Monday, September 13, 2010

Response to Brandon (early August- present)

1) I am a Peter Weir fan as well, though what that really means is that Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Last Wave had such a huge impact on me that he could have stopped making films at that point and I would call myself a fan. Perhaps it was Gallipoli (which I confess I have not seen) that really launched his career; after that his films take on a decidedly more mainstream feel. Not that there are not excellent films among them, but I have never felt such a strong mysterious mystical presence in a film, Weir or otherwise, that I felt when I saw those two of his early films. I have not followed his career religiously, but I am certainly interested in seeing anything he has put his hand to.

2) I recently purchased the original Last House on the Left and am curious to see how it compares to the remake. Craven knows what he's doing, doesn't he? I'm sorry you had to endure the remake, but at least you validated my opinion :).

3) Speaking of horror directors who know what they are doing, say what you will about Roth- he knows his horror. Cabin Fever was such an underrated, irreverent, middle-finger-homage to horror (can there be any other true kind?) that I can't speak highly enough of it. It is not the best horror film ever made by a long shot, but it has a self-awareness without self-consciousness that really makes it stand apart from others like it. I thought that Hostel was a natural and logical progression to Cabin Fever- it did suffer from being slightly less tongue-in-cheek, but it was well-informed and executed horror. Roth's genius is that he is intelligent about horror and it comes out in his films, but his intelligence doesn't turn his horror into drama, if you know what I mean. It's still stupid horror. It's kind of a paradox and I don't know if I'm stating myself well. I am disappointed with the existence of Hostel 2 (which I have not yet seen), but I see it for what it is: capitalizing on the success of its predecessor with a lesser sequel. Again, something that horror is fantastic at. Again, genius on the part of Roth. Or selling out. Or both. I was tickled at your statement of dilemma about whether or not to like or hate the protagonist. In your review of Piranha 3-D, you talked about characters' sins being avenged by death; this is classic horror. Roth creates a dilemma by allowing the ignoble character to triumph, thus turning our expectation of the film (due to our conditioning by the genre) on its head. But, you see, it's still crappy horror. It makes points about itself without rising out of the muck. I can't imagine that's an easy thing to do. And Roth may not even be doing it consciously, but because he has steeped himself in horror lore and because he perhaps is a prime example of the mindless hedonistic/moralistic characters horror is so good at portraying. I love that he makes obvious cameos in his films and if you've ever seen him interviewed, he doesn't take himself or what he does so seriously. He's just screwing around like he did when he was a kid, going for shock value, going for the jugular.

True horror doesn't set out to be social commentary. It's lack of self-awareness is why it often becomes such good social commentary. It exposes the fragility of our societal moral construct- a simple sex act is all that lies between us and a gory death- because it stetches it to its most extreme conclusions.

I liked Roth's Grindhouse trailer and thought it was a tantalizing promise of what's to come. I am eager and anxious to see what he does next to see whether or not I'm making more of him than I should be. The beauty of it is that I don't know if he's a good horror director or not- his films have a way of sliding unnoticed into the fray.

4) I want to clarify that the thing that I thought was brilliant about House of 1000 Corpses was the way that Zombie was able to create even the slightest bit of sympathy for his characters. We're talking classic Leatherface evil murderer types, but with a shred of humanity. I've said this before, but if I find myself even accidentally sympathizing with a psychopathic killer, how terrifying is that for me? What Zombie has done with Michael Myers is really an obvious and natural progression of this theme. He is trying to break through the wall of objectification and disassociation that is pretty standard for those of us who like horror- it's all other. These evil characters are other. At the end of Devil's Rejects, when the protagonists (see what I mean? the bad guys come across as protagonists) are running from the police, for the briefest second you feel what you do when Butch and Sundance burst out of the building, six-shooters blazing. And then you feel queasy because you were just rooting for a bunch of sick f*&!%ers to escape. Genius.

5) Snatch is one of my top ten favorites. I never get tired of watching it. Leap Year was not a great film, but Amy Adams is great. I love her. I love Amy Adams. Have I mentioned that already? I liked The Suburbs so much that I gave it away. And then bought another copy. I'm currently listening to Mumford & Sons and the Weepies' new album. New films on my list: Ghost Writer and Sweetgrass.

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