I have watched many a bad Western because, well, Western! None of them has beat out Silverado‘s place in my heart. It’s so much a favorite that it’s one of the movies we took to Italy with us. Because: Danny Glover! Linda Hunt! Scott Glenn! Kevin Kline and a soupcon of John Cleese!
But, also… Kevin Costner. Wooden, dull, square-jawed Kev. He’s inexplicably good in this, and not just when he’s showing off how well he rides the horseflesh. He is even, at points, funny. Good direction and the fact that he’s still working hard to make his name, I think, are the explanation.
There’s something in me that resists Renee Zellweger. She’s a terrific performer, and I heart both Chicago and Down with Love with a mindless fannish passion. I wouldn’t want to see anyone else in either of those roles. And yet… some hardwired thing within makes me want to dislike her. (Chicago also gets bonus points for being my favorite Richard Gere movie.)
He makes my gorge rise, but I thought Woody Harrelson was very well-cast in The Hunger Games. I find him convincing as a hard-boozing asshole. (I know he does a similar thing in True Detective, but hours on end of that was too much Wood for me. Plus it’s not a movie.)
I actually pulled up Tom Cruise’s filmography to see if I could find something other than Minority Report that I loved, and found zippo, nada, nothin’. Phillip K. Dick and Neal McDonagh FTW!
(Tried the same with Julia Roberts and didn’t find a single thing I’d rewatch unless the plane was going down and I really needed distraction.) So instead I’m going with Angelina Jolie and Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow. I’m not strongly against Jolie, and I enjoyed the Tomb Raider films, but she’s not someone I seek out, or get excited about.
What are your love the film, hate the actor faves?
My chief complaints are, in no order:
*Everyone was so terribly, tiresomely earnest. Except Quicksilver, who was hilarious and delightful and then not in the movie anymore. Dour dour dour. You have to assume the true purpose of the Sentinels was crushing humor everywhere. The mutant population simply became collateral damage. “Mr. President, someone’s about to get off a zinger in here…” ZAP! DIE!!
*I get that a major point of these films is that Professor X and his obvious slash interest are young and inexperienced. Not yet the men they will one day become. Yay, good message! We get better as we get older. But as starting points for growth go, this is really sad. What we get here is Doctor Whiny versus someone who ODed on Stupid Pills. I love Mystique, but the fact that she runs rings around Charles and Eric is hardly satisfying. If the two of them tried to pull off a doughnut run in this movie, they’d come home with one spilled and cooling hot chocolate, five bales of wheatgrass, and a half-eaten box of baby Cheerios. “Sorry,” they’d say. “We were about to pay for crullers and bear claws and then Magneto decided that the deep fryer guy was giving in to his fear and hatred of the other.”
*Serious Bechdel Fail, unless you count Mystique as Peter Dinklage talking to an unnamed clerical worker about her scarf.
*The Sentinels (presumably by design?) looked like a mash-up of the rampaging Tony suits in Iron Man 2 and the Guardian from Thor Primo. Why?
*Magneto. A hacker? In the Seventies? What? Using railroad ties? What? Were they made of fibre optic cable and laced with the spirit of Neo? I mean: Come on! They weren’t all, “ATTENTION MUTANTS: I HAVE METAL COOTIES! I MUST COMPLY!” No, they flew in formation. They obeyed his voice commands. Do Sentinels get Stockhold Syndrome? Why isn’t Philip K. Dick around to write us all the answer?
*For eff’s sake, show some guts, Marvel! If you want to give us Charles as an IV drug user imagery, go for it and damnwell make him a heroin addict.
I could go on just about forever. I’d not have taken a chance on this–I knew there was a high chance of cineloathing. But the reviews were glowing and people seemed to have liked it.
Jennifer Lawrence performed well. Raven’s journey was lovely and if they’d cut about 90 minutes of crap from all around it, there might have been an okay story in there. Charles has a couple quasi-believable epiphanies, though I’d rather they’d been facilitated by Wise Mature Logan rather than Future Charles. You sell yourself short, Future Wolverine.
This emperor is buck naked, folks. Two and a half hours of watching the kittens wrestle while I tumble-dried the bedspread they peed on yesterday would have been a better use of my time.
Here’s a picture of me with the actor Cineplex hired to Cap it up outside the theater after Friday’s screening. He was pleasant and fun, and who doesn’t enjoy a superhero selfie?
Things I liked about the movie:
Steve: I am coming to like his character more and more. He may be the straightest straight-arrow since Constable Benton Fraser… in other words, catnip. What’s more, he’s pleasingly articulate. His funny lines are delivered with square-jawed conviction and good grammar.
Natasha: The only thing wrong with Black Widow in this movie was her hair, which looked as though evil fiends had dried and ironed it in a bid to lower her self-esteem. She’s delightfully deadly, and I loved seeing a glimmer of how very much she looks to Steve and Nick Fury to hold her onto a moral path as she continues to sponge some of that red out of her ledger.
Falcon! Just plain awesome. I am hoping Tony will build him some hardware one day soon.
Surprise! I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that hey, there are some big reveals at various points in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. One I saw coming, the other was beautifully played.
The movie has an excellent sense of who Steve is. It reaches back into his past, referencing the first film without burdening the movie with too much exposition. (Those reach-backs are especially handy if you found Captain America Primo rather forgettable.) I had a few quibbles with the plot, but it makes a reasonable amount of sense, as such things go. And I’m very curious to hear how the film’s events affect Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In sum, I found it entertaining enough, and suspenseful enough. It may not be a staggering work of genius, but there’s nothing much wrong with it either. I had fun.
Here’s my essay about “Chosen,” everyone. I am hoping to do a wrap-up post in the not too distant, so I won’t say any much about the whole of the rewatch here, or at Tor, just yet.
The main takeaway might be: it was fun, and now it’s done. I hope you all dug it.
This came about as Kelly and I were contemplating rewatches of both Farscape and the live action The Tick. I said, as I have said before, that my candidate for ‘dumbest’ rewatchable would be Alias. My chief memory of watching Alias was frequently turning off the TV and having a discussion that boiled down to:
One of us: That was fun.
The Other: Yep.
1: Did any of that make sense to you?
Anyway, the question spawned a lot of response, especially on Facebook. Many of the responses surprised me, and were a good reminder that dumb is one of those words that means a lot of different things to different people.
Some people mentioned shows I don’t think of as dumb: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Farscape (where you land on Farscape, I think, depends on your stance on Muppets) and Red Dwarf.
Others went for childhood nostalgia trips: Gilligan’s Island, Rocket Robin Hood, Lost in Space, The Monkees, Wild Wild West.
Another category was things I haven’t seen: Gilmore Girls, Married with Children, Full House.
The stuff I did think was dumb but likable included Stargate Atlantis, Xena, X-Files, Smallville. All of these are shows I began watching but didn’t finish out.
We have a tendency to be embarrassed by some portion of our TV viewing. I’ve heard people apologize for liking reality TV, or super-violent stuff, or slapstick comedy. The friend from university who mentioned Married with Children mentioned, regretfully, that it’s pretty sexist.
I think we tend to offer disclaimers when we know a show a) isn’t Shakespeare and b) isn’t something the person we’re talking to would much care for.
How do you define dumb TV?
This week’s Buffy essay is about “Empty Places,” a.k.a. The One Where They Kick Her Out of the House. Were the Slayettes and Scoobies wrong to do this? There’s a lively discussion unfolding here, in the comments thread.
This week I am actually writing the essay on “Chosen,” which will conclude the Buffy Rewatch. I may jump into another rewatch at some point, but I plan to take a few weeks off, maybe write a wrap-up post about rewatching Buffy, and then do some “That Was Awesome” columns for Tor. Don’t worry–whatever I’m up to, I’ll keep you posted.
Season Two of Hannibal has begun and I am so happy to have it back. It’s stylish, gory, well-cast, and, as a weird bonus, filmed around here. Kelly walks past the building that plays Hannibal’s home and office on her way to work–it tickles us every time we see it on screen.
But geography aside, the show is about things that are dear to my heart: art, arts communities, and artistic critique.
The always-interesting serial killers in Hannibal are demented and horrifying artists. Or possibly, artistes. Hannibal is, of course, making food of his victims. In S1, we see killers making use out of human remains, over and over again, either sculpting the corpses directly or staging crime scenes around them. One makes throw pillows out of leather and hair; another prepares strings for musical instruments using his victim’s guts. There are body collages and mushroom farms.
Will Graham’s oft-repeated line as he assumes their point of view: this is my design.
There is an intense aesthetic sensibility to this show that pervades Hannibal the character and spreads outward, from him, to every element of the show.
Other crime dramas, of course, have put significant effort into creating disturbingly pretty crime scenes. Even some murder-of-the-week shows, like Life, did this. But Life would have been the same show, more or less, if the set dressers hadn’t bothered to take the occasional pre-Raphaelite extra, dress her in angel wings and crumple her beautifully all over the hood of a car. In Hannibal, this improbable design sensibility is integral to nearly every murder.
There is a degree to which these people are scrapbookers on a homicidal materials-collecting spree.
Within this entirely bent community, this fantasy circle of destructive creative spirits, artistic dialogs take place. Will Graham functions as a sort of critic, trying to understand what the killers are working to achieve and communicate. Interestingly, he’s an instructor when we first see him. It’s an interesting riff on that old saw: “Those who can’t do, teach.”
Killers imitate each other on this show, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. They embroider on each other’s themes. When they get called out for plagiarism, heads can literally roll.
The process begins in the very first episode of S1. When Hannibal takes on the role of copycat killer to the Minnesota Shrike, he stages a crime scene whose explicit intent is to show Will the Shrike… by demonstrating all the things he isn’t. He creates a corpse-sculpture that is a reverse image of the Shrike’s work.
It is the beginning of Hannibal’s obsessive fascination with Will Graham. As the person who is both an expert in the field and who stands apart from its practitioners, it is Will whose understanding Hannibal craves. He wants to hear what Will thinks about his “work.” He wants to draw him into participating more actively. He wants to be seen, even though courting Will’s comprehension is an immense risk.
It is a strange and compelling portrayal of monster as aesthete, demon as artist. It’s gruesome and scary and weird, and I don’t know, yet, what the show will ultimately say about the practice of art. I am incredibly excited, though, to see where they go next.