Paris, Texas (1984). Let’s examine that title for a moment. When you hear the name of the town, chances are you immediately think of the city in France. Strange that the place referenced in this film is located in the vast desert of the second largest state in the U.S. I believe that is what director Wim Wenders was going for. Here is one of the prominent filmmakers of the German New Wave, telling a story steeped in the American culture. There’s a melding of two opposite voices—one of the outside observer, and the other of the characters he is observing—both trying to find common ground. It’s no surprise these characters are constantly adrift, trying to find truth and peace in their lives. By contributing these different cultural influences, Wenders makes this less about a certain place and time, and more of an overarching human experience.
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“Sooner or later, everyone who loves movies comes to Ozu.” - Roger Ebert
How true, and what an amazing experience it is to discover him. Yasujiro Ozu, the master director from Japan, is one of the great storytellers, on par with all the great names that have come and gone. But unlike his native contemporaries (Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, Masaki Kobayashi, and so on), Ozu reached his distinction in a much more subtle way. He did not tell epic stories of samurai battles, mysterious ghost stories, or grand struggles for survival. Instead, his films were much more intimate, quieter, focusing on lives we see everyday, or perhaps lives we live ourselves. And yet, the power and emotion that they evoke resonate just as strongly (or even more so). He examines the inner workings of the human soul with a touch as light as a feather, and as a result we come away startled by how well he managed to make us feel with as little as he actually gives us.
Like most people, I tend to see movies more in the summertime. Not only because that’s when the majority of the most anticipated movies are released by the studios, but also because that’s when I have more time for extracurricular outings in general. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case with everyone else, too. And the thing about everyone else is…well, they suck. Nowadays it’s a roll of the dice as to what kind of an audience you are going to have with you in a theater. Sometimes you end up with a disaster of texters, talkers and—worst of all—children. Other times, you can have a nice quiet screening with only a handful of old people and maybe some bored teenagers who know how to behave. I used to know how to predict these crowds and know what times of the day to avoid, but more and more this is becoming harder to calculate.
For my horror double feature recommendation this week, I decided to go on a more mysterious route. These two films can be categorized under the phrase “Curiosity Killed The Cat,” in which our protagonists, overcome by an obsessive compulsion to learn the truth, delve deep into their respective mysteries even when all signs tell them otherwise. Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man (1973) and George Sluizer’s The Vanishing (Spoorloos, 1988) both begin with the same premise: a man in search of a woman who has disappeared without a trace. While the films tackle their subject matter in different manners—one dealing with religious fanaticism and the other observing the twisted nature of a single human being—both end with startling and horrific revelations, tapping into the darkest possibilities of the human condition.
In all my life, I have never once asked anyone what their “number” is. This information falls under multiple categories that keep me from asking it, including: “None of My Business,” “Not Something To Judge Anyone By,” and “Honestly, Who Cares?” Beyond the unfortunate period of teenage years when it’s inevitable one will wonder whether all of their classmates’ numbers are zero or not-zero, I find it odd that anyone puts any degree of thought into this particular statistic.
I love the Oscar race! Just looking at the potential films and seeing which will become major contenders sends excitement coursing through me, especially for Best Picture. I try to figure out the films that the Academy will love and, more importantly, which films will I love as well. I always hope that I will agree with the Academy, because despite what my feelings might be about the Academy, them giving a movie Best Picture helps a movie become more well known and helps people embrace it. So, when they give it to something less than deserving (or worse), it is like they are hurting film. This is an intense love/hate relationship for me, but I keep coming back and right now we have reached the end of summer and are entering the fall. This is usually the starting point for the Oscar season.
Spencer is joined by Melanie McFarland from IMDb for a discussion about TV. They talk about notable TV shows on the verge of being canceled.
Spencer is joined by Melanie McFarland from IMDb for a discussion about TV. They talk about what she grew up watching, what she is enjoying now, and what she thinks will be good going forward.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival, affectionately known as SFFSFF (say it “siff siff”) returns to the Cinerama theater in Seattle this weekend. The sixth annual event, jointly sponsored by the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum and Seattle International Film Festival, will feature twenty films that span the definition of the genres, and come from around the world.
Spencer sits down with Brooks Peck to discuss the Sci-Fi & Fantasty Short Film Festival and the Battlestar Galactica Exhibits that are being curated by the Sci-Fi Museum.