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Two Movies About Facebook Spark Debate

Audio

Aired 9/29/10

Facebook is at the center of two new films in area theaters. We'll talk about "The Social Network" and "Catfish," and find out why the filmmaker who made "The Sixth Sense" is now so despised by audiences.

Marketing poster for the film The Social Network, based on the founding of Facebook by college student Mark Zuckerberg.
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Above: Marketing poster for the film The Social Network, based on the founding of Facebook by college student Mark Zuckerberg.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. Fact and fiction get a workout on this edition of the KPBS Film Club of the Air. A bio-pic gives us its own version of the man who created Facebook, while a trio of documentaries play fast and loose with the idea of reality. Plus, a Swedish vampire film gets transplanted, that is, to the American Southwest. And a movie from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan gives us all a reason to take the stairs. I’d like to introduce my guests. Beth Accomando is the KPBS film critic and author of the blog Cinema Junkie. And good morning, Beth.

BETH ACCOMANDO (KPBS Film Critic): Good morning, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: Good morning, Scott Marks. He is the author of the film blog EmulsionCompulsion.com.

SCOTT MARKS (Film Critic, emulsioncompulsion.com): Good morning, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: It’s good to see you. And Anders Wright is the film critic for San Diego CityBeat. It’s…

ANDERS WRIGHT (Film Critic, San Diego CityBeat): And good morning, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: It’s wonderful to see you, Anders. So let’s start out with I guess really sort of the biggest kind of movie, at least the most advertising we’ve been seeing. It’s “The Social Network.” The movie fictionalizes the real life story of Mark Zuckerberg, a 19-year-old Harvard computer whiz who is asked by acquaintances to create an internet site so Harvard students can keep in touch. Zuckerberg takes the idea one step further and Facebook is born. Then Zuckerberg, a man quite socially awkward in real life, becomes the world’s youngest billionaire and creator of what some see as the vanguard of a new way of life, a world without privacy lived online. In this scene from early in the film, Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg, confronts his ex-girlfriend in a restaurant. After she broke up with him, he blogged about her online, and here’s that clip.

(audio of clip from the film “The Social Network”)

CAVANAUGH: And that is a clip from the new movie, “The Social Network.” Anders, you know, the founding of an internet empire doesn’t necessarily sound like it’s going to jump off the screen at you. But what – So what provides the dramatic tension in this movie?

WRIGHT: Well, coding has never been so exciting. I mean, this guy’s – No, you know, as you may know, I mean, after Facebook was founded, there was several lawsuits filed against Zuckerberg by people who claimed that they either created it themselves or had some share of ownership in it and actually the movie is told primarily through flashbacks that take place in depositions during these lawsuits. The other thing, too, is that the, you know, the other real co-star of this movie besides Jesse Eisenberg is the script by Aaron Sorkin, the guy who made “The West Wing” and “Sports Night.” And, you know, the dialogue really crackles and it’s cut together really, really well. I mean, it – Yeah, they’re writing computer programs, and yes, it’s totally entertaining to watch.

CAVANAUGH: And so you liked this movie?

WRIGHT: Yeah, I did. I mean, I didn’t love it. It’s being sort of touted as this generation’s “Citizen Kane,” which I think is kind of over the top. But I…

MARKS: It’s defining our generation.

WRIGHT: Yeah, I don’t know if I’d go that far. But I really – I enjoyed it. I think that it’s really well written, you know, and it comes out of this – Ben Mezrich is the guy who wrote “The Accidental Billionaires,” who writes these kind of breezy, bestsellers, and Sorkin – You know, this book is taken from a series of interviews that he did with Eduardo Saverin, who is Zuckerberg’s best friend, the initial CFO of Facebook, investor in the company who was basically forced out. And basically, as you can tell, the book and the film are really sympathetic to Saverin and not so much to Zuckerberg.

ACCOMANDO: Do you really think it’s sympa – I didn’t think it was sympathetic towards anyone really.

WRIGHT: Well…

ACCOMANDO: I thought they all kind of came out being rather unlikeable…

CAVANAUGH: Well, tell…

ACCOMANDO: …which is what I liked actually.

CAVANAUGH: Tell – I want to get everybody’s take on this. How does the movie portray the protagonist, Mark Zuckerberg?

ACCOMANDO: I mean, he’s a nerdy, socially awkward guy who happens to have a genius for computer code. I mean, he doesn’t come across as likeable but he comes across as kind of human, too. I mean, he’s – I mean, kind of the underlying theme to all this is this notion if these nerds got laid more often or had more dates, we wouldn’t have Facebook, we wouldn’t have had Napster…

WRIGHT: Yeah.

ACCOMANDO: …we wouldn’t have had anything.

WRIGHT: If they were – if they – if all the clubs, the exclusive clubs let them in, they would’ve been partying too much.

ACCOMANDO: Right, yeah, because it seems like these things were all created either out of a sense of I want to prove to people I can do something or I want to get that girl’s attention or I want to slam that person for, you know…

WRIGHT: I think part of it is that Zuckerberg in the movie is someone who understands what people want and how they’re connected without actually being connected to people and so…

ACCOMANDO: Exactly.

CAVANAUGH: Right, and is this the defining movie of our generation?

MARKS: No, and I don’t even think it’s a particularly well made film.

CAVANAUGH: Okay.

MARKS: I mean, the flashbacks and the deposition scenes, there’s no differentiation whatsoever. Everything is filmed the same. This thing is so – it’s filmed with a clinician’s eye and I don’t think the dialogue – just shut up. Show me something after awhile. These people never shut up. And I’m telling you, you better see the…

ACCOMANDO: Because they like the sound of their own voices.

WRIGHT: Well, it’s Aaron Sorkin.

ACCOMANDO: Yeah.

WRIGHT: I mean, that’s – that’s what…

MARKS: Oh, so that justifies it. Okay.

WRIGHT: No, that is what…

MARKS: He’s the writer…

WRIGHT: That is what you get when you have Aaron Sorkin write something like this. Also, I’ve got to say, I mean, that’s the thing about Facebook. Facebook does not shut up. I mean, Facebook keeps on going, and there isn’t much to show, really. I mean, it’s about Facebook. You know, what’re you going to show?

MARKS: The – Oh, come on. If you can make “My Dinner With Andre” cinematic, you can make a film about computers. This isn’t “The Net” with Sandra Bullock sitting and looking at a computer screen for two hours.

WRIGHT: Thankfully, yeah.

MARKS: I just think that this film is made with envy. I think David Fincher is really jealous of this guy. And they make fun of all the people in the film who were jealous of him. This thing, it’s like the Hugh Hefner story. You know, you have a nerd who wants to get back at women, he gets – he comes – I’m sorry, he wants to get back at one woman. And he invents this, you know, phenomenon and then everybody is jealous and hates him for it.

WRIGHT: Well, that’s – I mean, that’s – isn’t that the – why they’re talking about it as “Citizen Kane?” I mean, the idea is to show the Rosebud that is Facebook. I mean, where did it come from. Yeah, absolutely.

MARKS: No, no, no, I’m laughing because I know what Rosebud means.

CAVANAUGH: Yes.

WRIGHT: Yes.

MARKS: I just – I don’t think that this is – Honest to God, when it comes to the truth about Facebook, we’ll get to that when it comes to “Catfish.” I think “Catfish” is a much more honest film than…

ACCOMANDO: I think they pair up nicely, actually.

WRIGHT: Umm-hmm. Yeah. Absolutely, they’re the two Facebook movies.

CAVANAUGH: Does the movie, does it do a lot of moralizing about Facebook itself, though, Scott, and perhaps maybe Zuckerberg has created a monster here?

MARKS: No, not really.

WRIGHT: The movie…

MARKS: I think it’s more favorable to Facebook than it is to the guy.

ACCOMANDO: I mean, I don’t…

WRIGHT: It’s hardly about Facebook at all really. It could be…

CAVANAUGH: Aha.

WRIGHT: It could be about anything.

ACCOMANDO: It’s – I mean, I don’t think it’s morally judgmental about any of it, I mean, about Facebook or about the characters themsel – I mean, it doesn’t come down and kind of say, wow, these guys are horrible people and they should be punished for it. It’s like this is what these guys did, these are the kind of people they were. They kind of deserved each other and…

MARKS: It’s like the film was written by the woman who spurns him in the beginning and directed by the lawyers at the deposition. And, I mean, I just find this thing so cold and unengaging.

CAVANAUGH: Well, let’s talk about the actors in this piece. Jesse Eisenberg, people might remember him from “Zombieland.” He plays Mark Zuckerberg. It seems as if it could be good casting, do you think it…

MARKS: Good fit.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah? Do you think so, Anders?

WRIGHT: Yeah, and I think he’s a really talented actor. He’s very appealing and he’s got this sort of like twitchy, tetchy thing that he does in so many parts that works really well, and it really comes across well here. I mean, and he – he really does get him as this sort of socially awkward kind of maladjusted but very, very smart, clever guy who can crank out a one-liner like nobody’s business that works, that fits. At the same time, he has this – the character has this feeling of sort of self-loathing and isolation that I think is part of this but I also think that, you know, I think one of the issues that we’re going to come down to—and we’re going to get to this with some of the documentaries—I think people are going to walk away from this movie thinking like, wow, now I know exactly what Mark Zuckerberg’s like. And we don’t. I mean, this is a movie.

ACCOMANDO: Yeah, because it’s all speculation.

WRIGHT: Yeah, this is…

ACCOMANDO: And, I mean, I think Fincher creates the characters and deals with Facebook in a way that just fits his needs for this film. I mean, the one thing I’ll say about the actors is after – if you look and see what these people actually looked like at the time, they all look ten years too old.

WRIGHT: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: Ah, yeah.

ACCOMANDO: Those guys all looked like…

MARKS: Like babies, yeah.

ACCOMANDO: …ten-year-olds.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

ACCOMANDO: I mean, it was – I mean, I think if they’d cast them looking as young as they did, it would make it even kind of more bizarre.

WRIGHT: There’s one thing actually that sort of jumps out at me as being kind of different and unusual that sets this movie aside and actually I’m curious what you guys think about this. Two of the guys who sued Zuckerberg are the Vinkle – the Winklevoss twins.

MARKS: Right.

CAVANAUGH: The tennis two – guys or the twins.

WRIGHT: Yeah, yeah, yeah, or the rowers, yeah.

ACCOMANDO: No, the rowers.

CAVANAUGH: Rowers, yeah, sorry.

WRIGHT: Yeah, yeah, Cameron and Tyler. And we see them both onscreen together all the time, in every scene, but they’re both played by the same actor.

CAVANAUGH: Yes.

WRIGHT: Which is…

ACCOMANDO: This is the way CGI should be.

WRIGHT: Yeah, yeah, exactly. I mean, you really…

ACCOMANDO: Where you’re not aware of it.

WRIGHT: Yeah, and you’re basically – When you’re watching it, you’re like how is – are they twins? What did they do? How did they do this? And it’s the – it’s an interesting – It never jumps out as being CGI at all.

ACCOMANDO: No, and that’s the way I think it should be. I mean, you shouldn’t be pulled out of a film…

WRIGHT: Yeah.

ACCOMANDO: …when they use stuff like that.

CAVANAUGH: Justin Timberlake is getting a lot of notice for his role as Napster co-founder Sean Parker. What did you think of him in the movie “Social Network?”

MARKS: I mean, he’s okay. I mean, I didn’t watch the film, I was like, oh my God, I’m going to reconsider acting because of Justin Timberlake. I mean, he’s – he’s okay. People are saying that because it’s Justin Timberlake.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, yeah.

MARKS: You know?

WRIGHT: He’s – It’s not like he hasn’t done some good work in the past, too.

MARKS: Yeah.

WRIGHT: He has. I mean, he’s “Alpha Dog.” He was really good in that movie.

MARKS: Yeah.

WRIGHT: Yeah, I mean, I feel like the praise for him is maybe a little bit overblown because people don’t expect so much from him. But, I mean, he – It’s kind of a one-note character. He’s kind of suave and…

MARKS: I’m waiting for Christina Aguilera in “Burlesque.”

WRIGHT: Yeah.

MARKS: I’m putting all my money in that.

CAVANAUGH: Well, the thing that gets me about just hearing about this movie—because it hasn’t been released yet—is that Mark Zuckerberg is so litigious. I mean, that’s part and parcel of this movie. How do they make this movie without getting sued?

MARKS: If he sued, he would come off as the biggest…

WRIGHT: Yeah.

MARKS: …schmuck on the planet.

WRIGHT: Yeah.

MARKS: That’s why.

WRIGHT: Yeah.

ACCOMANDO: Instead of suing, he gave what? The $500 million to…

MARKS: On Oprah.

WRIGHT: Yeah.

MARKS: On Oprah.

ACCOMANDO: On Oprah to…

MARKS: You have to make it official.

ACCOMANDO: Yeah, to what is it? New Jersey schools or something?

WRIGHT: Yeah, I mean, they’re…

ACCOMANDO: Yeah, so, I mean, he’s obviously concerned with his image but I think maybe he learned something from all this and decided that…

WRIGHT: He’s also worth $25 billion.

MARKS: Yeah.

WRIGHT: I mean, which is more money than this movie will ever come near making. It’s not going to – This movie’s not going to make you reconsider Facebook at all because Facebook in many ways barely comes into it. Facebook is sort of a byproduct of everything that happens to him.

ACCOMANDO: Although, I will say coming out of this film, I almost felt dirty going back to using Facebook for two reasons. One is because I feel like, man, I’m giving these people more money that they somehow are going to, you know, make a profit off this? And the other thing is, is you feel kind of – you feel kind of stupid that somebody could peg you in a way like, oh, yeah, they – people want to see what your relationship status is or people want to be able to post their own pictures or people want to – And it’s his ability to kind of figure out what people really wanted in this that made it work so well and you kind of feel like, wow, you know…

MARKS: Which…

CAVANAUGH: Did it change your idea of Facebook at all, Scott?

MARKS: No, I love Facebook.

CAVANAUGH: Okay.

MARKS: We’re all on – You know, when we’re all on Facebook, people should befriend us on Facebook so you get to see childhood pictures of us. We got one of you in pink, Beth. I’m sorry. I…

ACCOMANDO: It wasn’t just pink. It was a princess dress.

MARKS: It was you on top – and there’s a picture of me as Travis Bickle in 1984 with a mustache that’s the most unconvincing thing you’ve ever seen.

WRIGHT: I’m fairly sure, too, that Scott has more friends than all of the rest of us put together.

ACCOMANDO: Yes, but half of them are dead.

WRIGHT: Yeah.

MARKS: And isn’t that a horrible thing? What are you, in charge of…

WRIGHT: No, no, I was just saying you’re clearly, you know, you don’t like the…

MARKS: …who I have as friends now?

WRIGHT: …movie but you’re addicted to the website.

CAVANAUGH: I want to end this conversation about “The Social Network”…

MARKS: I don’t like the movie but I’m addicted…

CAVANAUGH: …but just…

ACCOMANDO: No, you hated the movie, you liked…

CAVANAUGH: …by just pointing out one last thing. Roona (sic) Mara is the girlfriend basically that dumps the Mark Zuckerberg character and she is going to be in the American version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” So do you think that – and Fincher is going to be making the movie, the director, David Fincher. Is this trilogy a good source? Do you think that Fincher is going to do anything with this considering what he’s done with “The Social Network?”

ACCOMANDO: So we’re starting the discussion of unnecessary remains early?

WRIGHT: Yeah, yeah, exactly You know, I – I – here’s what I think, is that it’s a great story. People love it. There’s no way they were never going to make it in Hollywood. I mean, I – What I really think, though, is when you look at “The Social Network,” it’s the least stylish identifiable…

CAVANAUGH: Ahh…

WRIGHT: …Fincher in years. So, honestly, what I’m hoping he does is something more that we’re used to.

ACCOMANDO: Well, I mean, I think “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy is something that has the potential for the kind of uncomfortable cinema that Fincher is really good at. So I think the potential for a good match is there but, again, I feel a bit like do we really need to have a remake of a film that’s barely a couple years old just because people don’t want to read subtitles.

WRIGHT: Yeah, but it’s a hot property.

ACCOMANDO: It is a hot property.

WRIGHT: It’s a, you know, it’s a main…

ACCOMANDO: But I do think, I mean, I think “The Social Network” does look like a Fincher film. I mean, I think he finds – You know, you could’ve made Facebook a brighter, sunnier kind of picture, and he doesn’t, and he makes it this kind of uncomfortable – I mean, you’re not comfortable with those people.

MARKS: Yeah, but in “Seven” you’re in a library in the middle of the day and you can’t even see the books in front of you, it’s so dark in there. I mean, that’s what David Fincher does. He likes it dark.

CAVANAUGH: Even the commercials look dark for “The Social Network.” I’ve noticed that.

ACCOMANDO: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: They look very dark.

MARKS: There’s no differentiation between any form of style in this film. It’s all told with the same eye. And I think it just gets monotonous and boring after awhile. It’s like looking at a computer screen for two hours. It gets boring.

ACCOMANDO: Oh, I disagree.

CAVANAUGH: Well, we’ve been talking about “The Social Network” on the KPBS Film Club of the Air. We have to take a short break and when we return, we’re going to be discussing a number of very interesting documentaries that have recently come out. You’re listening to These Days on KPBS.


CAVANAUGH: Welcome back. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS, and this is the KPBS Film Club of the Air. We just received some cinematic breaking news that I’d like you all to react and, honestly, Arthur Penn just died.

WRIGHT: Yes.

CAVANAUGH: He’s director of “Bonnie & Clyde.”

MARKS: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: He was 88 years old. Maybe we can just go around and get some feelings about the work of Arthur Penn. Scott.

MARKS: You’re going to start with me? Well, I don’t know. I mean, I have no idea what to say. Gee, I should send his wife a note. I mean, he was a decent filmmaker.

CAVANAUGH: Umm-hmm.

MARKS: I mean, “Bonnie & Clyde” was a good film. Help me out.

ACCOMANDO: Well…

WRIGHT: You know, I mean, that’s going to be the movie that everyone remembers him for…

ACCOMANDO: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: Yes.

WRIGHT: …I’m sure. But he made a lot of films but, I mean, that’s the one that’s going to sort of jump out as sort of the sign of the times it was made in.

MARKS: Not “Penn & Teller Get Killed?”

WRIGHT: I’m…

MARKS: No? And “Night Moves” is a great little film noir that nobody remembers.

WRIGHT: That nobody knows, yeah. Yeah.

ACCOMANDO: I mean, I remember “Bonnie & Clyde” making quite an impression. I mean, it was one of the first films to show violence the way it did and to mix it with kind of lighthearted music. There was all this banjo music while they were having these shootouts.

CAVANAUGH: Well, I’ll tell everybody, you know, the one way to get to know Arthur Penn is Turner Classic Movies always does a series of films of people who pass away, whether they’re actors or directors. So just stay tuned to Turner Classic Movies…

MARKS: This Friday or Saturday.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

ACCOMANDO: Umm-hmm.

MARKS: You gotta wait a couple – you gotta wait for the body to cool a little bit.

WRIGHT: But, you know, with something like that, look for the films you don’t know. I mean…

ACCOMANDO: Umm-hmm.

WRIGHT: …”Bonnie & Clyde” you’ve seen, and you can get it again on network…

ACCOMANDO: Well, but some people haven’t. So…

WRIGHT: Sure, and if you haven’t, the point – That’s my point, is look for the stuff you haven’t seen before.

CAVANAUGH: Umm-hmm.

WRIGHT: I mean, this is the chance to see that stuff.

CAVANAUGH: Well, let’s move on to our regularly scheduled program and we’re asking the question of what makes a film a documentary? Now Wikipedia gives a quick definition, saying it’s a motion picture intended to document some aspect of reality. Some new documentaries are being accused of straining the idea of reality and actually blurring the line between fact and fiction. We’re going to be talking about three pictures that perhaps obscure that line. First, the one currently causing the most controversy is called “Catfish.” But before we get into the controversy, Beth, just give us a synopsis. What is this documentary about? And…

ACCOMANDO: Without…

CAVANAUGH/ACCOMANDO: …spoilers…

CAVANAUGH: …yeah.

MARKS: Well, first of all, I mean, the big question…

ACCOMANDO: Gosh, I sound different.

MARKS: Well, look, what the hell. No, because she referred to it instantly as a documentary. I don’t think it is.

CAVANAUGH: Okay. All right.

ACCOMANDO: Well, I mean, just in terms of what it’s about, it’s a couple of filmmakers who one of them, their brother has gotten this painting that seems to be a copy of his photograph that was done by a young girl. She’s on Facebook. He’s intrigued by, you know, who she might be and what she’s doing. He meets the mother on Facebook, he meets the sister, he gets interested. The filmmaker decides, well, it’d be kind of cool to track this relationship and your relationship to this young girl and maybe we could even have you guys meet up. And so it’s this journey of following him to meet this person that he’s met on Facebook.

CAVANAUGH: We do have a scene from the film. Nev is talking to the sister of his Facebook friend for the first time. Her name is Megan.

(audio of clip from the film “Catfish”)

CAVANAUGH: That’s a clip from the maybe…

ACCOMANDO: No, he’s just irritating.

CAVANAUGH: …maybe documentary “Catfish.” The controversy stems from whether the events that happened in this movie are true. And, obviously, Scott, you’re coming down on the not true side.

WRIGHT: Could I – could I – Before we lead into…

MARKS: Now whose voice is changing?

WRIGHT: Yeah.

MARKS: Okay.

WRIGHT: You know, here – But I – Just to lead into that, it has to be said that the journey that they take, that Beth was talking about, to find out who Megan is and who this family is, leads them to something that they really do not expect.

ACCOMANDO: Well, that’s your interpretation.

WRIGHT: Okay, sure.

MARKS: So how – how else can you – Well, they expected to find what they found?

ACCOMANDO: I mean…

MARKS: Okay.

CAVANAUGH: If it’s not reality, if it’s scripted, they expected to find it.

MARKS: Oh, yeah, I would hope so. Yeah, okay.

ACCOMANDO: Well, what’s your take?

MARKS: A documentary, a pure documentary, is a film that’s made without bias and without any fictional footage inserted. End of discussion.

ACCOMANDO: No, no, no. But I don’t think any film can be made without bias.

MARKS: No, well, okay, let me finish then.

ACCOMANDO: All right.

MARKS: That’s just what I was going to say. I agree with you. Michael Moore loads his film with bias.

ACCOMANDO: Umm-hmm.

MARKS: The only one that doesn’t is Frederick Wiseman. I think Frederick Wiseman is like a pure documentary filmmaker. And I think if you look at a film like Scorsese’s “The Journey Through Italian Cinema,” and “Manolo,” those, to me, are pure documentaries because he’s giving you a history lesson. Okay.

ACCOMANDO: But they have a bias.

MARKS: All right, you have three guys in a car, and two cameras. And the two passengers in the car are filming a conversation between the three of them. All of a sudden, there’s a shot from a car moving alongside of them showing the three guys in the car. Where did this come from?

CAVANAUGH: Has – has…

MARKS: And don’t tell me they went and made pickups because I don’t believe it. You cannot have…

ACCOMANDO: But how does that not make it a documentary?

MARKS: Because it’s false. It’s a lie.

ACCOMANDO: How is it a lie?

WRIGHT: Here’s the question that I have here.

MARKS: How – No, no, no, no.

ACCOMANDO: No, I mean, how is it a lie?

MARKS: How is it a lie? If you have three guys on the road…

ACCOMANDO: But are they pretending there’s nobody else helping them?

MARKS: Isn’t that what you got? Isn’t that the impression you got when you’re watching this film?

ACCOMANDO: Well, I imagined the…

MARKS: That it’s just these three guys on the road? I didn’t think that when they left to do this gig that they packed an additional camera crew and another car with them.

ACCOMANDO: Or a sound guy. I mean, I didn’t think that it necessarily meant – I mean, when you make a film, it’s hard to make it with just two people. I mean, that didn’t – that wasn’t the question that came up for me.

WRIGHT: My question is this. Is the experience you see them having on the screen something that actually happened? Or did they stage it?

ACCOMANDO: Well, here…

WRIGHT: That, to me, is the real question.

ACCOMANDO: No, to me, the question is, is it a fake documentary or does it have an aspect of being fake if the filmmakers are using real people and manipulating them for some cause of their own. And I think that there’s probably aspects of this film that are real but I think the filmmakers are pretending to be more gullible than they were. I mean, they’re filming awfully early on in this relationship if they had no plans at all of having made this film or had no plans at all of – or thoughts at all of where it’s going to go. I think they probably suspected much more than they let on and I think they’re using these people for a particular end of their own.

WRIGHT: I mean, and I think that all of that looks like it could be happening in this film. I don’t believe that that’s the case myself.

CAVANAUGH: I…

WRIGHT: I think that these are people who basically – I mean, if – And I interviewed the two filmmakers, I should say, because I had a lot of questions about this. My impression of them is this, is that these are people who did not set out to make a film about this, that these are guys who are filming each other all the time because they’re just those sorts of guys.

ACCOMANDO: And they just lucked into this? Otherwise, it would’ve been like the dullest film…

MARKS: In all fairness, if you walked out of that movie…

WRIGHT: You’re absolutely right.

MARKS: …and you looked at me and you said that this thing is 100% bogus…

WRIGHT: I – yeah.

MARKS: …that this is not the real deal…

WRIGHT: I know, you’re absolutely right. You’re absolutely right.

MARKS: …that they’re sitting and…

WRIGHT: I went home to try to…

MARKS: …try to find a cause.

WRIGHT: But I don’t think they were. I went home that night and I spent a lot of time thinking about it and I basically decided that it was one level of meta removed. That basically what they were trying to do was real.

CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you a question because earlier in our conversation about the social networking…

WRIGHT: Yes.

CAVANAUGH: …you said that you learned more about Facebook in this movie or at least as much than you do in “The Social Network,” which is about the creator of Facebook. So what is it that you get out of it?

ACCOMANDO: Without giving away anything, that’s hard.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

WRIGHT: Well, I mean, no – I mean, but basically what you’re seeing is all of these interlocking relationships with – I mean, the phone call you heard. But so much of the interaction between Nev, the New York based photographer, and this family in Michigan takes place via Facebook or via the phone or via IM or texting or sexting even because there’s a whole sort of racy series of texts that go back and forth.

ACCOMANDO: That they painstakingly make us listen to the whole thing.

WRIGHT: But…

ACCOMANDO: I mean…

WRIGHT: The – But they basically – It’s basically virtual relationships with people he believes to be exactly as they are represented on Facebook.

CAVANAUGH: Now you’re not buying it, I know, Scott. Are you saying, Beth, that this maybe stretches the definition?

ACCOMANDO: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think it’s a totally staged docu – I don’t think it’s a fake documentary in the sense that everything about it is staged and written and that these people have scripted lines. But I don’t think it’s a documentary in the sense of it being honest all the way through. I think that these filmmakers had something in mind that they wanted to do. I don’t know at what point in this process they did and I think they manipulated people and manipulated things to make a particular kind of film. So I don’t – And, you know, if the truth of the matter is that they had no clue about where the story was going to take them, then I have even less respect for them, you know, and to me this whole thing would’ve been so much better if this was a short film. I was really bored through a lot of it because the main guy, I did not find appealing and likeable. He was irritating. And all three of them come across as really superficial, and in that clip you could almost hear the smirking come through in just the dialogue that he’s having on the – in the phone conversation. So, to me, I was just bored by most of these characters and questioning whether or not what I was watching was, you know, honest or true in any kind of sense.

CAVANAUGH: We’re talking about the controversial movie “Catfish.” And we have to – We’ll talk briefly about two other documentaries or pseudo-documentaries. “I’m Still Here” with Joaquin Phoenix, directed by Casey Affleck. What is this movie about?

WRIGHT: Oh, I mean, this is just a – I mean, to me, this is the two-year sort of project that Casey Affleck and River Phoenix (sic) put together and were basically…

ACCOMANDO: No, not River.

WRIGHT: Joaquin, excuse me. But basically he pretended to go nuts, grow a long beard, try to be a hip-hop artist, and go on David Letterman to embarrass himself and they finally released the movie at Toronto Film Festival and Casey Affleck then finally came forward and said, yes, we made it all up. To me, I mean, this is just – just disingenuous.

ACCOMANDO: And it’s pretty obvious, I think, from early on that they’re…

WRIGHT: I just – it’s just…

MARKS: If you can’t see that this thing is a goof…

WRIGHT: Yeah.

MARKS: …like from ten minutes in…

WRIGHT: It’s just a – But it’s just a waste of everyone’s time. I mean…

MARKS: But there was one other thing that I wanted to say. And we were talking with Duncan Shepherd after the movie, after we saw…

MARKS/WRIGHT: …”Catfish.”

MARKS: And he said something very interesting. He said – we were talking – He objected to the whole idea that you start to make one film then all of a sudden another one falls in your lap. Then he said, wasn’t this produced by Andrew Jarecki, the guy who did “Capturing the Friedmans” which starts the same way. They start making a documentary about a clown and then all of a sudden you find these horrible things about the father. To me, that just adds to the whole…

WRIGHT: And what I guess what I’m trying to say…

MARKS: …disingenuousness fact of this film.

WRIGHT: I understand what you’re saying but I will say this, is, number one, I don’t believe that they set out to actually make a film. I think they were just documenting their lives. I think that is what they do. Number two, in many ways, I don’t know if it matters whether or not it’s meta or meta-meta. I mean, I really love what this movie’s about and I love the fact that it sort of defies our expectations of what they find. I feel like it’s a very sort of human experience and if they’re – if they’re…

ACCOMANDO: But if…

WRIGHT: …replicating that somehow, then…

MARKS: And this goes against all – “The Blair Witch Project,” and stuff like that.

ACCOMANDO: No…

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, I was going to mention that.

ACCOMANDO: Well, yeah, but you…

MARKS: Oh, it’s so…

ACCOMANDO: …say this is a very human experience. They are so superficial. I mean, when you come to the end…

MARKS: Oh, no.

WRIGHT: I don’t get that.

ACCOMANDO: Well, I do.

MARKS: What this film has is heart. This film worries about…

ACCOMANDO: “Catfish” has heart?

MARKS: It worries about the human condition, you’re damn…

ACCOMANDO: No, it doesn’t.

MARKS: Well, then we watched an altogether different film.

ACCOMANDO: And here – here’s the – here’s the problem. “Catfish” like insulates itself from criticism because it keeps telling everyone, ohh, don’t tell the – don’t give away the spoilers.

CAVANAUGH: Right. Right.

ACCOMANDO: So you’re kind of inhibited from really discussing what the film is like…

CAVANAUGH: So I’m interested though, so you’re not buying the fact, Scott, that it’s a documentary but you still think it’s a good film.

MARKS: A great film, it’s great film.

WRIGHT: And what I love about this is that…

MARKS: I’ve never seen a film like this.

WRIGHT: Yeah.

MARKS: I’ve never seen a film like this.

WRIGHT: I love the fact that all three of us are in completely different places on this movie.

CAVANAUGH: Right, right. One final comment about “I’m Still Here.” This is obviously pretty much of a pseudo-documentary…

ACCOMANDO: Oh…

WRIGHT: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: …from the very beginning.

MARKS: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: It’s a hoax, right. Is it worth anybody’s time in your estimation, Beth?

ACCOMANDO: No.

CAVANAUGH: Okay.

WRIGHT: No, if we want to see something about the disintegration of celebrity, which is what they set out to do, we can just turn on E!.

ACCOMANDO: And if you want to see something that’s a hoax, see “Last Exit Through the Gift Shop,” which you – may be a hoax, may not be a hoax…

MARKS: Or “A Film Unfinished.”

CAVANAUGH: Or a – I…

MARKS: There’s your segue, there you go.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you very much. A much more serious film.

ACCOMANDO: Yes.

CAVANAUGH: “A Film Unfinished” and I know that you blogged about it on Cinema Junkie, Beth, so tell us what it’s about.

ACCOMANDO: Well, it’s essentially – in a sense, it’s a documentary looking to another documentary and raising the question that we’ve just been asking of where is this line between truth and fiction and how is it blurred? In this particular case, it’s – the woman filmmaker has found this real film that was shot in Warsaw in 1942 that was part of a propaganda film that the Nazis were making but in this case the film has multiple takes and has some staged scenes and has some footage of the crew actually shooting. So she’s examining it to say, okay, here’s what they were doing, here are things they were staging, here are some things that were real. And she has these kind of witnesses, which are one of them’s one of the cameramen. There are some survivors from the Warsaw ghetto and is there anyone else? It was – Yeah, those two groups of people were commenting on it.

WRIGHT: Yeah, I think the idea is that they had this hour of footage that was shot in the Warsaw ghetto that had been presented as the longest piece of authentic footage shot in that time and place and no one knew what it was for or why it was. And for 40 years it had been basically promoted as like this is what it was like in the ghetto. And then basically another reel turned up with outtakes and that basically showed that everything that had been explained to people who had seen that film as truth for 40 years was, in fact, staged by the Nazis and was not reality.

CAVANAUGH: So, Scott, what kind of questions does this open up? These historical documentaries that we’ve been seeing from World War II and perhaps other aspects of documentaries that come to us as history, what…

MARKS: Yeah, I certainly don’t want to slight anything about the Holocaust but that’s not what fascinated me about this film. The fact that we learned that Nazis were master propa – you know, they were masters when it came to making propaganda and that Nazis lied, I knew that going in. What this film says is that film lies, that film does not tell the truth. And as far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as documenting truth. You’re wasting your time. I used to say Alan Funt – and we were talking about this. Again, Alan Funt staged the scenes on Candid Camera. All the set-ups were there. He was wise to hide the camera because you got to see people the way that – you know, they – the reactions are genuine but I think if you’re trying to film reality, you’re doing yourself and the public a great disservice. You’re wasting your time. Why this film exists, I don’t know. I mean, if they wanted to give documentary evidence of how well they were treating the Jews, why do you have all the bulldozers into the, you know, and bodies and stuff like that? I mean, I can see when they’re walking down the street and you find out that the Nazis directed their – I mean, there are dead bodies. It’s like you’re walking down Broadway and every 100 feet there’s a dead body and the Nazis instructed the Jews just to keep walking and not pay any attention because it would show how cold and callous they are to their own people. I mean, this is just – it’s…

WRIGHT: But what it comes down to also is this, is that this film originally turned up after the war and no one knew anything about it. So people made – I mean, like the films we’ve been talking about, people made assumptions about the original footage that turned out to be entirely incorrect.

ACCOMANDO: Well, and, I mean, the irony of all this is, is that the Nazis documented so much of what was going on and then were relying on their documentation…

WRIGHT: Umm-hmm.

ACCOMANDO: …of what they did but, you know, they had very particular reasons for documenting what they were doing that were not…

WRIGHT: Although what – in fact, we don’t know if they had reasons. No one knows why that was shot.

MARKS: Yeah, that – that’s the problem. Why – What…

ACCOMANDO: Well, they obviously had reasons. We may not know what…

MARKS: Yeah.

ACCOMANDO: …they are but they had reasons.

MARKS: Maybe when it was all done, they sat and looked at it and said, oh, you know, this isn’t going to help any cause so let’s…

ACCOMANDO: Well…

WRIGHT: Yeah, but the reasons could’ve been as minute as some office somewhere got a budget to make some movies and so…

CAVANAUGH: Sorry…

WRIGHT: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: …we have to take a short break. I’m terribly sorry. When we return, we will talk about “Let Me In” and “Devil” on the KPBS Film Club of the Air on These Days here on KPBS.


CAVANAUGH: Welcome back. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. It’s the KPBS Film Club of the Air with KPBS film critic Beth Accomando, Scott Marks and Anders Wright. And we are having – there’s been an insurrection in the studio. And there – A demand that we talk more about “A Film Unfinished” and the intriguing topic of whether or not film can tell the truth. And, Beth, let me go to you to continue this discussion about this documentary where we find that there are retakes and – of documentary footage shot by the Nazis in the Warsaw ghetto, which we never expected to find and what everybody thought was pretty much a historical document.

ACCOMANDO: Well, I mean, I think there are things in the footage that are probably true, and there are things that are staged. But I think why the film is important to see is because it raises the question that everybody should always be asking when they’re watching documentary or news or anything that pretends or purports to tell the truth, which is you have to think critically about what you’re seeing and you just have to ask questions. I mean, when you see any documentary, even if it seems completely legit and balanced and objective, I think you owe yourself to ask some questions about who the filmmaker is and why they’re presenting it and if everything you see could possibly be real, or maybe there’s a motive for why they’re showing it. So, I mean, I think the film, on that level, is really fascinating and important.

MARKS: And there’s this danger that I see in so many films, and I see it in Michael Moore a lot where you will take a piece of educational film from the fifties or a clip from a movie from the fifties and you’ll incorporate that into your film as documentary truth, and it’s not. It’s “Father Knows Best.” There’s nothing true about “Father Knows Best.” But if you want to – I mean, if you want to evoke irony, fine, but using existing footage that has no documentary value inherent in it…

ACCOMANDO: Although…

WRIGHT: But…

MARKS: …and passing it off as documentary…

ACCOMANDO: No, but I would argue that it has a documentary value to it because if you’re presenting a certain image of America in “Father Knows Best”…

MARKS: I used that as a bad example. I’m saying he’ll pick clips from ephemeral films, from educational films, and pass this off as truth.

WRIGHT: But he never tries to hide his bias. Michael Moore’s movies are always about exactly what Michael Moore is talking about.

ACCOMANDO: They’re op-ed pieces.

WRIGHT: Yeah, I mean, they’re way – The question in many ways is whether or not you could/would/should consider them actual documentaries. They are documents, no doubt, but they’re documents that have his name stamped on them for a reason. But he doesn’t try to hide that, as well. He’s not trying to hide his opinions, his ideas, his take on things.

MARKS: But I see this in a lot of documentaries, where they’re passing off…

ACCOMANDO: Well…

MARKS: …footage that isn’t documentary footage as truth.

CAVANAUGH: One last question about this. Does the fact that there maybe have been retakes of scenes with Jewish families around a table while the Nazis were filming this and they wanted to take it again, does that in any way affect the fundamental truth of these documents?

WRIGHT: Yes, in this particular case it does because many of these scenes were, in fact, entirely staged. You know, people were brought in off the street and told to sit down and eat meals while the Nazis shot them. These scenes are not truth. They’re undoubted – there’s undoubtedly footage in there of things that, you know, that just happened but there are big crowd scenes that we learn later are actually completely orchestrated by, you know, cops with batons. I feel as though there’s no way to – For me, when I look at this, what’s fascinating to me is the fact that it’s—and any documentary—it’s what Beth was saying, we make assumptions about things that we see because we don’t have context to put them in. We suddenly have context to take that footage that has been presented as truth for so long and know that, in fact, it’s not truth. So I think that in that particular case, yeah, I don’t think that film can be trusted as a legitimate document of what life was like.

CAVANAUGH: Okay. Let’s move on. We were talking about “A Film Unfinished,” also “Catfish” and “I’m Still Here,” all of them playing in area theaters. “Let Me In” is a remake of the 2008 Swedish vampire movie “Let the Right One In.” This version is set in New Mexico in the early 1980s. 12-year-old Owen has a dysfunctional home life and a bully-ridden school life. He is intrigued, though, by his strange new neighbor Abby. She appears to be a little girl and for some reason there’s been a series of strange, unsolved murders in the neighborhood.

WRIGHT: For some reason.

CAVANAUGH: Now, Beth, as far as remakes go, how does this one stack up?

ACCOMANDO: Well, this, to me, it’s just a totally unnecessary remake. The first film did everything perfectly. The only reason to make it is to try to cash in on a mainstream crowd that doesn’t want to read subtitles because it was a clever story and it has potential. But whatever’s good in the remake is just lifted out of the first one.

MARKS: Umm-umm…

ACCOMANDO: Matt Reeves doesn’t bring anything…

MARKS: Umm-umm-umm-umm…

ACCOMANDO: ..except for the car crash.

MARKS: Umm-umm.

ACCOMANDO: There’s a brilliant car crash.

MARKS: Yeah, that’s better than anything in the first film.

ACCOMANDO: No, I disagree with that. But anyway, I mean, in terms of the narrative, in terms of the story line, it’s pretty much lifted from the original with some minor tweaks and it just – if the original film never existed, I would probably like this film because the story is good and it tweaks…

MARKS: No, you wouldn’t. You would see…

ACCOMANDO: I…

MARKS: …those computer generated fight scenes and you would…

ACCOMANDO: Oh, no, there are ele – there are elements. No, there are elements.

MARKS: …laugh your ass off.

WRIGHT: There’s some bad CGIs.

ACCOMANDO: The CGI is atrocious in this film.

MARKS: It’s like the Three Stooges CGI, it’s so bad.

CAVANAUGH: Wow.

ACCOMANDO: It’s Golam goes wild. But I just see no reason for this. It’s like…

CAVANAUGH: You see no reason for “Let Me In.”

ACCOMANDO: It’s like “Death at a Funeral” remake. It’s like the film’s barely a couple of years old. Well, it was, it was ridiculous.

MARKS: I – I laughed at “Death at a Funeral.”

WRIGHT: I, you know…

ACCOMANDO: Both of them? The remake?

MARKS: I never saw the original.

ACCOMANDO: Oh, well, see? Exactly. There you have it.

MARKS: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: Isn’t it – Scott, I’m sorry, isn’t it at least the idea of making a film that more people will go and see if the film is well made? Isn’t that a reason to do it?

MARKS: It’s like saying, you know, let’s take these old movies in black and white and colorize them and then maybe more people will watch them. If the only way that I can get you to watch a foreign film is by remaking it in English, you know, you’re not on my team. I don’t want anything to do with you. And this is not the most unnecessary remake of the year.

ACCOMANDO: No.

MARKS: That’s “A Girl, A Gun and a Noodle Shop.” The insane remake of “Blood Simple.” Boy, Zhang – Yimou Zhang…

ACCOMANDO: Yeah, but at least he brought his own viewpoint to it.

MARKS: Yeah, he turned “Blood Simple” into a slapstick comedy.

ACCOMANDO: He did.

MARKS: He could’ve kept the viewpoint at home. I don’t want that. I don’t – Let’s, you know, let’s take “A Film Unfinished” and turn it into a musical, you know? I mean, no, I don’t want those sensibilities.

WRIGHT: What’s hard for me to understand is that I absolutely understand the logic that you’re saying, that it’s made to get the story to a larger American audience. But it’s rated ‘R’, it’s really gory. It’s hard for me to understand who the audience is.

ACCOMANDO: But there are a lot of ‘R’ rated horror films that make a lot of money. I mean, “Saw” is not doing badly and they’re on number seven or whatever.

WRIGHT: Yeah, but is the “Saw” – Well, is the “Saw” crowd this crowd? I don’t know, I mean…

ACCOMANDO: In part.

WRIGHT: I don’t know. It’s – because this is considerably more complex in some ways.

ACCOMANDO: It is but, I mean, I know a lot of horror fans and we go to see absolutely anything that comes out that’s horror because we enjoy the genre and all those…

MARKS: And, honestly, I do not think this is more complex than the “Saw” films. I’ve seen…

WRIGHT: Well…

MARKS: …all the “Saw” films and I’m a big fan of the franchise.

ACCOMANDO: No, it has more – it has more emotional – I mean, it has more relationships to it.

MARKS: But I’m talking about plotting.

WRIGHT: Right.

MARKS: I think the “Saw” films are much more cleverly plotted.

CAVANAUGH: A lot of people say that this film really sort of hangs on the two leads. How do you think the acting is in this movie?

ACCOMANDO: Oh, they’re good.

MARKS: Richard Jenkins, shame on him.

WRIGHT: Well, he’s not one of the two leads.

ACCOMANDO: Two leads, no.

MARKS: He’s just taking a paycheck and just walking through it, shuffling along, looking at his feet.

CAVANAUGH: Is that her father in this movie?

MARKS: Yeah.

ACCOMANDO: Well…

MARKS: Well, so whatever you will.

ACCOMANDO: Sort of.

WRIGHT: I mean, the leads are two child actors. Kodi Smit-McPhee, who is really good in “The Road” and he’s really quite good in this.

ACCOMANDO: Umm-hmm.

WRIGHT: And Grace…

ACCOMANDO: No, Chloe Grace.

WRIGHT: Chloe Grace Moretz, excuse me, who was in “Kickass,” who’s good. I think the girl in the original was better. I mean, you’re basically, you know, it’s…

ACCOMANDO: Well, everything was better in the original…

WRIGHT: Yes, except…

ACCOMANDO: …except the car crash.

WRIGHT: …the car crash. I mean, it’s essentially – it’s a very challenging role for a 12-year-old kid because they have to really try to be something that they’re not.

MARKS: Hey, at least the director got a tripod this time, so that was nice.

WRIGHT: Yeah…

MARKS/WRIGHT: …unlike “Cloverfield”…

MARKS: …where everything was handheld and you needed Dramamine.

WRIGHT: The one thing he did different is he set it in New Mexico in the eighties and what he’s really trying to cash in on is this idea of paranoia, like sort of paranoia in our community. He constantly has footage of Reagan sort of…

ACCOMANDO: Yeah, but he doesn’t cash in on it very well.

WRIGHT: No, I…

ACCOMANDO: He has two shots of Reagan…

WRIGHT: …agree with you but the idea is that, you know, the idea is that the – I mean, that was when the cold war was still gearing up and I mean, we’re lucky enough that it ended with a whimper and not a bang but the idea is that, you know, the – Owen, this boy’s sort of taught to believe in good. I mean, his mother’s very religious and sort of good is a notion and as he meets Abby and sort of explores these things, he has to decide whether or not there really is such a thing as good or evil.

ACCOMANDO: But, see, I think that simplifies it. I mean, the original film, I think, was more complex because…

WRIGHT: I completely agree with you.

ACCOMANDO: …it was about two kids who were ostracized. They had no friends. They were complete loners. They had no one, and they find each other.

WRIGHT: Well, I think the other thing that’s missing – I mean, the first one, there was a real sense of menace the entire time. You never really knew how it was going to go. And if you’ve seen the original, you know that there’s no real danger presented here.

CAVANAUGH: “Let Me In” opens in theaters this weekend and the original is the 2008 Swedish movie “Let the Right One In.”

ACCOMANDO: Which is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and…

WRIGHT: Or even Netflix On Demand.

ACCOMANDO: Netflix, yeah.

WRIGHT: On Demand, yeah.

CAVANAUGH: I gave that to you, okay? I gave that to you.

ACCOMANDO: Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: The last film is “Devil.” Take five everyday Philadelphians carrying their secret sins aboard an elevator. The elevator gets stuck near the 20th floor. Detectives and security guards try to free the trapped passengers. Strange events begin to happen inside the elevator. Could there be an extra passenger?

WRIGHT: Actually, no. No.

MARKS: No. No, actually, no.

WRIGHT: No, they did – Look, no, there’s nothing to give away. It’s an easy pitch and actually it’s a great pitch and that’s why I liked it. It’s five people are in an elevator and one of them’s the devil. That’s it.

CAVANAUGH: Aha.

WRIGHT: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: Now, Beth, you saw the trailer for “Devil” in the theater.

ACCOMANDO: Well, what…

WRIGHT: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: You have to tell us the reaction.

WRIGHT: Yeah, yeah.

ACCOMANDO: Well, I saw – Three times, I saw the trailer play out in the theater with a full crowd and each time people were kind of engaged at the beginning of it and as soon as the title came up that says ‘from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan,’ the audience turned on the trailer and started to boo and hiss and laugh and poke fun at it. And it was consistent. It was…

WRIGHT: Umm-hmm.

ACCOMANDO: …three times.

WRIGHT: I had the same experience, yeah.

ACCOMANDO: Had exactly the same reaction.

WRIGHT: Yeah.

ACCOMANDO: And, you know, you’ve got to think is the studio that oblivious to how audiences have turned on M. Night Shyamalan that they wouldn’t perceive that it would have a negative connotation as opposed to a positive one?

CAVANAUGH: But, Scott, in actuality, this movie is neither really written…

ACCOMANDO: Right.

CAVANAUGH: …or directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

MARKS: No, and M. Night Shyamalan may be the new Stephen King where I – I’ve read two Stephen King books. I read “Carrie” and “The Shining” and they’re just god-awful but they’re good movies. They’re really good movies. Maybe Shyamalan should stop making movies and just crank out ideas and let other people make them because I think that this film is very, very well made. The opening shot – It’s photographed by Tak Fujimoto, who was Jonathan Demme’s main cameraman…

WRIGHT: Who has great timing.

MARKS: …on “Melvin and Howard.”

ACCOMANDO: Yeah.

WRIGHT: Yeah.

MARKS: I mean, like the greatest camera – one of the greatest working cameramen, who is just so far above this material it’s not even funny. So the opening shot shows you hell above and heaven below by photographing the skyline of Manhattan – no, I’m sorry, Philadelphia.

WRIGHT: Philadelphia.

MARKS: Upside down.

WRIGHT: Although it was shot in Canada. Yeah.

MARKS: And it’s just stunning to look at. And what they’re saying in that shot isn’t original but the way they’re showing it to you is completely original. The way they bring the five characters together in one long take in the opening of the film, how you don’t like this movie, Beth, considering this is right up your alley, this is a good horror film and you’re doubting this one.

ACCOMANDO: It’s – I’m not doubting it. I just…

MARKS: Oh, you don’t like this movie.

ACCOMANDO: It’s okay. It’s not bad. It’s not…

MARKS: If you had the little girls with purple wigs getting the snot beat out of them then…

ACCOMANDO: No.

MARKS: …you’d enjoy it.

ACCOMANDO: Oh, “Let the Right One In” has little girls in purple wigs?

CAVANAUGH: No, but why…

MARKS: It’s got Chloe what’s…

ACCOMANDO: “Let the Right One In” does not.

MARKS: Oh.

CAVANAUGH: Beth, what’s your problem with the movie?

MARKS: Yeah, what is your problem? What the hell’s the problem, lady?

ACCOMANDO: It didn’t scare me. And…

MARKS: When was the last time you were scared?

ACCOMANDO: Probably “The Exorcist.”

MARKS: Okay, that was – Okay…

ACCOMANDO: No, no.

MARKS: The statute of limitations has run out.

WRIGHT: Yeah, all right…

ACCOMANDO: No, I want to get scared again. I mean, like I said, it’s not a bad film. I enjoyed watching it. I enjoyed it even more because it was air-conditioned and it was 101 outside. But it just – it didn’t really hook me the way I like a horror film to. It’s…

MARKS: 84 minutes. Boy, you sit down, you get comfortable, you finish your corn, you get to go home.

CAVANAUGH: Anders, you have the last word.

WRIGHT: You know, I’m not a huge horror movie person but I enjoyed this. I feel like off…

ACCOMANDO: Maybe that’s why.

WRIGHT: Well, no, it’s poss – I feel like so often horror movies are about like getting to the guttings and disembowelings and the hackings and there wasn’t so much of this. This was much more – In many ways, it’s more like a whodunit. You’re trying to figure out who actually is the…

ACCOMANDO: And it’s the Hispanic guy holding the cross who knows the truth.

WRIGHT: Well, I – you know, I mean…

ACCOMANDO: It was.

MARKS: But that’s a joke. I mean, you don’t see that as a goof.

CAVANAUGH: You make it sound so trite.

WRIGHT: Yeah, I think it’s a…

ACCOMANDO: No, I don’t see it as a goof.

WRIGHT: Well, first of all, he’s not in the elevator. Let’s say that. But it’s really that it’s – it’s such a simple story. Five people go into an elevator and one of them’s the devil. I like that.

ACCOMANDO: I’d rather see “Rosemary’s Baby.”

CAVANAUGH: “The Devil” is currently playing in area theaters. I want to thank you guys so much even though you don’t take directions very well. Scott Marks is the author of the film blog Emulsioncompulsion.com. Anders Wright, film critic for San Diego CityBeat. And Beth Accomando is KPBS Film Critic, author of the blog Cinema Junkie. If you would like to comment, please go online, KPBS.org/thesedays. You’ve been listening to These Days on KPBS.

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leeconte | September 29, 2010 at 11:02 a.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

I would like to comment on the discussion of "A Film Unfinished" which was also discussed in this broadcast. I had not heard of this film previously, but it was clear from its description that the subject matter closes parallels the very well-known Nazi propaganda hoax perpetrated against the Red Cross at the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1944. I was surprised that none of the on-air commentators mentioned this. If they are not aware of this event, this information may be of interest in terms of providing additional context:

see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theresie...

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Avatar for user 'leeconte'

leeconte | September 29, 2010 at 11:05 a.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

Sorry, bad link in previous post. This is the correct link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theresienstadt_(film)

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Avatar for user 'Angela Carone'

Angela Carone, KPBS Staff | September 29, 2010 at 2:53 p.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

Thanks, Lee. Very helpful addition to that conversation.

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