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Panic Room

Sepulchritude Forum » The Absinthe Forum Archive thru January 2003 » Arts & Other Philosophical Sundries » FILM FORUM » Panic Room « Previous Next »

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Posted on Tuesday, September 17, 2002 - 11:54 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I've calmed down a bit as I've aged. My social terrorism as of late has been limited to passing out fake religious pamphlets and posting bills promoting abortion as a valid birth control alternative.

I figure at 27 years old, with a house, full custody of my daughter, my DJ / production company, school, and a respectable number of investments, I've got too much to lose to keep blowing shit up. But I still enjoy a good laugh here and there.
Posted on Tuesday, September 17, 2002 - 9:28 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

" I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up...not me! Not I! not ME!" Jon, I couldn't have lived it better myself although I still try!
Posted on Monday, September 16, 2002 - 6:15 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Shayne ~

John Carpenter is an old favorite of mine... He may release a shitty movie here and there, but when the guy's good, he's genius. I'm really looking forward to spending some time with the new DVD of The Fog.

Nilson ~

I get that response a lot. My life's been nowhere near normal, but at least I've got some good stories to tell. Did I tell you about the time I and a couple of buddies stole a 40 foot inflatable Ronald McDonald, retrofitted it with scarier makeup and "questionable" accessories, and reinflated it on the grounds of a local high school? Or the orchestrated explosions in the trash compactors of several theatres that refused to show movies they didn't deem appropriate for family viewing? And the wicked smiley face? We nailed that way before Fight Club, plastered across a water tower that could be seen the next town over... The list goes on and on.

Anatomist ~

You Said:

"As far as all that talk of beauty and redemption in chaos, mischief, and vandalism... that kind of thing appealed to me at one time, but the novelty wore off for me somewhere around the age of 20. Now it just seems like pathetic, silly behavior, and elevating that tack on life as some kind of cosmic, enlightened perspective even moreso. Been there, done that, grew up. I get it, I just don't buy it."

I never elevated that tack on life as anything other than what it is: a thumbing of the nose at dull homogenized corporate-sponsored society. Been there, done that, grew up? Maybe you just got old and boring before your time. (insert sarcasm here) I like to think that my revelling in subversive behavior is an extension of my ideas on the dichotomy of aging: Just because I grow older, it doesn't mean I have to grow up.
Posted on Monday, September 16, 2002 - 6:40 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I'm sorry Joalco but my fav fight scene for realism has got to be They Live!! Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David(pumped to the max) are feeling each and every punch!
Posted on Sunday, September 15, 2002 - 8:26 am:   Edit PostPrint Post


"These were people I could (at least somewhat) relate to, doing the kinds of things that I myself had done... Only without so many broken bones."

REALLY? Interesting, because if any recent movie struck me as fantasy, FC did. You must have an unusual lifestyle.

I respect the cinematic virtuosity in making FC, yet I personally have little desire to re-view it. The violence was sickening, though I can see the satiric thrust of a group that wants to promote brawling in a world that, clearly, has way too much of it already. For a film that shows the reality of a fistfight, I recommend the inept scuffle in Turtle Diaries. In reality, people are swiftly injured and dazed and bleeding, and have little desire for more unless they're "dusting."
Posted on Sunday, September 15, 2002 - 6:26 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Good points, anatomist, but there is some legitimacy to the panic room concept. This film illustrates its Achilles' heel--the longer-term siege (particularly by someone familiar with all the panic room's workings, such as the phone line to the police station)--and that's what makes the film exciting.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 6:58 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Holing up in a location with no escape when under attack is stupid. You have few strategic options, are subject to slow, inevitable defeat by attrition, and your enemy dictates every aspect of the confrontations. The whole idea of a panic room is stupid, and spending all the money to build the one I saw in the trailer is several hundred thousand dollars worth of stupid. Just building one is to categorically abrogate all the strongest elements of successful conflict strategy: mobility, attack, surprise, etc... Hence the farcical analogy of the 'ostrich room'.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 6:26 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I agree, Marc. The crooks were stupid, except for the guy who installed the security system. That rings true. Jodie was smart, also true. The only part I didn't buy was when the daughter started going into a diabetic coma. After she started blanking out, she kept hanging on way longer than she could have in reality.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 6:16 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


One reason you give for not seeing PANIC ROOM is
"I cannot seem to enjoy movies in which the protagonists make exceedingly stupid decisions
about how to deal with danger or a threat".
Well, you are reviewing, or least jumping to conclusions about, a film you have not seen. How do you know stupid decisions are made in the film?
I actually thought the film worked because it wasn't stupid.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 4:54 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I realize that something different was probably going to happen later in the story - some kind of big change or revelation or flip-flop or something. The problem was that I no longer cared - the initial points were belabored too much.

As far as all that talk of beauty and redemption in chaos, mischief, and vandalism... that kind of thing appealed to me at one time, but the novelty wore off for me somewhere around the age of 20. Now it just seems like pathetic, silly behavior, and elevating that tack on life as some kind of cosmic, enlightened perspective even moreso. Been there, done that, grew up. I get it, I just don't buy it.


I don't think I review movies I haven't seen so much as provide reasons I haven't seen them and/or do not intend to. I think it's just a matter of knowing a bit about myself, and therefore having a good idea of whether I want to do certain kinds of thing without actually having to try them. Ever infected yourself with HIV? No? Why are you so closed to new experiences, dude?

Just because you or a bunch of critics say a movie is good doesn't mean I'll enjoy it, or find it worth my time. Since I'm not a professional critic, I'm under no obligation.

In the case of a thrillers like PANIC ROOM, I have an idiosyncracy in that I cannot seem to enjoy movies in which the protagonists make exceedingly stupid decisions about how to deal with a danger or threat. I lose interest, and, if anything, start hoping they will get killed for being so stupid.

In the case of Tarantino and the whole wave of ultra-hip, carnival of graphic violence type of shit which he has ushered in - it may be of importance to the industry and film history, but I simply don't care. I've seen a couple of his films and a couple more he's produced, and it's just not interesting to me. I don't find his juxtaposition of self-conscious style, humor, violence and anomolously banal dialogue entertaining or enlightening, I actually find it disgusting. He's a cultural canker, and if my mind has to be narrow to avoid being infected, so be it.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 3:01 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I too have tried reading Palahniuk and given up in disgust. I will try to watch the Fight Club anyway.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 2:02 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Fight Club struck a chord right away with me. These were people I could (at least somewhat) relate to, doing the kinds of things that I myself had done... Only without so many broken bones.

Petulant and self-indulgent? Maybe grudgingly so. Media terrorism, anti-corporation mischief, and just plain blowing shit up.

There is a certain beauty and redemption in chaos, which is needed perhaps more now than ever. To dismiss Fight Club, and the writings of Chuck Palahniuk, on such a note is kind of missing the point...

Granted, it's not for everyone, but if you give it another chance, and stick it out, you just might be glad you did.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 1:55 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


I didn't get through the book (FIGHT CLUB) either. But, the movie is truly an amazing piece of filmmaking.
Fincher is a true original. Perhaps the most important new American filmmaker to come along in the past 15 years. Tarantino is up there too, but
I'm reserving judgement on Quentin until KILL BILL
comes out.

anatomist, it seems you have this habit of reviewing films you haven't seen. You jump to assumptions that, in my opinion, are wrong. It makes you look a little silly and narrowminded. You have found the time to see some pretty mediocre movies. You might spend some of that time seeing
some really good ones. I would suggest giving both PANIC ROOM and FIGHT CLUB a chance.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 1:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

The FC analogy isn't helping me much. I still haven't seen it. I tried listening to the book on tape on a long drive and turned it off in disgust after about 1/3 of it. It just seemed like a meaningless string of petulant, self-indulgent nihilist incidents combined with some kind 'attitude'. Shortly after the adulatory description of the guy farting in the mergingue pie and pissing in the soup, I ran out of patience with it.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 1:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Interesting points, Joalco. The only reason I went to see Fight Club is because of David Fincher ... and, okay, okay, Edward Norton. Ya got it out of me. Geez, I'd see Ed in anything where he's not a priest.

I don't normally go see movies where people beat up each other for fun -- note there are no war pitchas on my "best of" list. But with Fincher (and Ed) I knew I would get a much more complex movie, something fun to watch, something with a great story.

Maybe that's why Panic Room was so disappointing. David Koepp has written some great stuff -- Carlito's Way, Trigger Effect, even Spider-Man -- maybe he's uncomfortable with a female main character. Maybe he figured Jodie and her heaving breasts would be enough.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 1:36 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

The end of the movie was fitting for *the movie*, and, by the way, was one of the best cinematic uses *ever* of a Pixies tune.

Personal preference, I enjoyed the book's ending a bit more...

I was dragged to the theatre opening night to see Fight Club by a couple of coworkers, who also bestowed upon me that same night Palahniuk's Fight Club and Survivor. Needless to say, by the end of the night, I was a believer, and first thing the next morning I went out and saw FC again.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 1:33 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


you are so right.
Upon its release, many people overlooked FIGHT CLUB because they thought it was some kind of boxing flick starring the beautiful but empty Brad Pitt. Well, their loss. Of course, since its' release on DVD and video, FIGHT CLUB is getting recognized as the masterpiece it is. Its a shame that many of its new fans didn't see it on the big screen.

The ending of FIGHT CLUB is one of cinema's great rock and roll moments.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 1:23 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

The premise behind Fight Club sounded dumb as well. Buncha guys, beating each other up. BFD, right? In the hands of David Fincher, and with some stellar performances, Fight Club became much more than your typical testosterone-laden explosions-and-guns action movie.

If a director has the knack, he can elevate the source material. Not that Panic Room is a film without faults; I just think more people would enjoy it if they actually gave it a chance.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 1:08 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I never even thought about watching PANIC ROOM, because the premise seemed so dumb. Anyone who knew anything about conflict strategy from anywhere in the world over the last few thousand years could tell you that a 'panic room' is a dumb idea. Why not just have an 'ostrich room' with stainless steel cavities in the floor in which the family inserts their heads, and they are secured in place with electronically locking collars?

Actually, that sounds like a movie I might watch.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 12:40 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Much as I admire Fincher (esp. Se7en), I found Panic Room too much of a One Note movie to really stay with me. It was fun, yes, and Hitchcockian, as noted by others, but the slice of each character's life is somehow a bit thin. It seemed like art made by engineers. Very good engineers, however. :-)
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 12:07 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Marc ~

When I'm not busy at school or DJ'ing, you can often find me jockeying the counter of your friendly neighborhood indie video store. Yes, I am a clerk. The pay's shite, but there are occasional perks.

Many of the complaints that I heard about Panic Room were slighting the movie because it wasn't like Fight Club or Seven, the two movies which really pushed Fincher to the fore. (Alien 3 and the Game were good, if flawed, flicks that only hinted at what Fincher is capable of). That's a damn hard act to follow. Both films are long, heavy, expansive movies -- very dark, with some twisted humor to them.

Panic Room is more of an eye-candy version of a Cat-and-Mouse game, a wham-bam, thank-you-ma'am, no-nonsense nail biter.

If Hitchcock were alive today, younger, and just a little more hip, this is the kind of film he'd be making.

Check the film out again, preferably in the dark, with a couple of friends, and a big bowl of popcorn. I think you'll enjoy it.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 12:03 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Panic Room -- possible spoilers

Great cinematography, loved all the super-fancy camera work, i.e. going through keyholes and electrical sockets, through ductwork, etc., loved Jodie's pregnant body, loved the kid, loved the whole setup.

HATED the script.

I wanted to love Jodie's and the kid's character, wanted to root for them -- the script didn't give me one single solitary reason to care about them. She's a rich divorcee, single mom, fabulous NYC apartment ... yeah, AND??

I read in Entertainment Weekly or somewhere that her character deciding to buy that apartment is NYC shorthand for sticking it to the unfaithful ex-husband -- apparently it's de rigeur for that type of woman, almost like a social custom, and something that only NYC's upper social classes would understand. I'll say, because I totally didn't get it.

A perfectly acceptable way to telegraph that would have been for Jodie and her realtor to be good friends and for the realtor to have congratulated her on sticking it to Stephen, just like Mia did to Woody or Ivana did to Donald or some other famous couple even us poor dweebs in Texas could relate to.

That's just one example of the ways in which the script disappointed me.

Conversely, there were other things I could swoon over: I loved Jodie's performance. I loved the way the film looked black and white, even though it was shot in color. I loved the opening titles floating like names of NYC buildings. I loved Forrest Whitaker. So much to love ... if only the script had been worthy. What a waste.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 11:46 am:   Edit PostPrint Post


man, its good to see you in the film forum. Keep the reviews coming.

I'm one of the folks who found PANIC ROOM somewhat
disappointing. Your brief review compells me to
see it again. I'll pick it up on DVD. How did you get a copy? I thought it wasn't being released till this coming Tuesday.
Posted on Saturday, September 14, 2002 - 10:58 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I've been able to spend a little time with David Fincher's "Panic Room" DVD this weekend.

I quite enjoyed this movie in the theatre, and relished watching it again, at home, with the luxury of a pause button, on my DTS EX sound system.

The DVD is a Superbit release, which means there's shit for special features, but a higher bitrate, and more memory reserved for picture and sound.

A lot of people I know were let down by Panic Room. It wasn't as long, as dark, or as visceral as many of Fincher's later movies. However, this movie *works*, thanks in a large part to the casting of Jodie Foster & Kristen Stewart. Fincher's visual eye is in top form here, and he's aided by two top cinematographers: Conrad W. Hall (American Beauty) and Darius Khondji (Seven). The camera swoops through floors and walls, down staircases, and even through the handle of a coffee pot!

I remember being on the edge of my seat when I saw this one opening day, and that feeling of nervous tension holds up on repeated viewings. A modern update of the classic suspense films that were so present in the 50's and 60's, with visual style to burn.

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