"I love poetry, and a glass of scotch, and, of course, my friend Baxter here."  -  Anchorman
#474 | January 8, 2013
Thursday's the big day: Oscar Day, when the nominations for the 85th Academy Awards will be announced. Pundits seem to agree on the obvious picks. What about the actors who are likely to slide under the radar of the voting body's notoriously square tastes? If any category shows a tendency to flexibility, it's Best Performance by an Actor or Actress in a Supporting Role. In a new "Best of 2012" list, Steve Dollar picks this year's best, most underrated supporting performances. Read more >>
In This Dispatch:
  • What's New: Frankenweenie, Dredd.
  • What We're Watching: Compliance. Whores' Glory. 
  • Explore: FILM OF THE WEEK: Promised Land, RETRO ACTIVE: Djanjo Kill...If You Live, Shoot!

A black-and-white throwback to both Director Tim Burton's childhood and Universal horror era movie making, Frankenweenie is "a simple yet immensely pleasurable tale of a little boy and his undead dog," writes Boston Globe's Ty Burr, who also notes the film's history, starting as a 30-minute live-action short made in 1984 that lead to Burton's dismissal from Disney. "Along with Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood, it’s his most sustained, consistent work, and it builds naturally to a climax at the local town fair that is a thing of eldritch farce." Richard Corliss at Time Magazine calls it "the year's most inventive, endearing animated feature."
"Pitched at the right level to please original fans, but still slick and accessible enough to attract new ones, Dredd feels like a smart and muscular addition to the sci-fi action genre," notes The Hollywood Reporter. In a world of sup bar reboots, Dredd is getting high marks, with WSJ's Joe Morgenstern writing, "this particularly violent thriller is distinguished by elegant design. What's familiar about the film is the grunge concatenation of firepower, body count and gross-out abuse of all-too-tender flesh. What's exceptional is the orchestration of color, form, light and dark (lots of dark)."
What We're Watching

In April, ten Portland youths performed a quick hit-and-run clothing raid on a Nordstrom's, collaring six jackets in under two minutes. One employee's comment board response (recorded, unfortunately, by racist website WND.com, but of note despite the source) spoke volumes about minimum-wage morale. "I have to wonder why you think that we care?" wrote Nordstorm's employee Jacob Handleman. "Things like this make work more interesting and I hold no ill-will toward anyone in this group. Our security personnel spend more time concerned with employees than clientele." Craig Zobel's second feature Compliance considers a particularly dire case of employees turning on each other in a quest for status. Read more >>
More like this  Killer JoeSurveillance

whores' glory
At this moment, Michael Glawogger is cinema's most talented exploitation artist. "Exploitation" doesn't mean taking advantage of subjects who don't understand what he's filming, at least in the usual sense: to make Whores' Glory—a self-proclaimed "triptych" on prostitution in Thailand, India and Mexico—Glawogger made sure to visit his subjects "10 times and hang out with them and stuff." This means Whores' Glory's subjects got familiar with Glawogger and what he was proposing to do (which included promising not to widely distribute the film in their country). Nonetheless, it's a strong, questionable, queasy-making movie, as should be the case with a portrait of prostitution. Read more >>

Natural Gus. A third of the way through director Gus Van Sant's Promised Land, natural gas company representative Steve Butler (Matt Damon) stands in front of a gigantic American flag and tells the residents of McKinley (fictional flyover country in an unnamed state) that fracking is basically safe and signing over all their land for drilling is the only plausible fiscal stop-gap to the end of agrarian America.  Read more >>
[This week's "Retro Active" pick is inspired by Quentin Tarantino's slavery-themed revisionist Spaghetti Western Django Unchained.] Unrelated to Sergio Corbucci's Django (1966) save for its title, which was tacked on at the last second for marketing purposes, Django Kill... If You Live, Shoot! takes the Spaghetti Western into the realm of the grotesque and surreal—and, in the process, proves to be one of the genre's all-time unsung gems. Giulio Questi's saga is a mishmash of the biblical, the Shakespearean, and the outright peculiar, tracking an unnamed Stranger (Tomas Milian)—ostensibly the story's Django, though he never drags around a coffin.... Read more >>

Doggy Sidekicks


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