This week has been non-stop distraction. Rather than get into the sordid details, how ’bout I just bore you with ephemera?
Sometimes It Blows in April
I was just about to lapse into one of those ill-considered laments on the dearth of quality movies in the still-kinda-new year, but it’s been brought to my attention that the estimable Glenn Kenny of Premiere.com has adequately addressed the non-issue (love his timid recommendation for Michael Haneke’s Funny Games in the U.S. of A.). Though I definitely sympathize with Glenn, is The Bank Job really the top of the heap thus far? Since I thought Roger Donaldson’s heist flick was disappointingly routine (it kicks off to T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong” and does nothing to separate itself from the pack thereafter), my vote for the best commercial 2008 release would be George Clooney’s Leatherheads, followed by The Foot Fist Way (fyi, this is excluding the unfinished cut of Pineapple Express I saw in July ’07). After that, it’s a steep, steep drop-off (though I can find nice things to say about Doomsday, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and, yes, Cloverfield).
April is usually where things start looking up, but I don’t see a Grindhouse or Hot Fuzz on the horizon; we might have to wait until May for the year to really kick into gear with Garth Jennings’s Son of Rambow, David Mamet’s Redbelt and Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers (oh, and just so’s you knows: Foot Fist Way has been bumped to May 30th, where it will backhand the whore-laden Sex & the City into submission). And then there’s all that summer movie noise to contend with: Iron Man (looking good), Speed Racer (looking deliciously absurd), The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (looking better than the last one), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (looking awfully divisive). Maybe it gets better, or maybe we’ll find ourselves smack dab in the middle of another 1995 (hey, Congo!); it’s just too early to tell.
But, yeah, aside from My Blueberry Nights and The Ruins, I’m dreading April. Guess Glenn’s got a point.
Hulk on Hulk
This sorta slipped through the cracks. Entertainment Weekly interviewed Ang Lee and James Schamus last week at ShoWest, and they asked this pertinent question:
LEE: I haven’t seen any of it. I wish them the best of luck.
SCHAMUS: Louis Letterier is a friend. I worked with him on Unleashed and he’s a gem. He was really nervous, kept asking if it’s okay. And I said to him, and this sounds absurdly pretentious, but I really think that these Marvel Stan Lee characters are like great theater, like Shakespeare — Olivier can do Hamlet, so can Kenneth Branagh. They are open to many interpretations. There is room for many Hulks.
LEE: I take that back. I hope they’re all dead within the hour.
The Unsolved Mysteries of Random IMDb Searches
A week or so ago, I was writing a never-ever-to-be-published article on inexplicable movie titles (limply suggested by Jeffrey Wells’s cranky objection to Jack and Jill vs. the World), and I discovered something wonderful whilst looking up Switchback (aka Going West in America) – and, no, it wasn’t an “in development” entry for Bob & Carol & Ted & Bopha! It was a title for a completely un-Danny Glover-related German short film, actually: “Hinten scheißt die Ente”. And while the English translation was available directly below the listing, my barely functional German – “What the hell does ‘The Duck’s Back Shit’ mean?” – is what got me to click through to the next page.
Once I realized the correct translation was “The Duck Shits Back”… well, I was still intrigued. Absent a plot summary, and allowing for the teutonic fixation on all things scatological, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the meaning of the title (was “The Duck” a nickname or an actual duck, and why the vengeful voiding of the bowels?). And then there was the film’s sole “plot keyword” (another of the IMDb’s wonderful features): “Female to Male Foot in Crotch”. That’s nothing if not specific*. Apparently, this abuse of dude genitalia went over huge at the 2002 Dresden Film Festival, where it took down the not-at-all-prestigious Audience Award (although it lost out on the Best Short Film trophy at the Max Ophüls Festival – tragic considering the maestro’s alleged predilection for bruised testicles).
It gets better. The director (Sabine Michel) and writer (Thomas Wendrich) expanded this crotch-blasting, fowl-crapping comedy into a dramatic feature titled Nimm Dir Dein Leben (Take Your Life). Here’s a plot summary from German Films.com:
That’s the wonderful thing about the power of love: it’s strong and it’s sudden, and it’s cruel sometimes, but it might just save your life.
And that’s a dispiritingly banal thumbnail for a film that began life as “The Duck Shits Back”; ergo, I immediately lost interest. Then, my thoughts turned to another, still-unresolved mystery of the IMDb: “I Gonna Fuck You Back to the Stoneage”.
Please don’t ask how I stumbled across this oddity; all that matters is that I need to track down this short documentary about Michael Jordan “and his quest to sign deals with sneaker manufacturers just before he hit his stride with the Bulls in 1992″. Putting aside the fact that Jordan a) hit his stride well before 1992 (he won his first NBA Championship in 1991 and was the MVP of the league in 1988), and b) signed his pioneering endorsement deal with Nike in 1985, this sounds like an unusually candid glimpse into the sports icon’s life – if it’s legit. There’s only one reader review (from a guy whose only other two comments are on films with “Fuck” in the title), and a Google search for the director, Gabi Mathes, turns up a mere five pages of links – none of which are useful.
I remember doing some idle snooping for the filmmaker a couple of years ago, but I kept hitting dead ends. Once I realized that there was no way this guy would’ve sat on potentially damaging footage of Jordan for over a decade without selling it, I gave up. But if, by chance, it is for real, I’d love to see how these exchanges (from the film’s “memorable quotes” page) play out:
Nike marketing exec: Sir, please calm down.
Michael Jordan: I will fuck you back to the fucking stone age! I will fuck you back to the stone age!
Nike marketing exec: Sounds like somebody didn’t get his latte this morning…
Bill Cartwright: Hey where’s Doug?
Michael Jordan: The Stone Age… where he belongs…
I’m assuming the “Doug” in question is Bulls coach Doug Collins, whose firing paved the way for six NBA titles. Consider this post my hail mary pass to track down Gabi Mathes and/or “I Gonna Fuck You Back to the Stoneage”.
*And further evidence that the fetishists will inherit the web.