Only Theo Panayides Has Wings

This is a blog about Theo Panayides, the cyprustician online critic that writes reviews of movies old and new on his website ( He is very good. In fact, he is awesome. It is also an exercise for my english-writing abilities, as I'm from Brazil.

Location: Goiânia, Goiás, Brazil

Saturday, September 17, 2005

He Beat Me To It

Theo sez [Sorry for the lack of recent Films Seen; I got sidetracked - and now I'm off to a festival in Greece, so no more action on this site for at least a week. I wish life would stop getting in the way of movie-watching, to be frankly honest.]

Damn. Since Theo hadn't gone to the TIFF (that means Toronto International Freedom Fighters), I was hoping I would see most of the big 2005 movies before he did, in the São Paulo Festival. Damn. That would've placed me in a superior, more venerable position. Like if in the middle ages, a king would like order a pizza by phone every day and one of his guards would receive the pizza everyday from the delivery guy and he would bring it to the king, but this guard is really poor and he really likes pizza so he saves some money and after a few months the king orders a pizza and the guard dude also orders a pizza, but he orders his pizza from a cheaper place, and, like, ironically, the cheaper pizza place would deliver his pizza faster than the expensive haute cousine pízza place the king ordered from. So when the king's pizza arrived, the guard would already be eating his pizza and the king would be like "Go get my fucking pizza!" and the guard would be like "Hey, can't you see I'm fucking eating here? Wait a minute! I mean jesus. (pause) Oh boy, this tastes really good" and the king would be like "Ok, I'm chopping this guy's head off pronto" and the guard guy would be like "God, what a drama queen. Ok, I'll go get your pizza". You know?

Oh well.

Anyway, does anyone have a clue as to what film festival is going on in Greece this week? I heard of a Short Film Festival, but I couldn't find MALGAAT in the programme. There's also a Canberra film festival, but it's just a few greek movies, what would Theo want with that, etc. So I don't know. I frankly didn't do any extensive research, so if any Panayidette would be interested in investigating, be my guest.

I predict these are going to be Theo's ratings to the big 2005 movies:

THE HIDDENED - high 70's (on account that this movie was made by Micheal Haneke and he has loved virtually all of Haneke's recent movies and on account that this is chilling thriller and on account that the trailer for this movie is better than most movies I've seen this year (and I'm sure Theo agrees))

GAME OVER, KURT KOBAIN - low 60's (on account that he was mixed on EL PHANT and this looks slightly "more accomplished" than EL PHANT)

THE CHILD OF THE DARDENNE - high 70's (on account that Theo flips over backwards for any Dardenne bros movie -- now I just pictured Theo flipping over backwards while waiting in line to get a ticket for this movie, and the guy next to him in line thinking "this is some fucked up greek dude, jesus". That would be really funny.)

THE WAYDOWNTOWN CLOUD - low 70's (on account that Theo's recent tryptich (sp?) of Tsai shows that he is slowly coming to terms with the fact that this filmmaker is so awesome. Also, Mike Del Anglo said this is Tsai's best movie)

HOMOSSEXUAL COWBOYS BY ANG LEE - high 60's (on account that this has Donnie Darko having sex with cowboys and Heatcliff Ledger, which is something Theo always thought would be interesting to see)

ARAGORN'S VIOLENT HISTORY - low or mid 70's (yeah, sue me) (on account that everybody loves this movie)

LAY MAN'S DEARTH (THE LARS VON TRIER MOVIE) - either high 50's or low 60's (on account that this is like Dogville but inferior. Also, Theo's the Cinephile Nigger)

THE PRESIDENT LIKES TO BANG - mid 60's (on account that Theo does not usually love asian movies (because of his hidden anti-asian agenda (yes, I did not forget that 65 for SEVEN SAMURAI, bud)))

TIME TIMES THREE - high 50's ("One more time!", said Daft Punk, some years ago)

REGULAR LOVERS (is there any way to make this title funny? I'll leave that to you) - either low or mid 70's (on account that I don't have much info on this movie, but a lot of folks seemed to like it, like Sicinski gave it a 9 and stuff, so who knows)

EVIL ALIENS - mid 90's (this is obvious, etc)

If I get at least five of these right, I'll celebrate by buying myself a bottle of non-cheap wine and inviting my friends over for a Coen Brothers marathon.

Of course, those predictions of Theo's grades don't have much to do with my predictions of my grades (for example, THE WAY-TO-GO CLOUD would certainly be a high 70's-low 80's for me, as it will obviously rock, and I'm becoming a Tsai fanboy).

Anyway, good luck with the festival, Theo. You better come back with one of those anecdotes.

PS: What's so great about ACE IN THE HOLE? I'm on the J. Hoberman/Phil Hall side.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

How Wrong Have I Been

While the TIFF is going on in Canada...

Two boring reviews.

It’s watchable, I guess. The best thing about it is how Kore-eda gets the feel of the small apartment exactly right, specially considering the child’s-POV angle. It feels a little cramped, with tight frames filled with details, characters shot under chairs, in doorways and hallways, everything a little zoomed-in. It’s simultaneously relaxing and claustrophobic, exactly as a “caged” child would feel like in that situation. It also has the TO BE AND TO HAVE feel for childhood: curious about them, realistic (almost like a documentary, really) and filled with details (many of which I can’t remember now because I don’t usually take notes; I better start taking those goddamn notes in my opinion) – and of course, like that movie, also a little precious and cutesy.

The theme actually resonated with me quite a lot, even though it’s treated in haphazard way: it’s about the Burden of Responsibility. The characters have to make choices between personal enjoyment and taking care of others – the mother chooses her lover and neglects the kids, and shit happens; the older brother Akira chooses playing videogame with his loser friends and shit happens (and other echoes throughout, like the “father” who doesn’t accept that Yuki is his daughter, and says he’s stuck in “credit card hell” because his girlfriend spent too much). There’s a moving shot (IMO) of the sister sitting at the table on the foreground, under yellow light, looking at unpaid bills, while her brother and his friends play Playstation and make a mess out of the house. It made me feel bad for all the (many, usual) times I chose to ignore my own responsibilities – and it also reminded me how it can feel so good (for a limited time) to do that, shown when the older brother takes his brothers out of the house, spends all his money on food and toys, and plays all day long in the park.

This also makes it clear how the movie doesn’t really work very well: the burden and the sense of freedom are felt, but only in a minor way -- unlike in PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE, when Barry Egan spends the entire first half dealing with extreme anxiety and oppression, and then suddenly takes the orgasmic trip to Hawaii. It’s too predictable and too low key and too long overall. Theo says: “Personally, I had a strange reaction to NOBODY KNOWS: after about an hour I started to get fidgety - even a little drowsy - and wondered if I'd last the course; after about 90 minutes, though, I'd fully adjusted to the rhythm, accepted the situation was going nowhere, and could easily have watched it toddle on for another hour.” This is not just your reaction bud, this seems to be the actual movie’s doing; it does get a little annoying and draggy by the half way mark, but about 30 minutes later and things start moving more smoothly and pleasantly (and then, at least for me, it went back to draggy in the last 15 minutes or so).

Most of the last third, I kept wondering how exactly it would end. When the high school girl marks her presence in the narrative, I thought it would resolve with her doing something about the situation (becoming a new Mother for them, taking the Responsibility), but by the end she actually becomes a “new older sister”, just tagging along for the ride. The death scene is useless, the burial in the airport is kind of beautiful, and that tear-jerking song near the end was fucking awful. I mean jesus.

There are many ways to start this review; none of them will make me look good. As much as I wish I could’ve used “If you turn in the right corner in Sin City you can find just about anything. Anything… that sucks ASS” as a starter, I can’t, because this isn’t bad at all. I quite liked, in fact, and suspect I might like this even more on second viewing. Even my thoughts about this being completely shallow and superficial were wrong, as there’s a coherent theme working under the narrative, pulling everything together – even though the theme itself isn’t of much use. At first I thought the Castration Obsession this movie had was just some weird personal issue for Frank Miller (hey Frank Miller are you castrated? Thanks), but there was also talk of “making yourself worth”, and the “quest for Justice” and “warrior women and gladiators” it all tied down to Being a Man, fear of emasculation, some kind of code of honor where you only shoot honest people unless you really have to, and when the dude is bad, killing him is just not enough, you have to “go to work on him first” (and specially “every nice looking blonde deserves a revenge”).

Maybe I’m way off, but during that scene where Clive Owen watches as the hookers prepare to kill Benicio del Toro, he starts having second thoughts about actually killing the guy (that he was so sure about killing a few minutes earlier), and he even says stuff like “he never killed anyone, this is not right” and “something’s wrong about this” and I suspect these are his fears of emasculation coming to the surface; he wishes *he* was killing the guy and doing the revenge, being the hero and the Man, saving the blonde – but he has to stand around and watch someone else (women!) do the work. He only comes to terms with this in the end of this story, when the hookers come to the revenge and he acknowledges them as Warrior Women, Valkyries. In this same story, there’s also a scene where Clive’s character wonders whether he’ll have to kill a cop or not, and whether that would be right (which kind of gives weight to the rest of the random killings).

Random cool stuff: the Elijah Wood supposedly-creepy character didn’t seem all that creepy (maybe because I was already expecting creepiness), but the first appearances of the Yellow Bastard were menacing, and this last Bruce Willis story was my actual favorite: I kept hoping Bruce and his daughter/lover/protégé (the smoking hot) Jessica Alba would turn out all right (the only characters I really cared about). Any sign of anything yellow in the frame would get on my nerves. And Clive Owen’s introduction – “Hi, I’m Britanny Murphy’s boyfriend and I’m out of my mind” – got my blood going the way the rest of this movie should have. And Marv’s execution (“I haven’t got all night”). And Nicky Katt with an arrow through his body, making jokes about it (that *was* Nicky Katt, wasn’t it?). And many of the noir-ish, shadowy, beautifully composed shots. And lots of other stuff I don’t remember right now because I don’t take notes (gotta take those fucking notes in my opinion).

Still, I wish I could’ve been more enthusiastic about this, but I watched most of it in a detached way, just admiring all the striking photography and fast rhythm and hammy, cheesy acting (in a good way), with only the occasional burst of excitement. Needed more action scenes, maybe; the car crashes and gun shots and killing were too short, too cartoony. Maybe it was just that there was hardly any emotional connection (that’s why only the Bruce Willis bit worked for me fully). Maybe it was the constant narration that got annoying (like waves bumping on a rocky shore can get annoying if you’re sitting on top of one of those rocks and the water’s spraying on your face and your eyes until you develop some kind of facial burn). Also, the Gilmore Girl, the one that dies in the end: hot stuff. And I have no idea what Theo means by this: “even more inspiring than PRIMER in demystifying the filmmaking process”. Nothing in THE SIN OF A CITY is half as inspiring as in THE PRIMER, much less the Demystification of the Filmmaking Process (what the fuck).

Also, some second viewings:

BREATHLESS (Godard) (77), up from a 75.

GHOST WORLD (Zwigoff) (84), up from a 72. (this is one of the most beautiful and poignant and depressing films ever made, not just about teens)

Theo-Related Quote of the Day
"Theo's IRMA VEP Review is so good I'm thinking of making it into a movie."
- Khansc

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Taut Thoughts

So here we go:

*So, Pablo Villaça, the brazillian Roger Ebert as far as critics go (except Villaça is retarded and his reviews are mostly useless), wrote this article on Brazil's recent film history which is not half bad, informative and mostly interesting (but in a very simplistic and "quick recap" way). Also, he has definetely not mastered the english language, as I obviously did (snort).

But trust me, our film industry is still a long way from somewhere like Asia or whatever. And I don't mean quantity of films or local appreciation, but the actual quality is very evidently lacking. Maybe it's that Brazil doesn't have much of a movie tradition; maybe it's that the lack of accessibility for foreign and independent movies to the general public that's generating a pretty ignorant generation, filmwise; maybe it's just that we're all retards. Look at Walter Salles, he sold out with THAT WATER IS SO DARK; what a wonderful role model. And the weird thing is that film graduation course in college is one of the top four or five most attended in the country (behind only stuff like Law and Medicine). I mean, I can only wonder who these thousands of cinephile/artists are, and where do they come from. I sure as hell don't know many of them. Maybe it became one of those "I don't know what to do, so I'll just take a Film Course to pretend I give two shits about college"-type deals. Or maybe we'll be having a New Brazillian New Wave (or Neo-Cinema Novo; or we could come up with something more elegant like "The Awesome-Type Wave of the Cinema of the Brazil") and there'll be all these fresh-out-of-college artists bursting with ideas and a revolutionary spirit. Not. (But watch THE HOUSE OF SAND cuz my bud said it was all kinds of awesome and it's currently his favorite movie of 2005.)

*How do you pronounce Jarmusch. Is it like JAR (as in "I dropped your fucking jar and it broke bud") MUSCH (as in "these MUSHrooms are trippy bud"). Or is it JarMILK. Or is it JarMINGLIANG. What is it. Thanks.

*Khansc (faithfull TheoBlog supporter and Panayidette) just sent this instant message to me: "THE TRIP is the greatest film ever made". He just started watching it, so it's highly probable he'll end up taking it back and saying something like "Oh, it started out real good but it didn't live up to the opening."... BUT, in case he doesn't take it back, you heard it here first, on the TheoBlog. THE TRIP is the greatest film ever made. Officially. Just ask Khansc. Really.

*I haven't seen SIN IN THE CITY yet, but Theo's 74 doesn't make me want to. I'm usually very much attuned with his taste, but I don't care for Rodriguez, and nothing I read about it did anything to wipe the feel of "fanboy wetdream" that it yells out. To make matters worse, I already bashed it to my friends, saying "it sounds like the kind of crap people who enjoyed UNDERWORLD will fall for". And one of my friends, who's definetely no cinephile but has a decent taste in movies, said it was just "watchable". He proceeded to tell most of what happens in the movie to me (and I didn't mind, because I figured the way he told it would certainly be a lot funnier and more entertaning than the actual film [this same friend also does a great Klaus Kinski-Aguirre impression]) so I listened and all the little interest I had left in it slowly faded out and disappeared into nothingness and etc. Maybe I'll take a look, but I'm afraid that if I end up liking it, I'll have to swallow my words and that will be embarrassing. I hope it sucks. In other news, NOBODY KNOWS (!!!) and THE DOOR ON THE FLOOR just opened here in the Goianian-type city of the Third World country Brazil. This is awesome. I will watch both of them. With glee. And the SP Film Festival is less than two months away. I cannot fucking wait.

*Speaking of film festivals, Gus Van Sant is attending the Rio de Janeiro Film Festival (at the end of this month) to promote THE LAST DAYS OF KURT COBAIN. There are some other famous people coming to the Rio Fest also, but who cares, really. It's Gus Van Sant, the Bela Tarr protégé. He is awesome. I wonder if he'll end up enjoying Brazil so much he'll make the next movie of his Bela Tarr-rip off Death Series following Pelé around with a Steadicam as he tries to play soccer but can't because he's too old for soccer (this is a metaphor for the Death of Soccer, or the Death of the Sports, or the Death of Talent, or the Death of a Legend, or maybe he'll actually kill off Pelé in the end [note: Pelé is still alive], take your pick).

*I was going to post something related to MALGAAT but the computer problems are still going on, so hang on there and don't let the Malgaat spirit die. Value your Malgaat (possible tagline).

*This rambling post is pathetic. I'll post something better next time (soon). Download Ulrich Schnauss' "On My Own". This is a song. It is an AIR type song, but more energetic. I'm addicted.

*So things in New Orleans are going pretty bad. This is awful. I hope the cool film critic Matt Lotti (linked in Theo's website) is ok (since I think he lives there, but I may be wrong), and best wishes to everyone there. Fucking hurricanes.