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Topics/Questions/Exercises of the Week — 19 June 2009

Glenn Kenny

Filmmakers Of The Week: Mohsen Mahkmalbaf and Marjane Satrapi. Neither has a current film to promote.

The Harmlessly Frivolous Reason To Join Twitter Of The Week: Nicer Film Titles, illuminated here. Your correspondent is old enough to remember when New York magazine ran its competitions, which he believes were discontinued because the new generations that began to fill Manhattan in starting in the late '80s resulted in increasingly dumber and less witty responses.  Such challenges as "nicer" or at least watered-down titles—"near miss nomers," they called them—were a staple. And they weren't limited to film. Some back-in-the-day examples found in Thank You For The Giant Sea Tortoise: Lawrence of the United Arab Republic; The Sun Comes Up, Too; The Agony And The Fun; Man and Batman, by George Bernard Shaw, and a personal favorite, John O'Hara's 212 288. I ought to offer a prize to whoever still gets that.

Still, this micro trend specifically wants "nicer" titles, and since I haven't joined Twitter I'll offer these up for any tweeter who wants to adopt them: The Awkward Truth, Make Way For Some Stuff, The Inadequetely Socialized Dozen, The Reasonably Impressive Seven, Troubled Harry, The Amiable Ambersons, Indiana Jones and The Temples of Heartburn, Last Year At Massapequa.

Armond White-ism Of The Week: "Marriage is the implicit casualty of both movies—a plot development that looks especially odd next to the Cavalier film where Schneider, Trintignant and Henri Serre (from Jules and Jim) ponder the ethics of marriage and politics." In the event you were wondering just how one could possibly relate Alain Cavalier's recently revived 1962 film Combat dans L'ile to the contemporary American comedies The Hangover and The Proposalthere, as they say, you have it.

Film Critic As Career Counseler: At The Onion's AV Club, Scott Tobias reviews The Proposal and concludes: "Following 27 Dresses, this is the second high-concept, low-impact, wedding-themed comedy in 18 months for choreographer-turned-director Anne Fletcher. It might be time to move on." But think about it: why would it be? Wouldn't it be safer for cinema in general for a dubious talent such as Fletcher to be relegated to her little corner of mediocrity than to have her wreaking havoc on more "ambitious" projects? It's exactly the same with Michael Bay. Sure, the Transformers films are abominations which any grown adult ought to be ashamed to even bring up in conversation, but by the same token, for as long as Bay is occupied with making them, he can't fuck up anything else. Win/win, as far as I can tell. (Of course, by "move on" Tobias may not mean "try something new cinematically;" he may mean "leave the business entirely and start a vintage clothing shop or something," in which case I absolutely concur.) Discuss.

Will You Join Our Crusade?: No, not to support the Iranian revolution—what kind of pussy do-gooders do you take us for? Our crusade—or, rather, Jeffrey Wells' crusade—or, rather, what Jeffrey Wells thinks the Universal public-relations office's crusade should be—is to "Get in front of it, slap it down—don't let Lou control the conversation." Hells yeah. That a—hole Reed has monopolized...oh, wait, never mind, he means Lumenick. You see, widdle Wou did a vewy bad thing; he bwoke the embawgo on weviewing Michael Mann's Pubwic Enemies, [okay, Gwenn, that'll be enough of that—Ed.] and not only that, he didn't like the movie o'ermuch. Anyway, Wells has a plan to counter Lumenick's negative vibes, man: "Mann loyalists unite!" Because everyone knows that Public Enemies is going to rule!

I must admit: the Mann film is one of those things I feel like I'm under some obligation to feel excited about, and just...don't. I can't put my finger on the problem—my inability to find any interest in a Dillinger not played by Warren Oates or Lawrence Tierney; that idiot 9/11 truther who's playing Billie Frechette; my own schizoid perspectives on Mann's prior picture Miami Vice, which give me a headache and make me not want to think about anything Mann-related—I just don't know. So, are you excited? Why? And why ought I be?

Speaking Of Not Caring: Drew McWeeny on Bruno: "If you see the movie and it infuriates you, just remember one thing:  any reaction you have is a victory for Sacha Baron Cohen, except for complete and utter indifference...Your move."

And...I win! Big! How big? I didn't even know I was playing, that's how big. Hell, I probably won't even see the damned thing. I mean, it might be funny and all...but is it cinema?


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