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Hey, Head Geek...

“Moriarty” here.

Welcome to the second edition of RUMBLINGS FROM THE LAB, the newest ongoing project here at the Moriarty Labs. This is where we’ll discuss all those things that don’t necessarily demand their own spy report, but which are well worth discussing here at AICN.

We have a computer program here at the Moriarty Labs that can speed dial phone numbers randomly. We use it to make calls all day, all night, all the time, hoping we’ll stumble across an interesting number, and this week it finally paid off. After a few rings, the unmistakable voice of writer/Silent Bob/director Kevin Smith came over the line. The henchman assigned to monitor the program raced over, grabbed me, and got me to the phone just in time to start talking to Kevin as if the whole thing were planned.

Thankfully, I had just finished reading Kevin’s extraordinary run of DAREDEVIL the night before, so we had plenty to talk about. For those of you who only know Kevin from his films like CLERKS and CHASING AMY, I would urge you to run out and get issues #1 - 8 of the new DAREDEVIL. This is the most mature, adult writing Kevin’s done so far in any medium, and it’s extremely impressive. I would also say that anyone who is debating joining the Catholic League in their wrongheaded, deeply un-Christian attack on Kevin’s new film DOGMA should read these comics before deciding where they stand. Smith has managed to take one of Marvel’s traditional heroes and use him to explore complicated ideas about faith, love, and the basic struggle of good and evil. The work he does here ranks with some of the best efforts of Kurt Busiek, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Frank Miller. This is the kind of thing that brings new readers to comics and then hooks them by being so much better than expected. I’ve personally chosen not to read the script for DOGMA (one of the few I’ve opted to do this with) because I want to hear the film fresh when I finally get a chance to see it. I don’t want to get a picture of it in my head. I also don’t want to know anything further about the religious content of the film. I had a similar religious upbringing to Kevin, and the depth of the debate in DAREDEVIL suggests to me that these are real issues for him, something which he actively addresses in his life. This isn’t someone who’s taking shots at the church. This is someone who looks around at our world, then turns to the church as a way of making sense of things. Only someone with a profound comittment to their faith would be able to so effectively demonstrate why it’s important.

The other thing that really impressed me about the book was the phenomenal work done by Joe “Penciller” Quesada and Jimmy “Tracer” Palmiotti. I think all of Kevin’s films have a simple, uncluttered visual style that is fine, but not particularly memorable. In the comics medium, his words are suddenly given vibrant, explosive visual life. The imagery in the series is unforgettable, and this trio should definitely consider future collaborations.

Seeing how liberated Kevin’s storytelling seemed to be when freed of the constraints of live-action, the first thing I had to ask him about was whether he plans to move into animated films. I was suprised when he said, “No.” As he explained his position, I could understand what he was getting at. In a perfect world, Kevin could make a $35 million animated feature out of DAREDEVIL that would be what he wrote, and the company he made it for would be smart enough to market it properly, support it, and nurture themselves a solid financial hit. That won’t happen in the real world, though, since no studio in town has yet figured out that animation can be used for more than just children’s films. Even IRON GIANT won’t make that point abundantly clear, since Brad Bird has made a classic humanist fable that’s disguised as a kid’s film. That’s all the suits will see... “Look! Plush toys!” We debated the pros and cons of live-action superhero movies and whether they can ever really work. I agree with Kevin that there’s an inherent silliness to seeing two real guys in tights fighting. Animation can deliver all the exaggerated realism we’re used to without compromising it one bit. With a project like Alan Moore’s brilliant new LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN (run, don’t walk, to a comic store if you aren’t reading it yet), there’s an opportunity to create a Victorian world that would be prohibitively expensive in live-action. As long as Disney drives the market, though -- and TARZAN’s success suggests there’s no end in sight -- we’ll never get a chance to see these other uses of the medium.

At least, we won’t see them on the bigscreen. Right now, whatever risks are being taken in American animation are being taken on TV. That brought our conversation around to Kevin’s newest project, the animated series version of CLERKS for ABC. The show should be on in March as a midseason replacement, and it sounds like work is well underway. Kevin says they’ve got three finished scripts, with two episodes already recorded and ready for animation. Kevin’s working with three other writers on the show (Dave Mandel, Brian Kelly, and Steve Luckner), and he says one of the things about the process that he’s really found interesting so far is writing with that many other people. The round table format is new to him. I can imagine the adjustment. With everything else he’s done so far, Kevin’s been the sole voice. When he’s been rewritten, like with the SUPERMAN fiasco, it’s been without his participation. Now he’s actually knocking ideas back and forth with people, tossing jokes around, really collaborating. He seems to be enjoying it, though, and he’s proud of the fact that they’ve managed to be outrageous and funny without relying on the shock value of extreme language. He says the scripts are PG-13 at best, and that they’re definitely not going to try and one-up shows like SOUTH PARK. Instead, they’re exploring the bigger than life potential of animated stories. I don’t want to spoil any of the stories this far out from air date, but they sound fun and surreal, much like the Oni Press comic stories.

I was surprised when Kevin told me that there were no protests whatsoever around the release of the DAREDEVIL story. Even though it delves seriously into issues of faith and actually contains a violent massacre in a church, there was total silence. Why? Well, maybe it’s because Marvel Comics isn’t as attractive a target for the Catholic League as Disney. After all, when you’re trying to raise funds, you use the biggest names you can, right? Even though Disney and Miramax are no longer associated with the film in any way, William Donohue and his group are still calling for Disney to dump Miramax completely. They continue to weild the title DOGMA like a bat of some sort, even though they’re yet to see the movie. I guess what really blows my mind is that anyone could consider the Catholic League to be even remotely on the side of right in this particular instance. They’re so far wrong that I would expect the Church itself to take a stand and distance themselves from such nakedly ambitious zealots. The worst part of it all is the need that View Askew suddenly has for extra security. Remember, folks... the people who are threatening Kevin are doing so because of God. Seems like to some people, the New Testament is only convenient when it’s easy. They’ll throw it out to suit their own purposes at a moment’s notice. Somehow, I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work.

It’s a shame that this particular film and this particular writer are ground zero for this. For his part, Kevin seems to have his head on straight about all this. The theatrical trailer for the film is the one that Scott Mosier and Kevin cut before any of this happened, and it doesn’t play off the controversy in any way. I’ve heard some people say, “This is going to be great for business,” but I agree with Kevin that it could be bad for the film. If someone goes into this pro-Catholic, pro-faith film expecting to see the Church get beaten up, they’re going to be bitterly disappointed. That could lead to confused word-of-mouth on the picture, and that could hurt it. Oddly, that discussion reminded both Kevin and I of SIMPSONS moments, but different ones. He brought up the episode when Bart and Milhouse went to see BARTON FINK just because it was R-rated, and they were chanting excitedly before they went in, “BARTON FINK! BARTON FINK!” The scene I thought of was when Bart got a fake ID, and he and the other boys went to see NAKED LUNCH, sure that it would be great with an R-rating and that title. On the way out of the theater, a disgusted Bart growls, “I can think of at least two things wrong with that title.” I hope people are made aware of what DOGMA really is with the ad campaign once it kicks in. Lion’s Gate is looking like the leader in the distributor sweepstakes right now, and we should expect an announcement soon.

By the way, if you want to see some clips from DOGMA, check out where they’ve posted three clips in Streaming Video. Very interesting stuff. I was particularly impressed by Alan Rickman’s angel wings. I’d like to thank Kevin for his time, and I’d also like to congratulate him on the birth of his daughter, Harley Quinn Smith. His announcement on is very funny and very sweet. I hope that he, Jen, and Harley are healthy and happy. I also want to take a moment to congratulate my own sister on pulling off the same miracle this past week. Somewhere out in the world right now, Moriarty has a new Evil Nephew named Marcus. Pretty damn cool.

Have you been watching any TV recently? If so, you may have seen both the best and the worst of TV advertising for films. The best would be those two new spots for EYES WIDE SHUT. Creepy, simple, and vague, these spots do nothing more than set a tone. There’s no plot details revealed (“If you only knew...”), no major moments spoiled. Instead, we’re hit with images of men in masks, strange parties, little flurries of dialogue, and an odd, discordant piano soundtrack that plays on my nerves masterfully. I am deeply afraid of this film. I’m also sorry to have learned that Kubrick altered 65 seconds of the film for American audiences out of fear of an NC-17. My understanding is that digital figures were added to block certain key shots during a sexually explicit scene that is one of the film’s key moments. Once again, the hypocricy of the American ratings board stands exposed. In a world where SAVING PRIVATE RYAN can depict some of the most shocking violence every recorded on film and get an R, there shouldn’t be anything in a film by a gifted artist like Stanley Kubrick that is too troubling for an R as well. Sex is worse than violence, according to our MPAA. Sex is dirty, they suggest. Violence is entertainment. Whose values are they protecting?

The worst of the new TV ads is the self-congratulatory smarm of Universal’s AMERICAN PIE campaign. Guys... it’s not a sleeper hit if you start telling us it’s a sleeper hit before it’s even in theaters. It’s not a pleasant surprise when you ruin Alyson Hannigan’s best line AT THE START OF THE FREAKING TRAILER!!!! I have been telling people for months that PIE is a nice little film, a funny comedy, but nothing to get overly worked up about. Now that your repulsive ad campaign is in full-swing, I can honestly say I won’t recommend it again to anyone. I think the word I’m looking for to describe the campaign is “hubris.” If you don’t know what that is, look it up, ‘cause you’ve got it bad.

Almost as terrible is the campaign that’s being run for ARLINGTON ROAD. The new TV spots feature quite a bit of footage of a building exploding. Guys... that’s like showing Morgan Freeman looking inside the box at the end of SE7EN as part of the trailer. What were you thinking? Do you just figure it’s not going to win, so what does it matter? Ruin it... after all, who’s going to care? I think filmmakers around town have got to start fighting these marketing teams, making sure they can’t screw the film up completely before audiences have a chance to see the film. Until you do, this kind of thing is just going to keep happening, time and time again.

Seen the new GREEN MILE poster in theaters? It’s lovely.

Finally, let me share with you my impressions of the Classically Independent Film Festival that was hosted at the WGA Theater here in Los Angeles over the weekend. This is a travelling festival, and it may be coming to your town soon. It’s definitely worth keeping your eyes open, as there are some real winners being shown.

Friday night was the kickoff for the event, and I went to check out the double feature of CHOOSE ME and RESTAURANT. I’d seen CHOOSE ME before. I like Alan Rudolph. Don’t love him, but I like him a lot. He’s a strange filmmaker, and sometimes that pays off with a little gem like EQUINOX and TROUBLE IN MIND. There’s a lot of Altman in him, but without that sour, pessimistic view of humanity. He’s always good with actors, giving them all the space he can to create oddball characters. With 1984’s CHOOSE ME, he made a film that still feels fresh and independent today. It was nice to finally see it in a theater with an audience. I’ve always found that to be a different experience than seeing a film at home, and tonight was no exception. I never realized how funny CHOOSE ME is. The lush sense of romanticism has always been the film’s strongest asset, but it’s also just a little bit goofy, and there are some really wry laughs to be had here. Keith Carradine, Lesley Anne Downs, and Genevieve Bujold all did great, centered work here. Together they form a fascinating, absorbing triangle that is unique and worth seeking out.

The second film of the evening was RESTAURANT, a great little picture from New York that was directed with real confidence by Eric Bross. Maybe it’s because of some of the jobs I’ve had in Los Angeles during all those years when I was still a struggling Evil Genius, but I deeply related to the script by Tom Cudworth. It’s a small slice of life revolving around the various staff at a Manhattan restaurant and bar. The center of everything seems to be Chris Calloway, who is played with charm and authority by Adrien Brody. Now that I’ve seen his performance here, I’m really curious how he was as Fife in the miles of footage from THE THIN RED LINE that ended up on the cutting room floor. I’m also anxious for this weekend’s SUMMER OF SAM to open. Chris is a playwright who’s on the verge of his greatest professional success -- an actual production of one of his pieces -- even as he struggles to make sense of the ruins of his personal life. He’s still obssessed with his ex-girlfriend Leslie, who is discussed for the whole film, but not really seen until the end. When she does show up, she’s played by recording star Lauryn Hill. She’s an effective actress in the small role, and she’s movie-star beautiful. I’d love to see what kind of range she has, because this film suggests an acting future for her. When a new server starts at the restaurant, there’s instant sparks between her and Chris. Jeanie, played by Elyse Neal, is a singer, and she’s drawn to Chris and his confidence about his work. One of the cooks, played with easy charm by ALLY MCBEAL’s Jesse Martin, suggests that Chris is hooked on black girls, something Chris denies vigorously even as he hurts Jeanie over and over. I’d like to make special note of the work in the film by David Moscow, who plays Reggae, Chris’ best friend. Moscow is the young actor who was the kid version of Tom Hanks in BIG, and he’s grown up to be a great comic performer with the same kind of snarky charisma that Steve Zahn has. I know he’s working on the WB’s ZOE, DUNCAN, JACK & JANE right now, but this guy should be on everyone’s short list when it comes to casting 20something films right now. He makes a hell of an impression.

Now, at this point, allow me to turn coverage of Saturday morning's activities over to one of my recently unleashed henchmen, Mr. Furious. You see what happens when you let them name themselves? I loved MYSTERY MEN, but the film's not even out yet, and he's stuck with that name now... forever. I've seen it before, too. I had a henchman named Howard the Duck who eventually took his own life from the shame of it. Anyway... here's Furious:

The first two hours of Saturday’s festivities were devoted to a not-uninvolving two-hour discussion entitled “Looking Ahead, Looking Back: 20 Years of Independent Filmmaking.” Moderator Dawn Hudson (who also serves as IFP/West’s fabulous executive director) explained the “20 Years” referred to the two decades since 1979’s first convention of independent filmmakers. Many point to this event as the genesis of something called the “independent film movement,” which enabled America’s legion of outsider-filmmakers to thoroughly discuss topics of mutual interest.

Panelists included: Tony Bill, director of MY BODYGUARD, FIVE CORNERS, SIX WEEKS, CRAZY PEOPLE, UNTAMED HEART, and A HOME OF OUR OWN.; David Blocker, producer of John Herzfeld’s upcoming Robert De Niro/Ed Burns vehicle 15 MINUTES, as well as CHOOSE ME, the upcoming BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS, and numerous other Alan Rudolph-directed films; Lizzie Borden, director of BORN IN FLAMES, LOVE CRIMES, WORKING GIRLS and the upcoming adaptation of the August Strindberg play MISS JULIE; Peter McCarthy, producer of REPO MAN, I'M GONNA GET YOU, SUCKA and TAPEHEADS, and writer-producer-director of FLOUNDERING; and Gregory Nava, director of EL NORTE, TIME OF DESTINY, MY FAMILY/MI FAMILIA, WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE? and SELENA.

Most of the discussion centered around the difficulty of acquiring funds when operating outside the studio system -- and finding what Bill repeatedly referred to as “the crazy rich people.” One key tip: buddy up to big-deal rock stars; the music world turns out to be an excellent source of these so-called “knuckleheaded rich guys.” Ex-Beatle George Harrison ponied up to help finance Bill’s FIVE CORNERS while ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith helped bankroll McCarthy’s REPO MAN.

An entire book could probably be devoted to the making of REPO. Nesmith apparently had his share of financial ups and downs over the years, and his initial interest in Alex Cox’s script apparently stemmed from the fact that Nesmith had a vehicle or two of his own repossessed over the years.

REPO ultimately benefited from a $1.3 million budget and a negative pickup deal with Universal. Universal execs, busy with much more expensive projects, left the makers of REPO largely to their own devices, and were largely mystified at the first screening of the film’s rough cut. Even Nesmith didn’t get it, according to McCarthy. “Just finish it,” was the Liquid Paper heir’s main advice.

But Universal’s regard for the project didn’t improve upon its completion, according to McCarthy. In fact, REPO may not have seen the light of a multiplex projector bulb had it not for its punky soundtrack, which was flying off record store shelves by the thousands – despite the fact that REPO itself still lacked any kind of release date. It was the record sales that inspired Universal execs to hand the project off to the studio’s “special handling” division, which was theretofore responsible only for the distribution of restored Hitchcock reissues. “And the special handling guys really got behind it,” said McCarthy. “They were excited just to be working on a film that wasn’t made 40 years ago. I think Universal was actually embarassed by how well it did.”

Bill said he found the indie route “more harsh, more constrictive, more insane” that Hollywood’s. He spoke of the enormous difficulty he had casting Jodie Foster in FIVE CORNERS because the home video execs with whom George Harrison’s Handmade Films was partnered were adamant that recent Yale grad was “a has-been, fat and ugly.”

Another big casting fight was related by Nava, who said New Line execs were amenable to casting real-life Latinos Jimmy Smits, Edward James Olmos and Esai Morales in MI FAMILIA's key male roles, but wanted non-Latina names like Marisa Tomei and Annabella Sciorra to play the family’s females. Eventually Nava pounded them into using an unknown named Jennifer Lopez. “Four years ago, I had to plead with New Line to let me use Jennifer Lopez. Now, four years later, New Line would do anything – anything – to make a movie with her. It's amazing.”

Funding shortages account for why Borden wound up shooting her first film, BORN IN FLAMES, over a five-year period. “People gained 100 pounds, people lost 100 pounds... some of the cast couldn't be recognized from scene to scene.” Lack of funds also inspired Borden to slowly transform her home into the main set for WORKING GIRLS. “It was depressing,” she confessed, “because the set was a bordello.” WORKING GIRLS won a Sundance award, but had the bad luck to do so before SEX, LIES & VIDEOTAPE elevated the importance of the festival in 1990. A Sundance award, remembered Borden, “didn’t mean much in those days.”

Bill, who first made his name as an actor (ICE STATION ZEBRA) and producer (THE STING), was determined to turn director or quit the business entirely, he said. Hollywood’s indifference to his directorial ambitions was what led Bill to operate independently, and one of his first actions was to buy his own building in the dilapidated Los Angeles beach community of Venice. Though he fixed it up with an editiing facility and a screening room, the move raised many an eyebrow. “Most people didn’t know where Venice was,” said Bill. “Most who did were afraid to visit.”

QUICK NOTE FOR EVERYONE FROM MORIARTY: Harry Lime (one of my primary partners in crime) and I have actually been to Tony Bill's offices in Venice before. We sat out on the roof of the building with Bill drinking lemonade and chatting about various nefarious ideas. He's a charming man, and a solid filmmaker. I'm sorry I wasn't able to be there for the film and the panel. Reading Furious' account made me remember all that. Sorry to interrupt. Back to Furious.

As much fun as it was to listen to the indie filmmakers’ war stories, the real reason to catch the “Looking Ahead” discussion was to get a good seat for the screening of FIVE CORNERS that followed. I, for one, remain shocked and gratified that the festival decided to put this brilliant but little-seen comedy-drama on the big screen one more time.

Forged from a screenplay by John Patrick Shanley, the film was originally dumped into release mere months after the Shanley-scripted MOONSTRUCK -- which completely overshadowed it. But FIVE CORNERS is far superior to MOONSTRUCK – and, for my money, every other piece of Shanley-scripted cinema produced to date.

Why did so many more see MOONSTRUCK? Because it cast superstar diva Cher and was marketed madly by MGM, still a major at the time, while FIVE CORNERS had to make do with former child actress Jodie Foster and a cast of unknowns that included Tim Robbins, John Turturro and Eriq LaSalle.

Turturro plays Heinz Sabantino, a psychopath troublemaker both hilarious and terrifying in his unflagging anger and thuggishness. Jailed for the attempted rape of Linda (Foster), he is in 1964 back on the streets of the Bronx and apparently anxious to pick up exactly where he left off. Once Linda learns that Heinz is home, she immediately turns to Harry Fitzgerald (Robbins), who saved her the first time out by introducing Heinz’s skull to a beer pitcher. But while Heinz festered in jail (refusing to let hair grow over the horrific scar Harry gave him), a Fordham education -- and the brutal death of Harry’s cop-father -- has caused Harry to renounce violence forever. “I love you,” Harry tells a thoroughly confused Heinz when he first sees him.

Every scene in CORNERS crackles with drama, and most of those scenes are laugh-out-loud funny to boot. What makes the movie such a fiercely compelling piece of entertainment is the rich army of characters Shanley summons: Heinz; Harry; the glue-sniffing brides-to-be Melanie and Brita; Heinz’s clueless pollyanna of a mother; Linda’s antic and insecure boyfriend Jamie; the too-well-read detective who takes Heinz’s first bullet; the civil rights organizer who refuses to disguise his disdain for Harry; the good-natured delinquents who take the glue-sniffers on a harrowing elevator adventure. The list goes on.

Is it worth your trouble, constant reader? If you liked AMERICAN GRAFITTI, THE WANDERERS and DINER, it’s hard to see how it can miss. FIVE CORNERS remains one of cinema’s best-hidden treasures, another intelligent and compelling comedy about how completely America changed in the three months bridging President Kennedy’s assassination and the Beatles’ arrival on these shores.

Saturday night was when I was able to get back over to the WGA Theater for their screening of BROKEN VESSELS, a film I’ve been interested in seeing ever since it won last year’s Los Angeles Independent Film Festival’s Audience Award. The word I’d heard on the film was strong, and I like the two leads, Todd Fields and Jason London. I was hoping for something kind of dark and funny from the description of the film I’d read -- two ambulance drivers in LA dealing with the grim realities of their job -- but I had no idea I was in for what essentially plays out as MOTHER, JUGS & SPEED meets TRAINSPOTTING.

And I mean that as a compliment. Director Scott Ziehl pulled off a small miracle here, shooting this accomplished, polished piece of work in just 18 days in Los Angeles. Part of the credit goes to screenwriters David Baer and John McMahon, and part of it must go to the exceptional ensemble cast, which includes Fields, London, James Hong, Susan Traylor, and Roxanna Zal, who is also one of the film’s producers. London plays Tom, a new recruit to the EMS team, hired as a driver and partnered with Jimmy, played with searing intensity by Fields. Jimmy’s shady from the start, but the film paints a convincing portrait of how Tom is led down the path of destruction by his new partner. I like that the film didn’t hand itself over to easy answers. These people are drug addicts, and when they bottom out, there’s no one there to catch them. Managing to balance dark humor and bleak humanity, the film is affecting and memorable. It’s going to be palying in Chicago and NY starting in a couple of weeks, and it’s going to be at the Nuart in Los Angeles at the end of July. It’s a film that deserves wider distribution, though, no matter if Scorcese’s making his own ambulance movie (BRINGING OUT THE DEAD) or not. I’ve read the script for Scorcese’s DEAD, and thought it was okay, but nothing special. Perhaps he and Nicolas Cage managed to invigorate the material on the set, but I don’t think the films are competition for each other in any way. If you get the opportunity to check out this great little movie in a theater near you, make sure you turn out to support it. You’ll be well rewarded for your efforts.

So that's it for this week, everyone. I'm headed out in a couple of hours to see WILD WILD WEST, and then Wednesday night is another special event that you, the public, can enjoy as well. Filmmakers Alliance will screen its latest collection of short films under the title "FA's New Shorts - New Films, New Filmmakers" at the Director's Guild of America Theater, Wednesday, June 30th at 7:00 p.m., presented by Adobe Systems with additional sponsorship from Mellon Private Asset Management, Apple Computers, Seagate, The Director's Guild of America, Kodak Motion Picture Imaging, Dr. Rawstock, Annheuser-Busch and Del Dueno Tequila.

I'm guessing there's going to be a good bar at the after party, eh?

There will be two separate programs screened in Theater One and Theater Two, followed by a gala party in the DGA lobby with food and drinks. Top-notch L.A. restaurants such as Le Colonial and The Off Vine will be catering the party. Kodak will holding a raffle to raise money for FA. They will be giving away $1,000 in free film. FA will be selling merchandise as well, and will also be screening their "sketchbooks" in the video theater. Sketchbooks are home-made, one-day camcorder movies cut on home editing systems. FA says, "They are rough, raw, and incredibly entertaining. We create them as experimentations, to address specific creative issues, to form creative partnerships, or simply to just stay active." Anyone who attends can expect the event to end at or before 1:00 a.m. Come on out, Angelenos, and meet the Professor. See the films. Support the independent. This is the exact kind of event that makes it so important sometimes to live here.

Next week, I'll be back with some more exclusive material that can only be found here at AICN. Until then... "Moriarty" out.

Readers Talkback
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  • June 29, 1999, 1:28 a.m. CST


    by Jonte

    Does anybody know the Swedish releasedate for Eyes Wide Shut?

  • June 29, 1999, 1:54 a.m. CST

    Jesus Moriarty...

    by matrix69

    Take Kubrick's lead and cut about 65 lines from that rambling-ass piece! Good Lord, this is the Internet, not WAR AND PEACE.

  • June 29, 1999, 2:49 a.m. CST

    I Know, I Know... I Screwed Up

    by Moriarty

    Hey, all... Before I get hammered with e-mail about it, I know that only issues #1-6 of the DAREDEVIL run are out. I meant to type that, and say that the full run will be an additional two issues, the first of which is due next week. I just got goofy and left that part out. I apologize. Now don't bother correcting me, 'kay? "Moriarty" out.

  • June 29, 1999, 3:03 a.m. CST

    Moriarty! Can I read the latest 2 DAREDEVILS! SCAN THEM IN!!!

    by Harry Knowles

    Hahahaha, couldn't resist old man. I figured that headline would cause you to... FREAK! Oh it's funny to make no sense at 5am on a Tuesday morning!!!! Hee hee hoo hoo haa haa!!!! Damn verbose Moriarty. You folks have no idea how difficult it was to fit that report within the 'standardized' size limits of the code. Well... at least I was able to cut out all that nonsenes about Koepp's latest draft of SPIDER-MAN that Moriarty read!

  • June 29, 1999, 3:24 a.m. CST

    Did anybody catch that TNT movie Pirates of Silicon Valley?

    by paragonian

    It was the best made for TV movie since George Wallace. I would LOVE to see a TV movie in that style about all the early filmmakers like Spielberg, Lucas, Scorcese, De Palma and others. The computer world and the film world were so similar it's scary. That guy on Meet Joe Black would be a perfect De Palma clone too.

  • June 29, 1999, 4:20 a.m. CST

    A (small) complaint...

    by Severen

    Moriarty, first up you are without a doubt, along with Glenn over at coaxial, one of the best things on this site. You manage to write informed, intelligent pieces without the usual b/s assocciated with a lot that happens on this site (And I know this is probably being overly anal and nit picky but Harry, as much as I admire what you've done here can you at least try spell people's names right, it's not that hard). Your reports have always been good reading, however there's one point I'd like to pick you up on in this latest report. As much as I agree with you about trailers that give away too much (surely the bane of any true creative artist working in films today, not to mention all true film fans) the example that you gave about Arlington Road's trailer spoiling things or giving the game away, surely by describing what they did wrong you have commited the very same mistake, and done so on a world wide scale, this being the net and all. Not that I'm pointing fingers, but to complain about giving away too much while doing likewise only weakens the strength of your arguement. Other than that (small) quibble great work as always, and keep up the evil work. (Oh and kudos especially on the Kevis Smith piece, very well done)

  • June 29, 1999, 4:56 a.m. CST

    A small(er) complait

    by Toby O. Notobe

    To Severen who bitched at Harry for not being able to spell names right and then *in the very same post* said he liked the bit about 'Kevis Smith'.

  • June 29, 1999, 6:30 a.m. CST

    Five Stars (out of five)

    by Oberon

    Another well crafted, well-connected and intelligent submission from the good professor. He's turning into the star of AICN. Keep him on board, even if it means you have to increase his daily feedings.

  • June 29, 1999, 6:34 a.m. CST

    Simpsons Correction

    by Proffessor Frink

    Actually a disgusted Nelson utters the line "I can think of at least two things wrong with that title." Knoxville Knoxville!

  • June 29, 1999, 7:21 a.m. CST

    Arlington Road

    by The Graduate

    I've gotta agree with you that the ad campaign for ARLINGTON ROAD is total shite, and that includes the first trailer I saw last winter. Now, I have no idea about the quality of the actual movie, though the reviews on this site have been mildly favorable. However, if the whole point of the movie is "is he or isn't he" (a terrorist), the last thing you want to do is cut a trailer making it abundently clear that "he is." It's hard enough to sustain suspense in a film like that without spoiling it eight months before the release! Now I probably won't see the film, because I already know the answer to the film's central question and I can pretty much guess the "Hollywood ending" that will sum it up. Get a clue, marketing! Tease the audience with the film's atmosphere and premise, don't spoil the plot! Watch those Kubrick spots for inspiration! Then watch 'em over again, and repeat till you get it right!

  • June 29, 1999, 7:34 a.m. CST

    re: pargonian, and my thoughts on the EWS tv spots

    by spike lee

    I caught Pirates of Silicon Valley, and you are right, for a tv movie it is well done. I can belive a great story like this slipped through Hollywood's fingers. The Eyes Wide Shut tv spots are outstanding. Nothing is given away, and I am dying to know what is up with those masked characters. Tom Cruise said that he got an ulcer from working with Kubrick, probably because Kubrick actually made Tommy work, andthat has not happened since Born on the Forth of July.

  • June 29, 1999, 8:10 a.m. CST

    Font hurts eyes

    by -Z-

    Please Moriarty, or Harry, never again use that horrible red font. In small doses, it's ok, but to read that much text in that font is downright painful.

  • June 29, 1999, 8:13 a.m. CST

    Daredevil #'s 7 & 8 ??!!

    by MrFunnyShoes

    Mmmm... I thought issues 7 and 8 of Daredevil weren't out yet! Issue #7 has only been put on the Diamond release list for next week, hasn't it? Anybody know?

  • June 29, 1999, 8:31 a.m. CST

    awww crap..

    by Fiebska

    firstly, excellent submission Moriarty, 'twas a pleasure to read. secondly, LUGO, read the REST OF THE FRIKKIN' TALKBACKS! moriarty addressed your concern. unless of course you're attempting humor by being annoying. in which case, your attempt brought nary a chuckle to this poster...

  • June 29, 1999, 9:13 a.m. CST

    Shame on you, Moriarty!

    by Prankster

    This is my first EVER complaint about Moriarty, but he said something I just gotta object to: "As long as Disney drives the market, though -- and TARZAN

  • June 29, 1999, 9:32 a.m. CST

    Three Cheers

    by thyestes

    Moriarty is proving himself to be the Larry King of filmland geeks. Three cheers!

  • June 29, 1999, 9:55 a.m. CST

    You should have your own TV show

    by All Thumbs

    Moriarty, your column is so intelligent and insightful with a hint of aristocratic...ahh, just kicks some major ass. Kevin Smith, bitching about movie trailers and a short review of American Pie all in one article! I love you! Can I have Kevin Smith's phone number? JUST KIDDING! Kevin Smith seems to be a very down to earth kind of guy who just happens to write, star in and direct some of the best films of this generation as well as make some comics that not only look good but delve deep into the realm of real-life issues. I wouldn't want to bother him in the midst of the creative process or feeding time for his new daughter. About movie trailers, though, I try to avoid the things like the plague. I really enjoy ones that are vague like the South Park one with Cartman doing the German dance or the new Toy Story II trailer (laughed my ass off before the movie I went to see started!). I wish more trailers were like those, but I have to say a friend of mine doesn't agree. While we were watching these trailers, she goes, "They're not telling me anything about the movie! How am I supposed to know if I want to see these things?!" Dammit, I wanted to say, it's Toy Story II and South Park...what more reason do you need???? Ok, I'm ranted out for the moment. This girl is signing off by saying, "Moriarty, you're an evil genius!"

  • June 29, 1999, 10:09 a.m. CST


    by lalapoo

    What makes you think Kevin would make a good Daredevil film -a film like that requires intense visual composition -his weakness as a filmmaker is just that, he can't compose an interesing shot to save his life. He's a writer, he should not be behind the camera.

  • June 29, 1999, 10:30 a.m. CST

    Why Religious Folk don't Like Smith

    by republicandude

    Moriarty, I love you. You write great reviews and do it in a manner which makes me laugh my butt off. I'm currently still in search of said buttocks. Perhaps you don't understand why Christians like myself don't like Kevin Smith much. Mainly it's becuase he doesn't seem to like US very much. I remember reading an article when Smith was picked to re-write the Superman script. In the article Smith was quoted as saying he was trying to insert comic and twisted religious symbolism, in his words (near as I can remember them), to "make those pricks mad." Said pricks I take to mean persons of a Christian persuasion. I'll be the first to say there are quite a few Christian's who ain't. First, nobody's perfect. Second, some folk are more imperfect than others (I count myself in this latter section). Through the ages men and women have done hideous things in the name of Christ or God. The horrors of Inquisitions, Salem Trials, and various bloody Crusades have left their indelible mark upon the world, much for the worse. The point is that many people call themselves Christian who don't know the meaning of the word, and many who DO know its meaning abuse its use. When they err, people always seem to blame their (supposed) faith rather than their humanity. Still, there are masses of charitable, hard-working, loving people who hold the meaning of God and Christ near to their hearts. These people, whether you believe them to be mad or no, cherish the idea that they have found a great gift... which they'd love to share. When people such as Mr. Smith mock these people and their gift, they are mortally hurt. This hurt sometimes becomes anger, for they are all to human. It is, to them, as if they've brought someone a precious jewel for which they have sacrificed, and they offer this jewel up only to be mocked. Their jewel is called paste, their devotion foolishness, their desire to share rebuked as "trying to shove your beliefs down my throat." I'll not argue about the veracity of the Christian creed. This is certainly not the place for such philosophical debates. But as it pertains to Dogma and Kevin Smith, at least try to see things from the point of view of the better, more faithful part of the Christian mass. It is not easy to be mocked so openly, so deliberately. Mr. Smith TRIES to offend Christians, and has great fun doing it. Why be suprised, or why be angry, when the offended rebuke the offender? Dave Brown

  • June 29, 1999, 10:39 a.m. CST

    Christ, get off of Smith's dick already!

    by Fred4sure

    Moriarty, You need to get the EPA in for a scan of your labs. You must be getting doused with Radon if can call Kevin Smith a comic book writing god without bursting out laughing. His movies are mild diversions as best, but his 'writing' on Daredevil resembles something scraped out of Stan Lee's sewer pipes. Quit bobbin' on his crotch and rethink your comparison of Smith's work to thas of Moore, Miller and Busiac. A statement like that only makes sense if you're joking. --Fred4Sure

  • June 29, 1999, 10:49 a.m. CST

    Well, Allow Me To Retort

    by Anton_Sirius

    Blah Blah- Moriarty (and people like me who desperately pray to whatever deities there are that Mononoke and Iron Giant hit for $100 million each) isn't saying that Disney needs to be destroyed to pave the way for more adult themes in American feature animation. He's saying that as long as Disney keeps racking up big bucks with their kiddie flicks, the kiddie flick formula is what audiences will be accustomed to, and what timid studios will copy. Antz is one of my favorite animated pictures simply because of the balls DreamWorks showed making it in the first place. As for YOU, grunter: 1) Jeez, guy, they're only comics; take a pill. 2) Jeez, guy, it's only copulation; take a pill. (And I'd like to point out that without two 'hets' forgetting to pull out, you wouldn't be here to enlighten us in the first place.)

  • June 29, 1999, 10:54 a.m. CST

    not saying i likes it or hates it

    by -Z-

    republicandude, but I will tell you this, I attended Catholic school for 7 years (am a non Christian)and was told at age 10, that unless I converted to Catholicism and accepted Jesus that I was going to hell. This was not a vague, "you really should give Christianity a try because it's all about loving brotherhood" type of speech, this was a very specific "your gonna burn in hell you little infidel" type of speech. I witnessed this type of "in your face" preaching for 7 years, even after I left one school to go to a more "liberal" Catholic school. When I went to university, I had to constantly listen to street corner maniacs (hanging around on campus, a bastion of sin and liberal thought) deride me and say what a bad person I was for not accepting Jesus, etc... Growing up in this country, which claims to be secular, is to become acutely aware of the white, protestant point of view reguarding religion. Christmas specials, Easter specials, most places of business are closed on Sunday. Can't buy a bottle of liquor (in Texas at least) on Sundays. I have had Christianity crammed down my throat. My mother is a Christian, and a devout one. She went to Church and encouraged us to do so. When I said no, she respected my decision. Most people, do not. So, you'll excuse those of us who don't feel sorry for you when the church takes a little flak.

  • June 29, 1999, 11:08 a.m. CST

    -=Phriendly neighborhood Phreak=-

    by Phr33k0uT

    Fred4Sure has obviously *NOT* read the run of _DareDevil_, and Grunter, you should just stop coming here, because everytime you post, you prove your stupidity even more. There *ARE* historical DD referrances in Kevin Smith's _DareDevil_ run, but you don't need to know the whole damn story of it to understand what's going on. Go read it, you pinhead. Do you always post without getting the facts ... oh, wait, I almost forgot who I was talking to.

  • June 29, 1999, 11:08 a.m. CST

    THE GREEN MILE! And Catholics and Christians!

    by Doctor Zaz

    To tell you the truth The Green Mile to me is what Star Wars was to y'all(Yes I love Star Wars alot too and had high hopes and WAS NOT disappointed). I have really high hopes for this movie. I read the first draft of the script awhile back and fell in love with John Coffey and Paul Edgecomb. I hadn't even read the serial novel and didn't have a chance to until a few weeks ago. And God I loved the book. Now I know that the script has no doubt went through a few changes but the one thing I know is that Frank Darabont would never wander away from the beauty in The Green Mile. I think that this movie will be everything I wanted it to be and I can't wait until December when I can finally see the finished work. Now to other pressing matters. I know there are probably a few more Christians and Catholics out there that read this site too and probably some have complained about Dogma. I can see why too. It seems from the rumours that it takes all that is sacred and turns it into an evil thing. Well I think that is further from the truth but I'll have to wait for the movie to be sure. My view on it is trust no rumours and just see for myself. AS Christians we should not be complaining about shit. We should be telling people about the shit and what it really means. There's alot of fucked up shit out there. We partake in it regularly too. I think it is dumb that we complain about sex in movies when God says that it is the purest way to express love. And then there is a tiny matter known as Kosovo. There seems little movement by any League, Catholic or any other religion to help those refugees. Maybe I'm just out of touch but I don't think so. Stop being concerned with trivial matters like how much sex is in Eyes Wide Shut or how much God is made fun of in Dogma and take a look at reality cause it is alot scarier than Hollywood. Maybe I am rambling a bit but I really don't give a fuck. I love movies and I love Kevin Smith cause he,like The Onion and Monty Python, can take religion and anything sacred and can turn it into outrageous satire and show us as Christians how dumb we can be about things. Let's all get lives and start worrying about souls and not trivia. That's all for now folks. Sorry if it sounds all convoluted. PS I love swearing at other Christians...heh heh...BE OFFENDED EVERYWHERE!!!!

  • June 29, 1999, 11:25 a.m. CST

    I've read Smith's Daredevil's, Phr33k0uT and I have the scars to

    by Fred4sure

    Reading Smith's comics is sort of like watching an accident victim learning to walk again. It's painful, obvious and rudimentary. In the old days you had to know how to write comics before you were given a comic to write. I guess faux celebrities get special consideration. I hear Fabio is writing and penciling a Fantastic Four mini-series, and John Tesh is working on a Hulk story arc. --Fred4Sure

  • June 29, 1999, 4:33 p.m. CST

    Harley Quinn Smith . . .?

    by soylentphil

    Jesus Christ. "Thanks, dad." Fred4Sure - Great fucking blurb! " . . like watching an accident victim learn to walk again." Maybe they can put it on the back of the TPB. Kudos!

  • June 29, 1999, 6:37 p.m. CST

    More on adult animation.

    by Kerisu

    Out of all of the Talkbacks on this site that deal with animation, I can hardly find any at all that deal with some of the recent features produced by the good folks over in Japan. I know what you're thinking -- "Japanimation? All that big-eyed cutesypie shit? Give me a break. It's nothing but Pokemon or tentacle rape." Well, apparently not, because there are several movies that will be seeing the light of day in theaters here in the US in the near future. The big one, obviously, would be Mononoke Hime, aka "Princess Mononoke". I dug this movie a lot, but I still wouldn't say it really broke any huge boundaries for so-called "adult animation". The director himself, Hayao Miyazaki, even called it a movie for children. What sets it apart from the pack of Disney musicals is the willingness to go the extra mile and tackle the heavy duty issues. I doubt you'll see any films from the domestic camp that actually make you lose your faith in humanity the way that Mononoke does. It's very dark, but yet still has an uplifting message. The second movie is one called "Perfect Blue", and it's supposedly set to be released early in August by Manga Entertainment (you may remember them from a few years back, releasing the "Ghost In The Shell" movie). This one is definitely, absolutely not for kids. Adult animation defined. How to describe it... think of a psychological thriller suspense film with the amplitude turned up to 11. The basic plot is that a pop music star (ala Geri Halliwell of the Spice Girls) decides to leave the group that she's in and concentrate on her "acting" career. However, some of her fans just can't handle her changing her lifestyle so suddenly and drastically. So many events unfold quickly and furiously, to the point where the actress begins to start having a mental breakdown. Then the really weird shit starts happening. If it's playing near you, _go_see_it_. Unfortunately, it'll most likely be relegated to arthouses on a very limited run, so I don't expect it to really challenge the throne of domestic animated pictures. The final one, which might have a shot at it, would be the new Vampire Hunter D. If you saw the original back in the 80's, you may want to take another look. This one is a complete overhaul of the original, supposedly with a different story, and all-new animation that blends cel and CG seamlessly. Just from the short preview, it looks amazing. Considering the cult status of the original, and with a bit of aggressive marketing, this film could easily break Japanese animation again like "Akira" did so many years ago. If you'd like to see that trailer for VHD, it's available on the Urban Vision website ( in Quicktime format, and it looks absolutely breathtaking. In any case, all of these pretty much outshine any sort of feature length animation that's coming from the major studios these days, with the possible exception of the South Park movie (and, really, what's that but a 90 minute long TV episode? ^_^). Take care, everyone.

  • June 29, 1999, 6:59 p.m. CST

    The Catholic League isn't big on comic books.

    by Alexandra DuPont

    I hate to say this, Moriarty, but the reason the Catholic League makes no stink or protest over Kevin Smith's wonderful and provocative "Daredevil" writing is because nobody but hard-core fans read comic books anymore -- even the good ones. They see comic-book MOVIES instead. (I am, incidentally, an occasional cartoonist myself. I'm NOT belittling comics.) Just a commentary on the sad state of readership. Back to you!

  • June 29, 1999, 8:59 p.m. CST

    Gweilo, fair comment...

    by Severen

    I can't type for shit (being minorly dyslexic doesn't help either), still before before complaining about others wrong spellings I should at least try not to do the same myself. Still in my own defense my mistake was a rather obvious typo as opposed to just getting someone's name wrong. That doesn't make it any less stupid of course, just pointing out there is a (minor) difference.

  • June 30, 1999, 1:05 a.m. CST

    Hey Hey Ma

    by SegueZagnut

    Moriarty doesn't have a automatic phone dialer. Moriarty probably doesn't even have a phone. Moriarty is a 70 year old midget with only 3 fingers on his right hand. Moriarty doesn't actually exist and sadly neither do his chemically neutered henchmen. When you can figure out what any of that means then you'll get the joke. Consider This...

  • June 30, 1999, 1:11 a.m. CST

    Arlington Road

    by Mediatwin

    Yes, the trailer does suck and give far too much away but don't let that put you off seeing it. It's a good thriller, plus it keeps its nerve right through to the end.

  • June 30, 1999, 10:55 p.m. CST

    Hey Ma! Look, no hands!......

    by The_Cleaner

    I have to wonder if you (Hey Ma) are in fact joking. It seems absolutely impossible to think that someone could be so spectacularly obtuse as to not get the jest about the automatic phone dialer. He's an EVIL GENIUS stupid; that means he has access to cool EVIL gadgets. Things like "lazers" and shoe phones. It goes with the territory. Seriously though, the automatic phone dialer is actually very common. Its called the "predictive dialer" and is used by nefarious telemarketers to get you when you least expect it. They are actually really neat machines (mostly software). I doubt Moriarty has one of these either though HEY MA, because his EVIL GENIUS riff is a running joke... But you knew that right? Nobody is that dumb....

  • Aug. 8, 2006, 8:09 a.m. CST

    Call Pres. Bush! He's conducting stem cell research!

    by Wolfpack

    That'll teach him to try to find a cure for Alzheimer's.