oubliette

Manhunter (1986), dir. Michael Mann

"it’s just you and me now, sport." 

petersen’s will graham sags beneath this incredible repressed-psychosis the entire movie; he’s the polar opposite of hugh dancy, who’s so evidently nutty that he should’ve been straitjacketed right out of the womb. graham appears hyper-competent, and he is, but it’s scary when he’s right, because of why he’s right. because that intuition is half-an-inch from violence. crawford telling him he won’t need the gun at the end; not because he won’t need it, but because he knows it’ll break graham to use it. 

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"you showed up with pictures of two dead families, knowing goddamn well that i’d imagine families three, four, five, and six" is a better summation of the character than any of Hannibal’s theater-kid mugging so far. that show claims to be about what the job does to will graham, but it’s too obsessed with its own art direction to really, deeply, brutally drive that home.

mann doesn’t care about the murders; none of them are shown onscreen and really there’s minimal violence until the end, when the flickering, stumbling editing fractures the screen in the formal equivalent of a gunfight. images repeat from different angles, stutter - it’s chaotic, disorienting.

mann does care about graham, buttressing petersen’s magnetic performance through direction. every frame of this thing is a sentence in a book. it’s not dissolving hannibal and will’s faces together, it’s not the same innuendos dancing over the same thin plot point for eight episodes. it’s aligning every aspect of the production to the same elegant end - even harris’s notoriously purple prose gets a pragmatic treatment, is made real and relevant. the “god” speech is incredible, even better than hannibal's treatment of the scene, which was one of that show's high points.

i haven’t even touched on the score, which brilliantly isolates the film in a synthetic haze - dissociating the viewer from anything recognizably organic or warm, placing them in a rather graham-like headspace (until iron butterfly hits at the end, when everything’s suddenly visceral rather than conceptual, sweaty drum solos and cocked-wah fuzz riffs).

but y’know. it’s on netflix now~


The first half of Lucy contains the most energetic and purely entertaining filmmaking Besson has produced since The Fifth Element, packed with pulpy action, pseudoscience, title cards, sped-up montages, and teasing associative cuts. (A turn in a conversation is interrupted by a close-up of a mousetrap, an explosion is replaced by a man exhaling cigarette smoke, and so on and so forth.)
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Calling the whole thing dumb would be a disservice, but not because there’s anything especially smart going on under the movie’s surface. Rather, the sheer weirdness of Lucy’s imagery—a telekinesis-assisted car chase, a USB stick containing all the knowledge of the universe, people growing animal limbs—prevents it from registering as run-of-the-mill summertime “dumb fun.” It comes across, instead, as a directorial flight of fancy, an imaginatively goofy take on an already goofy idea, exaggerated by Besson’s blunt style and an uncommonly fast pace.

Vishnevetsky remains the most practically film-literate dude in film criticism (not counting your friend’s friend’s brother’s blog of course)


the world doesn’t need another exhortation of Robocop,
but the way Verhoeven/co carefully suggest Murphy’s vestigial humanity, his remaining vulnerability, is perfect. the way he moves, staggers under fire, it’s like he’s in perpetual confusion about the state he’s in now. 
then there’s the nihilistic laugh lines (anything kurtwood smith says, “somebody wanna call a goddamn paramedic”) and the brutal, black violence that’s 80s-comic maximalist while still suggesting the severity of cops/criminals in unspecified-future detroit with every gush - although murphy’s death scene is Verhoeven pitching the violence at gut-punch rather than belly-laugh and showing he could really fuck you up with this movie if he wanted to
love the shot of the boardroom after ED209 mulches the executive, and of course murphy’s shadow thrown expressionist-huge across the would-be rapists with the delta city billboard in the background
also, i forgot ray wise was in this movie with miguel ferrer AND dan o’herlihy, making it a retroactive twin peaks spinoff View Larger

the world doesn’t need another exhortation of Robocop,

but the way Verhoeven/co carefully suggest Murphy’s vestigial humanity, his remaining vulnerability, is perfect. the way he moves, staggers under fire, it’s like he’s in perpetual confusion about the state he’s in now. 

then there’s the nihilistic laugh lines (anything kurtwood smith says, “somebody wanna call a goddamn paramedic”) and the brutal, black violence that’s 80s-comic maximalist while still suggesting the severity of cops/criminals in unspecified-future detroit with every gush - although murphy’s death scene is Verhoeven pitching the violence at gut-punch rather than belly-laugh and showing he could really fuck you up with this movie if he wanted to

love the shot of the boardroom after ED209 mulches the executive, and of course murphy’s shadow thrown expressionist-huge across the would-be rapists with the delta city billboard in the background

also, i forgot ray wise was in this movie with miguel ferrer AND dan o’herlihy, making it a retroactive twin peaks spinoff


Imagine the standard Star Wars crawl, and when it ends the camera pans up to the stars. But instead of a spaceship zooming into frame we see… a hand! A severed hand, tumbling through space. A severed hand gripping a light saber.

That hand falls onto a desert planet, where it is discovered by characters who will be our heroes.

Exclusive Star Wars Episode VII Plot Details" are probably the dumbest fucking thing i’ve ever heard? 

luke’s hand? falling to tatooine? after 30 years? what?

or is it a new hand that he lost? is this a prometheus-style “exact events that led up to the original film except they’re a completely separate incident” thing?

i dunno the moment you start caring about star wars continuity is the day you lose, but this is real silly even if it’s UNtrue.

guess we’ll wait to see what FILM CRIT HULK has to say about how this fits into three-act structure or whatever


The house decays. We needed to have the house feel a little bit like an organism. There’s a line I already cut in the editing room where it says it lays down like an animal and it goes slowly mad. The house in the screenplay and in the movie has certain features that make it seem like a living organism. So, it’s decaying. It’s sitting in the middle of a field, rotting.

We knew that the top needed to be sort of the most weathered part of the house. The bottom and the areas where you received visitors are live and slightly more kept. But the top is the head. The people in the movie are insane. So the head is all rotted away.

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I don’t like what I call “class porn,” where everybody’s all gooey over, “If only the aristocracy was still in charge, life would be so civilized.” Fuck that. It’s not true. It was never true. This is a movie about a…very incredibly decadent trait of the aristocracy, rotting away in a mansion on a hill.

Guillermo del Toro on Crimson Peak. I’ll take it. He also references Hammer and giallo w/r/t the color palette, Polanski’s knack for “precise” staging, and in-camera effects.

If we take The Devil’s Backbone as the closest del Toro’s ever come to a great film (right?), this sounds more like that and less like most everything since then. He’s one of those dudes that is so cinema-literate that it hamstrings him; his reference points are always clear, and his tributes suffer for the comparison. He doesn’t want for creativity or technical skill, but to hear him talk about Suspiria or Juliet of the Spirits or anything, you can totally feel his excitement and passion for this shit. I just wish more of his films were that electric, that effective - like, Pacific Rim has some incredible stuff in it. But did it need the rote A-to-B clogging its arteries in between? Even if you didn’t hate that stuff, no one’s going to watch a whole movie of that.

Del Toro’s best at pure visual storytelling. Imagine a near-wordless stripped-back At the Mountains of Madness, images bereft of talky context, dropping the viewer into the alien uncanny just enough to unsettle them. Then again, everything he designs looks like it came from the same sketchbook. Maybe outsource it?


Snowpiercer (2013), dir. Bong Joon-ho

unfiltered sf premise taken seriously, but not stupidly: the last few years have seen a lot of get-it-by-the-logline “science fiction” like Transcendence and Elysium, and while any allegorical aspects of Snowpiercer are so upfront as to obviate the word “allegorical,” the scenario is brought to life with creativity and a healthy dose of brutal fight scenes (the tunnel fight is mad indebted to Johnnie To’s Vengeance). also chris evans talking about how “babies taste best;” a backstory that’s curiously relegated to the last third of the film. kinda a cool choice.

Bong will always be the Memories of Murder dude to me, and the eye for detail he brought to that film is in full force here: life aboard the train is quickly sketched plot-wise but richly addressed through set dressing, costuming, and acting (SONG KANG-HO); the relationships between characters are given just slightly more attention than you’d expect (even that single shot/reverse shot between the two heavies who are maybe in love? or the way the camera holds on octavia spencer’s dying face for a little too long); and there are a whole host of clever-as-heck shot choices, starting with the “shoe on the head” scene and the cuts on tilda swinton’s gestures.

i dunno. if you want a movie where the remnants of humanity are on a train hurtling through a snow-blasted wasteland, this is the best version of that you’re ever gonna get. it’s the kind of blockbuster that doesn’t feel like it’s still warm from the working-over it got between a dozen hired hacks and seventeen studio heads - messy, tonally inconsistent (though in a way that’s consistent for a new korea cinema dude), blunt, and all.


Enemy (2013), dir. Denis Villeneuve 

tamped-down surrealism: clinical early-Cronenberg (but not really, obvious ex. being Dead Ringers, Crash, Spider but with that alien-Toronto vibe of the early work) mingled with the kind of flickering, raw emotion-via-abstract imagery that most recently informed Under the Skin - and the score here is somewhat similar to Glazer’s film as well, all abrupt, harsh strings. also, great work from nu-‘berg regular Sarah Gadon.

the Gyllenhaalaisance continues unabated. more low-key (or should i say loki) than the McConahaheyheyheyseance, but equally impressive.