Friday, February 26, 2010
Yeah...I watched it. Not good. Kind of hilarious, really. The best parts were when Jacob took his shirt off and cut his hair, and the scene of Victoria and her hair running through the forest.
Poor R Pattz has difficulty again, but now I'm wondering whether to blame it on direction or if he's just a shit actor. Nicely done on those abs, though, Rob. You've come a long way from Little Ashes. The beautiful Kristen Stewart is done wrong as Bella Swann. She's done some good work in other films. Try "Panic Room," "In The Land of Women," and "Adventureland."
A vampire movie where no one gets bitten or has sex is like the Winter Olympics without figure skating; why would anyone bother? Stephenie (sic) Meyer, she of abstinence-loving authordom, clearly disagrees with me, hence the whole damned Cullen crew, running around like a pack of white washed idiots with nothing to chew on. Nor any lines to speak or scenes to be in, for that matter. Alice pops in now and then to make some concerned faces, but Mom and Dad are largely absent, the blonde one gets one line, the huge one gets to be an idiot for a second, and the young one has a meltdown and disappears. Edward disappears, too, but at least he looks pained about it. Everyone in the movie looks pained at everything, actually. NO ONE IS HAPPY IN FORKS. This point is really driven home by the circling shots of Bella sitting in a chair after Edward ditches her, with titles spelling out the months that are going by. Even her dad yells at her to snap the fuck out of it, boyfriend is not coming back. Take a pill, Bells.
Ooooh, also, there's werewolves. Not-great CGI werewolves, to be sure (and a far cry from the intensely creepy Lucy-humping beast in Bram Stoker's Dracula, but why even make the comparison?), who in their human form are some hot hot hot bags of muscle with spiky hair.
Because the gods hate us, we are forced to go almost 2 full hours of watching Bella sulk, tease Jacob, and summon phantom Edward (yes) before heading to Italy. That's where the Volturi live, you see. Volturi seems to be Vampire for "bad motherfuckers," and they really slam some life into this puppy. Waiting within the Volturi mansion is a scary and badly be-wigged Michael Sheen, and Dakota Fanning, whose power is to inflict pain by looking at someone, and confusing the audience by looking all grown-up and more dangerous than the wolves or that moron who got schooled by the Cullens in the first book/movie.
At best, New Moon gives us a chance to look at some gorgeous people and marvel at how gorgeous they are. It also relieves us of the pain of having to read Bella's nauseating narration from the books, which is why the movie is only a little over 2 hours long instead of a full year.
Having said all that, I dug it. It was pure entertainment and zero art, which is what a girl needs sometimes.
ps. If you want some really hot no-sex vamp-human action, look to Buffy and Angel. If you want some really hot absolutely yes-sex vamp-human action, look to Buffy and Spike.
Friday, February 19, 2010
I'm having trouble finding out whether this was ever released in theaters, or if it was straight-to-DVD, as it should be. I guess that Robert Pattinson's involvement means it has to have been released, at least post-Twilight.
Here's the thing, though: if you want to see him act, look elsewhere. If you want to see his face (which is, admittedly, kind of lovely), then there's tons of closeups here for you to gaze at. Of course, several have the added bonus of Dali's mustache attached. Yes, everyone's favorite vampire is playing Salvador fucking Dali!!! A more confusing casting choice there has never been, with the possible exception of Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl.
Along with his face, we get to see his pubes (twice), makeout scenes with Javier Beltran, playing Frederico Lorca quite well, and some unfortunately hilarious efforts at emoting. Oh, R-Pattz.
This falls into the category of "Good idea, but you've forgotten a script and a plot." Too bad. It could have been moving and politically driven, but instead we're left with a disjointed effort, full of useless drawn-out bicycling shots and half conversations.
Another time, perhaps.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
A Guy Pearce Western!! So he's playing...an Irishman. In Australia. Okay. Now that that's out of the way, I can talk about how fucking amazing this movie is. I am wary of Westerns and the like, due to the large possibility of boredom. Not so here. Though the whole movie is not a shoot-em-up extravaganza, it IS full, top to bottom, of one thing most Westerns sorely lack: good acting.
The opening credits begin the story, which starts out happily enough, with a montage of family photos. By the end of the credits, though, we are shown the aftereffects of a revolting crime that gets the action moving.
Pearce plays a (former?) criminal in the 1880s, one of the three Burns brothers, who is given a horrible proposition by a police captain who has tracked him down. This tricky man is played sweatily and somehow sympathetically by Ray Winstone, full Sexy Beast accent intact.
The scenery in this film is a character itself. The sun beats down white rays onto a barren desert, the sand and flies swirling into eyes and parched mouths. By some miracle, Emily Watson, as the sheriff's wife, is able to maintain a garden.
The Aborigines play a large role here as well. They are the servants, the sidekicks, the "barbarians," the translators, and the jailed.
Danny Huston is perfect as an uncaught, terrifying, violent man to whom family means everything. Richard Wilson is heartbreaking as the youngest brother, used as a pawn in big mens' games.
There is violence aplenty here, some inferred, some stomach-turning scenes, but none are to be missed, and none are purely to shock.
The characters sound stock: 3 brothers, one noble, one mad, one innocent, a captain unsure of his true feelings, a shocked wife, a monologue-delivering drunk (John Hurt), and a villainous lawman. But you've not seen them like this before.
Who can make a handjob look like the most sensual thing on Earth? Wong Kar Wai. And he does it twice.
This film, named for the Greek god of erotic love, is actually 3 short films that have nothing to do with each other. The only thing in common is that all 3 directors are considered among the best at their craft.
The first short, "The Hand," by Wong, tells the story of a young tailor (Chen Chang) who excels at his job only after being touched by a woman, played heartbreakingly by Li Gong. She tells him to remember her touch, as it will guarantee he will make her beautiful clothes. As in all Wong's films, the action plays out slowly, each move choreographed, each shot and lens painstakingly placed. It is exquisitely beautiful and full of the sadness and loneliness that are two of Wong's calling cards. Highly recommended.
The other two sections of this movie do not fare as well, or well at all. The second installment, "Equilibrium," by Steven Soderbergh, starts out promisingly. All we see is a gorgeous woman lying in bed, then in a tub, then putting on her makeup, all naked. But then we are pulled out of this picture and into a therapist's office where Robert Downey, Jr is boring his therapist, Alan Arkin, about a recurring dream he has. All sounds good so far, yes? But then it goes downhill. the jokes are not funny, the therapist is, naturally, the crazy one, and the woman puts her clothes on. The performances are perfectly fine, but Soderbergh has done far far far better.
The third...I don't even know where to begin. Firstly, it's directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, so it has some serious pull from the start. But immediately something looked odd to me, and it turned out to be that the film was shot in English, DUBBED into Italian, and given English subtitles. Absurd. So that ruined it for me, and I could not watch it all the way through.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
What is religion? Who is God? Does God matter when we face love? What if we love God more than our partner? What if our partner believes we are going to hell? Does any of it really matter in the end?
These are all questions posed in Geoffrey Naufft's tremendous drama, Next Fall. All the cliche reactions occur, to be sure (I laughed, I cried, I wanted to touch the actors), but I was affected by this show more than I have been by theater in a while. There are shows that I have seen where I have been impressed by the writing, the guts, and the mind that must be crazy to think up those scenarios (Shepard...), but Next Fall touched me in a way that I have been waiting for.
This play made me yearn to be in love.
A very deep sadness runs through the play, sometimes voiced, always apparent. Luke believes Adam is going to hell unless he accepts Jesus as his savior. Luke does not want his family to know Adam. To know that he is his boyfriend, that he exists at all. 5 years, and Adam is a hell-bound non-entity. But through it all, Adam stays. He watches Luke pray, allows himself to be referred to as a co-worker to Luke's father. But he also lies on top of Luke, strokes his hair, loves him completely.
And then the tragedy, at which point all things must converge and make themselves known.
Patrick Heusinger, who plays the believer and young lover Luke is, without a doubt, serious eye candy. But he possesses an innocence and a caddish charm as well. He is not just a pretty face (and best butt on the NY stage, probably). His frustration with Adam's questions and teasing remarks about God are evident on his face and in his body language, but, just as Adam stays with Luke despite his beliefs, so does Luke stay with Adam in spite of his warring views.
A young man who is sure of his place in heaven, and his (slightly) older boyfriend (an excellent Patrick Breen) without such a sure spot. A simple premise. An enormous lot of questions. A fantastic play.
It was a ridiculous play, and now it's a ridiculous movie. Well, technically 5 years ago, it became such, but I just saw it for the first time.
First performed in 1982, the year I was born, Edmond really stirred something in people, made them uncomfortable. But when I saw it performed in 2003, it bored me. And when I saw the film of it, it made me angry. Not because of the language, but because of how hard it was trying to hit me on the head and shout at me. GET ANGRY!! it said. Get angry that everyone is a racist. Get angry that men hate women. Get angry that corporate drones are driven to murder when their pent-up fears come bursting forth. And at the end, laugh as Edmond becomes a vile combination of the things he has always despised. A prison boyfriend to a black man. A LOVING prison boyfriend.
Edmond's hatred is never fully explained in my opinion, though I'm sure many people would disagree. His impetus for leaving his wife, which comes in the form of a Tarot-card-reading old biddy, is absurd. "You are not where you belong," she tells him. So he chooses to leave and wander 8th avenue, stopping in every sleazy sex joint on the block. He doesn't understand how strip clubs work, or "health clubs" with lace-adorned "masseuses" waiting to hand out their services. He is had by a 3-card Monte conman. He slits a pimp's throat and slashes a waitress to death after she allows him to screw her.
Perhaps if the screenplay had not been written by David Mamet, who wrote the play as well, this could have been a better film. William H Macy does all he can as Edmond, spiraling incredibly quickly, into despair. Julia Stiles does good work as the doomed waitress, with the bad luck of running into someone whose prejudices come flooding out, knife-first, when he is finally allowed a chance to voice them.
I presume that we are supposed to feel something like sympathy for Edmond at the end, with his good night kiss to his boyfriend, initially his rapist. This man wraps his arms around Edmond, newly bald and mustachioed, and Edmond smiles, for now he is happy. He has found happiness in jail, that place he knew he would be happy in, for it is simple. Jail is his opportunity for redemption and safety and love.
Honestly, this movie made me uncomfortable, but not via the language or the story, but the feeling of wonkiness it left me with. Nothing looked right afterwards. So maybe it worked.