|KEX'S AMAZING WORLD|
|Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only an error to be exposed. -- H.L. Menken|
The Batman Movies
This Week: A Batman Film Festival:
Batman and Robin:
Quick, name one thing all four Batman movies have in common: That's right, they all have "Batman" in the title. The certainly didn't all have the same guy playing Batman in the movies, in fact, the caped crusader was portrayed by 3 progressively lamer actors. Then again, you might also list as a common feature of the movies that almost none of them actually had Batman in them.
The fact of the matter is, if you view any or all of these films with even a modest gastro intestinal problem, you could feasibly sit through all four films allowing for necessity absenses without ever seeing Batman even once. The films might just as easily have been entitled The Joker, The Penguin and Catwoman, The Riddler and Two Face, and Mr Freeze And Poison Ivy. We briefly summarize each in turn.
Batman: This is the film in which we are introduced to the entire gang, and we learn a great deal about Gotham City. The first point that is evident is that the crime problem in Gotham can't be all that serious, since the streets are "plagued" by criminals who could feasibly get their ass kicked by a guy like Bruce Wayne (Michael Keeton).
Its probably fortunate that the criminals of Gotham are basically wimps, because the local gendarme apparently makes the Boulder, Colorado police look downright competent. After all, these guys apparently can't keep the peace without Batman's help. They do seem to have a problem with facial hair however, as we note one of the detectives in the film with distinctly differing degrees of beard in 3 successive scenes that cover a time span of only about a half an hour.
In this film, Batman is chasing crime boss Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson), but accidentally drops him into a vat of chemicals which leaves him with white skin and a permanent smile. Thus he is transformed into The Joker. As fate would have it, Napier murdered Bruce Wayne's parents as a child, thus transforming his life to the quest to hunt down bad guys.
Bruce Wayne's love interest in this film is Vicky Vale (Kim Bassinger). She has spent roughly a dozen years now trying to live down some of the incredibly lame dialog she had to hack out in this film. To make the long story short, Batman gets his revenge by kicking ass on the Joker and all ends well, except that sometime between Batman and Batman Returns, Vicky and Bruce's relationship goes in the toilet.
Batman Returns: By the time the second films opens, Batman has gone from shadowy figure to crime fighting institution in Gotham City. The quality of bad guys hasn't risen any, however, as this time around Batman faces-off against the likes of evil millionaire Max Schreck (Christopher Walken) and the Penguin man (Danny Devito). Once again, you have to figure that Bruce Wayne (again Michael Keeton) would have at least an even shot against a runty wimp like Schreck and a midget like Oswald Kobblepot (The Penguin's real name.)
Toss into the mix this time an evil love interest, the Catwoman ( Michelle Pfeiffer). It turns out that she is considerably more formidable than either of the two male bad guys, unfortunately she lacks sufficent focus to really take on Batman. The storyline attempts to paint a mirror image contrast between the rich and affluent Bruce Wayne, torn into the shadier life of Batman, and the working class secretary-come-villaness Catwoman. What actually happens is that the story dries up in its own efforts to do too much too fast, and the film becomes a monument to style overpowering substance.
The plot is simple enough to have been lifted out of the 60's TV series: Once evil Penguin goes good and is being promoted as a mayoral candidate to further the ends of the evil Schreck. Batman foils the plot, and Penguin unleashes a hideous plan, which is of course foiled by Batman. The end.
Batman Forever: Just when we were starting to get used to the idea that Michael Keeton might make a credible Bruce Wayne/Batman, he wises up and realizes that the license is probably doing serious damage to his career. Thus exit Keeton, and enter Val Kilmer, who probably couldn't throw a scare into a jaywalker, let alone an evil super crime boss. Toss in Chris O'Donnell sporting a bad crew cut and you figure Gotham is in some really serious trouble: After all, these guys represent the city's first line of defense against crime.
Ignoring the fact that O'Donnell actually looks older than Kilmer, which sort of pastes the illusion any mentor/apprentice thing that might get going, you simply weep for the fate of Gotham given the arrival of a really formidable crime boss. On the other hand, Gotham is taking on an appearance so sinister and neon-annoying we almost wish someone would just nuke the place.
Fortunately, the best that can crawl from the tacky slime of Gotham is Edward Nigma, aka the Riddler (Jim Carrey). Probably the only redeeming quality of this film lies in the knowledge, as we watch, that eventually Carrey is going to get his ass kicked. But we also have to endure 1. Nearly two hours of his annoying screen presence and 2. The fact that Kilmer is going to do it. Its just sort of hard to find and upside in all this.
Joining forces with The Riddler is Harvey "Two Face" Dent as portrayed, almost astonishingly, by Tommy Lee Jones. Maybe he was seriously behind on alimony or something. Dent is seriously disfigured on one side of his body and face as the result of a courtroom accident for which he wrongly blames Batman. Thus his evil side predominates. Perhaps the most curious aspect of Dent's transformation is that not only was he disfigured, but he pulled a Michael Jackson between movies one and three, changing from the young and handsome Billy Dee Williams to the more rugged and older Jones.
The film is a throwaway: Kilmer looks lost, Jones makes a valiant effort but embarasses himself anyway, Carrey is annoying and O'Donnell overacts to the point we wish someone would stuff his rubber Robin suit down his throat, or up another convienant oriface. In the end, Gotham is again saved and we leave wondering whether or not to be happy about it.
Batman and Robin: The only positive thing you can really say about this film is that it drove the wooden stake through the heart of this unfortunate license, at least to date. This time around, George Clooney dons the batsuit, and it has to be regarded as a casting misfire that would rank alongside giving Richard Simmons the lead in Gladiator.
Arnold Swartznegger unleashes evil on Gotham in the person of Mr. Freeze, who steals diamonds to keep his cold suit functioning. He is joined by Poison Ivy (Uma Therman) who is sort of a plant-human hybrid as the result of a lab accident. Poison Ivy's only real function in the movie is to get her ass kicked by the newly arrived Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone). I guess this relieves the uncomfortable necessity of having Batman or Robin actually beat up a women, not that we are convinced either one ever could.
Alfred is dying, and George Clooney spends most of the film looking sympathetic and nostalgic. Robin is under the influence of the feminine charms of Poison Ivy, driving a wedge between him and Batman. Mr Freeze is threatening to deep freeze Gotham. We are bored mindless. Far from being exciting or entertaining, this movie lapses into mind-numbing campiness.
It ends with Batman, Robin and Batgirl (who didn't even get included in the title) triumphently sprinting off into the night hand-in-hand, suggesting yet another sequel to this down-spiraling series. We hope not, because by film four, the old TV series was beginning to look like high drama by comparison.
Addendum: I've been informed that Batman 5 is in preproductions stages. The aging Bruce Wayne hands over the mantle to a young protege, thus opening the Batman Beyond license.
Also last Week: A Video Review: Moulin Rouge:
The Parisian theater district at the turn of the 20th century was the birthplace of the progressive bohemian movement. It is certainly a subject that would be prime for exploration by a movie that could be interesting and entertaining. I hope someday, someone makes one. It certainly didn't happen with the early summer release Moulin Rouge, a film that proves that the only thing worse than a musical is a really BAD musical. Its not that this movie sucked only because it was a musical, by any means. In fact, removing all the music from this movie would have made it suck even worse.
Back in the latter 70's, somebody got the really ass-rammed idea that you could make a progressive and entertaining musical by taking a bunch of Beatles songs, and creating a story around them in sort of a fantasy setting. The unmitigated disaster that was born out of the idea was entitled Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band. It might well have been remembered as the single worst musical of the last half of the 20th century had it not been for Paint Your Wagon about a decade before and Xanadu just a few years after. But Moulin Rouge is much in the same tradition, and may have already retired the trophy as the worst musical of the 21st century.
In Moulin Rouge, a bunch of Beatles songs, as well as other contemporary music is inappropriatly lifted out of its time and context and reset in Paris of 1900. I guess the people who made this film didn't think that using actual music from the time would be hip enough for the predominately younger crowd that is the major demographic attending movies. Besides, to most of them, 1965 and 1900 are about the same thing anyway. So why not use music they can relate to somewhat?
Why not? Because the idea sucks, and so does this movie. You haven't experienced real pain in your life until you have seen Jim Broadbent (as Harold Zidler) and Richard Roxburgh (as the Duke) attempt to belt out a passable rendition of Madonna's Like a Virgin. I found the experience so unsettling I was contemplating ripping the cassette out of the VCR and hanging myself with the tape. It was really that bad. No, it was actually worse.
Yes, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was every bit as bad as advertised, but at least the people who made it didn't completely assault their audience with a lack of appropriate talent. They hired the likes of The BeeGees, Aerosmith, Peter Frampton and a few others who at least had some passing familiarity with earning a living by singing and making music. By contrast, the lead in Moulin Rouge is played by Nicole Kidman, who is apparently attempting to earn a life time achievement award at K.A.W. for the number of screamingly awful films she can appear in. Lets not forget that she co-starred in Eyes Wide Shut and now this film. One of the more positive things that you can say about this movie is that at least HER singing talents are no worse than her acting ability.
Too bad a similar observation can't be made about the rest of the cast. The male lead is portrayed by Ewan McGregor, who may have the worst voice ever imposed by Hollywood on the public in a musical. His acting talents are not much superior to his singing ability. The rest of the cast is composed largely of unknowns who mostly appear to be frustrated rejects from a very small town dinner theater establishment.
The movie does have a plot of sorts. A young man named Christian (McGregor) has traveled from London to Paris to write about the growing bohemian movement. Arriving at the famed Moulin Rouge, he impresses some of the performers by belting out a Beatles song badly. Based on this film, the entertainment that went on at the Moulin Rouge must have made The Gong Show look downright classy. Christian is quickly adopted into the troop, and some of the players conspire to allow him to meet the star at the Moulin, Satine (Kidman).
Meanwhile, the same night, the owner of the Moulin, Harold Zidler (Broadbent) is attempting to get a local Duke to finance future productions. He also arranges a meeting with Satine, since she is essentially a prostitute and he hopes her female skills will win the Duke over.
Satine initially mistakes Christian for the Duke, but falls madly in love with Christian when he belts out an old Elton John song. But once the mistake is revealed, the remainder of the movie deteriorates into a story about the Moulin troop trying to convince the Duke that they are rehearsing a play with a similar plot. That way, the Duke will be favorably inclined to finance them, and Christian and Satine may covertly go on rutting. You see, the Duke has fallen in love with Satine, and is insanely jealous.
This film has actually been nominated for a Golden Globe for best picture in comedy/drama and is receiving some Oscar buzz as well. That probably just demonstrates how desperately bad things are in Hollywood these days. Incidentally, just so you don't have to go out and rent this yourself, Satine turns out to be fatally ill and dies in the end. Most of the audience probably wishes they had been so lucky 15 minutes into the film.
Special Bonus Review: Solaris:
Reviewing this film is no easy task. In fact, it would be a lot easier to write a comprehensible review of George Clooney's butt, which we got to see a couple of times in this movie, than the film itself. What kind of comment on a film are you making when it is possible to write a review of a butt more easily?
Actually, writing the review of the butt isn't even all that simple. Sure, you could say that it seemed a little too distant and out of focus to offer any ascetic pleasure. I'm referring to George's butt here and not the film, but the sentence could easily apply to either. You might also say that it appeared flat and not particularly well defined. Again, that is a butt comment, however it also applies to the movie equally well.
Solaris is adapted from a classic 1972 Russian science fiction film of the same title. The key difference between the two films, apart from the dual appearances of George's also duel butt cheeks, was the the Russian film was moderately intelligible. It was a 3 hour film which, while somewhat ambigious, was still mostly rational.
By comparison, Steven Soderberg's remake is only about 100 minutes long, and utterly without a rational moment in it. Actually the movie was a little more like Star Trek Generations without Captain Kirk, Captain Piccard or the Enterprise. In Generations we didn't get to see Kirk or Piccard's butt, although the plots were kind of similar. Wait, that isn't exactly true either, because Generations had a plot and Solaris really didn't.
Solaris is one of those lame-ass movies that is told partially in real time, and partially in flashback. Usually flashbacks are mostly necessary when you are telling a story so crappy that you need some means of attempting to fill the gaps. In Solaris, it was a device used mostly to fill time. I think even Soderberg realized that he was in the midst of a total mess of a movie, and he made a brave effort to save it somehow. All he did was dig himself a deeper abyss.
Strange to even mention abyss in context with this film. The Abyss was a reasonably tolerable sci-fi movie made back in the 70's, around the same time that the original Solaris came out. I think I only mentioned that because I during the course of this film, I spent some time wishing I was watching one of several other science fiction movies. Hell, even Plan Nine From Outer Space would have been preferable.
Maybe that isn't entirely fair. Plan Nine From Outer Space may well be the worst movie ever made, although its kind of a hoot to watch. Solari wasn't much fun at all. The most challenging thing about watching it was just staying awake. Certainly it wasn't the worst movie ever made, but it was far and away the worst movie George Clooney, or his butt, has ever made.
When you stop to think about it, that is no mean accomplishment. The man's recent movie credits include Batman and Robin as well as Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? After appearing in movies like that, its sort of a wonder that Clooney can even muster a lead role anymore. Then again, after seeing this film, you begin to wonder if he didn't grab the first offer that came along, even if it was an incomprehensible piece of crap.
Its really hard to summarize the plot of this movie, because almost nobody I talked to really understood what was going on. Maybe everyone else was just asleep. Clooney goes to some planet named Solaris, where an exploration mission has developed a bizzare problem. The crew begins to see departed loved ones and friends with them aboard the ship. When Clooney arrives at Solaris, he is visited by his dead wife.
The film then lapses into a laborious blab-fest as the characters have all sorts of inane discussions about the nature of reality, and what may be responsible for the phenomenon. I could only wonder what or who was responsible for green-lighting this bucket of cinematic barf in the first place. If Clooney felt the real desire to show off his butt, maybe he should have just posed in Playgirl.
This film opened a couple of weeks ago, and it has flopped so badly that it is already hitting the dollar cinemas. I'm looking forward to its broadcast premier on Mystery Science Theater 3000 within a month. As far as Clooney and his career goes, I hope that if he ever decides to show his posterior on the screen again, he at least pulls his head out of it long enough to make sure that it is displayed within the context of a script that wasn't penned by drunk chimpanzees.
Last Week: Chasing Liberty:
I'll start this week by apologizing to my loyal readers for taking a little break and not posting a review last weekend. Things have been awfully busy lately. We actually did go see a movie last week, but a review just never got written. The movie we saw was Calendar Girls. Lets face it folks, a movie about a group of British bronze broads getting naked to make a calendar is flawed enough right up front that it doesn't need the brickbats that could have been flung here. Sometimes, there just isn't a point, which is precisely why Adam Sandler flicks never get any play here.
Matthew Goode, giving voice to his character, an undercover Secret Service agent summed up this movie in two lines better than I'll be able to do in a dozen or so paragraphs. Quoth his character, Ben, "The real world is overrated. A few odd odors and disappointments." Substitute "this movie" for "the real world," and you have it in a nutshell. The experience of seeing this movie was overripe with odd odors and disappointments.
I sat through this movie with the constant feeling I'd seen it a few times before. In fact, quite a number of previous movies have explored the strains of growing up as the first child; offspring of the sitting President of the United States. This time around, pop-star turned actress Mandy Moore plays Anne Foster, the 18 year-old virginal daughter of the President who just wants an opportunity to escape the watchful eye of the Secret Service and have a little fun.
Anne is apparently exceptionally gifted when faced with the task of living in the public eye. We gather that dear old dad is already 6 years into his term, and prior to that, he was a govenor for 8 years. So Anne is used to acting the public role. She also apparently speaks several languages, and has the peculiar talent many 18 year-olds seem to develop for consuming large quantities of ale based beverages. In other words, she shares one of her 3 notable talents with the twin female offspring of our real world President.
The part of the President is played by Mark Harmon, who must sit alongside L.A. freeways these days with a cardboard, sharpie marked sign that reads, "Will act for food." Harmon looks like he has about as much business being a President as some dork who missed failing the Air National Guard entrance exam by one point, then got in due to family influence and promptly went AWOL for a year without reprocussion. But afterall, this is just a movie, not the real world.
Its wildly obvious that this is just a movie and not reality, because Anne's mom is actually sympathetic with her daughters feelings of social strangulation. I guess in the fantasy universe that this movie took place within, there are no terrorists drooling for the opportunity to kidnap a President's daughter, or other assorted nuts with similar aspirations.
Thinking back over the present and previous administrations, both have been pretty protective of the first children. Chelsea Clinton, who inspired the authors to write this story when they saw the army of Secret Service agents she had to deal with when attending a college basketball game, was strictly shielded from the public by Bill and Hillary. And Govenor Bush and Nazi Bitch have taken great pains to keep their offspring out of the public eye lately. I'm guessing that is has as much to do with their protection as to avoid the embarrassement that they've had a tendency to bring upon the White House. Maybe they are currently locked in the same cellar as Neil.
Chasing Liberty plays more like a travelogue with a couple of love stories as side bars than a romantic comedy. The premise here is that the first family is about to make a state visit to Europe, but Anne wants to use the trip to spread her wings a little. At first the President consents to granting her limited freedom, but then discreetly breaks his promise.
No problem. Anne devices a plan to slip the watchful eye of the Secret Service. Little does she know that she immediately falls into the protective custody of Ben, who makes her believe that he is aiding in her escape. In reality, he is an agent as well.
Ben and Anne go globetrotting around the capitals of Europe, providing the production crew to film beautiful and familiar landmarks. But the plot becomes complicated when Ben and Anne fall in love. Predictably, Anne eventually learns that Ben is really an agent assigned to protect her, and she feels hurt and betrayed. The potential relationship is naturally strained to the breaking point by Anne's feelings of angst.
A further absurdity to the plot is added when Anne's parents demonstrate great sympathy for her feelings of love for Ben. I know most parents would be equally comfortable with their 18 year-old daughter going head over heals for some 23 year-old man. Yup, that happens all the time here in the real world. In fact, the President and the first lady actually plot to help Anne and Ben get back together...yes, it all could happen.
Chasing Liberty is unoriginal, patently absurd, not particularly funny or capable of sustaining the attention of either adult or teen audiences. Just a wild guess here, but I don't think most teens are going to be able to relate the the challenges of a Presidental daughter, particularly one as bright and otherwise well-adjusted as Anne. Besides, a teen flick that doesn't hammer us with the dreaded "f" word 16 times in the first minute will loose the attention of generation "y" pretty quickly.
Last Week: Racing Stripes:
This movie really creeped me out. Ten years ago, a movie like this would have had to be animated to be even remotely plausible. The technologies just didn't exist to use real animals and make it look like they were talking.
And no, the old "give Mr. Ed some peanut butter" trick couldn't have possibly sustained the illusion for a sufficient period of time. But with modern computer technologies, it is now possible to make it appear that the animal's mouths are moving in an appropriate fashion, and it really looks like they are talking. That is just bizzare.
There was also a rooster in this movie with bizzare eyes that looked like lightning bolts might come shooting out of them at any moment. When something like that starts talking, you think you either better listen, or flee the theater in terror. Fortunately, since there were only 3 other people in the theater besides us, it wouldn't have been difficult if I had suddenly considered it necessary.
It was rather easy to figure out why two of the other people were there. It was a grandmother and a little girl. But the other guy was rather creepy looking. If you saw him hanging around a playground, you'd probably call the police. In this case it might not have been a good idea. If the police had shown up, they might have been distracted by trying to figure out who to arrest for making this movie.
Racing Stripes opens with the cliched scene of a circus caravan encountering a problem. I'm not sure how circuses ever get anywhere. Everytime you see one in a movie, its broken down somehow. Either its on a train that has derailed, or a semi caravan that has had an accident or something. In this movie, its the latter.
One of the trucks has had a flat tire in a driving rainstorm, and in the process of fixing the flat and reloading the truck, a crate is left behind containing a baby zebra. As good fortune would have it, along comes kindly Nolan (Jeff Greenwood), a former horse trainer, who lives alone on his farm with his daughter, Channing (Hayden Panettiere).
Nolan is a widower, who lost his wife a few years before in a horse racing accident. Now he has become a doding, overprotective father who won't allow his daughter to ride horses. Curiously, he will permit her to buzz around an a small motorcycle, which strikes me as about 100 times more dangerous, if for no reason other than the fact that it will destroy her social life forever. Anyone who sees her riding that thing is likely to taunt her mercilessly for the rest of her life.
The two of the raise Stripes together. Curiously, nobody from the circus ever comes around looking for him. There are no inquisitive questions raised by the neighbors as to how a dirt poor former horse trainer on a Kentucky dirt farm managed to come into possession of a zebra. By good fortune, Nolan's farm is next door to the racetrack where the Kentucky Open thoroughbred race is held, and Stripes grows up with dreams of becoming a great race horse.
With the help of his animal friends, Stripes manages to convince the humans to give him a chance to race. Even more amazingly, Channing manages to persuade her stick-up-the-ass father to let Stripes run in the race. If you've ever seen a single underdog sports movie in your life, and if you've lived more than a few years on this planet, I don't know how you could have avoided it, this film ends exactly how you would expect.
The single biggest problem with this movie is that the primary comedy relief is supplied by two horseflies, voiced by Steve Harvey and David Spade. I really can't stomach much of David Spade as himself. As a fly, he annoying qualities are magnified a dozen fold. Besides, it wouldn't matter much who they used to provide voices for flies, or how amusing the jokes might have been (and these weren't), nobody wants to laugh at flies. People want to swat them.
Everytime these two flies appeared on screen I kept hoping a fortuitous flystrip would appear in their path. If not to eliminate these two characters, at least I could have grabbed it and strangled myself with it. Children will probably enjoy Racing Stripes. Most adults will find less annoying than getting stuck behind an accident at rush hour, but the final site of a zebra racing thoroughbreds is less inspiring than silly.
Last Week: The 2006 Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films; (No Collective Rating)
One of the frustrating aspects of watching the annual Oscar presentations arrives when awards are handed out for short live action films,short documentaries and short animated films that almost no one ever has the opportunity to see. Since clips are not shown at the ceremonies, most viewers are left wondering if the winning films were really all that deserving.
In a break from our usual weekly review, and as an opportunity to provide my readers with at least a measure of information about this year's nominees in the Short Animated Film category, I provide will provide a brief synopsis of each of the nominated films, as well as my personal impression of them.
I will list the five nominated films from worst to best, in my opinion, the last of the group being the film I think is most likely to walk away with the little gold naked man statue on March 4. We saw this collection along with a bonus film called The Fan and the Flower, an unremarkable little animated piece about a ceiling fan that falls in love with a house plant. It wasn't wildly difficult to understand why it didn't receive a nomination in its own right. Since we arrived at the presentation early, we also had to sit through it twice, which, while not painful, wasn't particularly a plus for the evening either.
And so, here are the nominated films, beginning with my least favorite:
The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation: No, that is not a misspelling. Its kind of a bad pun, but then, just about everything about this piece was pretty bad, in my humble opinion. This film, by animators John Canemaker and Peggy Stern is little more than an opportunity for Canemaker to air his personal dirty laundry.
The film is an imagined conversation by John with his departed father. He is struggling to understand why dear old dad was such an insufferable lout. The film provides a lengthy biography of Canemaker's father, and the rather difficult life he led. Perhaps I was hoping for a resolution in which Canemaker could at least acquire a measure of forgiveness for the difficult life his father endured. Rather, the film was a seemingly endless condemnation of a man no longer around to even offer a defense of himself. I ended up with no sympathy for Canemaker, no appreciation of the film, and a measure of anger at the Academy for even considering a piece of crap like this. The animation wasn't even all that good. The piece is the longest of the group and extremely tedious.
The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello: This offering from Anthony Lucas and the Australian Film Board is considerably better. The animation is certainly more compelling, at times almost beautiful, even in the presentation of a pollution ravaged world.
Jasper Morello is the navigator on a bizzare airship that finds an island with a strange monster whose essence is capable of curing a terrible disease ravaging Morello's homeland. Bringing it back is a problem, since the monsters subsists only on human blood. To keep it alive, crew members must be sacrificed. The expedition biologist wants to bring it back alive for his personal glory, but Morello has moral problems with sacrificing his fellow crewmates. The piece is haunted by an ambigious ending.
Badgered: This offering from animator Sharon Coleman was hands down the favorite of the rather large group at the presentation. Admittedly, I might well have voted for it myself, if a poll had been conducted. Its not particularly well animated, its among the shortest of the five, and the story is relatively simple. It was, however, charming and amusing.
A badger's sleep is disturbed by a pair of extremely obnoxious birds. Just when he is finally able to tolerate their irritating calls, a military truck rolls up and plants 3 missles under his burrow. The badger ends up accidentally launching the missles, which ultimately silences the annoying birds in amusing fashion.
9: This incredibly well animated piece was the vision of Shane Acker of the UCLA film school. Don't forget that name. I have a feeling we will be hearing it with a great deal of frequency in the future. The animation quality of this film was truly stunning.
In a ruined world, small evidently burlap constructed creatures sift through the trash as archeologists in search of answers to the nature of the world that was. The occupation has its perils, in the form of a large, nightmarish creature constructed of the bones of some ratlike creature, and robotic waste parts. The creepy monster apparently takes a heavy toll on the population of the curious creatures.
The story here was a bit disjointed and even a little confusing, but Acker constructed an entire world that was fascinating to look at. I wouldn't be all that surprised to see this one walk away with the big prize.
One Man Band: If Acker's 9 represents the David among this group, Pixar's One Man Band is clearly Goliath. That is not intended as a slam on this fine film, and one would expect nothing less of Pixar. However, I consider it a high compliment to Acker's work that it can even be considered a contender against the combined might of Pixar and all its animation resources.
In this compelling film, two one man band performers compete for a the last coin a little girl has to offer. Each performer continues to raise the level of performance, in hopes of winning the small financial prize. But when the little girl drops the quarter down a storm sewer, the story takes an amusing turn. The story is humorous, the animation is, of course, superb, and this film has to be considered the favorite to bring home the Oscar gold.
Last Week: Georgia Rule:
Kex Rule: If you go to a movie and realize about the time the trailers start rolling that you are the only person in the theater with a penis, you are in for a pretty bad movie experience. Worse still, when you end up sitting through a movie loaded with characters that make Jerry Springer's guests look sane and likable by comparison, there is some real agony to be spent in the theater.
Here is a good indication of just how repulsive every character in this movie is: Carl Elwes plays a child molester named Arnold, and he is only the 4th most dislikable character in the whole movie. No kidding. When a sex offender comes off better than 3 other characters, your film is sinking pretty fast.
A lot of people won't go to see this movie simply because Jane Fonda is in it. Of course that is because a few people still get worked up over that Hanoi Jane stuff. Some folks just never grow up, and over the past 8 years, we've seen where their political philosophies have landed us. Jane Fonda plays a lady named Georgia, who's stick-up-the-ass approach to life suggests the title of the film. She is the third most detestable character.
In the wake of just having offered a sliver of defense to Jane, I must now admit my own personal grudge: The lady is looking ancient. I don't like that, because it reminds me that my own calendar is flipping as well. But Jane looked about 50 years older in this film than her dad looked in On Olden Pond. In fact, I think Jane has been swimming in Olden Pond.
The second most annoying character in this movie was Lilly (Felicity Huffman). She is Georgia's daughter. Lilly is a pathetic drunk and evidently not much of a mother. She tossed away some hinted promising life, although we never could figure out just what magnificent prospects she passed up by leaving the craphole town in Idaho where she grew up. Georgia and Lilly hate each other. We hate both of them, not only because they hate each other, but because they are such intolerable PMS Queens.
The prize for being the most completely detestable character in this film goes to Rachel (Lindsay Lohan), who happens to be Lilly's daughter. The mere fact that she is portrayed by Lohan is sufficient to make her instantly dislikable, but Rachel is completely insufferable in her own right. Evidently she was sexually molested by Arnold, but unless she was a whole lot more appealing at 12 than 17, it's kind of a stretch to buy into the plotline.
Rachel is a bratty, pathetic nymphomaniac who sets about to seduce two more really dislikable characters in the little Idaho town where she is sent to spend the summer. Object one of her seduction efforts is Harlan (Garrett Hedlund) who is worthy of scorn simply because he is such a miserable rube. In reality, he is a ridiculous stereotype, but that doesn't make him any easier to tolerate.
Rachel also works pretty hard at seducing the town veteranarian/doctor Simon (Dermont Mulroney). He is twice her age, at least, and in fact, was evidently Lilly's suitor at some point in the past. His wife and child were killed in an automobile accident, leaving him absorbed in his own self pity.
Just why Rachel wants him so bad is a mystery, and more than a little icky. There was one scene in which she climbs into bed with him, fully intent on taking the wild Idaho pony ride. It was almost enough to make me hurl up a large bag of popcorn and some slightly sour milk I drank clear back in kindergarten.
There wasn't a whole lot of plot to this movie. Lilly and Rachel live in San Francisco with Lilly's husband Arnold. Rachel has become wild and reckless, giving Lilly some ass-rammed idea that it might do her good to spend a summer with Lilly's mom in Idaho, even though Lilly and Georgia pretty much hate each other. So, Rachel is dispatched.
Evil little Rachel immediately develops a new hobby, more or less to sleep with every man in the dink town in Idaho where she has to spend the summer. That isn't quite as bad as it sounds: The male population of the town is probably less than 500, which is an order of magnitude less than the likely extent of her conquests in San Francisco.
Rachel reveals her history of molestation to Simon, who tells Georgia, who then tells Lilly. The rest of the film is an intolerable festival of bickering and angst. It's almost enough to make the Larry the Cable Guy movie showing next door seem appealing by comparison. Georgia Rule probably won't be the worst movie that comes out this summer, but that statement only provides a stomach turning realization that Hollywood really can create horrors on the magnitude of I now pronounce you Chuck and Larry.
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