Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Movies watched last week, from favorite to least.

Almost thirty years before writing and directing this sequel to the cinematic adaptation of his novel, William Peter Blatty scripted A Shot In The Dark, the best Inspector Clouseau film ever. This helps explain the oddly wocka-wocka banter early on, as well as the Spaceballs reference. Several cast members from The Ninth Configuration are present, along with Nicol Williamson (almost mute), Brad Dourif (rather talkative, with the pitch constantly shifted in post to imply demonic status) and George C. Scott (prone to gravelly shrieks). A worthy sequel to The Ninth Configuration AND Exorcist II: The Heretic.

Cruelty-free Todd Solondz. I appreciate how long they take to overtly acknowledge the fallacies of Christian fundamentalism (correctly assuming we need no help in spotting them), but I never laughed out loud once.

Somewhere between Eraserhead and Mulholland Dr., David Lynch went from dream logic to "it was all a dream" logic, something that bothered me more when I'd seen Mulholland Dr. but had yet to watch Eraserhead. Confident that he was once a truly inspired director, I can enjoy his half-hackery and retreads for their uncommon indulgences rather than begrudging his status as the one guy who gets away with this shit (still haven't seen INLAND EMPIRE). There's a lot of b.s. here, and like with so many docs you already have to know the story to care about the details, but I know the story and get off on watching Squirmy Cleaver up close and personal.

At first, you think the best part of this "troubled rich kids" crap will be Ben Foster's superlative overacting, highlighted by his frenzied cries of "I WILL TAKE YOU TO HELL WITH ME!" when dismissed from a telemarketing firm and an unexpected kung fu sequence. Then Justin Timberlake comes through with a giddy, compassionate performance that almost pulls the movie out of its cliches until Sharon Stone cries in her fat suit and all is lost. Bruce Willis and Harry Dean Stanton clearly wish they'd gotten to work with John Cassavetes, but should know better than to settle for Nick.

Over forty-five minutes of sub-Guy Ritchie badass character introduction, fifteen minutes of anarchic violence and a half hour of surprisingly emo speechifying about the human cost of these madcap mob antics - unusually heavy lifting for Jeremy Piven and Ryan Reynolds. Common and Alicia Keys give credence to my theory that musicians I couldn't give a shit about make for decent actors (the Dwight Yoakam rule).


bryan said...

I totally agree. Exorcist III is, despite a completely expected drag owing to parapsychological bullcocky, a terrific spooky movie. It also feels a bit like a victory lap for the writer's variety of horror movies so remarkable in the 70's & very early 80's. A De Palma man such as yourself must surely relish The Eyes of Laura Mars. Or the Polanskiesque hoot, The Sentinel.

Anthony Miccio said...

I LOVE The Eyes Of Laura Mars but I haven't seen the Sentinel. In fact, I had to go on Imdb to reaffirm you weren't talking about the recent Michael Douglas movie. I gotta check this one out!

Al said...

When I watched the extras and commentaries on the first Exorcist movie recently, Blatty focused an awful lot on Detective Kinderman for a fairly minor character, and seemed inordinately proud of his wisecracking creation (and implied that he felt Columbo was a ripoff of Kinderman, even more bizarre considering that the Columbo character not only predated Blatty's book, but Lee J. Cobb was offered the role of Columbo well before he did the first Exorcist movie). I got the feeling he would've been happy to write comedies about flighty inspectors his whole career if he hadn't stumbled into greater success at horror, so it's not surprising at all that he wrote a Pink Panther movie, or a Kinderman-heavy Exorcist sequel.