Friday, July 25, 2008
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO WONDERED WHERE I WENT ON MYSPACE. I DELETED MY ACCOUNT. MORE TROUBLE THAN WHAT IT WAS WORTH. SO I DIDN'T DROP YOU IF THAT'S WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT. YOU CAN ALWAYS REACH ME VIA COMMENTS HERE- AS MY BUDDY TYLER DID WHEN FOR SOME REASON I CALLED "I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK & LARRY" AS "I KNOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK & LARRY". THAT'S WHAT GETTING OUT OF WORK AT 1AM WILL DO TO A MAN.
SORRY FOR THE ALL CAPS. I JUST FELT LIKE USING THEM.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Length: 81 minutes
Directors: Mike Judge (Office Space; Idiocracy) and Yvette Kaplan (“Beavis and Butt-head”; “King of the Hill”)
Writers: Mike Judge (Office Space; Idiocracy) and Joe Stillman (Shrek; Shrek 2)
Starring: Mike Judge, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Robert Stack, Greg Kinnear, David Spade, David Letterman, Cloris Leachman, Richard Linklater, Eric Bogosian. Tracy Grandstaff
I remember seeing “Beavis and Butt-head Do America” on it’s opening Friday back in 1996. I went with my good friend Diana, some pretentious doofus named Phil, and a kid who’s name escapes me that was mentally challenged (maybe?) and his big deal around school was that he thought he was Vanilla Ice. Before the move started, the Vanilla Ice kid (I can’t believe I don’t remember this kid’s name) went in front of the crowded theater and danced and free-styled. Nobody seemed to notice or care, but I thought it was pretty funny (in a kind way). Then the movie started and honest to God when I popped a copy of it into the DVD player the other day to watch it, I didn’t remember more than a couple of scenes. I watch a lot of movies, but I usually remember at least a little of the movie, especially one that was as culturally popular as this one was at the time. If you weren’t around at the time, “Beavis and Butt-head” was the “Friends” of the Gen X youth. Watching the movie I wondered why that was. I haven’t seen an episode of the show in quite some time either, but I imagine it would have more novelty than the film has. When the show first started, my friends and I used to complain about the video commentary that would interrupt the actual episodes. Now I understand why it was necessary. The characters are funny, situationally, only in small doses. There were reasons the episodes were short and the videos were included. The movie itself is now painfully dated and uncomfortably unfunny. It’s like a home video you and your buddies filmed in middle school and unearthed your senior year of high school. “But it was hilarious back then…” The jokes in the movie are stale and deal a great bit with Beavis’ masturbation issues. I laughed a couple of times, but the laughs didn’t feel very natural. They felt kind of like pity laughs. When the end credits rolled and that goddamned Red Hot Chili Peppers “Love Rollercoaster” cover played for the millionth time in the movie (they killed that song on MTV and the radio when the movie was released), I recalled the Vanilla Ice kid and I laughed. That laugh wasn’t a pity laugh. I guess a kid pretending to be Vanilla Ice and beat boxing is more dated than a “Beavis and Butt-head” movie, but it saddens me to say that in 2008 the Vanilla Ice kid holds up better.
Friday, July 04, 2008
Length: 110 minutes
Director: Dennis Dugan (You Don’t Mess with the Zohan; Big Daddy)
Writers: Alexander Payne (Election; Sideways), Jim Taylor (Election; Sideways), and Barry Fanaro (Men in Black II; Kingpin)
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel, Dan Aykroyd, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Allan Covert, Rachel Dratch, Richard Chamberlain, Nick Swardson, Dave Matthews, Lance Bass, Rob Corddry, Robert Smigel, Richard Kline, Nicholas Turturro, Dan Patrick, John Farley, Mary Pat Gleason, Dennis Dugan
Alexander Payne and Jim Payne (Election; Sideways; About Schmidt; Citizen Ruth) co-wrote this movie? What the fuck? Okay, now that I got that out of the way, I can start the review (apparently even highly respected Oscar winners still need to earn a living? I don’t know, this still confuses the hell out of me). Hmm, let’s see- oh yes- “I Know Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” is a movie starring Adam Sandler and T.V. “star” Kevin James as a couple of macho fire men who have to get married in order to provide a life insurance policy for widowed James’ children (Cole Morgan and Shelby Adamowsky). Ladies and gentlemen, let the gay bashing and balls and dick jokes commence! And that they do! But don’t worry, by the end of the film, there’s a lesson to be learned- I think it’s that even though gay people are gross and weird and different and stuff they’re okay, you know, “as long as they don’t pull any of that ‘gay shit’ on me”. Just picturing Payne and Taylor sitting at the computer typing some of the dialogue in this movie warps my brain in ways I didn’t think was possible. Still, I’m sure you noticed that I gave the movie a very generous two stars. Why? Because I suppose it serves it’s point. It was made for the exact reason that it displays itself. Is it going to make the frat crowd that worship Sandler any more tolerable for homosexuals? Doubtful. But it kind of tries (in a way like calling a gay guy a “fag” and then telling him later in secrecy that “hey dude, I’m sorry. I know I was out of line”. In fact, one scene even has Sandler protesting the word “faggot”). Sandler’s character, Chuck, of course, is a ladies man- he’s Mr. February in the “Fireman’s Hunk Calendar”- and James’ character, Larry, is still mourning the one year plus death of his wife. So the crazy comic shenanigans they get into while adjusting to their “new lifestyle” are bound to give the usual Sandler fans some chuckles (James is a lame duck- he’s strictly for sitcoms. He just doesn’t have the crossover appeal for the movies)- and granted, a few of the jokes do work. Some fall very flat- including a extended gag involving tough new firefighter, Duncan (Ving Rhames), who is inspired to come out of the closet thanks to Chuck & Larry doing so. The state doesn’t quite buy the marriage so they send an investigator (Steve Buscemi) out to snoop around. In defense, the two have to hire a lawyer (Jessica Biel), who is conveniently super hot, and Chuck falls for. Wonder what’s going to happen there? It’s predictable, occasionally offensive, occasionally stupid, but also occasionally funny. I wonder if we have Payne and Taylor to thank for those funny moments- even though I’m sure they get red faced whenever someone mentions this movie to them. If you had a Best Screenplay Oscar wouldn’t you?
Buy the DVD Here
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Length: 88 minutes
Director: Marco Schnabel
Writers: Mike Myers (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery; Wayne’s World) and Graham Gordy (War Eagle, Arkansas)
Starring: Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Ben Kingsley, Stephen Colbert, Romany Malco, Meagan Good, Omid Djalili, Jessica Simpson, Val Kilmer, Mariska Hargitay, Verne Troyer, Kanye West, Jim Gaffigan, Rob Huebel, John Oliver, Rob Blake, Telma Hopkins, Deepak Chopra, Graham Gordy
Remember how funny “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” was the first time you saw it? How “yeah baby!” and “shagadelic” and all those annoying catch phrases hadn’t been imitated by every single male that went to your school (in my case a very southern school- nothing beats hearing a redneck in camouflage doing his best “do I make you horny?” every single day in gym). Then came the next “Austin Powers” and the joke got old fast, but that didn’t stop the third “Austin Powers” where the jokes had become so old and overused they might as well have been Fatty Arbuckle vehicles. That’s what Mike Myer’s latest movie, “The Love Guru”, is like- except the jokes get third “Austin Powers” old ten minutes into the movie and then there’s still another hour and fifteen minutes to go. What happened to Myers? Was I the only one that found “So I Married an Axe Murderer” funny? Ditto both the “Wayne’s World” movies (particularly the massively underrated sequel- weird for Myers)? “Austin Powers” literally ruined the man’s comedic talents. I still stand by the first film as being extremely funny, but the sequels… well, we’ve all ready been down that path in this review. But the point is, Myers believes the multi-million dollar success of the “Powers” and “Shrek” franchises have given him the freedom to do whatever the hell he wants and he seriously believes just because he’s the Mike Myers people will watch it and think it’s funny. How quickly everyone forgets “The Cat in the Hat” fiasco. Here Myers plays a character that wouldn’t fill a six minute “SNL” sketch, yet alone a feature film, named Guru Pitka- a self help guru who is considered the second best in the world compared to some other guru. Pitka dreams of being number one and appearing on the “Oprah Winfrey” show. The only way to do that, apparently, is to reunite a hockey star named Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) with his estranged girlfriend (Meagan Good). The problem is that the girlfriend is involved with rival hockey star, Jacques Grande (Justin Timberlake- overdoing it a bit, buddy). There’s also a romantic subplot involving Pitka and Toronto Maple Leafs owner Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba- actually trying her best, but you know she has no one blame but herself- she keeps making these kind of movies- i.e. “Good Luck Chuck”). But let’s get down to what “The Love Guru” is really about- cramming in as many penis and shit jokes as humanly possible in under ninety minutes that won’t force the censors to let the film get an “R” rating. That much the movie accomplishes. If that sounds like the type of movie for you- well you’re dreams have been answered.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Length: 121 minutes
Director: Martin Brest ("Scent of a Woman"; "Meet Joe Black")
Writer: Martin Brest ("Going in Style"; "Hot Tomorrows")
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Justin Bartha, Lenny Venito, Lainie Kazan, Missy Crider, Peter Van Norten, Shelby Fenner
I avoided “Gigli” as long as I could even though there was a burning curiosity deep inside of me that wanted to watch it. I had to see how bad it really was. I started watching it when I was in Reno and couldn’t make it past the thirty minute mark. It was bad, I thought to myself, but not that bad. Sure enough, upon finally completing the entire film, the movie isn’t as bad as the general public was lead to believe. However, make no mistake this is not a good film. The immortal Jennifer Lopez line “gobble, gobble” will go down in history as one of the worst in cinema history. Let’s face it, the Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez relationship was so played out by the point of the movie’s release that the critics went in hungry, waiting eagerly to rip it apart. And they did, so much in fact, that it still gets mentioned when bad movies are brought up (it is currently ranked #80 on the Internet Movie Database’s Bottom 100 list). I can’t defend the movie and I don’t want to, but I will say that I have seen much worse in my lifetime. Affleck stars as Larry Gigli, a low level hood who is assigned a mission to kidnap the mentally challenged son (Justin Bartha) of a district attorney. When he arrives to pick up the young adult-ish Brian, he runs into his new partner, Ricki (Lopez), a sassy lesbian whom didn’t know she had a partner in the assignment and neither did Gigli. Uh-oh! He’s a piggish, male chauvinist and she’s a bitchy man hater- combined with a silly ol’ retard and this is going to make for one crazy road trip! (Wherever they’re going). Sure enough, an unlikely love story develops between Gigli and Ricki (leading up to “gobble, gobble”) and they also both grow attached to the lovable and dim Brian, who thinks the whole time that they are driving to the “Baywatch”. At a minute over the two hour mark it’s a wonder what anyone was thinking. Editing this down to ninety minutes or so and a couple of re-writes and maybe, just maybe this might have worked. After all director Martin Brest isn’t Uwe Boll. He’s an Oscar nominee for “Scent of a Woman” and he directed the Brad Pitt starring remake of “Meet Joe Black” that remains unseen by me, but everyone else seems to love. So what went wrong? Way too much press backfired (the other “Bennifer” movie, Kevin Smith’s “Jersey Girl” also bombed commercially and critically)? Did Brest give himself a script that just wasn’t workable (his first script since 1979)? I say that it’s just a mess all around. The all too brief cameos from Christopher Walken and Al Pacino bring so much to the table in this film, that in a normal movie it would just be considered scenes featuring them- here their scenes are the movie. Gobble, Gobble.
Download Soundtrack MP3:
Sir Mix A Lot- Baby Got Back
I couldn’t find the trailer for the movie on YouTube for some strange reason, so here’s the best part of the movie instead:
Monday, June 30, 2008
Length: 78 minutes
Director: Lynne Stopkewich ("The L Word”; Suspicious River)
Writers: Lynne Stopkewich (“The Atwood Stories”; Suspicious River) and Angus Fraser (“Terminal City”; A Girl is a Girl)
Starring: Molly Parker, Peter Outerbridge, Jay Brazeau, Natasha Morley, Jessie Winter Mudie, James Timmons
“Kissed” isn’t exactly about a very often used film subject, you know, being about necrophilia and all (unless you count those dozen or so ‘backwoods’ horror films like “Hills Have Eyes” and why should you?). Movies that tackle issues that audiences usually walk into with preconceived notions against the protagonist’s actions have it tough. Take “The Woodsman” for example- a movie where Kevin Bacon played a child molester recently released from prison. That film tried to give a human face/soul to people that the human race generally doesn’t give one too. I didn’t like the movie because I thought it tried too hard and even still it was tough to find Bacon’s character sympathetic. Comparing child molestation and necrophilia is an apple and oranges kind of deal. Is it more wrong to take advantage of a helpless child and scar him for life or to be taken advantage of when, you know, you’re dead? Sandra Larson (“Deadwood”’s Molly Parker) has had a fascination with death her entire life. As a young pre-teen (Natasha Morley) she and her best friend, Carol (Jessie Winter Mudie) would collect road kill and give them proper burials, but at night Sandra would return and dig up the graves and hold the bodies. In any other movie, this would be where the film would start turning into the horror category. Here it is weird, yet her fascination is so passionate it’s hard to explain. One day, after gathering road kill, Sandra and Carol undress and dance in the woods and Carol catches Sandra rubbing a dead animal in a rather sexual way all over her neck. The friendship, naturally, ends right there. Now grown up, Sandra is distant and has just earned her dream job working at a morgue. She even gets a boyfriend, Matt (Peter Outerbridge), who likes her even after she confesses to him that she has a fantasy of sleeping with a dead man (Molly Parker is hot and all, but that is devotion). It doesn’t take too long before Sandra makes that fantasy a reality. So what is the film about? A grown woman who is into necrophilia and trying to juggle having an actual relationship where “live” sex just doesn’t do it for her. How do you make a relationship like that work? More importantly how do you make a movie like that work? Somehow Canadian director Lynne Stopkewich does it. It is also, most impressively, her debut film. The movie depends so much on Molly Parker’s performance and she delivers. It was the role that after years of mingling in made for T.V. movies and cancelled shows, she finally broke into the indie world. Now she is finally getting her due as an amazing actress and what a job she does here. Kevin Bacon, a decent actor, just wasn’t strong enough to sway the audience in “The Woodsman” the way Parker does here. Her passion and need for love is displayed so delicately that even though she is, without question, not all there mentally- you understand why and just kind of accept it. I think it goes without saying that this is not a film for everybody, so please don’t Netflix it and then call me a lunatic for recommending a movie about a girl that sleeps with dead guys (it really is done rather tastefully, believe it or not). I thought it was well made and under extremely difficult circumstances too. It’s easy to make a movie about assassins or cute animated robots and make them accessible to practically everybody, but to make a movie like this and have it accessible to anyone is a challenge. Stopkewich and Parker are up for it and they pull it off. Hey some people have foot fetishes, others have dead people fetishes. We live in a strange world.
Download Soundtrack MP3:
Sarah MacLachlan- Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
Friday, June 27, 2008
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 48 minutes
Director: Dominic Polcino (“Family Guy”; “The Simpsons”)
Writer: Alec Sulkin (“Family Guy”; “The Late Show with Craig Kilborn”)
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Mike Henry, Chevy Chase, Beverly D’ Angelo, Leslie Nielsen, Rush Lumbaugh, Patrick Warburton, Adam West, Judd Nelson, Phil LaMarr, Lori Alan, Mike Hucknall, Alec Sulkin
The power goes off at the beginning of the “Family Guy” spoof of “Star Wars”. Bored and with nothing to do without T.V. (an old “Simpsons” trick), Peter Griffin- the father of the family for those who are from another planet that haven’t heard of this show- decides to tell a story. Of course, the story is the “Family Guy” take on the first “Star Wars” movies- the one from 1977- I’m not going to get into all that Episode this and Episode that bullshit. Seeing the success that Cartoon Network’s “Robot Chicken” (co-created by “Family Guy”’s son Chris, Seth Green), Fox decided to package the episode as a stand alone DVD and even made a “collector’s edition” that included a useless extra disc of bonus materials and a t-shirt (there’s a funny bit at the end where Chris mentions that “’Robot Chicken’ did this months ago”). There is apparently an intense rivalry between “Family Guy” devotees and “Simpsons” devotees about which show is better (if you ever get a chance to read this message board battles do so- because if you’re feeling down about your life, you’ll feel much better afterwards). To me, “The Simpsons” wins hands down, even “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane admits his show wouldn’t even exist without it. I feel “The Simpsons” has the upper hand simply because there is deeper character depth and it doesn’t rely solely on pop culture and repeat gags (not to say that it doesn’t use both of them, but just not to the phenomenal extent that the latter does). “Family Guy”, however, does what it does very well and I have laughed my ass off many a times at it, so in my book it succeeds and to go back and forth on which show is better is pretty ridiculous when both are damned well entertaining and serve their purposes quite brilliantly. For instance, “Family Guy”’s use of pop culture humor is what makes it able to carry a forty eight minute spoof “Star Wars” and make it absolutely hilarious, when it’s done you even want more. The show has fun here and it’s evident that everyone involved is giving a film that practically everybody worships a loving jab. Peter is Han Solo; Chris is Luke Skywalker; Lois is Princess Leia; Brian is Chewbacca; and Stewie is Darth Vader. Meg is reduced to a brief cameo as a one eyed creature during the trash compactor sequence (in which a stoned C-3PO (Quagmire) saves the day). The show follows the plot of the movie pretty straight forward throwing in it’s trademark humor and what can I say? It works. It even works better than those four or five episodes they strung together previously and tried to market as “The Family Guy Movie” about Stewie and time travel… and well, that’s a whole other review. If you like the show chances are you’ve all ready seen this (it’s not like I’m really breaking out an advanced review here or anything), so you know what I’m talking about. If you do like the show and you haven’t seen it, then you should, you’ll enjoy it. If you’re a “Star Wars” fan that hasn’t seen this or “Robot Chicken”, then I recommend that you Netflix or Blockbuster both of their "Star Wars" spoofs and I guarantee you you’ll at least get a few laughs- even if you don’t feel the force is too strong with either of them. It is, however, strong enough to make me laugh and that’s good enough for me.
Buy the DVD Here
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Length: 110 minutes
Director: Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch; Day Watch)
Writers: Michael Brandt (3:10 to Yuma (2007); 2 Fast 2 Furious), Derek Haas (3:10 to Yuma (2007), and Chris Morgan (The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift; Cellular)
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, James McAvoy, Terence Stamp, Common, Kristen Hager, Thomas Kretschmann, Marc Warren, David O’Hara, Konstantin Khabensky, Dato Bakhtadze, Chris Pratt, Lorna Scott, Scarlett Sperduto
“Wanted” is “Fight Club” amped up to be a live action video game. Watching the film opening night at the theaters, which I feel I have to add the crowd was oddly silent for a change, I kept expecting the film to stop and give me the option to press the “X” button to continue on from the dialogue sequences to start playing the game again. It deals with Corporate America anonymity/frustration and what if you got to toss all of it away to become a really cool assassin that hung out with a gang of really cool assassins that had gnarly nicknames like “Fox”, “Gunsmith”, “The Butcher”, and “The Exterminator”? I mentioned “Fight Club” not only due to the Corporate America similarities but also due to the fact that the film feels it needs to tack on a really boring “see it coming a mile away” twist (nothing like the “Fight Club” twist- don’t worry I didn’t spoil it for you- if you don’t see the twist coming anyway, then you were probably text messaging during most of the movie instead of watching it). The action scenes are a clusterfuck of the last few “Mission: Impossible” movies and, of course, “The Matrix”. Are they boring? No, not really. They are entertaining for the most part. They are a tad obnoxious though. The cinematographer (Mitchell Amundsen) feels he needs to throw out every cool hyper image he can at us until, alas, we do feel like we are playing “Wanted” the video game, instead of watching “Wanted” the movie. James McAvoy stars as Wesley Gibson. A Corporate American drone who has a bitchy fat boss (Lorna Scott) who berates him, a bitchy girlfriend (Kristin Hager) who’s sleeping with his best friend (Chris Pratt), and as he tells “Fox” later in the film he “doesn’t know who I am!”. Don’t we all, buddy. Try going to my job for a day and going through twenty fours in my shoes. But that’s besides the point, we are aware of Wesley’s angst through his (once again) “Fight Club” styled narration and then he has a near assassination moment at a conveince store by a rogue assassin (Thomas Kretschmann). He is “saved” by Fox (Angelina Jolie) and quickly informed that he is the son of a recently murdered gun for hire that was part of an alliance that Fox is also part of. Wesley being the son of someone in the alliance has it in his blood to be a natural born killer and through some played out training sequences with neato camera visuals we see that it is, in fact, true. Next step, the band of assassins- who happen to figure out who to kill next due to some weird code that is printed out on some kind of cloth- need to take care of the scum that killed Wesley’s father. Wesley, reluctant at first to join, changes his mind after he finds his father’s savings ($3 million plus) in his bank account)- and in one of the movie’s most enjoyable sequences gets to quit his job and give his best friend what’s coming to him in style. He also gets to show his girlfriend that he can do much better when shows up at their old apartment to retrieve a gun and Fox makes out with him in front of her just to piss her off (who wouldn’t want that?). The entertainment aspect of the movie, I suppose, is not it’s problem. As you will see if you click the Rotten Tomatoes link below, the movie currently has a 73% overall rating, which honestly shocked the hell out of me when I pulled it up. Critics certainly are a finicky bunch aren’t they? Slamming something decent one week (“The Happening”) and then praising a re-hased rather unoriginal action picture they next. I guess even critics sometimes fall victim to a movie’s flashy style-over-substance (which admittedly can work if done correctly) just like normal audiences do too. “Wanted” is not a bad movie, it’s just kind of an arrogant one. It wants to let you know that it has all this style, but it doesn’t want you think hard enough to remember that this isn’t the first time you’ve seen something like this. Guy Ritchie and the Wachowski Brothers were doing this ten years ago. If you see this movie, you will not be bored. You will more than likely guess the plot twist early on and then you can just turn your brain off and watch things go “boom” for the rest of the movie. I’d say you could just watch Angelina Jolie too, but she kind of isn’t in the movie as much as advertised and she’s starting to show her age a little too. When I see her now, I don’t see an actress like I used to (I, for one and call me crazy, never thought she was the hottest lady ever- that award belongs to someone I know). I see a tabloid queen. Her acting skills here don’t do much to make anybody forget that either. The one-liners the dialogue weak screenplay (three screenwriters folks- all of whom have worked on "Fast and Furious" sequels) give her and all the others don’t do much for anybody- her, McAvoy (looking odd not dressed in Victorian era costumes), or Morgan Freeman. But, hey, it’s summer right? These are the kind of movies that are supposed to be coming out. So explain to me how “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” did it so much better (and smarter)? Download Soundtrack MP3:
Danny Elfman- The Little Things
Danny Elfman- Fate
Download Soundtrack MP3:
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Length: 107 minutes
Director: James Bridges (Urban Cowboy; The China Syndrome)
Writer: Jay McInerney (Gia; David Lynch’s “Hotel Room”)
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Kiefer Sutherland, Phoebe Cates, Dianne Wiest, Jason Robards, Kelly Lynch, Swoosie Kurtz, Tracy Pollan, John Houseman, Annabelle Gurwitch, David Hyde Pierce, Jessica Lundy, William Hickey, Charlie Schlatter, Sam Robards, Reni Santoni
“Bright Lights, Big City” is one of my favorite drug movies (aren’t they all?) and it is certainly one of the more underrated ones. Based on the memoirs of screenwriter Jay McInerney, the movie is propelled by a powerhouse performance by none other than Marty McFly himself, Michael J. Fox. Yeah, that’s that right, a powerhouse performance by Michael J. Fox. You read it right. After watching him yuck it up on “Family Ties” and adequately go through the “this is heavy Doc!”s in “Back to the Future” (not to mention fucking “Teen Wolf”), Fox really proves himself as one hell of an actor here. The real shame, despite the movie’s anonymity, is that he was never really given the chance to give another performance like this. There was “Causalities of War”, but he was stuck with the Charlie Sheen “Platoon” part while Sean Penn got to chew up the scenery. Then it was off to forgettable clunkers like “Life with Mikey” and “Greedy”, until his eventual return to TV with the lame “Spin City” (only to be replaced by none other than Charlie Sheen). His extremely unfortunate bout with Parkinson’s disease has forced him out of the business and watching this movie is not only depressing due to it’s subject matter, but also due to a talent that was generally wasted by what was surely management that preferred to market Fox as Alex Keaton and Marty McFly. What a shame. There’s a sequence here where a wasted Fox gives what Roger Ebert has all ready beaten me to the punch on as describing as an amazing monologue about how lost he is and how it’s the best work of Fox’s career. He plays a thinly disguised version of McInerney named Jamie Conway here. He works for a successful magazine as an editor, but spends his nights coked up and drunk with his best friend Tad (Kiefer Sutherland). He is habitually late to work, having to stay late to make up assignments that he usually butchers anyways, and has to rely on the kindness of a caring co-worker (Swoosie Kurtz) whom he doesn’t even have the decency to show up to meet for a scheduled lunch date. Conway is still busted up over his failed marriage to Amanda (the ever beautiful Phoebe Cates), who also got hooked on coke and then became a big deal in the modeling scene and left him. The coke problem has gotten more and more out of hand until it’s taken over his life. He loses his job and finds the endless nights of partying with Tad blending together. Black screens pop up with white words printed on them that read things like “Monday- What ever Happened to Sunday?”. I was never a big fan of cocaine personally. I didn’t like the way it made me feel, but I identified with why people would like it, why they would love it. It’s a drug, that like the girl that screws Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Basketball Diaries” tells him will make him “fuck like Superman”- I interpreted that more as feel like Superman. The only problem is, like every drug (sorry to get so drug preachy in all my drug movie reviews lately by the way), it has it’s built in kryptonite and once it starts to take effect you start to feel less and less like Superman and more and more like a regular person- or worse yet, not even a regular person. Just a shadow. That’s what “Bright Lights, Big City” is about- wanting to be Superman, but ending up being just a shadow.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Length: 104 minutes
Director: Steven Shainberg (Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus; Hit Me)
Writer: Erin Cressida Wilson (Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus; My Lunch with Larry)
Starring: Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Spader, Jeremy Davies, Lesley Ann Warren, Amy Locane, Stephen McHattie, Erin Cressida Wilson, Jessica Tuck, Oz Perkins, Lily Knight, Lacey Kohl, Steven Shainberg, Patrick Bauchau
I had been recommended “Secretary” for years from various people. “It’s weird”, they would say, “You’ll like it”. I always find it funny when people recommend movies to me that they think that are “weird” because a) most of the time they aren’t very weird b) despite the fact that I watch a good amount of independent cinema, does that make me a weird movie fan? It’s not like I have a poster of “Eraserhead” hanging up in my room (though I did have a picture of David Lynch under my “heroes” section on my now deleted Myspace profile). “Secretary” is, in fact, not a weird movie, which is not why I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it, because it wasn’t a good film. It was shallow and wasted a wonderful and brave performance by Maggie Gyllenhaal- who gives it her all and let’s the director do what he wants and he wastes her. James Spader, usually a great addition to any film, doesn’t cut it as a romantic lead. He is weird and although his character, Edward Grey, is offbeat, he comes across more as creepy than misunderstood. When he starts spanking his new secretary Lee (Gyllenhaal) - the scene doesn’t come across as sweet as some critics/fans have stated or sexual, but as disturbing. I didn’t want Lee and him to fall in love. I thought her character was too sweet and good for him and I’m pretty sure that’s not what the director Steven Shainberg was going for. Edward Grey seems more likely to end up on the front page of a newspaper as a newly discovered serial killer than as the guy that sweeps up Lee in a piss stained wedding dress to whisk her away to a happy ending (you’ll have to see the movie to understand, but really, if you want my advice, I wouldn’t bother). The movie has gained cult status due to it’s dealing with S & M and such, but it doesn’t really divulge into the subject as much as it’s been hyped or perhaps should have. There are some spankings and such, though it doesn’t feel sexy or romantic. Maybe I don’t understand, I don’t know, but if the point of “Secretary” was to help me understand then it didn’t get the job done. It’d be fired.