Web debris: Cruise, "Sin City," Leary and Loy on Eastwood and "Closer"

So, here are a few pieces I stumbled across today…

A mind-boggling update on director Todd Haynes’ spectacularly weird concept for a movie about Bob Dylan. I cannot wait to see this.

Haynes said he wanted to capture the many aspects of Dylan’s character, and his solution was a “multiple refracted biopic” in which Dylan would be played, among others, by an 11-year-old black boy and a young white woman. I’m Not There: Suppositions on a Film Concerning Dylan, now going ahead via Paramount, seems to have refracted further, and it’s the woman who’ll be the black Bob Dylan…

Congratulations, Peter Jackson! King Kong filming has wrapped. How do you throw a King Kong party? Lots and lots of bananas.

Tom Cruise – Scientology evangelist!

Founded in 1954 by the science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology has long had a close connection with celebrity. Contending that artists “are a cut above man” – according to a church Web site, www.celebritycentre.org – Hubbard said, “He who can truly communicate to others is a higher being who builds new worlds.” The church has celebrity centers in several cities where actors and other famous figures come to study and meet. (John Travolta and Kirstie Alley are among the best-known Hollywood adherents.) At the centers, according to the Web site, they are promised “the best in service and care, for those are the people who are sculpting the present into the future.” (And Mr. Travolta in 2000 starred in a widely ridiculed pet project, “Battlefield Earth,” a space-invasion story based on a novel of the same title by Hubbard.)

ZZZZING!

Since there are no more challenges left for him as an actor, Ben Affleck is moving on to directing.

You can learn a lot about a man from what he writes. Here’s Harry Knowles on why he likes Sin City. Remember that. This is why he likes it.:

“SIN CITY is a cinematic blowtorch to the senses, burning, exposing and finally annihilating each new noir drenched nerve-ending into another thrilling, ecstatic sensation. From the second Marley Shelton starts to quiver in Josh Hartnett’s arms till the closing of the elevator doors – this movie is a vice holding your head in place – daring you to watch it through the gaps of your fingers – leaving you laughing the naughty laugh at each new delicious sin, like a box of chocolate strawberries shared between lovers – you in your seat and Robert, Frank and the actors and artists on the screen – each celebrating the unmitigated joy of getting away with it, honoring it and bringing it to life. SIN CITY throbs to life with the roar of engines, gunfire, rage, women and men. It’s primal – it’s murderous and it’s vital.”

Vital for what?

Referring to the movie and its filmmakers, Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez …

It’s … every woman that made them lust, every sin they ever thought. This is the culmination of dreaming the big dirty dreams about dicks and dames with all the dead dorks they leave pushing posies in their destructive wake.

Why am I thinking this will not end up on CT Movies’ 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2005? For some reason, I’m hearing Gandalf: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

And now, at The Matthews House Project

The ever-eloquent Michael Leary on Million Dollar Baby

Million Dollar Baby isn’t a film about euthanasia, it is about these characters that took two hours to develop before the fateful twist at the end. The film simply continues Eastwood’s penchant for characters forced to make ethical decisions that they know will cost them their souls. At the very least, the film seems to imply that the act of euthanasia, even if as an act of mercy, will cost the actor a great deal.

and

the ever-electrifying Stef Loy on Closer.

Last year’s underrated The Secret Lives of Dentists proved that the subject matter Closer approaches is worth investigating and discussing when done gracefully. Even if the extremes of emotions that make these characters little more than shallow caricatures are intentional, Closer still feels a little too voyeuristic. (Even if these performances are spectacular.) It is like peeking into the unfaithfulness and selfishness of people that don’t really care if we are watching. There is nothing Brechtian about that at all, it is just uncomfortable.

Meanwhile, Peter Chattaway’s pondering a question that has kept all of us awake nights… Do Candadians watch the same movies as Americans?

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  • Thom

    What? I think it’s very important how Jessica Alba looks as a stripper. Just kidding.

    It is odd to me that he focuses on the wrong things, so to speak, as what interest him in the film. To me, the struggles and character matter much more. And yes, as I said, I am very intrigued by the attempts to really put Miller’s art on the screen.

    I am uncertain if I will “like” the film, but I have no doubt I will find it interesting.

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    >>How different are these complaints versus what could be said about the Maltese Falcon, Chinatown, or LA Confidential? Lots of unsavory things in each.

    My point was that Harry seems excited about celebrating the debauchery on screen, not the nobility of someone trying to do the right thing in an evil world. I *love* “Pulp Fiction,” and I might find some value in “Sin City” as well. But if so, it’ll be for the way that the story explores good and evil, not for the fact that so-and-so looks good as a stripper.

  • Thom

    Yeah…I was kind of thinking about Chris’ comments. I see Sin City as falling more into the Tarantino worlds of Kill Bill… and no real heroes (it is telling that the only person referred to as an innocent in one article I read was a young stripper).

    I guess I am more drawn to the endeaver to try and re-create Miller’s visual style on the screen. Either this will be a massive Pulp Fiction/Kill Bill noir explosion or it will be a failure on the levels of Dick Tracy.

    I am anticipating failure, because there are no real heroes in Sin City, it is dark and gritty with what I am guessing will be an unhappy ending and it is taking a massive risk visually. An exciting eperiment, but one I am not sure the general movie going public will sit through.

  • Chris Durnell

    Miller’s Sin City is basically old film noir on steroids, but comic books are generally over the top. The city is totally corrupt, and evil is truly evil. The protagonists are all in the hard boiled tradition of honorable men trying to survive and do the right thing in a dishonorable world where the law is not necessarily justice.

    How different are these complaints versus what could be said about the Maltese Falcon, Chinatown, or LA Confidential? Lots of unsavory things in each.

    I’m looking forward to the movie, but I like noir in general.

  • Levi Nunnink

    Jeeze, I got to agree about the comics. They’re amazingly artistic but border on sick Porn in instances. I casually picked one up last night in Borders and after a few pages I began to worry that my wife was going to walk up and see me reading them. Can you say, “red flag”?

    I feel this verse is often misused but does it not apply to this: “Whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
    - Philippians 4:8″

  • crimsonline

    Re: Harry Knowles and Sin City

    Ugh. I’ve read Sin City comicbooks, and come away admiring the artistic style in them, but feeling dirty all over from the content. Something tells me that Rodriguez has stayed close to that vibe in the film. I won’t know, I guess, since I won’t be watching it. I pity the film critic who has to for their job. What’s the brain equivalent for a long, hot shower?


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