Wednesday, November 24, 2010
If you plan on squeezing a movie in between the turkey and the stuffing, we have you covered. Our critics will weigh in on "127 Hours," "Tangled," "The Next Three Days," "Four Lions," and more.
If you plan on squeezing a movie in between the turkey and the stuffing, we have you covered. Our critics will weigh in on "127 Hours," "Tangled," "The Next Three Days," "Four Lions," and more.
Beth Accomando is the KPBS film critic and author of the blog Cinema Junkie.
Scott Marks is the author of the film blog Emulsion Compulsion.
Anders Wright is the film critic for San Diego CityBeat.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and You're listening to These Days on KPBS. Big movies, off beat movies, animated movies, Estonian movie, we've got it all on this Thanksgiving edition of the KPBS film club of the air. From the latest Harry Potter sequel to a satire about terrorists, from a man against nature squirm fest to Disney's take on Rapunzel, and more. The critics are here with your [CHECK AUDIO] guests, that is, Beth Accomando is the KPBS film critic and author of the blog, cinema junkie. Beth, good morning.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Good morning, Maureen.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Scott Marks, author of the film blog emulsion compulsion.com. Scott.
SCOTT MARKS: Hi.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Hi. Anders Wright for film critic for San Diego CityBeat. Good morning, Anders. Welcome to the show.
ANDERS WRIGHT: Thank you very much Maureen.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The latest Harry Potter film is really the one that's been dominating the box office lately. And we're gonna be talking about some of the big films that are in the multiplexes, starting with Harry Potter. I couple of you, I know, have seen the movie.
SCOTT MARKS: Gee, I wonder which two.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Beth, I know you saw this movie, you went to the midnight screening. First of all, tell us where this film is in the whole Harry Potter --
ANDERS WRIGHT: Canon.
BETH ACCOMANDO: It's approaching the end. It's based on the last book, but the last book has been split in two for the films. Which I think is a combination of, on the one hand they say, well, we can't fit everything from the last book in a single movie, but it's also like let's see how much --
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let's milk this cow.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Yeah, we can drag this series on to get as much as we can out of it. So we're at the end, the beginning of the end. The beginning of a long end. And the three young characters, Harry Potter and his two friends are pretty much on their own at this point, they're on the run, and Valdemort is expanding his reign of terror, you could say.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Since you were at this midnight screening, Beth, let me get a sense of what that was like, what was the scene like? Is there still this anticipation --
BETH ACCOMANDO: Oh, yeah, definitely, and to me, that's that's fun about it. I really enjoy films that inspire this kind of passion. Because that's what makes it enjoyable. Was at the [CHECK AUDIO] and I think there were close to about 2000 people lined up outside, they had 11 screens showing it, as of the Wednesday before, I think six of those had been sold out, and they added, like, three AM screenings as well. People were in costume, people had been there since -- the person who was first in line had been there since Wednesday night at 10:00 o'clock for the Friday 1201 screening. So -- but it was a fun atmosphere. And the AMC Mission Valley did what they called the Harry Potter experience, and you could go down there and see the previous two Harry Potter films, leading up to number seven, and they had people in costume -- and it was fun. It was a party.
ANDERS WRIGHT: A potter party.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, this movie has been getting kind of good reviews, did you like it, Anders?
ANDERS WRIGHT: I liked it well enough, I've read all of the books I've seen all of the movies of the final book is very long and very epic, and the first half of it kind of meanders and takes its time. And so does this movie. It is slow and drawn out, and it's really a bridge to get to the final film, which is the epic final battle between good and evil and so on and so forth. You know, the thing is, these movies tend to be fairly well crafted, they're generally well made, as far as these kind of long form film adaptations go, but these are for potter people, potter completists, basically. And it's -- what I found was that I thought the movie was too long, and I thought it was too slow, and are I didn't want it to end of these books and these characters and these movies really mean something to the people who are into them, myself included. And even though I thought this was sort of the slowest of these final films, I also -- I wanted to get to the end. I didn't want it to end, and I didn't want to wait until July of next year to see it all wrap up.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Did you want -- did you think it was slow? Did you want it to end.
BETH ACCOMANDO: It felt padded and repetitious, and I was upset that snake, my favorite character 'cause it's played by Allen Rick man, had one line in the movie. I've been promising that he has a lot more prominence in the second part. But it felt -- watching this, I felt like, really? Did you need to drag this out to 22 movies.
ANDERS WRIGHT: But I think that all of that, the stuff that's dragged out, the padded bits, the repetitive bits that's in the book.
BETH ACCOMANDO: No, I mean, but that doesn't excuse it for the film.
ANDERS WRIGHT: Agreed.
BETH ACCOMANDO: But I think people who are fans of the book come out of it going, no no, we needed that. So if you've read all or most of the books, I think you have an obligation --
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: But this is not the first Harry Potter movie to see.
BETH ACCOMANDO: No, do not see this 1 first, definitely. [CHECK AUDIO].
ANDERS WRIGHT: It's the same thing sort of with the Twlight movies, these are movies where the people who are going to see them who have read all of the books want them to be as close to the books as possible.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Uh-huh. Oh, there was a shriek at the one scene that wasn't in the book. There was a scene where Harry Potter dances with Hermione, and you could hear the whole audience --
ANDERS WRIGHT: Like, what is this? This is not there! But it's interesting because it doesn't always leave a lot of room for film makers to sort of have their own stance at all.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Sure, yeah. Let me ask you, Scott. Have you never?
SCOTT MARKS: Why even bother? No, I haven't.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Have you ever.
SCOTT MARKS: No interest. No interest.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Have you ever seen a Harry Potter?
SCOTT MARKS: Hollywood's opiate of putting technology before storytelling. I have no interest. The trailers look so joyless. And what Anders said, you put a good director on there, and I'm there. On any of these --
BETH ACCOMANDO: Well, Alfonso Cuaron was a good director.
SCOTT MARKS: He's picking a paycheck. I can't even say --
ANDERS WRIGHT: I would actually say though that the stories they are given ever so good and so sort of well loved that in fact they're given a freight deal to work with. And it's a question of whether or not the film maker can pull it off. I thought Chris chemical bus who made the first movie, he's a terrible director. And it wasn't a very good movie. But the last few films have been well made, they're well put together, they look really good.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Convincing you, Scott.
SCOTT MARKS: Let's get to estonia.
ANDERS WRIGHT: But your not going to start there. It has to be something that you really want to see already. The Harry Potter franchise is so big and has such an enormous fan base, it's not that there's no room for new fans but they don't need them.
SCOTT MARKS: And you don't need me. You're right.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let's move on to a movie, Scott, you have seen.
SCOTT MARKS: Which one?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The next three days.
SCOTT MARKS: Oh, you guys haven't seen the next three days?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It's directed by Russell crow, [CHECK AUDIO]. And Scott, you are not a haggis fan in so many ways did he redeem himself at all.
SCOTT MARKS: No. What is it with redemption, Maureen? My goodness, why are you so Catholic this morning? No, he didn't redeem himself. I have to tell you, there's one moment -- there are two moments in the film, which I didn't expect, [CHECK AUDIO] then they cut to a scene with the father and son in bed together. Now haggis, if anybody, should put on the screen in big letters two years later, but he showed a tremendous degree of restraint. [CHECK AUDIO] kidnapper, cut two years later, and then let's move on. So I mean, it's not an awful film.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And you were impressed by that.
SCOTT MARKS: Yeah. To see subtlety in a jump-cut in a Paul Haggis film, that really -- that woke me up. But it just keeps stupid and silly after a while, all the guy does is film coincidences. And that really drives me nuts.
BETH ACCOMANDO: It's generous to call them coincidences. It's more like contrivances.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Anymore comments about the next thee days?
BETH ACCOMANDO: The only thing that I enjoyed was the scene with Liam Neeson.
SCOTT MARKS: I'm laughing 'cause it's in the trailer. His entire performance is in the trailer!
BETH ACCOMANDO: But it was the only moment in the film that came anywhere near being believable to me. Of this whole thing is about this guy who wants to bring his wife out of jail. But he talks to this guy who has broken out of jail repeatedly, and it's, I don't know, like a 3 to 5-minute scene at the most. But it was the only moment that engaged me and that I felt was remotely believable.
SCOTT MARKS: You didn't like the chase?
BETH ACCOMANDO: Chase was okay.
SCOTT MARKS: I thought it was a good chase scene.
BETH ACCOMANDO: It's an chase scene in totally --
SCOTT MARKS: Yeah, you're right, maybe I just needed something to wake me up. Come on, I'm saying things about Paul Haggis. Let's go on to another movie. This is disease.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: No comments on the Next Three Days.
SCOTT MARKS: I haven't seen it.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And I know that none of you have seen the movie Burlesque.
SCOTT MARKS: But that's not gonna stop us.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: No, it's not. It's a big bucket hollywood film. Beth, give us an idea of this film. Who's in it, what's it about?
BETH ACCOMANDO: Oh, my God, well, I saw nine last year so I felt like I had dispensation not to see Burlesque. But Burlesque has Cher --
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Looking fabulous.
SCOTT MARKS: If you had that much lanolin diffused over your face, believe me, I'd look like Cher.
BETH ACCOMANDO: I mean, the funny thing is is that Kristen Bell is, like, the main character.
SCOTT MARKS: No, no. Christina Aguilera.
BETH ACCOMANDO: No, no, no.
SCOTT MARKS: Ah, you've giving it away!
BETH ACCOMANDO: And Stanley Tucci is wedge indeed there somewhere.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes.
BETH ACCOMANDO: It's a backstage musical, you know?
SCOTT MARKS: It's Mickey and Judy meets Showgirls.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Yeah, exactly. If it's as bad as it could potentially be, it might be fun. I'm afraid it's just going to be bad, like Nine, the musical Nine, was last year.
SCOTT MARKS: I think this is gonna be so bad.
ANDERS WRIGHT: Much, much worse. Nine --
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Why do you say that, Anders?
ANDERS WRIGHT: Well, because Nine was bad, but it actually aspired to be something serious. This, I think, has no aspirations at all. Have you seen the trailer? She's bumbling around, and she gets in front of the microphone, it sounds like she's starting her car.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It actually looks pretty good, though, the quality of the film and the scenes.
SCOTT MARKS: Coyote ugly looked good too. So did show girls. No, I take that back, show girls is a great film.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. So mixed expectations for Burlesque.
BETH ACCOMANDO: I don't think we have mixed examinations we're just not sure how low it's going to go. We all expect the same thing.
ANDERS WRIGHT: However, if you include all four 've us, you might call it mixed expectations.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes, I was hoping for a little more.
SCOTT MARKS: What are you doing this afternoon, Maureen? Come on. It's on me.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I know [CHECK AUDIO] I know that you went to see a movie called faster. Last night.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Yes, I did.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Tell us about that film.
BETH ACCOMANDO: There's a decent little B movie in there desperately trying to get out. There's 3 or 4 scenes that I really liked.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What's it about?
BETH ACCOMANDO: It's the Rock plays a guy who's been wrongfully imprisoned or not so much wrongfully imprisoned, but he's let out, and lees about to get revenge on everybody who killed his brother.
SCOTT MARKS: I never heard this before!
BETH ACCOMANDO: But he dies, and he gets reanimated. So I really want to know if this qualifies him as a zombie. 'Cause he idd die and he came back. He doesn't crave human flesh. Horribly shot. It's really claustrophobic, all of these tight cleanups where you see people's pours.
SCOTT MARKS: You'll find zombies anywhere. Did you find zombies in tangled?
BETH ACCOMANDO: It's a lame action film.
SCOTT MARKS: Who directed it?
BETH ACCOMANDO: George Tilman Jr.
SCOTT MARKS: Oh, Soul Food? Oh!
ANDERS WRIGHT: Notorious.
BETH ACCOMANDO: The problem with it is is that it's -- there's a decent little B movie in there, but it has aspirations of being something more, so it's not willing to accept what it could really be good at.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Would you recommend that people go see this on Thanksgiving day?
BETH ACCOMANDO: If it's this or Burlesque, I would go see Faster.
SCOTT MARKS: A bad Rock film or a mummified Cher and Christina Aguilera?
BETH ACCOMANDO: Yes, yes. But that's my choice.
SCOTT MARKS: See them both. There's the answer. There you go. See them both.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And if people have followed Harry Potter that's the one to go see in the megaplexes this weekend?
ANDERS WRIGHT: Look, if they haven't seen it already. That's the thing, the faithful have already gone. And if you've read them, people will any again.
BETH ACCOMANDO: They already have.
ANDERS WRIGHT: Yeah, exactly. That's -- if you haven't seen the new Harry Potter movie, you're probably not a big Harry Potter fan at this point. These things are -- they're events, they're huge events not quite as big as when the new books came out. But if you've read all those books and seen all those movies, you don't need us to tell you.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Exactly. You've probably already been.
BETH ACCOMANDO: [CHECK AUDIO] when we return we're gonna talk about a man who finds himself been Iraq and a hard place in the Utall wilderness. And we will return. You're listening to the KPBS film club of the air on These Days.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Welcome back, I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, You're listening to These Days on KPBS. This is the KPBS film club of the air. My guests are Beth Accomando, I can't talk today. Beth Accomando, Scott Marks, and Anders Wright. And we move on now to a movie called 127 hours. Of many people have already been familiar with the plight of hiker Aaron Ralston, he is the man who I said found himself between a rock and a hard place in the Utah wilderness a few years ago. [CHECK AUDIO] the desperate decision Ralston had to make to amputate his own arm to free himself from a bolder and save his life. In this scene from the film, Aaron, played by James Franco, parts ways with two female hikers he's been spending time with in the slot canyons of Utah. Here it is.
One more picture before I go?
Ready? 1, 2, 3, blue yawn -- well, will I ever see you again.
That depends, do you party.
Do I party? Yeah, sometimes.
All right. Tomorrow night we're actually, seriously, throwing a party if you want to come.
Yeah, you should come by, have a beer, kick back.
Okay. Where am I going?
It's about 20 miles by green river. There's gonna be a huge inflatable Scooby-Doo. Can't miss it.
Well, let's good to meet you. See ya!
Scooby Doo! You think he's actually gonna show up?
I don't think we figured in his day at all.
Oh, you liked him!
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Aaron Ralston cycling away with limbs in tact, so far in the movie, 127 hours, this is directed by Danny boil, and Anders, you know, hearing the story bind this film, it seems like almost an impossible movie to make. How does director Danny boil pull it off?
ANDERS WRIGHT: Well, I think what he does well, and I think a good decision is after Ralston gets trapped by this bolder, we spend almost the entire rest of the movie in the canyon with him. And he doesn't rely on sort of flash backs and other scenes in his life. In fact, when those things occasional happen, I think we get pulled out of the action. Of but for the most part, he stays with Franco. And it's really Franco's show, more than anything. But staying in this little tiny claustrophobic space with this guy who basically cannot move is what makes it work.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Beth, did it work for you.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Yeah, I thought it worked well. I mean, there was a film, Buried, which was also this claustrophobic trap setting and I think in some ways this one pulled off that sense of being trapped better than that one did. But you do get these flash backs and things that pull you out of his location, but I think what was good about them is they seemed logically motivated by his mental state and things that were going on.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I was gonna ask you Beth, but I'm not considering your taste in films so Scott, is this a hard movie to watch.
SCOTT MARKS: Oh, it sure is.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Yeah, but for a different reason.
SCOTT MARKS: This is ten minutes of story, and 90 minutes of -- there's nothing going on here.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's what it sounds like.
SCOTT MARKS: He just has the camera, again, Hollywood's [CHECK AUDIO] superfluous camera moves that basically say, I have nothing else to show you. And then you sit here and wait, and people have been fainting at the end when he amputates his arm? Are you kidding me? Have these people never seen a horror film.
BETH ACCOMANDO: But I think it's a completely different crowd that goes, people that go to horror -- no, I mean, I think there are people who would go to a film like this who maybe have never seen a Romero film or torture porn or saw or something like this. So to some people, and the thing is, because you're so invested in this single character, and that's what this is all leading up to, I think that's what's so upsetting to some people.
SCOTT MARKS: It's like Barry Moore.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What is Barry Moore.
BETH ACCOMANDO: No, buried. Of.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Oh, buried more.
SCOTT MARKS: I like Barry more too. This one doesn't have the story telling, Danny boil, this is a feel good film about a sports guy who saws his arm off.
BETH ACCOMANDO: I think that's what's unique about it, it's not this kind of grim, bleak, oh, my God, he had to cut off his own arm to get down there. What's interesting about this guy, he falls down this canyon, gets under this rock, and he doesn't really go through this -- [CHECK AUDIO] I'm emptying out my back pack, I'm gonna look and see what's in here, what can I do, he's an engineer, and he's like, okay, what can I do to get myself out, and he starts picking away at the rock with this tiny pen knife of that's what I thought was interesting, is what does this guy do once he's trapped there.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It sounds though like what's happening in the movie is a little thin until it gets to the point where he cuts his arm off.
ANDERS WRIGHT: Well, no, I don't think so. What it comes down to is this, he's spending five days there, trying to figure out not just how to get out of there, but sort of he's traying to figure out himself. [CHECK AUDIO].
BETH ACCOMANDO: Oh, no.
ANDERS WRIGHT: Is that, look, you know, it's not that he's a bad person or anything, but we all have things in our lives that we regret or we wish we'd handled differently, or phone calls we wish we'd returned, but none of us sort of go out into our daily lives thinking, hey, today's the day I'm gonna get my hand trapped under a bolder is I'm gonna spend five days there trying to sort it out. What he really does is he comes to terms with things about his life that he would, could change if he were to get the opportunity to get out of there. But that's really what this movie is about in a lot of ways of it's not about a guy cutting off his arm, [CHECK AUDIO].
SCOTT MARKS: Let me ask you something. If this story happened where the guy got out, and he doesn't cut off his arm, would we be talking about a movie called a hundred and 27-hour? No, the whole reason for his expense is cutting off his arm.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Well, that's like saying, if [CHECK AUDIO] that's why it is --
SCOTT MARKS: But it's boring.
BETH ACCOMANDO: No no no.
ANDERS WRIGHT: I disagree, the movie's not called the guy who cut off his arm to get out. It's called a helped and 27 hours because that's what it is. You're talking about the time he has there, and the experience he has. That's what it's supposed to be.
BETH ACCOMANDO: And on a certain level, for this guy, cutting off his arm almost isn't that important. He's a guy who manages to take [CHECK AUDIO].
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How is the amputation handled though?
SCOTT MARKS: It's armless.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: A lot of people are commenting about the fact that they can't watch it, these scenes are too gruesome [CHECK AUDIO].
BETH ACCOMANDO: But he doesn't really show, it's actually it's more of the sound.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I was gonna ask about the sound.
BETH ACCOMANDO: The bone breaking and cutting --
ANDERS WRIGHT: It's like a wish bone.
BETH ACCOMANDO: And actually, the most difficult thing, I think for me personally, was the fact that he had such a tiny little tool to try and use. Of because the thing is, if he had had some big old honking knife that he could have just whacked through the bone, quickly and easily and gotten out, it would have been in some ways easier.
ANDERS WRIGHT: This is like a cheap leather man knock off.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Yeah, but to see, you get the shot where he taps the bone with this tiny little pen knife, and it's at that point where you go, okay, he's gonna have to do something pretty brutal.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: But they do something interesting with the music and the sound, right? To sort of, like, augment or enhance the screams that this man has during the movie.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Screams didn't bother me.
ANDERS WRIGHT: Danny boil has always used music very, very intricately with his films and I think that's the same case here.
SCOTT MARKS: And don't worry, by the time the movie's over, you have a nice happy song at the end, and you walk out feeling good. This is feel good. It's false, nothing in it seems true to me. [CHECK AUDIO].
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I wanted to end it on that, James Franco is a busy man these days, he's performance in Howl, we talked about on the film club last month. Obviously this is a very different role. Do you think it's good casting? Obviously, Scott, you liked his performance.
SCOTT MARKS: Yeah, he's a great actor. [CHECK AUDIO].
ANDERS WRIGHT: Giant terrible movies. And started trying to be a serious actor, and it's paying off for him. It's good.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And you, Beth?
BETH ACCOMANDO: No, I think he's very good. And I mean, considering he's on screen by himself almost the entire film.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right, basically it's his show.
BETH ACCOMANDO: And he holds your interest, he's a good actor.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, 127 hours is currently playing in area theatres. Moving on now to a very different type of movie. A designee movie called tangled. Tangled is the story of Rapunzel, a young girl locked in a tower by an evil witch. [CHECK AUDIO] golden locks so people can climb up her hair to visit. This Disney version takes liberties with the brothers grim for, but it is the first traditional fairy tale released by Disney studios [CHECK AUDIO] to let the witch who she thinks is her mother, climb up and see her. Here it is.
Hi. Welcome home, mother.
Oh, Rapunzel. How you manage to do that every single day without fail! It looks absolutely exhausting darling.
Oh, it's nothing.
Then I don't know why it takes so long! Oh, darling, I'm just teasing.
All right. Mother, as you know, tomorrow is a --
Rapunzel, look in that mirror. You know what I see? I see a strong, confident, beautiful young lady. Oh, look! You're here too! I'm just teasing. Stop taking everything so seriously.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And that's a clip from the movie tangled and upper woo just talking about trying to figure out if this indeed was it is first classic fairy tale since 1991's Beauty and the Beast. And indeed it was. Princess and the Frog, a fairy tale, but kind of a modern version of a fairy tale. Scott, what do you think about this movie?
SCOTT MARKS: I thought they got a great story. I went to see a screening of it at the AMC La Jolla, packed house. Ten minutes into the film, the synch goes off, where someone hits someone in the head with a pan where you hear donk twenty seconds later. And then the 3D goes off. And this is packed with kids. So as it turns out, and I didn't know that this was possible, the hard drive had so many films on it, that it couldn't accommodate another one and it kept fritzing out. Now, this never happens with film. This would not happen with 35-millimeter. They clear the theatre out, sent everybody home. These people were monsters. Some woman walk in a 7:05 with three kids and says, yes, I'd like four together. Oh, mezzanine or loges? 7:05, you've got a if nerve on you, lady. So they sent everybody home. The door opens to the booth, hey, I fixed the be problem. Really? Don't you need to do a test run, and oh, yes, we do. So I was a rest run. And it was Nirvana. This is a great movie. This is the best Disney film I've seen in ages. The 3D, if you're old enough to remember viewmasters, it's like watching a viewmaster for 90 minutes. No sexism, you have a strong male character. Disney just said something like they're not gonna do anymore fairy tales. That this is their last one, because princess in the frog was geared for young girls and it didn't do the business, it didn't perform the way they wanted it to. Here they have a smart-Alecy kind of male character goes up against things: And it was 3D, and I'm saying, we're gonna get the hair in our face, right in it's astounding and when you see all the bags, films of light floating around issue here's a -- the space between the characters really becomes a narrative tool. I can't wait to see this thing again. I just thought it was dazzling.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Fabulous. Beth, Anders, I want to get your take on it. Beth, first, did you like tangled?
BETH ACCOMANDO: It was okay. I'm sorry, but why do they insist on putting these stupid songs in these movies? It just kills it!
SCOTT MARKS: Because it wouldn't be a Disney film about crappy songs!
BETH ACCOMANDO: What kid likes them? It's like when they go to the bathroom, the songs. They like the songs?
ANDERS WRIGHT: Yeah. Absolutely.
SCOTT MARKS: A whole new world and Hakuna Matata.
BETH ACCOMANDO: I'm sorry, every time Disney had a song, I'd have to take my kid to the bathroom 'cause he'd get all squirmy.
ANDERS WRIGHT: I'm with Scott on this one. I thought it was great. It felt like a throwback but with a 3D feel.
SCOTT MARKS: And you didn't like the fact that the girl was bipolar?
ANDERS WRIGHT: She' not bipolar, folks.
SCOTT MARKS: Oh, she's not? You didn't get that impression?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, okay, so the music didn't work for you, Beth, but --
BETH ACCOMANDO: I love the horse.
ANDERS WRIGHT: Great horse. And none of the animals talk.
SCOTT MARKS: It's all done with their faces. All the expressions are done with their faces.
ANDERS WRIGHT: The two main character have every one of their scenes stolen by the horse, who is the most memorable character in the film and has no lines, and there's no one voicing him.
SCOTT MARKS: What is this? A newt or lizard?
BETH ACCOMANDO: Chameleon, changing colors.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What kind of animation is this? Is this Disney's first CGI?
ANDERS WRIGHT: No, it's not. They made Bolt a few years ago. That was the first one. But bot Bolt and this one -- now, John Lasseter who runs Pixar, his fingerprints are all over this, but it isn't like a Pixar film. You sort of feel like it's got the Pixar -- the Pixar magic, if you will, but it's absolutely a Disney film.
SCOTT MARKS: And look at the guy's hand. I mean, it looks like a real human being's hand. They've gotten to the point that this animation is so sequencing.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Yeah, but you're talking about in these other films putting technology before story, that's what I felt with this, it's like wow the animation and the 3D looks amazing but it's the same lame kind of kids' animation story telling.
SCOTT MARKS: But I saw the 3D as part of the narrative tool of so I agree with that. This isn't Jackass, hey, let's throw stuff if your face.
BETH ACCOMANDO: No no no. It didn't do that. But I felt like these were the same kinds of Disney characters that we've been seeing for decades.
SCOTT MARKS: Where's the sexist girl, that's not in here. And a male lead in a Disney film with a sense of humor? Not since Aladdin. [CHECK AUDIO].
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Where do you think tangled lines up with some of Disney's hits, Disney's best.
BETH ACCOMANDO: I haven't liked a Disney film since sword in the stone, I have to say.
SCOTT MARKS: You cannot like the little mermaid.
BETH ACCOMANDO: No, I'm sorry, I'm evil. [CHECK AUDIO] no, because those -- since about sword in the stone, most Disney films just grate on me. I'm sorry, I can't stand sitting through them. The musical numbers are one of the key things that drive me up the walls and I find them insulting to watch. I find them condescending and insulting.
SCOTT MARKS: Normally I'll agree. What was insulting in this one?
BETH ACCOMANDO: I don't see that this is, like, some feminist advance of the female character.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Obviously, you just don't like these movies. Let me ask you, Anders, where you think this stacks up with some of Disney's hits over the last few years?
SCOTT MARKS: Don't say stacked up. It's sexist.
ANDERS WRIGHT: I really enjoyed this. And I feel like it's been better than a lot of things they've done recently. I also think that, you know, what's happened since Beauty and the Beast, the market's become glutted with animated films, and is did no's, if you want to call it market share, has drop the 67 people just -- there's so much more out there, and Disney films don't hold the same sort of cache that they just did. But I felt like this was sort of back to that kind of Disney -- that kind of like, ordinary care, wonderful Disney film experience. That you haven't had in ages. Or that I haven't had in ages.
SCOTT MARKS: Disney water in 3D, it's like a sacred secret, they will never tell people how they do it. And [CHECK AUDIO].
ANDERS WRIGHT: The other thing they did well, you know they cast Mandy Moore as Rapunzel and she's funnier than she's ever been and just voicing. But she can sing too, and she brings I think sort of a much more contemporary flavor to the songs which Beth hates.
BETH ACCOMANDO: But the songs sound like they're from some lame 1950s musical.
ANDERS WRIGHT: I actually disagree entirely. [CHECK AUDIO].
BETH ACCOMANDO: And I think --
ANDERS WRIGHT: I don't like American idol either but let's remember. The kids these days, that's how they listen it music. That's sort of how it comes together.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have to take a break, but I just want to savor this moment because Scott Marks is loving a lyrical, family friendly film. It's a moment to remember.
SCOTT MARKS: You know, prior to 1968, everything was made without a rating. So you could take the family to all of them. This is a great piece. It's not the best film since little mermaid. What was the one with the horse? There was another horse and we talked about it on the show.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Think about it during the break. We have to take a break, and when we return, we will talk more about movies, this is the KPBS film club of the air. You're listening to These Days on KPBS.
Welcome back, I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, here with Beth Accomando, Scott Marks, andanders write, and they are the critics, this is the film club of the air on KPBS. We're moving on now to a rather odd film, four lions of it's a satire about inept Muslim Jihadists who live in the north of England. The four or perhaps five members of the makeshift group plan absurd terror attacks and argue amongst themselves about who is most al Qaeda. But throughout their stupid hijinks, this bumling crew is determined to cause some [CHECK AUDIO] is it funny, did you laugh.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Yes, I did, laugh. I watched it with I group of friends and there were a couple of moments where we all looked at each other, we were laughing so hard. We hymn fell off the couch. And we looked at each other and said, we are laughing at the most inappropriate things and we were wondering if there was something wrong with that.
ANDERS WRIGHT: You upon, I watched it by myself, and I laughed really hard. And I almost never watch hard at movies when I watch them by myself.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yeah, that's a difficult. And did you laugh by yourself?
SCOTT MARKS: I was texting during the movie. I found something it was so -- it's just for children. [CHECK AUDIO] this is the weakest, lamest form of satire. And I just didn't get into this film at all.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So you're not not laughing because you feel it's inappropriate.
SCOTT MARKS: Oh, no. If you felt it was inappropriate, you'd have heard me laughing. I just think this is a toothless film. This did nothing for me.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Beth, tell us a little bit about these characters and this plot.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Well, Chris morris has a background in doing a lot of these, kind of, fake news kind of shows. And he was really a lot of these stories about real terrorists doing stupid things. And if just struck him that there was some humor there. So he creates this group of characters, the interesting thing about the film, is that on this certainly level, it's kind of like this mock documentary, and the screens with these families and these characters, plays kind of realistically. It's not played very over the top or sitcom.
SCOTT MARKS: Wait, wait. You really think --
BETH ACCOMANDO: No, but some of the scenes with the family and stuff, he's not playing this [CHECK AUDIO].
SCOTT MARKS: They're sitting at their morning breakfast -- there's no way a mother would stand for this. And Anders said to me earlier, you're not a Muslim you don't know that.
BETH ACCOMANDO: No, but it's not played with a yuck yuck, laugh track kind of thing. These guys -- what's funny about it is that it's not made a big deal of. It's funny because they're watching it, and they're arguing over the bloopers in their Jihadist terror tape, and they're complaining about things that somebody said or somebody did. Ful and it's the mundaneness -- judge and they're just terrible at it. Of.
ANDERS WRIGHT: They're just so bad at being Jihadists.
BETH ACCOMANDO: They argue about having the wrong sized gun in order to create the right sense of terror.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I was to ask addeners, 124 going to anger some Muslims?
ANDERS WRIGHT: Undoubtedly, it's going to anger some Muslims.
BETH ACCOMANDO: It's going to anger people. [CHECK AUDIO].
ANDERS WRIGHT: Their faith is being misrepresented, and there are going to be people upset that there's a movef being made, a comedy, about terrorists at all. It's important to found out that there are Muslims in this film who absolutely decry the motions of the main characters of there's no doubt about it. But it's a hot button topic, and any time you touch on something like that, you're going to upset people.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Beth, on the director Chris Morris, he's very well known in Britain, but I don't know that he's very well known here.
BETH ACCOMANDO: People probably don't know -- he's in the IT crowd as an actor.
ANDERS WRIGHT: It's that guy. The guy from the IT crowd. Yeah yeah, sure.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Yeah, so I think technically when he's acting, he goes by Chris Morris, and when he's directing, he goes by Christopher Morris. I'm not sure. But we copied a few episodes of a show he did called Jam, the best way to describe it is what if David lynch directed a sitcom. So he's done some kind of odd ball things, scanning a spectrum. But like I said, he's done -- [CHECK AUDIO] but he was doing this before they started their shows of so that's kind of the niche that he's carved out a little bit. So I think moving to this is his first feature film is a kind of a natural progression in a certain way. I think he's a talented writer, first of all, I think the dialogue is totally crisp and crackling, and I think the characters are very, very funny.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Any kudos, Scott enforce taking on this subject at all.
SCOTT MARKS: Just to congratulate something because they dared do something controversial? No, that's never been enough. Because the execution is everything to me. Of these characters are so thinly drawn, there is no foot hold in reality, and if you're gonna do a satire, half fantasy, and there are fantasy elements in this film, you better ground did in reality. And the direct offer of proof has no concept of how to do that. So to me, from the get go, the whole is the up doesn't work and it throws everything askew. Just nothing in this film worked for me, I just thought it was so juvenile and childish.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Well, how does this compare to the producers and springtime for Hitler for you?
SCOTT MARKS: Technically, it's just as bad. Mel Brooks is a terrible -- he doesn't know which end of the camera to blow into it. He doesn't know what to look at. Come on, you have Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder giving brilliant performances. None of the acting in this film even comes close to that.
ANDERS WRIGHT: I don't know, I thought it was very funny. At the end of the film, even though these guys are inept and even though what they're trying to accomplish is horrific, you do end up getting to know them, and when the climax finally occurs, it's not that you're torn, obviously the acts they're trying to do are terrible. But at the same time, you have an affinity for them as individuals and I don't want to say that it humanizes the situation, but there's an aspect of that.
SCOTT MARKS: So, I wish this was a film that humanized the am in. I don't think the film maker is smart enough to do that. Because he shows you characters that he wants you to look down at. All the characters are stupid. You know what this? Thea the beginning of World War II, when they first started showing Nazis, they were goose stepping buffoons. [CHECK AUDIO] knuckleheads.
ANDERS WRIGHT: But that's also sort of the idea. Look at it like this, you also have had these cases over the last couple of years where guys have gotten on planes with explosives and then sometimes not been able to finish the deed.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Underwear bomber,yia.
ANDERS WRIGHT: Yeah. That's sort of the idea as well. But I don't think he's trying to actually humanize it but at the same time at the very end, people are basically having to do the things that they absolutely set out nonot do.
BETH ACCOMANDO: But I think -- I'm not sure if humanize is the right word, but I think he is trying to show that these terrorives are on a certain level just like everyone else. Just like there are idiots working at the local grocery store, or incompetent in that respect, there are these terrorists who are planning to do horrific things and they're just as incompetent on a certain level. Not all of them, but there are some, you know, and it also kind of addresses this issue of, well, why are they terrorists? They have -- they don't have a lot of other option for themselves that could occupy them or lead them down a different course. This is what they're doing to kind of bide their time or to make themselves feel important. Or if I have themselves some sort of purpose or course of live.
ANDERS WRIGHT: These are bumbling guys but at some times they're bumbling around with big bags of explosives.
SCOTT MARKS: [CHECK AUDIO] about the jackal, the day of the jackal.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right.
SCOTT MARKS: And here is a film that takes place from the point of view of a terrorist, and that's not a comedy. And I watched that before I watched this, and I was like wow, [CHECK AUDIO] this is it a really good film. Then when I saw this little, you upon, lame attempt.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Maybe the jury instruction position didn't work for you. Of.
ANDERS WRIGHT: Carlos is coming to down it turns out at the end of the year.
SCOTT MARKS: I'll hold my breath.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We've gotta do Scott's Estonian film. Four lions opens at the gas lamp theatres on December 3rd. Now, finally, a film from Estonia, called the temptation of saint Tony. The film follows the surreal -- [CHECK AUDIO] of his materialistic lifestyle and sets off on a quest for salvation. Let me go to you first, Scott. Is it fair to say the temptation of saint Tony is an art house film?
SCOTT MARKS: I haven't heard the term art house. Holy mother of -- yeah, it has that funny writing at the bottom, you know, it's black and white! Ooh! It's black and white? Let me say right at the get go, this is not a great film by any stretch of the imagination. But there are so many odd things in this film that you can't look away. You have to keep watching it. A lot of it is very film schoolish. Very film schoolish. I mean, any time you make a first film, and you're referencing Ingmar Bergman, you know you just got out of tech 101. But there's more to this. There's Bunwel, there Bella Tarr, I was told that there's Kubrick in here, but I guess I don't know enough about Kubrick to see it. Here's a guy who grew up watching a lot of movies of it's gorgeous to look at. I mean, to see black and white, I can't wait to see this thing on the screen. But it just -- it takes a couple [CHECK AUDIO] I think it's a great dead pan performance. He looks like if Andre the giant was a normal sized man, this is what he looks like.
ANDERS WRIGHT: Maybe a little thinner.
SCOTT MARKS: Andre the normal sized guy.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to just mention that it is directed by a gentleman whose name I am about to mispronounce, it's Veiko Õunpuu, and that's the director, just in case you wanted to know. Probably someone can say his name correctly. Anders, what was your impression of this film?
ANDERS WRIGHT: I was basically concur with Scott. And there are things that I really like about it though, as the film goes on, things will happen that you just did in the see coming. All the time. And it is gorgeous to look at. The very opening, it's this slow, somber funeral procession that's suddenly interrupted by this out of control car careening, you know, off of a sand do you know.
BETH ACCOMANDO: But it's a procession with, like, the goofy music playing.
ANDERS WRIGHT: Yeah, like weird accordion.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Yeah, so it's not -- all the elements, there's a discordant quality going on, all of the pieces don't match, but they don't much in a really ineffective way.
SCOTT MARKS: Don't you [CHECK AUDIO] is this a building, they do that throughout the film.
ANDERS WRIGHT: Total he, I think what Beth just said, you've got these two things to begin with, the odd myselfic, the funeral procession, and they go together much better than this car sort of careening toward this whole thing.
BETH ACCOMANDO: But the people barely even acknowledge the car crash, obviously people are hurt badly and they just walk on by.
ANDERS WRIGHT: The main guy hits a dog with his car, drawings it into the woods and that's where he discovers some stuff I'm not even gonna mention. But it's all sort of tied together in so many ways that are [CHECK AUDIO].
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you guys, how would -- I mean, you go to films all the time. How would you prepare someone to see a movie like this?
SCOTT MARKS: A member of the average viewing public? Wouldn't even -- I would say just go look at a hundred and 27 hours, stay away from this.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Really.
BETH ACCOMANDO: I think it's -- to me, the humor appeals to me. It's a lot like some of these other Balkan films that have come out, the death of Mr. Lazarescu, and [CHECK AUDIO] where it's this very deadpan kind of humor, and a lot of these films, I was reading, someone had written about some of these Estonian films, and these Balkan films and they said that these films are like the Court jester at somebody's court, but they are saying something important and addressing issues of --
ANDERS WRIGHT: You have to be open to black and white, you have to be open to subtitles and you have to be open to something that's very different from most american films.
SCOTT MARKS: And when look at the characters in this film compared to Four Lions, he is very true to his characters. You have a scene where they're having dinner in a glass house, and a homeless guy walks by, so they figure, all right, we'll give him a bottle of wine. And he takes it and pours it out. What would have been the gag in Four Lions. Here he goes one step further, he's not interested in getting drunk. He wants the bottle so he can recycle it and get a few pennies. This to me, this is what was missing in Four Lions.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We've gotta leave it there.
SCOTT MARKS: Happy Thanksgiving.
ANDERS WRIGHT: Happy Thanksgiving.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The temptation of saint Tony opens today at the Redding Gas lamp theatres downtown.
SCOTT MARKS: No, no.
ANDERS WRIGHT: It may not be opening.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: All right. Okay. Thank you so much. Anders Wright, Beth Accomando, Scott Marks, thank you so much. And I want to let everyone know Beth has done a beautiful piece about movies to be thankful for. You can find it at KPBS.org. Happy thanksgiving. You've been listening to These Days.