Tuesday, January 09, 2007

VP!: Arts and Entertainment

Note: I turned in my projector yesterday. Writing these reviews reminds me of the glory that has now been lost. I haven't even dared to watch an episode of Scrubs on my normal TV for fear of getting really, really depressed.




Nashville
I was first turned on to Robert Altman's films when I rented Gosford Park several years ago. I distinctly remember the movie just happening before my eyes. Altman doesn't create frequent pauses for dramatic effect or punctuate key elements of the film, the actors act, dialogue is spoken and the camera pans from one scene to the next, requiring the viewer to listen and organize the pieces. This is not to suggest that Altman's films are chaotic, but that he loosely choreographs chaos with a satisfying result.

In style Nashville is similar to Gosford Park, but instead of a British murder mystery, Altman directs his lens toward the city of Nashville, Tennessee and the country music industry. Regardless of the shift in geography, Altman again shows a deft handling of his subject matter.

From what I've read, the industry didn't appreciate his sardonic view of the Nashville music scene. But Kacey argued last night that his depiction wasn't completely unfavorable: he certainly pays homage to the music as an art form and perhaps even to the values that lie at the roots of the music (but Altman's tongue is certainly in cheek on songs like "For the Sake of the Children", where Haven Hamilton sings to a packed house at the Grand Ole Opry about choosing to leave his mistress because he'd hate to be "missin' little Tommy's minor league pitchin' ")

I highly recommend Nashville. But caveat emptor, it took 3 hours for this one to earn 5 breaks, so bring plenty of popcorn.




Eraserhead
Imagine receiving a colonoscopy, while getting psychoanalyzed. Then add a dash of Kafka, crank up your grandma's hearing aid to "10" and you get an idea of what 90 minutes of Eraserhead is like.

Lynch apparently went through a spiritual crisis during the filming of this movie. The emptiness of Eraserhead's industrial wasteland, the opaqueness of its god, and the constant sense of foreboding and guilt testify to it.
But, while I don't relish the thought of a colonoscopy, I was taken in by this movie. Lynch's talent lies in fashioning a dream, pulling you in and then keeping you there. His symbolism can be quite obscure, but I don't think the movie suffered from it.

Find a cold winter evening and check it out.





M*A*S*H
As a kid, nothing frustrated me more than hearing that damned MASH theme song. I don't really even know why, it could be that it alternated time slots with Knight Rider or something. I really loved Knight Rider.

Because of the Altman kick inspired by Nashville and Gosford Park, I figured I should put age-old grievances aside and check out MASH. No regrets here. It really made me laugh. Out loud even.

Beware: if you choose to watch MASH for Radar's loveable antics, then you are in luck, because he is the only character in both the film and the movie. But then again, you are out of luck, because he has about 23 seconds of screen time. Sorry Kacey.

Did I mention that I really loved Knight Rider?




Swamp Thing
I am really disappointed that this isn't at least a 4 break film. As a kid, this was the coolest horror movie I had ever seen. 21 years later, not even the nostalgia value can prop it up to a 3 break: Adrienne Barbeau wasn't nearly as hot as I remembered her, Swamp Thing's suit looked liked a second-hand Toxic Avenger Halloween costume, and the finale, which I had remembered as being one of the coolest Wolfman versus Swamp Thing battles ever put on celluloid, was, to say the least, uninspiring.

I suppose I should cut Swamp Thing some slack. It was filmed in '82. I was 8.

Speaking of '82...I wonder if Swamp Thing could throw Adrienne Barbeau's bra a quarter mile?





Tron

Unlike Swamp Thing, Tron (also filmed in '82) did not disappoint. This movie was as cool as I remembered it, and perhaps even more so, considering that the experience was like taking a 2-hour tour through a computer museum.

Though, like a computer museum, Tron didn't offer many surprises, either. The story plods along until Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is uploaded into the Master Control Program (MCP), from there the finest computer graphics that 1982 could muster spring forth in all of their polygonic glory. Guys in glowing suits named RAM and ROM play Jai-Lai, plenty of glowing frisbees, and, of course, "No No No No No No No". Once in the 8-bit universe of the MCP, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Tron is played by Bruce Boxleitner. I hadn't seen that guy since Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Wow, I guess museums do have surprises after all.

Nostalgia value, plus a surprise visit by Bruce Boxleitner, and a low-tech cruise down memory lane: 4 breaks.


Note: "Barbeau's bra" sounds like the beginning of quite the tongue twister. Anyone care to finish it?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear the projector was returned... Especially since it was taken out in my name, and was due back a week ago.

Rachiley said...

Kac & Coy,

My movie recommedation of the week - "Wordplay"

Not sure if it's out there yet on DVD, but after watching it I totally thought I could be the next New York Times Crossword Champ. Bonus points for Jon Stewart,Indigo Girls, Clint and Dole showing up in the film!