Category Archives: Option C

Option C: Driving Miss Daisy

By Brian Slattery

 

Driving Miss Daisy in car

 

With Kevin’s choice of Lee Daniels’ The Butler, I was slightly unsure of what movie to pair with it. I chose another movie directed by Daniels in Precious. The other film I could have chosen is Bruce Beresford’s Driving Miss Daisy.

Starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman, Driving Miss Daisy tells the story of a black man hired as the driver of an elderly white woman in 1950s Atlanta. The relationship between the two begins rocky at first, but they eventually form a friendship over their 20 years together.

The film won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1989 as well as the awards for Best Actress (Jessica Tandy), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Makeup.

As a comedy/drama the film plays on your heart strings in several different ways. The rapport between Tandy and Freeman can make you laugh, and the way the two experience extreme racism during their trip to Alabama not only provides direct ties to Daniels’ film but also firmly cement the friendship between the two leads.

Driving Miss Daisy is a great film and would have been a great pairing with The Butler.

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About the author:

Brian was just a lovable street rat, one whose worth lies far within, who ventured into the Cave of Wonders in search of his fortune. Unfortunately, his monkey touched the wrong thing and the cave collapsed, forcing him to have to listen to Robin Williams tell jokes for the rest of his life. His favorite films include Office Space, The Godfather, and Pulp Fiction. Also, he designed Buried Cinema’s cool logo.

Option C — Funny Games

By Steven Moore

This week was both my choice and my pairing on Buried Cinema. This has only happened once before, and it happened to be last week, with Tom pairing The Wolverine with Cop Land. Of course, I couldn’t bear to let Tom have the glory, so this week I took the Choice, the Pairing, and Option C. Take that, Tom.

I chose a movie we had previously attempted to discuss on the podcast, Stoker. We’ve covered director Chan-wook Park’s work on the podcast before, and we wanted to review his first English-language effort. Unfortunately, it was in limited release, and Nate lives in West Virginia, where movies made by a man who uses his last name as his first name ain’t ‘Merican.

Although I’d decided on the pick and pairing, Ruby Sparks, before watching either of the movies, after watching Stoker I knew the obvious pairing would have been Funny Games. I have only seen the 2007 American version of Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, but it is a shot-for-shot remake of his original German film from 1997. That’s right, it’s a movie  he loved so much he made it twice, just with different actors and in a different language.

 

You know what would make this creepier? English.

You know what would make this creepier? English.

 

Honestly, the only reason I didn’t change my pairing to this movie was that I would have had to watch it again. I’ve never watched a movie that left me so angry and frustrated, so lost in helplessness. Watching Funny Games was traumatic, in the full clinical, psychological sense of the word. Something will remind me of the movie — a sailboat on a small lake, a TV remote control — and I still get those emotions of frustration and helplessness rising up. I’ve had many nightmares about this movie.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Funny Games is that the trauma it induces, the anger and frustration and disgust, is all completely intentional. This was Michael Haneke’s sole purpose. This is why he made the movie. If you don’t come away from this movie traumatized, he hasn’t accomplished his goal. (Mission accomplished, Mikey.) After watching his Oscar-winning Amour, I am convinced that he is a director who hates his audience. He is disgusted by the idea of people sitting back in a chair and expecting to be entertained. He seems to be making movies that punish the audience for liking movies.

Based on all I’ve said, you may think I didn’t like Funny Games, and you’d be partially right — but it is also brilliant. Every shot has purpose, every frame is beautifully composed, and he can pull some of the most heart-wrenching or terrifying performances out of his actors that I’ve ever seen. A movie can’t have the kind of impact on its audience that this movie had on me without a great director behind the scenes. Because of this, he may be one of the greatest filmmakers of all time who I never want to watch another movie by.

 

Michael Heneke hates you...and loves you.

Michael Haneke hates you… and loves you.

 

At this point, you may be wondering why I haven’t discussed any of the plot or characters of the movie, and that’s mainly out of respect for the filmmaker. I feel that to experience this movie as the filmmaker wanted, you must go into it without any knowledge of what is going to happen. I don’t ever want to watch it again, but it is a movie worth watching, and I don’t want to take that experience away from anyone.

Of course, all of this is why I so desperately want to make the other guys on Buried Cinema watch the movie. More than any other movie, I want to discuss this one with them. I just have to build up the courage to watch it again.

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About the Author:

Steve was just a hapless young kid who couldn’t get into Starfleet, but by sheer wit, determination, and a hell of a lot of luck, he was made full ensign of Starfleet’s flagship anyway, despite having never even attended the Academy. He told me I could write anything I wanted about him here, as long as I said that he was like Nate, but better. When he’s not brooding over the graves of dead Irish poets, he is our talented Webmaster. We also record our podcast in his barn, so we’d be doubly non-existent without his considerable talents… and barn. His favorite films include Chinatown, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and anything Brian hates.

Option C — Edge of Darkness

By Steven Moore

I’ve notice that each of us on Buried Cinema chooses our pairings to the movie under review differently. Kevin often chooses a pairing that has the same actor, Tom by director, Nate by whatever Korean (or foreign, if he has to reach wider) film he can make fit. Oddly enough, Brian and I are the closest in how we pair movies, going for the thematic link. The difference is Brian often chooses movies he has already seen and wants to share with us, for good or bad. I, on the other hand, try to choose movies that most of us, if not all of us, haven’t seen (when I’m not staging a coup d’état on the choice entirely, of course).

One of the things I love about doing a weekly podcast with these guys is the process of discovering a movie together. There’s something about watching a movie for the first time, trying to process it, and coming to an understanding about what succeeds or fails that just can’t be replicated on a second or third viewing. Usually, I’ve already made my mind up at that point and am just trying to confirm my opinion. The discussion becomes more about proving my point of view than discovering what I think.

With that mindset, I chose Edge of Darkness  as my Option C pairing for 12, the Nikita Mikhalkov remake of 12 Angry Men. Edge of Darkness was Mel Gibson’s 2010 attempt to return to his action roots, not long after the various controversies he was involved in began to settle down. I chose this in part because IMDb suggested it, but also because I had heard it was an edgy (pun intended, sorry) revenge thriller that explored the consequences of finding the “truth.” This being the essential thematic idea behind 12, I figured it would make a good pairing. Although it turned out to be a surprisingly good action movie that kept my attention, I will ultimately only remember it for a few mind-blowing scenes.

 

edge of darkness

Mel Gibson, getting ready to blow somebody’s mind.

 

No matter what you think of Mel Gibson, he’s a great action star. In the same class as the Bruce Willis action hero, he’s not a muscled, invincible meathead or impossibly skilled martial artist. He gets by on luck and grit, and when he’s pissed, people better run. The man may be a terrible person (or not, who really knows?), but he is able to infuse what would normally be a mindless action character with a sense of pathos that few other actors can. Where Bruce Willis is a master at the nothing-left-to-lose persona, Gibson can convey a sense of desperation that drives him to forget not only the law, but also morality in his attempt to “set things right.”

This is exactly the character he portrays in Edge of Darkness, a man who is desperate for justice and the truth. He plays Thomas Craven, a respected Boston police officer who has lived his life for his daughter. While I’d like to go into more of a synopsis of the film, the surprises are so much a part of the experience of watching this movie, I hesitate to say more. There were several times when I said out loud, “Holy hell, did that just happen?” Although some of the characters are obviously not going to make it out of the movie alive, the suddenness or method in which they make their exit keeps surprising. The shock moments keep the movie propelling forward, at an admittedly herky-jerky pace.

What’s interesting about this revenge thriller is its pacing. There are many long series of scenes where not a lot happens. People talk, papers get exchanged, someone says something a little revealing, and Gibson looks defeated. Suddenly, all hell breaks loose, and I was left trying to reconstruct what just happened for the next 20-30 minutes while people continue to talk, papers continue to get exchanged, someone says something a little more revealing, and Gibson looks even more defeated. While the tropes of the revenge thriller are there, the characters, the ones that matter, are unexpected and surprisingly well written.

After watching the movie, I realized it would have been a perfect pairing for 16 Blocks, the movie Brian paired with 12. As it is, I’m sorry that we didn’t cover it on the podcast. It may not be one of Gibson’s best action movies, but it’s definitely worth talking about.

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About the Author:

Steve was just a hapless young kid who couldn’t get into Starfleet, but by sheer wit, determination, and a hell of a lot of luck, he was made full ensign of Starfleet’s flagship anyway, despite having never even attended the Academy. He told me I could write anything I wanted about him here, as long as I said that he was like Nate, but better. When he’s not brooding over the graves of dead Irish poets, he is our talented Webmaster. We also record our podcast in his barn, so we’d be doubly non-existent without his considerable talents… and barn. His favorite films include Chinatown, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and anything Brian hates.

Option C — The Call of Cthulhu

By Tom Kapr

Each week on the Buried Cinema podcast, one of us podcasters chooses a movie and another chooses a second movie to pair with it. This past weekend, we covered Brian’s pick of Pacific Rim and Steve’s somewhat odd pairing, Odd Thomas. Here’s the film I would have paired with Pacific Rim; this is Option C.

Nearly three years ago, I did something I called the 30 Days of Madness, in which I watched and reviewed 30 horror films (one per day, more or less) throughout October leading up to Halloween. I didn’t review the big movies that everyone knows; I stuck mainly to more obscure stuff. One of the best movies I watched that month was The Call of Cthulhu. I am re-publishing my review of that film as this week’s Option C. The more obvious connection here is “giant monsters from the sea,” but the less obvious connection is Pacific Rim writer/director Guillermo Del Toro’s long-gestating passion project, which has been stuck in development hell for years (and will likely, and unfortunately for all of us, stay there).

Here it is, from October 3, 2010; my review of The Call of Cthulhu:

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“That is not dead which can eternal lie, and in strange aeons even death may die.” –H.P. Lovecraft

The Call of Cthulhu (2005) Written by Sean Branney. Directed by Andrew Leman.

 

 

H.P. Lovecraft is one of the most celebrated writers of horror fiction in the history of the genre, his name unabashedly spoken in the same breath as that of Poe, and his works have inspired the likes of Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, and Stephen King. Unfortunately, I have not read but snippets of Lovecraft’s stories, so this film is my introduction to a full-fledged Lovecraft narrative. I trust the faithfulness of the film’s narrative, and with good reason — it was produced by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society.

Aside from its immersion in Lovecraft mythology, The Call of Cthulhu is also immersed in cinematic history. It is a silent film — yes, a silent film released in 2005 — and it displays its makers’ knowledge of the styles and techniques of the silent film era. The makeup and acting imitate the conventions of the era, as do the impressive art direction and the rousing orchestral score. I was pretty excited to see some Harryhausen-esque special effects. As a huge fan of Jason and the Argonauts and an admirer of Ray Harryhausen’s work in other such mythology-based productions, I often long for the days of stop-motion in this CGI-heavy digital era.

The filmmakers even replicate the usual negative scratches and projections of hairs caught in the lenses that viewers will often see in copies of films from the 1920s and earlier. If I have one criticism, it is that the film very much looks like it is trying to imitate these old films, rather than looking like an old film itself. It is obvious that this film was shot on modern technology and then aged in post-production. I wish they had instead used the old technology, or shot on 8mm, to reproduce the look of the silent era, as it would have added a layer of genuineness to the production that I found lacking.

This criticism aside, however, The Call of Cthulhu is a cool little film, coming in at under 47 minutes, and is great fun to watch, especially for students of the history of the medium of film and for admirers of Lovecraft’s work. It is an interesting look at the ability of madness to move from person to person like a virus, as the obsession with the mysteries of the cult of Cthulhu infect each new individual who hears the story from the last person to be driven mad by it.

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Tom was once a mere temp worker until he was kidnapped by mad scientists and imprisoned on a satellite in outer space where he was forced to watch bad movies with a couple of sarcastic sentient robots. He escaped over a decade ago, yet still he sits alone in a darkened room watching bad movies, whispering wisecracks into the dark. His favorite films include City Lights, Casablanca, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Amélie, Stagecoach, and the Toy Story trilogy. He edits the Rant Pad and the Buried Cinema podcast.

Option C — Rango

By Tom Kapr

Every week on Buried Cinema’s podcast, one of us chooses a film to review and another chooses a second film to pair with it. This is Option C.

This past week we reviewed the new blockbuster from Pirates of the Caribbean director/star team Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp, The Lone Ranger. It was terrible.

But the question remained: Could these two make a good Western under other circumstances? The answer is yes. Under other, very strange circumstances.

Whether or not Rango qualifies as a “buried” film is, I suppose, open for debate. But since I’m the one who coined the phrase, I’m just going to go ahead and say, hell yes, Rango qualifies. It’s an endangered film at the very least, one that could be buried by time, lack of the proper audience, and a misunderstanding of its nature. It has no doubt been viewed by lots of kids and passively enjoyed by their parents, but the audience Rango truly deserves are any and all serious lovers of the art and history of cinema, because it revels in both. It is a surreal homage to the Great American Western, and it is, simply, a beautifully animated film.

 

 

Rango is filmed as if it were a live-action production, one of the few CGI films I’ve seen that actually seems to have a sense of cinematography; not only is it bright, but it seems deliberately lit. (With Roger Deakins on the crew, this is not so surprising.) On top of the live sense of photography, the performances are the pinnacle of what can be achieved with CGI characters. Rango may be an animated lizard that looks nothing like Johnny Depp, but Depp’s performance comes through so clearly that, in his mannerisms and even his facial expressions, one can see Johnny Depp’s mannerisms and facial expressions. The rest of the cast of characters is no less impressive, with actors such as Isla Fisher, Stephen Root, and Ned Beatty giving great performances, as well as Timothy Olyphant doing an impeccable Clint Eastwood as the “Man With No Name”-inspired Spirit of the West. (Also, Johnny Depp manages a brilliant cameo as a character from one of his earlier films; it happens during the highway scene early in the film.)

Rango has a great sense of fun, of adventure, of humor, and even of drama. A thrilling stage chase through a canyon is one of the highlights. This is actually quite a mature film in its sensibilities, with plenty of gunplay, violence, and irreverent humor full of double entendres that only the adults will get. Though the plotting gets just a little sloppy during the finale (par for the course in spectacle films like this), it is a brilliant, textured, loving homage to the Western genre. It may be Verbinksi’s most accomplished, classic-status-worthy film.

As Nate said on the podcast, Verbinski should have accepted his Oscar (yep, this film won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film) and walked away from the Western genre. We may not have a good Lone Ranger movie, but as long as it’s not forgotten, we’ll always have Rango.

Tom was once a mere temp worker for a disreputable science lab, until he was kidnapped by a mad scientist and imprisoned on a satellite in outer space where he was forced to watch bad movies with a couple of sarcastic sentient robots. He escaped over a decade ago, yet still he sits alone in a darkened room watching bad movies, whispering wisecracks into the dark. His favorite films include City Lights, Casablanca, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Amélie, Stagecoach, and the Toy Story trilogy. He edits the Rant Pad and the Buried Cinema podcast.

Option C — Red Lights

By Nathanael Griffis

In life, as on our podcast Buried Cinema, there always seems to be two options: Option A or Option  B. Sometimes that is just not enough, so consider these films your Option C.
This Option C pairing is with our June 14 podcast “Now You Sydow Me.” In it we reviewed Now You See Me and The Magician. I have found a third option that I didn’t discuss on the podcast, but I think fits into the discussion. Red Lights is a psychological thriller from Rodrigo Cortés, the director of Buried. It’s about a young physicist (played by Cillian Murphy) who joins with a veteran psychologist (Sigourney Weaver) who made her career debunking psychics, magicians, and paranormal occurrences. They find themselves challenged when a psychic (Robert DeNiro) comes out of retirement after thirty years.

It has a classic premise of most magician films. The point in question is: is any of this real or just a trick? Naturally it has twists and turns, like a killer fight scene in a bathroom, which I didn’t see coming. Turns out Cillian Murphy can fight pretty well. Not well enough though, because — SPOILER ALERT — he loses the fight. The premise moves along nicely building tension and characters. The protagonists and antagonists never meet until the third act, which I enjoyed because it made their meeting more meaningful.

What surprised me the most though was the response to this film. After I’d finished it, I thought to myself that it was pretty good, and I liked the ending. Then I went to the internet and found that everyone disagreed with me. Not just that they didn’t like it, but that they all thought the exact opposite. The ending apparently had several people confused, and they kept using phrases like “derailed,” “lost control,” or “fell apart.”

This is were I have to take a stand. Sometimes as critics we get into an “Emperor’s New Clothes” mentality, where we simply take on others’ opinions because we’re afraid to disagree. Maybe it’s more subconscious than conscious, who knows. We’ve seen this on Buried Cinema before: movies like Safe and The Green Hornet are good movies worth checking out, but critics hold them back. I’m not too worried about my reputation though, because sometimes critics get it wrong (also I don’t think I’m influential enough to have a reputation). A famous example with Dark City comes to mind. Critics disparaged that movie when it was released. Now it’s considered a sci-fi classic whose concept has been repeated several times.

I don’t want to give away the ending, because I want you to watch the film for yourself. It definitely relies on the ending to be completely successful, but what to me was so impressive is that the ending is the only possibility that makes any sense. Still, you don’t see it coming, which is the sign of good storytelling. Cortés does a fantastic job of writing around the surprise. Most of the film is a giant red herring, but even knowing that, you’d be hard pressed not to be taken in.

What I think happened is that the film doesn’t directly explain it. There isn’t a scene of Morgan Freeman talking over flashbacks showing how it all worked. Instead the director expects that you have been paying attention through the whole film and can put together what happened. Frustrating, I know, but it’s so much more satisfying when you do the work.

Red Lights is bolstered by good performances from the whole cast. It’s script is taut, meaning it doesn’t waste a scene. It doesn’t take the easy way out, and it leaves you thinking at the end. Definitely a great Option C if you like magician films.

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