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Being unemployed, I've been reading a lot of books and seeing a lot of movies lately. Luckily for you, dear LJ friends, my life is so boring that I have absolutely no backlog of like, personal revelations to torment you with, although I have had some lovely days with [livejournal.com profile] fuzzz_brain recently, the kind that have been so delightful that in a movie or bestseller, they'd probably be foreshadowing a death via some kind of ironic supernatural fate that could have been avoided had the characters only gotten together halfway through and compared notes on the mysterious events that were occurring. A fate delivered, no doubt, in a dark church vestibule surrounded by the art of the homeless, by a fundamentalist polygamous FLDS cult leader armed with extremely ironic vintage postcards and homoerotic board games. And bacon.

Cut for non-egregious spoilers. The kinds of things that when reviewers say them, make me want to see the movie/read the book more, but bother some people. That is, a few plot points, but not full-on summaries or trick ending reveals or anything.

The reviews of Inglourious Basterds seemed to fall into two camps: a rollicking good time watching Jews kick Nazi ass (which I unabashedly fell into myself -- the only thing that I found morally questionable was that Tarantino never explained the spelling!), or a disturbing ill-thought depiction of human nature that makes you watch Jews kick Nazi ass. In other words, it seemed to me that most reviewers agreed that the means of the movie were trying to achieve a certain end, and just disagreed on whether the means and/or end was worthwhile. Everyone acknowledged the snappy writing, pacing, gorgeous shots, great soundtrack, and so forth. Impressed by Colonel Landa's complex, well-acted character; disappointed by the female parts/acting; etc. But the moment that made this movie for me was near the climax, and I'm surprised that in my unemployed-compulsive-online-article-reading state, I didn't manage to find anyone who brought it up. Hitler sat in a movie theater watching a violent depiction of a "heroic" Nazi soldier who managed to kill hundreds of Allied troops in one go. He watched the violence and laughed. Every member of the real audience who delights in the spectacle of violence (and to those of us who comforted ourselves with the notion that the Nazis had it coming, what about the violence in Tarantino's other movies?) is reacting just like Hitler. It was a very brief metafictional flash of brilliance. I don't think it was an accident; it was a shot Tarantino returned to two or three times.

The Invention of Lying would have been an amazing short film. It had enough genuinely hilarious, disturbing, entertaining, and thought-provoking moments that simply stringing them together into a faux-documentary would have produced one of the best films of the year. Unfortunately, the romantic comedy angle that gradually but inevitably engulfed everything else was completely ill-thought-out and made me wince. Jennifer Garner's character, incapable of lying, bluntly said that she didn't think Ricky Gervais was a good genetic match for her childbearing needs, and rejected him. Fair enough to say once, but to make that a plot point and convince her that his "fat, snub-nosed" genes were no impediment for true love? Really? I mean, people who look a lot worse than Ricky Gervais (cough, Rush Limbaugh, cough) manage to land shallow, attractive women who coldly calculate that their wealth and fame make up for their lack of physical ("genetic"?) perfection, like, all the time. And they don't even think of their gold-dug spouses as prophets and insightful geniuses! However, the scene in the middle-ish where Gervais delivers commandments on pizza boxes to a skeptical crowd made the entirety of the movie worth it, and there were some delightful cameos - Martin Starr was my favorite.

Under the Dome was supposedly "vintage Stephen King," a book that was well-paced, interesting, chock full of memorable characters, that suffered only from his characteristic ending problems. Well, I had such a counterintuitive reaction completely at odds with everything I'd heard about it that I'm starting to wonder: maybe I'm just not a Stephen King fan anymore! Is my fondness for The Stand, say, merely that of nostalgia for having read it at a young, impressionable age, and if I were to try to read it for the first time today, would I find it terribly written and moralistic and misanthropic? My big problem lately is with how he portrays women. Almost universally, they are fat, lumbering oafs with fewer brain cells than the blue-collar bullies that he also has a penchant for writing about. Look, dude, I'm sorry that you were bullied as a child and married a fat chick. Stop taking it out on your readers. Especially this reader who, I'll admit, bears a closer resemblance to Tabitha King than she did upon first consuming his earlier books. Basically, in a completely unoriginal observation, this book is a sci-fi-ish riff on the plot of the Simpsons Movie. I wanted all the characters to die like bugs in a jar. Conveniently, they did, yet watching their corpses litter the pages brought me no joy. Yet, unlike the other fans who haven't seemed to fall out of love with him yet, I actually found this to be one of his faster-paced, more fitting, and more thoughtful endings that actually managed to tie everything together better than the ending I had in my head. First time for everything!
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