Monday, March 22, 2010

Odds and Ends

Welcome to Jumpcut Junkies. This is my first entry as Gabe, one half of the Nick/Gabe duo, and we hope you've given us the first of many hits. We have a few Jumpcut Junkies entries planned for the future, and would be happy to take any future requests (I do believe we heard one this weekend for the upcoming "Red Dawn" remake). We're also planning a few podcasts so you can save our audio to your computer and spare you the need to actually look at us. You're welcome.

As such, my computer is out of commision, and so I'll probably purchase a new one in the near future, meaning more frequent updates like this one, with a few bullet pointed discussions and points to be made. We hope you'll contribute your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below. I know Nick has been trying to consider something worth writing about "Alice In Wonderland," but his own general apathy about the film has kept him from putting forth the effort (can't blame him - I don't see myself ever sitting through another Tim Burton film again).
-Speaking of which, I long ago figured you had to reach a breaking point with filmmakers, in that you had to stop seeing, or spending money on their future endeavors after a certain point. Lately, I've only gotten to that with the first and second films of certain directors, but some of you have to be there with Tim Burton, no? As is, I don't ever see myself cozying up with another adventure in Tim Burton's wonderland of arrested development, especially after witnessing that "futterwacking" monstrosity on You Tube. I'd like to think I reached that level with Michael Bay, though he seems to be reaching new lows with each effort he makes, and if I can get in free, it's worth observing his methods.

There are others, of course, who are automatic red lights. When "The Bounty Hunter" announces itself as "from the director of HITCH" it's very easy to write off a guy who has no real ambition to tell a real story with compelling human characters. Andy Tennant would have to go to great lengths to get me to see a film with his name on it, as Hollywood is filled with ambition-less slags like him, who seem primarily concerned with putting food (and college tuition) on the table for their families (good) at the expense of contributing anything to society (great!). As is, the only thing that could get me into the theater for another Tim Burton escapade is if he remade "Batman" in a "Five Obstructions" manner, a new limitation every time. Are there any other directors you've closed the book on?

-So, our national geek nightmare is over, and Chris Evans has signed to be Captain America. Not exactly the "unknown" director Joe Johnston was looking for but Marvel isn't taking any risks, are they? Cap's an avatar for a lot of ideas and beliefs, but it's hard to say the risky WWII-in-tights angle of "Captain America" is going to embrace, or even show an understanding of all of them, so Chris Evans' involvement doesn't mean much - as an actor, he's usually as good as his material. That being said, considering Marvel's nine-picture contract and $300k first-film offer (do the math - really not that much for this type of work), who could/should they have gotten? Considering Johnston is a filmmaker without an interesting thought in his head (fucker made "Jumanji," people), I would have been more than happy with an empty vessel like Channing Tatum at the helm, since he really has the look and physique. If we weren't thinking about acting at all, that Ryan McPartlin of "Chuck" sure had the look, though I only watch that show on mute when I'm doing something more interesting.

All things considered, when you're fantasy casting every role in Hollywood, I think you inevitably end up picking from a small pool of actors, so my be-all, end-all choice was Ben Foster, an actor who could play wiry, pre-Serum Cap as well as bulked-up, intense American Symbol Cap. I'll wave the flag for Foster playing anyone really, and I'm sure I'm not the only one - five bucks says Foster got the Cap offer, snorted and said, "I only do real movies." John Malkovich said that about "Spider-Man" nine years ago, before eventually signing onto the defunct "Spider-Man 4" and now "Transformers 3" so it's really only a matter of time, Ben Foster. A matter of time. Also, apropos of nothing, I also liked Lee Pace for Cap, an actor I didn't see mentioned anywhere due to his limited CV, his likely accelerated age and maybe a coke habit or something. Also apropos of nothing, Will Forte for Hawkeye, please.

-Considering the limited shelf life for today's films, "Remember Me" came and went, with the DVD release likely being a muted affair. Mostly a good thing - the movie isn't very good at all, and that's not taking into account that astounding finale, which I will discuss here, so spoiler hounds beware/get fucked. The narrative ends with everyone in a better place, friendships strengthened, romances solidified, and family ties refastened. Then we learn Robert Pattinson (who isn't bad when he gets to smile and crack wise - it's the dramatic stuff that needs reworking. Think James Franco) has been waiting in a building all along that ends up being one of the Twin Towers. Oh, did you guess the exact date?
What's interesting is that nine years later, we still don't have a good handle on what 9/11 is, what it means, how it defined our generation. Should we care? The perpetrator does seem to be alive, on a dialysis machine in a cave somewhere, and yet many don't seem all that fazed by this. As such, without accountability, and with the event followed by political fuckery one could charitably call unforseen, our films must de-politicize, and turn 9/11 into "something that happened." I regrettably went into "Remember Me" knowing the timeframe the film takes place in, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Would Pattinson's unbearable roommate turn out to be a jihadist? Would Pattinson become one of the people falling to their deaths on national television after the planes hit? My disappointment when 9/11 had been reduced to "hurricane" or "terrible accident" was palpable. "Remember Me" wouldn't be remembered for anything else, so why not actually either delve into the events leading up to that day, or even make crazy conspiracy theories up to deepen the shallow universe of the movie? Instead, this tragedy becomes "something that happened" to increase the pathos of a relatively normal courtship and family struggle at the heart of the film. The emptiness of the film forces us to consider, "Oh, 9/11. Who cares?" Does anyone think this is a good thing? Or like me, does it creep you out a fair amount?

-If I must pick the worst film I've seen this year, it has to be Danish thriller "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." If every generation gets their "Silence of the Lambs," then the progression must have been "Seven," then "Kiss the Girls," then "Saw"... get my point? The movie uses some codes and symbology and potentious dread to gussy up an unremarkable serial killer set-up, with a superjournalist and a rape-victim bisexual computer hacker at it's heart, both grotesque fantasies of their morally bankrupt creators. The former is just that kind of alpha male asshole who has no traits aside from being bulletproof, idealistically and literally. The latter is a forever-punished sex toy to the audience who only achieves justice and/or revenge when the audience's lust is sated with her body and her unrealistic computer skills. The rape scenes are many, and endless, and sick, mostly due to their irrelevance to the main plot. It made me want to leave, the only thing keeping me in the theater the threat of a vicious snowstorm outside.

The best, however, is a release coming to you in April, though you might want to double-check, is "Leaves of Grass." I won't say much about it, because I hope Nick is able to see it soon as well and we can maybe do an installment on it, but it involves Edward Norton in dual roles as a philosophy professor and a pot-growing genius who have to team up to outwit a Jewish drug lord played by Richard Dreyfuss. It's fast and funny, but also philosophically intrigued by each character and their belief systems, from the down-home Southern poet played by Keri Russell to the desperate family man personified by the jittery Josh Pais. Shades of Coens, you can guess, but also kind of its own beast. It's from director Tim Blake Nelson (who also co-stars - I believe he conceived this with Norton on the set of "The Incredible Hulk") and it definitely makes me eager to see his other films - I recall bits and pieces of his high school adaptation of "Othello," but that's due for a re-watch.
-Oscar picks for next year? I think it's the Coens' to lose with their "True Grit" remake. I was bummed Jeff Bridges won Best Actor this year for several reasons. One, because "Crazy Heart" was a pre-fab country song from the Wal-Mart era turned into an interminable, obvious movie-of-the-week, the Garth Brooks to "Payday"'s Waylon Jennings. Two, because I root for someone to have an Oscar when it can help their reputation and paychecks, and Bridges is already well-respected and compensated (and rightfully so). And three, because he'll no doubt be better in "Grit," which will probably be a better movie - and, I'll wager, a better remake, since the original hasn't much going for it, save for a jocular, likable John Wayne performance that Bridges is sure to eclipse.
Hope to see you in the comments section below.

1 comment:

  1. Potentious? Stop making up words, Gabe! And good move on transitioning to audio format.