Monday, January 30, 2006


If you’re a blogger, I urge you to consider throwing down with us at our two upcoming blog-a-thons. If you don’t know what a blog-a-thon is, please go here. (See: didn't that look like fun? Trust me. It was.) And if you're not a blogger, this is an excellent reason to start that blog you know you've been meaning to.

On Monday, February 13, we’ll be blogging Michael Haneke’s Code Unknown (2000). For details, please see the comments to this post and this one; Flickhead has an announcement about it too. So far, ten of us are writing about the film. More, merrier.

Monday, March 27, is Ferrara-thon Day (see comments to this post), when we’ll be doing the movies of Abel Ferrara, whose filmography includes: King Of New York, Bad Lieutenant, The Funeral, New Rose Hotel, Body Snatchers, The Addiction, Dangerous Game a.k.a Snake Eyes, Ms. 45, ‘R Xmas, The Blackout, The Driller Killer, etc.

I'll be including a list of links to everyone's posts in my own blog-a-thon posts, so if you decide to join us, please drop me an email or leave me a comment and I'll be glad to add you to that list. Okay, I'll let you go now; perhaps you're headed to...Netflix?


Blogger girish said...

Added the following new releases to my Netflix queue:

--Valerio Zurlini's DESERT OF THE TARTARS (I like his FAMILY DIARY, with Mastroianni)
--THE END OF AUGUST AT THE HOTEL OZONE (A Flickhead recommendation)
--Minnelli's LUST FOR LIFE
--King Vidor's THE CHAMP
--Soderbergh's BUBBLE

January 30, 2006 12:37 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Jeremy Denk's blog is one of my regular reads; he's a concert pianist. And a superb writer.

January 30, 2006 8:30 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Dave Kehr post from last week about distribution drying up for foreign, subtitled films; plus the 25 or so comments that follow.

January 30, 2006 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Does each writer pick a favorite Ferrara? Can episodes of Miami Vice or Crime Story be included?

January 30, 2006 9:56 AM  
Blogger Zach Campbell said...

To butt in and address Peter's question: my vote would be that we don't feel pressured to pick a "favorite" Ferrara. Only do the fave if you want to. Currently I'm leaning towards picking one that I've only seen once and revisiting it, whether it's near the top of my Ferrara pile (The Blackout, The Funeral) or not (The Addiction, Fear City).

Just yesterday I revisited Dangerous Games, found it both a more challenging and unsatisfying film than I had remembered. Don't know if I'll want to tackle something that complex, though.

And television work should most definitely be included.

January 30, 2006 10:15 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Peter--Wouldn't presume to speak for others but my own understanding is: yes, we would pick a favorite of our own to write about. But it doesn't have to be limited to that. We could have "skeptical" critiques; cross-film comparisons, overview pieces--I think the looser we define this, the better.

I think it would be a great idea if you (or others) wanted to pick those episodes to blog about.

I think I have three films on my shortlist right now that I will narrow down to one in the next couple of weeks: The Addiction, 'R Xmas, Ms. 45.

January 30, 2006 10:19 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, Zach. Just saw your comment.
Yup, in complete agreement.

January 30, 2006 10:21 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Yeah, I like the idea of not necessarily picking a favorite.
I had a complicated and "messy" response to The Blackout and personally, it might force me to work through that response by trying to write critically about it...

January 30, 2006 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Darren said...

Unless I'm forgetting some long ago, channel-flipping viewing, I'm pretty sure the only Ferrara film I've seen all the way through is Mary. Since I've just about finished my Winterbottom phase, maybe I'll just queue up all of the Ferrara's at NetFlix. I'm finding these deep immersions into a single director really productive -- and fun.

January 30, 2006 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Steven Shaviro said...

Count me in for the Ferrara-thon.
Since I usually don't read the comments on your pages, just the initial postings, I hadn't realized until now that there are others out there who share my passion for NEW ROSE HOTEL.
Though I will probably write about something different, since I've already written so much about NRH.
Wish I could see Ferrara's latest -- called MARY -- supposedly a Jesus-movie response to Mel Gibson (though the description I read made me also think of Pasolini's La Ricotta).

January 30, 2006 11:02 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Hey Darren, I think we were chatting about Bad Lieutenant once and you talked about the Christian imagery at the end...

Steven--Great to know you'll join us. I'll dig in your archives for your NRH piece(s).

January 30, 2006 11:29 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Aaron Graham is in for the Ferrara-thon.

January 30, 2006 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Filmbrain said...

Mary is not out on DVD anywhere yet, is it?

I honestly can't decide what to write on. I might give Driller Killer another go, or perhaps tackle his short films.

I really enjoyed The Blackout, even with Claudia Schiffer's dreadful acting. I was recently reminded that the co-writer on the film was Marla Hanson, whom many New Yorkers will remember from the #1 tabloid story of 1986.

Will anybody dare take The Gladiator, his 1986 made-for-TV vigilante movie?

January 30, 2006 3:51 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Mary is not on DVD as far as I know.
Filmbrain, I'm in the same quandary.
Think I'll use this as a pretext for a long Ferrara-soak, revisit four or five films I've seen, check out a few I haven't, and then decide in a few weeks. We still have a full two months, so that'll help.

January 30, 2006 4:32 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Eric has posted, like, three times in 24 hours. He better keep this up...

January 30, 2006 5:39 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

This one I can enlist. I'd prefer to do a positive review (King of NY, but it's been a while), so if I don't watch another one in the meantime I'll have to trash Mary, one of my biggest disappointment of 2005...
I hope it's ok to dissent.

January 30, 2006 5:53 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Harry, dissenting is most welcome.
Who knows? In the next two months, some Ferrara films may pop into Paris theaters; quite likely, I would think, given that he is probably adored more there than here.

January 30, 2006 9:40 PM  
Anonymous dvd said...

I'm really glad there's so much time before this blog-a-thon -- the opportunity to see a variety of Ferrara's work before honing in on a particular title is one I'm looking forward to taking advantage of.

March 27 doesn't seem that far away, but when I think of all the things I have to do between now and then...the mind reels. Its comforting, in way, to be able to give the coming weeks a cineastical backbone, so to speak.

January 30, 2006 11:59 PM  
Blogger aaron w graham said...

I'm almost positive that i'm going to post on some of Ferrara's television work for the blog-a-thon, which is not to say that any of it is less complex, but I figure most of the feature-length films will have sufficient coverage.

I'm thinking either THE GLADIATOR or his Pilot for "Crime Story" and episodic work for "Miami Vice".

January 31, 2006 12:31 AM  
Blogger girish said...

David, That "cineastical backbone" is starting to set in for me. I watched Dangerous Game aka Snake Eyes for the first time tonight. (So strong and visceral and complex.) I think we should schedule all future blog-a-thons with ample advance notice to allow for leisurely and lengthy immersion.

Aaron, that sounds like a great idea. If anything, writing on the TV work will be more valuable because so few people have done it.

January 31, 2006 12:56 AM  
Blogger Eric Henderson said...

I dunna know if I ever signed on officially to the next two blogpiles, but consider this my approving nod. Don't tell anyone, but I'll be approaching the Ferrara day from the perspective of a complete neophyte to his work.

January 31, 2006 2:54 AM  
Anonymous dvd said...

Just added Dangerous Game, Ms.45, Bad Lieutenant and King Of New York to my queue; I want to start off by revisiting the ones I have seen, long ago (that would be the latter two) before venturing further into. say, Driller Killer territory (I've heard great stories about that commentary track).

January 31, 2006 4:36 AM  
Blogger Mubarak Ali said...

I'd be revisiting several Ferrara films before the big day, and right now I'm not really sure which film I'd be going with. Looking forward to a second viewing of The Blackout which messed me up even more than Snake Eyes.

January 31, 2006 6:23 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Man, I had some bizarro Snake Eyes dreams last night.
David, I'm netflixing Body Snatchers, Bad Lieutenant and Driller Killer. (Haven't seen the last.)
Just picked up The Funeral (love this one) on VHS for a buck-fifty at Amazon.

Eric, excellent news.

Mubarak, I'm looking forward to returning to The Blackout too.

January 31, 2006 7:51 AM  
Blogger girish said...

For David (and everyone else) when he gets to Ms. 45.

January 31, 2006 7:54 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Around and about.
Yakking with Brian about jazz.
And at Ben's about country.
(Ben--"hearting" Jenny Lewis is so unhip and yet so axiomatic; I'm with ya.)

January 31, 2006 7:58 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Michael too? Yeah, I'm swinging by the store to pick up Rabbit Fur Coat tonight.

January 31, 2006 8:00 AM  
Blogger Zach Campbell said...

The Ferrara Revolution is underway.

Girish--don't mention dreams about Snake Eyes or apparently Harry Tuttle will have to criticize you for not understanding dreams as well as he does! ;o)

January 31, 2006 9:09 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh that's too funny...

January 31, 2006 9:48 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Am I getting famous?

January 31, 2006 10:55 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Harry, you're getting both famous and infamous. :-)

January 31, 2006 11:24 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

I was infamous before! It's being namedropped I'm not accustomed to...
(but I quit right here, I'm already O.T.)

January 31, 2006 11:32 AM  
Blogger Zach Campbell said...

We will all be (in)famous when our blog-a-thon provides the DVD cover blurbs for Mary sometime in 2007 ...

January 31, 2006 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Girish -- ah, welcome to the Rabbit Fur Coat club. Hope you like it. And hearting Jenny Lewis? Well, it's just so easy.

January 31, 2006 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

P.S. I listened to the album six times yesterday. I think I'm sick.

January 31, 2006 12:40 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Michael, I can't wait.
Have you heard the new Cat Power? I was going to pick that up too, though I haven't heard a bar of it.

Re: Ferrara, I picked up used on Amazon a biography by one Johnstone. No idea how good it is.

Re: blog-a-thons.
Just think if we could do, like, seven or eight of these blog-a-thon immersions every year.
That's a helluva lot of good viewing-thinking-writing-dialoguing not to mention all the communal interaction and fun. We'd learn a lot.

January 31, 2006 2:38 PM  
Anonymous dvd said...

Heh, I was really surprised to hear Cat Power in New Rose Hotel. An odd but quite appropriate match.

I've gotta pick up that new album, too.

January 31, 2006 2:46 PM  
Blogger girish said...

And David--Snake Eyes had a great verison of "Blue Moon" by Dylan from what could easily have been an outtake from Nashville Skyline. I'd never heard it before.
And one could comfortably do an entire post on Schoolly D's music in Ferrara.

January 31, 2006 2:59 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Girish, I've only heard snippets of the new Cat Power CD (on Amazon). Sounds interesting, and the general word on that album has been very positive. I might pick it up in the near future, along with the new Rosanne Cash, which I'm very eager to hear all the way through, as it's all about her parents.

If you get the Power CD, I'd be interested in your thoughts.

January 31, 2006 3:03 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Michael, I'm a rabid Rosanne Cash nut, and have bought everything she's released over the years. I like the new one a lot.

January 31, 2006 3:04 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Girish, I wasn't aware of that (and, with your endorsement, I think I will definitely get her new CD).

January 31, 2006 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Darren said...

I bought the new Cat Power on Friday but still haven't made the time to give it a listen. Yesterday a friend gave me a new sampler from the record label he runs, and I've been completely distracted by it. Four or five tracks are competing for title of Song of the Moment

January 31, 2006 6:20 PM  
Blogger Dennis Cozzalio said...

Girish, all: I'm in for Ferrara too. Like Eric, my exposure to Ferrara is fairly limited-- Ms. 45, Bad Lieutenant, Body Snatchers, Fear City, China Girl, King of New York and The Blackout. The only ones of those I loved almost without reservation were Body Snatchers and King of New York. The rest may very well be ripe for reappraisal, especially The Blackout, which I thought very little of when I saw it years ago. And I'm officially glad to have a good reason to finally see some of his other stuff, like Driller Killer and New Rose Hotel, and the one I'm most ashamed of having not yet seen, The Funeral. I really like the looseness of this kind of approach-- perhaps future blog-a-thons might similarly approach a single director, as opposed to always a single film. I suspect that the Ferrara experiment will yield an lot of good writing and, not unlike the man's movies themselves, a lot of divergent viewpoints. To reference a decidedly un-Ferrara-like film, I say, bring it on!

January 31, 2006 8:37 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Michael, I think you'll dig Rosanne's new one.
For me, it's the starkest, darkest record she's made since 1990's Interiors, which came right after her marital breakup with Rodney Crowell. (It is truly the scariest divorce album I've ever heard--but genius.)

Darren--I look forward to your new and unfamiliar music of the moment.

Twenty-hours later, Snake Eyes appears positively f*cking formidable. It is gloriously "messy" and complex and layered, and could provide fuel for a dozen long exegeses. I could stop right here and throw myself into it (foolishly, provisionally, messily) for the 'thon.
But I shan't.
Coz I've made up a viewing list of ten Ferraras.
And there's nine to go.

January 31, 2006 8:40 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Welcome, Dennis!

January 31, 2006 8:41 PM  
Blogger Campaspe said...

Showgirls ... Abel Ferrara ... you're trying to kill the Siren, aren't you. This is the blog equivalent of hazing.

Perhaps I'll get Mr. Campaspe to guest-blog. He loves Ferrara. Whereas I saw "Bad Lieutenant" and took to my bed with the shades drawn for the rest of the week.

January 31, 2006 9:36 PM  
Blogger girish said...

LOL, Siren. We're being bad, aren't we?
Mr. Campaspe guest-blogging sounds like a great idea though.

January 31, 2006 9:44 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

I saw Bad Lieutenant and had the same reaction. Not my cup of tea. It's the only Ferrara I've seen so far.

February 01, 2006 12:28 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Girish, I went to my local Tower Records tonight, and they had Black Cadillac on sale, so I picked it up. I probably won't have a chance to give it a good listen until this weekend, but I'm really looking forward to it.

I also impulsively bought Herbie Hancock's 1963 album Inventions & Dimensions. The staff had it playing in the store, and I immediately knew I had to get it.

February 01, 2006 12:32 AM  
Blogger Matt Zoller Seitz said...

I'm going to try to participate in the CODE UNKNOWN blogathon, but I'll be pretty busy that week, so it's an iffy prospect. But no way am I missing Ferrara. The tough part will be choosing the work. Right now it's between BAD LIEUTENANT, KING OF NEW YORK and his work on the short-lived but fondly remembered NBC series CRIME STORY, without which THE SOPRANOS, DEADWOOD etc. would not be possible.

February 01, 2006 1:43 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Excellent news, Matt.
I don't believe I've ever seen Crime Story; clearly, it needs to be added to that steadily expanding viewing list.

Michael, I don't know that Herbie album.

Tuwa, it's a film that's hard to watch--the most so of any Ferrara I've seen. I admire it, but wouldn't recommend it as an "entry point" to a Ferrara virgin.

February 01, 2006 8:05 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Michael, do you know Herbie's Maiden Voyage? I think it's the one I play most (of his acoustic piano records).

February 01, 2006 8:20 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Girish, oh yeah, Maiden Voyage was probably one of the first Hancock albums I bought, along with Takin' Off, which has his great tune "Watermelon Man."

February 01, 2006 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Darren said...

The Driller Killer is on the way from GreenCine, and I just checked out Brad Stevens's book, Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision. Glancing over the stills in the book, I'm thinking this Ferrara-a-thon will be a challenge for me. I have a low tolerance for screen violence.

February 07, 2006 2:31 PM  
Blogger J said...

Count me in for Ferrara as well. I had, also, clumsily written about The Blackout and would like to refine my thoughts. And I always jump at the chance to rewatch The Addiction.

February 17, 2006 1:33 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Sounds good, Joe.

February 17, 2006 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Rich said...

I'm hesitant to commit-commit, but I'm planning on taking part (via commentary on The Driller Killer's...commentary).

March 13, 2006 11:43 PM  
Blogger ed gonzalez said...

Hey, Girish. Glad to meet you yesterday. I know I said I found the whole Blog-a-Thon thing a little too cliquey for me, but I've been championing Ferrara for too long not to participate. I might write something up on The Addiction, the last Ferrara film I hadn't seen as of this week.

March 17, 2006 9:01 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Hey Ed, that sounds great. And it was great to meet you as well.
I've never seen The Addiction, but I picked up a used VHS copy of it on Amazon not long ago. I'm not sure which Ferrara film I'll write about just yet; I'm still dilly-dallying.

March 17, 2006 9:38 AM  
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