Monday, August 20, 2012

Episode 8 - 13 - 12

For reasons known only to god and sonny Jesus the Boom and I went to see The Campaign this weekend. I can't even remember the last time I went to the theater to see a comedy, because I hate them.  I know, grumpy grump grump, but seriously, nothing falls harder than a shitty comedy. A shitty action flick, horror film, or otherwise genre-dependant outing that fails usually has some redeeming features for the appreciating viewer. A bad comedy however, fails in every conceivable way, and even if you laughed the first time, if there's no tangible context or grounding to care, a bad comedy cannot be redeemed; it is a dead cultural artifact. Even as the film riffs on real world referents like the Koch brothers, Diabold voting machines, and other American political exigencies, they're just empty gestures to a system that merely exists and cannot be changed; the satire, if present at all, is nihilistic. But worst of all? The shit isn't funny.

We music heard from the following:

Backdraft, 1991 - Hans Zimmer
Heat, 1995 - Elliot Goldenthal
Flashpoint, 1984 - Tangerine Dream
Wag the Dog, 1997 - Mark Knopfler
Galaxy Quest, 1999 - David Newman


Episode 8 - 6- 12

What is there left to say about the new Total Recall movie? It exists. Films are products of their historical boundaries, and remaking them often removes their entire contextual flair, replacing them with boring au courant-isms and leaving the skeleton of a plot to dryly limp around. Paul Verhoeven's 1990 film was not high art by any stretch, but what a movie: explosive, beyond-parody exploitation. There's a hooker with three tits, a killer Olson twin, fifty prosthetic screaming Arnold heads, a baby mutant poobah in a dude's belly...the new film has robots and Colin Farrell and a lot of rain. What will people of the future think of the cultural evidence of these two films? One is stupid and fun; one is stupid and boring. Alas.

We heard music from:

Tucker: The Man and His Dream, 1988 - Joe Jackson
The Illusionist, 2006 - Philip Glass
Demon Seed, 1977 - Jerry Fielding
The Specialist, 1994 - John Berry
The Proposition, 2005 - Nick Cave, Warren Ellis


Episode 7 - 30 - 12

Original airdate: 7-30-12
For today's show we had a measly review of the not-worth-the-effort The Watch, but I suppose the big industry news is that Peter Jackson's The Hobbit is now, somehow, a trilogy. Besides the obvious moneygrab motive, I can only speculate as to why/how a 200ish page children's book is going to be inflated into three, presumably long, films. Internet scuttlebutt says Jackson wants to plumb what we aren't directly shown through The Hobbit's story - things which appear in the LotR appendices and which, I don't think, were known during the book's writing, Tolkien only exploding that particular universe much later. Diegesis, y'all! What worries me is that Jackson might be pulling a Lucas here - revisiting his own narrative territory with more money and fewer figurative demons to slay: the results are uninvolving at best. Is difficulty and/or censorship good for artistry? That's a controversial debate I'd love to not have right now.

We heard music from the following:

It! The Terror from Beyond Space, 1958 - Paul Sawtell
Total Recall, 1990 - Jerry Goldsmith
The 'Burbs, 1989 - Jerry Goldsmith


Episode 7 - 23 - 12

Original Airdate: 7 - 23 - 12
Let the hazing begin; neither the Boom or I were particularly impressed by The Dark Knight Rises, something that has already resulted in at least one Facebook brouhaha:

"I just unfriended you. Your comment was lame and I'm such a huge Batman fan I even saw the Adam West movie in the theatre."

Guess what, weenis? That's not an argument. If anything, it means your Batman obsession is so delusional that you won't brook any criticism, and going to bat (har har) for a flick in which Batman wrestles a rubber shark while dangling from a helicopter with a bomb isn't doing you any favors. But the gauntlet has been thrown down: the more desperately nerds cling to the untouchability of their favorite franchises, the more vitriolic they are going to get when you tell it like it is. I thought TDKR was bloated, long, and mostly uninvolving. Nolan only had a tenable connection between comic book outlandishness and the dark "realism" he used as an apology for it, but things really flew out of his hands on this one. Nolan's films were one of the (if not the) only attempts at comic book realism, as if such a thing is possible. Whether or not it worked was another matter, but I think it gave his franchise a bit of heft and tension in the first Batman film; credibility was stretched but mostly maintained in the second. But here, in the final piece to this triptych, nothing makes any goddamn sense, to the point where the part of your brain reconciling something you like to something that makes sense goes kerflooey. And on a minor point, I also felt like the film was politically offensive, a criticism also launched against The Dark Knight. But where TDK was a Bush/War on Terror apologia, TDKR is full-blown fascist glee intent of parodying any kind of Marxist/syndicalist type of organization as Anarchism criminality and horror; there's even a scene of undetermined significance evoking the French Revolution. So, Batman is Napoleon? I'm not saying this is a coherent political statement of any kind, but it doesn't have to be. Nolan has thrown his hand in with reactionary goobers like Frank Miller who have nonsensical critiques of movements like OWS just because they're cranky. Disappointing.

We heard music from:

Inception, 2010 - Hans Zimmer
Requiem for a Dream, 2000 - Clint Mansell
Breakin', 1984 - Various
The Bourne Identity, 2002 - John Powell