What we have been watching. Duh.
Reign Over Me (Mike Binder, 2007)
I’m really not sure why I put this on my Netflix queue. Maybe I’m just real down with Don Cheadle who, unsurprisingly, is the only redeeming thing about this movie. The whole thing starts off fine, but rapidly deteriorates into sappy melodramatic and simplistic sentimentality. Oh yeah, Liv Tyler is a terrible actress when she’s not being an elf. (BK)
Jesus Camp (Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, 2007)
Tellingly (and outstandingly) enough, The Database lists this movie’s genres as Documentary and Horror. Normally I don’t go in for documentaries that tell me what I already know. I don’t need audience approval and Cannes nominations for reassurance in my convictions. This one, however, kind of fucked me up. Normally, I’m a tolerant dude and I kind of figured if the civilized world ignored fundamentalist evangelicals, they’d eventually go away. After watching this 84-minute harbinger of doom, however, I’m not so passive. It is now more important than ever to protect women’s reproductive rights, if only in the hope that when the kids in this movie get knocked up, they’ll spare us another generation. (BK)
What’s to say… Michael Ironside, David Cronenberg, telepathic powers, murder, mayhem, and exploding heads. Feel me? (BK)
Near Dark (Kathyrn Bigelow, 1987)
The single greatest (and perhaps only?) vampire-western ever made. Directed with surreal flavor by Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break, The Loveless), Near Dark is near perfect– Lance Henriksen leads a gang of murderous, desert roaming vampires (Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, and more*) backed by a synth-drenched Tangerine Dream soundtrack (as if there’s any other kind of Tangerine Dream soundtrack). Bigelow may have never been able to recapture the freshness or creativity of this one, but even after at least five viewings, shit still delivers. (EM)
*It’s worth noting that three members of the vampire gang listed above all starred together in Aliens a year earlier, and Kathyrn Bigelow was briefly married to James Cameron. Whoa.
-Olympic athletes are no longer human. Just watch the swimmers jiggle their arms around when they warm up. People parts don’t move like that, only mutants. I saw a thing talking about Michael Phelps’ diet. Dude eats a full stack or pancakes, an omelet, hashbrowns, sausage, and toast for breakfast everyday. Then he swims, and eats, like, three turkey clubs (extra mayo) for lunch. When he stops swimming, he’s going to get real fat. Then there are the gymnasts. Fucking flying elves man.
By the way, I just realized that the next Summer Games will be the XXX Olympics. Swinging London indeed. (BK)
-I like sand volleyball a lot. I don’t care for much else, except basketball, which is sweet when your team has Kobe, LeBron, Dwight Howard, Michael Redd, and the rest of the NBA All Stars. Basically, dunks for days, and that rules (Go America). (EM)
Generation Kill, Episode 6
-Okay, David Simon and Ed Burns, you’ve stumped me. I have no idea what you’re going to pull out for your big finale next week. If you’ve packed the fruitlessness of war, the dehumanization of young men, the terror of battle, the heartbreak of civilian casualties, the costliness of poor command, the incompetence of unit-level commanders, and the psychopathy of marines in general into 6 episodes, what in God’s name are you going to do to me in the last episode? (BK)
-The boys of Marine 1st Recon are stuck in idle times again, only now, they’ve already had the taste of heated combat. Simon and Burns decide to pile on some more incompetents(ce) in the form of Delta company, a.k.a. “those fucking cowboys”, “reservists”, “morons”. It doesn’t help, of course, that one of the boys is now wearing an Iraqi helmet (you might be able to guess what happens next). The idleness and insanity of war is clearly starting to settle in, as the men have taken to pouring milkshakes onto their faces, running half-naked through fields pretending to be airplanes, and trying to use gas masks for fornication and other perversions. (TH)
-While it didn’t pack nearly the same punch as previous Burns/Simon penultimate episodes (couldn’t they have dug Pelecanos out of the woodwork?), the impersonal, mini-series format finally showed its drawbacks. That’s not to say Episode 6 wasn’t excellent, because it was– lots of uncomfortable exchanges (e.g. Encino Man, Gunny vs. Fick, Walt freaking out the whole time, etc.) were had, and the constant reference to ‘the war being over’ was simultaneously over the top and setting us (i.e. the viewer) up for a potential disaster in the finale. I mean, once you think they’re done, leave it up to Godfather a.k.a. “Mr. Tempo” to find them a completely unnecessary and final mission to coincide with the attack on Baghdad. (EM)
Black Book (Paul Verhoeven, 2006)
Lushly photographed, sweetly violent Paul Verhoeven look at one group of Holland Resistance fighters in the second World War. Well, actually, this film talks more about Rachel Stein / Ellis de Vries, a Jewish woman who, through guile, generally not being an idiot, and vocal chops, survives being found out, being double-crossed, double-crossed again, being shot at, etc. Some may find the coincidental plot a little far-fetched, but this is typical Verhoeven, really: the adventure plot is entertaining but really more of a framework on which to hang thoughts about morality, sexuality (or nudity), and politics. (TH)
Man on Wire (James Marsh, 2008.)
A documentary about a subject that has somehow escaped notice in America since he walked onto the front pages of dailies worldwide in 1974, this look at Philippe Petit (the Man on Wire), a superior French wire-walker, features some of the most breathtaking images that may ever be captured. The strength of the pictures of him in mid-air would be strong enough to support a film consisting of nothing but them, but the directors here opt for a standard documentary setup, with interviews, explanations, and the like (not surprising given the fact that this film is funded largely by the Discovery channel). This is not a weakness, though, as Petit turns out to be something of a master storyteller in addition to his other numerous physical talents. Watching this man exist on a piece of inch-wide steel cable as if he’s standing on the ground, at the limit of physical possibility and legal possibility, is nothing short of miraculous, and the film can’t help but be compelling due to this subject material. (TH)