In his review of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Armond White opens by declaring that “Neo-noir must be the worst movie genre. It’s an excuse for juvenile filmmakers to pretend cynicism while their imbecile audiences pretend sophistication.”
I can certainly see where he’s coming from. I haven’t seen A Dame to Kill For yet, but I have seen more than enough attempts at neo-noirs that think all there is to the genre is a femme fatale and an anti-hero in a trenchcoat. I’m talking about mediocre, flailing films like Max Payne—or worse, the attempts to bring noir to hip, younger settings like Assassination of a High School President and Lucky Number Slevin. They’re movies that look at the classics of the genre, fall in love with the aesthetic, but have no idea why or how that aesthetic works as it does. As Armond so aptly points out, Sin City and its ilk are all “pretending that it still means something to call a sexy woman ‘dame.’”
Continue reading Is Neo-Noir The Worst Genre?
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There is a moment in Fargo (I’ll never stop talking about Fargo) that makes me die with laughter every single time I watch it. The movie is packed with black comedy and irony and brilliant deadpans (the license plate joke, holy shit) and some basic but perfect physical gags (Jean Lundegaard bursting out of the shower draped in its curtain like a kid in a homemade ghost costume), but I ain’t talking abaout all that stuff. I’m talking about the stills above. This moment seems to be more of an editorial in-joke than an actual written joke, but of course you never can tell with the Coen brothers. After Jean’s dad and Stan Grossman and Jerry discuss the plot’s central ransom over breakfast, Jerry is at the counter. The beaming cashier asks how Jerry’s meal was. After he answers rather shortly, he comes back with an affable “How you doin’” and when it cuts back to her, we see her cock her head to the side before it cuts again. All she does is cock her head to the side. No response, no change in expression, just a slight pitch. It’s hilarious. It’s insanely funny.
Continue reading Not All Movies Should Have Jokes, But All Movies Should Have a Sense of Humor
Django Unchained (2012)
Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Warning: Very mild spoilers.
Look, I’m not saying that Django Unchained is a bad movie. Or that Pulp Fiction is either. They’re both good movies. Tarantino has never made a bad movie. The good parts of any one of his films always seem to outweigh the bad—the two with the strongest good-to-bad-part ratios being Inglourious Basterds and Jackie Brown. Those two are damn near perfect. All the others are either ‘very good’ (Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2, From Dusk Till Dawn, True Romance) or just ‘good’ (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Death Proof, Django Unchained). And Death Proof is a bit more solid than Django in my opinion, therefore, Django is his worst since Pulp Fiction. (By the way, I should point out that yes, I’m fully aware that Tarantino wrote, but did not direct, From Dusk Till Dawn and True Romance. If I don’t mention that, some fanboy will point it out in the comments like he knows something I don’t or whatever. Well guess what, hypothetical fanboy? You know nothing I don’t. So you can take that hypothetical fact and shove it. Although, and I don’t wanna get off on a tangent here, but isn’t it weird how often people fall for that ‘Quentin Tarantino Presents’ thing? There are people in this world that legit think Tarantino was involved in the writing or directing or whatever of The Protector, Hostel, and others. Swear to god. I worked a video store, dude. I know things. And that’s honestly the tip of the iceberg as far as ‘weird things customers think’ goes. I’ll have to do an entry or entries about my video store days one of these days…)
Continue reading Django Unchained: Tarantino’s Worst Since Pulp Fiction