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September 15, 2011


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Tom Block

Since I probably won't see this thing until it's on disc, can I ask:

1) How does the rape scene compare to the original? Does it have the the love/hate dynamic with the old boyfriend and the hate/hate dynamic with the second guy who shows up?

2) The ads make it look like the siege is just about the wimp finally manning up and getting in touch with his inner bad-ass, which is something different and about half as interesting as the original. Is that really the way it reads? And how's it play visually? Peckinpah had things like the lights cutting through the fog, the louts riding around on tricycles, etc.

3) Do the Sumners break up at the end?

Stephen Whitty

Haven't seen yet, Glenn, but can I assume from your review this is another faux-outraged, vaguely superior, damn-but-the-South-is-full-of-rednecks movies?

No regional loyalty here -- I've spent my entire life north of the Mason-Dixon line -- but I still got fed up long ago with movies that always placed stories of Neanderthal rage in the South (and, just to be safe, often the rural, pre-1965 South). Because we're all so damn perfect in modern New York and California, I guess.

Now if this "Straw Dogs" had the couple moving into Bensonhurst, or my own birthplace of Staten Island -- or even better, California's pristine Alameda County suburbs -- that might have at least opened things up a bit.

But the dadgum South? It's not as if they have a monopoly on morons. (Although I think the real NY filmmakers -- Scorsese, Lumet, Spike Lee -- always tended to acknowledge this.)


NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH may have been Lurie's most "interesting" film - certainly, it had Kate Beckinsale's best performance in a long time, and what they did with the Valerie Plame character Vera Farmiga played was quite unexpected, I'll grant all of that - but it had one of the worst endings I've ever seen on film, so I have no confidence in Lurie making anything of STRAW DOGS.

Tom Block

Disregard those questions, Glenn. But thanks anyway...

Glenn Kenny

Stephen, lose the "faux" (Lurie is nothing if not earnest) and "vaguely" and you've pretty much nailed it.

Mr. Block: not to be TOO spoilerish (the damn thing ain't even opened yet) but the rape scene is a prime example of how Lurie's desire to Do Something Like The Right Thing lands him in worse trouble than what Peckinpah bulldozed into. The whole dynamic of the couple in this version is different. The age difference is gone, and while David is kinda intellectually condescending to Amy here (the chess-lesson scene is excruciating), the duo come off like a typical shiny Hollywood couple rather than an overt but comprehensible mismatch. And David's not nearly as much of a shit to Amy in Lurie's film as in the first one, so the resentment that plays into the Charlie/Amy exchange never really builds to a proper head of steam. What results is incoherent in ways that you might have never imagined: from Amy's perspective, it's a no-means-no violation, whereas Charlie seems to believe that even though he's clearly forcing the issue, he's finally making sweet sweet love to his best old girlfriend. And THEN...

Well, you get the idea.

And the siege plays JUST LIKE one of the torture porn movies that Lurie takes a swipe at earlier in the picture.

Glenn Kenny

Oops, too late!


RESTLESS really does sound kind of unbearable, in spite of all the pretty people and photography. Good point about these sub-RUSHMORES in your review. The interesting thing about Max Fisher is that he's precocious in a lot of ways, but completely childish and charmless is many others. In the RUSHMORE rip-offs, such as TADPOLE or that movie about the private-school kid who becomes a psychiatrist to his classmates (I'm not looking it up right now, but it was pretty horrible), the Fisher character is always so brilliant and seductive, a fantasy of how the screenwriter might act if he had the chance to go back now and re-do high school. It's geek wish fulfillment. And thanks for reminding the world about FEDERAL HILL. I worked in a movie theater outside my home town of Providence when that film came out, and it was giant hit that ran for months. It was also terrible.

Tom Block

That's okay--it just struck me after the fact I shouldn't make you answer a bunch of questions I can make educated guesses at. And yeah, coherence--moral *or* narrative--has never been Lurie's strong suit.



Bosworth has a choice between god Skarsgaard and musical theater nance James Marsden? This version of Straw Dogs should end with a nice, amicable divorce, no foul.

I am inclined not to believe Glenn's review... Everything else I've read has stated that people are nearly orgasming from the visceral charge of the last act. Also big thumbs-down on spoiling the presence of James Woods, which has been absolutely NOWHERE in any trailer or promotional material, and I think was intended as a Murray-in-Tootsie level surprise.

You also should have put up more pics of dreamy and non-threatening Mia Wasikowska in her FETCHING short haircut.


Yes, Bosworth's rack is dreamy, but if there's any subtext at all in this misfire, it's that Marsden spends more screen time mesmerized by Skarsgard's granite cleavage. (It's debatable who has larger, firmer breasts, Bosworth or Skarsgard. You can, thusly, understand his confusion.) I point out as much in my review, which will be on Slant sometime later today.

The rape scene is completely neutered. Audience completely off the hook. Expect no long-lasting censorship snafus.


"NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH ... had one of the worst endings I've ever seen on film"

Finally someone who agrees with me. It takes the whole idea of source confidentiality and manages to make it seem like a stupid joke.


Hey, Jaime is the guy from Slant?

What is Ed Gonzalez like? Is he as political and annoying in real life as he is in his reviews? Of any movie critic ever, with the possible exception of Ken Turan, I've never seen a movie guy who has seemingly less enjoyment of actual movies.

I also envision him as being extra lispy.





What a dick.

Glenn Kenny

Mr. Gonzalez is not annoying in the least, Lex. A bit on the serioud side, you could say, but an engaging and well-mannered fellow and not in the least "lispy" or what have you.

This gives me an idea for a film in the mode of the Toro-san pictures in which Lex travels to New York and meets all the critics he had only previously imagined, and Learns A Valuable Lesson About Something as a result.I think I'll pitch it on Kickstarter.


Why is he SERIOUS? He's a Cuban refugee who gets to REVIEW MOVIES for a living. He's like a gay Scarface. Why is ANY movie critic "serious"? I ask this again and again, but you'd think a sewing circle that loves movies would have more SHOWMANSHIP. Other than Richard Roeper and Stephen Hunter (is that the author guy?), there aren't many critics who seem like Regular Guys... In my ideal world, movie critics would have stand-up comedy experience and always be funny and "on" and not so damn serious. You see a guy like Ken Turan doing his videos, or Anne Thompson on any interview, it's like, WOW, 65 years of cinema magnetism hasn't rubbed off at ALL? You guys should be SHTICKMEISTERS and keeping it moving, keeping it LIGHT.

But, yeah, I thought Gonzalez would be like Cuban Gay. Like Hank Azaria in Birdcage-type broad and flamboyant.

Glenn Kenny

"Why is he serious?" Well, I think it's just his personality, really.

This whole notion of film journalists forming a sewing circle is just kind of odd to me. Obviously when you look at Twitter and you notice Stevens and Kois swapping photos of their kids and shit like that you think, well, yeah, it's all cliques and claques but it really isn't that simple. For myself I'd say less than 15% of my social life--my purely elective social life, not the social time that's kind of parenthetical to screenings and stuff--is spent with other film people, and that's NOT just because I like antagonizing so many of my ostensible colleagues. Fron outside it may look cozy, but the reality is just that, reality, and beyond that not everybody who follows the cinematic discourse wants the precise kind of showmanship you find wanting.


'Tora-san' not 'Toro-san', and remember there were 48 of them. Are there enough major Manhattan movie critics for Lex to meet one per picture?

Glenn Kenny

I know, but I'm chiming in via Blackberry while waiting for a bus, cut me some slack.

And Manhattan would be just the first film. If it flies, he goes to Cannes after that. Then maybe he rooms with Wells in Telluride...


I've met Wells.

He's awesome.

Chris O.

"Why is ANY movie critic "serious"?"

This reminded me of Wells' declaration yesterday that film festivals (or maybe specifically TIFF) are "a tough beat."

Glenn Kenny

We've begun missing him here in NYC. "Word" on the "street" is that he's "back" for NYFF.


i'll thank lexg to stop taking my oft-used phrases (used for yonks on the hotblog) and using them ad nauseum all over cyberspace so that people who don't know any better think yet another gexl ripoff of someone else's vernacular is, in fact, his own, namely: 'sewing circle'. get your own sayings, plage.


"Sewing circle" is hardly your phrase. I was ripping it off from Uma in "Pulp Fiction."


please. obviously i didn't invent the 'sewing circle' phrase (which incidentally only really works properly when referring to a gaggle of dudes, duh), but i've been using the expression on 'the slog' since yesteryear -- so all the times i've said it on the hblog - fairly recently actually in several instances if i recall, i'd provide links to the threads commented in by you if i could be bothered remembering which ones - which you've undoubtedly read, and that's not why you're suddenly using 'sewing circle' all over the show now but rather because of a sudden hearkening back to a line in a 90's flick? yeah, right. hack material, get some originality xerox boy

(and i've been reading this blog for years - tho only the comments when topics particularly interest me - so don't bother with the 'stalking me!' cries)

Glenn Kenny

We might wanna give some vague thought to the notion of getting back on topic or something. Unless this back-and-forth is some kind of diabolically brilliant thread-parody that I'm not getting. Actually, even if it IS that.

For instance, what do we make of my friend Richard Brody's endorsement of "Restless" as a booster of gender-melding? I'm not buying it.as such...

Evelyn Roak

Frankly, it reeks of a stubborn enthrallment to the new that has long been a trademark. Whether deluded or deliberate it repeatedly manifests itself in these pronouncements that seem to lack attention or perspective, that feel to be less about the film at hand and more about the gesture of finding the praiseworthy new whether it be there or not (and being the one who does so).

This is a critic who in his rush to plant his flag for Bellflower went so far as to make the fallacious claim that misogyny is only expressed in explicit violence against women. Who found in The Future’s hackneyed, first year art school articulation of time passing grand invention and insight (we are a far way from the late Ruiz), to take examples from two films he puts forth as the years best in the post.

For all of Richard Brody's harping on the pernicious fetishism of critics for an idealized Hollywood past this fervor for the new seems just as much a forged fixation as the accusations he has thrown about.


Somewhat perversely, this reminds me that I own a couple of Van Sant films that I haven't, but very much want to, finally get around to seeing. Glenn, your comment about him being "almost stupefyingly hit or miss" is absolutely true, or so my perception of him goes...I tend to steer clear entirely of the Van Sant films that I don't believe I'll enjoy at all (hence no FINDING FORRESTER or EVEN COWGIRLS... for me). But ELEPHANT is a masterpiece, TO DIE FOR achieves for me what he was trying to achieve for himself (and technically I suppose did, but boo anyway) with GOOD WILL HUNTING, and as misguided as PSYCHO is, what the hell -- it shows chutzpa, and anyway strikes me as more of a lunatic, abstract experiment on his part, and for himself, that he happened to get a lot of money to carry out because it hit a certain sweet spot with whatever studio that was (although listening to the DVD commentary for that one is hugely obnoxious, though less for Van Sant than for Vince Vaughan, and less for Vince Vaughan than for Anne Heche).

But so anyway...DRUGSTORE COWBOY, LAST DAYS, GERRY...all on my DVD shelves, all never seen by me. This reminder of his bizarre career makes me want to knock out at least DRUGSTORE COWBOY over the weekend.

David Ehrenstein

"Restless" is by no means unbearable. But it's been kicked to the curb with an intensity I've rarely seen. It's far from Gus' worst (that honor goes to "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues") It's all about Mia Wasikowska -- who's effortlessly charming. Henry Hopper doesn't look ike his father at all (though for some reason several reviewers have insisted that he does.

David Ehrenstein

You haven't seen "Drugstore Cowboy" Bill? I can't imagine why. "Gerry" and "Last Days" are conceptual art pieces that are a tad hard for some to take (not me needless to say.)

Gus got to wrok with Buck Henry on "To Die For" thanks to their mutual love of golf. I have a copy of Gus' CD "15 Songs About Golf." Great fun.

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