Monday, September 28, 2009

On Stranger Tides? Yes, please!

It appears that the full title of the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie is "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides".

I mention this because On Stranger Tides is a book by Tim Powers of which I am very fond. It's got pirates and voodoo and magic and would fit very well into the world of the PotC movies. It's even set in the Caribbean! What more do you want?

I admit that I'm not sure how they're going to shoehorn Cap'n Jack Sparrow into things, but I'm willing to keep an open mind. A big-budget Tim Powers movie is Huge News in my world.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Astro Boy Commercials

The first line of the commercials for Astro Boy is "He was a robot ... who wanted to become a real boy."

What? A robot who wants to a real boy? I've never heard of such a thing! How are we to cope with such a shockingly original plot?

Or, to quote the noted robot expert Joel Robinson, "Oh, Tom Servo, you've got Pinocchio syndrome!"


(EDIT: It says in that TV Tropes link that "Astro Boy is perhaps the oldest anime expression of this trope." Canonical or not, it's still boring)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fame (the 2009 one)

I enjoyed the new Fame remake, although mostly for the things that reminded me of the original. I've seen the original a lot, and I kept thinking, "Oh boy! This is where the character considers suicide in the subway!"

First of all, the high school portrayed in the movie has the best faculty in the country. These kids are being taught by Debbie Allen, Charles S. Dutton, Megan Mullally, Kelsey Grammer, and Bebe Neuwerth! Incidentally, would it have killed them to put Kelsey Grammer and Bebe Neuwerth on the screen at the same time? I demand my Frasier-Lilith reunion!

The new movie is set in a cleaner, nicer New York. Which I guess is accurate, because 1980 Manhattan was a lot grosser than the one we have in 2009. The kids are also more advanced; a big moment in the original movie was when two of them went to the Rocky Horror Picture Show but this movie has someone use part of that movie as her audition monologue. She actually does a really good job with it. Better than Little Nell did, anyway (it's the part where Columbia yells at Frank right before being turned to stone).

The main Mousy Girl didn't do much for me. They established her hangups and limitations early on, but we don't really get anything later on to show that she's learned to act. She just gets a progressively more mature hairstyle. The feeling of learning and maturing is definitely something that's missing from the movie. The character who starts out as an immature dancer is the one who ends up being told he's not a very good dancer. The dancer who starts out awesome (Kherington Payne from So You Think You Can Dance) pretty much stays awesome. And so on.

Anyway, my main problem with it was that it just didn't feel as real as the original. I put in my time at the San Diego Junior Theatre, and the background action in the 1980 version rang true in a way that it doesn't in this one. Also, because it's PG, I would occasionally think "Uh oh, is she going to get raped? No, I guess she isn't. Never mind."

Also, the songs weren't as good. And they were very on-the-nose, what with the lyrics about "be true to yourself" and "success is about succeeding, not being famous".

But like I say, I still enjoyed it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Aguirre, the Wrath of God

I have wanted to see Aguirre, the Wrath of God for probably twenty years or so. See, there was this book called Cult Movies by Danny Peary, and I always thought it would be nice to have seen all of them. And the first one on the list was Aguirre, the Wrath of God, which kind of intimidated me into abandoning my plan.

Now, jump forward to 2009. I want an excuse to watch My Best Fiend, which I am reliably informed is an amazing documentary in which Werner Herzog demonstrates just how crazy Klaus Kinski was. I could watch it with no preparation, but the only Herzog movie I can remember seeing is Grizzly Man, and I mostly think of that as "the movie where that guy gets eaten by a bear". So I figured it would make sense, this being a lazy Saturday and all, to watch Aguirre, the Wrath of God first, then a movie with a bunch of behind-the-scenes footage about the crazy dysfunctional relationship between Herzog and Kinski.

And it was, in fact, fun! Aguirre takes its time developing. There's a scene where you look at rushing water for about three minutes. And Kinski doesn't take center stage for quite a while. But when he does, man, that cat is crazy. This doomed river expedition is even more doomed than usual. They don't even really need the cannibal Indians. I'm sure they'd have died off just about as quickly left to their own devices.

Big Fan

I saw the new Patton Oswalt movie last night. Actually, is "Patton Oswalt movie" a thing? I can only think of two, and it's not like Big Fan and Ratatouille have a lot in common. I mean, I enjoyed them both, but it's not really a genre. It's not like if I said "I saw the new Seth Rogen movie". Or "the new Seka movie". Remember Seka? I'll start again.

Patton Oswalt is the star of a new movie which I saw last night. I'm a fan of Mr. Oswalt, which you can tell by the fact that immediately after the movie, I went to the Moore Theatre and saw him doing stand-up live. Actually, he was live at the movie theater too, doing a quick Q&A for the fifty or so people who showed up at the 5:00 show. It was an interesting experience to see him in a tiny intimate setting and then go sit in a tiny seat in a very high balcony to watch him again. I also thought it was really cool that his Q&A was introduced by Travis Vogt and Kevin Clarke, creators of Steel of Fire Warriors 2010 A.D..

Getting back to Big Fan, it's written and directed by Robert Siegel, who used to edit The Onion and more recently wrote The Wrestler. I liked it because the main character doesn't learn anything. He starts off in one place and resolutely refuses to budge. Good for him! He's found something that makes him happy and doesn't want to let go of it. And why should he?

I also really liked the sound editing, which is a odd thing to pick out. I very rarely walk out of a theater saying "Boy, that sound was really edited together well!" But there were a number of times where the main character is supposed to be feeling overwhelmed by a number of people talking at once, and it makes sense that they overlap and become hard to understand. That happens a couple of times, once in a loud strip club. And there's another scene where he's trying to pick one voice out of a number of other conversations. Come to think of it, he's most comfortable relating to people on call-in radio shows, so the sound really is an important aspect of the movie.

I also really liked the idea of a character who has already achieved an extremely low goal for himself and resolutely refuses to go beyond that. He's a regular caller on one of the less important sports talk stations in New York, and he only calls in after 1:00 in the morning. That's like someone who's satisfied with his lot in life if he becomes a regular commenter on Deadspin. Or not even Deadspin; one of those sites that wishes they were Deadspin.

Big Fan is in extremely limited release (I get the feeling there's three prints of it and they're moving them from town to town on a bus), but see if it's coming to your city.