Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The end of this movie was the best part, not just because I no longer had to watch it, but it's where all the footage from the 1980 Central Park gatherings remembering John Lennon were, and they brought me to tears.
If you don't recognize this title, let me rephrase it for you: The Movie That Beautiful Jared Leto Put on 70 Pounds For. He plays Mark David Chapman, arguably the most infamous assassin of the last couple of centuries, with the possible exception of John Wilkes Booth. Unfortunately, instead of really giving us a look into the deteriorating mind of a killer, we listen to a lot of yammering voiceovers, mouth-breathing and bizarre speech patterns. The film’s title is a reference to JD Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye, which was Chapman’s second obsession, with Lennon and the Beatles at large being the first. Because seeing him carry the book around during the movie and being told by him explicitly that it is his statement to the police and his Bible is not enough, we are treated to shots of waving rye fields throughout the film. Bang, bang, Maxwell’s silver hammer came down upon [our] head[s].
A pre-totally washed-up Lindsay Lohan appears in a thankless role as the fictional Jude (Hey!), a fellow Beatles mega-fan. It takes this poor sap two full days to realize that the man she's been chatting with is a crazy nutjob. If a slow-moving stranger ever came up to me and offered to buy me dinner, and he had the voice of a eunuch swimming in molasses, I'd be a mile away in .5 seconds, but I guess I'm a little less trusting than a lot of people.
It's too bad that this didn't work out as a movie. John Lennon deserved better.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
And how!! This is a film from 1951, when filmmakers were really starting to push the envelope with the Hays Code. Sex was largely still being implied by dance sequences and fade-outs, murders were bloodless, and anything outside of heterosexual same-race relations was illegal. Well, here we have an example of how flouting the rules leads to great art. Here we have premarital sex, unethical doctors, an unveiled suicide attempt, abortion references, and men raising other men's babies.
Best of all, we have Cary Grant in the lead role. I don't know much about Jeanne Crain, the woman in trouble, but Grant is on my list of those who can do no wrong.
If this film were made now, it wouldn't startle anyone. It would be tame. But a rule that I have about watching movies is that you must allow yourself to watch it as it was intended to be seen. Watching network TV now, where no one swears, but everyone gets shot, is absurd, and there's no way around it. But watching Code-era movies, especially the ones that stick their tongues out at Hays, I never cease to be amazed at what they got away with. True, no one swore in movies then, either, but think about it: we can watch Jack Bauer on 24 literally slice a man's abdomen open while he's still vaguely alive to fish a SIM card out of his stomach, but he cannot say "Fuck." In 1951, a kiss showing anything more than two faces mashed together for a second was taboo. Isn't a little mystery nice every once in a while?
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Oh my god, run run run run run to this movie. Sprint, people, go!!!!!!
So, the hype surrounding this movie was (is, really) centered around one word in one scene. There is a young girl in this movie, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, who was the sassy little sister in (500) Days of Summer. In one scene, she enters a room and addresses the men in that room as "you cunts." After this greeting, she slays them all with a sword. But most people writing about the movie fail to acknowledge that act, and concentrate on the word because they find it offensive, or assume that everyone else does. I happen to love that word. But that is neither here nor there. This movie is way more than a word. It is two words. It is FUCKING AWESOME.
The director here, making the poor little girl say the nasty word (and several others, mind you, which she does with gusto) is Matthew Vaughn. His big claim to fame until now is that he directed Layer Cake, the poor man's Guy Ritchie film featuring Daniel Craig's sexy self and Sienna Miller's sexy everything. Kick-Ass wipes the floor with Layer Cake.
Aaron Johnson, a Brit playing American, is Dave Lizewski, an invisible nobody in high school in Queens. Except that he's hot. Whoops. It's a movie. So one day he decides to be a superhero who calls himself Kick-Ass. Okay. Then he meets other fake superheros, including the foul-mouthed and excellent HitGirl (Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage), who is in fact, her dad. It's nice to see Nic Cage in something I want to see him in these days. I've missed him. Big Daddy and Hit Girl are a trifle more skilled in the old fighting and weaponry game than poor Kick-Ass, who lands himself in the hospital the first time out. But then he gets laid, so it's cool.
Somehow, McLovin of Superbad fame is cast as a villain! Well, the son of a villain, really, but he IS a wanna-be villain at heart. Daddy Villain is played by Mark Strong, who was the villain in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, but who will forever be to me "Hey, is that Andy Garcia?" And he is a scary man.
There is a shit-ton of violence in this movie. A father shoots his daughter. All manner of people get sliced open and stabbed. A bazooka is housed in a penthouse. There are brass knuckles in play. A child lays waste to warehouses full of giant men. And all of it, dear reader, is phenomenally fun to watch.
I know there are people who don't dig violence in movies, and I can understand that. But this isn't a dude movie, where it's all big explosions and taglines and muscle shirts. Think "Kill Bill" and "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" instead. It's an R-rated superhero movie, guys. What could be bad?