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Topics/Questions/Exercises of the Week — 12 June 2009

Never Count An Auteur Out: Don't let the mere 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes bamboozle you—Francis Ford Coppola is back. His self-financed, self-distributed Tetro is a hit with the critics who count, with Andrew Sarris invoking that mysterious alchemical process known as mise-en-scene and Manohla Dargis calling the film a fugue. My favorite observation, albeit a slightly extracurricular one, comes from J. Hoberman at The Village Voice: "There's more than a little baggage in the currently ubiquitous Louis Vuitton ad, a dramatically posed pastoral image of Francis and Sofia, shot by Annie Leibowitz during Tetro's production. Pointing a finger and a pen, the Olympian filmmaker lectures the dutiful daughter sprawled at his feet, one knee coyly raised, in an image suggesting a Renaissance rendering of Jove explaining dramaturgy to Thalia." Damn, that's erudite. See, John Podhoretz, sometimes it's useful for a film critic to have just a little more than an "interesting" sensibility.

The Saga Of Andrew Sarris: Not-entirely-accurate news about the above-mentioned Sarris' employment circumstances gets spread around, some whingy inebriated dope at a keyboard gets entirely too lachrymose about it, the information is clarified, the situation's level is reduced from "sucks hard" to "not as bad as it might have been," and everybody goes home. Wait, nobody left home in the first place. Ho, hum, another week in the cinematic blogosphere.

Dubious Prediction Department: "We will see the R-rated version of this film on Cinemax sometime in the next year...you can be sure. It will not be designed by the spectacular Bo Welch or shot by the mega-talented Dion Beebe. And it will not have comedians on the level of Will Ferrell or Danny McBride. And it won't have the touch of Brad Silberling, keeping it all in an oddly truthful range, given the wildness of the idea." David Poland on Land of the Lost. No kidding. Clearly this are musings born of many, many 4 a.m.s spent curled up in front of a television, half-watching Playmate of the Apes run on one pay cable service or another. Sad. Elsewhere in the post, he says of the film, "It's not a masterpiece - not even a Will Ferrell masterpiece - but it has charms that are profoundly unexpected."

"A Will Ferrell masterpiece." Roll that phrase over one or two times.

Armond White-ism Of The Week: "Audiences who enjoyed the original 1974 Pelham 123 took its grungy dangerousness as a realistic confirmation of their own citizens' distrust." What you say?

DVD Detectives Of The Week: The cats over at The Playlist, who seem to have figured out glad tidings concerning Criterion and Steven Soderbergh's Che. Nobody tell Big Hollywood, okay?

Saw Tetro tonight and, boy, that was something. Maybe “minor” in someone’s esteem but it sure does look wonderful and has plenty of smarts behind every edit. Plus: “If you had one word… who would you give it to?” was entirely moving.
my fave armond white comment of late—on Tetro: " His Tetro is not about the discovery of Tetracycline antibiotics—and that’s the problem."
Jessica, it’s even better if you imagine the phrase “and that’s the problem” intoned a la Spencer Pratt.
Tetro is absolutely worth seeing. Standing ovations at Cannes at least in the screening I went to, not to mention it was chosen to open the Quinzaine.
Does anybody else look at the still above and think Gallo looks eerily like Ray Davies c. 1966?

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