Friday, August 03, 2007

a few thoughts from werner herzog

kester brewin and i were watching werner herzog's film 'the wild blue yonder' in london a few weeks ago and it provoked a conversation about art and meaning. i found myself thinking about this while trying to drift off to sleep in a very warm room last night and the profile of herzog tom bissell wrote last december in harpers magazine came to mind. what herzog says in the following extract is either the transcendent wisdom of an artist, or pretentious nonsense, or both. i like it whatever it is.

'Herzog walked me to the door. I had spent only a few hours with him, but I had spent weeks watching and re-watching his films, and somehow I knew they had changed me. I wanted to tell Herzog this but was not sure how. Instead I asked him if he was ever frustrated that his films were not more widely known. He seemed to get somewhat shy before looking away. “I believe,” he said, “in what I call the secret mainstream. Kafka was there too. Today, yes, we know Kafka was the voice of an overwhelming bureaucracy with a deep evil inside of it. Often we see these figures in the secret mainstream. I am one of them.”

With that, embarrassed, I told Herzog how much I admired him, and how thankful I was that he had agreed to see me. Herzog seemed neither surprised nor pleased by my effulgence. Instead he looked at me for a disarmingly long time—so long, in fact, I began to feel like a character in a Werner Herzog film. Finally, he said: “There is a dormant brother inside of you, and I awaken him, I make him speak, and you are not alone anymore.” We shook hands and he was gone. I walked outside, through a curtain of Los Angeles sunshine, to the street’s edge, where I stood for a long time, ecstatic and not quite alone.'

greenbelt films of the year seminar

it's that time of year again - just a couple of weeks to go and greenbelt will be upon us. i'll be doing my now-traditional films of the year seminar, and as with last year, i'm providing a sneak preview here of the films i'll be discussing - but this time round, i'd like to hear your views, both of films on this list, and any that are omitted that you think i should be talking about. the only rule is that the film needs to have been released in the UK since the end of August last year - check if you're not sure of release dates. also, it should be noted that not all the films on this list are necessarily 'good' - but they're here because i think they have some cultural significance.

here goes with the list:

Crank – watch a man die as quick as he can

This Film is Not Yet Rated – asks silly questions about sex in the movies; but acknowledges that sex and violence are treated differently by the UK and US authorities

The Wicker Man remake – a ridiculous film about the 'dangers' of women which destroys the religious thoughtfulness of the original

Little Miss Sunshine – let families be real by reducing your expectations

The Black Dahlia – money after old rope

The Queen - fascinating experience of seeing someone we had previously only seen in parody – what does it mean for what Britain is as a nation?

An Inconvenient Truth – truly campaigning film – changed the direction of the wind

Talladega Nights – not as funny as it thinks it is

Children of Men – one of the finest films of the year – a fearful nightmare of what might be happening to us; but the lengths to which people will go to preserve human life out-reach the killing: love is stronger than death

World Trade Center – a film about honouring the courage of those who died – and the horror of what happened in there – people of the left need to face this; we need to express at least as much anger about what happened on 9/11 as we do toward George W Bush's response

The Departed – violence as a way of life; what should policing be about?

Slavoj Zizek's Pervert’s Guide to Cinema – movies as the projection of our own desires

Last king of Scotland – great central performance, but I wish it had done more to explore where Amin's motivation came from

Marie Antoinette – same with her as with Amin

Little Children – when will we all grow up?

Bobby – not a great film, but inspirational message; the non-violence speech at the end is great

The Prestige – the power of ambition

Ten Canoes – storytelling and how we muddy the waters

Tell No One - great barnstorming thriller with the power of love at its centre

Babel – life is a coincidence – four short films, the Japanese one has the most empathy; I could have done without the others

Borat - not quite sure what to make of it yet

Into Great Silence

Casino Royale

Pan’s Labyrinth


Stranger than Fiction


Flags of our Fathers

Letters from Iwo Jima

Night at the Museum



A Prairie Home Companion

Rocky Balboa

The Fountain

Old Joy


Notes on a Scandal

Lives of Others

Half Nelson

Good Shepherd

Good German

Inland Empire


Beyond Hatred


Amazing Grace

Catch a Fire

Why we Fight



Alpha Dog

Spiderman 3

Night of the Sunflowers



Black Gold

Die Hard 4.0

Simpsons Movie


Nomadak TX

Monday, July 30, 2007

(slightly) disappointing simpsons movie

it made me laugh, but not as much as some of the episodes. quite surprised to find that they didn't seem to invest the time and thought necessary for a truly great script. not enough mr burns. good tom hanks cameo. nice to see the scope of springfield on a big screen. homer eats electrofied fish and nearly kisses a pig. funnier than it sounds. and everyone gets forgiven and goes home.