Drive Angry

There’s not a lot of driving, and the anger tends toward the pissy, snotty, glowering. Obviously I didn’t expect this to be good, but so unrelentingly dull? Why did Nic Cage play it muted? Why don’t more people hire William Fichtner? Why am I posting on this? This film needed more bee-cages, iguanas, and/or crack pipes.

Who Gives a F@&! About the Morgans?

Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009). What a shittily shitty piece of absolute shite. I could stop there, but I want to say a few words about the film that could have been, the film that might have been a tad better than the one I watched (until I could watch no more, I stopped with about 20 minutes left).

Quick synopsis: Paul Morgan (Hugh Grant) and Meryl Morgan (Sarah Jessica Parker) are husband and wife undergoing a painful separation. He is a lawyer, she is the head of a real estate firm. They have butt-loads of money. Paul wants Meryl back and talks her into a date. Going neither poorly nor well, the date ends uneventfully. But as they say their goodnights, the two witness the murder (holy cow!) of a would-be client of Meryl’s. Having seen the victim, knife in back (really? a knife?), plummet to the sidewalk in front of them, Paul and Meryl look up to the balcony from which the victim fell and there they catch a glimpse of the murderer (who has a scar on his face!). Fearing the murderer will in turn spot them, Paul grabs Meryl and together the two hide behind a truck that happens to be parked in the street near where the victim fell. Get this, the truck suddenly pulls away! That’s right, the driver didn’t see the body land right in front of the truck, nor did the driver hear the body hit the pavement, or Meryl’s rather audible gasp. So, as the truck has pulled away, Paul and Meryl’s cover is blown and the murderer, looking down from the balcony above, spots them. Convincing? Hell yes!
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Gilliam’s Parnasus / Burton’s Alice

Well, here are a couple of disappointments. I don’t suppose I had very high hopes for Alice, but I didn’t think it would be quite as boring as this. In a movie that is about little more than spectacle, Burton managed to show us nothing we haven’t seen millions of times before, in his movies and every other adaptation of Alice.

The highlights were Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, and to a lesser extent Crispin Glover as the Jack of Hearts or Knaves or something. This was every bit as tedious as Burton’s Planet of the Apes and I wonder why he keeps going for these seemingly pointless remakes. Is there really such a lack of original scripts out there? I mean, there’s a good 20+ years worth of kids who grew up immersed in Burton’s non-threatening dreams. Some of them must have becomes scriptwriters who have risen to the point where they can pitch something his way?
I miss the warmth of Ed Wood or the insanity of Mars Attacks.

Terry Gilliam’s Imaginarium of Dr. Parnasus had some measure of originality to it, but was an unfocused, poorly acted, confusing mess. Heath Ledger has yet to impress me with his acting. Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell at least seemed to be awake. I’m not entirely sure that Christopher Plummer didn’t die in pre-production and that Gilliam just made a marionette out of his corpse, waving his hand here and there and mumbling some gibberish.

Like Alice there were two performances here that are worth watching. One is Lily Cole’s. I remember being amazed at how Gilliam took the beauty of Uma Thurman in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and just cranked it up to a ridiculous degree, so that she seemed almost post-human, evolved into another species. He does the same here. Lily Cole is gorgeous, and alive and acts, and reacts, and does all the things that someone acting in a movie is supposed to do. And Tom Waits as the devil seems like a no-brainer. He’s great.

But I cared nothing about any of these characters in either movie. I watched them months ago, and tried to write something then, but they are difficult to get excited enough to actually think very much about them.

I’ll at least use the opportunity to suggest going back to watch Tideland, Gilliam’s terribly reviewed previous movie, which was easily one of my favorites of the year. Jeff Bridges delivers a better performance as a corpse in Tideland than Ledger did as a quasi-live person in Parnasus.

Edge of D……

The latest Mel Gibson film is a welcome return to a grim ………………………I’m sorry what? What’s the–why are you here? Oh. I … I dozed off there. Oh. Oh yes–the Gibson film! Right, it was a move in the right direction, all that revenge stuff making Gibs…….


………….Huh? Was it–did–again? I am so sorry. This film seems to induce……


I’d say this was a bad film but an excellent narcotic.

Speaking of International Banking Conspiracies…

Tom Tykwer has been so assuredly devious in his direction, across the five very distinct films I’ve seen, that you almost want to do a spit-take when his name comes up at film’s end, as credits roll. Whaaaa? This plodding porridge of overheated performances, long (long, long, long) expository conversations, and hamfisted visual echoes of Pakula and Hitchcock was directed by the playful pomo trickster of Lola Rennt, the oblique moral visionary of Heaven, the perverse aesthete of the less-effective but ambitious Perfume? Even a fairly fun sequence shooting the shit out of the Guggenheim doesn’t really make the film worth renting. Bleccch.

Bloody hell

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 Continue reading Bloody hell

Grace is Gone

Very, very funny. I was surprised; the plot centers on a sad-sack Stanley (John Cusack, shoulders appropriately slumped throughout) with two daughters and a soldier-in-Iraq wife. Wife dies, husband frets over what to do, unsure how to break the news to his kids let alone how to grapple with his own grief and shame, and decides to take the kids to Enchanted Gardens. It’s like National Lampoon’s Mourning Vacation. Or maybe Little Miss Cloud Cover.

Okay, I kid. This movie made me cry, from sheer boredom. I should be polite, because intentions are so pure, so noble, so right-minded. But good lord what a drain. Call me insensitive (and if you do I’ll cry again), but Grace couldn’t be goned quickly enough for me. As Kris pointed out to me while watching, the whole film is one big long interrogation of Stanley’s inability to surface his emotions, and when we finally get the grief money-shot, the big moment of revelation and mourning with the daughters, the hammer-to-the-forehead-soulful soundtrack kicks up and we see the actors pantomime the scene — the moment of disclosure is literally repressed. I would love to see that as irony, but I doubt it.