Archive for May, 2010


“Lady Blue Shanghai” (2010)

There’s a new David Lynch movie out there (which you can view in its entirety either from the vodpod on the right side of this page, or by just clicking here). Seeing as how I’ve seen pretty much every movie he’s made, I felt obligated to post about it here. Lady Blue Shanghai is a sixteen minute high-def video commissioned by Christian Dior to showcase some new handbag they’re selling (for about $2,000). For the man who hates product placement in cinema, but also is honest about why he chooses to make commercials, I think this is an interesting choice. Lynch has some previous experience filming shorter ads, for the likes of other fashionista types Calvin Klein and Gucci, as well as for cigarettes and video games. All of these previous films were for-hire projects that clearly had something to sell (actually identifying the product with the advertisement varies with each, obviously). This new film is no exception, except it is clearly longer-form (16 minutes) and intended for viewing only online (as opposed to television).
I hesitate to lump disparate projects together, but this seems to be a fairly new type of “genre”, if you can even call it that: the long-form, internet advertisement. Of course, this type of film-making isn’t exclusive to the Internet, but this medium of delivery is interesting; giving well-established artists/filmmakers the flexibility to create something of their own that also attempts to showcase a consumer product. Martin Scorsese‘s wine commercial homage to Alfred Hitchock, Key to Reserva (2007), springs to mind as an exemplar here. I’m not sure what I have to say here other than to point out the obviousness that advertising is just as much an art-form as narrative filmmaking, though I agree with Lynch that the way in which the two intersect is important. His idea that product placement “putrifies” the art is a noble one. I would like to know if he considers the commercial in-and-of-itself, which I guess is grounded in such putrification, a lesser art or even an art form at all….

SO, on to some specific thoughts on the Lynch film: It’s nice to see a new face in the Lynch universe; Marion Cotillard (apparently ‘the face of Dior’ across several of these internet films) fits right in. Her acting in this is clearly a Lynch-directed performance (which is especially obvious if you compare across the other films on the site, or any of her other roles). I think a lot of people just assume that Lynch’s movies are “weird” without really thinking about how. He clearly has a purpose (whatever that may be) for directing his (female) protagonists in similar ways. Cotillard’s delivery here is similar to the kind of performance (though by no means as mesmerizing) one sees (in parts) from Laura Dern. This film seems closest related to Inland Empire, not only in its non-celluloid look, or because it is the most recent of his features, but because it seems to center around “a woman in trouble” without any apparent plot on the surface (though, of course it is 164 minutes shorter).
Ah, but dear reader, this little short contains quite a bit of substance along with its flashy camera trickery. Basically, the woman replaces her love (real and/or imagined) for a handbag. Yes, that is the simple story. Despite whatever kind of negative, reactionary assessment one might have of the film (like “It’s about nothing!” or “WTF!”), Lynch clearly centers the film around the product. However, he rather ingeniously turns the product (the handbag) from a source of anxiety (“I am afraid to look inside”) to a literal fetish object replacing her previous pursuit of (the) Man. Ok, so maybe you say I’m reading too much into it, but I say, as an unapolegetic Lynch-ophile, that this is an exercise in turning advertising on its head. If the ad works (however that may be measured, most obviously if one were to crazily buy the handbag after watching it), then Lynch has basically made the viewer/buyer admit to his or her own consumerist fetish. Spend a lot of money, buy some love (back) for yourself.  Oh, the economy….


A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

I really wanted to give this movie a chance. I really tried to be fair and not judge it based on the original. I really wanted to forget that it was produced by Platinum Dunes. But, alas, it can not be so. This movie stinks bad. It is, in the end, really boring and/or a piece of sadistic garbage.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the original. I think the A Nightmare on Elm Street series is the best of the mainstream ’80s horror franchises. I think this because it, for one, actually has a moderately well thought out mythology. The major reason I hated this remake, above many other smaller reasons, was its insistence on changing a key detail (spoilers commence now): Freddy Krueger is definitively proven to be an actual child molester. Now, perhaps my memory is faulty, or I have misread some nuance of the original storyline, but I believe this was never the case in the original. Not only is the first film vague, but in Freddy’s Dead, where there is a significant tangential backstory, the school gardener is misinterpreted by the parents of the town to be such a deviant and given a literal trial by fire outside the realm of the Law (now he may have actually killed children; I’m not sure about that, but I believe he was caught and released). It is this “sins of the father, delivered upon the children” detail that allegedly allows Freddy the supernatural power to hunt the children of these parents. That’s the horror element: the children have to fight for their lives, in their dreams, because the parents took Freddy’s away (Just like the kids at Crystal Lake have to do the same because they have pre-marital sex or the residents of Haddonfield have to die because they allowed a child to be locked away in an asylum like a criminal).
This new film defines Freddy as a clear monster removing any ambiguity of morality from the living parents or children. That, dear reader, is what makes this film a total piece of garbage. Why does death allow Freddy to come back and multiply his evil? Without explaining this motivation, it simply appears that the parents (and in turn the children) are suddenly justified in their retaliation, now that the ‘truth’ is known retrospectively. What exactly is the point of THAT? Go ahead and make an argument that this film is some new millennial commentary on our cultural tendencies to voluntarily erase the past or (re)construct history based on our present knowledge (Freddy as a literal terrorist, etc.).
This film just isn’t that smart.

It is curious that the purpose for the change of this relevant detail is left unsupported, while other less innocuous ones, like how the teens are able to keep from literally falling down asleep, are overdone. “Zoneral” and Epinephrine keep the final guy alive (while the girl, in a turn of clear gender bias/commentary, merely chooses to self-immolate herself with the car lighter). And the mention of “micro-naps” excuse the over-occasional scary insert. Please.
The film at times seems to want to stay faithful to the mythology (Nancy does run upstairs after all), but just can’t seem to get a handle on what it’s supposed to be “re-imagining”. Let’s go back to the violation of the final girl rule (Another major spoiler follows): The ‘boyfriend’ stays alive. This should not be so, dear reader. Nancy should be the one to ride away in the ambulance all alone. I mean, she didn’t even get to run through the liminal womb of the woods outside the preschool. Jeez. At least she re-phallicized herself with the paper-cutter machete. If there is a sequel to this remake, perhaps some of these bad decisions or lack of insight will be fleshed out. Though, I’m not sure if I even care.

Why must every Platinum Dunes movie look exactly the same? Dark colors and grainy tones do not a scarier movie make. I am extremely tired of this post-Saw color palette being used by every mainstream horror reboot. People were holding out for Samuel Bayer to contribute some sort of mark on this film to distinguish it from the previous crap remakes, but I don’t think I could tell the difference if you switched all the directors’ names around on the films. Of course, hiring someone who’s actually made a feature-length horror film before might be worth considering in the future as well….

A few more complaints:
Every supporting character in this film was wasted, especially Connie Britton (ditto Clancy Brown).
Kyle Gallner needs to make a movie in which he is 1) not wearing a band t-shirt from before he was born (this time Joy Division), 2) goth eyeliner, or 3) taking drugs. Thank you.
Jackie Earle Haley needs to tell his agent to throw out all scripts requiring him to 1) wear a mask or 2) be a child molester. Ok?

Ok. Again, there’s not much substance here. I just wanted to let YOU know that this movie is disappointing (just in case you were deluding yourself into thinking that it might possibly be good). Just watch the original again. Or Dream Warriors. Heck, watch New Nightmare (probably Wes Craven‘s best film; his own pre-Scream foray into po-mo horror). This might be my most whiny review so far. I’ll try to avoid this in the future, since I try not to review what I don’t like. I just couldn’t help myself with this one.

featured Short film (9 min)

Blue Shining (Richard Vezina, 2015)

great scene from a great film

Sullivan's Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941)

May 2010