To be fair, when it took me three sittings to finally get through that five minute Cloud Atlas trailer I knew we were in trouble – suspecting that like their previous lackluster, Speed Racer, the Wachowski Siblings again blew another astronomical budget ($102 million!) in hopes to recapture their critical standing from the revolutionary sci-fi The Matrix even though a decade has passed since. This time around with three directors (Tom Tykwer) and an overly ambitious script based on the much lauded novel that pundits said was unfilmable and I’d argue unreadable too.
With that in mind I thought I was completely prepared for this catastrophe but was only further disappointed when it was not the multiple story lines of pasts and futures, or it’s re-occurring cast that I had initially feared would leave me disoriented in a sticky stuffy theater – but instead the perpetual, mundane reincarnations in Dullsville left me worrying my weekend would be over before the movie. Thankfully I don’t believe in that past life jumbo because I’d hate to sit through this again.
Three hours exhausted on six interlaced plots unfolding in a barrage of non-linear cuts that span over 500 years, planets and terrains, these fruitless tales of love and the quest for freedom of young and old, crusty punks, Amish tongues, gay lovers, asian persuasions, and a stowaway slave all get lost and muddled together and as far as I can tell only linked by a fucking birthmark in the shape of a comet. And even though all were charged with a chase and showdown I honestly didn’t give a fuck what happened to anyone since they’re all going to relive their life somewhere else anyway…except for maybe that Green Dude. He was scary.
Hopefully the Wachowski’s will reinvent instead of resexing themselves after this debacle because the “true-true” is they know how to shoot movies but their highfalutin notions and gimmicky ways, like Tom Hanks performance, get in the way to making coherent works of art with some Kung Fu fighting. But at least it’s better than Seven Psychopaths. Then again, even afterbirth is better than that shit.
When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, ‘It’s in the script.’ If he says, ‘But what’s my motivation,’ I say, ‘Your salary.’ – Alfred Hitchcock
So last Saturday night I painfully sat through HBO’s The Girl, Tippi Hedren’s alleged account of her mental and sexual abuse from Alfred Hitchcock during the making of The Bird’s and Marnie – a borderline trashy gossip flick and a desperate attempt by Tippi to gain the spotlight one last time by accusing Hitch hindered her career even though he plucked her out from obscurity. But who am I to judge this supposed retelling of she said – he’s dead? Though I can’t see The Birds leaving her too traumatized as she went on to live with a houseful of live-in lions for her and her hubby’s flop Roar, putting all including her daughter at a serious risk of getting one’s head chomped the fuck off.
What I can say is that this made for cable movie was shot so bad that it belonged on Lifetime. This probably being the one reason Hitch is rolling in his grave. And I can’t imagine what Bernard Hermann must think of the atrocious score they laid under this turd.
The only inside story I came away with is that Tippi was a nickname given by her Grandfather. And that Toby Jones who plays Hitch, like his portrayal of Truman Capote to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s, will once again root comparisons with the upcoming Hitchcock feature film with Sir Anthony Hopkins – which will undoubtedly steal all of Toby’s thunder, relegating him at best to an understudy, due to the fact that I can’t imagine how anybody could do worse.
As was well known Hitch was obsessed with blondes – The Girl prefaces with Hitchcock’s words; “Blondes make the best victims. They’re like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.” How this is equated with Tippi I don’t know, since I’m not quite sure she was a victim but a more or less a flirt and terrible actress. Unless you consider some fat old perv hitting on you, whom happens to be a genius – sexual assault? Instead, I always found Roman Polanski’s take a bit more haunting when answering Robert Towne’s (Chinatown screenwriter) question on why he changed his ending to a tragedy – “Because beautiful blondes die in Los Angeles.” At least Hitch didn’t rape Melanie.
First, let’s just get this out of the way, the only reason why the CIA gives a rats ass about Iran is the fact that it has one of the largest proven oil reserves. That being said, Argo begins with a montage of stock footage and a brief narrative history lesson on Iran’s political chaos and succession of dictators/supreme leaders in the 20th century leading up to the year of the infamous hostage crisis that we all know lasted until the minute after Reagan was sworn in – immediately arousing suspicions of a conspiracy, known as the October Surprise Theory. But that’s another story, probably for the limousine liberals like Oliver Stone and Michael Moore.
Anyway, Ben Affleck not only struggles to convince us that he is to be taken seriously as filmmaker, but also that this so-called taut, suspenseful, political caper thriller of six American diplomats who evade capture and are holed up in Iran is “based” on a true story – when in fact the actual escape depicted in this movie orchestrated by super shaggy exfiltration CIA expert, Tony Mendez, (played none other than hero Ben) was a complete fabrication and distortion (with maybe the exception of the shuttle bus engine not starting right away) and just an excuse for him to create nonexistent tension with cross cut editing and extreme close ups of all the diplomats sweating bullets trying to board a plane out of Dodge.
But don’t trust me, the side by side stills comparing images of 1980 vs. Ben’s vision during the end credits are proof positive on just how accurate this romp was or it’s sad attempt for authenticity. And yes I understand it’s only a fucking movie and the concept of dramatic license, but if you can believe this than you probably believe that Ben and Matt actually penned Goodwill Hunting.
To be fair I did find the cover story of a phony Hollywood sci-fi movie production to be fun and amusing, but it was killed by contrived snappy, cute dialogue delivered by Alan Arkin and John Goodman.
But it was credible enough to enamor all those old fogies like Rex Reed who’s year’s favorites include Hope Springs, and also able to distract them evil Iranians who were busy playing aliens and shooting finger space guns at each other before they jumped into cars attempting to chase a down a 747 plane as it’s taking off. Whoa, that sure was a close call! For a minute there I actually thought that they would paint the plane into a corner and kill them all! But thank God Ben saves the day and God Bless America.
“It’s a little like masturbation. You gotta know what you want, know
where you are going, it’s intuitive.” – Ben Affleck on directing himself
There comes a point in almost every artist’s life who has created a substantial body of work when they tend to become repetitive and consequently less innovative (kind of like this blog). But at least you can say they have an individual style and in some privileged cases a coined genre – such as Fellinesque, Kafkaesque, or the oft use Orwellian. I suppose Tim Burton falls into this sort but other than Ed Wood and Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, his stylistic vision is only fully realized through the stop motion animation medium – because the rest of his movies are marred with horribly contrived CGI sets and eccentric caricatures that are never able to transcend and translate to live action, especially Johnny Depp.
Though he tried with Corpse Bride, I think it’s fair to say Burton will never top The Nightmare Before Christmas, but this time around he makes a valiant attempt back to stop motion with his latest, Frankenweenie. Given that it’s a remake of his own 1984 live action short, it was refreshing to see it still shot in black and white with it’s visually dazzling cinematography and sets without the infestation of sellout hollywood fools. Reunited with past monster, Martin Landau, and true long time Canadian weirdos like Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder (MN might as well be Canada) and that ghoulie kid from The Middle, we are treated moments of true humor and good cheer without that patronizing tone in every other kid flick.
Though the movie would have been better with a bittersweet ending and the moral that sometimes you just have to let go of the ones you love – instead of – just use your ingenuity and you too can live happily ever after and be immortal…Cause I’m pretty sure that annoying brat behind me that kept kicking my seat and wouldn’t shut the fuck up probably never even heard of Old Yeller.
However implausible this Looper movie is I have to wonder if Jimmy Hoffa or Judge Joe Crater were done in with these same sort of tactics and also how the fuck these sci-fi movies always end up being chick flicks in disguise! I mean if you thought last year’s faux sci-fi movie, The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon with Emily Blunt was gay then wait till you sit through Rian Johnson’s Looper.
Set in the year 2044, a Looper, in this case Joseph Gordon-Levitt, basically awaits with a shotgun and tarp and executes Gitmo look alikes sent back in time by mobsters using an outlawed time machine in order to dispose of bodies because I guess CSI is so advanced in the distant future. Strapped to the backs of these faceless fuck ups are silver bars as form of payment which sounds good and plenty but it sure ain’t worth the ticket scratch nor time wasted waiting for the real draw of this movie, Bruce Willis.
And then that notion of being confronted with your future old self dealing not only with the conundrums of time travel but fighting for both of your survival and in fear of double crossing yourself by giving into the mobsters like Jeff Daniels, who’s not so much menacing as he is funny. But the movie goes south after the diner scene in which Bruce Willis and JGL sit down over steak and eggs to hash things out because the rest of this way too long film is played out on a fucking farm surrounded by cornfields with shotguns and an axe, a pick up truck, and a toy frog walkie talkie alarm to illustrate this futuristic high tech world.
Also, I won’t bother mentioning the annoying character of the little boy since he’s completely absent in all the trailers too. At least Writer Director Rian Johnson ditches his Wes Anderson aesthetic and is now ripe to be ridiculed as this video exemplifies.