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Moriarty Reviews AUTO FOCUS!! ONE HOUR PHOTO!! KNOCKAROUND GUYS!! KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE!!

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

Strange days afoot here at the Labs. Things are changing. Getting complicated. Knowles knows some of it, but not all of it, and I’ll try and keep it that way until I can tell all of you. Hell, even I don’t quite have a handle on all of what’s going on, but I can tell you this... time is becoming tighter and tighter, and if I’m going to keep current, I’m going to have to get faster about this.

Today, I want to look at four films that I saw in recent days, each of them very different. Two of them are, I think, a fairly great films, among the year’s finest. One is unfairly maligned, if slight, the victim of release date shuffle. And the last... well... read on, baby...

AUTO FOCUS

So we’re hanging out the other night and my girlfriend turns to me and asks, sweet as can be, “Do you have any porno movies?”

I don’t know what the right answer to that question is. I mean, I’m a guy. I’m in working order. Of course, the answer is yes. Nothing excessive. I haven’t had to hire extra storage space to deal with my porn stash. It’s just a few DVDs. But like every guy, I’ve got one.

And you... the one who just said, “Not me”? You do, too. You just don’t want to admit it. Go ahead, though. I’m not going to judge you for it. It’s normal. It’s natural. It’s just one of those things.

That’s the mantra that Bob Crane (Greg Kinnear) clings to as he rides his own obsessions all the way into oblivion over the course of Paul Schrader’s blistering, brilliant slice-of-lowlife. “I’m normal.” It’s the glue that holds together Michael Gerbosi’s wonderful screenplay, loosely adapted from Robert Graysmith’s nonfiction book THE MURDER OF BOB CRANE. “I’m normal.”

And, in his way, he is.

When we meet Crane at the start of the film, he’s on his way up. Slowly. He’s got a morning show on the radio in LA. He’s a drummer, fond of jazz more than anything, and he’s trying to establish himself as an actor. Crane’s got a certain smarmy charm, and the way Kinnear inhabits the role with authority from the very first scene is an announcement. This film works because of several perfect matches of talent and task, Kinnear’s casting being one of the key ones. His first gig that got him attention, TALK SOUP, was one of those vehicles where it doesn’t matter what the show is about. It was Kinnear that made it interesting. It was a chance for him to mug mercilessly for a half hour at a time. He’s got that same perfect Slimy Game Show Host thing that Crane did, and when he moved into movies, many were skeptical that he had anything of substance to offer. His work in AS GOOD AS IT GETS was promising, and he easily steals MYSTERY MEN in his all-too-brief appearance. NURSE BETTY might well be my favorite work of his to date. There’s a great early scene where he meets Betty at a party and he manages to completely engage her without shattering her delusion, never aware of what he’s doing. He plays what he believes is a game, and Kinnear took that potentially cheesy moment and turned it into a window into this guy. It’s wonderful work.

And now, here he is, staring this nightmare image of himself square in the face. He plays the glib, charming guy who dug himself into a role that everyone knew, the guy who wants to break out and be something more. He’s been there. He’s faced those same decisions. That part of Bob Crane, he’s got down cold, and it allows him to focus on bringing the other side of Bob Crane to vivid, disturbing life. It allows him to play a role of greater nuance and range than anything he’s done so far, and to make it look easy. Kinnear doesn’t really look like Bob Crane, but 20 minutes into this movie, I didn’t remember what Bob Crane looked like. This guy I was watching was all the Bob Crane I knew. He’s flawed, sure, but he’s not a bad guy at all. In fact, it’s easy to see why people are drawn to him. Kinnear turns the charisma up all the way in the first part of the film. This is a guy who explodes as a television star, and who realizes full well how to enjoy all the possible benefits that entails. He’s having fun.

Then comes John Carpenter (Willem Dafoe). Then comes the video equipment. And then comes the kink.

One of the things the movie does so expertly is trace how something goes from being an interest to a hobby to a fetish to an addiction. It’s a very meticulously charted slide, and Schrader is the perfect choice as director here. He doesn’t use this material to titillate, and he also doesn’t judge Bob Crane. Instead, he simply observes. The film is exquisitely shot by Fred Murphy (FIVE CORNERS, THE DEAD, THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES), and the camera is an unblinking eye here. As is fitting with a film that deals with a visual fetish, this movie seems to be primarily concerned with capturing those ugly little moments, blemishes and all. It isn’t a glamorous movie, and it’s never shot to be beautiful or polished. Instead, there’s a very subtle evolution of film stocks over the course of the movie, a degradation from the bright clean look of the ‘60s to the seedy grain of the ‘70s and on into an almost garish video feel. It’s subtle, though. It works on you. It gets to you as you watch. By the time Bob Crane is flopping around in his agent’s office like a fish on the deck of a boat, gasping for work, desperate, going under, the film is just unspeakably ugly to look at. It affects you because you feel like you want to scrape this whole world off, shower up, get clean again. You can feel the horror of Bob Crane’s final days, and you can understand the feeling of drowning in your own career, of being pulled under by the weight of any addiction. This is a more human view of that drop into the abyss than REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, and because it’s not something that has been demonized to the extent that drugs have, this addiction is more disturbing. It’s something that sneaks up on Crane, even as it sneaks up on the viewer.

The interplay between Kinnear and Dafoe is crucial to this movie either working or not. Schrader could get everything else right, but if we didn’t understand the particular friendship between these two men, then none of the rest of the film would fall into place. Thankfully, Schrader’s already proven to have a strong rapport with Dafoe (LIGHT SLEEPER), and he manages to wring something really wonderful out of Kinnear. The result is sad and creepy and understandable while being totally alien. Carpenter... or Carpy, as Crane calls him... isn’t just some bug-eyed loony, easy to write off. Dafoe invests him with a soul, however damaged it is.

Carpy knows that it’s Crane who attracts the girls. Sure, Carpy catches his fair share of the tail, but it’s Crane who is pulling them in. Carpy’s picking up table scraps, leftovers. And after a while, it’s not even about whether or not Carpy’s getting laid. He doesn’t get off until Crane does. He comes to depend on Crane as part of his sexual bag of tricks. Is he gay? Is he in love with Crane? Schrader refuses to give you something that easy to think about or react to. Instead, he demonstrates how the sexual pathology of these two guys gets so wrapped up, so co-mingled, that it’s hard to say precisely what part of their routine is actually turning them on. Sure, they both repeat “A day without sex is a day wasted” as their battle cry, but that cry becomes more and more dispassionate as the days wear on. One gets the feeling that a day without sex would be a blessing after a while.

The film has Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski listed as producers, and the press notes talk about how they helped screenwriter Michael Gerbosi shape his material, and I have no doubt they were valuable collaborators. What Gerbosi’s done, though, is trump them at their own game. They are best known for their work in writing quirky biopics. They broke through with ED WOOD, a genuinely great piece of work, then followed it up with THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT and MAN ON THE MOON. They seemed to fall victim to the law of diminishing returns, as their work became more predictable in how it dealt with the subjects at hand. MAN ON THE MOON is a film of surfaces, telling us and showing us nothing that was new. AUTO FOCUS, on the other hand, erases the public face of Bob Crane from our minds once and for all. We get a glimpse of the production of HOGAN’S HEROES, complete with a dream sequence in which Col. Klink (Kurt Fuller) and Sgt. Schultz (Lyle Kanouse) gangbang Sigrid Valdis (Maria Bello), Klink’s onscreen secretary and Crane’s offscreen girlfriend. Crane’s first marriage to Anne (Rita Wilson) dissolves, and he’s genuinely wounded by it. He believes himself to be a good man, a good family man, and the fact that he likes to play the drums in strip clubs after work or that he likes to take nudie photos and keep them in the garage... that shouldn’t change things. We see Crane doing dinner theater and shooting SUPERDAD, but his career is beside the point. We only see it so that we can understand the impact that his sexual appetites had on the rest of his life.

There’s one misstep in the film that is so jarring that it took me out of the film completely for a moment. At one point, Carpy and Crane are watching a tape of a woman giving Crane oral sex. When Schrader cuts to the screen, there’s a pixillated box over the sex. It’s the only such moment in the film. We see plenty of nudity and contact in the rest of the movie, too. For some reason, Schrader felt he had to include a moment that he couldn’t show, then pixillating it. This is taking place in the ‘70s, though, well before the introduction of that technique. It’s not just wrong dramatically, it’s wrong for the period. When the rest of the look of the film is so meticulously attuned to the period, why do something so glaringly out of place? There were a million other ways to show what was happening. It seems odd to harp on one shot, except in this case, it stands out because of how informed almost every other choice in the film is.

AUTO FOCUS is not an easy film to like, but it’s a great film, and it deserves your attention. Despite the nature of the material, Schrader’s made this film compulsively watchable. You can’t take your eyes off it for a moment. As you find yourself drawn into the moral whirlpool that the filmmakers have created, you may get some small sense of what it felt like for Crane as he found himself dragged under, again and again, until his own tragic end.

ONE HOUR PHOTO

Mark Romanek has made a film of uncommon delicacy here, a stylized masterpiece that features one of the finest performances in the long career of Robin Williams. Despite being sold as a thriller, this is something far deeper than that, a cold and sterile poem about a very twisted soul, the madman behind the friendly eyes of the guy at the store who knows your name. Maybe it’s the kid at the video store or someone at the post office or the guy who does your copying. You see them often enough, you start to exchange pleasantries. You find new things to chat about. You get a little window into their life, and they get a glimpse into yours.

What if he liked what he saw so much that he wanted it to be his? What if it was so important to him that he’d hurt anyone who ruined it?

Romanek wrote and directed this film, and it’s as a double-threat that he impresses. The script dares to shake convention in the way it’s constructed, in the way we find ourselves drawn into the world of Sy Parrish, “Sy The Photo Guy.” Romanek doesn’t want to create a monster or a villain here, and he also isn’t trying to garner cheap or easy sympathy for Sy. Instead, he paints him with enough shades of gray that even after the film’s final image, I don’t know what I want for Sy, or what I think of him. I know this... ONE HOUR PHOTO lives under your skin after you walk out of the theater, and it grows the more you live with it. The real depth of Romanek’s accomplishment as a director may not be fully appreciated upon the film’s release, but I’m confident that this film will endure. It’s as strong an announcement as a director as Spike Jonze made with BEING JOHN MALKOVICH or Fincher made with SE7EN. Romanek may have made one film before this, but it's ONE HOUR PHOTO that will put him on the map. The strength of Romanek’s script, and the clarity with which he built his characters, allows him room to focus fully on the film’s visual plan. This is the second work of undeniable art by cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, whose work on FIGHT CLUB was just staggering. That’s a flashy film, though, as is fitting. It’s appropriate because of how manic and schizophrenic that film’s subject matter is. Here, Romanek’s after something totally different, and he has created a subdued but powerful palette that turns the entire frame into a comment on the state of Sy’s mental health. Production designer Tom Foden (THE CELL) has done a spectacular job of creating spaces in this film. The home of the Yorkins, the apartment of Sy, and, of course, the SavMart where Sy works the photo lab. These are remarkable externalizations of what’s going on inside these people. This is a film in which everything counts. The look, the score, the use of color. It’s all got a purpose behind it. Romanek’s a keenly intelligent and human filmmaker, something that distinguishes him from many of his music video peers. He has a flawless understanding of composition, and his love of photography and his knowledge of what makes a photograph compelling and seductive informs Sy’s world in a very specific way. Based on the strength of this one film, I can predict with confidence that Romanek’s career is going to be one of note as long as he remains true to the muse that steered him here.

And then there’s Robin Williams. Let me just say... Mrs. Doubtfire and Patch Adams are dead.

And it’s a beautiful thing to behold.

I’m a big fan of Robin as a serious actor. I consider THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP to be an overlooked gem, and I was always fond of MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON and GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM. I’ll be the first to admit, though, that much of his work on film is simply insufferable. As much as DEAD POETS SOCIETY works because of the sure hand of Peter Weir or THE FISHER KING works because of the divine alchemy he achieved with Terry Gilliam and the rest of that cast, he often found himself adrift in movies, rudderless, out of control and over the top. Here, he’s handed himself over completely to Romanek’s vision, and he’s vanished into this character. He seems to be made of bleached cookie dough. He’s soft and vaguely spoiled. There’s something about him, something in the way he moves and deals with people, something in his eyes, perhaps, that says he’s disconnected... broken. He dresses for camoflauge, invisible except in those moments when he’s bringing the color out in an image or when he’s setting the contrast. He experiences the lives of others as he brings these moments to vivid life, captured in the prints he produces.

The family he fixates on the most is made up of Will Yorkin (Michael Vartan), his wife Nina (Connie Nielsen), and their son Jake (Dylan Smith). Yet even here, don’t walk into this expecting some easy Hollywood slasher film about a guy terrorizing a family. That’s not this movie. Romanek’s got a totally different agenda, and it’s the slow, methodical revelation of what he’s after that makes the film such a delight. Nielsen is incandescent here. She’s a stunning actress, and I loved her work in GLADIATOR, but even knowing it was her, I didn’t recognize her here at all. She’s transformed completely, and the work she does is marked by a certain quiet mixture of anger and sorrow that makes her beauty and her few moments of joy even more piercing. Vartan is also very good, especially toward the end of the film, when Romanek finally gives him some key moments to play. Again... he doesn’t want to paint anyone as an easy bad guy, as the one single focus of blame. He may be telling an impressionistic tale, ripe with symbolic composition and characterization, but he also makes his points by creating real people who we care about, who we can identify with. I can’t imagine we’re going to see a more controlled or confident debut film from a director this year.

I have to make special mention of my favorite thing about the film, something I wasn’t anticipating as I walked in. The score by Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek, who worked together on RUN LOLA RUN and THE PRINCESS & THE WARRIOR, is a phenomenal piece of work. As much as the work by Williams or Romanek, it is the score that sets the mood of this film, that dares us to keep up with the complicated emotional shifts the film makes. Like Clint Mansell or Craig Armstrong, these guys are pushing film scores into new and exciting sonic directions. For a film to engage all of my senses the way this one did, it takes a talented group of artists all working at the top of their craft. ONE HOUR PHOTO is a powerful work of art, and easily one of the most exciting moments I’ve had in a theater in 2002.

KNOCKAROUND GUYS

It’s a shame when films end up on a shelf and it’s not because of quality, but because of timing and the market and other reasons. It’s a shame because no matter what, films get the stink of the shelf on them. Whispers inevitably begin. There must be a reason, people say, and it must be the film’s fault.

Brian Koppelman and David Levien are a writing team who recently solved THE RUNAWAY JURY for Warner Bros., finally getting that long-languishing Grisham adaptation a greenlight. They also wrote John Dahl's film ROUNDERS a few years back. When they directed their new ensemble drama KNOCKAROUND GUYS, they thought it was set for a 2001 release. Instead, it’s been one of those MIA movies, and it’s already played in some international markets. Right now, people seem to think New Line’s going to dump it to play up the Vin Diesel connection, and I can see how they could make a little coin by doing that. It’s not a Vin Diesel film, per se, but you could certainly sell it as one.

You’d be doing a disservice to the charms the film does possess, though, and you’d risk pissing off the audience. If there’s any star in the film, it’s Barry Pepper, and that may be one of the key strikes against the film. He’s not the character we’re drawn to as we watch, but that’s who we’re supposed to be paying attention to. In a way, it’s the same problem that ROUNDERS had.

Like many writers, Koppelman and Levien fall in love with their supporting characters. Matty Demaret (Pepper) is the indisputable lead. The film starts with him as a child, and builds to a situation in which he is forced to revisit a choice he made all those years ago, a choice which marked him in the eyes of his father Benny “Chains” (Dennis Hopper) and Teddy (John Malkovich). Matty’s grown up wanting to prove himself to his father, needing to get past that moment of weakness. The whole film hinges on whether or not he can step up when it counts, but it’s the thing that least interested me about Matty and his friends. Chris Scarpa (Andrew Davoli) is another son of a wiseguy who’s been held back in a subservient role his whole life, and who dreams of proving himself somehow. Seth Green is Johnny Marbles, a known trouble magnet and a friend of Matty’s. He’s got a drug problem in his past (maybe) and his reputation keeps him from being able to work for Matty’s father. Finally, there’s Taylor Reese (Vin Diesel), the most competent and together of the four guys. Taylor’s so adept at the thug life that it begs the question: what’s holding him back? Matty, Marbles, and Scarpa all have giant flaws that have led to their frustrations, but Taylor seems like he’s slumming for no good reason. Diesel’s commanding in the role, but he overpowers sequences as a result.

Matty’s given a chance, and he brings his friends in on it. He is asked to transport some money, and he gets Marbles to do it on his plane. A quick stop to refuel leaves the money missing and the four friends up shit creek. They end up tracking a couple of stupid stoner kids and crossing paths with the local law in the person of the local sheriff (Tom Noonan). Ordered to get the money back or face the business end of a gun, the four friends have to stand up as a crew and get what’s theirs.

This is a small film. This is not “the coolest movie of the year.” This is not some big pumped-up star vehicle. It’s a character piece, an ensemble film. The film’s first half has an energy to it that I like. Seth Green is the stand-out as far as I’m concerned. He manages to give Marbles a number of fine touches that made me invest in him and fear for his eventual fate. Diesel has the best scene in the movie, a bar fight that is both funny and brutal. Still, it seems unbalanced for me to enjoy these supporting characters so much more than the leads.

By holding the film for as long as they have, New Line may well have poisoned the perception of the film, but it deserves to be given its shot. Contributions from collaborators like Clint Mansell (who composed the score) and Tom Richmond (the cinematographer) give the film a hell of a polish, and the moments that Koppelman and Levien get right are really nice. Even if this isn’t a complete movie, it’s far better than the complete mess that it was rumored to be.

THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE

Robert Evans says this isn’t a documentary.

He says it is a performance piece.

Let’s examine the film itself to see if his claim holds water. The directors of the film are Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen, who previously directed the wonderful documentary ON THE ROPES. One of the highlights of the Ebert Overlooked Film Festival for me this spring was meeting Tyrene Manson, one of the boxers profiled in that film. It’s an unflinching, honest movie that tells a deeply human story.

Aesthetically, it couldn’t be any more different from THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE, which is narrated by Robert Evans himself. A few years back, the books-on-tape version of Evans’s autobiography of the same title became a cult item in Hollywood. People were smitten by the insane, smarmy ramblings of Evans, the way he wrapped his stories in hipster lingo and a distorted lens of self-importance. That’s not to suggest that Evans isn’t important. Anyone who has any understanding of what made the ‘70s such an exciting and important era in film has to acknowledge the role that Evans played in some of the classics of that decade. He took risks, and he let some major artists take risks. He lived the fantasy, and when he flew too close to the sun, his Icarus wings melted, and he went into a free-fall that lasted all the way through the ‘80s. It’s only in recent years that Evans has managed to rehabilitate his image and actually put himself back in the game. A recent stroke sidelined him again, but it seems that Evans is the Hollywood producer equivalent of Freddy Kruger or Michael Myers; you can put him down for a moment, and you can slow him down, but nothing can kill him.

The opening of the film is a quote from Evans, written in elegant script over a black screen: “There are three sides to every story... your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying.” If you can accept that thesis statement, then you are set for a great, enjoyable ride through the charmed life of one of the last great showmen. They don’t make producers like this anymore, guys who were part of the show, bigger than the show even. Evans was a media celebrity on par with Selznick. He knew the power of mythmaking and took full advantage of relationships with guys like Peter Bart (the publisher of VARIETY now, but a young journalist just making his rep at that point) and he smelled change on the wind at just the right time. He greenlit films that were in tune with the way the country itself was changing, films that stand today as a record of the incredible turmoil of America in the Vietnam era. There are very few studio heads of any era who would have given the go-ahead to films like HAROLD & MAUDE and THE GODFATHER and MEDIUM COOL and LOVE STORY and SORCERER and dozens more.

And the way he tells it, everything started with a dip in a pool one afternoon in Beverly Hills.

The thing that makes the film more than a documentary is the way it’s been built. That voice of his, that hypnotic growl, is the sound of the whole movie. He’s just talking, just shooting the shit, just telling a few stories. Highlights. A rock skipping across the surface of his life. This is the greatest hits version of his book, his story as he’s fleshed it out in interviews and profiles. It’s constructed from photographs from his life, but they’re not simply shown static on the screen. Foreground and background elements have been separated and they’re set in motion against each other. Pans and zooms and all sorts of camera moves are built into the pictures. When reading the book, there is mention of the early onscreen work Evans does in films like MAN OF 1,000 FACES and THE SUN ALSO RISES, and it’s great to be able to just cut to that footage here. Moments from some of the best and worst movies Evans was ever involved in are dropped in at the perfect moments. There’s a recurring image of a slow crawl through the house that Evans has called home on and off since his heyday at Paramount. This particular image is used a few too many times, I think, without ever really adding anything to our initial impressions.

Still, you see this movie for the stories, and Evans doesn’t disappoint. You’ll be quoting him for days after you see the movie, and I’d say this is required viewing for anyone who wants to understand what made the ‘70s special, and what made Evans great. There’s a great bit of film involving Dustin Hoffman that plays out over the film’s closing credits, so make sure you stay seated. It’s one of the highlights of the film. It’s worth waiting for.

And in the end, I’d say Evans is right. This isn’t a conventional documentary. Burstein and Morgen haven’t gotten any new truth out of Evans. He had his patter down well before he met them. He’s told these stories a million times, and he’s a shameless performer, fully aware of the impact of his language. He weilds words with precision and a dry, mordant wit that makes the film genuinely hilarious for much of its running time. Even the most potentially maudlin of moments is tempered by Evans with his dark sense of self-deprecating self-promotion.

No matter what this is, it’s entertaining as hell, and it’s a great tutorial on a time and place that continues to fascinate me as a film fan even today. No matter how familiar some of these stories are, I’ve never seen or heard them performed like this, and I found the film to be electric, deeply interesting. Here’s hoping it casts the same spell on you.

That’s it for this morning. Tomorrow, I’ve got a look at a few films from the Sci-Fi/Horror/Fantasy fest at The Egyptian, as well as my reviews of TADPOLE and BIGGIE & TUPAC. I’m also gearing up for a new weekly DVD column that should be loads of fun. For now, though...

"Moriarty" out.





Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 15, 2002, 1:43 p.m. CST

    Thanks Mori

    by Meier

    I didnt read the full reviews themselves as to avoid any spoilers, but I'm glad to hear you liked One Hour Photo and Kid Stays in the Picture as I am looking forward to seeing those.

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 2:04 p.m. CST

    Knockaround Guys...

    by Super Mendez

    Looks like it could knock around my cockandballs for a half hour and still not be entertaining. Bob Crane and John Carpenter fucking? Jesus, I wish I hadn't ate lunch before reading this. That's a fucking awful mental picture. Oh yeah, before I forget, Vin Diesel is the next Jean Claude Van Damme waiting to happen. See you in 3 years Vin, when you're making direct-to-video pics. I can't wait until some dumbass studio exec. gets the idea to cast him in a shitty buddy comedy with a kid or dog, you know it's going to happen. Or worse yet, some fluffy romantic comedy. You fanboys better prepare yourselves for it, you know it's coming.

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 2:07 p.m. CST

    Good Job Moriarty!

    by BillBrasky

    Appreciate all the hard work! Great reviews. Definitely want to see One Hour Photo.

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 2:24 p.m. CST

    No, John Dahl directed Rounders.

    by AllHailASP

    The most unfairly overlooked director working today gets overlooked once again.

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 2:26 p.m. CST

    Great reviews, thanks Mori

    by Magic Milkmaid

    Yet again Moriarty shows he's the real reason to come to this site. I can't wait for One Hour Photo now.

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 2:28 p.m. CST

    give John Dahl a little credit, would you?

    by donaldsutherland

    thaks for the reviews, but please...John Dahl directed Rounders...as well as Red Rock West and The last seduction ...and you oughtta know that...brian koppelman and his pal wrote a fine first script, but they sure as hell didn't direct it.

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 2:33 p.m. CST

    jaredsap, my man

    by donaldsutherland

    i totally agree...Dahl is one of the BEST directors (not) working...screwed again!

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 2:37 p.m. CST

    I agree...

    by Vern

    in my opinion, John Dahl directed Rounders. It is possible that these two jokers actually directed it but then why would they have credited John Dahl? Doesn't seem likely. Anyway I also agree that John Dahl is a good one. Sure he made a couple of garbagey Ray Liotta movies in there somewheres but if you look at his filmography as a whole most of them are a good time. True, he hasn't matched RED ROCK WEST again but I did like the ol' ROUNDERS and I think he has it in him to make some more good ones.

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 2:38 p.m. CST

    It's a damn shame BATTLEFIELD EARTH almost obliterated any c

    by Cash Bailey

    And yet Vin Diesel, a man with one semi-hit (that THE LOUD AND THE POINTLESS, or whatever the fuck that crap was called) and only one proper hit (xXx), is getting 20 million a film!?!!

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 2:43 p.m. CST

    ONE HOUR PHOTO is a masterpiece.

    by Nordling

    I can't wait to see it again. I don't want to overhype it, because it is a quiet film, but I could say it's going to be this decade's TAXI DRIVER. Too late, I hyped it. But it really is that good. Great review, Mori.

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 2:57 p.m. CST

    Now that was some awesome Rumblings from the Lab

    by wasp

    Thanks, Moriarty! I have been anticipating One Hour Photo for a long time, so it was good to read you very positive review. It sounds like a film that is right up all twenty one of my alleys. Auto Focus...well, it sounds like it could be really great or it could be pretty mediocre. The more I hear about it, the more I think it may go awry in all the ways that Blow went awry. It all depends on the execution, I suppose. I just hope that Auto-Focus is more FOCUSED than Blow, which (in the last half hour) really BLEW the goat. Har har, hehe, aaahhhhh...my apologies. Anyways, here's to hoping that Auto-Focus fulfills its potential.

  • ...he directed a little movie called Static back in the 80s. Still, good job, Moriarty!

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 3:39 p.m. CST

    one hour photo

    by manhattom

    if romanek's movie is anywhere NEAR as good as his music videos (easily some of the best of all time), then it's going to be a great flick.

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 3:43 p.m. CST

    Vin...

    by symon

    You know, I really thought Vin Diesel was the next van damme, but xxx has me wondering. i liked that movie way more than i probably should have. i'm not saying he can act or anything, but still ... i don't know, i'd say he's more likely the next ah-nuld. and he's been a writer/director twice, which is interesting....so maybe more like stallone..... oh yeah - and one hour photo this decade's taxi driver? don't know who said that - but come on. no other decade has a taxi driver, the only thing that comes close is fight club - certainly not anything starring robin williams (even if he does restrain himself in this one....)

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 4:09 p.m. CST

    Maria Bello gets gangbanged?

    by Psyclops

    I'm there.

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 4:34 p.m. CST

    Can't wait to see ONE HOUR PHOTO.

    by Sod Off Baldric

    It'd bloody well better show up here in cinemas here in WisCAHNsin (local pronunciation), or I will be...upset. Auto Focus is also starting to stir some interest for me. Have to check out that one when I get a chance.

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 4:58 p.m. CST

    Thanks to AICN

    by rev_skarekroe

    for turning off that stupid typewriter. sk

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 6:26 p.m. CST

    Another Nod To John Dahl

    by Hey

    Add Joy Ride (seriously) to Dahl's excellent, largely overlooked filmography. You go into Joy Ride thinking "teen crap" and you come out thinking "Jesus. That was kind of excellent."

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 6:53 p.m. CST

    Ramblings on the Rumblings

    by Sheeld

    Mori, I love your writing. It's that simple. That new dvd section is a great idea, I've told you that before, but you said you wouldn't find the time. THe thing is, it would be absolutely great to read about the older movies, movies that aren't discussed much because of all the new exciting releases; which is a good thing, we should always keep going forwards, but to have such a great fan of movies (or fans, I don't know how this dvd thing is gonna be handled of course) write about recent dvd titles - which doesnt automatically mean recent films - opens up an oppertunity to even advance AICN's status. The written pieces should be like essays, only in that AICN/Moriarty only style, something I would be very excited about. Here's to hoping.. I do have to say, Mori, it was a great piece, once again, but I think it's a shame you didn't end the part about Auto Focus the way you began it, by finishing off the story about your girlfriend asking 'that' question. I was really waiting for that, it would have been great to personalize a movie to such an extend by framing it that specific way. Anyways, it made for a great set-up. And Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society I have to say, is still a beauty to behold, even if it is through Weir's good hand. THere is incredible spirit in his Keating, very emotional and very powerful, fondly reminding me of Crocker-Harris from The Browning Version, whichever actor you prefer in that role (I feel Finney also did a fantastic job, albeit in, maybe, a lesser film). THats about it though, I think I'll also like a script written by you, hopefully something'll happen soon in that department. Anyways, TK421 is out for now.

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 7:02 p.m. CST

    seth green

    by uberbill

    i have elves that are bigger than seth green....by the way.... my name is santa claus

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 7:20 p.m. CST

    It will be about a couple of years before Romanek even decides t

    by EL Duderino

    He's truly a brilliant man, completely unpretentious,and it was an honor to be able to ask him questions during his screening of the film at USC. A cross between Jean Reno and Stanley Kubrick, but with a voice as high as theirs are low, he is the antithesis of the music video director stereotype. He was also nice enough to come spend an extra 45 minutes to personally talk to twelve of his fans after his Q&A. Despite the heinous second trailer for the film, which is as misleading as Donnie Darko's second trailer, I am hopeful that One Hour Photo will find its audience, and maybe it would even become a "Big Fat Greek Wedding" style success depending on Fox Searchlight's strategy. You'd think that after all of the positive buzz that OHP has generated that Romanek would jump right back into the director's seat, but he noted that he's going to wait AT LEAST a year and a half. His reasoning for not wanting to direct for a couple of years? Not only is directing feature films an exhausting process, but he also wants to give himself time to get back into the right state of mind to direct features again. Simple as that.

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 7:44 p.m. CST

    so when are they coming out?

    by pavemental

    Okay, so Kid Stays in the Picture is already in limited release. But how about the other 3 films reviewed? All I'm asking for is a simple date, that should have been in the press kit. Are facts too much to ask for in AICN review? (Maybe, judging by the standard of contributions as of late).

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 8:01 p.m. CST

    BOB CRANE is being Slandered!

    by clawdagon

    Dear Fans, With the release of "Auto Focus" another slander against the only "Politically Correct" target(DWM) is hit. "DWM" means Dead White Males, you can slander them with innuendo and slurs and get away with it. He was labeled "obsessed" simply because he liked to shoot his own sex acts. No one was coerced or forced. If he were Gay,his death would have been spun as a Martyrdom of a Sexual rebel who dared to flaunt his sexuality. Yes, so he acted like a pig on that TV talk show. If he was a gangsta Rap star who sang about killing cops and raping "biches" he'd be a platinum seller and have the GWL (Guilty White Liberals) defending him like they did Eminem. Hell Feminists man-haters regularly trash Men nightly on TV and the Media and get away with it. Again if he were Gay he could have gotten the PC stamp of approval for liking Sex so much. Too bad his crime was being Hetero, White and Male. It is obvious to me that he is being screwed by the Liberal Hollywood machine. Just my thought, Claw

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 9:31 p.m. CST

    Hey - I agree "Joyride" was awesome.

    by Elgyn6655321

    Much better than it looked in previews.

  • Aug. 15, 2002, 11:59 p.m. CST

    500, 500 guys

    by IAmJack'sUserID

  • Aug. 16, 2002, 1:14 a.m. CST

    The Kid Stays in the Picture...

    by ReverseOsmosis

    ...is on my shortlist for Best of 2002, up there with Y Tu Mama and The Fast Runner. Signs and Minority Report could also make the cut. As for Barry Pepper, any detractor of his should see Billy Crystal's *61 for proof of his emerging talent. Is he in Dreamcatcher? I forget and the trailer is too insane to be able to tell...

  • Aug. 16, 2002, 4:45 a.m. CST

    by Eugene O

  • Aug. 16, 2002, 4:54 a.m. CST

    Bob Crane "politically correct" target? Preposterous!

    by Eugene O

    First of all, the flick portrays him as a good-time boy who let things get out of control. That's hardly slanderous. Secondly, gays hardly get special treatment by the media as unfortunate victims who just like sex too much. The AIDS crisis hasn't exactly made them darlings in the media OR public opinion. And finally, liberals (including the liberal media) tend to advocate sex between consenting adults--which is exactly what the Cranester was into. He was who he was, and the film does not exploit that. My only question is: could THE IRON GIANT fall victim to similar temptations (though of a more mechanical/robotic nature)?

  • Aug. 16, 2002, 5:03 a.m. CST

    Bob Crane WAS "the Liberal Hollywood Machine"!!!...

    by UTellEmSteveDave

    ...although, perhaps, just a minor gear in the grand works of a mechanism that promotes healthy sex between consenting adults (with or without the video camera)at the general expense of all other trait and trends. Nobody is slandering him. In fact he STILL remains a beloved icon DESPITE his lurid death (photos of which have been popping up on t.v. for years). The only thing that has tainted his overall "image" is the once-alleged mob ties to his death. If the dude were alive and banging today, the Liberal Hollywood Machine would be lining up for invitations to his parties!

  • Aug. 16, 2002, 6:40 a.m. CST

    If only Todd were here...

    by wasp

    ...he could answer that Iron Giant question for ya, Darth Bono. I will surmise, however, that the Iron Giant may bear a similarity to a certain Star Trek character who was not organic, yet was "fully functional...programmed in multiple techniques."

  • Aug. 16, 2002, 9:29 a.m. CST

    One Hour Photo...seen it already, Gotta love the net.

    by BillBrasky2620

    It's been available online for a while now (hint: you might want to try the file trading service that starts with a K and ends with an A. That's all I'm saying.) It definitely is a very well-made movie, with terrific performances by Robin Williams and Gary Cole as another asshole boss (perhaps even more terrifying than Lumberg from OFFICE SPACE). It starts out a little slow but that is deliberate, it picks up the pace and the suspense increases as it goes on. The ending was a little too pat I thought, as they too obviously tried to come up with a resolution that would be satisfying for the audience (as Chris Rock once said, sometimes there's no explanation needed for why people do what they do- some people are "just crazy") It will be interesting to see the final product, as the version I saw must have had a temp track because it used music from "American Beauty" and "The Man Who Wasn't There", which was somewhat distracting. Otherwise, very well done, and it surpasses "Insomnia" as one of William's better performances (although I liked him in that too), and almost makes up for the disappointing "Death to Smoochy"

  • Aug. 16, 2002, 10:09 a.m. CST

    One Hour Photo

    by daph26

    I agree with Moriarty that One Hour Photo is an excellent movie with excellent performances. The music is great, but the whole movie belongs to the art director. The sets are amazing and truly provide the insight into the characters that the script is hiding (which is not a bad thing). The ending with the "Childhood Wrap Up" is a bit over the top and unnecessary, but will look great on Robin Williams Oscar reel in February. The biggest disappointment I found in the film was what Mori loved...Connie Nielsen. I loved her in Gladiator and Rushmore and in OHP she's gives a great performance, but it's totally overshadowed by her horrible accent. Why did she have to try to sound so American?? Why couldn't she have her normal accent? It would seem to make her even more exotic to Sy if she did. But instead, you can see her labour under the stress of a waivering accent...much like Emma Thompson in "Primary Colors" or Kristen Scott Thomas in "Random Hearts" and "Life as a House." It really took me out of the movie. Other than that, the movie is fantastic and deserves as much attention, praise and box office as "Memento", "In the Bedroom" and "Monster's Ball" combined.

  • Aug. 16, 2002, 3:24 p.m. CST

    So let me get this straight..

    by 007-11

    Bob Crane is a filthy, warped person because he liked porn and having sex a lot? There has got to be more to it than that.

  • Aug. 16, 2002, 5:22 p.m. CST

    BOB CRANE is STILL being Slandered !

    by clawdagon

    First of all, the flick portrays him as a good-time boy who let things get out of control. That's hardly slanderous. >>>>>>>>>. Really ,apparently he felt had no problems showing his flicks to friends. Was his fetish really a problem. >>>>>>>>>>>> Secondly, gays hardly get special treatment by the media as unfortunate victims who just like sex too much. The AIDS crisis hasn't exactly made them darlings in the media OR public opinion. >>>>>>>>>>>>> Really? I see Gays getting plenty of special treatment by the Media and Hollywood with benefits, AIDs runs, plays and movies. How about Elizabeth Taylor and her friends in the Media making Gays the darlings of the Media? What about that "canonization" of Mathew Shepard as a Gay saint/victim killed by Hetero Goons in plays and TV adaptations? What about those two Gays who tied up, tortured and murdered a 13 year old boy? That story was practically buried in the mainstream Media and only mentioned in the local paper. If that doesn't spell "Gay-Slanted" Media I don't know what does. Didn't Hilary Swank win that Oscar for the cross-dressing Lesbian? If that doesn't spell "Media Slant" or "special treatment" or "Media Darlings" I don't know what is. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>. And finally, liberals (including the liberal media) tend to advocate sex between consenting adults--which is exactly what the Cranester was into. He was who he was, and the film does not exploit that. >>>>>>>>>> Really? It seems to advocate sex between consenting adults as A.O.K. for people they like. Clinton was a sleaze who got handled with kid gloves with no damage to his reputation. He is a hot item and sought after in the lecture circuit. But Bob Crane had a hobby of filming his conscentual sex acts and the film paints him as an sleazy obsessed monster? Sounds exploitative to me. His family is not too thrilled about this flick I understand. Claw

  • Aug. 16, 2002, 9:53 p.m. CST

    Claw: "His family is not too thrilled about this flick I underst

    by Eugene O

    That's because they aren't involved in it (translate: getting money for it). They ARE however, selling a very cool book (go to their website for details and sample pictures) that features TONS of photos of ol' Bobby banging the broads. If anyone is exploiting Bob, it's them. Of course, if there is any exploiting to be done, they SHOULD have first dibs. AS FOR CLINTON: all he did was get a blowjob from an intern; most rational people don't consider that a big deal (the BIG DEAL was, however, getting caught lying). What, do you think that politicians (liberal and conservative alike) don't use their power to get sex?! Nature seemingly MANUFACTURES broads willing to fuck guys with power. Big deal. Comparing Clinton with Crane makes sense, but you're missing the point: much like the Clinton non-issue (see above), Crane just had sex and like taping it, and that's no big deal (it wasn't like he was selling them and making $$$$ like a pornographer). The BIG DEAL was, however that he got apparently murdered for it AND that his on-screen image was of a clean-cut dude (alough having sex and being clean-cut aren't really related). Anyway, BOTH stories are sordid because of circumstances BEYOND the actual sexing up those dudes did. Still, I have no love of the media, so I'm willing to agree with ya, Claw, just to malign them anyway. Gotta go, folks...off to Hawaii for three weeks!!

  • When Eastwood says 'Action!' at the end of the film.....maaaannnn....Why the fuck doesn't anyone realize Eastwood's a great actor and give him the meaty roles that he deserves?

  • Aug. 17, 2002, 12:22 a.m. CST

    One Hour Photo

    by Di

    I agree practically word for word with Mori's review. I saw it a couple months ago and it's really fantastic. The climax toward the end is disturbing and ballsy, extremely well done. I've liked Romanek's videos, it's nice to see he can make movies this good too.

  • Aug. 17, 2002, 2:29 a.m. CST

    Poor Ickle Hetero White Male!

    by MiguelAlvarez

    Honey button your shirt, ya SS blood type tattoo is showing! But seriously, defend the Cranester by all means: just don&#39;t use the fuggin Het White Male bandwagon. It&#39;s for Assholes Exclusively, and you aint an asshole, are ya? The reasons he&#39;s gettin fucked in the portrayal are numerous, but they aint because he&#39;s straight or a guy, or white. (for fucksake) In America, Sex sells, Dirt sells even more. You all love to wallow in celebs crapulence, & finally of course: Hollywood is a whore, and loves to trash people. HWM? Don&#39;t get into &#39;special treatment&#39; and the &#39;White MAN is becoming a victim in America, just look at the media&#39;...speeches, some-one just might think you an Illinois Nazi. We all Hate Illinois Nazi&#39;s. Incoming Newsflash: White Straight Males are being targetted by the media in an agressive campaign, to make them feel unconfidant - and hence stop mating. This would then pave the way for the rest of &#39;US&#39;, once the pestilent White Straight Male has died out. All Gays, cripples, cross-dressers, people with AIDS etc are to get the Medal of Honour today. Start learning the new <incredibly oh-so upsetting> Hate language against the real Minority: WSM&#39;s/WHM&#39;s. Then the Holocaust against our overweight pasty-faced, beer breathed pussy loving enemy, can begin. This News brought to you by the Black Cross-Dressing, Gay, Crippled Midget <with AIDS>. Vive Le Revolution! White Straights are finally a minority!! (Man I enjoyed that straight bashing last nite. Oh wait, that was a dream. NOW I remember, oopsy: seems that&#39;s one of the many Privileges us Fuggin Media Darlings get...) & Alvarez sez, its &#39;7:25 in the AM, somebuddy gave me some bad shit last night&#39;..........

  • Aug. 17, 2002, 5:25 p.m. CST

    MiguelAlvarez vs. Straight White Guys (aka SWUGS)

    by Eugene O

    Well said, MiguelAlvarez!

  • Aug. 18, 2002, 8:37 p.m. CST

    Extreme X-Men rulezz!!

    by RawShark

    Beat you Relijah.

  • Aug. 19, 2002, 1:39 a.m. CST

    Umm... no...

    by acaana

    All men do not own at least one porno. I am a very very straight man and I naver have and most likely never will. We do exist!

  • Aug. 19, 2002, 2:22 a.m. CST

    I hate you, Darth Bono!

    by Noriko Takaya

    I won&#39;t be going to Hawaii &#39;till next year. Let me know how it was. Oh, and as for Alien 3: sorry, LostHighway, but it sucked AIDS-infected goat cock. One of the worst betrayals of a movie franchise this side of "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace." It was surpassed in it&#39;s rottenness only by the last 1/2 of Alien 4. May no more Alien films ever be made, I can&#39;t stand to see it get raped again. Toppu o Nerae!

  • Aug. 20, 2002, 1:46 p.m. CST

    The only porno that I&#39;m interested in...

    by John_Howlett_Jr

    ...features asian babes taking it up the ass. I don&#39;t know why, but anal sex (HETEROSEXUAL anal sex) seems more fun than conventional fucking. But its difficult to find hot girls who enjoy it that way in real life. I&#39;ve only found two so far... What was the original topic of this talk back again?

  • Aug. 22, 2002, 8:43 p.m. CST

    Bono/Alvarez Rimjob

    by Clawdagonii

    DEAR MiguelAlvarez/Bono, >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Honey button your shirt, ya SS blood type tattoo is showing! But seriously, defend the Cranester by all means: just don&#39;t use the fuggin Het White Male bandwagon. It&#39;s for Assholes Exclusively, and you aint an asshole, are ya? >>>>>>>> Pretty knee-jerk Leftist reaction. I guess both of you are assholes because I