Chien 1

The guy on the commentary makes such a big deal of the opening scene, and everyone makes such a big deal of the opening scene, and I’ve made such a big deal of the opening scene, that I’d forgotten most of the rest of the film.

It does seem to be a lot better thought-out than it’s given credit for… not just a string of remembered dreams filmed nonsensically, but actual characters playing out various aspects of their relationship. Lots of fun imagery, even if Bunuel couldn’t get the framing right half the time.

Plenty of good stuff in there… the “androgyne” as the commentary calls her, the guy pulling grand pianos with dead donkeys on top and Salvador Dali’s priest towed along, the man in a slow-motion gunfight with himself… and that music.


Opens with ineffectual dad bedding his whore daughter while she takes photos, and only heads downhill from there. Son is bullied by kids who break family’s windows and shoot fireworks. Son beats his mom constantly. Daughter is mostly absent, and dad is former TV reporter who has lost all respect. Visitor Q is young man who smiles, busts family members in head with large rock, and moves in without asking. Soon, wife is lactating gallons, husband murders then rapes co-worker (and kills a bully or two), and a happy ending has both kids and dad drinking from mom.

So… what’s happening here? Unrespectable dad, druggie mom, tyrant spoiled son and unsupervised promiscuous daughter all need a rock to the head to force ’em to function as a family unit again? Surely it’s a horrid commentary on modern Japan in some way. Enjoyable Miike movie at any rate. One of his most extreme, and probably lowest budget (video made-for-tv look throughout). No special effects to speak of, except mom’s watergun breasts.

Visitor Q

From a DVD that Clay lent me. Pretty neat movie, surprisingly good acting and dialogue (compared to what I’d expected, anyway). Sid “Captain Spaulding” Haig in one of his first roles, and Lon Chaney Jr. in one of his last.

Spider Baby

Money-grubbing relatives come to take charge of the house now run by the family chauffeur, who watches over three grown children with murderous degenerative brain disease (and an obsession with spiders). A fine horror movie, and probably pretty loony compared to other 60’s horrors. The whole thing with 25-yr-old women acting like evil 8-yr-olds is still creepy. Bit of campy comedy thrown in too, mostly in the form of the hitler-mustached lawyer, must’ve been intentional.

Also Spider Baby

Neat DVD. Glad I resisted temptation to buy it, but made a nice rental. Now if I can carve out four hours in two days to watch the second disc…

INTERVALS is pure formalism, edits of precise length set to an even beat, all shot in Venice but with no glimpses of water. PG says the rhythm is something to do with an Italian piece of music, just to make it even more rigorous.

The next four juxtapose grainy old films with off-kilter narration, looking progressively less like home-movies as PG starts getting a bit of a budget. H IS FOR HOUSE is actually a home movie, with a narrator reciting related and unrelated words that begin with the same letter. WINDOWS tells of 37 people who fell to their deaths from windows during a certain year in a certain province. WATER WRACKETS is very nice shots of water with a fake Tolkien-esque background story on the narration. DEAR PHONE, the most diverting of the four, alternates shots of red phone booths with shots of the pages the narrator reads from, stories of people obsessed with the telephone.

Dear Phone

A WALK THROUGH H was the best one here (fortunately, since it’s some 40 minutes long). A journey through “H” (heaven/hell?) with 92 maps, incl. backstory on the maps, the people they were acquired from, and the narrator’s spiritual guide, Tulse Luper. Almost the whole movie was motion close-ups of the maps themselves (and sometimes of the windmills that appeared as the maps faded), with bookend segments showing a gallery in which each map was displayed. Way to turn a painting career into a film career. Gives me real hope that the three-hour The Falls won’t be boring, as it seems it should be from its description. Oh, as the narrator is an ornithologist, we got some nice shots of birds too.

A Walk Through H

Was a fun disc, with scans of paintings and video introductions by PG, and gave nice insight into the genesis of the cataloguing fetish he expressed colorfully in Prospero’s Books and Drowning By Numbers. I’m into the head-smashing repetition of the Michael Nyman scores in his films, too. Still don’t get why some critics say his early stuff is wonderful and everything since (1985? 89?) is crap. Adrian Martin calls him “a totally vacuous phony”, and I know Sam hates PG too. Maybe one day it’ll hit me all at once, and I’ll sing the praises of Cache, late Woody Allen, Carl Dreyer and Robert Bresson while damning Prospero’s Books, Robert Rodriguez and Steven Spielberg.

A Walk Through H

I don’t know much about Tourneur, don’t even know how to pronounce Tourneur, but every time I hear about this movie it’s a (producer) “Val Lewton movie”. So maybe Tourneur isn’t the auteur here. Don’t think I have to care about that. Neat movie, mostly worth watching for Simone Simon. Funny how I’ve recently seen two of her movies (la bete humaine, devil & daniel webster) and didn’t recognize her.

Good scene in a swimming pool, some good psychiatry (“what does one tell a husband? one tells him nothing”) and probably a pretty good (if predictable) ending. Not positive about that, cuz my tape cut off right as Simone entered the panther cage. Loved how she fell in “love” with our generic male hero in less than two days, and lovely the way he proposes to her. She’s trying to tell him about her dark past, and he cuts her off, “We’ll get married and you can tell your stories to our children”. Wow! Of course he’s actually in love with his co-worker, and who can blame him. Not sure about this being one of the greatest thrillers in history, but I enjoyed it.

Cerebral, kinda unengaging movie. Interestingly done though. Allegorial, with each person representing a country or type. Seemed like a total bust for a while there, but as I was getting disappointed I asked myself “why is the movie doing this?” and figured out the allegory. A message movie then, the message being that there’s only one System that all countries and governments (even the neutrals) help perpetuate. I wasn’t as impressed with the combat scenes as everyone in the reviews and commentary was – more interested in the politics of the thing. As a political statement, it’s pretty wonderful. Probably needs another viewing sometime. Katy was cool on it but “didn’t hate it”.

Also on the disc was Diary of an Unknown Soldier, apparently the first short Watkins made that he still likes. The last day of a soldier’s life before being sent to the front, so another war commentary, told all in narration. I like Watkins’ style – it’s not like anything else I’ve been watching. Which makes me wonder why I haven’t sat down with Punishment Park yet. Seems like all of his stuff should be worth seeing.


I liked it. Liked the story, liked the pyramid-headed supervillain, liked the Hellraiser 3 ending, liked the The Others ending, liked the digi effects and the corrosion and the ash snow and the crazy acting. Josh left after 15-20 min because he “wasn’t feeling it” or prefers suspense to shock horror or something unclear. Here’s hoping pyramid-head comes back in the sequel.

Nice heist movie, glad I saw it. Looked good, competent acting, everything in its right place. Fun, twisty plot. Some humor, not at all dark and serious. Josh used movie as ammo for his idea that Clive Owen is a great actor, and I used it as ammo for my/Steve’s idea that Jodie Foster is not a great actor. Saw the nazi part and the fake-execution part coming. Nothing much to be said.

I’m glad Katy and Nick liked this movie… in fact, I’m glad I liked it the second time around. It’s just as good as I remembered, even without the director and Farmer John around to influence my thinking. I guess from here it’ll play on PBS then I’ll never hear about it again, but was fun while it lasted.