Friday, January 29, 2010

Julie & Julia

Here there be a spoiler (which wasn't for me because it was a factoid I knew before I saw the movie). Ye be warned.

Julie And Julia wasn't nearly as food filled as everyone had led me to believe, and for that I would want my money back if I had spent any money to see it.
People talk a lot about food in the movie, certainly, but all of the food porn I'd heard so much about was kept to a minimum. Where's the fun in that?
I really, really liked the Julia Child half of the movie. I've always liked her anyway and so it was cool to watch a movie about her, starring Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci, no less! Awesome.
But then there were the Julie Powell parts which, in spite of featuring Mary Lynn Rajskub, just weren't interesting. I could feel myself deflate every time it switched over to present day (or, you know, present day eight years ago).
"Oh boy, I get to spend another however many minutes watching Amy Adams talk about herself and act like she's as adorable as she thinks she is." It was fine in Enchanted, Amy, but not every character you play is that cute.
They do point out in the movie, or at least her husband does, that Julie Powell was completely self absorbed. And I know from experience that a blog'll do that to a person ("Me. Me. Me, me, me!") but I also know that it's really easy to not let that carry on in your life beyond the computer screen.
Maybe it's just that I don't have as many readers as she did. How's it going, you two?
But watching the Julia parts of the movie, where she's so full of life and enthusiasm and includes all the people around her in her life just as much as she includes herself, only to have to stop that to watch Julie become more and more concerned with only herself is just a disappointment.
I knew going in that Julia Child thought Julie Powell was a twit, so the scene in the movie when Julie finds that out... Actually I was shocked because I was sure they weren't going to include that bit of information.
However, if the real Julie Powell was anything like the one in the movie, she had it coming. I cringed every time she started talking about how she talks to Julia and imagines them being best friends. It's fine if you think that, but don't tell people! Especially not:
a) everyone on the internet and
b) The New York freaking Times!
No wonder she thought you were being disrespectful. You reduced her to imaginary friend status! That's got to sting a little.
Of course, hearing that the person you admire most doesn't like you has also got to sting, so I guess it was just hurt feelings all around. Yay!
Oh, wait, no. That's bad.
At the risk of hurting Julie Powell's feelings further, I don't like her either. She got in the way of a really interesting movie about Julia Child.

End of line.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Night Of The Lepus

Night Of The Lepus is one of those 1970s "animals attack" movies, and it has the "so bad it's good" reputation often applied to Ed Wood films. It's about a herd of giant, killer rabbits terrorizing a rural area.
Everything I've read makes fun of Night Of The Lepus because Bunnies Aren't Scary. And ordinarily, that's true. There are scenes of bunnies running through a model town (to make them look giant) in slow motion that are supposed to be ominous but end up being adorable. If I had a family restaurant, I'd play that on a loop rather than sports or the news.
Giant bunnies: fun for the whole family!
On the other hand, there are scenes of bunnies looming over dead bodies with red paint (I'm sorry, blood) smeared all over their faces, bearing their giant bunny front teeth and growling horribly. I'm not scared of that because I can tell how they did the shot (close ups, red paint, a decent foley guy) but it was effective. I went in expecting something laughable but damned if I weren't thrown by that footage. I know if I were a little kid or just really good at suspending my disbelief, that would freak me right the hell out.
Killer bunnies: run for the hills!
The other thing was, I didn't have the heart to laugh. All the actors were so earnest; they really wanted their movie to be a scary one. Yes, it is bad. Yes, it is ridiculous. But it didn't quite make it to So Bad It's Good territory because I don't think there was a single actor who wasn't at least competent. (Maybe the two little kids, but child actors who can actually act are few and far between as it is.)
I felt like if I laughed, somewhere Rory Calhoun's ghost would shed a tear and not know why.

End of line.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Repossession Mambo

Here there be spoilers. Ye be warned.

The entire time I was reading this book my brain was creating a "Compare And Contrast: Repo! The Genetic Opera" checklist.
Repo! is my second favorite movie. This whole Repo Opera Versus Repo Mambo thing has gotten people all riled up and I decided, in a show of good will, I'd read the book.
The good news is the plot devices are the same but the plots themselves are completely different. The Repossession Mambo is mostly about the narrator's ex-wives and his time in the army. It was a good read, but now that it's over I realize the plot was so thin I could see through it.
At least it kept me entertained. As I've said, that's really all I want out of my movies. Sure, this was a book, but it's all I want out of my books, too.
I did have some problems, though, the main one being that I am a Repo! girl and, much as I wanted to believe Eric Garcia didn't rip off Zdunich and Smith, there were enough similarities that made me roll my eyes and mutter things under my breath.
Q, for instance.
Repo! The Genetic Opera has Zydrate, a highly addictive anesthetic in glowing blue liquid form.
The Repossession Mambo has Q, a highly addictive anti-rejection drug in sparkly red powder form.
That's the laziest attempt at pretending you didn't steal an idea that I have ever seen. Just describing something as the physical opposite of what you stole doesn't make it less stolen.
Not that Garcia did steal anything. I have no proof. I have suspicions that I was hoping would be diminished by reading this book. They weren't. Not really. Actually, I think I was more willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt before I read the book than I am now.
Anyway, my biggest problem with the book actually had nothing to do with Repo Opera Versus Repo Mambo. It had to do with the ending of the book. And I can't figure out how to express my displeasure with it without giving away the ending. Which I'm going to do.
So, if you don't want to know how it ends, stop reading now.

In the second to last chapter, Unnamed Narrator decides that he's going to turn himself in for the sake of his girlfriend, Bonnie (who is also on the run because she's made mostly of artificial organs). He makes a deal with his best friend, who will take Narrator's heart and, in exchange, have Bonnie taken off the 100 Most Wanted list.
The reason Narrator decides to do this is because his entire life people have been sacrificing things for him and he never sacrificed anything for anybody, and it's about time he did.
Great. Awesome. Dude learns a lesson. Hero's journey and all that. I like that ending.
The last chapter describes how Bonnie had a surgeon friend of hers put her (Bonnie's) heart, the only natural organ she had left, in Unnamed Narrator and replaced it with his artificial one, thus making him a no-longer-wanted man.
Thus undoing the moral of the story.
It was a completely stupid ending. I wanted the damn Narrator to die.

End of line.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

I can explain right now why this movie flopped: It wasn't made for fans of The Blair Witch Project.
Yeah, sure, "Blair Witch 2," whatever. It's called that because it uses the phenomenon that was The Blair Witch Project as a jumping off point.
The movie's about a formerly institutionalized fan of the movie leading a group of tourists to the places where Blair Witch was filmed. He calls his tour the Blair Witch Hunt.
The group consists of a couple writing a book about the Blair Witch legend (the guy thinks it's all fake, the woman thinks there's truth behind the folklore); an uppity, arrogant, condescending, pretentious, melodramatic, bitchy, malnourished Wiccan and the most realistic portrayal of a goth chick I've ever seen in a movie (surly but perfectly nice, and the most likeable person in the bunch).
The first night of their tour, the group plans to stay up all night, to catch them a witch or something (I guess).
Cut to: everybody waking up with no memory of the night before. The couple's book research has been torn up and scattered around and the tour guide's cameras have been destroyed. The tapes are unharmed, though, and they head back to his house (an abandoned glue factory) to find out what went on.
Most of the movie takes place in the house. Characters have disturbing visions, weird marks show up on their stomachs and shoulders and someone goes missing (I won't say who, but I will say I was not at all upset they were gone).
It's a stylish, impossible-plot-twist-filled, actually-fun-to-watch movie. The ties to Blair Witch are minimal, although it's not entirely unlike the first one. We've got endless arguments, a character disappears halfway through and one person just keeps on filming everything that happens.
It's just presented in a way that doesn't make me tired and angry.
Like I said, this movie wasn't made for fans of The Blair Witch Project. It was made for people like me.

End of line.