April 14, 2010

Tryin to lose those awkward teenage blues...


Talkback around Bill's exceptional takedown of the beloved (by whom?) The Natural - and, incidentally, I also hate Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - and my reverent mumblecore shrine to one of my favorite moments from the New American Cinema: Arthur Penn's Night Moves.

TMI: I have a framed poster from its initial release in my basement bathroom along with posters of The Conversation, Dead Man, Dogville, and Barton Fink and though DVD Savant Glenn Erickson hates its tagline of "Maybe he'd find the girl, maybe he would find himself" (he calls it something like "awful Bergman" and he's probably not wrong), I kind of love it. I also love the way that posters from the seventies showed breasts sans nipples (like w/Jaws of that same year), as a way to sanitize it for our protection. All it did for me was create a whole new paradigm for fantasizing at an early age about the mystery of breasts.

Check out Alex's (Utah-based Alex's) take on HBO's Big Love Season Two and was anyone as surprised as me that Where the Wild Things Are didn't get more love? Finally - saw Kick-Ass... who's taking bets?
Also - anyone else as geeked as me about Terrence Malick's Tree of LIfe? A companion piece to The Fountain with its original star Brad Pitt? Groovy.

24 comments:

Dan said...

I saw Kick-Ass a few weeks back (a rarity, but an understandable one, that the UK got the world premiere), and found it be good fun for the most part, but the second-half leaned a lot on the zany appeal of Hit Girl to paper some cracks.

My biggest complaint was that the villain was a weak character with no real "plan" that needed thwarting, and his entire storyline connected more to second tier characters like Hit Girl and Big Daddy than it did the titular lead -- beyond mistaken identity to get the ball rolling. The first half was also a LOT funnier, imo. But I enjoyed it, for all its faults.

Daniel said...

Walter, I pray that you are planning a Kick-Ass review in the coming days.

Stephen Reese said...

Way to put the moves on Night Moves, Walter (and Bill on The Natural, and Alex on Big Love). I'm super excited for Malick's Tree of Life -- seems a match made in heaven, or at least the axis mundi. ;)

Jefferson Robbins said...

I'm watching The Yakuza right now and wondering what it might've been if somebody'd levered Pollack out of the director's chair and installed a Penn or, dare I wish it, an Altman.

Anonymous said...

Kick-Ass = terrible. A waste of time descent into Looney Tunes. I take no offense to Hit Girl in any way, shape or form, nor a 12-year-old saying "cunt", other than the fact that it seems to have been promoted by the film to kick up a fuss and sell more tickets, which the film clearly needs as it is awful.

DJR said...

I'm not surprised about the muted reception to Where the Wild Things Are, since I found it something of a chore to sit through for large portions of its running time, even as I respected the ambition of its thematic vision.

Rewatched Memento, and it remains one of the ten best films from the last decade. I know The Dark Knight is mega-popular around these parts, but it doesn't hold a candle in my estimation to that astonishing film. Hits me like a brick in the face every time.

DJR said...

Also, I was indifferent to Layer Cake and Stardust was a great deal of fun, but this Kick-Ass movie looks like fanboy-pandering shit.

Hugh said...

I loved Brad Bird's 'The Incredibles' for its commentary on the role of the superman in society (ditto Ratatouille), and Kick-Ass seems like it could very easily ignore these themes and, worse, take a great big dump on them in the process. But i'm remiss to pass judgement on a film based solely on viewing the trailers, so i'd be interested to read FFC's thoughts on the film

Tony said...

Kiss-Ass is a slightly better realized, if irresponsible, Zombieland.

Bill C said...

@Jefferson: You probably already know this but Brian DePalma very nearly directed THE YAKUZA. He did Schrader's OBSESSION instead.

jer fairall said...

DJR: I know The Dark Knight is mega-popular around these parts, but it doesn't hold a candle in my estimation to [Memento].

Amen.

Kick-Ass looks and sounds pretty dreadful from everything I've seen/read. About the only way I'd see it is if someone I read regularly (Alex, Walter, hell, Armond White) steps up to really defend it. But seriously, the whole riffing one superheroes thing has been done to death by now (Hancock) and never a fragment as well as The Incredibles.

John said...

Kick-ass is kick-ass.

Dan said...

My Walt-o-meter was off. I was expecting 2-stars at the most for Kick-Ass. Pleased to see it got the maximum, but I personally wouldn't have gone higher than a 3. Its punky attitude carried it half the time, but there were too many joyous moments for me to have a bad time.

jer fairall said...

Well shut my mouth.

renfield said...

In what capacity is the reception to Wild Thing lukewarm? The disc sales? The rottentomatoes meter?

At any rate, it's a fairly sad movie (not to oversimplify), so unless we're talking about the filmfreakcentral blog reception, I don't really understand the surprise.

Anonymous said...

Walter, have you read the comic series? How do you feel it compares to the movie?

Walter_Chaw said...

overlooked in the sense that no one ever seems to want to talk about it...

Never read the comics - don't know if I'm interested to do so after a screening, oddly enough.

Anonymous said...

Saw Kick-Ass. What a weird, confused movie. It doesn't seem to be playing along with its premise (superheroes meet reality), because in no way does this resemble reality in the least littlest bit. I honestly have no idea what to make of it. I mean, it's not a bad movie -- it's about as good as Hancock, the movie it most resembles. It's on this weird middle ground where it can't make the heroes look cool (the names are awful, the costumes look stupid) but lets them be unironic asskickers all the same. I... what the fuck is this movie?

The trailers looked godawful. If Chaw hadn't given it four stars, I wouldn't have touched it with a ten-foot-pole.

schnofel said...

saw kick-ass too. what's walter's pseudonym on AICN again?

anyway, his cred on my street is done.

Alex Jackson said...

I really liked Kick-Ass (or Kick A as it's known at Utah theaters). I'm not really sure how to account for the mingling of the satirical and the romantic either. I will say that the film DOES maintain a consistent tone throughout. It's just not one that can be easily labled.

I liked that aspect of it. I like it when a film requires you to digest it a little bit. Where when something doesn't quite work, you're as inclined to blame yourself as a viewer more than you are to blame yourself.

There's something thorny about this idea of a purple-haired 12 year old brutally slaughtering an apartment full of black drug dealers. Or a mildly awkward comic book geek attempting to do the same. Something about racist fantasies being disguised as mythology and kitsch.

If there's a serious problem with the picture, it might just be that the superhero genre is getting pretty played out. The film breaks some new ground, but not nearly enough. It's not as revolutionary as The Dark Knight.

And though I'm admittedly pretty biased, may I suggest that schnofel didn't actually read the review?

Anonymous said...

You know, Alex, violent black drug dealers do exist in real life.

schnofel said...

Well, I'm the one who's pretty biased here, and I'm also a little sorry for the snarky crap up there, but I have seen the movie, and Walter is just talking about the things that are always in his head - societal Id and father figures and such.

See, for me comic book movies were done about 5 years ago, but they just keep coming down the line like there is so much text in them that every layer of possible interpretation is worthy of our time. It's not. I never cared to be a superhero, I cared to a be a man. And that's what drama in my world is supposed to be about.

But back to juvenilia - I share pretty much Ebert's argument, plus the aforementioned tone problem, plus a general aesthetic shamelessness in camera movement and music choices. Though I believe you will see those as a comment upon themselves.

Armond White was very smart in comparing it to Lady Gaga (who I generally like) and saying: "We may never return to sanity after these two dead-end amusements."

Patrick said...

Four Stars for Kick-Ass? Really?

First off, as a small aside: how on earth did perfect Katie end up with such a drug dealing boyfriend? I know in the comics, he's someone else's boyfriend and they changed it to Katie, but did anyone think about what that even means?

But what's more, the satirical beginning of Kick-Ass turns into a totally conventional male wet dream in the end. Kick-Ass gets to save Hit Girl not once, but twice, and he gets to kill the big baddie, natch. And then he rides with HG into the sunset on his shining jetpack.

And he gets the girl, after lying to her and even getting to be in her room whilst they both only wore panties, all under cover as gay, but hey, just two curses after he told her the truth she's all wet for him. And then turns from perfect Madonna (she volunteers for the needle exchange program – that's probably where she met her ex – and she likes comics?) to whore as she wants to fuck Kick-Ass's brains out and does so among garbage cans before shedding a few tears holding out for her hero.

How on earth do you take a Mark Millar comic and make it worse for women?

Yes, the action was entertaining, but four stars?

Anonymous said...

Patrick:

1. It means Rasul is a master manipulator. He coerced an inexperienced girl into an awful relationship, and when she realized it, he tried to lash out against her

2. "Kick-Ass gets to save Hit Girl not once, but twice, and he gets to kill the big baddie, natch." - After Hit Girl saved him twice. It's a coming of age story. He finally gets up to Hit-Girl's level.

3. "And he gets the girl, after lying to her and even getting to be in her room whilst they both only wore panties, all under cover as gay, but hey, just two curses after he told her the truth she's all wet for him." - She was already "wet" for him; she said "It sucks that you're gay" - So they already covered that

4. "she volunteers for the needle exchange program – that's probably where she met her ex" - It IS where she met her ex. Drug dealers try to sabotage drug clinics

5. "to whore as she wants to fuck Kick-Ass's brains out and does so among garbage cans before shedding a few tears holding out for her hero." - That's raunchy - but not "whore" - A "whore" is somebody who does it for money.

6. "How on earth do you take a Mark Millar comic and make it worse for women?" - Honestly it was better for Katie. Wanna know what she does in the Millar comic? She sends a photo of herself doing a BJ of her boyfriend Carl to Dave.