see the media of it (this is part of what M Casey and Vern were describing, too) and even if you don’t completely buy it there’s something about putting the words with images that makes you assume it’s not to far off the mark — maybe like half-true. And then you just start seeing the world that way, and the more you see that reinforces what you already halfway believe, the more you accept that and tune out anything which doesn’t fit. And before you know it, you’ve made one or two judgement calls too many and you can show off for the camera by murdering a bunch of babies and STILL THINK OF YOURSELF AS A HUMANITARIAN!

    Vickus doesn’t hate prawns, he just thinks they’re ignorant and lazy and a nuisance, but he’s going to do his job and try to do the decent thing. Racism isn’t about fire hoses and german shepards, usually. Its about dehumanization (which the movie makes especially tempting by making its victims actually inhuman). The great thing about the movie is how much it tempts you to pity the prawns instead of empathize with them — the ultimate dehumanizer — simply by showing you what an everyday person gets exposed to. Then it turns the tables by going outside the normal media track and showing you that there’s much more going on than meets the eye.

    Admittedly, the film gets into some silly (but enjoyable) action tropes towards the end, but I also think it has a unique protagonist (who we can understand and sympathize with without exactly liking), some great action, a smartly constructed storyline, great design and production, and some interesting and subtle subtext, which to its credit it doesn’t spoon-feed. I think its definitely best picture material, and certainly holds its own as a unique and original effort in a year which is surprisingly full of unique and original efforts (ex BASTERDS, UP, MOON, THE INFORMANT! DR. PARNASSAS)

  96. I was thinking that earlier while typing one of my long-winded cry-baby posts about the movie, that maybe what DISTRICT 9 does is try to demonstrate the way racism works. I can see that maybe being a worthwhile part of the film, but I’m still not convinced of its success or the artfulness of its execution. I think maybe the message is muddled by making the villains ROBOCOP style bureaucrats. Racism/ignorance may be what motivates Wickus and the general population, but the actual mechanics of the plot turn more on corporate interest than on racist persecution. So then maybe there’s an interesting point to be made about corporations dictating this kind of behavior/propoganda, but I feel like maybe the film doesn’t explore that theme satisfactorily.

    And if DISTRICT 9 doesn’t spoon-feed its (I feel muddled) message, it does spoon-feed constantly on a narrative level. The documentary section of the film is basically an excuse for a lot of tedious exposition. If nothing else, I dislike the film because of that sort of lazy storytelling.

    As for the Oscar thing, even though I don’t like DISTRICT 9, it’s neat that it got a nom. The Oscars are more or less meaningless to me, but acknowledging the occasional film that isn’t a middle-brow, competent Hollywood adaptation of a prestigious book or true-life story might lend it some modicum of respect.

  97. M. Casey: I agree with you that DISTRICT 9 works better as a critique of the media than it does as a statement about aparthied. In your opinion, how do you think the effectiveness of DISTRICT 9’s political commentary compares to similar commentaries in Verhoeven’s peak-era films (ROBOCOP, STARSHIP TROOPERS)?

    Also, what did you think of the comedic elements of DISTRICT 9?

    Tom: I’m your target demographic (guy who never read the WATCHMEN funny book). I can appreciate some of the effects of the film, and I liked the big blue dude, but I found the film strangely uninvolving and unconvincing. I didn’t get any real sense of jeapordy at all, and I found a few of the performances annoying, even the cynical ink-blot-face guy that everyone likes (good performance, but very one-note).

    Having said that, I liked WATCHMEN better than IRON MAN, if only because WATCHMEN pretended to have something existential on its mind.

    But hey, I’m one of those guys who likes the KICK ASS trailer, so don’t take my opinion of superhero movies seriously at all.

  98. Dan – I can’t defend the cartoonish supervillainy of DISTRICT 9’s top baddies (the racist merc should hang out with the racist mercs in Seagal’s MERCENARY FOR JUSTICE, I think they’d get on nicely) and his CEO father-in-law is even worse. I definitely buy that the corporation would do something this evil, and I think its a nice commentary on how they manipulate the media-scape until they control not just people’s opinions, but the basic facts they’re based on. But, considering their subtle consideration of how normal people become racists, I would prefer the corporate types be just regular soulless beuaracratic assholes, rather than mustache-twirlingly evil fiends who lie to their own daughter, already hate their idiot son-in-law, frame him for interspecies fucking, etc. That’s too much, man, tone it down a little, I promise we’ll still hate him. Actually the racist soider guy did work for me, simply because he’s more of a small-time horrible human being, without these DAVINCI CODE kind of machinations. And the guy who played him did a great job of making his outrageous assholishness seem like the kind of awful that could happen in the real world.

    But I do kind of see what you’re saying. The movie has some intellegence and carefully considered subtext and psychological realism to it, both in its script and in its construction… but its also happy to go way over the top into ROBOCOP kind of territory, which is kind of an uneasy fit. I tend to think its more interested in being a sci-fi action film than a message movie, but the obvious allegories are so unmissable that its hard for it to just say, “no, I want to be an action movie with some subtext you can take or leave.” ROBOCOP and STARSHIP TROOPERS and the like worked better on some level because the subtext wasn’t obviously there — lots of people (including a much younger me) walked out of them without realizing they WERE social commentary at all. Not sure anyone walked out of DISTRICT 9 without realizing they had some kind of message. Its pulpy roots and social commentary don’t quite go together the same way Verhoven’s did — they kind of work on different levels and never quite mix, and you have to say, “well, the action parts don’t really apply to the message” and be OK with that, which I’d definitely understand some people not being comfortable doing (although I’m squarely in Vern’s court on the idea that the docu-style is a ingenious way of communicating some subtext as well as the plot).

  99. Mister S.,

    Of course, the fundamental issue here is that I just wasn’t entertained by DISTRICT 9… didn’t like the action, or the story, or the visual style. So I’m sure some of the stuff I’m mentioning wouldn’t bother me at all if I had enjoyed the experience of watching the film. And, you know, as a result I may be doing a little too much parsing and nitpicking.

    I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: I understand what people liked about DISTRICT 9. As opposed to say PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, which even people who like it don’t seem to have much substantive praise for the filmmaking.

    Anyways, I think this all started when I asked for people to opine in an intelligent fashion as to what the deeper message of DISTRICT 9 was. Which you lovely people have done. So thank you.

  100. Jarreth — I KILLED MY MOTHER was great. I think the love/hate mother relationship is something most of us can identify with. The script is what you might expect from an angsty high school kid, but somehow it all works perfectly and feels like an authentic character piece instead of a self-indulgent vanity thing. The performances are all wonderful, especially Anne Dorval as the mother. And it’s gorgeously shot. Shame it didn’t get a Foreign nod at the Oscars. Where in Canada are you? I’m in Vancouver, and I see a good chunk of my yearly movies at the film festival, including this one and a bunch of the other ones I named.

    Gotta say I hated HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. It would make a good companion piece to POLICE, ADJECTIVE actually, both of them seem to assume that there audience is not interested in this little thing we call A FUCKING PLOT! Although Tom Noonan is always fun to watch. Speaking of Cormac McCarthy adaptations he needs to play The Judge in BLOOD MERIDIAN.

  101. Dan — yup, that’ll do it. People can go on and on about what Kubrick was going for in BARRY LYNDON and maybe I’ll even believe them but its just too boring for me to care (except, of course, one pretty great sword fight). But don’t worry, since we’re already talking about Ed Wood, I can safely say of Blomkamp, “well, his next one will be better!” (unless he makes a fucking sequel. Don’t do, it Neil! I’ll cut you!)

  102. Sword fight? Do you mean pistol duel?

  103. ps. I am so embarassed that I said there instead of their in my post up there. They’re easy to make them grammar typos

  104. Embarrassed. I’m going to go have a time out now.

  105. Maybe somebody asked this already, but isn’t there anybody out there who actually wants to be an Elitist Fuck?

    Can’t we have one awards show that rewards serious movies?

    The Academy and its members (including active Oscar-voter and frequent critic-basher Michael Bay) have now totally bent to this massive public opinion that critics are a bunch of snobs who like boring shit and that that is a bad thing. Now they have gone into full slumming mode and I’m not fucking buying it for one second. It started with them nominating a token indie dramedy every year now we’re down to nominating whatever their teenage sons thought was cool.

    They’ve added all these Best Picture nominees in what they call an effort to include more popular movies and reach a broader audience.


    Aren’t giant fucking piles of money and the love of the moviegoing public enough reward for movies like Avatar and District 9? Aren’t there already enough awards shows for “the common man”? Doesn’t MTV or SpikeTV have an awards show for “the common man” every week where you can see who gets the Golden Surfboard for Best Tittyjiggle During an Action Sequence?

    Can’t we just have one fucking night where everybody dresses in completely inpractical formal outfits, sits through a totally boring ceremony, reward snobby movies, and act like elitist fucks?

    Just. One. Night.

  106. Gwai Lo,


    What more plot did you need? Would it have been more suspenseful if, say, the movie included a long backstory about satanic rituals? If they threw in a series of plot twists? If the protagonist had a more clear goal, i.e. she had to dismantle a bomb before the house of the devil blew up?

    It’s about a young girl alone in a big house. There is an air of menace. Something fishy is going on. Someone may, or may not, being trying to harm her. The film builds suspense through atmosphere, anticipation and well-timed reveals of creepy details. That was more than enough for me.

  107. I don’t think this whole 10-nominee thing will last, Wolfgang. Pretty soon people will figure out that there are actually only five real nominees (the ones whose directors got nominated) and then there will be no point in continuing to pretend that the token populist entries ever had a chance.

  108. Dan,

    I think Subtlety and others have already explained much of how I felt about the movie (better than I could have). Like people said above, I think it was more about the “process of racism”, especially during the first act, and I particularly like that the protagonist was part of the problem and they didn’t feel the need to include a character to say “hey, that’s RACIST”. Mainly I was just happy to see a cool sci-fi action movie that subverted some common sci-fi tropes (aliens as god-beings and humanity’s saviour etc) through the use of a few allegories, even if they weren’t nuanced or perfectly realised. For me it was a cool action movie first and a message movie a very, very distant second, and so if the first part didn’t work for you then I can’t see you getting a lot of enjoyment out of it.

  109. I respectfully disagree, Dan. I don’t require car chases or split personality killer plot twists, but when a movie requires a whole act to establish that a girl takes a babysitting gig, it would appear lacking the plot department. There’s about fifteen minutes at the beginning where she just walks around, flops down on her bed, gets annoyed at her roommate, eats some pizza, chats with her friend, worries about rent, etc. before she finally checks the job listings and calls Tom Noonan. Then she waits around some more, has a nap, etc. When she gets to the house it starts looking like it might get interesting, because Tom Noonan gives the whole movie itself a case of the creeps, but then he leaves and we gotta wait through another hour or so of absolute farting around, more pizza even. This is like POLICE, ADJECTIVE where we watch a guy silently eat his dinner in real time. The total inactivity of the story couldn’t sustain the air of menace it was trying to build in my opinion. The creepy details don’t add up to a story, there is just some vague sense that this passive protagonist whose only goal is paying rent will have to deal with some obligatory horror movie stuff at the end, and meanwhile we have to endure her having a less eventful 80 minutes than I would have had in real life were I not watching the movie. And then when the end does come, it was more bizarre than scary. The stakes aren’t established anywhere in the earlier parts of the movie, so the conclusion just comes out of nowhere, with a Satan angle that isn’t exactly very original or creative.

    Anyway it definitely looked like an eighties horror movie, and I’ve certainly seen some boring eighties horror movies in my day so if that’s what they were going for then mission accomplished I guess.

  110. Jareth,

    Which of those three movies is most effective is hard to say. DISTRICT 9 has that top-level apartheid message that is blunt as a hammer but the media commentary is much more subtle. ROBOCOP is dark, dark comedy and its messages flew over the heads of much of the audience. STARSHIP TROOPERS is probably the most effective–and it is a timelier movie now than when it was released–but it’s also the least enjoyable of the three.

    Though come to think of it, if we define “political effectiveness” as “actually changing people’s opinions or actions” each of these movies is pissing in the wind. You need something even blunter than a hammer to do that in this climate because most of us have our political beliefs hardened by nonstop political news, views, and propaganda. I’ve seen firsthand SICKO and THE COVE change people’s minds about things… but anything less blatant is going to be consumed and forgotten in a few weeks time like most pop culture.

  111. Wolfgang,

    I respectfully disagree. I’m not against elitism, but I am against the sort of elitism that says if a movie makes more than $200 million it’s not a serious movie that deserves to be recognized. Do we really want to go back to those terrible days in the 90s when things like SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and THE ENGLISH PATIENT won? Sure, the argument cuts both ways… FOREST GUMP and TITANIC both have Best Pictures too, and they didn’t deserve them.

    But good god, did you really want to see something like THE READER or REVOLUTIONARY ROAD win last year?

    I guess what I’m saying is that you can’t really say the Oscars suck because they aren’t elitist enough or that they’re too elitist. The Oscars suck because the committee often picks shitty movies to win regardless of their “seriousness.”

  112. Gwai,

    I can appreciate that the film didn’t work for you, especially if you’re not a fan of deliberately paced horror films that are light on action. But I do feel like you mischaracterize the film’s calculated pace and style as “inactivity.”

    I mean, maybe it doesn’t seem like it, but a lot happens in the film, and important information is conveyed during scenes that probably struck you as uneventful. Obviously I didn’t take notes on the film, so I can’t go into detail, but opening sequences, which you describe as “lacking the plot department” establish her motivations for why she would take the babysitting job under such odd circumstances, cast her as a likable protagonist, build empathy through the whole roommate situation, introduce you to her friend, etc. It’s all solid groundwork for the character and the story. I agree that it’s not snappy or fast-paced, but it sets the right tone for a slow-burn horror film.

    And then, I mean, there’s the fact that plenty develops in the 2nd half of the film, at the titular house. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS from here on out. You give the impression that nothing happens until the finale, but you must be forgetting the rather abrupt act of violence that happens about halfway through the film, definitively alerting the audience to danger. Now it’s no longer a movie about a teenage girl in a house, and maybe something weird is going on with the owners. Now it’s about a teenage girl in the house, and there’s some weirdo outside with a gun looking for her. So now it’s clear to us that she’s in danger, but it’s not clear to her. So we get the steady revel of imformation that clarifies the danger, some that she experiences (the photo in the drawer), some that she experiences but doesn’t have enough information to understand (the voice of the pizza guy on the phone) and some that only the audience sees (corpses in the bedroom). I disagree with you, these details DO add up to a story, slowly building the suspense until the inevitable moment when the shit hits the fan.

    So again, I understand why you wouldn’t like it, but what would more “plot” do to improve this film? How do the events in the film qualify as being uneventful or lacking in plot?

  113. Wolfgang — problem, is, the Oscars were never about Elitism, they were about middling pretensions. If they honestly were gonna start only giving best picture to art films and foreign pictures (which they may unwittingly do if they give it to INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS) that would be fine, but instead its crap like A BEAUTIFUL MIND almost every year. Big, stuffy crowd pleasers no deeper than AVATAR but with pretentions about their own importance, or, as Crustaceanhate succinctly put it, “awful, self-congratulatorial, pandering piece[s] of rubbish.” Someone up there pointed out that it seems like they cant wait to nominate the newest bland but pretty adaptation of a respected novel or a biography (looked for it but couldn’t find the post — whoever you were, fuckin A right) and I think that’s the shame of it all — its about the veneer of respectability, rather than any actual life in the movie.

    Anyway, since we know they’re not going to give it to things that are actually elite, they might as well at least let films which do great work while still admitting their desire to entertain a chance. I don’t know about AVATAR but was pleased to see the likes of DISTRICT 9, HURT LOCKER and UP on there — films which really seem to be trying somthing unique and damn the prestige.

  114. Dan,

    I agree that information is conveyed in the scenes you described, I just don’t think it was important, or eventful. The goal of paying rent is not exactly the stuff of compelling character crisis. Slow burn works sometimes, but a slow burn movie about paying rent gets extinguished pretty quickly. It doesn’t take a conversation with a landlord, an annoying roommate, a conversation with a friend, and extended sequences of moping around to convey the simple idea that this girl would be better off if she could scrounge up the money to pay for her own place. It could have all been done in a brief scene if the filmmakers were more economical with the story. And there are ways to convey this information that would be a bit stimulating and suitable for a visual medium.

    I don’t agree that the film does much work to make the protagonist likable, or to establish enough motivation to take the job. I thought the lead was pretty but very static and flat, and I think we were supposed to sympathize with her because she’s broke and her roommate seems like a bitch but honestly I’ve been in her shoes and she can quit her complaining and get a real job. She takes the babysitting gig, but it doesn’t pay nearly the amount she needs and if Tom Noonan doesn’t scare her off of a job that pays peanuts then I she’s got it coming to her.

    None of this would be as much of an issue if she was an active protagonist with an interesting goal, but she’s not. It all boils down to this paying rent thing. Her casual landlord doesn’t even seem to think it’s a big deal, she makes it sound like this girl has a lot of leeway as far as getting her the money on time. Maybe if she was renting a room in the House of the Devil, instead of from a pleasant lady with a heart of gold. Then she’d have a compelling reason to stay when things got weird, instead of “well Tom Noonan expects me to stay.”


    Regarding the abrupt act of violence mid-act 2, it is a rare case of something happening in the movie, but the sense of danger and dread it created for you was just a sense of empty shock value for me. It just seemed like Ti West realized somewhere around there that something had to finally happen. It didn’t help to give the movie any more momentum than simply knowing that I am watching a horror movie, mainly because it grinds this movie that has been about one person from a crawl to a halt, and then shows us some shit happening to someone else that she doesn’t know about, and then picks up where it left off with the protagonist. I know this is supposed to alert the audience to danger while leaving the hero in the dark, but it doesn’t work like Hitchcock’s bomb under the table. It just adds a new element, maniac with a gun outside, and muddles the established threat of Tom Noonan and whatever might be upstairs. Guy with a gun reveals nothing about the Satanic Cult. Plus if they have big burly men with guns, why even go through the charade of having this girl think she’s a babysitter for so long? Incapacitate her as soon as she sets foot in the house, wouldn’t that be easier?

    Plot is simply the sequence of events the filmmaker/writer chooses to tell the story. So when I say the film is lacking in plot, I mean that the moments that Ti West chose to show us could have been better. The basic story – babysitter is threatened by sinister forces she doesn’t understand – is a proven formula, a story that works. HALLOWEEN proved that. If we were talking about John Carpenter’s movie here I’d agree that the details do add up to a story, slowly building the suspense until the inevitable moment when the shit hits the fan. Because we’ve already seen more than one perspective within the story, when you see Annie get suffocated by Michael Myers, it establishes that looming danger you’re talking about even though Laurie isn’t fully aware of it. But where Carpenter expertly ratchets up the tension, Ti West’s plot is a flatline interrupted by sudden bursts of WTF. In a skillfully constructed story, you can’t remove a scene without disrupting the whole. Can you honestly tell me that HOUSE OF THE DEVIL would make less sense with an hour of its runtime judiciously edited out?

    Anyway, different strokes I guess, but I feel like people are just fellating this movie because it plays on nostalgia and kitsch. Transplant the same movie into a studio-slick 2009 package and it would be recognized for a steaming pile.

  115. Gwai,

    Good sir, it’s apparent that you and I had completely different experiences with the movie. It’s funny too, because some of the stuff you use against the film (Hitchcock bomb under table metaphor, HALLOWEEN comparison) are arguments I’d make in its favor. We both saw HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, but the movies we watched were somehow totally different.

    Now, on one last detail SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER the reason they didn’t just subdue her right away is because they are pussies. You saw how well they did in a fight at the end… a 19 year old girl was able to kick their asses. They are not tough guys. The whole thing was a subterfuge to get her to eat the drugged pizza.

  116. Oh and if it counts for anything, I promise you I have no nostalgia for the 80’s trappings of the film. I just thought it was awesome.

  117. Thanks for your various responses guys.

    I realize that I need to do a bit more clarification on my previous statement.

    I think Mr. S is probably the most on the mark saying a lot of the time they reward middling pretention instead of truly elitist inovative cinema. But yes, I’d rather reward middling pretention than box office fads. And I feel doing so is both a step closer to actually rewarding elitist great movies (which they frequently do), and a distinct idenitity for the Oscar.

    I feel like for the most part there is a type of Oscar movie and a type of Oscar performance to the point that people have coined the terms “Oscar bait” to categorize films that seem to cynically exploit these criteria and can predict the winners fairly accurately.

    And I think that’s a good thing. That way the Oscars can function kinda like a critic. You know what a certain critic looks for and you know how to regard their recommendations.

    Ever since they’ve started rewarding these indie dramedies and now this year going for popcorn movies I feel like it’s a big silly game of poker. We’re pretty sure what they really want to pick. They’re guessing what they think we’d rather see them pick. And now the bluff is on.

    So what I’m saying is I prefer I’d prefer for the Oscars to just be themselves even if that doesn’t match my taste in movies, which it frequently doesn’t.

  118. Gwai Lo: I haven’t seen HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, and, like I say, I totally understand your boredom with POLICE ADJECTIVE. I wish I had a more sophisticated answer for my enjoyment of the film, apart from the fact that plot is the least of my concerns in a movie. I’d rather a film have a compelling tone, mood or atmosphere than a plot.

    Do you consider CHUNGKING EXPRESS or IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE boring?

    By the way, I’m in Toronto. Thanks for your thoughts on I KILLED MY MOTHER. Which other film on your list of the best of 2009 would you recommend?

    M. Casey: Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Verhoeven. Your comparison to a blunt hammer makes a lot of sense. And I agree about politics and pissing in the wind.

    By the way, is it still not cool to like THE ENGLISH PATIENT? I kind of like that ponderous heap of Oscar bait.

    Wolfgang: I really hate the way commerce has become so engrained in almost every aspect of film-making. I often find myself frustrated and insulted by the belligerent marketing that accompanies so many idiotic movies every year. To paraphrase an old song, the films suffer, the film industry thrives.

    I’m sure an obviously articulate and thoughtful guy like you doesn’t need to be reminded of the good work that the Criterion Collection do; I like to think that any director worth his salt would consider it a bigger honor to have his or her film issued by Criterion than to win an Oscar. So at least we have that.

    My pal Lee Marvin Girl describes the Oscars as “the industry stroking itself.” Maybe I’m not the brightest bulb, but I just can’t engage intellectually with the whole Oscar process. And I find no value in having a mob of people validate my taste in movies.

  119. I guess my feeling is, we have film festivals for elite films and for genre films. The Oscars are for Hollywood films, with all that entails. Sometimes, you get BRAVEHEART, sometimes you get A BEAUTIFUL MIND. You’re probably not going to get, say CLEO FROM 5 to 7. But that’s OK, as Jareth points out, a Criterion edition is a far greater honor than any best picture Oscar (although, um, ARMAGEDDON has one).

    Still, since the Oscar is for squarely mainstream films, why not let every film compete on an equal footing? DARK KNIGHT was ten times the film THE READER was, and, in my estimation, probably a more ambitious, better realized vision and better application of filmmaking than SLUMDOG, which won that year. I mean, I guess a movie about a guy in a rubber Bat suit is less respectable, but jeez, its not like either of those other two is exactly likely or free of contrivence and dues ex machina. If we’re going to go with mainstream films, they ought to can their delusions of grandeur and go with the films which are actually going to be classic, timeless films which people return to again and again, regardless of genre or petigree.

    Does the new system do this? I dunno. I can’t really imagine liking AVATAR much on a small screen, or feeling the need to revisit it. But INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, or UP, that might have some spark which resonates long after we’ve all forgotten about CRASH and THE BLIND SIDE. CHILDREN OF MEN, for instance, is a film which will waaay outlast something like BABEL, if you ask me. But it ended up getting pushed aside because it seemed like a genre film.

    So yeah, I’m for elitism. I dont want just any old flash-in-the-pan film to get nominated because its trendy. But I hope the new populism the Academy’s trying will allow some truly fantastic films with a less impressive pedigree to compete with the Oscar-bait rubbish. Not that any of it really matters, of course. But if we’re going to call on the Oscars to keep their standards high and not bow to popular pressure, I say that’s great as long as they keep an opened mind to different kinds of greatness.

  120. Mr. Subtlety: There’s one factor you have to consider when thinking about the Oscars: they’re usually at least ten years behind the vanguard of film-making. The innovators always suffer so that a watered-down version of their work can be accepted at a later date. It was ten years after Jarmusch, REPO MAN and SID & NANCY (among others) that the way was paved for Tarantino’s entry into Oscar land; like Scorcese, Tarantino will finally be rewarded long past his peak. Jarmusch will be ignored in perpetuity.

    So I figure in 2019 some serious-minded superhero film will get its due.

    Was BABEL that bad? Self-important, sure, but I liked that one. I’m starting to think I’m getting soft-headed.

  121. Kind of weird that after the Academy’s 20 year love affair with Clint he couldn’t even get INVICTUS in there with 10 nominees. And I actually think it’s a good version of an Oscar bait type movie. But it’s nice if they’ve abandoned their usual “just nominate whoever was nominated last time” policy.

  122. whoops, that was me. I was admin.

  123. Vern: did you prefer Matt Damon’s performance in INVICTUS to his work in THE INFORMANT?

  124. Yeah, I really liked Invictus but it doesn’t belong with those other movies competing for best of the year. Well maybe, Blind Side but I didn’t see that movie, I was ogling Taylor Lautner’s abs that weekend. His glorious, glorious Sharkboy abs. What were we talking about?

    Oh yeah, yeah I think if you saw Invictus nominated for some of the bigger ones it would definitely be a “Well, he’s Clint how can we not nominate him?” thing, which would be bullshit because it devalues the legitimately fantastic work he’s been doing for decades.

    Just rewatched Good the Bad and the Ugly. Whenever I watch that movie, I always end up watching the Ecstasy of Gold sequence four or five times. Just master filmmaking. That is all.

  125. Jareth — I liked BABEL too; I mean, its not like that or BEAUTIFUL MIND or even CRASH was exactly on par with ATTACK FORCE. They’re competent, well-acted and well-crafted films with generally good intentions. But, what are we gonna be watching and remembering 10 years from now — BABEL or CHILDREN of MEN? I think one is a smart, well-made film and the other is a classic masterpiece. They should have given it to him for AMORES PERROS if they wanted to do it. Just like in 1990, you know? Sure, DANCES WITH WOLVES is pretty good, but what still feels fresh, relavant, and important today — that, or GOODFELLAS?

    Apologies if that doesn’t make sense. I’m on my second bottle of zinfandel here. Its a good thing.

  126. I see your point, Mr. Subtlety. I’d argue that BABEL is way better than DANCES WITH WOLVES. Maybe a more apt comparison would be THE FISHER KING to that year’s winner SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

    But you’re right. CHILDREN OF MEN is a classic. I don’t think it’s as durable as BLADE RUNNER, but it’s up there.

    You’re also right about AMORES PERROS. And I like 21 GRAMS better than BABEL too.

  127. Not to spark a riot but I’d rather watch Miller’s Crossing over either of those movies and it got nominated for dick.

  128. Jareth — Yeah, BABEL is better than DANCES, no question. Even though AMORES > 21 GRAMS > BABEL, but still they’re all light years better than CRASH. I don’t mean to compare them except to say that that sometimes the academy goes with the “easy” choice which likely isn’t as enduring as some of the things they pass over or straight out neglect because they’re playing it to the safest possible option. You know, things like poor MILLER’S CROSSING. Gabriel Byrne just can’t catch a fucking break. Remember when he was in ENEMY OF THE STATE? That was great.

    Brendan — right, I’m just looking at the films that even got nominated (because it’s way easier, and the booze, etc). There are dozens if not hundreds of things which ought to but didnt even make the list. Thats why I think the new 10-lister is more fun. Maybe some things still get left out, but you really do get a wider range.

    Vern- yeah, I was a bit surprised INVICTUS didn’t make it, but I guess it’s kind of a minor effort from Clint, and the awards usually tend towards bombast, especially from classic filmmakers. Its an OK effort but I’ not gonna shed too many tears about it not making the cut.

  129. Brendan: The Coens were so exciting to watch back then. I remember leaving the theater after RAISING ARIZONA with a total buzz on from that film.

  130. Jareth – Oh, definitely THE INFORMANT!. He earned the exclamation point in that one. If the lead actor was up to me though I’d give it to Jeremy Renner. (Well, having not seen Crazy Heart yet, anyway.)

  131. But I think both Mr. S and Jareth are getting what I’ve been trying to say, and that’s that I believe there is something that can be called timeless filmmaking and I feel the Oscars, in general, reward that.

    Take a movie like American Beauty, it didn’t do much for me at the time and it still doesn’t, but it hasn’t really changed with time and I don’t feel bad about it being rewarded. So no, the Oscars don’t serve to validate my personal taste, and I don’t need a ceremony that does that. But I am glad there is one that rewards attempts at timeless filmmaking, whether it’s for timeless movies I love such as Rocky or ones I just don’t really connect with such as American Beauty.

    Mr. S keeps bringing up The Reader and I will admit I haven’t seen that film and so I cannot judge it or compare it to The Dark Knight, which I did see and very much enjoyed, but no, I just don’t really feel like it’s a Best Picture Oscar movie and I feel Nolan has more than reaped his reward for creating a great superhero movie. I would’ve given last year’s Best Picture to Redbelt.

  132. I’ve got to say that those of you who have defended “District 9” have done an admirable job and given me some stuff to think about. I doubt I’ll be watching it again, at least anytime soon, but I didn’t pick up on the whole idea of the mock-documentary being a media critique — I saw it more as a plot device designed to provide gobs of exposition without shoving a bunch of text up on the screen. Maybe that says some stuff about me, not sure.

    I still have major problems with the last hour or so, as I thought it became very repetitive and tedious. But I will admit, it is kind of cool that it got a Best Picture nomination.

  133. RE: Babel, since someone brought it up — I admire the ambition of that movie, but I don’t think they stuck the landing. The stuff in Morocco and Mexico was pretty good, but Japan plotline was a stretch. It wasn’t a bad story, they just didn’t sell me on the connection with the other two threads. I know the Japanese father left the rifle that ended up shooting Cate Blanchett’s character, but that just seemed a little too thin — anorexic, as Martin Riggs might say.

    It felt to me like they had two good connected stories and decided they needed a third, so they tried to force-fit another storyline that probably belonged in some other movie. I don’t think the origin of the rifle was particularly important to the rest of the movie.

    A classic “reach exceeding its grasp” movie. Props for the effort, but only a B- in the execution column for me.

  134. Wolfgang: This idea of timelessness is tricky when it comes to film. I suspect there’s an element of subjectivity here that is difficult to quanitfy. For example, I think ROCKY is very dated, as are MANHUNTER and TO LIVE & DIE IN L.A., which I only watch for a laugh. Now, most everyone I know really likes these movies, and I respect their opinions. It’s not easy to predict which element takes me out of films that are obviously well made. Maybe if they got rid of the Wang Chung soundtrack it would be a different film.

    Likewise, I think SUNSET BLVD hasn’t aged at all, but I know people who can’t watch it, not because they’re scatterbrains, but because Wilder’s technique seems corny and obvious to them. I think ERASERHEAD is perfect, but my pal Lee Marvin Girl says it has 1970s art school wankery all over it.

    The Oscars have always had a soft spot for films that evoke the golden era of Hollywood film-making, which is why OUT OF AFRICA won even though we all know that BRAZIL and RAN were the better films that year. I bet if you asked one of the Oscar voters, they would express the appeal of these overblown melodramas as timeless.

    I prefer film noir, and I love the dialogue in these films, but I’ve talked to people who think the language is impenetrable.

    I also find it really amusing when the Oscars honor an obvious fad or gimmicky performance that holds no hope of longevity, like DRIVING MISS DAISY, Mira Sorvino or Marissa Tomei. But I’ve met people who insist that these sorts of films and performances are timeless.

    Tom: I really like the Japanese storyline in BABEL, particularly Rinko Kikuchi’s performance, but I would have preferred if the links between the various stories weren’t made in such a heavy-handed way. Totally agree with you about the gun. I like to think that an audience can watch a bunch of seemingly unconnected stories but still tease out the thematic inter-connectedness without a roadmap. Wong Kar-Wei does this sort of thing in his sleep.

  135. I agree, the timeliness thing can be tough to gauge. 1994 is probably the banner year for that… the Academy probably thought FORREST GUMP was going to hold up, and PULP FICTION was the flash in the pan fad movie. Whoops! (Though maybe it was eight years of W that took the shine off of a well-meaning dimbulb as a protagonist)

    Of course, that doesn’t explain why SHAWSHANK didn’t get it. Did they consider that TOO much of an Oscar movie? Because it still holds up pretty well.

    And then you have something like QUIZ SHOW, which is all but forgotten.

  136. I agree that timelessness is tought gauge. Like Jareth said earlier, the Academy is usually ten years behind in terms of rewarding inovation in the cinematic artform and I think this probably a result of them trying to see what trends will stick and which will pass.

    And I definately can’t defend their judgement on a case by case basis. During my lifetime they’ve mostly nominated the right movie but then given the statue to the wrong one (in my opinion).

    Like I said, they don’t usually validate my tastes and I don’t need them to. But I do feel for the most part their heart has been in the right place. It’s just this latest round of ten nominees that really strikes me as a transparent publicity stunt.

  137. Wolfgang: If you feel that the Oscars have done well in terms of what they nominate, I can see why you’d be more invested in the idea of improving the whole enterprise.

    For me, most of my favorites never get near the nomination process (Jarmusch, Guy Maddin, Wong Kar-Wai, Shinya Tsukamoto), so I kind of look at the whole thing the way a hobo looks at the members of a yaught club.

  138. Hey, I’m all for going back in time and giving it to REDBELT. And I dont mean to imply that I thought DARK KNIGHT was the greatest film of all time or anything. I just think that if Hollywood wants to reward serious-minded mainstream fare, they ought to at least have the decency to let different kind of films (REDBELT, for example) compete on an even level, so long as they have that same dedication to serious-minded cinematic quality. But its such a minor concern that I almost cant believe I devoted this much time thinking and talking about it. The perils of drinking by yourselves on a Wednesday night, I guess.

  139. If there’s ever a mechanism in place to recall a Best Picture award, I’d put GHOST DOG at the top of the list of replacement candidates. It’s always bothered me how quickly that movie came and went, especially when you look at the nominees that year:

    American Beauty
    The Cider House Rules
    The Green Mile
    The Insider
    The Sixth Sense

  140. Dan — I can maybe see Tom Noonan being a pussy despite his creepiness but that AJ Bowen guy looked like a real Paul Bunyan type of motherfucker. I really liked AJ Bowen in THE SIGNAL, now that I think about it…

    And if anything the 80s nostalgia helped keep me watching the movie at least, it did have some cache for me. Even though I’m a child of the eighties, I have fond memories of scouring the horror section at my neighborhood videostore all throughout the 90s, and since we all know how that decade turned out for horror it’s no wonder that most of my fondest nostalgic memories on the subject concern 80s films. It was obvious in about five minutes that the movie had the look and the tone right, but the story fell way short for me, as I’ve elaborated on ad nauseum. Anyway I respect your take on it, it just didn’t work for me. Don’t you love opinions?

    Jareth — I’ve actually never seen a Wong Kar Wai film. I KNOW, SORRY. One of my big gaps in modern cinema. I have IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE and 2041 in my queue somewhere though. But I am very open to very, very slow movies if I feel there is a richness and depth to the story. And truthfully this whole “evaluating movies” deal isn’t really a science, I can’t truthfully say why one movie is boring and another isn’t. I adore Tarkovsky, Malick, I’ve sat through plenty of Bela Tarr, I’ve seen Michael Snow’s Wavelength in its entirety (let’s not get into how I feel about that fucking movie though…) You get the idea.

    We can agree on a love of Guy Maddin though, good news there.

    As far as other recommendations, the first 10 titles I listed up there are must-see in my opinion, but as for the more obscure stuff from the rest of the list I’d say:


    are probably the stand-outs.

    Also interesting that of those 1999 Oscar Best Picture nominees you named, the only one that I’d give a 10 would be THE INSIDER. AMERICAN BEAUTY seems obligatory, but 1999 was such an incendiary year for movies that the three other choices just seem kind of retarded in retrospect.

  141. Gwai,

    If you’re looking for a Wong Kar-Wai movie to start with, I suggest the awesome CHUNGKING EXPRESS over IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE. It may be lacking in strong plot, but it’s way energetic and eventful, a very strange, one of a kind movie.

  142. oh PS, I second your props for Bowen in THE SIGNAL. I think we can BOTH agree that THE SIGNAL was an excellent horror movie.

  143. Now that you guys have worked out your differences, I’m gonna jump in and start some more shit: I do not think THE SIGNAL was an excellent horror movie. I think the first third was excellent, but then the other two segments pretty much pissed it all away. The middle portion was humorous on its own terms, but it sure as fuck killed the aura of dread that the opener established, so that by the time I was expected to take the movie seriously again (even more seriously than before, in fact) for the third act, I just couldn’t do it. I wish they’d just let the first guy make the whole movie. He seemed like he knew what he was doing.

  144. I don’t know if I will (or deserve to) catch hell for this, but 1999 should’ve seen FIGHT CLUB up there for Best Picture too.

  145. FIGHT CLUB was clearly the most resonant and enduring film of that year. It’s just that nobody noticed it at the time.

  146. I can see having that reaction to the SIGNAL. But I think the first chapter probably would have had the benefit of being the fun set up part no matter which director took it. I think the disparate styles were kind of risky, because the first act sets the tone and the expectations and if the viewer is digging it they might not like the rug-pull move coming 30 minutes in. But I thought each chunk worked on its own, and there was enough narrative there stringing them together. So I dug it.

  147. MAGNOLIA seems like it should have been a Best Picture contender even at the time. The absence of EYES WIDE SHUT seems kind of like spit in the eye of Kubrick’s corpse. BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and THE LIMEY and OFFICE SPACE and GHOST DOG aren’t Oscar material but who can argue that they aren’t timeless classics that have outlasted THE CIDER HOUSE RULES? Oh and then there’s the whole FIGHT CLUB and THE MATRIX thing, as far as changing the face of cinema goes. I think THE SIXTH SENSE was the pick up there that was supposed to do that. And look at Shyamalan now.

  148. Also, THREE KINGS.

  149. Gwai Lo: I second Dan’s recommendation to watch Wong’s CHUNGKING EXPRESS before IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE and 2041. It’s not necessarily a better film (I prefer IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE), but it’s a better entry place into Wong’s stuff. Criterion just put out a really nice version.

    Also, PUNCHING THE CLOWN is such an awesome title. I think I’m going to watch it without knowing a single thing about it. I’m not even going to look at the picture on the dvd cover.

    As for 1999, I always figured FIGHT CLUB enjoyed a great reputation from the day it was released. Its legacy is not in doubt. GHOST DOG, on the other hand, seems like it could just disappear off the face of the earth without anyone noticing (like NIGHT ON EARTH did before Criterion found it). And that would be a shame because GHOST DOG rules.

  150. All I’ll say about PUNCHING THE CLOWN is that it’s really cheap and really funny. It’s an audience movie but good luck finding somewhere where it’s playing with an audience.

  151. I have an interest in getting to know this Wong Kar Wai better too. The fist film of his I saw was My Blueberry Nights because it featured Natalie Portman, Rachel Wiesz, and Norah Jones all sucking their fingers provacatively on the DVD cover and I figured it would be an artsy eroticon movie. It turned out to kinda suck, but Wong’s fans all united in telling me that was by far his worst film and I should give him another chance. So I rented 2046 and it was a huge step up in quality, but I felt it dragged like a motherfucker in its final half hour to the point that I would say watching it was not enjoyable, but my respect for the guy went up. The things he does right are the things I really like in movies and I am still determined to find a movie of his that I like. So I will rent this Chungking Express eventually.

  152. Wolfgang: I like 2046 a lot, but I don’t envy someone watching it without having seen IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE first, as 2046 is pretty much an impressionistic epilogue to that film. Without seeing the earlier film, there’s a pretty big narrative hole in 2046 that Wong has too much taste to flashback to.

    MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS is an interesting lesson in some of the shortcomings of Wong’s working practice. He had such great results throwing pop singer Faye Wong into a largely improvised shoot for CHUNGKING EXPRESS, you can sort of understand why he thought the same tactic would work with Norah Jones. Sadly, she isn’t up to the task, and the film really hinges on a performance that Jones isn’t able to give. None of his other cast members offer particularly nuanced performances either, which is a surprise in the case of Weisz, but not so unexpected with Portman. And what male lead could hope to be half as soulful as man-god Tony Leung?

    He also isn’t able to communicate a sense of place in America nearly as well as he does in almost everything else he’s done, which is a big part of his earlier success. To this day tourists still march around the Hong Kong neighborhood where CHUNKING EXPRESS was filmed looking for the settings he so vividly captured. I can’t see anyone doing that after watching BLUEBERRY.

  153. i hated MY BLUBERRY NIGHTS, but i thought at least david strathairn was good in it (when isn’t he, though?)

    but i was a little freaked out after watching it cuz i thought what if the dialogue and charaterization is always cheesy in wong’s movies, but i never noticed before cuz i don’t speak cantonese? so i decided to place all of the blame for the crappines of BLUBERRY on the random whitey that co-wrote the screenplay (as well as the unfortunate casting of norah jones).

    for the record, i love ASHES OF TIME, CHUNGKING EXPRESS, and especially FALLEN ANGELS (i think it holds a special place for me cuz it was the first wong i saw – wait, that sounded bad) and IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE. i was underwhelemed by 2046, but in fairness i saw it in chinese (which i don’t speak) with japanese subtitles (which i only kinda read), so i should probably give it another shot. IN THE MOOD is amazing though.

  154. Strathairn was awesome in SNEAKERS.

  155. Virgin Gary: I have it on good authority from a Mandarin/Cantonese speaker that Wong’s dialogue is both funnier and more devastating than the subtitles would have us think. Also, his pick-up lines (“you will remember this moment”) are famous in Hong Kong.

    BLUEBERRY NIGHTS shook my confidence a bit too, but after re-watching CHUNGKING EXPRESS shortly after, I realized that BLUEBERRY has none of the philosophical weight that his other films have, none of the careful explorations of time, none of the subtle sublimations of desire, none of the careful repetitions and variations. Ever since advertising tools got their hands on some of his signature style from CHUNGKING, there’s been a lazy complaint from some critics that Wong is an MTV director. Wong has actually directed videos and commercials, but his best stuff is way more than just empty style.

    I’m sure you know that FALLEN ANGELS was intended to be the third part of CHUNGKING EXPRESS.

    And if there’s ever a documentary where famous people discuss the profound influence of Wong’s work, it has to be called THE FIRST WONG I SAW.

  156. When I was like 7 years old, TROLL 2 actually scared the shit out of me. Saw it again when I was a teenager and realized I was the biggest pussy ever when I was a kid.

  157. Dan, I was scared of that HULK t.v. show when I was a kid. TROLL 2 would have sent me into therapy.

  158. That’s funny Jareth cause I can really relate. One of my earliest memories of TV is being scared shitless at the site of Bruce Banner transforming into The Hulk while being stung by bees. It literally gave me nightmares for years.

    I also remember when i was like 7 sneaking a peak at Cape Fear(Scorsese’s) just as De Niro bites her cheek off and being traumatized.

  159. dieselboy,

    Yeah but it makes sense for a kid to be scared of CAPE FEAR, it’s an intense movie. I used to have to shut my eyes during the clown scenes in PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE.

  160. When I first saw PRINCESS BRIDE at age, say, 5 maybe, I thought it was a horror film, what with the ROUSes and torture scene and whatnot. It fucked my shit up.

  161. My parents let me watch whatever. My Mom kinda tried to put her foot down symbolically sometimes but it was useless against me. I had a brother who was thirteen years older than me and a Dad who reviewed film for Joe Bob Briggs in some capacity in the same house as me, those movies were gonna get watched one way or another. Anyway for all the stuff I shouldn’t have seen at such a tender age but did, I was terrified of Freddy. Even the pictures on the VHS box scared me. I think I saw JAWS when I was five and loved it, saw THE THING no later than eight and loved it, CAPE FEAR no sweat, and basically enjoyed loads of other stuff no child should really watch without the type of nightmares most kids would get. But something about Freddy was terrifying. I didn’t even watch the series in order, there’s nothing in the original that did it to me because I think I saw it third. I can’t remember the details, but I saw ELM STREET 5 first in 90 or so when it came out on video, I would have been 7. I did some damage with that one I think. For years I distinctly remembered a scene where Freddy carved an unborn fetus out of a pregnant chick’s stomach and made her eat it, but then I rewatched it as a teenager and to the best of my current memory he is force-feeding her food, not her fetus. Fucked my shit up indeed, what the hell kind of disturbed little child was I? Also that scene in part 3 where giant Freddy head eats the whole bed made a distinct impression on me, and I think I stored that one in the memory banks without any horrifying edits on my part. All said and done though I think I blasted all possible fear of movies out of myself before age 10. I ought to ask my parents what they were thinking one of these days, but at least it put me on a career path. My mom attributes it to seeing SCARFACE while I was in the womb and having a panic attack during the chainsaw part.

  162. It’s cool to see that we’re getting a more sophisticated caliber of ad-bots these days. No more acne medications for us!

  163. And no more unfulfilling non-shemale related video chats either!

  164. So what do you think was the buzzword that got this post flagged on all the transgender spam sites? I’m thinking it was either “whatsisidck” or “blompkamp.”

  165. Y’know, “Sexy Transladyboy” would be a cool name for a college rock band.

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