November 2005 Archives

A document of my film education and something that I hope will help guide people who are intimidated by the thousands of film books available — from omnibus guides to explorations of single works.

Fear Is Blind

Afraid of the Dark, Mark Peploe’s smart but minor psychological thriller, comprises two movies. One of these stories represents reality, and one is fantasy, and it takes no genius to figure out which is which. Thankfully, the film doesn’t try to fool the audience.

Harry Potter in Goblet of Fire is stymied by a movie that makes him more pawn than active participant, a film so concerned with barrelling through its sprawling plot that it never finds any rhythm, resonance, or even genuine conflict.

The Mouse That Roared

The entertaining movie blog Cinematical reports that it was threatened by Disney because of leaked spoilers about the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. Some Web site claimed to have copies of the scripts and released details about them. Cinematical linked to the article, and Disney got all pissy. Cinematical removed the post.

The Evil That Men Do

As an agnostic, the conclusion of Paul Schraeder’s Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist was deeply unsatisfying. Evil is unleashed on an eastern African town, and it is expelled by the power of ... God?

You might reasonably ask: What the hell did you expect, asshole?

It’s a fair question, but it’s not quite that simple.

I was willing to go with Jared Hess’ Napoleon Dynamite up until the very first exclamation of “Gosh!”

For a series whose mystery and suspense are central to its allure, Lost’s ploy of eating up airtime minutes with background that is seemingly irrelevant to the central plot is positively brilliant. When you don’t need to move the story forward for a couple handfuls of your weekly forty-odd minutes, it makes it a lot easier to sustain the series over a longer period of time. And here’s the shocking thing: The backstory structure is an artistic triumph, a skeleton that gives the series its distinctive shape, depth, and resonance.

When OK Go turned a backyard rehearsal tape into the video for “A Million Ways,” it was the act of a rock band that’s not afraid to have fun. While critics fawn over dance-rock and new-new-wave acts such as Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, and The Killers — with good reason — OK Go is simply one of the world’s most enjoyable bands.

The no-budget Primer is an austere rumination on something fantastic, rooted so deeply in the mundane that it seems plausible. Beyond that, it exists in a genre usually loaded with effects shots and races against the clock; it’s Back to the Future taken seriously.