Friday, April 13, 2007


Just when you think you've seen everything the film blogosphere has to offer, you stumble upon Tuwa's Stairs in Movies, which gives you exactly what the title says. Since it's told through images, Tuwa obviously has no shortage of material, but you'll be surprised how quickly it hooks you -- is it because scrolling through his pages is like descending a staircase? (Yes, I actually typed that while sober). One of the hidden pleasures in this blog is seeing which images instantly trigger your subconscious before you read the title, and others that baffle you (I recognized Eyes Wide Shut immediately, and frankly had never focused on these stairs from Ghostbusters 2 despite seeing it more times than is probably necessary). At Tuwa's Shanty and The Roots Canal, the author shows that he's quite adept at words too, and that he does quite a bit more than watch movies. Usually focusing on deep and entertaining music analysis, Tuwa occasionally drifts over to film, and I am thankful for this: his mega series on all elements of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers movies was a true wonder (10 posts long!).

NO PAIN, NO GAIN: 'I have a perverse fondness for Killer Workout, a.k.a. Aerobicide: bad acting, a ridiculous plot, shallow characterization, and hilarious dialogue (a man swings a fist at another man, who catches his arm. "You just made a mistake." They fight, slowly and carefully). The dialogue, plot, and characterization are all signs of a profound misunderstanding of how the world works (from police procedure to business management to things it's okay to do on your first day at work) -- in short it's so bad it's good, just short of great.'

NOW SHOWING AT CINEMA TUWA: 'Antonia's Line and The Station Agent. I've probably been watching all the wrong films, but these two strike me as memorable (and commendable) for their warmth and humanism.'

AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS: The scene with Clarice in the dark in Bufallo Bill's basement. The Changeling, when John wakes up to the noise in the pipes, and then again when Claire goes to the top of the stairs. And Night of the Living Dead, nearly all of it.

I BET YOU WISH THERE WERE 48 HOURS TO EACH DAY: 'Three or four [movies] a week, usually more at the beginning of a semester and a lot fewer at the end as work stacks up.'

STAIRS IN MOVIES?: 'I have a silly sense of humor and I like the perverse & rigid format of it. Ah ... I didn't really have any expectations in starting it, except that stairs would probably give a better sense of dimension than doors. I used to think there wasn't any philosophy behind it but I'm not so sure anymore. Recently I realized again that I like to watch just parts of favorite films: Fanny and Alexander until the collapse onstage, or Tootsie until the first scene walking down the sidewalk in drag.... Girish talked about this once; to me it's like meeting an old friend at a cafe, then going your separate ways. I guess the images remind me of that principle of Gestalt psychology, that if you see a dog's head looking at you from around a tree, you can't not imagine the rest of a dog behind the trunk.'

STAY IN YOUR SEAT: '[Walking out] distracts the rest of the audience. But if I'm watching a boring film by myself at home I'll turn it off, especially if it's also annoying. I don't do it often; I remember Wise Blood was one of them and one of Cassavetes' was another. Sacrilege, I know.'

REMEMBER YOUR LINES: 'I've probably adopted more [dialogue] of Seinfeld and The Simpsons, though for awhile I was fond of "just put that anywhere"; and "he's a good man, and thorough."

IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR: '1996: I grew up with an intense love for reading, no cable, and no VCR, so I'd seen maybe 100 films before then. Then I set out to learn something about film, starting with Videohound's Golden Movie Retriever as my guide dog. From August to December '96 I was introduced to a few bad films but a lot more great ones: Rear Window, Stop Making Sense, Paths of Glory, M.A.S.H., Mean Streets, The 400 Blows, The Seventh Seal, A Clockwork Orange, Strangers on a Train, North by Northwest, Belle de Jour, Raging Bull, Fargo, Koyaanisqatsi, Schindler's List, Damage, 2001, Citizen Kane, The Bicycle Thief, Aguirre: the Wrath of God.....'

Contact DVD Panache if you are interested in contributing to Friday Screen Test.


Tuwa said...

Kind words, Adam, especially since I always finish my music posts thinking of how much more could be written about the songs if I had the know-how.

Thanks for letting me participate in this; you've had some interesting interviews posted so far.

Stacie Ponder said...

Oh. My. GAWD. There is NOTHING perverse about loving Killer Workout!

50 points for you!

Tuwa said...

Awesome. Just a few more points and I can send in for the oversized baby pin.

Tuwa said...

Oh, those weren't bonus points, were they? ;-)

Stacie Ponder said...

Them's COOL points, son!