I Love Me Some Jessica

Filed under:Heh,Movies,The Fug — posted by Anwyn on July 24, 2008 @ 3:59 pm

This is why I’m an editor rather than a writer, because even when I suspect that what I’m thinking would resonate with a lot of other people, I never think to write it up that way, much less be funny about it. Hence Fug Girl Jessica: “Please, no one watched that.”

I love me some Scully and Mulder too, but … let’s just say I’m reserving the right to “meh” over this movie.

What Fresh Horror Is This?

Filed under:Movies,Not Cool — posted by Anwyn on June 17, 2008 @ 10:29 pm

Relax, it’s only a movie, but potentially the most bizarre one I’ve ever seen on an IMDb rap sheet.

I admit I thought it was yet more bizarre than it is–I originally assumed it was live-action. Whew.

Please, Good Directors Everywhere, drop your obsession with telling stories about human beings in the weird plastic medium of CGI. Leave it to cars and pull-string toys.

Through Grown-Up Eyes

Filed under:Movies,Reviews — posted by Anwyn on June 10, 2008 @ 10:27 pm

The trouble with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is that it’s not a farce, yet parts of it are completely unserious, and it’s not a horror movie, but parts of it are pretty much the most terrifying things I would ever deliberately watch. As a kid I used to think the scenes in Pankot Palace were merely disgusting, but nowadays the juxtaposition between the serving of the monkey brains and live eels and the discussion of the horror-inducing Thuggee cult is just ridiculous–and looks even more so when followed by stomach-turning portrayal of the rituals of the cult. Both Raiders and Last Crusade manage to bring the funny without whanging us over the head with it. But Ford is magnificent, as he was in all three, and even the miscast Kate Capshaw, admittedly with horrible lines to work with, in certain scenes gives a perfect performance as a squidgy, helpless companion while the classic Indy booby-traps roll down on our heroes. John Williams’s music is even a cut above. But then the whole thing degenerates into dark, dismal un-Indy again as they capture and drug Jones, to be wrenched back to good heroics in their escape and restoration of the children to their village.

Uneven, heavy-handed, difficult to watch–but still Indy.

P.S. Short Round was the brightest spot in the whole film. Jonathan Ke Quan is three years older than me and has had quite a varied career.

If Anybody’s Wondering

Filed under:Movies — posted by Anwyn on June 6, 2008 @ 9:12 pm

I haven’t seen Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the County of the Fiefdom of the Crystal Duck.

I just couldn’t be bothered, since bothered is what I thought I’d be while sitting through it. If it comes my way in future I won’t go out of my way to avoid it, but I’m not going out of my way to see it, either.

Potentially Fair Lady

Filed under:Movies — posted by Anwyn @ 12:46 pm

A remake of My Fair Lady starring Keira Knightley.

It has potential … what kind of potential depends on too many things to predict either a memory-corrupting bomb or brilliant addition to the Harrison/Hepburn classic. Same score, but shot on location as opposed to soundstages. Do musicals work in more realistic settings? They’re art pieces, and the sets help them create the art. The scene that shows the market square coming to life installment by installment comes to mind. The traditional moan of musical-detesters, “It’s so unrealistic, people singing all the time,” misses the point completely–as in opera, they’re expressing the dialogue in song instead of in spoken word. That sense of entering a different mode of expression could be destroyed by the attempted introduction of too much realism, even if it’s just locations–but it’s not just locations; they are explicitly trying to capture more of the emotional “highs and lows” that Eliza goes through.

That’s a pretty serious gamble for a musical to take, especially for one as beloved as My Fair Lady, but I can’t help being intensely curious to see if it will pay off.

Update: The producer of Notting Hill, Duncan Kenworthy, is on board with this. I seem to recall from that film a strong sense of London-as-movie-set, evoking that same sense of stage as My Fair Lady’s sets while allowing for intense emotion in the leads–the scene where Hugh Grant walks through the seasons of a year in the space of one song, for example. Maybe it won’t be as far from the art cocoon as would initially be thought.

Robert Knox, Actor in Forthcoming Harry Potter Movie, Stabbed to Death

Filed under:Movies,Priorities,Sad — posted by Anwyn on May 24, 2008 @ 7:57 pm

Protecting his younger brother from a knife-wielding thug.

Judging by some of the facts laid down in the story, it appears knives are becoming guns in Britain. Knives are a lot easier to use, people, and a lot harder to ban. Unintended consequences of gun bans go on and on.

I have a British friend, husband of a friend I love dearly, who during dinner at my house actually uttered the sentence “You Americans have too many freedoms. Like guns, and that.” I swallowed my rejoinders and acted the hostess. But thugs and crazies, inexplicably, it seems, continue to find a way, even in Britain. It is not our freedoms that are the problem. The Bible can be paraphrased: Outlaws and nuts you will always have with you. And that’s why we ought always to have our guns, as well.

RIP, Rob Knox.

Lucas Gone Round the Bend

Filed under:Good Grief,Movies,Not Cool — posted by Anwyn on May 16, 2008 @ 3:32 pm

Well, all right, he was round the bend when Episode I was made, but now he’s so far gone I can’t even see him any more: Shia LeBeouf as the new Indy, with Harrison Ford coming back as the elder statesman a la Connery.

“I haven’t even told Steven or Harrison this,” he said. “But I have an idea to make Shia [LeBeouf] the lead character next time and have Harrison [Ford] come back like Sean Connery did in the last movie. I can see it working out.

I guess I’m dumb even to be surprised and dumber still to be sad about this kind of thing. This stuff is aimed at the generations following on to mine, and they don’t care if things we treasured are ruined–they’ll plunk down their money and Lucas will gather it up.

But I doubt Lucas has come to terms with that in his own mind. He still seems to have no clue that these are not good ideas from a creative/story point of view. I haven’t seen the new movie yet; it doesn’t matter whether Shia LeBouf is the new Ford or spends all his time chewing scenery. It’s not about that. It’s about a creative institution: Indiana Jones. Don’t show him to us getting old, sitting around, giving advice to the new protege. We don’t care about that. He was a man at a moment in time, and we don’t want to know how Lucas thinks he ages. We don’t want him to age at all. Enough, already. Connery worked because he was a static character also: Introduce him, boom, he’s old, he’s Indy’s father, accepted, he’s a name actor with charisma coming out his ears and we all love him. Wild cheers. Exit to applause–a lesson Lucas has never learned. His lesson is more like “wring out every last drop.” I thought it was only television execs who were supposed to be so heartless to their product–execs who have no hand in writing, casting, or shooting the work. Lucas should know better. Why doesn’t he?

As for Lucas’s comment that the current Indy movie will be the “exact same experience” the other three were, all I can say is, actually, I hope so.

Some People Have No Sense of Humor

Filed under:Good Grief,Movies — posted by Anwyn on May 13, 2008 @ 9:38 am

Real Archaeologists (TM) on Indiana Jones:

Indiana Jones managed to retrieve the trinket he was after in the opening moments of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” He pretty much wrecked everything else in the ancient South American temple where the little gold idol had rested for millennia.

Though he preaches research and good science in the classroom, the world’s most famous archaeologist often is an acquisitive tomb raider in the field with a scorched-earth policy about what he leaves behind. While actual archaeologists like the guy and his movies, they wouldn’t necessarily want to work alongside him on a dig.

Indy’s bull-in-a-china-shop approach to archaeology will be on display again May 22 with “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” in which he’s sure to rain destruction down on more historic sites and priceless artifacts.

Silly me, I thought it was the giant boulder booby-trap, the Nazis, the heart-yanking, child-enslaving Kali cult, and the built-in earthquake in the Grail cave that did the damage.

Seriously, I can’t believe they got anybody to go on record for this article:

“It is rather adventurous in a way, because for the most part, you’re going to some exotic country and delving into their past. But it’s not an adventure with a whip and chasing bad guys and looking for treasure,” said Bryant Wood, an archaeologist with Associates for Biblical Research.

It’s … it’s … not?

I may cry.

H/t J.

Oh Noooooooes

Filed under:Movies,Not Cool — posted by Anwyn on May 8, 2008 @ 1:21 pm

AICN–AICNis panning Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull.

The Great Conflict looms: See it, and potentially have to pretend it doesn’t exist, like the last three Star Wars films, just so I can say I’ve seen it? Don’t see it, and keep my Indy memories intact?

Oh, Spielberg, what the hell were you thinking? Whose fault is this? Given the comments about the CGI, I’ll go out on a limb: Lucas’s. Given the comments about the lines that don’t work and the bad acting, though, I guess it’s going to have to be: both. I have a sneaking suspicion, too, that the reason it took so long to come up with a good script, despite going through a raft of good screenwriters, is that Lucas and Spielberg are no longer comfortable with any villains, even the obviously evil ones they used to use, unless those villains include the U.S. or its henchmen. That’s what I thought when I watched the first trailer, anyway, but I could be way off base.

We’ll see. Come on, Kyle Smith, tell me soon whether I can expect to have a few more of my youthful memories corrupted–at least you’re getting paid to risk it firsthand.

Disney/Pixar Getting a Little Too Cute for Their Boots

Filed under:Mothering,Movies,Need a Good Editor?,Not Cool — posted by Anwyn on May 1, 2008 @ 6:59 pm

So I’m watching Cars with The Bean, who now will occasionally deign to take a break from four or five episodes of How It’s Made per day to watch a movie, and we have the captions on, as is our custom since he likes to read them and I’ve got a long-standing caption habit dating back to his birth when I wanted the house very quiet. At the end of the first race when McQueen goes to make his appearance in the Rust-Eze tent, a comment from a random car in the crowd flashes up in caption: “That race was a pisser!”

What the hell? It’s one thing for that kind of line to be mumbled in a crowd scene so muddled as to be inaudible. Ha, ha, an adult comment in a kids’ film. Yes, we get it, you’re clever. But to put it in the captions? Do they just expect no kids to ever see those? In some houses “piss” still is a less than polite word, folks. What’s next–will I need to preview the captions on Aladdin to make sure that when the monkey, Abu, is leaping from stone to stone over the lava, he doesn’t really, in fully readable print rather than unintelligible monkey-squeak, say “Oh shit!” as it sort of sounds like he might be doing? (About 1:06 on that vid.)

Come on, people, get your act together. If you don’t want to make movies for kids, don’t. Don’t stick adult or even semi-adult language into kids’ movies, or if you do put in an inaudible nugget now and then, keep it out of the captions.

Disney’s Mary Poppins: Practically Subversive to Modern Audiences

Filed under:Movies,Reviews — posted by Anwyn on April 28, 2008 @ 9:44 am

We’ve been watching a lot of Mary Poppins around our house lately. It was a favorite of mine when I was a child, but I’ve only now become struck by how political a film it is. The over-arching narrative of aloof, self-absorbed parents seeing the light and reconnecting with their children is both obvious and common, but it has some surprising messages for adult takeaway scattered among the magic and musical entertainment.

Pro-capitalism, personal responsibility and personal achievement: Mr. Banks expresses a certain amount of anger (of the kind most humans feel and express when it is pointed out to them that they are not behaving correctly) at the upsetting of his proscribed world by Mary Poppins, then is disgraced and fired from his position at the bank, but once he has learned the lesson that his children and their development are more important than money, he is restored to the rightful place at the bank in recognition of his hard work and achievement, as well as in recognition of the lessons his bosses have themselves learned about the important things in life. He will be a more well-rounded human being and a happier one in adding to, rather than subtracting from or replacing completely, his previous life.

Anti-feminism or at least anti-childish forms of protest: Mrs. Banks leads a dual life as a featherbrained suffragette and a completely submissive wife (“Ellen, put these [protest materials] away, you know how the cause infuriates Mr. Banks”). Her main form of interaction with her children is an occasional run of interference for them with their father. The writers’ benign contempt of her political activities is seen in the way she palms off the care of her children in order to go to Downing Street “to throw things at the Prime Minister” or to dash off to lead “our gallant ladies in prison” in song. Her transformation is more symbolic than her husband’s: The pageant banners she and her fellow suffragettes wear are sacrificed as kite-tails in the closing “family quality time” scene.

There is a danger in hanging too much political message on a piece of light entertainment; the objective of a happy ending alone is almost enough to explain these details away, but the “almost” makes it intriguing. These messages appear to come from the screenwriters rather than from the original Mary Poppins books by P.L. Travers; though it’s been a while since I read them, the emphasis was more on the fantastic nature of Mary Poppins and her acquaintances, the theme more along the lines of “magical nanny makes household run smoothly and everybody happier” rather than teaching the parents to create this outcome themselves. And if I am misremembering somewhat, the mistake is slight: If the objective were to teach the family to help themselves, there would not be such a long string of sequels with titles like Mary Poppins Comes Back. Though the film, written by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi of many other Disney classics like Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Blackbeard’s Ghost, does a fine job of visually creating the magic of the central character Travers envisioned, Disney’s Mary Poppins combines a familiar set of lessons with a less common set of details that make it interesting and possibly downright anathema to feminists and anti-capitalists. To which I say, more power to ya, Mary.

Did You Guys Know There’s Going to Be a Fourth X-Men Movie?

Filed under:Movies,Not Cool — posted by Anwyn on February 15, 2008 @ 9:15 am

Why the devil can’t they leave bad enough alone?

Okay, Never Mind the Mushy Stuff

Filed under:Cool,Movies — posted by Anwyn on February 14, 2008 @ 11:14 am

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace