Friday, March 27, 2009

Knowing: Because Space Angels Know Best

Daniel and I saw Knowing. We would never mistake this for an example of quality film. We would mistake this as a good way to waste a Thursday night. That it was. A hopeless mess of a film, but entertaining the whole way through. Now? A review.

Eric: I would title this film Whisper People and the Bunny Bribe.

Daniel: Those were important parts of the film.

Eric: A little girl refers to these space angels as 'the whisper people', see? And these whisper people give elementary-aged children rabbits to coerce them to repopulate the human race, and... wow... this is going to get complicated.

Daniel: We should definitely start from the beginning.

Eric: Right. Well, a young girl, named Lucinda, decides to leave a list of every natural disaster in the Earth's history on a piece of paper, coded by month, day, year, number of deaths-

Daniel: -even latitude and longitude.
Eric: She was a smart girl, that Lucinda. Schizophrenia helped.

Daniel: And who was to find this magical piece of paper 50 years later but our hero Nick Cage.

Eric: His son finds it, actually.

Daniel: Actually it's given to his son.

Eric: Alright, we've corrected each other enough. Now, Nicolas Cage, as comfortable as an astrophysics professor in this as Mark Wahlberg was as a biology professor in The Happening, figures he can find the sequence within this mess of numbers from crazy Lucinda. Who scratches her fingers to bloody pulps at one point, mind you.

Daniel: What I thought was classic was the fact that Cage, in a drunken rage because, obviously, the life of a physics professor is very tough, discovers these seemingly random numbers actually have meaning when he hones in on, what else, 9/11.

Eric: It's the only important date in American history, Daniel.
Daniel: Well, I understand that, but...
Eric: Cage, who apparently can't convince anyone of anything, takes matters into his own hands by buying a pistol.

Daniel: Actually it was a Magnum. I knew this because the gun came with a pamphlet titled "Your Magnum". Plus it makes for a really cool scene when he tries to drive his car with it. Really cool like only a Magnum could make it

Eric: He doesn't merely try, he does. What doesn't make sense is that Cage and his pistol don't save anyone, and cannot, because the number of deaths on paper are always the number of people that die.

Daniel: They've already been prophecized.

Eric: So Cage runs around, trying to prevent disasters from killing people that are already going to die, while his son falls into the same madness Lucinda was plagued with fifty years ago. Did we mention the fucking time capsule?

Daniel: Nah, but I mention he finds it 50 years later so it's all good. Um, yeah, he actually threatens one of the space angels with the magnum and, what's a space angel to do in that situation? What anybody else would do of course, he vomits a blinding light and disappears.

Eric: He opens his mouth, real wide, and a beam
shoots out. Why these Dark City-alien rip-offs can't seem to all run off in time to avoid Cage's wrath is beyond me. Alex Proyas, director extraordinaire, takes the same formula for an alien from his own Dark City and applies it to Knowing, minus the baldness.

Daniel: I guess that we should mention that the angels are trying to abduct Cage's son so that they can go all Planet of the Apes on the boy and have him mate with the adorable 9 year old Abby so that they too can repopulate a new, earth-like planet, complete with it's own tree of knowledge. This movie has a very religious undertone or at least streak to it.

Eric: We don't know this until the ending. Speaking of 'to know' things about this movie, try out a fun drinking game: anytime one of the charact
ers says 'knew', 'know', or 'knowing', take a nice hard swig from your bottle of Jack.

Daniel: Or your flask or whatever drinking apparatus you may have on your person. I did kind of get the feeling they were angels though the first time they glowed gold in young Caleb's room. They were either angels or street performers.

Eric: Now, in the story, Cage manages to view, and fail to do anything about, two giant disasters. One where a plane goes down right next to his car,
and he gets an opportunity to throw a blanket on one person, and drag another one out of a gash in the side of the ship's hull.

Daniel: The ship?
Eric: The air ship. And after this, he saves one woman and one baby in a subway accident.

Daniel: Exactly one woman and one baby.

Eric: This after he chases a DVD thief down the stairs and through a few subway cars.

Daniel: At this point I want to let all of you know what actually built up to this chase (one of my favorite parts of the movie). A night before the disaster Cage calls the FBI from a pay phone and tells them to tape off the intersection where he knows the accident to happen. This phone call is quick and confusing and he hangs up
when he very well could have stayed on longer and possibly made some semblance of sense. Anyways, the next day he drives to New York and finds that the intersection is not taped off. He proceeds to find the nearest cop and scream at her "Why isn't the intersection -

Eric: Blocked off yet?

Daniel: Yes, thank you. The cop replies with "Sir, just calm down. If you'll come with me we can sort this all out." There follows a shot of an FBI "rape van". Cage obviously can make sense of all of this and takes off with superhuman speed into a crowd of naive business men and woman.

Eric: Flash-speed. Godspeed. All of these heroics, and no results. At this point Cage is getting pretty down on himself. Luckily enough, Lucinda's daughter Hagitha or some shit decides he isn't insane after a tense show-down at a Museum.

Daniel: Because they've met already, we really haven't explained that yet. We are obviously having much more fun conveying the ridiculous nature of the film over its plot points.

Eric: So Hagitha and her daughter Abby side with Cage, and want to stop the world from exploding. But they don't know how. By taking a trip to her deceased, schizophrenic mother's shack, why not? And what do they find out there? That the old nut has scratched in an explanation for the mysterious backwards EE on her paint-by-numbers time capsule paper. It means "EVERYONE ELSE". You get that after seeing it dug into the beneath-the-bed-board over and over. And over.

Daniel: They also find a helluva lot of Jesus Stones which are everywhere in this fucking movie and, to tell you the truth, really play no part in it whatsoever. They show where a space angel has done some mischief or such I guess...

Eric: These space angels crop up every now and then, to seem spooky-

Daniel: Mostly to prey on children.

Eric: Right, right. Stand near them, and stare intensely, at least.

Daniel: Or give them Jesus Stones.

Eric: Once they show Caleb an apocalyptic vision of flaming wildlife prancing through a blazing forest.

Daniel: I have to stop you here. I have been waiting to write about this since we started this strange trip into Knowing. This is the scene, by far my favorite scene in the movie, with the slow-mo moose who happens to be on fire. It
comes diving out of a flaming forest, itself on fire, and for a good half a minute it enthralls by
diving back and forth as its magnificent hide burns as I imagine Rome once burnt. All that was missing was the violin solo.

Eric: Speaking of violin, the music from the opening of The Fall is used twice in this. The first time set to slow-motion. Huh... you know, I think the opening of The Fall was in slow-motion, too.

Daniel: It was.
Eric: Hm... interesting, Alex Proyas. Oh! What did you compare Alex Proyas to, Daniel?

Daniel: A Boomer, from everyone's favorite Xbox 360 game Left 4 Dead.

Eric: A comparison which had me laughing for minutes. Where were we? I have to say, I'm completely lost in this movie. So much happens which is confusing, and so much of it is confusing for no reason other than to be confusing.

Daniel: But we still love it, even if it is for all the wrong reasons. I'm really lost now, uh, I must say though that I really enjoyed that song to the throngs of looters and rioters in the streets of New York. I'm a sucker for civil disobedience, plane crashes, and all around chaos when it comes society. But mostly plane crashes. You got your Castaway, your Lost, your Bioshock (which is a video game but a damn good plane crash none the less), and now you've got your Knowing, a nice addition to plane crashes everywhere. But I've lost myself...

Eric: We've skipped over a lot of plot points. A major one is the fact that Nicolas Cage doesn't believe in fate. Or the Fates. Or religion. Fate, faith, none are his cup of tea. And his wife's death not affecting him from states away was the coffin on the nail for him. Nail in the coffin, I mean. Another point is that Caleb is deaf. Which really adds nothing.

Daniel: It really does not play any part in anything, maybe less than even the Jesus Stones. I guess that for a bit it kind of explains how he hears the space angels, they tune in through his tech. But that angle is lost as soon as you realize Abby can hear them without tech seeing as she is a perfectly healthy child. There really are a heck of a lot of things in this movie that really make no sense when you think about it. Take the fact that as armageddon looms Cage looks out of his car window and, what a coincidence, he spots his friend and colleague, dead center of the screen, staring longingly back at him as if to say "You knew all along, you knew."

Eric: Everyone being dead-center in a crowd really got to me. Most of all in the time capsule party scenes. Cage is in there with a lot of people, but he seems to stick out like a sore thumb, not because he's our protagonist, but because the blocking is amazingly awkward. And when he stands alone, he always parts his legs as if to brace himself against the great emotional shocks he might be facing. On a side-note, you know why there are so many loose end, and dumb plot devices? Because six people wrote this, over a number of years. Many don't even know each other, man!

Daniel: In all fairness, Nick Cage is eternally dealing with emotional blows so it is only natural that he stands ready for the next. I think my favorite technical addition to the movie was the extreme zoom on Hagitha as she turns only to notice that she has been car jacked by space angels. It really gets across the feeling of being car jacked by space angels.

Eric: My favorite technique was the completely and totally unnecessary use of hand-held. Anytime the camera shook, I shook my hands, hoping I could realign the camera. Did they lose the tripod in the first week of shooting?

Daniel: Yes. In the girth of Alex Proyas. But that's a pot-shot.

Eric: What the hell is a pot-shot?

Daniel: Um... it's a... uh... yeah. Pretty much.

Eric: No, I get it. Dirty shot.

Daniel: Yeah, there you go. We should end this soon.

Eric: No problem. Let's get to the climax. Caleb and Abby get snatched up into a spaceship as Nicolas Cage falls to his knees in awe. Hagitha gets hit by a car before this, just so you know. And then everyone on Earth gets incinerated.

Daniel: Yes, but incinerated while hugging. Yeah, like I hit on a bit earlier Caleb and Abby are bribed with adorable bunny rabbits to board a space angel cruiser -

Eric: You didn't hit on the bribery, I hit on the bribery.

Daniel: OK, but anyways, they board the space angel cruiser and are taken with what I believe are many more children to an alien world that seems to be covered with amber waves of grain or penis grass as I first thought. There they seem to get over any fears that space travel may have caused and skip towards the glowing tree of knowledge hopefully to get right on procreating. I guess that there are many more children because there were like a bajillion of cruisers leaving Earth and landing on alien planet.

Eric: I think the ships were an oversight. I'm pretty sure Caleb and Abby were meant to be the new Adam and Eve, not one of many Adams and Eves. A lot of ships is more impressive than just one is all. I think that about covers this... this mockery of cinema.

Daniel: Yes, space angel see, space angel do and all that jazz. So the movie ends on everybody dying in a horrific solar flare that wipes out the planet except for the children/childrens that are spirited away to do it nasty on an alien planet. All in all it is a beautiful, beautiful work of art that, for $7.50 at an AMC theatre, was worth every penny (again, for all the wrong reasons)

Eric: Spirited away... we should see Spirited Away soon.

Daniel: I've seen it. Four times.

Eric: And I have not.

Daniel: You haven't? It's really good.

Eric: Are we done with Knowing yet?

Daniel: Yes, I believe so.

Eric: Good.

Daniel: Fine.

Eric: The end.

Daniel: Okay.

By Daniel Unser and Eric T. Voigt

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