N.Y.Press critic Armond White has delivered a blistering critique of Nanette Burstein‘s American Teen. As in, “If American Teen had smell-o-vision, the scent of bubble gum would be overpowered by crap.” I’m not posting this to signal agreement; I just enjoy White when he goes on a tear.
“Don’t fall for the capturing-real-life ruse,” White cautions. “That’s a Heisenberg Principle trap (asking us to excuse the filmmaker’s cynicism, since we already realize her presence). It’s no different from Christopher Nolan‘s cynicism in The Dark Knight: The graduating students of Warshaw High suggest suburban comics heroes: Zit Boy, Tramp Girl, Manic Twat, Texting Dork, Jock Dweeb. Without any emotional or historical context for these pathetic youth, Burstein merely offers a spectacle of chipmunky kiddie voices and garbled diction.”
Watchmen director Zack Snyder “is currently battling Warners over the ultimate running time of his film, which is three hours,” reports Variety‘s Anne Thompson from Comic-Con. “He’s trying to cut it down, but doesn’t want to lose a character like Hollis, a guy who gets murdered about half way through.
“‘I’m not ready for that yet,” Synder says. ‘If Dark Knight got two and a half hours, Watchmen should get fifteen minutes more. I’m trying to be reasonable.’
“Snyder is caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of the studio’s commercial demands and the fans who love the comics,” Thompson remarks. “A movie has to reach beyond the faithful, remaining accessible to mainstream moviegoers.”
This reminds for some reason of a 1994 Daily News headline that bannered an interview I did with Wyatt Earp director Larry Kasdan, to wit: “Draw At Count of Three, Wyatt….Hours!”
Today’s Watchmen presentation is the only Comic-Con thing I really wanted to see. But I wasn’t going drive all the way down to San Diego just to do that.
Cinemascope‘s Yair Raveh has passed along Barack Obama‘s handwritten prayer note, written on hotel stationery, that the Democratic presidential candidate slipped between the stones at Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall during his visit to the site two days ago.
“Journalists then promptly stormed the wall and ransacked his note,” he writes. It turned up in today’s issue of Maariv, a popular Hebrew-language daily. “It’s a big faux pas from a Jewish traditional point of view to steal a written Wailing Wall prayer,” Raveh writes, “and I’m quite certain that if Obama were Jewish no mainstream reporter would’ve dared violate his privacy so bluntly.”
It’s icky to make news stories out of evidence that famous people are infidels, but every time I read one — example #1, example #2 — I feel mildly comforted on some level. I despise these stories and half-like them at the same time.
Recap: Slate‘s Mickey Kaus has printed yesterday morning’s memo from L.A. Times editor Tony Pierce which noted that “because the only source [on the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter affair] has been the National Enquirer, we have decided not to cover the rumors or salacious speculations, so I am asking you all not to blog about this topic until further notified.” The Enquirer is apparently intending to publish photos of Edwards running away from photographers when they ambushed him at the Beverly Wilshire earlier this week.
Why is the new Will Ferrell-John C. Reilly comedy called Step Brothers? I’ve known that stepbrothers is a single unhyphenated word since I took part in sixth-grade spelling bees. Is your mother’s mother your “grand mother” or “grandmother”? I hate how marketing guys always do it their own way, get it wrong, thumb their nose at civilization.
Step Brothers, in any event, is not funny. I sat there like an Easter Island statue. No chuckles; not even a smile. I need to say right now that anyone who goes this weekend and laughs uproariously is showing their colors. I’m not saying it’ll mark you as a mongrel for finding it amusing but if you laugh heartily and repeatedly it will say something about your level of refinement and your vistas. The movie is a wallow — a crew of actors sloshing around in a mocha-colored whipped-mud pit and going “who-hooaaa!…being covered in slop is friggin’ hilarious, so the more the funnier….yahhhh!”
I’ll admit that I found the premise — a couple of 40 year-olds (Ferrell, Reilly) still living with their respective single parents and being forced to share a domain when their parents decide to get married — amusing on the surface. But I realized early on that immaturity in and of itself isn’t funny. It never is or has been. Think back — when has a contemporary acting like an immature twit at any age ever been amusing? In your own life, I mean.
I’ll admit that some of what Ferrell and O’Reilly get into is mildly diverting if you’re a good-natured person who likes to be charitable (people were laughing at the screening I attended), but that’s neither here nor there.
The premise connects because the age of supposed maturity (attaining mellow emotionality, knowing how to tie your shoelaces, getting down to a career, etc.) has been taking longer and longer with each generation, and we all know this and probably want to laugh at it to alleviate our concerns.
Guys who came out of World War I felt compelled to get down to marriage and raising kids in their early 20s. Then again the F. Scott Fitzgerald/Ernest Hemingway “lost generation” of the 1920s was the first to put stuff off as they wallowed in personal issues. The Depression toughened the nation up and kept almost everyone (except for the Beats of the late 1940s and ’50s) on the straight and narrow until the mid ’60s when all cultural hell broke loose. It was nonetheless considered a mark of at least some shame in the ’70s for anyone to have delayed on Big Life Moves until their late 20s or early 30s.
The state of social devolution has continued unabated since the ’70s, to the point that it’s now considered totally normal for immature guys to kick around well into their 30s and sometimes into their early 40s. Ten or twenty years from now it’ll be considered almost normal for guys to start thinking about coming to grips with maturity when they hit 45 or 50.
The world is culturally devolving, disassembling and swirling down the toilet bowl. That’s why Step Brothers is a downer — it’s essentially a meditation about the end of the world. I’m kind of kidding, yes, but not altogether. Because the world is ending, in a sense. Mamma Mia! is another indicator. Ditto the red-state bumpkins who resent Barack Obama for wallowin’ around in Afghanistan and Europe instead of taking care of business back home.
The one-sheet for The Day The Earth Stood Still (20th Century Fox, 12.12) implies a massive scale to the visiting alien space craft — a bigger-than-big whoaness. This obviously summons memories (although I really mean “nightmares”) of Independence Day, which is not a good thing for reasons I shouldn’t need to list here. And if (I say “if”) this indicates where the filmmakers are coming from — scary-gargantuan! eerie-cool! — it indicates to me a lack of original vision.
Because they mainly seem to be competing with past alien-visitation films (Close Encounters, etc.) that have used a massive sound-and light show approach to the big landings. In so doing the DTESS guys are obviously trafficking in the usual-usual, which is to try and crank up a not-very-hip crowd that mainly wants to be awed so they can sit in the fourth row with their massive buckets of popcorn soaked in amhydrous butterfat and go “kewwwl!”
What if an alien space ship arrived around noon on a sunny day in an open public place? What if it just showed up and plunked itself down on a big green lawn under a cloudless blue sky without any light-beams puncturing through fog and smoke with the usual wind machines blowing every earthling’s hair? Not cool enough, right? Maybe, okay, but wouldn’t a different sort of landing be more welcome? Something quieter, odder? What if Klaatu’s landing isn’t witnessed at all?
It was reported today by the N.Y. Times Michael Cieply that the Comic-Con crowd gave the DTESS product reel a spirited response “despite a certain amount of web-driven skepticism that has been swirling around the new movie√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s eco-friendly themes.
“One person who posted earlier this month on imdb.com had demanded to know why ‘would aliens care about the earth√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s environment unless they intended to use it themselves?’
“Released in the fall of 1951, the original Day the Earth Stood Still was directed by Robert Wise and based on a story by Harry Bates. It cast Michael Rennie as an alien, Klaatu, who had been sent with his robot sidekick Gort to hand earthlings an ultimatum: Live peacefully, or die.
“This time around Keanu Reeves, who plays the Rennie role, is apparently detailed to save the universe from earth√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s terminal messiness — think of an alien Al Gore, with serious muscle.”