Monday, July 28, 2008

2008 - The Summer Where My Cinematic Cynicism Melted

Your age is most likely going to affect your judgment of the crop of summer movies. I'm 34 - and for a good portion of this decade, I thought the crop of summer movies were absolute crap with the exception of one or two decent crowd pleasers (see Spiderman 2, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). For me, each crop of summer movies had to measure up against two years in summer movie yore: 1984 and 1989. 1984 gave us Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Gremlins. 1989 gave us Batman (which nearly all summer blockbusters since then have attempted to replicate in terms of crass marketing), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Lethal Weapon 2. OK, Temple of Doom sucked, but as a fourth grader, the heart-ripping scene was totally badass.

Years change, tastes become more refined and cynicism serves as a great bullshit detector when the big blockbusters come rolling out and asking you for $8.50 plus another $10 for a small soda and a small popcorn. But this year is different. It's like what 1967 or 1977 was for music. Folks - we are currently experiencing the greatest crop of summer movies...ever. And audiences deserve nearly as much praise as the filmmakers and actors.

It started off with Iron Man - a hugely entertaining movie where the director went for talent rather than popularity or "big name draw" for a leading role.

Then came Wall-E. Even if you didn't care for the not so subtle "big business bad - sincerely Pixar - partially owned by Disney" message, it was a marvel to look at and in a time where everyone is saying kids are suffering from rampant ADD - having a movie that was virtually dialogue free for nearly 45 minutes is a feat worth celebrating.

Then Batman came - and Jesus - did it come with a vengeance. It looks like it's going to breeze by the ghastly Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and the just as bad Shrek 2 for box office gross.

So, we have three great movies, but even the lesser ones have been great. Hellboy 2 was stellar. And regardless of what your opinions of the series are, Sex in the City was no better or worse than an average episode, which is usually funnier than most comedies out there.

The only real piece of cinematic trash that cleaned up was Indiana Jones, proving that you can still market a movie that absolutely no one likes to $300 mill.

Audiences have more to look forward to. Barring a major disappointment, Pineapple Express looks like a sure lock for best comedy of the summer. And if it's written as well as previous Apatow projects, it'll mean four blockbusters that didn't stoop to the usual dumbness (e.g. fart jokes and gay jokes) of most comedies.

Just as surprising as the quality, audiences have stepped up as well, kicking well deserved turkeys like The Love Guru and Speed Racer to the curb.

Most summers, you'd be lucky to get a film with the quality of an Iron Man or definitely one Dark Knight. This year, we've had about four. Enjoy this year folks - chances are you won't see another crop like this for a good 20 or so odd years.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Jesse Jackson - Dumbass of the week

I'm still trying to wrap my head around this.
You were one of the instrumental movers in the Civil Rights movement. You were a presidential contender.

And someone - you thought if you were utter that you'd like to cut Barack Obama's nuts off on FOX NEWS - even with the mike off - the people at FOX would not hear that and jump all over that statement.

Brilliant -


Monday, July 07, 2008

Jesse Helms

I guess I abide to that typical adage that you shouldn't speak ill of the dead. So...Jesse Helms is dead. That's it -

No, wait -
I guess I should credit Helms for at least alerting me of my sexuality. I remember watching his rants against Robert Mapplethorpe and "sick homosexuals" "when I was a teenager. Of course, I scoffed at the images of a cross soaked in urine and a bullwhip up someone's ass - but when Helms made his remarks about gays - it cut. I winced, not knowing really why as I was still trying to get girls to go out with me.

But it's not just gays that Helms targeted. Throughout much of his career, his deftly dodged his bigotedness. Running an ad where a pair of white hands crumple a rejection letter because he lost his job to "a minority." He joked that he was going to make Carol Mosley Braun, the first African American woman elected to the Senate "I'm going to sing 'Dixie' until she cries."

Republican reaction has been mixed. Senator McCain had probably the best response of the high-profile lot: "At this time, let us remember a life dedicated to serving this nation."

The further right on the Republican spectrum, the more glowing the obits. George W. Bush said "Throughout his long public career, Senator Jesse Helms was a tireless advocate for the people of North Carolina, a stalwart defender of limited government and free enterprise, a fearless defender of a culture of life, and an unwavering champion of those struggling for liberty." Well...excluding those pinko Communist civil rights advocates of the '60s.

Right-wing gasbag Rush Limbaugh, high off of his own cover story in the New York Times magazine, had the stones to compare Helms to Lincoln and Adams. Why? Because he spoke his mind and didn't back down from what he believed was true. If you're a bigoted homophobe, should that trait of stubbornness really be celebrated? I've been to enough funerals for people who just plain weren't good people. Some abused their kids. Some were racists. Some were simply assholes. All shared the same phrase at the funeral: "At least you know where you stood with ." I would put Helms in that category.