Jodorowsky’s Dune

May 3, 2014

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It’s fitting that Frank Pavich’s documentary, Jodoworksy’s Dune, opens with a series of panning close-ups of drawings, models, books, and other esoterica from the titular director’s office, for that is what this film is almost entirely composed of outside of its talking heads.  The film recounts, through interviews and access to original artwork, the two plus years of work Alejandro Jodoworsky and his team of “warriors” put into a cinematic adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune that would ultimately be halted before production began when the studios didn’t feel confident enough to pony up the $15 million budget.  What is left is a large, hardcover book of the entire film storyboarded as well as concept art and character design and notations, initially printed and presented to the studios to assure them they knew how to achieve the strange and extravagant vision Jodoworsky was intent on creating.  By the end of the documentary, it seems clear that the book should be reprinted for collectors – I, for once, would jump on the chance to own a copy to thumb through – but it also seems clear that the documentary itself should be included as a bonus for said book rather than a standalone feature.

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Inglourious Basterds

September 10, 2009

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Back in the mid-90’s, I recall a critic (possibly Ebert, but I can’t positively remember who it really was) saying that watching Pulp Fiction was to watch a kid let loose in a toy store.  The kid was, of course, the film’s co-writer and director Quentin Tarantino, and he wanted to play with everything.  It was pop art nonsense at it’s most explosive, vibrant, and shallow (and I mean that in the best way possible).  It released a slew of imitators and rip-offs, but the original excitement has never really dulled.  A critical darling for a time, Tarantino now finds himself, 15 years later, sometimes still praised, oftentimes derided.  Claims that he’s not what he used to be are based on his 21st Century output, which admittedly contains the lackluster Death Proof, and that he’s given himself over to fanboy self-indulgence.  Granted, nothing since (and including Basterds, we’re only talking about four films here, also assuming you believe Kill Bill to be two separate entities) has reached the emotional and character heights reached by Jackie Brown, his most (only?) mature film. Indulgence is certainly an issue, but Death Proof’s best moments came when he was fully embracing his exploitation B-movie love, providing a thrilling and tense finale, while Kill Bill popped with a visual inventiveness rarely seen in action films whilst also providing some fantastic Tarantino trademarked dialogue scenes.  So how does his latest opus, Inglourious Basterds, fare?  The short answer is ‘quite well, all in all.’ Read the rest of this entry »