Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

A whimsical fairy tale about a prince (Omar Sharif) who falls in love with a peasant (Sophia Loren). A lot of fairy stories don’t get the level of whimsy right, and this being an Italian film, I wasn’t expecting very much (sorry...), but I fell right in love with it. Great score, great costumes, lavish sets, and a great love story. Sophia Loren is remarkably lovely and wonderful in this **** star movie.

Jean Jacques-Annaud, director of one of my favorite films, The Bear, cuts right to my heart again with another movie about animals. This tells the story of two tigers, separated as cubs, whose lives take parallel paths. There’s an awful lot of dialogue scenes, though, with Guy Pearce as some kind of archaeologist and Freddie Highmore as a boy who briefly owns one of the tigers. I could have used more of the tigers, magnificent animals that they are. Still, even with the manufactured story, the beautiful cinematography and the sincerity of the project carry this film to **** star territory.

I didn’t see the original version in theaters (who knew it was only going to be around for a week and a half?), and this version is all they had at the video store. I hear this version is faster-paced, which means the original must have been like watching a dog slowly die of heat, because this was slow, slow, slooooooow. And bad, just so, so bad. It’s not like there’s anything specifically wrong or historically inaccurate, really, so much as it’s just a boring, badly made snooze-fest. Let’s start with what I liked about it: great costumes (even though, as always, they were ludicrously clean), the reconstruction of Babylon was amazing, the Battle of the Hydaspes was awesome just for the elephants and for the amazing scene of Bucephalus’s death, the Vangelis score was nice without being reverent, Angelina Jolie was quite good, as was Christopher Plummer in his two scenes and Jonathan Rhys Myers in a tiny role, and I liked Val Kilmer. He was over-the-top, sure, but in that Richard Burton "Less Is More, But Let’s Do More" kind of way. He basically played Philip as Oliver Reed would have. What did I hate? Everything else. The Battle of Gaugamela is impossible to watch with any clarity. Jared Leto is a shitty actor. Rosario Dawson was beautiful but had nothing to do; Roxanne might as well have not been in the movie. Anthony Hopkins’s voice over is pointless and says nothing of interest or import to add to the film. Almost everyone in the movie is Irish for some reason. Colin Farrell is one of the shittiest actors who ever lived; he can’t handle the role. Are we supposed to like Alexander, sympathize with him, want him to succeed, be sorry when he dies? Or are we supposed to hate Alexander, lament how he overreached, be glad when he dies? The overwhelmingly fatal flaw of Alexander is that Oliver Stone and his writers can’t decide whether Alexander is to be feared, pitied, despised, admired, or revered. Stone seems to have made this movie without ever making up his mind about how he felt about his main character. Therefore, you can’t ever identify with the guy, and the movie has no emotional drive. It’s simply stuff that happens that you can never really care about. No one else in the movie ever registers as a character, so there’s no entry point into the film for the audience. Two other things. First, why do they have to make Alexander blonde? Was he supposed to be blonde? His parents, in this film, have black and auburn hair, so why is he blonde? Is it proof that he’s the son of Zeus, or just poofy excess (they could have done without the highlights–why not frosted tips next time)? Most of the Classical depictions I’ve seen of Alexander show him with dark hair, anyway. Why bother? It just makes Colin Farrell look even more ridiculous, especially since he’s so swarthy. And lastly, what’s with the gay stuff? I realize it’s a point of historical contention whether or not Alexander was gay, or bisexual, or whatever. First of all, that’s a modern distinction, not an ancient one. Second of all, if you’re going to "handle" it, at least handle it in a way that’s remotely interesting, dramatic, or realistic. Stone and his writers must have zero experience with real gay people, because the "love story" between Alexander and Hephaestion is so over-the-top it plays like a John Waters movie. Boy, that would have been much more interesting. The ridiculous dialogue doesn’t help. An overwhelming failure that rates 1/2 star for the nice scenery.

Involving character drama about the romance between sick, bed-ridden Elizabeth Barrett (the wonderful Norma Shearer) and the boisterous Robert Browning (Frederic March, one of my favorite actors). The heart of this movie is the overwhelmingly dysfunctional relationship between Barrett and her father, played with an almost scary level of emotional coldness by the great Charles Laughton. I found it hard to turn away from. Maureen O’Sullivan rounds out a truly great cast in a truly excellent character drama. **** stars.

Since the sixties, they always cast teenagers in the roles, so it was hard at first to go back and see a version from the 1930s with adults playing the leads. But, once you get used to it and just enjoy the acting, there’s some first class acting in this film. Norma Shearer as Juliet, and the now-underrated Leslie Howard as Romeo. Tybalt and Mercutio are the most interesting characters in the film, and they’re played by Basil Rathbone and John Barrymore, respectively, and just watching them bounce Shakespeare’s words off of one another is a dream. And any movie with Edna May Oliver is impossible to not like. *** stars.

Not overly historically accurate (it makes the Affair of the Diamond Necklace look like the direct cause of the French Revolution), but hang it all, it’s a lavish MGM costume drama with an amazingly good performance by Norma Shearer at the heart of it. A little long, perhaps, and a little melodramatic, but certainly not a waste of time. Shearer starts out with Marie as a teenage girl dreaming of bigger things, and eventually becomes a hardened woman, afraid of her destiny but trying to face it with courage. It’s all so very tragic, but mostly believably so. ***1/2 stars.

Jesus, that’s a lot of star cameos, isn’t it? I like this new breed of ridiculous comedy, and this is one is pretty funny; let’s just say, though, that this movie knows when to cut and run, because it’s only something like 88 minutes long. Will Ferrell is hilarious as the fashion designer/evil genius Mugatu, and Owen Wilson is actually funny for a change. Milla Jovovich is, as always, insanely hot. And I will never forget Ben Stiller’s hilarious pronunciation of "eulogy." *** stars.

Johnny Knoxville gives his best performance so far as Phil Kaufman, the road manager who stole his best friend’s body to cremate him out in the desert under the Joshua trees. That friend? The great Gram Parsons. The movie does have it’s problems; even at something like 92 minutes, it seems to run long. It feels a little padded out, and the stuff with Christina Applegate seems almost unneccesary. But I liked it a lot; it was a nice movie, with Johnny Knoxville’s performance a real delight. God, who’d have thought? *** stars.

THE ALAMO (2004)
Ouch. The filmmakers think they’ve made Gettysburg, so there’s a few self-important speeches and some very, very obvious "lessons" to learn. It’s not a terrible movie, it’s just so damn ordinary that you have to wonder why they bothered. Billy Bob Thornton comes across well, even if he plays Davy Crockett with a little too much self-importance (which is interesting, since they’ve made him kind of a coward). Dennis Quaid is as reliable as ever as Sam Houston. Jason Patric plays Jim Bowie by mumbling or whispering all of his lines–Patric, you’re still trying to emulate Brando? Get over it. The guy I really feel bad for here is Patrick Wilson, who plays the thankless role of William B. Travis with as much sympathy as he can. Wilson was so excellent in Angels in America, and has had the bad luck to go on and be good in two really bad movies–this one, and Phantom of the Opera. Here’s hoping he catches a break. This ain’t it. **1/2 stars.

You just never know what you’re going to get with Noel Coward, but it’s usually dated. This comedy, about a couple who were once married and now divorced (Norma Shearer and Robert Montgomery), and who both coincidentally honeymoon with their new spouses at the same getaway, and who then run off together, is kind of cute, but not very good. Some funny, risque pre-Code jokes, though, and Norma Shearer in a very thin nightgown. So there’s a little bit of liveliness. **1/2 stars.

Boy, this film’s getting a lot of average reviews. This is the first film in seven years to come from my absolute favorite director, Terry Gilliam, and I wasn’t disappointed in it. Sure, it does feel like a script that Gilliam has had to graft his own personality onto, but at least somebody gave him some money to work with for a change. Matt Damon and Heath Ledger are both good, and Peter Stormare’s over-the-top performance is typically Gilliam-esque. And when did Lena Heady get so fucking hot? And Monica Bellucci... oh, Jesus, Monica Bellucci... Anyway, I adored this movie, and I liked the way so many fairy tale elements were pulled into one story; Gilliam, at least, understands the intrinsic horror value of true fairy tales (though there is a bit of Gilliam whimsy, too). An interesting side note: some of the CGI is bad, but isn’t interesting how, thanks to people like George Lucas, you just expect CGI to be bad? We don’t even care much anymore, do we? It’s already been ruined. **** stars.

Yet another porn documentary from HBO, this one about cuter-than-cute Katie Morgan. Unlike Thinking XXX, this one is insightful and interesting, even though the basic conceit of these things is still this offensive notion that people are surprised to find out that people who do porn are just normal people. *** stars.

Well, it’s a nice attempt at addressing issues of masculinity, despite the limitations of being a film from the 1950s, when you couldn’t talk about sexuality. For the most part, this story about a college student who is tormented by his peers for not being manly enough is quite interesting and involving. But a lot of things detract from it, too. Vincente Minnelli was probably the wrong choice of director, because his frame is so big and wide that we don’t get many close-ups or even medium shots so that we can read emotions better. It’s in color, and the colors distract from the drama. It’s far too melodramatic to take seriously at times. It’s too bad, because the performances–especially Deborah Kerr’s–are quite good. There’s also a framing device that’s just bullshit to mollify the censors. It’s an admirable try, but it never quite makes it. **1/2 stars.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Fall Movie Preview 2005

Well, this summer was mostly a suckfest, and not in a good way. Fall, with its Oscar bait and it's self-important crap, looks set to suck a whole lot more. Here's a rundown of most, but not all, of the releases for the next four months:

2 September
The Constant Gardener: Another movie about how white people discover Africa isn’t just a sunny land of fun naked people and starving children. I don’t know, it’s getting good reviews, and it has actual good actors in it, so it might be decent.
A Sound of Thunder: This one has been hiding for years, constantly shuffled around to a time that would be both less-embarrassing and make it some tiny little bit of money. It’s directed by Peter Hyams, which should be enough of a clue as to how bad it is. This fall’s Stealth.
Transporter 2: The first one was dumb, but fun. Is it so hard to make these things fun? Jesus, Stealth, what was your problem?
Underclassman: How can I be this sick of Nick Cannon already? God, I fucking hate him, I’m so fucking sick of him. And this is the kind of shitty "white people are ascared a black people, till one done teach them to be funkified" comedy that every black person has to make. Chris Tucker getting a little popular? Shit, make Money Talks, so he can scare the rich squares. Martin Lawrence need a movie? Why, here comes Nothing to Lose, so he can teach a rich white man a lesson about being all cool and relaxed. Queen Latifah? Bringing Down the House, please; teach those scared suburban assholes the meaning of ‘hood life. I’m sure Jamie Foxx did one, but I can’t think of it off the top of my head. Jesus, when does it all stop? You know, if black people would just stop making these movies, there wouldn’t be any, and we could all move on with our lives, and black filmmakers and actors could make funny movies like Barbershop and interesting, excellent movies like Soul Food, or even crap-but-still-hilarious movies like Scary Movie, but stop making these racist comedies. White people, I still blame you. Maybe Stealth is playing at the second-run theater...

9 September
The Exorcism of Emily Rose: This drama, based on the true story of a legal battle surrounding an exorcism, sounded really interesting until I saw the previews and realized they were taking the exorcism seriously. Great, drama gone. Of course, no American movie would have the guts and moral fortitude to put religion on the stand and force someone to defend the exorcism, because American’s are boring, frightened little creatures who can’t think for themselves.
The Man: Oh, good, another comedy about how white guys and black guys are different. Ooh, sociological. It almost looks funny because Eugene Levy is unable to be unfunny, but I’m so sick of these fucking movies. They should call each one: I Am Meeting a Black Man, and He Is Meeting Me. Cue the Stevie Wonder music. Assholes.
An Unfinished Life: This is another one of those movies that’s been held hostage by Miramax while the Disney feud went on. This is also another one of those horrible, boring Lasse Halstrom-directed films that doesn’t go anywhere or have anything to say, and then the Weinsteins bully people into nominating it for Oscars. The Shipping News? The Cider House Rules? Chocolat? How much did the Weinsteins pay for Lasse Halstrom’s soul. And this one has–wait for it–Jennifer Lopez in a serious role! Ooh, thank you for playing...

16 September
Cry Wolf: Students create a serial killer as a prank and then people start dying and blah blah blah blah blah and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....
Just Like Heaven: Yet another of those ghost romance stories–she’s dead, he’s alive, it’s wacky! It looks like it could be cute; I like Mark Ruffalo, but I don’t care for Reese Witherspoon (maybe she’ll strike another blow for feminism!). That faggy, stupid, only-able-to-deliver-a-line-one-way Napoleon Dynamite kid is in it, too. Jesus, when is this One-Trick Pony going to be put into Ed Wood movies where he belongs? Ladies and gentlemen, the new Tom Green. Anyway, this movie is directed by Mark Waters, and I loved Mean Girls and Freaky Friday, but he has yet to prove he can make a good movie without Lindsay Lohan in it. So...maybe.
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: Shane Black is back, and he’s still making homoerotic action comedies! This looks like a Tony Scott movie from the late eighties, and it stars Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer long after anyone cares, but it looks like it might be a fun throwback.
The Libertine: Johnny Depp is in it, that’s all I need to know. It got great reviews in England.
Lord of War: I hate movies about rich terrorists, I fucking goddamn hate Nicolas Cage, Ethan Hawke, and Jared Leto, and this movie looks like shit. No one’s going to see it, anyway, but I mention it to lament the sad career path of Andrew Niccol. In 1997, he wrote and directed Gattaca, one of the greatest science fiction dramas ever made. Then he wrote The Truman Show. Alright, great concept, but it got a little muddled and overstated because of Peter Weir (a heavy-handed director) and Jim Carrey (a... well, he’s Jim Carrey). Carrey’s casting was fatal, if only because it was his first non-comic role, and people are stupid and couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t funny (assuming he ever really was). And then Andrew Niccol came back to directing...with Simone, another movie with a great concept that got killed in the acting. And now, it’s like he’s given up and decided to be crappy. Great... well, at least we got the one.
Proof: Gwyneth Paltrow reunites with her Shakespeare in Love director (quick, name him–if you said his name was "No one fucking cares," you’re right!) to make a movie I am guaranteed never to see. And it has Anthony Hopkins, who used to be interesting, played Hannibal Lecter again, and went right back to coasting.

23 September
Daltry Calhoun: I have no idea what it’s about, but Johnny Knoxville’s in it, and I love the guy. Still hate Jackass with a passion, but I love Johnny K.
Dirty Love: Give me your dirty love, like you might surrender to the dragon in your dreams. There are other Zappa fans out there, right? Anyway, I don’t know what this is about, but Jenny McCarthy stars in it, wrote it, and directed it, and her co-star is Carmen Electra. Now, I’m sure it’s not as good as I’m thinking right now, but I’ve always thought Jenny McCarthy could be really funny and interesting if she had a chance. This is her chance. Will she screw it up? Either way, I’m sure I’ll have masturbation material for years. Cook me up some dragon lotion for your dirty love.
Flightplan: Jodie Foster’s on a plane, her child disappears, people tell her the child never existed, and viola: another version of Panic Room. I don’t know...maybe. The trailer didn’t exactly boost my thrusters with excitement. But, Panic Room’s did, and I ended up not liking Panic Room. I don’t know what that proves, but man, wasn’t Panic Room surprisingly dull?
A History of Violence: I have a history of not liking movies directed by David Cronenberg, but this odd revenge drama stars Viggo Mortensen, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and the great William Hurt. With a cast that good, why did Cronenberg have to settle for Maria Bello in the female lead?
Oliver Twist: Roman Polanski’s latest, which is reason enough to give yet-another-version of the Dickens novel a try.
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: Granted, the plot sounds awful–a woman in the fifties deals with an alcoholic husband while winning jingle contests in the 1950s–but it’s written and directed by Jane Anderson, who made a wonderful movie for HBO a while back called Normal. That was a surprisingly sensitive drama about a man who had a sex change operation, and is a very touching movie. So, based on that, I have some hope for this one.
Roll Bounce: Oh, good, more Nick Cannon.
Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride: Aw, Tim Burton made a movie about Helena Bonham Carter. I’m a little sick of the preview, and I’m a little sick of hearing about how Tim Burton "saved" stop-motion animation (anyone ever heard of Ray Harryhausen, assholes?), but I know I’ll see it and probably love it.

30 September
Capote: I’m not sure I care enough about Truman Capote to endure watching Philip Seymour Hoffman play him, but I’ll wait to see how much the critics cum on it.
The Greatest Game Ever Played: Oh, yeah? Well, we’ll see about that! From Walt Disney Pictures, who brought you Remember the Titans (football), The Rookie (baseball), and Miracle (ice hockey), comes the newest deification of a sport through the ascension of an ordinary guy who plays like a god and thus shows us how important dreams and such are. This one’s about golf. Anyone want to place bets for next year? I want to lean towards horse racing, but I’m pulling more towards skiing.
Into the Blue: Jessica Alba is a fucking idiot. Okay, I’m sorry, but if you’re not willing to take off your clothes to play a role, you’re not an actor. It’s one of many criteria in my head. You are not an actor, because you’re obviously not committed. She wouldn’t take her clothes off to play Nancy Callahan in Sin City (despite the fact that the character is so nude in the comic book that the image has become one of Sin City’s chief icons), and she had to go and make a big deal about how she can be sexy without being nude. The jury’s out on whether or not she can be, but whatever. But here she comes in Into the Blue. Have you seen the trailer? She plays a diver. And the whole movie seems to be about putting her in a bikini and getting her butt up in the camera as often as possible. So, she’ll exploit herself, but she won’t get naked? Cuz that’s not hypocritical at all...
MirrorMask: Finally, this film–directed by Dave McKean, written by Neil Gaiman, produced by the Jim Henson Company–is getting a release. An ultra-limited release, to be sure (in all of Illinois it’s only playing at the Landmark Theater in Chicago), but that just means we’re closer to seeing it on DVD. I’ve been hearing about this movie for a couple of years now, so I’m glad it’s finally coming out.
Serenity: One of the worst television series I’ve ever seen is Firefly, and the fans are the worst. Look, I know you think it’s too cool and awesome to be another SF show, but you’re still just Trekkies. Have fun at your shitty movie, losers.

7 October
Good Night, and Good Luck: This drama about Edward R. Murrow and the Red Scare is George Clooney’s second picture as director, and I absolutely loved Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.
In Her Shoes: Have you seen the previews for this fucking thing? Ugh. I’m sick of these fucking Chick Lit movies–ladies, life is not all about whether you feel beautiful and whether you find a date for the wedding and whether people like you. And, God, why do you let men (like Curtis Hanson, who directed) tell your stories, by extension telling you who you are? And why, why are we still letting fucking Cameron Diaz star in movies?
Two for the Money: This gambling drama, about a guy who is incredibly good at picking winners in football games, looks like shit. Matthew McConaughey is going to, I guess, spend the rest of his career looking bored, and Al Pacino as the shady guy who tempts him? I’ve seen it so many times I could recite it in my sleep. Pass.
Waiting: Like Office Space, only incredibly bad.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: I’ve been waiting very patiently for this one; I love W&G, and I hope this movie is as good as the shorts. Look for some dumbass to write an article about how "stop-motion is back!" and how this and Corpse Bride are fighting some kind of battle at the box office. It’ll be in Entertainment Weekly. Might make the cover, if Cameron Diaz doesn’t.

14 October
Domino: I just hate Keira Knightley so goddamn much. And I hate Tony Scott, too; he directs like a schizophrenic monkey having an epileptic fit. If he holds his dick like he holds his camera, hitting the toilet is besides the point. Domino Harvey, the real life model-turned-bounty-hunter whom this film purports to be the story of, died just a few weeks ago, but not before denouncing this movie; she was a lesbian, something the film decides to not include. I’ll just read her autobiography, thanks. It doesn’t have Keira Knightley in it.
Elizabethtown: Cameron Crowe’s newest ode to misogyny. I don’t really know or care what it’s about, but it stars Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst, so it should be boring as hell. Crowe’s movies are always about misogyny in some way, but he’s cute about it, so women find him charming. The little scamp. I’m bored just talking about it.
The Fog: A remake of John Carpenter’s worst film, starring TV actors. I’ve already forgotten it.
North Country: This is the second film from Niki Caro, who directed the excellent Whale Rider, and it’s about the Jenson v. Eveleth Mines case from 1984, which was a landmark in being able to sue for sexual harassment. Charlize Theron stars, so it’s tough to say it’ll be any good, but I am very interested.

21 October
Doom: Who cares? It'll be as bad as Alien vs. Predator.
Dreamer: Boy, it sure sounds like a Disney movie. Dakota Fanning rescues an injured horse and with the help of her father, Kurt Russell, they turn it into a racehorse and win a high-stakes race and a role in a remake of The Black Stallion. Okay, maybe I made up the last part to make a sarcastic point about how I’ve seen this movie done a million times. Why do people in movies think that the most honorable thing you can do with a horse is train it to run a circle faster than anyone else?
Shopgirl: Steve Martin wrote it, based on a novella he wrote that I have yet to read. Sorry. Well, I like Steve Martin, at any rate, but this film has yet to raise my interest.

28 October
The Legend of Zorro: I loved The Mask of Zorro, and I love Antonio Banderas, but I have to wonder if Catherine Zeta-Jones is going to be any good this time around. She’s so damn full of herself now. Either way, I’m actually pretty excited about this one.
Saw II: I didn’t see the first one, but I understand people like it.
The Weather Man: Great; they didn’t actually release it last spring, so I can be forced to hate this trailer all over again. I hate Nicolas Cage, I hate director Gore Verbinski. I’m just so full of hatred; why does Hollywood keep forcing the cycle? Oh, I also hate movies about how men just can’t stop whining and deal with society. Right, right, "Mad as hell" and all that. It’s been done.

4 November
Chicken Little: The animation community is going to be placing this film under a lot of scrutiny; Disney abandoned traditional animation, but did they abandon the bad storytelling that actually killed Brother Bear and Home on the Range? I have some hope for it, but at this point, with Disney’s credibility so squandered, who can tell?
The Family Stone: Sarah Jessica Parker plays a socially awkward, tightly-wound businesswoman (always a favorite archetype, he said with sarcasm and barely veiled annoyance) who goes to visit her boyfriend’s family of New England snobby pseudointellectual freaks for the first time. Endless joy, the mother’s played by Diane Keaton! Halfway through fall, and I already want to be hooked up to a machine and go into a coma.
Jarhead: Sam Mendes directs crap, Jake Gyllenhaal sucks. ‘Nuff said.
The Matador: Why doesn’t Pierce Brosnan just give up?

11 November
Bee Season: Richard Gere bores the crap out of me with Jewish mysticism.
Get Rich or Die Tryin’: So, this is the new rapper thing? They all have to play themselves in movies about themselves? I’ll pass, thanks.
The New World: Well, after Alexander, I’m not really too keen to see Colin Farrell in another historical drama. And Terence Malick is such a bad, overrated director, anyway. This could be interesting, but I doubt it’ll be any more interesting than the bad 1995 movie about Pocahontas with Miles O’ Keefe in it. Malick’ll ruin it with a bad voice over, too.
Rent: You know, I loved La Boheme, but you know what would make it even better? Contemporary music, AIDS, and poor gay people in the artistic community who take themselves with the most extreme seriousness. I love Rosario Dawson (and Taye Diggs, for that matter), and I’ve never actually heard or seen Rent. Ten years, and I can’t come up with a reason to. I don’t know, can anyone convince me otherwise?
Zathura: From the writer of Jumanji and the director of Elf comes...Jumanji. Only in space. Could be cute. Maybe.

18 November
Breakfast on Pluto: Only two of Neil Jordan’s films have been remotely memorable (arguably three or four, but for the wrong reasons), so I won’t take the trouble to care.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: I couldn’t be more excited about this one, naturally.
Pride & Prejudice: Oh, great, yet another fucking version of Jane Austen! I thought the 1995 Colin Firth-starring version of Pride & Prejudice was just fine. So was Bridget Jones’s Diary. I hear Bride & Prejudice is quite good. I don’t need to see any more versions of this novel of questionable quality, especially if it stars Keira fucking Knightley!
Walk the Line: I don’t like any of James Mangold’s movies (Heavy, Cop Land, Girl Interrupted, Kate & Leopold), but he does know how to direct actors. His movies always feel overwritten and then heavily edited. But I’ve seen the trailer, and Joaquin Phoenix looks and sounds so much like Johnny Cash, and I just love Johnny Cash (how can you not love Johnny Cash?!), so I’ll be there for this one.
Wolf Creek: So, there’s some kids, and guy hunts them down, and I get bored and leave early. I'VE ALREADY SEEN IT!

23 November
Ice Harvest: I’m honestly on the fence about this one. A guy (John Cusack, yuck) embezzles some money from the Mob on Christmas Eve, then he and his partner (Billy Bob Thornton, meh) try to skip town with his stripper girlfriend (Connie Nielsen, yawn) when an ice storm hems them in. And it’s directed by Harold Ramis, who is apparently trying to make his Coen Brothers movie. Could be weird in a good way, or weird in a bad way.
Just Friends: Hee, they’re perfect for each other but they just don’t know it and they can’t figure it out! HILARIOUS! OR AM I JUST BEING ANNOYINGLY SARCASTIC? From the useless director of Cruel Intentions (and, I believe, Cruel Intentions 2) and The Sweetest Thing.
Syriana: Ooh, George Clooney has a beard, and the media just can’t get over it. Ooh, and he had to gain an enormous 35 pounds for the role! Jesus, I’m bored. And every movie Stephen Gaghan’s directed has blown.
Yours, Mine & Ours: Why, God, why remake this movie? Rene Russo is no Lucille Ball, and the Cheaper by the Dozen remake was bad enough.

2 December
Aeon Flux: I just saw a trailer for this yesterday, and it looks like crap. It’s not Aeon Flux, so much as Aeon Flux as a really shitty action movie. I always hated the cartoon–when it went to series, it turned out that what was an excellent short series on Liquid Television couldn’t sustain itself past seven or so minutes. Nice work, Charlize–prove you deserved that Oscar.
The Kid & I: Tom Arnold wrote this movie about a man and his cerebral palsy-afflicted son. Penelope Spheeris directs. I don’t know if I care. Sounds a little self-important.
Goose!: A boy tries to protect his talking goose from Chevy Chase. No, really. Yeah, I know. Hey, I’m ashamed for even writing it.

9 December
Brokeback Mountain: Ang Lee returns to sensitive drama with the story of two gay cowboys (Heath Ledger and, no surprise, Jake Gyllenhaal) and their long-suffering wives (Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway). I fucking love Anne Hathaway, and I’ll see her in anything. Wonder if those gay cowboys eat pudding...
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: This could be the fantasy epic I’ve been waiting to see my whole life, which is funny, because I don’t care for C.S. Lewis’s thinly-veiled Jesus novels (yeah, Aslan is God, I get it). And The Lord of the Rings were some of the greatest movies ever made. But this one has so many creatures in it, it looks like what’s been going on in my mind since I was a child. Can’t wait.
Memoirs of a Geisha: I love Zhang Ziyi, so I can’t wait to see her in this one.

16 December
All the King’s Men: I hate Sean Penn, so I don’t care.
Big Momma’s House 2: Oh, get fucked.
King Kong: Well, come on. Peter Jackson. A giant gorilla. A remake of one of the greatest movies ever made. This. Is. Going. To. Fucking. Rock.

21 December
Fun with Dick & Jane: The original version starred Jane Fonda, and she was having anything but fun with dick. Boring the first time, probably boring this time. Did you know Jim Carrey’s a perfectionist. And this is the best he can do?
Munich: Steven Spielberg + Jews = massive pretension. The first Eric Bana movie I won’t go see, and I saw Troy. And my ass still hurts, thank you for asking.
The Producers: I love the 1968 movie, but I don’t care about the Broadway version. I don’t know, maybe I’ll see it (Will Ferrell plays the Nazi playwright), but I won’t exactly rush out the door.
The Ringer: Johnny Knoxville plays a guy who pretends to be disabled so he can bet on and win the Special Olympics. I liked it when they did it on South Park three years ago... but I like Johnny Knoxville, so I hope it’s good.

25 December
Casanova: More fucking Lasse Halstrom! His movies are boring and last forever!
Match Point: I do love Woody Allen, and I hear this is his best film in years. Of course, someone says that about all of his films, but this one has Scarlett Johansson, so I’m there.
Rumor Has It: Rob Reiner directs, Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Costner star, SamuraiFrog stays at home.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Applied McScience

So there's this woman, Merab Morgan, who is claiming that she lost 37 pounds in 90 days at McDonald's. I haven't decided whether or not I like this woman or what she's done. Apparently she wanted to prove Morgan Spurlock and his Super Size Me documentary wrong, which is a noble cause. I fucking hate Spurlock and his movie, which is not a documentary so much as a lecture from a skinny lightweight who can't even handle a little McDonald's meal without puking. It's a character piece, an actor's reel for Spurlock--"Look how sanctimonius I am, gimme my own TV show!" I don't know who this guy is, but I don't need him wagging his finger in my face and telling me I eat too much food.

Well, this Merab Morgan woman didn't like him either, and apparently felt that he was being unfair in blaming McDonald's for making people fat. And I agree with that, too. That fucking idiot who tried to sue them for making him fat--dude, did the burgers come to life and shove themselves in your mouth at night while you slept? No? Then you don't get to sue. And to be fair, Morgan Spurlock only gained 30 pounds, which is less than a pregnant woman. Fucking whiny, skinny, lightweight piece of shit excuse for a human being. Apparently a lot of people don't like Spurlock, either--another woman, Soso Whaley, has made a documentary called Me and Mickey D, in which she chronicles losing 36 or so pounds while eating McDonald's. I kind of which she'd called the film Fuck You and You FX Series, Morgan, or indeed No Shit, Spurlock. I mean, Jesus--did anyone really need a movie to prove to them that eating nothing but McDonald's will make you fat?

The obvious difference, of course, is that Whaley and Merab Morgan were picking and choosing, sticking in the salad category, eating lighter desserts, and not just chowing on the same meal every day as Spurlock did. Spurlock likes to stack the deck, ordering the way he does so he can smugly blame McDonald's for serving way too much food rather than taking any responsibility for himself. You don't have to finish all the food, do you?

I'm sure that McDonald's is out secretly pushing Morgan's story just to have some good publicity for once. And what they don't mention often enough is that Morgan is, in fact, a construction worker, which certainly helped her lose some weight (trust me, I was a lot less fat when I moved boxes on my feet all day instead of just sitting around and studying occasionally). But Morgan is ultimately right when she says of her weight loss that "the truth of the matter is that beauty is power, and if you're fat, or your overweight, then people don't really take you seriously."

Which explains why I'm such a prick right out of the gate. I have to cram my intellectual power down everyone's throat.

Now, if only McDonald's could just solve the "their food tastes like garbage" problem...