Saturday, July 02, 2005

Recent Film Reviews

Star Wars Episode III: Padme has developed a serious case of agoraphobia and is unable to leave the house, although she suspects the universe is falling apart outside her doors. Instead she obsessively dresses and redresses herself like a human Barbie® doll, her compulsions leading her to seek ever more intricately ridiculous hair styles and shiny accouterments. My god, she's sleeping on pearls with a tiara on her head! Someone help this woman -- she is obviously in deep pain. Her (secret) husband comes and goes (though not talking of Michaelangelo) and seems to be in some kind of trouble, but she is unable to determine what sort of difficulty due to Hayden Christensen's inability to convey emotions. Ewan MacGregor stops by briefly and, being a real actor, manages to convey the fact that her husband is really, no fooling in trouble, and she finally rallies, accompanied by her best gay friend, to jump on board her girly ship (shiny, no rough edges, meant only for running out to shop, so no security of any kind) to confront her abusive husband despite being nine lunar months pregnant with twins. He of course abuses her and leaves her for dead, pursued by a Jedi with a restraining order. Although she recovers from his assault, she expires having given birth to plot points, realizing at last there is nothing else for a woman to do in a George Lucas film except die on cue -- with ludicrous hair and uncomfortable clothes.

Howl's Moving Castle: Not Miyazaki's best film, but a lesser film by him is light years better than the multi-million dollar extravaganza assembled by Lucas from CGI and rejected soap opera dialogue. Which is to say it is magically beautiful, a wonder to look at, touching in emotions and a delight for the eyes and heart. Even in the dubbed American version -- very nearly capsized by Billy Crystal's hamming (why do American actors have the notion that if they cannot be seen then they must work doubly hard to be heard? Christian Bale, Jean Simmons and Lauren Bacall are all wonderful and understated in their delivery, and consequently, a delight) -- it is a wonder to behold.

Batman Begins: Better than the other Batman movies.

Land of the Dead: Mr. Punch will never die. He is indeed too old to die. The zombies could learn much from him. Big Daddy is cool -- I laughed out loud at the band. The emotions and morality may be a tad heavy handed, and -- as Gene put it -- Hopper pretty much phones it in (again). But Simon Baker was a credible leading man, Leguizamo was in rare form (wild but not over the top), and it was great to see Robert Joy (if a little sugar coated). I hoped Asia would have more to do, but alas, I ought to have known better (but as Pat says, I'm just a girl). It was fun, I enjoyed it -- yes, including the Bush bashing. It was not as visceral as Romero's earlier efforts; let's say, a kinder, gentler zombie flick. Go. Have something meaty afterward.


C. Margery Kempe said...

Re: Land of the Dead: I would add, having thought about it a bit more, that one theme is more powerful than I initially thought:

SPOILERS (reveals a plot point & an aspect of the ENDING!)

The fireworks, in retrospect, I think are brilliant. In the overall (and rather unsubtle) theme of class warfare within the country (which I take to be the uberclass of Hopper's rich and disconnected mall dwellers against the poor and the zombies both, who are of course kept at war with one another to divide them against the rich) the fireworks (explosions of patriotism?) entertain the plebian zombies to their own detriment -- i.e. getting their brains blown out. It is only when they come to some kind of conscious awareness that the star-spangled display loses its appeal. When the colorful ephemeral displays lose their power they focus on the real threat (the wealthy leeches whose power relies on their mindlessness). They realize how they've been used and rise up against the real enemy.

And the army, which has been their enemy until it, too, turns away from the wealthy class, allows them to survive because the army leader (Riley) sees a kinship in their battle for freedom.

Or perhaps I've had too much potato salad...

Crispinus said...

"Better than the other Batman movies."

Ya, in almost every respect save two. One, someone find Bats a love interest (female, male, some kind of mammal -- I don't care at this point) that has...interest. I thought I was watching *Sith* for awhile there.

Two, the music sucked. If you could give me Elfman without funerary penguins, I'd be a happier fanboy.

C. Margery Kempe said...

Dan, Dan, Dan --

Why would a psychotic mumbler like Batman ever get a real love interest? It's hard enough to maintain relationships when you're reasonably normal. But we're talking Batman here: double identity, childhood trauma, suspiciously close relationship with youthful ward (NAMBLA warning signs?), precipitious disappearances, sulking and capes...

And, yeah, agree with your assessment of James Newton Howard's bombastic score. Trying to out-Williams Williams?

Crispinus said...

True, true, true.

But -- my point is not that Bats must have a love interest, only that if one is to be foisted upon him, he/she/it had better be up to the challenge.

C. Margery Kempe said...

I wouldn't hold my breath: if women are in a film as something other than window dressing (and usually they are not even that; there are an awful lot of MWWs), they tend to be nothing more than a reaction to the main character's dialogue, so he (always he) isn't just talking to himself -- or else the thing he has to "rescue."

I'd like to see a Batman movie that explores the closeted relationship between him and Robin, how they have to face public scrutiny *and* that of the other criminals and superheroes. The next step up after Brat Pack?