Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Summer at the Movies!

Well, it's July. More importantly, it's the 4th of July weekend, which, as everybody knows, means not only that you have the patriotic duty to blow off one or more of your digits and/or limbs, but also that it's the official start of the Summer Blockbuster Season. I have yet to see any movies at all this summer, and, while many of these fine films have already been out for a month or more, it is only now that I have been getting the urge to go out and see any of them. So, without further ado, I present to you a brief list of the big Summer Sizzlers that I may or may not be enjoying this month with a ginormous tub of artificially flavored popcorn and a 64 oz. Dr Pepper:

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

Few film reviews have given me as much pleasure as the ones for Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. The critics absolutely hate it, and they're being driven especially mad by the fact that it grossed over $109 million on its opening weekend. Apparently the movie just doesn't make any god-damn sense at all. Even looking at that still above, it's kind of hard to tell what's going on. As Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune says, "I've just spent 2 1/2 hours watching a movie and another hour thinking about what I saw and I have no earthly idea what "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is about." I think that Mr. Covert stumbled upon a hidden truth about this movie and its appeal later in his review when he says, "The conflicts make about as much sense as sandlot battles fought by 8-year-olds wielding their Hasbro Megatrons, Starscreams and Optimus Primes." I remember playing those games as a kid, and it always made me so mad when the other kid would suddenly announce that Optimus Prime had a billion a-bombs hidden in his arms and was using them to nuke all of my guys pkkksshhhk-ABOOOM!!!! Those weren't the rules. (I would be interested in reading a study on the differences between children who establish and follow rules during playtime and those who willfully disobey them.)

But if you want to read the real nasty stuff about "Transformers 2," I suggest that you head over to Roger Ebert's column. I am one of those many people who believe that there is a special spot in Hell reserved for Micheal Bay, perhaps one where he is tied to a chair and forced to watch BBC period pieces for all of eternity, but Roger Ebert has a much more intriguing place for Bay: In history:

The day will come when "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" will be studied in film classes and shown at cult film festivals. It will be seen, in retrospect, as marking the end of an era. Of course there will be many more CGI-based action epics, but never again one this bloated, excessive, incomprehensible, long (149 minutes) or expensive (more than $200 million). Like the dinosaurs, the species has grown too big to survive, and will be wiped out in a cataclysmic event, replaced by more compact, durable forms.
Of course, this interesting observation doesn't prevent Ebert from lashing out at the film's utter horridness. In particular, he seems constantly vexed by the repeated phenomenon of humans out-running explosions in the film.

Her hair is perfect.

Angels & Demons

On our recent California road trip, we listened to most of The Da Vinci Code on tape. I've actually listened to it before on tape, and I have seen the movie, although I have never actually read the book itself. On this time listening through, I realized a couple of things. First, Dan Brown is a pretty bad writer. He seems to think that every verb necessarily needs an adverb attached to it, so that none of his characters ever just do something, but they always do it sneakily, or bravely, or angrily, or in some other fashion completely in accord with their essential moral character. Also, he is way too into that French chick's eyes. Second - and not enough people realize this - there is no such thing as Symbology. You can't get your degree in it, you can't teach it, you can't give lectures in it. I don't quite know why Brown decided that he needed to make up an entirely new academic discipline for his books. Most of what Robert Langdon does is covered by pre-existing - or, as I like to call them, "real" - areas of study, like Art History or Anthropology.

Third, Robert Langdon is kind of a dick.

But, as for the new movie. I hear that Angels & Demons has a better plot than the Da Vinci Code. Also, I like watching Tom Hanks' haircut solve mysteries.

free movie screening da vinci code.jpg
Does this picture look weird to anyone else? Like, Audrey Tautou has some Mona Lisa-shaped growth coming out of her head, and it's about to kill her and assume her identity? No? Just me? Hmmm... maybe I should lay off the Russian Lit for a while....

Public Enemies

Honestly, this is the only movie on this list that I would be willing to spend ten bucks to see right now. This happens everytime too; just when I think that I'm beyond Hollywood's lame marketing techniques, someone in the studio says, "I know! Johnny Depp in an old-timey gangster movie! Joel would totally pay to see that!" Damn you Hollywood!
Yes! That's it! That's what cool is!

But the real reason why I'm listing it here is that I have a personal reason to go see it, too. One morning, about a year ago, I was leaving my friend's apartment in Lincoln Park after a good night of drunken debauchery*, and decided to stop by the CVS to buy a pack of cigarettes. I turned on the corner of Lincoln and Fullerton, and suddenly came upon this scene:

This is a picture from the set of Public Enemies outside of the Biograph Theater on Lincoln. I had unknowingly wandered on the set, surrounded by people dressed in 1930's outfits, driving 1930's cars, standing outside of 1930's buildings. I'm pretty sure that no one was filming, because I went unhassled for over five minutes. Then I realized that the entrance to the CVS had been blocked, and that the CVS had been changed into a "National Food Store and Pharmacy." Thwarted, hungover, and confused, I gave up, walked back through the time warp, and boarded the Red Line home.

* R.A. thinks that I don't need to add "drunken" here, because that's implied by the term "debauchery." I told her that the alliteration of "drunken debauchery" makes my brain happy. Then she said that the Romans considered alliteration to be the lowest form of poetry. I told her that's because they were writing in Latin. Then she said that rhyming in Latin was for idiot children.

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