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 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.


Blogger Enid said...

(i'm not going to write on my weird english) pííííííí.

acho que fui mais feliz vendo Batedor de Carteiras do que vocês vendo Manderlay. Eu conheci a Marika Green, vocês não. E ela é tia da Eva Green. Logo, eu estou a duas pessoas do Bertolucci. E uma do Bresson, obviamente.

Eu não consegui ver Napoleão Dinamite, o que me parece ruim, pois tenho certeza de que esse filme me será agradavel.

Estou com febre ainda.

Briguei com um conhecido por gostar de Todd Solondz. Por que todo mundo odeia tanto ele?

Foi bom te ver...

passe na faculdade.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Vadim said...

Dude you're nuts. Hail To The Thief is perhaps one of their weakest (not counting Pablo Honey, of course, which I haven't even heard). But I also think that OK Computer is totally overrated. So yeah, I'm still nuts.

11:28 PM  
Blogger Luis said...

"Ok Computer" is somewhat overrated (still an excellent album).

Now "Hail to the Thief" is something else. Almost a summation of Radiohead's last four albums, featuring the eletronic psychedelia of Kid A (Sit Down Stand Up), the depressing, somewhat jazzy, minimalist Amnesiac (I Will), the pop melancholy of Ok Computer (Scatterbrain), the indie rock stuff of The Bends (2+2=5), and all around weird songs like the trip-hop-ish (Myxomatosis). And the good thing is that they all equally rock.

This album is clinically insane(!).

Great seeing you too, Enid.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Vadim said...

Yes bud that is why it is an inferior album exactly. I do not want a watered-down summation of their past work in my opinion. I demand either innovation or, you know, The Bends 2.

That said, I still like this album a lot. Just like all the others.

9:10 AM  
Blogger blackbaby said...

Leia a resposta na MP do fórum.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Enid said...

je t'aime.

(começou a tocar he needs me e eu tive que vir aqui)

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