March 2004 Archives

The founder of Decent Films has started a discussion on my recent rant “The Morality of Movies.”

The people who have posted so far make some interesting and valid points. Worth checking out.

I’ve been fascinated for a few months by the cleverly titled Web site Decent Films, whose slogan is “film appreciation, information, and criticism informed by Christian faith.” The site has an abundance of thoughtful writing about movies, and it’s frequently clever and funny. Still, there’s something disturbing about it.

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick is my favorite legal writer, because she invariably cuts through the bullshit and makes the U.S. Supreme Court sound fun and catty. She’s also excellent at clearly laying out the issues of a case and talking about it both legal and practical terms.

Yesterday’s dispatch on the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance is a perfect example.

The new issue of Rolling Stone features a series of essays on 50 “legendary” artists by musicians who aren’t quite as legendary. John Mayer contributes a well-written piece on Jimi Hendrix, saying, “He is the common denominator of every style of contemporary music.” That’s a stretch, but he makes a pretty good case.

It’s finally time to look at Charlie Kaufman as a serious screen artist. The scribe who gave us Being John Malkovich and Adaptation has always been imposingly intelligent, clever, and inventive in both his conceits and plots, but it was easy to question his heart. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind finally shows that he has more to offer than left-field premise and ambitious narrative structure.

I thought that new silly-looking Tom Hanks movie was a Coen brothers project, but the television marketing for The Ladykillers makes no mention of them. So I figured I was mistaken.

Nope. The movie was indeed made by Joel and Ethan.

So why would the studio fail to mention that this re-make was helmed by some of the most distinctive filmmakers working today?

I’m guessing it was no accident; there’s not even that brief credits card at the end of the ads. In other words, methinks the studio is making a conscious effort to hide the Coens’ involvement from the general public.

The blog “Notes from Classy’s Kitchen” recently cited my essay on Stone Reader.

Heal Thyself

Who in his right mind would place Stuart Saves His Family, a movie based on a regularly awful Saturday Night Live skit, among his favorites? Well ... me.

Artifice as Honesty

The level of self-reference in American Splendor should be too cute and modern for words or patience, but it has the strange effect of being more honest than either a straight documentary or drama.

A reader complained biliously about my comments on Capturing the Friedmans, specifically my refusal to dismiss as ludicrous the accusations of sexual abuse against the Friedman father and one of his sons. His comments are worth repeating and responding to, because they speak to important issues in the criminal-justice system, sexual-abuse cases, and objectivity in documentary filmmaking.

There’s a good movie in the seed of There’s Something About Mary — that being a beautiful woman carries with it the burden of a dozen or so stalkers — but the brothers Farrelly use it simply as a vehicle for a handful of sex-related sight gags spread very thinly over nearly two hours.

The Power of Angels

If you want a perfect example of how great material can transcend its treatment, watch HBO’s recent two-part mini-series of Angels in America.