YOURS, MINE, AND OURS
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
Of course, you have to read these like a sentence for maximum effect.
Anyhoo, I washed the horrible taste of Rob Zombie's abortion out of my head with a couple of fresh flicks. (Hold on reactionaries: The word abortion doesn't always mean killing babies. Stupid.)
Back in July, there was a film that was barely released entitled, "Captivity". It had a very schlocky ad campaign that hearkened back to the huckster days of Celluloid Exhibition. It actually promoted the film solely of how it's billboard ad campaign was banned. As a punishment by the MPAA for releasing an ad campaign without it's approval, it's rating was withheld until just before release. I thought the Ad campaign was ridiculous, yet weirdly fun, but what really caught my eye was the fleeting appearance of Larry Cohen's name as the main credits flashed on the screen in the TV spot.
Larry Cohen, for all of you out of the loop, is a legend in the genre of the fantastic. He wrote and directed many memorable independent films including, "It's Alive", "God Told Me To", "Q", "A Return to Salem's Lot", "The Stuff", "The Ambulance" and a lot of others. He is one of my favorite cinematic storytellers and I really got excited seeing his name in the credits.
Upon doing the ritualistic search for info on the Internet (something I seem to do EVERYTIME a movie that catches my eye is about to be released), I found that the film was directed by none other than Roland Joffe of "The Killing Fields" and "The Mission". My eyebrows were definitely raised by this point.
The icing on the cake, however, was a review on the Pajiba website where the reviewer hated the movie so much due to the misogyny and torture in it that he was calling for a stop to all of these "Torture Porn" movies. As the torches were being lit and the villagers were writing their support to the reviewer about these terrible films and how they should be burned and how horrible it was that studios could let this type of film be released, I wrote a few missives about how this sort of film had been around for some time and I asked if anyone on that board had seen films like, "I Spit on Your Grave", "Last House on Dead End Street" and "Last House on the Left". Not surprisingly, no one responded to my posts either because it would have threatened to destroy their little Witch Hunt or they were just to young to have had any contact with these films. Granted, I hadn't seen "Captivity" yet, but then, neither had anyone else on that board.
Well, time went past and I never got to see it in the theatre like I wanted to. Damn my adulthood. Had I been 10 years younger, I'd have missed a funeral to see that one, but my adult sensibilities were kicking in and I just missed it (the funeral comment was an example, no one died, OK?).
I did keep up with the progress on the film's release however and found that there had been some tampering with the film by it's Distributor, After Dark Films; the studio that did the "8 Films To Die For" promotion earlier this year. As I understand it, "Captivity" was a psychological thriller originally and there was little to no gore or torture in it. After Dark, looking for that quick buck, re-edited the film with new footage and released what exists today.
Long story shorter, I came across the original cut of "Captivity" on a PAL Spanish DVD and I got to see the film before all of the re-edits. My verdict? It's a good, solid thriller. No great shakes, but entertaining. I liked what I saw. It reminded me of seeing one of those obscure International co-productions on HBO in the 80's (...and that's what "Captivity" actually is: an Italian - American co-production!). You know, the one's you've never heard of, but enjoyed once you actually sat down and watched it? That's what "Captivity" is. It feels like a Cohen movie and the films is undeniably well shot. The acting is uniformly good with minimal unintentional laughs. I can't vouch for the re-edit... I haven't seen it, bu I can't imaging it being nearly as good as this was. I'll let you know when I see it.
Last Night I saw the Unrated DVD of "Knocked Up". It was an advance, so yeah, I know it's not out yet. I was very curious about this film because of the wonderful advance word it had and the elongated running time it sported. Very few films need to be over 2 hours (the only 2 I can even recommend are "My Sassy Girl" and "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World") as it's hard to keep the energy up that long. So, with those things in my mind, I sat down to watch this one.
Warning alarms were going off immediately. The male lead (Seth Rogan) was a slob; a loser. He and his slacker friends live together commune style and plan their business venture; a website where all of a celebrities nude scenes could be cataloged like a database of flesh. The Female lead (Katherine Heigl) works at the E! Network as an assistant. She becomes promoted to the front of the camera on one fateful day. She's so proud and excited that she goes out with her sister to a club to celebrate. She meets the slob and they get drunk and screw... without a condom. Blah, blah, blah she's pregnant.... Blah, blah, blah... Her career may be in jeopardy... Blah, blah, blah... He's got no idea how to be a responsible man.... Etc, Etc, Etc.
The main problem with "Knocked Up" is it's gene splicing of a frat boy comedy and a Lifetime original movie. They aren't "2 great tastes that taste great together". There's been a trend in film to appeal to the widest demographic available and this might be the ultimate hell spawn of that trend. The movie spends it's first hour trying to find itself, and then spends the second hour and 12 minutes attempting to inject heart and resolutions to the pile of non sequteters strewn about in the first hour. Also, the plot itself isn't all that funny. All of the big laughs in the film have NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PLOT AT HAND. Everything I laughed at, and I admit there are about five really big laughs in the film, was peripheral to what was actually going on.
There aren't any character arcs either. Oh, there are attempts (the slob cleans himself up, gets an apartment and, presumably, gets a desk job... I say presumably because that last part takes up about 10 seconds of screen time... and reads some books on fatherhood. Yeah, reading books. That's a real character change.) but no one is really any different than where they started from.
Also, there was SOOOOOOO may annoying characters. You want to hit the female lead's sister (Leslie Mann) from the get go, Kristen Wiig and Mo Collins are both in the film. Why bother they're basically the same comedian... oh I'm sorry, comedienne. The Slob's friends aren't endearing or actually funny. They're actually pretty much offensive for the bulk of the running time only to be just partly redeemed by the end.
Strangely, though, about a half an hour from the film's end, I actually got a little wrapped up in the film and, by the end, I was into it. I must have been subject to subliminals, because that's the only reason I have to explain it. I was really with it by the end. Getting there was like, well, childbirth however.
Yeah, I'm avoiding using actual character names on purpose. I will only comment of Katherine Heigl. I adore her. She's a cute, curvy thing. I like cute, curvy things. She has those eyes that Betty and Veronica have in the Archie Comics and she's toothy... almost vampire toothy. Still, she's cute and curvy. Nice boobs, her. I say that 'cause although we see her have sex multiple times in the film, SHE'S ALWAYS WEARING A BRA!!!!!! ALWAYS! This is a film about sex and pregnancy. This is a film where guys watch "Wild Things" and "Carrie" to record the minutes when nudity occurs. There is a scene where she's having sex and shouting, "Harder! Harder!" She doesn't show her breasts. Kinda prudish for a film where a girl has a one night stand with a slobby guy. I guess, in this day and age, it's okay to talk about things, just don't show them.
So, in short, "Knocked Up" is an overlong, okay comedy (it would've been a "dramedy" had it been made in the 80's) that could have been a wonderful hour-and-a-half comedy if the writer/director would've restrained himself and cut 40 minutes out of the film. A trim here and there, a few pointless omissions and a couple dropped characters would've done this movie a great service.
I'll say one last thing:
I've watched "She's Having A Baby", and this movie, sir, is NO "She's Having A Baby".
OTHER FILMS IN BRIEF:
I also saw, "Hatchet". It's a new low budget slasher with Kane Hodder and Robert Englund. It's not a comedy, but it's funny. It's your typical group of kids stranded in the woods slasher flick, but it's very well done. Is it a classic? Nope, but like it's wonderful tag line suggests, it is, "OLD SCHOOL AMERICAN HORROR".
"Wrong Turn 2" is also coming out soon on DVD. I saw it the other night. It's basically a retread of the first one, but with a Reality TV show spin and Henry Rollins. That's right, Henry Rollins. Still, despite those odds, the film is solid and doesn't disgrace the memory of the original "Wrong Turn", which I loved, loved, loved. Of course, that's probably because it's really an unfuckupable formula. The inbred family is back. People die. The end. Good stuff.
"Night of the Living Dead 3D". Boy, this one had me going for a minute. For about 15 or 20 minutes the filmmakers had me believing this one was actually going to be pretty damn good. This is another plot that is basically unfuckupable if you stick to the story! Everything is going great for a nice updated remake, until we get to the farmhouse. Not only is everyone alive and unaware of the zombie Apocalypse, but they're all stoners.... and they're all watching THE ORIGINAL "Night of the Living Dead" ON TV!!!!!!! WHY? Dumbest, most insulting idea in a long time. Mind you, I saw this BEFORE Rob Zombie's "Halloween". That stinking turd easily surpassed it. Still, The 3D is good and the acting isn't bad. If you're bored and there's nothing else to do (or if you don't own any other version of NOLD, then by all means watch it. Otherwise, use the glasses to read a comic book or something.