Movies Second Opinions (13)
The Dubious Legacy of the First Die Hard
Fashionable movies often suffer the same fate as fashionable clothes. If one forges something of a new and fresh style, it's all the rage when it comes out. People can't get enough of that fresh new funkiness, and its popularity inevitably spawns a tide of imitators looking to recycle the formula for success. Then times passes, styles change, and when you look back at the originator, it's surrounded by so much excess and so many inferior carbon copies, it's impossible to see how innovative that first style-setter was.
Another year of film-watching concluded, and I figured before I’d look towards what’s on the horizon I’d re-examine what I was excited for when 2012 was shiny and new (no I won’t bust into a Madonna song). With that, I’m looking back at the ten films I listed as my most anticipated. I’ll analyze if I saw them, what I thought about them, and if they lived up to my expectations. I’ll include links to any reviews I wrote about them as well. If you want to see my original Most Anticipated List just click the link. So what did this year offer me? Let’s see!
Schwarzenegger + Murderous Drug Dealers + Kindergarten = BRILLIANCE!
SPOILER ALERT! if you haven't seen this, Netflix it now and thank me later.
Normally the films I think are brilliant are somewhat bad (at least according to critics, such as Roger Ebert and Joe Brown from The Washington Post, and my friends). So, when I took it upon myself to write about how brilliant Ivan Reitman’s (Ghost Busters) Kindergarten Cop (1990) was, I was SHOCKED to find out that Ebert and Brown actually found this film to be, and I quote, “slick entertainment out of the improbable” and “Cute with a capital K!” One cannot begin to describe how thrilled I was to read such reviews on a film that I am made fun of for owning…and actually displaying on my shelf!
Without further ado, I, Stella Artois, give you the brilliance that is: Kindergarten Cop.(KC)
Back in the 1980s, a new disorder emerged from the myriad maladies of autism: Asperger syndrome, or AS. Many symptoms indicate AS, but here are a few:
- Social difficulties
- Heightened speech, vocabulary and language usage
- Intense, narrow interests
Joe Carnahan's goofy, hyperactive crime thriller Smokin' Aces makes me think he might have Asperger syndrome.
Chick flicks come in many forms. There are female bonding movies like Steel Magnolias and Beaches. There are romances like The English Patient and The Notebook. There are romantic comedies ranging from The Truth About Cats and Dogs to Must Like Dogs. But being in these categories doesn’t automatically designate a film a chick flick. A yardstick could be whether the cast appeared on Oprah, such as with Stepmom and Something’s Gotta Give. How about anything by Nora Ephron? Although I wouldn’t label When Harry Met Sally a chick flick. What about the presence of Meg Ryan though? She’s the reigning chick flick queen, but she was also in Courage Under Fire.
(IMPORTANT NOTE: This piece is a dissenting viewpoint, and the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of CC2K. Do you disagree? Is the author wrong? Head on over to the forums and be heard!)
I hate Harry Potter. Even more than Harry Potter himself, I hate his fans: mouth-breathing, sweaty-palmed, socially retarded teenagers who eventually grow into mouth-breathing, sweaty-palmed, socially retarded adults. You can’t help but notice them: in their teenage form, they’re the homely girls blocking up the entire aisle at Barnes & Noble, camped out on the floor with their blackhead-encrusted noses buried in some moronic Manga digest (a genre I hate almost—almost—as much); in their adult form, they’re the guys who live in Mom’s basement, engaged in an epic war against soap, greedily devouring Cheetos by the handfuls while shouting upstairs that the running of the vacuum cleaner is interfering with their World of Warcraft connection (which they play obsessively when not checking in on the online countdown to Emma Watson’s eighteenth birthday). I hate these people, which could very well mean that I hate you, as well. Nice to meet you.
Well, let this article serve as a reminder to you and me: Documentaries KICK ASS.
In exactly the same way that a live performance is always better than a taping of that same experience, so too does a fiction film suffer, at some level, from the very fact that it IS fiction. Put it this way: each and every one of us has watched thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people killed on screen. I’m betting that none of us lose any sleep over seeing this. And yet, if someone handed us a film of an actual person actually getting killed (which, just so we’re all clear, is completely illegal) we would either not be able to bring ourselves to watch it, or be haunted by those images for the rest of our lives. That is the power of “real,” over scripted, pieces.
Fascism kicks ass. It’s a fascist utopia. Verhoeven knew it, and so do you.
Not even Heinlein fans get Paul Verhoeven’s magnificient Starship Troopers, whose tone of jolly-go-lucky fascism pissed off a lot of them. To be fair, I certainly can’t say that every Heinlein fan in the world hated Verhoeven’s movie, or that every Heinlein fan sees no fascist themes or imagery in the original novel -- but oh, do I have loads of anecdotal evidence to support my claim! I’ve goofed around the MySpace boards, and a few years ago I even tracked down two Heinlein experts, and here’s what they said:
James Gifford, a writer and pubilisher of numerous books about Heinlein: “A lot of casual readers of the novel have a vague militaristic, fascist idea. It’s not supported by the book.”
Bill Patterson, editor of the Heinlein Journal: “It’s hard to find anything in the book that tends in the direction of fascism.”
Did we read the same book?
Why are people saying such nasty things about the successful offspring of established figures in the movie biz?
"Hey, guys, aren't you excited that Ivan Reitman's son is directing movies now?"
"Oh, look at poor Sofia Coppola. She has to accept that Oscar all by her lonesome."
"Scott Caan. What a unique talent."
OK. Maybe Scott Caan can withstand a little snickering sarcasm.
But, I must admit, I am annoyed at this general bitterness among the struggling artists community directed toward easy targets, such as Ms. Coppola and Jason Reitman.
The Island, Or, Michael Bay the Auteur, Or, Please Stop Laughing
Granted, Michael Bay has one of those crisp and clean styles of directing that one would never confuse with Kubrick or Terry Gilliam, but at the same time, he is quite possibly more attuned to the audience’s enjoyment than any other director working today, aside from James Cameron. His characters are typically the most flippant and uninspiring people imaginable, but occasionally his work hits home in ways unique to cinema. One of the reasons Pearl Harbor sucked was because it took a slightly familiar story and gave it the Hollywood treatment—PC Japanese and all. The only way Pearl Harbor would have worked is if Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and the rest of the crew were replaced with unknowns. I guess what I’m saying is that Michael Bay has a tendency to use big names for characters with little or no interesting qualities. It allows him to forego characterization in favor of action. And he is the king of action.