Despite and no doubt because of the incessant prodding and passion of moviewise peers, I've never really been able to drudge up much enthusiasm for th...moreDespite and no doubt because of the incessant prodding and passion of moviewise peers, I've never really been able to drudge up much enthusiasm for the films of Woody Allen. With a handful of exceptions ("Deconstructing Harry" and "Crimes and Misdemeanors" come to mind), I don't feel that I derive much of anything from them. This is partly due to the fact that I have little in common with the target audience, that being Woody and the people who enjoy and have things in common with him. I hate cities, New York or what have you, I'm not Jewish, and while I do often take it upon myself to haltingly verbalize my own vast array of worries and inadequacies, I invariably disgust myself in the process, and listening to other people in the act of same, however wittily, is only slightly less irritating. But even without taking into account who his movies are "for", too many of his characters are privileged, self-important, and unlikable, and too many of his celebrated one-liners are just plain corny. Should you make the mistake of telling any of this to a Woody Allen fan, they, perhaps weary of defending his non-boringness to their forever unimpressed older relatives, may simply inform you that you're wrong and an idiot, unheeding dismissals that can make it instantly apparent how they might be able to relate to a stock Allen socialite.
It turns out, however, that I could listen to the man talk about his creative process all day. These interviews are candid, inspiring, and, above all, entertaining. I was disarmed to find that Allen has many of the same problems with his work that I do. He's mystified that people are so taken with "Manhattan", has almost nothing good to say about his earlier comedies, and feels that "Manhattan Murder Mystery" is among his best work. Throughout, despite plenty of questions gently directed toward specific films, Woody is far more inclined and excited to talk about the writing process, and the habits and thought processes involved in squeezing ideas out of your head onto a legal pad and then cramming that legal pad down the throats of a group of strangers and trying to get millions of other strangers interested in the filmed results. I like that when he feels strapped for ideas, he takes a shower. I bet that totally works.
I couldn't say what led me to give this book a shot, given my blase stand on its subject, but I'm awfully glad I did, because it not only made me want to reconsider Allen's output (several of his comments have made me particularly eager to give "Zelig" another chance), it actually gave me that little "hey, I actually feel like writing something now, what the hell?" feeling that never seems to come around too often these days. Simply put, you'll be spending a few hours with a smart, funny guy. His movies may be divisive, but judging by his conversation here the man is good company for just about anyone.(less)
My father calls Roger Ebert his "pooping buddy". I would wager that few others refer to the esteemed, Pultizer-winning Chicago-based critic as such. D...moreMy father calls Roger Ebert his "pooping buddy". I would wager that few others refer to the esteemed, Pultizer-winning Chicago-based critic as such. Dad has bestowed this singular honor upon the man because the shelf by the toilet in my childhood home is jam packed with Ebert's review books, and this laugh-out-loud collection of some of his crankier write-ups is by far the most worn and dog-eared of the bunch. Ebert's reviews are always engaging and loaded with heart, whether good or bad, but he has a wonderful ear for humourous exaggeration that occasionally puts me in mind of Bill Bryson, and such an unequalled love for the medium that the legitimate pain caused him by some of these stinkers results in one hilariously expressed tantrum after another. He chews these movies right out. I laugh. I relate. I defecate into the toilet. Roger Ebert: one of the best. (less)
By and large, the VideoHound movie books are pretty good. The reviews are amusing without being irritating, plots are breezily recounted, and their op...moreBy and large, the VideoHound movie books are pretty good. The reviews are amusing without being irritating, plots are breezily recounted, and their opinions are often refreshingly against the grain. Through them I've discovered many fun films. So far this volume remains my favorite. One problem with this series: far too many indexes. I'd rather they leave that sort of thing to the Internet Movie Database, and fill those pages with more reviews. Otherwise, this is reference at its most readable. (less)
In theory, Scarecrow Video is an amazing store. In practice, it's chaotic and unwelcoming. One expects and even embraces a charmingly ramshackle setup...moreIn theory, Scarecrow Video is an amazing store. In practice, it's chaotic and unwelcoming. One expects and even embraces a charmingly ramshackle setup and a ever-so-cooler-than-thou staff in a Mom N'Pop video store, but Scarecrow takes it one or two steps too far. The sheer quantity of titles and emphasis on rarities make it a browsing mecca, but a nightmare for someone who just wants to rent a movie. And a hundred dollar deposit for out-of-print titles? Fuck you. "Out-of-print" isn't the liability it used to be, with that new-fangled internet and all. I understand you're just protecting your inventory, but most of the people who'd be interested in viewing "Hunk" on VHS probably don't have a spare hundred mouldering in their checking account. Pulling shit like that is going to make people WANT to steal from you. But it's been awhile since I've been there. Maybe they've eased up. Anyway, I digress.
This would be a fun guide to flip through while waiting for your significant other to buy something for their mom's birthday at Border's, but it's definitely not a must-own. It's basically a huge book version of the little notes that employees put next to their movies on the "Staff Picks" shelf. Funny to glance at, but not terribly insightful or helpful. They exist so you'll ask them at the registers who wrote those funny notes, and whoever did it can sheepishly admit to being hilarious, scratch their new tattoo, and offer their begrudging, embarrassed, and secretly overjoyed thanks. One of those books that was probably more fun to write than it is to read, but they do pull off a good one-liner or two, and it's always fun to read a well-thought-out dissenting opinion on a universally beloved movie, a pastime clearly relished by the hipsters involved. In summation, "The Boondock Saints" sucks miserably unwashed ass. Thank you for your time. (less)
This is the best film guide I have ever read. Thorough doesn't even begin to describe it. Weldon takes these movies seriously, and never even really m...moreThis is the best film guide I have ever read. Thorough doesn't even begin to describe it. Weldon takes these movies seriously, and never even really makes much fun of the worst of the lot. Closer in spirit to Halliwell than Joe Bob, which is a rarity when it comes to cult film reviews. If you have even a passing interest in horror, sci-fi, or under-the-radar movies in general, this book is an absolute necessity. I take a look at it almost every day. (less)
A breezy read about a weird (some might even say bad) dad, whose method of dealing with his son's behavior is to wait for him to, say, do a bunch of c...moreA breezy read about a weird (some might even say bad) dad, whose method of dealing with his son's behavior is to wait for him to, say, do a bunch of coke, then reminisce with him about the time he himself did a bunch of coke when he was a kid and how that sure sucked. It's an entertaining look at unconventional (at least in my admittedly minimal experience) parenting, but I didn't find myself terribly enlightened by the film-watching aspect of the story. They interrupt the fighting and crying about stuff to watch a movie every now and then, and that's about it. Still, the father's affection comes through, and he makes no efforts to conceal his foibles and not-always productive attitude, which I liked. The movie stuff is just very secondary, and the title and flaps heavily suggest otherwise.(less)
This wouldn't have worked if it was just some troll making fun of Steven Seagal, but thankfully Vern, delight though he often may in spotlighting the...moreThis wouldn't have worked if it was just some troll making fun of Steven Seagal, but thankfully Vern, delight though he often may in spotlighting the man's numerous limitations, clearly feels true affection for the beefy limbsnapper. The conversational profanity detracts far more than it adds, but "Seagalogy" is funny, thorough, and even insightful. A bittersweet climax of sorts in which Vern briefly meets Seagal brings it all to a nice close. Unlikely to win over new converts, but if like myself you've sat through more of these movies than you're comfortable admitting, this is well worth spending a few hours with. (less)