The Anti-Wilhelm Grunt

The Wilhelm Scream, a stock sound used over many years in Hollywood action films, became an insider joke for sound engineers because it was an exaggerated comical sound. It fit the genre because it was silly and fun.

I suggest a much more harrowing thing be done for the grunt. An involuntary sound, it is primal, a release of terror, pain or pleasure. I will suggest one for each category:

Stevie (John Savage) unleashes a ghastly, breathy grunt waiting in fear for his turn in Russian Roulette in Cimino’s The Deerhunter.

Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) panicked yet controlled release while piercing his hand in Scott’s Blade Runner haunts me to this day as does the death grunt of The Ugly (Lee Van Cleef) from Leone’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The pleasure grunt is a little more broad, but a simple porn grunt search might suffice. Perhaps try Tanner Mayes?

Hollow Hype on “Blonde” & Bowie

Andrew Domink’s Blonde is a mostly dissatisfying film which chronicles most of MM’s iconic moments – the skirt flying up, taking drugs, rendezvous with JFK – all of which can make it tedious. The NC17 hype is silly as well, all because it seems of a brief shot of an erect penis. And while Ana de Armas’ commitment to the role is clear, she is exhausting to watch, pouting and crying at every turn. There are also very strange scenes of a talking fetus which really detracts from the film.

Talking fetus in Blonde

However, given all of this, I was struck by some lovelyshots from Cinematographer Chayse Irvin, especially MM’s final moments, over-exposed, drinking and drugging herself into oblivion. It was a long wait and perhaps even worth it.

Brett Morgen’s Moonage Daydream also suffers from an obsession with the iconic moments – Ziggy Stardust, Thin White Duke, et al – and is further hamstrung by a limited Bowie view of Bowie.

While the visuals are great and many of the song selections, there is nothing on David Bowie being David Bowie except one vague interview that barely touches on anything. It’s not like I was looking for a tabloid tell-all of the drugs and sex mania or even the ego-centrism and abandonment of Ronson and others. It’s just that completely ignoring this aspect of Bowie’s life renders the film, for all of its sound and vision, little more than a Look Video Magazine.

100 Most Important Films Ever Made

There are hundreds of Top 100 Film Lists, most of which are dated (Citizen Kane atop the list) or populist (Paddington 2). These flawed lists use algorithms (film critics and/or everyday viewers) rather than focus on the remarkable visuals, sounds and scenes that make a film memorable and, dare I say, crack open our collective subconscious. These are the 100 most important films ever made:

100. It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, US, 1946)

99. The Blair Witch Project (Eduardo Sanchez & Daniel Myrick, US, 1999)

98. Open Hearts (Susanne Bier, Denmark, 2002)

97. Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, US, 1957)

96. Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, US, 1992)

95. La La Land (Damien Chazelle, US, 2016)

94. Nosferatu (FW Murnau, Germany, 1922)

93. City of God (Fernando Meirelles/Kátia Lund, Brazil, 2002)

92. Midsommer (Ari Aster, US, 2019)

91. Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, US, 2020)

90. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, US, 1977)

89. 56 Up (Michael Apted, UK, 2005)

88. Howl’s Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2004)

87. Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, US, 1989)

86. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Dryer, France, 1928)

85.Capernaum (Nadine Labaki, Lebanon, 2018)

84. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Walt Disney, US, 1937)

83. MASH (Robert Altman, US, 1970)

82. The Adventures of Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz, US, 1938)

81. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, US, 1977)

80. Memento (Christopher Nolan, US, 2000)

79. Pinocchio (Matteo Garonne, Italy, 2019)

78. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, US, 2016)

77. Superbad (Greg Mottola, US, 2007)

76. L’Aventurra (Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy, 1960)

75. Rushmore (Wes Anderson, US, 1998)

74. Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, US, 1967)

73. A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, UK, 1973)

72. Amadeus (Milos Forman, US, 1985)

71. A Wedding (Pavel Lungin, Russia, 2000)

70. Elephant (Gus Van Sant, US, 2003)

69. Star Wars (George Lucas, US, 1977)

68. 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, Italy, 1965)

67. The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, Italy, 1966)

66. All the President’s Men (Alan Pakula, US, 1976)

65. Irreversible (Gaspar Noe, France, 2002)

64. Dirty (Bruce Sweeney, Canada, 1998)

63.Gilda (Charles Vidor, US, 1946)

62. Singin’ in the Rain (Gene Kelly, US, 1952)

61. American Graffiti (George Lucas, US, 1973)

60. Her (Spike Jonze, US, 2013)

59. Through a Glass Darkly (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1961)

58. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (Sergio Leone, Italy, 1965)

57. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, US, 1976)

56. Alien (Ridley Scott, USA, 1979)

55. Burden of Dreams (Les Blanc, US, 1979)

54. M (Fritz Lang, Germany, 1931)

53. The Godfather II (Francis Ford Coppola, US, 1975)

52. The Exterminating Angel (Luis Bunuel, Spain, 1962)

51. Pather Panchali, The Apu Trilogy (Satyajit Rao, India, 1955)

50.Stroszek (Werner Herzog, Germany, 1977)

49.Honeyland (Tamara Kotevska/Ljubomir Stefanov, Macedonia, 2019)

48. Secrets and Lies (Mike Leigh, UK, 1996)

47. La Regle de Jeu (Jean Renoir, France, 1939)

46. Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze, US, 2002)

45. Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger, US, 1969)

44.Planes, Trains and Automobiles (John Hughes, US, 1987)

43. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, US, 2007)

42. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, US, 1960)

41. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, US, 1974)

40. Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton, US, 1926)

39. Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, USSR, 1927)

38. Tokyo Story (Yasujirō Ozu, Japan, 1953)

37. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, US, 1980)

36.Loveless (Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia, 2017)

35.Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, USSR, 1966)

34. Gommorah (Matteo Garonne, Italy, 2008)

33. The Florida Project (Sean Baker, US, 2017)

32. Shoplifters (Hirokai Kore-eda, Japan, 2018)

31. Heaven’s Gate (Michael Cimino, US, 1980)

30. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, US, 1976)

29. Cleo from 5 to 7 (Agnes Varda, France, 1962)

28. Castaway (Robert Zemeckis, US, 2001)

27. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, US, 1989)

26. Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, US, 1995)

25. Being There (Hal Ashby, US, 1979)

24. Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, US, 1993)

23. Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, US, 1983)

22.The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, US, 1939)

21. Short Cuts (Robert Altman, US, 1993)

20. Adaptation (Spike Jonze, US, 2002)

19. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, US, 2006)

18. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, UK/US, 1968)

17. Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, US, 1973)

16. Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, US, 2002)

15. Taxi (Jafar Pahani, Iran, 2015)

14. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, US, 1976)

13.Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1950)

12. The Sacrifice (Andrei Tarkovsky, USSR, 1986)

11. The Graduate (Mike Nichols, US, 1967)

10. The Celebration (Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark, 1998)

9. The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, USSR, 1957)

8. The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, US, 1998)

7.Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, Italy, 1946)

6. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, US, 1941)

5. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, US, 1973)

4. The Deerhunter (Michael Cimino, US, 1980)

3. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2001)

2. No Country for Old Men (Joel & Ethan Coen, US, 2007)

1. Aguirre, Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, Germany, 1972)

Please post comments. Feedback is appreciated.

Screenplay: “Nogo, The Anti-Trump”

The film opens with an extreme close-up of a black man, Nogo, driving at night on a deserted road. Screenplay Nogo, The Anti-TrumpThe camera pulls back to reveal Nogo being followed by a full-size pickup truck, its high beams bearing down. Nogo is forced off the road. The driver and passengers, each bearing arms, lean out of the truck as Nogo leaps out, tire iron in hand.The Anti-Trump“Tolerance! You got that?” He smashes out a headlight and then the other as the driver raises a shotgun.Screenplay Nogo The Anti-Trump Nogo stares back, defiant. “You better have more than that.”

Black out, gun shots. Opening credits roll. Screenplay: "Nogo, The Anti-Trump"

Yes, just think Django Unchained meets Punch Drunk Love meets Easy Rider.

Canada’s Soul: St. John’s to Port Aux Basques

After three days at Will’s house in St. John’s, I began to hitchhike back west.

June 14, Ride One: St. John’s to Kelce Groose Turnoff (Brown Rabbit) Old and young guy, dog hair all over the back seat.

Ride Four: Argentia Turnoff to Marystown Turnoff (Red LTD) Scottish guy, still wild, music just as wild, “Watch yourself down there. It’s back woodsy.”

Ride Nine: Frenchman’s Turnoff to Fortune (Red Schneider truck) “LSD is shit.”

With the ferry service to the French island of St. Pierre Miquelon cancelled, I hoped for a ride on a trawler, the Marguerite, and stayed overnight in a cheap motel and watched Butterflies Are Free. Canada's Soul: St. John's to Port Aux BasquesThe Marguerite left without me. I hitchhiked back up the peninsula and then across Newfoundland.

Ride One: Fortune to Grand Banks (Turquoise Ford) Wanted to do something for me…”If I wasn’t married.”

Ride Five: Trans Canada Highway Turnoff to Cornerbrook (Old blue car) Eldery lady spoke of mongoloid mentally retarded boy; offered me a little red bible.

Ride Six: Cornerbrook to Stephenville (Old green car with no back seat) Doug drove (getting married in two weeks) with Pat (intense, speed user) and Brian (hard drinker) in the front seat; all moose and salmon poachers, each been to jail a few times, went to the dump looking for bears; drank four beers by the time they dropped me off at the ferry.Canada's Soul: St. John's to Port Aux Basques

The Failure of Parker’s “Birth of a Nation”

Birth of a Nation had promise – a compelling narrative most of all – but fails. Instead of exploring the contorted depths of American history, Parker trains the camera on himself, too often in close-up, reacting to repetitive brutality. The Failure of Parker's Birth of a NationViolent images dominate – people’s teeth getting hammered out, exposed brains – when  the story of a remarkable man, Nat Turner, could have been developed, asking who really spoke of this: As we pushed on to the house, I discovered some one run round the garden, and thinking it was some of the white family, I pursued them, but finding it was a servant girl belonging to the house, I returned to commence the work of death. The Failure of Parker's Birth of a NationThe film does not elucidate nor does it have vision, as did Steve McQueen in 12 Years a Slave, but is solely a chronicle of violence, flat and tediously rendered, craft-less as anything of the Superhero genre.

Looking-Outness in Film: Murnau, Ozu & Varda

I dream of looking outside the image.

Looking-Outness in Film: Murnau, Ozu & Varda

F.W. Murnau’s “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans” (1927)

Escaping from the frame.

Looking-Outness in Film: Murnau, Ozu & Varda

Yasujiro Ozu’s “Tokyo Story” (153)

Considering what could be.

Looking-Outness in Film: Murnau, Ozu & Varda

Agnes Varda’s “Le Pointe Courte” (1954)

Getting my head on different.

Terence Malick’s “Knight of Cups”

Words float through: Empty. Death. Grasping. Terence Malick's "Knight of Cups"The camera drifts underwater, everything a sweeping, swinging visual. Terence Malick's "Knight of Cups"Redeem my life. Justify it. That blinded you. Terence Malick's "Knight of Cups"I turned you upside down, my son. Longing for something other. Terence Malick's "Knight of Cups"There’s isn’t a story, just characters who stand about, some playing handsies. Terence Malick's "Knight of Cups"Nobody’s home.
Knight of CupsYou have to fly. Fly. Knight of CupsHigh up. Everything’s just a…speck.Terence Malick's "Knight of Cups"

(Extracts from Knight of Cups in bold italics)

The Visual Manna of Tarkovsky’s “The Mirror”

Russians may find profundity in the story and themes of Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1975 film The Mirror, but for the rest of us it’s the images, the visuals.

A woman runs.  Visual Manna Tarkovsky The MirrorA barn burns.  Visual Manna Tarkovsky The MirrorA bird lands on a boy’s cap.  Visual Manna Tarkovsky The MirrorA dog leaves a cabin.  Visual Manna Tarkovsky The MirrorA boy looks back at himself.  Visual Manna Tarkovsky The MirrorThe music plays. And we reflect.  Visual Manna Tarkovsky The MirrorWe know something about who we are, as if a light glowed behind us, as if this was not so much a movie as a dream that we had somehow conceived together.