Monday, February 21, 2011

Movie Potpourri I

These are the movies I liked:

True Grit:  I agree with Half Sigma that this is the best Western ever.  But regarding Hailee Steinfeld’s racial background, I initially thought she looked vaguely American Indian, but I later attributed that to the long braided hair.  Also, I never would have believed that Hailee Steinfeld was thirteen until I looked it up.  Now that I know she is a minor, I’m just going to, um, leave it at that.

Also, I had seen the John Wayne movie as a child, although I didn’t remember it until Jeff Bridges said the line, “You do what you think is best, Ned.”  It was a lot funnier when John Wayne said it.

Secretariat:  Penny Tweedy [Diane Lane]:

I’ve been through the stud books, Jack.  Bold Ruler – that’s the sire – he was fast, but he couldn’t last over distances.  Now the two dams are Hasty Matilda and Something Royal.  Hasty Matilda is eight years old.  She’s still young, and since brood mares tend to produce their best offspring while they’re young, that makes her foal the obvious choice since Something Royal is 17.  But her grandsire was Prince Quillo, he had great stamina, Jack.  Do you know what that means?

Meanwhile, nothing has been heard from Malcolm Gladwell.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the WorldTrumwill wrote the authoritative review.  But I want to remark on the absurdity of the protagonist deciding to dump his pretty, devoted, virgin, Asian girlfriend so he can make a play for a weird-looking carousel rider that, frankly, isn’t giving him much in the way of encouragement.  Please tell me that even indie musicians wouldn’t be that self-destructive.  Right?

The Girl Next Door:  Escapist nerd fantasy about a high school senior who’s pure love for the porn starlet next door redeems her from her life of sin, as she redeems him from his life of solitude.  I get it.  Nothing in the movie makes much sense, but so what?

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs:  Animated escapism about a nerdy young scientist  who saves the day and gets the girl.

The Kite Runner:  The heartfelt saga of a young refugee from Afghanistan who must return as an adult to rescue the son of his childhood friend from the clutches of the Taliban.  Sadly, it gets its central premise wrong:  as I have remarked before, it is Karzai’s government that turns an indifferent eye to pederasty, while the Taliban vigorously suppressed it.

Miss March:  If you can swallow the prospect of Hugh Hefner holding forth on the importance of true love (and, I should add, a middling amount of gross-out humor), then this movie about a young man,  wakened from a four-year coma to learn that his erstwhile girlfriend has become a Centerfold, is actually sweet and touching.

Tangled:  It’s been a while since I enjoyed a Disney animated musical quite this much.  Perhaps it doesn’t equal their ‘89 – ‘94 output, but this movie was nonetheless competently executed, especially the scene-stealing non-speaking characters (the horse and the chameleon).  However. . . I have to remark on the story arc:  a young girl rebels against the authority of her mother-figure by running off with a man, who happens to be a dashing criminal.  Really?

Knight and Day:  Girl ignores earnest overtures from fireman/beta provider type to run off with rouge super-agent . . . wait a second, I’m starting to notice a pattern here . . . .  Okay, never mind, this was a fun romp of a romantic comedy cum action-adventure.  Cameron Diaz is still smokin’ at 39, and Tom Cruise, while starting to show his age, is a lot better actor than he ever seems to get credit for.

Speaking of Tom Cruise, when was it exactly that popular opinion decided Top Gun was the punch-line to a fag joke?  Back in ‘86, that movie defined military aviation for a generation of AFROTC cadets.  Yet now, all everybody talks about is the “shower scene”.


Anonymous said...

Re: Scott Pilgrim

I might agree with you on that point if she weren't still in high school. For a variety of reasons, it wasn't a real relationship. He didn't leave something for nothing so much as he left a fake something for a possible something.

Dr. Φ said...

Well, I'd pick the word "embryonic" or "unconsummated" over "fake", unless your point is that Asian girl will soon realize that she really is out of Scott's league. But she might not; after all, 13 years in, Mrs. Phi still hasn't figured it out. :-)

Elusive Wapiti said...

"Back in ‘86, that movie defined military aviation for a generation of AFROTC cadets. "

Not that I didn't enjoy Top Gun, but it really was the only game in town until Transformers came along. I mean, the AF had to settle for Iron Eagle. And don't get me started on Firebirds.

Also, I'd like to converse with you offline. Do you have an email address you're willing to share?

Dr. Φ said...

EW: My email address is phi dot delenda at gmail dot com. I thought it was part of my Blogger profile . . .

Yeah, Iron Eagle were pretty bad. But I never considered Transformers a movie about the military in the way that Top Gun was.

Anonymous said...

The issue for me isn't that they haven't had sex, but rather that with him having been independent for a few years and her still in high school, they're at very different points in the development curve. You're in a sort of holding tank where you have to wait for her to become who she is going to become, while he is much further on his way there.

When I was his age, I dated someone her age (with her parents' blessing, no less). Despite the fact we were both in school, we inhabited different worlds. It was impossible to reconcile. I would imagine that there are cases where it can be reconciled, but Knives does not strike me as an exception to the rule.

The main reason for Scott to hold on is the hope that he might be "gaming the system" (winning the devotion of someone better than he is). That's every bit the gamble that Ramona was. Moreso.

Of course, if I were Scott's friend I would probably be warning him off both and suggesting that being single and waiting for something more right is something worth considering.

It would be wise counsel from a hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Tom Cruise, when was it exactly that popular opinion decided Top Gun was the punch-line to a fag joke?

This paralleled the rise of self-loathing, masculinity-hating, anti-Western losers who also read homoeroticism into LOTR. Top Gun kicks ass; it belongs on Hollywood's Top 30 List (at least), and none of the authentic men whom I know would even think to interpret it as anything but testosterone-fueled jet fighter awesomeness.

"I’m not saying that women won’t enjoy Top Gun, but seriously, the Japanese translation of the film's title might as well be 'Super Macho Plane Adventure."

Dr. Φ said...

Trumwill: I see your point about the different worlds problem, and of course different maturity levels would be an issue in most real life situations. But these didn't seem to be issues in the context of the movie. Knives seemed to be happy entering into Scott's world; Scott, for his part, nowhere exhibited an excess of maturity.

Samson: Sadly, the anti-top gun meme has spread well beyond it's source as you describe it.

Anonymous said...

There was a terrible movie that came out in the mid '90s that had a long party scene in which Quentin Tarantino, in one of his stellar acting gigs, deconstructed Top Gun's homoeroticism. It ended with the "You can ride my tail anytime" line.

If I remember correctly, it was purposely moronic, but the roots seem to have taken hold at least a decade ago on that silly meme.

Anonymous said...

Samson: Sadly, the anti-top gun meme has spread well beyond it's source as you describe it.

I guess I hang out with the wrong (right) crowd. Plus I don't consume any pop culture made past 1991.

Anyway, I have said this before in other venues, and will continue to say: Reading "homoeroticism" into culture where it doesn't exist is a terrible symptom of modern decline. Only a decadent society is unable to understand that men can form close bonds of companionship without homosexual overtones.