Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Quick clips for Wednesday October 1

With all the thrills that wiper blades entail

So, I saw Flash of Genius last night; without giving too much away from the forthcoming review in the print version, it was "ehhh" (using the now defunct "thumbs up or down," the expression "ehhh" refers to a thumb that is perfectly sideways...also, it is the noise that is made when your tum-tum hurts from overpriced movie nachos). For those that don't know, the movie follows Bob Kearns, a college professor who invented the intermittent windshield wiper, as he quests for years to sue Ford for stealing his design. Now, this was apparently a big deal to people in Michigan, where the movie is set, because Detroit Lions fan (yes, they are real, although these mythical creatures are a dying breed) and radio personality Steve King actually stayed for the film because he was familiar with it from his time back home. Now, this whole thing got me thinking about the futility of most "based on a true story" films, the only phrase more popular right now than "Wall Street versus Main Street" (I live on a numbered street, does that mean I'm double screwed?). The vast majority, we're talking like 99.99% cover subjects we're intimately familiar with (such as We Are Marshall) and the ones we aren't we can kind of figure out (would they make a movie about the first all-black basketball team to LOSE an NCAA championship or a film about a sexual harassment suit that ended with the courts proclaiming victory for molesters?). The problem is that the drama is sucked out faster than if you added Jessica Alba to the cast. This means the only things that we watch for are style and acting prowess. This can work (as in Walk the Line) or it can fail miserably (as in Ray). As a rule, if I'm ranking genres, I can't say what my top two or three are, but I can say that my bottom two are musicals and "based on a true story" dramas (Lord help me when the two meet). Because these movies never seem to do big money, I'm curious, am I the only one who detests them (for the record, when I ask these questions, it's totally cool to post a response, otherwise I feel like the horse-faced one from Sex and the City).

Because I'm feeling philosophical today, I'll ask: "Hey God...Brett Ratner, WTF?"

I suppose if Brett Ratner is going to direct something, tasking him to film an adaption of a video game keeps him away from, you know, good stuff. Except, I kind of liked the idea behind God of War, which follows a warrior named Kratos who fights mythological beasts in a quest for Pandora's Box, mainly because I am totally goofy for Greek much so I want to name a living thing Artemis (right now, I'm thinking a dog, but Lord help me if we have a kid soon). So I was bummed when the guy who makes crap things into crappier things and turns good things into crap things (he's got the Midas touch, if Midas turned things into poo) was announced as the director. Again, it's not like he was named as the director of a comic franchise movie (he already killed X-Men, so that's one off of his bucket list), but it still sucks when something that could have been good (sort of like a blood-thirsty adrenaline-packed Clash of the Titans only less cool because it won't have stop motion) and made it into whatever Ratner will make it into. I bet the ancient Greek warriors still say one liners. In fact, I bet right now Ratner's trying to figure out how to get Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan in it. For the record, if Tucker plays Medusa and Chan plays a box, I'm there.

As a general rule, I do as I'm told, unless I don't want to, then I won't

There are very few people whose opinions on movies I value so much that I will actively seek out films that they mention, even if I have no interest in them originally. To name a few, this list includes Roger Ebert, my friend Andrew Merczak (who will, as has been said, forget more about movies than I will ever learn), and Devin Faraci from The latter has just made a point of recommending the Swedish vampire movie Let the Right One In (gee, what about the phrase "Swedish vampire movie" made me suspect?). That the movie is about a 12-year-old falling in love with a 12-year-old vampire neighbor also did not inspire me to rush out and find the film, but Devin's insistence that the film is a masterpiece is sufficient for me to flag my memory to find it when it is released on DVD (as the chances of a Swedish vampire movie making it to Omaha seem fairly slim). Devin mentioned the news in the context of an announced American remake to be directed by the guy who did Cloverfield, which I liked. His hatred for this idea seems warranted and, since today is Ryan's Philosophical Wednesday, it makes me ponder not about remakes in general but about the wretched trend of American remakes of foreign things. First off, it makes us look dumb for not being able to appreciate a film from another country because they talk different and look different. Second, it almost never works (the only exception I can think of instantly is that the American "Office," which is different from the British original, is just as funny). I'm curious though, does the announcement of a remake at least help some people seek out the original? I know it does for me, especially when Devin advocates it this much (you should see how burned I got when he suggested self-immolation).
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