Monthly Archives: June 2011

Strangers on a Train

Throwback 1979: When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse out the corner of my eye…of aliens and spacecrafts too and had a gang of neighborhood friends that liked to ride bikes and sneak out for some innocent summer fun. Maybe that is why I felt nostalgic for the first half-hour of Super 8, as Spielberg protege J.J. Abrams revisits early 80’s coming of age boy adventure tales in small town suburbs. But like all Bad Robot productions it soon gets lost and loses steam with the loudest train wreck relegating into a campy Them! But what’s more unbelievable than flying water towers is the unbreakable Scientist warning them kids.

Bad Robot also had the bright idea with their marketing and promotion in releasing vague trailers, stupid puzzles, and going so far as to sending out secret packages to industry assholes with an actual super 8 reel. It’s too bad I didn’t get one because after seeing this movie I would’ve returned that Kodak box with a turd inside.

Besides the beautiful Vilmos Zigmond-like cinematography the only other reason for watching this movie is if your a fan of the My Sharona song. And like The Knack, J.J.’s one hit wonder might just be Star Trek because Mission Impossible is hopeless. But I hope he rebounds with the Star Trek sequel since when using his own material falls short.

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Hymn Haw

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation…while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” 

– The Book of Job 38:4,7

Jesus Malick! And where the fuck have you been since Days of Heaven? You should have quit while you were ahead instead of ruining your legacy with three mediocre movies. Hey Terry, I have two words for you; Harper Lee.

From the get go The Tree of Life has confluence of Darwinian and overtly preachy bible mumbo jumbo ethos that permeate the movie and beckon audiences to question the meaning of life and death. One wonders if Malick’s foundation rooted in Waco, Texas made him another byproduct spawning the likes of David Koresh to Jessica Simpson who are also fellow honorary God loving citizens. Thank whoever – Willie Nelson was spared. Either way, I was more interested in the special effects and consultant Douglas Trumball. Especially that dino scene!

But of the many haunting and fleeting images, the one that reoccurs like chapter bookends is of a glowing orb like flame that flickers in Deep Space Nine or used here instead as a standard representation of the so-called Creator of the Universe. I prefer a Black Monolith myself or Roman Castevet. Anyway, while Malick’s need for a narration and Alexandre Desplat soundtrack are overdone, Pitt and Chastain’s performance and beauty require little dialogue as Emmanuel Lubezki stunning camera work keeps us interested enough. But Sean Penn is no Benjamin Button. He meanders on a beach, disheveled and  “soul searching” with a face not even a mother can love, when in reality the true mystery is how he bagged Scarlett Johansson!

(After her Jimmy Fallon appearance it’s no wonder she has no dialogue.)

The old adage of less is more can not hold truer than in the case of Badlands and Days of Heaven, both clocking in at 94 minutes, whereas these last three are just as long as the entire James Bond series. So after surviving the Big Bang and Harold Camping’s May 21 rapture the one question I left with is why the film closes on a shot of the Verazzano Bridge over to Staten Island? Now that truly is The Land of the Lost, just ask George Harrison.

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