Saturday, November 13, 2010

Puppy Love

There's something about my professor sitting on his desk, cross-legged, with one hang in the air making some point about Shaft as a revolutionary act that gets me all hot and bothered. I've always had a thing for intellectuals, with their dark-rimmed glasses and fitted jeans. I guess if they like me, that somehow proves I'm interesting too. But that's just my shrink talking. As if people say 'shrink' anymore! I should talk to my therapist about this.

But there he is, his Dead Poets enthusiasm flailing about in front of a room of adoring students. Be still, my beating heart!

I don't know what it is about this curriculum that draws me in. Movies about oppressed black people? Sign me up! It's like I've adopted a portion of white guilt for my very own. So here I sit, dissecting the racial implications of West Side Story, swooning over this effete professor who barely acknowledges my existence. The room is full of cute girls with cute outfits and cute demeanors, and I'm sitting in the back with my unkempt hair, wrinkled clothes, and last night's makeup. I must be delusional.

Yet everytime he writes an approving note on my paper, I know I'll be taking another class with him next semester. Because that's what we do. We sit in the back, and we swoon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Videodrome: "Long live the new flesh"

Maybe I'm just really behind, but I just saw Videodrome for the first time and I did not get it. It felt like the first time I read Kerouac: am I just not cool enough? Is there something I'm missing? Roger Ebert described it as the most unpleasant movie he had ever seen, so should I take solace in the fact that I'm not alone? There's just something about a rotting vagina in the middle of someones stomach and a fleshy handgun that looks like the ugliest penis I've ever seen that makes this film a real turnoff.

There are things I find really fascinating, like the fact that some kind of sexual connection develops between people and their televisions, and it's a really prescient concept considering how addicted we as a culture are to reality television and over-stimulation. Now rather than just being, pardon me, fucked by our televisions, we're fucked by our cell phones and Internet access. But the film was just so bizarre, that I know I would need another ten viewings just to begin to grasp its messages. Maybe I just don't like to be made to feel like an idiot. Like Shirley said a couple of weeks ago on Community, "Some of us have to go to work in the morning. damn."

But I don't have to go to work. I have to go to my film theory class and sit there silently while everyone else brings up Marshall McLuhan and the effects of video on the culture. And I'll be the only one still hung up on the chest-vagina, wondering if I missed something in the reading, trying to figure out why they get it and I don't. So thanks a lot, Mr. Cronenberg. You've made a nice girl from the suburbs feel lousy over your "medium is the message" nonsense. Ebert and I'll just keep hissing from the back of the theatre.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Immaculate 'Inception'

I must admit, I went into Christopher Nolan's (The Dark Knight, Memento) new movie, Inception, assuming I was going to love it. And even after the theatre lost the sound, turned the house lights on, and took 30 minutes to re-start the movie, I still found it breathtaking. Nolan has been working on the script for Inception for the last decade, and trust me, it shows. He takes something as complicated and ephemeral as a dream and makes it concrete, almost understandable, and a shared experience. Something like the feeling of falling during sleep becomes a base everyone can touch on that helps bring us further into a world where hijacking thoughts is altogether possible.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays a mind thief, working in the field of corporate espionage, and he is hired for the obligatory 'one last job.' However, Nolan takes familiar premises and turns them into new and spectacular feat of filmmaking within the heist framework. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the very capable sidekick, but Ellen Page wows as the newcomer who is taking a crash-course in dream burglary. Page is the audience stand-in, trying to work out in her mind what mind thieves do and how it all works, while figuring out what is behind DiCaprio's wounded backstory. The actors are as believable as the brilliant backdrops Nolan creates in this mindbending caper.

In a season that is full of 3D trainwrecks, this 2D film feels more real than any Titans in Persian Wonderland. The layered worlds come to life and pop out of the screen and into our realities with seemless CG effects and actors that move smoothly in and out of countless locales. Gordon-Levitt is somehow believable in the scene peddled in the trailers where he fights his way through a rotating hallway, and Page deconstructs her reality with booming curiosity.

Without giving too much away, Cotillard should get an Oscar nod for her role as DiCaprio's love interest, and although some reviewers (I'm talking to you, EW!) think that his traditional values ring false, he makes the love of a husband and father sincere - which in this day and age of movies, is hard to do. Anyway, go see Inception! The first screening possible! Show Hollywood that we still know what good movies are, and that movies with fight sequences don't have to cast Gerard Butler.