It is currently Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:52 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 105 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 5:51 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:49 pm
Location: Denver, CO
Eclipse Series 35: Maidstone and Other Films by Norman Mailer

Image

Norman Mailer is remembered for many things—his novels, his essays, his articles, his activism, his ego. One largely forgotten chapter of his life, however, is his late-sixties, headlong, kamikaze-style plunge into making experimental films. These rough-hewn, self-financed, largely improvised metafictions are works of madness and bravado, all starring Mailer himself and with technical assistance from cinema verité trailblazers D. A. Pennebaker and Richard Leacock. The fullest realization of his directorial efforts is the blustering, brawling Maidstone, a shocking sign of the political times in which Mailer plays a filmmaker and presidential candidate who may be the target of an assassination attempt. Along with Mailer’s other films of the period—Wild 90 and Beyond the Law—it shows an uncompromising artist in thrall to both himself and a new medium.

Maidstone

Image

Over a booze-fueled, increasingly hectic four-day shoot in the Hamptons, Norman Mailer and his cast and crew spontaneously unloaded onto film this lurid and loony chronicle of U.S. presidential candidate and filmmaker Norman T. Kingsley debating and attacking his hangers-on and enemies. This gonzo narrative, “an inkblot test of Mailer’s own subconscious” (Time), becomes something like a documentary on its own making when costar Rip Torn breaks the fourth wall in one of cinema’s most alarming on-screen outbursts.


Wild 90

Image

Norman Mailer’s first filmmaking effort stars the director and his two longtime creative collaborators Buzz Farber and Mickey Knox as a trio of gangsters holed up in a ramshackle New York apartment, drinking, braying, and fighting. Mailer once claimed he viewed making movies as “free psychoanalysis,” and this bristly, stripped-down experiment in improvisation shows a filmmaker baring himself for all to see.

Beyond the Law

Image

Norman Mailer’s belief that we’re all either police or criminals at heart was the impetus for his second film, which takes place over the course of one feverish night in a Manhattan police precinct and neighboring bar. The rough texture of the black-and-white stock and the intense depiction of the police lineup process lend the film a rugged, journalistic feel. In addition to Mailer, who casts himself as tough-guy Irish cop Francis Xavier Pope, Beyond the Law features Rip Torn and George Plimpton.


Top
 Profile  
 

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 6:03 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:35 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Has anyone seen these? I found an A.O. Scott article about them.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 6:05 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:51 am
I wonder if the liner notes will include any articles originally published in Playdude


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 6:17 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
I've never seen these but have been curious about them for a long time. Critical opinion on them is sharply divided, and I believe the hypnotically dreadful Tough Guys Don't Dance (the only one of his films I've seen) is not representative. From what I've read about the films, this is anything but business as usual for Criterion.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 6:28 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am
Tough Guys may not be representative insofar as Mailer tries to play it relatively straight there (or at least is following the broad contours of a noir), but you should still expect rangy, uncontrolled performances and a marked lack of filmmaking finesse.

David E. James's book Allegories of Cinema has some interesting stuff on Mailer and Maidstone in particular.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 6:31 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK
These sound fascinating and more films starring Rip Torn can't be bad! One of the imdb commentors on Beyond The Law complains about difficulties understanding the soundtrack, but presumably this won't be too big a problem with this release with Criterion likely to include subtitles.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 5:42 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2006 4:41 am
LQ wrote:
I wonder if the liner notes will include any articles originally published in Playdude

:D

They could have got it in the description if they really tried.

Quote:
Norman Mailer is remembered for many things—his novels, his essays, his articles, his activism, his ego, his waning libido.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 6:21 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:24 pm
Location: Teegeeack
colinr0380 wrote:
These sound fascinating and more films starring Rip Torn can't be bad! One of the imdb commentors on Beyond The Law complains about difficulties understanding the soundtrack, but presumably this won't be too big a problem with this release with Criterion likely to include subtitles.

Beyond the Law and Wild 90 have some of the worst dialogue recording I've ever heard. Even Mailer said Wild 90 "sounds as if everybody is talking through a jock strap." English subtitles alone would justify upgrading from the French releases.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 2:28 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:18 pm


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 3:05 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC
I have not seen these, but I first heard about them when I was reading something on D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus' Town Bloody Hall some years ago. When Richard Leacock passed away last year, it was brought up in some obituaries too. (Both Leacock and Pennebaker shot these.) I'll definitely check these out.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 6:17 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
So in anticipation for this set I watched his last film and I honestly don't know if it's one of the worst or best films I've seen (which seems to fit with what's been said in this thread), but that's not terribly important. The one thing to truly fascinate me though is how much it films like a Lynch film, or rather a parody of one. I don't think this is just because of the presence of Rossellini and Badalamenti either. The structure and dream logic feel to the enterprise is strikingly similar to Blue Velvet with the acting being a less smooth version of the bizarre affectations of Lynch. Despite probably being horrible I think this one has got me excited for this set.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 9:30 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:40 pm
Rosenbaum's little review of Tough Guys Don't Dance:

"Norman Mailer’s best film, adapted from his worst novel, shows a surprising amount of cinematic savvy and style from a writer whose previous film efforts (Wild 90, Beyond the Law, Maidstone) were mainly unvarnished recordings of his own improvised performances."

Yeah.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 9:35 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:35 pm
Oh god, oh man, oh god, oh man!


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 10:30 am 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 8:22 am
Location: The Room
If Tough Guys Don't Dance is Mailer's best film then these others must be excruciating. Somewhere below the bottom of the barrel with Freddy Got Fingered kinda bad. Tough Guys... Sitting through that is like someone flicking your scrotum for two hours. It just hurts.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 10:35 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:40 pm
Is it bad only because of the direction and acting? More to films than that pard. If you can get past that is it still scrotum-flickingly bad?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 10:48 am 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 8:22 am
Location: The Room
The dialogue and plot are fucking terrible as well. It comes across as what one might get if a child watched a hard boiled noir and tried to copy it, the logic being that if the characters speak in long-winded sentences full of absurd metaphors and similes, and the plot is full of ridiculously seeding doings, the film will automatically be good. But it's not because it's all so forced and you sit there (or at least I did) shouting "No one speaks this way! Nobody does these things! This is all so stupid!". God it's just awful. Wretched. Garbage.

I also think it's a mighty accomplishment that this film features what may be Ryan O'Neal's worst performance. I say that having seen the mockery of cinema that is Fever Pitch, which also falls into the absurd hard boiled nonsense subgenre. Probably the only film to feature Ryan O'Neal doing Kung fu with a Rotary phone!


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 10:55 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:35 pm
Here's a sort-of defense of Tough Guys Don't Dance by the AV Club's Nathan Rabin.

And here's the absolutely brilliant trailer, where Mailer reads the comment cards from a test screening, both good ("Bold! Innovative! Wonderful!"), bad ("Giant death-orgy with lots with maniacs!"), and beyond ("The devil made this picture.")


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 12:07 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 5:58 pm
I haven't read Tough Guys Don't Dance, but Rosenbaum calling it Mailer's worst novel makes me wonder if he actually read Ancient Evenings.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 12:30 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:40 pm
I've never read Mailer though I'm interested because he interests me. Books like An American Dream, which people hate, calling it a guide to killing your wife! It's his most hated that interest me including Tough Guys Don't Dance, the film, even though I'm obsessed with Bressonian precision and rigour. I kinda wish they included it here, maybe a mainline release! And what's with the title, Maidstone and other etc.? Should have a real title.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 12:39 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT
Eclipse Series 35: A Poorly Written Title for a Collection of the Poorly Written Films of Norman Mailer Except for the One That Isn't Here for Some Reason But That Is Still by All Accounts a Poorly Written Film


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 12:50 pm 
Not PETA approved
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada
med wrote:
I haven't read Tough Guys Don't Dance, but Rosenbaum calling it Mailer's worst novel makes me wonder if he actually read Ancient Evenings.

There are people who think Ancient Evenings, tho' flawed, is his best work.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 1:03 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 5:58 pm
I got about 50 pages into it and was prepared to give up when the news broke that Mailer died. That inspired me to tough it out; I lasted only 20 or so more pages before quitting.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:36 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:24 pm
Amazing these are finally coming out on DVD. I saw them a few years ago at a Mailer retro in NY and, flawed as they may be, they are incredible right up there with Warhol, Shirley Clarke and William Greaves. "Tough Guys" is a completely different film from these three. You can't really compare 'em. They were made under completely different circumstances. For me the end of Maidstone is right up there with Gimme Shelter. Berserk and truly frightening.

Mailer did a Q & A after Maidstone at Lincoln Center and told the crowd that Jean-Luc Godard was the second most evil person he'd ever met (!). He said Reagan was no. 1

Ancient Evenings is a tough one, but worth seeing all the way through. Armies of the Night, Advertisements For Myself and Executioner's Song are untouchable!


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:30 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:40 pm
Godard wanted Mailer to make out with his (real) daughter in King Lear. \:D/


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:59 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:24 pm
funny interview with Mailer about the films:

http://www.filmcomment.com/article/ridi ... -interview

Beyond the Law (Blue)?!


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 105 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group




This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection