About once every three months I head to the local blood bank where I am hooked up to a machine which removes all of my blood, cycling in first some kind of plasma stuff then replacing my old, tired corpuscles with some from a chubby, fresh-faced 14-year-old Iowan. (Ex-fresh-faced, alas.) Anyway, I’m trapped there for two hours, and can’t move my arm. Whatever movie I’ve brought along and put on, I watch all the way through.
Today, I brought Smart People, and after watching I carefully examined the packaging to see if Smart was in quotations, some kind of weird irony. I think Gio has previously posted about how damned irritating portrayals of academics in film can be; here, Dennis Quaid puts on a fat-belt and a very artificial gait (to signify… what? I wondered if this English prof used to ride a horse to work), as well as a weird come-and-go highbrow accent (again — what?). He is ostensibly an English prof, a cut-rate Bloomian aghast at the plebes he teaches and the morons he works with. But it’s frustrating when the only sort-of cutting, sharp dialogue comes from the one person ostensibly uneducated and foolish. (And I think Thomas Haden Church gets most of the credit, as it is the very lucid look of his eyes as he says and does often silly, adolescent things that makes his character a sole bright spot.)
Tag on the patented Sarah Jessica Parker hurt-ingenue-professional, a bunch of other nonsense, an absolute waste of Christine Lahti in the background as a secretary…. the film’s a mess. Add emo-ish indie soundtrack, to get people thinking about Little Miss Sunshine and seven hundred other Sundance bluelight specials.
Ah, dreck. I kept pumping my fist to make my blood move out of my body more quickly, until my head began to spin.
On the other side of the -brow, Larry Cohen’s giddy lurid early-seventies horror film God Told Me To is patently silly in its structure, pure-z movie ridiculous — and it’s shot with handheld camera and a sloppy sense of continuity that bespeaks either a fascination with Godard or a complete disregard for basic film technique. Many of the performances would make Pia Zadora blush. And yet…. it’s a blast, and smart as hell in many ways. I don’t want to give away the twists, ‘though I’d love to discuss its truly substantive reflections on religion…. but as a tag: a detective (the quite good Tony Lo Bianco) begins investigating a series of random killings (sniper, family homicides, supermarket stabbings) where every culprit asserts that “God Told Me To” do the killing.
Suffice it to say that, from that tag, I never would have predicted the appearance of….
SPOILER:::::: SPOILER SPOILER
Alien Jesus, with strange vagina in his side!
I will take 500 Alien Jesuses, with or without strange vaginas, over any more smart people.