Monday, April 05, 2004


three's a crowd

I said this before, but "there are few things more egregiously indefensible than a boring action movie." I went to do see Hellboy after a friend recommended it as a "solid B movie" and came away, bored to tears. It's bad enough that a matinee screening of it still cost me $7.25, plus $4.50 for a bag of popcorn, but I wasted 130 minutes waiting in total vain for something exciting to happen. Of course, nothing ever did.

How is it that movies based on comic books have been so universally lousy of late? Daredevil was so bad, I can't even talk about it; League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was dumb but mildly fun, unlike that morose slug of a movie, The Hulk. Hellboy, however, was so completely uninteresting that I found myself getting drowsy even though it was only two in the afternoon. I like Ron Perlman - he's been great in action flicks like Blade 2, but he's totally wasted here. Maybe all those prosthetics he had to wear got in the way but he displayed more personality in one minute of City of Lost Children than in the entirety of this film.

What's wrong with the film? The plot is a total mess, the writing absolutely boilerplate, the characters uninteresting (including Selma Blair as an incredibly dull pyro gal and this other guy who's basically a
psychic Aquaman), the villains unthreatening, etc. etc. There's not a single thing I liked about this film - it was an expensive exercise that didn't have a hair of compelling charm in it. One only hopes this goes away like Daredevil and doesn't turn into a franchise that will make us have to suffer through more of this same, crappy dreck. X3 can't come soon enough, but in the meantime, I don't have high hopes for Van Helsing which looks like another overhyped action flick even if it does star Wolveri...I mean Hugh Jackman.

Now, in contrast, I really, really, really liked Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the latest film from the screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and helmed by Michel Gondry. The thing with Kaufman's work - and this is a conceit on his end - is that his writing risks charging ahead with such unpredictability that it may leave the viewer behind. I think that's the tension to all his films and in some cases (Malkovich) it works, in others, Adaptation, it can be very jarring. What I appreciate about Eternal Sunshine is that it's willing to charge ahead, willy-nilly and just revel in its own creativity. The film gets off to a slow start but by the middle of the second act, it starts to bolt forward on this loopy, frantic pacing, driven by Kaufman's script and I just let myself go with it and felt like I was richly rewarded for the leap of faith.

This was a visual and emotionally beautiful film that, unlike so many saccharin romantic comedies, was willing to be ugly when it needed to be plus knew the difference being necessary sentimentality and syrupy melodrama. Hell, I don't even like Jim Carrey at all and I was feeling for him this whole movie. Really liked Kate Winslet and thought she played the role exactly right: she's kind of crazy and difficult yet she adds enough charisma to the role to make you understand why her character is worth remembering (literally and figuratively).

This is also a film that makes good, efficient use of its special effects and uses them for accent and flourish but not to smash you over the head (in contrast with the CGI-orgy of Hellboy). Makes me excited for whatever Kaufman has up his sleeve the next time (though the both he and Gondry teamed up to make Human Nature, which was not, if I recall, a critical darling at all).

  • For fans of The Sopranos out there, has been printing weekly commentary on the show supplied by two reporters who've covered the Mob. The conversations can get a little long at times, especially since they're just email printouts between the two, plus special guests, but the material is rich and provides a larger context to understanding and appreciating the show.

  • For the Kayne West completionist: a full discography of all his productions.
    (I forgot where I saw this originally, sorry!)

  • I can't tell if blogger Nate Patrin created this or simply linked it, but either way, it's total comedy for hip-hop indie fans: Def Jux Vendetta. I'd play Mr. Lif and smack fools with some ill Afro-Dread sickness.

  • Jessica over at The Blueprint relays comments made by The Strokes at their recent concert in L.A. Among the best is this gem: "random guy in the mob grabs julian's microphone and screams "i love you nikki!" julian takes back the mike and says, "hey nikki, some douchebag thinks you're pretty ok"

  • Two from First: reported, sex-laden text-messaging sent between soccar star David Beckham and his assistant/mistress. Example: "DB: Love the sound of that cotton just *** *** *** ***** getting more *** and your *** all nice *** ***." Wow, this is better than the Clinton/Lewinsky testimonies.

  • Next, they noted a recent New York Post report that says being married is terrible for your social life. Gee, who knew?

  • And last but not least, the folks at report on a new device designed to reveal any lingering fecal matter that might be stuck to your hands after you use the bathroom. In other words, it's a high tech shit detector.