MCN Columnists
Noah Forrest

By Noah Forrest

House Cleaning

I figured it was time to clear the deck….

Shoot ‘Em Up

This is a thoroughly enjoyable and utterly forgettable film.  There wasn’t anything especially new or interesting about the film, but I was able to enjoy the action scenes and the corny one-liners for what they were.  The bottom-line is this:Shoot ‘Em Up is not a good film and it isn’t trying to be.  This seems to be a rather upsetting trend that I hope does not continue (and probably won’t because of the poor returns for this film andGrindhouse).  It seems to be kind of a cop-out for filmmakers to hide behind the genre of ‘satire’ in order to purposely make bad films.  This way, if they turn out really bad, they can say “this is what we intended!”  So, in that respect, Shoot ‘Em Up succeeds in meeting its goal, but is that enough?  For me, not quite.

I love Monica Bellucci, not just because of her exquisite beauty, but because she happens to be a phenomenal actress – as long as she isn’t performing in English.  It seems to me that in her American performances (like this film, The Matrix Reloaded, The Brothers Grimm, Tears of the Sun, She Hate Me) she is wooden.  It seems like she is reading off of cue cards like a bad Saturday Night Live host, her face expressionless.  But if you were to watch her in Irreversible or Remember Me, My Loveyou would see an actress who is entirely capable of subtlety, restraint and emotion.  Granted, her role as a lactating hooker in Shoot ‘Em Up is not exactly Shakespeare, but it should have been more than what it is.

This is a film that is trying so hard to pretend like it won’t back down, yet it holds back a lot.  After all, this might be the only film in recent memory in which Monica Bellucci doesn’t get naked, even playing a lactating hooker.  There is blood, but no more so than the average Schwarzenegger film that it is trying to lampoon.  Unfortunately, this film isn’t sure if it’s lampooning the originals or just trying to emulate them.

Clive Owen needs to use his talents on films that really need a performer of his level.  This is a film in which anybody could be the lead (Paul Walker practically played the same part inRunning Scared), so it isn’t necessary to have an Academy Award nominee.  Paul Giamattiis clearly slumming it this year between this film and The Nanny Diaries (more on that atrocity later) and I hope he returns to his indie roots soon enough.

Funny Games Trailer

Michael Haneke’s remake of his own Austrian home-invasion thriller was on my list of 10 films to look out for this autumn.  Well, the release has been pushed back to February 2008, but we got our first look at what to expect from this remake when the preview appeared on the web.

It turned out to be my worst fear.

It seems as if Haneke has done a virtual shot-for-shot remake of his original film.  I had expected a filmmaker like Haneke to do something subversive in remaking his own film in America, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  It seems that the dialogue is exactly the same and the way he has framed the characters in scenes looks way too similar to his earlier production.

I just don’t understand the point of this.  If you are remaking your own film, like George Sluizer did with The Vanishing in 1993 or Ole Bornedal did with Nightwatch in 1997, then you would obviously make a few tweaks.  Why remake the same exact film that you had already made once, just for the benefit of American audiences?  Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just dub in the voices of Naomi Watts and Tim Roth?

I hope I’m wrong about this.  While the trailer is wonderfully twisted, it does give me confidence that the film will be worthwhile.

3:10 to Yuma

This is a typical James Mangold film, which is to say that it’s a well-done entertainment that I enjoyed quite a bit – but could have been better in the hands of a better filmmaker.

For starters, I don’t remember there being one wide shot in the entire film.  It’s mostly a collection of close-ups and this is a western, where sweeping vistas are supposed to be the norm.  Perhaps Mangold was trying to subvert that cliché, but it gives a poor sense of scope and space.

The performances of Christian Bale and Russell Crowe are excellent, but we expected that much.  It seems, however, that Crowe holds back a little bit instead of really sinking his teeth into the role.  But maybe that has more to do with the fact Mangold isn’t sure what he wants the character of Ben Wade to be.  For the first hour or more of the film, Wade is a villain through and through, killing people with no remorse.


Then, we’re supposed to believe it when he turns on his own gang that has traveled miles and miles to rescue him, simply because he hung out with a one-legged coward for a few days?

And that’s another thing. Christian Bale’s character wasn’t enough of a coward.  He’s not pathetic enough to really have it hit home why he is doing what he is doing, why this mission matters so much to him.  There’s only one shot of his false leg and he seems to get around just fine on it and it might have been interesting to see him struggle a little bit more with that.

Also, there are a couple of mandatory sequences that seemed designed to just pad the running time; from Russell Crowe escaping (we know they’re going to get him back, so what’s the point?) to the attack by the Native Americans.  This is a film that runs over two hours and should run ninety minutes flat.


All of that said, it was still an enjoyable film and I absolutely adored the ending of the film.  How often is it that you see the good guy die and the bad guy live in a Hollywood movie?  So, I really liked the performances and the movie was enjoyable the whole way through, but it was disappointing that it was so close to being great.

Lucky You

I don’t understand why this film, which I just watched on DVD, got dumped by Warner Brothers.  Granted, this isn’t a film that will win any awards or get glowing reviews from critics, but it could have made them some money and I think it eventually will gain a cultish following on DVD, similar to Rounders.

Eric Bana is fantastic in the lead role of a professional(ish) poker player and his relationship with his father, played by Robert Duvall, is quite complicated, touching, and infuriating all at the same time.  This is a film directed by Curtis Hanson and co-written by Eric Roth, so you know that it’s going to run smoothly and be a well-crafted film from start to finish and it is indeed all that.

The Drew Barrymore character and her romance with Eric Bana is completely unnecessary and drags the film down at every turn.  It is a testament to Barrymore’s charisma that her perkiness shines through and helps light up a film that could be quite dark, but it ultimately doesn’t add up to much at the end other than to give the Bana character a convenient ending.

This is a film that poker and gambling buffs will enjoy, the same people who watch Roundersas often as possible, but a lot of the lingo might fly right over a lot of people’s heads and the film doesn’t do a whole lot to present things in layman’s terms.  I think this will help make it a cult film, but it won’t do much for ordinary folks who just want to watch a romantic comedy.

This film is nowhere near as good as Rounders, but it a nice way to spend a couple hours and if you like poker, you might love it.

The Nanny Diaries

Okay, I saw this film a little while ago and I had to write something about it so that I could say the following: this movie is infuriatingly awful.

Also, everyone associated with this film should be ashamed of themselves.

And worst movie of the year.  This should be something they use in film schools to teach people how not to make a film.

I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With

This is a film that can be watched on IFC On Demand, which I believe is available on most cable systems.  Here in New York City, it’s available on Time Warner for $5.95 or at the IFC Center for a few bucks more.  It’s not worth those extra few bucks.

That’s not to say that this is a bad film.  In fact, it’s a fun little indie flick written and directed by and starring Jeff Garlin (aka Larry David’s pudgy manager on Curb Your Enthusiasm).  It seems to be a very personal film about a pudgy actor struggling to find an acting gig while also working as a cast member in Second City, struggling to slim down while making midnight runs to the convenience store to load up on candy and also struggling to find love.

Sarah Silverman plays a potential love interest for Garlin and the movie really picks up when she is on screen about fifteen minutes into the film and the movie stops being interesting when she disappears twenty minutes from the end.  The problem is that Garlin is not all that interesting and he complains a lot.  It works on Curb Your Enthusiasm because he’s a supporting character and we can handle complaining for thirty minute doses.  But for an hour and twenty minutes, it becomes a little much to hear a guy whining about how mad he is that they’re remaking Marty (an understandable anger, but jeez let it go).

So, I recommend this film with reservations.  I think it’s worth it for the middle section with Silverman and I think that if you can rent it on IFC On Demand for six bucks with a few friends chipping in, then it’s a solid entertainment for an hour and change.

“What do you think are the odds that Zodiac gets nominated for Best Picture?” – James

As much as I love the movie, I don’t think it will get that kind of love from the Academy.  Best case scenario is a couple of technical nominations, but I don’t think we should worry about whether or not Zodiac gets any recognition from the Academy.  The important test of a film is how well it is appreciated in the years afterwards.  Crash won Best Picture, but that one great night has been overwhelmed by the negative attention it has received since.  Zodiac is a film that will be remembered twenty, thirty years from now and will still be talked about while films like Crash and Chicago will be forgotten.  So who cares if your favorite movie doesn’t get nominated?  It’ll still be your favorite.

“Any chance you’ll write a column about Woody Allen or David Lynch?” – Liza

I definitely have plans to write a column about Woody closer to the release of his new movie. David Lynch I will get into one day during a slow week.

“WTF with MARGARET already?!?!?!” – Joshua

This is a great question.  I feel like I’ve been waiting for Kenneth Lonnergan’s follow-up toYou Can Count on Me for ages now.  IMDB has it slated for a “2007” release, but it finished shooting in 2005.  Has anybody seen this thing?  If anybody has any information about whenMargaret will see the light of day, please contact me.

“If Scorsese is one of the top five living directors, now that Bergman, Antonioni, Kubrick and Kurosawa are dead, who do you believe are the other 4.  Please, please, please do not say Spielberg.   I would include Malick and Allen and would have to think about the others.” – Charles

This is a tough one.  I think Spike Lee and Woody Allen would definitely be two and three.  After that it gets really tricky.  I think a strong case could be made for Richard Linklater, who has made three absolute classic films (Dazed & Confused, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset) and a handful of other great ones (Tape, Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly, suburbia).  For the fifth spot, it might be Paul Thomas Anderson if There Will Be Bloodturns out to be as good as it looks.  Other potentials: Gus Van Sant, Darren Aronofsky, Roman Polanski, Steven Spielberg, Mike Nichols.

“In the spirit of the discussion, I’m including a brief list of my favorite TV shows and the movies coming up that I’m most jazzed about.  Neither list is comprehensive, but I thought I’d share my favorites with you in hopes that you might do the same.” – Keith

The movies I’m excited for this fall, I’ve already written about that in my article of the 10 movies to look forward to this fall, but I would also include Youth Without Youth.  But, of course, the number one movie I’m excited about is There Will Be Blood.

As for television shows, these are the ones that I never miss: Lost, Scrubs, The Office, Dexter, Weeds, Big Love, Veronica Mars (RIP), 30 Rock, Heroes, Entourage, Nip/Tuck, 24(the first two seasons at least), and Top Chef (I’m a sucker for certain reality TV shows).  Be on the lookout for Chuck.

– Noah Forrest
September 27, 2007

Noah Forrest is a 24 year old aspiring writer/filmmaker in New York City.

The opinions expressed in these columns are the writers and do not neccessarily reflect the opinions of Movie City News or any of its editors or other contributors.

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Frenzy On Column

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon