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The Pledge 121

Sean Penn's The Pledge is a powerful movie, but don't expect an easy time of it. It's been marketed as another macho Jack Nicholson thriller; the truth is, it's anything but. Instead, this film is haunting, beautiful, and unsparingly bleak. It breaks all the Hollywood rules about light moments and warm characters. Add your own reviews, please. Spoilage warning: plot is discussed, but not ending.

According to the film trades, director Sean Penn fought bitterly for months with Warner Brothers about how to release The Pledge.

Penn had warned that this wasn't a mainstream Hollywood movie, aimed at megaplex crowds accustomed to such movie verities as warm characters and happy endings.

Penn wanted the movie released slowly, as an art film, so it would have time to build and find its audience, so people would be prepared for it.

The danger, he cautioned, was that people would flock to The Pledge thinking it a showcase for just another Nicholson tough-guy performance, as in A Few Good Men.

Assuming Penn did argue this way, he was right. But he lost the fight against the dependably venal Hollywood studio execs, who wanted the movie released as widely as possible before people realized how brilliantly unconventional and depressing it is. Trailers for The Pledge were blatantly misleading, suggesting a cop-on-the-trail-of-a-vicious-killer adventure ("I made a promise!") In the two theaters where I saw the movie, people had obviously been fooled, and there were lots of squirming kids.

As a result, unprepared audiences are reportedly struggling with this chilling movie, which is not lighting up at the box office, as Sean foresaw.

The Pledge is an anti-mainstream mainstream movie.

Faithful in spirit to the story written by the broody Swiss novelist Friedrich Durrenmatt, it's told in an almost European style (they can make bleak movies there) free of formulaic marketing notions of how much grimness American ticket-buyers can bear and will pay for. In the U.S., the idea seems to be that movies are an escape from reality, not a portrayal of it.

The Pledge conjures up Atom Egoyan's wonderful but determinedly grim The Sweet Hereafter, released in l997. That movie was marketed just the way Penn wanted The Pledge to be -- in small theaters in selected cities. It exceeded expectations, whereas The Pledge can't possibly succeed as the blockbuster Warner Brothers pretended it would be.

This is a haunting movie about isolation, obsession, aging and madness. Nicholson delivers one of the great performances of his life as retiring Reno police detective Jerry Black, who leaves his own retirement party to investigate the murder-mutilation of a little girl and, in more than one sense, never comes back.

Black becomes obsessed with the idea that a vicious rapist-murderer is stalking young blonde schoolgirls who wear red dresses. His ex-colleagues believe the murders have been solved and that he's going crazy and getting senile.

Black buys an old gas station and bait shop at the epicenter of the area where the victims have vanished or been murdered. Though he poses as a retired cop who is now an angler, it gradually becomes clear to the audience that he's anything but retired, that he is honoring his pledge on his "eternal salvation" to the mother of one of the victims: he will find the killer. A host of top-notch actors drop in briefly and shine while they do: Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Wright Penn, Sam Shepard, Aaron Eckhart, Helen Mirren, Mickey Rourke.

Don't expect a light-hearted moment in this movie -- the colors are muted, the climate harsh and forbidding. The open shot is eerie and depressing and it just gets worse. There is an incredibly powerful cinematic moment on a turkey farm where parents learn their daughter has been slaughtered. Nicholson incorporates loneliness and alienation into his language, facial expressions and body posture. He is wrestling with all sorts of demons, from retirement and aging to the kind of obsession that seems credible for a conscientious detective in these circumstances.

Nicholson's detective visibly begins to wear under the strains of his life. He looks grizzled, chain-smokes, walks stiffly, forgets words and thoughts. Gradually -- in the kind of plot development unimaginable in most mainstream Hollywood films -- we come to realize that he is prepared to make any sacrifice, including any chance at a new life, and the people he most loves, to bring the killer to justice.

The movie has trouble ending, and gets a bit improbable. And even the most discriminating movie-lovers aren't always psychically prepared for a movie as unsparing as this one. You keep expecting the film to lighten up, to give us a ray of hope, for the Nicholson character to get on with his life, to see the light, for justice to prevail. But Penn has gone for unyielding honesty and fidelity to a story.

Like The Sweet Hereafter, -- whose influences seem distinctly present here -- the movie's message is that life is a real horror sometimes and, as one character points out, God can be greedy. There are devils out there, as Detective Black tells the bereaved mother. But if you can handle The Pledge -- the (minimal) gore isn't the problem here, but the truth behind it -- you won't regret it. It's a beautiful, worthwhile and fascinating movie, the kind Hollywood isn't supposed to make anymore.

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The Pledge

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  • As many of you know, this is becoming a regular Sunday a.m. /. feature, hopefully evolving into a movie review/discussion topic in which a writer, critic, coder -- for the moment, me -- gets the conversation going, and more and more people feel free to review, comments and talk about movies and some other forms of tech culture -- mostly movies and TV (one interesting future topic might be how the XFL is using video technology to try and undercut the NFL).
    Tech culture is very loosely defined here as movies and programs there's a lot of interest in..it's a subjective choice. I respond in part to e-mail subjects and other nodes on various threads. I look for interesting movies, those with tech themes, and those with attitude and POV.
    This is the fourth week, and the readership is high I'm told. So has the quality of many of the comments. Lots of smart ones.
    As with any public Net/Web online community discussion, there will be flames, adolescent chest-thumping, testosterone discharge, odd and off-topic respones, attacks on the writer, personalizing of disagreement..etc. Most of you know this, but this is the inevitable chorus that accompanies any open site..It's not going away and it's not debatable or particularly important. Just think of it as living near an airport with jet noise.
    Remember that only a small fraction of readers post, and of those, only a small fraction flame or are overtly hostile. Unfortunately noise to sig ration is high.
    We're all human, and sometimes take the bait, but in general it's a waste of time -- if you focus on reading the increasing number of very smart reviews that are being posted and comments about film history and technique, you'll find it as rewarding as I and others have.
    Flame diversions are only momentarily satisfying, IMHO and even then rarely.
    This topic will work a lot better if we don't take that bait, and respond instead to the significant number of people who actually want to talk movies and culture. They are here in large numbers -- many lurkers because of the head-butting -- and are ultimately more interesting and significant. Eventually the people who want to talk will grow and dominate...maybe.
    The good news is that this is beginning to work. Please feel free to e-mail me your own suggestions for movie and Tv topics, as many of you already are.
    Again, my review just gets the conversation going. It's not meant as the last or only word, just the first.
    I've been lucky in that I've gotten paid to review movies for nearly 10 years now and really love it..if I could afford to do it full-time, I would. Next best thing is participating in this column. My reviews are discussion-starters, and your opinions are as good -- or in many cases,much better -- than mine. But all criticism is subjective, valid to the individual. My wish is that this grows into an open movie/culture discussion, and it seems off to a good start.
    A reminder that any kind of movie discussion -- here, in mags or papers, has to discuss plot..I never give away endings, but unless you simply say this movie is great or sucks, you can't discuss the movie without discussing..well, the movie. I don't ever give away endings, but like most professional critics, I always discuss some plot. People who understandably don't want to know anything about a movie might best stay away from this column and discussion. If you do discuss plot in your posts, it's nice to indicate that in the subject heading.
    Plse e-mail me if you have any questions about it..thanks...
  • by whatsoever ( 312729 ) on Sunday February 04, 2001 @06:20AM (#457779)
    Wow, a First Post.
  • the comment was made before the story was posted. this could be a good way to get rid of the fp's... i guess it would degrade to second post or some such.

    use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that
  • Nowadays, the commercial concerns that control hollywood have come to realise that what we all desire is to feel cool and with it. The way to achieve high ticket sales, they think, is to tell us that we are watching something which is countercultural. Hollywood is trying to co-opt the real rebellious, non-mainstream filmstyles for its own moneymaking schemes.

    One can consider a hollywood film to be an extended phenotype. It is the modern extension of our instinct to tell stories and educate of old, but stripped of any real worthwhile qualities. If only Hollywood were not dominated by commercial concerns, and existed to create good films for their own sake, I don't think this vacancy and and the other problems I have mentioned would be a problem.

    The United Kingdom has, of late, set up a highly succesful method of making films which is government funded, though indirectly. Government owned television stations, such as Channel 4, make excellent films such as Trainspotting, Shallow Grave and 4 Weddings and a Funeral. These films are designed to be good to watch, not to make money. And they represent the true counterculture sweeping the film world from Europe (Dogme 95 is another example).

    It would be good if America, through PBS, were to implement a similar profit free, for the love of it system. It would give us some innovative and interesting films, and a relief from Hollywood.

    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

  • this could be a good way to get rid of the fp's... i guess it would degrade to second post or some such.

    Or the "first reply to first post" posts would gain importance. I'd like to see that happen!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    http://www.cnn.com&entertainment&story-id=aEfz@106 6606061/

    This means you connect using normal web http and authentication info www.cnn.com&entertainment&story-id=aEfz to host 1066606061 and fetch /

    1066606061 is just another way of writing the IP address

    The URL is accessible as (login as www.cnn.com&entertainment&story-id=aEfz if needed) and is hosted by

  • I think it's good to find other reviews in these kind of forums. I personally shy away from most broadcast media, radio and TV alike, preferring to be my own person, despite what MTV is currently doing to hair styles. My choice of personalism over sheep-cow-moo herd mentality makes peer reviews of movies pretty important, in my book. I'll prolly go see this movie, maybe tonight, based simply on Jon's review. I wish someone had warned be about 'The Family Man', though. Don't get me wrong, the movie was awesome. I just wasn't expecting it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hi, has any of you guys ever seen the original German film "Der Verdacht" ("The Pledge") from the 1950s? It's one of the greatest thrillers ever made and stars brilliant actors like Gert Froebe and Heinz Ruehmann. Friedrich Duerrenmat himself wrote the script based on his novel. Other great works by Duerrenmat include "The Physicists" (drama), "Romulus the Great"(drama), "The judge and his executioner"(novel), "The old Lady's Visit"(drama).
  • What was his last thirller? As Good as it Gets? Maybe A Few Good Men. Most likely Batman. Other than the stuff he made before he was famous, Jack Nicholson isn't typically in macho thrillers. The vast majority of his films do thrill, but are not advertised as "thrillers".
  • Do note that while the big American studios may be attempting to break away from their lackluser performance as of late, they still can't resist the temptation to fsck with the source material. The book on which this movie is based (Das Versprechen) takes place in Switzerland, so I wonder what else they've changed -- and does Hollywood ever change a book for the better?

  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon [crouchingtiger.com] is playing at the IMAX [imax.com] in Chicago. Check your local listings to see if you can see the splendor of this film on a bigger big screen (redundancy is a gift from the /gods :o)

  • Hey there Cpt.Movie Mogul:

    Its Atom Egoyan not Aton Egoyan.

    You have missed the mark on your cliche: Did you really mean "dark and forbidding" and not "dark and forboding". If your gonna be a writer lets ask that you work on your reading comprehension a little.

    And lastly; hearing "In the two theaters where I saw the movie, people had obviously been fooled, and there were lots of squirming kids." was rather disappointing. I thought that Mr. Katz, with his obvious cinematic insight was being given private screenings... a setting more fitting of his mighty stature.

  • I didn't know trainspotting was funded that way..but I can't imagine the government ever supporting filmamkers, not this one. The British model of news gathering makes me think you have a point there..but what about government control?
  • by JonKatz ( 7654 ) on Sunday February 04, 2001 @07:12AM (#457791) Homepage

    and in fact, theirs doesn't read like mine, as shud be instantly obvious..but if it did, how do you know they're not plagiarizing me?
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Sunday February 04, 2001 @07:13AM (#457792) Journal
    we seem to be worried about the culture, in terms of things like rights, freedom, the free flow of technology. What is overlooked is that little things not directly related to the geek community form the backdrop for these issues.

    Movies and Music and other arts can promote and create aand change the social climate we live in. Things like social dysfunction can be promoted, accidently or otherwise.

    Geeks are protrayed as criminal hackers, for example. Or the general population is examined in depth for the essence of True Evil, while downplaying the inherent complexity ordinary lives have, and downplaying the presence of the natural good that people also have. This can lead to things like the alienation and separtion documented in HELLMOUTH.

    So little things like the movie reviews can have a deeper meaning.

    More than mere entertainment when viewed in the context of the broader culture in which we live, and the ends that we struggle for, outside the context of the corporate "Lab Rat" management philosophies [amazon.com].

  • Just a minor nit pick:

    There is a piece by Friedrich Dürrenmatt called "Der Verdacht" ("The Suspicion"). However, it is different from "Das Versprechen" ("The Pledge").

    "The Pledge", as you mentioned, has been filmed twice under the title "Es geschah am hellichten Tag" ("It Happened in Broad Daylight"), in 1958 [imdb.com] and 1997 [imdb.com] which was a TV release only that I have yet to see.

    Friedrich Dürrenmatt is definitely one of the most interesting writers of the last century and you should check out his writing or have a look at his works that have been filmed [imdb.com].

  • ...I'd be interested in your review of The Family Man, if you were willing..didn't see that, but heard a lot about it..

  • This is interesting..would ou be willing to say morea bout Der Verdacht.I'd be very curious to know how they differ...
  • "...how do you know they're not plagiarizing me?"

    Oh, that's easy. Because you're an idiot.
  • You said:

    Government owned television stations, such as Channel 4

    Channel 4 [channel4.co.uk] and FilmFour [filmfour.com], the film-making branch, are independant companies, although they might indirectly attract funding through the Arts Council for certain films [lifestyle.com].

    Also, I'd hardly rate 4 Weddings as not designed to make money and counterculture...

  • Maybe Smoke Signals..Anybody else ever see that?
  • While I respect Sean Penn for his bravery with "The Pledge," I found the movie unconvincing and left the theatre with a very sour taste in my mouth.

    Many movies today are trying to forge new paths into relaltively untouched areas of movie-making. Strange/different endings, multiple plots that culminate in the end, etc. Many directors are trying now to avoid the cliche "Hollywood Ending." The problem, in my view, with "The Pledge" is it's a blatently obvious attempt to avoid the "Hollywood Ending." In an attempt to produce a movie that might stir up some conversation and controversy among it's patrons, Sean Penn merely produces a movie that loses its cohesion and unravels into its threads at the end.

    Reading Roger Ebert's review of the movie helps put some perspective on the movie. Ebert states, "Sean Penn's 'The Pledge' begins as a police story and spirals down into madness" (Suntimes [suntimes.com]). Ebert rather enjoyed this spiral into madness. I did not. It left me wanting more. It left me rather distressed.

    Maybe that is what Penn wanted? I'll tell you one thing, I am definitely interested to see Penn's next movie.
  • Tech culture is very loosely defined here as movies and programs there's a lot of interest in.

    And so you wrote about The Pledge? I mean, reviewing SF movies or ones with large mass appeal (I'm sure Hannibal wouldn't be that objectionable, even if it's not geek-specific) is one thing, but this movie isn't going to be seen by many (if not most) Slashdot readers, and probably belongs somewhere else.

  • I'm sorry...

    What the hell is that mess? I read the whole thing - but frankly I dont know what the hell he was trying to say..?????? do people actually read that crap - wow.

  • does Hollywood ever change a book for the better?

    Although not a book, A Few Good Men was originally a stage play. The play's author, Aaron Sorkin, reworked his script to develop the screenplay, and in IMHO, did an excellent job. Although the play itself is good, it doesn't carry the power and drama that the screenplay does. The film version combined a good script with an outstanding cast (including our friend Mr. Nicholson in a role that many people now know him by) to create a truly outstanding film. It both entertains and leaves the audience thinking afterwards.

  • by JonKatz ( 7654 )

    Thanks for the fix on Atom..love the post..never been to a private screening in my life..

  • ...interesting comments..but I'd be curious about what you meant when you said you wanted more?

  • ...to me, madness was sort of the brave point of what Penn as doing, the very part that wasn't a Hollywood ending..
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You are incorrect. The government owns a majority stake in C4. Just because it shows adverts, this does not mean that it is a commercial company. And FilmFour is so closely affilliated to C4 that it may as well be the same company.
  • Not only that, but he forgot to post anonymously.

    A+ for effort!
  • I have to know, does it ever get you down that they are this rough on you? Were you born under a bad star or what?

    Or is it more of a social thing - Everone must love linux & open source, but hate M$ and JonKatz?

  • Do not open that IP in your web browser, you'll regret it. It's almost as bad as goats.ex...

  • I think this is important. Pop culture is an almost universal language to many people on /. and the tech culture..they almost never agree on things like movies, but certain movies almost everyone will see and talk about sunday and mondays..the meaning of pop culture in lives started earlier..rock esp..and has only mushroomed, I think. Everybody on this site sees some movies and watches some tv shows..just why I wanted to do culture reviews, btw..and I couldn't be getting more e-mail..Nice..

  • ...what a catastrophe..No, I think you're on solid ground there, though I love your idea that people who can't code shouldn't be allowed into movie screenings..that would sure alter movie criticism.
  • correct. in fact, just last week hague was talking about plans to sell off channel 4 to raise some dough, so that the convervatives can CUT TAXES like mr burns in that episode of the simpsons.
  • If your gonna be a slashdot poster lets ask that you work on your reading comprehension a little.

    Please re-read: "You have missed the mark on your cliche: Did you really mean "dark and forbidding" and not "dark and forboding?"

    What are *you* talking about?

  • I think what you're saying is very true. Culture is a mirror. For reasons I don't quite understand, but would love to hear more about, tech and pop cultures seem very related..Don't know why, tho
  • interesting paranoia, but in today's climate it turns out that being answerable to government is a much lesser evil than being answerable to advertisers. the BBC news department [bbc.co.uk] alone is so fantastically ahead of any news reporting in the US, it blows you away. you'll never see "disclaimer: the company we are reporting on is the parent company of this web site" notices on stories, and the government simply aren't able to suppress political stories and reporting, at least not in any legal or visible way. the internal politics of the globalmegamediacorps are impenetrable, but governments must be as open and transparent as possible. admittedly that's a naive assessment of government in general, but governments must have finite covering-stuff-up-without-a-trace resources, and i'd bet that they're expending them on suppressing and controlling things far more worrying than what their funded media are producing.
  • Except that, if it were done by PBS, it would have to be done by current PBS love child, Ken Burns. I don't think I could take that.

    PBS is good at science and nature (Nova, Nature), investigative reporting (Frontline) and reasonably good at news (Lehrer). It is not good at drama. Almost all of the good drama shown on PBS comes from England. Masterpiece Theater: British. Mystery: British.

    The most recent piece of domestic (US) drama I can recall on PBS is a half-assed effort that totally butchered Langston Hughes' Cora Unashamed. That is a story that leaves the reader unable to speak afterwards. And how they could get a boring performance out of CCH Pounder, I will never know. Of course it was beautifully photographed. Style over substance from PBS.

  • There are a few cases where the movie is better than the source material (be it play, short story, or novel). In the case of over-long "technothrillers" (*cough* Tom Clancy *cough*), the films they make are at least as good as the books, because they can remove a lot of the extraneous bullsh*t that the author tacked on and no editor would stand against him.

    Also, a number of the Bond films make improvements on the Ian Fleming sources (imho). From Russia With Love, for instance, in the literary form, features only two groups, MI6/Bond and SMERSH/Red Grant (with Tatiana sort of caught in the middle). The film adds intrigue by throwing SPECTRE into the mix.

    And in Goldfinger, Ian Fleming himself, said that they improved the novel with the screenplay (Fleming died just after Goldfinger wrapped filming).

    The three eighties Bonds that took both title and plot points from Bond short stories (For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, and The Living Daylights) all did an amazing job of stitching together several disparate short stories and improving them through packaging.

  • Of course, the Bond films are produced by EON productions, which is 50% owned by Danjaq SA (which is British controlled) and 50% by MGM/UA.

    In other words, the Bond films may or may not be considered Hollywood, depending on how broadly you cast your net.

  • See "The Indian Runner", Penn's first film. It's his best. It's really intense and the photography is incredible.
  • This is sort of, but not really, OT, becacuse Katz has written about the topic of degradation of the discussion space before, too.

    You know, I think that GimpBoy's on to something here. Do you know why there's no channel 1 on a US television? Because the FCC realized that stations would fight tooth and nail to be the "first post" on the dial. If you take away FP by simply putting a post (or two or three) at the start of the discussion, then the value of FP goes away, and we at least get rid of that annoyance.

  • If there's one author I love, it's Jon Katz. I mean his reviews are so astute and well thought out, everything he says is on point and he can't write for so much longer than I can. I'm jealous and envious and in love.

    Please write us more Mr. Katz, please.
    You can't imagine how much I really do love Jon Katz.
  • I don't have any support for my opinion on this topic; what follows is mere speculation on my part. Tech culture and pop culture seem to be driven primarily by young people. There are very likely many reasons for this situation, but my guess is that they involve target markets (18-49) and a yearning to occupy said markets.

    If young people like something, then it becomes absorbed into "pop culture." Everyone else sits up and pays attention, including those who profit from advertisement schemes. Someone more educated in such things may disagree with me on this (anyone? anyone?), but hasn't anybody else come to the conclusion that "counterculture" is a subset of "pop culture"?

    Aren't "geeks" just another clique?
  • and would damage open source. what do you want linux 2.6 to be five years late?

    i LIKE open source coders writing code! hell, we should FORCE, them in to LOCKED rooms. till the next release is done.

    now, if critics had to hand code their text in html, or better asci codes for html....


    The law is that which it boldly asserted and plausibly maintained..
  • I'm quite convinced people have seen and have been amazed by Saving Private Ryan, as well as The Shawshank Redemption, and other movies of that caliiber. They keep comparing movies such as this one to them.
  • Yes that's right, punk is dead, it's just another cheap product for the consumers head. Bubblegum rock on plastic transistors, schoolboy sedition backed by big time promoters.CBS promote the clash, but it's aint for revolution it's just for cash.

    -Crass (1978ish)

    The mainstreaming of the anti-mainstream has been going on forever.
  • Bond films have become nothing more than predictable and formulaic. The only things these films have left is the opening sequence. After that, you can leave the theater and know you haven't missed a thing worth watching. The original Flemming character was much more complex and interesting than the Holloywood version that has evolved over the last 30 years.
  • about doing something you know everyone will call brave? Its like praising people for "not being politically correct" when un PC is the real PC these days.

    Seriously. I haven't seen this film, but when I look back at the films that I have recently seen described as "brave" or "an unflinching portrayal of the real world" they were mostly nasty pulp fiction getting off on showing violent nasty people get away with it. And they have that "if you can handle it" arrogence that forces people to treat it as though its art instead of (non sexual) porn. Theres nothing particluarly deep, or IMHO really talented about having a story where everything sucks at the beginning and everything sucks at the end. A film like that CAN be good or deep or whatever, but it can also be badly written, badly portrayed and in its own way just as cliched as the so called "holywood ending".

    If this film is good, it will be because it was a well made and acted film, just like dozens of other well made and acted films that happened to have more or less upbeat endings. But when reviewers use terms like "brave" and "unflinching" it all translates with me as "pretensious".

    Kahuna Burger

  • I second that. Excellent movie. For once the hype from the independent community is accurate. Even if you don't go for Hong Kong Kung Fu movies. Another pleasent surprise was a film I saw last night.... Chocolat. For once a film maker didn't sink to cheap negative stereotypes about peoples religous faith.
  • The 1958 Movie is called "Es geschah am hellichten Tag" [imdb.com];
    there is also a television remake [imdb.com] from 1997.
  • by Coward Anonymous ( 110649 ) on Sunday February 04, 2001 @09:25AM (#457830)
    um, how does this movie qualify as a /. topic?
    Is there anything remotely nerdish about the film?
    Is there anything about this film except that JonKatz likes films in general and this one in particular?
    If /.ers wanted to discuss movie reviews I'm sure they could find a WB, E! or some such drooling fan web board.
    Topic moderation should be introduced...
  • Actually, I think that's exactly it...it's very "slashdot" (read: elite) to advocate Open Source or Linux and put down MS and Katz.

    For his part, Katz doesn't write anything that is any worse than many of the "informative" articles link by /., but he'll not get a good rap from the /. mob because it's fashionable to hate him. Some of his articles are trite, some are well done. Some are uninformed, some are great pieces of writing.

    The easiest way to tell, by the way, that it's "in style" to Katz-bash, is the sheer number of people that post the "get this guy outta here" messages, rather than just filtering him out and letting him fade away.

    Just remember when posting:

    • Linux, BSD, Open Source, Anti-MS = +1 posts and enhanced /. status
    • Pro-MS, Pro-Katz, Pro-Copyright, Anti-Linux = -1 posts and deteriorating status
    • Posts pointing this out = Karma Whoring

  • by KahunaBurger ( 123991 ) on Sunday February 04, 2001 @09:41AM (#457832)
    Now, before everyone jumps on the title and says "because the real world doesn't have a happy ending", let me be a little meta. Most stories in the real world do have a happy (or content) ending. And they have an unhappy ending. It depends on who's telling the story.

    A college football team faces a new coach and interpersonal conficts, as well as personal problems for individual team members. They fight their way through close games with larger schools all the way to the BIG Game... which they lose because this movie is about the other team and their personal challenges and triumphs.

    A fucked up and misogynistic teenager manipulates and occasionally date rapes teen girls until he either 1) gets the shit kicked out of him by one's older brother, 2) gets send to JV and sexually assaulted by an older boy, 3) gets aids and dies a nasty death because he doesn't get tested and find out the truth until its too late, 4) we don't know because this is a "gritty realistic" movie that ends after only one day during which he didn't suffer any consequences.

    Every story is a little slice. There are very few movies where you couldn't play the "well, if this was THEIR movie" game and see it completely differently. The thing is that a couple of centuries (if not millenia) of writers have had the intelligence to know who they are writing for and pick the slice and the endpoint that their readers/viewers are looking for and will enjoy the most. The greek tragedies were just what they said. They were no more "realistic" in their morbidity than the comedies were in their expansive happy endings. They were just written for different audiences and expectations.

    So if I as a reader/veiwer enjoy one kind of ending point, and find another to be unneccassarily depressing or for that matter find that that particular slice isn't one I will spend my recreational time on, I no more deserve to be told that I "can't handle the realism" or "want a holywood ending" than the guy who hates romantic films and wants the "holywood ending" of lots of violence and gore.

    I doubt The Pledge is any more unflinchingly realistic than When Harry Met Sally. Its just picking a side of a story that most people don't find enjoyable. If it can pull it off, great, but if it fails thats its fault as a movie, not ours as veiwers.

    Kahuna Burger

  • Once more, /. is attempting to mirror salon or msnbc.

    C'mon katz boy, where's the Rugrats review? A lot of your reviews lately belong on salon or msnbc or [insert non-geek site here] so why don't you just break down and admit you've run out of tech stuff to talk about (unless you want to do what, a 20th story on hell-orifice).

    The only non-geek thing you haven't talked about in the entertainment world is musicals.

    What's next, your analysis of the state of current broadway musicals?

  • If only Hollywood were not dominated by commercial concerns, and existed to create good films for their own sake, I don't think this vacancy and and the other problems I have mentioned would be a problem.

    This is a common idea and I suppose I have no disagreement with it, per se.

    My problem is with your proposed "solution" - to wit, put the government in charge of the movie business. Do you really want this?

    No one will argue with your charge that the need to be "commercial" can produce very shlocky trashy output. (On the other hand, this is not the same thing as saying that all movies produced within a commercial system are bad, right?)

    My problem is with the notion that movies (or any art) produced on the government's dime are necessarily any better. All right, movies in Hollywood serve one master (the almighty dollar, the mass lowest-common-denominator moviegoer). But art produced PBS-style serves another master (primarily, the bureaucrats who have to approve the grants; and, ultimately, the tastes of snobbish upper-middle-class cocktail-party-goers).

    This just replaces one master with another. Why is the second one necessarily better? Is 4 Weddings and a Funeral really better than Fight Club? Is Shallow Grave really better than The Sixth Sense?

    In fact, let's just expose this "let's have the government fund art so it's not subject to market forces" mantra for what it really is. It is upper-middle-class snobs petitioning the government to take money away from the working class to fund their tastes.

    It is essentially a transfer payment from the lower classes to the rich (who, after all, could just fund PBS-type ventures on their own if they really think such things are so important).

  • Hollywood is trying to co-opt the real rebellious, non-mainstream filmstyles for its own moneymaking schemes.

    What do you mean trying? Its a done deal. It didnt help any that the "counter culture" turned out be much, much more venal than their daddy's culture.

    The lesson to be gleaned from counter culture is simple: cliques sell.
  • This movie was horrible, It left me wanting my money back(but the theatre owners wouldn't budge). The ending didn't solve a thing(I couldn't really pay attention it was so bad), it left me wondering who killed the little girl. But tell me something, was the snow plow guy(with the big bushy beird, the minister also, I think someone in the movie said that, but they look nothing alike). It was too cunfusing for me.
  • I agree that "counterculture" and "pop culture" are closely related. One thing that I've found ironic for a long time is that many people attach themselves to a counterculture because they want to be seen as independent thinkers that make their own decisions and don't just "follow the masses."

    Yet many of these individuals are painfully predictable, since they take whatever stance or action is the exact opposite of what is pushed by "pop culture." By doing this, they aren't showing independent thought at all, they are still slaves to popular culture just as much as those that follow it. The only difference is that they wait for what popular culture says, then do the exact opposite, thinking to themselves that they are unique.

    (It reminds me of good old Monty Python, where the whole mass of people claims in unison, "We're all individuals." Then one chap pipes up, "I'm not!") Why is it that all of these counterculture folks look and act exactly the same? How unique does that make them?

    I don't mean to be troll-bait, but I am curious what others think about this.

  • and the government simply aren't able to suppress political stories and reporting, at least not in any legal or visible way.

    Interesting statement. I take it this means that, when the government does suppress political stories and reporting, it does it in ways which are illegal and/or invisible.

    (I mean, that's what you're saying, right? Essentially, you're saying "The government never covers anything up, because I never see any evidence of it!" Which...uh...kinda misses the point, right? :)

    i'd bet that they're expending them on suppressing and controlling things far more worrying than what their funded media are producing.

    I'll take that bet. I'll bet that you are wrong and that the government pays special attention to media output regarding its actions.

    I don't know much about the UK, but here in the U.S. it has been reported that during the Yugoslavia, uh, bombing, the Army had special "advisors" over at CNN.

    And you think it's a good idea to get the media even more in bed with the government? The mind boggles.

  • I searched through my accounts looking for one with moderator points to give you. No luck, but at least I get to post. ;-)

    I love the old Annette Funicello/Frankie Avalon beach movies. I'd probably have found them saccharine and annoying if I had seen them when they were made, but today the optimism, friendliness and joy in life that fills them seems so refreshing in a culture that has turned its back on those things.

    Over the last 30 years, the attitude shapers of US culture have decided that bleakness, pessimism, ugliness and cynicism are the only "realistic" or "authentic" way to see the world. It's a corrosive, lazy attitude that is at least as destructive as relentless optimism. That's how we get a Presidential election where candidates don't need to stake out real positions -- everyone in the media is writing about spinning and scheming because they're all too cool to talk about anything as lame as what the candidates actually stand for.

  • The post to which you reply was written by a troll with too much time on his hands. If you bothered to look at the link, you would see he linked to an equivolent of goatse.cx in the URL.

    By replying to him without looking at the link, you managed to bring attention to the URL which people will click on without realizing the contents (since the troll moderation to the AC posting could simply be interpreted as an anti-katz bash, and not really why it was moderated troll).

    Incidentally, it would be impossible for CNN to have copied you in their review of The Pledge, unless they violated the rules of time and space. The review for The Pledge on their web site is dated January 21, 2001.

  • This is a great and smart point, but I promise you, this movie has nothing in common with When Harry Met Sally..the point is very well taken, but the truth is, sad and bad endings in Hollywood arre rare, and more interesting, the thing about this movie I found so surprising was that it wasn't sugar coated in any way..no happy love, life or other outcome..very rare, I think. True of Crouching Tiger, tho..
    I'd be eager to know what you think when you see it, but I think the Pledge is more unflichingly realistic than many movies I've seen, tho not more than "The Sweet Hereafter."" Talk about bleak..
  • by JonKatz ( 7654 )

    Mimicking msnbc..you know how to hurt a guy..At the moment, sticking to movies, tho...certainly happy to write about the R-rats..have done SImpsons and South Park, etc., repeatedly and in many forums..MSNBC? Yuk..I'll go incinerate myself.
    But if you think I'll ever run out of tech stuff to write about..now there's wishful thinking..you ought to see the queue of backed up columns. How could somebody run out? I could write 20 a week, and all of the ideas come from out there..very neat.

  • The movie reviews are generating a lot of interest..lots of readership, comments, e-mail, etc. I think to be democratic, people in the /. world have to decided if they want to have a movie discussion or not, and they vote with their keyboards..So far, the answer is yes, they do want ot talk about movies..
    And remember -- nobody has to read anything they don't want to read or aren't interested in..
  • by JonKatz ( 7654 )

    the folks out there get to decide..if lots of people read it, talk about, then it belongs..if not, they don't..you could argue that all movies are inherently tech..fact, I would argue that. You could make that case for Rent too, which had a huge tech component to its production..but no musicals for me..the rugrats on the other hand..
  • by JonKatz ( 7654 ) on Sunday February 04, 2001 @10:57AM (#457846) Homepage

    Lots of people have expressed interest in a place to talk about tech culture, movies, TV shows..So since there are very few movies dealing straight out with tech..sci-fi, antitrust, we broadened it to see if there are people on a sunday morning who want to talk about pop culture, a huge tech interest..seems there are. Some movies will be more head-on than other..antitrust..others are just interesting..the readers get to decide..I don't feel hidebound by Kremlin-like definitions of what's ideologically acceptable. And for the record, most reviews are done after I get a lot of e-mail from people who plan on seeing them and want to talk about them..
  • The Sweet Hereafter... was marketed just the way Penn wanted The Pledge to be -- in small theaters in selected cities.

    Who selects those "selected" cities anyway?

    In context, the implication is that limited release is good, while letting the rubes in Podunkville see anything but formulaic "blockbusters" is bad. Um, is this the same Jon Katz who wrote of the tragedy of how dull life can be for small-town and rural geeks?

    What is to be gained by this big-city (sorry - "selected" city) elitism?

    It's bad enough when economic necessity forces small town theaters to show only mass-market Hollywood tripe. It's worse when media elite (I'm afraid that's you this time, Jon) act like that's a good thing and encourage this unfortunate trend.

  • ..and disagree, as to other people..and sir, I am no tech writer, thank you..Hummmph!

    But you're wrong..the movie isn't borrowed from other movies, but the famous book on which it's based..don't know of another movie like it, truthfully.

  • astute is good..I'd add piercing and insightful..Want a ILUVKatz T-shirt, soon available on Think Geek?

    (Aw, I love him, too, the rascal)

  • Actually, do it here yourself..
  • Pardon my tone, but who the hell are you to tsk-tsk at Slashdot readers and tell them what will "make the topic work better" and what won't? If you lack so much confidence in your own reviews, either try proofreading them (eliminating a few personal pronouns would be a good place to start) or just don't post them. But for God's sake, have enough pride in your work to let it stand on its own merits, without getting on your high horse and trying to dictate how you think people should respond to it.

    If you really want to render the flamers, lamers, and "adolescent chest-thumpers" irrelevant, just ignore them -- set your threshold a little higher and go on with your life, stay on topic, and (if you will pardon my language) quit your bitching. Getting on your pedestal and crowing about how inferior they all are compared to you (and your coolly intellectual prose, which -never- gives way to passion, right?) doesn't make you look any better, believe me.

    I'd like to add that I'm not making this post because "you are JonKatz and I disagree on that basis alone." I'm making it because your high-handed attitude nauseates me. I have no grudge against your regular articles; I've read a good potion of them, and have no quarrel, with their content or with you personally. By all means, write your articles, say what you like, but don't tell your readers how to respond to it. If people want to flame you and insult you, that's their business, just as how I choose to respond to you (and your article) is mine. Choosing to insult and condescend them first with a "shame on you" finger-wagging isn't the solution.
  • There actually *is* one example where the film is better than the book, and that's Fight Club. I've read the novel after having seen and loved the film, and felt that the film did all the fine-tuning that the book lacked.
    Genereally, however, you're right: books are almost always better than the film. Why? Maybe it`'s the fact that films are usually intended for a larger audience (and cost more), but I think part of the reason are just the differences in the media. In a book, you can use a whole page to describe a setting, the film can only show it, and if the viewer doesn`t notice a detail then it's lost, whereas the reader always gets every aspect of the story.
  • Nuff said. They could have easily made the ending different and made everyone happy. Yeah, it's nice to see a movie with balls like that, but I was dissapointed, much like I was dissapointed with the end of Cast Away... bleh.
  • by deglr6328 ( 150198 ) on Sunday February 04, 2001 @11:43AM (#457854)
    unbelieveably horrible this movie is when you get to go see it. The ending of the movie is told below however it is not a spoiler because it is near impossile to spoil something which is already completely rotted through. I honestly cannot remember any other movie i've seen recently that can top this one for it's excrutiating banality and sheer stupidity. It's truely terrible, and if it werent for being with a friend when I saw it, I wouldve undoubtedly walked out. There are so many cliches in this movie I could not begin to count them all, but what the hell, lets try anyway; at one point Nicholson's character uses a map of the murders to determine where the killer will strike next(ohh brilliantly original plot device there eh?)and then you see nothing of the map for the rest of the movie. That one not overused and dull enough for you? oh well then don't despair, recall the "Jerry Black" detective character? it's his last day on the job you see, they've even thrown him a retirement party! but wouldnt you know it he just HAS to solve one last crime that pops up right before he leaves. wow! I've never seen that twist used in a movie before! (kill me now please). Still interested in seeing it? let me help. When Black tells the family of the first victim what happened to their daughter, the mom character deadpans her lines to the camera an formulaically has a breakdown right on queue(the father also fills his expected duty by throwing a fit at Black when he's told that it might not be the best thing for him to see his daughters chopped off head right now). 5 minutes later the mom then makes the detective SWEAR ON HIS LIFE WHILE HOLDING A CRUCIFIX THAT HE WILL FIND THEIR DAUGHTERS KILLER!(incredulous much?) the rest of the "movie" seems to wander along at a turtles pace revolving around the "dont take candy from strangers" type childish storyline. Black eventually uses his girlfriends daughter as bait for the killer(that could happen! right?!) and nearly catches him before the killer dies in a car wreck(with a comically hackneyed portrayal of a burning body in the car for extra emphasis). Do yourself a favor and substitute seeing this movie by poking yourself in the eye with a sharp stick.

  • While you do have a valid point, you are failing to grasp an important aspect of the "limited release" or "slow rollout" film marketing strategy.

    It is actually possible, and perhaps likely, that medium sized town residents will be LESS likely to see a film like The Pledge if it has a traditional 1000+ screen debut, rather than a slow rollout. The problem is, when a film opens on that many screens, if its initial audience is small, the theater chains pull it as soon as they can and replace it with True Independence Godzilla Harbor's Angels as soon as possible. Then, even though it was showing in PodunkVille for a week, it is GONE, and if you didn't get off your ass that one week, you missed it. And you didn't know before hand that it would be better/different from True Independence Godzilla Harbor's Angels, so you missed it. Time to wait for the video.

    In a slow rollout, however, the studio invests less money, because they need to market the film in fewer areas and make fewer prints. This means that the film can be a financial success with a smaller absolute gross. When a film is showing on half the screens in an area, each venue does twice as much business. This keeps the film around a while longer, and those prints that were made for the initial limited release start being moved around the country to various places as the "big town" audiences fade. NOW, when it comes to PodunkVille, everyone who might be interested has heard of it, and it can probably stay a few weeks, and more people overall can see it.

    It doesn't always happen this way, but there have been many films that have achieved modest success using this strategy. I have had the opportunity to see films in a small city (Rochester, NY) that I would have missed had they recieved "large" releases.

  • I suppose there's two types of posters out there.. Adolescent chest-thumpers and people that agree with Jon Katz.

    Stop Picking On Me! (Score:4, Posted by Jon Katz)
  • For reasons I don't quite understand, but would love to hear more about, tech and pop cultures seem very related..Don't know why, tho

    Easy. (Good) entertainment is food for the brain. That's the same reason why Olympic athletes eat so much.

  • Der Verdacht is sort of a sequel to "Der Richter und sein Henker" ("The Judge and his Executioner"). It takes place in 1950's Switzerland at the end of Inspector Barlach's life, who is a retired, brilliant criminologist and principal character in "Der Richter". In the story, Barlach reads, ironically, through "Life" magazine which has a picture of an imfamous Nazi war criminal...the only photo known in existance....who operated on concentration camp prisoners without anestesia. Barlach's doctor sees the photo, hesitates for a second in thought, and takes Barlach's pulse....thus begins "The Suspicion" and a titanic struggle to fight for a better world, even then one's life is over. All of Durrenmatt's stories, in my opinion, share a common theme of a moral man stuggling to survive in an immoral world. The sense of sacrifice and belief, even in the face of the void that is Durrenmatt's landscape, is heartbreaking. After reading "Das Versprechen", I too wanted "more" (like someone else posted)...I wanted some kind of affirmation of at least something! But Durrenmatt will never give you answers or catharsis. His writing is stark, brilliant, and not without humor...but its not for everyone. If you liked this movie or any of Durrenmatt's works....make sure you read Max Frisch's "Bluebeard". Fantastic stuff!
  • There was a channel one up until the 1940s, at which point the FCC reasigned the band (44-50MHz) for certain types of radios.
  • OK-- I've always heard that the frequency that would be Channel 1 was designated for use by certain radios by the FCC and they simply never renumbered the channels.

  • A friend and I went to see this the other night simply because we were looking for something to occupy our time. The Pledge was our only choice at 11pm at the local cinema and I was hesitant as the previews leaned towards a "retired-cop-takes-one-last-case" standpoint. Don't get me wrong, I love Nicholson but his more recent movies haven't been as good as his earlier ones.

    I was pleasantly surprised, then, as the movie meandered its way through the retired cop's madness. The last five minutes, however, *completely* ruined the whole experience for me. I can't say what I was expecting in the way of an ending, but they couldn't have ended this movie worse even if they had chosen the "Wow, it was all a dream! Fancy that." route. I can think of any number of ways the writer might have chosen to end his story, but the actual ending was akin to someone taking a steaming shit on a wonderfully and woefully prepared meal. As a result, my friend and I came out of the theatre feeling cheated and angry. We weren't expecting a happy ending, a predictable ending or even a depressing ending - we would have been happy with any well-crafted ending but not one that seemed like an after-thought.


  • Dürrenmatt has written three so called "crime novels" in the fifties: Das Versprechen (The Pledge, The Promise), der Verdacht (The Suspicion), der Richter und sein Henker (the Judge and his Executioner/Hangman, film with Jon Voight by Maximilian Schell). All three books are relatively easy to read, certainly when compared later works as "The Assignment". All three were recently re-issued in english, "The Pledge" now comes with Nicholson on the cover.

    The b/w movie from the fifties "Es geschah am Hellichten Tag" has IMHO the big drawback of Rühmann as the main character. Rühmann was IMHO never an actor, he always played himself, and it shows.

    Similarly, I don't think Jack Nicholson can ever escape his "mentally deranged" typecast, I'm still always reminded of Cuckoo's Nest/Shining when he starts smiling his evil grin. I think the real genius was Polanski -- in Chinatown, Nicholson had to wear this white bandage on his nose, so for most of the movie you didn't have to look at his all-too-familiar face and think "when is he going to turn crazy"? But I've yet to see The Pledge.

    The "Es geschah am hellichten Tag" film only touches on the taboo of sexual abuse, and the perception of that issue was totally different in the Switzerland of the fifties and the U.S. of today. Dürrenmatt wrote the script first (and later transformed it into a novel), the original intent of the film was actually to warn innocent children from the bogeyman. This was the fifties, hey.

    The film today has IMHO documentary character only, for it shows a non-Heidi-cheese-banks-chocolate view of Switzerland in the late fifties. Well at least for us swiss it has documentary character. You get to see what gas stations in rural areas looked like...

  • Have you seen Chinatown? It's a wonderful movie, but somehow, every time I watch it, I am pissed off. I just realize that nothing has changed in USA as a result of this movie. People are still pushing their heads in the sand and don't see the abuses therich individuals and corporations are perpetuating. I am pissed off, because I realize that even persons who are intelligent, don't see that they are living in the USA of "Chinatown".
  • If you see an @ in a link [kuro5hit.com]...

    Don't click!!

  • I do not advocate communist thought control - far from it. I just don't understand why Hollywood films feature so often in /.
    Here is a smattering of statistics taken at random by pressing those cute little topic images at the top of today's /. page.
    Let's count the number of articles from the beginning of the year for each topic:
    Films: 13 (of which 11 are somehow related to /. nerd subjects)
    Justice: 2
    PDA: 5
    Gnome: 5
    Games: 25

    So films rank second after games and far ahead of any other topic (do I hear "escape, escape, escape from reality!"?)

    I also agree with our european counterpart's observation that too much attention is given to Hollywood productions. There is a whole other world out there.

  • IMHO, I think if you accept money from somebody, that acceptance indicates an inherent agreement to let the source of the money influence what you do.

    There is also the fact that if the government were to fund moviemaking, producers would have to allow for X amount of time and $US battling in court over what Congress considered appropriate subjects for publicly funded art. Hmmm, sounds familiar.

  • Thanks to all the uproar surrounding his contributions, opinions, personality, political leanings, intellectual level, and assorted other attributes, Jon Katz was the first contibutor here whose name I actually recognized.

    Once again proving that "any publicity is good publicity"... and his detractors even spelled his name right ;)

  • by Voltaire99 ( 265100 ) on Sunday February 04, 2001 @03:53PM (#457868)
    The film is devestating, its vision of humanity as bleak as anything in thirty years.

    Aesthetically, it's very compelling -- highly nuanced performances by Jack Nicholson and Robin Wright Penn being its strongest points.

    The tension is managed perfectly. I found it, at times, nearly unbearable.

    In terms of the script, which, as you might expect from a film directed by Penn, is literate beyond reproach, I think it's worth noting that this novel adaptation is strikingly different from much recent Hollywood fare not only because it's terribly dark. It's also a portrait of psychological repression -- a theme that informed much of the best mid-century American and British cinema (think Hitchcock, Kazan, Preminger, et. al) as well as film noir, but which became passé the further Hollywood in the 70s and 80s moved from examining character and instead toward embracing sensation (for which you can thank Messrs. Spielberg, Lucas, etc.). This would be of limited interest were not the entire story dependent upon what Nicholson's character hiding the truth from himself...

    There is another enormously powerful subject here, too: the effect of police work upon the police. What happens when you see too much evil? With our cinema too much given over to the triumphalism and cartoonish representations of cops in Drug War America, this is a subject begging to be explored.

    The final shots of the film may leave you in agony. Beware, casual moviegoers! This isn't the spookhouse make-believe of "Hannibal." Real monsters are much scarier.
  • Question...

    movie I found so surprising was that it wasn't sugar coated in any way..no happy love, life or other outcome..

    A happy love, life, or other happy ending is sugar coating?

    but I think the Pledge is more unflichingly realistic than many movies I've seen, tho not more than "The Sweet Hereafter."" Talk about bleak..

    Bleakness is the standard of "unfliching realism"?

    Exactly what sort of nihilistic, depressing, utterly and totally useless worldview is required for these statements?
  • Ok, I've seen Chinatown (twice, I think), and I read your post twice, but I don't quite know what you're trying to say.

    What should I, everyday American, do in response to the movie Chinatown? Enlighten me. Complete the sentence, "Because of the things X, Y, and Z which happened in the movie Chinatown, people should do A, B, and C immediately if not sooner."

    I mean, what about Chinatown is supposed to be so representative of the US as a whole? People impregnating their own daughters (a huge national issue)? What?

  • by cculianu ( 183926 ) on Sunday February 04, 2001 @05:43PM (#457872) Homepage
    Very well said!

    One other interesting thing about this film it that it makes one wonder about the nature of destiny, genius, talent, madness, the self. This film reminds me of the notion that the variety of beliefs and personalities out there may just be simply the result of an inherently chaotic universe. We are very much affected by the circumstances of our lives.

    You don't believe me?

    What if the killer HADN'T died in that car crash? What if he had actually made it to the little girl, drawn a knife, and attempted to molest/kill her? Maybe all of Nicholson's ex-colleagues would have stopped considering him a madman and would have blessed him for the genius in his passion. His live-in girlfriend may have still resented him for putting her daughter at risk.. but I think she would not have considered Nicholoson a crazy nut.

    Do you think that maybe then Nicholson would not have gone mad? Instead he would have perhaps made peace with himself in his old age. Toni Morrison once observed that it is very American to not give credence to the notion that people are often the sums of what the world makes of them. It's the external directly shaping the internal. It happens more than we like to think in our highly individualistic culture. (The reason why it's unamerican to admit this is that it's the scariest thing for you to tell the quintessential American--someone who's had the beautiful American dream of liberty and individuality stuffed down his throat all his life that maybe he isn't as original as he thought he was--that maybe some or a good part of who he is comes from the external world.)

    I think that if the killer could have somehow managed to make it to the little girl, everything could have turned out differently. It's funny how fate works.. and how sometimes destiny throws us a bone and sometimes it doesn't. We as a society praise obsession when it yields visible immediate and usually monitary results. Everything else is crazy or nonsense. But ask yourselves -- what is the difference between madness and genius? I tell you that the two are very closely related!

    That being said, this movie is not only visually very captivating, but it explores some human themes--some questions about the self--that are not often explored in the mainstream. I am glad to have seen it!

  • come on jon, come clean, you have 2 /. accounts right? we know the game your playing here :)

    on a side note why does everyone^H^H^H^H most people hate you? I could never understand this "get JonKatz" thing everyone has. but then agin you probably don't know as well. I thought and all I could come up with is the E-mail address, I would kill for an @slashdot.org address.

    P.S I would like it to be mike@slashdot.org


  • I'm a fan of Dürrenmatt, and I have been even since I was introduced to his still - as far as I know - untranslated play Die Wiedertäufer. His best known play in English is Die Physiker, about a group of residents of an insane asylum who believe that they are various famous physicists.

    Dürrenmatt is exactly the kind of thing I would never have expected to see on /. Among anglophones, only snobby, elite literati types are likely ever to have even heard of him, much less ever have read his plays. I applaud Katz for doing something as audaciously anti-social as bringing up literary culture in /.'s technofetishist discourse and I await his analysis of Brecht's Leben des Galilei or perhaps Borges' La Biblioteca de Babel.

    However, what really blows me away is that Sean Penn would read Dürrenmatt, and that by all accounts he seems to have made a decent art house film of it. Wasn't he the guy who married Madonna and got a reputation for beating people up? I seem to recall him as the butt of jokes back in the 80's as the archtype of the Hollywood ruffian actor with poor impulse control.

    I guess this just goes to show that everybody can grow up.
  • Makes sense to me. I have found /. movie reviews to be some of the most interesting, informative stuff on the site. Making them a weekly feature (and maybe making them a section like YRO or Science?) would be a very good thing, in my view.
  • I don't think so. I count 42 in Your Rights Online, [slashdot.org] for example, despite nearly half of them being about the same damn thing. At least the film reviews are about different films!
  • Rarely, but it does happen. Examples below:-

    1) Bladerunner. Nuff said.

    2) Legend of Sleepy Hollow is nothing like the Washington Irving (?) story, but is still an impressive film.

    3) Various Bond films already cited - Connery's films mostly worked, the others mostly didn't.

    4) Tim Burton's Batman films are a bit of an advance on the comic strips (the other Batman films are better dropped in a big hole and lost).

    5) The Crow was a good film made from a bit of a mess of a comic book - the book would be best described as "concept art" for the film.

  • Millions of people voted for Ralph Nader. From this we can conclude that the American people wanted Nader to be president.

Think of your family tonight. Try to crawl home after the computer crashes.