Room 8 ½: No Bedding and Two Funerals


The Darjeeling Ltd.; courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Cinematic Redemption Coming This Fall

Saluti film nerds and nerdettes from the decadent confines of Room 8 ½ in the Frederico Fellini Suite situated high atop the Grand Hotel in Rimini where a jet-lagged Poppa H has just stumbled in from a hellish Trans-Atlantic journey and collapsed on the very spot where (according to my caffeinated bellhop) the great Italian Film Director dropped dead with a rotary phone in his hand … Gnarly.

Just goes to show you, delirium aside, Poppa H’s Movie Snout sure can sniff out the filmic angle of any cinematic scene in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.* I know, I’m bloodhound good, now will somebody please get me some fresh sheets and one of everything from the room service menu? What, it’s 4am? The kitchen is closed? You only have, crackers? Blast!! I wanna feast like 20 Pavarottis here! If this were New York you would all be fired …

No Country for Old Men; courtesy of Miramax Films

I guess none of these yahoos around here know who I am or that the great Pavarotti is being buried in Modena tomorrow and Scoop’s gotta be there. Between you and me and these crackers–this gonzo scribe’s beefin’ up to gatecrash tomorrow’s Pavarotti Funeral Party with my Girl Friday a la Jimmy Stewart in The Philadelphia Story. Keep it under your lid, k?

Why all the subterfuge? Shit man, I’m going undercover to write a sizzling exclusive for Bearded Man Magazine! It’s gonna be hot, just you see. Problem is … I wasn’t exactly granted a funeral pass so I’m going to have to grease the wheels a bit by slipping the funeral ushers a few tastes from my primo slab of S.F.’s Finest Sliced Prosciutto. Coppola says “gifting Italian meats” will get you into any Sicilian Funeral on earth. I hope to shit he’s right.

Eastern Promises; courtesy of Focus Features

Eastern Promises

Speaking of Keen Movie Snouts, if you’re a film savant like me who worships the “well-made-but-weird” genre, it’s time to form a crooked line at your local art house for the formula-subverting taste of David Cronenberg’s latest serving of cinematic “eewww.” Eastern Promises, out this Friday, is a brilliantly brutal suspense tale from one of my favorite contempo directors of all time that’s a lock to play.

But we’re talking dark here so if you’re looking to frolic, go to GG Park. Promises is a brooding tale about dark secrets and bloody revenge that starts with the discovery of a secret diary from a dead Russian prostitute. As we follow the little black book through the seamiest sides of London, it moves from the hands of an innocent midwife (Naomi Watts) to the tatted-up mitts of a foot soldier for the Russian mob (Viggo Mortensen).

While most movies, in the words of David Lynch, “pop and evaporate,” Cronenberg’s films are like bowls of existential oatmeal that stick to your very soul. If you’ve got a healthy cinematic palate, a strong stomach and you think typewriters should be improved by adding Sir Humps-A-lot Phallus thingies in there somewhere … the Cronenberg Oatmeal is for you.

The Darjeeling Ltd.; courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Cinematic Redemption (Coming This Fall)
Perhaps there is some measure of cinematic redemption coming for all us indie Skywalkers this Fall as the studio’s wheels are finally throwing us a bone, wheeling out their “A Game” movies just in time for Academy voting. Did you know some of our greatest living auteur filmmakers are back in the saddle for the first time in years? Did you even miss them? Do you even know who they are?

Study the quality names bringing new work to the silver screen, it’s a cavalcade of cinematic geniuses: greetings Woody, hiya Coppola, what’s up Cronenberg, hi there Coen Brothers, long time no see Sayles, good lawdy the Anderson Boys are here too? … and Mike Nichols and Bobby Redford and Ang Lee–OMG am I like totally dreaming?! Someone pinch me then soak in my sneak peek of what’s on deck from some of our favorite heavy hitters this Fall.

There Will Be Blood; courtesy of Paramount Vantage

Auteur All-Stars Fall Lineup
Youth Without Youth (2007): Dir. Coppola – Coppola’s first film in a decade is kind of like an arty Raiders of the Lost Ark with a 70-year-old Indy (Tim Roth) who gets struck by lightning and awakens to find himself young (and smart) again ... Independently financed by Coppola's wine empire, Youth is a journey of understanding where language and consciousness get turned on end. There’s no search for the Holy Grail in this indie flick but there is Tim Roth speaking in tongues.

The Darjeeling Ltd. (2008) – Dir. W. Anderson – Four years since The Life Aquatic, Wes is back with another trademark father-centric, ennui-steeped, comic-family-drama laced with childlike storybook whimsy. Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman star in the tale of three brothers who travel to India to find their late dad who they believe has been reincarnated as an albino leopard. Poppa H can taste the stylized set pieces, ultra-hip rock soundtrack and slow-motion final scene now …

There Will Be Blood (2008): Dir. P.T. Anderson – P.T.’s first feature since Punch-Drunk Love (in 2002), There Will Be Blood is a loose adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil!, about um, er … oil, I guess. PTA paired with the elusive genius Daniel Day-Lewis (in the starring role) has me drooling already.

The Heartbreak Kid (2007): Dir. Farrelly Brothers – A loose remake of the Elaine May comedy, Heartbreak is no art movie in the hands of the Farrelly Brothers, it’s a fart movie and that’s why we love them. If you dug There's Something About Mary, you’ll probably be one of the 25 million people who’ll spit your Milk Duds or squirt milk through your nose watching Ben Stiller meet the woman of his dreams on his honeymoon. Stiller + Farrelly’s = hitsville baby.

No Country For Old Men (2007): Coen Brothers – The Brothers Coen are back with a bloody vengeance, plowing the rich Texas soil round their gritty Blood Simple roots in this screen adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel. A long-overdue shotgun blast of Coen-style moviemaking, Men pits Tommy Lee Jones as a bone-tired Texas sheriff against a psychotic hit man on the trail of millions in stolen pesos. Repeat after me: Fuck Yes.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (2007): Dir. Burton – Okay it doesn’t come out till December but human meat pies, Johnny Depp as a bloody barber, plus Timmy Burton adapting a dark Sondheim musical–well, er, I may live to regret this but deal my fabulous ass in.

And I’m spent …* Those crackers sucked ass, Poppa H is turning in.  I’ve got a long day of mourning ahead and a lot of prosciutto to hand out. Until next time, be bad and get into trouble baby. * Ciao, MRF

Happenings Round Town
•    Rescue Dawn (2007) Dir. Herzog – Opera Plaza
•    Fitzcarraldo (1982) Dir. Herzog – Red Vic
•    The Simpsons Movie (2007) Dir. Silverman – Everywhere
•    Rocket Science (2007) Dir. Blitz – Embarcadero
•    2 Days In Paris (2007) Dir. Delpy - Embarcadero

Volume 30 Footnotes*
•    “Greetings and salutations.” – Heathers (1991):
Christian Slater doing his best Nicholson impersonation to a monacle-lovin’ Winona Ryder.
•     “I’ll be down in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.” – Pulp Fiction (1994):
Naughty salt-sniffing Uma Thurman teases heroin-chic Travolta in the Tarantino classic.
•    “Let’s get into trouble baby.” – Tapeheads (1988): Soul Train
host Don Cornelius (as Hollywood Producer Mo Fuzz) to upstart filmmakers Tim Robbins and John Cusack.

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