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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

BYOB – January 24

I know… many of you are bored with Sundance coverage… or frustrated that I haven’t had enough time to write in more depth.
Either way, roll your own here…

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51 Responses to “BYOB – January 24”

  1. THX5334 says:

    Anyone else in L.A. hear the report on Indie 103.1 basically saying Sundance is a complete dud this year?
    Yeesh.
    Is that really the vibe there?
    The rain in LA is good although, long. My dog is itching to go outside.
    A neighbor of mine is working on Star Trek. He’s pretty high up in the know. I asked him why in the hell they didn’t get Shatner when he wanted to be in it? He stuck to the whole, didn’t fit with the plot, spin. Which I don’t believe. I told him that myself and any other screenwriter or Star Trek fan fiction writer or fan wank nerd could come up with a fix for that in five minutes..
    He did say that Shatner signed off on Pine. So I guess that’s saying something…

  2. THX5334 says:

    EDIT:
    “He stuck to the whole, didn’t fit with the plot, spin.”
    Re: Kirk is already dead.
    (Wish we had an edit button here..)

  3. JBM... says:

    “Quantum of Solace” is the new “Stealth.”

  4. Monco says:

    Quantum of Solace has to be the worst Bond title possible.

  5. Nicol D says:

    Just came home from 7 hours and 15 minutes of the Rambo marathon.
    That’s a lot of Rambo. I know Rambo intimately like I know my own psyche.
    I am glad they had all prints and not DVD’s. Oh, and the new one is enjoyable…flawed…could have had more story. But very well directed action sequences and a serious tone that the audience liked. Julie Benz stood out and Stallone projected a weight that says much. Obvious influence of Private Ryan on the action sequences. I’d like to see him direct an action movie for hire to see what he would do.
    Surprised at how well the films aged from a stylistic perspective; especially the 3rd one. Thankfully the Rambo films never went for the 80’s rock montage like many other action films of the era. Overall a good night.
    Now, I go to bed. That was a lot of Rambo.

  6. Wrecktum says:

    “Quantum of Solace has to be the worst Bond title possible.”
    Yeah, because “Tomorrow Never Dies” is so engaging. Gimme some more “Die Another Day”!
    I love the title. Adore it.

  7. waterbucket says:

    All I want to know is if Daniel Craig will bless us all with another spectacular bikini scene.

  8. What about Bond: Attack of the Clones? I have a feeling that’s been used somewhere before, though.

  9. jeffmcm says:

    There was a Rambo marathon? How strange that such a thing would slip under my radar.
    (mmm-hmm, that’s good irony!)

  10. sloanish says:

    Did the Rambo last weekend and got very sad. It’s a half movie like Rocky Balboa was. Stallone knows how to write a screenplay, but now he’s just making skeletons and sending them out to crumble. Not sure if has lost his mind or thinks that the country has.

  11. ployp says:

    I will be waiting to see how the new Bond title will be translated into Thai, or in any language.

  12. Nicol D says:

    “It’s a half movie like Rocky Balboa was.”
    That I disagree with. Balboa was a genuinely well thought out film that I have no problem recommending to people. It deserved the good reviews and box office it received. Rambo is fun, but thin. It is too short and could have had a more complicated story. I enjoyed it a lot, but only because I am a fan of the character and genre. For what it wants to be, it delivers; nothing more, nothing less.
    I wonder if the short script had to do with the fact that the financing clicked once Balboa was a hit and they had to strike while the iron was hot.
    Again, I liked it, but would not recommend it to anyone who already did not like what it was.

  13. Cadavra says:

    Among the runners-up: ISHTARBALL, THE MAN WITH THE HUDSON HAWK, and FROM NORBIT, WITH LOVE.

  14. Stella's Boy says:

    Nicol, you hate “torture porn” but love watching Stallone graphically slaughter everything in site? It’s not like the Rambo movies have more story than your average Saw flick.

  15. Nicol D says:

    Wow, Stella.
    You got me. As always…you’re just too clever. Too bright. Too complex and nuanced.
    Kudos, man. Kudos.

  16. Stella's Boy says:

    Wow. Someone seems cranky. I wasn’t trying to “get you” Nicol. It was a serious question. When I ask you questions they’re always serious. I don’t read your posts and think, “Boy, I wonder how I can get that Nicol now?” Is the new Rambo really that far removed from torture porn?

  17. Nicol D says:

    Stella,
    If you want to ask me a legitimate question…ask it.
    But most of the time, your posts to me read like a ‘gotcha’. If you want a serious answer, then phrase yur questions in a way where they do not come off like smug commentary.

  18. Stella's Boy says:

    Yes because smug is something you never are Nicol. Once again, it was a serious question. I really would like to know if you believe that Rambo is all that different from torture porn flicks, and if so, how. I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but if I remember correctly you are not a fan of the torture porn genre (nor am I for that matter).

  19. Nicol D says:

    Stella,
    The difference is this:
    Where the sympathies of the viewer are meant to lie.
    In ‘torture porn’ or at least the films that have fallen into that category until now (ie. the Hostel films, Saw, Elisha Cuthburt’s film etc) the viewer is asked to enjoy the rape and/or torture and/or mutilation of a victim who is largely innocent. It indulges in a voyeuristic fantasy to do something taboo. It can also, such as in Hostel II, be mysogynistic and be sexually fetishistic in nature. It asks you to identify with the ‘villain’.
    In hard core action films like Rambo or Seagal films or Die Hard the viewer is asked to sympathize with the victim and enjoy seeing the villain rapist and/or killer and/or mutilator get their commupance. We have all been vitims in our lives and see something in the world where we wish we could met out justice. These films can act as a catharsis to that. That is not to say that they cannot also be exploitative, they can, but that is a different debate. Death Wish is exploitation, but on some level we can relate to it.
    That may be a too nuanced difference for some, but it is a big difference to many of us. There is a world of difference in seeing genocidal torturers in Rambo get ‘vengence’ metted out to them and being asked to enjoy the original torture upon victims in the first place.
    Having said that, although I personally do not like the ‘torture porn’ genre, I do not think people who like films like Hostel or Saw are necessarily bad people or disurbed. I recognize that most horror fans realize it is fake, as do most fans of Rambo and most do not desire to commit those acts in real life.
    They are just not my cup of tea and that is how I see the difference.
    I hope that answers your question.

  20. jeffmcm says:

    He seems to have found a way to avoid the question. I’ll probably see Rambo next week, Stella, I’ll let you know what I think.

  21. Nicol D says:

    Jeff,
    Did you not read what I wrote? Hardly an avoidance.

  22. Noah says:

    But Nicol, isn’t it more dangerous to put things in such black and white terms? That ‘villains’ should be killed? Isn’t that a rather reductive way of thinking and doesn’t that cause more damage to a society than seeing a flip side to that situation? Doesn’t a film like Hostel (which I did not enjoy, by the way) make a sane person think more about life and the consequences of violence (witness the man in the second film that is unable to continue once he actually confronts his violent feelings) than something like Rambo or a Seagal film?
    These are just questions and I don’t necessarily feel like you’re wrong, but I also don’t think it’s an issue that is so simple to find the answer to. I suppose my feeling is that people will find whatever they want to find in certain films. I just find Hostel movies to be bad excuses for horror films, not some terrible blight on the cinematic landscape.

  23. jeffmcm says:

    Whoops, I spoke to soon.
    I completely disagree, Nicol. In a good horror movie (note the qualifier) the viewer identifies with the victim. Halloween, the Scream movies, Romero’s Dead movies, Blair Witch, etc. And yes, I would argue the Hostel movies fall more into this category. The Saw movies, on the other hand, don’t, I would say.
    In lots of action movies, the audience is given a revenge-based premise to allow them to voyeuristically indulge in the same thrills without moral qualms getting in the way, the noble hero blowing away terrorists or whatnot. We want Arnold or Sly or whoever to kick ass and not have to take names.
    Obviously there are good examples and bad examples within each genre.

  24. Stella's Boy says:

    Thank you Nicol. I agree with your assessment of torture porn. I can’t judge Rambo because I have not seen it. It just sounds to me like it gets close to torture porn territory, since there is little to no story and apparently tons of guts & gore.

  25. jeffmcm says:

    Nicol, you posted too soon for me to read your previous one.

  26. Nicol D says:

    Stella,
    No problem. Again, I do not see it as black and white and many questions can be asked…but we could be here forever.
    Noah,
    I certainly do not think Hostel makes a sane person think about life. As for the question about B & W? That is why it is cathartic in a movie. I am actually opposed to the death penalty. But we can all see some circumstances where life is B & W.
    If you walk into your home and someone is stabbing your wife should you see that in shades of grey? Sometimes life is grey, sometimes it is B & W. Both sides foregt that sometimes. These films – can – be a catharthis to that. But not always.
    Jeff,
    I don’t disagree with your qualifier about a good horror film. Remember, like you I find horror to be one of the best genres and I am no prude. I just do not think the torture porn genre qualifies and I see Hostel as torture porn.
    Personally I find the Kill Bill movies the worst offenders because they just want you to laugh it off as a joke.
    I also do not say that gory action movies come without baggage in what you are being asked to identify with. It is always a balance. I was actually accosted by a gang member with my fiancee on New Year’s Eve a few years ago. We were spat on and the attack was racially motivated. I do not want to go into graphic details of language but the gang mamber wanted me to believe he had a gun and would kill us. I didn’t want to go out for weeks after.
    Did watching action movies feel cathartic to me in a time where I felt helpless? Yes.
    Does that mean I forgot the ultimate morality of the situation? No.
    They can be catharsis for victims. That may not be an experience most of you can relate to…but that is my response.

  27. jeffmcm says:

    First of all, sure there can be reasons to see a man stabbing your wife as a gray area. Maybe she stabbed him first.
    I disagree with the term ‘torture porn’ for obvious reasons, but primarily because it sweeps a whole bunch of movies under the same rug, some good, some bad. I don’t think just because a movie is explicit, which is really the Hostel series’ only crime, makes it automatically ‘bad’.
    On the subject of ‘catharsis’ I think that raises a whole subject of other questions. Just because a movie made you feel better after a stressful situation, that doesn’t make it art. It’s more like a self-medication situation, where you found something to relieve your anxiety. That’s what I found so objectionable last year about 300: it seemed to be a vehicle for the nation to gain catharsis regarding the situation in Iraq, but not in a way that was enlightening or progressive for anybody involved.
    Catharsis is great, but not if it promotes the notion that violence should be a part of our daily lives, which is why I prefer the horror genre over the action genre most of the time: in action movies, violence is the accepted way to solve problems. In horror movies, violence is an eruption from the norm, the exception that proves the rule.
    I hope this is making sense and now I really have to take off for a flight.

  28. Nicol D says:

    Jeff,
    “First of all, sure there can be reasons to see a man stabbing your wife as a gray area. Maybe she stabbed him first.”
    I’m sure any future Mrs. MCM would appreciate that. What, would you ask him politely to ‘please do not stab my wife sir, while I gather the facts.’
    Personally Jeff, this is the type of progressive drivel that sounds clever to the person saying it but sounds very vapid and shallow to most reading it. Not trying to be a prick but…
    “In horror movies, violence is an eruption from the norm, the exception that proves the rule.”
    In horror movies of the modern era Jeff, violence is the norm. I think you are just doing mental gynmnastics to avoid that truth.
    As for 300…well the same argument can be made from the other side with films like V for Vendetta that were cathartic for people fed up with Christians and Bush etc. You do not hold the high ground on this one.
    Good luck on your flight.

  29. THX5334 says:

    Stella and Nicol’s exchange is another awesome example of how easily tone can get miscommunicated in either email’s, texts or in an internet forum.
    And how our social skills are degenerating because it is becoming more and more our prevalent forms of communication.
    And why more than ever, we need emotional intelligence.
    [Suddenly falls off soapbox and splits chin]

  30. Stella's Boy says:

    I love the horror genre, but I’m with Noah when it comes to Hostel. I just don’t think it’s a good horror movie. It’s not scary or suspenseful and the writing is terrible. I haven’t seen the sequel. I think the Saw movies are a perfect example of horror at its worst.
    It sounds like with Rambo it’s pretty black and white. The bad guys are one-dimensional and extremely bad, and the audience desperately wants Rambo to murder them as brutally as possible. When he does, they cheer. That just leaves me cold. I could be wrong though, since I haven’t seen it.

  31. Nicol D says:

    Stella,
    “It sounds like with Rambo it’s pretty black and white. The bad guys are one-dimensional and extremely bad, and the audience desperately wants Rambo to murder them as brutally as possible.”
    You know what; you are right. It is extremely black and white. But y’know, have you read about the situation in Burma; the rapes and the atrocities towards monks and Christian farmers.
    I’m just saying…I don’t know that I want to see the shades of gray version. What would that look like? Can there be reason why the military would want to rape the peasant woman that you would accept?
    I agree that much of the world is complex and gray…but to say it is always gray is too black and white. There is both.

  32. Noah says:

    The action genre in general, especially the 80’s varieties, are not about exploring the complexities of murder or the culpability of the villains or anything like that and I think that that’s fine. I’m not offended by it. I’m also not offended by so-called ‘torture porn’ films that try to look at things from a different perspective. I don’t find offense in those films any more than I would find offense in insulting my intelligence by reducing everything down to a black and white situation.
    Of course, if someone stabs my hypothetical wife, I’ll stab them back. But, what is interesting about that?

  33. Nicol D says:

    And let’s not forget, that many films that purportedly traffic in complexity and nuance only can do so by – avoiding – the issue of the violence involved.
    I remember seeing Syriana and part of the problem was that they portray the ‘terrorists’ as extremely sympathetic and when they go to blow up the boat at the end, the screen fades to white. That too is a way of loading the deck dramatically and making you see things in a B & W way. Had they shown the violence and carnage the terrorists caused it would not allow the viewer to identify with them as much. That is also manipulation.
    I am only saying that even though Rambo and films like it come with baggage, so do the others which are just as manipulative.

  34. mysteryperfecta says:

    These types of action films are aiming for our base instincts and emotions. If you start looking at things philosophically, then you’re taking things out of their intended context.

  35. It should be duly noted the new RAMBO is being screened exclusively for right-wing talking heads and they’re really doing a nice job talking it up to their sheeple. I guess it harkens back to a time when America kicked ass and also, the Reagan era. Baa-aa-aa-aa.
    Makes me wonder which talking head Nicol is or who he works for…

  36. The Big Perm says:

    I saw this movie that had these horrible incidents like innocents being tortured and murdered and raped, and we were supposed to squirm in terror while it happened. But in the second half, our hero finally broke bad and murdered all of the villains, and we were supposed to cheer for him. And it was extremely satisfying to watch those bastards die.
    Which did I see, Rambo or Hostel?
    Anyone who says that you’re supposed to sympathize with the villains in these supposed torture porn movies is projecting.

  37. IOIOIOI says:

    IT’S TORTURE PORN! How can you defend something referred to as TORTURE PORN? Come the fuck on with this stupid and ridiculous discussion. Action films and Torture porn do not even share the same headspace. One is an action film. The other is where innocents are tortured for no good reason.

  38. The Big Perm says:

    Hey IO, more innocents were butchered and murdered in Rambo than Hostel, if you want to go by sheer numbers.
    And calling it torture porn…that’s your own dumb terminology, not mine. You sound like the old ladies who were sure that the horror movies of the 50s would drive kids to murder. And then the old ladies of the 70s who said the same thing about classics like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Last House on the Left.
    And I’d hate to seem like I’m defending Hostel, which was an idiotic lame movie, and I’d never see the second after the first and Cabin Fever. If Eli Roth never makes another movie, that would be fine by me. But either way it wouldn’t matter because I doubt I’d see it.

  39. Wrecktum says:

    “And then the old ladies of the 70s who said the same thing about classics like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Last House on the Left.”
    Murder rates did skyrocket in the ’70s, you know.

  40. The Big Perm says:

    Must have been the fault of those horror movies.

  41. Wow. An actual conversation about the moral ethics behind Rambo. I think I just died of irony.

  42. IOIOIOI says:

    Permie, unlike you, I can differentiate between an action flick and a movie where the torture of young females gets folks jollies off. You are out of fucking sorts. Please take it to Jeff’s house. He most likely agrees with you. I on the other hand think you are ripping off a Henry Rollins’ bit without the conviction.
    However, I am curious; why bring up Last House on the Left and Chainsaw? Last House on the Left is akin to Man On Fire. Yet there’s a lot more anger. While Chainsaw is a movie that freightens by what you dont see more than what you do see. What do either one of these movies have to do with Torture Porn? Even with the context you are trying to place these films in compared to torture porn. You really seem to miss the point. Rambo is an action film. An action films point is to portray ACTION. While TORTURE PORN seemingly has no other point then to give people an hour and a half of young women (and occassionally men) being tortured. Note the difference. Oh I forgot. You think Rambo equates to Roger Bart in Hostel II. Silly me. How could I ever become so confused?

  43. Noah says:

    If someone were a moral absolutist, then a death of a person would be a death, regardless of whether it was the main villain in a Steven Seagal film or the child soldier in Full Metal Jacket or Bijou Phillips in Hostel 2. If you believe that the death of a person is morally wrong, then you would believe that all of these films fetishize death in one way or another. I’m not saying I necessarily agree (and I’m no moral absolutist), but I can see the point there.
    Also, if you have a problem just because something is called “torture porn”, then simply don’t call it that and review it based on its merits (or demerits). It’s a stupid label anyway.
    I find it interesting that people often refer to the people in the Hostel movies as innocent (although Heather Matarazzo is Hostel 2 pretty much is), since pretty much every day you can search the web and find a million people who want to kill Paris Hilton for being vapid and soulless. But the really fascinating thing is that these so-called “torture porn” films are actually rather conventional when it comes to the endings: the bad guys get their comeuppance. Nobody associated with the torture or murder of a person in those films gets away clean, they all wind up dead. Meanwhile Rambo keeps on going, twenty five years later.
    So, which was is more morally objectionable? The answer (for me): neither, they’re just movies.

  44. The Big Perm says:

    Again IO, you saying that a movie like Hostel is designed to “get people off” more so than a movie like Rambo where he’s blowing people in half and you’re supposed to cheer for him (and I did). In Hostel the violence is there to make to squirm and be disgusted. You know, why they call it a horror movie. I bet more people are sitting there with stiffies watching Rambo slaughter people with his giant penis (I mean machine gun).
    Actually I don’t think that, but it’s kind of a stupid thing to say, don’t you agree?
    If Last House on the Left was made today, it would be lumped in with torture porn. Or did you forget the 45 minutes spent degrading and raping and mutilating the two girls? And gee, then the killers are delivered bloody revenge for the finale. Sounds like Hostel. Have you even SEEN Hostel?
    If Texas Chainsaw Massace was released, it might be called torture porn. Or did you forget the girl stuck on a hook who is screaming in pain while she has to watch her boyfriend get chopped up in front of her, or the extremely long scene where they have Marilyn Burns tied up and cut her and hit her over and over with a hammer and laugh about it?
    Again, have you even seen Hostel? When I saw it, I expected some insanely violent movie, but they really didn’t show that much. Rambo is far far far more violent.
    Yes, and action film is there to portray ACTION…the action of loads of people being killed and for you to “get off” on it. You saying people are supposed to root for the villains in Hostel is me saying you were supposed to root for the rapists in Rambo. It’s obviously not the case.
    And you could say Man on Fire was torture porn.

  45. brack says:

    Torture porn is just a new label for splatter films. The difference I think is that the deaths in most horror films don’t get dragged out to the point of complete disgust. I think Hostel does, as I couldn’t watch it. It’s not scary, just demented.

  46. jeffmcm says:

    Hello, folks. Nicol, I’ll give you a proper response tomorrow, except to say that I thought V for Vendetta was weak, too, so you can’t pin that on ‘my side’. And the movies you’re trying to assail in ‘the modern age’ are the Saw sequels and their ilk, you’re right as far as they go, wrong as far as the good ones – like Hostel and Hostel 2 – go.
    And I believe a big chunk of Man on Fire was torture porn

  47. Stella's Boy says:

    Nicol, I must admit that I have no knowledge of the situation in Burma. Black and white indeed does exist, but IMO black and white stories in film are not compelling. I have no interest in seeing Rambo slaughter bad men who very well may deserve it. I have never really enjoyed movies like that. I didn’t care at all for Man on Fire, another film mentioned recently.

  48. Nicol D says:

    Jeff,
    I’ll await your response.
    Stella,
    But my point is this…many films that claim to be complex with shades of gray can be equally b & w. Also, if a film tries to go too gray and ambivalent…what is the point? Where is the drama in that?
    There is a fine line, but a definite line, between trying to be complex and gray and merely avoiding having an opinion. That too can make weak drama. Drama is conflict. If everyone is too gray and there is no conflict…that too is bad drama.
    I saw Black Book recently. Now I love Paul Verhoeven. But there came a point in the film where the overwhelming moral equivalence combined with a rather unsympathetic and smug lead just sapped the energy out of the film for me. It had very little tension and ultimately I think that is why it did not really find an art-house audience. Gray is good, but not at the expense of conflict or even common sense.
    I think there is room for both. A film like Reds I think is exceptional (even if I disagree with much of it) because at least it has a position and puts story first. I love it.
    Too many modern films try to be gray to score cheap intellectual points at the expense of story.
    Anyway, that is just my two cents. Best.

  49. Stella's Boy says:

    I agree with your points here Nicol. I was just trying to say that as a genre, the revenge flick has never been my cup of tea.

  50. Nicol D says:

    And that’s cool. It’s a genre. I was weened as on the cinema of Bronson, Eastwood and The Cannon group as a kid. I have a soft-spot for them even though most of them can be god-awful. I do get how they are not everyone’s cup of tea. And as I wrote on Friday, unlike Rocky I would never recommend Rambo to anyone who wasn’t already a lover of the genre.

  51. hendhogan says:

    why does everything come back to the “hostel” movies?
    fyi, they’re remaking “last house on the left” so we will see how people classify it.

Quote Unquotesee all »

“But okay, I promise you now that if I ever retire again, I’m going to ensure that I can’t walk it back. I’ll post a series of the most disgusting, offensive, outrageous statements you can ever imagine. That way it will be impossible for me to ever be employed again. No one is going to take my calls. No one is going to want to be seen with me. Oh, it will be scorched earth. I will have torched everything. I’m going to flame out in the most legendary fashion.”
~ Steven Soderbergh

I feel strongly connected to young cinephile culture. The thing about filmmaking—and cinephilia—is that you can’t keep hanging out with your own age group as you get older. They drop off, move somewhere. You can’t put together a crew of sixty-somethings. It’s the same for cinephilia: my original set of cinephile friends are watching DVDs at home or delving into 1958 episodes of ‘Gunsmoke,’ something like that. The people who are out there tend to be young, and I happen to be doing the same thing still, so it’s natural that I move in their circles.

In terms of the filmmaking, there was a gear shift: my first movies focused on people around my age, and I followed them for three films. Until The Unspeakable Act, I was using the same actors, not because of an affinity for people at a specific age, but because of my affinity for the actors. I like to work with actors a second time, especially if I don’t feel confident casting a new film. But The Unspeakable Act was a different script, and I had to cast all new people. Even for the older roles, I couldn’t get the people I’d worked with before. But when it was over, the same thing happened: I wanted to work with Tallie again in the worst way, and I started the process all over again.

I think Rohmer did something similar around the time of Perceval and Catherine de HeilbronnHe developed new groups of people that he liked to work with. These gear shifts are natural. Even if you want to follow certain actors to the end of their life (which I kind of do) the variety of ideas that you generate makes it necessary to change. And once you’ve made the change, you’ve got all these new people around.”
~ Dan Sallitt