Monday, 18 August 2008
The Director's Cu(n)t, Imaginary Easter Eggs and Nonexistent Hidden Goodies in DVDs. Mostly wishful thinking, though.
Se7en: Click on the big number seven (7) on the Main Menu and watch Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt's character) die the horrible death he deserves so much.
Thelma & Louise: Click on the ampersand (&) on the Extras Menu and watch Brad Pitt beg Ridley Scott on his knees for the part. To which Scott replies: "Ok, but please, PLEASE, do not ruin this film too."
12 Monkeys: Click on the big monkey (Monkey) hanging from the chain of little monkeys (monkeys) and watch Brad Pitt suggesting director Terry Gilliam alternative titles for the film, including "Twelve Angry Monkeys," "The Dirty Dozen of Monkeys," "Twelve Monkeys of Christmas," "Monkeys: Cheaper By the Dozen," "Monkeys Die Hard," "Fistful of Monkeys" and "For a Few Monkeys More." Terry Gilliam simply grabs his head and mutters "Oh, man, please, PLEASE, do not ruin this film TOO."
Burn After Reading: Though technically not an Easter Egg, but rather simply a part of the plot, skip the first half of this pathetic excuse of a film and watch Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt's character) being shot in the head and die. Very rewarding scene.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: Same as the above mentioned Burn After Reading, though -for some reason- the rest of the characters in the film seem to be unhappy about Jesse James' (Brad Pitt's character's) death. Weird. So bizarre.
Fight Club: Again, as in the previous two mentions, Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt's character) dies. Brilliant. In the Director's Commentary track, David Fincher declares this to be the most satisfying point of his career: "having been able to kill Brad Pitt, if only on film."
Fictional Brothers, Cousins, Nephews and Other Relatives of the Relatively Rich and Unfortunately Famous, funny names, runny phlegms, money games, and general silliness.
Armstrong "Arm" Pitt, Brad Pitt's half-brother. Has a tendency to sweat profusely and, subsequently, smells of onion bulbs.
Albert Marcus "A.M." Bush, George W. Bush's long-lost cousin. Enjoys attacking people and/or non-Western nations by surprise from concealed positions.
Anna Keynes, great-granddaughter of John Maynard Keynes, who -after having married Christopher Walken's second cousin George Khai-Walker- became Anna Keynes Khai-Walken. May the Force be with her.
Albert Robert "A.R." Caine, Sir Michael Caine's nephew, twice-removed. A.R. Caine is fairly enigmatic and mysterious. And into esoteric philosophical issues.
Simon Says, and the rest of us simply repeat what he says, like the mindless morons we are...
Hollywood taught us that teenage pregnancy can be a lot of fun. And that jocks that get schoolgirls pregnant are cute. [Juno]
Hollywood explained to us that rich people needn't believe in God, but poor fellas pretty much have to. [There Will Be Blood]
Hollywood demonstrated to us that if you want your film to be a blockbuster hit, you should make sure one of the lead actors dies for the film's release. [Dark Knight]
Hollywood showed us that -as long as you are a minor- you can accuse innocent men of rape and get away with it. Maybe even write a best-selling semi-autobiographical novel about it. [Atonement]
Hollywood revealed to us that it is perfectly acceptable to be a psychotic assassin as long as you are thorough and you follow a strict -yet somewhat dubious- code of conduct. Thoroughly. [No Country For Old Men]
Hollywood proved to us that the works of Gabriel García Márquez are as dull and insipid in book form as they are on the big screen. [Love in the Time of Cholera]
Only in Hollywood.
Deciphering the Secret Meanings of Songs, or perchance reading too much into it all. Lyrical analysis of sorts, in any case.
Try Not to Breathe (R.E.M.)
"I will try not to breathe,
I can hold my head still,
with my hands on my kness.
I need something to breathe.
I will try not to burden you,
I can hold this inside.
I will hold my breath
till all these shivers subside.
I will try not to worry you,
I have seen things that you will never see.
I shudder to breathe ."
As it can undoubtedly be inferred from the excerpt above, the aforementioned song from R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People clearly has a narrative structure. The song depicts a sufferer of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, who -in an unnamed location- has a heavily-seasoned dinner (possibly, yet not certainly, a hot Indian Curry), as a result of which he/she is afflicted by a particularly violent attack of diarrhoea. The narrator of the song has obviously not dined alone and, thus, the song is addressed to his/her date, from the latrine over which the narrator is currently squatting. As the song goes: "I will try not to breathe, / I can hold my head still, with my hands on my knees (...)." Our diarrhoeic hero even attempts to halt his watery excretions at a certain point in the narrative, whilst getting the world-famous vindaloo-sweats: "I will try not to burden you, / I can hold this inside. I will hold my breath / till all these shivers subside."
The protagonist of the song looks down into the septic pit under his feet and, looking into the abyss, the abyss stares back at him: "I will try not to worry you, / I have seen things that you will never see." Even the title of the song -Try Not to Breathe- refers to the pungent stench of the only partially digested turmeric-infused, cardamon-imbued, chilli-riddled amalgam of meat and rice. "I shudder to breathe," he/she affirms, as the song approaches its almost dysenteric end.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
And say 'No!' to peanut butter, too, for reasons that will become apparent after having read this entry.
Recently, whilst watching Last Tango in Paris (1973, original title: Ultimo Tango a Parigi), I came to a threefold realisation. A mental triptych of revelation, to put it in pompous words.
Firstly, I realised that no-one has ever seen the whole movie since its first Film Festival Run and original release. Because of the word-of-mouth nature of the film's success, audiences simply went into the cinema to watch the one memorable scene (involving sodomy and butter, a tantalising mélange) and swiftly walked out, assuming the rest of the film to be merely an anthology of bland trailers advertising pointless European films starring the late Marlon Brando. Nowadays, all modern audiences get to see of it is its infamous sex scene in mind-numbing, time-filling shows with names such as The Greatest Movie Scenes of All Time, Hollywoody: The 100 Best Sex Scenes of the 20th Century, and/or The Censor's Wet-Dream: Dirty Shoots and Filthy Shots. Thus, I have been the first individual to watch the whole damn thing since the early 70s. And, trust me, it's overrated.
Secondly, I understood why Bernardo Bertolucci's previous pitches of the film with Hollywood producers had failed so miserably, the reason being the film's earlier -tentative, so to speak- titles: Last Waltz in Berlin (confusing), Penultimate Mambo in Reykjavík (confused), Antepenultimate Morris Dance in Caracas (confusing and confused), and Fourth from Last Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina (a bit dull, really), to mention but a few. All of them lacked the exquisite punch of the final version.
Finally, as I learnt from a DVD sub-menu unimaginatively entitled "Deleted Scenes," Marlon Brando (being the Method Actor he was) envisaged his character preferring peanut butter, rather than plain butter. See, Method Actors don't act, they do, actually do whatever is written in the script. I know, I know, technically they aren't even actors, but there's enough material there for a different blog entry. In any case, when the time came to shoot the scene for the first time, Marlon Brando lubricated himself and Maria Schneider with peanut butter, failing to realise it was of the Crunchy kind. Due to its nutty chunks, this type of peanut butter if favoured by children all around the world, but -for obvious reasons- it is not the most popular of sexual lubricants in today's worldwide market. You could almost see -or, perhaps, imagine- little tears in the corners of Maria Schneider's eyes, yet -being the professional she was- she waited for Bernardo Bertolucci to cry "Cut!"
"Ouch," she can be heard saying in the background.
I thoroughly recommend the Director's Cut DVD version of the film, full of Easter Eggs, Peanut Butter, Pointless Trivia, and nonsensical documentaries that were created at the very last minute, so they'd be able to justify the unduly steep price.