Friday, September 2, 2011

On Demand: "Red State"

“This isn’t funny any more!” one of the boys yells, over and over again, about twenty minutes into Kevin Smith’s Red State. “This isn’t funny any more!” He’s talking about the events on screen, of course, which have seen a rather depressing online sex rendezvous turn into a drugged kidnapping. But it’s also a none-too-subtle nod to the filmmaker, a specialist of slacker comedy who has taken an unexpected and surprisingly effective turn towards darker and more sinister subject matter.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In Theaters: "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy"

You wouldn’t expect a movie titled A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy to be this charming or likable, but improbably enough, it is just that. This is not to imply that it is not raunchy; this is a dirty, dirty little movie, filled with nearly non-stop sexual conversation, including verbal descriptions of sex acts rendered in cheerfully graphic detail. But it’s all about how you approach these things, and somehow, writer/directors Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck make the movie salacious without making it either crass or mean-spirited. There is a sweetness to its ribaldry.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Interview: Radley Metzger (aka "Henry Paris")

“I understand you've got to get them in the theater. You got to keep the seats full... but I don't want to make a film where they show up, sit down, jack off, and get up and get out before the story ends. It is my dream, it is my goal, it is my idea to make a film that the story sucks them in, and when they spurt out that joy juice, they just got to sit in it. They can't move until they find out how the story ends. I want to make a film like that.”
-Dialogue from Boogie Nights by Paul Thomas Anderson


Pornography is a $10 billion a year industry, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who says there’s much artistry to it these days. All the old jokes about the bad acting and the dumb dialogue are irrelevant; the Internet allows the consumption of porn in bite-sized pieces, without even the fast-forwarding that changed the form when videotape took over the business in the early 1980s. There’s no reason to bother with a compelling story in adult entertainment these days, and few do.

This wasn’t always the case. In the mid-1970s, in the midst of the so-called “porno chic” movement, a few inventive filmmakers dared to make porn movies that were, in fact, real films—with compelling stories, accomplished acting, and a sense of humor. The best of those filmmakers worked under the alias of “Henry Paris.” His real name is Radley Metzger.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

On DVD: "Parenthood: Season 2"

Infidelity. Divorce. Absentee fathers. Interracial dating. Teen sex. Teen drug use. Asperger’s Syndrome. Office romance. Drinking and driving.

When you run down the topics covered over the course of the second season of the NBC drama Parenthood, it sounds like a soapy slog, an intolerable compendium of weighty issues and family melodrama. But as they say, it’s all in the playing. As Harlan Ellison once wrote, “Moby Dick is only the story of a vengeful man after a big fish, if you want to make it a reductio ad absurdum,” and Parenthood is fast becoming the Moby Dick of hour-long issue-oriented family ensemble comedy/dramas.

Monday, August 29, 2011

New on Blu: "Good Will Hunting"

At some point over the past 14 years it became, for no good reason, hopelessly uncool to like Good Will Hunting. It became a bit of a punch line, shorthand for maudlin mediocrity; Premiere magazine rated it one of the “20 Most Overrated Movies of All Time,” alongside such titles as Jules and Jim, Nashville, Moonstruck, and Field of Dreams. (I’d like to nominate Premiere for my list of “1 Most Overrated Movie Magazine,” but I digress.) Why? Who knows. For many, the backstage narrative was just two perfect: two young, handsome, but frustrated actors write a screenplay as a vehicle for themselves, which is then made into a beloved movie; they win the Oscar for Best Screenplay and go on to become movie stars. If the writers of the film had looked less like Damon and Affleck and more like, say, Quentin Tarantino, would it have experienced a similar backlash? Doubtful. (So high was disbelief that these good-lookin’ fellas could have penned the script that a rather vicious urban legend sprung up, claiming that esteemed screenwriter William Goldman—who had given some notes to the pair early on—had in fact ghost-written the script, a claim he has vociferously denied.)

But that’s all off-screen—politics and snark and second-guessing. What is on screen in Gus Van Sant’s coming-of-age 1997 drama is what made the film so indelible at the time of its release: it is a warm, sweet, thoughtful examination of facing one’s future and coming to terms with one’s past. Matt Damon plays Will Hunting, a South Boston troublemaker and manual laborer who works as a janitor at MIT. One day, he stumbles upon a seemingly unsolvable proof on a hallway chalkboard, posted as a challenge to the school’s young geniuses by Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård); Will solves it in about thirty seconds flat. By the time Lambeau figures out who his mystery mathematician is, the kid’s landed in the clink for an out-of-control street brawl. He works out a deal to get Will off easy, freeing him to work with the professor on advanced mathematics, but it also involves forcing him into therapy.

Some New Flavorwires, Kids

10 Way Overdue Biopics We’d Like to See

Yesterday, HBO Films announced plans for the upcoming movie The Day the Laughter Stopped, based on the true story of Fatty Arbuckle, the wildly popular silent movie comic (second only to Chaplin) whose career was brought to a screeching halt when he was falsely accused of raping and murdering a starlet named Virginia Rappe at a Labor Day party in 1921. Though he was ultimately acquitted of the crime, Arbuckle’s reputation was ruined forever, and in the wake of the scandal, Hollywood studios cracked down on both on-screen sex and the off-screen lives of their stars. Good movie material, yeah?

The Dodgiest Accents in Movie History

When Brooklyn-born Anne Hathaway was cast in the very British female leading role of Lone Sherfig’s adaptation (out this Friday) of the bestselling novel One Day, howls of objection were heard on both sides of the Atlantic. How dare they cast a Yank as Emma Morley? Then again, similar cries were sounded when Renee Zellweger was cast as Bridget Jones, and she ended up being, um, spot on (Brits say that, right?). But when One Day’s trailer hit a couple of months back, skepticism returned; Hathaway’s a good actress, but (to most ears, anyway) that is not a terribly good British accent. That said, the Bad Accent Hall of Fame is a very crowded place, and hers is nowhere near the top. Join us after the jump for our list of the ten spottiest dialects in cinema history, and feel free to add your own (and there are plenty more) in the comments.

10 Iconic ’80s Movies That Are Actually Terrible

As we’ve discussed before, nostalgia is a powerful thing; our faculties for critical judgment aren’t always in place when we’re, say, pre-teens, and the demographically desirable audience that these films are being pitched to were either (on the far side) very young children when these films were released, or (on the younger end) kids when they first saw them on VHS. They hold the memory of those movies as a sacred thing, a talisman of childhood. But have you ever gone back to these movies? Good heavens. After the jump, we’ll take a look at ten of the most financially successful and culturally iconic movies that, come to find out, are actually terrible. Add your own in the comments; if you disagree, we’re sure you’ll let us know.

Open Thread: Are We Done with 3-D Yet?

In an April 1987 essay for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction about the then-hot topic of “colorization” (the repugnant trend of slapping computer-generated color over black and white classics, ostensibly to render them watchable to a younger generation that disliked b&w), science fiction author Harlan Ellison wrote of the process, “We don’t really need it… It’s like going to see a club act in which a whistling dog performs ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever.’ Once, it’s interesting; more than once it’s merely a curiosity. That has very little, if anything, to do with art. And pandering to the corrupted taste of a generation of kids for whom movies are nothing more than a prelude to getting laid is loathsome in every way.” Can we all agree that we’ve reached that point on the 3-D fad?

13 Actors Who Badmouthed Their Own Movies

Sean Penn, never the wallflower, has some opinions he’d like to share about his latest film, The Tree of Life. His thoughts may surprise you! (If you know absolutely nothing about Sean Penn, that is.) The actor told the French publication Le Figaro “I didn’t at all find on the screen the emotion of the script, which is the most magnificent one that I’ve ever read. A clearer and more conventional narrative would have helped the film without, in my opinion, lessening its beauty and its impact. Frankly, I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing there and what I was supposed to add in that context! What’s more, Terry himself never managed to explain it to me clearly.” While Penn’s complaints may have resonated with the refund-refused moviegoers of Connecticut, most have seen it as rather bad form—particularly for a critically-acclaimed picture that is still in general release. On the other hand, he’s certainly not the first actor to publicly diss his own work; we’ve collected some of our favorites after the jump.

Hitchcock’s 10 Most Desirable Leading Ladies

Last weekend marked the 112th birthday of the great Alfred Hitchcock—as if you had to be told, what with all those birthday parties across the nation. To mark the occasion, we considered profiling several elements of the Hitchcock filmography: his technique, his influence, his cameos. But we ultimately settled, as we so often do, on sex.

Over the course of his 60-some feature films, Hitchcock worked with a dazzling array of beautiful women, most of them fitting what became the archetypal image of the “Hitchcock blonde”—smart, sexy, and sophisticated, yet icy and cool. Theories abound as to how and why this specific type of woman was so often his cinematic object of desire (Donald Spoto’s The Dark Side of Genius offers some of the more intriguing ones), but the man knew what he liked. After the jump, we’ll run down his ten most alluring muses.

10 Great Movies We Watch Despite Knowing How They End

We’re still obsessing over Jonah Lehrer’s fascinating study (and subsequent Wired piece) on the effect of spoilers on literary gratification. (The takeaway: knowing a story’s outcome ultimately does not prevent one’s enjoyment of the work, and may even increase it.) A couple of weeks back, we selected some of the books we still read, knowing full well how they end; now we’ve picked out ten movies that still play, even with precise knowledge of their narrative outcomes.

Open Thread: Which Film Series Are You Tired Of?

Late last week, Hitfix broke the news that Mike Myers will return to his most popular character for yet another installment. That’s right: The Love Guru 2! Ha, ha, just kidding, it’s Austin Powers 4. Meanwhile, the latest film of the durable Planet of the Apes franchise held on to the top spot at the box office for a second week, though a little further down the list, Final Destination 5 (the follow-up to The Final Destination, which apparently was not the final destination) disappointed, opening with the series’ lowest attendance to date. We here at Flavorwire spend an awful lot of time complaining about the glut of film franchises, but what about you, the moviegoer? Are you as burned out as we are?

Trailer Park: Ghost Riders, Silent Movies, and Quiet Beatles

Welcome to “Trailer Park,” our regular Friday feature where we collect the week’s new trailers all in one place and do a little “judging a book by its cover,” ranking them from worst to best and taking our best guess at what they may be hiding. This week, we’ve got an even dozen trailers for you, and most are for the kind of prestige pictures that the end of the summer movie season usually has us salivating for. Not to worry, though, fans of things that are awful: there’s also a new Ghost Rider. Check ‘em all out after the jump.

Trailer Park: Lawyers, Vampires, and Vibrators

Welcome to “Trailer Park,” our regular Friday feature where we collect the week’s new trailers all in one place and do a little “judging a book by its cover,” ranking them from worst to best and taking our best guess at what they may be hiding. This week, we’ve got a surplus of thrillers, plus a legal drama and vibrator comedy. So, variety, eh? Check ‘em all out after the jump.