Just a couple of short thoughts on some of the movies that I saw this weekend. Some of us did not get to go to Toronto or Venice this year (I’m not bitter or anything):
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
(d. Kerry Conran) - Oh sweet jesus, was this movie boring. I mean, I saw what they were going for, an homage to 30s adventure serials and comic books, and I can appreciate that, but man, was it flat, and I don’t just mean Gwyneth Paltrow’s acting throughout the film. Despite some beautiful visuals, interesting production design, and occasional moments (the initial sequence of the zeppelin docking at the Empire State Building, Michael Gambon silhouetted against the massive Art Deco-style window), most of which were actually comedic (when they wake up together in Shangri-la), Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
really doesn’t have much of a story, being much more of a group of strung-together would-be climaxes which do not have much impact, being that the digital danger seemed especially remote. And the acting, phew! The long-dead Laurence Olivier gave the most inspired performance of the film, perhaps because he did not have the challenge of acting exclusively against a blue screen, but it’s nice to know that Bai Ling has cornered the market on mysteriously dangerous Asian women roles. Bonus points to anyone who can identify the most glaring historical continuity error in the film (a no, the amphibious P-40 Warhawk doesn’t count). Here’s a hint, its a bit of dialogue spoken by Polly Perkins.
: I know that many of you don’t care anymore, but the original Star Wars
trilogy was released on DVD. Check out the many more
especially the screenshots, some of it is funny shit. George Lucas must be stopped; I mean, I was going to see THX-1138
until I heard that it was retouched by the metteur en scene.
(d. Charles Stone III) - After Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
comes the real fantasy! The Milwaukee Brewers in a pennant race in 1995, HA-HA-HA! (I’ve edited out my continuing guffawing for the sake of brevity). Mr. 3000
is a slight but amusing film, pretty much carried by Bernie Mac’s performance. Its funny, and has some moments, mainly in the many dugout sequences, and Paul Sorvino, who plays the Brewers manager, has one great scene. Its never really laugh out loud funny, but its a passable way to spend your time.
(d. Richard Loncraine) - Two sports-themed movies in a row. What a day. Wimbledon
may have never met a sports cliché it didn’t like, and Kirsten Dunst gives some less than convincing line readings, but it is a good film, all because of Paul Bettany, who infuses his starring role as an “aging” tennis pro playing his last tournament with such good humor and romanticism that you can not help but root for him on the court and in his relationship with the rising tennis star played by Dunst (quite literally, the sparse audience I attended the film with were clapping for him during the Wimbledon finals). You will probably see Bettany among my Droogies nominations later this winter.
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War Against Journalism
(d. Robert Greenwald) - I saw this one for free, and despite the uber-cheesey computer graphics, it was an interesting film, even though I pretty much was familiar with all the points made during the documentary (you know, I did see Fahrenheit 9/11
and The Corporation
). Still, since I isolate myself from Fox News as much as possible, the exposure to such right-wing assholes like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly (Holy Crap, what an insane shit bag) made my skin crawl. The one real problem with the film is the ending, because the film suddenly expands its focus from Fox News, lurching to encompass all of the corporate-owned media, but the analysis is rushed and somewhat facile.
(d. Larry Clark) - Probably my favorite film of the weekend, which I watched on DVD. In my opinion, a much better portrait of adolescent malaise (both moral and physical) than his earlier, and rawer, Kids
is definitely more polished, and its interesting that the DVD provides the actual mug shots of the many characters so that you can compare and contrast them with the actors. Big difference, especially Bijou Philips and Rachel Miner’s characters). Based on a true story, Bully
is a succession of scenes featuring a group of Florida teenagers fucking, getting high, and driving around doing nothing. That, and they also almost casually plot the death of the violent local alpha male played by Nick Stahl. The drug addled brain trust made it pretty easy on the cops, and the whole thing would be so ridiculous if it were not so brutal. Clark casts a wide net, seeming to indict hip-hop music, video games, and drugs, but its the various parents who are either willfully ignorant of their children’s problems or flaws who come in for the most pummeling.
Oh, by the way, I’m no longer a solely self-published critic, check out my review of Goodbye, Dragon Inn at Flak Magazine.