Ryan Gosling Double Feature: Drive & Ides of March

As I sit down to write this, I realize a few things:

  • it’s been a long long time since I wrote anything for this blog
  • no one reads this blog
  • I don’t have a job
  • I’ve never owned a pair of cowboy boots

 

But today of all days (Rex Manning Day? I don’t know) none of that matters.  Especially because of the epic review I’m about to write of the last two movies that I saw in theatres, both of which starred Ryan Gosling and neither of which I’ve had time to fantasize about whilst masturbating.  But I digress.

When I first saw the poster for Drive, it was in Manhattan and it was one of the posters with Carey Mulligan in it alone.  It caught my attention with it’s pink script and extreme closeup and I remarked that it looked like a poster for a Lifetime movie.  Of course, when I found out that Ryan Gosling was in it and it was, in fact, an actual movie I wanted to see it.  I didn’t really know anything about it except the stars and that “There’s no such thing as a clean get away.”  Okay.

Turns out Gosling is a mechanic and stunt driver who has these really cool driving gloves with holes over the knuckles and lives alone.  For extra cash and most likely for the thrill of it, he acts as a getaway driver for criminals.  One day he meets his neighbor, Carey Mulligan when she’s having car trouble and gives her a ride home and then, OMG, they’re in love.  Then, before they ever fuck, her husband (oops) gets out of jail and naturally all hell breaks loose, as it were and the whole thing moves from a kind of angsty movie about driving cars fast to a sticky, graphic, stylized bloodbath (but nary a nipple in sight, sigh).

Like, I know that it’s a cliché in movies, love at first sight, jumping, rushing in to an unexplained spiritual connection that transcends ‘dating’ and goes deeper than ‘sex.’  I get that that’s a thing.  BUT.  When you’ve got a character who time and again displays his lack of sympathy for fellow human beings, who revels in his solitary life and you’re going to give him a love interest (a mother, no less, as if) that he not only gives up all those things for, risks his life for, well you MIGHT want to give us a MOMENT where you explain what is so GODDAMN SPECIAL about this lady!  But no, she’s just pretty.  I mean, she’s definitely pretty.  But she works at Denny’s and just thinking about her makes me want to yawn.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Ryan Gosling as much as the next girl.  But I can’t help but feel that a lot of his acting talent is derived from his ability to widen and narrow his eyes.  That is, a lot this film consisted of him and Carey Mulligan staring at each other.   I don’t even really mind watching Ryan Gosling staring at things (ryangoslingstaringatthings.tumblr.com don’t take it my idea!) and the truth is that I enjoyed watching this movie, even the parts where people were having their brains splattered all over the inside of motel bathrooms.  But there really wasn’t much to it.

Still,

 

The Ides of March, on the other hand, has a political-thriller plot that certainly bills itself as “substance” and a dreary Cincinnati backdrop that wouldn’t be considered “style” and yet, it makes me angry just thinking about how bad this movie was/is/continues to be/will always be.  With a cast brimming with at least what Hollywood tells me is talent (Gosling, Clooney, PSH, Giamatti, Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, the guy from Social Network with the eyebrows) you’d think that it would be difficult to fail!  And yet!  Every scene was hackneyed, boring, predictable, stupid.  Lacking any charm, humor, suspense, realism, meaningful characterizations, believable dialogue.  ALL OF THOSE THINGS WERE MISSING.

Here, let me recount to you my favorite scene.  It’s before Evan Rachel Wood and Ryan Gosling have sex.  They are having drinks at a bar, sitting across from each other with their faces very close to one another.  This is the dialogue (I’m only barely paraphrasing):

 

ERW: How old are you?

Ry: How old do you think I am?

ERW: Ummm [bites lip] 30?

Ry: You think I’m 30?!

ERW: Ooh, sorry.  How old are you?

Ry: I’m 30.  [pause] How old are you?

ERW: How old do you think I am?

Ry: 21.

ERW: I’m 20.

Ry: That’s young.

ERW: Too young to fuck a 30 year old?

 

Oh hey, that was PAINFUL.  Evan Rachel Wood wants to FUCK Ryan Gosling (I approve) and it’s not sexy in the least!  It’s retarded!  (also, get some bronzer, girl – I know you rock that peaches & cream look but shit you’re so pale!)

 

The ‘love’ stories in these two movies could be held up in some kind of film or directing or casting class as an example of chemistry (Ryan Gosling & Carey Mulligan stare at each other and it’s like, ooooh yeah) vs no chemistry (Ryan Gosling & Evan Rachel Wood fuck and it’s like, ho hum, yawn, is this movie over).

It was terrible.  So terrible.  Still,

The Boys of Baraka

Almost immediately upon putting it in my laptop (what, I was sleepy) it because obvious how The Boys of Baraka came to be in my Netflix queue.  It’s about at-risk youth in inner city….BALTIMORE!  Yeah!  It’s like season 4 of The Wire in real life!

Only, not really.

The Boys of Baraka is actually a documentary about a group of troubled young men growing up in Baltimore, in single parent (or no parent) homes who are chose to spend two years at a boarding school in rural Kenya called the Baraka school.  The film starts off by alerting you to a troubling statistic: that 76% of African American boys in Baltimore will not graduate from high school.  That is truly a travesty and a number that was really shocking to me.  It continues to follow 4 or 5 boys who apply (I guess — this part isn’t shown) to go to the Baraka school in Kenya.  They are all promising in some way: charming, precocious, creative but are being mishandled or simply not handled (read: suspended and ignored) by the Baltimore school system (but if you’ve see The Wire then you KNOW that they’re TRYING THEIR BEST) so off they go, probably many on their first trip out of the city to say nothing of their first time on an airplane  (oh, a little bit of backstory here might have been nice).  Some say tearful goodbyes to their mothers but some simply continue to cause mischief and create concern for fellow air travelers.  To be fair, the flight(s) to Kenya is a long one and I don’t know that twenty 11-14 year old boys from any kind of background is exactly what I would want on my plane either.

Once in Kenya, some of the boys are thrilled (their cabin accommodations are in many respects superior to their housing situations in Baltimore) but do need some time to adjust,  a few of them demanding to go home and one in particular (Montrey) continuing to start fights and cause trouble.  But after a few talking tos and heart to hearts with the (white) staff, they seem to get stuff figured out and by the end of the year, it seems like they’re all having a great time.  As a matter of fact, it gets kind of sad when they have to go back to Baltimore for the summer.  They all seem uncomfortable there, around their mothers and their old friends and ready to go back.

But then tragedy strikes and their parents are informed that the operations of the Baraka school have been suspended due to terrorism and security risks inherent in travel to East Africa.  Of course, the parents proceed to get indignant because WHAT are they supposed to do NOW!!  The response of the Baraka administrator is not even captured, but my response was “Are you kidding?”  True: It is totally sad that the boys won’t get to finish their second year in Kenya.  Also True: Going to Kenya and having a private education is not exactly a right that these kids have.  So sure, be upset and sad, but get angry with the Baraka school for something that is totally out of their control?  Um, really?

So the boys don’t get to go back but Montrey ends up at the best school in Baltimore anyway because he apparently is really good at math (surprise!  thanks for using this as some kind of, I dunno, through line, plot point, touchstone).

Mostly, the idea of the Baraka school is an interesting one.  It’s too bad it got shutdown (apparently for good).  But this documentary was not a particularly compelling portrait of either the school, Baltimore or the eponymous boys.  The filmmakers even seem to know this as they put the boys names up on the screen with them all the way through.  Perhaps if they had created any kind of fleshed out portrait of them we would be able to at least recognize and distinguish between them.  Which one has a dad in jail?  Which one has a mom with a crack problem? Oh, that’s the same one.  I think he has the learning disability too (BARELY ADDRESSED).  The one who wants to be a preacher is cute — what’s wrong with him again?  Does he become a preacher?  Wholly disappointing portrait of a provocative topic.

In happier news, Season 5 starts tonight (in my apartment)!!

Posted in: documentary, indie, reviews by FilmFemme 1 Comment

Gigantic

The redbox at Jon’s strikes again.  I think the mailman is stealing my Netflix because they are getting to me way slower than they used to.  I mean, I really don’t think the mailman would even want my documentary about African schools, but whatever.  So instead I watched Gigantic, starring indie sweethearts Paul Dano and Zooey Deschanel.  I’ll pause for a moment while your eyes wander off the screen and you find yourself thinking about her huge blue eyes peering up at you through her lustrous bangs and lighting up when you tell her how much you loved the bootleg She & Him record that you got from your best friend Lauren who probably has a big crush on you and is actually really cool and totally cute but you don’t even recognize it because  anything that isn’t in the direct halo surrounding Zooey’s eyes you can’t even see cause it gets all blurry even though she’s not actually that cool, her acting is kind of so-so and someone else picks out all of her outfits.

Um, yeah.

So, Paul Dano works at a mattress store and he really wants to adopt a Chinese baby even though he’s not married and doesn’t even have a girlfriend or a very good job.  He has this friend who works in a lab with mice and a coworker who is played by the guy that plays Lester on The Wire.  Then one day John Goodman comes in to the store wearing a scarf and buys this retarded expensive mattress ($14,000) and says “Oh ho ho my daughter will be back later to pay for it.”  Naturally, his daughter is Zooey Deschanel (don’t worry, her character name is “Happy” in case none of this was sounding quirky indie enough).  Zooey and Paul make friends and then hookup and Paul is all “I like this girl” to his friend in the lab and Zooey is all “I’m not wearing pants” and isn’t this so precious.  At one point Paul goes home to visit his dad (Ed Asner) and they do mushrooms in the woods. Oh, I FORGOT, Zach Galifinakis is trying to kill Paul Dano.  Anyway, then he (Paul) finds out that he’s finally on the real list to go to China and get the baby!  Then he tells Zooey and she pukes!  But we don’t know if it’s cause of the baby or cause of the goat meat stew that Lester fed her!

Then we find out Zooey is actually pregnant because of the time that they had unprotected sex (WTF) in the back of her dad’s station wagon (WTF) in a parking garage (ok, that’s hot).  But before that, she had stopped calling Paul because she doesn’t want to be a mom to a Chinese baby, so instead she went back to dating the sugar daddy she had before and decides to move to France to go to cooking school.  When Paul finds out he is devastated.  But then, get this, Zooey decides to get an abortion because her sugar daddy boyfriend doesn’t want to deal with a baby and her dad isn’t going to give her any more money because he hates the new boyfriend.  But just as she’s calling the clinic, Paul is calling on the other line and she realizes that she DOES want to have his baby.  So Paul takes his name off the adoption list, Zach Galifinakis murders the sugar daddy boyfriend and when the baby finally comes out it actually looks Chinese!  Happily Ever After.

*Please note, I fell asleep after the part when Zooey pukes, so I may have, um, made up some of the rest of the story.   Apologies.

Hey but have you heard Gigantic by the Pixies? Cause that song is great.

Posted in: indie, reviews, romance by FilmFemme 1 Comment

Pulp Fiction & Inglourious Basterds

If you live in L.A., read this blog, and don’t know about American Cinematheque, well honestly, you probably don’t exist, but if you do!  Check them out because they have a lot of (some) cool programs and some REALLY cool ones.  Last year I went to a screening of The Dark Knight with a Q&A with Hans Zimmer that was awesome.  I went to see an Alien & Aliens double feature that was totally bitching and even went some snobby French Alain Delon movies.

But last night’s double feature, followed by a Q&A with Tarantino himself, was by far the most anticipated.  Not to sound completely lame and sooo cliche (I am completely lame and sooo cliche but shh) but Pulp Fiction is the reason I went to film school.  I don’t like writing it down or sharing it.  I feel pretty fucking lame about it, but that shit blew my mind when I was finally allowed to see it — I must have been, I dunno, 13 or 14? To this day (that is, to yesterday), despite all my viewings of it on DVD in various stages of stupor, I had never seen it on film, in a theatre full of people.  So the prospect of that was very exciting.

I’m not going to review Pulp Fiction.  I have no desire to and I never have.  I’m sure it has flaws but I don’t see them.  I just like it.

Inglourious Basterds was easily one of the best — if not the best — movies that I saw last year.  It’s epic and funny and creative and beautiful.  I don’t just mean, technically beautiful (which it is) but Diane Kruger and Melanie Laurent are possibly two of the most classically, not quirkily gorgeous women, like, ever.  Maybe that’s not true, but both of them are captivating.

So, between the two screenings (well, actually right after Inglourious Basterds started — I don’t understand how so many people showed up at 6PM and stayed straight through until it ended after 1AM — don’t they have jobs?), a friend and I snuck out to grab a bite at the Pig & Whistle next door to the Egyptian.  No sooner had we ordered a drink from the bitchiest of waitresses (seriously, everyone that works at that place is a cunt, sorry, but it’s true) than Quentin himself walked in, looking lost.  He doesn’t wander though, he walks with purpose.  He was wearing weird dark blue pants, a hoodie with a bright green hood and greed Adidas with no socks.  Basically he looked like a homeless person.  He found the woman he was meeting, a thin blonde with wavy hair and proceeded to drink what looked like a Greyhound (good choice) while she interviewed him.  Maybe 10 minutes later, in walked another familiar looking face who walked over and shook his hand.  It was none other than Max Cherry himself.  It was a surreal Hollywood moment.  Then Max and his wife(?) sat down across from us, my friend grabbed a couple of snapshots and we left to watch the end of the movie.

Max Cherry Decides What To Eat

Max Cherry Decides What To Eat

A Q&A followed at which I think Tarantino was kind of drunk.  I don’t know, it was interesting hearing him talk but I was so fucking exhausted by that point it was kind of like “ummm…ok, I need to go to bed.”  Still, it was slightly more interesting than the other time I had seen him when I just stared at him from across the room at Good Luck Bar.

God, the wheels really fell off of this post at some point didn’t they?  Oh well, at least I wrote.

Posted in: action, classic, drama, indie, oscar buzz, reviews by FilmFemme 2 Comments

FilmFemme Fast Forward

I’m a busy lady.  If Super Bowl commercials are to be believed, I’m busy doing things like using my sex appeal to trap innocent horny men into unhappy relationships, but actually I just like to drink a lot and that takes up precious time — pre-partying, actual drinking, post-drinking carb binge — I just don’t always have the hours I need to devote to watching movies.   This is where our friend “Fast Forward” comes in.  I managed to watch all three of these movies in maybe 3 hours by skipping the bad/boring/lame parts.  Which were most of the parts.

The Third Wheel: Luke Wilson is a bumbling cubicle slave who is determined to go on a date with the sexy and successful Denise Richards.  Everyone in his office, including Ben Affleck (who is at his douche with a goatee best) is pulling for him and even have a party where they place bets on, like, whether or not he will get laid or something like that.  But then, on their date, Luke Wilson hits this crazy homeless guy (played by the movie’s screenwriter, Jay Lacopo) with his car.  This is where we started to fast forward.  The guy is fine, but wants money for his crystal animals that were broken in the accident, so he gets in the car with them.  As far as I could tell, the guy keeps showing up wherever they are on their date and putting salt in the Luke Wilson’s already meager game.  Then Matt Damon makes a cameo as Denise Richards’ ex-boyfriend.  I watched this part on regular speed.  I love me some Good Will Hunting-era Damon.  Then I guess they probably fall in love or something and there is a quirky break dance scene while the credits roll.

I don’t like Denise Richards, but I can tolerate her.  She has a weird robot face and I find her to be a bad actress.  Young Luke Wilson I can more than tolerate.  He is gorgeous.  Superdouche Ben Affleck I LOVE.  Jay Lacopo, who you have never heard of and went ahead and wrote a huge part for himself in his own movie, is INTOLERABLE.  I literally could not even stand to look at his face.  Is he supposed to be crazy?  Retarded?  Homeless?  I don’t even know.  He’s just wearing some stupid beanie with a perpetually confused look on his face and you just know he was so fucking satisfied with himself.  HATE YOU.  FAST FORWARD.

The Breed: A group of sexy friends, played by actors who are a good decade older than their characters are supposed to be, find themselves in a remote cabin being attacked by rabid(?) dogs all while two of them are brothers who have both fucked Michelle Rodriguez.  Questions this raises:

1. Are the dogs rabid?  Did we fast forward through that part?  Because without a good reason presented, I really don’t want to watch dogs get hit with baseball bats.

2. Did this blonde suck someone off to get this part?  She’s some utterly noncute version of Amy Pohler and did not want to look at her face.

3. How much does it suck to be Kate Hudson’s unfamous brother who looks vaguely like Steven Weber?

4. Is Michelle Rodriguez sexy?  I’m kind of scared of her.

Henry Poole Is Here: Luke Wilson, 10 years later!  I was on board with this one from the beginning.  Luke’s aged a little, but isn’t Verizon Commercial Fat yet.  He  buys a house and intends to drink himself to death.  I can get behind this idea.  But then his weird neighbor decides she can see Jesus in the stucco of his house and he goes on a walk with her other neighbor Radha Mitchell (whose daughter who has that weird movie quirk where she doesn’t talk until, like whatever yawn) and then I guess it was like, he has cancer (OR LUKEMIA, the prospect of which I could not stop giggling about) and thinks he’s going to die but I think maybe the Jesus water stain saves him or maybe he just stops drinking I really don’t know PEACE OUT.

Posted in: comedy, horror, indie, reviews, suck by FilmFemme No Comments

The Marc Pease Experience

So my “blog every movie” experiment has so far encouraged me to…not watch movies.  But!  Last night I finally did.  I ventured to the “far” redbox at the Jons (with a J), which has a much better selection than the “near” redbox at Vons (with a V) because the clientele at Jons has tastes that run counter to mine while the clientele at Vons all have the same haircut as me and therefore watch the same movies.  Except for that one guy who actually made me cry when I was just trying to return my movie, but that is a separate story.

From the redbox, we rented never-released-to-theaters, Ben Stiller starring The Marc Pease Experience.  Those two descriptors together are less that encouraging, but despite my pulling for Animal Planet: Puppy Party, we rented it anyway.  Directed by Todd Louiso (Love Liza) and co-starring Jason Schwartzman and Anna “Up in the Fucking Air” Kendrick, this little indie-ish high school theater comedy was a steaming pile of WTF.  Schwartzman is the eponymous character who still maintains his high school a cappella group, with whom he dreams of making a demo, lives in his dead grandmother’s condo, and is still traumatized by a failed performance of The Wiz from 8 years earlier.  He is dating Meg (Kendrick) who is a senior at his alma mater (though they make sure to mention she is 18).  His hero is the music teacher, Jon Gribble (Stiller), who promised to produce his a cappella album — but that was when he was in high school and he actually is just a smarmy loser asshole.  Also, he is fucking Meg which is completely gross and entirely disturbing.

I can sum up my feelings about The Marc Pease Experience is one simple phrase: I don’t get it.  It seems like it wants to be a parody of high school drama and music (I think this is what Glee is?) but Stiller’s character isn’t over the top.  He’s actually under the top.  That is, I think we’ve all encountered high school drama teachers (or whatever kind of teacher, like my world history teach who would absolutely FLIP if you called him “Mister” instead of “Doctor.”  I kind of had the hots for him, but again, another issue) who take themselves wayyy too seriously and completely get off on the fact that a bunch of high school kids think they are awesome because other adults realize what complete losers they are.  That idea is a little bit funny and is played to maximum ridonkulousness (with mixed results) in Hamlet 2, but here, Stiller is so subdued that it’s not funny, it’s just uncomfortable and a little bit sad.

There are a lot of things going on in Schwatzman’s character too with his delusional ideals about his a cappella group, the fact that he’s dating a high schooler (who is kind of a bitch to him) and has no family and is pathetic and sad but it’s all over the place.  Is it funny?  Is it sad?  Who the fuck is this guy?  And why is the movie named after him?  Huh??

Finally there is Meg about whom we know even less apart from the fact that she likes to sing and fuck older guys (change “sing” to “drink” and that’s a pretty apt description of…nevermind).  The fact that she’s dating Marc is one thing, he’s obviously sweet if lame.  The fact that she’s fucking her music teacher – and clearly isn’t all that into it – is so weird and gross.  But those feelings are never validated by anything that happens in the movie.  Gribble doesn’t get any comeuppance and Meg doesn’t have any epiphanies about self-esteem or fall in love with some cute high school boy.  It’s disturbing.  I was genuinely disturbed and grossed out.

The direction and editing are also completely confusing.  You’ll just be going along, all normal movie like, and then there will be an extreme close up of Marc Pease buttering his toast for 25 seconds.  I wish I were exaggerating.  I don’t…I just…WTF?  There is no reason for this shot to exist.  The toast doesn’t come back to play an important part in the story.  I do not understand.  Come to think of it, there is no reason for this movie to exist.

Posted in: comedy, indie, misogyny, reviews by FilmFemme No Comments

State of the Blog

I know no one is going to stand up and clap for me and there aren’t any Supreme Court Justices to tell me I’ve got my facts wrong, but that’s OK because I think I’ve got my facts right:

My blogging habits stink.  I don’t blog.  I start posts and never finish them.  I see tons of movies that never even get mentioned here.  I’m bringing shame to the domain.

So am I giving up?  Finally putting FilmFemme on the shelf?  Not yet!  Instead, I decided that starting today, February 1st, 2010, I will blog about every movie that I see this month.  At least 300 words.  It might not end up being that many movies (especially since my Netflix queue is populated with the final season of The Wire right now), but if I see a movie, it is going on this blog.  Today is also a great day to start it since I actually watched three movies   yesterday (Mr. Mom, Jennifer 8 and In the Line of Fire, since I know you were dying of curiosity), so I can slack off and not include those since they were all before midnight!  Yes!

If I actually manage to do this, I will reassess the State of the Blog.  If it goes well, I might actually get around to doing a redesign and some other boring backend stuff like I’ve been meaning to do just about forever.

Wish me luck.

Posted in: off topic, opinion, oscar buzz by FilmFemme 1 Comment

A Single Man

Some day I will stop getting excited about movies.  I will learn my lesson and go into even the most highly touted and slickly marketed film skeptical and broken.  Unfortunately this has not happened yet and in I went to see A Single Man expecting Tom Ford to translate his piercing stare and effortless style into something not just pretty but moving.

But of course.

He didn’t.

Yes, this story (based on a presumably monstrously depressing novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood) of a gay man in 1960s Los Angeles mourning his dead lover is — dramatic.  The idea of being forced to suffer in silence and secret because of prejudice is a depressing one.  But the subtlety of the subject matter — what is more subtle than the day to day process of grieving — is overwhelmed by droll, condescending voiceover, pointless quirks and dialogue and situations that are anything but subtle.

As the eponymous man, George, Colin Firth is sad eyed and straight faced.  More slender than normal he fills out his suits very nicely.  Julianne Moore, as his (pardon the expression) fag hag Charley is glamorously over the top with piled high hair and caked on mascara, but her truly dreadful British accent is too much to bear.  And the gorgeous gay men that not only fall all over themselves to get to George (yes, how depressing that must be for him) have not only the perfectly sculpted forms of actors, but the offputting feminine faces of model.

Finally, A Single Man falls into the trap that far too many modern period films and television shows (I’m looking at you, Mad Men) of giving  not just a nod to their contemporary era.  An oversized movie poster advertise, not something obscure or artsy but Psycho.  A newscast on the radio isn’t talking about the local school board or traffic conditions, it’s talking about the Cuban Missle Crisis.  Particularly in this film, the style is of the decade is so pervasive and well-done that there is no reason for these insulting shout-outs.

I didn’t enjoy this movie.  It is nice to look out, well-framed and just attractive.  I wouldn’t mind having it play on mute while I sipped Pinot Grigio on a third date.  But it’s not moving.  It’s not a good story.  It’s not even satisfyingly depressing.  It’s just kind of…suck.

Posted in: drama, indie, oscar buzz, reviews, suck by FilmFemme No Comments

Avatar

If you haven’t seen Avatar, there are a lot of reasons that you should.  It’s technically and visually spectacular.  It’s made a billion dollars (not like, “Haha — it made like a billion dollars!” but actually, literally, a billion dollars).  So that means it probably is some kind of cultural touchstone now so that if you haven’t seen it you have to have some good reason like “I’m blind.”

Anyway, I saw it.  Naturally.  Me and my $18.50 saw in the Cinerama dome, actually.  Before I went to a Christmas party with Kevin Sorbo but that is a totally different story.  My opinion on it?  Meh.  Yawn.  Oh, that was pretty but man was that story lame and isn’t it time to start drinking yet?

Over at iO9, they’re asking “When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like “Avatar”?” where “like Avatar” means “white guilt fantasies.”  It’s a rhetorical question (hopefully) since the answer is obviously never.  And after $1,000,000,000, it really wouldn’t make sense to stop.  Though the racial aspects of Avatar were certainly…weird (are these Na’vi people analogies for Native Americans?  are they African?  They seem kind of African…) the gender implications are also necessarily complex.

Our protagonist (“hero” if you must) is Jake Sully, a former Marine who is paralyzed from the waist down.  When his goody two shoes twin brother is killed, he takes his place solely on the virtue of his DNA, on a highly skilled mission to the remote planet of Pandora with the hopes of using avatar surrogate body technology to infiltrate and study the native people there: the Na’vi.  All of this takes place within probably the first 3 minutes of the movie.

Once on Pandora, Sully meets up with Dr. Grace Augustine (Siguorney Weaver) who has spent years studying the Na’vi via avatar but whom they have never truly accepted.  Boy does Sully show her!  The first night he’s there he ends up trapped alone in the jungle and is saved by a hot Na’vi chick.  She’s tentative but he convinces herbto teach him the ways of the Na’vi.  Take that science!  Take that woman who has given up her best years to study this culture!  In your face!  Um, yeah.

So then, Sully goes on to accomplish everything that Grace never could.  She actually ends up dying for the cause, but he has his soul transferred to his avatar (a process that is much faster than backing up my work computer to the server) and lives happily ever after as a totally kickass member of of the Na’vi with the hottest wife around.  Which just goes to show, white men can do anything they set their minds to as long as they are not crippled!

I get that it’s a fantasy, a technological touchstone, visual spectacle at its finest.  But, like it or not, messages matter.  I don’t like to be that person, I really don’t.  That “I am woman” “male gaze” “otherness” spouting person.  But really?  We can’t do any better than this?  “Escapism” doesn’t mean that we forget or ignore the fact that words and stories and movies — especially movies that make a billion dollars — have MEANING that we pay attention to and learn from, whether we want to or not.

Posted in: action, misogyny, oscar buzz, reviews by FilmFemme No Comments

Horsemen

Last night I had this really amazingly gory gruesome dream where I had this summer job working for some rich eccentric guy.  Me and like 5 of my facebook friends were all working for him, only there wasn’t really any work instead he just put together these puzzles and challenges kind of like on Survivor or something.  But he was paying us a ton of money so it was like, whatever, I’ll solve this weird Indian food puzzle.  But then at the end of the summer when we were supposed to get paid, he just started killing everyone instead.  When everyone was dead except for me and one guy (I think it might have been The Situation from Jersey Shore, but I can’t be certain), he was going to take out my brain with one of those circular blades like they use to open up peoples’ chests in the ER but then The Situation had a huge shotgun and protected me and totally murdered him.  But we never got our money, which sucks.

I’m pretty sure that I had this terrifying but kind of bitchin’ dream because last night I watched the Dennis Quaid direct-to-DVD horror/thriller Horsemen.

Though the movie is decidedly lame with lots of stupid scenes that borrow heavily from good movies (spoiler alert, Ziyi Zhang does not make a very good Hannibal Lecter), it was notable for how horrifyingly gruesome it was.  Honestly, I can’t understand why the movie never made it to theatres because I thought people loved that shit.  I’m not usually squeamish (Hostel?  Oh please.  Ho hum) but this was seriously stomach churning.

What Horsemen does is take one somewhat obscure and really icky subculture, suspension, wrestle it from the hands of people for whom body piercing is not “extreme” enough and probably didn’t get enough attention as teenagers (including Criss Angel) and turn it into some really creepy scary gory death scenes.  Like, really gross.  Apparently nightmare-inducing gross.  Really, these scenes are the only notable thing about the movie.  The dialogue is weak, the story is predictable apart from the twist which is somewhat interesting but does not at all make up for the rest of the movie that is a gaping [edit: there is supposed to be another word here but I can't remember what it was supposed to be...I am not a very good proofreader] occasionally punctuated by vomit.

But wasn’t my dream so fucked up?!

Posted in: horror, off topic, reviews, thriller by FilmFemme No Comments