Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dogville, comments by Andy

I thought I liked films before I saw "Dogville." I didn't (and still don't) have a super deep filmography on which to discuss and compare movies, but I knew that I liked movies and I had seen quite a few, including a lot of "arty" films. And then I saw "Dogville."

Probably one of the best done films I've ever seen. Brilliantly bizarre; terrible and fascinating all at the same time. The simplicity in which is was set and decorated reminded me of sitting in Mrs. Tufts's 5th grade class while she read "Summer of the Monkeys" to us, and I had to imagine what was going on in the novel. I've never had that experience in a movie until Dogville.

I think "Dogville's" brilliance is it's constant character development. We are immediately suspcious of all of Dogville's residents, and then we begin to really like them, and then love them when they finally accept Kidman's character to their town. And then every single one of them betrays our trust as Kidman is forced to endure every possible violation by every single resident. My heart broke for her as she was riding in the back of the truck to get out of town and the driver forces himself upon her for a "surcharge" for transporting a dangerous load, and then she only ends up back in town to endure further persecution.

But oh the glory when each one meets a violent and scary death. My favorite line from the story (as I'm sure is many people's) is when she tells the gunman, "Shoot her kids. If she doesn't cry, let her live."

Traffic, comments by Andy

I love the movie "Traffic," notwithstanding it's inaccuracies and absurdities. In my profession I deal with very many people who make decisions to forego long-term happiness and stability for immediate gratification; be it emotional, sexual, sensory, etc. Of the best examples of this "decision making" is my favorite scene in "Traffic", when Douglas's character's daughter is being ravaged by her drug dealer, and she's laying there (and so eloquently so) "in the bed she made," probably having given him only a modicum of consent at best. It just so aptly demonstrates the choices we sometimes make and the truth we give up for the lies we want so desperately to believe.

As for the absurdities; in the history of witness protection and gangsters, very few witnesses have ended up with "concrete boots" after they've been found out and are in custody of the government. I have long since believed that conspiracies involving more than two or three people are inevitably too complicated to actually work. And that being said, there would have to have been a deep conspiracy to kill the witness in the case, especially after the attempted assasination. First of all, a material witness in that kind of a case would never be paraded outside for the world to see. Secondly, the Judge would order testimony of the witness in the case on the record prior to the trial, so any sudden death would not prevent the trial. And secondly, poisoned eggs?

It was a great story nonetheless. It had an appropriate amount of fantasy and reality for me. Nice pick.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The "Worst Movie Ever" Competition

The Value of Watching Terribly Bad Movies
by Jason Pyles

Contrast is a great teacher. It gives us insight into the distance between two extremes, in this case, good films and bad movies. For months, the contributors on this blog have selected unusual films that were usually also excellent.

But I think I've lost all my contributors, except maybe a faithful, singular writer. (Thanks, Andy.) And since I've gotten no one else to lose — except maybe Andy, who's characteristically intrepid — I figured I'd brave a bad movies series, just to see what we can learn from them and their awfulness.

When writing about film, it's easy to call a film good or bad, but without offering support behind those claims, such judgments are not credible, and therefore, useless.

For the next couple of months, we're going to subject ourselves to some kind of masochism to see if we can write meaningfully and critically about some of the worst films ever made.

None of the films is mandatory viewing, and the same goes especially for these movies. But just for fun, I have two unofficial selections listed below that won't be featured, but can be watched and commented on at any time. Also, Gabe Wells, one of the contributors, couldn't make a distinction between two very poor films, so during his two weeks we'll feature both movies, and you can watch either one of them --- or both as a double-header, if you dare.

Two films of special note:
No one has chosen it yet, but I've heard that Ed Wood's "Plan 9 From Outer Space" is considered by some to be the worst film ever made. It is fair game at any time.

Also, my cousin Brian Emery tells me that "Blood Diner" (1987) is terribly good. I'm told it's extremely rare and essentially impossible to get a copy of, but alas, Brian is endlessly innovative and well-connected: One of his pals managed to order a copy of "Blood Diner" from overseas. Brian is willing to pass along "Blood Diner" and let you borrow it. If you'd like to join in on the "Blood Diner" discussion, send me your snail mailing address to