January Offerings At The Movie Theater: Pick Your Poison
It’s January again, which for film fanatics (and former-film-fanatics-who-still-hold-out-vague-hope-that-Hollywood-will-get-its-act-together) is usually a good time for catching up on the slew of films that were released right before New Year’s to make the Oscar deadline. It’s when, over the last few years, I’ve gotten to see some really enjoyable movies:
>> Dead Man Walking – Regardless of your opinion of the death penalty, this is one powerful film
>> The Big Night – Delightful. Not a wide release, so find a DVD of it if you haven’t seen it.
>> Titanic – The prosecution will present Exhibit B of its case shortly, but I liked it.
>> Shakespeare In Love – Though still a travesty that it won Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan.
>> Galaxy Quest – A movie that actually gets better with multiple viewings.
>> A Beautiful Mind – I don’t know about Best Picture, but a terrific performance by Russell Crowe
>> Cold Mountain – I have my qualms about Jude Law, but really liked this film.
>> The Cooler – Remember Alec Baldwin’s performance in Glengarry Glen Ross? His one here is almost as good.
and some movies that got wonderful reviews but that I didn’t particularly care for:
>> Leaving Las Vegas – Watching Nicolas Cage drink himself to death for two hours is not my idea of a good time.
>> The English Patient – The central male character (who is single) first sleeps with his buddy’s wife (adultery), then makes a deal with the Nazis to get plane to go save her (treason), then ends the film by committing suicide. My hero. Nevertheless, critics, and especially women, hailed this as a tragic, grand love story. Why is it when a male character in a movie commits adultery, he’s a cad who deserves whatever terrible fate befalls him, but when a female character commits adultery, it’s a “Great Romantic Story”?
>> Boys Don’t Cry – Shaping Reality To Meet An Agenda, Exhibit A. As attested to by her arrest record and those who were close to the story, Teena Brandon was a small town Nebraskan, a small-time thief, swindler, and fraud artist. She also was a very sexually confused woman who would dress as a man – her alter ego, Brandon – and seduce vulnerable Nebraskan girls as a sensitive romeo. When his/her latest girlfriend found out that “he” was actually a “she”, the girlfriend was shocked and deeply hurt and embarrassed. Two of the girlfriends’ male friends reacted by raping Teena/Brandon, then murdering her to cover up the rape. All in all, a horrible situation punctuated by a horrible crime. Hollywood’s take on the story? Brandon’s girlfriend knew he/she was a woman and didn’t care; in fact, after finding out, they were going to run off together. The townspeople are all loathsome, drunk, intolerant, knuckle-draggin’, homosexual-hatin’, lowlife losers. Brandon/Teena’s multiple problems are waived away with her saying “I have gender issues” (Oh, well that makes lying and manipulating OK, then). Brandon/Teena’s rape and murder are not just due to the two men’s anger and hatred toward a “freak” (which would be abominable enough), but, of course, because they hate homosexuals. It comes as no surprise that the film makers did not interview Teena Brandon’s mother, nor the perpetrators of the crimes, nor any person related to the actual real-life events, nor anyone from the Nebraska town where all this occurred. Why let the real story get in the way of a “Don’t Be Afraid Of Our Love!!” martyr story?
The flip side of these offerings are January’s other Hollywood output: leftover movies that studios are dumping out, either because they didn’t know if they could find an audience or because, quite frankly, they suck. This year’s batch includes:
>> Underworld II : Evolution – There was a crying need for a sequel to 2003’s Underworld? In this go-round, Kate Beckinsale saves the world from vampires and werewolves without changing facial expressions.
>> Wolf Creek/Hostel – More of the movies’ view of the world: Outside cities, in lonely, isolated places where people do horrible things like go to church and vote Republican, there are inbred, hideous people who will snatch wandering motorists/backpackers/tourists and wisk them to dark hideaways for grisly torture and murder. I could list other movies in the last few years to run with this theme, but I don’t have the space….
>> Last Holiday – Actually might be worth a look, but I have never found Queen Latifah funny. Ever.
So what about the movies that have come out that have gotten great reviews? I talk about those next...