Friday, April 11, 2008


James Frazier seems like a character in a made-for-TBS sitcom -- he's a recent graduate and professional film critic in a small Iowa town. All that's missing are a couple of crazy roommates and a more sitcom-friendly name like 'Gus.' He also has a blog, James' Mad Grasp for Relevancy, which would be hard to translate into the sitcom mold, but no matter. James is able to mix posts about current events and frustrations in with his excellent reviews, and he even keeps a handy list of every film he's seen over the last seven years. And for reasons explained below, you would be advised to stick near James if you ever find yourself at a party with him.

EARLIEST MOVIE-WATCHING MEMORY: 'The movie-watching experience that has left the strongest impact on my memory was my first viewing of Star Wars in 1988. My dad put in a VHS copy of the film that he’d taped off HBO and my conception of the cinema changed forever. The spaceships, the shooting, the incredible setting, and those unforgettable characters impressed on my tiny brain that movies could be a pleasure unrivaled by any other.'

LAST DVD YOU BOUGHT: 'The last DVD I bought was the Blu-Ray Blade Runner Ultimate Edition. For years I’ve been a hard-core Blade Runner fan, even playing through the 1997 adventure game a dozen or so times until I reached every possible ending. I’d all but given up hope of ever seeing every edition together in one box, so when this was released, I jumped at the chance to have it on Blu-Ray.'

IF YOU WERE A GUEST PROGRAMMER ON TCM, WHAT THREE MOVIES WOULD YOU PICK TO BEST REPRESENT YOUR TASTES, OR A FAVORITE GENRE OR THEME: 'I’ve actually considered holding a film screening series at the University of Northern Iowa (where I’m a grad student), and have thus thought a lot about what would make an interesting display of my beloved films. I figure that I’d want to showcase some of my favorite flicks from the 1990’s, the decade I spent my childhood in. I’d pick Hard Boiled, the film that got me transfixed on the cinematic gun battle, Sling Blade, the perfect evocation of the South that I grew up in, and Welcome to the Dollhouse, that creepy and bitterly funny portrayal of what a fucking nightmare it is to go through junior high as an unpopular geek.'

FAVORITE GROSS-OUT MOMENT: 'I’m admittedly not much of a fan of the gross-out, but one that sticks in my mind is the part of Hannibal where the title-character fed Ray Liotta’s FBI man his own brain. Later, he feeds this to a child, and that’s just so fucking wrong in the right kind of way.'

WHAT MOVIE ARE YOU ASHAMED TO SAY YOU HAVEN'T SEEN, AND WHAT'S YOUR EXCUSE: 'Gone With the Wind is possibly the biggest movie of all time, yet I’ve never sat down to watch it, despite owning the DVD. That’s not so much the shameful part as is my excuse: I don’t feel like pumping four hours into it. This coming from the man who has seen every season of 24 during day-long viewing sessions.'

Red Dawn -- In theory I should be very fond of an anti-Communist, anti-gun control piece of propaganda, but those parts of Red Dawn really sucked. The brief bright spots were the moments that hinted at what a horrifying thing an enemy invasion is, as well as the hardships of launching guerilla attacks on a superior enemy force.
Red Heat
The Man With One Red Shoe

FAVORITE KIND OF MOVIE TO REVIEW: 'My favorite to review is that kind of film that really blows me away, though I only get to do this a few times a year. On the other hand, most of my readers claim to love my take-downs of garbage like Charlie Bartlett, and like most writers I enjoy getting praise, but I don’t want to merely be a put-down artist, so the great films are my favorite.'

'There was a drive-in theater in my town (Cedar Falls, IA) that closed when I was in high school. The only time I ever went to it, they screened Gone in 60 Seconds, that ultra-lame Nic Cage car chase pic, and Dinosaur, the CGI Disney flick that likely would have been my all-time favorite film when I was six.'

ERA OR GENRE YOU'RE A LITTLE OBSESSED WITH: 'I haven’t been able to become obsessed with any particular genre or era because there is so much I haven’t seen. It’s not really a genre, but one of my party tricks is where I’ll have someone name an actress, and I’ll proceed to list all of her nude scenes, what year the film was made, how good the scene was, and a list of other details.'

LAST TIME YOU VEHEMENTLY DISAGREED WITH SOMEONE OVER FILM: 'I have a friend who thinks No Country For Old Men is absolute earth-shaking genius, while I gave it a mere 3.5 stars out of 5. He took the news well, but when I told him that I thought it was the 6th best Coen Brothers film, he became livid, denouncing my ability to assess film. Thank god he wasn’t my editor anymore!'

'Though I’m tempted to say Film Art: An Introduction by David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, the book I crack open the most is Roger Ebert’s The Great Movies. Despite getting progressively shaky over the past couple of years, Ebert remains my role model and inspiration for writing film reviews in the first place.'

'My two reviewing gigs require that I see at least two films in the theater a week, sometimes three. Depending on my workload at school and how willing my friends are to go out drinking, I watch from three to six movies a week on DVD and TV. I used to think this was a lot until I started talking to other online critics, at which point I realized that I must drink and screw a lot more than most of them do.'


1. That every significant event in history occurred in either Los Angeles or New York City.
2. That guns run out of ammunition only at dramatically appropriate times.
3. That most women wear their bra after sex, except for the ones I’ve slept with, strangely enough.

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