God’s Lonely Men

Sony has issued a very handsome Blu-ray of Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” in time for the film’s 35th anniversary, which I write a bit about here in the New York Times though there is a great deal more to say about this heady, difficult film, poised in some previously unknown zone between Robert Bresson and Michael Winner. Both Scorsese and his screenwriter, Paul Schrader, have made better pictures (“King of Comedy” and “Affliction” come to mind), but it’s “Taxi Driver” that gets under you skin and stays there — — a phenomenon perhaps abetted in my personal case by the fact that I live quite near the East Village intersection where most of the Harvey Keitel/Jodi Foster scenes were shot. Things have changed a bit around here, in as much as we are now overrun, not by hookers and transvestites, but by NYU students. I’ll assume that’s a change for the better.

This week also sees the first release from Twilight Time, a new company that will be drawing on the Fox archive to issue one limited eidtion (3,000 copes) disc each month. Though I wish I were more fond of their inaugural film, John Huston’s grimly salacious 1970 “The Kremlin Letter,” it’s been given a solid, widescreen presentation that bodes well for future releases from the company, which are available exclusively online through Screen Archives Entertainment. Coming up next is Richard Fleischer’s “Violent Saturday” — unfortunately only in a letter-boxed transfer, Fox having declined to make a new anamorphic master. As we all know, it’s a hard time for library titles, and I hope this brave new initiative gets the support it deserves.

192 comments to God’s Lonely Men

  • Johan Andreasson

    Fellini was a pretty decent cartoonist himself, in a style a little like Cliff Sterrett’s:

    http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/wp-content/c/comic.jpg

  • nicolas saada

    I arrive late in this discussion, although I had the honor to meet with Dave HIMSELF a few days ago in New-York.

    I have to join with Mr Worral in praising the artistry of John Carpenter, one of the great poets of modern american cinema.
    It’s true that the horror genre often deals with political issues. Films like PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS or VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (Carpenter version) for instance are examples of that.
    The superhero film: it should be pure fun, or even camp, like the first IRON MAN, GREEN HORNET or the underrated DARKMAN. But why do super heroes films have taken themselves so seriously lately ? the idea that I should sympathize with a character who keeps questioning whether he should wear his costume or leave a normal life is not my idea of the genre.

  • Michael Worrall

    Nicolas,

    Thank you for joining the Carpenter outpost; it gets lonely here sometimes, but not as lonely as the Ken Russell outpost.

    Gregg and Peter,

    I have an assignment for my litigation class that is going to result in me being M.I.A on this blog until Wednesday; I will respond to your posts then.

  • dm494

    Carpenter as a film poet? I don’t know, Nicolas. Jacques Tourneur is poetic, but apart from the very significant exception of HALLOWEEN and also some parts of THE FOG, the admittedly vague word “poetry” is not one which I’d apply to the Carpenter films I’ve seen. That’s not to criticize Carpenter–I love HALLOWEEN, the ELVIS teleplay is excellent, and THE THING is a disturbing allegory with a unique combination of stately rhythms and extreme gross-out effects; I just think most of his work, e.g., CHRISTINE, falls on the prose side of this divide.

    Regarding superhero movies, which I’ve expressed my impatience with before, I’ve been wondering for years why no one has ever adapted Matt Wagner’s GRENDEL comics. I have to admit, the Hunter Rose storyline was an ingenious idea, and I’d be willing to watch a movie derived from it, especially if the character of Argent (a wolfman police detective!) were excluded or greatly downplayed.

  • Alex Hicks

    Tom Brueggemann ,

    Sorry I just noticed your post of April 15, 2011 at 7:13 pm. In it you write, “But Kael also (somewhat schizophenically) also celebrated exuberant style and pop culture (for me, quite incoherently) – this is someone who was as excited about Barbara Streisand’s appearance in films almost as much as she was about Bonnie and Clyde and Jules and Jim.”

    One key to a possible disconnect between you and Kael might be that the era in the U.S. of genre hierarchy and in a sharp art/entertainment dichotomy –in decay in film reviewing by like 1960 and stigmatized across academia by the around 1900– is alien to your experience as well as belief. To this early Boomer, to whom its quite familiar, there’s nothing viscerally contradictory about loving Streisand and the like and thinking its mere entertainment and, on e art is invoked, “Trash” or “junk.” I think Kael is very opaque in using “trash” to describe “Notorious,” which I think is great art as well as entertainment not only because “style” trumps content but because content is transformed though the subtly and depth of characterization, and Psychology in the film. Still, unlike you (I presume)I do regard Hecht’s tale of a renascent Nazi (nuclear) threat in immediately post-War Brazil tackled by a debonair agent who toys with the heart of a Nazi bread beauty as material to overcome that would probably have been un transcended trash in say novel form. When MacDonald compares the rewards of a roller skating horse and Rembrandt in his essay on mid-brow, he ain’t saying you shouldn’t love that horse. When Bernstein praised the Beatles, he really wasn’t thinking that their merit (or his experience of them) was up to Mahler or Beethoven.
    Of course, the roller skating horse is rather extreme (arguably low brow) example to bring to bear on your Streisand example. And MacDonald’s main examples, Our Town and The Old Man and the Sea, don’t catch the entertainment bit too well. Preminger might be a more apt MacDonald analogy to Streisand, for as I recall MacDonald’s review of The Cardinal has some praise for the entertainment value of early Preminger, while he quips RE the despised Preminger of the Cardinal (with its “Crustacean art” as I recall), “what’s art to Preminger or Preminger to art.”

    I’m assume that Kael;’s enthusiasm for Steisand, like the enthusiasm for “Notorious” that is part of his review of it is for an entertainer. He probably bough into jazz as art, and if he actually regard Steisand as a great jazz singer (like Holliday and Fitzgerald), then I’d say there’s no contradiction in MacDonald’s love for Streisand over “Jules and Jim” at all – she’s just better art than J&J. (“Pop” characterization of Streisand ’” is trumped by the jazz one.)
    Although I think Kael dead wrong on “Notorious,” I’d consider De Palme’s “The Fury,” which I love, and Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds,” which I enjoy, “trash,” artful as well as fun perhaps but hardly art.

  • Michael Worrall

    Peter,

    Just because content can dictate form does not mean that the value lies in the content.

    Gregg,

    I believe we would have to agree upon what specifically defines a slasher film, as we disagree about the specific genre of THE FOG, for I don”t want to suggest a film that I think is a slasher film and you do not, and vice versa.

  • Gregg Rickman

    Michael, somehow I’m not surprised that you’re in a litigation class. (Smiley face.)

    Unlike the terms of a contract, genre definitions are notoriously loose, and that doesn’t even include something like “film noir.” Were we ever to discuss the topic again (!) I would gladly accede to your definition. More than one person has told me that they don’t consider THE FOG a slasher.

    Would still like to see your list of outstanding ones.

  • Barry Putterman

    Oh for the days when the immortal Joe Bob Briggs could refer to a film as your basic “spam in a cabin” and you knew exactly what he meant.

  • Peter Henne

    Michael, And just because many genres are worthy does not make them all equal among each other. Some genres have content which facilitates and even encourages audience manipulation more than others do. That is surely what Gregg and some others here have been saying. The scripts of horror movies are typically constructed to jolt and panic the viewer. I believe the viewer is put at a disadvantage when that person’s critical facilities are suspended by fright tactics; at the least, isn’t that the intention of post-HALLOWEEN horror movies? And it’s just my guess, but the job of porn is to exploit the sexual fantasies of its audiences; if that’s not going on unchecked, I wonder if the movie is not porn but instead any number of arty nudie movies, that many of us here admire. Contrast horror and porn to many of the finest melodramas, where overwrought emotions are also introduced, but the content does not necessarily call for cajoling the audience; and we are allotted the regard to reject, approve or hold judgment on what the characters are undergoing. The task of a melodrama is to depict furious exchanges among characters, whereas the task of horror films seems to be not only something resembling that but also to DO something to (I would say against) the audience. The content, and not just particular styles, seems to hold this intrinsically. The equivalent by horror standards would be if every single melodrama were made in quick-cutting, suspense-building, emotion-jarring close-ups to rock the audience out of its sensibility; but they’re not, and there lies an important difference. So why should there be a perfect democracy of genres? It seems enough to say that many of them have produced many excellent films, but some of them have produced hardly any.

  • Brad Stevens

    Peter – I have much the same problem with the comedy genre, which also DOES something to the audience. The scripts of comedy movies are typically constructed to make the viewer laugh. I believe the viewer is put at a disadvantage when that person’s critical ‘facilities’ (or even faculties) are suspended by humour tactics. If that’s not going on unchecked, I wonder if the movie is not comedy, but instead any number of arty funny movies, that many of us here admire.

  • Gregg Rickman

    I appreciate and up to a point agree with Peter’s comments on the horror genre, as a genre that works ON people. I would, overall, disagree with Brad’s comment on comedy “which also DOES something to the audience.” I feel the best comedies – the very act of laughter – can be liberating to the audience. However I would qualify this to note that some comedies can play on cruelty and sadism as readily as a horror film, or can merely provide complacent laughter, as in a sitcom. Also, good directors can use horror as well as comedy and melodrama to make people think, and/or emotionally appreciate things differently. (I doubt that 1930s viewers of BACK STREET or STELLA DALLAS worked out detailed commentaries on the role of women in society, but I believe both films, as good melodramas, opened up new vistas on their lives for attentive viewers.) (To me, the slasher subgenre is an incredibly limited one, in the way Peter suggests, unlike other horror subgenres that can produce such profound works as LES YEUX SANS VISAGE/EYES WITHOUT A FACE, which we will all agree I think is certainly scary enough.) All three forms are core genres inasmuch as they aim to create overt physical reactions in their audiences: chills (goosebumps, screams), laughter, tears. Our appreciation of genres such as westerns or science fiction depend more generally on the recognition of certain settings and tropes. (However it’s true that action films, more generally, seek to induce an adrenaline rush, and of course the physical reactions sought by pornography are obvious.) All of these intense, physical reactions have been put down by cultural elites as vulgar for the past century for just that reason, but we don’t have to.

  • Barry Putterman

    Peter and Brad, I really think that this way ultimately lies madness. What could be more artifically orchestrated by the director than what we call “suspense:” as pioneered by Griffith, perfected by Hitchcock and practiced by hundreds?

    The fact is that all art is designed to provoke an emotional response and the likelihood is that you are going to respond to it emotionally in some form or another. How can you draw a line between what was manipulated by the artist and what was generated by the audience?

    As for comedy in particular, I am reminded of George Burns’ remark that an onion can make you cry, but there aren’t any vegetables that can make you laugh.

  • Brad Stevens

    It seems that my attempt at sarcasm has been misunderstood.

  • Barry Putterman

    Sorry Brad. I guess that there are “poster expectations” just as there are genre expectations. Had I said what you did, I probably would have gotten away with it.

  • jbryant

    George Burns was wrong: Those who are into “sick” humor often laugh at vegetables. Also, Mr. Potato Head can be funny.

  • Peter Henne

    Brad, I think I got it; at any rate, your 9:56am post made me smile, acknowledging that it was at my expense. Your remark on comedy was funny and I was glad to see the genre brought forth to usurp someone taking his reasoning too seriously.

    Barry, Isn’t suspense a matter of degree of what we can process? Granted, there are fuzzy borders all over the place in that conception. But there seems like such a thing as an engaging, challenging level of suspense, which allows there can be points that “jolt and panic” but overall works in concert with critical viewing. And, as I think I spelled out, I don’t see that afforded for audiences in more current horror movies (it happens to be that in my family relations I end up sampling them on a regular basis).

    Gregg, I agree with your qualifications through and through, enough to be willing to just drop the subject at this point. Love Franju, Hitchcock, the Val Lewton series, Murnau, VAMPYR, etc.

    Happy Easter to everyone observing the day.

  • Alex

    Just because content can dictate form does not mean that the value lies in the content.

    … but thatcontent can dictate form does not mean that the value does not lie in some part in the content.

  • Barry Putterman

    Peter, I must be having a particularly slow day today. I didn’t understand that Brad was being satirical and I don’t really see what you are getting at here. The gun is pointing at the Gish sisters’ heads, cut to the car carrying the rescuers, cut back to the gun and the Gish sisters, cut back to the car If you can’t process that, there is no suspense. But built in is the expectation that the rescuers will arrive in time to save the Gish sisters.

    As you say, the recent horror films start with the same set-up, but the expectation is that the Gish sisters will die. The jolt comes in how the pattern will be interrupted or re-directed in a, hopefully, surprising way.

    jbryant, I suppose that with both comedy and vegetables, it is all a matter of taste. And, as always, the proof is in the eating.

  • Robert Garrick

    This thread has one thing in common with the modern slasher film: You think it’s dead, but it keeps coming back to life.

    I don’t buy the trash/art distinction at all. Anyway, the term “trash” as used by Kael has close to zero critical value. I do think there are interesting things to say culturally about the concepts of lowbrow, middlebrow, and highbrow. Great works of art can spring from any of the three categories, but certain critics will always have prejudices based on these categories. The trick, if you’re a good critic, if to strip yourself of these prejudices. Genre prejudices are similarly odious, though of course there are a great many fascinating things to say about genres.

    I have been going through Dave Kehr’s book (with great delight) and I have noted the top ten lists at the end. It’s interesting that John Carpenter and Walter Hill are well represented in the 1970s but neither has an entry in the 1980s, though both were busy in that decade. I’m wondering if Kehr changed his mind about them in general, or if he believes that the quality of their work dropped off.

  • Robert Garrick

    I would note, with regard to the “laughing at vegetables” discussion above, that the TV show “Hee-Haw” used to feature a comic named Stringbean. I’m also reminded of Carrot Top.

  • Thinking about comedy lately, nice to see it discussed here.

    Peter’s characterization of film comedy makes it sound like the experience could be a masochistic ordeal for viewers… that could be the case in instances where comedies (in any media) operate “upon” the viewer as if applying electrodes, and getting laughs by pandering to baser instincts. Witness the proliferation, subsequent to the popularity of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” of male characters, good or evil, getting kicked in the privates. Ha ha.

    That’s not to say that a great work of art cannot have bathroom and/or personal injury humor and/or other baser elements, but what I have supposed about comedy as it can work in conjunction with art (instead of beneath it) is that, when a moment, gesture, movement, etc. is both surprising AND totally appropriate, you get a laugh. That’s the textbook dissection of a joke, but it can apply in other forms as well, including music and dance. Specific types of jazz music, for example, in their reliance on moment-to-moment improvisation, can provoke a laugh as a result of the listener’s direct engagement with the form.

    But a laugh is just a leaf on a tree, when it comes to the states we find ourselves in during the experience of art. Like many, I consider PLAYTIME to be one of the greatest films of all, and, as it’s a comedy, it makes sense to say it’s also one of the great comedies. But I rarely laugh at Tati. He’s funny, his people are funny, the scenarios, the mise-en-scene, the sounds, everything – very funny. But I’m not laughing: instead, I find myself in that rare place where I am simultaneously on edge and blissfully relaxed, my senses spun up and caressed. In this state, the absence of laughter isn’t regrettable at all.

    Anyway, just a few thoughts on the matter. I, for one, think Hill and Carpenter had terrific – but perhaps not perfect – runs in the 1980s. I even like CROSSROADS! I don’t like 48 HRS at all but there’s a great, complex long take in a police precinct that I’m convinced is an homage to De Toth’s great CRIME WAVE.

  • Tom Brueggemann

    Cable note:

    George Cukor’s rarely shown The Blue Bird will be on Fox Movie Channel tomorrow (Monday) at 5 PM PDT/ 8 PM EDT, properly framed.

  • Brian Dauth

    Can even proper framing rescue Cukor’s THE BLUE BIRD? One can only hope.

  • AT LONG LAST LOVE has also been sprung from the Fox vaults and is airing on FMC. It’s scheduled next for May 19.

  • Tom Brueggemann

    I saw it when it came out in 1976. My guess is it won’t be much better with age.
    At Long Last Love though is being shown unmatted.

  • Peter Henne

    Barry and Jaime, Didn’t I cover your concerns when I talked about degree and how much of it we can process? Jaime, as I read you, you are defending suspense or otherwise startling the viewer, then, it seems to me, you segregate out cases where something or another is overloaded to the point that it becomes revolting, such as “sick-out” humor; not all of it, but some kind or other or if it is unremitting. I’ve been focusing on suspense built at too rapid of a pace for a viewer to have a chance at unraveling while watching the film… not just as a few experimental peeks at what excess could turn into, but over and over again throughout the movie. I think I’m with you, after all, because you seem to scoff at some kinds of humor. It’s just those kinds of films that, not just at selective moments (which can be used very well) but overall, make their business undermining dispassionate judgment and active interest in anticipating where they are going that I criticized… not too different from what you did, I think. Naturally, I can only answer for myself exactly where those lines are drawn, but it seems like a culture (or, hey, maybe an age group I’m shading into) shares a general range of limits.

    And Jaime, I haven’t even discussed comedy. You said it “could be a masochistic ordeal for viewers.” Well, yeah, it could be. My favorite bathroom humor in a movie is an exchange in Wilder’s THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH, with some expounding about the baffling nature of bathtub drains and pipes and the spokesmodel’s (but really Marilyn Monroe’s) strange predicament with one. (Now that I’ve identified it as a favorite, I wonder if I’m confounding the deleted scene involving the wrench with what was included in the studio release. Did old AMC possibly present a version, correctly letterboxed, that included the plumber fumbling with the wrench? Or did the dreaming of Ewell’s character catch fire with me and I imagined that scene incorporated into the complete film?)

  • Barry Putterman

    Peter, the AMC “Backstory” on THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH did indeed show the delated section of the Victor Moore/Marilyn Monroe bathtub scene.

    About the “ability to process” thing, well, as you suggest, maybe it is a cultural or time of life thing for you. Personally, I’ve never had any trouble in keeping up with Romero or Argento. And pacing seemed to be the least of it on the few lesser films in the genre which I have experienced. Maybe Sidney Lumet gave me too much to process and that was why I found many of his films to be an incoherent jumble.

    In any event, the general audience and analytical critics for these films don’t seem to have any problems processing them, and I’m content to leave it at that.

  • Peter Henne

    Barry, One more note from me. Maybe, as you say, the general audience for horror movies process them, in the way I’ve been trying to outline. I’ve often wondered about that. Or maybe they experience them as thrill rides, which perhaps implies that any efforts at processing are checked at the ticket booth and are beside the point. The comparison to an exhilarating roller coaster ride has been offered by many observers of what Gregg called the slasher subgenre, including some of its fans. So, at least, it does not seem so clear cut (roll eyes here) that processing is in the equation.

  • Dear Peter, dear Barry, the outtake from The Seven Year Itch has also been included as an extra on the Twentieth Century Fox dvd’s since the 2001 Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection edition. What a smile on her face as Victor Moore reaches for that wrench.

  • Alex Hicks

    Another “backstory” for the “seven year itch”: strong new love triggers the coursing through one’s veins of an Endorphine-Ampehedamine cocktail of dopamine and norepinepherine, but this basis for romantic stimulation inevitably decays, seldom lasting more than seven years — leading toward behavior not unlike that of Tom Ewell’s Dick Sherman.

    Poor Dr. Wilder, taken for a cynic, while mapping the behavioral manifestation of neuro-pharmacology with good humor!

    The wittily deterministic Resnais of “Mon Uncle d’Amerique” should do a remake of Wilder’s “Itch.”

  • Peter Henne

    Add: I like Argento and Romero. SUSPIRIA and THE STENDHAL SYNDROME, for example, are films designed for the discerning eye. My review of the latter can be found here:

    http://www.filmjournal.com/filmjournal/esearch/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000698027

    I didn’t really like how this review turned out; the job of making plot summary got out of hand on this one. All the same, I got across my appreciation for Argento’s style.

    Romero’s Walking Dead films appeal by the philosophical implications they accrue as they unfold. The pace of his films allow us to mull over and develop ideas about what these zombies are, in the here-and-now world of each film, and also allusions they suggest. Romero makes action films but ones that leave room for contemplation. Argento and Romero are two exceptions, and in fact Romero does not come near the descriptions of editing I’ve been making in the discussion here. Both directors observe leaving what I called dispassionate judgment to the viewer… yes, even with what happens to that guy in the wheelbarrow in DAWN. Not right then, but soon after.

  • Barry Putterman

    And FURTHERMORE! Anything else Peter? I’ll wait….

    I don’t think that you will get much of an argument when you claim that there are numerous movies made these days which are hyperbolically edited and which pin you to the back of your chair and leave you gasping for breath. But can you say that this style grows out of the horror slash slasher movie genre? Or even that it is endemic to it without a lot of further investigation? I don’t recall Michael Bay ever making a slasher movie for instance.

  • Peter Henne

    Barry, You make a sharp point!

    Good chat, but, oh please, let’s move onto the next one. I think that’s what you’re saying. I wonder what Fearless Leader has in store for us in our next episode?

  • Barry Putterman

    Well it is early 20th Century Gaumont films this week. Fascinating stuff, but I’m afraid that it won’t generate very many comments. Of course, if we decide to veer towards the titles of Rocky & Bullwinkle episodes….

  • Alex

    Barry,

    “Romero’s Walking Dead films appeal by the philosophical implications they accrue as they unfold. The pace of his films allow us to mull over and develop ideas”

    Excellent points, but I wouldn’t have added “what these zombies are, in the here-and-now world of each film.” Romero’s too seriously smart to be much inclined to “mull over and develop ideas” on the Zombies in their “here-and-now world” (or have us do so).

    I’d say that by DAWN the Zobies as “idea” are pure “allusion,” though concretely most viscerally vivid. In DAWN they are devices for drawing us into the basic Hobbesian dystopian condition in which life is close to the “war of all against all” in a world grown “nasty brutish and short,” ostensibly because of the Zombies, allegorically for whatever set of causes of social breakdown the viewer might fill in, though “environmental depletion” is highlights in two of the film’s last few lines, in Stephen’s “We’ve got to find more fuel” and (after Stephen’s “Maybe closer to Cleveland”) Roger’s “No. We’ve got to stay out of the big cities.”

    In DAWN, the Zombie as devises for the conveyance of visceral horror and of allogorical weight is most inventively and powerfully used by first inuring us to identifying the infliction of frontal head shots and then switching our relentlessly brutal new perspective on notres freres, the bikers.

    After DAWN, the allegory grows more arcane, with Romero’s reflections turning to ideas less resonant with his Zombies — Zombie as victiom, Zombie as perspective on class oppression, Zombie as an occasion for media nonsense, and so on.

    (Maybe Romero can take off on the winter “New Republic” cover of Zombies as … Tea Partiers — perhaps after an Federal credit default and onset of world Depression.)

  • D. K. Holm

    The zombie figure is horror films has grown muddied. As vampires have become romantic figures, zombies have taken over their parasitic function, though without the elegance of the early Dracula characterizations. It is useful to recall that originally the zombie was a mindless slave, controlled by a evil manipulator, who was the real villain or monster. Today zombies are still mindless, but carnivores. In any case, the genres have unhappily melded together.

  • Peter Henne

    Alex, Barry didn’t say it, I did. My point was that we are encouraged to ponder, not that Romero gives us instructions. (Please re-read the sentence in my post.) As we progressively see better-defined and more differentiated clothing and facial expressions on the zombies from NIGHT through DAY and LAND, more insinuations pile up about them. It doesn’t seem a stretch to say that as they are revealed to have more human dimensions, we’re left with more to consider about what makes us human to begin with, that is, what if any difference there could be. That’s a question Romero plants but leaves us to work on for ourselves. And yes, I think we’re left to wonder about the mechanics of the worlds of the films; DAWN particularly stresses the nuts-and-bolts of survival, and DAY the biology, as it were, of zombies. Still haven’t seen DIARY and I look forward to renting it.

    I think your line of thought is one among many that can be teased out of the films. Romero’s zombies as Kubrickian monolith… who would have thought so at the beginning, when 2001 was a cultural flashpoint and a horror film released the same year, made on the cheap, began its journey of struggling for recognition? When I reviewed DAY on initial release for my college newspaper and we ran a two-page spread of the goriest photo from the press kit, we sure got some outraged responses, and I had a great day seeing two different girls on campus open up the paper to the mid-section and groaning. Incidentally, this was the UCLA Daily Bruin. Times have changed.

  • Michael Worrall

    Peter and fellow contributors,

    So is this thread officially dead, or more in line with the false promise of FRIDAY THE 13TH IV: THE FINAL CHAPTER? May I respond to your posts or will I be playing to an empty house?

  • Peter Henne

    Michael, For the time being, I can’t think of anything more to say. That train in the Gaumont ad makes me want to travel.

  • Barry Putterman

    Michael, our genial host has invited everybody to continue the zombie debate on the freshly minted Gaumont thread two pictures above. I don’t know about you, but I’m lumbering over there even as we speak and will be prepared to consider all new perspectives on the undeed.

    Indeed, we have but scratched the flesh regarding zombies. Nobody has even mentioned BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING yet.

  • Robert Garrick

    I just noticed Peter Henne’s “bathroom humor” paragraph above. When it comes to bathroom comedy, I don’t know how you can beat the extended sequence in Blake Edwards’s “The Party” involving Hrundi V. Bakshi versus an overflowing toilet.

    I imagine that film has a few fans here.

  • Alex

    Peter Henne,

    Sorry to get you and Barry mixed up, though I remain in fine company gaffe or no gaffe.

    The Romero-Kubrick comparison is a good one and I must say that –Kubrick fan though I am — DAWN is a better dystopian film than most of Kubrick’s (excepting probably FULL-METAL JACKET — and possibly STRANGELOVE), certainly far better than CLOCKWORK ORANGE.

    Indeed, DAWN is one of the great Homeric films — great cinematic expressions of poised action amidst horrow– as well as one of the great dystopian ones. (And DAY OF THE DEAD is nicely Swiftian.)

    Not sure I care much about Zombie films as such, though there certainly are some good ones –from the lyrical Tourneur-Lewton one to the thrills of the 26 Days/Weeks After.