Saturday, November 21, 2009
Mike Myers, how far ye have fallen. I bought his Austin Powers movies because I remember Myers fondly, not Powers. I should have been buying Wayne’s World. Wayne is a much funnier, likeable character, and paired with Dana Carvey’s Garth he was hysterical. I worried the sequel, this movie, wouldn’t live up to the standards set in the first one, but if anything it meets and surpasses.
Now, I’m not what you’d call a “fan of heavy metal or even pseudo-heavy metal,” but I can understand wanting to be after a sit-down with Wayne’s World 2. The level of Wayne’s grit in creating the best rock festival in the world is endearing. Hard rock is handled with an understanding and care that makes even the die-hardest techno junkie’s heart melt for the rockers.
Everything is accessible, when so many of my senses are reeling against it. Even when the humor is at its most juvenile it’s so earnest I throw all caution to the wind and smile until my lips want to rip. Wayne’s World 2 is one of my favorite buddy movies, demonstrating the essence of comedy, love of music, and friendship.
I remember watching the Addams Family Vacation at my house. My Grandfather snuck out of the house, crept over beneath the window and popped his head up, shouting. He nearly scared me to death. Think, a seven year old going into cardiac arrest, and it being all his Grandpa’s fault. That’s the most interesting memory I have of any Addams Family movie.
The Addams Family movie(s) weren’t as funny as they tried to be, or as creepy as they could have been if they’d stuck to the source material. They fell into this kind of funky purgatory. Not a good funk, a lame funk. The first Casper movie suffered from the same problems. It aspired to be spooky, but turned out dusty and disgusting. Dusty isn’t an adjective often applied to tone. Its the only word I can think of.
Morticia and Gomez had this running gag where Gomez would become incredibly horny, and start kissing his wife’s arm, I think. I know there was a sexual undercurrent that I understood at my young age, but didn’t approve of. It was disconcerting. If I’m a prude now I was even more of a prude then. I blame the German and Puritan blood what flows through me.
If Addams Family had any humor it flew right over my head. I think I remember there being jokes. I don’t remember laughing. If the movie was too mature, or just a bad movie I’m not totally sure of. I supposed it left some kind of impact if I’m using four paragraphs to talk about it.
The Boris Karloff hosted Black Sabbath is a strange beast. I saw it at my first Music Box Massacre, at threeish in the morning. It took three Italian horror shorts and compiled them into an anthology. All of the actors were dubbed over in English except for Boris, who gave brief introductions before each short. He starred as a vampire in the longest and most boring short. The other two felt like average Twilight Zone episodes. I didn’t like it. Why did they subject us to such blah filmmaking?
Whether or not the shorts were intended to be compiled as an anthology still confuses me. The English dubbing appeared to take liberties with the stories, with dialogue not always matching up with the visuals. Whole chunks of exposition felt tacked on to help slower audience members. It was one of the least entertaining films in the twenty-four hours and ill placed for an audience who’d been awake for seventeen hours and at least nine more to go.
Now I know where “the world is yours” comes from! One more reference to notch into the bedpost.
Hopefully the poster has lead you to understand I’m referring to the 1932 Howard Hawks film, not the Brian DePalma/Al Pacino Scarface. I haven’t seen that Scarface. The only DePalma movie I’ve liked is Phantom of the Paradise, so I don’t have much interest in checking out the remake, if that’s what it’s considered. Judging from what I know about both there isn’t much similar ground between the two.
Hawks’ take was surprisingly comedic. Like, laugh out loud comedic. I haven’t seen a gangster movie mix humor and violence quite like Scarface. There’s a character, Angelo, who was the equivalent of a murderous Chico Marx. Hilarious. Paul Muni outdoes himself on the funny, too. He’s a greedy, evil bastard, but light enough to feel alright rooting for. He’s ruthless, but he’s a ruthless endearing underdog.
I definitely want to check out more by Howard Hawks. Did you know I haven’t even seen The Big Sleep? It feels deplorable, it does. If his other work is as masterful as Scarface I may be getting a new favorite director. If I’ve spoken too soon, with my foot in my mouth, I’ll address it in upcoming installments, over 220 posts from now.
Screwball comedies, I miss you. I want gutsy, fast talking women and adorable leading men who remain at their best when bested. Intolerable Cruelty pays homage, and adds on to, a great familiar genre which has been lost somewhere in the past half-century.
Judging from the cover, poster, and anything else marketing the movie I expected Intolerable Cruelty to be my least liked Coen brother venture. I was shown George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, big Hollywood names with nothing to lose, staring dotingly into each others eyes. “Romantic comedy blech,” I thought. “Surely the Coens jest.” I should never have misjudged them.
Intolerable Cruelty may be one of their funniest films yet. The clever wordplay is at its cleverest. Its comedic timing could have a clock set to it. All of the actors treat the absurd as dead-pan as possible, and man, oh man, does it culminate into something hilarious. That something: Intolerable Cruelty.
Don’t be like this guy over here. Give Intolerable Cruelty a chance. If you’ve heard someone denigrating it ignore them, and let yourself decide. I can see where it would be everyone’s cup of tea, but for a culture ready to throw thousands away on Epic Movie and the next straight-to-DVD American Pie it feels like Intolerable Cruelty is something all the more special. Hilarious and special. I cherish it.
I saw Across the Universe out of a sick desire to learn what fresh hell The Beatles were being put through. I’d already put up with I Am Sam’s all Beatles cover score and figured a movie built entirely around covers was going to take this previous low and blow it out of the water. I was very disappointed, so I wasn’t disappointed.
When Bono’s allowed to sing “I Am the Walrus” and Eddie Izzard’s role is to dance around a gaudy green-screened circus in corpse make-up I am not happy. The singers have adequately strong voices, paling against McCartney and Lennon’s, or even Harrison and Starr’s, they can’t act a lick through the nonsense stringing the songs together. Jim Sturgess is a handsome fellow but he isn’t much of an actor, and Evan Rachel Wood’s out-of-focus nipple, though not an official member of SAG, stole the show from the rest of the cast.
There are a few memorable moments, but they only come out of the inspired production design. Strawberries bleeding their juice over a canvas and Easter Island-like heads peopling a luscious were interesting while failing to gloss over the predictable character arcs and corny dialogue. What was essentially a group of music videos stapeled together met my lowest expectations, and has served only to embolden my disgust for Beatles tributes, covers and/or modern musicals.
The credits told me “written by The Wachowski Brothers” and my mind did a double take. No way did something like that come from someone like them. Alan Moore provided the story and characters, but they had to have taken more than just those bare bones when putting the script together because believing they went from The Matrix: Revolutions to V for Vendetta takes a chasm-sized leap of faith. Give a big hand to graphic novelists, credible actors and competent directing, everybody.
V for Vendetta was so in tune with my fifteen-year-old sensibilities. It was about revolution against a conservative society, pairing nicely with my distaste for Bush-run America. It had a badass vigilante anti-hero preaching justice through knife throwing. There were explosions that looked like they could really fuck you up, and a quick, sweet story that never felt to stretch too far beyond the reasoning of the censor-happy futuristic universe it lived in.
Most important to me now as it was then is Natalie Portman. Before Sinead O’Connor I’d never seen a female celebrity with a shaved head before Portman as Eve, and I haven’t seen an attractive one since. She was smart, precocious, and sexy though her trials living in a cold, unforgiving world, and one of my favorite heroines for her earnest-feeling bouts of scared indecision, and her ability to make me root for her from the moment she walks onto the film.
After the movie, and after the shock of the Wachowskis I turned to my friends and awaited their thoughts. I assumed I was going to be alone in my enjoyment, but I was wrong. V for Vendetta struck a heavy chord with my liberal, excitable self, and the feelings ran from one socially conscious youth to another the world over. Would I feel the same now as I did then? Not sure. I’d like to think so. I really would.