22 February 2010

Nolan to Reboot Superman? Wonderful!

In response to a dowdy, grumpy article on upcoming Superman movies, again at Film.com. I've included the parts of his article that I am directly responding to below my text:

The lines you draw between what Superman isn't versus what Nolan is/does are at best hazy and when fully thought out, plain non-existent!

1) Superman is not dark you say... but he is sad. How is sadness at being the very last one of your species on a planet that alternately hates and adores you not a cause for darkness? And so what that Clark represented some faulty ideal of perfection from the 1940s, those folks are sooo not interested nor paying to see giant, fun, complex, loud summery blockbusters like this! Who is going? Young(ish) audiences (and by young I mean everything from early 40's down to teens) who understand that "with great power comes great responsibility" is the freakin' superhero code! And like any nuanced code (or set of supernatural rules to live by) it is fully subject to the twisted pull of desire that power on that magnitude inspires! A Superman who perhaps taps into the allure of "I can do whatever I want!" would fully reboot the franchise! We don't want the goody goody Clark anymore, and the most recent attempt to reboot things made that superclear - goody goody Clark = boring! We are smarter and live in a much more complexly considered world than those 1940s folks did!

2) Superman is not a detective... he's a reporter. What part of reporting is not about digging into the crevices to discover the truth - like a good detective? The only difference between the two positions is that one gets paid after he does all the work to write it all down and share his good detective skills with the world! Tell Woodward and Bernstein that they weren't Investigative Editorial Detectives when they uncovered the Watergate scandal!!

3)... well you get the idea. I will stop here, but not before cautioning you that this review sadly smacks (and that is the perfect dentured adjective) of old timey, crotchety grandpa syndrome wherein you protest the new for the sake of maintaining some older version of perfection that no one can connect to at all anymore! Maybe Superman needs to revisit his roots, whether under Nolan's care or not, since kids don't all know the history! Heck, my husband's a teacher in his early 30s and his students don't even remember music or films from the mid-1990's let alone action figures from the 1980's! They think old is 20!

Remember that cinema is one of those storytelling machines that can and must use new blood, new thinking about the same ideas every once and a while - especially with regards to our Superheroes who, after all, are really just reflections of what we believe our capacity to see an Ideal World, or perfect response to our current world, would be.

Original Article Points I Speak To:

Five Reasons Christopher Nolan Shouldn't Oversee Superman

We loved Memento and The Dark Knight... but we're not so sure about a dark Superman.
C. Robert Cargill,

Here's why it sounds like a bad idea.

1) Superman ISN'T a dark hero. First and foremost, Superman isn't a dark character and neither are his villains. Superman is larger-than-life. He is the last member of an otherwise mostly extinct race, making him a lonely outcast who makes the best of his existence here. At his best, he is the embodiment of everything right and good with 1930s/40s America, while having lost (or never possessed) the negative elements of that era. He is Mom, baseball, and apple pie, and he stands for "truth, justice, and the American way." There's NOTHING dark about him or his story, only a sadness that drives his overtly boy scout tendencies.

2) Superman isn't a detective. Nolan thrives telling noir-ish detective stories. Superman isn't a detective. He's a reporter. He hits things. Hard. And flies fast. And burns holes in things. And blows cold air that freezes things. Thinking? That ain't his style. He's not dumb, but a good Superman story isn't about him tracking down criminals; it is about a world in peril with only one man who can save it.

Anaconda Rocks!!

This is a post I made in reply to Eric's Bad Movies at Film.com who slammed Anaconda in his review:

Ok, first of all Anaconda is fabulous because of what you say above, but you forget that it also rocks because it features pre-Affleck J.Lo! We all forget how chill, promising, and great she was before she took up with that no-talent @$$ clown Affleck, and they got all jointly stuffy/plasticky in a weird, very ken and barbie matching outfits kinda way. Before that she was Selena! She was someone Soderberg would cast opposite George Clooney! (Who incidentally said one of his favorite all time movie experiences was being closed up in a trunk pressed against J.Lo in Out of Sight. But I digress.)

I also wanted to suggest that you add to the "Unintentionally Hysterical" category: The Ring, Notes on a Scandal, and (I'm going straight to hell, but...) The Passion of the Christ. I attended all of these movies with different groups of friends, and at each film, we all ended up laughing over and over at things that were clearly not meant to be funny!

In fact, the screening of Notes on a Scandal was a special advance screening- which we frequently enjoy here in La Manzana Grande- the filmmakers happened to be in front of us, and during one very funny moment, we were chastised for ruining the movie experience for everyone! To this day I think of the feedback I gave them for that movie: "Its a light-hearted cautionary tale about the dangers of being kind to the elderly."

19 February 2010

Pandorum - Not Amazing, But Entertaining!

My response to an article at The Movie Blog that I thought treated Pandorum unfairly:

“The ultimate mystery of the film is essentially irrelevant. Where is the ship now and how did they get there SHOULD have been the ultimate questions throughout the film, but never does the audience care or are made to feel the need to care. By the time the “mystery” is revealed at the end it feels pointless. A big “reveal” in a movie should do something to alter how an audience perceived or increase their understanding of all that came before it (think of how the reveal in “The Sixth Sense” does that), but in Pandorum, it’s just another fact to end the movie that on a practical level changes or would have changed anything else in the movie up to that point, and thus felt like useless noise by the time they finally got to it.”

– Reviewer John C.

So, I have to take issue with this entire paragraph both as a Cine-Fanatic and as an engaged film watcher! First, the “where are we?” question was not and could not have been the central question of the film because this is not a film about destinations. This is a film about “it doesn’t matter where we are because we still try to rip eachother apart!”

Second: additionally I didn’t feel myself ‘caring’ about where they were and I wasn’t upset with the fact that the characters seemed mystified by the origins of the monsters because I do not suffer from that all too common malady of reviewers (and film-goers alike) known as “Omniscient-itus” wherein you project your ability to See All from outside the screen as something the characters too should be able to do as well!! The actor playing Bower was so amazing that I didn’t notice that it was clear to me that these monsters were mutated people! All I knew was that in such a disoriented and hopeless state, I could totally understand that level of ignorance.

(SPOILER ALERT – key ending details below! read no further to avoid knowing too much about the end!)

Finally, the big ‘reveal’ at the end should, as you say, change how you thought about what came before. In amazing films (Sixth Sense, American Psycho) you are completely thrown off balance and find yourself opened up to great new ideas! In pretty good films – and Pandorum is a pretty good film – one comes away having sensed what the end might be ahead of time, but wondering why that ending still felt unsettling. For example, in light of what happened in 800 years on that ship, why am I not completely excited for those people to bring a similar evolutionary trajectory to the new planet? Should humanity have made it? I find myself confused by the sameness of our imaginations in films like this – why do we always see ourselves this way, but still want the hopeful ending?

No, its not a perfect film, but by and large it was very entertaining and thought provoking if you imagine yourself as these few survivors!

AND one additional comment on Pandorum in response to a post over at Globe and Mail:

I'm sorry but I have to disagree with Mr. Reasonable. This film surprised me over and over again, perhaps because I expected it to be a cheesy somewhat stupid endeavor, or perhaps because the filmmakers put in a tremendous effort to craft a haunting film experience.

Not that anyone will win oscars, but the characters feelings of loss and confusion were compelling, the multi-lingual/cultural nature of the cast was wonderfully refreshing, and the ship interiors were far less cheesy than some reviewers accuse them of being.

This seems to be one of those films where it is fashionable to dislike it rather than consider what it is attempting to do and give it the benefit of your indulgence. Considering the crap that I have sat through in my life, this held and entertained me at each turn as I tried to figure out what each potentiality for what was 'really going on' could be doing/could mean as commentary on our current times. Because this film, like all good science fiction, offers us a peek into the underside of the niceness of everyday to where the slugs and dirt of the unsaid reside!

Give it a chance, ignore Nadia's acting, remember that of course there have been scifi films before, but how is this one doing? I say, pretty good!