Moriarty's Rumblings From The Labs
Harry here, you have enough reading to do... Here's Moriarty!
Hey, Head Geek…
Sniffle, sniffle, wheeze, COUGH!!
Shit. I’m sick, and it’s my own damn fault. You see, I was so irritated by M:I2 that I decided to create my own supervirus, a virus that would eat the brains of studio executives. I was worried this might not kill them, though, since most of them don’t use the brain in any vital capacity. As a result, I packed some really nasty symptomology into this thing. I mixed in a little swine flu, a little ebola, and the result is purest misery. How do I know? Because I accidentally gave it to myself.
Yes, it’s true. I’m currently fighting off the worst of it. If I was feeling like my full and fit Evil Self, I’d be out comforting the future Mrs. Moriarty, Heather Graham, after her breakup with Ed “I Knew It Wouldn’t Last” Burns. Instead, I spent the afternoon watching game three of the NBA Finals hoping for another glimpse of that amazing new X-MEN TV spot featuring the shot of Wolverine becoming Mystique in mid-kick, coming straight at the camera. I’m not sure who’s responsible for the shot. Turns out Hammerhead Studios did a lot of the bitchin’ Cyclops visor effects I raved about last week, and they’re involved in a ton of other work for the film. Overall, I’m impressed by what I’m seeing. Of course, I waited in vain. They managed to show commercials for THE KLUMPS roughly 2,000 times, and plenty of spots for SHAFT. What's wrong, Fox? Don't think film geeks also watch sports? People should have paid attention to the highly effective sports campaign that Dreamworks mounted for GLADIATOR. If they'd cut the right kick-ass trailer for X-MEN, it would've been just the tonic as the game really heated up. Sony had the balls to place HOLLOW MAN spots. Damn... the advertising on X-MEN is so timid, so half-hearted, that it's almost like Fox is dragging their feet on it. GET MOVING!! IT'S A MONTH AWAY!! Sorry for yelling... I’ve just consumed about a half bottle of cough syrup, so get ready… things could get wild and wooly before we finish this week’s column.
Even sitting here getting ready for the game to come on, things are getting sort of Elvis in my world. Distorted sound, trails from lights, a general lightheadedness. Man, I should get sick more often. It makes everything on TV that much more interesting. Flipped by MTV. The new Stone Temple Pilots video just went by, and it features the single best use of a really hot young actress since Moby’s “Natural Blues” featured both the dangerous Fairuza Balk and the otherworldly Christina Ricci. In “Sour Girl,” director David Slade uses Sarah Michelle Gellar to tremendous effect. There’s something really arresting about seeing the newly-rehabilitated Scott Weiland front and center in this video. He looks great, the song is great… man, if Robert Downey Jr. bounces half this well after he finishes his time in stir, it will be glorious to behold. The other video I just survived is “Starfuckers, Inc.” by Nine Inch Nails. This was originally the b-side of the first single off THE FRAGILE, but rerecording one word has gotten it onto the radio, and this video proves one thing conclusively: you can’t fake skank. Trent Reznor and director Marilyn Manson manage to pack enough genuine filth and sleaze into this four minute clip to fuel a dozen John Waters movies. When Trent is merrily smashing plates featuring the faces of assorted pop stars (including himself), there’s more real malice on display than in anything Eminem could ever come up with.
Enough of that, though. Let’s take a look at what’s kept me occupied this past week.
EVIDENTLY, NOW IS NOT THE TIME ON SPROCKETS WHEN WE DANCE
Wow… talk about unexpected moves. I am genuinely flabbergasted that Mike Myers is trying to walk away from DIETER, the film based on his popular SPROCKETS sketch from SNL. We hear about creative differences derailing films all the time. That part is nothing new. What is bizarre is that Mike is complaining publicly about a script that he wrote himself. I’ve been commenting on this script for some time now, and I think it’s a damn fine piece of work. Mike McCullers and Jack Handey, Myers’ co-writers on the film, have both added layers to the work that aren’t in the AUSTIN POWERS movies or the WAYNE’S WORLD movies. This is a whole new comic playing field for Mike, and I was looking forward to it.
As I sat down to write this piece, I called Imagine and spoke with Michael Rosenberg, the president of the company, to get their comments on this situation. He apologized and said that since things have become litigious, it’s hard to comment. He did offer, “Our ultimate hope is that Mike makes the movie.” When I commented how much I enjoyed the script, he replied, “We love it, too. We hope we can resolve this. That’s all I can say now.”
So what happened? What caused things to escalate to the point that there are now lawsuits and counter-lawsuits flying back and forth? And more importantly, will we ever see the film now as a result of all of this? I sure hope so. Mike Myers is a pretty unique comic voice among his peers. He’s said before that he idolizes Peter Sellers above all other comic influences, and it shows. I grew up on Peter Sellers movies, and there’s a certain dementia, a love of vanishing into characters, that Myers possesses as well. One of the things that makes his work so odd is how he never seems to vanish into characters that make him look cool or glamourous. All of Mike’s creations are freaks, complete goofballs, guys who manage something approaching cool simply by virtue of the fact that they have no idea how geeky they really are. There’s a freedom to his comedy, and with DIETER, there was a level of surreality that he’d never attempted in a film before.
Here’s hoping this matter is settled in a way that keeps the film alive. As it stands right now, Universal, Imagine, and Mike Myers are all entangled in this thing, but there’s really only one loser… the viewing public. With truly inspired comedy at such a premium these days (thank god for ME, MYSELF & IRENE this summer), losing even one potentially great one is a devastating blow.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, INDEED!!
My thanks to everyone who wrote me a kind note over the course of my recent birthday celebration. Even larger thanks go out to those of you who added to the stack of loot I’m still working my way through. Here’s a real shocker for you… I got a lot of movies for my birthday. Imagine that.
Harry was one of the first guys to drop a gift on me, and it was a two-parter. First, he gave me an item of almost pure demented brilliance, an Electronic Dancing Gopher from CADDYSHACK. You press a button and it shimmies to the sounds of Kenny Loggins. Dear God, I am literally in awe of this thing. I love it so much I think I’m breaking one of the Commandments. If you find one, make it yours. With the Gopher came a DVD copy of THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN, a film I saw on my first trip to Austin in the spring of ’99. Refurbished and released by Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder specialty label, MPM is one of the most deranged midnight movie experiences of my life. It’s a late ‘70s KING KONG ripoff that was produced by the Shaw Brothers Studios in direct response to the American De Laurentiis remake. At the time, it was the most expensive film ever produced in Hong Kong. Until you’ve seen it, you have no idea how funny that fact is. There’s no way to describe all the subtle pleasures of MPM, no way to fully inventory the madness. The hero driven into the jungle by the revelation that his brother and his girlfriend are sleeping together, the jungle girl with the peekaboo nipple, the giant ape with the almost functioning mask, the heavily-drugged leopard with its mouth stitched shut… ah, these are a few of my favorite things.
My partner in crime, Harry Lime, gifted me with the BBC’s spectacular recent production of WALKING WITH DINOSAURS. Having seen a rough cut of Disney’s theatrical release DINOSAUR over a year ago, I knew that I hated the story, and I decided to forgo the film in theaters. Instead, I’ve just been marveling at the spectacular, surreal landscapes of WALKING WITH DINOSAURS. It’s the greatest nature documentary that never was. I love the grit and the grime of the world, and I love the way all the small stories unfold without any dialogue. If Disney himself were still alive, it’s the way the BBC film embraces the full potential of animation that would excite him most. The DVD itself is stunningly sharp. This is as good as digital imagery looks at home, and it’s a disc I’ll return to again and again.
I was hit with a Tim Burton double feature from a few different friends. It’s nice to watch PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE (Warner) and SLEEPY HOLLOW (Paramount) back to back to see how much Burton has grown in some ways, and how much other signatures of his have stayed the same. Personally, I love Burton. He’s one of the few filmmakers who I will forgive almost any narrative flaw as long as the film transports me visually. One of the great joys of these new DVD releases is hearing the soft-spoken director speak about his own work at length, something that’s been uncommon until now. On the PEE WEE disc, he’s joined by Paul Reubens in a track that was only recently recorded. I love the perspective that 15 years gives these old friends on this marvelous movie. My affection for this film just grows over the years, and I think it’s one of the most iconic screen comedy creations ever. When you look at the cut scenes on the DVD, it’s obvious that the choices made as to what to cut and what to keep were inspired, and it makes me love the film even more. With SLEEPY HOLLOW, the secondary audio track by Burton is the only supplemental feature of note, but the astonishing sound and picture of the transfer is enough to recommend an immediate purchase by any fan of the film. The control exhibited by Burton as a visualist in SLEEPY HOLLOW is incredible, and I truly believe he can realize any idea he has now, something I’m not sure was always true. Now we just need special editions for ED WOOD and EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. And BATMAN RETURNS, MARS ATTACKS!, and BEETLEJUICE. And THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. You get the idea.
Normally I would reserve my highest praise this week for the RUSHMORE Criterion Collection DVD release. It’s amazing. It’s beautiful. It’s a reminder of just how delirious and dizzy Wes Anderson’s sophomore effort really is. The best thing that DVD designers do these days is capture the spirit of the film in the packaging of it. With RUSHMORE, Eric Chase Anderson not only contributes a hysterically deadpan behind the scenes documentary, he’s also done a wonderful job of capturing the quirky, witty innocence of the film in items like the giant fold-out map of Max Fisher’s world that comes with the disc or the interactive menus themselves.
Unfortunately, this is the week that Fox’s stunning FIGHT CLUB was finally released in its DVD special edition, and I’m nearly left speechless. Very simply put, this should be considered the new standard for how to present a home transfer of a film. The 2-disc set has the best designed booklet and case I’ve seen, and, yes… it’s true. There’s two quotes from our very own Headgeek inside. There’s also wonderful observations from many of the key creative partners and several pulls from my favorite review of the film, Alexander Walker’s breathless, shocked post-Venice diatribe in which he denounced the film as being “anti-God.” No matter how far I dig into this DVD, there’s still more to be discovered. I particularly love the behind the scenes material regarding the film’s visionary special effects. One minor complaint, though. When I play the discs on my Panasonic A310, there are no problems with it, and that’s a notoriously fickle player. On my DVD-ROM drive in my computer, though, the discs simply don’t play. I’ve tried three different pieces of software, and nothing even registers that the discs are in the drive. The film just locks up my entire hard drive, and I have to reboot the system. It’s not a giant problem, obviously, since I have other options for playing the movie, but I only had my computer to rely on, I’d be furious as a consumer. I’ve tried another copy of the film, and it does the same thing, so it’s not just my discs. This may be something in the actual encoding, and if so, Fox is screwing a segment of their potential audience out of a chance to enjoy this astounding package.
Finally, in keeping with the Brad Pitt motif, I was also pleased to be gifted with Warner’s new release of INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. Neil Jordan is an engaging, deeply intelligent speaker, and I happen to think this is a great film, one of his best, a perfect companion to his earlier THE COMPANY OF WOLVES. His commentary track for the film isn’t terribly technical, and that’s a shame on one level. Jordan’s film still looks cutting edge today with its sophisticated blend of digital and practical effects. In the end, though, the personal, almost reflective nature of Jordan’s running commentary is the best kind, a record of a film artist’s thoughts and feelings on his work. He may not impart much in the way of nuts and bolts, but he certainly communicates his own passion for his craft with grace and ease. Thanks to the fact that Warner consistently prices their films better than any other company, this is a great, cheap addition to any collection.
There was one other gift worth mentioning, and although it has to do with film, it’s not films. Dr. Michael Hfuhuhrr, an infrequent but valued contributor to this site, gave me the first four entries in what looks to be a spectacular book series, edited by America’s most impassioned film professor, Martin Scorsese. MODERN LIBRARY: THE MOVIES is a collection of new paperback editions of some of the classic books on this art form. The first four releases in the series are all winners. I’ve actually read THE MAKING OF 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY before, but there’s new material here that makes it worth returning to, like an engrossing introduction by Jay Cocks in which he details the film’s disastrous early screenings, an advance screening Kubrick held specifically for TIME reporter Cocks (reminds me of something… can’t put my finger on it… hmmm…), and Kubrick’s swift response to the film’s initial failure. The book is really just a collection of essays, reviews, and articles, but it’s great, absorbing reading from cover to cover for any fan of the film and its continuing hypnotic power.
THE ART OF THE MOVING PICTURE is one of the purest sustained pieces of film theory I’ve ever read. Originally published in 1915, the book is the work of Vachel Lindsay, a poet and essayist who set out to interpret the peculiar, powerful aesthetic phenomenon that had exploded into popular consciousness. For whatever reason, this essential film text has been out of print for many years. I call it essential because of the extreme reaction I had to this 80 year old missive, this wonderful attempt to capture the very potential of film in book form. Since film was still such a young art in 1922 (the year the revised edition, the one republished here, was released), everything Lindsay writes about here is potential, still to be tested. He provides a context in which he suggests all film criticism must be placed, breaking down the way each genre must be approached, listing the requirements of a successful example of each genre. “The Photoplay of Action,” “The Intimate Photoplay,” “The Motion Picture of Fairy Splendor,” “The Picture of Crowd Splendor,” and “The Picture of Patriotic Splendor” -- these are the same genres still being produced as event films today. Read these chapters with MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE 2, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, BABE, GLADIATOR, and THE PATRIOT in mind, and you’ll see that things haven’t changed at all in nearly a century of films.
MEMO FROM DAVID O. SELZNICK is one of the most entertaining books about the Industry I’ve ever read. Rudy Behlmer did an incredible job, condensing the contents of over 2000 file boxes full of the personal correspondence of one of the great studio-era producers into this funny, sometimes scathing peek into the way things really worked. The art of the memo has been replaced in this age by the art of e-mail, but the idea is the same. Selznick had two secretaries taking dictation at all times, and it wasn’t uncommon to get memos from him as late as 10 minutes before a meeting with him. Roger Ebert details all of this in the book’s excellent introduction. Going through the memos, I decided that whether I agreed with him or not on individual choices, Selznick is a hero of mine, someone who gave a damn about the art of film, who cared deeply about each and every picture with his name on it, a man who never stopped believing that something could be done to make a film work. He fought vigorously for the points he made, clashing with giants on films like REBECCA, A STAR IS BORN, DAVID COPPERFIELD, and the most Sisyphean task any producer has ever undertaken, GONE WITH THE WIND. Through it all, he always acknowledged that nothing was more important than the stories being told -- not ego, not glamour, not money, and not even Selznick. There’s a prescient passage late in the book, part of a memo sent to Spyros P. Skouras of 20th Century Fox in regards to the film adaptation of Fitzgerald’s TENDER IS THE NIGHT. Selznick sees all his input on the film go almost totally unheeded, and it breaks his heart. When one suggestion is rejected because it’s too concerned with “honors instead of dollars,” here’s Selznick’s response, words that studio heads today could still heed:
“I first started hearing these statements about dollars instead of honors from Ben Schulberg, and quit Paramount rather than be even partially blamed for the debacle that was the inevitable consequence of this philosophy… Studio administration cannot be calloused and cynical towards the ambitions of, and the promises made to, the creators, without paying dearly for so hard-shelled an attitude. As things stand, already too many of the top stars and directors and writers and producers in this business have contempt and hatred for their employers. And this contempt and hatred can cost all of the companies, certainly by no means excepting your own, countless millions of dollars. This particular incident is simply typical of what has prompted an attitude on the part of employees that has no parallel in any other business, because in other businesses, there is gratitude for the work of those who knock themselves out for their employers, and understanding of the temperaments and ambitions of the individual, even in those industries where they are not dealing every day of the year with sensitive creative artists… I regret this new evidence of the complete passing of showmanship from the industry, and of the complete evaporation of any feeling for the work of its creators, as well as the new attitude of indifference to promises. I can only look back nostalgically on different days that produced different results. I think this is where the bus stops.”
The last of the first batch of MODERN LIBRARY releases is AGEE ON FILM, and it’s the one you’re going to want to save for lsat, the one you’re going to want to savor. James Agee is not just another guy who wrote about film. His work at THE NATION and at TIME elevated the very craft of writing about film. That’s not to say I think he’s always right. Far from it. That doesn’t matter, though. James Agee remains one of the most important voices in American film criticism not because of the validity of his opinions, but because of the expression of them. This book is a reminder to all of us in the Internet film website community what great film writing is all about. It’s about looking outside the film to the world around us to see if it’s relevant. It’s about looking inside ourselves to see if the film is true. Because of the vast expanse of human experience covered in various movies, Agee is able to write about any number of topics, using the films to springboard one of the most remarkable regular happenings in film journalism. I can only aspire to have as much fun in my ride through covering this industry as Agee seems to have had, and I can only hope to possess some semblance of his urbane wit, his ability to completely fall blind in love with a film, and his laser-precision honesty about his own failings and peculiarities. In a column in May of 1946, he says that although he never mentions movie news, he has found some things worth calling to the attention of his readers. I couldn’t help but empathize with the tone of this item:
“John Huston’s LET THERE BE LIGHT, a fine, terrible, valuable non-fiction film about psychoneurotic soldiers, has been forbidden civilian circulation by the War Department. I don’t know what is necessary to reverse this disgraceful decision, but if dynamite is required, then dynamite is indicated.”
Sounds like Agee could have used a Hallenbat of his own. I see many parallels to the type of personal coverage he provided and the type we try to provide here. Railing against censorship is one thing -- and I would love to find this Huston film he mentioned -- but I’m not sure how well Agee would have handled Talk Back. He raves in one column about CESAR AND CLEOPATRA, then mentions at the end of the next that he was cornered in his building by an acquaintance who attacked him for liking the film. Agee lists the man’s grievances with the film and responds to them as best he can, adding, “I speak of this now partly out of my duty toward myself, my God, and my neighbor, chiefly because I was unable to do anything but mumble about it in the elevator. Ground floor.”
His strongest suit, and the thing that makes me fall in love with his writing on page after page, is that when he found a movie to champion, he was able to summon real thunder. He could make the case for a movie like no one else, and he wasn’t afraid to stand resolute against the tide of popular opinion. His beautiful review of Chaplin’s MONSIEUR VERDOUX, a film I revere above many of the accepted Chaplin classics, gave me a whole new appreciation of the film’s many virtues, and it inspires me to seek it out for another viewing as soon as possible. His essay on silent comedy helped reintroduce Buster Keaton’s work into the national dialogue, starting the repair of his reputation as one of the masters of early filmmaking. He wrote a blistering attack on the persecution of the Hollywood Ten that ran in December of 1947. These are more than comments on film history… these are snapshots, perfectly preserved. His writing has a vibrant pulse, and reading these columns isn’t like visiting some dusty past. This is exciting stuff, and it’s as capable of stirring you to find and see a movie now as it was when written.
Finally, there’s a piece that should be mandatory reading for the members of the DGA who voted to abandon the name D.W. Griffith as part of their highest honor each year. On September 4, 1948, Agee wrote a eulogy for David Wark Griffith, and it is as true an assessment of Griffith’s place in the history of the medium as I have ever read. He writes with great feeling about the impact of Griffith’s imagination of the very language of cinema. “The most beautiful single shot I have seen in any movie is the battle charge in THE BIRTH OF A NATION. I have heard it praised for its realism, and that is deserved; but it is also far beyond realism. It seems to me to be a perfect realization of a collective dream of what the Civil War was like.” More importantly, he acknowledges the already-mounting attacks on the film as being a racist screed, and implores viewers to look beyond that, to look at what the film says about the artist. “Griffith’s absolute desire to be fair, and understandable, is written all over the picture; so are degrees of understanding, honesty, and compassion far beyond the capacity of his accusers.” Indeed.
A BOILER ROOM, A POETIC SATURN, AND A HEARTBREAKING BOOK
Mongo returned from our mail drop the other day with an envelope from New Line Home Video, and upon tearing into it, I found a test disc copy of BOILER ROOM, one of their upcoming releases. I didn’t see Ben Younger’s film in theaters, so I tossed it in while working. There’s a solid young cast here, with standouts like Nicky Katt, Vin Diesel, and Scott Caan, but the film is unfocused, borrows way too much from other better films (GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS and WALL STREET being the two blatantly obvious examples), and it never really seems to know what story it’s telling. To me, it plays a lot like the truncated release version of 54 that Miramax unleashed in 1998, a morality tale with no moral compass, a story without anyone for us to care about. Giovanni Ribisi, the film’s ostensible lead, is so singularly unlikeable in the film that it’s hard to make it through the full running time. He makes bad choice after bad choice for no discernable reason. Most of his hisitronics are laughable, and I’m afraid I’m starting to agree with Harry about Ribisi and leads. As a supporting character actor, I’ve seen him used well. As a lead, he’s the living dead. The disc itself is fine, with New Line continuing their fine efforts to turn every film, no matter what the public reaction, into a special edition of sorts. BOILER ROOM comes with two secondary audio tracks, one with writer/director Younger, the other with an isolated score and commentary by the composer and producer of the score, The Angel.
Seeing Scott Caan in that film came as a strange sort of coincidental shock, since one of the other films I watched this weekend was a very small, unreleased independent film called SATURN. It’s a strange, beautiful little film about holding on to pain and letting go of control and about that particular moment when we cross from being the children who are taken care of to the ones who take care of our parents. Leo Burmester, who many of you would recognize as Catfish in THE ABYSS, does knockout work here as a stroke victim, a man locked in a degenerating body, forced to rely on his son for everything. As Drew, the long-suffering son, Scott Caan gives a really subtle, special performance, one that should net him more work if this film is ever seen by people. It should be. I know that the director of the film, Rob Schmidt, already has another film in the can and ready for release called CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN SUBURBIA. Maybe that film’s release will provide the impetus to some brave distributor to take a chance with this one. Mira Kirshner, so wonderful in EXOTICA, gives a brave, raw, intuitive performance here as a girl whose life intersects with Drew’s for something that looks like love, but which is ultimately nothing more than convenience, temporary connection. Caan is crushed slowly in this film by the weight of the responsibility he feels for his father, and he handles it in all the wrong ways. He is derailed from school, loses his job, finds himself drinking and getting high every night. He looks for any sensation that might dull the ache he feels for the life that’s passing him by, and it’s wrenching to watch his slide, especially by his father, who is trapped there, a spectator to the ruin he is causing in his own son’s life. This is a film that you don’t just watch… you feel it deeply. It gets inside you. It’s never a big film, and that’s part of its power. It just keeps coming at you with detail after detail, small moment after small moment, until the final accumulated mass of them all crushes us the same way it does Caan. This is not a perfect movie… the ending feels almost too pat for me, too easy… but it’s one that people should see, and it seems to be an announcement of sorts for a new voice worth listening to.
In another act of peculiar synchronicity, I read a book this week that I have to recommend to you that ties in thematically with SATURN, although as an almost inverse mirror of that film’s central relationship. I picked the book up initially because of its title, but I couldn’t put it down once I started flipping through, reading passages. A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS (Simon & Schuster) is neither a novel or a non-fiction document. Instead, it is a sort of recreated memory piece, a memoir of sorts for Dave Eggers, one of the founding editors of the short-lived MIGHT magazine. His mother and father both died of cancer within five weeks of each other, leaving Dave, barely old enough to drink, to take care of his nine year old brother Toph. Together, the two of them try to forge a life together in San Francisco, 3000 miles away from the Chicago suburb where they grew up, trying to escape the immense pain they exist in the shadow of, trying to find some way to make this impossible situation work. The book is laugh-out-loud funny in many places, deeply moving in others, and it frequently demolishes the wall between itself and the reader, commenting on itself even as it unfolds. Eggers is a marvelous writer, detailed and emotional and witty and wicked. The most amazing thing about the book is how naked it is. Eggers doesn’t paint himself as perfect. Far from it. His reportage is so honest at times, so brutal, that you wonder if he isn’t exaggerating his own shortcomings for dramatic effect. He’s so open that there’s no doubt he burned some personal bridges with this book. I admire him. I am attacked viciously whenever I reveal personal details in this column or in a review, and I am always amazed to see someone take their pain and their sorrow and turn it into something that helps other people, that speaks to them. Eggers talks about his experience in starting MIGHT magazine with his friends; about his attempts to get onto THE REAL WORLD for the San Francisco cast; about meeting Judd and Puck, two of the people who did make the show; about their infamous MIGHT cover story on the death of Adam “Eight Is Enough” Rich, a hoax that got picked up by wire services, then angrily debunked. Throughout it all, Eggers comes back to the deaths of his parents, working it like a raw nerve. He circles his grief, picking at it, refusing to deal with it, until very late in the book, when he simply rips the band-aid off and lets himself mourn with his whole being. The impact of this change is cataclysmic as a reader. I was deeply touched by this book, by this writer, and I can’t urge you strongly enough to find this book and soak in it. It’s a killer.
See how quickly that went by?
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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June 12, 2000, 2:32 a.m. CST
Why is Myers backing away from this now? Another TB was discussing him bringing Scooby Doo to the big screen. One of the moves Universal's lawyers are trying to make is to prevent him from working on other films until this is resolved. They COULD just ask for money, but instead they're trying to block him from working. I realize that is money as well, but could it indicate he's favoring another project that could conflict? Because his statement to the press says he can't in good conscience release a film whose script is sub-par. But Moriarty is saying it's great. Casting was already beginning -- Hasslehoff and Ferrell...sounded pretty damn hilarious to me.
June 12, 2000, 2:46 a.m. CST
All that I have is a DVD-ROM in a year-old Gateway Solo 5150 Laptop w/ only a PII 366 MHz chip. My Fight Club DVD played splendidly in it. I was able to get through both disks without a single problem, so lay off. The DVD is great, although I would rather have the Dust Brothers commentary than the one w/ all of the producers. Was Helena B. Carter's commentary recorded at a different sitting than the three gentlemen?
June 12, 2000, 2:48 a.m. CST
I dont like the idea of a Sprockets movie anyway even if Mike Myers came up with it...And it goes without typing that Myers must have a good reason for being the evil mustache twister El Stallo of Suville, Espana. I thought one of the most unitentionally funny moments in Man On the Moon was the reacrion shots of Lorne Michaels to Kaufman...because we saw Mike Myers instead of Lorne...Dr. Evil has 2 scenes in Man on the Moon! When i caught this I rewinded the mofo about 10 times..couldntget enough. be proud Mike for nearly upstaging for a short time Kaufman Carrey Michaels etc. and you weren't even in the damn thing!
June 12, 2000, 2:52 a.m. CST
Moriarty, please present the whole nature of the Eggers book if you are going to push it in your article. MIGHT is a gay-oriented magazine (of course, not that there is anything wrong with that) from the SF Bay Area. How can you even pretend to be sympathetic to the author's aims if you don't mention that? Whether or not some people read the book might be effected pretty heavily by that fact.
June 12, 2000, 3:49 a.m. CST
by The Lynn Bracken
or Robert (not Rick, my dear Moriarty). I too saw this film and it broke my heart, destroyed me for the better part of an afternoon. A lovely movie with staggering performances. See it if you can. Love, Lynn
June 12, 2000, 3:50 a.m. CST
No, actually, UNCLE SAM, it's not a gay-oriented magazine. It was a magazine that attempted to take a satirical look at the entire twentysomething marketing phenomenon of the early '90s. Or at least that's how it's explained in the book in detail. The magazine folded, though, so if you're referring to something that's currently publishing, you're talking about something totally different. Maybe it's you who should be clear before posting.
June 12, 2000, 3:58 a.m. CST
by Junior D-Girl
David O. Selznick was a True Genius and also a Megalomaniacal Egotist of the first order along with being one hell of a great producer. One wonders how he would fare in today's Hollywood. Once acclimated to the current climate I think he'd do quite well. A master showman, a true believer in the importance of story and a hands-on producer in the best sense of the word. Come back David, we miss you indeed.
June 12, 2000, 6:48 a.m. CST
by Human Tornado
I'm officially very worried. What's your DVD-Rom, Moriarty? Anyone out there played it with a Creative hardware?
June 12, 2000, 12:38 p.m. CST
Aren't you the least bit pissed off? This goes far beyond the Harry/CA confrontation in that you have kept yourself out of the argument. I would guess that there is not much you can do about it at this point...letting it be would probably be the best thing. Maybe I shouldn't be posting this, eh? Nobody probably reads Rough Cut or Film Threat. Well, keep up the fantastic work you old wheezing bastard!
June 12, 2000, 1:07 p.m. CST
Criminal-Non-Genius Dude maybe it wasnt mentioned in the Eggers book or something but that magazine is gay gay gay as everyone knows that it is. Maybe you read it in a real hurry and didn't see that part of it. Man Film Threat is really mad about you and Harry. Theyve got a whole can of Pringles on their shoulder and the lid is popped off. For those who dont know www.filmthreat.com put a mean old antiAICN story up on 6/8/00. Just more of the flaming coming from Corona's penetration of Harry with a jackhammer last week.
June 12, 2000, 1:57 p.m. CST
I just don't get it. Granted, I've not seen this script, but making a movie for the Dieter character seems like making one for "Dog Show" or for the Samurai Deli Guy. Just makes no sense to me at all. Like "Ladies Man". WTF?!?! And $20 mil? That's bullshit.
June 12, 2000, 2:22 p.m. CST
by All Thumbs
Oh, thank you, Moriarty, for talking about Griffith and the DGA. While doing research on Griffith, I grew to love his work and also found a fascination for the work of the silent era. One of the books I read in researching Griffith was Lillian Gish's biography. I highly recommend it. I was in tears when she wrote of Griffith's last days and the many wonderful words said about the man when he passed. It's a shame that his work is to be buried, figuratively, from the hearts and eyes of today's filmmakers because of the man's shortcomings. While his genius was flawed, there is still much to be learned from the way he directed certain scenes and in many cases, entire movies. Everyone focuses on "Birth" but forgets "Intolerance," "Broken Blossoms" and guilty pleasures like "Orphans of the Storm." It's terrible to forget those like Griffith who have made it possible for the Kubricks, Spielbergs and even David Finches to make their own masterpieces that are heralded despite their own flaws.
June 12, 2000, 3:07 p.m. CST
As it happens, I just saw Birth of a Nation for the first time yesterday. I did my best to look past the racism, but all I found was Griffith's monumentally huge ego. Honestly, someone who is so utterly devoid of humility as to refer to his set pieces as "historical facsimiles" is guilty of hubris at best. And since not all of them are, in fact, even reasonably accurate, he is guilty of something far worse. Not to mention his penchant for plastering his own name across the screen at every opportunity. If you can get past this, and the racism, then it's not a bad film -- but it's also difficult to point out the good in it without the qualifier, "for its time."
June 12, 2000, 3:46 p.m. CST
by Syd Mead
I read the article (e-gads...Film Threat the sight SUCKS compared to it's glory days as a magazine) that lambasts Harry and Moriarty. Did the Warrior write it??? To put it bluntly...they come off as whiners of the highest order. EVERYBODY knows about the swag and all the freebies most critiques chomp on at any early preview. So Film Threat says they don't take swag or free previews...ya sure...and I care if the reviewer has clean underwear on too. Harry writes and brags about the free shit he gets, which he should. If anybody didn't know that already they should NOT read a movie review. If anybody received tickets to an early showing of a movie with free food and gifts then they know that they are suppect into being bamboozlied. BFD...I trust no single reviewer from ANY media...Film Threat is jelious of Harry's quick climb ...they made that clear. --Syd.
June 12, 2000, 6:02 p.m. CST
That MIGHT was a straight-up gay publication that went for some bentforshit laughs: Man's Investigation of Gay (Homosexual) Themes. Get it? Or maybe, Moriarty knows he and he just has some secrets to keep... Anyway, that's his business.
June 12, 2000, 6:09 p.m. CST
by All Thumbs
Let me first point out that I am not defending the racism in "Birth" nor am I denying that Griffith was racist. He was. He was the worst kind of racist because he didn't even REALIZE the things he thought and expressed were racist because they were what came naturally to him, having been raised in an environment...you get the picture. Anyways...as for the big ego stuff, you must understand that Griffith's name is on the title cards because it's his movie and that makes his movie stand out beyond other filmmakers, who also put their names on title cards. It was a common practice and had very little to do with ego. Second, Griffith honestly believed what he put on that screen was "historically accurrate." In fact, he researched thousands of books, articles and personal accounts of the times before, during and after the civil war. But, unfortunately, like most people, he took from those books what he wanted to take and based scenes such as the senate one with the racist stereotypes in it on accounts made by people in the South who were angry, racist and feared the worst in the African-American having any sort of power in government. Griffith didn't just "make this shit up." In fact, there is a lot of stuff in the first act is pretty accurate, such as the way the battles were fought. Lastly..."Birth" and other Griffith movies can be seen as great without putting them into a "for their time" category. Again...see the battle scene. Look at the way the interaction between the characters is handled. There is way too much for me to talk about in a single TB.
June 12, 2000, 6:34 p.m. CST
Good job Moriarty with today's rumblings from the lab. You covered a lot of topic in detail with insight, emotional depth and great writing. I know that's not much but I just wanted to say thank you for the great job you did.
June 12, 2000, 7:26 p.m. CST
by Agent 86
According to Mast & Kawin's _A Short History of the Movies_, Let There Be Light was released in 1981, and, indeed, I saw it a few months ago at auniversity film society screening. I had heard about the government's suppression of this work prior to the screeing, and I must say that I am surprised given that the movie place like a government sponsored piece of propaganda: the boys come back from the war in bad mental shape, check into Uncle Sam's psychiatric hospital, and in short order are ready to get back into mainstream society. The style of this documentary has no room for technical detail regarding the methods of treatment, leaving us with a hypnosis scene that plays like something out of an Abbott and Costello movie. I wouldn't spend to much time tracking this one down Professor.
June 12, 2000, 10:11 p.m. CST
I have also found no problems playing either of the Fight Club DVDs on a DVD ROM for both an imac, and on one of the new Powerbooks...and I agree wholeheartedly. Of all the DVDs I have purchased, none comes close to the quality of this package. It was well worth the wait.
June 12, 2000, 11:44 p.m. CST
slick like the grease in my diggery dooo doo. Kudos to anyone who actually managed to get through Moriarty's self panegyric. When I opened the article, I thought "man there must be a lot of talk back's" then I glanced at the article. Holy hounds of hell! The article was almost as big as your head!!! It's no wonder there's few talkbacks, it almost took all of my energy just to scroll down the page. Moriarty PLEASE try to limit your content (your ramblings and your ego). Don't get me wrong, you bring up some interesting points but MAN! Reading through this talkback felt like watching a D.W. Griffith film: long, overblown and extremely self indulgent.
June 13, 2000, 2:35 p.m. CST
No need to get so defensive. In no way did I imply that you were condoning or denying his racism. However, as far as the accuracy of his work goes, I stand by my earlier remarks. I never claimed that NONE of his "historical facsimiles" were reasonably accurate; I simply said that NOT ALL were. However, there is a vast difference between reasonable accuracy and facsimile -- the latter implies an EXACT COPY. The fact that there are inaccuracies isn't what bothers me (that is to be expected) -- it is Griffith's proclamation that his own work is, essentially, flawless. A humble man would never have made such a claim, even if it were true.
June 13, 2000, 10:45 p.m. CST
What the hell are you people talking about? If you're referring to the publishers or something you should say so, because in terms of content Might was less gay than Movieline. If you're just making stupid San Francisco jokes, well, don't. The people of that fine city have enough problems, what with the hills and car chases and all.
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