Pavilion Digest: March 2009

A plethora of perplexing pavilion posts. The Pavilion Annex thread, the Pavilion Discussion thread, and monthly digests of all messages from the Pavilion.

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Feh Movie of the Day: MR BROOKS

Postby Adam-Troy » Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:49 am

Name: Adam-Troy Castro
Source: unca20090603.htm

Kevin Costner as sympathetic serial killer trying to live a normal family life between killings, William Hurt as his invisible alter-ego, Dane Cook as blackmailing witness to the last killing who thinks serial murder is cool and wants to be taught the necessary skills, Demi Moore as ridiculously wealthy woman who has decided to become a cop.

Costner's not the problem. He's not bad in this. He's pretty good, as he usually is when not playing larger-than-life figures like Robin Hood, Wyatt Earp and The Mariner; I always found him fine in things like TIN CUP and THE UPSIDE OF ANGER when he was playing hapless ordinary men.

But this is one of those really bad movies that is compulsively watchable only because it has a good movie hidden inside it, that it completely misses. The least talented person here could fix it with five minutes of story editing.

One of the major problems: it plots by absolutely over-the-top coincidence, and not of the fun kind acceptable in farces or as the setup of thrillers, but of the why-not-toss-another-contrivance-on-the-fire-kind.

It just so happens that when Mr. Brooks asks his blackmailer
to drive around until he spots someone who strikes him as a nice potential victim to start on, the blackmailer JUST HAPPENS to pick, out of the entire city, the cop's estranged husband; and it also JUST HAPPENS that while Brooks and his protege are parked outside a drugstore waiting for that ex-husband to come out another car happens to pull up next to them, and that car JUST HAPPENS TO BE another notorious serial killer who the cop is famous for catching and who JUST HAPPENS to have escaped from prison a few days earlier, and it also JUST HAPPENS that Mr. Brooks was researching the cop JUST THE OTHER NIGHT and thus secretly recognizes the bastard.

Coincidence upon coincidence upon coincidence, of the sort impossibly shitty screenplays are built on; of the sort that in other movies leads a hero to randomly befriend the one person in the city with a personal involvement in the mystery he's investigating. It's absolutely infuriating, given that the character work is actually pretty good and that criminally short shrift is given to a subplot that would have made a far better focus for the film. I mean, that subplot was a stunner, and focusing on it could have made this movie a dark masterpiece. But no. Feh, Feh, Feh.

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"Stalking the Nightmare" question

Postby Midnight » Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:04 am

Name: Mary
Source: unca20090603.htm
I took down my really nice hardbound edition of "Stalking the Nightmare", once again reading that intro by Stephen King. There it was, that footnote about a story called "Invulnerable" that never made it to this collection, due to the need for it to be revised.

That story has been driving me crazy. I wanted to read it, but before I go nuts trying to find it...was it re-written? Is it hiding somewhere in another collection?


Richard Yocum

Warner Archive: The sorta goods outweigh the kinda bads

Postby Richard Yocum » Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:18 pm

Name: Richard Yocum
Source: unca20090603.htm
I was thrilled to discover this new way to get MGM, Warner Brothers, and RKO movies--ones that may never have seen the normal distribution route. There is a download option that shaves $5.00 but it seems Mac users are out of luck here at the outset. However, I was okay with spending the $21.15 to test their system, and ordered H. M. Pulham, Esq., a movie I'd always heard about but never saw. There was no shipping fee but they did charge sales tax. I bought a ton of VHS prerecorded movies in the 80s and the average price, for a number of years, was $40.00. Once, when classic movies were first making their way onto VHS, I spent more than $60.00 each to get Carole Lombard's Nothing Sacred and the wonderful Genevieve (and was happy to do it). That said, I would say a 7 buck download fee and 12 for the DVD is more reasonable for this Warner Brothers experiment. While I personally would like to have about 40 movies from their initial selection, and will certainly get some goodies like Ah, Wilderness and Beast of the City, the fun part will be seeing what comes down the pike each month. Richard

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Postby FinderDoug » Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:08 pm

Name: FinderDoug
Source: unca20090603.htm
Mary - I'm no expert, but I feel safe in saying that "Invulnerable" - rewritten or otherwise - has not appeared since its original publication in Super-Science Fiction magazine's April 1957 issue.

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Good news and movies

Postby paul » Wed Mar 25, 2009 6:31 pm

Name: Paul
Source: unca20090603.htm
Nice to hear some good news here for a change. Congrats to SB, ATC, SO'D. I hope everyone else is fair to middlin', as i hear the folks hereabouts tell.

Just finished a week and forever of movie crawls here for South By Southwest. A lot of good docs coming out (SNOWBLIND at the top of the list, for now) and some really great films to watch for. I'm sure a lot of these will find their way to release.

A few titles I've seen, with opinions (not a professional, don't try this at home):

THAT EVENING SUN, with Hal Holbrook. Winner of the Best Narrative Feature at SXSW. Based on William Gay's written short I HATE TO SEE THAT EVENING SUN GO DOWN, an old man escapes from a nursing home in Tennessee to find his home has been sold by his own son.

MONSTERS FROM THE ID. A great film that, on first glance, you may THINK is all about how the big-radioactive-bug movies affected us in generations to come, and you'd be half right, but the emphasis is on science and the minds that were influenced after seeing these movies. Listening to Homer Hickam (of OCTOBER SKY fame) talk about what made he and his friends want to build rockets (with footage) is a treat.

SNOWBLIND follows Rachael Scdoris, legally blind since birth, on her 2008 Iditerod race. Rachel just finished this year's Iditerod a couple of days ago; she came in 45th. Better than I could've.

MY SUICIDE, a phantasmagorical trans-media story of the life and possible death of a seventeen year old filmmaker. First act, you may feel is predictable. Second act, twist, and drama you didn't expect, nor realize could work so potently on screen. Act 3- well.. just get it when it comes out. Really. It sparkles demonically, makes you think, wrings you out and leaves you with a grim smile on your face that fades when you revisit the concept of teen suicide when discussing the movie.

THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF LITTLE DIZZLE, directed by David Russo. An over-the-top, hilariously existential story about a guy who quits his data-entry job to join a janitorial night staff crewed by misfits and oddballs, who come to discover (and eat) biochemically engineered cookies from a lab's trash that... um.... sorta cause the men to become pregnant and, erm,,, well, have fluorescent neon blue fish babies outta their butts.
It's a lot better than it sounds.
The opening two minutes set the tone, and it does have a kinda moral about what we, as consumers, will allow corporations do to us, with and without our consent, and the special fx are there to prop the story, not for the story to work around. To be fair, Russo (in attendance) said that he made this partially just as a fun thing he wanted to do and partially because he wanted to make some money for his next project, an IMAX DocuMovieThingy with the Blue Man Group. Good fun. Not for the kids.

TRAILERS FROM HELL, with Joe Dante, in person. Many of you may be familiar with these film trailers and the commentators. This was a collection- as Dante said, "not a 'best of', just 'a bunch of'" - that he put together to show the breadth and depth of what trailers do and did, over the years. There were movies I knew and movies I'd heard about and movies I've NEVER heard of. Closing the film was the trailer for an obscure little title called THE APPLE, from director Menahem Golan and Cannon Films. Commentary by Josh Olsen. It looks awful, and he panned it with love and adoration. Nice BIM mark.

A FILM WITH ME IN IT. If you like your comedies blacker than George W. Bush jokes, this is a dandy. Think several completely unrelated fatal accidents can't happen to a single person in mere minutes? Think again.

THE SNAKE . I cannot in good conscience recommend this movie, but it was terrible fun. I think this says it all-- . We report, you decide.

METROPOLIS, with an Original Live Score. This was a terrific event. There seems to be a resurgence of live bands playing the soundtrack in front of the movies; cult classic, modern, musical styles ranging from rock to marching band to Casio to orchestra, and this was a lovely gang of musicians connected with the Golden Hornet Project ( to essentially play a two hour concert score. Piano, guitar and bass, violin and cello, keyboards, drums, vibes, theremin-esque sounds and a host of odd noises, twwockks, gwips, chchchchckkkahhhs, and more. A wonderful time, something just to fall into. They've also done A SCANNER DARKLY and NOSFERATU.

OBJECTIFIED, from the very keen Gary Hustwit, who brought us HELVETICA. Object relationships in a consumer world. Excellent. 20 extra points for the Sociology majors.

Frank ~ I thought of you, pooks. Go buy YOUSSOU NDOUR: I BRING WHAT I LOVE and NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLET, when they come out. I promise. You're welcome.

Dylag ~ Thought of you too, longhair. The Iron Maiden doc FLIGHT 666 and ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL brought sweet tears of nostalgia for my misspent youth.


If I may, a link to a column called Page Two by Louis Black, the editor of our city's free paper The Austin Chronicle. In the wake of such an explosion of creative output, a small voice tells us to continue on despite, and because of, the setbacks. Wannabes take heed, this is a difficult row to hoe. Those who write because we know no better, nor naught else, are the stones upon which future generations can tread. I'm talking about you headstrong writers who keep doing the job when life and duty call and interrupt, then return to it again, tired, cranky, bloody and pissed. Then get up the next morning and do it again. May we all be blessed with a sixteenth of Harlan's energy and determination. I know I'm trying. ... d%3A756268

Please to forgive my punctuation. It's been a long two weeks.

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Postby tardis59 » Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:15 pm

Name: David Ray
Source: unca20090603.htm
Susan/Harlan, received my box o' goodies today. Thank you very much!!


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Special Treat

Postby Jan » Thu Mar 26, 2009 3:44 am

Name: Jan
Source: unca20090603.htm
Pip Lagenta has released 18 high quality photos of Harlan on Flickr ranging from 1977 to 1989 along with dates and descriptions. ... 7403%40N03


Be aware of the magnification button.

And Pip should get some kind of medal.

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Postby Jan » Thu Mar 26, 2009 3:50 am

Name: Jan
Source: unca20090603.htm
(or not so high quality in some cases)

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Postby DTS » Thu Mar 26, 2009 3:53 am

Name: DTS
Source: unca20090603.htm
ATC: _Because_ of the great job of acting by Costner and Hurt (and perhaps because of that untapped potential in the subplot -- which I hoped they'd tap in a sequel), I was able to overlook the coincidence factor in "Mr. Brooks" (I know -- a big overlook, but what the hell).

Film NU-WHAR: Just watched "Ace in the Hole" and "Pickup On South Street": Damn great, _unusual_ noir flicks. Jean Peters (think that was her last name) does one HELL of a job in scene where she is smacked around (it's obvious that no stunt double was used), and a fight scene featuring Richard Widmark that takes place in a subway is one of the best such scenes I've ever seen.

ROGER EBERT has blog going about "Knowing" that has turned into one of the most interesting discussions on film/quantum physics/Einstein/religion that I've run across here on the world wide web. Check it out: ... _dice.html

You _won't_ be bored.

Dennis C
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Strange Movie News

Postby Dennis C » Thu Mar 26, 2009 4:43 am

Name: Dennis C
Source: unca20090603.htm
OK, maybe this is the cue for the end of the world as we know it, or a Deity pulling an almighty Prank.

But the trades say that Sean Penn has been cast as Larry in the Farrelly Brothers' new Three Stooges Movie. Sean. Penn. As. Larry. Let that sink in. From Oscar winner for MILK to hair-pulling, head-banging Stooge.
And the others in discussion for Stoogedom: Jim Carrey as Curly (OK, I can kind of see that)... and as Moe -- Benicio Del Toro.
Benicio Del Toro. Moe.
I think it's the Apocalypse, kids.


Other movie news: the good news -- they're making a feature out of Mac Carter and Jeff Blitz's LOVECRAFT comic that fictionalizes old HP's life with supernatural stuff. I love that idea.
The bad news: it's a vehicle for director Ron Howard. Watered-down, milquetoast-movie Ron Howard.

But I still can't get my head around the Stooge thing.

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Postby Adam-Troy » Thu Mar 26, 2009 4:46 am

Name: Adam-Troy Castro
Source: unca20090603.htm
As I said, MR BROOKS was a terrible movie with a good movie hidden inside it; and the potential of that good movie is such that it renders the bad movie watchable.

I spent five minutes working on the plot in my newsgroup, in this post: ... tnum=29941

(The only reason I don't cut and paste the analysis here -- as I almost did before thinking twice -- is to avoid violating our host's rule against spoilers, even if I don't consider the movie good enough to be spoiled. Obviously, if we start factoring the movie's quality into the question of spoil-or-not, then we lay the groundwork for this pavilion to erupt into angry discord when some folks like certain movies other than others. Suffice it to say that the film as it exists is flabby with artifice and poisoned with unacceptable coincidences, the one good plot element buried in a swamp of clumsiness. And that using that plot element as the center of the film and giving it the time it deserves would have FIXED EVERYTHING, up to the point of making MR BROOKS not the already-forgotten shitty film it is, but a potentially great one. In five minutes of intelligent thought I turned the shitty plot into a promising one. How come nobody working for the production did?) (Unless the original screenwriter DID and it was ruined by divers hands, which is of course a major possibility.)

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"Invulverable" and other thoughts

Postby Midnight » Thu Mar 26, 2009 6:10 am

Name: Mary
Source: unca20090603.htm
Thank you FinderDoug...I was hoping to find it somewhere...that story has always intrigued me. I wanted to ask Harlan if he had any plans on revising it, but somehow I think with the ongoing battle with the dancing hamsters and the lawsuit, he has a lot on his mind right now.

I can always send him my of right now, they're doing a nice Irish jig...I think they've seen "Riverdance" one too many times.

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Postby Moderator » Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:13 am

Name: Steve Barber
Source: unca20090603.htm

PC Update:

Thank you all for your suggestions. We'd already checked virtually all of them, but nice to know others have the same thoughts and ideas. This afternoon we make the PC a final offer, at gunpoint if necessary.

Stay tuned. Harlan will return.

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Postby FrankChurch » Thu Mar 26, 2009 11:27 am

Name: Frank Church
Source: unca20090603.htm
Paul, sorry, sunday the new Prince trible record set is at Target. Eleven ninety eight for 3 cds is a gooooood deal.

Prince is on Leno all the rest of the week.

I was hip to afro-pop when when I got out of that damned heavy metal/hard rock faze.

Actually, I'm still a metal head. Up the Irons Pook.


Poor Barber. I bet Harlan was yelling at you the whole time, breathing fire and bits of book critics he just ate.

We welcome him back. But I will be at the ready with one of those sedative guns, like on Wild Kingdom.


Matt Taibbi is basically saying that both sides are dangerously corrupt on the AIG issue. We are royally fucked.

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Postby Brad Stevens » Thu Mar 26, 2009 12:10 pm

Name: Brad Stevens
Source: unca20090603.htm
ATC. Though I also found MR BROOKS to be a half good/half bad film, my reasons for feeling this way are quite different from yours. The main problem is that Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner) starts out as psychologically plausible character, but gradually mutates into an unstoppable Hannibal Lecter-style super-serial killer. The over-reliance on chance which bothered you so much seems to me merely a symptom of a larger problem, namely the film's inability to take a coherent or consistent attitude towards its protagonist. Needless to say, there is absolutely nothing wrong with creating a narrative world ruled by the law of maximum coincidence (Dickens did this all the time), but this aspect of the film simply can't be assimilated with the far more interesting character study which dominates much of the first half. It is, however, perfectly in keeping with the fantastical quality of the final section; indeed, it's one of the ways in which the film negotiates the transition from serious drama to comic-strip.

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