Monday, April 07, 2008

Movies watched over the last week, from favorite to least.

I think Hopkins does an impressive job of creating the kind of dream-drug-reverie state people can go through. I trust you enough, dear reader, to tell you something I should keep private: During a period after my surgical emergency, when I was on what Mr. Limbaugh so usefully describes as prescription medications, I had dreams more real than my waking moments. Then the fog cleared, my health returned, the medication stopped, and I resumed writing brilliant and lucid reviews like this one. But I know Hopkins gets it right, because I've been there. - Roger Ebert

Slipstream does resemble the fever dreams of an aging film critic who once wrote Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls. It's also not unlike a double-speed INLAND EMPIRE directed by Oliver Stone. For Anthony Hopkins to have written, starred, directed or composed the music for a movie like this would have been baffling enough. That he did all four makes him the most surprising Space Cowboy of the decade.

Stray moments: A man at a cafe says "a dream within a dream," which is looped four times and intercut with images of Hitler. Christian Slater rubs a gun against Jeffrey Tambor's cheek, calling him a "sly boots," for not telling him that he once saw Kevin McCarthy. "Is my resemblance to Dr. Phil getting you hot and bothered...bewildered..." "Juicy?" The world's oldest Native American looks on. "Caffeinated pussies" played backwards and then repeated. Suddenly, we're in a film within a film. Camryn Manheim appears with a head wound. "You know why they have to stay alive? Because they are mainstream, baby!" John Turturro and 'Detective Buzz Larrabee' are yelling at Hopkins from inside his computer screen. Banana colored sports cars turning pink for a couple seconds. Kevin McCarthy discusses Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers with Hopkins as he drives off into the sunset with a corpse in the back seat.

When I entered middle school, rather than correct eight teachers instead of the usual one, I decided to go by "Anthony" rather than "Tony." When asked why, I'd say "hey, Anthony Hopkins or Tony Danza?" After Slipstream, I couldn't be prouder to share a first name with this lunatic. Stay for the credit scroll to watch the entire movie played backwards at high speed, set to midi-file jazz.

Mike Nichols has an uglier sense of composition than any other director with a sense of composition. So while Aaron Sorkin's script is unnecessarily dense and the tone of whimsy and accomplishment jars with the historical outcome of our actions in Afghanistan (which is acknowledged as vaguely as possible), he's too busy cramming in all the dialogue to make too many garish set-ups.

Despite their horrifying coifs, the actors actually carry the film past its many obstacles. Tom Hanks gives the most charismatic performance I've seen from him since he became President Of Hollywood in the mid-90s. His Charlie Wilson is a cocky rogue living off largess and minor larceny, but you can see that he's always listening to what people tell him and that he says what he means. It's a role that keeps him busy without undercutting his innate likeability. Philip Seymour Hoffman has yet to turn Kevin Spacey on us (we'll see after a second Oscar), and Julia Roberts seems inspired by the company she's keeping. Pretty good for Hollywood Oscar squad bullshit.

Hearing college classmates scream "that's so money!" through dorm walls kept me from going anywhere near this proto-brodown for a decade, but the film is nowhere as obnoxious as I feared. Aside from some brief moments of cinematic homage (as was the style at the time), the characters' Rat Pack affectations are always presented as the dreams of schlubs. The ending is pat, feel-good bullshit starring Heather Graham (as was the style at the time), but I'll take light over maudlin. Vince Vaughn's face is so youthful here it's almost scary.

1 comment:

The Wook said...

I still think in the Vaughn/Favreau canon, MADE is the one I cherish most, if only because it's obnoxious discomfort is genuinely masterful. And Puff Daddy's in it. 'Nuff said.