Latest Story

A radio interview with the person who wrote this sentence, Part IV: Comfort and Joy and Dream Lover

By Adam Lippe

Here is a podcast/radio interview from my appearance on Morning Feed with Ed Feldman from October of 2011, when I was promoting the Medium Rare Cinema screenings of Dream Lover and Comfort and JoyLike my other appearances on Morning Feed, the topics are wide ranging starting with Harry Dean Stanton and Death Watch and concluding 2 hours later with a brief reference to Ilsa star Dyanne Thorne. In between there are discussions of Emilio Estevez’s magnum opus Wisdom, what a wonderful blowhard Oliver Stone is, how death is always the most efficient way to win an Oscar, what really happened to Orson Welles during the editing of The Magnificent Ambersons, and a slew of other free floating randomness. (more…)

Escape From the Bronx [aka Bronx Warriors 2]

By Adam Lippe

You always know who the villain of any movie is going to be once you see a scale model. This guy envisions some future with all sorts of newfangled property and technology and he’s obviously hired someone to build this tiny replica of what’s on his mind. Now I can see how an architect might be able to put together one of these scale models, but who taught the architect how to do build it? Where do you get parts for miniature versions of tall buildings? Do you have to build the whole thing with Play-Doh? Or is there some sort of Edison equivalent to the scale model, like a magician passing down his tricks to his assistants, to make sure the mini-magic survives? (more…)

A podcast with Tim League, CEO of The Alamo Drafthouse, Fantastic Fest, and Drafthouse Films

By Adam Lippe

Here’s a podcast with Tim League, creator and CEO of The Alamo Drafthouse and Fantastic Fest. This was recorded around November 2010 and the interview was initiated because Tim and Alamo Drafthouse Films were putting out Chris Morris’ Four Lions as their first film. You can hear my interview with Chris Morris here. This very weekend, Drafthouse Films is releasing Miami Connection, a goofy kung fu film that had been thought lost since its original 1987 release.

Tim and I also discuss his involvement as producer on Red, White, and Blue, continuing the conversation lead actress Amanda Fuller and I had about its thematically erratic ending, his contribution to the trailer compilation series 42nd Street Forever, Vol. 5: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, how to run a repertory theater (a lot of which came in handy when I ran Medium Rare Cinema), hyperbolic critics, genre dishonesty, and a true dissection of a term I created, Phony Whiteboy Nihilism. As per the usual, there are going to be references to things that seem out of nowhere, such as the opening discussion of the trailer for the Sonny Chiba film The Bodyguard. I have posted the trailer for that film and for Lucky Seven below (which will help with my reference to a Wonder Bread robe). On top of that, I put together a musical montage that details the clientele type at the Alamo Drafthouse, made up of footage from the promotional extra on their 42nd Street Forever disc. That’s the very first video you’ll see after the podcast link. Note that the “Grindhouse” film effects were on the original material, and have not been digitally added by me.


Download or stream the podcast below. Or you can subscribe on Itunes to the A Regrettable Moment of Sincerity feed.


Download the full interview. Or if you want to listen to the podcast in a new window, just click the link.





The Bodyguard trailer

Lucky Seven trailer

The Lift

By Adam Lippe

Low budget filmmakers are told to use what they can get, writing their screenplays around what locations they can afford. Reservoir Dogs was made by a director (Quentin Tarantino) who knew he couldn’t afford to shoot a heist movie so he worked out a way to show everything but the heist. Sure, there’s a bit of footage here and there giving us the aftermath of a robbery gone wrong as well as a couple of shots of a shootout with the cops, but it basically avoids any other action at all. Tarantino has his characters talk, which is obviously cheaper than watching them in caper mode.

Well what if a director wanted to make another type of genre film and he went about in the same way as a Michael Mann type director would, but on 1/1000 of the budget? There’s the sneaky way that Robert Rodriguez made El Mariachi on $7,000, shooting without sound, using actors for only a few hours at a time so he could avoid feeding them, being the only crewmember other than the lead actor (who you make a co-producer so he has to be on set, so he has an economic interest in not being paid), editing the movie, writing the music, etc. And there’s what Dick Maas did for his $250,000 first feature film, The Lift. Clearly, Maas wanted to make a police procedural, but without the money to film car chases or have tons of locations, he simply changed the occupation of his protagonist. Now, instead of a detective, the main character, Felix Adelaar, is an elevator mechanic. And instead of a serial killer to chase, he avoids the chases altogether by turning the serial killer into an elevator.

Oh, sure, all of the standard scenes are still there, such as being chewed out by the clueless boss who tells him to stay away from the perp (the elevator). There’s even the troubled family life that’s constantly interrupted by late night calls about work, except instead of a stake-out or an interrogation, he has to inspect elevator parts*. There’s the nerdy professor who gives us all the exposition, explaining how evil the killer is, going into past history and motivations. But in this case, the details have to do with wayward microchips. There’s the nosy reporter (“oh, yes, I’ve seen your newspaper in the cat litter box”) trying to get a scoop who gets involved in the cop’s personal life, but because this guy just fixes elevators she seems kind of bored throughout.

Maas is even clever enough to bypass the need for the police in a story about people being murdered. Yes, the cops are background characters who are portrayed as unfathomably lazy (one of them is happy that they wrapped up the case, or so he thinks, because it means he’ll get to have his vacation uninterrupted), but Felix, despite being repeatedly questioned by the journalist about why he won’t tell the police everything he knows, says that he can’t. At first it might seem he’s being stubborn for the sake of moving the plot forward, but then you have to realize that what he’d have to tell the cops is that he has a hunch that the elevator he’s been working on is possessed and that’s why so many people are dying. Tobe Hooper wasn’t this smart when he made The Mangler, about an industrial laundry press that kills people. The detective in that case (Ted Levine, Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs) had to take this supernatural notion seriously.

Neither Hooper nor Maas should have taken their material seriously, but outside of the premise, which would only amount to about five minutes of screen time that might be helpful for an effects man to put on his reel, they had to fill in backstory. Maas seems to making an ode to a Giallo (stylish Italian serial killer movies from the 1970s, such as Suspiria), which would at least excuse how sloppy the storytelling and dialogue is. The Giallos were notoriously poor in terms of coherence, and often had shock endings that come out of left field and make little sense. Maas gives us a whole bunch of family strife, the jealous wife who thinks her husband is cheating with the comely reporter, simply because one of her judgmental friends sees them having a meal together (the entire film is endlessly sexist, all women are gullible dopes), and then doesn’t resolve it. The elevator is far more important to him so when that business is done, so is the movie.

And though he might have been ambitious, Maas, who also wrote the synth-heavy, John Carpenter-esque score, he wasn’t necessarily organized or competent. The decapitation promised in the poster, which shows so much promise is incredibly, silly looking. The explanation for why the elevator does what it does is completely confusing, as it might be some sort of corporate conspiracy, or some alien goo, or lightning, or a microchip that’s so small that it re-programs itself… Any one of these would have sufficed, but Maas, as if inspired by one of his corporate sponsors, IKEA, builds the whole film out of spare parts and doesn’t worry about what’s left over. Apparently Maas had wanted to explain the origin of the elevator’s evil, but ran out of money (though he didn’t do a good job with the material in his 2001 American remake The Shaft), and just left the whole thing ambiguous. It would explain why the second act of The Lift is almost entirely comprised of the family drama (in this case domestic bliss = boredom = trouble) and long winded technical explanations of how elevators work, as if he had intended to clear it all up at the end, or maybe at least justify why the professor won’t stop talking about how a microchip can reproduce.

I wonder if they sell that at IKEA.






* The Elevator Detective isn’t much of a title, though.

A podcast with Summer Qing [Qing Xu], co-star of Looper: Mandarin and English friendly version.

By Adam Lippe

Here is a podcast with actress Summer Qing (also known as Qing Xu), who plays the wife of Bruce Willis‘ character in Rian Johnson‘s twisty action sci-fi film Looper. Summer’s role is the main motivation for Willis’ entire journey through time. Summer was also in a few Chen Kaige films, like Farewell, My Concubine, and one of his early films, which I ask Summer about, Life on a String.

This is a unique interview for me, because it’s the first one I’ve ever done using Skype (so the sound quality is below my usual standard, but still perfectly understandable) and the first time I interviewed someone who had to have my questions translated to another language. That’s why this version of the podcast will be Mandarin friendly, as Summer’s manager Ben Zhang does the translation for her. You’ll hear my surprise at this fact early on, especially in the way I then try to over-explain my questions. As this will be the “rough cut” of the interview (a more concise version will be released soon), you’ll get to hear my questions, Ben’s translation, Summer’s answer, and then Ben Zhang’s translation back to me. You’d think that would make the entire 25 minute interview quite disjointed, but it isn’t, as Summer is able to adequately explain how her part differs in the Chinese version of the film, how government censorship affects the Chinese film industry, and how the moral ambiguity of Looper differs from most films financed by the Chinese (which Looper partially was).

Download or stream the podcast below. Or you can subscribe on Itunes to the A Regrettable Moment of Sincerity feed.


Download the full interview. Or if you want to listen to the podcast in a new window, just click the link.


这里是与女星夏清 (也称为清代徐) 饰演的布鲁斯威利字符妻子雨湖约翰逊活的播客。威利斯的整个旅程时间的主要动机是夏天的作用。夏季也是几个陈凯歌电影,像告别、 我妾和他早期的电影,我问字符串关于生活夏季之一。
这是唯一的面试,对我来说,因为它是第一个我做过使用 Skype (因此声音质量低于我通常的标准,但仍然完全可以理解的) 和第一次我采访过一个人必须有我翻译成另一种语言的问题。这就是为什么这个版本的播客将普通话友好,作为今年夏天的经理 Ben 张不会为她翻译。尤其是在我然后尝试 over-explain 我的问题的方法,你会早就听到我的惊讶这一事实。由于这将是”粗略剪切”(更简明版将很快发布) 的面试,你会听到我的问题、 Ben 的翻译、 夏天的答案和 Ben 张翻译回到我身边。你会觉得,这就会使面试相当的整个 25 分钟脱节,但它不是,是夏天是能够充分解释她一部分在中文版的电影的不同、 政府的审查制度如何影响中国电影业,以及活套道德的不确定性与多数影片由中国 (这部分是活套) 之间的区别。
下载或流下面播客。或者,您可以订阅到令人遗憾的时刻的诚意饲料 Itunes 上。

The Master

By Adam Lippe

One of comedian Pete Holmes’ best physical bits has him showing the audience how he likes to stand, with his arms at his sides and with his back arched as he juts his stomach out.

“Everybody knows that this is the most comfortable way to stand. I want to stand like a pregnant woman stirring chicken soup for a needy child. Like an uppercase S. Small minded people think this makes me look gay. Men are supposed to stand straight up but it’s not comfortable. I like vaginal intercourse and standing like this. About the same.”   

So in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, when Joaquin Phoenix’s character Freddy Quell, a seriously troubled WWII vet and alcoholic in 1950, begins standing like Pete Holmes and, perhaps, all weak-willed but sexually assured men, one can’t help wonder if this is supposed to be considered part of his progress. Will his Brando-isms (such as indecipherable mumbling and a short temper) remain after he’s been thoroughly exhausted by the title character and L. Ron Hubbard surrogate, Lancaster Dodd? Dodd is played, by Phillip Seymour Hoffman with a large dollop of effete Britishness combined with a small serving of American bluster. And since, as Dodd insists to Freddy that “I’m the only one who likes you,” is Freddy’s cosmetic conversion also a sign of a sexual conversion?

Scientology, which long winded, hacky sci-fi writer Hubbard was the founder of, has always had a no-tolerance policy on homosexuality, hence many of most famous members (Tom Cruise, John Travolta, etc.) have had swirling rumors about their private lives for decades. And like every Paul Thomas Anderson film, The Master primarily deals with a toxic father-son relationship that is about to come to a head (Magnolia, Boogie Nights, Hard Eight, There Will Be Blood), so looking at such an incestuous subtext is not out of bounds. It certainly pops up throughout The Master, as Dodd’s grown-up daughters from previous marriages are doppelgangers for his current, much younger wife (played by Amy Adams as a domineering, borderline shrew). Freddy Quell, a petty thief who scavenges* for whatever he can find under your sink so he can mix it with whatever is in his flask, is basically Dodd, who has a slew of phony doctorates and qualifications, if Dodd had had shell shock and little personal charm. Freddy, who is very direct about his sexual advances (he acts like a 6 year old who just discovered what his penis is for), is Dodd’s id**, The pure, sloppy macho that exemplifies most of the worst parts of him, and all of his natural impulses.  So when, in the midst of his first real interrogation of Freddy, Dodd asks him if he’s ever “had sexual relations with a relative,” which Freddy freely admits to, it’s as if Dodd was saying “well, I did, so you must have.”

Anderson makes it immediately clear that everything is askew When Freddy, on the run from Filipino farmers who claim he poisoned one of their own***, hides out on what turns out to be Dodd’s [borrowed] boat, the American flag on the boat flies at half-mast. When Freddy wakes up confused, he’s taken to see Dodd who assures him that he will be allowed to stay on the boat if he can make more of his alcohol/cleaning fluid concoctions. Freddy throws something together and they toast “to poison.”

Now, with his bloodshot eyes and hunched over posture, Freddy already looks like Mr. Hyde (Phoneix very much resembles his Return to Paradise character, after he’s been executed) so the fact that they begin their relationship by celebrating such a potion isn’t a surprise. It also sets up Anderson to explore his pet themes, wherein a lost, tortured, but volatile soul will come up against a monstrous domineering figure. They will go head to head and they may switch roles, as the monster becomes the bully and the bully becomes the monster****. His films, like Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, and Magnolia, were about crumbling families and the monsters and bullies that destroy them. And his father, the late Ernie Anderson, was a literal “monster,” the TV-horror host Ghoulardi. But since the younger Anderson started his own family in 2005 (with actress Maya Rudolph, with whom he has three kids), the films have become more intimate, such as in There Will Be Blood which is primarily a battle between Daniel and Eli.

In The Master, the intimacy has grown to the point where Anderson no longer feels the need to be a stylistic show-off, so the film isn’t flashy, and it’s his first film not to be shot in the cinemascope ratio. And yet he shot the film in 70MM, a giant format generally reserved for epics, and hasn’t been used on a narrative feature since Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 adaptation of Hamlet. So why would you shoot a mostly 2 character piece on film stock as expensive and antiquated as 70MM*****? Maybe he wanted to emulate the ultimate in intimate epics, that being David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia?

And my comparison to Lawrence of Arabia is not incidental, because there’s a scene in The Master that opens its rickety and undernourished final act, where Dodd (along with his daughter and son-in-law) takes Freddy to the Death Valley Salt Flats to race a motorcycle. Anderson doesn’t steal from David Lean in this sequence in the way you’d expect. The most famous shot from Lawrence of Arabia has what looks to be a desert mirage of a man on a camel, and the shot just holds for several minutes as the image becomes more and more clear that it isn’t a mirage, but a real man. The key to the effect of the scene is not just the extraordinary photography, but the way that silence and reaction shots are used. The two characters watching this figure are stunned, but say nothing to each other and simply stare into the distance as the potential danger gets closer and closer. In The Master, Anderson just gives us the staring and the feeling that something terrible is about to happen, otherwise why would he show Dodd going as fast as he can and encouraging Freddy to do the same? There’s nothing previously established about either of the characters regarding their interest in motorcycles, so unless there’s a potential fatal accident, why else show it to us? [Don’t worry, this is not a spoiler.]

Honestly, I don’t know why the Salt Flats scene is there, because while most of the film takes place over a few months (which you can gauge by how pregnant Amy Adams appears in a scene), after the motorcycle racing, The Master moves forward what appears to be several years. There seems to be a large gap of either material deleted to shorten the film (at the behest of distributor Harvey Weinstein?), or Anderson simply never worked it out. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be interested in seeing The Master 2: Ghost Protocol or Look Who’s Master Now, but as with Kenneth Lonergan’s highly flawed theatrical cut of Margaret******, it appears that most of this material needs not just elaboration, but a complete overhaul.

Part of the problem is that I’m not sure it was a good idea to suggest that any of Dodd’s family doesn’t believe in his manufactured religion, because the movie then begins to seem more like a caper movie, instead of something that could affect thousands of people in the future. That’s why when Freddy appears to use Dodd’s teachings as a post-coital pick-up line, it diminishes the film, because we thought that at least Freddy took it seriously. It’s a shame because there are so many fascinatingly bizarre and ambiguous moments that linger, especially regarding Freddy’s love life before the war.

Is the girl that he longs for a figment of his imagination? Are the flashbacks we see with them supposed to be a distortion, which is why this young teenage girl absolutely towers over Freddy (like Lilly Tomlin’s character Edith Ann, who is dwarfed by a massive rocking chair), but visually, he appears to be in his mid-30s?  The final scenes unsatisfactorily answer these questions, and the creepy notion of a 30 year old man with a 15 or 16 year old is never dealt with, not even by the girl’s parents.

Joaquin looks like a gaunt Mormon in that suit.

But Anderson overcomes the flaws because the major contradiction in Hubbard’s teaching merges with another one of Anderson’s frequent themes, that being the underclass and criminal element looking for legitimacy, trying to cleanse themselves of any previous negative association. Hubbard famously tried to recruit actors (and/or celebrities) in order to best “disseminate the message” to the widest possible audience. But the process of Scientology (and the version presented in The Master) involves removing as much negativity as possible, until a person is “clear.” Of course, taking away all perceived emotional pain would leave little for actors to draw on, which may be why Scientologists at the top of the pyramid like Tom Cruise and John Travolta often succeed in roles where they are “movie stars” instead of actors. In other words, they are essentially playing themselves. Or what’s left of them anyway. Sometimes a little fear, pain, and shame can be good for you. Otherwise who would ever have the guts to stand like Pete Holmes?


* Since Joaquin Phoenix’s self-imposed hiatus in 2008 (his last film, apart from the “experimental” I’m Still Here, was the undervalued Two Lovers, featuring one of his best performances), Michael Shannon has taken over all of the creepy/mumbly miscreant roles.

** Whether he was aware of it or not, as tensions begin to mount about the validity of Dodd’s spiritual creation, Hoffman furrows his brow and starts acting with his pineal gland. The pineal gland, which is supposed to be a human being’s “third eye,” has been used in movies in the past as an expression of unfiltered sexuality, such as in From Beyond. I’m made an audio slideshow for those who are curious (not safe for work).

*** One of Anderson’s surreal visual touches is for Freddy to run out of what looks like an outhouse onto a field of fallow crops. The shot is framed so it looks like the four or five people must have been packed very tightly, as if it were a clown car.

**** Hard Eight has Sydney (Philip Baker Hall), the monster, mentoring John (John C. Reilly). Sydney then faces off against Jimmy (Samuel L. Jackson), the bully.

Boogie Nights has Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) mentor Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg), who has to face off with both Floyd Gondoli (Philip Baker Hall) who is on the scene to usher in the impending dominance of video in the porn industry, and what Dirk turns into. Then Dirk has to face his own demons and the deluded stripper Todd Parker (Thomas Jane) in the final scenes.

Magnolia has several sets of abusive fathers dying of cancer, with Claudia Gator (Melora Walters) refusing to forgive her sexually abusive father Jimmy Gator (Philip Baker Hall), and the sexual bully Frank Mackey (Tom Cruise) raging against Earl Patridge (Jason Robards), his mentally abusive father.

Punch Drunk Love has the meek Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) go up against the Mattress Man (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Initially bullied successfully over the phone, Barry then confronts the Mattress Man directly.

There Will Be Blood is Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) mentoring Eli (Paul Dano) and Eli becoming the bigger monster before they finally face off.

***** Also referred to as 65MM.

****** The extended cut of Margaret, originally only released through as part of a 2 pack with the theatrical cut on Blu-ray and the DVD containing the longer version (but is supposedly losing its exclusivity this October), fulfills all the promise that the film hinted at in the test screening I saw 6 years ago. It’s a complete vision, untangling all of the narrative issues present in the other versions (especially with regards to Matt Damon’s subplot), while throwing in one acute observation about human nature after another. Scene after scene is so smart and overwhelming, with thorough character development, and some of the best female roles seen in years. While my favorite moment from the original rough cut is missing (where Jeannie Berlin tells Anna Paquin to “stop managing” her), this 3 hour cut actually earns its literally operatic final moments, as opposed to the other two cuts, which just kind of stumbled into them, ending because it just seemed like the right moment to do so.

Now on DVD and Blu-Ray


By Adam Lippe

Whenever there’s a genre parody or ode to a specific era of films, such as Black Dynamite’s mocking of Blaxploitation films or Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the second half of Grindhouse, the danger is that the film might fall into the trap of either being condescending without any particular insight, or so faithful that it becomes the very flawed thing it is emulating.

Black Dynamite has nothing new to say about Blaxploitation films, it just does a decent job of copying what an inept [...]

Veegie Awards

Winner: BEST ONLINE FILM CRITIC, 2010 National Veegie Awards (Vegan Themed Entertainment)

Nominee: BEST NEW PRODUCT, 2011 National Veegie Awards: The Vegan Condom

Recent Comments


Featured Quote (written by me)

On Cold Fish:

Though the 16 year old me described the 1994 weepie Angie, starring Geena Davis as a Brooklyn mother raising her new baby alone, as “maudlin and melodramatic,” Roger Ebert, during his TV review, referring to the multitude of soap-operaish problems piling up on the titular character, suggested that it was only in Hollywood where Angie would get a happy ending. “If they made this movie in France, Angie would have shot herself.”

Well Cold Fish was made in Japan, where Angie would have shot herself and that would have been the happy ending.