Mardi Gras Film Festival: The Dying Gaul

I can’t decide …

My friend Annie was the only girl in the cinema. That sounds about right. The Dying Gaul is an adaptation of a stage play, and at times it certainly feels like it. For all of its strengths, its power, and the excellence of Patricia Clarkson, it has a certain pretentiousness in its staging and an abrupt ending of the kind generally reserved for the stage.

In a festival that includes Poltergay (which sounds stupid but looks hilarious), Another Gay Movie (homosexual American Pie) and Dead Boyz Don’t Scream, another addition to the presumably until recently unexplored genre of the homosexual slasher movie, The Dying Gaul is one of the more serious entries; perhaps a little too serious. Still, Patricia Clarkson is always worthwhile.

Stranger than Fiction

“This may sound like complete gibberish to you, but I think I’m in a tragedy.”

2007 has a lot of work to do if it wants to equal the brilliance set by Stranger than Fiction. This early in the year you’re mainly dealing with refugees from 2006, and this would have been an awesome way to cap off that year. Instead, I’m left with something that kicks off the second month of 2007 with style, flair and meaning.

Stranger than Fiction is a different movie, particularly to those used to attending Will Ferrell’s standard fare. I have held firm to the belief that Ferrell can be good in a good film, and this is proof: he is great in a great film, and utterly believable. When he cried, I damn near cried along with him.
I did cry later though, for real.

It’s a terrible cliché, and one that I indulge in a lot, to say that any given movie feels as if it were made for me. But Stranger than Fiction, with its combination of finding one’s soul and a certain level of literature, was made for me. A personally tailored film being played on a wide release basis is naturally not going to find proponents all over the place but, if it manages to snag at least a few people and forces them to reconsider their lives, it’s all worth it.

Heroes – episode 15

“Run!”

Matt Parkman is the most stupidly oversensitive police officer in the world! Meredith, or the writers, can’t decide whether she’s caring or venal! Missi Pyle manages to appear in something without having to resort to her crazy eyes! Sylar has some nerve! The Haitian really, really sucks at his job!

It’s an improvement, but it ain’t great and its name doesn’t make any sense.

Spoilers!

Grey’s Anatomie de l’Enfer

I was going to give up Grey’s Anatomy after Washingtongate, and then I realised that Isaiah Washington’s deplorable actions were just a smokescreen to cover up the fact that the most popular show in the world … sucks. It undoubtedly has its moments, but the core cast is terrible, and the whole exercise is ridiculously cutesy poo.
It started back up on Channel 7 this week, and straight up we had Ellen Pompeo’s voice telling us in its smug way “I know the facts of life! Suck it, bitchés!”
The show proceeded to play its smug pop music, and then show its smug bursts of humour, and then offered its smug profundity.

Essentially the only good part of the show was Bailey talking to the man who had been exposed to the plague, and whose wife had died. That was good emotion right there. Also almost good was the work of Addison and Alex as the Pediatric Dream Team, which is amazing for two of the supposedly least sympathetic characters on the show.

But let’s see: everyone else is annoying as all get out! McDreamy is wet and pathetic! George? Also wet and pathetic! Until I realised that T.R. Knight is a pretty cool guy, I hated him for George. Then I realised that he’s presented that way, and it’s not his fault – it’s Shonda Rhimes, crusher of souls.
Then you’ve got Izzie, who runs the gamut from overly enthusiastic to “I can’t get off the floor”; you’ve got Christina, who expertly projects the aura of “Sandra Oh is great”; and now we’ve added Callie to the mix. I hated her last season. I’ve changed as a person since then, so I don’t hate her so much as I simply hate the show that she’s in.

Meredith Grey is a terrible, terrible woman. Her pithy narration (the worst this side of Desperate Housewives, which I gave up on entirely too late) totally does not match her proper demeanour – that of the emo surgeon with dead eyes who can’t make a decision for herself. I think it’s good that we’ve got George off of her, because I don’t want this show to swim in its own patheticness while pretending to be hip, trendy, profound and cool.

Then at the end we got Isaiah Washington appearing sensitive. Well, I didn’t buy it for a second. When your show has no credibility and your viewers hate all of your characters, you’re screwed. I’m weaning myself off masochistic television, so hopefully I can cut Meredith Grey’s fetid claws out of the small of my back … all while listening to trendy pop music.

Scissor Sisters – She’s My Man

YouTube’s resolution can’t really do this justice, but the song is fun any way you cut it. I’ll look into the black suit action later, but keep in mind this is a more legitimate use of the Scissor Sisters’ talents.

Update: I’ve done more reading into this, and for a better idea of what it’s like, check out Matrix Ping Pong:

I like that you can see how it’s done. The perspective change is awesome.
If I could see “She’s My Man” on a TV, it would probably be more impressive because you can better see what’s going on. That you can sometimes see the men in black suits in the video makes it better, but I can’t help but think they filmed it somewhat “wrong”.

I’ve decided.

Passions must die.

My heart broke a little inside when I realised it wasn’t even bad enough to be good. I asked Curtis how it could possibly have been worse than the first instalment. His suggestion: because they wrote more and kept filming it.
To add insult to this grievous injury, it’s not even a good recording of I Don’t Feel Like Dancing. Listen here, NBC: I no longer feel like living!

I can’t say anything more about it than that … so I’ll follow this up with some happiness!

Anatomy of … Hawaii Vulcan Oh

In the late nineties, Universal and Warner Bros. decided to team up to milk some more juice from the strangely lucrative yet chronically under funded teat of the Star Trek franchise. With that mixed metaphor under their belt, they decided to throw bad money after good: to create Hawaii Vulcan Oh, a movie franchise and television series based on Mr. Spock’s nephew, Billy Spock (Alex Winter, in his first major role since Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey), and his adventures as a Surf Detective in Hawaii.

Trailers: Threat Level Epsilon

Tonight I saw Little Children. Horrible but great. It was the calibre of film that attracts a good calibre of trailer. In addition to the now customary Notes on a Scandal trailer, there were two other good things.

They both look interesting enough to both be featured here.

Letters from Iwo Jima

This actually looks incredibly good. Unlike the Flags of Our Fathers trailer, which was always going to be a soft-sell to the “America, America, rah rah rah!” troupe, Letters from Iwo Jima‘s trailer concentrates on the human side of the story. It looks like a movie I could get emotionally involved in, and I’m now used to the colour scheme. I would feel kind of bad deciding this was the best picture Oscar winner a mere two days before the ceremony, but if it is, so be it.

The Good German

I was going to say something along the lines of George Clooney not liking colour anymore, but then I remembered Syriana. Dang, I hate that movie.
Anyway, George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh teaming up means that the movie will either be good or a preachy snoozefest. I think that’s at their discretion, but I’ll look forward to this. One criticism of the trailer, or maybe I simply wasn’t paying attention: I don’t really have any idea of what this movie is about.

What am I going to do when I run out of Greek alphabet?

Trailers: Threat Level Delta

Because I prevaricated so much, some of these trailers have already been covered in the February preview and the Auspicious Beginnings of 2007 round up. But! This is not just about the movies, but also about their trailers! Seeing as I see trailers all the time, they are a sort of art. Unfortunately when I take notes on these things, I don’t always recall which trailers went with which movie.

Notes on a Scandal

Great as this movie looks, don’t see the trailer if you can avoid it. It gives entirely too much away about a story that should probably have revealed itself by turns. Still, that won’t stop me from going to see it.

The Good Shepherd

Matt Damon looks foolish in a suit, and this trailer doesn’t really indicate the movie’s time frame, but it looks sufficiently actor packed and De Niro directed and zeitgeist-like to be able to get away with that small shortcoming. Either that or it will be really boring. Still, Michael Gambon!

Epic Movie

Why the heckfire was this trailer shown at Apocalypto? Also why the heckfire was it made? Jayma Mays is pretty, yes, but two of the six writers of Scary Movie now have created enough physical evidence against themselves

Rocky Balboa

What I love about this movie is that Rocky was past his prime in the original, and here he’s sixty. It’s a flagrantly stupid idea! Still, should highly entertaining.

Ocean’s 13

I didn’t see Ocean’s 12, but I love Don Cheadle – particularly when he gets dressed up as an American flag. Sold!

Music and Lyrics

I think I’m over my Drew Barrymore hatred phase, but this isn’t my style. It’s the sort of movie that comes on TV and you watch it without thinking, but the fact that Drew Barrymore can’t sing and that this is a film in which Drew Barrymore sings stretches its credibility to the order of somewhat. The trailer wins points for gratuitous shots of Aasif Mandvi.

300

“We will block out the sun with our arrows!”
“Then we shall fight in the shade.”
Typical Frank Miller machismo given the screen treatment. I was only paying half attention to this trailer due to other concerns at the time, but it looks worthy.

History Boys

I wanted to see this when it was on at a theatre here, so to see it for a seventh of the price is a worthy investment indeed. When he’s not being (Uncle) Vernon Dursley, Richard Griffiths is an accomplished actor. Because this is the pick of the trailer run, you get to see it here:

The use of Blur’s “The Universal” here is really effective. It’s just another movie about teaching disadvantaged children to like learning, but those are frequently the most inspirational. I could buy it. It’s also worth noting that this trailer is significantly better than the Fox Searchlight effort.

Freedom Writers

So it’s exactly the same movie as History Boys, but with Hilary Swank instead of Richard Griffiths, and playing up the idea that America is run by gangs. Damned gangs. It may well be too preachy to consume: it’s essentially Take the Lead but with more gangs and with writing instead of dancing. Okay, fine: I’ve just realised that every movie is just a variation of every other movie. I still hold that if they’re done well it doesn’t matter.

Nothing’s seemed particularly outstanding or out of place. I’m just glad that the Stranger than Fiction trailers have left our screens. Even though it was a perfect trailer for a movie that turned out just about perfect, I saw it about ten times (and the movie itself twice). It will not be missed.

2007, the next chapter: February’s left overs

Yarr, it’s time for some freestyling. True, two of the weeks of February have already passed, but let’s go with a forecast of the release schedule from last Thursday on (not counting those covered in the last month round up):

Little Children

February 8
There’s nothing that I like more than a good movie about suburban affairs and child abuse. There are actually quite a few things that I like more, but Kate Winslet is always good value. I actually don’t know why I go to movies about domestic Hell, but … all ya gotta do is feel.

Smokin’ Aces

February 8
This movie is mostly of note due to director Joe Carnahan’s quote:

It’s as though sliced white bread, the internal combustion engine and the neo-noir pulp thriller were all invented in 1992 by [Tarantino].

I’m probably not much of a fan of stylised violence for the same reason that I’m drawn to movies about horrible domestic nightmares. I only like seeing people killing each other in imaginative ways if the ways are really, really imaginative. Otherwise, not so much.
I might go see this if I have a big group or whatever or people who will be all “Yeah! Stupidity!”, but it’s not precisely my cup of tea. Still, it’s a maybe. That’s how it made this list.

Ghost Rider

February 15
Nicolas Cage has done some good stuff, like The Weatherman, but that probably isn’t enough to persuade me to see his big, dumb movies. His head turns into a flaming skull! That’s totally awesome! I’m getting sick of analysing key demographics as I realise I’m drifting further and further away from any of them. I might choose to watch Hustle & Flow on DVD at home rather than going to see this.

The Good Shepherd

February 15
I can acknowledge that Matt Damon is a good actor, but there’s something about his look that means that he can’t carry off wearing a suit. So his acting has to rise above his suitworthiness, and I think that, as in The Departed (which shares many common actors), Damon can pull it off. I’m getting a bit sick of the trailer and I’m finding that I can’t stand Angelina Jolie in my old age, but this is probably something to watch for. Damned February, shaping up to be big.

Norbit

February 22
NO.