Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Our Hospitality (Keaton)
2. Some Came Running (Minnelli)
3. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Wiene)
4. The Naked Spur (Mann)
5. Save the Green Planet (Jang)
6. The Revenant (Prior)
7. May (McKee)
8. Cosmopolis (Cronenberg)
9. Sherlock Jr. (Keaton)
10. Sherlock Jr. (Keaton)

Bob Dylan’s Duquesne Whistle and the Return of Love Stalker

Not to turn this place into a music video review joint or anything but I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t post my thoughts on Duquesne Whistle, the video for Bob Dylan’s newest single, which premiered exclusively on the website of The Guardian this past Tuesday. The Nash Edgerton-directed video has come in for much criticism from Dylan fans on social networking sites and internet message boards, most of it focused on the clip’s supposed “shocking violence” (thanks a lot, Rolling Stone!), while some others have expressed bewilderment at the allegedly confounding narrative and/or irrelevance to the song’s theme.

To address these criticisms in reverse order of ridiculousness: first off, the violence in this video barely surpasses the G-rated mark. A man is hit three times in the knee with a baseball bat and then punched twice in the face, causing a bloody nose. That’s it. Journalists who have drawn comparisons to Goodfellas and Tarantino are laughably off the mark; there is way more violence to be found in any cop drama on U.S. network television any night of the week. As far as the video’s imagery not “matching up” with the theme of the song, shouldn’t this be considered a good thing? Okay, this isn’t a work of art along the lines of Vardeldur (Edgerton is, after all, a stunt man, not an acclaimed experimental filmmaker). But I thought everyone knew that the worst music videos were those that attempted to literalize a song’s lyrics. Watch or watch again Paul Schrader’s truly cringe-inducing video for Tight Connection to My Heart to see what I mean. (Just make sure to hold onto your powder blue wig!) Honestly, what the hell were people expecting? A bunch of sepia-tinted shots of old trains?

But to get down to the real meat and potatoes of this video, the content of this thing is really not that bizarre. On the contrary, it actually makes perfect sense and I can’t believe the simple and lighthearted theme has seemingly eluded everyone who has written about it so far. The video for Duquesne Whistle is a deconstruction of the conventions of the romantic comedy genre. The “rom-com,” whether we’re talking about The Graduate, Say Anything, Chungking Express or Amelie, has long been predicated on the notion that its protagonists exhibit behavior that may look cute and charming in a movie (e.g., blasting a boombox outside of someone’s window, breaking into their apartment to rearrange their furniture, etc.) but that, in the real world, would come off as positively stalker-ish. Duquesne Whistle is nothing more or less than a humorous illustration of what the real world consequences of this behavior would be; thus we see an annoying hipster-stalker’s romantic shenanigans leading to him getting sprayed with mace, arrested and beaten up. Okay, so what does this any of this have to do with Bob Dylan you might ask? The video’s “love stalker” plot is intercut with shots of Dylan strutting around the streets of downtown Los Angeles, hilariously fronting a bad-ass, multi-ethnic posse, a “don’t fuck with me” look in his eye. Edgerton’s use of parallel editing invites us to see the stalker’s relationship to his crush as a metaphor for the relationship between that of a stalker-fan and the Voice of Every Generation (TM). This connection is made implicit at the video’s beginning (a glimpse of a billboard featuring John Lennon, who was, of course, shot by a “fan”) and end (Dylan and Co. stepping over the unconscious hipster-stalker without so much as batting an eye).

I should also point out that Duquesne Whistle bears an uncanny similarity to the plot and theme of the indie feature Love Stalker, which, in an amazing coincidence, will be returning to Chicago’s Portage Theater for a week-long run beginning next Friday, September 7th. Love Stalker also deconstructs the conventions of the romantic comedy genre by telling the story of Pete (co-writer/director Matt Glasson), a thirty-something player who gets a taste of his own medicine when he falls for and is subsequently dumped by Stephanie (Rachel Chapman), a beautiful relationship advice columnist. I interviewed the filmmaking team behind Love Stalker (Glasson and co-writer director Bowls MacLean) earlier this year when it made its Chicago debut as a one-off screening at the Portage. Any of my students who attend any of the upcoming Love Stalker screenings will receive TWENTY points extra credit if they write a one to two page response paper about the movie. Please note that you must save your ticket stub from the Portage and staple it to your paper in order to receive credit. Bonus points if you also compare and contrast it to Duquesne Whistle.

UPDATE: I will be introducing the 8pm screening of Love Stalker on Friday, September 7 and conducting a Q&A with the filmmakers afterwards. Come on out and buy me a green drink!

Ticket info for Love Stalker at the Portage can be found here:

Duquesne Whistle can be viewed here: Duquesne Whistle

Now Playing: Cosmopolis

dir. David Cronenberg, 2012, Canada/France

Rating: 8.9

The bottom line: long live the new New Flesh!

Now playing at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema is Cosmopolis, David Cronenberg’s film adaptation of the acclaimed 2003 novel by Don DeLillo. Cosmopolis premiered to mixed reviews at the Cannes Film Festival in May, proving even more divisive than Cronenberg’s previous movie, 2011’s superb A Dangerous Method, which had premiered to mixed reviews at the Venice International Film Festival last fall. Both films have been derided by critics for being too “talky” and “static,” and for failing to successfully translate their literary source material to the screen (A Dangerous Method was based on a play by Christopher Hampton). These criticisms however are incredibly misguided; Cosmopolis, like A Dangerous Method, is a profoundly cinematic film that just so happens to be about language. Where Cronenberg’s previous film illustrated the therapeutic possibilities of the act of talking itself (via Sigmund Freud’s revolutionary “talking cure” in the early twentieth century), the new film shows how language can be wielded as a dangerous weapon in the modern day world of international high finance. Cosmopolis also simultaneously and gratifyingly harks back to Cronenberg’s pioneering early work in the “body horror” genre, especially Videodrome, in its depiction of a world where human beings seem capable of merging with, and are thus ultimately in danger of being replaced by, technology. As Pete Townshend might say, “Meet the new New Flesh / Same as the old New Flesh.”

Cosmopolis is also both the simplest and the most complex movie that David Cronenberg has ever made. The plot can be described in one sentence: A billionaire takes a limo ride from one end of Manhattan to the other in order to get a haircut. But, like the Jean-Luc Godard of Weekend (the ultimate traffic jam-as-metaphor film), Cronenberg believes that the journey is more important than the destination, and I’m not giving anything away by saying that Eric Packer, the film’s 28-year old protagonist and the limousine’s owner/chief passenger, does succeed in his goal of getting a trim. What’s more important to Cronenberg (and DeLillo) is using this basic scenario to comment upon the increasingly abstract nature of life in the 21st century. Eric Packer, played with chilling effectiveness by the blandly handsome teen-heartthrob Robert Pattinson, conducts business meetings, has sexual relations and even receives a medical exam (and the lines between these activities occasionally become provocatively blurred), all within the confines of the white stretch limo that serves as the film’s principal set. One gets the feeling that Packer could live his entire life inside of this car. Like the Alfred Hitchcock of Lifeboat, Rope and Rear Window, Cronenberg has set himself the challenge of making a movie mostly within a single confined space, a challenge that he overcomes through the technical virtuosity of his mise-en-scene. As the limo becomes deadlocked in traffic, Packer observes, on various touch screen devices, the dramatic appreciation of the Chinese yuan whose immediate fortunes he has bet against. The limo, soundproofed and sporting tinted windows, can be seen as both a cocoon shielding Packer from the outside world as well as an extension of the character’s own mind, and Cronenberg wrings a surprising amount of visual interest out of this location from his myriad camera setups. (The director has also said that one of the reasons he cast Pattinson was that he needed an actor whose face was conducive to being photographed from an infinite number of angles.)

One of the most common generic criticisms I hear about movies from my students (and this is particularly true after I screen New Hollywood films of the 1970s that center on anti-heroes such as McCabe and Mrs. Miller or Days of Heaven) is that they found it impossible to “care about” or “root for” the characters. This criticism has become so commonplace that I’ve developed stock replies of, “If you want to care about somebody, spend time with your family or friends” and “If you want to root for someone, watch a sporting event.” Then, coming down from my snarky high-horse, I more logically argue that it shouldn’t be necessary to like a movie’s characters in order to like a movie. In the final analysis, shouldn’t it just be enough to find the characters interesting? If it were a universal prerequisite to like a film’s protagonist in order to be able to enjoy a film, then absolutely everyone would hate Cosmpopolis because Eric Packer is the single most unlikable protagonist I’ve seen in a movie this year (and, remember, I’ve seen Killer Joe). Packer is impossibly wealthy, moves in the most rarified social circles, has access to technology and resources that 99% of movie audiences cannot conceive of, and also speaks a tech-heavy slang that nobody really understands. He is a man who has everything but is also dead inside. (I suspect many viewers will find the extreme stupidity of Joaquin Phoenix’s Freddie Quell to also be a stumbling block in appreciating Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, which opens in Chicago next month. Freddie is the polar opposite of the genius Eric Packer; he’s the dumbest lead character I can recall seeing in a dramatic Hollywood movie, even dumber than Raging Bull‘s Jake LaMotta.)

The soullessness of Packer, of course, is precisely Cronenberg’s point. The specifics of Packer’s business, how exactly he’s “bet against” the yuan, don’t matter. Cosmopolis is ultimately a portrait of the alienating effects of wealth and technology. The most instructive way for Cronenberg to show this is to focus on a member of the 1%: a man who lives in a bubble, stares endlessly at computer screens and never sees any physical results of the kind of work he does. Appropriately, the film’s brilliant dialogue, written by Cronenberg but recycling a lot of the text of DeLillo’s novel verbatim, isn’t meant to be “understood” in the conventional sense. What matters is the emotion lying underneath all of the curiously cadenced technobabble. (For those in tune with what Cronenberg is up to, the climactic scene between Packer and a disgruntled employee portrayed by Paul Giamatti is going to come across as a particularly impressive high-wire act of writing/directing/acting.) A more naturalistic rendering of one billionaire’s personal financial crisis, even if it may coincide with the current financial crisis, would probably be deadly dull to watch. In the dream-like world of Cosmopolis, however, finance itself is only a Macguffin in much the same fashion as the “spy stuff” in a Hitchcock movie that nobody really cares about or remembers afterwards. As the always-articulate Cronenberg himself put it in a recent interview, “I think of (Cosmopolis) like a sci-fi movie where the intergalactic pilot is explaining the way his spaceship works. You don’t need to know what he’s talking about, you just need to believe that he knows what he’s talking about. Eric Packer understands when his Chief of Theory is explaining how the future connects with capitalism. It excites him, and that’s all you need to know.”

Cosmopolis is not a film for everyone, although it will definitely satisfy a certain type of adventurous viewer (you know who you are). I think of it as the inverse of the last film I saw at the Landmark, and the most overrated movie of the year, Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild. Both films are literal and figurative odysseys that reference real world socio-economic turbulence (the Occupy movement in Cosmopolis, the fallout of Hurricane Katrina in Beasts) but remain a step removed from reality in order to better reinforce each filmmaker’s philosophical point-of-view. The crucial difference between them is the difference between abstraction and vagueness. Cronenberg is deliberately abstract on a superficial level in order to reach greater psychological truths about modern living whereas Zeitlin is deliberately vague when it should matter most in order to better sweep the viewer along in a sea of feel-good emotion. While Beasts uses its adorable moppet-heroine as a floating signifier to rewrite the tragedy of Katrina and charm audiences with a fictional interracial utopia, Cosmopolis intentionally disturbs viewers in its depiction of a chaotic world where a man with no soul hurtles inexorably toward an uncertain future with terrifying velocity. In spite of its surface topicality, Beasts could have, and probably should have, been made forty years ago. Cosmopolis, by contrast, is a film every bit as coolly alluring and unsettling as the twenty-first century it chronicles.

An African Cinema Primer

As with my Classic Latin American Cinema Primer, I had to do an extensive amount of research prior to writing today’s post. That’s because, although I was previously familiar with some of the key works of African cinema (such as Touki Bouki, Brightness and the movies of the great Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene), it was necessary for me to watch many more in order to come up with something approaching a well-rounded overview. The following list of thirteen titles encompasses films spanning over fifty years and many diverse countries across the African continent, including Egypt, Senegal, South Africa, Mali, Burkina Faso, Tunisia and Chad. To delve into these wonderful movies is to realize yet again how much richer world cinema is than what American film distributors and the media would lead you to believe. And, while I fully acknowledge it is problematic to yoke together such disparate titles (some of which have nothing in common other than that they happened to be produced in roughly the same part of the world), this was nonetheless a great excuse for me to write about films to which I otherwise might never have gotten around.

Cairo Station (Chahine, Egypt, 1958)

Youssef Chahine’s remarkable film, a hard-to-describe multi-genre hybrid, tells the story of a crippled newspaper seller working in the title location who becomes obsessed with a blonde bombshell (Hind Rostom, the “Marilyn Monroe of Egypt”) selling soft drinks nearby. The blonde, in turn, ignores the vendor in favor of a brutish, virile union organizer. This romantic triangle plays out against the backdrop of a series of grisly murders, while scenes of labor unrest offer a fascinating peak into the Cairo politics of the time. But this is probably most interesting today as a surprisingly erotic vehicle for the awesome star power of Rostom who is doused with water in one memorable scene and dances to what sounds like an Egyptian-flavored version of “Jump, Jive an’ Wail” in another.

The Nightingale’s Prayer (AKA The Curlew’s Cry) (Barakat, Egypt, 1959)

Unlike Cairo Station, an art film that was banned in in its native country, The Nightingale’s Prayer was a mainstream hit produced within Egypt’s Hollywood-like studio system. Yet this awesome tragedy is no less startling in its artistry and penetrating insights into human nature. Director Henry Barakat adapts a novel by Taha Hussein whose key ingredients are a family forced into exile, adultery, rape and multiple murders. Amna (Faten Hamama, the real-life wife of Omar Sharif), a maid from the country, hatches a revenge plot against the engineer who brought “dishonor” to her sister, resulting in her death. But, in a plot worthy of Mizoguchi (and with camera movements that rival the Japanese master to boot) this plan only leads to more tragedy. Egypt clearly had a thriving film industry in the mid-twentieth century and the dearth of titles available with English subtitles is cause for bitter regret.

Black Girl (Sembene, Senegal/France, 1966)

This auspicious debut by the great Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene was also the first feature film made by a black African filmmaker. The title character is a young Senegalese woman who gets a job as a nanny for a white French family. She accompanies them back to France where she experiences a subtle, insidious racism that inspires feelings of dislocation and loneliness, before returning to Senegal with tragic results. This is beautifully austere, vital filmmaking whose impact is all the more disturbing at a swift and compressed 65 minutes.

Touki Bouki (Mambety, Senegal, 1973)

A wonderfully colorful, vibrant and occasionally surreal lovers-on-the-lam crime/road movie (think of an African Pierrot le Fou), Touki Bouki was only the second of three feature films in the career of its great director Djibril Diop Mambéty. The story concerns the relationship between a female college student, her motorcycle-riding boyfriend and their various schemes to make some easy money and escape to the mythical paradise of Paris, France. Like Senegal’s other legendary filmmaker Ousmane Sembene, Mambéty loads this up with social criticism (in which both Senegalese and French characters are unspared) but, unlike Sembene’s more classical approach to narrative, this is a wild, experimental journey for both characters and viewer alike.

Alexandria, Why? (Chahine, Egypt, 1979)

Youssef Chahine created a scandal with this taboo-busting autobiographical epic that recreates, with impressive detail, his hometown of Alexandria during the outbreak of World War II. The story interweaves the lives of many characters, chief among them Yehi, a student and movie lover (and stand-in for the director) who nurses his first stirrings of creativity as an actor and director in local theatrical productions. But the personal story is always juxtaposed with a wider political and historical context, as Chahine uses stock footage of the war and depicts air raids, black market activity and interactions between Egyptian civilians and soldiers of the occupational British army, in this supreme masterpiece of world cinema.

The Gods Must Be Crazy (Uys, S. Africa/Botswana, 1980)

James Uys’ cross-cultural comedy became an unexpected international sensation after its 1980 release and it’s easy to see why; this good-natured, universally appealing story concerns a “bushman” living in the Kalahari desert who discovers an empty Coke bottle and believes it to be a gift/curse from the Gods. This event serves as the catalyst for a plot that sees the bushman come into contact with a bumbling scientist, a sexy missionary and a band of revolutionary political terrorists. Some critics have derided the premise as racist but they’re missing the point entirely – the very subject of Uys’ satire is first world perceptions of third world countries. If that isn’t funny enough, there is also a healthy amount of excellent silent movie-style slapstick, in which animals and machines are allowed to be as funny as the humans.

Yeelen (AKA Brightness) (Cisse, Mali, 1987)

Perhaps my favorite African movie ever is Yeelen, a hypnotic, deliberately paced art film that has all of the deceptive simplicity, power and beauty of a primeval myth. Niankoro is a boy living in rural West Africa who must undergo various rites of passage in order to become a man, which culminates in challenging his evil sorcerer father in a duel to the death. Western critics are fond of invoking Oedipus Rex when reviewing writer/director Souleymane Cissé’s masterpiece but all of this film’s potent and elaborate symbolism is apparently based on local folklore without being influenced by outside sources.

Yaaba (Ouedraogo, Burkina Faso, 1989)

A little boy living in a small town in West Africa makes friends with an old woman whom the rest of the townspeople believe to be a witch. When the boy’s cousin becomes sick, he claims that only the old woman’s medicine can save her. This is a simple, touching story about intergenerational friendship that also effortlessly paints a fascinating societal portrait of African village life. The sentence “She has her reasons” is uttered twice in the film by two different characters, a touching, Renoir-esque reminder of the importance of tolerance in any society. I could watch this beautiful movie seven more times.

The Silences of the Palace (Tlatli, Tunisia, 1994)

Alia is a female nightclub singer in the newly independent Tunisia of the 1960s. She revisits the imperial palace where she had grown up in the previous decade as the daughter of a servant when the country was under French colonial rule. The objects within the palace (a lute, the shards of a broken mirror, etc.) bring back a flood or memories for the time when Alia, as an adolescent, first became aware of class and gender politics. This tough feminist film, from first time director Moufida Tlatli, is of equal interest as an emotionally involving character study and as a lament for the silence of female suffering in a patriarchal Arab Muslim culture.

Faraw! (AKA Mother of the Dunes) (Ascofare, 1998, Mali)

The only narrative film of Malian poet Abdoulaye Ascofare chronicles the trials and tribulations of the strong, resilient matriarch of a struggling rural family who must provide for a mentally handicapped husband, disobedient sons and a daughter who has dropped out of school. The mother goes to great lengths to avoid having the latter become exploited by “foreigners” in this powerful allegory of self-reliance, a key theme of many African movies. Ascofare poignantly dedicated Faraw! to his own mother, the inspiration for the main character, who died while the film was still shooting.

Moolaade (Sembene, Senegal/Burkina Faso, 2004)

Collé is a Muslim woman living in a traditional village in Burkina Faso who incurs the wrath of her neighbors when she dares provide shelter to young girls trying to avoid “female circumcision.” Ousmane Sembene’s last film, and arguably his very best, transforms a frankly horrifying subject into a story that, without pulling punches, manages to be warm-hearted, humorous and inspiring – qualities that owe a lot to the performance of Fatoumata Coulibaly, who unforgettably plays Collé as a force of nature. The film’s final symbolic image, of an antenna on the roof of an ancient building, succinctly evokes the clash between modernity and tradition central to Sembene’s entire filmography and provides a fitting epitaph to his career.

Bamako (Sissako, Mali, 2006)

Abderrahmane Sissako’s provocative and angry satire combines documentary and narrative techniques into an overall essay-like form that is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. The “plot,” such as it is, details the city of Bamako (the capital of Mali) putting the World Bank and IMF on trial, which allows the writer/director to regale the audience with all manner of disturbing and eye-opening facts about third world debt. Interspersed with these scenes is the melodramatic story of the disintegration of a marriage between a female singer and her unemployed husband, a couple of spirited musical numbers and even a parody of the western genre featuring a cameo by executive producer Danny Glover. This fascinating and trenchant commentary on globalization is a must-see for adventurous viewers.

A Screaming Man (Haroun, Chad, 2010)

Adam (Youssouf Djaoro), a veteran employee of a posh hotel in civil war-torn Chad, finds his life turned upside down when the hotel’s new Chinese owners demote him from pool attendant to gate keeper and give his former post to his son, Abdel (Dioucounda Koma), instead. This begins as a story of social humiliation, a la The Last Laugh, before turning into a Claire Denis-style commentary on European colonialism in Africa — but one that is all the more impacting because it is coming from an insider’s perspective. “Our problem is we put our destiny in God’s hands,” one character wryly observes early on, which seems to spur Adam into making a rash decision involving Abdel that turns the whole scenario into one of shattering moral complexity. This third feature from the prodigiously talented Mahamat-Saleh Haroun deservedly won the Jury Prize at Cannes and marks the writer/director as someone to watch in the future.

The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Les Vampires (Feuillade)
2. The Brood (Cronenberg)
3. Cold Fever (Fridriksson)
4. Children of Nature (Fridriksson)
5. The Master (Anderson)
6. Cure (Kurosawa)
7. The Whistler (Castle)
8. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Hawks)
9. The Cloud-Capped Star (Ghatak)
10. Ginger Snaps (Fawcett)

The Secret History of Chicago Movies: Varðeldur

So far, the only films I’ve discussed in my Secret History of Chicago Movies posts have been those produced between the years 1896 and 1953, or roughly the first half of the twentieth century. The reason for this is simple: it’s easier to write about under-appreciated or unknown Chicago movies by digging into the distant past. I’m majorly shifting gears today however to write about an extraordinary new Chicago-shot short film that recently debuted on the web: Melika Bass’ Varðeldur, the latest music video in an ambitious anthology project engineered by everyone’s favorite ethereal Icelandic pop band Sigur Ros. The intriguing concept behind the band’s ongoing series known as the “Valtari Mystery Film Experiment” is that they have commissioned 12 different directors, including such luminaries as Ramin Bahrani, Alma Har’el and John Cameron Mitchell, to make music videos for the eight tracks on their latest album. According to the band’s website, each filmmaker was given the “same modest budget and asked to create whatever comes into their head when they listen to songs from Valtari. The idea is to bypass the usual artistic approval process and allow people utmost creative freedom.”

Melika Bass, readers of this blog may remember, is an internationally acclaimed experimental filmmaker based in Chicago whom I interviewed in 2011. Bass has described her contribution to “Valtari” on her own website as a “film portrait of an unstable entity in a haunted vessel, drawn into and floating away from a siren song.” As that description suggests, it is less of a music video than a legitimate experimental short in which the images happen to interact with the gorgeous instrumental Sigur Ros song “Varðeldur” in ways both direct and oblique. The film, shot on good old Super 16mm stock (oh yeah!), depicts Croatian performance artist Selma Banich doing a kind of interpretive dance to the music in an interior location that looks simultaneously industrial, dilapidated, warmly lit and spartan. Banich, wearing a beige colored sweater and skirt and sporting red hair that curiously fits into an overall graphic pattern with what look like rust stains on the wall behind her, doesn’t dance in the traditional sense so much as explore the space around her by moving her body in an evocative and stylized fashion. At first her movements, like the film’s editing and the song itself, are slow and plodding. At one point, she extends her left hand and begins wiggling her fingers in a manner that seems to correspond to the song’s gently tinkling piano notes. Varðeldur‘s undeniable emotional high point comes later, in two consecutive takes where Banich shakes her head from side to side. As the speed of her head movements increase to a whiplash-like velocity, her image transforms into a sepia smear of shocking abstract beauty. In the film’s penultimate shot, Banich sinks languidly into a shadow in a corner of the frame like a character out of a German Expressionist movie. This is followed by an overhead shot of Banich slowly collapsing to the floor, an appropriate image of finality on which to end this mysterious and strangely poignant film.

I’ll be surprised and pleased if I see a more vital 6 and a half minutes of filmmaking anywhere else for the remainder of this year. You can check out Varðeldur in its entirety below:

“Saint Godard” vs. the Prince of Darkness

As a postscript to my John Carpenter post from two days ago, below is an intriguing screen capture from the director’s 1987 horror film Prince of Darkness. I was struck by the fact that the creepy church that serves as the movie’s central location was named “Saint Godard’s.” Could Carpenter have a broader frame of cinematic reference than he has typically let on in interviews? Or perhaps he just had a cheeky production designer? Or should the fact that St. Godard’s contains a portal to hell mean that this homage should really be interpreted as an anti-homage? Or is it a humorous comment on the fact that, as far as many film critics are concerned, Godard is a saint while Carpenter is seen as the “prince of darkness”? I’m willing to bet that the first option I posited is closest to the truth; it’s probably just an affectionate homage from one master to another. After all, Carpenter’s mixture of 35mm film stock and video (the latter of which can be seen below) is quite Godardian and was unusual to see in a Hollywood movie at the time.

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