Movie News

Moriarty's DVD Shelf! Gangsters, Kids Stuff, Unreleased Movies, Pauly Shore And Lily Chou-Chou!!

Published at: Oct. 15, 2008, 2:31 a.m. CST by Moriarty

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

Three whole days “off” and nothing but rain. Here in Los Angeles, that’s akin to the end of the world. For me, days off are really just an opportunity to work without the interruptions I’m so used to every day. People leave you alone on holiday weekends, especially when the weather’s like this.

I had to go to the gym on Saturday morning, but I was home early. I loaded up the disc player in the front room. I’ve got four distinct stacks of discs on top of the TV this weekend, all of them things I need to review. Gangster/crime films in one stack. Asian cinema in another. Animation in another. And a sort of grab bag stack, various odds and ends to keep things diverse.

I was going to try for as many as five or six platters of films by the time Monday was over, but as it turned out, I only managed three. Let’s see what sort of dent I made in the stack this weekend. As always, I’ve got my entire DVD collection set up at DVD Aficionado, a great site that I’ve enjoyed working with. With very few exceptions, I’ve been able to find all my titles in their archives. You can check it out right here if you’re curious, and I’ve made sure to point out what was purchased, what was sent as a screener, and what was a gift, since so many of your e-mails seemed to think that was so urgently important.


THIS WEEK ON THE SHELF
(Click header to go directly to the section)

PLATTER ONE: LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE, PARIS, TEXAS, PAULY SHORE IS DEAD, LITTLE CAESAR, and MIKEY AND NICKY


PLATTER TWO: THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MOVIE, BAMBI: PLATINUM EDITION, PORCO ROSSO, ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU CHOU, and THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN


PLATTER THREE: TENNIS ANYONE?, cl.ONE, FAST DRIVER, WE ALL FALL DOWN, and THE SILVERGLEAM WHISTLE.


LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE

PARIS, TEXAS

PAULY SHORE IS DEAD

LITTLE CAESAR

MIKEY AND NICKY

Palm Pictures has very esoteric tastes as a distributor, and I’m always fascinated to see what they send out from month-to-month. This Thai drama won the top prize at last year’s FanTasia Film Festival in Montreal, and it was photographed by the great Christopher Doyle, so I put it on with pretty high hopes. That’s unfair, though, because this isn’t the sort of film that’s meant to hold up to the crushing weight of expectation. It’s a delicate story by director Pen-ek Ratanaruang, a two-character piece about Kenji, a shy librarian who wants to kill himself but doesn’t have the nerve. His brother, a low-level Yakuza, brings trouble and murder into Kenji’s house, and Kenji ends up on the run, where circumstance brings a striking but frustrating girl named Noi into his life.

Eventually, Kenji has to surrender himself to the tides of fate and start to live, but the film isn’t about grand ephiphanies. It’s quiet, and what it does best is portray the hunger felt by the genuinely lonely and the way people fumble towards making connections, and the way they fail. There’s a very dry sense of humor, almost like early Jarmusch, an absurdist wit played straight. Takashi Miike makes a funny, freaky Yakuza in his supporting role, but this isn’t a crime film. I love how Kenji speaks pretty much only Japanese, and Noi pretty much only speaks Thai, so they can’t really understand each other except though the little bit of broken English they both speak. There’s a commentary on the disc with Christopher Doyle that I haven’t listened to yet, but I’m sure I will. He’s normally pretty entertaining and candid. There’s also a collection of Doyle’s art work and an interview with the director. There’s a perfectly adequate 5.1 surround mix in Thai with English subtitles.

I remember reading a lot about PARIS, TEXAS when it played Cannes in ’84 and then got released in the States. Critics seemed mad about it. I was 14. I was all about GHOSTBUSTERS and BUCKAROO BANZAI and TEMPLE OF DOOM and GREMLINS that summer. I wasn’t into Wim Wenders. In the years since, I’ve never really been a huge fan of his work. I like certain films, I’m not terribly fond of others. I never really made the effort to catch up to this one.

My loss. This might be my favorite film by Wenders now, more so even than THE AMERICAN FRIEND. Harry Dean Stanton gives an epic performance as Travis, a guy who comes wandering out of the desert as the film begins, mute and filthy, like he’s in shock from a trauma. His brother Walt, played by Dean Stockwell, comes all the way from LA to pick him up and take him home. Stockwell and Anne (Aurore Clement), his French wife, have been raising Travis’s son, played by Hunter Carson in one of the most natural child performances I’ve ever seen. The chemistry between him and Stanton is magic, and you can see Stanton really feeding off of this kid’s great energy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Stanton open up this way on film anywhere else. Travis has to track down his much-younger wife Jane (Natassja Kinski) and make sense of whatever the incident was that drove her to abandon her son and made Travis crazy enough to send him out into the desert in the first place.

What surprised me here is how warm and funny the film is overall. I can’t help but think that Barry Levinson must have had this film on his mind when he was making RAIN MAN. I’m not used to this sort of thing from Wenders and screenwriter Sam Shepard. When Travis does finally find Jane, it’s tremendously powerful, and you realize just how completely Wenders has got you tied around his little finger by that point. Robby Muller’s photography is ghostly and beautiful, and Ry Cooder’s score is just plain brilliant. Fox Home Video did a beautiful job with this one. The 1.78 transfer is flawless, and the English 5.1 Dolby Digital track is subtle and solid. There’s also a Spanish Dolby surround track and English and Spanish subtitles. Even without a commentary by Wenders and deleted scenes and footage from the Cannes premiere, this would be worth buying, so count yourself extra-lucky and pick one up.

PAULY SHORE IS DEAD, on the other hand, could come with a free bar of gold, a blowjob from a Playmate, and a large pizza and it still wouldn’t be worth even a free copy. There’s a quote from Ain’t It Cool on the back cover that reads “This is a great flick!” Here’s another quote to balance that one. Feel free to use it. “An unwatchably smug inside joke that makes IN THE ARMY NOW look like SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS.” This desperately wants to be a self-aware deconstruction of celebrity, but Pauly Shore simply isn’t a good or a clever filmmaker. I recoiled from all the scenes where Sam Kinison appears as a hipster guardian angel to tell Pauly what to do. Leave Kinison out of it, Pauly. He’s not here to defend himself or, evidently, to decide not to be in terrible films. The news that there is going to be a reality show this year that is more of this sort of self-deprecating-but-not-really-more-like-self-loathing navel-gazing stuff from Pauly as he tries to restart his career is just depressing. It’s 82 minutes that feel like three times that. No laughs. Do you really care about the disc specs?

LITTLE CAESAR was one of the titles Warner Bros. just released as part of their recent Gangster Collection. It’s the first one from the set that I’ve watched. I love the warning that they put in front of the film during one of its re-releases here, included as an optional feature. It’s stern and overt, describing Rico as a “problem that we, the public, must one day solve.” I’d love to show whoever wrote that a copy of GRAND THEFT AUTO: SAN ANDREAS.

Besides, it seems to directly contrast the actual film, where the gangsters are unbelievably watchable and compelling. We love to watch gangsters at their worst, from this film all the way through to THE SOPRANOS. And what a brilliant bunch of bad boys these are in this film. This was the picture that made the genre white hot in the first place. Director Mervyn LeRoy did a great job of pumping up the melodrama to nuclear intensity. Even though LeRoy made other great films (NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS, THE BAD SEED, MISTER ROBERTS), this 1931 film may well remain the best thing he ever did and the most influential.

I watched the disc in “Warner Night At The Movies” mode, complete with Leonard Maltin introduction. Wanna know why everyone considers Warner Home Video the best catalog company in the business? It’s the size of their library and because they make discs like this one. The vintage era newsreel features an interview with the girlfriend of just-slain gangster “Legs” Diamond. It’s a nice reminder that LeRoy was making a contemporary picture, not a period piece. We look back at it now, and everything’s so stylized that it seems impossible to believe that this was the way it really looked. There’s a sort of one-act play with Spencer Tracy, a trailer for another Edward G. Robinson film, a black-and-white cartoon called “Lady Play Your Mandolin” that is complete freakshow musical nonsense. Of course, that means it’s great. This is the sort of cartoons that Warner Bros made before they created their iconic characters, when everything still pretty much looked exactly like Mickey Mouse.

And then there’s the movie. Pure prohibition-era bliss. I love this sort of dialogue, and Edward G. Robinson was born to spit it out. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard “Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Rico?” in context. The movie is jam-packed with great movie moments like the robbery of the Bronze Peacock on New Year’s Eve or the moment where Rico guns down a defector from the gang on the steps of a church. As Rico makes a name for himself in the underworld, the film also traces his friendship with Joe (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.), who isn’t as strong as Rico, and who pays for it. The way Rico negotiates his way to the top of the criminal world, and his eventual fall, are brutal and unrelenting, and it’s easy to see why audiences were so drawn to this film and continue to be so now.

Finally, the platter finished with MIKEY & NICKY, a terrific unsung little gem by Elaine May. As the director of ISHTAR, she obviously has a habit of making films that are detested and abused by a studio but which end up being fascinating and worth rediscovery. John Cassavetes and Peter Falk co-star as two low level mob guys who spend a long dark night of the soul trading body shots in a psychological skirmish, a tussle about trust and self-preservation.

Nicky (Cassavetes) fucked up, the latest in what is evidently a long and checkered history of fuck ups, most of which seem to put his lifelong friend Mikey (Falk) into compromising positions. Now Nicky’s hiding out in a hotel, convinced that he’s going to be killed, and the only person who he can ask for help is Mikey. Or... can he? Ned Beatty plays the hitman charged with finding Nicky, and legendary acting teacher Sanford Meisner shows up as Resnick, the boss who ordered the hit on Nicky. This film is every bit as good as any of the film that Cassavetes directed Falk in, and it mystifies me who this isn’t acknowledged alongside other similar pictures from the ‘70s like MIDNIGHT COWBOY and MEAN STREETS. It’s got a great loose visual style thanks to cinematographer Victor J. Kemper, who also shot DOG DAY AFTERNOON, SLAP SHOT, and THE JERK. It feels improvised, even though it’s not, due to a great script by May and wonderful work by Cassavetes and Falk. They obviously have a long history together as collaborators, but this is one of the high points in terms of them together onscreen. And the ending... oh, man... that ending. Hats off to Home Vision Entertainment, who not only sprang for a great digital transfer and restoration (detailed in a nice documentary feature), but who also included an interview with Michael Hausman, the producer, and Kemper, the D.P. Film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum’s liner notes are informative and make a great case for how the film got overlooked in the first place. Because of this disc, finally, that could change.


THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MOVIE

BAMBI: PLATINUM EDITION

PORCO ROSSO

ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU CHOU

THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN

I took a break, took a walk around the block before I started the next tray full of films. My wife still wasn’t home from work, but I knew she’d show up while this batch was playing, so I put in some titles I knew she would want to see, too.

I’ve never seen an episode of Nickelodeon’s enormously popular SPONGEBOB show, so color me stunned by this, my first exposure to it. The Goofy Goober Theme Song is now officially stuck in my head, and I am just starting to realize that each and every kid who loves this show is... well... insane.

The full magnitude of the influence of John Kricfalusi on modern kid’s animation is impossible to calculate, but what makes certain shows work is that they aren’t aping his style... they’re refining it and adding to it with something original. There’s an innocent playfulness to the adventures of Spongebob Squarepants and his starfish friend Patrick that is as appealing as REN & STIMPY was ugly. In a lot of ways, the sensibility here reminds me of the best of PEE WEE’S PLAYHOUSE. This is one seriously silly movie about a stolen crown and angry plankton and bubble-blowing babies and free ice cream that isn’t, Peanut Party underpants, Jeffrey Tambor’s baldness, mind control buckets, Instant Manhood, live-action pirates, and, yes, David Hasslehoff. Director/creator Stephen Hillenburg has just the right sensibility for this sort of stuff, and it’s a charmingly loony film. If you’re a fan of crazy ‘80s metal videos, you’ll love the film’s climax, and keep your eyes peeled for the most improbable STUNT ROCK reference of all time. I really can’t imagine what a child would make of all of this, except pure unbridled pleasure. Of course this is a phenomenon. Why wouldn’t it be?

Paramount put some nice extras on the disc, so SPONGEBOB fans should have a blast, and for someone brand new to the whole thing, it’s a really easy crash course. The series regulars, including the great Tom Kenny and Clancy Brown, are joined by guest stars like Tambor, Alec Baldwin, and Scarlett Johansson, but they never overpower the movie. There are Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English, Spanish, and French, as well as English subtitles. As family titles go, this is pretty much all you could ask for.

When you’re talking about family classics, there are few films with the lasting beauty and power of Disney’s BAMBI, and their new Platinum Edition 2-disc set is breathtaking.

So far, I’ve only watched the first disc, but there’s a lot of meat already. Obviously, there’s the film itself, and it’s another amazing restoration by the folks at Lowry. It’s so clean, so bright. You can see the places where the cels meet. You can see brush strokes. This is a technical marvel, a reference copy of one of the prettiest films the Disney company ever released. At 70 minutes, this isn’t a particularly complex film. It traces the cycles of life, starting with the birth of the new young prince of the forest, Bambi. It’s the same as the opening of THE LION KING, and it even comes full circle in the film the same way, but how the two sequences are handled says everything about the difference between storytelling styles of old Disney and modern Disney. BAMBI is as gentle a film as Disney ever made. It’s more like a ballet than it is like a typical film, and the animation of the animals is just remarkable. The one special feature on that first disc is “BAMBI: Inside Walt’s Story Meetings,” a dramatic recreation of transcriptions from the story meetings for the film. It’s a little silly at first, but the more you listen, and the more you watch the accompanying excerpts to see how certain ideas developed, the more interesting it becomes, and I’d actually really recommend it to Disney nuts.

You want strange? Try moving from BAMBI to ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU. You could sprain something from a stylistic and tonal shift this abrupt. I never got around to seeing Shunji Iwai’s film on the festival circuit. I know that it had both fans and detractors, though.

You can mark me down as a fan now that Home Vision Entertainment put out a nice new anamorphic region one release. I’ve finally seen it, and I am sort of smitten. It’s exuberant filmmaking about sullen, uncommunicative characters, a sweet and sour mix that really pays off. There are two narratives unfolding at once: the lives of Yuichi and Hoshino and Kuno and Tsuda, kids at a Japanese high school, as well as the lives of blue cat and philia and others who post as members of an internet forum about pop singer Lily Chou Chou. If these kids spoke to each other face to face with the same sort of emotional unguardedness they show in their online posts, they might have completely different lives. But they don’t talk to each other. Even when they spend all their time together, they don’t know each other at all. They jockey for position. They establish dominance. It’s like the Stanford Prison Experiment, if the film is to be believed, in modern Japanese high schools. For all the casual sorrow and horror on display, the film is a visual powerhouse, startlingly beautiful. The songs of the fictional Lily Chou Chou and the music of Debussy provide perfect emotional support for the waterfall of gorgeous imagery. The disc is technically impressive, a crisp 1.85:1 picture with a strong Dolby Digital 2.0 mix.

I didn’t take as big a tonal left turn as I thought I would when I put on Disney’s new 2-disc release of PORCO ROSSO. It’s the most melancholy of Miyazaki’s films, and the action scenes are spectacular, one of the high points in traditional cel animation from anywhere in the world. I’ve seen the original Japanese language version probably a half-dozen times, and that’s always the version I’ll prefer. With this disc, though, I was very curious about the new dub. I’ve always heard that Miyazaki loved the French dub of the film, where Jean Reno did the voice of Porco Rosso, and Disney actually included that French dub here. They don’t make a big deal about it, so I’m not even sure they realize what a treat this is for fans. I watched a half-hour of it first with the English subs on and the French dub playing, and then backed it up and started it again with the new English dub playing. Michael Keaton provides Porco Rosso’s voice, and it’s some of my favorite work by him in a long time. He seems genuinely invested in what he’s doing, and he gives Marco a world-weary quality that is essential to getting the character right. He seems to relish the oddity of the role.

Other voice actors like Susan Egan, David Ogden Stiers, Cary Elwes, Kimberly Williams, and Brad Garrett are all well-utilized. As dubs go, this is a nice one… maybe even a very nice one. Otherwise, the film’s the same, even though it’s never looked or sounded better. If you’ve never seen the film, I understand. It’s probably the least-celebrated of his films in America. I love how PORCO ROSSO fans really, really get passionate about the film, though. If it’s their favorite of Miyazaki’s films, it’s usually their favorite by a wide margin. There’s a real sadness to the story of Marco, a fighter ace who was cursed so that he has to live as a pig. Yeah, I know. It sounds crazy. Now imagine it as a Bogart film, but with amazing flying sequences and dogfights. Marco’s got a love interest and a romantic rival and a price on his head, as well as existential angst to spare. He may be a pig, but he’s certainly not what you expect. As the ads for the original Japanese release (included here as a disc one extra) stated, “This is what cool looks like.”

Sunday just plain disappeared on me. After that tremendous Saturday of movies, I went all of Sunday without a single film until almost 6:00, when I started with the extras on the PORCO ROSSO disc, including an interview with the producer and a feature about the making of the English dub. There was only one other film left in the platter, so it was pretty easy to figure out how to kick the evening off: THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN.

I love Walter Matthau movies. One of the first films that ever made a profound impact on me was THE BAD NEWS BEARS. I love the movies he made when he was younger, and I love the ones he made just before he died. What’s funny is how he always seemed like he was 60 years old and grumpy. I just found him preposterously watchable. You’ll know if you’re going to enjoy THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN by the time Matthau shows up six minutes into it. I loved the opening scene and the gritty ‘70s vibe, and it’s nice to discover a good Matthau film I didn’t already know. Louis Gossett Jr. and Bruce Dern join Matthau as San Francisco police detectives working a gory bus massacre in which an off-duty cop was killed. The cop just happened to be Matthau’s partner, and Matthau starts working the case hard, even as he struggles to deal with the shock and the reminder of his own mortality.

This is a sturdy procedural, matter-of-fact about a surprisingly high level of violence. Dern and Gossett get plenty of time on their own, and they both do excellent work. It’s a really seedy, freaky version of San Francisco, not one I’ve seen in many other films. There’s as much time dedicated to Matthau’s domestic troubles with his kids as there is to the case. It’s a pretty stripped down release from Fox Home Video, but well worth it for anyone who’s a fan of ‘70s crime pictures like DIRTY HARRY or THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1-2-3.


TENNIS, ANYONE?

cl.ONE

FAST DRIVER

WE ALL FALL DOWN

THE SILVERGLEAM WHISTLE

By late Sunday night, the rain was still coming down in sheets outside, and I set up the next platter. All of these are discs that I’ve been sent by the makers of the films, things that don’t have distribution yet, truly independent features and shorts. I feel bad because a lot of people slip me stuff like this and it’s easy to let it stack up. There are so many “real” titles to review that it becomes a trap, and I end up giving these guys less than my full attention. It’s not fair to these people who work their asses off, then hand over these passion projects to be judged. I decided to watch a whole platter of them at once, and I promise... I’ll try to do this more often.

First up was a film that just had its premiere at the Aspen Comedy Arts Festival. If you’re going to see any of these in a theater, I’m betting it’ll be this one.

Donal Logue is one of those guys you’ve seen in a lot of stuff over the years. He was Jimmy the sweaty cab driver on MTV. He was in BLADE. He’s had his own sitcom. He always seems to do good work without ever giving that one breakout performance in that one breakout role. So he did the smart thing and just wrote himself a great role and directed the film. In TENNIS, ANYONE?, co-scripted with Kirk Fox, Logue plays Danny Macklin, an actor who seems to be on the verge of everything he wants. His girlfriend Christy (Kylie Bax) is pregnant, he’s working, and the future seems bright. He meets a tennis pro/part time actor named Gary Morgan (played by Fox) on a set, and they strike up a friendship. That turns out to be one of the few constant things in Danny’s life when everything else starts to implode. Danny gets hired on a sitcom that sounds suspiciously like GROUNDED FOR LIFE, the real series that Logue’s been on for a while, even as Christy leaves him for someone else. He starts to become a magnet for really shitty publicity. Danny starts to channel his energy into tennis, inspired by Gary’s zen-hipster attitude towards life, and the two of them eventually end up playing in tournaments as a team. They’ve created a classic comedy bad guy in the form of Johnny Green, a hugely successful film comic a la Jim Carrey or Robin Williams. Green is a savage prick, played with relish by Jason Isaacs, who boasts a flawless American accent in the role. He’s a racist, sexist phony whose smile inevitably masks some sort of psychological mind game. His final comeuppance is hilarious and horrifying in equal measure. Logue has a confident eye as a director, and there’s a casual, unforced charm to the whole thing. I’m doubly impressed by the performance of Kirk Fox, since I just watched him yesterday in the godawful PAULY SHORE IS DEAD (see above), where he leaves no impression whatsoever. Here, he comes across as a mix of both Luke and Owen Wilson, and it’s a winning combination. Stephen Dorff and Paul Rudd are both hilarious in small supporting roles as an over-earnest country singer and a shameless porn star. In a way, this is like a more amiable version of what Soderbergh and Clooney are trying to do with UNSCRIPTED on HBO right now. While I may prefer looking at Krista Allen, Logue and Fox have made a sincere and affecting comedy that ultimately is about more than just Hollywood, giving them the edge. It’s aobut finding your place, something I think anyone can relate to. I hope someone picks this up for wider distribution. It deserves it.

On the other hand, festivals are the perfect place for cl.ONE, a no-budget SF film that was essentially made by one guy. The festival circuit loves a good backstory on films, and this one's got one. Writer-director, editor, cinematographer, producer Jason J. Tomaric deserves a break on a big film. It's really just that simple. If his claims of making this entire thing for $25,000 are true, it’s a dazzling accomplishment on a technical level, a sort of micro SKY CAPTAIN. It’s making its World Premiere at The South By Southwest Emerging Vision section in Austin on 6pm Friday March 11th ACC, 9:30pm Sunday ACC March 13th, and 7:00 PM Wednesday March 16th - ACC. I’d recommend that genre fans and aspiring filmmakers check it out, especially if there’s a Q&A afterwards. Thanks to the new tools available to filmmakers, anyone can put together a SF film of almost any scale now provided they have the imagination and the willpower. As drama, cl.ONE left me a little cold thanks to a combination of unrelenting technospeak and exposition, as well as actors who are competent but never exciting. Give him a good script and a strong cast his next time out, though, and the problem’s solved. Tomaric is a filmmaker, no doubt about it. He’s got a good eye, he’s got a real hunger to make something out of nothing, and when the cast doesn’t get in his way, he actually knows how to build and sustain a mood. The film’s ending is like something right out of old OUTER LIMITS episodes, but I was so amazed by how he pulled it all off visually that I didn’t mind. I have a feeling we’ll look back at cl.ONE one day as the start of a fascinating career.

Next up was FAST DRIVER, a whole disc full of the comedy shorts of Nick Gibbons. He embraces the limited nature of his animation and makes it part of the joke, especially in the title cartoon, a spot-on parody of SPEED RACER. He must have watched a ton of this as a kid because he gets every detail right. It’s so close that it’s almost unfair to call it a parody. It’s more like he just amplified the inherent absurdity of the original by a few degrees. The Spumco influence comes through loud and clear here, too, in cartoons like “Radioactive Crotch Man” and “The Adventures of Clem and Cletus,” in which a horny dog marries the leg that he’s been humping so they can have babies. Gibbons isn’t really concerned with the subtle joke, but he’s smart enough to keep his cartoons short and the punchlines fast. “Dumbbells of Doom” made me laugh mighty hard, and his “Director’s Cut” version is a cheap joke, but a funny one. When Gibbons gets dirty, he’s shameless, but he knows how to make the infantile seem genuinely witty.

The live-action shorts on the disc are also pretty good, and there’s a sense of random anarchy to what you can expect to see. He makes vicious fun of pretentious student films in “Art Piece,” and the ending is particularly sharp. “Stall” is one joke, well told, and as with the cartoons, he knows how to get out while the audience is still laughing. It’s impossible to overemphasize how important pace is in comedy, and when you look at any episode of SNL these days, it’s hard to believe that’s a network show. There’s more dead air on an average episode of that show than there is between Nicole Richie’s ears. Gibbons pretty much nails it every time. “Score” is probably the most sophisticated thing on the whole disc, the story of a guy who has his own soundtrack. It suggests that Gibbons may be capable of something beyond the silliness. There are even some extra features on the disc including animation tests and a very funny excerpt from his live stand-up routine. Overall, this is a strong showcase for the peculiar talents of Gibbons, and you should visit him online right here.

I rounded out the platter with two short horror films, both of which were given to me at the 2001 MANIACS screening I co-hosted in January. THE SILVERGLEAM WHISTLE is a film by Mike Williamson, who was one of the horror filmmakers that Harry mentioned in an infamous article several years back. Patty McCormack of THE BAD SEED fame is the star of this one. A family stops at a remote hotel, where the ultra-creepy owner (McCormack) tells them a ghost story about her son and the train he was driving on the day he died. The first (and easiest) comparison is to “Ghost Train,” the premiere episode of Steven Spielberg’s AMAZING STORIES. It’s well-produced and makes the most of its limited budget, and there are some nice creepy touches throughout. It speaks well of Williamson as a filmmaker.

WE ALL FALL DOWN, by Jake Kennedy, is also very promising, even if it’s a little heavy on the Asian horror influence for my taste. A group of kids runs over a little Asian girl in their car. Because she is Asian, she becomes a creepy undead vengeful ghost. Kennedy has a nice sense of how to build a scare, and he packs a lot of punch into a relatively short running time. It’s not long on story, but when the scares happen, they’re effective. A strong sound mix and a crisp, clean look really sell the piece.

And then on Monday...

... well, actually, I didn’t watch a damn thing on Monday because of a pressing deadline. Frustrating, too, since I barely made a dent in my various stacks. I’ll try to do another three-platter round up before the weekend, but that might be tricky since I’m taking off in a few hours to visit Pixar in northern California. But more on that later. Until then...

"Moriarty" out.





Readers Talkback

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  • Feb. 23, 2005, 3:13 a.m. CST

    First, but who gives a shit?

    by Spaz Medicine

    Who the hell called the Pauley Shore movie great????

  • Feb. 23, 2005, 3:50 a.m. CST

    I'm guessing Pauly Shore called his own movie great.

    by Tall_Boy

    "I went into like this deep coma and got this message from a person I admire, respect, and deeply love." "Who was that, then?" "Me."

  • Feb. 23, 2005, 4:52 a.m. CST

    ...

    by Gluecifer

    You don't mention the great Tadanobu Asano (check IMDB, for fuck's sake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), but you talk about this fuckin' Takashi Miike (I like some of his films, but come on...)!!!! That's fuckin' stupid!

  • No Mori, for you days off are exactly the same as days off are for every avid reader of this site: an opportunity to watch movies without interruptions. If that's work for you, it's research for me. In other words, just call the beast by its name.

  • Feb. 23, 2005, 8:04 a.m. CST

    Krabbs is the Kurgen and Brother Justin

    by Ansai

    Same actor/voice. Just putting that out there. I mean.

  • Feb. 23, 2005, 8:39 a.m. CST

    "SeaLab 2021 Vol. 2" was released yesterday. The "Fusebox" epis

    by FrankDrebin

    I tried telling people that the "Spongebob" movie was a hoot, but nobody believed me. And, yes, Bob & Patrick ARE totally gay. When Bob becomes a rock guitarist, Patrick is his groupie, wearing fishnet stockings, high heels & a thong. And there's a scene where they spit water at each other, catch it, and spit it back (think "Clerks").

  • Feb. 23, 2005, 9:52 a.m. CST

    ABOUT FREAKING TIME they put Paris, Texas on DVD

    by Lizzybeth

    Beautiful film, terribly sad. My favorite by Wenders as well, fans of Wings of Desire should check it out.

  • Feb. 23, 2005, 10:45 a.m. CST

    I can't read a word of ths article, because the text is squished

    by Osmosis Jones

    Please correct it, Moriarty. Your DVD Shelf articles are the best thing on AICN, and I hate missing out.

  • Feb. 23, 2005, 10:55 a.m. CST

    Ahhhh Reference to the old AMUSEMENTS article....

    by RenoNevada2000

    I honestly thought that story would have just quietly "disappeared" off the site's server...

  • Feb. 23, 2005, 11:08 a.m. CST

    can u have picked out 15 worse movies?

    by ZO

    that no one cares about?

  • Feb. 23, 2005, 12:11 p.m. CST

    All About Lily Chou-Chou

    by BillEmic

    Glad you got a chance to watch this amazing Japanese film, Moriarty. I just watched it last week and it's quickly become one of my top ten favorite films of all time. If anyone here has even a remote interest in Japanese cinema I encourage you to check it out. It's quite possibly the best portrayal of teenage angst ever put to screen.

  • Feb. 23, 2005, 1:33 p.m. CST

    THE SILVERGLEAM WHISTLE

    by mikewilliamson

    What a nice surprise...To wake up and have your short film on AICN! Please check out www.nickeleyepictures.com to see if THE SILVERGLEAM WHISTLE is playing a film festival near you... Thanks Drew. Mike Williamson

  • Feb. 23, 2005, 1:43 p.m. CST

    Donal Logue

    by mortsleam

    Should have risen to some kind of stardom after his starring role in the superb "The Tao of Joe." Instead he pissed it away on a sitcom. Too bad. Not that Grounded For Life is horrible or anything. It certainly started out funny. Kevin Corrigan did a great Christopher Walken imitation as the wacky brother. And the mother is a MILF. But I haven't watched it since it went to whatever half-assed pseudo-network stole it from Fox.

  • Trust me.

  • Feb. 23, 2005, 2:41 p.m. CST

    And yes, that "misunderestimate" was on purpose, Bush fans

    by Dagan

  • Feb. 23, 2005, 2:53 p.m. CST

    "I

    by Spike Fett

    Why put this condescending bullshit in every column? We GET IT, already.

  • They introduced an entire generation of kids to their parents' mortality. Both movies are awesome if you're a Disney fan, by the way.

  • Feb. 23, 2005, 3:57 p.m. CST

    THE SILVERGLEAM WHISTLE at www.nickeleyepictures.com

    by mikewilliamson

    Sorry...That's probably easier as a link... Mike

  • Feb. 23, 2005, 9:10 p.m. CST

    interesting how lion king is mentioned in the same column as miy

    by Acne Scarface

    since everyone should know that lion king is an uncredited rip-off of kimba the white lion, an anime of all things.

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 12:01 a.m. CST

    Where's Nausicaa?

    by trevor2001

    Duh, I mean Miyazaki's most maligned film (in this country, Warriors of the Wind? ugh.) With Patrick Stewart, Edward James Olmos, & Alison Lohman on dubbing duty, you gotta classic (finally).

  • Feb. 24, 2005, 9:45 a.m. CST

    cat returns=very pleasant surprise

    by Acne Scarface

    for what's considered a "lesser effort" (perhaps because it's not a full-on miyazaki gig), i got a lot of the same magical, fantastical vitality that other ghibli works have delivered. bravo.

  • Feb. 26, 2005, 12:48 a.m. CST

    Yo, when is someone gonna rip Nausicaa? Is that shit on BT yet?

    by The_Lion

    Someone, do it. NOW!!

  • March 1, 2005, 2:51 p.m. CST

    Bambi has no stupid ballads. So it rocks.

    by saneman

    I am sick of Disney movies in the last 20 years providing ample playlists to the Lite FM stations all over the world. That Peabo Bryson , Phil Collins shit gets on my nerves. Bambi has very little music and is your senses are more tuned into the plot.