Sunday, July 06, 2008

This vagina dentata fantasy is more comedy than thriller, but part of what makes it so good is how the film never totally surrenders to camp. Even as the heroine's would-be assailants have their extremities dispatched in comically appropriate ways, her confusion, horror and disappointment are treated sympathetically. And even if the film had gone cold on her, watching a jackass cry "...moooomm?" into an intercom after losing his dick mid-coitus would still be priceless.

The Man Who Knew Too Much
A happily married couple's daughter is kidnapped by Peter Lorre when they accidentally stumble across his plan to kill the Archduke Ferdinand of 1934. A fun early Hitchcock, and unsurprisingly superior to Hitch's own 1956 remake starring Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart. Better than Ransom, too!

The Ruins
Even in quality horror films, there's frequently a moment late in the film where the main characters take stupid pills so that the film can come to a violent close (think "we have to go back" or "oh no, the dog got out!"). The Ruins wisely begins with boneheaded choices (starting with "hey, let's ask some guy to drive us into the middle of the Mexican jungle and leave us there!"), so that the majority of the movie can be devoted to the misery of the stuck & fucked. Thankfully, more attention is paid to their increasing panic than the evil CGI vines.

A white male math genius is seduced by a hot blonde (and Kevin Spacey) to join another brilliant white guy and two goofy Asian sidekicks in counting cards in Vegas and only Vegas, despite repeated threats of execution from the town's sole security chief. This tale is "inspired by" a large group of mostly Asian students that counted cards in casinos across America for over thirty years, before dropping out because of non-violent bans and more profitable real estate opportunities. This idiotic whitewashing (which I swear I wasn't aware of beforehand, though I did think the film would be better if the supporting actors were the leads) wouldn't be so grating if the leads, Jim Sturgess and Kate Bosworth, had at least as much charisma as a cast member from One Tree Hill. No movie from 2008 should have you actively regretting when Kevin Spacey (who - fun fact! - has made three incredibly shitty movies with Bosworth) leaves the screen.

While this tip won't be of assistance when Sturgess, who keeps hundreds of thousands of dollars in the ceiling tiles above his dorm bed, fucks up his nerdy friends' science project (what price success?), it does help to get through the movie by adding " bed." to anything Spacey says to his young male apprentices. I.e., "The only thing worse than a loser is someone who won't admit he played bed." Yes, I was that bored.

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