Cult Crime

 

by Jonathan Hayes

 

There’s been a recent flurry of activity over the Brian De Palma-directed, Oliver Stone-scripted, Al Pacino-larded Scarface. The celebrations, complete with cast reunion and one-off screenings nationwide, are not about an anniversary (the movie came out in 1983), but release fanfare for a new Blu-ray edition. In truth, Scarface has such a huge following that no particular special occasion would be necessary to celebrate it.

The film, released to middling reviews and decent box office, has flourished over the last almost three decades as a burgeoning cult obsession, driven by VHS, then DVD releases. Its popularity was particularly obvious among rappers – every hip hop star showcased on MTV Cribs had that poster of a brooding, Hamlet-esque Tony Montana, on the edge of darkness and light, hanging on his media room wall; indeed, this is probably how the film’s following was sustained, with younger fans picking up on the endlessly repeated meme.

The movie’s appeal is obvious, particularly to disadvantaged young men. The American Dream writ large, Scarface tells the story of Tony Montana, a Cuban thug ejected from Havana during the Mariel boat lift. Landing in Florida, through ambition and ruthlessness, Tony becomes a cocaine kingpin, becoming hugely wealthy and losing everything in the process. It speaks to the disenfranchised directly, celebrating the outsider, implying that even the marginalized can have whatever they want, if they have the drive and the cojones.

Tony’s rewards are the dream of any 14 year old boy – fountains of money, amazing cars, a mansion, cool guns, and Michelle Pfeiffer at her most luminous. As a movie, Scarface is a pop song, an agglomeration of hooks – Tony’s sexy toys, the graphic violence (including an impressive chainsaw dismemberment in a shower in a pre-gentrification Miami Beach), Stone’s quotable dialogue (“Say hello to my li’l friend!” alone is probably uttered hundreds of times every day) and Pacino’s manically bizarre take on the Cuban accent – Stone may have written “cockroaches”, but with “CACK-A-ROACHES!!!!”, Pacino made it his own. Much as he did with “HOO-AHH!!!” in the abysmal Scent of a Woman. (A side note: why did the Academy acknowledge him for that performance? Giving him the Best Actor Oscar was like injecting the Tasmanian Devil with coffee and methedrine and setting it loose in Disney World on Orphan Visiting Day; since then, with every one of his performances, Pacino may not actually say “HOO-AHH!!!”, but you can feel him thinking it…)

As a kid, I spent a lot of time in art house and rep cinemas – the Coolidge Corner, the Harvard Square and the Brattle in the Boston area, the Scala and the Ritzy in London – enduring endless double bills of Kurosawa and Truffaut, the Marx Brothers and Bogart. When I was growing up, the big cult movies were countercultural/alternative, like King of Hearts and Harold and Maude. If Scarface is something of an evergreen, what are the current cults? 

Wait: I want to mention one film that is, I think, both a cult film and a classic, in the non-ironic sense. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, released the year before Scarface, is sci-fi noir, an existentialist picture from a Philip K. Dick short story about a detective assigned to track down androids who are “more human than human”; in the process, Deckard (Harrison Ford) is forced to question his own humanity. The film’s philosophical themes are buried in a glorious miasma of visionary filmmaking, centered about Syd Mead’s concept – which felt unprecedented at the time – of a future not all slick and shiny and “futuristic” in that smooth, modern Kubrick’s 2001 sense, but of a civilization that had progressed technologically but not ideologically, developing organically in the ruins of its own crumbling cities, consuming the environment, exterminating natural life on earth until it’s forced to flee the planet.

 

With unparalleled art direction, sound design and special effects, Blade Runner is, for my money, a great film. It’s flawed, though, which is why it remains mostly a cult object – cost and time overruns, endless arguments with the studio, which took control away from Scott to deliver an aggressively edited release with an overdetermined noir voice-over, and the existence of seven different release cuts have all interfered with the film’s establishing itself as a true classic. Blade Runner is more worthy of a Blu-ray edition than Scarface; thankfully, it is the object of a five disc Blu-ray set, containing several different cuts of the film. You’ve probably seen it, but if not, watch it before the arrival of Scott’s new “installment” of the “Blade Runner franchise”, a project announced a couple of weeks ago.

To my eye, the two contemporary films that command the biggest cult following among Millennials (aka Generation Y, aka Generation Next, aka Generation Net) are Fight Club and Léon (released in the US as The Professional). I base that opinion both on the multitude of references to them rattling around on Twitter and Facebook, and because I’ve been surprised by how frequently I encounter them when I’m looking at tumblrs (tumblrs are blogs which make it particularly easy to share photographs and videos and audio, rather than being text-oriented. My own tumblr is a repository for images and sounds I’ve come across that I want to share; they may be beautiful, arresting or disturbing, but they all evoked a reaction in me).

Citations of the two films break down along lines of sex; unsurprisingly, Fight Club shows up mostly on dude tumblrs, whereas it’s (usually) the chicks who post from The Professional. Both films are very strong visually – something I think is key in catching the attention of the post-MTV generation.

Fight Club is David Fincher’s 1999 adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel of the same name. You’ve probably seen it, but if not it’s a lacerating satire about… well, a lot of things. An insomniac traveling salesman who feels emotionally disconnected from the world meets a handsome, id-driven stranger. They become friends, and together start a “fight club”, in which men meet for no-holds-barred bareknuckle fist fighting. The club, lead by the homicidally reckless Tyler Durden, evolves into an anti-corporate movement, pranking companies and attacking consumerism head-on, with each episode of sabotage more destructive than the one before, everything leading up to an explosive twist ending.

At its core, the film grapples with the classic post-modern anguish over the Death of the Real. The members of the fight club are responding to a prevalent sense of alienation from reality, from real feeling. They live in a world where values are dictated by marketing, where advertising is treated as art, and where high end consumption is considered a valid life goal. For young men who’re increasingly realizing that their lives will never be like the lives they’ve been shown on TV (they’ll never live in a loft in New York City with seven attractive strangers, they’ll never drive a Bentley convertible, and, even though they “think she’s a skank”, they’ll never get the chance to fuck Snooki) the anarchist message is an instant hook. If you can’t have something that you’re constantly being shown as visible and imminent, the fantasy of burning it all down is incredibly seductive.

An awareness of the shallowness of the goals of the generations that immediately preceded them – Generation X, the Baby Boomers – is said to mark Millennial thinking. Millennials want careers – want lives – that have meaning and richness. It’s not about money, but about valid experience. This extends into the realm of physical action: I think that one of the reason that extreme sports, sports with a high risk of physical injury, like skateboarding and ultimate fighting, are popular now is because pain is an immediately and undeniably real experience. I think this is part of the reason why the 2000’s were the era of Jackass, the era of the emergence of the Modern Primitive culture of piercing and tattooing.

Fight Club scratches this itch for young men. They watch the film, relate to its seditious messages, accept the homoerotic undertones of the unreliable narrator’s relationship with Tyler Durden. And at the end of the day, the movie looks fantastic, and Tyler Durden looks just so freakin’ cool in those shades and bro shirt and red leather jacket, up there on that glossy 42” Sony LED screen in the living room.

 

One of the major ways in which experience for the Millennials has been mediatized and mediated is in the experience of love and sex – the latter far more than the former. Any 13 year old boy or girl can show you how to access hardcore online pornography for free, and a huge percentage of teens have sent or received photographs of themselves or their peers naked or having sex. I’m fascinated by the amount of erotic material in their tumblrs, both the stuff that’s on the edge of hardcore, and the frankly pornographic, with visible penetration. This goes for both the male and female bloggers. And while some of the females may be using porn to catch the attention of the boys, I think that many young women like/embrace/are aroused by it.

I’m not interested in questions about the morality of pornography, but I do find its embrace interesting and problematic, particularly in terms of the expectations young people will have in terms of how sex will work inside (and outside) their main relationships.

Blogs – tumblrs perhaps even more so than traditional text blogs – are declarations of both identity and aspiration. The blogger filters the internet, sharing material to show how the blogger wants to be seen, the things they fear, the things they want for themselves. They can be endlessly engrossing, particularly when you come across a blogger who shares your world view. I’m the same way – my tumblr (which I assemble almost at the level of spinal reflex, grabbing and posting images and music that have triggered something in me, knowing that I’m disclosing complex but pretty legible truths about myself) is my way of filtering my experience of the world (as viewed through the fish-eye lens of the internet). I see my tumblr as a visual and acoustic form of DJ’ing, of imposing order on a world out of control.

The Professional (aka Léon) is a stylish crime film by the prolific lowbrow pulp French director Luc Besson (The Big Blue, La Femme Nikita), who must never be confused with Robert Bresson, the highbrow French director of such films as 1951’s The Diary of a Country Priest and 1959’s Pickpocket. A little girl (Natalie Portman) witnesses the killing of her entire family by a bunch of corrupt, drug-dealing DEA agents led by Gary Oldman. She is saved by the intervention of a neighbor, a bearish, taciturn hitman (Jean Reno), who hides and protects her. He becomes a father to the orphan, and she in turn brings him out of his shell, freeing him from the rigorous code of living he’s adopted to survive all these years. Of course, her involvement in his life compromises it, with ultimately disastrous results.

I like this film a lot, but largely for visual reasons – Besson’s films tend to poke around notions of crime and redemption without doing much with them, but at the end of the day, he inherited the mantle of beautiful, advertising-inspired filmmaking from Jean-Jacques Beneix (Diva, Betty Blue), and strong visuals work for me 

The essential relationship in the film – between Mathilda Lando, the appealing, inquisitive 12 year old and Leon, the grunting, barely socialized hit man – is, I believe, at the root of the appeal for the girls who post stills and clips. It’s an odd, uncomfortable relationship, hovering between the childlike, the revelatory, the protective and the incestuous. Leon (the hitman) is the ultimate father figure – he’s a kind of indestructible machine who will protect the little girl against any attack. He is strong, silent and, in his ultimate self-sacrifice, the epitome of the loving father.

In turn, Mathilda looks after him, this brooding, homicidal manchild, making sure he’s fed and watered, defusing his alienation and isolation, abnegating his nihilism to connect him once more to the world. And, once his feet touch the ground, he is no longer an immortal, but human, vulnerable in every sense of the word.

I suppose that’s part of the character’s romantic appeal: he is one particular ultramasculine male archetype, and she comes along, with her innocence and love, and unlocks his armour to reveal the loving Daddy within. And he loves her, and protects her, at extraordinary cost to himself.

But I also found their relationship a little creepy, the way she becomes his mother, almost his wife in the process. It has that tang of incestuousness, that little echo of the taboo – particularly when you come across photographs of Mathilda and Leon right next to a hardcore animated gif of a couple having violent sex.

 

I think Mathilda herself – an avatar of innocence, of vulnerability in the face of an ugly, brutal, monstrous world – is another reason the film is so appealing to young women. Millennials, I believe, relate more to the romantic notion of the childlike waif, the orphan, than have previous generations. I don’t know if this is because the world is a more frightening place now than it was before, or if it is because changing patterns of child raising have resulted in timid, cosseted children.

Anyway, I’ve droned on long enough about this. Both films are worth your time. And so are tumblrs! They’re a fascinating lens onto what people are thinking and doing these days. You can start with my tumblr, if you’d like: Millennials are nothing if not democratic, so tumblrs are really hyperlinked – the photographs I post are usually linked to the original poster. This way, you can click on an image that appeals, track it back to the original tumblr, then page through that person’s tumblr looking for more images that you like, and in turn track those back to their original pages, bookmarking the ones you like. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Oh, a note about navigating tumblrs: they all have different layouts, but if you click on the tumblr’s name at the top of the page (eg, mine is AFTER THE TORCHLIGHT), that will take you back to the current front page of the tumblr. Some tumblr layouts show 15 posts at a time, others let you scroll infinitely. To quickly view all of the posts in a particular tumblr at once, type /archive after the tumblr name eg http://afterthetorchlight.tumblr.com/archive ).

Finally! One tumblr I occasionally look at, apparently belonging to a young woman in Sweden, is http://tankgirlsinspiration.tumblr.com/archive . I realized just now that the page name she’s now using for her tumblr is… Mathilda Lando. And her bio is Mathilda’s. Have a look at her page – I think it’s fairly typical of a certain type of tumblr – a curious mixture of photos of herself, celebrities, fashion, cute things, animals and hardcore pornography. I’ve posted the link to her archive view; to see any individual post, just click on it. Or, to see it as she’d like you to see it, click here.

Again: I think I’ve made it clear by now that many tumblrs contain hardcore pornography: if this offends you, there are plenty of other places to visit on the net. Or so I’m told.

Thanks for joining me on another weird meander! If you see me at Bouchercon, and made it this far, hit me up and I’ll buy you a drink! In the meantime, what are your prognostications of current films that will be cult hits down the road? Any personal favourites?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32 thoughts on “Cult Crime

  1. PK the Bookeemonster

    Really great post!
    I've admired The Professional from when it was released. Portman's performance was amazing at such a young age. The scene of her walking down the hallway then begging Leon to let her in. And Gary Oldman, well, he's been in my top three favorite actors since Rozencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.
    I also remember the first time I saw Bladerunner. Blew me away. However, catching it now and then on TV, Ford's acting or lack thereof is getting on my nerves.
    Visually, I've also liked Terry Gilliam's Brazil.
    I don't know what will become a cult favorite now. There is such a plethora of brain-cell-killing drivel and horror movies how can you tell? πŸ™‚

  2. Pari Noskin

    I wish I were coming to BCon; I'd take that drink. What a blog to read before work. I'm gobsmacked. Don't know anything about Tumblrs, haven't seen the two main films about which you wrote — but adore Bladerunner . . . or my memory of the movie since it's been years since.

    Thanks for the meander, Jonathan. It was nice traveling to so many places this morn.

  3. Jonathan Hayes

    Well, I think that THE DARK KNIGHT looks like a strong contender for cult status. Maybe INCEPTION, too – another visually strong film with some resonant imagery. But I think THE DARK KNIGHT is more likely to win out, because of the romantic appeal of Heath Ledger, a brilliant actor with an incredible future cut down in his youth.

    Tragedy is a solid hook; I think Winona Ryder, who showed such promise as an actress before drifting off, is a bit of a heroine to Millennial girls. She was beautiful, tended to play quirky, self-aware, slightly embittered outsider characters, then had a complex involvement with the law over her compulsive shoplifting problem. Et voila: the beautiful, persecuted outsider, perfect for adulation!

    I'm sorry you won't be at B'con, Pari, although my wallet thanks you…

  4. Paul D Brazill

    Not a film-but I'm sure it will be one day- Simon Logan's debut novel, Katja From The Punk Band, certainly ticks most of the cult boxes. In fact it really would make a great bcult film.

  5. Shizuka

    Loved reading this post. I can remember where I was and who with when I saw all of these films.
    Scarface in eighth grade with my best friend and boy I had a crush on; we coughed up popcorn when the chainsaw scene happened.
    And I adored Luc Besson and Beneix. Besson's been very shallow in the last decade and Beneix just disappeared.
    I can't think of any recent films that look like future cult hits. Purely based on visual, I'd say Suckerpunch, but I doubt (haven't seen it) the story's good enough.

  6. Sarah W

    There's something disturbing yet completely unsurprising about a series of re-edits becoming an actual 'franchise.' Cinematic do-overs are hardly new (cough, George Lucas, cough, Hulk, hack), but Bladerunner is taking it to a new level. Sorry–levels. And I'm still gonna watch all of 'em.

    I'm a fan of Luc Besson's assassin characters. Nikita fights becoming Leon, and I think Leon would agree with that, even at the end. I've always assumed that Mathilde ended up having a lucrative career on either side of the law, or perhaps both.

    The last film I saw in a Real Theater was the Smurfs . . . and I'm not convinced this particular cult can be revived to the same level it enjoyed in the '80s. But I will say that the moment (spoiler alert, if it could possibly matter) when all the Smurfs appear, set on rescuing their leader come hell or high water and chanting a dead serious version of their theme song that is clearly *not* about having a happy &%^#ing day, sent chills down the backs of anyone whose cultural lexicon includes little blue child-men whining, "Are we there, yet?" These creatures are a tribe . . . and they are not Smurfing around.

    It was a bit like having the Hundred Acre Wood gang suddenly morph into a grizzly, a tiger, and a wild boar . . .

  7. Jonathan Hayes

    Shizuka – yeah, Beneix really DID disappear, didn't he? He's a great example of a filmmaker whose work is purely visual, ad-slick and glossy – truly the anti-FIGHT CLUB.

    SUCKER PUNCH was an interesting film, but it's so deliriously artificial that I don't think it can connect enough to endure. Hell, it didn't even endure three weeks in the cinema! Of Zack Snyder's work, I think 300 is the most likely to be long-lasting. It's artificial, but with the mythologizing homoeroticism of Fascist rallies and sculpture, and will no doubt ensnare generations of young men not quite sure what it is that they are really responding to.

    I probably wasn't clear enough re: "the BLADE RUNNER" franchise. A couple weeks back, Scott announced that he would be making another BLADE RUNNER film; the company is refusing to specify whether it's a prequel or a sequel. It'll be interesting if it's a sequel: if Harrison Ford is cast, it'll resolve once and for all whether or not Deckard was an android, incapable of aging…

  8. Louise Ure

    I haven't seen The Professional, but agree with you about the power of the other cult favorites, so now I'll have to go seek it out.

    I love the notion of tumblrs. Could a book be written from the point of view of a tumblr or does the inherit importance of sight and sound in that medium make it impossible? If anyone could do it, it would be you, Jonathan.

  9. Jonathan Hayes

    Ha! Thanks for the vote of confidence, Louise, but I think that that's such a tall order that even the amazing Jennifer Egan, who wrote a chapter as a Powerpoint presentation in A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD, would be challenged by that. A tumblr is more of an interactive mural than a narrative vehicle, I think. It's an interesting idea, though – I'm sure someone's probably working on that.

    Structurally it would be tricky, as you'd have to reverse the flow of your posts, since the book would be read from top to bottom. I suppose you could do a take on Martin Amis's TIME'S ARROW, in which the narrative runs backward, in daily installments!

  10. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Dude….you are SO on the cutting edge. You make me feel like an old man. This tumblr thing is amazing. How come I didn't know about it? I could spend a lifetime engrossed in one tumblr alone. (Mathilda's, of course!)
    You're spot-on with the films – a man after my own filmic heart. Bladerunner is one of my very favorite films. And Fight Club (I blogged on this, too) is another biggie. I'd include Taxi Driver on that list, too.
    Geeezus, Jonathan, what a great post.

  11. Jonathan Hayes

    Thanks for your effusive praise, Stephen – you're way generous.

    You know, you're completely right about TAXI DRIVER, Stephen. Travis Bickle images are really popular, too, in guy blogs more than girl blogs – perhaps the child prostitute thing isn't as alluring as the beautiful orphan thing…

  12. David Corbett

    Pari: No worries, I'll keep Jonathan's wallet occupied.

    I was quasi-puzzled by this: "Millennials, I believe, relate more to the romantic notion of the childlike waif, the orphan, than have previous generations. I don’t know if this is because the world is a more frightening place now than it was before, or if it is because changing patterns of child raising have resulted in timid, cosseted children."

    I'm sure your belief in the rarity of orphan heroes would perplex Mr. Dickens — or Italo Calvino.

    Luke Skywalker is an orphan until he's not. Orphans in fact abound — parents make for such needless narrative baggage. Kill them off! (Wise Geek chimes in on this topic here: http://www.wisegeek.com/why-are-there-so-many-orphan-heroes-and-superheroes.htm )

    That said, I always enjoy a sentence with the word "cosseted." And yes, I find that observation interesting — it may be the bubbles in which so many bourgeois kids now live, added to the ultra-violence available online and in film, that makes for a CITY OF LOST CHILDREN mindset.

    As you can imagine, that film gets my vote for possible future cult hit. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112682/

    I also believe IRREVERSIBLE will attract a following, even though, in the inimitable words of Eddie Muller, the Czar of Noir: "It's a masterpiece that perhaps no one should see." Visually both stunning and annoying, brutally violent, dazzling and deeply disturbing: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi1821507865/

    And speaking of Vincent Cassel, if kids have any taste (wild-eyed hypothesis, I realize), they'll shift their filmic gangster allegiance to Jacques Mesrine: http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi3012298265/

    Great blog, you bastard. Now I have to top it with Bouchercon to prep for. Have I mentioned how much I fucking hate you?

  13. Jake Nantz

    I'll give you one I am actually a bit surprised by, because it's more the comedy and comraderie than anything related to outsiders, and that's the '86 buddy-cop flick RUNNING SCARED with Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines.
    I think what a lot of the "cult phenom" movies have is just a certain quotability, whether throughout (like Fight Club) or just 'that one big scene' (as in Leon, when Oldman is asked "what do you mean everyone?" and replies "EVVV–REE–ONE!!!"). Think about it: Monty Python's Holy Grail is much more well known (and more quotable) than The Meaning of Life or Life of Brian. Even Disney movies began to take off into a different realm when Robin Williams coked his way through Aladdin.
    That's not to say I disagree with the things you've pointed out, but I think it's another factor that can lead a film to cult status.

    Then again, if you can just get Tim Curry to dress up in lingerie then it won't matter what (or how bad) the rest of the film is, it will be an instant cult classic.

  14. Rae

    What a great post, thanks!

    For cult films, two that come to mind are Kick Ass (although maybe it did too well to be considered a cult film?) and Brick, which I always describe as 'Sopranos 90210'. Just a great film.

    As far as films I love that didn't do so well at the box office (and at the opposite end of the spectrum from Fight Club): Bruce Willis in The Fifth Element just cracks me right up, and I adore Office Space. I live in Office Space.

    πŸ˜‰

  15. Jonathan Hayes

    David, my dear chap! I'm counting on the heat of your hatred to keep me warm during the cold, long months ahead.

    I expressed myself poorly – or, rather, briefly, as I was somewhat horrified by the ridiculous length of this post. I agree with you completely about the ageless appeal of the orphan, but I think that with kids today <tm>, and by "kids today", I mean young people for the last 15 or 20 years, there's a kind of iconification of the "orphan" as a romantic symbol of abandonment. The implications of orphanhood in the US in 2011 are very different from orphanhood in Dickens' London. I think it's kind of a "Sugar Mountain" sort of thing for kids today, this fear of leaving home, of going out in a world that they know isn't going to praise them or give them a trophy even when they're on the losing side. In my raving days, I was struck by how much of the style was a posture of childhood, kids in their late teens and early 20's infantilizing themselves with pigtails and face paint, huge pants and animal backpacks.

    But you're right: I probably gave short shrift to the great tradition of imperiled orphan lit.

    Jack, I don't think I'm down with RUNNING SCARED as a cult film, more as a film that still occasionally crops up on Showtime at 2AM, and is still fun to watch. IIRC, it did pretty well on its initial release. I think it's basically a nostalgic favourite, as opposed to a film like David Lynch's ERASERHEAD, or your other cite, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. Both of these films are loved by a small group of people because they cling to a different vision of the world; perhaps there's something about cult films that involves auteurism, like a director with a particular non-mainstream vision?

    I like your point about MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL, although, again, I'm not sure that I can see it as having a cult following. Although I think the *TV show* itself has a cult following.

    But now I'm splitting hairs! Perhaps a cult film could be defined as a non-mainstream film that initially met with little success, but that has had an enduring appeal, and has been able to retain viewers over time.

    I'm not sure about KICK ASS, either. At some level, it seemed almost too deliberate a youth-targeted fabrication. Same, maybe, with SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE EX-GIRLFRIENDS, a film I really loved for its articulation of the mediatized forms of communication people use today. I wouldn't be surprised if another Michael Cera film, YOUTH IN REVOLT, makes the grade, eventually.

    I love both FIFTH ELEMENT (another Besson film, btw) and OFFICE SPACE (the first half, at least)! FIFTH ELEMENT is probably Besson's best film; I think that, whereas some film makers are literary, he's comic book-y, and FIFTH ELEMENT is a pure comic book (even with designs by the great Jean Giraud aka Moebius, an amazing French creator of graphic novels.

  16. Jonathan Hayes

    Oops! So busy was I defending my post from your ugly attack, David, that I forgot to address the other points you made.

    Yes, I think Jeunet and Caro are cult filmmakers of the first water. At least, here in the US – in their native France, of course, they're as mainstream as Spielberg is here. NoΓ©, too, is a cult auteur; I can't be sure yet, but after SEUL CONTRE TOUS, and ENTER THE VOID, I feel I may end up stopping watching his further work, just as I've promised myself that I'm done with Haneke after THE WHITE RIBBON. In the same way that the entirety of THERE WILL BE BLOOD is encapsulated in the first scene, you can take almost any scene of a NoΓ© film, and it'll all be so explicit that you have to ask yourself what the point of enduring the whole nightmarish two hours would be. Still, I have IRREVERSIBLE on my Netflix instant stream list, and will watch it before I abandon Netflix.

    I love Vincent Cassell (indeed, LA HAINE may be another cult film. And, related to it, AMERICAN HISTORY X); I love his wife more. I've not seen the Mesrine film yet, but it's high on my list.

    Jesus, man! I've spent so much time responding to your quibbles that I feel like I should not longer feel obligated to buy you a drink!

  17. David Corbett

    Yeah, I've heard little good about ENTER THE VOID, but I wouldn't sell IRREVERSIBLE short until you've seen it. Then you can join the army of the enlightened, i.e., horrified & disaffected.

    AMERICAN HISTORY X — had forgotten about that one. Promises more than it delivers, imho. LA HAINE gets mixed reviews from my Rara Avis amigos (speaking of cults).

    But I think Jake was onto something with the pithy one-liner. I think Mesrine will be remembered for: Nobody kills me until I say so. (Yes, definitely check it out. Part 1 is stunning. Part 2 a little less so, bit still better than 99% of what I've seen of late.)

    And you're right. You owe me dinner, not a drink.

  18. Jonathan Hayes

    Well, you'll have to watch ENTER THE VOID; it was tolerable for me because I find Paz de la Huerta kind of dizzyingly hot. And even though she's mostly nude in it (when ISN'T that woman naked?), I still fast-forwarded quite a bit. SEUL CONTRE TOUS (I think it's I STAND ALONE in the US) is a film so grim that the only scene offering any sense of a glimpse of a possibility of hope is when a girl sleeps (carnally) with her father. So there's that.

    I think LA HAINE is a good film, but its tropes are familiar. Stil like it, though.

    As a contributor to this blog, you were pushing it a bit even trying to collect on drinks – dinner isn't even on the horizon of the menu!

  19. Alexandra Sokoloff

    This is a trip – I am REWATCHING Fight Club this afternoon and remembered I hadn't checked in to Murderati and…..

    What was just striking me about the film was Tyler's midpoint speech that the men in Fight Club are "the middle children of our century… we had no depression, we have no great war."

    Well, that was true of Gen X but certainly not of this generation.

    What's the next cult classic? Great question. Please god not Twilight.

  20. ZoΓ« Sharp

    Hi Jonathan

    I, too, had never come across Tumblrs before. You have to wonder about the amount people overstep their own personal boundaries of privacy on the internet, though. Apparently potential employers now take a trawl through applicants' Facebook pages to get an insight into character. Those oh-so-amusing pictures of drunken lap dances and licking cream off the six-pack of some young stud at Spring Break may well come back to haunt many a jobhunter …

    Cult movies for me? 'Inside Man' for one. I'd probably agree with 'Inception', just because of the layers within layers. I love 'LΓ©on' on all kinds of level – the single-camera shot that tracks the outward exansion of the explosion in one scene is superb. 'Ronin' is still my favourite movie of all time, and the director's commentary is brilliant.

  21. Jonathan Hayes

    I've not seen FIGHT CLUB in too long, I think. I'm always surprised by how funny it is. It also contains one of my favourite lines of dialogue (Hi, Mr. Nantz!): "Very clever – how's that working out for you?"

    Crushing!

    Zoe, I love RONIN too, but towards the end it completely falls apart, I think. I'll rent it, so I can check out the director's commentary.

  22. Fran

    There's a new book out now by Ernst Cline called "Ready Player One". If it's properly done in film (mind you, I bet it won't be, but dammit, it should be), it'll become a great cult film. It's got the orphan angle, the geek on a quest, a dystopian society of our own making, corporate evil, and a ton of 80's pop culture references.

    Badly done, it'll just be a derivative and pathetic waste of money.

  23. PD Martin

    I'm a big fan of Leon…and Blade Runner although I haven't seen it for years. Which 'cut' do you recommend?? I'd definitely like to see it again soon πŸ™‚ And I love Fifth Element too – and also want to watch that again. I've seen it loads of times, but probably not for a couple of years now.

    Wish I was going to Bouchercon (the drink on you would be nice, but I'd also just love to be at Bouchercon again)!

    Anyway, I'm off to check out your Tumblr and Mathilda's.
    Phillipa

  24. PD Martin

    PS Can I be a bore…what about copyright and all the images, etc. on Tumblr? I must admit, I'm super careful to only put images that I own the copyright to or are copyright free on my website and blogs. Is this an issue on Tumblr given they're more visual entries?

  25. Fran

    Hi Jonathan,

    Yes, I'm Fran with Seattle Mystery Bookshop and yes, there is still a blog pending out there. . .

    And, in a trifecta of positive, yes, "Ready Player One" is an excellent book. My colleague insisted I read it, and she was right. She loves it so much she's read it three times now. It's funny, I knew what was going on, suspected pretty solidly how it was going to end, and I still couldn't put it down.

    Have fun at Bouchercon!

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