This is a movie that excites me – it could be very good or very bad – there’s no middle ground here. Even the poster is arresting for its mundanity, repulsion, eeriness and quirkiness. I’ve always found paperbags to be rather ominous.
What gives me hope is that the premise of a half-naked man with a eye-holed paperbag over his head will not be delivered as a straight-up horror film. No, the Duplass Brothers are too smart for that. Baghead is described by the filmmakers as being “funny, truthful, (and) endearing”, which makes it much scarier. Usually the combination of comedy and horror looks good on paper but is a trial to execute successfully as a film. It requires a deft touch like a Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, 1999) or a Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001).
Here’s the skinny: A bunch of would-be actors retreat to a cabin in the Necronomicon-filled woods to write an indie film over the weekend. The film has a light-touch when focused on the comradery and the wavering prospect of romance between friends. The proverbial bag-headed boogeyman that is penned by our heroes in their script materializes as a very human and intimate threat. This reminds me of the urban legend turned real in the underrated Bernard Rose (Paperhouse, 1988) film Candyman (1992).
From Mark and Larry Duplass, Baghead comes right after their whimsical The Puffy Chair (2005), which is on my To-See List after Jane Champion’s An Angel At My Table (1990).
Baghead will be shown in Austin, Texas June 13th. A limited release is still pending.
There has been a very vocal outcry against an action set piece early in the film. I thought it was one of the film’s most inspired scenes. Indiana Jones has been deserted inside a small American town populated by eerie wide-eyed dummies made up as All-American suburbanites. The houses are outfitted with furnishings and plastic goods. The purpose of this crafted life-size Pleasantville is to test an enormous atom bomb that will detonate within a minute. Indy, taking a cue from the caped crusader from the episode Riddler’s Reform uses a housed refrigerator as a safe to protect himself from the blast.
Tension rises as he rips the metallic grills out of the icebox so he can fit inside. He shuts himself inside just as the manmade inferno blows everything to kingdom come. The refrigerator blasts off into the sky and lands ferociously to the ground miles away from the blast. Indiana Jones, never cooler, escapes his mini fall-out shelter with a few bruises. He is indestructible. The camera rises up to reveal a mushroom cloud swallowing the faraway landscape. Indiana Jones, silhouetted by the explosion, has entered the cold war. It is an awesome moment that unfortunately overshadows the rest of the film. I wouldn’t do without it.
Many people didn’t voice this favourable view, whereas a collective of disheartened curmudgeons found the magnificently preposterous sequence just preposterous. Back in Raiders, Indy’s body was dragged across a rocky terrain by the back of a Nazi jeep. He climbed up the car and fought the villains like he was in rare form. Now Indy’s fans are calling out the impossibility of Indiana’s Fridge stunt.
They wanted blood for this, even going so far as to burn an imprint of the scene as the movie equivalent to the television term “Jump the Shark”, which refers to a joyfully ludicrous stunt by the Fonz in Happy Days. The phrase had entered the lexicon, otherwise known as the Urban Dictionary, as “Nuke the Fridge”. For example, “Killing off all the surviving characters from Aliens (1985) sans Ripley at the beginning of Alien3 (1992) really nuked the fridge”. Nuked the Fridge. I just want to rake my tongue with a fork every time I say that. It is a clumsy catchphrase that ridicules a film sequence that doesn’t qualify for this degree of prejudice venom.
How about this instead: “Souring the romance between Peter Parker and Mary Jane in Spiderman 3 just killed off Newt”.
“Killed off Newt” — sharp and to the point!
Besides, “Jump the Shark” has always worked as classics often do.
The typographer in me is doing jumping-jacks over this Bell-font teaser poster for Oliver Stone’s W. I hope to see them lined up across the marquee walls soon. The Bushisms are also a great send up of the commander in thief.
Do you think this type of all-type movie advertisement sheet could set a trend for future movie posters? No pictures, but with more font-laced words dedicated to more than just the film’s title and a tag line.
You can download the font regularly used for movie poster credits here.
Distributed by QED International andLionsgate Films, Oliver Stone’s W. is starring Josh Brolin – George W. Bush (In the Valley of Elah, 2007), Elizabeth Banks – Laura Bush (Catch Me If You Can, 2002), James Cromwell – George H.W. Bush (The General’s Daughter, 1999), Ellen Burstyn – Barbara Bush (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, 1974), Thandie Newton – Condoleezza Rice (Flirting, 1991), Jeffrey Wright – Colin Powell (Syriana, 2005), Scott Glenn – Donald Rumsfeld (The Silence of the Lambs, 1991), Toby Jones – Karl Rove (Nightwatching, 2007) Ioan Gruffud – Tony Blair (Black Hawk Down, 2001), and Richard Dreyfuss – Dick Cheney (Jaws, 1975) will be released this October.
The Criterion Collection, the best in restoring and packaging obscure films, has postponed the release of the Paul Schrader masterpiece Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (#432, 1985). It was originally slated for June 17th, but will now be released on July 1st. The reason for this could be so the Director-approved 2-disc special edition can coincide with another Criterion release Patriotism (#433, 1966), a 29-minute film directed by and starring Yukio Mishima.
Mishima is one of my favorite films of all time right behind Terrance Malick’s Days of Heaven (1978). It is one of the most strangest and artistically appropriate biopics about a deeply-complex and passionate man. Yukio Mishima (Ken Ogata, The Pillow Book, 1996), a quiet novelist and arguably insane radical who wrote dozens of stories about struggle, beauty, sexuality, love, suicide, and the importance of an artistic statement. He later formed a personal army in pursuit of more tradition livelihood in Tokyo.
Three of his most renowned stories The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (1956), Kyoko’s House (1959) and Runaway Horses (1968) were shot in rich, gorgeous color on eye-popping theatrical sets by Eiko Ishioka that compliment the black-and-white scenes chronicling the writer’s past. They are the best filmed expressions of the writing process matched by Spike Jonze’s Adaptation (2002). These passages of past and fiction all lead up to Mishima’s last day, shot like a documentary in color, when he committed a rehearsed act of seppuku – a form of ritualistic samurai suicide – in the headquarters of Japan Self-Defense Forces.
MISHIMA (1985) Trailer
At the 1985 Cannes Film Festival, the film’s cinematographer John Bailey (The Anniversary Party, 2001), composer Philip Glass (A Brief History of Time, 1991), and costume/set designer Eiko Ishioka (The Fall, 2008) won the well deserved Best Artistic Contribution. Director Paul Schrader, the writer of Taxi DriverAffliction (1998) has recognized Mishima as his best work. (1976) and director of Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas co-produced it knowing that the financial venture wold not be profitable because mainstream audience would not embrace it despite critical acclaim. Luckily for those who appreciate challenging and expertly-made films, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters can be experienced because it exists.
Warner Bros Home Video released a DVD of Mishima on August 2001 that included a director’s audio commentary. It is currently out of print.
A New Sunrise for MISHIMA (1985)
The Criterion release will sport a new, restored high-definition digital transfer of the director’s cut which was supervised and approved by director Paul Schrader and cinematographer John Bailey. The changes of the director’s cut include a deleted scene featuring Chishu Ryu, a favored actor of Yasujiro Ozu (Floating Weeds, 1959). For Ozu fanatics, you can read a Sight and Sound article by Ryu on the director here. Another change to film is a digital replacement of a blue skyline with a blood red one in the Runaway Horses segment because Schrader wanted it look artificially in sync with the rest of the story visually. Optional English and Japanese voice-over narrations will also be provided; the former by Roy Scheider (“We’re goin’ to need a bigger boat.”), the latter by Ken Ogata.
New special features include: an audio commentary featuring Schrader and producer Alan Poul – the one featured in the original Warner release will not be included.
There will be new video interviews with Bailey, producers Tom Luddy and Mata Yamamoto, composer Philip Glass, and production designer Eiko Ishioka. Mishima biographer John Nathan and friend Donald Richie will also have video interviews. A new audio interview with the co-screenwriter Chieko Schrader who wrote the Japanese dialogue was the wife of Leonard Schrader who also wrote for Mishima as well. Another video interview excerpt will feature Mishima talking about writing.
Also included is The Strange Case of Yukio Mishima, a 55-minute BBC documentary about the author, the film’s theatrical trailer, and a booklet featuring a new essay by critic Kevin Jackson, a piece on the film’s censorship in Japan, and photographs of Ishioka’s sets.
One of the Best Sequences in MISHIMA (1985)
Available separately on the same date is Yukio Mishima’s Patriotism, which foreshadowed his death playing an officer who commits seppuku. The original film was thought to be destroyed by Japanese authorities shortly after Mishima’s death, seen as a plight upon the nation. Fortunately, the original negative was saved and has resurfaced 35 years later.
The DVD will be restored in a high-definition digital transfer of both the Japanese and English versions, with optional Japanese or English subtitles. Special features include a 45-minute audio recording of Yukio Mishima speaking to the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Japan; a 45-minute making-of documentary, featuring crew from the film’s production; interview excerpts featuring Mishima discussing war and death; new and improved English subtitle translation, and a new essay by renowned critic and historian Tony Rayns, Mishima’s original short story, and Mishima’s extensive notes on the film’s production.
Early Sunday morning, a fire broke out at the Universal Studios lot in Los Angeles, California. The L.A. Fire Department has released over 300 firefighters to contain it, three of which have been reported injured. The King Kong Exhibit at the Universal Theme Park is badly damaged. The Park was closed for the whole day, leaving over 20,000 visitors locked out. Buildings were left hollowed and gutted by the raging inferno. Several of the original sets for renowned movies such as the courthouse exterior from Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future(1985) have been destroyed as well as the sets for the Clint Eastwood film The Changeling (2008), which debuted at Cannes early last month.
This tragedy caused by force of nature brings to mind the sad 2006 ruination of Nick Park’s Aardman Studios that burned down its sets, props, and painstakingly hand-done clay models for the wonderful Wallace and Gromit (1989 – 2002) short films and Chicken Run (2000).
Universal Pictures’ most valued video archive has been scathed. Also burnt to the ground was a warehouse containing vaults of over 40,000 original and master versions of old Universal films. There is a great and crucial blessing that the original negatives of Universal’s history of film was located far away from the erupting fire. The damaged video stock can be replaced. The cause of the fire is still unconfirmed, but a faulty electrical error by a working sound stage for a commercial shoot over the weekend is suspect.
NBC Universal President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer was reported saying that “We have duplicates of everything. Nothing is lost forever.” Thankfully a number of sets including the back lot used for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), Norman Bates’ house, is still standing. Millions of dollars have been lost, but not many people were hurt. This is the second of two massive fires at the studio within the last two decades, the first was caused by arson in 1990.