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January 3, 2008:

THE PUNDITS QUERY

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, it is Thursday and I am here to tell the tale. And the tale is The Randy Vicar and the Crepes Suzettes. It’s quite a randy tale, and perhaps too randy for this here site. Therefore, I shan’t tell it, and therefore everything previous to this sentence is rendered moot. Have you ever been rendered moot? I was rendered moot once, but I didn’t realize it because I don’t like the word moot (toom, spelled backwards). In any case, I am here to tell the tale and yet I will not be telling the tale unless I can come up with a different tale, in which case I shall tell it both willingly and willingly. You know, if anyone has a clew as to what the HELL I’m going on about, do tell. So, what will today’s notes bring, the pundits query? Those darn pundits are always querying, if you get my drift, pundits querying-wise. Wouldn’t it be nice if the pundits did something other than query? For example, couldn’t the pundits make a raspberry tart? I almost made a raspberry tart once, but I got bitch-slapped from here to eternity and hell and back for my trouble. Speaking of a raspberry tart, yesterday was a lovelier than lovely day. I got up at a reasonable hour, de-groggified, and began writing. I ended up doing another seven pages today – a little unusual for me this early in the game, but it felt good and I actually finished chapter one. I did a lot of revising and futzing, too, and it seems pretty smooth to me now. I’m sure I’ll go back and do a few other things, but I’ll move ahead and see where things take me. In addition to that, I did a few errands, answered a slew of e-mails, had some telephonic conversations, and suddenly, before I knew it, the day was done. And then I sat on my couch like so much fish and waited for the pundits to query, but those darn pundits weren’t doing any querying whatsoever. Damn them, damn them all to hell.

Last night, I watched a motion picture on DVD entitled The Lives Of Others, last year’s Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Film. Having just had to endure all these critics falling all over themselves with their hyperbole regarding There Will Be Blood, each one proclaiming louder than the last that the film is a masterpiece (do words have no meaning anymore), it’s nice to come upon a film that truly is excellent in every way, and exemplary piece of filmmaking that gets everything right. Is it a masterpiece? I don’t bandy that word about like a tennis ball, so, no, I don’t think it’s a masterpiece, but it’s a film that says what it wants to say and achieves its goals perfectly. I didn’t find that about There Will Be Blood at all, and I think that time will not be kind to the film or the over-the-top love letters from the critics. Whereas I think The Lives Of Others will stand the test of time. The screenplay is terrific – economical, complex, and filled with wonderful sequences, and it never feels like it’s 137 minutes long, even though it is. I would say that Ulrich Muhe as a secret policeman gives one of the best film performances of the last three decades, and he does it without whispering or raising his voice, and he does it without much dialogue. He should not only have been up for an Oscar, he should have won it. The rest of the cast is equally as good, right down to the smallest role. The production design and photography are superb – all shot in classical film style with no digital crap or fake skies or phony “colorist” touches, no bombastic soundtrack with door closings sounding like ten thousand pounds of steel shutting, just a real movie mix. Yes, it’s a real movie movie, the likes of which they just don’t know how to make anymore here in America. Even though There Will Be Blood doesn’t have any real FX and it, too, is shot in a classical style, its sound mix is the worst kind, filled with loud, obnoxious overdone noise, and, of course, one of the worst musical scores I can ever remember hearing. The Lives Of Others has a stunning score by Gabriel Yared and Stephane Moucha, although I can find no information as to what Mr. Moucha actually did. In an interview with the director on the DVD, in a very long segment on the score he only mentions Mr. Yared. It’s so rare that a film gets everything right that The Lives Of Others is something of a minor miracle. Of course, the DVD marketing people have no idea what sort of film they’re trying to sell, so they just fall back on that “nail-biting erotic thriller” crap. There’s nothing erotic in this film and it’s hardly a thriller and those idiot marketing people do this film a great disservice by leading people down a totally incorrect path. My highest recommendation, which, as you know, does not come easily.

What am I, Ebert and Roeper all of a sudden? Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because I have a feeling that the pundits are going to query at any moment.

Today, I shall be doing more writing, anywhere from three to seven pages, I suppose. I also have a few errands to do and some telephonic calls to make, then I’ll be having either a late lunch or early dinner with Miss Juliana Hansen, who’s visiting from New York, New York. She had to skeedaddle directly after the fundraiser show, so I never had a chance to catch up, so I’m sure our meal will be fun.

I’m very excited about the upcoming Otto Preminger retrospective here in LA, taking place at the American Cinematheque and the Aero Theater. I’ll be going to most of the screenings and it will be really swell to see these films on the big screen again. I will, of course, have full reports every step of the way.

Where ARE those pundits? Maybe somebody else could query, in the meantime.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, write, do errands, have a late lunch or early dinner, and then I’m sure I’ll watch a motion picture on DVD. Today’s topic of discussion: Mr. Preminger has made some wonderful films – what are your all-time favorite Preminger films, and what are your all-time least favorite Preminger films? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, and hopefully the pundits will query very soon.

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