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20/20 Filmsight - Film Criticism by David O'Connell

Film Criticism by David O'Connell

20/20 Filmsight - September 2008


September 30th 2008 23:10
Woyzeck Klaus Kinski holding a bloody knife
Ah, the last one... "Woyzeck" is the 1979 Werner Herzog film made immediately after "Nosferatu", also starring Klaus Kinski. It's a film often forgotten and neglected in Herzog's filmography, especially standing next to his other collaborations with notable madman, Klaus Kinski. Nevertheless, the film still stands as a monumental examination of the desperate nature of Kinski, who gives himself so wholly to the role.

"Woyzeck" deals with a German rifleman, named Woyzeck, who, at 40 years old, is still at the lowest rank in the army, penniless and poor. He has a child with a young woman, out of wedlock, and gives her all his money, little as it is, to take care of the child.

Woyzeck is not a smart man, or, at least, he could be, if he wasn't completely downtrodden. He does menial work for his captain, who often lectures him on virtue and life, gleefully sitting in a chair while Woyzeck rushes to shave his face. Meanwhile, a medical doctor is performing cruel psychological experiments on the rifleman, forcing him to eat nothing but peas, then showing off his irregular pulses to his contemporaries.

Through all of this, Woyzeck comes home, but cannot bring himself to stay with his wife, embarrassed to talk to her. He's miserably poor and knows that there's no redemption for him in the future.

Naturally, his wife, a lusty, fun-loving woman, goes to seek the attention of another man, which is the tipping point for Woyzeck.

Herzog's film is thankfully short, as it lacks the power or the direction to captivate the audience. Instead, we're treated to Kinski's haunted eyes, meekly suffering in the lowly gutter of his station. He's a footstool, and he knows it.

The film is a huge departure from Kinski's other collaborations with Herzog, which usually featured him as frothing at the mouth, screaming orders. Here, though, we see Kinski as a frightened mouse, battered by the laughing paws of bigger animals. No examination of Kinski's ability as an actor is complete without his tremulous role here.

There's one scene that stands out, other than the terrifying ending: Woyzeck finds himself in a pub with the soldier that is sleeping with his wife. The other man is a drum major, with a proud blue uniform, built solidly like a tree. There's an altercation and the drum major squeezes the breath out of Woyzeck, then picks him up by the scruff of the neck and the seat of the pants, like a rag doll.

Kinski always appeared larger than life, as Aguirre, or Cobra Verde. Here, though, to see him manhandled like a scrap of paper bending in the wind, has a sense of tired desperation and made me gasp for air. Even the greatest actors are nothing but a sack of flesh, which withers with time.

I say: Slow-moving and confusing, this may not appeal to everyone, but Herzog/Kinski fans will appreciate the slow buildup and fiery ending.

See it for: Eva Mattes plays Woyzeck's wife - though she's not a great beauty, she has a lusty, nubile look, making her situation with Woyzeck even more tragic.


Tina Fey glasses and black top
Tina Fey is a terrific comedy writer, having written and performed on Saturday Night Live, and taking a lead role on her award-winning sitcom, 30 Rock.

American voters have been rabidly cheering Fey as she dons her trademark glasses to imitate Republican VP-nominee, Sarah Palin. In addition to having an eerily similar look, Fey also manages to knock out Palin's accent, which Fey amplifies to grate as much as possible.

Watch her get interviewed by a fake Katie Couric:

Edit: The SNL skit was funny, but at the time of this posting, I had no idea that they were using actual lines from the real interview of Sarah Palin by Katie Couric. I'll echo a common sentiment on the internet these days: it was funny for a while, but now, that hockey mom is starting to scare me.

*this image is from Remote Access

Blade Runner Harrison Ford holding gun

If there was ever a movie that begged for a sequel, it was "Blade Runner", Ridley Scott's 1982 film about a detective hunting down replicants . The beloved sci fi flick has only improved with age, garnering cult status among science fiction fans.

According to Wikipedia, Ridley Scott has toyed with the idea of a sequel and may be interested in pushing the project forward.

Now, /Film has heard news that the "Eagle Eye" screenwriters are working on a script for a sequel to "Blade Runner":

"“I recently attended a Q&A session with one of the writers of ‘Eagle Eye’ after a free screening organized by the magazine Creative Screenwriting. During the Q&A, the writer said that he and whomever it was that helped him co-write the ‘Eagle Eye’ screenplay were in the process of writing a sequel to Blade Runner, and had already contacted the producers of the original, etc., etc."

/Film states that the studios have not acknowledged that the project will go ahead, knowing full well that there'd be a swarm of ferocious crop-eating nerds descending into Hollywood, devouring all the lobster salads and taking up all the parking.

I can't wait, though. Imagine the merchandising tie-in: finally, I'll be able to go to Taco Bell and get myself a Burritos Replicante or a Tex-Deckard Nacho Salad, accompanied by a super-size cola in a collectible cup.

*this image is from a post called "Blade Runner, the Most Influential Science Fiction Movie of the 1980s"

Madame Sata

September 29th 2008 00:52
Madame Sata Luís Lázaro Sacramento Ramos

This 2002 Brazlian movie examines the real life story of João Francisco dos Santos, a poor, black, gay Brazilian that tries desperately to cling to some identity, but fills the screen with rage and violence.

[ Click here to read more ]

2008 Lavazza Italian Film Festival

September 25th 2008 22:37
Sexy silhouette for the Italian Film Festival

Over the sound of a high-pressure espresso at Bar Italia on Norton street, I overheard a couple talking about the Lavazza Film Festival. They're cooing like perched birds, mirthfully anticipating the lineup of films in the festival, from the latest work by modern Italian directors, and a slick retrospective of some rare Italian classics.

[ Click here to read more ]

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

September 24th 2008 22:55
How To Lose Friends and Alienate People Simon Pegg
In 2006, I reviewed "The Devil Wears Prada", a film based on the real-life account of an intern working at a prominent fashion magazine, who goes from cheeky and shabbily-dressed, to discovering the complex beauty of makeup and vanity. She cheats on her boyfriend with a handsome writer and stars wearing Prada in emulation, I suppose, of the Devil.

The movie was saved by a complex performance by Meryl Streep, but, ultimately, the movie felt predictable and aggrandizing of the fashion industry. Nevertheless, audiences were wowed by a hand-held ironic chuckle at the foibles of the silly fashion world, while allowed a awe-gaped peek at the bright lights of the big city

[ Click here to read more ]

Harold and Kumar escape from Guantanamo Bay interrogation room

When writing the script for the sequel to 2004's "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle", directors/writers Jon Hurwitz and Hay Schlossberg must have made a decided effort to lower the standards of taste.

[ Click here to read more ]

Zero City Russian Film Festival

As we head into October, there's that familiar taste in the air... the Russian Revolution Film Festival will soon kick off, heralding the start of the summer series of cinema.

[ Click here to read more ]

Ebert on the tough love of critics

September 21st 2008 23:58
Roger Ebert Blog
Frenetic film fans are lovin' every spoonful of writing from Roger Ebert's blog, a medium that lets Ebert use his distinctive personal voice, but on topics that stray from reviews of movies.

This week, he wrote on the animosity that faces film critics, especially those that heap great scorn on popular, big-budget movies. He imagines what is running through the mind of an anonymous reader who doesn't like a review

[ Click here to read more ]

Parade by Jacque Tati

September 19th 2008 00:28
Jacque Tati Parade

Today's dose of Filthy Fridays is an unusual, somewhat bizarre selection. The aim of Filthy Fridays is to highlight the films that expose or play on our fleshy desires, those hedonistic pursuits that result in nothing more than pleasure.

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Shia LaBoeuf and Megan Fox

"Transformers 2" is being shot right now, with stars Shia LaBoeuf and Megan Fox teaming up -again- to save the world -again- from giant, marauding robots... -again-.

[ Click here to read more ]

American Teen

September 16th 2008 22:22
American Teen teenagers sitting on a desk documentary
Much of Nanette Burstein's documentary, "American Teen", seems scripted, as it seems impossible that a documentary crew could capture so much anguish, heartbreak and emotion.

Then, on second reflection, any documentary that proposes to go into small-town America and make a documentary about the social circles of young, anxious teenagers, would have to go to great lengths to avoid drama

[ Click here to read more ]

Y: The Last Man
As soon as I heard this, I knew it was an obvious fit.... DJ Caruso's adaptation of the popular comic book series, Y: The Last Man, has confirmed that Shia LaBoeuf will play the main character, Yorick.

It's terrific comic book, about a post-apocalyptic world where a mysterious virus kills off all the men on the planet - except for one, Yorick, and his male monkey pet

[ Click here to read more ]

Interviewed on Blogging in America

September 15th 2008 23:16
James Brown was just "Living in America", but it's safe to say that he didn't spend much time blogging, with all the battery charges and cocaine. Gene, on the other hand, runs the Blogging in America site on Orble, and interviewed me this week on the life of a blogger.

Read the interview!
[ Click here to read more ]

Cobra Verde

September 14th 2008 23:41
Cobra Verde
Werner Herzog's last film with Klaus Kinski was the visually arresting epic, "Cobra Verde", where Kinski plays a Brazilian rancher named Francisco Manoel da Silva aka Cobra Verde, driven to poverty by weather and cruel conditions to become the most feared bandit in the land.

While "Fitzcarraldo" featured Kinski as a surrogate for Herzog's madness, "Cobra Verde" is an excavation into the actor Kinski, with little separating him from the camera

[ Click here to read more ]

Babs in Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama

With a title like "Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama", there's little doubt about the quality of the movie. This is a terribly filmed, poorly acted hack that masquerades as a horror film and aspires to be trash.

[ Click here to read more ]

Horse Thief

September 10th 2008 23:01
Horse Thief Tian Zhuangzhuang

Tian Zhuangzhuang's 1986 film, "Horse Thief", passes its 88-minute runtime with hardly any dialogue, except for a few grunts and statements. It opens on the rocky terrain of Tibet, winds whipping fiercely over the mountains, as a Tibetan man, Norbu, steals a few horses from one of the local families.

[ Click here to read more ]

Diane Webber Mermaids of Tiburon
Diane Webber, also known as Marguerite Empey in the May 1955 issue of Playboy, was a pinup and actress, best known for her portrayal of the Queen of the Mermaids in the film, "Mermaids of Tiburon".

I've never seen the film, but I'm deeply familiar with the images of Webber, gracefully moving through the water, those clam shells barely containing her feminine form. From Cryptomundo
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Fitzcarraldo Klaus Kinski
Warning! Posts on Und So Weite contain spoilers!

Yesterday, I reviewed Werner Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo", an epic film that smacks the viewer in the face with the raw power of the production; Herzog tells the tale of an Irish merchant who pulls a 350-ton steamboat over a mountain, in order to access the rich rubber plantation on the other side

[ Click here to read more ]


September 7th 2008 23:38
Fitzcarraldo Klaus Kinski pulling a boat up a mountain

Earlier this month, I reviewed Werner Herzog's "Aguirre, Wrath of God", a diabolical film that takes a film crew into the heart of the Peruvian jungle to capture the story of Aguirre de Lopo searching for the famed El Dorado.

[ Click here to read more ]

Deep Throat

September 4th 2008 20:58
Deep Throat Linda Lovelace
Today, on Filthy Friday, a review of the infamous pornographic movie, "Deep Throat", which would both bring explicit sex into the mainstream, and cast heavy, shameful scorn on to porno industry.

It's a film that was, notoriously, made at gunpoint, with star Linda Lovelace forced to perform sexual acts on film by the Columbo crime family and her husband, Chuck Traynor. The movie was banned in the US and several other countries, but would still go on to make an estimated $100 million

[ Click here to read more ]

Repo Man

September 3rd 2008 22:59
Harry Dean Stanton Repo Man
Alex Cox's cult classic "Repo Man" is partly based on his own experience working as a repossession agent in Los Angeles, and he draws on his seedy memories of that smoggy, decadent city to paint a landscape that verges into a lunatic frenzy.

It was released in 1984, starring a young, bright-eyed Emilio Estevez as Otto, a young punk kid that finds himself with a job as a repo man, following a surly, old-school agent, played by Harry Dean Stanton
[ Click here to read more ]

Taking chick-flicks back!

September 2nd 2008 23:14


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