Friday, June 11, 2010

Movies I Haven't Seen

Once again, blowing past the tired conventions of sitting through movies and then writing about them, I present to you – with confidence and pride – my comments on a bunch of current movies I haven’t seen.

Shrek Forever After

There was a time, dating back I think to Robin Williams’ genie in Aladdin, where you’d constantly be told this or that animated movie was equally good entertainment for adults, by virtue of the pop culture references and other, uh, sophisticated trappings. And I’d always say to myself, that’s for adults! - well who is Ingmar Bergman for then, gods? I’m not saying such movies don’t have their rewards, but then so does staring at the ceiling and thinking of puppies. Anyway, I think that cycle’s past its peak now, because the latest Shrek movie doesn’t seem to be generating much adult excitement. Of course, that may only be because all the adults are now at home watching their Marvel studio blu-rays. I guess it just proves adulthood is a social construct rather than a verifiable state.

Sex And The City 2

I never watched the TV show, but it would be on in the room from time to time, and I used to have the impression it was powered by racy debates about how far to go on a first date, and about strategy on the relationship frontlines. But then at some point, that became secondary to the shoes and the outfits and a more billowy notion of fabulousness. Canada AM’s movie critic Richard Crouse gave the movie, essentially, four stars for fans and one star for everyone else…gee, thanks for the guidance. More useful was the critic who said: “Nothing says putrefying, rotten and vile quite like this sequel,” fleetingly making me think the foursome might be spending two hours being tortured and degraded in the manner of Pasolini’s Salo. I’d certainly pay to see that. But I guess the biggest torture in their world would be to go through two successive scenes wearing the same costumes. Anyway, it sounds like the movie would at least inspire a happy “decline of Western civilization” diatribe, but then, so does staring at the ceiling and thinking of what life has in store for half those puppies.


This is a documentary about four babies growing up in disparate parts of the world. I saw the trailer and it made me want to stick my head into the toilet. True, my paternal instincts may be grievously underdeveloped. Or maybe they’re just distorted, because I can’t say with certainty that I’d be so dismissive of a related project called Puppies.


Well, you know, Saturday Night Live did seem generally funnier this year, although when it bombed, as in the January Jones episode, it really bombed. But Blake Lively, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who knew? Of course I didn’t go to this spin-off though. No one would have gone to see this. If you went to see this, you probably found yourself spiritually blown to smithereens within thirty seconds, and yet somehow kept going, and then over and over, in ever-fading simulacra of yourself.

Robin Hood

I’m obviously getting old, because before this came out I would have said Kevin Costner just recently covered this territory. And then you look it up and it turns out it was almost twenty years ago. Strangely though, something about the idea of Russell Crowe in the role makes the new movie feel instantly older than the predecessor. I guess there’s this notion now that every generation needs its own Sherlock Holmes flick, or its own Alice In Wonderland, or whatever, but I thought the idea was to make the material seem younger and more modern, not heavier and stodgier. There was a time when Ridley Scott embodied a certain glossy classiness (Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise), but now that he churns out a movie a year and affects this battlefield supremo shtick, it’s obvious he barely cares about the stuff himself. We’d have to be idiots, truly, not to take his pictures in the spirit in which they’re offered, thereby confidently ignoring them.

Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time

We actually used to own this game, way back at the dawn of the home computer age. At the time I thought it was very pretty to look at and conceptually appealing, but I have no gaming skills, so never got beyond the first few levels. I don’t know how long ago that was, but basing a movie on it now seems only slightly less topical than trying to capitalize on the hula-hoop craze. And the very fact of being associated with this material instantly makes Jake Gyllenhaal feel almost as outdated as Russell Crowe.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Possibly I would have seen this if I’d been in a different mood. The material is obviously in the spotlight right now, and the movie got reasonable reviews, but they mostly sounded like the kind of lazily positive review you give something when you suspect you should be writing more critically, but it feels like too much work, with little glory attached (not like the visibility you can attract by going medieval on Sex And The City 2), so you just run with the pack. I know I should be an advocate for seeing films on the big screen, but the bigger part of me says we’re nearly all in debt and need to save more money for our futures, so losing the cinematic purism is as good a place as any to begin. In other words, this is the emblematic wait-for-cable movie.

Harry Brown

Well, actually I did see this. I wouldn’t have, but my parents were visiting and it was just about the only thing we could agree on. Michael Caine plays an ex-Marine who can’t take his squalid London surroundings anymore and starts killing off the scummy local drug dealers. The movie goes out of its way to establish just how scummy these individuals are, and at various points I was squirming on my parents’ behalf, worrying it was all causing them physical pain. See, you just never get past that kind of thing. As it turned out, they minded much less than I did: the gritty patina and Caine’s undoubted dignity made it all seem socially meaningful and instructive, and they enjoyed it. I was so relieved by this, I barely cared about my own opinion of the film. But now they’ve gone home, I can admit I found it trashy and silly, with no social value whatsoever. So to preserve my credibility, I think I’ll categorize this too as something I didn’t see.

Coming in the future, my reviews of a bunch of movies that haven’t even been made yet! And I’ll tell you now, it’s not a pretty selection…

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