Monday, August 27, 2007

Bizarro Days Are Upon Us

Bad day everyone.

It is I, Bizarro Piper.

I am short and small boned and single and I tan easily. Welcome to Bizarro Days, friends. For the next three days, tell me how you really feel by not telling me how you really feel about a movie, a director, an actor, whatever you want. Go here for my Bizarro banners, if you feel you need them - and if you use them don't forget to link back to this blog. Otherwise, keep your audience guessing on whether you really believe Breakin' 2 Electric Boogaloo deserves a third, forth and fifth viewing.

Also feel free to leave a nice little bizarro quip in the comments section if you feel so moved.

Bad luck and I hope you don't participate because I hate you all desperately.

Jim at Moviezzz is on board first with praise for The Weasel. And deservedly so.

Edward Copeland loves every second of The Thin Red Line. Don't we all.

Emma at All About My Movies absolutely loves these actors.

Pacheco at The Home Of Bohemian Cinema has designed his own Bizarro Banner and I hate it.

Squish at Filmsquish shows why everyone should love Uwe Boll.

Burbanked states the obvious: Kiera Knightly is the best actress evaaaaaa.

Culture Snob declares Cruel Intentions brilliant.

J.D. at Joes Movie Corner reveals his true feelings about Pokemon in French, no less.

Ray at The Rec gives Return Of The Jedi it's much deserved props.

Joseph at it'samadmadblog2 explains to us why Nic Cage is the greatest actor of our generation. Hey, there's no selling me.

samuraifrog at Electronic Cerebrectomy celebrates women being put in their place and of course, anal rape.

Adam at DVD Panache gives us something truly Bizarro about Ronin.

Burbanked says the new Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem is going to be totally kick ass.

Bob at Eternal Sunshine Of The Logical Mind says we're better off without color.

Gautam at The Broken Projector pays respect to the lost gem that is Operation Cobra. Proper.

Culture Snob takes aim at Danny Boyle and Sunshine. That jerk.

Woody Allen is alright with the ladies, so says me.

Adam at All Things Film says Ed Wood is one of the greatest directors ever.

Squish take Bizarro Days worldwide with his take on Boss Of It All.

Doc at The Bargain Matinee says bring on the Parody.

Mariana at Gatochy's Blog loves Princess Leia and all that she has done for women.

Ray at The Rec proves that life is better thanks to Movie Blogs.

JA at My New Plaid Pants gives us 5 reasons why Halloween should be remade. Only 5?

weepingsam at The Listening Ear writes about that bore W.C. Fields.

Dan E at Cinemathematics says David Lynch sucks. As if we didn't know that already.

Nathaniel at Film Experience pours his heart out for Hillary Swank.

KC at The Rec welcomes Star Wars 1, 2, and 3 with a warm heart and open arms.

Brooke at Boy on Film says Renee Zellwegger is easy on the eyes. It's about time somebody said it.

Glenn at Stale Popcorn is completely over Bob Fosse. Me too.

Culture Snob offers ways to fix the movie industry. Amen.

Burbanked says the more remakes the better. Hells yeah.

Stacie at Final Girl talks about a remake we allllllllllll want to see.

Ross at The Rued Morgue writes about the romantic comedy that is Vacancy.

Racso Ledger points out a few things that the Oscars missed.

dreamrot at 7 Dollar Popcorn writes that the American Godzilla is too damn good to forget.

Noel at Critic After Dark comes out swinging for Spielberg's 1941.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Woody Was Right

For a recluse, Woody Allen sure put himself front and center in 1997 when he decided to break off his relationship with Mia Farrow and marry her adopted daughter Soon Yi Previn. He took a lot of criticism for it and his filmmaking talents even came into question. And I say wrongly so. Hindsight is 20/20 but knowing what we know now and can see with our plain eyes, can you blame him? Now if we were talking about Woody leaving the 1968 Mia Farrow during Rosemary's Baby, the criticism would be justified. Look at her. She looks like Gweneth Paltrow in this photo. Or is that the other way around?

But look at her in 2006 during The Omen remake.

Suddenly Woody Allen is not only a brilliant filmmaker, he's also a genius with the ladies. He has been able to ditch the used car for a newer model before the clunker hit 100,000 miles.

How many of you are sitting at home right now asking yourself this question: how do you break the ice with a woman 1/3 your age who comes from a different country, let's just say Korea? You date her adopted mother, that's how. Sure you have to put in some time with the old lady, but that's the price you pay for a longer commitment with a younger woman. Do some family time with everyone and then prolong the good night kiss to Soon Yi before hitting the sack with Mia. Again, I say brilliant. And it's not like Woody isn't a good looking cat already. And that neurotic stutter is infectious as hell especially after you've seen him do it or someone acting like him for over 40 movies straight. But sometimes looks and sheer charisma are not enough. Especially when dealing with a naive girl from, let's just say Korea.

A lot of people have been creeped out about all of this, and I say step away from your judgmental soapboxes and abandon that moral code that has kept us somewhat sane all these years. Who needs it. Go where the heart takes you, even if you're Woody Allen.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Bizarro Days are on the horizon, friends. In just a few days all hell will break loose and you should be prepared for the worst. I offer up these banners freely. Take one or take them all. Use them at the beginning of your Bizarro post, or at the end, or in the middle. Use them to free yourself of any blame for you know not what you write during Bizarro Days. I don't hope to see you here come Monday.

The Basic Model

For The More Violent Participant

For The Unsure

For The Sympathetic

For Those Who Need Acceptance

Kevin, can you hear me?

Okay, so maybe just maybe Kevin Costner frequents my blog. Just maybe he goes under the name of Elijah Price because if he went under Kevin Costner, he would get hounded by everyone and besides that Elijah still swears Dances With Wolves is one of the best movies ever. It could be true. So Kevin, if you view this blog along with the myriads of other celebs who visit my blog religiously (I know you do), head on over to If I Blog It They Will Come and then snap a picture of yourself looking at said blog. Wait, on the other hand, please don't. That would mean that said blog would probably cease to exist and it's pretty damn funny stuff.

Great line "Trying to get Kevin Costner to visit a blog about Kevin Costner and send a picture of himself looking at said blog."

Thanks to Burbanked for helping me find this.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Un List De Piper

Edward Copeland On Film is hosting a Top 25 Foreign Films List. He asked us to submit up to 25 Non-English speaking films as nominees produced before 2002. From there, we would be sent the nomination list and use that to create our final 25 Foreign Films. Some submitted 25 films, one person submitted one film, I myself submitted nine films. A while back I wrote about regrets I had about participating in the Online 100 because I didn't feel I was exactly qualified to help decide what were the best 100 films out there. It's one thing to provide your own list, but when you start to manipulate a more official list, that's when it gets troublesome. So I have submitted my nine to Edward's list and he along with others have tallied the submissions and given us 122 nominations in which to create our Top 25 Foreign Films List. This is where the train ride ends for me, my friends. I have chosen to not step in the same pile twice. Edward has been very good and given us a month to catch up on some movies, but that isn't near enough time for me to be able to pick 25 movies that are deserving and then be able to smartly rank them. But once again, looking at the list, I am inspired and excited to watch more movies. And that's what this is all about.

So about my list. It is not two things. It is not long and it is not really exciting. I'm beginning to think that including Rules Of The Game on any list is like including Citizen Kane. But I'm okay with that because it's a beautiful film and sometimes movies are so good that they should be easy answers. In Dennis' list at SLIFR, he includes La Cage aux Folles II, which is a great movie. He says he didn't expect it to make the list, but he included it anyway to create as idiosyncratic a list as possible, and thereby creating a list that would inspire those of us who worked on it as well as those who might read it. I suppose my interesting pick would have to be My Mother's Castle directed by Yves Robert. It's about as beautiful a movie as I have seen and I would recommend it to anyone. It is a touching and wonderfully written movie about a family and their retreat to their holiday cottage in Provence. Is it one of the best foreign movies ever made? It is to me.

In looking at the list some more, I was surprised to see City of God on there because it was made in 2002, but I misread the rules that stated anything after 2002 so I didn't include it although it is one of my favorites. And I was pleased that Spirited Away made this list because I do believe not only is it a wonderful film, but it makes the list more interesting, being that it is animated. And I'm surprised that La Femme Nikita wasn't included. Sure it doesn't have the drama or the depth of most of the picks, but I would argue that it is still one of the best action movies ever made. And I would argue it is better than Run Lola Run which did make the list. Anyway, here is my list. Have at it, but be gentle because it's pretty scrawny. I have put my picks in red that made Edward's nominee list.

La Dolce vita - Fellini (1960)
La Femme Nikita - Besson (1990)
My Mother's Castle - Robert (1990)
Nosferatu - Murnau (1922)
Raise The Red Lantern - Zhang (1991)
Rules Of The Game - Renoir (1939)
The Seven Samurai - Kurosawa (1954)
Spirited Away - Miyazaki (2001)
The Vanishing - Sluizer (1988)

Monday, August 20, 2007

TOM CRUISE IS NOT GAY A.K.A The Bizarro Blog-A-Thon reminder

Sharpen your wit and hone your sarcasm my friends because the Bizarro Blog-A-Thon is only a week away. Soon I will be posting very cool banners for you to attach to your posts so that everyone knows that you're not serious, you're just plain Bizarro.

If you want a reminder e-mail me (you can find it in my profile) or just post a comment and I'll track it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Making A Scene: David Lynch

A perfect scene goes beyond just helping advance the story . It comes from a complete understanding of the medium. The lighting, the sound, the composition of a scene. So much is lost in most of the scenes we watch today because they are viewed as nothing more than a segue to the explosion or the kill or the big reveal. I recently commented on the trailer of There Will Be Blood as a return to a true understanding of the power of a scene. That's a lot to take from a trailer I know, but from what I've seen I'm willing to make that statement.

While there are a lot of examples of the perfect scene, I want to focus specifically on one director's ability to time and time again produce scenes that function on a completely different level. David Lynch has the uncanny ability to create what I would call a visceral reaction to what he puts up on the screen. Much like when a house alarm goes off, the deafening buzz fills your ears and for a few moments you can't control yourself or even think straight. It is in effect an assault on the viewer. This is what David Lynch can do with a scene through sound and movement and composition.

In Blue Velvet when Jeffery walks into Dorothy's apartment for the last time, we are struck with a scene that is at one moment engaging and repulsive the next. You know you shouldn't watch, but you can't help yourself. The scene is revealed first to Jefferey. The audience doesn't know what Jefferey is reacting to when he first comes around the corner. This is a technique that Lynch uses often: revealing a scene to a character before the audience, or using the characters point of view to allow the scene to unfold.

What we see is half-dead Detective Tom Gordon barely standing and looking at an already dead Ben bound in a chair. The scene is brief but in those moments, the colors, the composition of the scene and the sheer horror of what we are seeing burns quickly in our brains. At first Lynch reveals it all and then he breaks it up into individual scenes as Jeffery examines it closer. There is the smashed TV set. The head wound on Detective Tom. The blood staining Tom's bright yellow jacket and soaking into the red carpet.

In the chair is Ben with his head turned to the side to reveal his missing ear. The strip of blue velvet coming out of his mouth as if he were throwing it up.

What's interesting about this scene is how Lynch presents it. It's horrifying, yet he reveals it as very matter of fact to Jeffery and to the audience. Jeffery does not shy away from what he sees, he instead breaks it down allowing the audience to do the same.

In the opening scene of Wild At Heart the mood quickly shifts from what at first seems to be an epic period piece to a straight out street fight. The luxurious surroundings provide an ironic backdrop to the full-out assault of the assassin at the hands of Sailor. Once again, before the scene is revealed to us, Lynch provides us a warning as Lula screams at the top of her lungs. The music quickly shifts from that of "In The Mood" to speed metal.

With the music switch comes the realization that Sailor plans to do more than just defend himself. The violence comes fast and extreme and you're just realizing that the opening credits just ended and you have just opened your Milk Duds. You aren't prepared for this onslaught. And what's further, Lynch has set the tone for the entire movie in the first few minutes. The rest of the story could be that of a sweet and innocent love story between Lula and Sailor, but the entire audience will remain squirming because of that opening scene.

In Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me, Laura Palmer discovers Bob in her room, behind her dresser. Here we are revealed the scene through Laura's point of view. The slow sound of the ceiling fan pulses in the background as Laura slowly opens the door.

Something is revealed in the room, a dark presence of some kind. The shot is so quick, you can't really discern what it is, yet you know it's something menacing because there is a sudden sound that comes on loud and brash. Not music, but an electronic sound of some kind. Almost a sick clang of a gong. And Laura begins to scream at the top of her lungs. We still have not seen completely what she is screaming about but the fear is there. The combination of the clang and the screaming is disorienting.

And just as the mind has processed the sound, we see Bob behind the dresser. He is menacing with his smile. The screaming and the sound continues as we see a quick set of cuts of Bob, each time the camera gets closer and closer to him. To add to the chaos, Bob then begins to yell. But not just an ordinary yell, there is a deeper, more evil growl in his voice. Keep in mind that all of this is happening within seconds. Layer upon layer of sights and sounds. The climax of this is the inside of Bob's mouth. Not a common visual unless of course you're a dentist. So while your mind is trying to wrap around the assault of sounds, you are now confronted with a dark red tongue and uvula. This is Lynch pulling out all the stops. We are hearing layers of sound while being exposed to a series of startling images. Trying to process everything is like trying to solve a complex mathematical problem in a matter of seconds.

In Mulholland Dr., Dan watches his nightmare unfold before him as he and Herb walk behind the local Winkies to see if there is any truth to Dan's dream he has just confessed. Again, Lynch allows the scene to unfold through the character's eyes. We cut back and forth between Dan's point of view and the camera revealing Dan's horrified look as he approaches the wall.

The sound is minimal. We hear only the cars on the street and Dan and Herb's footsteps. While other directors might try to create mood with music, Lynch allows the camera and the acting to create the tension naturally.'The Man' is revealed through peaking around a wall. At the moment we see him, Lynch brings in sound. The sound is as if an entire symphony is building to a climax but is quickly muffled by someone putting their hand over a microphone. Then everything goes dead. Instead of assaulting us with loud piercing noise to further enhance the scene, Lynch instead goes to nothing.

No street sound, no footsteps, no dialogue. Nothing. As we watch Dan fall into Herb's arms and suffer from what looks to be a heart attack from severe shock, we do not hear his screams, we hear nothing. Slowly sound is re-introduced but as if under water. Herb's words are deep and muffled and hard to make out.

This scene makes you jump, but not because 'The Man' jumps out at you. It is because Lynch understands all the elements of a scene. When to use music or sound and how to use it. When does it make sense to let the camera tell the story instead of the characters. And when there is the reveal, using every aspect of the scene to pay it off. Visual, sound and composition. Few filmmakers understand this and even fewer can build a scene like David Lynch.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Kansas City's 1973 Cinema

Yesterday, out of nowhere a 1973 Kansas City Times newspaper ends up on a desk close to mine. It's from Thursday, May 3rd. On the front screams the headline "Nixon Tightens Reins on Prices." The article explains how Nixon is imposing tighter price controls on the nation's largest companies. I quickly skim through some other headlines "Polio Vaccination Decline Prompts Epidemic Fears" and "Appeal for Desegregation Funds Submitted on Time" and there's a Pat Boone Super Rally at the 'New' Royals Stadium on May 5th. Then I come upon the movie section and read through all the listings.

At the Midland 3: Charlton Heston in Soylent Green, McQueen in The Getaway and Fear Is The Key.

At Empire 4: 5 Fingers of Death, Margot Kidder in DePalma's Sisters, Issac Hayes in Wattstax and the double feature of A Reflection Of Fear and The Creeping Flesh which has the cut line that reads "Frankentstein and Dracula could be destroyed but nothing can stop the creeping flesh!".

At Ranch Mart 4 Theatres: Paul Newman in Judge Roy Bean, Walt Disney's Fantasia, Sisters and Sally Kellerman and James Caan in Slither.

Meanwhile over at HIWAY 40 they were playing 1 Hot Mother, Night Call Nurses and The Babysitter which has the cut line that reads "she came to sit with baby... and ended up with Daddy!"

The Vanguard Theater was playing The Marx Brothers in Duck Soup and Sunday Bloody Sunday.

And at The Watts Mill IV Cinemas they were playing Class of '44 with Gary Grimes, Marlon Brando as The Godfather, Burt Reynolds in Deliverance and Cicely Tyson in Sounder with 3 Award Nominations.

What struck me most about the listing was the diversity of choices. That and the trashier fare seemed to get the same billing which was interesting. I am surrounded by multi-plex after multi-plex with few true choices. The AMC 24 does not fill its theaters with interesting movies. Instead, I can see Transformers every 15 minutes and dreck like No Reservations and Hairspray which I refuse to see no matter how many times people tell me how fun it is. I saw the original and it was very good. It's obvious that by looking at the movie section in 1973, movie studios and movie theaters in general (or at least in Kansas City) have no real interest in offering viewers real choices, especially in the summer where the "wham, bam" mentality front-loads a movie and has no interest in trying to feature one that can stick around based on word of mouth instead of multi-million dollar marketing budgets. Thirty four years later, we've taken some major steps backwards. Sigh.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Most Fantastic T-Shirt Reveal


This probably isn't big news now, but the most fantastic t-shirt website is Last Exit To Nowhere.

The answers are:

1) Alien

2) A Clockwork Orange

3) The Thing

4) A Nightmare On Elm Street

5) This Is Spinal Tap

6) The Shining

7) The Robocop Trilogy

8) Barton Fink

9) Halloween

10) Close Encounters Of The Third Kind

11) The Terminator Trilogy

12) Friday The 13th

13) Jaws

14) The Omen Trilogy

15) Blade Runner

I will have to say that I'm surprised and delighted by the geekishness of the bunch. I have to admit that I struggled with this a bit, but most of you did not. There were several winners and here they are.

Neil at The Bleeding Tree

Samuraifrog at Electronic Cerebrectomy

Karen at Voyages of the HMS Swiftsure



Ivan Lerner

And Elijah Price.

Nice work and thanks to all who participated. Now go make purchases and if you ever come to Kansas City e-mail me first to make sure we're not both wearing our NOSTROMO T-Shirts. Jeez, wouldn't that be embarrassing.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Most Fantastic T-Shirt Movie Quiz

Alright, I found these insider movie t-shirts. Some are more insider than others, but all have to do with names of places within a movie. E-mail me the answers and you will be showered with all sorts of praise from myself. And then I will reveal this website for your perusal. And if you know the website already, then you're cool and can't play the game.