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minds his own damn business
like the pointless use of slow-motion in Mr. Orange's bathroom story, which does little to add any tension to the scene, since we already know it didn't really happen
The bathroom scene is one of my favorite parts of the film. The slo-mo isn't really about creating tension as much as reflecting the agonizing paranoia involved, which is relatable to certain audiences with experience dealing with po-po while holding.
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I find the more we know about the characters in RD, the less effective it is. The more sweaty and inescapable the fate of these characters feels, the more I invest in it. Letting us see the prep of Oranges undercover work, the already mentioned folly of the drug dog story and even the scene of White being brought back into the family (as good a scene as that actually is) dampens the tension. I think normally this would be fine, but since Dogs only seems to crackle during its moments of violence and anxiety, it's half hearted attempts to flesh out it's characters seem like a diversion I don't particularly need.


Great write up of Kill Bill. You only missed the part where you mention it's his best (yes, I admit this is an easily refuted position, but critics need to be bold and brave and willing to say totally stupid things at all times)



minds his own damn business
Lost Highway (Lynch, 1997)
Strange that this is the only review without a spoiler alert. *My response will contain spoilers*


This movie at first seems defined by negative space. Both visually, in the sparseness of the protagonist’s home, and narratively, in the deliberate, isolating treatment of its characters and the elemental way it cycles through film noir tropes. This is an approach that results occasionally in great atmosphere, but rarely has an effect that sustains beyond individual sections. I think one reason is that the story, which is enigmatic in ways that are to be expected of David Lynch’s work, rarely translates to actual dream logic.
I agree with the negative space atmospheric, but hard disagree that it 'rarely translates' to dream logic. Probably the dreamiest part of the film is when a (dreaming? sleepwalking?) zombie-like Bill Pullman disappears into the negative space of a shadow-vortex that seems to appear in one of the many dark recesses of his house. Like a lot of Lynch, the plot, like a dream, really only gels by trying to piece its moments together after the fact. And like a lot of Lynch, it's still nebulous enough to have some contentious interpretations.



Could both of Arquette’s characters be the same person?
My reading is that they are, which seems to be revealed when her picture with Dick Laurent, which previously showed both Arquettes, is finally shown with only one. My take is that it was Arquette who "invited" Blake for the purpose of killing Laurent, which he does using Pullman/Getty as useful idiots. There's enough backstory to show that Arquette had experienced significant sexual and psychological abuse, reflected in a similar manner as Muholland Dr by cleaving her into two dissociated persons, one a cold disaffected wife and the other still under Laurent's command and control. Pullman/Getty seem more like two men fused together. Getty kinda looks like he's had Bill Pullman shoved into that somewhat Frankensteinish head of his. The male jealousy aspect is a bit of a red herring, but Arquette is the film's true agent.



And who is the strange creepy man (Robert Blake) and is he really in two places at once?
Typical of Lynch, there's going to be some unexplained things that we just have to go along with. Like the various dimensions and metaphysical spaces in Twin Peaks, Blake seems on par with the ethereal beings like Bob or the Arm.



(I wonder if the film would work better for me if our narrative viewpoint was aligned to Patricia Arquette instead of Pullman and Getty.)
I like the duplicity of not being obviously from Arquette's perspective even though we're really watching her story unfold. I like the distance aspect, both in our perspective and the emotional chill from Arquette's characters. It is a bit of a noir cliche that are male protagonists are basically used by being blinded by their own baser instincts, but I think it works here better than you did.



I also like a lot of the darker stuff that's only fleetingly referenced or alluded to. Laurent isn't just a smut-peddler, as it's strongly suggested there's a snuff element to these productions. Not just the Rammstein, we also see the Marilyn Manson figure killed and collapse in a brief shot, his blood spattered on one of the porn actresses. The air of cruelty and violence in the brief excerpts of films that we see adds a lot of potential to what Arquette may have endured and experienced which caused her to become psychologically dissociated. What exactly was the nature of Laurent and Andy's enterprise isn't entirely clear but there's a sense of something ritualistic, maybe sex/blood magick, possibly satanic. How Blake fits into this is obscure but intriguing. Perhaps he's the resident demon of all of this depravity.



I don’t find the soundtrack choices here as cinematic.
Some of it works really well - Bowie's title track, Lou Reed's "This Magic Moment". I could do without the more gothy Manson and Pumpkins tracks.


And the movie deserves some respect for trying to answer the age-old question: would Patricia Arquette still be hot if she had the face of Robert Blake?
It's an interesting take that Blake may be a manifestation of Arquette herself rather than something she's summoned to fulfill her desire. Maybe it doesn't really matter. One question that I have is whether or not Arquette was actually killed. I'm pretty sure that for Lynch she survived in some form, as however she's transcended from corporeal reality. But I've always been intrigued by the fact that the only time we see her dead corpse is through the grainy pixels of the CCTV camera. And in these magnified grainy pixels, she does somewhat resemble the pale bloodless face of Blake. Or Marilyn Manson? Maybe Manson had been sacrificed for this purpose, as a replacement in a similar manner that Getty and Pullman were interchanged?



TBH I don't see Pulp Fiction being replaced as my favourite QT (and I say this having loved most of his movies). I don't have any particular insights about it (aside from how the bolo tie completely changes Travolta's look), but I revisited it around the same time as I watched those two, and it was like seeing an old friend.


I'm also the weirdo who thinks his performance in that movie is hilarious. Am I laughing for completely intentional reasons? Who cares.



minds his own damn business
TBH I don't see Pulp Fiction being replaced as my favourite QT (and I say this having loved most of his movies).
This is a totally not stupid thing to say



This is a totally not stupid thing to say
I'm gonna need you to endorse the rest of my post.



Also, looks like Letterboxd is finally adding pornography.


Preemptive apologies to Captain Terror for ruining his feed.



minds his own damn business
I'm gonna need you to endorse the rest of my post.
The bolo tie completely changes Travolta's look. He is hilarious in the role. I care.



The bolo tie completely changes Travolta's look. He is hilarious in the role. I care.
Thank you, JJ.


*puts away gun*



He's just going to blow you away in the back seat of the car.
Is this about the porn post or the gun post?


We will never know.



minds his own damn business
He's just going to blow you away in the back seat of the car.
God came down and stopped these mfing bullets.



Strange that this is the only review without a spoiler alert. *My response will contain spoilers*



I agree with the negative space atmospheric, but hard disagree that it 'rarely translates' to dream logic. Probably the dreamiest part of the film is when a (dreaming? sleepwalking?) zombie-like Bill Pullman disappears into the negative space of a shadow-vortex that seems to appear in one of the many dark recesses of his house. Like a lot of Lynch, the plot, like a dream, really only gels by trying to piece its moments together after the fact. And like a lot of Lynch, it's still nebulous enough to have some contentious interpretations.




My reading is that they are, which seems to be revealed when her picture with Dick Laurent, which previously showed both Arquettes, is finally shown with only one. My take is that it was Arquette who "invited" Blake for the purpose of killing Laurent, which he does using Pullman/Getty as useful idiots. There's enough backstory to show that Arquette had experienced significant sexual and psychological abuse, reflected in a similar manner as Muholland Dr by cleaving her into two dissociated persons, one a cold disaffected wife and the other still under Laurent's command and control. Pullman/Getty seem more like two men fused together. Getty kinda looks like he's had Bill Pullman shoved into that somewhat Frankensteinish head of his. The male jealousy aspect is a bit of a red herring, but Arquette is the film's true agent.




Typical of Lynch, there's going to be some unexplained things that we just have to go along with. Like the various dimensions and metaphysical spaces in Twin Peaks, Blake seems on par with the ethereal beings like Bob or the Arm.




I like the duplicity of not being obviously from Arquette's perspective even though we're really watching her story unfold. I like the distance aspect, both in our perspective and the emotional chill from Arquette's characters. It is a bit of a noir cliche that are male protagonists are basically used by being blinded by their own baser instincts, but I think it works here better than you did.



I also like a lot of the darker stuff that's only fleetingly referenced or alluded to. Laurent isn't just a smut-peddler, as it's strongly suggested there's a snuff element to these productions. Not just the Rammstein, we also see the Marilyn Manson figure killed and collapse in a brief shot, his blood spattered on one of the porn actresses. The air of cruelty and violence in the brief excerpts of films that we see adds a lot of potential to what Arquette may have endured and experienced which caused her to become psychologically dissociated. What exactly was the nature of Laurent and Andy's enterprise isn't entirely clear but there's a sense of something ritualistic, maybe sex/blood magick, possibly satanic. How Blake fits into this is obscure but intriguing. Perhaps he's the resident demon of all of this depravity.




Some of it works really well - Bowie's title track, Lou Reed's "This Magic Moment". I could do without the more gothy Manson and Pumpkins tracks.




It's an interesting take that Blake may be a manifestation of Arquette herself rather than something she's summoned to fulfill her desire. Maybe it doesn't really matter. One question that I have is whether or not Arquette was actually killed. I'm pretty sure that for Lynch she survived in some form, as however she's transcended from corporeal reality. But I've always been intrigued by the fact that the only time we see her dead corpse is through the grainy pixels of the CCTV camera. And in these magnified grainy pixels, she does somewhat resemble the pale bloodless face of Blake. Or Marilyn Manson? Maybe Manson had been sacrificed for this purpose, as a replacement in a similar manner that Getty and Pullman were interchanged?
Appreciate this response, and I'd be lying if I said a lot of this occurred to me. I don't have too much of a counterpoint, but during my Mulholland Drive rewatch, it became pretty clear to me that my primary issue was with Balthazar Getty's performance. You know how Crumbsroom says passively bad is more offensive than actively bad because the latter at least gives you enough to react to? Getty's performance here feels like a great example of the former. Just a complete void sucking up the screen.


As for the dream logic, I don't have too much of a counter-argument, but find these things often fall down to how things "feel". The narrative movements in Mulholland Drive "feel" more like a dream to me than

the ones in Lost Highway. It was easier to give myself up to the former, perhaps because of the lack of Getty.



Wouldn't mind revisiting this down the line though, especially with your points in mind. I'm one of the weirdos who like Dune (and enjoyed it even more on a rewatch), so it's only fair I give this another chance.



As promised (or threatened), I will exhume my review of Necromania that I hammered out a few months ago. (I'll do more actual new reviews soon, I swear.)



Necromania (Wood, 1971)




I am not in the cult of Ed Wood. I’d seen exactly two of his films and did not gel to either one. I attempted many years ago to watch Plan 9 From Outer Space, called it quits a few minutes in, tried again last year and still found it a strangely unengaging experience. For lack of more a better word, its badness was too flat and dignified for my taste. (Give me the energetic good vibes of Miami Connection or Rock'n'Roll Nightmare any day.) I also watched Bride of the Monster, which I honestly didn’t think was that bad. Yes, it’s obviously cheap and technically inept, but is classed up enough by the Bela Lugosi performance that it almost takes the fun out of the experience. Some may find it endearing that Lugosi was still this committed at this stage of his career, but I found myself a bit depressed that a titan of cinema was reduced to such squalid work at the same time his health was failing. Yet, because of my interest in a certain genre and the fact that my curiosity sometimes gets the better of me, after discussing bad movies with my internet compatriots, I found myself compelled to check out Necromania, his hardcore porn feature.

The plot concerns a couple, pretending to be married, arriving at a creepy house in an effort to repair their love life with the help of a mysterious Madame Heles, who we learn is a necromancer (not a witch). We know the house is creepy as the boyfriend remarks upon entry “Any moment I expect Bela Lugosi as Dracula”. We know their love life is in trouble when, after a bout of coupling, they have an exchange like this:

“Damn, I might just as well watch television. That’s how much of a charge you give me.”

“You just don’t try hard enough.”

“Hard, that’s whole the problem.”
The boyfriend spends the entire movie having his manhood attacked, in ways both bad (as above, or later being browbeaten by his girlfriend when he freaks out at the sight of two women having sex) and good (sexually speaking, finding itself in different orifices), or just flailing around as he struggles to put on a pair of pajames (which happens multiple times; don’t you hate pants?). Lest you think he’s having all the fun, his girlfriend, played by Rene Bond (the only recognizable face here; Maila Nurmi turned down the role Wood offered her) makes a new friend with a woman she bumps into when walking down the hallway, by which I mean they start ****ing in the middle of the hallway. The movie’s most stylistically sophisticated section cross-cuts between the girlfriend and boyfriend having sex with different partners, the sight of Rene Bond with her friend offering welcome but brief reprieves from the boyfriend’s pasty ass as he thrusts into his partner. Of course, with the sound of a gong, the fun stops, the hero and heroine are brought to a room with a coffin, and we finally meet the Madame Heles that everyone has been talking about.

It’s worth noting that this coffin owned by the Amazing Criswell (who wisely prophesized that “future events such as these will affect you in the future”) and was an antique that apparently dated back to the Lincoln presidency. I say it’s worth noting because it’s much funnier to think it was in fact Lincoln’s coffin that Madame Heles ends up fellating the hero in, although most viewers will be relieved that Lincoln is not actually in the coffin while they do the deed. Of course, this act wraps up the movie (which runs a brisk, merciful fifty-or-so minutes), but before then we’re not treated to just the above events, but plenty of being spied on by owl eyes on the walls, being startled by a stuffed wolf, the sight of an orgy through a kaleidoscopic lens, a weird sex ritual in front of the coffin, and numerous reminders that the leads are not married. (Apparently Wood adapted the story from a novel and changed the status of their relationship, with the only reason I can discern that he can repeatedly bring it up in the dialogue.)

And plenty of sluggish, low energy sex while out of sync moaning and loud music permeate the soundtrack. (Wood’s preference appears to be rockabilly, but he finds room for jazz and big band.) And plenty of the hero’s dangling penis while he struggles with the act of putting on pajamas. I describe the movie somewhat facetiously, but truth be told, it’s not unenjoyable. Plenty of the dialogue is intentionally humorous. (“Good lord.” “You can say that again.” “Good lord.”) And the mix of rough, spotty filmmaking and the idiosyncratic set design has the film settling into a pretty distinct rhythm during its brief runtime. Wood seems to almost mock the genre as he executes it in the most rudimentary manner possible (as with a lazily leering pan of Bond’s body as she argues with her boyfriend about his inability to please her) and often seems more interested in the decor he’s picked out or the stilted acting than in the sight of nude bodies in sexual congress. Those whose experience in Wood’s oeuvre runs deeper than mine can perhaps detect greater significance or traces of his personality in the work (this was made after his most famous films but before he started churning out loops), but I liked this, all things considered.




minds his own damn business
it became pretty clear to me that my primary issue was with Balthazar Getty's performance. You know how Crumbsroom says passively bad is more offensive than actively bad because the latter at least gives you enough to react to? Getty's performance here feels like a great example of the former. Just a complete void sucking up the screen.
No argument from me that Getty was the weakest part of the film, and his portion suffers for it. I'm not sure if Lynch cast him because of the Frankenstein-head thing (he does look like a wax Bill Pullman that's been left in the microwave too long), or if he felt he had just the right amount of stupid on his face at all times. Sometimes I wonder if Lynch casts the occasional actor just because he wants to make fun of them, Michael Cera in TP: The Return, for example. Did Lynch take the job of directing that Duran Duran concert because he likes their music or just for the opportunity to have Barbie dolls dance with "D"s on their breasts. We'll never know.


As for the dream logic, I don't have too much of a counter-argument, but find these things often fall down to how things "feel". The narrative movements in Mulholland Drive "feel" more like a dream to me than the ones in Lost Highway. It was easier to give myself up to the former, perhaps because of the lack of Getty.
The dream atmosphere is definitely stronger in the early part of the film, so much so that although it isn't explicitly depicted, I've taken for granted that Pullman's saxophonist was a drug addict because of the barbiturate tone.



minds his own damn business
I also watched Bride of the Monster, which I honestly didn’t think was that bad. Yes, it’s obviously cheap and technically inept, but is classed up enough by the Bela Lugosi performance that it almost takes the fun out of the experience. Some may find it endearing that Lugosi was still this committed at this stage of his career, but I found myself a bit depressed that a titan of cinema was reduced to such squalid work at the same time his health was failing.
I do find the film enormously funny for these technical failings. It might help that my original VHS copy was a public domain dupe from a print that had about 20 cue dots per reel, in increasingly wild patterns and places. But I genuinely think that it is one of Bela's best performances, and the fact that he's so earnest and committed for a film that is such a waste of his talents adds a certain pathos that Wood's screenwriting couldn't possibly provide on its own. It also helps now that it's probably impossible not to see through the filter of Martin Landau's take which focuses on this precise aspect.


Wood’s preference appears to be rockabilly
Ha, just like John Waters! It's one of the funnier parts of A Dirty Shame. I guess you have to be of a certain generation or cultural milieu to find rockabilly to be the most appropriate embodiment of dangerous sex, but it's so silly, like that scene in Walk Hard: "It's the Devil's music!"