March 17, 2006

"Elevator to the Gallows."

Today, I saw this brilliant poster:

This 1957 film will play at the Orpheum soon. Here's an NPR segment from last summer about the newly restored film. They've got the original poster over at that link. Here it is:

Don't you love Jean Moreau? Don't you love Louis Malle? This is one of his first films. An early Malle film that we love chez Althouse is "Zazie Dans Le Metro." A later Malle film, which happens to be my favorite film ever, is "My Dinner With Andre."

By the way, this is a pretty great poster too:

Would you see a film on the strength of the poster? I wouldn't. But the poster could be a strong factor. If "V for Vendetta" were playing in a theater here, I would have gone out to see it today, based on the poster and the fact that I still have enough love left over for the Wachowski brothers, even though I suffered through "The Matrix Reloaded." "Bound" and "The Matrix" were quite something. But, alas, "V for Vendetta" is not playing in Madison, and by the time it comes around, I'm sure my feeling for seeing it will have dissipated. That's either a good or a bad thing about living in Madison.

CORRECTION: "V for Vendetta" is playing in Madison now. The website I checked this morning was pathetically un-updated.


chuck b. said...

I'm tempted to go see V just because Natalie Portman's gangsta rap video on SNL made me laugh so hard. Is that a lamer reason for going to see a movie than because you like the poster? I dunno.

I loved the original comic book; that's gotta be a good reason NOT to see a movie.

I finally, for the first time, saw another Chez Althouse favorite: Eating Raoul! Wow--I loved *every minute* of it! I didn't realize it was so John Waters-esque. For some reason I thought it was more Peter Greenaway or Philip Kaufman. Or whatever.

Loved it.

chuck b. said...

Oh wait! i'm confusing Eating Raoul with My Dinner with Andre!!


I've got to stop drinking so much.

(still loved Eating Raoul)

CB said...

When Fight Club came out, I had no desire to see it until I saw the "Mischief, Mayhem, Soap" posters. I checked it out, and it is now my all-time favorite movie.

Ann Althouse said...

Well why don't we just list weird movies about eating? Offhand, I think of "La Grande Bouffe" and "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover."

Ann Althouse said...

CB: "Fight Club" is one of my favorite movies too. It was mismarketed -- we were just talking about that the other day. I thought it was macho stuff about guys fighting, but I happened to stop into it on the way to seeing another movie at the multiplex and then went back to see the whole thing. You're right about the poster too.

CB said...

Years ago, purely by coincidence, I rented Eating Raoul, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, and A Boy and His Dog all within about a week, not knowing what any of them were about. (for those who may not know, they all involve cannibalism)

chuck b. said...

When I think about weird movies about eating, I think of the Chinese food scene in Cronenberg's Existenz, which is just mind-blowing (the scene; not really the movie).

I want to see the Danish moive The Celebration, which more about a dinner and the events that unfurl around it...not so much about the eating, as I understand.

And there's a ticky-tacky retro-feminist flick called Eating about women's eating issues. By Henry Jablom or Jaglom or something.

(If I knew about Google or Wikipedia, I could look it up, huh, but I don't really care to.)

Mom Underground said...

V for Vendetta is playing at the Star IMAX in Fitchburg next week, as my husband has made plans to cut out of work early and see it with friends (really, something I heartily endorse because I'd rather not have to accompany him). I think it opens tonight (March 17)?

Ann Althouse said...

I hated "Celebration."

mcg said...

"Big Night"? Not weird enough, maybe.

Wade_Garrett said...

Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe is pretty weird, but then, the casting of Jaqueline Bisset makes any movie worth watching. Most Luis Bunuel films are really weird, but in a good way.

One of the best weird movies to come out recently is Dark City. In my opinion its one of the most underrated movies of the past ten years.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Movie posters used to be works of art, but now they usually consist of the stars' floating heads. The V poster is cool, though. Fun fact: Stanley Kubrick designed his movies' marketing images himself.

It's funny what Ann said about the marketing of Fight Club. I, too, thought it was going to be macho stuff about guys fighting. But, because I like macho stuff about guys fighting, I was dissappointed. Also, the plan to blow up the bank buildings to wipe out the credit records would not work.

Admittedly, I am in the minority about Fight Club. Many people of taste believe it to be one of the best pictures of the 90s.

Now, what I'm about to say is controversial for two reasons: many people think this movie just plain sucks and it inspired the perpetrators of the North Hollywood bank heist/shootout. Neverthelesss, Michael Mann's Heat was one of the best pictures of the 90s. It also had a cool poster.

bluehoo12 said...

"Revival of a New-Wave Master
Three Louis Malle films, now on DVD, show the world through the prism of adolescence, says Joe Morgenstern"

Johnny Nucleo said...

I was once forced to watch a Japanese movie about ramen noodles called Tampopo. It was weird and it was about eating. It was for a class, so I wasn't really paying attention.

Elizabeth said...

Tampopo is one of my favorite movies. I'm still hoping for a really good noodle shop in New Orleans. Sushi, while I love it, is overrated. I haven't seen it for awhile; does it have a scene with a guy whisking a raw egg in his lover's belly button?

chuck b. said...

Oh, yeah--I liked Tampopo; hilarious as I recall. Juzo Itami, I think. It was his best film...of the ones that made it to the US. He committed suicide or something.

Jamie said...

The graphic novel was breathtaking to my young eyes and sensibilities way back in my youth. I'm a huge Alaan Moore fan.

Michael Farris said...

Tampopo is great, really great. When the cowboy and the teacher finally drink the broth it's one of the great cathartic moments of movies. Anyone who didn't pay attention because it was an assignment is not worthy of the experience of seeing it. Talk about pearls before swine ...

Still, I think I was even more knocked out by the Funeral. Itami's movies are about primal human concerns, food, money, death. AFAIK he never did a movie primarily about sex but it runs all through his other movies.

Elizabeth is confusing two things the gangster-gourmet and his girlfriend do in their hotel room.

1. He places some live shrimp on her naked stomache and quickly covers it with a bowl with vinegar or wine, something that makes the shrimp start wriggling around as she starts giggling uncontrollably.

2. They take a whole raw egg yolk and pass it between each others mouths several times, finally she climaxes and you see a thin yellow stream dribble out of the corner of her mouth.

Michael Farris said...

Speaking of movie posters, Retrocrush has a small homage to movie posters from communist Poland where the original hollywood product were replaced by quirkily inventive local designs.

(watch for wrap)

Sadly, this particular artform is dead. Now they just use the standard hollywood crap as every other damned place in the universe.

And multiplexes designed to appeal to children and teenagers have driven all the old time comfy neighborhood movie theaters out of business too, and driven down adult movie attendance in the process but multiplexes are about moving product (popcorn, coke and candy) and not about seeing movies.

The last movie I saw in a multiplex (corpse bride) was so frickin' loud my ears were ringing for 2 hours afterwards. I'm not keen on returning. I like seeing movies in movie theaters but I can't stand the multiplex experience.

s1c said...

Actually I want to see this movie just to see if Hugo creates another excellent character. I thought he played the perfect agent in the matrix and every time I saw him appear in the LOTR movies I always said "hello, mr. anderson"

Mark said...

I saw "V for Vendetta" yesterday and I was angered by how anti-West, anti-Bush, and anti-Christian it was. I was under the impression it would "raise some questions about who a terrorist is" but there was no balance, no subtlety about it. It's a screeching left-wing polemic. If you had no knowledge of politics in the real world the movie would leave the impression that the greatest threat to world peace and freedom is persecution of gays and muslims - when in fact gays have never been less persecuted in modern history, and muslims are the ones doing what persecuting there is. I don't think it spoils the movie to say that the only source of entertainment is counting the number of anti-Bush/anti-American tropes: the pointed black hoods for prisoners (Abu Ghraib), the orange prison outfit for the heroine (Guantanamo), the fact that the evil leader is a "very, very religious" Christian conservative who uses a red-and-black christian cross as the swastika-like symbol out of his party, the allusion to 9/11 being a manufactured crisis designed to allow illegitimate seizure of power, the conplicity of "big pharma" in creating a virus (tested on peace protesters), and so on.

I can't believe we have to try to fight the muslim fanatics and also have to struggle uphill against this kind of morale-sapping b.s. from people supposedly on our side.

Clive said...

Best thing about Lift to the Scaffold, by a long way, is Miles Davis's music. Jeanne M looks great, though.

wadikitty said...


They're not on our side.

Wade_Garrett said...

Sides? Are we talking about who is on who's side? Do you really buy into that silly "you're with us or you're against us" bullshit? If so, what side is Sandra Day O'Connor on? What side is Colin Powell on, or William F. Buckley? Besides, the fact that the Bush administration, you know, DOES all of those things that writers since Orwell have been depicting as signs of encroaching dictatorship should tell you something, shouldn't it?

Mark - Your blog disgusts me, as it should every Althouse fan. "Western Survival: Dedicated to Discussion By White Westerners of Strategies For the Survival of Our Peoples?" Are you SERIOUS?

Wade_Garrett said...

Mark's comments remind me of an article I read in a film class about Stalin's reaction to Sergei Eisenstein's Ivan The Terrible. The Ivan the Terrible character was clearly meant to represent Stalin, though it never explicitly said so. The film was eventually banned in the USSR, but not immediately upon its release, because at first nobody wanted to TELL Stalin that this awful character in the movie was supposed to represent him.

I haven't seen the film V for Vendetta, but I've read the comic book, and I plan to see the movie. The book portrays a grim, post-apocalyptic world in which big industry, religion, and conservative politics are inseparable from each other, and in which the populace's fear for their own security is manipulate by the government to let fascism creep into every day life. Soon, religious minorities and homosexuals are rounded up and put into concentration camps, and it goes on from there.

In the 2004 election, John Kerry lost because the right was able to convince the american people that Kerry liked homosexuals too much and didn't hate Muslim terrorists enough. They've used paranoia over security to justify torture, spying, warrantless search and seizure, and two overseas wars. If you look at modern day America and think that V for Vendetta is criticizing it, then what does that say?

Robert R. said...

Back to the original point, I agree that movie poster art seems to be a lost skill. I'm perhaps most disappointed that most comic book movies don't take advantage of their graphic history. I understand why it would be hard to do something really dynamic with a domestic drama, but you do something like Fantastic Four and there's no reason not to invoke Jack Kirby. V For Vendetta's poster doesn't really invoke the graphic novel, but it does invoke Soviet propaganda films, which I think is a smart choice.

As for V For Vendetta, I haven't seen it yet, but my main worry is that they made V too much of a hero. And turned the V / Evey relationship too much into a love story. V, in the book, is as unconcerned for people as individuals as the totalitarian government and he's as much a monster in his own way as the government. Vendetta is part of the title of the graphic novel for a reason. Alan Moore took the position that V represented the opposite of the totalitarian regime which wasn't democracy but anarchy. And the book certainly didn't end on a "I am Spartacus" moment but on much more uncertain ground. The movie definitely appears to be painting in much broader strokes, and the dynamic seems to have changed some with the government being more mustache twirling evil and V being more hero than crazed, loon anti-hero.

I'm curious though, if the context of the story changed, would people still get worked up. For instance, if it was set in Iran and called J for Jihad? And, if not, do you think people would be eager to watch it? Sometimes the setting, as in most dystopian movies, is just to get people's attention.

Wade_Garrett said...

Robert r - I really enjoyed your post. You're correct to say that the V character is truly and anarchist, instead of a democratic freedom fighter. That's a very important distinction to make.

Regarding the setting: 1984 was set in Britain/Oceania, instead of the U.S.S.R., not necessarily because he thought Britain was turning into Oceania, but rather to show that it could happen anywhere, given the right combination of circumstances. You're right to say that if it was set in Tehran, the exact same movie wouldn't get conservatives anywhere near as riled up; in fact they would probably celebrate it.

Having read some of the criticism of V for Vendetta, mostly written by people who haven't seen the movie, it seems as if people see the fact that it is set in Britain and assume that the authors of the film are "blame America/Britan firsters." I don't think that's the case at all, I think the point is that what we criticize in other countries could happen here if we're not vigilant.

dick said...


Hate to disillusion you but the problem with Kerry was not the rights getting the people to think one way or the other. The problem with Kerry was that he showed the people what a total turkey he was and they voted against him.

Mark said...

Terry - I realize that the worst sin a white man can commit in the eyes of people like you is to actually be kind of fond of his people and his culture and want to see them survive - something you folks grant to members of every other race and culture on earth but mine. I'm sure if I was an NAACP or MeCHA member you'd have no problem with it. So excuse me if I don't apologize for writing a blog about something I believe in.

One of the best things about Ms. Althouse's blog is that she welcomes all points of view as long as they are respectfully expressed. It's part of what makes her blog one of the most interesting.

XWL said...

The politics aren't what's wrong with V for Vendetta, rather it's boring, which for me is the worst possible sin for a film.

As far as V being a freedom fighter, terrorist, or anarchist, in the graphic novel it's pretty clear he's mostly an anarchist and not to be empathized with, in the film very different story, definitely.

As far as changing the setting, Iran would be the homophobic religious fanatic run dystopia with 'morals' police running rough shod over the populace and dissidents 'disappearing' that most resembles the film's depiction of England, but it would be a snowy day in Hollywood before a film showing that story would be made.

As to films with gastronomic 'oddities' Motel Hell, is better than it looks, and as to Juzo Itami, he was one of the all time great directors and his wife is a brilliant actress (she played the lead in all of his films).

Johnny Nucleo said...

Michael Farris said: "Anyone who didn't pay attention because it was an assignment is not worthy of the experience of seeing it. Talk about pearls before swine ..."

Swine you say? Swine?! How dare you! You scroundrel, you villain, you rapscallion!

Michael Farris, you have besmirched my honor for the last time. I demand satisfaction.

If you have any honor, sir, you will accept my challenge or retract your vile slander. The choice of arms is of course yours, but I must warn you, I am a master of them all. I killed my own brother in a duel with nail-clippers.

Diego, my dear brother! Forgive me!

We loved the same woman, you see. The most beautiful woman in the village - Yolanda. I used to watch her fetch water from the well. Later, I would replay the image in my mind and masturbate.

Yolanda and I married. At last she would be mine! That night, she showed herself to me. Alas, she was no woman! She was a dude, dressed like a woman!

Oh, how I wept!

I thought of suicide. Then, I figured, I'd already paid for the room, so what the hell.

Michael Farris said...

"Swine you say? Swine?! How dare you! ...
Michael Farris, you have besmirched my honor for the last time. I demand satisfaction."

Hey, you have the pearls, what more do you want?

"If you have any honor, sir, you will accept my challenge or retract your vile slander. The choice of arms is of course yours, but I must warn you, I am a master of them all."

All? Including (my forte if I may be so bold) the whithering stare?

PG said...

I was a little worried about V for Vendetta due to Alan Moore's reaction to the movie, but overall I thought it was good. There are certain Matrixboy weaknesses that come out particularly at the end of V: cheap romantic sentiment, and slow motion violence. Still, many of the things the Wachowski Bros. added were very cinematically effective.

As for the anti-Bush/anti-America (because it's the same thing, surely!) tone of the movie, let me remind that we put many prisoners, even ones who have gotten trials, in orange jumpsuits. Like, to the point that they're sold as "prisoner Halloween costume."
Hollywood's already done at least one movie about repressive Iranian society, back when Saddam was our ally.

Robert R. said...

I'm likely to see V tomorrow night so that I can weigh in on the matter with more insight. My reading of the online geek community indicates that most think it's a good movie but a mediocre adaptation. Most seem to be particularly satisfied with the V and the Doctor scene, the "Valerie" sequence, and the torture sequence, which supposedly hew much closer to the original book than most of the rest of the movie.

Then again, it may be that old "The book was better than the movie" syndrome rearing its head.

In any event, I'm seeing more comparisons to The Matrix than to Reloaded or Revolutions, so that's a good sign.

Robert R. said...

Don't know if anyone is still reading this topic. I saw V For Vendetta last night and liked it in a slick, Hollywood way. I can't believe people would actually get worked up over this film though. Other than a few "edgy" hot button references, the evil regime depicted in this movie is so cartoonishly evil that any larger point that was going to be made is lost in a simple good vs. evil story. Most of my fears for the adaptation were realized and I don't think it holds together intellectually.

That said, I still liked it. I'm a sucker for a good revenge story and if you're going to wear your influences on your sleeve, The Count of Monte Cristo is an excellent starting point. The action scenes have none of the bloat of The Matrix sequels. I found Hugo Weaving's verbal gymnastics quite fun. Natalie Portman is solid. And stuff blows up spectacularly. Just don't think about it too hard.