Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Black Narcissus (Powell and Pressburger, 1947)

All I'm going to say is this: this an insane melodrama about lusting nuns in the Himalayas. It has the exact same structure as Los Olvidados. Is that enough for you? It better be.

Peeping Tom (Powell, 1960)

This, like Vertigo, is a film professor movie--cold, icy, fixated on the nature of scopophilia more than story. Released the same year as "Psycho," the comparisons are inevitable--childhood-psyche damage makes looney, faggy adult--though only this film succeeded in ending the career of one of film's most brilliant directors.

Also, a feather-in-the-cap to all you screenwriters out there: one of Michael Powell's rare attempts without Emeric Pressburger, both the story and the dialogue are missing that heart-stabbing P&P punch.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Who's the Caboose (Seder, 1996)

I've never had much affection for the East Coast alt-comedy scene of the mid-90s. Though there was a nice melding of the L.A./Boston scene with the Ben Stiller Show, I've always found those East Coasters--David Cross, Todd Barry, Sarah Silverman, Janeano Garofalo (who now has an abysmal show on "Air America" with this film's director)--unbearably smug and only intermittenly funny. There's nothing more ferociously annoying than white people who think they are "scathing."

But as much as I hate to say it, this movie was fabulous. Clearly produced for zero dollars--it was shot in 12 days--"Who's the Caboose" tells the story of Max Rabin (Seder) and Sarah Silverman (can't remember the character's name), two downtown NYC performance-artists/stand-up comics who come to Los Angeles for pilot season. Max is a big nothing, Sarah is repped by CAA. Time to rock and roll.

Don't expect the universe--the faux-doc style will sometimes leave you wishing for some of the Christopher Guestians--but this has some unbelievably spot-on satire. Max's Dad is a powerful lawyer who he hates (he's at work on a one-man show called "I Hate My Dad"); when Sarah reads for the studio execs on a sitcom pilot, the only one who laughs is the fatty, nebbishy writer (who has the best line in the whole movie; I won't ruin it for you); a beautiful David Cross monologue that involves his slicing of a bean; the way Sarah's manager (Andy Dick) has only one famous client. Even Silverman has some really golden stuff in here. As much as I hate to admit it.

I'm not sure how to track this one down; I saw it on the TRIO Channel. But for any fans of comedy, television, no-budget movies, or entertainment wannabees, it's really not to be missed.