Amoeblog

The Glass Is Half Wack: The Wackness (2008)

Posted by Charles Reece, July 5, 2008 08:42pm | Post a Comment


Wackness is about white teens in the first half of the 90s who say stuff like, "You only see the wackness; I see the dopeness." They're in their 30s now, so the nostalgia is ripe. It was the period when the classical tradition in rap was giving way to the method acting mumbling of gangster wannabes selling the “real” to undergraduates. In a nod to Vincent Price famously referring to the method actors as "the mumblers," either Big Daddy Kane or Chuck D once lamented the fact that so many of the contemporary MCs gargled into the microphone. Anyhow, the film's soundtrack reminded me of why I started to hate commercial rap (not that I needed the reminding). Each line Big E wheezes brings him one step closer to a cardiac arrest and me to the door.  But, in trying to see the dopeness -- this movie wasn't Hancock, after all -- I soldiered on. I will draw the line at Sundance films set in a Lilith Fair concert.

So, the story: Luke (Josh Peck) is a pot dealer who’s just graduated from high school in the first year of Giuliani’s Manhattan. This is one of those introspective comedies (à la Little Miss Sunshine) that dominate Landmark’s arthouse chain, so Luke’s one and only friend is his psychiatrist, Dr. Squires (Ben Kingsley, supposedly a Brooklyn Jew, but looking like Cheech Marin circa Up In Smoke with an accent that slips into British, Indian caricature and Classic Hollywood Nazi). Luke trades the doc dope for counseling. Luke’s problems are that no one is his friend outside of wanting drugs from him and he can’t get laid. One such “friend” is the hip hop Asian character who functions as the foil for Luke’s romantic interest in Squires’ step-daughter, Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby). Another is nuevo hippie chick Union (Mary-Kate Olsen, the same twin – I checked – who plays the same character on Weeds).

Continue reading...

TRAILER PARK BOYS

Posted by Charles Reece, June 28, 2008 10:39pm | Post a Comment
What have Anthony Stewart Head from Buffy, Paris Hilton, Ogre from Skinny Puppy and Sarah fucking Brightman in common? Repo! The Genetic Opera:



Someone must've been a fan of that "very special episode" of Buffy, "Once More With Feeling," because the music here is just as bland. The key to the cult status of Rocky Horror Picture Show wasn't bad music, but a nutty storyline set to good music ("Science Fiction" is a great song, film or no film).  Repo! only gets it half right. I'll go see it, anyway.

This next one is a travesty of a remake, decultifying one of the great cult films, Death Race 2000, presumedly for some ideal mainstream audience:



Why is it that we have to see Asian films for murderers, pedophiles and rapists to be used as the heroes? As a minority, they're certainly a bigger proportion of the American population than they are of, say, the Japanese. So much for pluralism. This trailer is a perfect example of what one of the co-hacks behind Wanted was discussing after its showing this past Thursday night. When answering the question of why adapt a comic book of the same name when the film had 90% of nothing to do with it, the hack said films have a hard time getting made these days if they're not based on something already in existence (that is, with the same name -- original ideas have always had a hard time in Hollywood, licensed property or not). Then, despite the hack's suggestion that there were no content constraints placed on his script, he went on to explain why he didn't keep the fact that the hero was a serial rapist as part of the story -- namely, no one would accept a story about a serial rapist if he's treated as the hero, even if he's the anti-hero. That's a good example of Jeremy Bentham's panopticon (which has been popping up lately in Lost): who needs a production code or HUAC as a threat of censorship when the filmmakers censor themselves? Thus, we get the new Death Race where the hero has been framed and is being forced to kill, rather than just participating for the sport of it. That there might've been a moral point to the original film's scenario about a society where it's a sport to run over people seems to be lost on the hacks behind this current production. Anderson should stick to religious adaptations of games like Frogger. I'll pass.

He's Lost Control Again! The UnControllable Hulk

Posted by Charles Reece, June 21, 2008 12:12pm | Post a Comment

An experimental mishap with gamma radiation transforms Joy Division frontman into uncontrollable Id.

As a young lad in Manchester, Bruce Banner discovered a love for the proto-punk music of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.  Although possessing a high aptitude for science, Bruce dreamed of being a rock star. However, he had to pay the bills, so he took a top secret government research job in what back in the days of WWII was called the Super Soldier Project. The Project was an intergovernmental operation existing between the Yanks and Brits. What it produced was a gamma-radiated concoction called, appropriately enough, the super-soldier serum. After testing it out unsuccessfully on a bunch of minority servicemen in the US Army, the science team found one skinny white dude named Steve Rogers who was turned into the Nazi-fighting hero, Captain America (soon to get his own feature film -- directed by John Cassavetes' son, Nick -- which, in turn, will lead into an Avengers movie). Poor old Cap was frozen in ice and thought to be dead, leaving it a mystery what was so special about his cellular structure. But Bruce is unaware of the Project's history, naÏvely believing he is using his degree in molecular biology for finding a cure to epilepsy, not developing a human killing machine.

Based on True Events: Rambo (2008)

Posted by Charles Reece, June 14, 2008 05:12pm | Post a Comment


So this isn't, practically speaking, a summer movie, but if they still made 'em like they used to, it would be. This time around John Rambo is a snake handling loner living in Thailand who makes money on the side by ferrying people across the river to their inevitable death in Burma. As in the previous films, he hates humanity and has little patience for ideology of any kind. He's content playing with his snakes until a hot Evangelical missionary (played by Angel's ex, the vampire Darla) convinces him to take her group over to feed a Karen village being tormented by the Burmese military. I read a few reviews that found this scenario unconvincing, suggesting that her platitudes wouldn't be enough to get Rambo to care.  Rambo's been playing with snakes for the past 20 years in a jungle, what more reason does he need?  It's not what's said, but who's saying it. Fear not, Rambo doesn't have sex, only its substitute, killing, which brings up a question I had while watching Bret Michaels in Rock of Love: how does the bandana stay on during intimate moments? Does Bret pay the girls not to say anything, has it written in their contracts? You'd think at least one of his rejects would call him on it. Is this why Rambo takes no prisoners? Regardless, kudos to both men for laying waste to a bunch of bodies while keeping their hair on straight.

Rambo is the second part of Stallone's Christian marketing diptych, following Rocky Balboa. Originally he wanted to call it John Rambo, but the studio demanded it be changed for some reason. He saw how well Mel Gibson was doing marketing bloodletting and violence to the fundies and decided to continue his successful franchises with that strategy in mind. Look how well it worked with the Rocky sequel:
What was also wonderful about the film was how Stallone incorporated, what I like to call, the faith factor. As part of his corner crew, Rocky brings along Spider Rico, portrayed by another former boxer Pedro Lovell, as his spiritual advisor. Before going out to take on Dixon, Rocky is sitting in his dressing room while Rico is reading scripture verses to him. In his restaurant, Rico always gets a free meal from Rocky until he takes it upon himself to start washing dishes for Rocky telling him, “Jesus wants me to work.”
Over there on Christian Spotlight, the reader responses were overwhelmingly positive, with only a couple of negatives that had to do with the profanity (these guys use the aesthetic criterion of bean-counting the number of salacious words in a film) and some kiss between a supposed 10 year old and a 40 year old (but this problem was brought up by teenaged reader). Christian moralizing has come a long way since the days of the Hays Code and the League of Decency, when violence itself was largely deemed indecent, irrespective of who was killing whom and for what reason. Now, as Gibson's Pollack-cum-blood manifesto, The Passion of the Christ, demonstrated, it's okay to get off on unrelenting gore so long as it serves a higher purpose. This a good thing; Christian films have finally caught up to their brutal legacy. Therefore, when Rambo is trying to get a group of mercenaries to go in and risk their pagan lives to save the Christian tail who inspired him earlier in the film, he mumbles, "live for nothin’, or die for somethin’."  Like the ambiguity of all that S&M Catholic self-flagellation and torture, is Rambo's new found higher calling a sublimated rejection of his celibacy or a belief in Divine Will?

FAVOURITE SUMMER MOVIE SO FAR

Posted by Charles Reece, June 8, 2008 11:07pm | Post a Comment
What's the difference between North Korea and Heaven? You can at least die and escape North Korea.  A friend directed me to this debate from April 7th between Christopher Hitchens and his younger brother, Peter. I had a good time with the Hitchens family (as I always do), so I figured I'd pass the video along.

OPENING ARGUMENTS ON THE IRAQ WAR

Peter:


Christopher:


OPENING ARGUMENTS ON THE GOD PROPOSITION

Christopher:


Peter:


Those were, in order, parts 2, 3, 5 and 6. You can find the other parts here.
BACK  <<  44  45  46  47  48  49  50  51  52  53  54  55  >>  NEXT