don't get me wrong - as behind the SOaP silliness as i am, i have moments in the night where i wake up, sweaty, fevored, and screaming, "WHAT IF IT'S SO BAD IT MAKES ME WANT TO KILL MYSELF?!?! THEN WHAT?! WILL MY URBAN TRIBE CAST ME OUT? CAN I EVEN BLOG EVER AGAIN!!?"
but the first two paragraphs of this review have calmed me. (don't read beyond that as there are apparenly spoilers)
What the hell, I said. Now or never, I said. If I'm going to see those motherfucking snakes on that motherfucking plane, it's going to be at the very first motherfucking showing, I said. So I drove to the local five-plex, plunked down my $9.25 and stayed up past my bedtime for a raucous screening of "Snakes on a Plane."
Short version: I had feared that, after all the hype, the movie itself would be underwhelming, neither good nor bad enough to merit all the attention. But it delivered exactly what the greatest title of all time promised: lots of snakes, lots of screaming, lots of silliness, and Sam Jackson again demonstrating that he can take anything seriously, so long as there's a paycheck involved. Not a great movie -- not even really a good one -- but no worse than, say, "Tremors," and with a more elegant concept. I definitely got my $9.25 worth. Of course, it helped that the small theater was packed with kids from the local high school who went nuts for everything, up to and including some of the trailers (whoever got Jackson's "Black Snake Moan" trailer attached to this movie deserves several raises).
no worse than tremors, and more elegant?!?! if you know anything, you know that tremors was one of the best bad movies ever (it's basically snakes, underground). so my hopes have again been raised. see you tonight, at RFD, at 8 or 8:30ish.
even though the snakes on a backlash has (deservedly) begun, there ain't no stopping this snakes on a plane...train. um. the dceiver, the governess, and i (putting myself amongst those two names almost makes me wish i had a cool internet alias) will be at R.F.D. for some beers and some fun times starting around 8:00 or 8:30. the governess will be dressed as a flight attendant.* should be a good crowd - by my count we have about 15 people, if not more, willing to participate in this ridiculous evening. awesome!
*this may or may not be a lie, but how great would it be?
but y'all have got to go see little miss sunshine. it's only playing in one theater in atlanta, and when we found out the 7:15 showing was sold out, we, along with THRONGS of other people, got tickets for the 7:45. and i never in my life would have thought you could feel so much palpable murderous stress amongst a movie-going crowd on a saturday night. if people didn't make it into that second showing, somebody was gonna DIE.
fortunately, the movie made everybody happy and shiny and we all clapped at the end. it was lovely.
zunta, PIAB and the dceiver are joining forces to bring you the vaguest and most poorly-planned, yet totally awesome and fabulous event of at least the next eight days or so: the snakes on a plane viewing thingamabob!
tommy, myself, the governess, and his holy dceiverness have all procured tickets for the 10:10 pm viewing on friday, the 18th, at the regal gallery place theater in chinatown, and there is planned drinking in the area beforehand. we're not exactly sure where, though both hooters and coyote ugly have been suggested - seriously - as they seem to fit in best with the general theme of the evening, which is terrible ridiculousness and, possibly, shame. updates to come!
anyway, if you're interested (and you should be!) you can buy your tickets here.
drop us an email or comment if you think you might come, so we can get a general sense of exactly how many people are willing to subject themselves to such an evening. for sociological purposes.
helena bonham carter was cast to play bellatrix lestrange in the next harry potter, which is a better piece of casting that i'm satisfied with much more than the other two i've heard recently - heath ledger as the joker in batman (seriously, i'm afraid that's going to be terrible) and nicole kidman as mrs. coulter in his dark materials. which were unsatisfying to me. and all hollywood casting agents should answer to catherine.
this was your dorky blog post of the night. previous harry potter zunta threads here and here.
I gotta say, every time I see an ad for this new World Trade Center movie I get really creeped out. Maybe Nick Cage is donating his fee to charity. I really hope so. Because if not, it kind of seems like a case of a movie star using a tragedy (and one of his terrible accents) to pad his bank account and ego.
I understand that people want to make and watch movies about 9-11. I don't count myself among them, but I can comprehend the impulse. But I don't think this is a situation where casting a movie star is appropriate. When things start to matter, movie stars can throw telethons or maybe record some narration. But they need to stay the fuck out of our shared pathos. There's a difference between pretend heroes and real ones, and I think it's extremely distasteful to blur the lines between them.
I know that Cage, having won occasional acclaim for his acting, probably fancies himself a Serious Actor well-suited to this Serious Role. I'm sure he hung out with some firefighters, visited Ground Zero — maybe buried himself under a little rubble. I'm sure he'll talk a lot about "respect" on the junket.
But c'mon — he's still part of America's modern celebristocracy. Consequently, watching him pretend to be a 9-11 firefighter is like watching Kim Jong Il pretend to be a military hero. I'm sure it sucks to be pigeonholed. But when you decide to play Cameron Poe some things come along with it besides just a paycheck and a nagging sense of shame.
ALSO: Check out one prong of their media strategy. What a bunch of scumbags.
It's a little late by blogospheric standards, and nearly everyone who might read this has already heard my opinion on the matter. But I've gotta say: Superman Returns was pretty bad. Given my miserably lowbrow taste in movies and my superhero-related predispositions (I'm in favor of them), I should've been an easy mark for the film. I really liked Bryan Singer's take on the X-Men franchise, too. But this movie was badly conceived and badly executed. A horrendously long denoument (after a miserably crappy climax) didn't help matters, either. Spoilers follow.
Now, I'm just a simple country blogger. Your modern marketing concepts confuse and astound me! But it seems, even to my old-fashioned and no doubt primitive sensibilities, that if you're trying to appeal to bloggers and blog readers, you should conduct your marketing campaign in a manner other than by hiring scumbag spammers to pollute our sites, insult our intelligence and generally infuriate us. Peddling d1sc0unt v1agr4 is one thing, but for a movie, where you're trying to build "buzz" and "word of mouth" about your project, you'd think it would be important for that buzz to be about something other than what a bunch of assholes you are. Just a thought.
Oh, and I hope your pathetic ought-to-be-direct-to-video abomination is out of theaters before the first showing is over. Go to hell.
Last night I went with Yglesias and most of the folks from work to go see Al Gore's new movie, An Inconvenient Truth. And it was good! The built-in advantage to a movie like this is that , since it consists of Al Gore showing charts for two hours, everyone automatically assumes it has to be "better than you'd think". And, somewhat paradoxically, it is.
At times it's touching; near the end it's inspiring. Above all it's convincing and well-executed. Still, I'm kind of dreading the popular reaction to it. I'd say it's a toss-up at this point — a lot of folks really want to dislike Al Gore, yet they're running out of ways to plausibly say he was wrong about, well, pretty much anything. I think any potential backlash would have to run more on wingnut vitriol than on the doubt-inducing pseudoscience that's been the global warming debate's chief currency up to this point.
We've seen the basic conservative playbook for this applied to Michael Moore. And while I'm sure this movie is more carefully constructed and vetted, the unfair criticisms of Moore worked just as well, if not better, than the substantive ones — and they could work here, too. Potential Gore-belittling strategies: freeze frames of what could be a bald spot; the segment with Gore as leader of the Vice Presidential Action Rangers, in which he gets a phone call and blows this whole oil-company-conspiracy thing wide open; or the fact that he kind of looks like he's wearing somebody else's skin, like that alien cockroach in Men In Black. And of course there are the deadly, deadly snails.
Worst of all would be if somebody found a problem with one of his slides. Climate science is complex, and I have no doubt that some caveats were elided for simplicity's sake (or maybe that's just Exxon's pernicious influence talking). I'm pretty optimistic on this score, though. He's a smart dude, right? Right.
Overall: four carbon-neutral switchgrass farms out of five. Definitely the best-produced educational video that high school science classes will see during the '06/'07 school year.
elizabethtown really IS as bad as everyone said it was!
the only redeeming part is the use of ryan adams' "come pick me up," perhaps maybe one of my favoritest songs ever. here's a live mp3, to help make your evening prettier. cause mine sure has been ruined by this crapola film.
Everybody is jumping on the Da Vinci Code movie bandwagon — Charles said he could scroll through six pages of Tivo listings tonight before he got a screen without a Dan Brown-related documentary on it. It's disgusting. But also not something I'm above.
So, two things. First, How Things Work has got a tie-in that's worth reading. Apparently Dan Brown was too busy collecting highly suspect Biblical conspiracy theories to actually do any research for the parts of the book set in the present day.
Second, here's my Da Vinci Code review/parody from way back in 2004. Everyone tells me my writing has been a big disappointment since then, so I may as well squeeze one last gasp of relevance out of it.
The Da Vinci Code
Big thumbs down. The only interesting aspect of this book is the conspiracy-theory theology, for which the author can really only claim credit as an editor. I can't say whether any of it is plausible or not — I'll leave that to biblical scholars and that crazy guy at the farmer's market from whom Catherine and I tried to buy goat cheese one time, who wouldn't shut up about Mary Magdalene, the Holy Grail, and the Divine Right of Kings. His cheese was good, but not crazy good.
What I can tell you, though, is that Brown gets a bunch of other stuff wrong, which doesn't bode well for the viability of the biblical mumbo-jumbo. For instance: calling "left brain" thought "irrational"?! Okay Dan, the left/right brain thing is a horrible oversimplification, but if you're going to use it then at least realize that the left hemisphere is credited with language and LOGIC. Also, public key encryption is not the same thing as putting a secret message in a locked container. Sorry. Not even close. In fact, that's not even encryption, dumbass! I can't bear to talk about his magical solar powered hard disk voice recorders.
I'm too upset to continue. Judge for yourself. I've helpfully supplied a lengthy excerpt. Implied spoilers ahead.
"Robert!" Sophie gasped. "I've found something!"
Robert Langdon strode across the old church floor. Resplendent in his tweed jacket, Langdon looked every bit the respected Ivy League academic that his plodding intellect and limited vocabulary belied. With his smolderingly generic white guy good looks, those who wrote about him were frequently prompted to shamelessly compare him to Harrison Ford, although if Mr. Ford's schedule precluded his participation in such a comparison, Michael Douglas would probably also be okay.
"What is it, Sophie?"
"My... My grandfather... He's left us another clue!"
He certainly had. There, on the floor below him, were ten carved letters, which no one through the centuries, except perhaps a few hack thriller writers, had ever noticed.
CKUF HET EPOP
"What does it mean?" breathed Sophie, breathlessly. Sophie's demeanor was unusually flustered. Well, probably unusually. Actually, it wasn't entirely clear what her demeanor was usually like. She was definitely a woman, though, and attractive. Oh yeah! Also she was a cryptologist. It has to do with codes or something.
"Isn't it obvious?" smirked Langdon. His training was coming in handy now. Yes, he thought, symbology is a real academic discipline.
"It's perfect, Sophie. Your grandfather was a genius. He's perfectly summarized the beliefs of the secret society to which he belonged. All in this simple statement.
"You see," he continued, "CKUF seems to be an archaicized variant of cuff — by the way, English is conveniently the de facto language for ancient materials relating to the Grail for some reason. Most likely your grandfather included double velar stop phonemes knowing that Hebrew possessed no C equivalent, and Latin no K. Genius!
"HET is more puzzling — until one considers that the Church has persecuted all ideas associated with the concept of left, or Sinister, due to its association with the sacred feminine! Your grandfather omitted the S as a poignant inside joke — echoing and decrying the Church's shameful legacy! What genius!
"HET then becomes HEST — as in Hester Prynn, of The Scarlet Letter. CUFF HESTER. What better symbol of the Priory of Scion's struggle against religious misogyny than this bold, bumper-sticker-ready summation of the ages-old persecution of the assertion of female sexuality? It's genius!"
"And EPOP?" asked Sophie.
"Most likely a nonsense word, designed to throw off Grail seekers. Your grandfather was obsessed with duality, Sophie, and unlikely to be interested in phrases containing more than two words. He was a genius, Sophie."
"Duality? I don't understand."
With that, Robert embarked on another lengthy discourse into the meaning of ancient symbols, frequently accidentally slipping out of dialogue and into tracts of wild theorizing from an unaccounted-for narrator. None of the words were too big, though, so nobody noticed.
"And that's why," Robert concluded, "Any story involving men and women, opposing forces, or objects that are more round than they are pointy, is a secret code for how Jesus hit that Magdalene shit."
His words echoed through the impressive space of Westminster Abbey, its grand expanses dwarfing the scene below, although if using a location shoot to capture the scene was too expensive it could probably be simulated pretty well with bluescreens.
"I see," said Sophie, staring into Robert's eyes. She was conflicted: in the face of the raw sexual potency of a Harvard academic any woman would have a hard time keeping her lust in check. Yet Sophie sensed that showing her attraction now might hurt her chances with Robert later. Men — and in particular men who were screenwriters — didn't seem to like it when there was any romantic groundwork laid prior to women throwing themselves at bookish hero types upon the conclusion of their adventures. Still, those symbologist eyes...
"Tally Ho!" Their reverie was broken. Sir Leigh Teabing made his way across the church toward them. "As you may recall, I'm dreadfully eccentric and British," Teabing continued, his voice echoing off the walls as if it had been recorded on a soundstage and the reverb added later.
"Leigh," growled Langdon, upset at being interrupted. "Now is not the time. Need I remind you that we're being hunted by an unknown evil mastermind who seems to know our every move? And that in the course of our adventure we have met only three or four characters, half of whom we already know to be bad guys?"
"Righto!" replied Teabing, hurrying off nervously. "Cheers!"
Suddenly, Sophie gasped. "Holy fucking shit, Robert!" she exclaimed. "I think this might be an anagram!"
Just got back from Mission Impossible 3. I know, I know, don't support the Scientologists, etc. I'm sorry. I'm a sucker for high-tech heist movies. Also, strictly following that dictum would rule out large parts of Hollywood.
The verdict on the movie: indisputably loud. And it sort of made sense. It's not very satisfying, but not disappointing either. A solid entry in a personality-free whizbang franchise.
Anyway, I probably wouldn't mention it at all except at one point the inevitable CIA mole explains that he's behaving the way he is — allowing a dangerous arms dealer to roam free and complete a sale to terrorists — in order to provide justification for a major military campaign in the middle east, which will eliminate the "real enemy" and allow democracy to flourish. It's ripe for being turned into strained analyses of the new anti-neocon zeitgeist, or a segue into a review of the recent Zarqawi revelations. Surely somebody can find the courage to take the afternoon off work, go to the movies, and write up What It All Means for America.
Ezra's excited about the trailer for Al Gore's new film, An Inconvenient Truth. I can understand his enthusiasm. I'd love to see Gore enter the '08 field, too (who else can save us from a Democrat-sapping Hillary run?), and we should certainly all be paying more attention to global warming. But this hyperbolic trailer makes me wince. "Did the planet betray us... OR DID WE BETRAY THE PLANET!?!?!" Ugh.
Also: "By far, the most terrifying film you will ever see." I donno, trailer guy. Receding glaciers are bad and all, but that one dude used an ice hook. And that leather-winged thing that drove the truck to kill the kid from Ed? He was pretty bad, too.
Sadly, I think you have to decide up front whether you're making an important environmental documentary, a launching pad for a candidacy, or an alarmist blockbuster (pitch: "it's like Deep Impact meets lecture series! The Day After Tomorrow, but even more boring!"). Declaring that it received three standing ovations at Sundance doesn't really help, either — I'm sure the film has also received glowing reviews from PETA and the in-house critic for the American Communist Party, but that may not translate into a big opening weekend.
And really, if you can't sell this to me, you aren't going to be able to sell it to anybody. Hell, I even buy the invented-the-internet bit — and as you might guess, I'm kind of protective about my internet. Recut the trailer, guys. I'm sure you've made a perfectly nice documentary (the footage looks beautiful). But if you think kids are going to start bring Inconvenient Truth lunchboxes to school, you've got another thing coming.
I haven't seen Crash, so I'm speaking out of ignorance here... But I know there are some Crash-haters among our readership (and authorship). You lot and everyone else might enjoy this McSweeney's article.
besides my head TOTALLY EXPLODING after crash won for best picture (see sarah b for my basic reaction), i basically wanted to throw up during the rest of the oscars because of the repeated, condescending references to how you can't, like, enjoy a movie at all unless you are watching it in a glorious big-screen theater and also buying 10s of bags of popcorns and 12 sodas. it's not MAGICAL that way, don't you see?
did that make anyone else want to punch in the tv screen? gah. am never going to the theater again. not that i can afford it, anyways.
however, in other news, i found jon stewart delightful. three cheers for him making the oscars funny.
i see the crash hatred, which i expressed not so eloquently a while back, is thankfully spreading due to the fact that there are loud rumblings that it could win the best picture oscar this year. via amber, a couple excellent beat downs of the vapid film can be found here and here. quotes:
As your headline suggests, I wrote in the forum that Crash was among my least favorite movies of 2005 and called it "one of those self-congratulatory liberal jerk-off movies that roll around every once in a while to remind us of how white people suffer too, how nobody is without his prejudices, and how, when the going gets tough, even the white-supremacist cop who gets his kicks from sexually harassing innocent black motorists is capable of rising to the occasion."
I realize the academy has been making lot of wafer-bland Best Picture choices since the 90s ("American Beauty," "Shakespeare in Love," "A Beautiful Mind," "Chicago"), honoring films that are slick and entertaining and perfunctorily "smart" but not the least bit resonant, films that don't hold a candle to at least 10 or 15 English language films from that same year that didn't win....Yes, I admit, the movie's more primally exciting than, say, "American Beauty" or "A Beautiful Mind" or "The English Patient," and more superficially "edgy." But it's also dumber and meaner and uglier, an Importance Machine that rolls over you like a tank. And it's lazy and simplistically cynical about its central subject, race, in that it promulgates a false idea of how Americans express racial attitudes in public. Cowritten by Haggis and Robert Moresco, "Crash" directly contradicts what we know about how race plays out in the U.S. today, not just in Los Angeles, but all over. In the name of Big Drama, it ignores the chilling effect of political correctness, which compels everyone who's not a fringe-dwelling hatemonger or a person pushed to the edge of his or her rope to express racist thoughts in code.
ooh, and this is a good one as well. i just can't stop:
Haggis doesn't care about such distinctions because deep down he doesn't actually want to say something useful about the modern state of race relations. He just wants to be able to play with racially charged material and be acclaimed for his bravery.
praise be! thank the cinephile god for dave white, who not only writes a hysterical listing of the top 10 best worst movies of 2005, but also includes "crash" amongst them. i thought i had entered a parallel universe after finally renting this movie at the beginning of december and not coming out it with anything more than the very nuanced concept that "racism is bad" and "hollywood can fix this!" but it was so difficult to simultaneously know that EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE WORLD that i remotely respect thought it was a layered, brilliant film. lord. white, does not so much:
"Crash" - Kids, racism is really really really bad and wrong. Look, just watch this heavy, important movie about how everyone who lives in Los Angeles -all 12 of them - is super racist and awful. There. Did you watch it and pay very close attention? Good. Do you now understand the message? Because if you don't then you're going to have to watch it again. With Oprah. She thinks it's as good as "Citizen Kane." She said so on her show.
Why you should see it anyway: Because it's really funny when Hollywood decides to tackle a serious moral issue and throw star-powered weight behind something that everyone but Neo-Nazis agrees on already. To ice the Let's Pat Ourselves on The Back Cake, they'll probably give it Oscar too. I know the scene where Racism pushes Sandra Bullock down a flight of stairs deserves some kind of award.
i saw king kong with my family the day after christmas as part of my sister's 18th birthday celebrations. has anybody else seen it? what did you think? the divide in my family was astounding. anybody under the age of 55 - that is, my brother, my sister and myself - completely adored the movie. everybody 55 and up - my parents and my mother's parents - thought it was a wretched, wretched film and was basically a masturbatory exercise in special effects for peter jackson.
i agreed a little bit with that sentiment - there are at least two or three scenes where the special effects seem to go on, and on, and on, just for the sake of showing us what amazing creatures jackson can design; at least 30 minutes could have been effectively cut from the film (but who the hell is going to tell peter jackson to cut down his film?). but the story was genuine; the acting was amazing (naomi watts literally glows. there are so many loving close ups on her, and she's really heart-wrenching in the scenes with kong. it's even more amazing to think about it knowing she's reacting to a green screen. adrien brody is good, too. i have never seen the pianist, but in every one of his public appearances after his oscar win, he came off as a complete shallow hollywoodesque jackass. A DIET COKE COMMERCIAL, BRODY?!?! but in the film, he has real gravitas and is very winning and all noble-like. and kind of weirdly hot. huh. as for jack black: he was okay, but he can't really act that well. same shtick and expressions over and over. and, oh yeah - the ship captain is HOTT); kong is AMAZING. his facial expressions are wonderful and the rest of the special effects will do their best to blow you away. i was particularly breathless during the brontosaurus stampede. the score is gorgeous, as well. it's a movie movie - you know? like, king kong is why people still bother going to out to theaters.
but no. the geezers in my family would have none of it. and i can't for the life of me figure out why. i thought maybe the length, running over 3 hours, could have something to do with it - but i'm officially the Andrews with the shortest attention span, and it didn't bother me a whit. it was all-around agreed that the acting was overall superb. in the end, it seems the special effects, and their potential overuse, turned my grandparents and parents off. but DON'T THEY LOVE THE FUTURE?!?!1
i can't imagine why not! (though admittedly may have something to do with the fact that there are about six theaters in wyoming total) .i love wyoming and everything, and have spent a substantial amount of my summers there, but...besides its astounding natural beauty, it's teh suxors. though that whole astounding natural beauty thing does make up for a lot.
UPDATE: and buffalo! can't forget the buffalo! one summer, my grandparents took us to their friends' buffalo ranch (they provided the majority of buffalo used in filming "dances with wolves"), highlights of which included a trip in the bed of a freewheeling, rickety old truck as we tentatively held out stalks of leafy material to feed to the terrifying, ravenous, no-doubt-flesh-eating-if-they-could buffalo.
also, rodeos. and horse-back riding. okay, wyoming has a few things to recommend itself.
What Ezra says. Sarah Silverman's act is pretty funny; the movie doesn't really add anything to it, though, except the padding necessary to achieve a still-unimpressive 72 minute running time.
She's only got one comedic insight, but it's an important one: that horribly offensive jokes can be told without meaning, but still remain funny. To say that the act becomes about the audience's response would be wrong — it's not that thoughtful. It's just about making the folks listening squirm while doubled over with laughter. When her material manages that feat, it's very, very good.
But there's a little too much filler, and her big finale is basically Jim Carey's talking butt bit. Pretty lame. Silverman is very funny, but doesn't appear to have great mainstream commercial prospects, and probably couldn't fill an HBO special. Still, I look forward to many years of bit appearances by her in various alt-comedy productions. Because really: what if David Cross had breasts?
i saw pride & prejudice last night, and i am here to tell ye olde folks who are worried about it sucking compared to the 1995 a&e six hour version adaptation of the book: ye have nothing to worry about. and this is coming from somebody who is clinically obsessed with the a&e version, and more than clinically obsessed with colin firth. i first saw the a&e one when i was a junior in high school, and in the following nine years or so have probably seen it at least a dozen times (thanks to tommy buying me the dvd as a present early on in our relationship; even back then he know not to get in the way of my tunnel vision colin firth obsession).
anyway, the 2005 movie, directed by somebody named joe wright, i think, is almost like a completely different film. it's much more boisterous and fast-paced and, um, dirty. not like sex dirty, dirty like there are chickens and pigs and sweaty dancing people everywhere in cramped halls and drinking beer and laughing. and it's very, very funny. the a&e version is very prim and proper and slow and restrained in a lovely way - which works for that film because over the course of six freakin' hours, it can afford to do that, to rest on every detail and take the time to let the feelings between darcy and lizzie build.
in the new theater version, of course, you've only got two hours, so it's kind of like, bam bam bam, wickham what? no biggie! yeah, some of the interesting sub plots have been cut down a ton - wickham and mr. collins being two of them - and for those who love the book and the a&e film it kind of sucks. but the rest of the movie almost makes you forget about that because the rest of what it focuses on is so well done. it's shot beautifully, and keira knightley deserves all the praise she's been getting in reviews, as do the rest of the actors. i especially loved this really brief scene with lizzie, when she and her uncle pull up in front of darcy's house in derbyshire during their vacation. in approximately three seconds, knightly shows, hysterically and without saying anything, disbelief, regret and a thorough mental-self-kicking for having rejected darcy's proposal when she could have been mistress of all she is seeing. she really is excellent and very natural.
i was surprised by how much i liked donald sutherland as mr. bennet, and brenda blethyn as mrs. bennet was fantastic and much more sympathetic than the same character in the a&e film. at first, matthew macfayden as darcy seems terrible and stupid. man, he must have been terrified taking on this role, knowing what he had to go up against in colin firth. but by the first proposal scene with lizzie, he had totally won me over. he's got a great voice (think alan rickman's) and he plays darcy more as of a confused, taciturn but essentially good-natured man instead of the total asshole who grows into a kinder, gentler darcy that firth did. he and lizzie also have believable chemistry that develops naturally during the course of the film.
in addition to all the wonderful acting, the film is just really, really beautiful and warm. wright uses lots of long one-take shots, especially during ball scenes, following characters around, and the lighting and set design are beautiful. honestly, it basically felt like a completely different film than the a&e version. i felt like i was watching a totally separate movie, so even though i enjoyed it so much, it didn't feel like i was betraying my obsession with the a&e version. they're different films with different aims and different ways of interpreting the book, and it works for both of them. highly recommended!
the new "pride & prejudice" is getting some seriously good reviews. salon gives it a glowing one (3 pages worth! lordy!). which reminds me, the last time i caught a salon movie review was the totally effing hysterically bad one for "shop girl." you really should read it just for entertainment value (fave para: "Martin's performance is one of implacable, rubberized unhappiness; you get the feeling he saw Bill Murray in "Lost in Translation" and thought, "I can do that." He can't, though. Is Ray a damaged divorcé who falls in love with Mirabelle, after his own fashion, but can't express his feelings? I guess that's the idea, but you can't really tell. He could also be planning to add her to his collection of chopped-up girlfriends beneath the pool. He could be a narcoleptic. He could be the reanimated corpse of Richard Nixon, nervously sweating embalming fluid. He could be shot so full of Botox it's a wonder he can speak at all."). oh, and also this paragraph: "There's so little sexual chemistry between the actors in this film that it seems like a kind of accomplishment. I've seen shows on C-SPAN that were hotter than this. There's an early scene with Danes and Schwartzman in bed that's no worse than mildly embarrassing, but I sat through the film in queasy terror, awaiting the moment when the Nixon zombie might doff his clothes, expose his burnt-sienna flesh and make sweet, sweet love to his little mademoiselle."
i've since seen "shopgirl," and it really wasn't that bad - certainly less grating than i found the book, for sure. however, it suffers from two unbearably terrible aspects: the screaming symphonic repetitive score that plays each and every single time there's a scene with a hint of lovelorn emotion in it (which is, obviously, like every five minutes, and i'm not kidding - the music is BAD); and the bizarre narration of steve martin at certain points in the movie. dude simply cannot narrate. he sounds like he's reading a children's book to a group of, um, mentally disabled children - reading bits so slowly, loudly and painstakingly so that we REALLY GET THAT MIRABELLE IS EMOTIONALLY UNSTABLE AT THIS CRITICAL MOMENT.
i think the movie would have been actually pretty good if martin had simply gotten rid of the score and the narration and let the subtext of those particular scenes speak for themselves at the moment. but, he didn't. at least he has claire danes to salvage the entire thing for him, and though i do like her, i feel like she's pretty much always playing the character from "my so-called life." but it's still a good performance, and i'd recommend the film for a rental.
moving right along, i can let the indignities of jschool pass me right on by because i have two things to be SUPREMELY excited about: harry potter and the new pride&prejudice! the movies, that is. i am going to be back in d.c. for the harry potter premiere, and all i gotta see is we better be there at least the day after the opening night. if i am going to accompany "friends" to the opening night of the star wars "movie," then yall better indulge my potter love.
the new pride & prejudice film is a more interesting subject. flying in the face of firthites everywhere, somebody dared update the clas six-hour A&E version of the book. let's be realistic, now: ain't no one ever going to make a better version of the book than that one, and 75% of that reason has to do with colin firth as mr. darcy. the new mr. darcy, one matthew macfayden, is certainly pretty, but in all the previews and pictures i've seen of the film he always looks so...sweaty. kind of like a constantly-wet john cusack. presumably with a british accent. wet worked for darcy in the brilliantly imagined lake swimming scene of the A&E version, but otherwise i'm pretty sure people like their british boys to be normal and dry. and a bit taller, please. anyway, i've heard, surprisingly, amazing things about keira knightly's performance in the movie, so i'm going to hold judgement out about it until i see it. which i will. as soon as possible. who's with me?
And since the event was so blogcentric, I thought I'd better post something here immediately. The dead-tree journalists would make you wait until tomorrow to hear their opinions of the movie. Can you afford to wait that long?
Clearly not. So: it was good. I had only seen an episode or two of Firefly coming into it and had developed a favorable impression, albeit not a strong one. This was a very conventional plot, and Matt seemed to think that its scope didn't really serve the franchise. The second half did feel a bit like Whedon's usual ensemble routine was being stretched over a story that was a little too big.
But hey, I guess that's what you do when you turn a TV show into a movie. Like I said, it was good. You should go see it.
Anyway, slight spoiler behind the cut. For more, Variety has a review here, which is worth reading if you've never read anything from Variety. Which apparently I hadn't. Is the whole paper like this? How do they keep angry citizens from burning the building down? How are they going to keep me from doing it?
But the evening's most important revelation: the Doom movie features shots from a first person perspective, complete with a gun in the foreground. It's just like the videogame! After a few minutes' reflection it's clear that this effect must be a lot harder to use effectively in a movie than it is in a preview, but still — this film could be marginally more interesting than I had imagined. It's still guaranteed to be terrible, of course. But for FPS junkies, it might be kind of fun.
Like so many other easily-bought bloggers, I signed up for the Serenity blogger screening dealy. I was a little disappointed to get an email saying the following:
Congratulations! You are one of the lucky bloggers to be chosen and confirmed for the screening of SERENITY for the time, date and the number of guests that you have requested. Please note, this confirmation DOES NOT guarantee you a seat at the screening.
To significantly increase your chances of getting into the screening, you MUST do the following:
You MUST include the film’s synopsis on your blog (synopsis below) and you MUST link your blog to the SERENITY website (which has the trailer and production notes) http://www.serenitymovie.com and featured artwork. After you have screened the film, please discuss it on your blog. Please provide us the links to all of your blog posts on SERENITY at email@example.com
So, for the record: a ragtag bunch of misfits live, love and struggle to survive in a world beyond imagination. Oh, and did I mention that someone might have an amazing secret? Or that something might not be all that it seems? Well, they might. Also, it's in space.
There. Duty discharged. But then, at the very bottom of the email, there's this:
Seats are not guaranteed, are limited to theatre capacity and are first-come, first-served.
So, the poor clipboard-wielding sixteen year-old that I expect to meet at the theater will not have combed the internet to make sure everyone's playing by the rules. Surprising, I know.
I'm genuinely excited to see this movie. Joss Whedon is an entertaining guy, and my friends tell me that Firefly is great. Also, it's set in space, which I am on the record as favoring.
So: anybody want to go? I signed up for two tickets, and would be happy to give one of my potentially nonexistent seats away. Please note that in order to significantly increase your chances of getting the ticket, you must include a synopsis of this contest on your blog. And after the screening, please discuss it on your blog. For instance: did that shirt make me look fat? Were you repulsed by the amount of popcorn I ate? Be creative and honest, but not at all critical. And of course, please provide us with links to all your posts on GOING TO THE MOVIE WITH TOM.
The ticket will actually be distributed to the first person who asks me for it.
It's hard. I know it's hard. How much easier would it be to take care of the stack of profoundly uninteresting papers on your desk? To buckle down, straighten up, and renounce the demon internet's hold on you? To spend an hour or two after work hanging pictures, getting that 5x5 cubicle set up just right — you know, for the long haul. It'd be lots easier. Of course it would.
But people are counting on you. Where else will they go to hear complaints about your lack of direction? To understand the precise reasons why The Simpsons isn't as good as it used to be? To read oblique condemnations of those who have disappointed you romantically?
Nowhere. Instead they would just waste that time on literature, or art, or their families. You can't let that happen. Frivolity is serious business. It's the blogger's cross to bear.
Well, Uncle Joss's Santa-like powers have alerted him to your plight. It was probably when you were bitching about it in the Red Room (you get kind of loud when you're drunk).
For one night only, he's offering you sweet succor: free Serenity tickets for bloggers. Washington's screening is at Gallery Place on Monday, 7:30 pm. We can grapple with our pain together, and in the presence of spaceships. Just like the Scientologists!
Oh, Tivo. You know me better than I know myself. Did I realize how badly I wanted to watch the first four minutes of STEALTH? No, I did not.
But you did. You put that little "thumbs up for more!" icon on the ad for it, and when I inevitably clicked it, you had the footage ready. Without you I never would have known that the movie is about an elite fighter jet squadron created to fight terrorism.
The three-day weekend knocked everything out of whack. Suddenly Sunday was the agreed-upon night for debauchery, and my whole schedule was thrown off. We yawned Friday night away, and before we knew it Saturday was almost gone. We had to get out of the house. So Catherine and I went to see War of the Worlds.
Here's where I would normally warn you about spoilers. But the thing is, this story's essential spoiler has been well-known for the past sixty years. If you don't already know it, it's your own goddamn fault.
there has got to be somebody out there who wants to see "mr. and mrs. smith" with me, right? right?....gawker's jessica coen says that it "was the perfect, mindless summer flick. If Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie weren't fucking off-camera in between every take, then they are the best actors on the face of the earth."
like everybody else in the blogosphere, i lined up like the good nerd that i am to see star wars on thursday night. so, okay, whatever, it was pretty fucking awesome (at least the last 2/3). but something's been seriously bothering me since i left the movie theather. no, not lucas's depiction of how a man turns to evil; not how lucas made natalie portman look seriously ugly (a feat more amazing and impossible than the entire star wars franchise); not why did badass samuel jackson have to die?
nope. it's got to do with anakin's hair. i present to you a side-by-side comparsion.
now i know my comprehension of the star wars movies is seriously limited, but doesn't star wars 3 take place directly after star wars 2? perhaps i'm mistaken in my chronology there, but if not, that is a serious continuity issue. maybe hair grows at six million times its normal earth growth in the star wars series (that could explain the monstrosity that appeared on portman's head in about every scene); maybe a space badger attached itself at some point to anakin. i dunno.
NEVERMIND! i just asked tommy about this, and he reminds me the rather-awesome star wars cartoon takes place in between the two films, and thus we have the crazy hair. i still don't think it's a good look for anakin, but hey - at least he's not bald.
We saw Star Wars, and it was good. No: very good. I came away impressed. All of the stupid, boring and/or whiney bullshit (trade embargos?) finally culminated in a surprisingly decent sprint of character development. My spoiler-free quibbles:
General Grievous was decidedly less awesome than his cartoon incarnation. Also, he turned out to be yet another bad guy with a stupid pseudo-Asian accent (no offense, pseudo-Asian readers). In the cartoons he was mute, dispatched Jedi with ease, and kind of scary.
The acting remained non-great. Christensen continued his anticipatory method technique of pretending to already be half-machine. McDiarmid's lines dripped with so much menace that it began to collect in puddles on the floor. And Natalie Portman committed the cardinal Star Wars starlet sin of not actually looking all that hot. On the upside, Ewan McGregor's Obi Wan finally had something to do other than act like a weenie, and he did it well.
Yoda's charming speech mannerisms have been codified into a strict Yodelian Grammar, and it's really annoying. Object Subject Verb. Object Subject Verb. Every. Single. Time. Even puppets ought to change things up once in a while.
The writing, although better than the last two, was still pretty bad. George, why must you call them "younglings"? Is "children" not sufficiently mythopoetic? Let's compromise: how about "space-children"? (I'm a longstanding supporter of adding the "space" prefix to every scifi noun.)
On the other hand, I am looking forward to endless months of encouraging Catherine to remember "when there was only our love," and we weren't buffeted by the cruel winds of a galactic power struggle, or, say, the need to put away our Xbox controllers.
Finally, allow me to direct you (via Yglesias) to Tyler Cowen's excellent case against the Jedi. In short: everyone's a fascist. Well, except maybe the Ewoks. And we probably only think that because of our patronizingly primitivist worldview.
i don't know why i keep reporting updates on the filming of "the da vinci code." i guess i believe it's one of those rare movies that have the potential to be better than the book. but with this announcement, i'm not so positive:
Variety is reporting that Audrey Tatou will play the lead female role of Sophie Neveu in "The DaVinci Code" opposite Tom Hanks and Jean Reno.
now, i'm as big a fan of "amelie" as any other europhile chick, and i think it's great that the director actually cast a french woman in the role of (gasp!) a french woman, but...audrey tautou? making out with tom hanks....? acting in the role of a supposedly-brilliant cryptologist....? and being convincing...? i'm just not sure.
One of the great cultural mysteries of the past few years has got to be the Matrix movies. How the Wachowski brothers produce a genre-defining first movie of a trilogy, then turn around and create two debacles that all but erased the achievement of the original film?
Well, here's a potential explanation: they stole the idea. Instead of reclusive geniuses, they're really just navel-gazing, cross-dressing hack thieves. A woman named Sophia Stewart has won a case against the brothers Wachowski, claiming that she submitted a screenplay upon which the Matrix was based to an ad calling for sci-fi scripts placed by the Wachowskis years ago. Here's the most damning paragraph from the article, in case you don't feel like registering with the site:
According to court documentation, an FBI investigation discovered that more than thirty minutes had been edited from the original film, in attempt to avoid penalties for copyright infringement. The investigation also stated that "credible witnesses employed at Warner Brothers came forward, claiming that the executives and lawyers had full knowledge that the work in question did not belong to the Wachowski Brothers." These witnesses claimed to have seen Stewart's original work and that it had been "often used during preparation of the motion pictures." The defendants tried, on several occasions, to have Stewart's case dismissed, without success.
Obviously Larry and Andy aren't without talent -- Bound wasn't bad, and the Matrix movies are impressive technical achievements. But the franchise was clearly unable to live up to the cool premise that made the first movie so much fun -- I find this to be a pretty plausible explanation for why the series' quality fell so quickly.
Oh, and as to why you haven't heard of this case before? Stewart claims it's because Time Warner owns so much of the media. I'm not sure about that -- but on the other hand, if this is true it's a pretty major copyright infringement case, and I can't find any references to it on Google News, despite a lot of online message board discussion about the case.
i don't normally go out to see movies on their opening nights, but since a) i am maniacally in love with jude law and b) i had a few friends who wanted to see it, we headed out to the gallery place/chinatown theater on friday night to see "closer". there are minor spoilers here and there, so i'll put it behind the cut.
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