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Category Archives: Drama

Pretend Time in Angry Land

UPDATE! Golden Fleece Located: Ben Affleck Using It As Mouth-Scarf to Hide Handsomeness

Any of you hoping to see a plucky pregnant deputy, William H. Macy, and a woodchipper, perhaps owing to what you thought was a typo on the theater marquis, will be disappointed by Argo. It turns out it is not the Coen brothers’ classic, Fargo, but rather a completely new movie called Argo. If you are expecting any golden fleeces or seafaring Greeks, you will also be disappointed. Argo contains neither Argonauts nor Jasons. Just a Ben Affleck.

Fans of Ben Affleck (hereafter known as the Affleck-ted) will rejoice because lil’ Benji directs and stars. Haters of Ben Affleck will rejoice because he apparently has suffered a terrible accident, possibly a jelly-fish stinging, that has left his face 95% paralyzed. The other 5% is covered in facial hair.

What you CAN expect from Argo is snappy CIA hijinks, based-on-a-true-story nail-biting peril, and several characters who say stuff like, “Oh, your plan is to do this impossible thing to these impossible people resulting in this impossible scenario?….Okay. I’m in.” It’s the story of CIA agent Antonio Mendez (Affleck having contracted his proud new Latino heritage from ex-fiancee Jennifer Lopez) who stages a rescue mission of six American citizens from Iran during the hostage crisis of 1980, posing them as a Canadian film crew. It’s pretty awesome. It’s sort of an action movie without gunfights or car chases or shirtless testosteroiding arm veins. Oh, and people in it are smart.

Argo does a nice job of presenting a complex socio-political environment as its backdrop. It isn’t “People with brown skin who don’t speak English are just bad and evil!” The film presents a brief history that makes you understand the anti-American sentiment in Tehran in 1980, and sort of part way fathom the desperation and frustration that led things to get so crazy and out of hand. That’s a viewpoint you don’t get much as an American, so you’ve got to appreciate it when you do.

Argo is pretty impressive. It deftly combines the serious and the comedic. It’s like watching a little bird trying to fly out of the nest; It’s an absurd spectacle but there are moments where your heart skips a beat because at any moment it could be uplifting or you’re going to witness something innocent plummet to its death. It delivers the smug satisfaction of seeing Oscar-bait (instead of a movie with “4” after the title), lines that make you go, “ho ho ho, how droll,”  and a riveting plot to boot. Plus, you learn a little about revolutionary Iran, so you feel like you can seem deep and informed and finally get that Persian girl in your Women’s Studies class to like you. Then, you walk out of the theater in awe of human bravery, hoping that under extreme circumstances you would have the guts to pretend you’re working on a terrible Star Wars knock-off.

I give it a big Kit up.

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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in Drama

 

Batman 3: The One Without Batman in It

“I’m Batman.”
“Bat…man? Doesn’t ring a bell.”

So Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises is a three-hour Batman movie with two minutes of Batman in it. So what? Big deal. No one said there had to be any Batmen in it. You know what? It reminds me of a little Alan Moore Batman story called “The Killing Joke”, one of the most iconic and powerful stories in the history of Batman comics, ever, OF ALL TIME. There were hardly any Batmen in that either. The only difference is, instead of delving into the fascinating, creepy psychology and origin of Batman’s greatest nemesis (the Joker), and presenting readers with a complex and challenging moral grey-area that had us question our own sense of justice, Nolan skimmed the surface of a whole bunch of different Batman characters and challenged nothing and no one.  And instead of being interesting, it was long. Sort of a quantity-over-quality thing. It’s a better value on the dollar. You get more for less. But, aside from that, they’re the same thing vis-a-vis the minimal Batmans.

Dark Knight Rises has got some really fun parts, for sure: cool Bat-vehicles, explosions aplenty, a kid in a pit, hitting. Who doesn’t like mayhem and hi-jinks? The weird thing is, Dark Knight Rises seems to be set in some bizarre alternate universe where there are only two women and both of them exist only to let Christian Bale know how sexy he is. Just to set the record straight: not all women are perpetually horny deceptive weaklings as DKR would have you believe. If we were, things would be fun for guys for awhile until they die from betrayal, and then fun for nobody when all women die of broken hearts or some lame weak crap, and then humanity goes extinct.

Now, boys are great, don’t get me wrong. I love boys! I would totally marry a boy, that’s how much I love them. It’s just they’re not the only people on the planet, even though they make a lot of movies that say they are. There are such things as policewomen, lady politicians, girl orphans, and, even in the world of Batman, at least one lady homicidal maniac. But nooOOOooo; not according to the bold dreamers who envisioned this utopia of watered-down-women. Instead of Catwoman, murderous hellcat, Mr. Nolan presents Catwoman, spayed pussy. That sucks for fans of women, if not cats. Girls can murder people, too, ya know! And not just when boys drive us crazy with their lovin’.

The thing that hurts the most is that in the previous Nolan Batmans, baddies were badasses. Nolan’s hyper-realistic Joker was phenomenal.  Catwoman, the renegade more enigmatic than Mr. E. Nigma, deserved better…and I KNOW YOU CAN DO BETTER, JERK, Mr. Nolan, sir. On the other hand, it sounded like Patrick Stewart dubbed Bane’s voice for the entire movie and he goes down like a leaf, so at least Bane wasn’t any better than Catwoman.

Generally, though, I liked it a lot. Tell your friends.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Drama

 

New! Civil-Rights-Scented Tampons

Above: Shot Composition as Flat and Uninteresting as Emma Stone's Bustline...Ba-ZAM!

The Help (dir. Tate Taylor), based on the best-selling book by Kathryn Stockett, has a lot going for it: super-amazing actresses, a go-get-em spunk, and a backdrop of backwards racist Mississippi (good thing that’s a thing of the past!). The adaptation of the book was done deftly, almost as if by some sort of wondrous adaptation-writing cyborg with the efficiency of a robot, but the tears of a human, perhaps in anticipation of a time in the near future when sentient machines,too, are treated as second-class citizens. However, The Help, the movie, had a fatal flaw: it didn’t believe in itself quite hard enough. A combination of a tampon-commercial-like aesthetic, sappy, overwrought music, and unimaginative shot composition lent The Help all of the tawdry gracelessness of a Lifetime Original. Granted, you can sorta see how this could happen.

For-Women-Only-Oxygen-TV-Movie Titles for Various Themes in The Help:

  • My “Frenemies” are Gossiping About Me
  • My Mom Brutally Scrutinizes My Appearance…And Has Cancer
  • I Can’t Hide My Bruises When You Hit Me in the Face, Darling
  • I Have Kids, Think About Babies, and/or Take Care of Children in General…I Must Be a Woman
  • Is My Drinking Hurting My Fetus? (book only)/ My Husband Only Beats Me When He’s Drunk…Or Does He?
  • The Shaming of the Slut
  • No One Will Hear You Abort
  • The Secret of My Dress-Making: I’m Lower-Middle Middle Class
  • Friends with a Woman
  • Revenge of the Crazy Lady Whose Ex I’m Dating
  • If I Were Pretty Instead of Smart, I Would Have a Boyfriend

These and other themes in The Help, like baking and dream-following, are extremely difficult to portray without a Febreeze-scented air of housewifeyness. However, if The Help had just had a little more confidence, it could have pulled itself out of the sinking chick-sand and become a household classic for all the family, including those members of the family with family…members. Unfortunately, the gynocentric presentation trivialized the more important themes in the movie, specifically that little thing called civil rights. Still, The Help had heart and humor and a pie made of poop, so I thought it was pretty A-OK.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Drama

 

The Adventures of Hacker Girl on Murder Island

We Are All Totally Scoping Out Her Tattoo. Wait, This Is The Poster For "Daniel Craig Bags A Hot Goth Girl"!

Adaptation isn’t easy. Remember way, way back when we were little fishies who tried to get up out of the primordial ooze and had to suddenly grow some lungs? That was pretty hard as I recall. It was an awkward phase. We didn’t know what the heck to do with the new lungs. But soon we were breathing, then fancy-breathing (you know, panting, sighing, gasping in shock), then smoking. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a book that had to turn into a movie somehow. And it was awkward and painful too, like all adaptation.

Now, as some of you may know, I like to see sweet-ass cool girls in my popular media because it is fun for me to be like, “wow, that character is doing cool stuff while having boobs!” I saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher) on Christmas with my family. It was not very merry or family friendly. Then I read the book, because I felt like I was missing a lot of key dragon-y ingredients, like why it was called The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when you only see the tattoo like one time and no one ever talks about it. The book didn’t answer my question (I think they should have called it The Adventures of Hacker Girl on Murder Island), but it was fun to see the differences between fishie and lung-fishie.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo the book (Steig Larsson) is a lot more pro-lady.  A big difference was hacker misanthrope protagonist Lisbeth Salander’s relationship with her guardian, Advokat Bjurman (so Swedish). Now, I’m a lady, too, so when I describe some of the not family friendly aspects of the story, I’ll do so using Swedish euphemisms. In the first really disturbing part of this relationship, Lisbeth Salander has to eat Bjurman’s Swedish Fish. In the book, he really crams it in her mouth, but in the movie she doesn’t want to but sort of does it anyway so she can get money for a computer. Later, in the movie Bjurman bork borks Salander with his Swedish chef, whereas in the book he just uses something from IKEA. Movie Bjurman is Swedish meatballs deep in her Stockholm for several extremely unsettling minutes (especially if you’re sitting next to your dad and little brother in the theater on Christmas) and it’s sort of perversely from Bjurman’s perspective. The book presents it through Salander’s experience and there is much less time devoted to it, but you go through the painful bloody after-effects and recovery with her. Also, in the movie she goes to his house for this scene seemingly to get more money, whereas in the book she goes for the express purpose of setting Bjurman up on camera and it gets out of hand.

Still, movie Salander (Rooney Mara) is the highlight of the movie. I discovered about myself that I am not particularly fascinated by Swedish financial reporting, and that even Daniel Craig cannot make that occupation sexy to me. The murder mystery plot in the film was uninteresting and muddled as well because twenty billion characters get introduced and then one of them turns out to be the murdererduhsnooze. The who-dunnit is never as interesting as the why-dunnit, and in this case, the why-dunnit was sort of “just because”. Larsson’s book version was more interesting, but the Blomkvist (Craig) parts were still not nearly as cool as the Salander parts, even though in the book he is much, much, sluttier. (Why, movie, did you make Blomkvist less of a prostitute and Salander more of a prostitute? It better not be because of what kind of underwears they need.)

It’s not just Salander either. The movie makes an important kick-ass Australian business maven into a wimpy, fearful, travel agent or bank teller or something, and a complex long-term sexual friendship into a promiscuous lesbian hook up. Also, book Salander falls in love, which is a critical step for her character’s personal growth. In the movie, she just gets naked and then jealous.

In the book they drink a hilarious amount of coffee, and there is a description of what an iPod is (“a device the size of a matchbox that could hold her entire CD collection”).

At the risk of editorializing in this totally objective review, I realize that things need to be adapted in an adaptation. I’m no jive turkey. I’m just disappointed that the ladies lost out in the adaptation of a story starring a fresh, captivating, strong female. The result was a disturbing smoking lung-fish with Daniel Craig’s face. Do better, movies!

Aside from that, it was pretty good and I liked it.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Drama

 

Marshmallows, Demons, and Marshmallow Demons

What Happens When A Girl With A TV For A Head Falls In Love With Two Men...And One Of Them Is Jesus?

In these trying times of political strife, of red versus blue, of noodle-armed vegan pit-hair wavers versus mullety gap-toothed hog-stranglers, sometimes we need to chill out, remember to put down our kindles and pitchforks, and just love each other.

Paradise Recovered (dir. Storme Wood) remembers. It’s a charming little indie flick from the heartland about a suuuuuuuuper-Bibley girl who believes that eating marshmallows and watching even the G-est of movies will allow actual-factual demons to infiltrate her brain and tear her away from livin’ the sweet Jesus life. She is brain-washed-ish by a TV evangelist and her boss/minister/father-figure (low-budget evil Tom Hanks) into being a nannyslaveprisioner at crazy Tom Hank’s house. He also arranges a marriage for her to his Bible college son, who is actually also kinda evil.

Bibella decides to spice up her hum-drum life by getting a job at the health food store where she meets the smug philosophy student manager and instantly sparks FLY! After Philosophy guy “She’s All That”‘s Biblette with lipstick and low-cut tank tops, they, as unlikely as it may be, fall in love even though he has utter contempt for her deepest beleifs and she beleives he will spend eternity skinny-dipping in a lake of fire. But at least she’s hot now.

It’s low budget. There are weird things like a comic-releif roommate who I’m guessing is normally a straight-up clown in real life, and a guy who talks in his best Bill Clinton immitation for all of his lines (the preacher-dad of smug Romeo). BUT, and I say BUT, this movie was fun and it warmed the cockles of my fridgid little prejudiced-against-both-smug-college-kids-and-religious-fanatics heart. Seriously. The characters were likeable and human, the issues were complex and compelling, and there was a nice story development which is dandy for people who like their heads not to explode because of retarded monkey scribble writing.

As I left the theater, I was left with a sense of understanding and divine grace.  I was brimming with a deep love for my fellow man and hope for the future of what seems so often like a divided world. …Then some little punk squeaked out a terrible attempt to pick me up and I was once again left with familiar old ire.

 

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