This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Posts about Movies

She had Audrey Totter Eyes

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: December 16, 2013 - 12:32 PM

Audrey Totter has died at the age of 95. AP:

After landing a small part in "The Postman Always Rings Twice," Totter went on to a series of roles as tough-talking blondes.

Her breakthrough came with "Lady in the Lake," the 1947 adaptation of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe detective tale. She also appeared in the thriller "The Unsuspected" and the boxing drama "The Set-Up." After retiring to raise a family, Totter later resurfaced on television.

She could stare down the camera like no one else. From “Lady in the Lake,” in handy GIF form:


There’s a reason “Totter Eyes” rhymes with “cauterize.”

OOPS Oh, just use any old stock art. Who’ll know? From Ahram Online:

Egypt's outgoing constitution-amending committee has repeatedly stressed that it has drafted a national charter that represents all Egyptians. The huge banner reading "All Egyptians Constitution" hanging in the background during Sunday's international press conference, however, barely reflected their assertion. Three out of the five people whose images were used on the banner appear to be foreigners.

The doc is from a site about getting rid of stretch marks. The fellow second from the right is from a story about Down Syndrome.

BEST KOREA More from the Potemkin Ski Resort:

Nothing but a stage set for the inner party. The picture of the little monster standing alone in the pathetic gift shop is particularly empty for Nork propaganda, which is saying something.

SCIENCE! Don’t panic, but the universe could collapse any second now.

Danish scientists say an expanding bubble of existential doom could crush the Universe into a tiny ball. And crazily, the odds of this collapse is higher than previously thought.

This theory isn't actually new. But the scientists who conducted the new study say previous calculations were incomplete. Their new, more precise calculations, now show that (1) the universe will probably collapse, and (2) a collapse is even more likely than the old calculations predicted.

The question is whether this has been foreseen by our lizardoid overlords, or whether they control it. In related news, the “Unanswered Mystery of 7,000-year-old Ubaid Lizardmen.” In statuary form. Tila Tequila is jumping all over the place right now saying “SEE? SEE?

Insert Rude Movie Title Here

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: April 15, 2010 - 3:25 PM

I’m sure our standards allow me to use the name in the post title, but I won’t. Not from prudery, but because this is the first major motion picture with that word in the title, and it’s one of those unnecessary acts of culture-coarsening we can do without. Unless you believe that it’s hypocritical to use a word in one’s private life but oppose splashing it on a billboard, in which case you’d better not read anymore.

I don’t know what it is about this movie that gives me the vapors, because I’ve seen John Woo movies where the body count rivals the population of a European principality. In Hard-Boiled, the hero cops shoots an entire hospital full of bad guys. You don’t take it seriously, because the interchangeable minions are like tin targets popping up in a penny arcade shooting gallery. “Shoot ‘em Up,” a Clive Owen movie from 2008, is crammed with cartoon violence that’s intended to be funny - for heaven’s sake, any movie where the hero delivers a baby then cuts the umbilical cord by shooting it - well, it’s telling you right up front this isn’t to be taken seriously. I don’t see a lot of these, but have no substantial objection. Except when they use kids and have kids shooting people. Oh, right! That’s what bugs me about this movie.

The filmmakers behind Hollywood's latest superhero flick have declared war on family values.


"Kick-Ass" is bad news for lovers of all that is gentle and wholesome. But it's great news for fans itching to laugh dementedly as a little girl in a neon purple wig cusses like Tony Soprano and fires kill shots to the heads of many bad guys.

Yes: not letting your daughter shoot bad guys is a family value, I guess.

Gather, O geeks, that we may mock this detractor with all our weapons, including uncapitalized posts in the AICN forum! Whatever. By all means, let them enjoy their comic-book visions of little girls shooting men in the head, and let them flood the internet to insist that you don’t understand and the comic book is awesome. Fine. Have a sequel! Mangia, mangia!


But someday you will have kids, and while they’re asleep upstairs you’ll watch a movie in which a really cool bad guy shoots a bunch of 11 year old girls, and it’s over the top, man, and it’s really funny! Or so the internet says. It will bother you, though. It won’t seem quite right, this guy shooting all the little girls in the head.


Really? Why? If it’s AWESOME to have a Hit killing people, then you should have no objection to the other way around, provided it’s all done in a stylized hyper-realistic fashion, right?  But you might. And then you wonder what’s the next line to be erased.


The little girl who plays the part says the movie’s not for kids - hey, thanks! Out of the mouths of babes, wisdom. And F-bombs, if the script requires it. I’m sure her parents might have had some qualms about this, but hey: the money was good.

Clash of the Titans, '81 style

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: April 2, 2010 - 9:55 AM

 The original trailer was probably two minutes long and featured lots of people talking, so you can't expect anyone to sit through that. We're in luck: someone recut the trailer to make it look like the hyperkinetic 2010 version. As much as I want to see Burgess Meredith growl "Release the Kracken," coming from him it would sound like a demand for chiropractic treatment. Anyway:


Remaking trailers is a new art form, by the way. Makes you realize that the trailer itself is a form of storytelling, with its own styles and cliches. We all know what's missing from the trailer above, don't we? Something that wooshes right at you after the music has died down and the title's faded away. Usually there's a whooshing thing between the title and SUMMER 2010. Sometimes it's a house or a mountain; with "Twister" I believe it was a cow. 

Worst Movie Openings Ever

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: April 1, 2010 - 9:54 AM

No doubt you’ve heard that Uma Thurman’s new movie set a new record for a bad opening. It grossed under 90 pounds in England. Opening weekend had 11 paying customers. One person showed up on opening day. The movie cost between $3.5 million and five million bucks - estimates on the internet vary, but that’s still cheap. Said a Guardian columnist:


Few vanity projects can be as ill-conceived as this laughless, goggingly slow Uma Thurman vehicle about a stressed mum in Manhattan juggling domestic duties with writing what appears to be the world’s worst blog.”


Goggingly! There’s your new word for the day. It does sound horrible, though, and the reason might be “Manhattan.” While the venue may appeal to the “Sex in the City” demographic most people can smell that Fantasy Movie Manhattan miles away. You know, the place that’s always fascinating, full of great hats and places to eat and interesting sexual partners who have one conspicuous flaw, etc. If this doesn’t appeal, you’ll have little sympathy for Uma Thurman in Dowdy Mode, complaining about jugging motherhood and work and love in Manhattan. Unless she’s kept in place by an electronic monitoring device and can’t leave, that is.

Anyway, here are some movies that also opened poorly, adjusted for inflation and presence of Eddie Murphy. 

By opening poorly we mean Money-wise, not in terms of interminable tracking shots. Because then the list would be all DePalma.

Godzilla Returns

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: March 31, 2010 - 9:20 AM

As they say on Fark, Hollywood now officially out of ideas: American studio plans Godzilla movie. But they said that about the previous remake, in 1998. Here it comes again, 14 years later - Warner Bros. / Legendary will make a new one for a 2012 release. Why? Because computer effects have gotten better, and audiences’ attention spans have shrunk another 17%, so it will possible to make a movie with no plot whatsoever and only a small portion of Shia LaBoeuf.


I like the old Godzilla movies, but only for about 12 minutes. The crushing and the stomping and the fire-breathing - fun, for a while, when you’re a kid or a stoner who suddenly decides to watch every Godzilla movie and write a book about it, man. Because it’s like symbolic of stuff. Otherwise, really: this is silly stuff. Add the tiny jabbering twins and it’s creepy, too:



In those days, limited munitions kept them from destroying the monsters, but now? You see one of these things coming out of the sea, a couple of daisy-cutters ought to to the trick: Godsushi all over the beach.



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