8 Films That Should Never Have Been Nominated For Best Picture


Sometimes, the Academy gets it wrong.

For instance, these 8 films have two things in common:

  1. They were all nominated for best picture.
  2. They shouldn’t have been.

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  1. American Beauty (1999)

Shallow, pretentious, and more than a little misogynistic, American Beauty was somehow not only nominated but won as well.

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2. Crash (2005)

Oh my God.  How the Hell did this mess of a movie win?

 

3. Avatar (2009)

Yawn.  I’ve written at length about my dislike for this film so I’m not going to waste too much more space on it.  It would be nice if James Cameron was capable of writing dialogue that didn’t sound like something that would get a failing grade in a high school creative writing class.

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4. The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Acclaimed when first released, The Kids Are All Right was forgotten fairly quickly.  When seen today, it comes across like a sitcom version of life among the wealthy and out of touch.  I don’t think any film featuring an organic food restaurant is going to age well.

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5. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

In the wake of 9/11, an extremely annoying brat bothers random people in New York.  One of the worst films ever.

The Descendants

6. The Descendants (2011)

Alexander Payne’s comedy of tragedy and infidelity isn’t terrible but it wasn’t that great either.

7. Birdman (2014)

While it’s nice that Michael Keaton made a comeback, this is still one of the most overrated films of all time.  Will anyone care about Birdman in ten more years?

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8. The Big Short (2015)

The worst thing about the economic crash?  It gave us a movie like The Big Short.

Let’s Second Guess The Academy: Best Picture 2009


An Education

Back in 2011, I experimented with something that I like to call “Let’s second guess the Academy.”  Basically, we take a look at past Oscar contestants and we ask ourselves if 1) the Academy made the right choice and 2) what else would we have nominated if we had all the power.  It was always a lot of fun (and occasionally surprising) to see which films ended up getting the most love in hindsight.

So, I figured why not revive the tradition by considering the race for best picture of 2009.  This was the first contest, since the 1943, to feature 10 nominees.  At the time, most critics felt that the race was between Avatar and The Hurt Locker.  Personally, as happy as I was to see a woman finally win best director, I thought The Hurt Locker was overrated and I hated Avatar.  Which of the 10 nominated films would I have voted for?  Well, as much as I loved both District 9 and A Serious Man, I would have voted for An Education.  How about you?

Now, here comes the fun part.  Let’s say that James Cameron never made Avatar.  Let’s say that An Education never made it over from the UK.  And maybe The Hurt Locker never got a distributor and just remained an independent film that occasionally popped up on the program at various film festivals.  In other words, let’s say that none of the 10 best picture nominees for 2009 had been available to be nominated.  Which ten films would have nominated in their place?

You can vote for up to 10 of the films listed below and yes, we do accept write-ins!

Personally, I voted for: Adventureland, The Girlfriend Experience, Moon, (500) Days of Summer, The Informant!, Bright Star, Where The Wild Things Are, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, and Me And Orson Welles.

Happy voting!

 

 

6 Trailers for Valentine’s Day Weekend


Happy St. Valentine's Day

I’m running a little bit late on getting this Valentine’s weekend edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Trailers up and running and for that, I apologize.  Last night, around midnight, I found myself at Target waiting for them to start selling the latest Twilight movie…well, let’s just not go into it, okay?  Instead, here’s 6 trailers for your Valentine’s weekend.

1) Valentine (2001)

Oh.  My.  God.  This is such a bad movie!  Seriously terrible.  However, it is Valentine’s Day weekend…

2) My Bloody Valentine (1981)

The original. 

3) My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)

The remake, which is a lot better than Avatar.

4) Emmanuelle (1974)

Valentine’s weekend is all about either celebrating romance or being alone and bitter.  I’ve been told that Emmanuelle can be used for both of those purposes.  “This movie will be shown only in special theaters.”

5) Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977)

Not surprisingly, Italian director Joe D’Amato put his own individual spin on Emmanuelle (or Emanuelle as he spelled it, in order to get around copyright laws).  This is probably one of the more explicit trailers I’ve ever posted so keep that in mind before you watch it. 

6) Superfly (1972)

This trailer isn’t connected to Valentine’s Day at all but it’s got a lot of style.

Finally, let me just say, regardless of whether you’re in love, in lust, or mired in lonely bitterness, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Film Review: Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (dir. by Nicholas Webster)


As our longtime readers may have noticed, I’m running behind on getting my weekly exploitation and grindhouse trailer post together.  I apologize for the delay and this week’s post should be up either tomorrow or on Monday.  However, until I finally manage to get my act together, why not enjoy a classic holiday film that just happens to be in the public domain?

You may think that you know everything about Santa but did you know that he’s also a super hero who is capable of interstellar conquest?  Did you know that he’s not only needed on Earth but on Mars as well? Did you know that apparently some people known him as “Santy Claus?”  And most importantly, did you know that Santa is actually kind of a creepy old man whose trademark laugh can actually sound quite disturbing in certain circumstances?

Okay, maybe that’s not true about the actual Santa Claus.  But it’s certainly true about the Santa Claus who turns up in the 1964 film Santa Claus Conquers The Martians.  This film, an obvious labor of love from director Nicholas Webster, presents us with a universe where the children of Mars are so stricken with ennui that the King of Mars has no choice but to go down to Earth and kidnap Santa.  Santa, however, manages to conquer those Martians while bringing holiday goodness and cheer to children all over the universe.  Santa, by the way, is played by John Call and … well, it’s a performance that has to be seen.

In fact, Santa Claus Conquers The Martians itself is a film that simply must be seen.  Everything from the cardboard robot to the cardboard South Pole to the cardboard cast to the painfully catchy theme song “Hooray for Santy Claus” simply demands that you watch this film at least once.  Santa Claus Conquers The Martians has earned its reputation for being one of the worst films ever made but you know what?  It’s also a lot of fun and it’s still better than Avatar.

Seriously, Avatar sucks.

So, please, sit back with your computer and enjoy Santa Claus Conquers The Martians.  Hopefully, next year at this time, it will be rereleased in 3-D.  And, if you’ve seen this film before, you know what the means.  That’s right — Dropo right in your face!

A Quickie Horror Review: Planet of the Vampires (dir. by Mario Bava)


Later tonight, I’m going to watch Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath but before I do, I want to take a few minutes to review another one of Bava’s films, 1965’s sci-fi/horror hybrid Planet of the Vampires.

Taking place in the far future, Planet of the Vampires begins with two space ships receiving a distress call from an unexplored planet.  While landing, the two ships are separated from each other.  As the Argos lands, its crew is possessed by an unknown force and suddenly start trying to kill each other.  Only the ship’s captain (Barry Sullivan, who gives a surprisingly good performance in a role that most actors would have just sleepwalked through) is able to resist and he manages to snap the rest of the crew out of their hypnotic state. 

Once the Argos lands, search parties are sent out to find the other ship.  They find themselves on a barren planet where the surface is obscured by a thick, multi-colored fog.  As they wander through the planet, it quickly becomes apparent that they aren’t alone.  The searchers may have left the ship as human but they return as something else all together.  It all leads up to a surprisingly bleak conclusion.

If the plot of Planet of the Vampires sounds familiar, that’s because it’s probably one of the most influential, if not widely known, films of all time.   The film has been imitated in several other, far more expensive films but few of them manage to capture Planet of the Vampires’ sense of isolation and impending doom.  With this film, Bava again showed that he was one of the few directors wh0 could accomplish so much with so little.  While this isn’t an actor’s film, fans of Italian horror will squeal with delight to see Ivan Rassimov pop up here in a small role.

I’ve mentioned Planet of the Vampires before on this site when I was giving 10 reasons why I hated AvatarTo me, Planet of the Vampires stands as proof that you don’t need a gigantic budget to make an effective horror (or sci-fi film).  In fact, often times, all a huge budget does is shut down the audience’s imagination and quite frankly, nothing on film will ever be as impressive as what the audience can imagine.  With Planet of the Vampires, all that Mario Bava had to create an alien world were two plastic rocks and a smoke machine.  Working without the crutch of CGI, Bava had to pull off most of the film’s special effects “in camera,” and he would later say that one of the benefits of all that smoke was that it helped to obscure just how low budget this film was.  In short, Bava was working under circumstances that James Cameron would refuse to even consider and yet Planet of the Vampires holds up better upon repeat viewings than Avatar ever will.  The low-budget forced Bava to emphasize atmosphere over effects.  Yes, this film has its share of gore (it’s an Italian horror film, after all) but ultimately, this is another example of a horror film that works because of what it doesn’t show.  This is a film that exploits your imagination, working its way into the darker corners of your consciousness.  Bava creates a palpable atmosphere of doom that makes Planet of the Vampires into a surprisingly effective film.

20 Cinematic Moments That Will Define 2010 For Me


Every year, there’s a handful of film scenes that come to define the entire year for us.  At their best, these scenes can leave such an impression that they become a part of our shared history.  For some people (though not me), 2009 will always be the year of Avatar.  Meanwhile, for me (but not others), 2010 will always be the year I realized it was okay to admit how much I love to dance.  Listed below are 20 of the many film moments that I will remember whenever I look back on this current year.

20) Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield discover what really happened to all of their childhood artwork in Never Let Me Go.

Permeated with an atmosphere of nonstop melancholy, Never Let Me Go never quite found the audience is deserved but I think it’s one of the best films of 2010 and the scene mentioned above is one of the reasons why.

19) Scott Pilgrim says, “Oh cool, coins!” in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.

And Lisa Marie suddenly realizes that she has fallen in love with a movie.

18) Keifer Sutherland says, “Tap that ass” in Twelve.

Truth be told, I don’t even remember what was happening on-screen.  I just remember Keifer, as the film’s narrator, saying “Tap that ass” in that sexy, nicotine-fueld growl of his and thinking to myself, “Well, okay…”

17) Jake Gyllenhaal chases down a bus full of dying old people in Love and Other Drugs.

Yes, the old people desperately need to get up to Canada so they can get their prescriptions filled but unfortunately for them, Anne Hathaway happens to be on the bus as well and Jake — apparently realizing that he’ll never get to see her breasts again if they break up — chases the bus down in his Porsche so he can reconcile with her.  And, of course, the old people are just so adorably excited at the idea of a 15-minute delay while these two deeply damaged characters stand outside and talk about their relationship.  I mean, fuck it — who cares about getting these people their medicine when there’s a disposable pop tune playing in the background and Jake wants to talk to his ex-girlfriend?  In so many ways, this scene represents everything I hate about mainstream filmmaking.

16) Joseph Gordon-Levitt flies through the corridors of a dream hotel in Inception.

Inception was a film full of amazing images but my personal favorite was perhaps the simplest — Joseph Gordon-Levitt (looking rather adorable in his dark suit) floating down those Argentoesque hallways while trying to figure out how to wake everyone up.

15) Jacki Weaver delivers the line of the year in Animal Kingdom.

“And you’ve done some bad things, sweetie.”

14)  John Hawkes “talks” his way out of a traffic stop in Winter’s Bone.

While Winter’s Bone should rightfully make Jennifer Lawrence a star, John Hawkes also contributed some of the film’s best moments.

13) Patrick Fabian slips a recipe into his sermon in The Last Exorcism.

Cast as a modern-day Marjoe Gortner in this underappreciated film, Fabian gives one of the best performances of the year, if not the best.

12) Chloe Grace Moretz saves Kick-Ass from the mafia in Kick-Ass.

As far as women kicking ass was concerned, 2010 was a good year.  Sure, the majority of cinematic female portraits were — as always — sexist to the extreme but there were a few rays of hope.  Angelina Jolie in Salt, Noomi Rapace in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo films, Mila Jovovich in Resident Evil — all were among the women who got to do something more than just look pretty while the boys saved the day.  Seeing as how I’m honoring Rapace further down the list, I’m going to allow Chloe Grace Moretz (in the role of Hit Girl) to serve as a stand-in here for every single woman who was allowed to kick a little ass in 2010.

11) Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg walks down the streets of Lowell at the beginning of The Fighter.

Seriously, this entire sequence — set to Heavy’s How You Like Me Now? (or “The Sock Monkey Song” as I call it) — could be a short film in itself.  Call it: “Men and why we love them.”

10) Colin Firth fearfully waits to give a speech at the start of The King’s Speech.

One look at Firth’s terrified eyes and I was in tears.  From that minute on, this unexpected gem of a film had me.

9) Jennifer Lawrence fishes for her dad’s hand in Winter’s Bone.

Southern gothic at its best!

8) James Franco is rescued by a purifying storm in 127 Hours.

Helpless and hopeless, Franco is suddenly freed by a sudden storm.  Both Franco and director Danny Boyle handle this scene with such skill that the audience finds itself just as saddened as Franco when it all turns out to be a hallucination.

7) Katie Jarvis dances in an abandoned apartment and finds a momentary glimmer of hope in Fish Tank.

Between this movie and Black Swan, 2010 was the year that reminded me of just how much I love to dance and why.  2010 is the year that I realized it was okay for me to love to dance again.

6) Andy gives away his toys at the end of Toy Story 3.

And Lisa Marie cries and cries.

5) Lisbeth Salander (played by Noomi Rapace) gives her abusive guardian a tattoo in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

For any and every girl who has ever been used, abused, hurt, spoken down to, insulted, manipulated, or betrayed by someone who claimed to only be looking after her best interests, this scene was truly cathartic.  When I say that Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth will be iconic, it’s largely because of scenes like this.  In that one scene, Lisbeth is established as a woman who will never be victimized and it gives hope any for those of us who don’t have dragon tattoos. 

4) Footage from Theirry’s completed “documentary” is revealed in Exit Through The Gift Shop.

And the audience is  suddenly forced to question just how much of anything they’ve seen is the truth.

3) The spinning top wobbles at the end of Inception.

Or does it?

2) Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman to win the Oscar for best director while her ex-husband glowers in silence.

I wasn’t a huge fan of The Hurt Locker but I still squealed with delight as Kathryn Bigelow accepted the award that should have gone to Sofia Coppola back in 2004.  Not only did Bigelow make history but she did it by beating her soulless jerk of an ex-husband, James Cameron.  And then she gave one of the best acceptance speeches in Oscar history, all the while looking about 20 years younger than she actually is.  In short, Kathryn Bigelow showed every Oscar winner — past, present, and future — exactly how it’s done.

1) The final fifteen minutes of Black Swan

In 15 minutes, Darren Aronofsky reminded me of how much I love ballet and audiences of why we love movies in the first place.

The National Board Of Review: I Give Up!


The rather enigmatic National Board of Review announced their selections for the best films of 2010 today.  The NBR is traditionally considered to be the first precursor to how the actual Oscar race will shape up.  Typically, those honored by the NBR are, at the very least, nominated by the Academy.  Strangely, nobody seems to be sure just who exactly makes up the membership of the NBR.  As far as I can tell, it appears to be a collection of film professors and cable tv executives.  It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that the NBR is actually some sort of Illuminati conspiracy or MK-Ultra experiment designed to keep American filmgoers from thinking for themselves.

Anyway, as I look over this year’s award winners, all I can say is that I give up.  If my reaction to Avatar indicated to me that I’m totally out-of-step with mainstream opinion, then the current Pavlovian acclaim of the Social Network proves it.  I will never be a part of the mainstream and it’s not by choice.  It’s just I am apparently thoroughly incapable of understanding how the mainstream brain works. 

So, that’s what the National Board of Review taught me today.  I am destined to always be alone, railing against the dying of the light.  Thank you for the insight, assholes.

Anyway, here’s this year’s award winners:

Best Picture: The Social Network (Don’t get me wrong, the Social Network is a good movie.  It’s just not that good.) 

Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network

Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network (I am so sick of hearing that this is Jesse’s “breakthrough” role.  Jesse’s breakthrough was in Adventureland, long before the mainstream ever decided to embrace him.)

Best Actress: Lesley Manville, Another Year (Haven’t seen it yet)

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter (Another movie that I will see when it opens later this month.  Still, Bale should have been nominated for American Psycho back in the day.)

Best Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom (Yay!  This award gives me hope.)

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3 (yay!)

Best Documentary: Waiting For Superman (Yes, my favorite movie of the year —Exit Through The Gift Shop — was totally ignored.)

Best Ensemble Cast: The Town (Bleh.  So I guess that would include Jon Hamm, who gave such an amazingly bad performance in this film?)

Breakthrough Performance: Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone (Another yay but you know all the mainstream is going to offer her is a role in a Twilight rip-off and maybe a Maxim cover shoot.)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network (Fuck Aaron Sorkin and his elitist, sexist, technophobic script.)

Best Original Screenplay: Chris Sparling for Buried (which I didn’t see, mostly because I’m claustrophobic and the movie is called Buried.)

Ten Best Films Of The Year (in alphabetical order):

Another Year

The Fighter

Hereafter (which sucked!)

Inception (yay!)

The King’s Speech (I’m actually really looking forward to seeing this)

Shutter Island (kinda bleh but enjoyable)

The Town

Toy Story 3

True Grit (another one I can’t wait to see)

Winter’s Bone (yay!)

Yep, you read that right.  No awards for such presumed favorites as James Franco and 127 Hours, Black Swan, or The Kids Are All Right.  But you better believe they found room to honor a shallow, pandering film like Hereafter.

Finally, here are the Top Ten Independent Films of 2010, according to the toadsuckers at the National Board of Review:

Animal Kingdom (yay!)

Buried (Now I guess I have to see it)

Fish Tank (yay!)

The Ghost Writer (yay — kinda)

Greenberg (bleh)

Let Me In (another kinda yay)

Monsters (shrug)

Please Give (yay!)

Somewhere (going to see it when it opens down here, Sofia Coppola is my role model)

Youth in Revolt (shrug, it’s neither bleh nor yay)

You can read the full list of winners at The Wrap.

Anyway, in order to show just how exactly I feel when confronted with mainstream thought and opinion, here’s an old picture of me with a tampon stuck up my nose.

A Quickie With Lisa Marie: Skyline (dir. by the Brothers Strause)


Skyline, which just opened this weekend, is currently getting almost universally terrible reviews from the nation’s mainstream critics.  The consensus seems to be that the film features impressive special effects but that can’t make up for the predictable storyline, cardboard characters, and bad dialogue. 

(Oddly enough, this is being said by the same critics who, last year around this time, were raving about Avatar.  It’s as if these critics are trying to make up for essentially giving James Cameron a free pass by now nitpicking every single effect-driven movie to death.)

Well, to be honest, a lot of what they’re saying about Skyline is true.  The characters are pretty thinly drawn, the script is pretty basic, and the plot is derivative.  But you could have guessed that just from watching the movie’s trailer.  Skyline is a fun and enjoyable little movie, the type that you’re already forgetting about as you walk out of the theater.

Plotwise, a bunch of rich people get together in L.A.  They party, they drink, and they do things that would make their mother’s cry.  The next morning, Earth is invaded by brain-sucking aliens and our hung-over protagonists, trapped in a luxury hotel, attempt to survive the next three days.  And that’s pretty much it.

The cast is pretty much made up of people you’re used to seeing on TV and most of them give TV-movie-style performances.  They struggle not to be overwhelmed by the special effects but, to be honest, this actually makes the film more effective.  The cast’s struggle to keep up with the special effects neatly parallels humanity’s losing battle against the aliens.  However, for the most part, the cast does what is required of them and they do it well enough.  It is a little bit distracting that a key supporting role is played by Scubs’ Donald Faison because every time I saw him, I kept expecting to hear a Zach Braff inner monologue. 

The film’s nominal lead is played by Eric Balfour, who is actually probably about as appealing as he’s ever been in his role here.  In the past, I’ve always been vocal about “not getting” Eric Balfour but, lately, I’ve been starting to see his appeal.  (And no, my sudden appreciation of Balfour has nothing to do with the fact that I had a kinda fun conversation with him on twitter once — well, okay, maybe a little.)  I think in the past Balfour has been cast in parts where his facial hair was expected to carry the dramatic weight of the role.  In this film, Balfour is actually allowed to play a sort of “everyman” type role and he’s actually very appealing in the role.  Plus, I never noticed this before but Eric Balfour has like literally got the sexiest biceps ever.  They’re at least in the top ten as far as sexy biceps are concerned.  Also in the cast is David Zayas (you’ll recognize him from Dexter) who doesn’t have sexy biceps but is still a totally hot badass in his own mysterious way.  Here he plays a concierge who shows up out-of-nowhere and quickly becomes the coolest character in the film.  He gets to deliver the film’s best one-liner as well.

Ultimately, Skyline is a movie about special effects and it is here that the film triumphs.  Working with a relatively low budget, the filmmakers have managed to create aliens that are not only believable and occasionally scary but kinda fun as well.  These are the type of old-fashioned aliens that have come to Earth with only one purpose in mind and the special effects — the ominous mother ship floating over L.A. and the various things (they appear to be some sort of cross between animal and machine) that patrol the city in search of fresh victims — all have a retro feel to them that is undeniably appealing.

For all the criticism that Skyline has been getting, the really only inexcusable flaw is that the film is basically is 10 minutes too long.  If the final ten minutes (or “Day 3” as the film puts it) had been cut out of the final film, Skyline would probably be getting much less slammed by the reviewers, the majority of whom would probably then be able to see the movie for the silly, campy, and enjoyable little b-movie that it really is.  However, that ending — well, a bad ending can ruin an otherwise decent movie and if you need proof, here it is.  In fact, I suggest that anyone who goes to see Skyline should leave as soon as that title — Day 3 — appears on the screen.  Just stand up and walk out of the theater and allow the end of Day 2 to be the end of the movie.  Trust me, you’ll have much fonder memories of the experience afterward.

A Quickie With Lisa Marie: The Social Network (dir. by David Fincher)


Let’s keep this short.

The Social Network is not, as I originally feared, a terrible film.

At the same time, it’s not, as so many are rabidly insisting, a great film either.

It’s a good film that takes a lot of liberty with the truth and, in the process of telling the “story” about the founding of Facebook, reveals that screenwriter Aaron Sorkin doesn’t really get the whole Internet thing.

David Fincher directs like a man who still can’t believe he didn’t get an Oscar for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  In other words, he doesn’t do anything that might be too far out of the mainstream.  Face it, folks.  The man who directed Fight Club has grown up.  And, as they say, when you grow up, your heart dies.

The main problem with The Social Network is that it is essentially a very mainstream movie being made about a grindhouse topic.  Hackers, like the best grindhouse directors, do what they do because 1) they can and 2) it’s a way of telling the rest of the mainstream world to fuck off.  Unfortunately, both Sorkin and Fincher are members of that mainstream world so instead of celebrating Facebook and the Internet as a revolution, they instead try to convince us that the only reason Facebook exists is because the founder’s heart was broken by his ex-girlfriend.

That ex-girlfriend is portrayed by Rooney Mara, who will be playing Fincher’s version of the girl with the dragon tattoo.  The film presents her as being a shallow bitch but then again, the film presents every woman in the world as being a shallow bitch.  Then again, this is a mainstream movie and the mainstream hates women who actually think for themselves.  Certainly, that’s been the case with everything else that Aaron Sorkin has ever written.

Still, Mara is presented as just being insensitive and not evil or crazy.  If the movie has a villain, it’s Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake) who is presented as being the evil Iago-like figure who ruined Facebook.  If anything, the film mostly seems to hate him because Parker co-founded Napster and therefore cost the mainstream media a good deal of money.

Admittedly, it’s a well-acted movie.  Both Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield are excellent as the soon to be estranged founders of Facebook.  Armie Hammer actually plays two characters — twin brothers — and he creates two unforgettable and unique characters.  Justin Timberlake is a bit less convincing as Sean Parker but then again, by the film’s logic, Parker is less a human being and more a demon sent from Hell to keep David Geffen from getting another few thousand.  Finally, Rooney Mara does what she can with a demeaning and insulting role.  I didn’t see any signs of Lisbeth Salander in her performance but then again, this isn’t a film about strong women.  It’s a movie about weak little boys.

Anyway, to return to my original point, the Social Network is a good film.  It’s well-acted, it looks pretty, the story moves quickly, and Trent Reznor’s score is excellent.  Unfortunately, the movie’s being presented to us as a great film and anyone who disagrees is running the risk of being lynched by the same obnoxious fascists who, last year, demanded that everyone bathe in their own cum while watching Avatar.  The main reason these people are so over-the-moon about this movie is that it’s the epitome of the type of film that pats the viewer on the back for being so smart without actually requiring that viewer to prove it. 

So, if you watch this movie, realize that you keep your mind open at your own risk.

Good luck.

Titanic In Retrospect


Recently, I tried to rewatch an obscure art film from 1997 called Titanic.  From the time I was 12 until I was 16, I watched this movie a lot and, without fail, I cried and cried at the movie’s end.  (Admittedly, it was pretty easy to make me cry back then.)  I decided to rewatch it because I was curious as to whether or not Titanic could still make me cry. 

For those of you who aren’t into art films, here’s a quick synopsis and review of Titanic.

The film’s plot: Bill Paxton and an obnoxious fat guy are held hostage on a submarine by a senile old biddy who insists on telling them the story of how she lost her virginity 98 years ago.

Meanwhile, in London, Leonardo DiCaprio steals some poor kid’s sketch book and then sneaks onto a cruise ship where, pretending to be an artist, he seduces and murders lonely widows. 

Also on the cruise ship is Kate Winslet.  Kate’s engaged to Billy Zane but she’s unhappy about it because — well, there’s some men you fuck and there’s some men you marry and let’s just say that you don’t marry Billy Zane.  Once the boat sets sail, Kate decides to jump overboard.  However, just before she can jump, she’s spotted by Leo.  Leo quickly tosses a burlap sack containing the corpse of Lady Astor into the Atlantic and then rescues Kate.

Kate rewards him by taking him down to her cabin and showing him a painting by Someone Picasso.  (Early on in the film, Billy correctly says that Someone Picasso will never amount to anything and that’s true.  Someone was always overshadowed by his older brother Pablo.)  Leo looks at the painting and says, “Look at what he does with color here.”  As a former Art History major, that line made me smile.  That’s the type of statement that is regularly uttered by people who can’t think of anything else to say.  When a guy looks at a painting and says, “Look at what he does with color here,” what he’s actually saying is, “Look, babe, I went to the damn art museum with you so there better be a blow job in my immediate future.”

Leo has dinner with Billy and Kate.  Leo says, “I’m just a tumbleweed blowing in the wind.”  Over at the next table, a shifty young man named Bob Dylan overhears and thinks, “That would make a good song.  But the little man must die so nobody knows I stole that line from him…”

Anyway, Leo eventually slips Kate a rohypnol, convinces her to pose naked while he secretly tapes her for Youtube, and then proceeds  to have sex with her in the back seat of a car.  Afterward, Kate says, “Do you want to hang out tomorrow?”  Leo replies, “Uhmm…I might be busy.  I’ll call you.”  “My God,” I said as I watched all this, “it’s like reliving my freshman year of college all over again.”

Anyway, 8 more hours pass.  All the rich passengers on the ship do rich things while all the poor passengers get drunk and trash the lower levels of the boat.  Suddenly, without warning, the boat is besieged by the living dead.  Billy Zane insists that they would be safer in the basement.  Leo disagrees while Kate says, “So, you think you can just fuck me and leave!?  No way!”

12 more hours pass.  The living dead manage to rip a hole in the side of the boat.  Billy chases Leo and Kate around the Titanic as it sinks.  “I hope you’ll be very happy together!” he screams.  Meanwhile, up top, two rich guys put on tuxedos and one of them says something like, “We’re going to die like gentlemen.”  Which I guess is what they end up doing though, honestly, it sounds to me like the guy’s just being a smartass.

Eventually, Kate and Leo end up sitting on an iceberg together.  Kate wonders if this is a dream.  Leo proceeds to spin a top on the ice to find out.  Suddenly, Bob Dylan floats by in a rowboat.  “This machine kills fascists!” he shouts as he shoots Leo with a crossbow.  Leo sinks into the water.  Bob Dylan smirks.  “How does it feel to be on your own?” he asks.

The end.

A quick review: I guess the easiest way to review Titanic is to answer my original question.  Does the film still make me, at the age of 24, cry like it did when I was 12?  No, it does not.  To be honest, the only tears that I shed while rewatching Titanic were tears of shame and boredom.  This is the movie that I once thought was the greatest thing ever?  True, I was young and stupid but still…

On the plus side, Kate Winslet gives a good performance even if her character is basically just a sexist male fantasy.  Billy Zane is also a lot of fun as her jilted suitor.

On the negative side, there’s everything else.  The script — written by Someone Cameron — is full of laughably bad lines and plotwise, the film has all the depth of a lanced boil.  The romantic elements of the plot made me cry back when I was 12 because I didn’t have a whole lot of real world experience to compare Titanic’s fantasy against.  Now, at the age of 24, I’ve actually had to deal with my fair share of guys who say actually do make dumbfug statement about things like being a tumbleweed blowing in the wind (not to mention being king of the world).  I’m not saying that a good movie can’t present a romantic idealization of reality.  I’m just saying that a good movie can do that without insulting the viewer’s intelligence like Titanic does.

One last note — Leo DiCaprio has become a great actor.  But, in Titanic, he just comes across like a shrill poseur.

I Learned Something Today Conclusion: Just because you and a million others think that a movie is great today, that doesn’t mean that the movie’s going to be anywhere near as good 12 years later.  In this age of Avatar and the Social Network, that’s a lesson that I think many self-appointed film “gurus” would do well to consider before they throw a hissy fit just because a complete stranger on the Internet disagrees with them.