June 21, 2002, 6:20 a.m. CST
...as a fiction writer making novels in the film medium. And this is a good thing. Most everyone else seems to be doing comic books, sitcoms, padded-out TV dramas -- Sayles has really been the only consistent American novelist in recent movies (and of course he's published several actual ones as well, and many short stories). I've seen most everything he's done, though missed the last couple. I have a soft spot for 'Lianna' (made a decade or more before lesbian chic), 'Passion Fish' (textbook example of potential Lifetime, the Network for Women material transcended), 'Eight Men Out' and 'City of Hope,' but they're all fine work. Even when I'm not behind a Sayles film 100% (found 'Matewan' sort of dull, to be honest), he's still working his own side of the street. Where's the Sayles DVD box set(s)? Only a few of the recent ones on disc, almost nothing from his '80s period.
June 21, 2002, 8:14 a.m. CST
Limbo was uneven, but held my interest; The Secret of Roan Innish was a bit too outre - an example of reach exceeding the grasp; Lone Star came close to being a good movie, but became a mess of too many plot points crammed into a single film; Passion Fish did NOT rise above a Lifetime Movie Of The Week; 8 Men Out was an above-average movie but had some really bad acting. Overall, I'd give his movies a 6-7 on a scale of 10, and, to me, that's not enough quality to warrant a big DVD boxset of his movies. Maybe there's a REASON why many of his movies aren't out on DVD yet, eh?
June 21, 2002, 8:39 a.m. CST
... is that the distribution house called back almost all older Sayles films from sellers some months back to get ready for a big re-release on video and DVD. So, yay! I can get Brother From Another Planet on DVD soon! Yipee! Oh, and Sunshine State is a beautiful little slow-moving, drawn-out character story. Very much enjoyed it.
June 21, 2002, 11:15 a.m. CST
Since we're all chiming in on personal faves, mine is BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET. Admittedly, I have not seen the film in years but I still remember vividly the Fisher Stevens card trick story and the way "brother" enhanced the speed of the arcade game for the girl who found life too slow and dull. Man, I love that movie...heh...I think I may have just talked myself into renting it. Strange world.
June 21, 2002, 11:28 a.m. CST
by Cutter's Way
I can't understand why so many so-called film enthusiasts drool over every turd from the latest desperate, flashy television commercial director yet Sayles remains in the arthouse ghetto. Too many people (even his supporters) treat Sayles films as homework. Every review includes some variation of the word "lesson". I feel Sayles goes out of his way to create compelling, HUMOROUS(Sayles fans know of what I speak)narratives that include thoughtful cultural criticisms as a backdrop for characters without being didactic or boring. Sayles films always have some nice combo of guns, intrigue, sex, whip-smart one-liners, and salty language. It's not like he's some mind-numbing professor giving a lecture. Sayles treats his audience with respect and gives them credit for some smarts yet people somehow feel contemptuous towards his stuff. Get your head out of your ass and quit jerking off to Fight Club/Requiem for a Dream and watch a real movie like Sunshine State or City of Hope.
June 21, 2002, 11:58 a.m. CST
With JS, you never know ... Lone Star is one of the best movies I've ever seen. Having lived in South Texas for several years, I can say he captured the area perfectly. Passion Fish, had me counting the hairs on the back of the head of the guy in front of me in the theater. The one in Alaska, on the other hand: brilliant again. I'll be there to see this one. With Sayles, I feel like I'm experiencing the work of an artist, not a factory hand. Even though he occasionally falls short, it seems sometimes that he's the only one out there trying.
June 21, 2002, 11:58 a.m. CST
Well, somebody had to say it, even if it isn't precisely true.
June 21, 2002, 11:59 a.m. CST
No talkback is complete without this post.
June 21, 2002, 12:01 p.m. CST
Two more obligatory messages: All you guys are basement-dwelling losers! (But not me, of course!) and ... No, we're not! Get a life! There, now that those are all out of the way, let's talk about this Sayles movie.
June 21, 2002, 12:05 p.m. CST
by Arthur Bannister
Terrific work, Moriarty. I've really enjoyed your take on films for a while now, so it doesn't surprise me that you seem to like Sayles as much as I do. It sounds like you connected with his take on Florida the way I connected with the way he filmed Texas in Lone Star. Just awesomely dead on. I don't think there's a movie in existence that I like any better than that one. I was a little surprised that when you mentioned Sayles films that you connected with, Men with Guns didn't make the list. I know only about 10 people saw it, but it's one of those that really has stuck with me. That's definitely a DVD I'll buy the day it comes out.
June 21, 2002, 2:15 p.m. CST
The "Alaskan Movie" was called Limbo. Dumbass.
June 21, 2002, 3:15 p.m. CST
by otis von zipper
Been a fan of Sayles work ever since I saw Brother from Another Planet, but his script for The Howling also has a lot to do with it. His films don't always hit me right (Matewan), but I always get excited about his latest project, which I can't really say about Spielberg and some other big names. Another thing, I like the fact that this site promotes these smaller films. All our other major media will only pay attention to the crowd pleasers, so it's great to come here and read about something interesting.
June 21, 2002, 9:40 p.m. CST
by Billy Talent
Gosh, it's just a beautiful movie, one of the very best. I'd love to have a brand spanking pristine new dvd of that.
June 21, 2002, 10:06 p.m. CST
by Cash Bailey
I lose the will to live reading about the mouth-breathers who bitch about it. The true purpose of this ending (for the ignorant who actually boo-ed) is that at that point in the film who was in the airplane was irrelevent. The point was that they decided to stand together, regardless of what would happen next. That was the thematic climax of the picture and a brave, touching conclussion at that. And it also reminds me a bit of SOUTHERN COMFORT's ending, which doesn't hurt.
June 21, 2002, 10:49 p.m. CST
Yeah, whatever. Too many plot points for the feeble-minded to understand I guess. God forbid we'd get anything above cut shots every 2 seconds and stuff blowing up. I don't like every movie he makes but I always respect his efforts, especially considering the budgets he works with. John Sayles is an artist in a land of housepainters.
June 22, 2002, 12:55 p.m. CST
John Sayles is certainly among the most adventurous directors out there. I mean, the man wrote some classic genre scripts (particularly "The Howling"-one of the best werewolf movies ever) to doing his later, complex and entertaining movies. My personal favourites are "Lone Star", "Men with Guns" and "The Secret of Roan Inish". All of these movies are so consistently fascinating and unexpected. They linger in the mind long after the end titles have rolled. The cinema needs people like John Sayles and we need to allow them the chance to put their work in front of as many people as possible.
June 23, 2002, 3:15 p.m. CST
by otis von zipper
The San Fran Chronicle (go to sfgate.com to find the article) did a story on Sayles and his new film today. It's a short but nice piece about how Renzi and Sayles go about making films. @ exciting things are mentioned; 1. Lianna, Matewan, Brother and Secaucus have been restored for a retrospective to be making the rounds. 2. The big epic film Sayles wants to make (and they talk about a budget of $25 mill. still chump change in comparison) partly deals with the Battle of Quebec. By the way, I'd like a T-shirt from the American Beach defense fund. How can a west coast guy get his hands on one? Movie opens Friday, and now I'm very eager to see it.
June 23, 2002, 9:40 p.m. CST
by Tokyo Joe
I loved Lone Star. And I didn't grow up in Texas. Come to think of it I've never been to the USA and claim complete ignorance about all things Texan. But in a film as well made as Lone Star, that doesn't matter. While certainly offering additional insights, historical / geographical knowledge shouldn't be a pre-requisite to enjoying a good well-made film. But so many get labled by studios as "Too foreign" nowadays that they never get seen. The original point of movies was surely escapism, glimpses of distant lands / galaxies. I'd like to beleive that Americans are not as blissfully ignorant or uncaring of the outside world as Hollywood Studios seem to think they are. In the meantime I'm looking forward to Sunshine State, safe in the knowledge that John Sayles story will be good enough to keep me interested in characters from some other place which I know nothing about.
June 24, 2002, 2:34 p.m. CST
I was so impressed with Lonestar-I can't believe it was not nominated for best picture (or was it?)! WTF!? That movie was so well done; I did not feel for a second that I was watching "entertainment". It was an authentic masterpiece of cinema. I didn't grow up in Texas either but I did live in San Diego and am very familiar with TJ(not just the tourist spots) and the differences between Mexicans in Mexico and Mexican-Americans and the attitudes that separate them. John Sayles captured that brilliantly in Lonestar. He is a master story teller and seems to be culturally omniscient. I will definitely add my money to the pile of "Sunshine state".