by Louis Fowler
Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
You can tell from the opening credits of the romantic-action-comedy This Means War that director McG — who can really be best described as Brett Ratner Lite — really wants to direct a James Bond movie. Between this and his Charlie’s Angels franchise, I say let him. Maybe he’ll inject some of that good old-fashioned Roger Moore charm and silliness into the 007 movies which, let’s admit, have become pretty stale and humorless. But, until then, we have War, starring Reese Witherspoon, Star Trek’s Chris Pine and The Dark Knight Rises' Tom Hardy. Pine and Hardy are two CIA operatives who fall for the same woman and, subsequently, use possibly millions of dollars of taxpayer monies to woo her in a stupid pissing-contest that becomes less charming as the movie goes on. This leaves the movie pretty much resting on Witherspoon’s shoulders to stay watchable, and she really does an admirable job. War, what is it good for? Wasting about 97 minutes.
These kids these days, with their Brooklyn-based indie art-rock collectives, and reviving of kitschy sports like roller derby; they’re always mining the past to find something new for their entertainment future. When swing dancing promptly fizzled out, we began to see the return of the scintillating art-form known as burlesque. Shapely ladies of ill-repute, teasing throngs of whiskey-swilling sailors and businessmen with the titillating possibility of seeing some nude flesh … it’s practically what America was built on. Just replace the “ladies of ill-repute” with “feminist theory majors” and “whiskey-swilling sailors and businessmen” with “PBR-downing indie bicyclists and Joss Whedon fans” and you have an art form tailor-made for this lost generation. I only bring this up because Something Weird’s Strip Strip Hooray — a collection of six classic burlesque movies from the ’50s is a good old-fashioned throwback to a time when you didn’t need to use politics to justify watching curvy women do titillating exotic dances to swanky jungle rhythms. It was all so much simpler — and sexier — back them.
The recent MTV series Teen Wolf ain’t your daddy’s Teen Wolf. No seriously. He’d actually probably be ashamed and embarrassed of you for watching it. I know I am. Released in 1985, the original Teen Wolf, starring Michael J. Fox was a fast and furry teen sex comedy about a teen that is, well, a wolf. No subtext, no angst. Just a kid lycanthrope dancing on the roof of a van to “Surfin’ USA”. But, it’s over 15 years later, and any semblance of fun and frivolity has been thrown out the window thanks to those damn Twilight books. No longer can the under-20 crowd use their demonic powers for sexual hijinks; no, now they have to use them to cry in their room about their parents' divorce while My Chemical Romance pontificates in the background. The kids today will eat this bleak, joyless nonsense up, but anyone over the age of 30, you’d do best to just pop in the old classic and dream about the day where you hoped you’d find your own Boof.
Movies wherein teenagers get superpowers usually ring a bit false with me. The kids never do what kids really would do with these fantastical powers, because typically these movies are written by adults who put their aged minds — the minds of a responsible over-21-year-old — into the bodies of their fictional tweener creations. This is why I completely skipped the found-footage flick Chronicle when it was released in theaters. Now, having viewed it, I am giving myself a super-kick in my mega-ass for missing out on one of the best superhero movies of 2012. Screenwriter Max Landis and director Josh Trank really have a firm grasp on the adolescent mind, and puts the kids in realistic situations that refuse to sugarcoat the outcomes. From losing your virginity to dealing with child abuse in the home, Chronicle deftly places the psyche of the viewer into one of the main characters and firmly forms questions of morality that you sure as hell ain’t getting from The Avengers.
Reviewing movies like Memorial Day is always a delicate thing; if you hate it, you obviously hate the troops and want them to fail in their mission. On the other hand, if you like a movie like this, you’re a right-wing warmonger who is sending our boys overseas to die for oil. So, to be as delicate as possible, Memorial Day is a movie that is better for what it patriotically represents than for what it technically delivers. Does that make both sides of the aisle happy? James Cromwell is a mentally deteriorating WWII vet who curmudgeoningly relays stories of war heroism to his cloying grandson, who, natch, eventually grows up to become a soldier in Iraq. The war sequences are fantastic and actually, at times, bring a red, white and blue tear to your eye. But the wraparound story and the subplots therein are so manipulatively maudlin and badly acted that it kills most of the power those war sequences had. But, still, I appreciate it and what it’s trying to do. There. Happy?