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Perfect Tommy Learns About HUMAN NATURE In San Francisco!!

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

Now that the Hong Kong Kavaliers aren't touring, I wondered what Perfect Tommy was up to. Lo and behold, he drops us this line from the City by the Bay with a look at Michel Gondry's debut feature, working from a Charlie Kaufman script. Am I interested? Oh, yes... oh, yes, I am... and it's an excellent review, even if the word is kinda scary. I hope this one ends up working...

HUMAN NATURE test-screened last night at San Francisco’s Metreon. This is the latest Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich) script to come out of production, and is the debut feature from veteran video director Michel Gondry (Bjork, Beck, Fatboy Slim, etc.). Spike Jonze was a producer.

I believe that I spotted Jonze and Kaufman in the lobby, scoping out the audience and schmoozing with the survey geeks. After the standard surveys at the conclusion of the screening, about 15 audience members (alas, yours truly not among them) were invited for a focus group discussion. The presenters announced that this was one of the first public screenings, so (hopefully) they’ll be performing some edits on this sucker before it goes into general release. They never made the “don’t post anything about this on the Internet” announcement, so perhaps they’re giving in to the inevitable.

The film stars Tim Robbins as Nathan (a behavioral psychologist who is teaching mice table manners), Patricia Arquette as his girlfriend (a “nature writer” and on-again/off-again feminist with an ape-like pelt), Miranda Otto as his scheming lab assistant, and Rhys Ifans as a man raised in the wild to believe himself an ape.

The story, such as it is, involves the capture and “education” of the putative ape-man by Nathan, and the attendant romantic quadrangle once everyone’s sexual proclivities become properly cross-wired.

Unfortunately, all of Kaufman’s faults evidenced in Malkovich (the disregard for structure, the calculated offhand misogyny, the seventh-grade-smutty surrealism) not only obscure the story (we open with several different flashback narratives, all at cross-purposes and none convincing or involving) but bog down the humor. If you look at any successful “anarchic” comedy (Raising Arizona, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, Flirting With Disaster), you’ll find carefully written and edited sequences that build and crescendo. You’ll also find relationships between the characters that, while farcical and overdrawn, at least explain character motivation and behavior from scene to scene.

Not so here.

The structure is even more of an episodic mess than Malkovich; many of the scenes play like sketch humor; and the relationships between the characters seem to have been pared to the bond for this cut. (The relationship between Robbins and Arquette seems especially underdeveloped and confounding – she acts bizarrely irate at one moment, and inexplicably compliant the next.)

The audience response was tepid-to-warm. Several decent laugh lines got the crowd into it, and there were several calculated gasp-inducing scenes that worked.

These “schockers,” however, were on the level of a second-rate Farrelly Bros. Production – “My goodness, he’s jerking off!” “My goodness, she kissed a dwarf!” “My goodness, Patricia Arquette’s breasts are hairy!”

Gondry’s direction was flat. The visuals were interesting only in spots – and those spots were direct rips from his own music videos. He seems to have exhausted his visual vocabulary after a single feature.

The CGI mice were wildly uneven. While the scenes of the mice in cages were really well executed (I really BELIEVED that they were using tiny utensils to eat salad from plates!), the scenes of the mice in “the wild” were clumsy and flat – the mice seemed to be on a loop. Perhaps this is something that will be fixed in postproduction.

The editing, from a technical standpoint, was competent – the visuals flowed from one scene to another, eyelines were matched, etc. Continuity was only a problem in Tim Robbins’ “afterlife” narration scenes – the bullet wound in his forehead kept wandering from left to center to right from shot to shot.

From a strategic standpoint, the editing was a farce. Gondry is no storyteller, and Kaufman’s half-baked flashback/narration structure served only to confuse things from the outset. We never got a sense of who or what the movie was “about.” I’m not saying we necessarily had to have a Bruckheimer “high concept” here, or a clearly identified hero and villain, but in the absence of stronger jokes and gags, there needs to be a stronger storyline.

The acting was flat as well. Tim Robbins was in his smug-comedic mode (Clooneyesque head-tilting and -bobbing accompanied by weaselly lip-acrobatics around his line readings) that a more experienced director might have quashed. Rhys Ifans was a peculiar casting choice (if a man were raised as an ape in the wild, wouldn’t he be all Clint-Eastwood-stringy-and-scrawny, instead of Hugh-Grant-flabby-and-pasty?); Patricia Arquette was … well, Patricia Arquette (whiny/“needy” alternating with seductive/angry); Miranda Otto seemed to have wandered in from a suppressed Pink Panther sequel; Rosie Perez seemed lost and slightly embarrassed. Only Robert Forster and Mary Kay Place, as “Nathan’s” parents, seemed to realize they were in a comedy and supposed to be “funny.” The tone chirped right up whenever they were on screen.

This will no doubt be marketed as “a Charlie Kaufman film,” or “from the writer of Being John Malkovich.” The risk they run with this approach is that more discerning viewers may come away feeling that it was just a rehash of elements from Malkovich, and a general audience will have a hard time following the story and will be unwilling to follow Kaufman’s acerbic line of attack on social mores.

On the whole, an uninspiring experience. It felt like a “very special episode” of “Ally McBeal” directed by the Farrelly Bros. – cheap kaka-peepee-handjob-midget gags in a universe where all interpersonal relationships are defined by adolescent sexual jealousies.

If they ditch the flashback structure, replace some of the missing “relationship development” scenes, and come up with a better final payoff ending (my suggestion: Miranda Otto’s character drops the fake accent, and Rhys Ifans gleefully exclaims “They bought it!; thereby implying that his whole ape-man story was a hoax), they might have more of a crowd-pleaser. The edit I saw last night seemed designed to play up the gags and the jolts at the expense of story, logic, and character development. Time to go back to the Avid and reinsert some of the “fat,” gentlemen.

The rest of the Hong Kong Kavaliers call me... PERFECT TOMMY.

Readers Talkback
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  • June 8, 2001, 4:02 p.m. CST

    I don't care if I'm first! And... Is it possible to have a scree

    by Blue Devil

    Was Titanic this big a mess initially? How about Saving Private Ryan? If a film needs major editing to be good, chances are, it's not going to be good. People should know that by now.

  • June 8, 2001, 4:26 p.m. CST

    wasn't this film shown at Cannes?

    by otis von zipper

    I seem to remember someone there sending in a review, and aslso not liking it.

  • June 8, 2001, 5:23 p.m. CST

    Kaufman's faults?

    by carouselambra

    Disregard for structure? That's not a fault... it's one of the driving forces behind the originality of "BJM." No? I do agree somewhat with the "smutty surrealism" comment, but it seems like Kaufman is developing his own style/universe in his films, and maybe that's just part of it. "Adaption" sounds cooler, but I'm really looking forward to this... easily one of 3 or 4 films I'm dying to see.

  • June 8, 2001, 8:47 p.m. CST

    Who

    by heywood jablomie

  • June 8, 2001, 8:48 p.m. CST

    Who's the creep who wrote this?

    by heywood jablomie

    Reads to me like some icky development person, or worse...an actual suit. ("Back to the Avid to restore some of that fat, gentlemen!" What the fuck?) Kaufman is the bomb. And whenever someone says "I'm not saying it has to be like a Jerry Bruckheimer movie," what they really mean is, "I wish it were an eensy little bit more like a Jerry Bruckheimer movie."

  • June 8, 2001, 9:01 p.m. CST

    Well...

    by Di

    ...I don't take seriously the opinion of anybody who thinks Being John Malkovich was an "episodic mess." I haven't read this script, but the word is that it *is* quite obviously an earlier and lesser work of Kaufman's. Disappointing to people (such as myself) who are eagerly awaiting the next Kaufman film, but what can you do?

  • June 8, 2001, 9:10 p.m. CST

    We're talking about Charlie Kaufman here!

    by Kevin Bosch

    I agree with the gentlemen(TBers) above. Now, in not defending Human Nature here, as it is the least of the three post-Malcovich Kaufamn projects that I am looking forward to(the other two being Adaptation and Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind). There was just something about Human Nature that didn't sit right the first time I heard about it. I mean, with the high concepts that were BJM and Adaptation and Confessions, a story about a guy being raised by moneys didn't sound much like Kaufman material, also that it didn't have a director like Spike or Fincher attached. But I digress. This guy critizies this movie for stuff that, it seems, shouldn't be critizied for. In fact, proabaly stuff that it will be praised for. And whats with the BJM bashing. If there's anything good about this movie, it will be the writing. Kaufman has his own style. His own flow. No structure? I dare you to watch BJM again with a stop watch and tell me it doesn't fit into the three act structure? He just such a non conformist when it comes to screenwriting that you don't feel a cagey formula. Adaptation, which I've read(along with CoaDM) is incredible, and it breakes so many of the so-called screenwriting rules while, yet, not only adhering to them, but actaully using them (the "rules") as a devise in his storytelling. Kaufman's aproch to writing is the firt step in the process of screenwriting becoming a true artform and not simply a means to a end.

  • June 8, 2001, 9:45 p.m. CST

    Nature / Confessions

    by carouselambra

    Even if the plot makes "Human Nature" sounds "lesser" than "BJM" or whatnot (and I think most would agree it does), that's ok. You never know what you're getting with a writer like Kaufman. Even if he fails, it should be very entertaining. I completely forgot about "Confessions"! Cripes, that sounds like an awesome movie... with Depp or Myers or whoever. What's the news on it? Is it going anywhere again?

  • June 8, 2001, 9:48 p.m. CST

    PS.

    by carouselambra

    Oh and I think it's very kind of us TB'ers not to have commented cruelly about Perfect Tommy ending his review with a list of suggested alterations to Kaufman's writing. That's not the job of a critic, Tom.

  • June 8, 2001, 9:52 p.m. CST

    Being John Malkovich was a mess?

    by Tezuka

    I guess the cut we saw here in Australia must be different. Most people here thought it rocked.

  • June 8, 2001, 10:06 p.m. CST

    the calculated offhand misogyny?

    by All Thumbs

    Huh? How was "Being John Malkovich" misogynistic? If anything, it was the total opposite of this reviewer's statement. The good thing about this review is it got me excited for the next movie and gave me an itch to watch BJM again.

  • June 8, 2001, 10:21 p.m. CST

    Kaufman's writing

    by hktelemacher

    is absolutely brilliant after only one released movie and the buzz surrounding three unreleased ones. He proved with BJM that his writing is very deconstructionist. The premise of the new Spike Jonze directed "Adaptation" is Kaufman's autobiographical rebellion against the fundamentals of "traditional" screenwriting. A good flick doesn't have to have a three act structure to kick ass - and who sits through a movie anyway looking at the acts and thinking about the writer's structure style? That's not even something aspiring screenwriters should do. Kaufman should be a screenwriting role model because he's got his own unique style. He's not Syd Field teaching seminars about how to write a conventional movie for profit. I admire Kaufman not because he has such original and imaginative concepts, but because he has the balls to write a script that doesn't have proven appeal. I think he takes chances with his writing, and that means disregarding the criticism that inevitably bashes his style because it's something the audience isn't comfortable with. Why don't people want to be entertained anymore? The movie-going public just wants to fork over money to do the same thing each and every week and when a gem like BJM comes along it turns a lot of people off. The downside to Kaufman is that when he really catches on there will be legions of deconstructionist imitators.

  • June 9, 2001, 1:17 a.m. CST

    angel66 is a media snob

    by Shinobi Juan

    As for MV directors sticking to their corporate craft, funny, I thought that cinema was a corporate craft too. MV directors get regularly shafted by half-baked commentators like you, but frankly, I'm as excited about seeing something new from Chris Cunningham or Michel Gondry as I am about Wong Kar Wai. Tom Tykwer (sp?) is an awesome filmmaker. Even David Fincher has his moments. And I've seen music videos with more genuine emotion and effective imagery than anything Aronofsky will ever come up with (and he owes his whole schtick to MV aesthetics). Scared that real cinema is gonna die due to the superficial contributions of ad makers angel66? Go and watch Sexy Beast you blinkered non-entity.

  • June 9, 2001, 1:46 a.m. CST

    Nice review.

    by Studio Lackey

    Quite well-written, especially by AICN standards.

  • June 9, 2001, 2:21 a.m. CST

    its already out !

    by Roli

    Human nature is already in European Cinemas... or was.. why are they doing test screenings for america ? its not that kind of movie that needs adjustments for a different country...

  • June 9, 2001, 4:42 a.m. CST

    "eyelines were matched"?

    by MartinBlank

    Talk about reaching for faint praise...kinda like Peter Dragon's cronies praising the score of "Slow Torture." Damn. If this movie is as disappointing as people have said so far (with this review and the earlier one from Cannes) I'm gonna be bumming, since "BJM" was, to these eyes, a masterwork. Now will someone please greenlight Kaufman's "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind"??? That is without a doubt the ballsiest and most brilliant script I've ever read in one mesmerized sitting. Depp as Chuck Barris, Clooney as his CIA contact, and Bryan Singer as director (though Cronenberg or Gilliam also would've been aces) were perfect. They throw money at "What's the Worst That Can Happen" and leave this potential groundbreaker to fester in development hell??? That creak you hear is the door of the oven opening as I stick my head into it.

  • June 9, 2001, 5:14 a.m. CST

    Soderbergh wanted to do this

    by abcdefz

    A few things put me in check here: the writer's hostile tone and somewhat off-the-mark comments about "Being John Malkovich." I mean, I had my problems with the film, too, but there's no doubt that it exhibited genuine writing talent. But the main thing that interests me is that Steven Soderbergh really wanted to make this; I'm pretty sure that his diary (see "Getting Away With It") says that "Human Nature" was one of the best scripts he'd read in a long time. Was Steven just that wrong, did the director screw it up that much, or is this review that far afield? On the basis of the review, I'd say the odds are likely that #2 or #3 is the correct answer; the review seems to lack discernment, but I can also imagine a director really missing the tone of the screenplay; that kind of stuff is really tricky. But there must have been SOMETHING there to start with; it's not like Soderbergh doesn't have more or less impeccable taste.

  • June 9, 2001, 5:37 a.m. CST

    Michel Gondry is...

    by looking-for-love

    the man who INVENTED the "bullet time" effect used in The Matrix. He first used it on Gap ads.

  • June 9, 2001, 8:04 a.m. CST

    Scripts?

    by paranoidAndroid

    does anyone know of any place where you can read the scripts for CoaDM, Human Nature, or Adaptation online?

  • June 9, 2001, 10 a.m. CST

    In praise of Gondry

    by Brendon

    He IS an accomplished storyteller - as evidenced by a number of his music videos (most particularly Bacholerette and Everlong). So, maybe Kaufman has an 'off kilter' voice - that's cool. And BJM certainly threw a lot of good ideas into the mix. But it certainly wasn't a GREAT script, and the last reel was an absolute disaster. I'm not particulalry interested in this movie, and hope both that Michel does manage to make something of it, and that a more exciting script comes his way next time, he deserves a break as a movie maker.

  • June 9, 2001, 10:44 a.m. CST

    the "new school" of directors

    by simian

    I know I'm not the only person who thinks this, but doesn

  • June 9, 2001, 12:59 p.m. CST

    Diaz in a Cage and Other Ball Busters

    by All Thumbs

    Ok, I gotta argue this one. Why? Because I have nothing better to do and because it's fun. First of all, Diaz's character is a perfect example of how this movie was in no way misogynistic. I can see how some people would read her being locked up in a cage as such, especially taken out of context, but if you remember this is a woman who has been stifled by her husband's career pursuits and at that point in the movie, she's ready to cast him off and move on with her life. Unfortunately, it happens to be with the woman he's also interested in. As for Keener's character, I think that by the end especially we see that there is more to this woman than being a ball buster or money-hungry. I think that Diaz's character was a message for all people, not just women, to find themselves and enjoy being themselves. Because if you try being someone else, you end up leading a hollow, torture-filled, neverending life.

  • June 9, 2001, 2:45 p.m. CST

    Misogyny

    by Logisch

    "When we were screening the film at colleges, people kept coming up to me and saying, 'How can you treat Hot Lips the way you do?' I would say, 'This isn't the way I treated her, this is how I see her being treated.' I see things the way they are, not the way we hope they'd be." -- Robert Altman [Let characters do what they will. The second you start restricting them because what they do is bad or weird is the second you start making shitty, shitty characters like 95% of writers in any medium. Robert "Character God" Altman knew this and so does the foolishly talented Mr. Kaufman, and thank god the few like them exist.]

  • June 9, 2001, 2:51 p.m. CST

    And oh god, one more thing...

    by Logisch

    THIS dude gets the spy alias of one of the coolest bit characters in film history? The justice is where now?

  • June 9, 2001, 3:31 p.m. CST

    This is a very good review

    by Milktoast

    At last. Unbiased and gives a sense of the film...as it stands at this point in the process. The reviewer has an interesting voice as well...credability that made me pay complete attention with no scrolling to skip. Hopefully Gondry catches it.

  • June 9, 2001, 6:27 p.m. CST

    angel66 remains a fascist

    by Shinobi Juan

    This argument could become ridiculously circular. You seem convinced MV makers are superficial gloss-meisters with nothing to ad (ho ho, sorry) to the language of film. I think you are patently wrong, and continuing to bandy about terms like "corporate heroes" and "slave" simply makes you look like a zealot. Beating someone over the head with any sort of "anti" dogma doesn't make for a very convincing argument. The proof is in the pudding - Guy Ritchie is both an accomplished filmmaker and "ad man". I enjoy his films - nothing too deep to be found, but he makes two hours in a cinema more pleasant than, yes, Michael Bay or McG. That there are bad MV directors in cinema shouldn't be confused with the fact there are many bad directors, period. Vilifying music video gets you nowhere - it has infiltrated the work of (ahem) proper directors quite thoroughly, from the Matrix to Moulin Rouge. And this I feel is not generally a bad thing, just a wider film vocabulary to pick from. As for effective direction, Jonathan Glazer's UNKLE video (the tunnel one) makes for a more wrenching 5 minutes than any sequence I've seen in a recent film. You want to point out exceptions - there's a whole lot more than Jonze and Scott. Tunnel vision serves most elitists well - how does it serve you? BTW - Frankenheimer is doing BMW ads now. God forid, movie directors infiltrating advertising.

  • June 10, 2001, 5:05 a.m. CST

    people like you give anti-corporatism a bad name

    by Shinobi Juan

    Listen up you smug tosser, I marched in the WTO protests on May 1. I saw friends of mine get arrested. Don't be dribbling shit about me falling for the corporations hook line and sinker. I don't drink any brand name sodas, nor do I own a pair of Nikes. Stop talking from some assumed position of radical superiority. Your thuggish approach is a major turn-off and I doubt very much you're convincing anyone of your arguments by being such an ignorant schmuck. I happen to be researching MVs for a Masters thesis currently, and I'm sorry, while you're frothing at the mouth about the evils of corporatism, you're missing the point about aesthetics. Though I suppose it's evident you have no real appreciation for them anyway. I'm tired of you now. Ease up on the amphetamine intake young revolutionary - you may think you're moving faster, but the truncheon will find your head just the same. Tempered idealism wins everytime over extremism :)

  • June 10, 2001, 7:04 a.m. CST

    Altman and such

    by Logisch

    So the movie doesn't condemn the men, eh? Are you saying that you need the film to explicitly tell you when people are behaving like idiots? At some point in most people's lives they gain the ability to morally judge situations for themselves. Happens at different times for different people, but it *should* happen, at least. Good moviemaking isn't about blatant morals; if you have a message that can be said in words, then for heaven's sake say it in words, that's what they're for. Cinema, on the other hand, allows for ambiguity and the possibility of moral interpretation way more than prose, which is what's so good about it. When you start expecting movies to have a single moral point of view, you start expecting movies to be newspaper articles. Let them be what they are. And ad hominem attacks on Robert Altman are way out of place here; I used the quote because I liked what it said in general case, and I don't care about the specific situation he was talking about (although for the record M*A*S*H is one of my favorite movies and I think that scene is fuckin' hilarious).

  • June 10, 2001, 8:09 a.m. CST

    Shinbo Juan and angel66

    by The Pardoner

    You folks need some serious help. What the hell kind of flame war is this? One guy is applauding himself for being involved in one of the most pointless, cretinous and inneffectual demonstrations in history - made for some fucking hilarious coverage, though. He also seems to want a pat on the back for drinking cheap pop and wearing crappy shoes. The other twit bleats about "ethics" and "Nike sweatshops" and decries people as advocates of pure consumerism, apparently because they like being payed. Either this is one very silly person, or we've got two of the dullest people ever trying to beat each other up with feeble words. --- I'll bet dollars to handjobs Fincher, Proyas, Scott, and even Michael Bay - the new-age, shit-encrusted Wagner - don't give a fuck about being commercially successful when they're directing. They try, as best they can, to mate style with story (note that I did not say "make style a perfect match for story"), and produce a movie that people will see and like. Michael Bay is an idiot not because he makes financially successful movies, but because he makes incoherent, boring and arse-headed movies. Fincher and Proyas are good directors because they make - relatively speaking - intelligent, well-crafted films about interesting people in interesting situations. (Again, please note that "interesting" does not mean "bizarre or unique", but only "worthy of interest", ie. of "study".)

  • June 10, 2001, 1:59 p.m. CST

    The off-topic Altman discussion

    by abcdefz1

    I have to agree that the shower scene in MASH came off as misogynistic, whatever Altman's intentions might have been. The fact is, the movie's tone emphasizes prankish, rakish comedy as admirable and entertaining, and the behavior of "the boys" is treated at best, with a boys-will-be-boys; naughty boys! sort of attitude. There's definitely the sense that Hot Lips is getting her comeuppence. Now, compare that with NASHVILLE, when Sueleen Gay is forced to strip; THAT is a great scene in which a woman is humiliated and the misogyny of the characters can't possibly be confused with the point of view of the director. If Altman intended the debasing of Hot Lips in MASH's shower scene to create empathy toward her and show us more darkness in the guys, he evidently didn't have the skills yet. Personally, I think he's being disingenius if he expects us to believe that.

  • June 10, 2001, 2 p.m. CST

    oops

    by abcdefz1

    Disingenuous.

  • June 10, 2001, 5:04 p.m. CST

    Oh, give me a break, angel...

    by Di

    The fact that a female character gets locked in a cage by her evil husband makes the writer, or the script, misogynistic? Are you a moron? I can't even imagine where a point-of-view like that would come from. But then, I don't know what else I'd expect from somebody who didn't think Being John Malkovich was funny. I've been exposed to plenty of surrealism in film, and you still don't know what you're talking about. In light of this, your misinterpretation of Fight Club doesn't surprise me in the least. Fight Club isn't about how the nasty evil ad men ruin everything, because that's a bullshit point-of-view as much as you'd like the believe it. There's no hypocrisy in Fincher directing commercials because Tyler is wrong. The movie, among many many many other things, is about personal responsibility and how some people...ahem...like to bitch and moan and blame the Man, and ad companies, and MTV for their own problems. So, in short, you're wrong wrong wrong and you should probably run all your opinions by me before posting them so you don't look like even more of a moron in the future.

  • June 10, 2001, 6 p.m. CST

    In further defense of Altman

    by All Thumbs

    I'm wondering if this angel person watched "The Player" and took it as a standing ovation in support of the current studio system. Because it's obvious that Altman in "The Player" supports the talentless, greedy, paint-by-numbers with movie stars, forget-about-the-art way the studio system and its executives work. So, obviously, there is no way that Altman was trying to speak out against the type of treatment Hot Lips is given in "M*A*S*H" by showing it and letting the audience think for themselves. In the (paraphrased) words of Homer Simpson: "And in case you didn't notice, I was being sarcastic."

  • June 10, 2001, 6:17 p.m. CST

    Structure ...

    by Perfect_Tommy

    ... doesn't have to mean slavish adherence to the Syd Field/Bill Goldman/Aristophanes (yeesh! talk about an unholy trio ...) three-acter. Three of my favorite films -- THE SARAGOSSA MANUSCRIPT, LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD, and WILD THINGS -- present deviate wildly from the three-act, and yet are still highly rigorous in their respective structures. Plus, they're funny as hell. BJM was certainly more imaginative and funny than your run-of-the-mill H'wd yukker. But the ideas and gags could have been presented more effectively.

  • June 10, 2001, 8:22 p.m. CST

    This talkback remains partly interesting

    by Brendon

    Despite the ongoing shinobi/fascists feud. Well, little has been said about Gondry here, and some of that has been WRONG. This 'bullet time' effect you are describing was NOT invented by Gondry, though he did employ it in most of it's useful phases. Not only the GAP ad, but also a Rolling Stones vid (Like a Rolling Stone with P. Arquette) Sorry to him that the Wachowskis reduced it to a shoddy cliche within the space of one overbaked cliche-smothered shuffle of five knuckles. I guarantee you this: whatever the merits or lack thereof to be awarded to Human Nature, it remains a more appetising prospect than Matrix 2 could ever be...

  • June 11, 2001, 12:59 a.m. CST

    Wild Things?

    by Di

    Thanks for confirming my dismissal of your opinion...I mean, I like it, it's a fun, underrated film...but one of your favorites? C'mon. There's really absolutely nothing wrong with the structure of Being John Malkovich. What's your problem with it?

  • June 11, 2001, 5:53 a.m. CST

    Guns Leveled, On Traget, Warm 'em Up, and Other Fallic Nonsence

    by TectorGorch

    This is targeted at Angel66 and her fellow combatants. 1) Robert Altman's MASH simply reflected the times in which it was made. It is a good film, but it is also a simple "Us Vs. Them anti-establishment picture in the same vein of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest". The counter culture of the late 60's- contrary to myth- was rife with macho imagery and mysogny. While the counter culture claimed to champion human rights they were not in the trenches for Women's rights. This is probably why they failed so misreably in their persuits. (The Civil Rights Movement was a victory but was born in the 50's by hardworking middle class black folks not out of middle class white dillitantes.) Read William Kuntsler's autobiography where he doesn't hold up one strong woman from "The Movement" but writes at length about all the groupies he put it to. Kesey's "Cuckoo's Nest" is probably the best example of this. Surburban males (Somewhat like today) felt they had been deballed by females. The whole myth of the wild man cowboy (MacMuphy) tamed by the large breasted matron(Wratched)dated back to the turn of the century dime lit. about school marm's and desparados. 2) Per your slam on Corporate Culture and commercials. I used to direct TV commercials and Music videos myself. It pays the bills, Sister. Most of my generation that poured out of media programs and film schools in the last ten years still have to eat. Commercials and Videos are good work, they let filmmakers practice their craft...and they pay. A kid blasting out of Film School will be allowed to make a commercial for Noxema before he/she is ever allowed into the corporate film world. I know plenty of blue collar DP's, Sound, F/X, and Directors of all trades making a living and feeding their kids banging out commercials. It might not be art, but idealism only exist in a perfect world. I had to get out of the business all together to focus on my family and provide for them. During the day I work at providing, and at night I write to satisfy the artistic urge. Don't critisize a road you haven't put footprints on. 3) To end this on positive note- at least it has been an interesting Talkback to read.

  • June 11, 2001, 11:10 a.m. CST

    You're not making a lot of friends around here, Perfect Tommy!

    by JQuintana

    We don't take kindly to your sort around here!

  • June 11, 2001, 11:31 a.m. CST

    MV Directors

    by moviesR4proFIT

    If all you want is story, then call on the 100's of television directors out there. And read a novel. Or CliffsNotes. Obviously it starts with the WORD and if one can get access to the WORD (i.e. a good script). Getting access the WORD is what everyone wants and by the time a MV-COM DIR gets a script its been already passed on five times. I'll take an MV COM DIR over McTiernan, Hyams, Hoblit, Pollack, Joffe, Andrew Davis, Foley, Rob Cohen, Spottswood, Reitman, Ramis, Roach, Zwick, Columbus, or Silberling ANY DAY. Strange how critics let these bland "storytellers" fall by the wayside. There are propably only ten directors who can tell a story visually (please don't bring up Peter Weir or Scorcese or Spielberg or Soderbergh all who admire Fincher and Ridley). The criticism leveled against MV COM DIRS is out of jealousy and they fact they are visually more arresting than old school seventies directors critics continually harken back to. Times change.Oliver Stone blends intelligent provocation with his superior visual abilities added by collaborators coming from the MV COM world. Just look at his crew: editors, dps, art department and sound design. All MTV guys. You got millions on the line with German Bankers. You want a director who shoots everyweek or three months once every three years? Michel Gondry is a genuis. In his short film "La Lettre" you'll see a budding Truffaut. Another French director pioneered the bullet frame EFX w/ multicameras but Gondry and his brother did the EFX with only three.