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

Friday, November 18, 2005


I'm sorry for the lack of updates. I'm studying for my SAT(Brazillian edition) which is happening next week, Sunday, 27.

But what's more important is that there's a music festival Saturday, a day before the SAT, where SONIC YOUTH, THE FLAMING LIPS, IGGY POP and NINE INCH NAILS are playing. Yes, it will be unspeakably awesome. It's probably not a good idea to go to something like this a day before an important test, but then again, you know, there's always, obviously, you know... No, there's no excuse. It's a bad idea. I'm being irresponsible. But put yourself in my situation: would you miss it?

Soon after this, the Theo-worshipping will resume.

EDIT: Oh, yes, special thanks to Enid who already bought me the tickets and will acompany me in this magical journey through the world of indie rock and etc.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Day 5 and 6 of the SPIFF

I went to this somewhat quasi-fancy bar in São Paulo, and they showed cheesy 80's videos at a TV on the corner, with stuff like The Police (Don't stand so, don't stand so, etc) and Alphaville and A-Ha and etc playing. Then I was at a cab going to a theater, and the cabbie, in his 50s, was listening to an old Depeche Mode song on the radio, and boy was he digging it. He was practically dancing as he was driving the car. During my time there, I saw at least seven girls wearing the cool mullet haircut of Jane Fonda in KLUTE (which I understand is 70's but still felt like 80's) and I gave a friend of mine an illegal copy of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE (a movie with an 80's feel), and she gave me a CD of Franz Ferdinand's (weak) new album, "You Could Have It So Much Better", which is basically an 80's rip-off, and which the second track, "Do You Want To", is so 80's it almost hurts. I saw two movies that were entirely or partially set in the 80's, THE SQUID AND THE WHALE and MYSTERIOUS SKIN.

What does it mean, etc.

Anyway, we skipped PEACOCK and rented FUNNY GAMES, because we were in a Haneke mood. Turns out this one is an 84, pretty much Haneke's masterpiece. A friend who saw PEACOCK really liked it, and it won the Directing and Cinematography award of the SPIFF, so I guess we could have picked a better one to skip. But I don't mind. And then...

Day 5

THE SQUID AND THE WHALE (78): Turns out this one is way better than I was expecting. A François Truffaut film with a sharp, intelligent, agile script. It really does feel like a Truffaut film, the way it skips through the narrative with a fast pace, most scenes under 1 minute, like small glimpses of various small moments of the family's lives forming a bigger picture, and Baumbach really shoots it like a Nouvelle Vague picture: hand-held, sharp cutting, with the occasional jump-cut (and a funny jump-cut joke), the way it crystallizes a moment like when Anna Paquin touches Jesse Eisenberg's hair, cutting to a close up of the touch, acknowledging it's significance to the character and turning into a Moment. It's awesome. The detail in this is incredible, so much so that I can't imagine Baumbach not going through the events of this movie. It feels autobiographical, whether it was or wasn't. Little stuff like Laura Linney pulling skin from her lips, Owen Kline asking his dad for money to buy something, then getting there and not having enought (having to go back and get more), kids learning new words ("philistines"), the first time getting drunk, that awesome 80's soundtrack, etc. And it's very very funny, even William Baldwin's one note "My Brotha" tennis instructor managed to get laughs out of me just by showing up at the screen. And Baumbach makes his intentions clear by referencing THE WILD CHILD, THE MOTHER AND THE WHORE, BREATHLESS (in the most hilarious scene) and others. It's always perched between the sad and the funny, often making you feel both simultaneously -- like the scene when Mom and Dad break out the news that they're separating -- and every moment rings true because of the amazing acting. Somebody give Jeff Daniels an Oscar, thanks. The problem really is that it's too short. Not that it lacks in anything, but makes you wish for more. I really did want to spend more time with this fucked up family. With 20 extra minutes of awesome scenes, this would've been the best of the year. I hope someone eventually makes a movie this good about being a teenager in the late 90's-early-2000's.

Day 6

KINGS AND QUEEN (67): You have to marvel at Desplechin for cutting from a sad, melancholic scene to Mathieu Almaric doing a trip-hop dance number. That takes some guts. The real problem with this movie is that I sat too close to the screen and they were using eletronic subtitles in a small screen under the big screen, so I had to keep moving my eyes from the subtitles to the big screen, so I was either reading what the characters were talking about or watching what they were doing. That means I missed both a lot of what was said and a lot of what was shot. So this rating is only temporary, and I'll definitely watch this again. I'll I can say about this is that Desplechin is also ripping off the Nouvelle Vague, what with the jump-cutting and sudden bursts of melodramatic score and wonderful spontaneity at the screen, and mixing up humour and drama with almost carelessness, you know, like Life and stuff. I did not read anything about this one, so the only thing I can give you is that it references Greek mythology, and the ex-husbands death looks like it was shot in a theater stage and that the movie is both a Tragedy and a Comedy. I'm not sure how this all fits. The two stand-out scenes of the picture: the angry letter of Devos' father and the epilogue in which Almaric gives a long monologue to Devos' son about Life. Very good.

THE WAYWARD CLOUD (82): Hello. My name is Tsai Ming-Liang. This name is Taiwanese because I come from Taiwan. But if you liked my movies, you are my friend, therefore you can call me my nickname given by my friends: Laser. This year of 2005 I made a masterpiece. Another one, some might say. I had the idea for this movie when I was eating some watermelon and I got a boner. Then I thought "Hey, what if I used watermelons to simbolize Sexual Desires? That sounds like a pretty good creative idea for a motion picture." And then I thought "Hmmm, I'm thirsty, and water is the source of life, very much like Romantic Love. Also, my boyfriend gave me nice shoes today and I'm so in love with him. I'm so in love with him that makes my watermelon-induced boner feel cheap and useless. Oh wait... (pause) There you go, that's a masterpiece right there." Then I dropped some acid and wrote a script in five hours. Then I called my friend, Ling-Su, and had him read it. He said "Laser, this is the one you'll be remembered for. It's loses the naturalistic vibe of your earlier efforts like THE RIVER, but it becomes abstract and surreal. It's also nice to see that you brought in much more humour this time, because you definitely are a genius at that, Deadpan Humour. The symbolism is somewhat more obvious, so part of the fun of sorting out the meanings is also lost, but whatever. Every shot (from my abilities to predict which shots you are going to use just by using the script sample you gave me) is mastefully composed, with beautiful art direction, rich colors and detail. Also, this is more fun (like Theo Panayides said, an obscure online critic we often read here in Taiwan), and while the statement (I think) you're making is not as powerful or interesting as the one from THE RIVER, it is nonetheless very well said, and with room for ambiguity. And there's a motif of Replacement, like people replacing water for watermelon because it's cheaper (zing!) and replacing real contact and meaning in relationships for pornography, and like that awesome scene where they're trying to shoot a sex scene in a bathtub, but the water runs out, so they try to replace it with pee, etc. Also, Laser, it was hilarious just to see the lenghts you'd go to to make the film entirely symbolic. Like when the porn star is complaining about ants in the elevator in the beginning, two guys pretend they're taking the ants out to get a chance to grope her breasts, and they are both holding watermelons. Awesome, Laser. Well done." After Ling-Su stopped praising my masterfulness and left, I took a large glass of water, thinking of what the Folco-type purists would think of this one. I hoped one of those would yell out "Holy fucking shit" in awe, as he was leaving the theater. And I hoped this dream would turn out to be true.

Yeah, good festival. 12 movies in six days is very little, but I was short on cash and I was lazy, and 5 of those were 70+, which is great average. Next year, hopefully, I'll be living in São Paulo, so I'll be able to catch twice as much as this year.

Also, during my trip back to Goiania, I realized "Hail to the Thief" is even better than "Amnesiac", second only to "Kid A" in my ranking of Radiohead's masterpieces. And The National's "Alligator" is one of the best albums of the decade so far. This has been my quick thoughts on the World of Music. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Day 3 and 4 of the SPIFF

I thought this would be much more active, and I never expected the drunkedness and the partying and the etc to get so much in the way. I guess it's a good thing. More useless comments (shorter than usual):

Day 3

MYSTERIOUS SKIN (59): So Gregg Araki is obviously gay. Not just because he made a movie about homossexuality, but because of the honesty and fearlessness and knowledge and conviction he deals with the subject. This is another one with a slight Sollondz-esque feel -- I guess this means weird, quirky characters, stylized dialogue and a somewhat cartoonish vibe, and also dealing with sexuality and akwardness and etc -- but with a lighter touch and humour. I'm not exactly sure why I didn't like this more. It's admirable. It never portrays the pedophile Baywatch-like coach as a monster, it throws wacky and seemingly useless scenes at you -- e.g. the part where the geeky gay stick his hand into a cow's anus, the drawing of the alien with the baseball shoes -- to have them connect in the end, making the whole alien subplot as a (bizarre) way of the geeky gay of dealing with his childhood trauma (is this like Freud), and there's some funny scenes, and a nice ending, and I suppose Joseph-Gordon Lewis (or Levit or Le Wit) was good (although I felt some phoniness in his mega-bad boy-ish vibe). No, really, don't ask me why I didn't like this. Anyway, it was funny that in the last shot, about a minute before the movie was over, when you could tell it was about to end, like 8 or 9 people just got out of their seats impatiently and left quickly, like they couldn't even bother waiting for Neil to finish his narration. What is up. Did they not like this? Was this too gay for them? Were they rushing off to catch BREAKFAST ON PLUTO or something. Jesus.

THE CHILD (75): Awesome. It's schematic (as Theo said) and sometimes a little implausible -- Bruno's decision to sell the baby was very sudden, ditto for his decision to Do The Right Thing at the end, and etc -- and sometimes a little obvious -- like when Bruno plays with his girlfriend, throwing her on the ground, running around, wetting his shoes with mud and kicking the wall, making fart jokes, because he is suppose to be a child, thus giving the title a double meaning. Geddit. -- and it loses a bit of momentum before the last 20 minutes. But I mean, c'mon. It's breathtaking stuff. I don't even have much to say about this, except that (with the possible exception of WAR OF THE WORLDS) it features the Best Chase Scene of the Year (is MTV going to nominate this movie or what the fuck), the scene where he wants go retrieve the baby is so tense it's almost cruel, the fight where the chick explodes at Bruno (all in a single take) is genius, etc etc etc. I don't think the general audience apreciated very much, but whatever right. Now Dardenne Bros. go make a science fiction movie. It will be a step in the right direction. Trust me. Thank you.

THE WORLD (55): For a moment there (I lost myself!) I thought this was going to be the masterpiece of the festival. The first half hour, actually. It opens with an extended shot of a dancer asking for a band-aid in the backstage of a show, and it's beautifully lit and it looks incredible (was this shot on that super video camera that Lucas used in the Star Wars prequels?). And then there's the title shot, where the "The World" is superimposed over a long shot of the park, with the Eifel Tower in the middle, and a peasant-looking dude crosses the frame in the lower half, and the (wonderful) score kicks in, and it's just awesome. And then there's a lot of hilarious stuff like "I'm having lunch in India" and shots panning across countries and monuments and "Look, this is America. Those are the Twin Towers that were attacked. We still got them here."; "Great!" and there are russian dancers trying to communicate with the chinese ones and all kinds of shit and you're thinking "This could go on forever...". But then a boring plot kicks in which takes up about half of the scenes, and they only occasionally use the park. It loses steam. If you cut about 50 minutes of this movie, it could go 70+ easily. And no, I do not care if the main plot actually means anything. It's boring.

BROKEN FLOWERS (52): What is there to say about this? Bill Murray gives his deadpan looks and funny line readings, Jarmusch comes up with funny (if a little dumb) ideas for ex-girfriends -- one became an Animal Communicator, another one a Stepford Wife, etc (Jesus, I could come up with this stuff in five minutes) -- and there's a perfunctory mystery plot that remains unresolved (PS to Jarmusch: this is not deep or ambiguous, it's as dumb and cliche as a dramatic revelation of the mystery, maybe more). Now it's officially time to give Bill Murray a role as a fast-talking sharp-tongued type person. Seriously.

MANDERLAY (49): "It's just bashing, albeit provocative enough to be enjoyable, if it worked as drama". Yes. There was applause at the end of this, when John Hurt says his pseudo-provocative crap about America in the V.O. I guess it just goes to show the amount of dislike brazillians have for the american government (or, I guess, the country in general). But I disagree with whoever thinks that Lars is trying to make some kind of pro-authoritarian statement. There's no way in hell that Danny Glover's character or his decision not to move beyond the slavery system are considered good things in this movie -- in the same way that Grace's decision to shoot the entire village of Dogville in the first movie was obviously not something Lars was supporting.