Emma Thompson

Content Creation: Your Characters Are Family

This was going to be a review of John Lee Hancock’s Saving Mr. Banks. I’d read somewhere in the British press after it debuted at the London Film Festival that it was the one to beat, that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. In reality it’s simply the most obvious chunk of Oscar bait this season, so much so it’s a caricature of an Oscar-bait film. In this respect it is meta, but I doubt deliberately so; children’s author Pamela Travers didn’t want to sell the rights to Mary Poppins to Walt Disney because she was afraid it would be turned into a cartoon. Aaaaaand, violà! Her own life story has been rendered like a diorama at Disneyland,

Barkhad Abdi

REVIEW: ‘Captain Phillips’ Sails the Clash Between Two Worlds that Share One Planet

There are many reasons to praise Paul Greengrass’ likely Oscar-contender Captain Phillips, but chief among them is it brings to the forefront the largest obstacle facing mankind as we struggle to reach global equilibrium: The fractious binary nature of developed versus underdeveloped cultures and the geopolitics that arise from that schism. Other films, particularly those chronicling hyper-modern America’s ongoing war with ultra-medieval Islamism, have been set amidst this clash, but none benefit from the intimate, empathetic dynamic between Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) and his antagonist, Muse (Barkhad Abdi). It’s a dynamic that nails on a visceral level how complex and unresolvable — at least in the foreseeable future — certain cultural polarities are.

Based on the true story of the MV Maersk Alabama’s hijacking in 2009 off the coast of Somalia, Captain Phillips is already generating controversy for overlooking the eponymous hero’s most egregious mistake:

Hugo Weaving Cloud Atlas

REVIEW: ‘Cloud Atlas,’ A Symphony of Love in Six Eras

Now that I’ve seen Cloud Atlas, I wish I’d made more of an effort to attend one of the screenings around town recently, which were followed by Q&As with the Wachowski Siblings.  I would have asked something unabashedly unprofound: “Just how much fun did you guys have making this?”

I suspect that, despite the colossal effort to mount this epics of epics—the narrative scale of which I am still at a loss to find a reference in dusty film archives of my memory—they had a great deal of fun.  And that exuberance shows in every frame, whether the film is teetering on the brink of genius in some moments, or doing a backflip into a puddle of camp and trite in another.

The more serious professional critics are going to hate on this, or hide behind ambivalence—they can’t like it; it’s too messy, too unprecedented (it pays to remember that Roger Ebert once wrote for Russ Meyer—he’s a little out there).   If I were to close my eyes and imagine the impact Cloud Atlas will have on critics as if the film were embodied by a person, I see a nine-foot-tall tattooed tranny dressed in a garish costume that pays homage to centuries past and future, ambling into the hyper-exclusive Knickerbocker Club in New York, and not only insisting she be served the same drink as Mrs. Astor, but sitting down and playing bridge with her.

This is a bull through the china shop of every critics’ society in the West, and just to make sure they get the point, there’s even a scene in which a china shop is rapturously destroyed.

Extremely Articulate & Incredibly Precocious

KIMBALL VS KILLOUGH | REVIEW starring Tyler Kimball and James Killough It's official: Kimball has become PFC's very own Tintin, the earnest, passionate young blonde who wishes everyone well, and who wouldn't sound amiss exclaiming "Gosh, darn it!" whereas Killough is Captain Haddock, the salty old foulmouthed alcoholic curmudgeon. In the shredder today...

The Tom Hanks Rule

Our newest contributing satanist, Eric Baker


by Eric J Baker

[We’re pleased and relieved to have caved into the relentless pressure from daily PFC commenter Eric Baker and given him his own posting.  I want it to be about music, but he’s very stubborn for a future bottom bitch, so who knows. — JK]

So Killough says, “Gimme a music piece.”

I cringe. I’m like, “Aw, come on. Can’t I write about something else? How awesome the brakes are on my Civic, perhaps. That thing has stopping power. Like a .357 Magnum, only different.”

Killough says, “Music piece. You’re a musician. Do a music piece.”

“I got it!” I say, not listening, hoping my exaggerated enthusiasm will somehow convince the man. “I’ll write about how Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is the most underrated Japanese giant monster movie of the 1970’s. Leagues better than Godzilla vs. Gigan, despite both films having been directed by Jun Fukuda.”

Killough does that quick head shake that means he’s getting irritated. “I do the movie talk here. And anyway, what?

We're only putting this crap in here to keep the token straight guy happy and writing.

After a few more minutes of back and forth nonsense, I cave in and agree to do the music piece, mostly because I’m dealing with an extremely stubborn person (no wonder my former lover, Susan Blais, didn’t like him). But I come away from the exchange aware of two things:

  1. Killough views himself as the dominant male. Even when he’s dealing with a straight guy, he still has to determine if I’m a “bottom bitch,” at least hypothetically. Being a waspy suburbanite, I was not aware of this term until I encountered it here, though I intrinsically knew what he meant from dealing with him. Frankly, I have almost as many control issues as James does, so I can’t see myself being the one biting the pillow.
  2. I have no idea how to write a music piece.