Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How Porn Saved My Life

(Ed. note: The following is a true story. It's a brief departure from our normal writing on Roundtable Pictures, but we thought this was worth sharing. LT)

By Lars Trodson

This is not an allegorical tale, nor is it a cautionary tale. It’s straightforward, simple. Everything about it is inappropriate except its conclusion.

Sometime early in 1998, I was scratching and picking at what I thought was a pimple on my back. It was exquisitely placed, in that I could not see it no matter how I contorted myself in the mirror. I wondered slightly as to why it didn’t dry up and go away, like a normal pimple, but I was also a first-class denier. The itchy bump on my back couldn’t be anything serious. Besides, I had never heard of melanoma.

The symptoms could not have been any clearer, and I took great pains to ignore them. When I got out of the shower I was adept at having the towel gently miss the small area where the pimple was because the sight of blood on the nap unnerved me. So I never agitated the bump and I didn’t see the blood. And if I didn't see any blood, well, there was nothing wrong. See how that works?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hattie McDaniel On The Stairs: One Of The True Benchmarks Of Screen Acting

By Lars Trodson

I was in Blockbuster the other day in Portsmouth, NH and, while scanning the shelves for something – anything – to watch, I came across a stack of “Gone With The Wind” DVDs. I took one and held it against my “Less Than Zero” disc, contemplating what was enticing me to see “GWTW” yet again.

And yet, as I walked down the aisle, it dawned on me that it may be – could it be? – that I had never actually seen the movie. Is that possible? Didn’t I know all about Rhett and Scarlett and Mammy? Wasn’t the famous crane shot of the dead and dying lying on the tracks of the Atlanta train depot seared into my memory? Sure it was, but I think my viewing of the movie was really the result of viewing a few famous scenes of the movie over and over and over – until it got to the point that it just felt as though I had seen it. That, and the fact that its mythology is so steeped in American movie-going culture you feel as though you know the story by heart.

But I hadn’t it seen it, and as soon as I put in the disc, and watched the opening scenes at Tara – the O’Hara plantation that is the geographic center of the film – I realized that this experience was going to be new.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Would You Stand In Line To See 'Kick-Ass'?

By Lars Trodson

The New York Times had a story the other day about a 13-year old film actress by the name of Chloe Grace Moretz who has landed the lead role in a film called “Kick-Ass.” In the film she plays, according to the piece, “a mysterious vigilante who leaves a trail of bullet casings and body parts wherever she goes.” The character Ms. Moretz plays is called Hit Girl.

We learn more: “The Internet went wild this winter for an R-rated trailer in which Ms. Moretz enunciates an obscene word that little girls are definitely not supposed to say, right before she slices and dices her way through a room full of drug dealers.”

As one would expect, the young woman’s parents are singularly unconcerned about allowing their daughter to play such a role. And the article does, albeit tepidly, bring up the subject of the appropriateness of the enterprise.

“…Ms. Moretz and her character raise a recurring question about what limits, if any, should be placed on young actors involved in adult storytelling, and to what extent these performers understand the roles that they are playing,” writes Dave Itzkoff in the piece.

But the central question to me, which the article does not raise, is not whether a very young woman ought to be playing such an adult role but rather why anyone would go see it. What is the demographic for such a film?

To think there are people older than the age of 17 (the only people theoretically allowed in to an R-rated film) that would pay $10 to see what is clearly a repellent pubescent fantasy is really the creepiest, most disgusting, thing of all.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Odd Couple: “2012” and “Diary of the Dead”

By Lars Trodson 

Both Roland Emmerich and George A. Romero want to tell us a bedtime story, and that story is that the world is ending. Only Emmerich doesn’t really believe it, and Romero seems to believe in it all too much. 

As coincidence would have it, I rented “2012” and “Diary of the Dead” (from 2007) and watched them back to back. The movies had incongruous conclusions. Emmerich quite literally destroys the world -- entire coasts go toppling into the water, mountain ranges become engulfed in water, huge tracts of land open up so wide these new gaping maws make the Grand Canyon look like a flesh wound. Only at the end of “2012” the sun rises and there is good will among the survivors. The dead are dead in both flesh and memory and it is time to move on with a smile on your face. 

In Romero’s modest but entertaining “Diary of the Dead” the world seems threatened by nothing more than a gaggle of impossibly slow moving imbeciles, and yet you really get the feeling -- as Romero clearly intended -- that the end has in fact arrived.