July 2009

Curiosity Corner: Last Days

Last week I wrote about My Own Private Idaho, a weird but wonderful work of art by writer/director Gus Van Sant. If the idea of a partial adaptation of a Shakespearean history through the lens of gay street hustlers doesn't convince you that Van Sant has a love for high-concept, try these on for size: A shot-by-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho; a queasy and deeply disturbing fictionalization of the Columbine Massacre; an all-but-in-name bio-pic of the last two days of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's life. It's that last one I want to talk about in this entry, 2005's Last Days.

Why 2012 the movie is going to Kick Ass

It's been a long time coming. The disaster film to end all disaster films. It's coming to a theater near you November 13, 2009

2012: The Movie

 There are many reasons why I love disaster movies. Usually they're extremely cheesy, the tend to freak me out, and it's just fun to ponder what life would be like if there was a cataclysmic event none of us were prepared for. Hence 2012, the movie.

New Queer Cinema: My Own Private Idaho

Whenever themes relevant to a particular minority group are explored in art, there's the danger of that art being labeled a "For Us, By Us" endeavor. Such is the issue surrounding New Queer Cinema. Though much of it is designed to shock the straight majority and ultimately to politicize the films themselves, some of the finest works from the movement aren't really intended as agit-prop. Such is the case with Gus Van Sant's 1991 (minor) masterpiece, My Own Private Idaho.

Harry Potter 6: A Disappointment for Book Fans, Fun for (Mostly) Everyone Else

I honestly don’t know why I even bother getting excited about new Harry Potter movies. Each one never fails to disappoint even more so than the previous one has, and I know that I can always count on my favorite scenes, characters, and lines being cut. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is no different from the previous adaptations.

(Warning—if you have not read the books or seen the films, you may want to avoid the rest of this commentary as it contains “spoilers.”)

Has Nicholas Cage Lost His Edge?

Mmmm, I used to love me some Nic Cage. Remember back when he did Con Air and he was all buff, tuff, rugged and rough? He was the ultimate badass, busting up lewd rude dudes and speaking in that no-nonsense, soft but stern voice? Oh yeah.

Then came a bunch of more fun flicks—City of Angels, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Family Man… none were as edgy and awesome as Con Air, but they were at least enjoyable. (Remember the look on his face in Angels when Meg Ryan says, “No dying today, Mr. Messenger—not until you give me Seth’s phone number”? Priceless!) The first National Treasure flick wasn’t too bad, either.

New Queer Cinema: But I'm A Cheerleader

Beginning in the early 1990's there was a wave of LGBT-themed movies making their way through the festival circuits and small theaters of the already exploding independent film scene. Mixing high camp with biting satire, the New Queer Cinema movement paved the way to making non-heteronormative topics a part of the mainstream. It's only been in the past few years that high-profile entertainment has approached queer themes with any seriousness. Still, for every Brokeback Mountain there are at least a few I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry's. Toward the end of first major New Queer Cinema rush, screenwriter Brian Wayne Peterson and director Jamie Babbit collaborated of a small but intriguing comedy called But I'm A Cheerleader.

The Last Review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen You Will Ever Need.

I used to watch Transformers when I was a kid and one of the standard plot lines was as follows: the Decepticons try to find sources of Energon and the Autobots try to stop them.  It's a pretty simple formula.  Bad guys want to find something, good guys must stop them, or else.  I didn't care about the dynamic between the characters.  I didn't care about plot subtleties.  I didn't care about anything but robots that transformed into various objects and the chaos that ensued when the two warring factions met in battle.

If I Knew how bad Knowing was, I wouldn't have knowingly watched it... (SPOILERS)

If I could forsee how horrible Knowing, starring Nicholas Cage, was, i wouldn't have watched it. However, once I started watching it, I desperately wanted to see how the movie was going to play out, even though I knew it wasn't able to redeem itself.

The movie starts out in the year 1959. A creepy, obvioulsy disturbed girl is given the task of drawing a picture for a time capsule to be opened in 50 years. As all the other children gleefully get out their crayolas, the little disturbed girl, Lucinda, starts madly writing numers. As the time capsule is burried, she vanishes, and then is found blodied due to her continued writing of the numbers... in the walls...with her fingertips.

Will Ferrell's Semi Pro Reeks Like '70s After Shave

Will Ferrell’s appreciation of sports, if for nothing else as a premise to his most recent films, has taken the actor through stints as a race car driver, figure skater and basketball player. With his frame – husyk, perhaps – it isn’t hard to imagine the comedian possessing some athletic ability. But even if he had none, Ferrell’s done a pretty good job manipulating his physicality to better fit each of these disparate roles. And while Semi Pro met with mixed reviews upon its release, pretty much everything about the film comes off better than Blades of Glory – well, apart from the costumes at least.

Blades of Glory: Awkward Actorly Moments

Trucking in Will Ferrell dominated comedies has to get tiresome sooner or later. The same problem may have coaxed Jim Carrey to eventually give a go at some more serious roles even if his subsequent success is endlessly confusing to me. But with the first decade of the 2000s taken over by Ferrell and the extension of his SNL roles into filmic territories, the quality might not be consistent even as the concepts and frames that prop up each one of these features seems at least a bit interesting. It would make sense to avoid any film starring a six foot tall, kinda chunky dude as a world champion figure skater, but considering that the cast includes Amy Poehler, Will Arnet and Jon Heder it might have a bit more to offer than some imagine. Maybe.

You May Now Mess with the Zohan

Seeing Happy Madison crop up at the beginning of any film makes me recall a time when those words donned basement television sets, obscured by smoke and an over zealous comedic zeal that, while still persisting today, might only be tempered with time. Understanding and appreciating dumb comedy might be present in one’s life and then pass without that moment being all too obvious. And watching this year old Adam Sandler vehicle, I’ve got to wonder if that time has moved beyond me or I it. One can still laugh readily at the bad accents, ridiculous costumes and easily guessed at plot – but You Don’t Mess with the Zohan could have had a bit more.

Brideshead Revisited: Txt vs. Image

One of the most adroitly insightful and bitingly witty writers of the 20th century, Evelyn Waugh, hasn’t really been afforded the same sort of appreciation in the States as in his native England. He was something of a Tom Wolfe before Tom Wolfe could write. Waugh commented on every facet of British life that he came into contact with. Some of his work touches on colonialism and its inherent problems. Some writings dissect one’s education as it follows a dingy and entrenched model. But at the root of each one of his novels – or short stories for that matter – is the relationship between one’s innards, the outside world and if it’s all been worth it. Most frequently, these examinations occur in some jaunty and purposefully amusing prose – Brideshead Revisisted is an exception.