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November 12, 2012


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Danny Bowes

Not to beat a dead horse re: Prometheus--because boy are various horses in its retinue dead--but it HAS been weird how acutely that picture enraged nerds and how warmly it was received by non-nerds (yourself, Mr. Ebert). More on point, it sounds as though revisiting the Blu is a worthwhile way to bask in some visual spectacle.


I think of ALTERED STATES in the same way I think of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN - the first half, the director is relatively restrained, and then he went batshit crazy in the second half - although, in this case, I prefer the batshit crazy. I find the first half to be indigestible psychobabble, despite the actors who do their best to make it work. At least when it becomes a freak out, Russell knows how to make it creepy.

And I am still hoping Criterion releases LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMEN in my lifetime. Come on, guys! And while they're at it, THE RECKLESS MOMENT as well (wouldn't mind a Criterion transfer of CAUGHT either, but don't want to appear too greedy).


I enjoyed Prometheus on a visual level for sure. It was often jaw-droppingly good. And I don't consider myself a stubborn nitpicker.

But dear lord, there's a difference between a few things you can shrug off, and a seemingly unending series of idiotic character motivations and inconsistencies.

You have to draw a line somewhere, no? When "smart" sci-fi becomes inexplicably dumb too many times?


"Rosemary’s snobbishness about Minnie and her vulgar pal played by Patsy Kelly still carries a frisson for a New Yorker of today, to the extent you almost feel slightly gratified on behalf of the more lumpen characters for managing to knock up Little Miss Priss via Satan."


Eric Lowe

My son found MAD MONSTER PARTY on Netflix last week. It was pretty fascinating as a bizarro Rankin/Bass experience.


Man, you make me want almost all of these, when I'm in no position right now to have any of them. Thanks? :)

For those in my position, MY SON JOHN is on Netflix Instant, not in HD, but not bad.

Gordon Cameron

Whining about continuity errors in Wizard of Oz may be a bit much (though it just comes down to basic classical-Hollywood-style competence, on some level), and it's an amusing anecdote and all that. But I have never bought the argument that because something is fantasy, complaints about plausibility lose their validity. In fantasy and sci-fi, perhaps more than other genres, rules can very much matter. If Frodo sprouted wings and flew to Mordor halfway through 'The Lord of the Rings,' viewers or readers would understandably complain, because, fantasy or not, the turn of events would violate the rules of the world Tolkien had established. The text might still work on some meta level as satire, or in terms of dream-logic, but a little disgruntlement among those who had been drawn in by the depth and internal consistency of the fantasy world would hardly be surprising.

None of this is to be taken as a defense of the Prometheus nitpickers; just as a general rejection of the principle evoked by the WoZ anecdote. I know Hitchcock deplored the Plausibles, and I acknowledge there are all sorts of other levels on which a work of narrative can stand or fall. I moreover acknowledge that devotees of genre often focus myopically on internal consistency and logic to the exclusion of other virtues and faults. Still.

My own feeling about Prometheus is ambivalent. I admired its visual gorgeousness, Noomi Rapace's yeoman work in taking on Sigourney Weaver's mantle of embattled heroine, and its effective application of themes of biological and sexual terror. Fassbender, too, was pitch-perfect. I didn't much like what it did to the Alien universe, nor its shoehorning of Von Daniken-esque 'ancient astronauts' themes into a sci-fi world that had previously worked quite elegantly in terms of simple Darwinian brutality.

Besides a general dislike of Von Daniken, my feeling about Ancient Astronauts movies is that Kubrick utterly and for all time nailed the genre with 2001: A Space Odyssey and anyone else who feels inclined to try the same thing should probably just move on to something else.

There's also an innate problem with explaining who the Space Jockeys are, in terms of the 'Distant Mountains' concept (evoked by Terry Rossio by way of, who else?, Tolkien). Once you have shown us the Distant Mountains, you must then create more Distant Mountains beyond those, and so on ad infinitum. I liked the unanswered mystery of the Space Jockeys as seen in Alien; the question of who they were has titillated me since I was 12, and I preferred the titillation to Ridley Scott's belated answer.

Anyway. Hope I'm not hijacking another terrific Blu Ray Consumer Guide thread. My own Blu purchases are quite a ways behind the curve, but I just received The Rules of the Game and Rashomon via Amazon and am very much enjoying them. Ah, Marcel Dalio...

Tom Block

Helen Hayes is a nightmare in that fucking thing.

James Keepnews

You're a fine person, but PROMETHEUS is dopey as hell -- I could hash out those implausibles, but since you, um, "choose to believe" (choosing to believe sounds like a swell kettle of agency, until you consider what some of our fellow Americans are choosing to believe, absent facts (much less Scottish cave paintings), this month alone), I reckon we have epistemic closure on this front, so I'll simply beg to differ. I rather wish Sir Ridley had not chosen to believe allegoricizing what was genuinely provocative and horrifying (chilled with a frosty Nietzschean post-morality sangfroid, as articulated by Sir Ian's detached dome) in ALIEN with some vacuous Big Questions like "Where did I come from?", wedded to some undeniably well-lit tectonic CGI after Phillipe Druilliet. And speaking of HEAVY METAL, are people truly chomping at the bit for for PROM II -- DEN'S BIG PAYBACK, aka ONE HEAD IN A DUFFEL BAG (oops, spoiler alert)?

Josh Z

Hitchcock may have claimed not to care about "the plausibles," but I have trouble thinking of any film he made where all of the characters were raging morons from start to finish, as everyone in Prometheus is.

Hollywood churns out enough brainless visual spectacles every year. I expected more from this one. Frankly, I think we deserved more.

Glenn Kenny

"Choose to believe," heh. I'd say more like chose not to care. But that was/is my choice, and whether it stems from being bamboozled by visuals or just having my expectations for Ridley Scott movies lowered to dirt-eating levels year after year, I stand by my choice. That said, the objections voiced here, particularly by James and JZ...well, they're entitled to them, and they're probably not wrong. They're more convincing voiced as above than they were by the legions of know-somethingish would-be script doctors back when the film was first released. And I still say feh to them.

jordan ash

It would be enough for the Prometheus nit-pickers to simply say they didn't like it, but they have to tell us at length why they didn't like it.

Gordon Cameron

What a strange thing to say on a site populated by critics. Should one only elaborate on favorable opinions?

James Keepnews

Touché, GC! Reverse that construction and watch absurdum get reductio-ed ad:

"It would be enough for the Prometheus belief-choosers to simply say they liked it, but they have to tell us at length why they did like it."

Words, words! Why can't you all just read my dreams, like David the robot? Actually, on second thought...

Glenn Kenny

For the record, my own objections to the initial rush of "at length" why-they-did-not-like it writings was that so many of them were maybe 40 percent of what was actually objectionable in the movie, and 60 percent "Damon Lindelof is history's greatest monster" or some such. Such ascribing of ultimate responsibility, besides making clear precisely the nature of the axe you intend to grind, is also usually inaccurate.

Josh Z

I have yet to hear anyone explain at length why they DID like the movie. Even Glenn's review (and I'm talking about the original theatrical review for MSN) boils down to, "It sure is nice to look at," with a little praise singled out for the disgusting audacity of the med-pod sequence.

I have no axe to grind against Lindelof. I'm a fan of Lost, even the finale, but this script is indefensible.

David Ehrenstein

The fundamental problem with "Promtheus" was it's "been there done that." While the plot of the original "Ale" was a retread of "It-- The Teror From Beyond Space" the look and feel of the thing was entirely new. Now after so many sequels we know what to expect overall, and "Prometheus" has zero surprises or innovations.

David Ehrenstein

As for "Rosemary's Baby"


Tom Russell

That's very unfortunate about the Fleischers.


Did you write a book, David? If so, you ought to be less shy about promoting it in the comments here.

Be proud about said enterprise. Why not spam it here from time to time? I'm sure the comment readers here must be utterly unaware of said book.


Uh-oh, Petey. You've just released the Kracken with that last post.

Will Pfeifer

Not that it's worth buying the entire set for (though there's almost a staggering amount of content packed into the box), but the Warner Bros. Superman collection on Blu-ray contains all the Fleischer shorts. Can't vouch for their quality versus this set, but at least there's no logo burned in. (As a bonus, I'm a sucker for those vintage 1978 making-of TV specials that are included.)

David Ehrenstein


Scott Nye

I wrote at length about what I found to be quite remarkable in PROMETHEUS, though if you're inclined to focus on the screenplay, I'll admit it's exactly textual (and almost certainly unintentional or an afterthought, given how overt the screenplay is about its primary intentions):


LES VISITEURS DU SOIR was one of the more pleasant discoveries of September, especially as a Carné fan (one whom, admittedly, doesn't see why LE JOUR SE LÈVE is held as one of his best). I almost felt spoiled, seeing him unleashed on a genre that would come so naturally to his romantic/poetic tendencies, and there's little question his more overt emotional displays seemed right at home. Added to his expression of the outright fantasy of the piece - the slowing down of time, in particular - and it was a hell of a mood to wallow in for a couple of hours. The transfer's great, too, and I was really surprised (and pleased) to find a half-hour supplement purely dedicated to the making of that film alone (usually these kinds of films get a general survey sort of featurette), in which it's revealed that Alain Resnais was one of the extras at the feast.

Scott Nye

That should have read "I'll admit it's NOT exactly textual." Proofreading, I tell ya...


If I can handle Sandy, I think I can handle one of those cute li'l Kraken.

BTW, they're wonderful fried with a spicy tomato dipping sauce.

Peter Nellhaus

OK. You might well have sold me on shelling out for the BD of "Those Magnificent Men . . . ", also for the Annakin commentary. If you haven't read it, I strongly recommend Annakin's autobiography, in part because he got into filmmaking in what seems like the most roundabout way possible.

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