My 100 favourite films. Entry #6: 10 Things I Hate About You.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
directed by Gil Junger
starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik, Julia Stiles, David Krumholtz and Heath Ledger
Country: USA
Genre: Comedy / Romance

Visuals: 5/10
Writing: 7/10
Everyday watchability: 10/10

I think I've posted about enough depressing and dark films for now. 10 Things is just pure fun, full of great lines and stupid scenarios. It's one of a handful of movies that I could watch at pretty much any time. I don't really want to analyze it right now, but I will say this: this movie has a very convoluted structure for a romantic teen comedy. Normally, a movie goes - boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. In 10 Things, it's boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, boy loses girl again, boy gets girl back again, boy loses girl yet again, boy gets girl back just before closing credits.

Now for some quotes and pictures.

Michael: I have a dick on my face, don't I?

Walter Stratford: This morning, I delivered a set of twins to a fifteen-year-old girl, do you know what she said to me?
Bianca: "I'm a crack-whore who should have made my skeazy boyfriend wear a condom"?
Walter Stratford: Close, but no. She said, "I should have listened to my father".
Bianca: She did not.
Walter Stratford: Well, that's what should would have said if she wasn't so doped up!

Joey: I heard he ate a live duck once.
Michael: Everything but the beak and feet.

Kat's introduction, listening to Bad Reputation by Joan Jett. The greatness of the song makes up for the fact that it's an obvious choice.
That dress gets uglier every year. Are we supposed to be smitten here?
"That must be Nigel with the brie."
World's worst prom dress.
They pedal this thing for a good two minutes and don't move at all. It pisses me off every time.
I just thought this looked cool. I like the school paraphernalia flying off his person. This is also right before he says "Ow, my balls." Classic.

My 100 favourite films. Entry #5: Delicatessen.

Delicatessen (1991)
directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro
starring Dominique Pinon, Marie-Laure Dougnac and Jean-Claude Dreyfus
Country: France
Genre: Fantasy / Comedy / Drama

Visuals: 10/10
Writing: 7/10
Everyday watchability: 7/10

As you can probably tell by this point, I love a visually interesting film. A film could be flawlessly written and perfectly acted but still not find its way into my heart or onto this list. What really grabs me is the right mixture of style and substance, and most importantly, a style that is guided by the substance. Style by itself is certainly not enough, as while they can be interesting to look at, they're more hollow than a chocolate bunny.

This brings us to the fifth entry on my list, Delicatessen, a film which is absolutely stunning. The quality of light is rich and warm and inviting, but its tobacco hue also makes things feel aged and slightly decaying. The movie's about a one-building apartment complex in a presumably post-apocalyptic world, although we never hear why it's post-apocalyptic. The denizens of the building survive by recruiting new renters, having them work for a bit, and then killing them, the butcher cutting them up and divvying out the meat. A new handyman comes to the complex, does some chores, discovers the scheme and tries to get out with his life (and his new girlfriend of course).

While the story is intriguing, what makes it work are the gorgeous visuals and the fantastic (in both senses of the word) production design. Jeunet also has a way of making the world seem magical without making it also seem corny. There's a scene where two characters make love on a squeaky bed, and the creaks and squeaks echo through the building, providing the tempo of a paint brushing, holes drilling and strings bowing. As the bed noises speed up, so do the activities, to the point where the others can't keep up, breaking down at the very same moment. It's the kind of moment movies try to portray often, where the view believe that the world is an interesting, serendipitous place, but few pull it off like this.

But for now, just look at it....


My 100 favourite films. Entry #4: The Thing.

The Thing (1982)
directed by John Carpenter
starring Kurt Russell, Keith David and Wilford Brimley
Country: USA
Genre: Horror

Visuals: 9/10
Writing: 7/10
Everyday watchability: 6/10
No. of men in the film: 15
No. of women: 0

I originally watched this film because I read that this film was actually better than expected. Usually "better than expected" is not very high praise. It's often something someone says when their hopes for a film are super-low, like expectations for any movie based on a video game. But this film is not only better than expected, it's better than most other movies like it. Coming a few years after Alien and being 10 times as gruesome, The Thing follows in that classic's footsteps quite well. There's constant tension from the moment Ennio Morricone's minimalist score kicks in with two foreboding bass notes to the start of the closing credits.

While some of the effects are dated (and let's face it, one that's downright silly), it's scarier more for what's not shown than what is. The plot goes: an alien that can shapeshift into any biological form and present itself as human is trying to hide at a research station in Antarctica. Since the creature can take the form of any of a dozen men at the station, they're at each other's throats most of the time instead of just fighting a monster... although they do that as well. The tension comes not from the monster fights, but the inbetween bits where the viewer tries to figure out where it's hiding (i.e. who it's pretending to be). It may sound cheesy, but Carpenter's steady directorial hand keeps things very well balanced and the visuals are interesting but unobtrusive with some great use of of deep focus.


My 100 favourite films. Entry #3: M*A*S*H

M*A*S*H (1970)
directed by Robert Altman
starring Donald Sutherland, Elliot Gould, Tom Skerritt, Sally Kellerman, Robert Duvall, etc.
Country: USA
Genre: Comedy

Visuals: 10
Writing: 9
Everyday watchability: 7
No. of actours who made it from the film to the tv show: 1 (Gary Burghoff aka Radar)

After I saw this film, I wanted to be Donald Sutherland for a good month. He portrayed the kind of non-chalance that made the squares want to be round. I wanted to be the kind of person who cares about other people, but acts with a vague indifference to matters. Plus, I look a little bit like him I think.

M*A*S*H was a movie unlike others before it; visually it was full of zooms, tilts, pans, move-ins, pull-outs and aurally it was replete with overlapping dialogue. The technique keeps the movie constantly interesting with something to see, hear, take in.

Few films manage to combine strong characters, humour, social relevancy and groundbreaking cinematic techniques the way this one does.

My 100 favourite films. Entry #2: Naked.

Naked (1993)
directed by Mike Leigh
starring David Thewlis
Country: UK
Genre: Drama
Visuals: 9/10
Writing: 9/10
Everyday watchability: 4

This is another one of those film titles that's hard to explain to friends. "It's called Naked. [pause] No it's not a porn. There is some nudity. It's about a guy who rapes a girl at the beginning of the movie and runs away to London to avoid getting beat up by her family, and basically talks at people for the whole film... but it's really good."

David Thewlis truly makes the movie. It's one of the finest acting performances I think I've ever seen. Apparently this film was only loosely scripted and then the script was created by the actors through 11 weeks rehearsal. Thewlis is utterly believable as a crazy jerkwad egoist. He gives the kind of rants usually heard from not-actually-drunk assholes at parties who forcibly give you their uninformed opinions, but his word choices and inflection make me believe him or at the very least indulge that he may be right. This even when relating UPC codes to the number of the beast.


The most ridiculous cross-race castings.

Since the early days of film, white people have been playing people of all races, such as the early Charlie Chan films. Some movies cast people in roles that they were literally NOT born to play. This is a list of such films. I have included with the list a racism factor. This is, on a scale of 1-10, how racist the person is portraying the other race. For example, if they were playing a black person and had a bucket of chicken in one hand and a grape soda in the other for the entire film, that would be a 10.

Touch of Evil (1958)
Charlton Heston is... Mexican
Racism factor: 3
He's actually not very racist at all. In preparation for the role however, it looks they just took him to the beach to get him tanned and made him grow a mustache. The only reason he gets any racist points is that he doesn't even bother to affect an accent. It's really just that they're kind of lazy about it.

Short Circuit 2
Fisher Stevens is... Indian
Racism factor: 1
When I was a kid, I must have watched this movie on loop and I never knew that this guy wasn't Indian. Come to think of it, I'm not sure that I knew where India was. Anyway, this doesn't feel racist to me at all. The accent sounds pretty authentic (to me at least) and I can't think of anything that's offensive, so way to go Fisher Stevens. Now you can make Hackers.
Kung Fu (TV series)
David Carradine is... half Chinese
Racism factor: 5
The only thing I can say having not watched the show is, I could never take this show seriously because he is obviously not half Chinese. I'm sure Kung Fu: The Legend Continues was pure genius however. It gets a 5 on the scale because I feel like they didn't even try. At least they gave Charlton Heston a tan.
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Mickey Rooney is... Japanese
Racism factor: 10
Wow. Mickey Rooney went from 'just annoying' to 'total asshole' with this amazingly racist portrayal of a Japanese person. His portrayal of a bucktoothed Jap was so bad that I could not sit through even a few minutes of this supposed classic. It made the entire film unwatchable. It's so offensive it made some nonexistent racism-measuring body part ache from over-exertion.

My 100 favourite films. Entry #1: Stalker.

Stalker (1979)
directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
starring Aleksandr Kaidanovsky, Anatoli Solonitsyn and Nikolai Grinko
Country: West Germany / Soviet Union
Genre: Sci-fi
Visuals: 10/10
Writing: 9/10
Everyday watchability: 3/10
Average shot length: roughly 63 seconds (with some shots as long as 4 1/2 minutes)

If I were to sum this movie up into one word, that word would probably be "gorgeous." If I had three words at my disposal, I would probably say "gorgeous but slow." But the pace is perfect for a movie like this, allowing the viewer to absorb everything in the frame, and then absorb it again, and when you're really done absorbing it you're still in the same shot, so you might as well absorb it some more. The setpieces and camera work are truly amazing with nice rich colours.

When I was watching this film, it was hard to explain to my friends that I was watching a movie called Stalker. "No, it's not about that kind of a stalker. It's about a guy who leads people into a place called the zone where they can make one wish and it will come true, but it's really unsafe and mysterious and some people don't return. It's kind of a sci-fi film but there aren't any special effects. But it's really good, I swear."


Happy Urf Day.

Well, the Earth is one year older, making it 4,540,000,001 years old. To celebrate Earth Day, I decided to be vegan. It's crazy I know, but I thought it might do a little good.

What are you doing to celebrate?


Flickr favourites.

I've seen this done on other blogs and thought it looked cool, so I'm "stealing" that idea. These are my favourite images on Flickr. Click on a group to be taken to my Flickr favourite page where you can click through to large versions.


What I wore today.

Last time went so well I thought I'd do it again, with different clothes of course.


Who's which?

I've said it before and I'll repeat it here: Is Burt Reynolds the poor man's Tom Selleck, or is it the other way around?

Up against the wall: four images by Jeff Wall.

Earlier this year, I visited the SFMoMA with some friends. The main purpose of our visit was to check out the Olafur Eliason exhibit. While this had some interesting parts, mainly a room that made the world appear black and white, I was more intrigued by the work of Jeff Wall.

His photos were large transparencies backlit by huge lightboxes. Most images had their own wall. They looked glorious. While the images themselves are quite striking, the presentation really made them come alive. I'd love to exhibit my pictures in this manner.