Jane Eyre

I have a vivid memory of this book. I am a young reader, sitting on a shaded porch in the not-so-deep-south, flipping the pages anxiously to find out what will become of the young, spunky heroine Jane, who sparks a fiery feminism within me as she allows no man to bully her into a relationship that is not based on truth. Though plain and poor, she stands tall and speaks her mind. I am impressed with my young self in this memory, for not all preadolescents are intelligent enough to be able to grasp the message and the content of this great novel. I can remember each detail clearly, can even picture the fire and a cringing Mr. Rochester as he shields his face from the flames fanned by his crazy wife.

It then occurs to me that there were no color pictures in Charlotte Brontes masterpiece, and what I am remembering as a powerful novel experience is actually . . . a comic book. Specifically, a Classics Illustrated graphic novel, whose marketing copy suggests this series “features classic tales retold with attractive color illustrations to introduce literature to struggling readers”. Well, shit. Continue reading “Jane Eyre”

Unstoppable (2010)

Action flicks must be pretty easy to make, because the really successful ones follow a checklist that is as unvaried as Kathryn Heigl’s movie roles. First, you need two mismatched personalities who will bond and become best friends and not only save the day but also have some kind of personal epiphany that makes them better men. Then you need a crisis situation that has a specific amount of time before everything blows up, something like a runaway train full of toxic chemicals headed for populated area in Pennsylvania. A good villain is important, but may be substituted with a bad/stupid/cares only about money boss who makes decisions that are immediately discounted/disobeyed by underlings and proves what we knew all along; that we are smarter than our bosses. And that’s about it. There should be a few fiery car crashes along the journey and snappy patter is a given, but that is essentially the proven formula. I’m kind of surprised Hollywood even bothers with stuff like The King’s Speech – there wasn’t an explosion anywhere in that film.

Unstoppable took this checklist and ran with it like two guys on a train with no brakes. Denzel Washington plays the grizzled veteran who is weeks away from retirement when he is forced to pair up with new trainee Chris Pine, aka the most recent commander of the starship Enterprise. He makes a few dumb mistakes like adding too many cars to the train but no one cares because his laser blue eyes are so piercing that even Mr. Spock would have forgiven him. Chris Pine is the kind of pretty boy actor who always looks better after someone has roughed him up, because looking at him without bruises is too much like staring into the sun. He is bleary-eyed and unshaven during the film and even a little bloody toward the end, making it just a little hard to concentrate on his acting, which is a good thing. And speaking of rough, when did Denzel become old enough to be grizzled? It seems like he jumped from hero status directly into Danny Glover territory.

This movie is Based on True Events, so you don’t have to worry that it will end badly since as far as I know, Pennsylvania is still there. Apparently art really does imitate life, which is a shame for the real people this was based on because they speak in the most remarkably dumb and clichéd ways imaginable. I’m sure Hollywood didn’t come up with this dialogue – it was those hicks in PA.

But no one really cares about the script in a film like this. It’s all about the action and if the movie is called Unstoppable, it’s a pretty good bet that there is going to be some train movement, specifically some that doesn’t stop. Director Tony Scott isn’t content to focus on the seventy mile per hour rush of tons of metal – after all, this was the man who gave us the upside down plane loops in Top Gun. He has the camera revolve around the train as it speeds forward, creating an atmosphere of chaos, uncertainty and an effect a little like what happens when you ride the Gravitron at a carnival. Nothing good has ever come from riding the Gravitron, especially if you ate a corn dog before you went on it.

There’s also some stop action and color enhancement effects that are used to make the train seem more . . . exciting? It’s as if Scott didn’t believe that a dirty old train going really fast was going to be enough to keep the attention of the modern film goer. He was probably right. I wish he had included some cool nicknames, too, like in Top Gun. I’ve been trying for years now to get the people I work with to call me Maverick.

Because this was a train movie, it also contained the prerequisite scene where someone runs along the top of the train and jumps from car to car. (This is not on the action film checklist unless the film has a train in it.) I wonder if that is hard to do? No one ever seems to balk at it; in fact, Denzel seemed so confident it looked like he was playing hopscotch up there. I’m guessing he had it put in his contract as a way to pull some of the focus from Chris Pine, because if Chris had fallen while doing it, the ensuing bruises would have been enough to make the audience miss the rest of the film.

Barf Bag ranking: THREE BAGS It’s a movie about an unstoppable train – what did you expect?

The Adjustment Bureau

As you stagger around bleary-eyed in the morning trying to get out the door, you realize that your keys are not in the cat bowl where they should be, nor are your shoes kicked in the corner where you’re certain they were last night. As the minutes tick by and you start to wonder if this is a result of the bottle of wine you finished off or early onset Alzheimers, you realize that either way you will most certainly be late for work. What you don’t know is that because you are seven minutes behind schedule, you will miss getting creamed by a rogue police car that is careening down your street in hot pursuit of a shoplifter who took off with an even hotter Big Gulp from the nearby 7-Eleven. Because fate intervened, you will not spend the next five months in a full body cast. You may be fired for being late for the sixth time this month, but at least you’ll have your health. Continue reading “The Adjustment Bureau”

Don’t Be Happy, Be Content

I haven’t posted here in over a week, and my anxiety level keeps rising. Content rules the web – how will I get hits if I never write anything new?!
I’m not sure why getting hits should feed into my self-esteem, but it must be important or else they wouldn’t give you that little Blog Stats counter. I’m pretty sure it measures your self-worth in some way, so imagine how good Charlie Sheen must be feeling right about now.

The other day I found myself thinking about going to a movie, and as I perused the films opening that weekend, I noticed one called Drive Angry 3D. The description of it read, “Milton, a hardened felon, has broken out of hell for one last chance at redemption. Intent on stopping a vicious cult who murdered his daughter, he has three days to stop them before they sacrifice her baby beneath a full moon.” And of course it starred Nicolas Cage, because who else can play a hardened felon who has broken out of hell for one last chance at redemption? His hair looks like he does that on just a regular day.

I’m sorry to tell you that my first thought on reading about this movie was, “Wow! I’ll bet that will make me really sick! It will be great material for the blog!” And then I was ashamed (but not before I checked the times to see if I went to The Adjustment Bureau, there might be one that I could sneak into right afterward).

People may think they need a constant feed of news 24/7, but this not CNN and I am not Anderson Cooper (who still looks fabulous even after that unfortunate incident in Egypt). So my vow to you, dear hit..um, reader, is this: I will not attend films hoping that they will make me sick just so I will have something to write about. The process should be more organic than that. I think it’s so much more effective when you settle in to watch a highly anticipated, well-reviewed film and then are totally blindsided when you turn into Linda Blair from The Exorcist.

But because that may not happen on a timely basis and the beast must be fed (that damn counter has been stuck on 957 for two days!), I may resort to throwing in 500 or so words that have absolutely nothing to do with flicks that make me sick. I also fear that I am rapidly running out of metaphors for vomit, and I think a little break now and then to clear the palette will be refreshing. All I ask from you is that you keep click, click, clicking! (and love me! It means you love me!)

Once (2006)

In 2006, a little indie that could showed up in theatres and showed the overbloated producers of Dreamgirls and Chicago exactly how a tiny little musical with no budget but tons of heart could completely capture an audience. Made for just $160,000, this film was so underfunded that the lead characters couldn’t even afford first names – they were simply called The Guy and The Girl. Continue reading “Once (2006)”

Final Thoughts on the Academy Awards

Well, now, that wasn’t so good, was it? I think I would rather watch James Franco cut off his arm than see him host this show again. Dude was either terrified or stoned, and I hope for his sake it was the latter because at least he won’t remember how bad he was. And Anne Hathaway had a lot of pretty dresses. I’m really sorry Exit Through the Gift Shop didn’t win because I heard Banksy was going to show up in a monkey suit. At least that would have livened things up a little.