First of all, to those of you looking for another solid summer comedy from Judd Apatow: go see it. Apatow remains in top form as the unopposed master of anatomy jokes. Dicks, vaginas, scat and vomit abound, usually landing on their comic target, except in an unfortunate scene of female-on-male rape as comedy – I knew we as a culture had not moved past it, but I hoped Apatow as godfather of American comedy had. Get Him To The Greek works out a tonal compromise between the fart-jokes-with-heart mood of most of Apatow’s former work and the melodrama-with-fart-jokes of Funny People. Apatow seems to have retreated from the Chaplinesque sentimentality he reached for with Funny People, but Get Him To The Greek is some of his most emotionally mature work yet.
Archive for the ‘Film on Fridays’ Category
Unless you are literally a dead person, you have likely heard of the Oscar nominations that just came out last week. Now, if you’re anything like me, the moment the new year rolls around, you just start chomping at the bit to hear what entirely uncontroversial and borderline offensive picks “the Academy” is able to agree on in their scholarly and collegiate wisdom from their ivory tower while they aren’t busy training all their cadets.
So who’s going to win? More importantly, who does some unemployed bearded man in Berkeley think is going to win? That is what we’re going to solve today with my Predictions for The Oscars in Twenty Ten All Right!! A word of warning: I saw almost none of these movies.
A few years ago, actor-comedian Jamie Kennedy made a documentary in reaction to the overwhelmingly negative critical response to his film Son of the Mask entitled Heckler. The film is a very personal and at times defensive critique of criticism itself, which actually struck a chord with me in particular, even beyond the clear irony that blasting critics due to their profession presents. Sprinkled throughout Heckler are interviews with comedians and actors describing how they feel when they are the subject of negative criticism, with many resorting to the stance that they would like to fight anyone who calls their talents into question — including director Uwe Boll, who did just that, and as a result is seen as a kind of hero.
I understand this sentiment entirely. I take criticism very personally — even reasoned, constructive criticism will sometimes send me into a days-long depression. When I was editor for the Squelch, I took it very personally when we would get the occasional “you suck” or “you aren’t funny”, and it even got to me when someone told me we were offensive. I understand what Kennedy is going for in Heckler. But there’s just one problem. Son of the Mask DID suck. Uwe Boll DOES make awful, awful films. And sometimes Squelch ISN’T funny. Sometimes things are just bad and just because someone worked really hard on it doesn’t mean that it’s exempt from being bad or that it has special protection against people calling it bad.
This is particularly applicable to the comedy Horror in the Wind, a film that was sent to us for some inexplicable reason.
This holiday premiere season, there’s one question probably not on your mind: is It’s Complicated significantly less stupid than its title, trailer, posters and tagline (“Divorced… with benefits”)? The answer, I barely care to inform you, is yes, thanks to careful direction and a cast more full of ringers than a United States Olympic basketball team. Writer-director Nancy Meyers, also of Something’s Gotta Give, acquits herself admirably in her apparent specialty of deconstructing ’70s movie stars by way of old-people romance. But it’s doubtful that she would have succeeded without the fine work of Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep and Steve Martin, who play out a romance not only more convincing, not only funnier, but actually sexier than the young couples we’re supposed to enjoy watching generally manage. Unfortunately, Meyers never pushes the story far enough to make the strong statement about post-modern love that she clearly wanted to make.
It shouldn’t be a spoiler that It’s Complicated has a happy ending, which in Hollywood means that the characters arrange themselves algorithmically into a neat grid of mutual obligation that takes into account strict monogamy, absolute no-homo for anyone in a leading role, loyalty to biological offspring, and devotion to True Love. In other words, by the end Meyers takes care to banish everything that the phrase “it’s complicated” implies. And the beginning involves no romance or comedy to speak of, establishing character and setting at the sluggish pace of a writer without faith in the audience or in her own abilities. But the middle zips, it crackles, it sizzles, it follows all the clichés about stories that don’t follow clichés. The middle section is so exciting, the MPAA gave it an R rating, for a couple of tame sex-having and pot-smoking scenes with no swearing and no violence. It’s obvious what disturbed the MPAA: this movie makes love and sex (and drugs) seem fun. Also dirty, illicit, confusing. Complicated, even. Hell, people enjoy food in this movie more than they enjoy love in most “romantic comedies,” which gives it real comic and romantic stakes.
Jennifer’s Body is terrible. No, not just high-school terrible, actually terrible. I know, if you plan to see Jennifer’s Body, you’re going in with low expectations, but none of your expectations will be met. You’re strictly better off doing something else. See it on DVD if you must.
What you might expect:
A cheesy but sexy horror-comedy about Megan Fox fucking a bunch of dudes and then eating them. Basically a Sam Raimi movie with more cleavage.
What you get:
A dull, lifeless snark-fest, incompetently directed, with no actual awareness of horror or comedy tropes, let alone affection for them. And it’s not even that sexy. Basically a Scary Movie with more cleavage.
Chances are, by now, you’re wondering what the hell the deal is with District 9. The trailers were cryptic, faux-documentary newsflashes that plunged viewers into the world of the movie without revealing any of the plot. It was a canny move, but a risky one – people were supposed to buy tickets to see a movie they didn’t know anything about, except that it involved aliens and probably symbolized apartheid. You can’t tell from watching the trailer whether District 9 will turn out to be a ham-handed message-fest, a two-hour Halo cutscene, or a thriller as savvy, original and resourceful as the promotion itself. Good news! It’s the third, and in fact, I’d almost recommend watching it with no more information than that.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before. I’ve probably never mentioned this before. But I fucking love Everything is Terrible!. For those not keen on the premise, the good folks at EiT! essentially go around finding old video tapes and things from discount bins and small-town libraries and hunt through them for the most awkward and ill-thought-out bits, which they then edit humorously and display on their wonderfully basic-Blogspot-format internet-nickelodeon. It is the job that I would take if I had to kill a plump white baby with my teeth to get it.
About a month ago, EiT! came out with their first feature movie made of strung-along clips, titled, puzzlingly, Everything is Terrible! The Movie!, which you can order in DVD form from their website. So far, the DVD has received a pretty glowing review from the Onion AV Club, and has been viewed by me two (2) times. What could my impressions be? Will I be let down? Will I regret sending $20 to people for mashing together stolen intellectual property?
You better read this review to find out! This is incredibly important for you to do!!!