September 7, 2009

Hunter, manhunter, hubris

1. Have you ever wondered about that song from Night of the Hunter, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms"? Gordon Campbell's Werewolf has a good piece on it this month, written from inside the song's tent-revival world -- or, rather, from someone who knew that world and whose exposure to the use of this song in this movie was one step along the road towards leaving it. The idea: Mitchum's use of the song is a stance as provocative as Sid Vicious singing "My Way"; the story of the film is the dangers children face in a dark and threatening world -- now even the protection the song talked of has gone.

2. Michael Mann's Public Enemies. Johnny Depp is good and Christian Bale is even better. As in Mann's big-screen Miami Vice, American pulp becomes high art through the tricks of Mann's method -- restrained and sombre performances, unexpected close-ups and odd angles, the chaotic editing of sudden gun violence, some arrestingly beautiful images (a shoot-out in an apple orchard, a window in an apartment filled with a moving train, Dillinger alone in the Chicago police station) -- while the use of digital video gives us the illusion of clarity. But in fact these characters are always inscrutable.

3. Things they might wish they had never said: the Quentin Tarantino edition. Here is Tarantino ("Mr Blood Red"), in an interview by Ella Taylor, LA Weekly, 1992.
Tarantino brims over with ideas for future movies, including love stories and musicals. He has no doubt that he can continue to make the movies he wants within the studio system. “I’m not coming from the attitude that I want to run as far away from the studios as I can, or the attitude that I want to run up to the studios as much as I can, because there’s danger in both. You don’t watch out and next minute you’re Richard Donner. At the same time, if all you do is these little art films for 10 years for a million or two dollars, you’re going to climb up your own ass. When was the last time Nicolas Roeg did a good movie? I’m not ragging on other people, but after I saw Twin Peaks — Fire Walk With Me at Cannes, David Lynch has disappeared so far up his own ass that I have no desire to see another David Lynch movie until I hear something different. And you know, I loved him. I loved him. I think Gus Van Sant, after My Own Private Idaho, has become a parody of himself. A lot of these guys, they’ve become known for their quirky personality, and when they can do whatever they want, they showcase their quirky personality.”